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10 December 2009 @ 06:46 pm
Torchwood Fic: The Chill That Steals  
Posted to torchwoodslash


Title: The Chill That Steals
Pairing/Characters: Jack/Ianto, Owen, Tosh, Gwen, OCs
Rating: PG13
Spoilers: Season 1
Summary: Jack has to make a deal with a dangerous alien to save Ianto's life
Notes/Warnings: Read the disclaimer on my LJ


"The body," nothing but "the body." Oh, the chill that steals into our hearts when any human form that we have caressed and fondled, over which we have poured smiles of loving tenderness or tears of sympathy, comes to be spoken of as only "the body." Oh, the loneliness — far worse than death — which those must feel whose faith looks no farther than this — whose creed leaves nothing of departed friends but "the body!"

- St. Olave's by Eliza Tabor


"Since when is melted ice cream a matter of urgent Torchwood business?"

Ianto stood his ground as Jack stared at him from his desk, Jack's tone making it clear how annoyed he would be if this interruption wasn't for a good reason, not to mention how annoyed he already was since he was having a bad day only two hours into it.

"It's curdled milk actually." Ianto coughed into his hand politely. "And increased radioactivity, which you'll agree is hardly normal in a grocer's, makes it Torchwood business. Especially when said radioactivity levels are increasing." He straightened up a little more, which wasn't much given his already profoundly erect posture. "Quite rapidly at that."

Jack grumbled as he rose, grabbing his coat from the rack as Ianto fell into step behind him.

"Fine. Get the car. But if this turns out to just be a busted refrigeration unit..."

"Thank you, Sir," Ianto said as he ran off to fetch the SUV.

"Tosh! Owen!" Jack called out. "Grab your gear. And a Geiger counter!"

||

"These readings... Definitely well outside of the norm and rising fast."

Tosh continued to pass the Geiger counter over the area behind the grocer's dairy case.

"And we don't need a reading to tell us it's way too warm here," Ianto added.

"I'll say," Owen added, coming over from the far side of the refrigerated case. "Bloody cold down at the end. Radiation or not, I'm staying right here in the middle where it's warm. Not going to risk freezing something important off standing in this bloody icebox."

"Can you localize it?" Jack asked Tosh impatiently.

"The readings seem to peak nearest the floor." Tosh turned her gaze from the meter and looked up at her boss. "Looks like we need to get underneath this thing."

"I was afraid you'd say that," Jack groused. "Hey!" he called out to the store manager, hovering frightened on the edge of the refrigerated room just outside the door. "How do we get under the case?"

"Uh... Under?"

Jack let out a huff of air in resigned frustration.

"Ianto! We need tools. I'm in the mood to do some damage."

||

After prying off the metal facing on the bottom of the refrigeration unit, they discovered a tiny space beneath it, clearly meant just for running pipes and cables - not for human beings.

There was enough light - a dim glow - to see a little, however most of the space was obscured by conduits and wiring.

"Ianto?"

"The remote control camera," Ianto answered before Jack even asked. "I'll fetch it straightaway."

Jack crouched down beside Tosh who was lying on the floor and extending the hand holding the Geiger counter as far as she could reach into the space. "At least tell me we didn't rip this man's store up for nothing. Is the reading higher in there?"

Tosh looked up with a satisfied little smirk on her face. "Most definitely. In fact, I think we're going to need a containment device for whatever's down there. Handling it might be hazardous if it decides to spike."

"Are the levels dangerous now?" Jack asked, concerned.

"Only if we hang about this thing unshielded for a day or two," Tosh assured him. "As long as it continues escalating at the same levels we're fine for the short term. I just think if it is alien it's possible the amount of radioactivity it puts out might not remain stable for long."

"Agreed." As Ianto returned, handing Tosh the remote controlled camera, Jack gestured him back out again. "Containment unit."

"Got it," he said brightly and was off again.

||

It took Tosh about ten minutes of maneuvering the flexible snakelike camera through the space before she found the object.

"It's a metal cylinder of some sort," she exclaimed excitedly, eyes trained on the camera's view screen. "The light appears to be emanating from it - from the metal itself! Not from any openings! Fascinating!"

"Are there any markings?" Jack asked, looking over her shoulder at the screen.

"Not that I can see just yet. It appears to be in two pieces with a line about three-fourths of the way up."

"A container," Jack mused. "But containing what?"

"Speaking of!" Ianto bounded back in carrying a containment unit the size of a small barrel. "One containment unit from the Hub." He paused, a little out of breath. "Please don't tell me I have to go back to get the bigger one."

Tosh gave him a kindly smile. "No, that will be fine. The cylinder is about 20 centimeters tall and 12 centimeters in diameter so it should fit with room to spare. That is..." She turned back to the remote control view screen. "If we can find a way to get it out of there... Without ripping up the floor that is."

Jack raised his eyes heavenward. "I don't have the patience for this today." He turned his eyes back to the floor, looking at it with disdain. "Let's just rip it up."

||

The store manager made no fuss despite the noise and the wrecked state of the refrigerated room once they were done with the floor. They managed to make enough room for Jack to squeeze his top half into the hole so he could grab the cylinder and pull it out.

He'd sent the team away to a safe distance beforehand so once he had it safely ensconced in the containment unit he called them back on the comm line.

"Case closed. Now will someone come and take this thing off my hands?"

Final readings showed the radioactivity had disappeared with the removal of the cylinder and the cold air swept in, easily obliterating the warmth the object had generated.

"I'd say the site's clear now," Tosh pronounced, starting to put her gear away.

"Good. Let's get out of here."

"In a rush are we?" Owen snarked as Jack glowered. "Cutting into your social schedule?"

"Pack it up," Jack ordered, ignoring Owen as he turned on his heel and headed out. "Ianto!"

"Coming!" Ianto grabbed the containment unit and trotted off after his boss.

"Bet they're shagging before the engine's cooled down," Owen muttered as he followed, leaving Tosh behind with the last of the equipment.

||

"What can you tell me about this thing?"

Jack stood with his arms crossed over his chest, looking at Tosh's computer screen where a video feed of the cylinder was streaming.

"It's 19.7 centimeters in height, 12.4 centimeters in diameter, depending on the thickness of the walls it could contain approximately two liters in volume..."

"I meant a threat analysis," Jack snapped. "Is it dangerous!"

Tosh blinked at his outburst. "Our scans can't seem to penetrate the metal, but for now the containment is more than sufficient to keep the radioactivity to safe levels. I think as long as we monitor it closely for the next few days to track any increases in radioactivity then we should be fine."

"Great. Keep me posted on any developments."

"Absolutely."

Jack strode back to his office, head down, hands in his pockets.

"Got a bug up his arse today, has he?" he heard Owen say behind his back.

"Not sure..." Tosh answered him as Jack put his hand on the door to close it, shutting them out.

||

"Ahem."

Ianto cleared his throat tactfully when Jack didn't look up from his task of snipping a section out of the newspaper.

"Hmm?"

"If there's nothing else?"

"You're not the butler, Ianto," Jack scolded distractedly as he finished cutting. "You're a full fledged member of the team. You don't have to bend to my will and obey my every command."

"What if I want to?" Ianto asked slyly, edging closer.

Jack took the clipping and put it in a drawer after a lingering glance at it.

"Excuse me?"

Ianto shifted gears and looked at him with compassion. "I just came in to say I'm going home, unless, of course..."

Jack folded the newspaper and tossed it aside.

"You know what? I could use a walk. Why don't I walk you home?"

Ianto blinked at him, looking thrown. "All right then."

Jack paused in the middle of putting on his coat. "Unless you don't want the company?" he asked, uncertain.

Ianto smiled widely, acting every bit the chuffed schoolboy in front of Jack's charm.

"I rather fancy the idea of being walked home," he said with a bashful smile.

Jack put a hand on the small of his back to guide him out.

"Door to door service with a smile," he said, brightening.

||

By the time they exited the Hub at the tourist office Jack felt more his normal self again, albeit a little distracted, almost missing Tosh's goodbye wave as they passed her on their way out.

Jack almost ran into Ianto as he followed him out the door as Ianto had stopped short.

"Uh, Jack?"

Jack looked up to see what might have passed for a man had he not been slightly glowing and radiating a heat they could feel from ten feet away.

"You have what's mine." Its voice came out cracked and harsh, grating like dissonant and broken violins.

"Let me guess," Jack said, subtly moving forward, protectively putting himself between the alien and Ianto. "Small metal cylinder about so high," he gestured with his hands. "You left it behind when you went to the grocery store for eggs and milk I take it?"

"Give it back."

Jack flashed him a cavalier smile. "Well, if you could tell us something about it, so we can figure out say, if it's a weapon you plan on destroying the Earth with? Then we can talk about you getting it back someday."

"Give it back!"

Jack's smile disappeared as he faced off against the alien.

"No."

The glow brightened glaringly, as if it was tied to the alien's rage. Both Jack and Ianto turned away, shielding their eyes automatically as a soft metallic shushing noise was heard.

Ianto let out a startled cry and slumped against Jack as the light finally abated.

"Ianto?" Jack quickly put his arms around him and noticed a dart-like syringe sticking out of Ianto's thigh. He grabbed it and pulled it out, yelling, "What have you done to him?"

Ianto's leg folded under him and he struggled to remain upright. "C-c-cold," he muttered, teeth chattering. "What's h-h-happening?"

"Give it back and I will fix him."

"What have you done to him?" Jack yelled again. He pulled out his gun and swung around to aim it, but the alien was just gone.

"J-Jack..." Ianto's frightened voice tore his attention back and Jack watched helplessly as Ianto collapsed into his arms, his strength ebbing.

"I've got you," he soothed, lowering Ianto to the ground carefully, keeping an arm around him as he holstered his gun and fumbled for his comm unit in his pocket. "Tosh! Get Owen back here now! And come up top and help me! Ianto's hurt!"

"C-c-can't feel... Leg... So c-cold…" Ianto managed, eyes wide with fear. "Am-m-m I d-dying?"

Jack pulled him tight into his arms, pressing a kiss to his pale forehead, eyes glassy with unshed tears.

"I won't let you," he swore. "Just hang on."

||

Tosh burst out of the door behind them with a gasp when she saw Ianto laid out on the ground. "What happened?"

"Help me!" Jack called out to her, frantic. "We need to get him back into the Hub!"

Tosh sprang into action, fastening a device to Ianto's belt and switching it on. "I brought the anti-grav so you can carry him. Owen's on his way."

Jack lifted Ianto up almost effortlessly and cocked his head towards the syringe on the ground. "Grab that! We'll need a chemical analysis of the contents."

Once she did, Jack followed Tosh back inside, letting her open the doors for him.

Ianto's breath was unnaturally cool against Jack's neck as Ianto shivered violently in his arms.

"I'm going to take care of this," Jack murmured low enough that only Ianto could hear him. "I promise."

They wove through the Hub heading for Owen's medical bay, Tosh clearing anything from their path with Jack right on her heels.

By the time they made it to the metal exam table Ianto wasn't shivering anymore.

Jack laid him down gently then turned off the anti-gravity device and removed it, setting it aside.

Tosh started rummaging through the equipment storage. "I know Owen has an electric warming blanket in here somewhere!"

"Hey there," Jack said, softness in his voice as he cupped Ianto's cool cheek in his hand. "Owen will be right here, you hear me?"

Ianto's eyelids drooped as he leaned into Jack's palm. Jack took his hand and squeezed it - Ianto's answering squeeze weak.

"Here it is!" Tosh dragged out the heavy wired blanket and plugged it in as Jack spread it over Ianto's supine form. "It should get hot pretty quickly."

"There," Jack soothed, brushing Ianto's hair back from his forehead. "Relax. That should help."

"What's going on?" Owen's voice boomed through the Hub as he ran in, breathless.

"Ianto's been injected with a chemical that has cryogenic properties!" Jack yelled as Owen rushed forward. "He's freezing… Getting colder by the minute."

"Hurts…" Ianto muttered, becoming alarmed. "Hurts!"

"What is it?" Jack asked, desperate.

"H-Heat… Hurts… G-Get it off m-me…" Ianto pushed weakly at the electric blanket until Owen pulled it away in one movement.

"Cell damage…" Owen explained, scowling. "If this really is cryogenic freezing then attempting to interrupt the process with the application of heat is going to destroy his body tissue."

"We can't just stand here and do nothing!" Jack shouted. "Help him!"

Owen looked down at Ianto, commanding his attention.

"We'll get you out of this, mate. Okay? But you're probably not going to be awake for the hard part, so be ready." He leaned in, patting Ianto's arm. "Trust us."

Ianto swallowed hard and nodded bravely.

"I need to see the chemical breakdown."

"Already running it," Tosh said. "Come look at the analysis."

Owen departed leaving Jack and Ianto alone briefly.

"I'm s-sorry," Ianto forced out, clearly having trouble forming words.

"Nothing to be sorry over," Jack whispered, threading his fingers though Ianto's hair. "Never."

"S-scared… D-don't want t-to die…"

"I'm not going to let you die," Jack swore. "I can't lose you too."

Ianto's breathing choked off and his eyes flew open in a panic, looking to Jack in terror.

Ice crystals rushed up his cheeks like frigid lightning as his skin went from pale to blue.

"No!" Jack screamed.

A broken sound, more a pained exhalation than a word, escaped Ianto then he fell silent, eyes glazed open - staring up in frozen fear.

Jack crumbled, clutching at Ianto as hot tears fought their way free and fell onto the cold body below.

"Not you too…" Jack whispered, brushing his lips across Ianto's unresponsive ones. "Not today…"

||

"It's brilliant really," Owen said, impressed. "He's been cryogenically frozen. It's a much more advanced version of what we do here in the Hub - almost all nanotechnology oriented, but they're using some chemical compounds I've never seen before."

Tosh looked up from a computer screen. "The mass spectrometer hasn't registered anything like this on earth before. The ingredients in the syringe are definitely of alien origin."

"Can we get him back?" Jack asked, stressing each word.

Owen and Tosh shared a quick glance.

"We're not sure. We're working on it."

Jack walked over to where Ianto was laid out on the metal table and gently smoothed his hair back from his face. He stood a long moment, just gazing down at Ianto's placid face, his unseeing eyes.

"Tosh," he said finally, not shifting his gaze from Ianto. "I want you to figure out how to track the thing that did this to him. It looks like a man, but it puts out light, heat and radiation, same as the cylinder. Figure out a way to locate it and call Gwen - get her out on the street looking for it."

"I'm on it." She dashed from the room eagerly.

"Owen..." Jack stopped to take a pained breath. "What are the odds he'll come back... He'll come back all right?"

"I can't say," Owen admitted, apology in his voice. "The nanotechnology is within the realm of Tosh and I to understand, but new chemical compounds? That's a whole different thing." He paused for a moment, his demeanor softening. "I'll do all I can to find a way to bring him back."

Jack nodded curtly.

"You do that."

||

"It's for the best." Owen stood with his hand on the drawer containing Ianto's frozen form as Jack stood over his lover, unable to tear his eyes from him. "Now that he's frozen we need to maintain his temperature or risk cell damage."

"Leave it," Jack said abruptly. "I'll close it."

Owen backed away and went back to work, leaving Jack staring down at Ianto.

Jack's fingertips ran over the frosted back of Ianto's hand, his pale skin gone icy and blue tinged.

"It's only for a little while," he promised quietly. He laid a gentle kiss on Ianto's forehead then closed the drawer looking away, unable to watch as he did so.

"Tosh!" he yelled. "Tell me you found it!"

He walked briskly up to her area to find her tapping away at her keyboard.

"There! I've hacked into the weather services monitoring system," she said. "Their sensors monitor air quality, but they were upgraded a while back to also test radiation levels. If one spikes it will alert me."

"Good," Jack said. "Now I want you to work on that canister. We need to know what's inside it."

"But our scans can't penetrate it," Tosh protested.

"Find another way," Jack said, his tone becoming harsh. "I have to know if it's dangerous."

He turned on his heel and headed to his office.

"You're thinking about giving it back to the alien, aren't you?" Tosh called out, surprised.

Jack didn't hesitate, didn't miss a step.

"Yes, I am. Now get to work."

||

"Progress?"

Jack looked at Owen as he pulled away from his microscope.

"Some, but only bad news," Owen said, his tone laced with regret. "I can tell you the compound is degrading over time. The problem with that is that it's slow enough that cell tissue will die before it reaches life sustaining temperatures."

"So unless we defrost Ianto fast?" Jack prompted.

"He won't survive." Owen cocked his head towards the drawer area. "For now the cold is retarding the process. The longer we leave him in storage the better it is for him."

"Keep at it," Jack said, turning to go see Tosh next. Before he could get to her workstation he saw her running between the containment room and her computer. "What's going on?"

"Remember that alien sonar we got a few months back?"

"The one you were having trouble working?"

"Yes! I got it working and it penetrates the metal cylinder! Only by a little," she said apologetically, "but if I move it a centimeter at a time and take a picture each time I move it I can extrapolate the end data into a rough three dimensional image that will tell us what's inside the canister."

She ran back to the containment room, ducked in the door, was gone for just a couple of seconds and rushed back to her computer again.

"So wait, each time you run in you're only moving it a centimeter?" Jack asked. "That will take forever!"

"It would take longer to construct and program a robotic arm to move it for me," she explained. "The sonar's range is too limited to get a bigger picture by moving it further back so we're stuck doing it bit by bit close up."

Jack stopped her as she went to run back to the containment room. "Why can't I just stand in there and move it for you?" he asked.

She blinked up at him. "The sonar... It's high intensity ultrasound. It's inaudible, but sounds waves at that level - even if they're not pointed directly at person - would be incredibly painful, destructive to the human body. It might even kill. So anyone close to it when it goes off…"

"Show me what needs to be done," Jack told her. "And I'll do it."

Tosh gazed at him, stunned. "Jack..."

"He doesn't have time!" Jack shouted. "I need to do this!"

||

As the light Tosh rigged up flashed, Jack moved the sonar device one centimeter clockwise. Blood dripped from his ears, leaking from his blown eardrums.

Once he finished another circle around the device he moved it a centimeter up to begin the next circuit. They were over half done, but with blood vessels bursting in Jack's eyes his body was showing unmistakable signs of strain.

Tosh's flashes came at a brisk pace, but Jack kept up, wiping his bloody nose with a handkerchief between flashes almost absentmindedly, focusing solely on his task.

One more circuit done, one more centimeter down, only six more circuits to go to get to where the base of the cylinder met the top.

"Speed it up!" he shouted. "Running out of time here!"

The flashes came faster, the ultrasonic blasts staggering Jack, but he kept moving the device. Another circuit got done and he moved it up yet again, the movements becoming automatic now.

Tears of blood started trailing down his cheeks as his eyes began to hemorrhage.

Another circuit.

Jack's hand fell unwillingly as his body failed, crashing to the floor, his eyes closing as his life's breath left him.

||

Jack revived with a sharp inhalation - fully healed - sitting up on the metal exam table in Owen's medical bay.

"Right handy that can't die thing you've got going there," Owen said wryly, reviewing his x-rays. "Because you had one hell of an aneurism in that head of yours."

"I have to go back in," Jack said, trying to get off the table.

"No, you don't," Owen told him, stopping him. "Tosh said she got enough data. She's running the 3D image build now."

"How long was I gone?"

"Not long..."

"I've got it!" Tosh ran in to the medical bay and took over Owen's computer, typing frantically. "Check out the image!"

She stepped away from the monitor and both Owen and Jack gazed at the grainy black and white image.

"If I didn't know any better," Owen mused, surprise on his face, "I'd say I was looking at a sonogram for a woman about seven months pregnant."

"It's a fetus!" Tosh said excitedly. "And that blurring by the hands? I think it's because it was moving as we took the pictures! It's alive!"

"It's incubating," Jack said, nodding in understanding.

"We've got its baby," Owen muttered. "No wonder the alien was brassed off."

"Pack it in the containment unit," Jack said, getting off the table. "And find out if Gwen has any leads on a location.

"You're giving it back?" Owen asked.

"I'm using it as a bargaining chip," Jack countered. "And Tosh, I'm going to need a remote control..."

||

Jack watched as Gwen checked the readout on the Geiger counter in her hand. A chill wind whipped up from the River Taff under the bridge she and Jack were on, buffeting them, but Jack ignored it.

"This area's still spiking in terms of radioactivity," she said. "The alien can't be far away."

"You should go before I open this," Jack told her, cocking his head towards the containment unit holding the canister. "Have the police block off both ends of the bridge. No cars, no foot traffic."

Gwen nodded her understanding.

"I'll be on the comm if you need me." She turned and headed off the bridge, pulling out her cell phone. "Yes, I need Clarence Bridge closed in both directions by order of Torchwood. Immediately."

Once she'd gotten far enough away Jack opened up the containment device, pulled the canister out and set it on the bridge railing. He moved it close enough to the edge that one good shove would send it into the deep dark river's frigid waters.

He checked the mechanized clip Tosh had attached to the lid and pulled the remote control for it from his pocket to hold in his hand.

The canister glowed brighter, the metal warming under his hand as it did.

"That's it," Jack said to it. "Call for daddy."

||

This time Jack was looking when the alien materialized.

"Nice trick," he said saucily. "Short range teleportation device I take it?"

"Give it to me," it said, voice like barbed wire.

"Give me the cure for my friend first," Jack said, his tone harsh and commanding. As the alien came at him, glow increasing, Jack waved the remote and jiggled the canister on the ledge. "Hold it right there!" As the alien halted, its attention on the precariously situated canister, Jack continued. "I've got a control that will pop this thing open in a split second and all I have to do is let go and your precious baby falls into the river unprotected."

"No!" The alien's volume was near deafening in its rage and Jack was blinded for a second by the accompanying heat flash.

"Promise you'll take the fetus and leave this planet!" Jack yelled. "We trade the antidote for the canister and you leave, understand?"

"Understood."

The alien reached into his pocket, pulled out a tiny vial sized version of the cylinder and opened it up. He spit into the opening then closed it up and held it out to Jack as he approached.

"Spit? You expect me to believe spit's the cure?" He arched his eyebrow, but as he put his hand out for the vial the alien spit in his hand first. "Ow!" Jack shook his hand, but the spit stuck to him, burning his skin black.

The alien dropped the vial into his burning hand anyway and then turned its attention to the cylinder - ripping the remote controlled opening mechanism off and cradling it in its arms.

The alien and canister glowed together, only this time it was a soft green hue rather than glaring bright white.

Once Jack's other hand was off the canister he took hold of the vial with it, wincing in pain as the searing hot saliva burned a hole in his hand.

And then the alien was gone, taking the canister with it.

"Gwen!" Jack said into his comm unit, clutching his hand. "Get the car here now! We need to get back to the Hub! I've got the cure!"

||

"What's the hold up?"

Jack stopped his pacing long enough to pull the bandage from his now healed hand and glare at Owen and Tosh who looked up guiltily from the mass spectrometer monitor.

"We don't know how much to give him," Owen said apologetically. "Or how to deliver it, to be frank. I'm afraid too much will burn him up."

"Given what it did to your hand," Gwen pointed out, sitting off to the side. "I'd say there's cause for concern."

"But the compound is degrading," Tosh said, her anxiety clear. "Far faster than the original compound. If we wait too long..."

"It might not work at all," Jack said "And it's not like we're getting any more of it." He turned to where Ianto lay on the metal exam table, eyes still frozen open in the throes of anguish. "Inject it - all of it," Jack said. "Right where the original syringe went in."

"But what if..."

"Do it!" Jack shouted. "We can't wait any longer!"

Owen quickly loaded up a syringe with the contents of the vial and injected it into Ianto's thigh.

The effect was near immediate. Ianto's skin pinked right up and the ice crystals evaporated.

Owen put on his stethoscope and listened to Ianto's chest. "No respiration, no heartbeat. Open up his shirt!" He pulled the crash cart over as Jack ripped Ianto's shirt open, setting the defibrillator for 250 joules. He grabbed a prepared syringe of epinephrine and plunged it into Ianto's chest. Warming up the paddles, he called out "Clear!" before lowering them to Ianto's body and shocking him.

"Please, please..." Jack whispered under his breath.

Owen put his stethoscope to Ianto's chest again.

"We have a rhythm! He's back!"

As Owen put the paddles away Jack moved to Ianto's side, placing his hand on Ianto's forehead.

"He's burning up!" Jack said, alarmed.

"Bloody hell," Owen swore. "Gwen! Tosh! Get ice! We need to cool him down!"

||

Jack and Owen stood beside Ianto submerged in the ice bath: Owen monitoring his vitals and Jack cooling Ianto's face with a wet cloth wrapped around a handful of ice cubes, fingers tinged blue from the cold.

Gwen and Tosh hovered nearby, silent as they paced, waiting.

"He's down another two degrees," Owen said as he checked Ianto's temperature again. "This substance having a rapid decay rate seems to be working in his favor."

Jack just nodded. "But the heat, it can do damage as bad as the cold," he mused. "So we don't know..."

"He could still be fine," Owen said, reassuringly. "The thaw was fast - faster than even we do - so he could come out of it just fine."

A little jolt went through Ianto's body and then a second. As Gwen and Tosh rushed over, Ianto's eyelashes fluttered.

"Come on," Jack urged. "Come back..."

After painfully long moments Ianto finally opened his eyes.

"J-Jack," he muttered, starting to shiver. "C-cold..."

"That's a good thing," Jack soothed, smiling down at him as he caressed the back of his hand over Ianto's flushed cheek. "Don't worry, you're going to be fine."

Owen smirked, pleased. "Welcome back, mate." He stood back and looked around at all of his co-workers. "Right then! Let's get the man out before something important freezes off!"

||

Ianto sat huddled under blankets and towels, hands wrapped around a hot mug of tea as he held his face over the fragrant steam.

Gwen brusquely towel dried his hair, finger-combing it after to get it into some semblance of order.

"Do you feel that?" Owen asked, pricking each of Ianto's toes to test for sensation.

"Yes, will you stop poking me now?" Ianto said, gruffly, voice hoarse from his ordeal. "I'm fine. Just cold."

"Here we are!" Tosh came in carrying a small stack of clothing. "Change into these and you'll be much warmer."

"Thanks," Ianto mumbled, looking around at all of them. "All of you."

Owen, Gwen and Tosh all nodded awkwardly.

"It's been a long night," Jack said, standing back a bit, hands in his pockets. "I think it's time we all got some rest."

Owen crouched down beside Ianto, showing uncharacteristic concern. "You give a ring if you start having any side effects, right? There's a lot we don't know about this stuff."

Ianto nodded. "Got it."

Gwen gave Ianto's shoulder a squeeze. "Get some rest, tomorrow it's my turn to bring coffee."

"I'll hold you to that," Owen joked at her.

"Take care of yourself," Tosh said, giving Ianto a shy little hug. "I'll come check on you in the morning."

"How about afternoon?" Ianto said, managing a smile. "I feel like I could sleep for days."

"Barring emergencies, I don't want to see any of you until tomorrow afternoon," Jack told them. "Get some rest. And thank you."

Gwen, Tosh and Owen filed out, Ianto offering a final wave as Tosh looked back behind her, a little concerned smile still on her face.

"Let's get you into some dry clothes," Jack said, his manner practical and matter of fact. He helped Ianto rise, letting the blankets and towels fall away. He stood wearing only his wet boxers, letting Jack strip them off then help him step into the thick fleece sweatpants. Ianto accepted the sweatshirt and put it on himself even though it took him a while.

"Do I have any shoes or anything?" Ianto asked, looking around as he sat back down. "The floor's awful cold."

"Wait here." Jack gestured for him to remain where he was while he went to his chambers for socks. Once he was going through his socks to find a pair he sagged, the night catching up to him all at once. He laid his forehead down on the top of the chest of drawers, just breathing, shoulders slumping in a moment of weakness.

Then he stood up straight, put on a stoic face and headed back.

||

Jack looked over at where Ianto was installed snugly in his bed, covered up with every blanket they had and still curled in a ball around the hot water bottle Jack had found in the medical bay.

Sitting at his desk, his desk lamp the only illumination, he smoothed out the newspaper clipping on his blotter.

There was no picture, just a name and brief details of a woman's passing: no next of kin left behind, estate gone to charity. Eighty-seven she'd been, according to the write up, succumbing to a brief bout with cancer.

Agitated, he finally went out into the Hub to pace, leaving Ianto to his sleep. He futzed around aimlessly, finally cleaning up - doing Ianto's old job oddly enough - tossing the stone cold coffee away, throwing the rubbish into the bin.

The whirring of machines apparently covered Ianto's approach, because when Jack looked up from a stack of printouts that had been left laying about, Ianto was there: looking small beneath the mountain of blankets shrouded over his shoulders.

"You knew her, didn't you? That woman?" Ianto padded over in his stocking feet. "'I can't lose you too' you said to me. She was someone you cared about."

"Once," Jack admitted, allowing the sadness to show on his face. "Perhaps she forgot about me, I don't know."

"But you never forgot her." Ianto came closer and his hand emerged from the blankets to take Jack's, their fingers curling together as Jack fought to not clench it tight, his fear of loss still fresh in him. "You didn't lose me. I'm still here."

For a second they stood there in silence, but then Jack grabbed Ianto, clutching him close, giving way to every ounce of desperation he'd denied the whole night.

Ianto buried his face in Jack's neck and just leaned into him, letting Jack hold him tight, letting his haggard breathing pass, waiting until words could come again.

"Everyone leaves me." Jack's voice was muffled in the blankets, but the pain it carried was clear. "I wasn't ready to lose you. I couldn't lose you. Not today. I'm not ready."

"I'm here," Ianto soothed as Jack peppered his face with fierce kisses. "I'm right here..."

||

They lay tangled in bed under the mountain of blankets, a sheen of sweat on Jack's forehead even as Ianto lay curled across his chest.

"I had a girlfriend when I was sixteen," Ianto said, hand running aimlessly over Jack's stomach. "And a different one when I was seventeen."

"Your point being?" Jack prompted, carding his fingers through Ianto's still slightly damp hair.

"That girl, when I was sixteen? I told her I loved her and I really believed I meant it. But we broke up and I ended up telling the girl I dated when I was seventeen that I loved her too."

"It's not like that with me," Jack said. "We're talking lifetimes not school years."

"The point is..." Ianto rose up to look down at Jack. "Perhaps all love is ephemeral. It's fleeting, never meant to last. But that doesn't mean it's not worth it or that it's not enjoyable when you're in it. Humans need contact, a connection, to survive. So even if we just share warmth for a night," he pressed his body closer to Jack's, "or for a lifetime, we do it knowing it will end and knowing we'll be there for each other until it does."

Jack let his fingers graze over Ianto's lips. "You have no idea how hard it was to see you like that. You were dead. If Owen hadn't been able to revive you..."

Ianto cut him off with a kiss and Jack wrapped his arms around him, deepening the kiss until they were fully entwined - no space at all between them.

Once Jack finally calmed they settled down again, Ianto's head on Jack's chest, Jack laying an affectionate kiss amongst Ianto's mussed hair.

Silence fell over them again, the sound of two breaths out of synch then falling into time together.

"I will have to leave you someday," Ianto said, his whisper barely audible. "But not any day soon. I promise. For now?" He nestled in closer. "I just want to be warm."

Jack pulled up the covers higher up over them and tightened his arms around Ianto.

"I can take care of that."

Ianto pressed a kiss to Jack's chest and closed his eyes.

"You already have."

|T|
 
 
 
Emma DeMarais: BlueEyeemmademarais on December 11th, 2009 02:53 am (UTC)
Confession Part 1
If this fic seems similar to Fingertips Touching Realities Face (Janto H/C with an opening quote), it's not a coincidence. The thing is, I wrote this fic the better part of a year earlier.

The Chill That Steals was completed in December of 2008. I just was never satisfied with it. I kept thinking I'd rework it, make it better, but throughout the year I only poked at it rather than doing the major rewrite I envisioned.

So this is me giving up and saying this is the way the fic is. If I couldn't get it redone in a year apparently it wasn't going to happen - ever.

FWIW the title does not come from the opening quote. The opening quote comes from the title. I liked the phrase The Chill That Steals so I googled it and found it wasn't that common - pretty much one entry to quote from. The quote from Eliza Tabor's novel, St. Olave's, seemed perfect though for Jack and Ianto in this, so I used it. When I went back to look for a link to use for this Confession I found that apparently Google Books has scanned more since I found this last fall because now there are two more books from the 1800s that have that same phrase! While all three sources are from the 1800s none of them are from the same portion of that century so I doubt they influenced each other.

I'm including information on all three because I found it all so interesting and strangely relevant to Torchwood and this Janto fic.

St. Olave's by Eliza Tabor aka Eliza Stephenson, 1863/64

"The body," nothing but "the body." Oh, the chill that steals into our hearts when any human form that we have caressed and fondled, over which we have poured smiles of loving tenderness or tears of sympathy, comes to be spoken of as only " the body." Oh, the loneliness—far worse than death—which those must feel whose faith looks no farther than this—whose creed leaves nothing of departed friends but "the body."

Poems by Anne Beale, 1842

The Pageant and The Funeral (Excerpt)

Of flattery hath deceived the unguarded sight-
Then are they beautiful as stars of night.
They pass… but hark! the heavier sound of wheels!
"Why this dread silence - why the chill that steals
Cold through the veins - and why the starting tear?
The scene is changed - breathe softly - death is near!


Note: Other poems in that volume have titles that are relevant to TW or the fic, often eerily so.

On a Church in South Wales
The Death of the Welsh Harper (OWEN!)
Scene in the Welsh Mountains
Visions of the Past
Visions of the Departed
The Father and Child
Stanzas on Parting with Dear Friends
The Lament of the Patriarch (JACK!)
Italy and England
On a Premature Spring (Hello THAW!)
To Melancholy
Night
To the Infidel
On the Death of an Infant

Adzuma or The Japanese Wife, a play in four acts by Sir Edwin Arnold, 1893

The chill that steals the heat out of men's veins, when secret shadows pass, when nameless perils creep: the sense we have - keenest for what we love, and quite outside work-a-day wit - of some twist in the path which leads to woe and fate.

I find it really intriguing that both of the additional sources specifically mention the chill in the veins, which is how Ianto is afflicted. If the original verse wasn't so emotionally relevant (to Jack's response to the obituary and then to Ianto's body) I would probably have replaced it with one or both of these. As it was, I was tempted to break with the format from Fingertips and insert little verses amidst the chapters of this fic, but I figured I've already gone too pretentious as it is. /grins/

Please read Confession Part 2 for more random comments on the fic.

Very special thanks to First Readers knitchick1979 and kahtyasofia, beta melissima and canon beta tayla36 for their assistance with this fic.

Thanks,

Emma DeMarais
Emma DeMarais: BlueEyeemmademarais on December 11th, 2009 02:53 am (UTC)
Confession Part 2
Some random comments about the fic...

I confess I did the math to confirm a cylinder of that size would hold about 2 litres in volume, though I admit it was weird imagining a fetus inhabiting the same space as a 2 litre bottle of soda.

There really is a Clarence Bridge over the River Taff in Cardiff - not sure how far it is from TW HQ.

No clue if there really are any weather services in Wales that also monitor radiation, but it sounded handy. ;-)

I confess I'm not sure if DW/TW canon includes any sort of anti-gravity device, but it seemed like a lot of effort to carry Ianto all the way into the Hub so I thought I'd give Jack a TW style hand with that task. Plus Tosh is a geek, of course she'd try to use technology to help.

Finally, ultrasound can be dangerous, even used as a weapon. /shudder/ /has a Kate Bush song in her head now/
juliet316: TW: Janto: Alwaysjuliet316 on December 11th, 2009 03:07 am (UTC)
Re: Confession Part 2
Yay! You wrote TW fic! You wrote Janto!

This was brilliant and wonderful and cute, and sweet and angsty all at the same time. Lovely.

Too be honest I've never seen any type of anti - gravity devices actually in use on TW/DW (at least not in New!Who, will say nothing about Classic!Who until I see some Classic eps beyond Four). But given the way some eps go, it's certainly plausible and I've written anti - gravity devices into my Who stories as well.


Did I mention this fic was brilliant?
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on December 11th, 2009 03:19 am (UTC)
Re: Confession Part 2
Hey there Juliet! Nice to see you!

Yay for you liking this! Thank you! I think my recent TW big bang Fingertips was better, but I still have a soft spot for this one because I have a big time carry kink. So Jack carrying a failing Ianto in his arms? /swoons/

I thought I remembered something from New!Who that wasn't exactly the same kind of device, but got me thinking it might be okay. Do you remember what Ten and Rose used to keep from being sucked into the vortex thing during the Cybermen episodes with the AU Pete? I thought perhaps they were something that increased gravity to keep them in one place, but I'm not sure. It's been a while since I stopped watching New!Who. (I stopped when Rose left so I really need to get back up and running before Eleven settles in.)

BTW, Four! I was so a Four girl until Nine stole my heart. Ahh, CE. You really know how to hurt a girl. Take a role as The Doctor and then LEAVE. /sniff/

I really need to write more TW fic. I made a claim to write a table's worth of fic for Janto, but I've only done a handful of them and a couple of long fic as well. Bad me for being so grumbly over CoE that I refused to fic after that. /toddlerfists at RTD/
tayla36tayla36 on December 11th, 2009 01:32 pm (UTC)
Re: Confession Part 2
I really enjoyed series three and four of NewWho. Except for maybe "Runaway Bride". Don't let that epi throw you off. It was the Christmas Special episode with Catherine Tate, and she is a bit loud and brash. The rest of Series Three is Martha, and she is brilliant. And Series Four with Catherine Tate as the real companion instead of just a guest star was brilliant also. Especially the Episode "Turn Left". That one is really a fantastic episode considering The Doctor was hardly in it at all.
rubynye: All For One (by Tigerbright)rubynye on December 11th, 2009 03:45 am (UTC)
That was lovely SF in the Torchwood vein! Though damn, alien, could you be a bit more communicative? *smacks it*
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on December 11th, 2009 03:50 am (UTC)
Thanks, hon! I sometimes forget you do TW too. /marvels at her lame brain/

P.S. I like your icon!
remuslives23: otp jack and iantoremuslives23 on December 11th, 2009 07:27 am (UTC)
I really enjoyed this. I liked your Jack here in particular. I liked how he seemed to be able to share his fears with Ianto far easier than canon!Jack could. And Ianto's musings about love being fluid were brilliant. :)
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on December 11th, 2009 07:30 am (UTC)
Thank you! I kind of did the same thing in the last long Janto fic I published - making Jack a bit more able to allow his emotions full rein and Ianto being rather wise about relationships. I guess it's the way I'd tweak them if canon was in my hands. :-)
One Part Exuberance; Two Parts Obsession: jack with coffeepenguingal on December 11th, 2009 03:09 pm (UTC)
YAY! Jack/Ianto from you is a wonderful thing indeed. I agree with the other commenter. I like your Jack and his ability to communicate a lot. And I like that your Ianto is a little less insecure and unsure about what he's doing with Jack. And especially, I liked your Owen not being a dick all the damn time. :D

In short, I thought it was lovely.
ladygray99ladygray99 on December 11th, 2009 04:19 pm (UTC)
I don't see what the problem is. It was a good bit of exciting drama. Felt rather like a episode with a little more smooch. and that's a good thing. :)
Nancynancybrown on December 11th, 2009 09:47 pm (UTC)
That was a fun read! Thanks for sharing it with us!
lone_star_womanlone_star_woman on December 12th, 2009 07:24 am (UTC)
This is lovely. I loved the plot and the pacing. And the obituary was a nice touch.
hab318princess on December 12th, 2009 03:17 pm (UTC)
loved that, great plot and Ianto's reassurance there at the end, just wonderful
tartan_tartetartan_tarte on December 13th, 2009 03:42 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed that VERY much! :)
Alexandra Needhamfiwen1010 on December 14th, 2009 08:54 pm (UTC)
*Flails* OMG, gorgeous! I was so scared, and Jack was so scared
Gxxx