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Fic: Echoes Of Our Souls Chapter 8/13

Title: Echoes Of Our Souls
Fandoms: Torchwood/The Avengers
Pairings/Character: Steve/Ianto/Tony, Jack/Ianto/Steve/Tony, Natasha/Tosh/Darcy, Maria/Owen/Martha, Clint/Pepper/Coulson, Thor/Bruce /Jane, Nick Fury, past Steve/Bucky/Peggy and mention of Rhys/Gwen
Summary: After Jack left, instead of falling apart like the others him to, expected Ianto moved on with all aspects of his life. When Jack returned from his journey with the Doctor, nothing was the way he thought it would be. Now he's on a quest to win back Ianto's heart but Tony and Steve are not making it easy for him. The three men must figure out a way to put aside their differences in order to fit into Ianto's life, but it may take a mission gone wrong for them to finally see that Ianto loves them all equally.
Rating: R
Beta: RoyalLadyEmma
Art by: hollymarchosias see it hereand here
Disclaimer: I do not own Torchwood or the Avengers.
Author Note: I had to mess with the Avengers timeline in order for this to work.

Upon his return to Torchwood Three Jack had no idea what kind of greeting he was going to get. After being dead for a week without any hint of when or if he was going to live again, he had embarrassed Ianto by kissing him in front of everyone, and then he'd simply disappeared. He had abandoned his team and even he didn't know if he was ever coming back.

'They have every right to hate me. I just hope Ianto will give me the chance to make things right.' Jack thought nervously to himself as the lift lowered. 'Please, Ianto, let me make it up to you,' he prayed fervently. 'Please?!'

Jack had been ready for a lot of things but not for the sight of UNIT soldiers mingling around his Hub, with Ianto, Tosh and Owen nowhere in sight. What worried Jack the most was the fact he couldn't detect the lingering scent of Ianto's coffee in the air, nor could he hear Owen's muttering or the sound of Tosh's fingers clacking away on her keyboard.

"What the hell is going on here?!" Jack demanded the instant the lift touched down. He strode forward purposefully, determined to find out why UNIT troops had invaded his stronghold.

At the sound of his voice after such a long time, Gwen Cooper's head shot up and a wide grin appeared on her face. "Jack!" she squealed shrilly dropping what she was doing and flinging herself at her boss. It was obvious to everyone watching the reunion scene that her eyes were full of light, lust, anger and a hint of love.

Jack hugged Gwen to him for a brief moment before pushing her away to arms' length. At one time Jack had fooled himself into thinking that it was Gwen he wanted, never noticing it was the quite Welshman who would slip past all his defenses. Now, after a year of hanging in chains and watching the world burn around him he realised that his heart had always lain with Ianto although he still cared about the rest.

Jack released Gwen and looked around, eager to see his beloved Welshman. "Where are the others?" Jack tried to be casual when he was really dying to ask 'where is Ianto?' but he didn't want to hurt Gwen by asking for the man he'd chosen over her.

Gwen froze in place and suddenly found a spot over his shoulder very interesting. "They're gone, Jack." She knew exactly what he wasn't saying and she couldn't meet his gaze.

Jack's blood turned to ice in his veins. 'No, no, no! Please don't make me lose them again!' Jack couldn't bear the idea losing Ianto, Tosh and Owen a second time. He'd lost them during the Year That Never Was, he couldn't lose them again without having an opportunity to make things right between them.

"What Miss Cooper intended to say is they requested a transfer." A new voice spoke up from the direction of Jack's office, a voice Jack knew all too well. "They now work for SHIELD."

Jack whirled around to see one of his oldest friends looking down from the landing. "Alistair! You're looking well." Jack couldn't help but wink at one of the few UNIT members he actually liked.

Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart rolled his eyes with fond amusement and shook his head as he finished walking down the stairs, coming to stand in front of Jack and favouring the man with a soft smile. "It's good to see you again, Jack." The haunted and weary look in Jack's eyes hadn't escaped Alistair's notice. Something had happen to Jack on his trip with the Doctor, something that had profoundly deeply affected and scared the immortal.

It took all of Jack's control not to fidget under Alistair's knowing gaze and he decided to focus on the first part of the elderly man's statement. "What do you mean my team is with SHIELD? How did UNIT gain access to my Hub in the first place?"

Out of the corner of his eye, Jack saw Gwen shift nervously and he suddenly had a very good idea how UNIT had ended up in his home. 'You and I going to have to have a long talk about this,'  he told her silently. Jack knew immediately that without the others, Torchwood Three was no longer his home. Without giving it any conscious thought, he also knew that he was going to make sure that UNIT had no access to anything they shouldn't; he just prayed that Gwen hadn't given away too many of their secrets.

Then he was going to track down his missing team and plead with Ianto from bended knee for a second chance. He wanted his young Welshman to know that he'd come back to be with him and no one else. He needed to tell Ianto that he loved him.

"You trained your team well, old friend!" Alistair grinned as he proudly told Jack, "All I hear are complaints about how thoroughly your Miss Sato locked down the mainframe and my men haven't yet been able to crack a single one of her codes. And that's not the half of it, Jack; every morning my staff meeting is filled with whining and bitching about how your Mr Jones locked down the Archives. He has very effectively denied us any and all access to the weapons and tech stored in there. You should be very proud of them."

"I am." Jack was very proud of his team for protecting Torchwood's assets;  'I just wish i'd made sure they knew that before I left.'

"They locked me out, Jack!" Gwen voice took on a shrill whining quality as she spoke up. She couldn't believe that the others would dare to lock her out of her own Hub; 'I am second-in-command damn it!'

Jack rubbed his head; he could feel a headache forming. "Gwen, how did UNIT find out I was gone?" He raised an inquiring eyebrow as he fought to keep his temper in check. "Because I know that Ianto, Tosh and Owen would never have betrayed me by calling UNIT for help, so that leaves you." Now normally Jack would have had this conversation in private but he was just too angry to think. "We have rules for a reason, Gwen! You put your team in danger!"

For a moment, a tiny hint of fear appeared in Gwen's eyes before anger and rage filled her. "I wouldn't have had to call them if you hadn't run off on us! You left us, Jack, with no note or anything!" She snarled her words as she shoved Jack and to her dismay he barely moved. "You left m... us without anything! How could you just abandon me like that?!"

Jack raised an eyebrow, realising that he had let his flirting with Gwen go too far. She wasn't mad he'd left Torchwood behind; no, she was mad because he had left her behind. 'I'm sorry Gwen, but you're in for a very rude awakening. I feel really sorry for Rhys.' Jack had noticed the engagement ring on Gwen's hand and knew she was set to marry another man, yet she was looking at Jack like he was the sun and the moon in her world.

He turned to look at Alistair. "Would you mind if I borrowed my old office for a bit?" As he heard himself speak those words, Jack knew that Torchwood was no longer the place for him.

Alistair nodded his head; he had a feeling that this was the last time he was going to see Jack Harkness as the leader of Torchwood Three. "Of course, Jack, anything you need." 'I just hope that your young man is willing to give you another chance.'

Seeing that the older man understood far more than he was letting on, Jack gave Alistair a soft smile before snagging Gwen by the elbow. "We need to have a little talk in private," Jack growled as he pulled her toward the stairs, before releasing her arm and moving up towards his former office.

Gwen gulped as she felt a trickle of fear run up and down her spine; Jack wasn't happy. 'Of course! He must have spotted my ring! Oh, Jack, you don't have to worry; I'll always chose you over Rhys.' Certain that she was right about Jack's attitude towards her and knowing that she was about to have the man she truly loved, Gwen calmed down and even felt a tingle of excitement as she pictured their first kiss. 'I knew Ianto was nothing more than a distraction for Jack until he knew that I wanted him! Well, Jack, you don't have to wait any longer.'  With a happy smile Gwen bounced after Jack.

One of the UNIT soldiers shook her head. "I told you Cooper was a little batty; no one should look that happy about facing Captain Harkness' wrath."

Alistair shook his head slightly, silently agreeing with his soldier. Gwen Cooper could be a fine agent but she was far too stubborn. She refused to believe she was ever wrong and he knew for certain that she wouldn't have lasted a day in his UNIT. 'I wish you luck, Jack, she won't be happy to learn you're leaving her behind again.'


Up in his former office, Jack took a look around the newly-designed room and it felt completely wrong, it wasn't his office anymore just like Torchwood wasn't the place for him anymore. He pulled out the desk chair, sat down and grimaced as he realised that even that simple act didn't feel right. 'It's just not the same, not without Ianto, Tosh and Owen. Gwen's not enough to keep me here anymore; I need the others.'

Jack steeled himself and pushed those thoughts to the back of his mind; there would be time to make things right with the others. Right now he had to deal with Gwen. "Shut the door," Jack ordered brusquely, not even lifting his head when he heard the sound of Gwen's heels on the stairs and then stop just inside of his office. He deliberately did not offer her a seat but she took one anyway.

A pout graced Gwen's face as she realised that she didn't have Jack's attention. 'He's been gone for three months; you would think he'd be happier to see me! What's wrong with him?' Gwen couldn't understand why Jack wasn't simply thrilled to see her again. Didn't he understand that unlike the others she'd never lost faith that he would return. 'I would abandon Torchwood or Jack.' The immortal should be kissing the very ground she walked on.

Jack folded his hands and finally raised his head, stared hard at Gwen, "I didn't tell you to take a seat," he growled. He could already see Gwen's stubborn side coming out and he knew that he was in for one hell of a yelling match when he made it clear to her that he wasn't staying. He sighed softly, wondering just how ugly it was going to get when he told her that she would never be enough to keep him in Torchwood and Cardiff, not when he'd come back for Ianto Jones.

'Well, he didn't tell me to stand up,' so the stubborn former PC remained where she was. Biting her lip Gwen finally took the time to actually look closely at her boss. She could see a new hardness in Jack eyes, and hidden behind that was a lost, broken look, one she'd never seen before. It was becoming clear to her that this wasn't her Jack that had returned.

'I need to do some damage control or I risk losing Jack forever.' Gwen gave Jack her well-rehearsed beguiling yet apologetic smile and focused the patterned sorrow-filled eyes that had gotten her out of trouble so many times before on him. "I'm sorry that I called in UNIT, Jack, but I really didn't have any other choice. I only had Tosh and Owen with me in the field while Ianto stayed back at the Hub coordinating, and so I made the only choice I could. I reached out for help."

Completely unaffected by his former team-mate's attempts to win him over to her point of view, Jack's eyebrow rose again as he stared at Gwen. "So in other words, you didn't bother to run this idea past Owen, my second-in-command? I case you were confused, that means whenever I'm not here, Owen is in charge. You thought you knew better than everyone else and just decided to act on your own."

Jack paused and his eyes narrowed as something she'd said struck him. "And why exactly was Ianto left behind in the Hub? He had finished his training and was ready to go out into the field as a full-fledged agent."

For a moment, Gwen just stared slack-jawed at Jack before she found her voice again. "Owen is your second-in-command? But... I you hired me to take Suzie's place and she was your second-in-command!" Gwen couldn't understand how she got things so wrong and she could feel tears burning at the back of her throat. "But you tell me things you never tell the others! You confide in me!"

Slowly, sadly, Jack shook his head. "No, Gwen, I hired you to fill the void Suzie left, not to take her place. Think about it, Gwen; making the rookie of the team my second would have been a slap in the other's faces. I told you a few unimportant" and he stressed the word, "things simply because you knew I couldn't die, but Gwen, I never truly opened up to you."

"Yes, you did, Ja..." Gwen protested.

Jack shook his head. "No, Gwen. I didn't. Ianto is the only person I've ever truly confided in. He knows more about me than you do or ever will." Jack shrugged. "In fact, Ianto knows more about me than anyone else in the world." A gentle smile graced Jack's face as he thought of all the nights he and Ianto had sat in this very office, talking for hours.

Gwen saw the look on Jack's face and her heart sank. He'd never looked like that on her behalf. "No, Jack... please..."

The sound of Gwen's voice broke Jack from his reverie and he forced himself back to the task at hand. "But that had nothing to do with this. I apologise, Gwen; my mistake was in not making it clear to you exactly what your role on the team entailed. I should have made it clear to you just who was my second."

"Yes, that would have been a helpful bit of information!" Gwen snapped angrily, still smarting over his comments about Ianto knowing him better than she did.

Jack accepted her anger and shook it off. "Still, Gwen that doesn't give you the right to assume control and simply take over. The others have much more experience than you and they've seen horrors that I pray you never do."

It was clear to Gwen that Jack was talking about Ianto and what he had survived at Canary Wharf. She had cornered Ianto in the little kitchenette one afternoon and tried to ask about the battle and what he'd seen, but he just gave her a pained smile and changed the subject.

She surged to her feet and planted her hands, leaning over the desk. She was determined to be heard. "But Jack, I did this all for you! So you would be proud of me when you came back!" Gwen desperately needed Jack to be proud of her.

Finally Jack saw how deep Torchwood got under Gwen's skin and it worried him. Her purpose with Torchwood was to remind them of what it was like to be normal, to have someone at home waiting to care for them after a hard day. But little by little it was becoming clear that Gwen was letting what made her different from the rest of the team slip through her fingers.

With a sinking heart, Jack knew it wouldn't be long before she was just as hard as the rest of those who worked at Torchwood. 'Except, somehow both Ianto and Tosh have managed to keep from becoming hard and cruel, somehow they've managed to keep their innocence about them.' It had always amazed Jack how well Ianto and Tosh had been able to keep such a large piece of themselves untouched by Torchwood. He knew with certainty that it made them stronger than everyone else, including himself.

"Gwen, I know you think you had the best of intentions when you called in outsiders, but your actions still placed your team in danger. My leaving was all UNIT needed to throw Tosh back into their darkest cell and I don't even want to think about what they would have done to Ianto if they had learned about Lisa."

With a violent shuddered, Jack thought about the ways UNIT would have tortured his beautiful Welshman, because in their eyes, Ianto would have been seen as nothing more than a traitor. As for Toshiko, being a woman wouldn't save her from a similar fate in UNIT's single-minded attempts to gain knowledge about Torchwood and her computer systems.

Forcing images of Ianto's bloody and broken body from his mind, Jack's blue eyes turned to steel as he glared at Gwen; he simply couldn't find it in him to forgive her for placing the others – and herself –  in danger. "Tosh and Ianto weren't the only ones who would have become UNIT's prisoners, Gwen. You were the one who supported Owen from the beginning when he wanted to open the Rift. I don't think UNIT would take too kindly to you being involved in the shooting of your boss." Jack leaned back into his chair and watched Gwen closely.

The intensity of Jack's gaze made Gwen very uncomfortable and she shifted uneasily in her chair. Finally, she looked up and met Jack's eyes. "That's what Owen said," she admitted. "I'm sorry, Jack, I just wanted to you to be proud of me. I wanted you to see that I could lead Torchwood in your place, and that you could trust and rely on me."

Gwen reached out and covered one of Jack's hands with her own as she took the chance, "I want you to see that I am worthy of being at your side as co-leader of Torchwood. Don't you understand that I want to be a part of your life outside of work."

At that moment Jack truly felt sorry for Rhys as he pointedly looked away from Gwen's hopeful gaze and looked instead at the diamond ring on her finger. "And yet you wear another man's ring. Why did you say yes to Rhys, Gwen? Was it because I wasn't here to save you from your boring normal life?" Jack saw the way she flushed guiltily and he shook his head.

"Gwen, you read way more into my flirting than you should have. I let you get away with more things than the others because I wanted you to keep a hold of your normal life. You need know that I came back for Ianto, not for Torchwood." Jack knew this was going to hurt Gwen but she needed to know the truth. "And not for you."

With tears flowing down her cheeks, Gwen looked at Jack and swallowed hard as all her dreams of spending the rest of her life with Jack came crashing around her. "So you never wanted me? Your flirting meant nothing to you beyond casual flirting?" She had to know for sure. "You don't love me? Not at all?"

Sighing with exasperation, Jack lifted his head to look Gwen in the eyes. "That is exactly what I am saying. I care about you and love you just like I love Owen and Tosh. My life is a little brighter with you in it, but Ianto is the only one that I'm in love with."

Suddenly, Gwen could hear what Jack wasn't saying. "You're not staying, are you?" She struggled to get her emotions under control.

Jack shook his head. "No, I'm not. This isn't my home anymore. My home is where my heart is, and my heart is with Ianto. I have kept my life on hold for so long waiting for the Doctor, it's time to start living again." Jack gave Gwen's hand a squeeze as he climbed to his feet and as he passed by her he dropped one final kiss on her forehead. Jack paused at the door before exiting his office one last time. "Get out of Torchwood before you lose everything."

Gwen waited until the door closed behind Jack before breaking down in sobs; her dream of a life with Jack would forever remain just that, a futile dream. 'At least I have Rhys; I think I can be happy with him.' But Gwen knew she would never leave Torchwood; it was all she had left of Jack.


Jack could hardly believe the changes that had occurred with his team while he'd been gone. Even though it didn't take him long to find out where Ianto, Tosh and Owen were, he just never thought that Tosh, Owen and especially Ianto would ever willingly leave Torchwood behind. He certainly never pictured any of them working for SHIELD but following his discrete research, he could not deny how much more happier they were. They were no longer broken, Ianto in particular appeared to be truly healing, and it made him wonder if he had a place in their lives anymore, even if only peripherally.

'I have to find out. I came back for Ianto and nothing will stand in my way of getting him back.' Jack was aware of the desperate undertone of his thoughts, and he did his best to ignore it. Coming home to Ianto's love was the only thing that had kept Jack going on board the Valiant. Throughout the year of violence, torture and death Jack had endured at the hands of the Master, the one thing that had caused him the most pain was knowing how badly he'd treated Ianto. 'I never should have made him feel that our relationship was nothing important.'

"This time will be different, Ianto, I swear. I will never again make you doubt how much I care for you and how much I need you in my life." Jack vowed. "I love you, Jones, Ianto Jones. Please give me a chance to prove it to you," he whispered.

With his bags packed, the yellow tin full of his precious pictures safely stored within his greatcoat, and Alistair's promise to keep Myfanwy safe, Jack had one final stop to make before he went to find Ianto and lay his heart on the line. After a relatively short train ride to London, Jack reached the Jones' house, where he knocked almost hesitantly, hoping that they were home but a little worried that they were. As the door swung open, his jaw dropped in shock as he saw the person who standing before him.

"Martha?" Unable to keep the shock from his voice, Jack stared at the young woman. "What are you doing here?" He'd been so sure the medical student had stayed with the Doctor.

Martha favoured Jack with a soft smile but he could see the sadness in her eyes. "My family needed me," she answered succinctly. At least that's what Martha had been telling herself, although since her return, she couldn't help but feel like she didn't really belong there with her family any longer.

Knowing from first-hand experience exactly how difficult it was to leave the Doctor and all the adventures that life with him promised, Jack reached out and tugged her into a tight hug. "If you ever need to talk I'm here for you," Jack whispered as he pressed a kiss onto the top of her head.

Momentarily overwhelmed by memories of their time together, Martha clung tightly to Jack. "Thank you." Slowly she pulled back and looked up at him. "I don't mean to sound rude but what are you doing here? I thought you were going to beg forgiveness from your Ianto?" She saw the flash of pain cross his face. "What happened?"

Jack's shoulders slumped and he swallowed back a sudden rush of tears. "My dream reunion didn't go as planned." He tried to give her a casual shrug but failed miserably. "Things happened that forced Ianto and the others to leave Torchwood, but I haven't given up. I just wanted to stop by and tell your parents and Tish where I was going." He forced a grin. "I don't want to get on Francine's bad side; she can be a little bit scary at times."

"Don't I know it!" They shared a brief chuckle but then curiosity got the better of her and Martha couldn't stop herself from asking, "Where are you off to?"

"The city that never sleeps, New York." Jack couldn't help but grin broadly; it had been so long since he had last visited the Big Apple.

Martha gave Jack a shy smile before gathering her courage and asking, "Can I come with you?" She knew she was running away when her family needed her the most but she just couldn't help feeling so guilty whenever she was with them. After all, it was her fault that her family had been captured by the Master in the first place, and Martha wouldn't blame them if they hated her. 'I certainly hate myself for it.' A fresh start was what she needed and something told her that she would find it in New York City.

Jack could see the guilt in Martha's eyes; it was the same that he saw reflected in his own whenever he looked into a mirror. If he hadn't clung to the TARDIS they wouldn't have been taken to the end of the universe and the nightmare of the Master would have never happened. "I would be honored to have my own nightingale along with me."

For the first time since leaving the Doctor, Martha found herself smiling a true smile. "Thank you, Jack. I need this fresh start." 'And maybe, just maybe, I can find someone to help me get over the Doctor.'


Supernatural - Never Let Go

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