silver_sun: (silver sun)
silver_sun ([personal profile] silver_sun) wrote on April 27th, 2015 at 03:39 pm
Fic: Last of the Rift Born (3/12)
Title: Last of the Rift Born (3/12)
Rating: Adult over all – this part PG.
Word count: This part 2000. Total will be around 20k.
Pairing. Jack/Ianto, other original alien characters as and when needed for plot.
Contains: Mention of canon character death (Ianto – but this is a fix-it fic, so not permanent) and temporary Jack death in later part.

Summary: Alone in the House of the Dead Ianto has a choice to make. The result of which will change his life forever. (Set directly after Jack leaves in House of the Dead radio play.)

Starts here:

Walking as fast as the loose, drifting sand would allow, Ianto made his way across the moonlit desert. The night was cool despite the effort of walking and he suspected that it would get even colder a few more hours. Finding the fire or at least some shelter would have to be top priority unless he wished to add exposure to his problems.

The dull red gleam dipped in and out of view as he walked over the gentle rolling dunes. Each time Ianto lost sight of it there was the fear that he wouldn't find it again because whoever it belonged to would extinguish it for the night or run out of firewood or whatever it was that could be used as fuel in such a desolate place.

It kept on burning, a beacon in a desolate land. Finally as he neared it, Ianto could see that it was indeed a campfire and that there was a woman was sitting beside it. More than that he couldn't say, as her features, clothing and even species seemed to be constantly changing. Not abrupt changes, more a seamless morph between one and the next, but it was still deeply disconcerting. It the suns had still be present he'd have assumed that she was a mirage sent to taunt him.

“Sit down,” she called out as he moved into the firelight. She patted the sand next to her. “You are weary and have travelled far.”

Feeling rather dizzy from the effort of walking without having anything to drink all day, Ianto blinked at her, unable to focus on a single image. “How do you know that?”

“All who have newly come through are,” she said simply.

As she looked at him Ianto realised that despite all the other changes, her eyes stayed the same. Deep and dark, filled with the light of ancient stars. “Who are you?” he asked moving closer, but not sitting down.

“I have had many names through time. You can call me Amaranth, it is the one I've used these last few years.” She smiled, young and joyful and ancient and wise in the same moment. “We are the same, you and I.”

“Is my face...?” Ianto begun, feeling rather stupid and self-conscious at the same time. Surely he would have noticed something? He looked down at his hands. They appeared to be the same hands he's always had. There was even the small scar on hiss thumb from a misguided attempt at friendship with Lisa's mum's pet cat.

Amaranth laughed, amused rather than mocking. “No, you have just the one face. A handsome one at that. What I meant was that we are the Rift Born. I the first and you, I have reason to believe, the last.”

“The last?” Ianto asked. Suddenly worried that closing the Cardiff end of the Rift had produced some unforeseen consequence. “What do you mean the last?”

“The last of those to pass through life and dead and into life immortal by passing through the House of the Dead.” She pointed to a place by the fire next to her. “Come, sit, you look worn out. I will tell you what I can. You need not fear for those you have left behind. You had already passed to them, their lives will be lived as time dictates. You have done nothing to hurt them by moving on into this new life.”

Amaranth, if that really was her name, didn't seem like a threat, and with no other option available to him Ianto finally moved to sit down beside to her. Trying not to show how exhausted he still felt, he asked, “How can you possibly know that?”

She looked into the fire, her faces wistful and all older for the moment. “Experience. I told you I was the first. I have seen many of those who have stepped through into this new life. Most have sought to check on those they have left behind and none have been worse off for the creation of the Rift Born. Maybe for the initial death, but never for anything after.”

“But I broke the Rift. I'm the last, you said it yourself,” Ianto said, scared now that perhaps Jack had been wrong in believing that it would just close the Rift. What if it had somehow damaged time? Was that even possible?

“Worry is natural. I used to worry, until I realised that all things happen as they are meant. Time is far less malleable that you might believe. It will always right itself in the end.” She took a jug from out of the shadows behind her, poured some water into a cup and then handed it to Ianto. “You must understand, once the Rift did not exist, so it is not strange that one day it would cease to be. All things have their time. As I was the first, somebody had to be the last. There is nothing you could have done.”

“But it is my fault,” Ianto said quietly, feeling wretched. He was tired, starting to ache again, thirsty, hungry and scared. “I blew it up. I meant to close it.”

“How?” Amaranth asked, interested rather than angry. “It is rare enough that a person moving through the House ever becomes aware of the fact that their mortal life has passed.” She frowned. “Or is this how you died? You destroyed the House of the Dead and your own life at the same time?”

Ianto shook his head and drank some of the water. “Somebody I know, that I care about, came to find me there. He brought the bomb with him. He wanted...” He stopped and bit his lip. Thinking about Jack and the mental state he'd been in was too distressing.

“To be with you?” she asked.

“No. I don't think so. He just wanted...” Ianto stopped again, it didn't seem right to share what Jack had wanted to do. Maybe he'd have considered telling Gwen and he'd have probably talked it through with Tosh, had she been alive, but not like this, not with a stranger.

“He wanted to die, didn't he?” Amaranth said gently. She placed a hand on Ianto's arm. “I am sorry for that, that he made you complicit in it. People make their own choices in life, you are not to blame for their actions. I am sorry though that he didn't pass over with you to this place, but not all are meant for this life.”

“He's not dead,” Ianto said, trying to take comfort that however long it took to find him Jack would always be there. “I made him leave. I destroyed the Rift to save my world.” He closed his eyes, trying to fight the near overwhelming feeling of loss, before he added hoarsely, “To save him.”

“The way between the worlds was not a danger,” she said sadly, staring into the depths of the fire. “To destroy out of love, however misguided is more understandable to me than destruction born out of unfounded fear.”

“It wasn't out of fear, not like you mean,” Ianto said, rather annoyed that Amaranth would judge Jack and his own actions without even knowing why they did it. “There was something coming through it, an alien being, she was collapsing the barrier between the worlds because she needed to feed of the energy of living beings. It was to stop her that I destroyed it. I gave up my chance to go with him. I saved an entire planet of lives, maybe all planets, who knows. It was fitting I guess, given that's apparently how I died the first time. I suppose it had to happen eventually, didn't it?”

It surprised Ianto just how bitter he sounded about that. Ever since the destruction of Torchwood One he'd felt like he was living on borrowed time, that death would soon realise that it had made a mistake in letting him go.
Some people had called it survivors’ guilt when he'd tried to explain it to them. Ianto just saw it a realistic outlook on his life. You didn't work for Torchwood Three and expect to grow old and you didn't get to make plans for the future. Once it hadn't been a death sentence, back when they'd been fully staffed and, although Ianto hated to admit it, back before Jack was in charge, people had actually retired and died of non-alien related causes.

Amaranth was quiet for a few moments, using the pause in conversation to lay another couple of branches from an unseen pile ontto the fire. Finally she said, “You have lived a life far stranger than most who pass down this road, there is more understanding and sorrow in you than in many others who have lived countless lifetimes.”

“You have no idea,” Ianto said, laughter bubbling up before he could stop himself. It wasn't funny, but it was so true to what his life had been, that he couldn't stop himself. Shaking, breath catching in his throat, tears running down his face, until he wasn't sure if he was laughing at the absurdity of it all or weeping for all he'd lost.

Amaranth watched, then handed him a rough, clay beaker of water. “You could tell me, if it would help. You know, you haven't even told me your name.”

The water tasted fresh, although he couldn't begin to work out where she had got it from. He drank half of it before putting it down. Embarrassed at how close he'd come to falling apart, although given what had happened in the last half day or so, perhaps it hadn't been an over reaction. It still made him feel weak, so trying to regain control of the conversation and with it hopefully his emotions, Ianto said, “My name is Ianto Jones, and if you don't mind me asking what was yours?”

“I don't mind, although it has been many a long year since I've spoken it aloud. Heulwen was my name when I first stepped through,” she said wistfully. Her appearance paused for a moment on a human woman well into middle age, her grey hair still thick where it hung in a long plait over her shoulder, the fire light reflecting off a thin twisted gold torc about her neck. Then the image was gone, lost in the sea of her changing faces. “They called me Y Wrach, The Witch, when I finally found my way back to them.”

“You were Welsh?” Ianto said, wondering why he should have been surprised: The House of the Dead and the Rift had been close to Cardiff.

“Not as you understand it. When I passed through the House of the Dead, it was a round house in a woodland clearing. Rumours of strange, armoured men from across the sea were starting to circulate, and with them the fearful whispers of the new technologies they brought with them and how they fought as one so all that opposed them fell before their wall of swords and shields.”

GCSE history and information read on the leaflets in the tourist office left Ianto in little doubt as to what she meant: Romans. “You're two thousand years old,” Ianto said, amazed that the woman sat beside him was nearly as old as Jack.

“What makes you think I've lived my life in linear time?” Amaranth asked, amused. “Honestly, I gave up counting a long time ago. What's the point when you have forever? If I had to put a figure on it I'd say this old body has been travelling for more than five times that.” She leaned in a little closer to him and added awe in her voice, “And there is still so very much left to see.”

“You're not trapped on this world then?” Ianto said, hope flaring anew.

“Of course not.” She looked at him, something akin to pity in her eyes. “Did you really think that you would be trapped here, unable to return to your world again?”

Ianto nodded, feeling weak with relief. “How do I do it? Can you show me?”

Part 5:

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