silver_sun: (silver sun)
silver_sun ([personal profile] silver_sun) wrote on April 30th, 2015 at 11:40 am
Fic: Last of the Rift Born (4/12)
Title: Last of the Rift Born (4/12)
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:

Amaranth shook her head. “I'm no teacher and if you're expecting some wise woman mystic routine from me you're going to be sorely disappointed.” She stirred up the fire again, sparks rising into the night sky. “All I know is how it works for me, and just enough from the other Rift Born to certain that we all take to it differently.”

It wasn't the answer that Ianto had wanted, but hoping that perhaps the other Rift Born might have a more definite answer for him he asked, “How many more of us are there and is there any way I can contact them??”

“As I said an enquiring mind.” She smiled fondly, although Ianto suspected that it was more at the memories of times spent with the other Rift Born than because of him. “There are a good number of us. The House of the Dead and its way between the worlds was there for the best part of two thousand years. But as to how to find them I couldn't say. We run across each other more than perhaps chance would suggest and when you see another Rift Born you know what they are. Other than that there is no way I know of that isn't technological.”

Technology sounded good and Ianto looked at her hopefully. “I don't suppose...”

“No. I've never been good with the newer technologies.”

Sighing, Ianto looked up at the bright stars and moon overhead, a second and third moon having now risen to join the first It didn't matter that he was now apparently some kind of ageless immortal being, he was still utterly insignificant in the face of the vastness of time and space.

Vision blurring a little, he blinked to clear it. Then, determined to find something other than his apparently helplessness to concentrate on, he said, “So what do they all do then?”

There was pity in Amaranth's voice as she replied, “Whatever they wish. They are at heart just the men and women that they were in life. No more or less. That's not to say they aren't special in their own right or that they don't often see themselves as more.”

It would be all too easy to let immortality to go to your head, Ianto thought. You could set yourself up as some kind of living god if you so wished. It made him appreciate all the more that Jack, often at enormous personal cost, had used his immortality to protect the Earth rather than conquer it.

“You look worried,” Amaranth said looking at him, curious about what he was thinking. “You shouldn't be. Perhaps I wasn't clear in what I meant when I said they see themselves as more, I meant no harm in it, merely that some see this new life as a calling.” A wistful smile passed across her changing faces. “There's Joan, she was a nurse and she believes that this was a gift from her god and that he was calling her to help the sick wherever and whenever they are. Or then there's Aelwyn who's still working on his complete history of Wales, from the formation of its oldest rocks and mountains to the destruction of the Earth in the year six billion. Some have become soldiers, scholars or artists, while others believe they have been chosen as some kind of guardian of their family line and live their immortal lives in linear time protecting and aiding them where they can.”

They all sounded so noble and selfless that Ianto wondered if it was he who would be the one who was a disappointment. Nothing different there then, he thought bitterly. He'd hardly been the son his parents had wanted and he'd let Lisa and his friends down often enough that he sometimes wondered why they still remained friends with him at all.

“Not to say there aren't a few bad apples,” Amaranth continued, seeming to sense his mood. “There are those who've set themselves up as kings or queens, who've stolen or killed or manipulated the time-lines for their own goals. We are all still human at heart and prey to the same vices and desires we had in life.”

Manipulating the time-lines sounded like a dangerous proposition, but faced with the loses that came with immortality Ianto could see how it would be easy to be tempted. Jack had seemed to think that time was something that was fixed and tampering with it would have terrible consequences, yet so much of what he'd said seemed to indicate that there was at least a little bit of malleability present. The fact was, as hard as it was to accept, Jack probably didn’t really have any more idea than the rest of them.

“Is it possible?” Ianto asked eventually, torn between wanting to know and the fear that perhaps under the right circumstances he could become one of those corrupted by the power that he held. Love and loss were powerful motivators in his experience and he knows that there would have been a time when he'd have pulled the world apart to save those he loved. Whether knowing the consequences of his past actions had done enough to prevent him in future he had no idea, and he hopes that he would never find himself in a position to have to test it.

“It is,” Amaranth said finally. She watched him for a moment and then added, “If you truly believe that is the way your path lies then you should best try and seek out Bilis Manger.”

Ianto's blood ran cold. “Bilis is one of the Rift Born?”

“He is. He's not as old or powerful as he believes himself to be." She gave him a curious look and then asked warily, "How do you know of him?”

“It was before,” Ianto said looking into the fire. He picked up a stick and poked at the embers around the edges. “We didn't know he was Rift Born. We had no idea that the Rift or the House of the Dead could do what it did. All we knew was that he was dangerous.”

“That's Bilis,” Amaranth said sadly. “Burning ambition, a lack of conscience and limited talent have driven him to seek and obtain power beyond what any of us should hold. He would lie with a straight face that his intent was benign and then stab you in the back.”

Ianto closed his eyes again. Bilis and Abbadon hadn't been their finest hour. None of them, apart from perhaps Tosh, had come out of it well. He'd shot Owen and had failed to realise that they were being manipulated into opening the Rift. If the ghost of Lisa had claimed opening the Rift would have got her back he wouldn't have believed her, instead she'd appealed to his guilt and had sealed in his mind the need to use Protocol One. A long standing Torchwood Three directive it stated that if there was no other way to avoid a catastrophic temporal failure that would devastate the world then the Rift should be opened to allow a controlled burst of energy. It had been his life in exchange for countless millions, it hadn't been a difficult choice.

Bilis had played them all for fools. His and Tosh's sense of duty and their need to put the world before themselves had meant they'd open it. Owen and Gwen had done it for love. While Jack with his secrets within secrets and almost pathological inability to trust them with the truth or to give them the information that they needed to do their jobs, hadn't helped. Why, when he and Tosh had gone to him and told him that they thought it was time use Protocol One had Jack not used that opportunity to tell them that it wouldn't work? Surely that would have been better than dredging up their failures and throwing them in their faces with no alternative solution given?

“You are very quiet,” Amaranth said breaking his train of thought. “Do not take this the wrong way, but you an Bilis are too alike for my comfort. There is the same ability to lie without a trace of it showing in your face.”

“I needed it for my job,” Ianto replied, knowing that it was only partially the truth.

“This job sounds like it demanded too much for one so young.”

“I'm twenty five. It think I am, I'm not sure when I died,” Ianto said, not wanting to think too closely on when and how it had happened. “I can’t remember how.”

“When you get as old as I am everybody is young. Even the unchanging one. No, all I meant was take care that you do not find that the lies become your life.” Amaranth moved a little closer to the fire. “You have power beyond what Bilis first had. Not the most I've seen, but you have a mind that will not hesitate to master it.”

Amaranth's reply raised a lot more questions than it answered, but there was one that Ianto found more pressing than the rest. “Who is the unchanging one?”

“The man who cannot die. He is not one of us, he doesn't drift on the currents of time as we do. Time bends and flows about him like a rock in a stream. We do not know how he came to be, just that he is the only one and that once he was as human as we once were.”

“Have you met him?” Ianto asked, unable to keep his voice steady, certain now that she was talking about Jack.

“No. Although some have, I believe. We feel him in the timestream though. Something undefinable.”

“Something wrong.” It came out harsher than Ianto had intended, but he knew how much Jack had been hurt by being told that. How when his moods got to a low enough ebb that he'd use it about himself, convinced that everything bad that had happened was somehow his fault and that it was right he should suffer for it.

Amaranth watched him for a moment, a frown on her faces, then said, “Not at all. Is a mountain that is taller than the rest wrong? Or a star that shines more brightly than the others?” She patted his hand. “He just is. You are more than you seem and more than than you would have me believe. You know him, don't you? You were angry at the idea I might think ill of him. More than that, you believed what I said would hurt him. You wanted to protect him.”

Ianto nodded, dreading what Amaranth would ask him next. His relationship with Jack had either been incredibly complicated or very simple. It all depended on how you looked at it and whether you thought there had been anything beyond the physical between them. All he knows is that he wouldn't trade what it finally became for the world.

“You need to eat,” Amaranth said suddenly. Reaching past him she lifted a pot off the fire that Ianto was sure hadn't been there before and set it down in the sand between them. Ladling some stew out of the pot into a bowl, she handed it to Ianto with a spoon and a chunk of bread, then got the same for herself.

The stew wasn't the best Ianto had tasted, but it was passable. So he ate it it while trying not to wonder just what it was actually made from. Given that he could be anywhere or any when in time and space, the chances of it being anything he would actually know or recognise as food was pretty low. It didn't seem to have any meat in it and worrying about the existence of sentient vegetables didn't seem like a good use of his time.

“Immortality doesn't make you a good cook,” Amaranth's said with a laugh, when Ianto shook his head at being offered another bowl. “I keep meaning to take a class or something, but in two thousand years I've still never found the time.”

Ianto felt a smile tug at his lips. It sounded like something Jack would say. Not that Jack had had much opportunity, living for much of his time on Earth in eras when men weren't expected to do the cooking and later living in the Hub which only had a microwave, he'd become accustomed to relying on cafes and ready made food. It made Ianto wish that he'd asked Jack over to his flat and actually cooked for him rather go out for a meal or order takeaway. Just one of far too many regrets, he thought sadly.

Part 5
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