Title : The Wanderer - Epilogue.
Summary: At the far end of the universe, Jack has an interesting encounter with a too perfect woman and finds unexpected help to keep his promise. (Spoilers for Children of Earth)
Characters: Ianto Jones, Jack Harkness, Original Character.
Genres: General, Introspection
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Notes : At last, this is the last chapter. I'm aware this fic is highly imperfect but I had my heart set on finishing it. It's supposed to be only a prologue and two other parts and an epilogue are planned, with more adventure and action. The plot is already fixed, but for now, I want to concentrate on the AU that I'm currently writing. Thanks to my wonderful beta reader, welsh_scotsmanfor her help and unwavering support and to all the readers who took time to comment. You're wonderful.
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January 23rd 2889 (Earth's time)
The park was a peaceful place. Children were playing on the lawn, whilst old people were feeding swans, none of them paying attention to the blonde woman sitting on a bench near the pond, nor to the tears running down her face.
Curled up on herself, Glinn wrapped her arms around her chest and tried to calm down, but the pain was excruciating. Like someone digging a hole in her chest with a white-hot poker. She had never experienced such a thing and she was terrified. She felt lost and exhausted. The voices of the Elders hadn't come back and she was pretty sure that they had left for good. She was by herself and she had to face it alone.
Sitting up, she breathed deeply and undertook to gather her thoughts.
It had been torture to look at Ianto, smiling and joking, so alive and so in love with Jack, and to know that a few days later he would die and Jack would be devastated for hundreds of years. It had been even worse than her encounter with Jack, because on the contrary to the immortal's one, Ianto's soul had no dark side. No matter what he had done during his short life, good or bad, inwardly, he had remained as pure as the child she had met.
Whilst she tried hard to maintain a normal conversation with him, all she had been able to think of was that she had to save him. She had felt out of her mind, overwhelmed by a flood of emotions coming from nowhere. An unknown voice screamed in her head and entreated her to do something, anything, to change the future and save his life. She had practically fled out of the pub and she still couldn’t believe how close she had been to giving in to temptation.
Don't go to London. Don't follow Jack to Thames House. Flee as fast as you can. Right now. Do it or you're gonna die.
The words had been in her mouth, ready to be said, but by some miracle, at the last moment, they had died on her lips.
She had been unable to go this far. Of course she had broken most of the rules of her people, but she couldn't help being a Wanderer. She had it in herself and deliberately creating a paradox was beyond her strength. For a moment, she had forgotten who she was and all she knew, but she couldn't have stopped being herself, for the sake of the world.
She leant back on the bench and closed her eyes. She couldn't afford to fall apart, not yet.
She knew she should be relieved : even if her link with the community was broken from now on, at least the memories she had collected about Jack and Ianto had been safely stored in the Mengajiard's memory, before it happened. She had kept her promise to Jack and Ianto would never be forgotten. In one sense, he would live forever, or more likely for as long as the Mengajiards would exist. Which was pretty much the same thing.
But she also knew she had to deal with another problem she had kept aside until then: the Time Agency.
All she had done in order to help Jack would be a waste of effort, if he still had to flee for the rest of his life. She was convinced that the Time Agency would never leave Jack alone. They were like a pack of wolves tracking down prey. They were spiteful and merciless, jumping through time and space with impunity and it was only a question of time before they swooped down on him and tore him to shreds. They had already stolen two years of his life. It was enough. It was time for them to be put in their place and she had volunteered to give them that lesson.
But to achieve her goal, she needed to be in control, she couldn't afford to let her emotions have the upper hand.
From the corner of her eye, she caught sight of two men coming towards her. They were the ones she was waiting for : the two Time Agents assigned with finding Jack and of whom she had seen through the goings-on in the same park, before she met Jack at the space interchange.
Her window for acting was very short. Time Agents were too evasive to take the risk to hunt them through time and space, so she had decided to go into action just after they had met their informer on the other side of the pond as she was listening them from behind a copse, but before they left through the Vortex. It was her only chance, if she didn't want to alter the timeline.
Of course, she was aware that she wasn't up to disabling the Time Agency on her own, but if she could just implant some false information into the men's minds, maybe, at least she could give Jack some respite and have some time to find another way to shut the Agency down. Maybe, as a the last resort, she could refer the case to the Shadow Proclamation, even if that thought made her skin crawl.
She was about to get up and follow the two men when she felt fingers grabbing her wrist and forcing her to stay seated. She tried briefly to free herself, before giving up as she recognized the man sitting beside her on the bench. She had been so lost in her thoughts she hadn't heard him coming up. Tough she didn't think she would have heard him coming up anyway.
Whilst she was staring at him, trying to figure out his intentions, the two Time Agents passed before her and went away. The moment was gone. It was too late : two minutes before they had had their appointment and, now, they were heading to the woods, where they could discretely use their vortex manipulators and vanish into thin air.
Tears of rage welled up in her eyes and she wiped them furiously.
"What are you doing here, Solis?" she snapped at the old man beside her, her eyes still following the two men. "I thought the Elders were finished with me."
"And you were wrong, child," answered the Elder calmly as he loosened his grip.
"So, they sent you to clean up my mess and bring me back on the straight and narrow," she replied.
The older man shook his head and chuckled.
"No, they didn't. Actually, I volunteered."
Glinn rolled her eyes.
"So you can go back to them and tell them I won't apologize. I know they're mad at me, but I did what I had to do. So now, if you could leave me..."
She wanted to get up but once again, but he forced her to sit down. His face was calm, but determined.
She should have guessed Solis would be the one sent by the Council. He was much older than her - about three million years old, but behind the facade of the old and wise Elder, he was also kind and understanding. Tough there was no parenthood amongst the community, there was always a member of it who was dedicated to another in particular, like a sort of a godfather. Solis was hers and, until then, she had never complained about it, but right now she wasn't in the mood for a lecture.
"They're not mad at you. They're worried... about you, child."
Glinn's anger rose up again and she glared at him as she freed her wrist with a jolt.
"Don't call me 'child', I 'm not still six years old."
"So stop acting like one."
The old man gazed in contemplation at the scenery.
"Do you really think none of us have ever felt the same as you?" he finally asked, taking care not to use the offending name this time.
She turned towards him.
"Most of our people had the same experience," he added without looking at her.
"Yes, I did.1944. Buchenwald. Her name was Alice and she was seven years old."
His features darkened. He seemed lost in his own memories for a few seconds, before going on with a slightly hoarse voice.
"Imagine it. Two hundred and fifty thousand souls screaming to me their pain and their fear, and the only one voice I could hear at that moment was hers. The voice of that tiny blonde girl in a blue coat, lost amongst thousands of people walking to their death. She was so pure, so loving. She was about to die and she knew it, but all her concern was for her family. She couldn't stop worrying for her grandmother and praying that she wouldn't suffer before dying."
He paused and sighed.
"At that time, I was already older than you're now. I was a respected and confident member of the Council and, all of the sudden, nothing mattered anymore, apart from this little girl and the fact I didn't want her to die. At that moment, I was ready to do anything to save her. I would have happily killed Hitler in his cradle and change the entire destiny of the World, if it could have saved her."
"What did you do?"
"The same as you did with your Captain and his lover. I managed to pull myself together and drag myself from her. I picked up her memories just before she died and put them in a special place in my heart."
Glinn looked down. All her will to fight had faded and she was just feeling worn out and sad.
"Why?" she asked. "Why didn't you warn me? You should have told me. I felt so lost and alone and... it hurt."
"I know, child. I know."
He wrapped an arm around her shoulders and she huddled up to him, resting her head on his shoulder.
"It wouldn't have changed anything. It was a predicament you had to overcome by yourself. Nothing could have prepared you to (for) what happened. It's not like it was something you can control or ignore. It's in you, Glinn. It's your part of humanity that talks." He let out a weary sigh. "I suppose all of it has a reason to be, but only time will tell."
"I hope so."
They stayed quiet for a while, watching the swans sliding gracefully on the pond, until Solis finally broke the silence.
"Now, it's time for you to come back home, Glinn. They're waiting for you."
"I can't. Jack is still in danger. I can't abandon him," she protested, with a hint of despair.
Solis pressed a kiss on her hair.
"We will deal with them. Don't worry."
He got up and reach out to her.
"The Council has already deliberated and decided it's time for the Time Agency to close down."
She looked up at him with wide eyes.
She couldn't believe what she heard. It was so unexpected.
"Yes." Solis shook his head and sighed with dismay. "Time Agency, or whatever its name now, seems to have more than exceeded its prerogatives. They've become carefree, not to say careless with timelines and it’s starting to become very annoying."
He smoothed out his coat before going on.
"At first we thought that a Time Agency might be a good way to prevent paradoxes and preserve timelines, so we let them act at their leisure. But hell is paved with good intentions, and it seems that the Time Agency is currently one of these paving stones. So it's our duty to take appropriate measures to make the trouble cease."
A large smile lit up his handsome face as he flexed his fingers and invited her to take his hand. Instead of that, she jumped to her feet and threw her arms around his neck.
"Thank you, oh, thank you so much."
Tears started to flow again, but this time they were of gratitude and relief. Solis patted her back and extricated himself from her fierce embrace.
"Come on, child. Lets go home."
With a mischievous wink, he added, "On the way, we will also take the opportunity to send a message to your dear Captain and tell him he is safe now."
Glinn planted a peck onto his cheek and wounded her arm around his.
As the sun was slowly setting, the two Wanderers left the park arm in arm and faded away through time and space, unnoticed.