“Is school all right, Gray?” Jack asked as the car slowly inched forward in an afternoon traffic jam. “You haven’t had any problems? The other kids are…”

“They’re all right,” Gray answered. “There’s a boy called Hywel… he has two dads, too. His mum went to…” Gray paused. He was trying to remember a place name that was familiar to everyone else in his class, but which he had only ever seen written down on a map of Earth that Jack had given him to study. “Australia… And he stayed with his father and his father’s boyfriend. And there’s a lot of girls and boys that only have a mum. So nobody really minds. Most of them are impressed that I live in a posh apartment, not on the estate where they are. Would it be all right if I invite some friends to come and play at the weekend?”

Jack hesitated. He glanced at Garrett. He waited until the car stopped at the traffic lights before he turned and smiled reassuringly at the boy.

“That will be perfectly fine,” he said. “We’ll order pizzas and pick up a big tub of ice cream. Will that suit your friends?”

“I… think it will,” Gray answered. Then he paused and thought about something. “When they come to our house… Hywel told me that he calls his real father ‘dad’, and his other father ‘Bob’ – because that’s his name. And I was wondering…”

Gray paused. The lights changed. Garrett had to pay attention to the traffic. But Jack could see his expression. He looked as if he’d prepared himself for a conversation like this.

“I’ve been thinking about it,” Gray said. “And… it feels funny calling you ‘dad’, Jack. Because you’re my brother, really. And when we were both… back home… we had the same dad. And you don’t feel like…”

Jack looked around at his brother. In the past weeks, he had almost stopped thinking of him as his little brother. Their relationship was more like father and son, now. The things they did together, going down to the park, driving to the beach, even ordinary meals and watching TV at night, were more like he imagined that other sort of relationship. But if that felt difficult for Gray, if the fourteen year old brother was still real to him, then he understood fully.

“So… anyway,” the boy continued. “I was thinking… Garrett is a dad already. Because he’s got his girls in the pictures he has… so would it be all right if he was my dad?”

Garrett made an odd sound in his throat. Something between a sob and an exclamation. Jack looked at him, then back to his brother again. What he said right now was important to both of them.

“I think that sounds a good idea,” Jack said. “Garrett’s used to answering to ‘dad’ so he won’t forget and give the game away. And you’re ok calling me Jack?”

At first, especially when they were alone, Gray had called him by his other name, the one he was known by when he was a child of Boeshane. But he was slowly becoming accustomed to calling him Jack. It was one of the ways in which he was becoming used to his new life.

He looked at Garrett. He was smiling faintly. Gray had accidentally pinpointed a chink in Garrett’s armour. He missed his daughters more than he ever let on. Letters and cards and presents sent to them, letters back with drawings done at school and photographs, didn’t make up for the miles between them.

But Gray had just offered him a chance to be a father again.

Garrett’s smile widened. Jack’s matched it. At the next traffic lights, after he applied the handbrake, Garrett’s hand reached out further and clasped Jack’s until the amber light signalled the end of that sweet moment of intimacy.

Jack allowed himself to feel content with his life right now. But being Jack there was a cynical kernel of his soul that told him not to get too complacent. Something would be waiting around the corner to spoil that contentment.

Garrett drove the car into the secure parking underneath the apartment block. He didn’t give a passing thought to it. He had parked there every day since he moved to the Cardiff section of MI5. He didn’t notice anything unusual about the well lit space used by all of his neighbours in the building above.

But then he spotted the two men who approached the car as he got out of the driver’s side while Jack opened the back door to let Gray out. He took a deep breath and shouted a warning. Jack dragged Gray from the car and pushed him to the ground, covering him with his body just as the men opened fire with the guns they had concealed beneath their coats.

It all happened in seconds. Jack heard the crack of Garrett’s automatic pistol as he returned fire. He heard a cry of pain. He pressed Gray down on the floor and told him to stay down as he rolled over, reaching to his hip for his own gun. He rolled and came up firing. One of the gunmen was already down. Garrett had got him. He took careful aim at the other and put two rounds straight through his forehead.

Then he stuffed the gun back into the holster and ran around to the driver’s side of the car, his heart pounding with dread, knowing what he was going to find.

“Garrett,” he cried, lifting his lover from the tarmac floor. He was bleeding from two wounds, one in his shoulder, the other in his stomach. He was conscious, but only just and he suppressed a scream as Jack opened the back of the car and pushed him in, yelling for Gray to get into the front seat.

Gray did as he said. Jack had to lean over and fasten his seatbelt for him. He was trembling so much he couldn’t engage the clip. He didn’t bother with his own. He just put the car into gear and put his foot down on the accelerator. He pressed the button on the communicator that was almost permanently hooked over his ear and told Martha to get ready for a medical emergency. Then he reached for his mobile phone. He knew driving, especially at speed, and using a mobile was insanely dangerous, but this was important.

“It’s Jack Harkness, from Torchwood,” he said and then gave a long alphanumeric code. “I’m with Garrett Dunne. He’s down. He took out two hostiles that ambushed us, first. I think they were Arabs, so they must be your department, not mine. You need to get to the Century Wharf and clean up the scene before too many civilians get involved.” There was a pause as Garrett’s colleague asked an obvious question. “I’ve got him. I’m looking after him. You just do your job…”

He dropped the phone and risked a glance into the back of the car. Garrett was fighting to stay conscious. He was trying to say something, but Jack couldn’t hear properly over Gray’s hysterical noise. He couldn’t comfort either of them and it was breaking his heart.

“Dad!” Gray cried as he twisted in his seat and tried to reach out to Garrett in the back. The name he had chosen, only a few minutes ago, cut like a knife into Jack’s heart. Gray hadn’t seen his real father killed. But now Garrett was dying by inches. “Dad, please don’t die.”

“I’m… trying not to…” Garrett answered him. He was pressing his own hand over the wound, trying to stop the bleeding. Gray’s eyes were fixed on his face, trying not to look at the blood staining his shirt. Garrett fought to keep his eyes open, focussing on the boy.

“Hold on. We’re nearly there,” Jack said. He turned the car sharply into the concealed underground entrance to the Torchwood car pool. Martha was there, already in surgical gown, mask and gloves, along with Ianto and Alun and a hospital trolley. They lifted Garrett out of the car and onto the trolley and moved quickly down the length of corridor to the Hub. Jack extricated Gray from his seatbelt and carried him in his arms as he ran after them.

“You should have taken him to hospital,” Martha told him. “This isn’t really the best place for…”

“It’s the closest place,” Jack answered. “And it’s secure. We were attacked by terrorists. This is easier than locking down a hospital to make sure they don’t try again.”

“But we don’t have a blood bank,” Martha pointed out as the boys lifted the trolley down the steps to the medical room. “He’s already lost so much. He’ll die if he doesn’t get an immediate transfusion. And what’s his blood type, anyway?”

“AB Positive,” Jack answered immediately. Martha looked aghast.

“Even at a hospital that would be tricky,” she said. “AB Positive is three per cent of the population.”

“Including me,” Jack said. He looked around as Gwen charged down the steps. He put Gray into her arms. “Look after him,” he said. “He’s not hurt, but he’s scared stiff.”

“When is he ever going to come here and not be scared stiff?” Gwen asked. “God, Jack… what happened?”

“Just look after him for us,” he repeated as he pulled off his coat and waistcoat and ripped his shirt sleeve open ready to give his blood to save his lover’s life. Martha didn’t look happy about it, but she turned and told Alun and Ianto to put on surgical gloves and masks. She gave them instructions for setting up the transfusion of blood between Jack and Garrett while she attempted to remove the two bullets.

“The shoulder is straightforward,” she confirmed. “Basic through and through. The stomach…” She looked at the screen next to the examination table. A piece of alien technology gave her instant x-ray pictures and she could see that the bullet was lodged in his spleen. He was going to need a very delicate operation.

“It’ll take more blood than you’ve got to sustain him through a splenectomy,” Martha told Jack. He was looking pale already as his blood was siphoned off into Garrett’s body.

“I’ve got an unlimited supply,” he answered. “Take all you need… I’ll be ready in five minutes or so to go again.”

Martha opened her mouth to protest. What Jack was suggesting was incredible. But she knew he probably could do it.

She got ready to perform the operation. Ianto and Alun were hardly trained theatre nurses, but they would have to do. She had coped with worse. In that terrifying year of hell that The Doctor managed to undo when he defeated The Master, she had done field surgery in some of the worst conditions imaginable. She had saved some of her patients, lost more of them than she would have liked. She did her best. She would do her best, now.

“You have to,” Jack said. “For Gray. He just… half an hour ago… decided he wanted to call him dad. You have to save him for the boy.”

Martha said nothing. She was too busy for conversation. But it struck her that Jack had become a much less selfish person since that time when she first met him. He wanted Garrett to live for Gray, not for himself. That had been his first thought.

But what anyone wanted didn’t count for much at times like this. Garrett’s life was in her hands and she could only do what was humanly possible.

“Jack!” She heard Ianto cry out and she turned just long enough to see him stop the valve on the transfusion tube and prop Jack up in the chair. Ianto held his bloodless body in his arms until he gave a hoarse breath and opened his eyes again. She knew there was no point in asking where the full five quarts of blood came from as he sat up again looking alive and well, if slightly groggy. What went on in his body when he died? The scientist in her wanted to find out. The doctor in her didn’t care right now. She already had one patient to worry about.

He was still losing blood too fast. Jack’s incredible body was being depleted a second time as she worked as fast as she could. She glanced at the lifesigns monitor above the operating table. Garrett was barely alive.

Jack was right when he said it would have taken longer to get him to a hospital. The nearest emergency department was four miles away from where Garrett was gunned down. And in early evening traffic it could have taken as much as twenty minutes to get him there. But they would have started treatment in the ambulance. He might have had a better chance.

Or he might not. There wasn’t very much more they could have done for him even in a bigger emergency department with more staff. And after all, she was willing to bet few Cardiff A&E doctors had more experience of gunshot wounds than she did. Maybe it was the right thing after all.

She managed to extract Garrett’s spleen, along with the bullet, and began to cauterise the wound just as Jack again died of blood loss. Again, Ianto looked after him while she carried on the surgery with Alun as her chief nurse.

“We’re losing him,” Alun cried out urgently as she prepared to close the wound.

“No, we’re not,” Martha responded. “Not now. Not after all this effort. The sacrifice Jack’s made…”

But Garrett’s lifesigns were all failing. His pulse was slow, heart brachycardic, his breathing erratic.

They were losing him.

Martha forced herself to work steadily, resisting the impulse to rush. But she was only part way through closing the wound in Garrett’s stomach when she heard the worst sound any surgeon could hear - the steady monotone of a flatlining heart monitor. She immediately abandoned the suturing and reached for the defibrillator. She shocked his heart and then began chest compressions, desperately counting the required beats before beginning the process again. If she could only restart his heart, then he had a chance. The operation was nearly over. He just needed a few more minutes.

But the line on the monitor stayed flat and the monotone taunted her as the maximum time anyone could be clinically dead and still recover was reached. She tried twice more before Alun’s quiet voice told her what she knew already.

It was too late.

Then Jack came back to life with a ragged intake of breath that turned to a grief-stricken scream. Alun ran to help Ianto restrain him. Martha looked around as she pulled off the now redundant surgical mask. Garrett wasn’t the first patient to die on her. But that didn’t make it any easier to bear.

“Jack, I’m sorry,” she said. “I did my best. I did all that anyone could have done….”

He didn’t hear her. He broke free of Ianto and Alun and reached the operating table. He pushed away the oxygen mask and bent to kiss his lover. He was still crying bitterly. He had died twice to try to save Garrett, and it hadn’t been enough. Martha watched him and tried to be objective and calm about it all, but she failed miserably. Tears pricked her eyes, too as Jack’s inconsolable grief overwhelmed them all.

Ianto stepped towards Jack and gently put his arm across his shoulder. He whispered something to him. Jack sobbed even harder and turned to his friend whose embrace offered a small crumb of comfort. Alun moved towards the table and began to take the transfusion tube out of Garrett’s arm and switch off the life support monitor.

Then he yelped in surprise. The monotone changed to an erratic beep and a massive systolic jolt registered as a long peak in the flatline followed by a set of smaller peaks that represented a heart beat that was steadying after a huge shock.

Then Garrett screamed in horror and his hands flailed, pulling the sensors from his chest. The monitor bleeped and went flatline again but this time because it wasn’t attached to anything. Alun switched it off.

Jack turned and stared. For maybe twenty seconds he didn’t let himself believe what he was seeing. Then he took two strides and threw his arms around his lover.

“You’re alive!” he managed to say. “I don’t believe it.”

“I’m… not sure I do, either,” Garrett managed. “I thought… I don’t know what I thought. But…”

“Jack,” Martha said gently. “Come out of the way for a minute. Let me look at him.”

She had to say it twice before Jack obeyed. Ianto held him again as he stood back, but this time he was sobbing with joy. Martha gently pressed Garrett back down onto the table and examined the wound she was part way through suturing when he flatlined.

There was no wound. The sutures were still there, but they were fixed into clean, undamaged flesh. She gave an astonished gasp and turned to the x-ray machine. She was only slightly surprised to see that Garrett had a fully functioning and undamaged spleen.

“What happened to me?” Garrett asked. “I was dead… and now…”

“He did it,” Martha said to him as she checked his pulse by hand, just to be absolutely certain. “Jack gave you his blood, twice. There can’t be any of yours left in your body. But… it meant… when you died… what happens to him… happened to you.”

“What!” Jack turned and looked at Garrett with a stunned expression on his face. “You mean… seriously… he’s… like me now… immortal…”

“Probably not,” Martha admitted. “It’ll take about twenty-four hours for his own blood to reassert itself. Then I think he’ll be an ordinary Human again. It’s a borrowed gift. But it saved his life this time.”

“Jack…” Garrett reached out his hand. Jack caught hold of it. “Thank you.”

Nobody had noticed Ianto leaving the medical room. He came back with one of Jack’s spare shirts and a clean pair of trousers and gave them to Garrett.

“There’s a boy up there who needs to see you,” he said. “Better if you weren’t covered in blood.”

Jack had almost forgotten about Gray in the heady moments of grief turned to relief. He ran up the steps two at a time and didn’t stop until he got to the boardroom. Gray was sitting at the table. There was a carton of orange juice in front of him but he wasn’t interested. When he saw Jack he ran to him, expecting the worst.

“It’s all right,” Jack assured him. “It’s all right. He’s alive. He’s ok.”

Gray heard his words, but he didn’t believe them until he saw Garrett come up the steps in Jack’s borrowed clothes. Then he broke free of his brother’s embrace and ran to him.

“Dad,” he said as Garrett reached to hold him. “I thought you were…”

“I’m all right,” he promised. “I’m sorry you were scared. And I’m sorry that the things I do at my work came so close to hurting you.”

He brought Gray to the sofa and sat down with him. Jack joined him. For a little while all any of them wanted to do was hold each other. It was still only a bare hour since they had been driving home in the car, feeling content and satisfied with their lives. Then that contentment had been blown away in a few violent moments.

Gwen came in quietly with a Chinese take out for the three of them and then left them in peace. They all needed that. They ate hungrily. Garrett savoured his food. Jack wasn’t surprised. The fact that he was living and breathing was a miracle enough. But Jack knew that food always tasted amazing immediately after his ‘resurrection’ from the dead. All of his senses were heightened. The taste of sweet and sour pork must have been sublime to Garrett right now.

They didn’t talk much. There were a lot of things they needed to talk about, but it was enough to be together right now.

After the meal, Garrett said he had to make some phone calls. His people needed to know he was alive and he needed to know if they had any information about the hostiles who attacked him.

“Use my office,” Jack said. “We’ll wait here.”

Gray didn’t like that idea very much, but Jack held him back as Garrett left the boardroom.

“I know how you feel,” he said. “I don’t want to let him out of my sight right now, either.”

He hugged his brother as they waited for the man they both loved to return to the boardroom. When he did, he looked grim.

“Things are moving fast,” he said. “The two who attacked us have been identified. They’re part of a terrorist cell we’ve been keeping tabs on for months. We were close to moving in on them. This was their way of telling us to back off… hitting me… at home… they were telling us that they’re bigger than British Military Intelligence… that they can hit us where it hurts and we can’t stop them.”

“Like hell,” Jack replied.

“But for a miracle they’d have been right.”

“What now, then?”

“I’ve been told to disappear for a few days,” Garrett answered. “The cell are going to make their move the day after tomorrow. And we’re going to be waiting for them. But I’m compromised right now. They know where I live. So I’ve got to get to a safe house and stay put until further orders.”

“You’re leaving us?” Gray hadn’t exactly followed the conversation, but he understood that much. Jack didn’t say anything. But if he had, his voice would have betrayed the same sense of dismay. “Dad…”

“I like it when you say that,” Garrett said, ruffling the boy’s hair gently. “In the car… through the pain… I heard you calling to me… It stopped me giving in and just dying. You… and my own little girls… I kept thinking of you all and I wanted to live, so much.” He paused and took a deep breath. “Jack… I told them I wasn’t going to disappear on my own. We’re all going to the safe house. You, me and Gray. I know what you’re going to say, Jack. You’ve got to be here. But you don’t. Your team can handle things. You and Gray are my family, now. And I need you with me.”

“We can’t go home?” Gray looked worried as that fact sank in.

“Not yet,” Garrett answered. “Your plan to invite your friends over next weekend is still on. But you’re having a couple of days off school and a change of scenery.”

“I think I could use a change of scenery,” Jack said. “When do you want us to be ready?”

“As soon as Alun’s car is fuelled up and ready. The Audi. He’s lending it to me. My car is compromised, too.”

“You’re using my team’s personal transport as a standby MI5 car pool!” Jack managed a wry smile. It was a plan, anyway. It wasn’t how he had intended to spend the evening, but if it meant he didn’t have to let Garrett out of his sight, then he was fine with it.

“Just one thing. I’m driving. You were shot in the shoulder an hour ago. Regeneration or no, it aches for a day after.”

Garrett accepted that much adaptation of his plan. They set off with the good wishes of the Torchwood team and made good progress in the light early evening traffic outbound on the A470. They didn’t talk much at first, but after the first hour, with Gray sleeping under a blanket on the back seat of the Quatro, Garrett opened up the first of several burning questions.

“Is it like that for you every time?” he asked. “The… darkness… the feeling that you should be going on somewhere else… but… then… life pulls you back.”

“That’s how it was for you?” Jack replied. “Like you COULD go on to… whatever is beyond life… heaven or oblivion or… whatever?”

“Yes. I felt… there was no pain any more. I had been in agony… but then it was dark and quiet and painless and I felt that if I kept on going, there would be no more pain, ever. But the other way… the way back… there was you, and Gray, my girls, Annie… I think I was offered a choice… the easy option… peace and no pain for ever. Or the harder one of going back to the world… with the one compensation that it had you all in it.”

“And you chose the harder option…” Garrett said nothing more. Jack paused for a long moment, thinking about something he had never told anyone else. Because there was nobody else who could understand.

Now Garrett could. He had been there, too.

“For me, there was never an easy option. The other way… the door is locked and barred. I have to keep coming back.”

There was a silence as Garrett considered what that meant for Jack. Yes, he was immortal. And some might think that a blessing. But if he should ever consider it a curse, he had no choice about it. The way to peace and a pain free eternity wasn’t open to him.

“Well… then I made the right choice,” he said at last. “I don’t want to go anywhere that has no place for you in it.”

Jack suppressed something between a sob and a laugh. That was, without doubt, the greatest acclamation of love he had ever heard. He wasn’t sure how to respond to it.

“I’m glad to be alive, Jack,” Garrett said as the silence lengthened. “And to share this gift of yours for a little while, at least. It’s a heady thought… right now, it’s your blood running through my veins… AB Positive with the extra magic ingredient.”

“It’s called Artron energy,” Jack told him. “And it’s not magic. It’s just not of this world and never meant for humans. I’ll tell you the story some time. It’s a long one.”

“I can wait. Incidentally, how did you know I was AB Positive?”

“You had an old blood donor card in your jacket pocket,” Jack answered. “I found it once when I sorted the laundry. It’s out of date.”

“Yeah. I had to stop doing that. Practicing homosexuals are barred from giving blood. Lucky for me you don’t have any such qualms. And lucky you have the same blood group. That’s a hell of a coincidence.”

“It’s a coincidence that you’re AB Positive, too. In the century Gray and I were born into, it was the most common blood group. There was a plague of some sort in the forty-second century. It decimated the O Positives. So the A’s and B’s intermarried a lot more and by the Fifty-first century AB Positive was the norm.”

“Well…” Garrett breathed deeply as he took in that little anecdote that reminded him just how different Jack really was. “I learn something new every day.”

“Yes,” Jack replied tersely. “Mind you, I think it might be more useful if we learnt how the terrorists knew where you live and what time you would be home.”

“That I hope we’re going to find out soon enough,” Garrett remarked. They said no more about that, though. Not with Gray sleeping in the back of the car.

A few hours later, they were settled into the safe house on the outskirts of Llandudno. It was very comfortable and although the fridge was empty the liquor cabinet was well stocked. Jack and Garrett had a glass of whisky each while waiting for the pizza they had ordered.

“Have you thought…” Garrett began as he sank into a warm embrace with his lover on the very soft and comfortable sofa. “I was reborn today. I’m a virgin again… it’s going to be interesting later, in bed.”

Jack laughed. He used the same line on Garrett every time he went through a resurrection.

It was a good line, and it worked every time with Garrett. It used to work on Ianto, too. He wasn’t sure how he felt about it being used on him.

“We’ll see about that.”

He sighed and kissed his lover passionately. He would be happy to go to bed right now. He didn’t care if they had sex or not. He just wanted to hold him tight, knowing there was nothing that could disturb their peace.

But that wasn’t going to happen just yet.

He pressed his hand against Garrett’s heart and felt it beating in slightly fast rhythm, reflecting their heightened emotions.

The doorbell rang. Garrett got up to answer it. It should have been the pizza delivery. But he had every good reason to think it wouldn’t be. Jack moved from the sofa, his gun held ready. He felt slightly sick about the plan Garrett had outlined to him. He didn’t like the thought of what might happen if it went wrong.

“You!” Garrett exclaimed with a disgusted tone as he looked at the man wearing a pizza delivery uniform. “You traitorous bastard….”

There was almost no sound. The gun had a silencer. Garrett didn’t utter a sound as he fell back, shot through the heart. Jack swallowed hard and steadied his hand as he stepped over his body and shot twice, hitting his assailant in the shoulder and gun arm. There was a clatter as his gun fell onto the doorstep.

Jack knelt to lift Garrett in his arms as Alun and Ianto stepped out of their concealed positions in the garden and took the wounded man into their custody. They were two of the gentlest men Jack had ever known, but they were anything but gentle with their prisoner as they bundled him into the house and down into the basement where some preparations had already been made.

Jack laid Garrett on the sofa. His heart thudded as he waited and hoped. What if Martha was wrong? What if he was fully mortal already? What if it had been a one off when he came back to life before?

What if, this time, he chose the easy option, the eternity of pain free peace?

Then he felt the jolt as Garrett’s mended heart started up again. He heard his first ragged breath. Garrett opened his eyes wide and reached out to embrace his lover, gratefully.

“You chose the hard way, again.”

“Always,” he answered. “Did you get the bastard?”

“The boys are taking care of him.”

“He’ll keep for a minute or two. I want to see…” He stood up, swaying dizzily for a moment. Being shot in the chest wasn’t something anyone took lightly. His ribs hurt. He wondered what happened to the bullet. Did it dissolve as his body reorganised itself and mended the damage. Would it work its way out somehow?

It didn’t matter. He steadied himself with Jack’s arm for support then turned and ran up the stairs to the back bedroom with a view of the Great Orme. It was in semi darkness. As he entered, Gwen jumped up quickly from the armchair by the bed. She automatically reached for her gun, but relaxed when she recognised Garrett with Jack close behind him.

“He didn’t stir,” she said. “He’s fast asleep, poor kid. Are you all right? Did you…”

“Everything is all right,” Garrett assured her. He leaned over the bed where Gray was sleeping, oblivious to everything that had gone on. He gently eased the boy’s thumb out of his mouth. Ten years was a little too old for that habit. Then he kissed his forehead and stepped away.

“Keep an eye on him for a bit longer, would you,” Jack said to Gwen. “Then you and the boys can get a hotel for what’s left of the night and drive back to Cardiff in the morning. Thanks for your help.”

“You’re welcome, Jack,” she replied softly and settled into the chair again.

Jack followed Garrett back downstairs and continued down again to the basement. It was a sparse room, with bare brick walls and a hard floor. There was a single light bulb in the ceiling, a forty watt one that left shadows in the corners of the room. Directly below it was a rough wooden table and two chairs. The prisoner was sitting in one, facing away from the stairs so he didn’t know who had come down them.

Garrett looked at him contemptuously and then stood back. Jack walked calmly around the room and then sat in the chair opposite the prisoner. He studied him carefully, without speaking at first. He was handcuffed to the table by his good arm. The other one had the sleeve ripped open and a couple of gauze pads applied to the wounds. The bloody bullets were sitting on the desk in front of him. Ianto or Alun must have given him that much attention but they hadn’t bothered with bandaging him up.

He looked as if something had connected with his face. Possibly the wall or floor, or just maybe the fist of one of Jack’s mild mannered lieutenants who now stood either side of the chair looking as if they could stand there all night if they had to.

“For the record,” Jack said. “You’re not in the custody of Military Intelligence. They’re on their way. But it could take… oh, let’s assume they’re not hurrying. They’re coming up from London. They might stop off for a cup of coffee at a motorway service station on the way. It’ll be a good two, three hours before anyone gets here who gives a shit about procedure or the proper treatment of prisoners – anyone who might be held accountable for your health and welfare.”

The prisoner had obviously been trained in interrogation techniques. He said nothing. But his eyes asked the question.

“Don’t pretend you don’t know. I’ve seen you in the office when I’ve been working with your Deputy Director on joint operations. We’re Torchwood. Beyond the government, above the law. And that’s not just a neat slogan. We usually interrogate aliens with much thicker hides than yours. So our methods of extracting information will really hurt.”

He looked at Alun and nodded. He pulled the gauze away from the shoulder wound and poked it with his finger. The prisoner screamed.

“That’s us just getting started. Do you feel like talking, yet?”

The prisoner didn’t want to say anything.

“Why did you give information about Deputy Director Dunne to the terrorist cell?” Jack asked.

No answer.

“When you found out he was alive, why did you come up here to the safe house to kill him?”

No answer.

“He trusted you. The country trusted you. Regnum Defende – defence of the realm. You betrayed that trust, twice. You’re the lowest piece of scum I have ever met. And that’s saying something, considering my career so far. Was it money? Because if it is, you’re really going to know the meaning of pain. You sold out to the enemy. You murdered your boss… twice.”

Jack nodded to Alun again. He waited, silently, patiently, listening to the prisoner’s screams without emotion. He had absolutely no qualms about torturing a low life like him. He was aware of the newspaper headlines in recent years about the inhumane treatment of prisoners in places like Guantanamo Bay. He had seen MI5 and MI6 accused, along with their American partners, of overstepping the mark.

But Jack knew that the word inhumane was easily bandied about by journalists. He knew meanings of the word that would turn the stomachs of those liberal minded sorts who pleaded for prisoner’s rights. He had been the subject of some gruesome tortures in his time. He had inflicted some, too.

And he wasn’t even warmed up here, yet.

The prisoner was staring at him. His eyes must have betrayed his thoughts. The prisoner looked nervous. The mere thought of how much worse things could get for him was breaking him down. It wasn’t going to take three hours.

“Jack…” Garrett stepped forward from the shadows. He stood behind him, one hand on his shoulder, and looked at the prisoner. The prisoner looked back at him. There was blood on his shirt, and a hole where the bullet had ripped through it at close range, ploughing into his heart. But Deputy Director Garrett Dunne was standing there in front of him, alive and well, and his eyes burning with anger.

The prisoner began to talk.

Ianto took shorthand notes while Jack recorded it on a small digital voice recorder. He not only confessed to his own acts of treason, but also named three other double agents working within military intelligence and their terrorist contacts.

It was a useful night’s work. By the time the proper authorities did arrive, rather faster than Jack had suggested they would, there wasn’t much for them to do except arrest the prisoner.

Afterwards, Jack and Garrett went to bed. It was already close to dawn, with the sky lightening to a dark blue. But they were both tired.

“I would have been happy to let you torture that bastard for hours,” Garrett said. “He deserved it. But… I thought of our boy asleep upstairs. And… Call me soft if you want…”

“You’re soft,” Jack answered. “But I’m going to rectify that in a minute or two.”

Garrett chuckled as he pressed his face against Jack’s shoulder and savoured his warmth beside him.

“Besides, I knew I wouldn’t have to go all the way,” Jack added. “Somebody prepared to sell out his colleagues and his country obviously didn’t have a lot of backbone to begin with. Good riddance to him.” He shifted his position and Garrett sighed softly as he felt his lover’s caress. “What were you saying earlier about being a virgin?”


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