Title: Elixir of life (Part six)
Characters: Jack, Gwen, Ianto, Rhys, OCs
Length: 11,973 words
Content notes: none
Author notes: Inspired by Challenge 158 - Egg at fan_flashworks
Summary: A missing antique holds the key to one of life's greatest secrets
Ianto struggled hard, but the big man held him firmly in his grip, watching as the man proceeded toward the machine, ready to drain Jack's very life force from his body.
'No! You can't. Please!'
'Can't?' he said, turning to walk up to Ianto, standing mere inches from him. 'Is that how you talk to your new God? I expect you to beg me for mercy once this is done. You shall be my first servant. I've seen how you attend your Captain, and I think it should be quite fitting for you to resume that role.'
He turned away and continued to ready the device, as Ianto struggled on, pleading and begging.
'I want you to see your new God made. Bask in his glory. Worship me as you once worshipped him.'
The man slotted the second gemstone into the other glass plate and the machine began to whirr into life. He sat himself in a chair, directly in front of the second glass panel.
'No, please,' Ianto persisted.
Just then, the door burst open, and he felt a heavy weight drop on him as he heard the gunshots ring out. At first he thought he'd been shot, before realising it was the heavy set man who'd been holding him that had fallen on top of him.
Gwen was standing in the doorway, her gun raised.
'How on earth did you get in here?' the man sneered. 'We had barred the house against you.'
'Yeah, well, I'm an ex copper. When it comes to breaking in, I know every trick in the book.'
He smiled. 'No matter. We're almost ready, and then there will be very little you can do.'
'Yeah, well there's two of us and only one of you, and I like our chances,' Gwen said.
'All too late I'm afraid,' he said, flipping a switch as a burst of light shot out of the machine, refracting through the first glass, into Jack's chest, then back out through the second glass, straight into the bald man.
Gwen pulled the trigger on her gun without hesitation, and the bald man slumped in the chair, the beam of light still burning into him, and he laughed as the blood trickled down his chest, still very much alive despite the gunshots.
Jack lay helpless on the table, his back arched, as the bright golden light surged out of his chest. Ianto scrambled to his feet, lunging for the table, putting his body between Jack's and the laser beam. If the device was capable of taking life and giving it to another, better it take his one life than Jack's thousands.
The beam hit him like a ton of bricks as he lay on top of Jack's prone body, plunging into his back and squeezing every organ in his torso, like a giant's fist had come to crush them. He could feel the life slowly draining out of him, knowing this would be his final act, but that it would be worth the price.
Just when he thought he was down to his last shred of life, he felt a second bolt lance through his chest. It was coming from below, underneath him. Whilst his energy was ebbing away, a surge of radiating light was pulling into him, Jack's own life force being pulled through, into his body, replacing the life he'd lost.
Gwen watched on in horror, the bald man cackling with glee at his invincibility as she shot two more bullets into him to no effect.
'Gods cannot die!' he cried, laughing malevolently.
Her third shot however, she directed at the glass panel, shattering the gem in its casing, and a fourth through the device. Without the glass, the laser shot directly outwards, hitting a spot on the far wall, before finally the device overheated and lost power.
'No! What have you done?' The bald man looked stricken as the beam of light ceased flowing into him, replaced by the thick red one that spilled from his chest, soaking into the black cassock, before the final light disappeared from his eyes and he laid there, still in his seat like a statue, staring up at nothing.
Gwen rushed over to the table and the two men collapsed on it.
'Ianto!' she cried, trying to shake his immobile form. He slowly began moving, opening his eyes, and with a little help, Gwen was able to help him sit up and crawl off of Jack's body.
'Are you okay?'
'I, I think so,' he stuttered. He felt shaky but he was alive, even though he'd been convinced he shouldn't be.
He reached over for Jack, who was still limp and unconscious on the table.
'Is he?' Gwen asked, as Ianto leaned over to check for a pulse. She knew it shouldn't really matter, since he couldn't die, but something about that machine and what it was doing to him had scared her.
'He's alive,' Ianto confirmed. He shook him gently, calling his name over and over. Eventually Jack stirred.
'I'm here. You're safe.'
Jack groaned, trying to look around the room, but unable to see much from the angle he was lying.
He looked back up at Ianto, a small frown on his face, which could have been confusion 'Wait, am I naked?'
Ianto chuckled. 'Yes, Jack. That must make everything right in the world again.'
'Well, perhaps we could try and find him some clothes,' Gwen added, trying hard not to catch too much of an eyeful of Jack. Not that she hadn't seen it all before plenty of times, but one less time would certainly be preferable.
It took a few hours to clean up the scene, with Jack and Ianto having to drag the two very heavy bodies back up the narrow stairs and into the SUV, and to collect the device, but apart from a few shaky nerves, both men seemed to be in perfect health. It would take a few weeks to analyse the device, and to understand how it worked, since none of them had believed there was any way of reversing what had happened to Jack that had made him immortal in the first place. If the Doctor couldn't fix it, the chances of this device doing the job seemed slim. Even so, no one was willing to take the risk, based on what they'd witnessed, and the device was duly dismantled and destroyed, so that it could never be used again.
'Only one thing left to do, I suppose,' Jack said, one morning several weeks later, as they were enjoying their first cup of coffee for the day.
'What's that?' Gwen asked.
Jack reached for the midnight coloured egg, which sat neatly next to its brother in dark green on his desk. Parker's missing egg had turned up when they'd done a more thorough search of the house, tucked away in a cupboard upstairs, undamaged except from the missing ornament inside, which had been retrieved from the machine, the other destroyed by Gwen's gunfire.
'Time we visited our friend Mr Parker. Better than waiting for him to beat down our doors.'
When they arrived up the long gravel drive and knocked on the door, a busty Spanish woman opened the door.
'Who are you?'
'Captain Jack Harkness. I believe Mr Parker has been expecting us.'
She lead them through to the main living room where Henry was cowered over in the large leather chair with a blanket covering his lap.
'What took you so long?' he complained. 'Tania, bring us some tea and try not to poison us all with it,' he barked at the plump woman, who quickly disappeared out of the room, seemingly glad to leave.
They filled him in on the events that had lead to discovering his missing egg, leaving out only a few details. It was refreshing, since most of what they did couldn't be told to another soul, simply typed up and filed away for the next generation of Torchwood employees to perhaps one day ponder over. Henry though, being the knowledgeable recluse that he was, presented very little threat to the secrecy of what they did.
'Always knew that young man was a weasel,' he muttered, referring to Monty. 'A shame he's still one of my best suppliers.'
'I think after the last few weeks, he might have had a change of heart, and will start dealing in less - exotic - items from now on,' Gwen said.
'Hmph, pity. And as for my egg? I assume you've got it?'
Jack indicated for Ianto to extract the small case that contained the egg. Henry peered at the case from a distance.
'The jewelled centrepiece is missing.'
'Oh, you mean this?' Jack said, pulling it from his pocket, fingering the delicate carving.
'I'll have that back, thank you,' Henry said.
'I think it would be safer if we didn't,' Jack replied, slipping the stone back in his pocket.
'Codswollop! You'll hand that back right now! It's mine. I paid for it. It's my property! Look at me; can't even walk without that blasted woman towing me around everywhere like a rag doll. Might be alright for you with your youth to go swanning around, but what about me?'
Jack had expected this. 'You think having that will keep you here?' he asked, thrusting his hands in his pockets, and giving Parker a determined look. 'I thought you learned your lesson the first time. Believe me, living forever is not all it's cracked up to be.'
'I don't want to live forever. All I want to do is enjoy my twilight years without being strapped to a bed and fed through a tube. Is that too much to ask?'
'But you're here all alone, Mr Parker,' Gwen added. 'How is that enjoying life?'
'Better than being in a home, being patronised by young things like you, and watching people die every day.'
It was a valid point.
'What's say I let you keep it, but under strict instructions that it's to be bequeathed to the Torchwood Institute on your death, whenever that might be,' Jack suggested.
Henry folded his arms, looking displeased. 'Along with everything else, I presume.'
'That would be nice,' Jack replied. 'Besides, who else would you give it to?'
'And if I don't?'
Jack's expression grew unnaturally dark. 'Trust me when I say I'll still be around when they're putting you in the ground. Bury it with you and I'll have you dug up and locked away in our vaults, along with all your other treasures. Either way, we collect on our end of the bargain.'
'It's a fair deal,' Ianto stated. 'I'd take it if I were you. He doesn't like sharing, and the offer is more than generous.'
Parker frowned at each of them in turn, knowing that they had the right of it. If they'd wanted to, they could have taken it right now and left him with nothing. At least this way he'd still get some benefit out of it.
'Very well,' he agreed.
Both Ianto and Gwen looked toward Jack, who reluctantly pulled the ornament from his pocket and passed it over.
'What about the egg?' Henry asked.
'What about it?' Jack asked.
Parker barked out a laugh. 'Don't tell me you're suddenly fine art collectors as well?'
Jack rolled his eyes. 'Ianto? If you'd be so kind as to return the rest of Mr Parker's purchase?'
He gently lifted the egg from its protective casing and placed it on the nearby mantle. 'Seems a waste to have it locked away from view,' he said helpfully.
'Just another thing for that woman to try and break when she dusts. Now, why don't you go back to trawling through eBay, and leave me in peace?'
As they were ushered out the door by Tania, Jack placed a hundred pound note in her hand, along with a business card.
'For your troubles,' he explained. 'If anything particularly strange happens around here, just call.'
She simply nodded and pocketed it.
Ianto felt nervous as the guards let their vehicle through at the main gates.
'And how exactly are we supposed to explain to Her Majesty that we're not bringing her egg back just the way it was?'
'Relax Ianto.' Jack rifled in his pocket and pulled out a small peach coloured gem.
'I thought it was destroyed?'
'It was. But Henry gave me an excellent idea. Amazing what you can pick up on eBay.'
'Don't tell me you found another one?'
'Nope, but it's equally rare. This is a champagne sapphire. I had it shipped to the best jeweler in Cardiff to have it shaped. Should slot in just nicely.'
Once there were inside, lead down to the grand room they'd occupied earlier, Jack picked up the egg and placed the jewel back inside its clasp, before closing the egg back up, hiding away its valuable prize.
'See? Never know the difference. And this gem is probably more expensive than the one that was there before it. If anything, we're returning it in better condition.'
Ianto eyed the egg suspiciously. It did look almost identical, but he could help but feel they were somehow cheating the system. That, and knowing that it was Crown funds that would have paid for the replacement jewel.
'If the longevity of the royal family starts to slip, I'm going to blame you,' he said.
'There's nothing wrong with the longevity of my family,' the voice came from behind him. He twirled to find the Queen standing there behind them.
Ianto quickly bowed. 'Your Majesty.'
'Liz,' Jack said, taking her hand and kissing it. 'How lovely to see you.'
'Likewise, Captain. I trust you got everything you needed from the collection?'
'Yes ma'am. Thank you, by the way.'
'A pleasure. You know, young man,' she said referring to Ianto, 'the Captain was very good in helping us protect these priceless artifacts. He has served his country with both dignity and bravery.'
'Well, I don't know about dignity,' Ianto quipped, forgetting whose presence he was stood in. 'Your Majesty,' he added as an afterthought.
'Yes, indeed,' she smiled. 'He and my husband have had quite the evening out on occasion.'
'Nothing compared to what old Albert and I used to get up to! You should come with us next time,' Jack offered, putting on his winning smile.
'Oh, I think I'm far too old to go dancing with you anymore, Jack. Those days are well behind me.'
'Nonsense. You're only ever as old as you feel.'
Perhaps that was why Jack was immortal, Ianto wondered. Maybe the time vortex had nothing to do with it at all. Then again, with Jack, anything was possible.