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Theme And Variations by Nemo Baker

Title: Theme And Variations
Author: nemo_baker
Summary: Time Agent Jack Harkness is sent back in time to solve the mystery of a mysterious train bombing. The problem is, he only has eight minutes to do it.
Prompt: Source Code (2011)
Characters/Pairing(s): Jack Harkness/Ianto Jones, Owen Harper/Katie Russell, Gwen Cooper/Rhys Williams, Toshiko Sato, Martha Jones, Yvonne Hartman, Suzie Costello (mentioned), Kathy Swanson (mentioned)
Rating: PG-15
Warnings: Some language, Canon-typical violence
Spoilers: Fragments, Source Code (2011)
Disclaimer: I do not own Torchwood, Source Code, or any of the characters in them.
Author’s Note: Thank you so much to the wonderful jolinarjackson for beta’ing for me!



CHAPTER 1

8:00

“Sir?”

Jack could feel the sensation of his brain rattling against his skull. It hurt like hell, but he couldn’t muster up the strength to move. His thoughts felt slow and sluggish, his body numb.

“Sir.”

Tentatively, he opened his eyes and discovered that he was leaning against a window. Rain pelted the glass, distorting the image of the windswept hills that flew across his vision. He looked forward slightly, and saw that he was traveling down a metal track that seemed to stretch on indefinitely. The clatter of turning wheels filtered into his ears. He was on a train.

The Diffuser had worked.

“Um, I’m sorry to disturb you…”

The hesitant voice cut through Jack’s thoughts, and he turned in his seat. There was a young man sitting across from him, dressed in an expensive-looking black suit. The man was looking at him with a tinge of concern. Jack realized he probably appeared a bit off. His mind was still taking its sweet time processing his surroundings, hampering his ability to react. It was as if the electrical impulses had to move through something viscous.

“Hi, sorry. It can be a bit hard to wake me up, sometimes,” he finally responded, giving his best impression of a self-deprecating grin.

“Quite alright,” the man replied. His passive, detached air nearly made Jack laugh. It was as if he was attempting to appear much older than he really was. But his sparkling eyes and the nervous slump of his shoulders undermined the maturity in his voice.

“What is it?” Jack asked.

“I just saw your ticket on the seat there. Says you’re getting off at Swindon, and we’ll be arriving at the stop in a minute.”

“Oh,” Jack replied. There was, indeed, a train ticket sitting on the seat beside him. “Actually, I’m going through to Cardiff. Just a misprint on the ticket.”

They’d told him to say that, if anyone asked.

“Alright. Sorry again, for bothering you.”

“Not at all, Mr…?”

“Jones. Ianto Jones.”

“Captain Jack Harkness.”

“Pleasure.”

An electronic voice sounded, announcing their arrival at Swindon. Jack looked down at his watch and cursed inwardly.

5:57

As the train ground to a halt, he stood up. He didn’t miss Jones’s curious eyes following him as he walked down the train car, but he was too busy assessing his surroundings to care very much.

He took note of the other passengers in the sparsely-populated car. A man and woman, holding hands and murmuring to each other, sat in the seat across from his. There was another woman chatting on her mobile, sporting a charming gap-toothed grin. A Japanese woman sitting in the back corner of the car was typing furiously on a laptop. When the train doors opened, she slammed the lid of the device closed and gathered her things hastily.

Apparently, she was destined to make it out of here alive.

“Pardon me,” she said quietly, bumping against Jack’s shoulder as she passed him. He continued walking forward, toward the bathrooms at the end of the car. He stepped inside one of them and locked the door behind him, then flicked open his Vortex Manipulator.

“This is Agent Seven to Beleaguered Castle.”

No response.

“Agent Seven to Beleaguered Castle, do you copy?”

Silence followed. Evidently, the Agency had been wrong about being able to maintain communications. He would have to figure this out on his own.

3:15

And he’d have to do it fast.

“Okay…” he began. “I have no idea whether you’re getting this or not. Status update: there are four other passengers aboard this car. There were five when I arrived, but one got off. None of them looks suspicious, panicky, or anything. They’re just civilians.”

He pressed a few more buttons on the wrist strap, and gave a frustrated sigh when it beeped feebly.

“And my scanner’s fried, you assholes. How the hell am I supposed to search an entire train in three minutes without a scanner?”

There was no response from his communicator, and he shook his head. Really, it was as if they wanted this to be completely impossible to accomplish. He swayed slightly as the train lurched forward again, leaving Swindon Station behind. Giving up on his wrist strap, he looked around the tiny bathroom. The fixtures were made of a cheap-looking, silvery metal while the walls gleamed in a bright white. It was claustrophobic and standardized. A staple of early 21st century design.

1:42

He caught his reflection in the small mirror hanging over the sink. The dark circles under his eyes were prominent, and his skin looked a bit off-colour. But the Diffuser had managed to keep his body intact when it transported him, which was all he could really ask for. The train curved slightly, and the change in his center of gravity brought him out of his reverie. He turned around to exit the bathroom.

0:30

And heard another beep. A much softer one, coming from above him. Glancing upward, he saw a large panel directly over the sink. He reached upward to pushed on the panel, and discovered that it wasn’t held down by any bolts. It came away freely, revealing part of the vent system.

Using the sink as a step-stool, he hoisted himself into the abrupt darkness of the vent.
He fumbled with his wrist strap for a moment and found that the light attachment still worked. The duct was illuminated.

3

And Jack came face-to-face with a bomb.

2

“There you are.”

1
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

The world re-solidified around him, and it was no longer engulfed in flames. The only sign of the explosion was the ringing in his ears. He felt the distinct sensation of being transported running up his spine, and the need to fidget overwhelmed him. When he attempted to move his limbs, he discovered they were strapped down.

“Agent Seven, this is Beleaguered Castle,” said a familiar voice, filtered through a speaker. He blinked, attempting to focus his vision. The low light of a projection screen drew his gaze, as did the sight of the person to whom the voice belonged.

Right. He remembered this.

“This is Agent Seven. Hello, Martha.”

“Nice to see you, Captain,” she said, smiling. “And that’s Dr. Jones, to you.”

“Apologies.”

“I’ll live. Now, I need you to recite your name, today’s date, and your current location for me.”

“Captain Jack Harkness. August seventeenth, 5023. And I’m in sublevel six of the Time Agency’s headquarters.”

“Good. You’re not showing any of the signs of severe disorientation, and your vitals seem normal. Can you clench your fingers?”

“Can do a lot more than that with my fingers.”

“Down boy,” she said. “Okay, good. How do you feel?”

“Like I could go for a nap.”

“Well, the more you have to report, the sooner that can happen,” another voice interjected.

He refrained from rolling his eyes.

“Hello, Director Hartman.”

Her image appeared next to Martha’s and she looked at him cooley. “Report what you saw, Agent.”

“Alright, alright. Jeez, it’s nothing but business with you.”

“I like it that way. Now, report.”

“Found the bomb.”

“And the bomber?”

“No. Not yet. Didn’t have time.”

“We can’t give you more than eight minutes. You’re going to have to make time.”

“I know.”

“But remember to–”

“Tread carefully, I know,” he said tiredly. “Don’t stop the bomb going off, don’t play the hero. Don’t do anything to disturb the fixed point.”

“Precisely.”

“Reactivating the Ripple Diffuser on my mark,” Martha said, pressing a few buttons on her console.

“What, no time for a lunch break?”

“And… mark.”
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––







~~~







CHAPTER 2

[accessing encrypted files]

CASE FILE: Beleaguered Castle
CASE NUMBER: 687B49
SECURITY STATUS: Top Security

[Do NOT attempt to access these files unless you are on the list of necessary staff. Those who attempt to seek information above their security clearance level will be terminated by the Time Agency.]

STAFF
Dir. Yvonne Hartman (Security Level 20) - coordinator, overseer of operations
Dr. Martha Jones (Security Level 18) - trial practitioner, medical advisor
Capt. Jack Harkness, Agent 7 (Security Level 16) - mission operative (disclosed), test subject (undisclosed)
Suzie Costello (Security Level 18) - technical advisor (primary)
Katherine Swanson (Security Level 18) - technical advisor (secondary)

[To access files, please enter your security clearance code]

>M15J10

[Welcome, Martha]

>Trial Records
>>Create New Entry

[Create New Entry?]

>yes

[Begin New Entry]

>Notes for Trial 1: First run seems to have gone off with barely a hitch. The Ripple Diffuser worked like a charm, placing Agent 7 in precisely the correct time and place. Upon re-entry into 5023 he showed no signs of cognitive or motor dysfunction, and was fine with being sent back immediately. His only complaints were the inability to use his scanner (reason undetermined), and the inability to communicate with Castle (anticipated). Our monitors have picked up nothing that looks like a timeline fracture, paradox, or any other undesirable phenomenon.
Personal Log: I’m so relieved that it worked. I felt incredibly guilty about not telling Jack that the Diffuser was untested, but Hartman insisted that we can’t let anyone know if they have clearance below 17. I asked about upgrading Jack’s status, but she says that there are things he can’t know if the mission is to proceed smoothly. And I know I need to put the mission first. Always.

-Dr. Martha Jones

>>Save Entry

[Entry Saved to: Secure Databank]
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

8:00

“Sir?”

Jack could feel the sensation of his brain rattling against his skull. It hurt like hell, but he couldn’t muster up the strength to move. His–

Wait. No. That was last time.

Jack’s eyes snapped open immediately as the voice of Ianto Jones filtered into his ears.

“Sir,” Ianto repeated.

“Hm?” Jack prompted.

“Um, I’m sorry to disturb you–”

“No worries. What is it?”

“I saw your ticket on the seat there. Says you’re getting off at Swindon, and we’ll be there in a minute.”

“Thanks.”

“No problem.”

He took a cursory glance around the car. Saw the same passengers, in the same places. Doing the same things. Everything was just as he’d expected.

So why did it feel like he was seeing it all for the first time?

6:45

When he turned back, Ianto was looking at him in concern (again). Jack stood up.

“I’ve gotta…,” he struggled for a moment, “do a thing.”

Ianto raised an eyebrow. “Would that thing be getting off the train?”

“No. No, it’s another thing.”

“Okay…”

Jack whipped around and headed swiftly for the bathroom. His head spun, and his footsteps felt desynchronized.

What the hell was wrong with him?

“Arriving at Swindon Station.”

He felt the train stopping beneath his feet. The dizziness overcame him for a moment, and he leaned against a vacant seat to steady himself.

“Oi, you alright, mate?”

A man and woman, holding hands and murmuring to each other, sat in the seat across–

No.

A man had come up behind him and placed a hand on his shoulder. Jack glanced at him warily, trying to keep the world in focus.

“I’m fine,” he said.

The man looked skeptical. His (girlfriend? Wife?) had left her seat and come to join them as well.

“Listen,” she began. “My fiance is a doctor, if you need–”

“Seriously, I’m fine,” Jack insisted.

He stood up. The woman with the laptop was heading down the aisle.

“Pardon me,” she said quietly, bumping against Jack’s shoulder as she–

“Pardon me,” she said quietly, paying no mind to the commotion as she passed the doctor and his fiance–

Jack blacked out.

---

0:30

When he came to, he was lying flat on the floor of the train car. Ianto was kneeling over him, patting his forehead with a damp cloth. The other passengers (the fiance, and the woman with the phone) were standing on the periphery of his vision, looking on worriedly.

“Hello,” Jack said.

“Hi,” Ianto replied, giving a shy smile.

“What’d I miss?”

“You passed out for a few minutes. Dr. Harper’s getting smelling salts, and he told me to stay with you.”

“Who’s Dr. Harper?”

“He caught you when you fell.”

“Oh.”

“How are you feel–”

“Wait,” Jack struggled to get into a sitting position. “Ianto, what time is it?”

The other man looked startled. “How do you know my name?”

Right.

That was last time.

3

2

1


---

“Agent Seven, this is Beleaguered Castle.”
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

>Notes for Trial 2: Although everything seemed to go smoothly on our end, Agent 7 said he experienced extreme difficulties and lost consciousness for a time. He did not manage to make any progress in the mission for this reason. He says that he did not encounter another version of himself, which means the Diffuser was successful in overwriting his previous entry into the timeline. Indicators still show no negative effects on the structure of time surrounding the event.
Personal Log: I suggested that we take Jack off the machine for a bit, run some tests before sending him back again. He passed the physical and mental response tests that we did, so Hartman said he was well enough to go back immediately. Jack looked a bit reluctant, but he agreed. Hopefully Trial 3 will give us slightly better results.

-Dr. Martha Jones
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

8:00

“Sir?”

Jack could feel the sensation of his brain rattling against his skull–

Jack’s eyes snapped open immediately as the voice–


This time, Jack was slightly more prepared for the echoes of overlapping memories that bombarded him. They still confused him, undermined his certainty of the world around him in an inescapable way, but he managed to push them out of the forefront of his mind. He opened his eyes and looked at Ianto.

“Ow.”

That wasn’t what he’d intended to say.

“Um, are you alright?” Ianto asked tentatively.

Probably not. “Yeah, I’m okay.”

“You look like you’re in pain.”

“‘M not.”

“You said ‘ow’.”

“Fine!” Jack said, exasperated at the persistence. “I’m a little not okay. What’s it matter to you?”

“I have a basic human capacity for empathy,” Ianto deadpanned.

Jack snorted.

“Really, though,” Ianto continued. “Is there something I can do?”

“It’s just a headache. Not a big a deal.”

“Arriving at Swindon Station.”

5:57

“Oh, is this your stop?” Ianto asked as Jack stood. “That was why I woke you up. You’re ticket said Swindon and I didn’t want you to miss your stop.”

“Actually, I’m going through to Cardiff. Just a misprint on the ticket.”

They’d told him to say that, if anyone asked.

“I’m just gonna go get some water,” Jack concluded. He had to get to the bomb this time. He had to bring something back to the Agency, or they would pull him off of the assignment.

“That should help,” Ianto said.

Jack turned to leave, but found himself caught in a moment of indecision. He looked back at Ianto, who was watching him quizzically.

“Thank you for checking on me. It was kind of you.”

“I–of course,” Ianto replied, a slight blush flooding his cheeks.

“What’s your name?”

“Jones. Ianto Jones.”

“Ianto.”

“Nice to meet you,” Jack said. The words weren’t hollow. He could feel the weight of them on his tongue. “I’m Jack.”

---

He swayed slightly as the train lurched forward again, leaving Swindon Station behind. Giving up on his wrist strap, he looked–

He hauled himself up into the vent, and was once again faced with the monstrous-looking explosive. He inspected it closely, noting that it was incredibly well-designed. The person who’d put it together obviously knew their stuff.

What he didn’t see, was any indication of who that person might be.

“Come on, you gotta give me some clue,” Jack said, his voice echoing down the vent. The silence that followed was almost mocking.

He sighed, passing his light over the side of the contraption again one last time and watching the countdown clock.

3

2

1

---

“What did you see?” Martha asked.

Jack itched to remove the restraints from his wrists. “The bomb seems to be constructed from odds-and-ends of 21st century military technology. It’s really, really well made. But the person who put it together seems to have created their own schematic, instead of using an already existing blue-print. They improved on existing models.”

“How was the bomb controlled?”

“I think remotely. It didn’t start counting down until thirty seconds before it went off, and before that it appeared to be inactive.”

“And obviously, no one came to set it off manually.”

“No. I would have seen.”

“We need more information. You need to find the bomber, Jack,” Hartman interjected.

“Why? What does this have to do with the Agency, anyway?”

“Activate on my mark,” Hartman said, ignoring him.

“But–”

“Do it, Martha.”

“Just wait,” Jack implored.

“Mark.”
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

>Notes for Trial 3: Despite Agent 7’s testimony that the bomb uses 21st c. tech, Hartman seems to be more convinced than ever that it’s the work of a rogue Time Agent. 7 has been sent into a fourth trial to further assess the situation.
He spoke of feeling disorientation in the 3rd trial, similar to that of the 2nd. We have not yet found a cause for this, due to lack of investigation.
Personal Notes: I’m beginning to worry about how far Hartman is willing to push Jack. He looks so tired, and yet she seems to have no mercy for him. I have, again, suggested that we take him to do tests. Hartman won’t change her mind.

-Dr. Martha Jones
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––







~~~






CHAPTER 3

>Notes for Trial 6: Agent 7 is becoming more and more fatigued each time he is sent back. He speaks of feeling a very powerful sense of déja vu, and suspects that he is reliving the memories of his previous trials in real time. I agree with his assessment. Hartman is anxious to accelerate our progress on finding the bomber, and has sent 7 back with the task of gathering a profile for each passenger in the train car. We will then be able to narrow down suspects.
Personal Log: Hartman doesn’t care about the adverse effects the Diffuser is having on Jack. She just wants to complete the mission. I understand her concerns, since a Time Agent gone AWOL could wreak havoc on the past and the future. But Jack is my friend. I don’t want to put him through this anymore.

-Dr. Martha Jones
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

8:00


“Sir?”

An ocean of memories nearly engulfed Jack. He fought his way to the surface, clinging to Ianto’s voice like a lifeline. It was getting harder and harder to distinguish which reality he was currently facing.

“Sir.”

Jack opened his eyes. “Hey, there.”

“Hello…Um, sorry to bother you, but I saw your ticket on the seat there.”

“...says you’re getting off at Swindon, and we’ll be arriving at the stop in a minute.”

“Oh, I’m actually going through to Cardiff.”

“Ticket misprinted?”

“Yep. But thanks for telling me.”

“No problem.”

“If you don’t mind my asking, where are you headed to?”

Jack had to hide a smile at the surprised expression on Ianto’s face, as if he was astonished that anyone would take interest in him. It was a look Jack had seen in Trial 4.

He’d been looking forward to seeing it again.

“I’m heading for Cardiff, too,” Ianto said. “Interviewing for a job at my company’s branch there.”

“Don’t like being in London?”

“I love the city. But my boss is a tosser.”

Jack laughed. “Fair enough.”

“I’m Ianto, by the way,” Ianto held out a hand, and Jack took it. “Ianto Jones.”

“Jack Harkness.”

“Arriving at Swindon Station.”

“So, what business do you have in Cardiff, Jack?” Ianto asked.

“As it turns out, my boss is a bit of a tosser, too,” Jack said, smirking. He was suddenly glad that Beleaguered Castle couldn’t communicate with him. “Sent me out here for work, even though I was due a few days off.”

“Shame.”

“Yeah.”

He heard a laptop slam closed behind him. An unwelcome reminder that time was ticking by.

“Pardon me–

“Pardon me–

“Pardon me–


The woman stepped out of the train and the door closed behind her. Again.

5:32

---

SUSPECT PROFILE: Dr. Owen Harper
DATE OF BIRTH: 14/2/1980
DATE OF DEATH: 10/8/2007
OCCUPATION: Neurosurgeon, St. Thomas’ Hospital in London, ENG
ANALYSIS: Unlikely to be involved. Is travelling with fiance [See SUS PROFILE: Katie Russell] to see a specialist in Cardiff about her early-onset Alzheimer’s.
Conversation Transcript: SUSPECT and KATIE RUSSELL
SUS: Got a message from Dr. Baines, Katie. Says he can meet us at 3 since we missed the first train.
KAT: Oh, good. I was wondering if he got our call earlier.
SUS: Yep. It’s going to be fine. How are you feeling?
KAT: Fifth time you’ve asked that today.
SUS: I know.
RESEARCH:
Captain Jack Harkness (Agent 7) - In field for CASE: 687B49.
Dr. Martha Jones - Beleaguered Castle Database search
NOTES: Also ruling out Katie Russell as a suspect because of information above.

-Dr. Martha Jones

---

“You’ve never read Harry Potter?” Ianto asked Jack incredulously.

“Nope. Never,” Jack replied.

Ianto looked scandalized. “I didn’t think your kind still existed.”

“My kind?”

“I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s illegal some places in Europe.”

---

SUSPECT PROFILE: Gwen Cooper
DATE OF BIRTH: 5/5/1978
DATE OF DEATH: 10/8/2007
OCCUPATION: Cardiff Police Constable
ANALYSIS: Unlikely to be involved. Was making plans to be picked up at a station (most likely Cardiff) over mobile call.
Conversation Transcript: SUSPECT and RHYS (Identity Unknown)
SUS: Yeah, we’ll be there in a little over an hour.
RHYS: [Unintelligible]
SUS: Yes, I’m sure this time, Rhys.
RHYS: [Unintelligible]
SUS: *laughter* Yep. Love you.
RESEARCH:
Captain Jack Harkness (Agent 7) - In field for CASE: 687B49.
Dr. Martha Jones - Beleaguered Castle Database search
NOTES: Suicide bombers don’t make plans for after they’re dead.

-Dr. Martha Jones

---

“So, what is it that you do?” Jack asked.

“It’s… not really that interesting,” said Ianto.

“Ah, but here I am. Being interested.”

“... Fair enough. I’m employed at a research facility. But in London that mostly meant being a paper pusher.”

“What are you hoping to do in Cardiff?”

“I know they’ve got a few interesting projects going…” There was a flicker of hope in Ianto’s eyes. “I’d like to be on an actual research team. Go out into the field, maybe.”

Jack suddenly found it difficult to breathe around the lump in his throat.

3

“I hope that works out for you,” he managed.

2

Ianto smiled. “Thank you.”

1
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

“So we’ve eliminated Harper, Russell, and Cooper as suspects,” Martha said.

“Could we maybe undo the restraints on this thing–”

“It’s good progress,” Hartman cut Jack off. “But not enough. Who else is on that car when the train explodes?”

“You mentioned someone named Ianto Jones?” Martha prompted Jack.

Jack stilled his struggling against the straps, and glared up at the projector. “It’s not him.”

Hartman raised an eyebrow. “Do you have any evidence to support this?”

“I’ve talked to him during my trials. It’s not him.”

“What I’m looking for, Agent, is an alibi.”

“He’s going to interview for a job in Cardiff.”

“Hmm. Not as good an excuse as a terminally ill fiance.”

“I believe it. You don’t know him, if you’d–”

“You don’t know him either, Harkness,” Hartman said coldly. “Now I suggest you start focusing more on the mission, and less on your libido. Understood?”
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

>Notes on Trial 9: Progress has slowed to a halt again. Agent 7 is experiencing increasing difficulty with the trials. Hartman says he can persevere.
Personal Log: I think he’s starting to get attached to the passengers, which is what I feared when this started. It’s making him overlook things, clouding his judgement. And it doesn’t help that he’s still having flashbacks during trials. I’m going to look into the BC databases again, see if there’s a protocol for overruling a superior using medical override. This is getting ridiculous.

-Dr. Martha Jones
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

“Jones. Ianto Jones.”

“Ianto.”

“It’s Ianto.”

“I’m Ianto, by the way.”

“How do you know my name?”


It was intoxicating, watching Ianto laugh. His mouth would twist into a wide smile, showing his teeth, and his shoulders would shake with mirth. Jack couldn’t help but grin right along with him.

He couldn’t help but get lost.

3

2

1

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Hartman left in a rage. One of the coils on the Diffuser had gotten overheated, and maintenance was being less than timely. Jack lay back with his eyes closed, breathing deeply and trying to ignore the tug of the rope around his ankles and wrists. He could hear the clicking of keys and knew Martha was typing away at her station.

The machine would be fixed, soon. And he would be sent back.

So he spoke.

“I don’t really know when it hit me, exactly,” he murmured.

The typing stopped. “What did?”

“Now that I have a slow moment, it’s… sinking in. But I must have realized at some point…”

“What did you realize?”

“All those people I talked to, and brought you information about. Harper and Russell and Cooper and Ianto…” he swallowed.

“Jack–”

“They’re all dead. And there’s nothing I can do.”
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––





~~~







CHAPTER 4

8:00

“Sir?”

Jack could feel the sensation of his brain rattling against his skull–

Jack’s eyes snapped open immediately as the voice–

This time, Jack was slightly more prepared for the echoes–

An ocean of memories–

The relief he felt–

Jack could no longer tell if his eyes were open–

Everything hurt–


No. No. No.
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

>Notes for Trial 12: Hartman questioned Agent 7 when he returned, trying to see if there was anything he missed. He simply repeated “Let me out. Let me out,” over and over again, and fought against his restraints. I attempted to comply, but Hartman restarted the Diffuser before I could approach. The Diffuser was not fully locked on to his Vortex Manipulator, so we will have no way of knowing if he was successfully transported until the end of Trial 13. I (Dr. Martha Jones) have been set the task of going over Agent 7’s previous testimonies and trying to pinpoint any clues that might have been overlooked.
Personal Log: We’re killing him.

-Dr. Martha Jones
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

“Hey, come on. Breathe with me,” Ianto said in soothing tones.

“What’s… happening,” he gasped.

“You’re having a panic attack, sir. Open your eyes, look at me, and breathe.”

“I–I can’t.”

“Yes, you can. You’re safe, no one here is going to harm you. I know it might be hard to trust me, since you’ve only known me for a few minutes–”

“I trust you,” Jack said, finally meeting Ianto’s eyes. “I trust you.”

“Good. Now breathe.”
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

[To access files, please enter your security clearance code]

>M15J10

[Welcome, Martha]

>Research Notes
>>Database Notes
>>>Create New Entry

[Create New Entry?]

>yes

[Begin New Entry]

>Summary of Findings: We were assuming that the person who activated the bomb had to be on the train at the time of the explosion. But if the bomber did, as Jack said, improve on existing models in 21st c. military grade explosives, it is possible that they achieved longer range activation capabilities. Was the bomb activated by someone outside of the train? If so, how much longer does our list of suspects get?
[Attach: File on 21ST C. EXPLOSIVES]
[Attach: File on LONG-RANGE TECH CAPABILITIES 21ST C.]
[Attach: File on PROGRAMMING 21ST C.]

-Dr. Martha Jones
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

“Arriving at Swindon Station.”

“How did you know?” Jack asked.

A laptop slammed closed.

“Know what?” Ianto said.

“That it was a panic attack.”

Ianto looked away. “Personal experience.”

“Oh. I’m sorry.”

“It’s alright. Just glad I could help. Are you feeling a bit better?”

The train door slid closed. The clanking sounded like gunfire to Jack’s ears.

“Yeah,” he answered. “A little bit.”
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

>Notes on Trial 14: Agent 7 was given the information about the bomb being activated by someone from outside of the train. We are unable to say whether he registered the information or not, as he was incapable of responding to prompting.
Personal Log: He just sat there… staring at us. He looks like a ghost. I demanded that Hartman pull him out, and she conceded to a ten minute respite. But she’s still going to send him back.
After this is over, I want to resign.
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

As the sound of angry voices filtered into Jack’s ears, he felt the last of his resolve crumbling into dust.

He couldn’t live like this anymore.
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

5:00

“Sir?”

Jack could feel the sensation of his brain rattling against his skull.

But he no longer cared.

“Sir.”

He opened his eyes and met Ianto’s gaze. “Hi.”

“Hello,” Ianto responded. “Um, sorry to bother you, but are you getting off at Swindon Station?”

“Yeah... I am.”

“We’re arriving there in a minute, and I wanted to make sure you didn’t miss your stop.”

“Great. Thank you.”

“Sure.”

Ianto’s attention drifted to the view out of his window (Rain pelted the glass, distorting the image of the windswept hills that flew across his vision–). Jack looked down at the Vortex Manipulator, and froze.

4:01

What happened to the first four minutes?

The train was slowing. Jack unfastened the device from his wrist. Under the pretense of tying his shoe, he leaned forward and dropped the device below his seat. Out of sight. He sat up again and looked around the car.

Saw the same passengers, in the same places. Doing the same things. Everything was just as he’d expected.

The melancholy couple, talking in hushed tones about an appointment they would never make. A dark-haired girl with a smile that Rhys would never see again.

And a woman, typing away on her laptop, who would survive to see another day.

“Arriving at Swindon Station.”

Realization struck him with the force of a brick wall.

---

“Jack,” Martha had said. “I… I don’t know if you can hear me. But we think the person who set off the bomb wasn’t on the train at the time of the explosion. If it was set off remotely, they could do it.”

---

He’d listened numbly, not hearing the import of her words, but now he understood. The woman with the key to the disaster had been sitting a few yards away. From the very beginning.

When the train doors opened, she slammed the lid of the device closed and gathered her things hastily.

He stood, unable to take his eyes off of her as she passed him.

“Pardon me,” she said quietly, never meeting his eyes. She made her escape, and Jack knew he had only moments.

He turned back to Ianto Jones, who was looking at him curiously.

“Do you think you could help me?” Jack asked.

“I can certainly try,” Ianto responded, a bit nervously.

“It’s nothing big,” Jack assured, beckoning Ianto to the train door. “I’ve just… never been to Swindon before. And I’m supposed to get a connecting train to somewhere, but I’m not sure where to go.”

“Oh, okay.” Ianto stepped forward, looking out at the station and presumably trying to spot a sign. He leaned out the door.

Jack wrapped his arm around Ianto’s waist, and pulled him off the train.

“Oi–”

He used his free hand to cover Ianto’s mouth, muffling his exclamation. Luckily, the station was nearly deserted, and no one batted an eye as Jack hauled Ianto behind a pillar and held him there.

3:00

Ianto struggled against his grip, his breathing harsh and heavy through his nostrils. His teeth were digging into Jack’s fingers, and Jack could feel blood sluicing down his arm. He refused to let go until the train doors slid shut, and it pulled away from the station. He watched it go…

And he caught sight of a retreating figure on the other side of the station.

There was terror mixed with fury in Ianto’s expression when Jack looked back at him.

“I’m sorry,” Jack said, before throwing him aside and sprinting towards the woman.

She spotted him and tried to run, but he was faster. He caught her arm.

“Why?” he panted. “Why did you do it?”

“I don’t–” she whispered.

“Why did you plant the bomb?”

Tears wound their way down her cheeks. “They… they have my mother. They said they’d kill her.”

“Who–”

He lost his hold on her when a hand gripped his shoulder, whipping him around. Pain exploded through his jaw as a fist collided with his face, and he collapsed onto the ground.

“What the bloody fuck?” Ianto shouted, standing over him with bruised knuckles and steel in his eyes. Jack saw the woman clutching her computer to her chest as she ran from them.

“I can explain,” Jack said.

“You just kidnapped me. You fucking kidnapped me, and now you want me to sit around for your explanations?”

“Just listen–”

“I’m calling the authorities,” Ianto said, moving away from him.

“Your name is Ianto Jones,” Jack said desperately. “Born and raised in Cardiff, currently twenty-three years old.”

Ianto froze in his tracks.

“You were going to interview for a job in Cardiff, today. Branch transfer from your job in London. You like the idea because you want to be closer to your sister, and you hate your boss. Plus, you deserve more than just a job shifting papers.”

“I–”

“You like books, and mocking me about how far behind I am in popular culture. You also like introducing yourself as ‘Jones, Ianto Jones,’ because you loved James Bond when you were a kid.”

“How do you know that?”

“You told me.”

“Shut up,” Ianto said. “I don’t even know you–”

“But you do!” Jack said, trying to get closer, but Ianto just stepped further away. “And I know you. I’ve met you so many times now, and even when I was half out of my mind you were there for me.”

Ianto was shaking his head. “I don’t even know your name.”

“It’s Jack.”

A slightly hysterical laugh escaped Ianto’s lips. “Bloody hell.”

“Ianto–”

Don’t. Don’t touch me.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Shut up. Why did you pull me off the train?”

“I…”

–feel like I need you?

–felt guilty?

–couldn’t let you die?


Ianto let out a shuddering breath. “Answer me.”

3

Jack couldn’t.

2

“Tell me. Why?”

1

They both turned as the sound of the colossal blast rocked the air around them. The train was clearly visible from a few minutes down the track.

Jack heard Ianto’s breath catch in his throat.

The cars were quickly being torn apart by flames. Billowing, orange and white monsters that licked up and down the metal and sprung from blown-out windows. They watched as the train careened off the track, and landed with a thud in a nearby ravine.

“Oh, god,” Ianto choked, falling to his knees.

The fire grew, and Jack felt calmer than he had in years.

End.





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Comments

( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
jolinarjackson
Sep. 21st, 2015 07:12 am (UTC)
I adore this story. The formatting is perfect in this. The countdown gives the scenes the urgency that words alone can't transport quite that well. Martha's reports are perfect to tell the reader what condition Jack is in.

All in all, I really liked this. I don't know the original movie, but this story definitely made me want to watch it.
nemo_baker
Sep. 21st, 2015 11:54 am (UTC)
Thank you so much!! Both for the lovely commentary and for being my beta for this round. I'm very happy that you enjoyed the story, and I can't wait for when I get to read yours again!
excentric397
Sep. 21st, 2015 02:48 pm (UTC)
Didn't know the movie, so IMDB'd it. I like yours better. Not only because it has Ianto. Very succinct, very edge-of-the-seat, no filler, all making it a very good read. It seemed obvious by chapter 3 that the woman with the laptop was the baddie, but I've been fooled before. Was glad the way it turned out in the end, hated Hartman. Of course, I can never watch the movie now, cause I'd just be wishing it was your version instead. Wanted to make a clearer comment, but didn't want to do spoilers. Hope I succeeded.
nemo_baker
Sep. 21st, 2015 04:04 pm (UTC)
Thank you!! =D Yeah I really liked the concept of the movie, but when I watched the actual film there were things that worked and things that didn't, so I thought I'd try my own hand at using the base concept and building something slightly different. I'm glad you liked it!
carinas_carinae
Sep. 21st, 2015 02:55 pm (UTC)
Excellent work. This is a very compelling retelling of the film.
nemo_baker
Sep. 21st, 2015 04:05 pm (UTC)
Aww thank you!! Have you watched the original one? I haven't found that many people that actually know the movie haha.
carinas_carinae
Sep. 28th, 2015 01:41 am (UTC)
Yes, I have seen it. I liked your version because I wasn't forced to deal with the half-of-him-is-missing and he's-going-to-die-anyway aspect.
nemo_baker
Sep. 28th, 2015 02:27 pm (UTC)
Haha yeah, I watched it again to get ideas for the fic and I was like well I'm not gonna do that
reddevilpoes
Sep. 21st, 2015 03:23 pm (UTC)
That was a great read. Love the way it looked in print. And Martha..she's the best!
nemo_baker
Sep. 21st, 2015 04:07 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you liked it, thank you for reading! I loved being able to include Martha in a story for once, hehe. And playing around with the formatting was really fun to do as well.
nancybrown
Sep. 22nd, 2015 03:05 am (UTC)
I loved this! Wonderful pacing, perfect voices even in the AU setting, and I loved how the format really amped up the tension. Add another voice to "haven't seen the movie" but this has me intrigued.
nemo_baker
Sep. 22nd, 2015 03:18 am (UTC)
Ahh thank you!! I appreciate the commentary on the format, it was sort of experimental and I was curious if people would respond well to it or not. It is definitely an interesting film, even if it's not executed as well as it could be in some places. Although it's not perfect, I would definitely give it a go =D
badly_knitted
Sep. 23rd, 2015 11:42 am (UTC)
I've never seen the movie, but this is awesome! I hope Jack manages to explain to Ianto. I feel so sorry for Tosh, blackmailed into planting the bomb, but it fits so well, it really had to be her.

I don't know whether sudden death is better for Owen and Katie than the life the might have faced otherwise, but I'm glad Jack escaped and saved Ianto. Now he has to make a life for himself in the 21st century =D

Hartman was just so cold and cruel. Now she'll never know the truth, but she didn't intend to change anything, so what does it matter? I hope Martha did resign. She's too good and caring to work for someone as heartless as Hartman.
nemo_baker
Sep. 23rd, 2015 01:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Yeah, I've decided to leave it kinda open-ended as to what happens to Jack and Ianto after that. Partly because I have no idea and partly because I kinda like it better that way.

Using the team's stories from 2x12 (Fragments) was really helpful for me with this. I mean first it's fun because all the readers get to have those references, but it also allowed me to build the story. I decided all the character's backstories before I started writing, and it gave me a good idea of how to make the plot progress.

Ahh Hartman. As always, never admitting her mistakes until it's too late to go back and fix them. She just lost the Agency one of their best agents, so you can bet she'll get her comeuppance. I imagine that Martha does leave, but the Agency takes away some of her memories so that she doesn't remember being a part of it at all.
jo02
Sep. 27th, 2015 10:26 am (UTC)

I haven't seen the original movie so I have nothing to compare it with - but I don't care really because I loved this as a story just on its own merits - thank you.
nemo_baker
Sep. 27th, 2015 10:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much =D It was a really fun one to write, I liked constructing the plot and experimenting with the development. And I'm so happy people have been enjoying it
coldwater1010
Oct. 3rd, 2015 09:20 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed it. I loved the suspense and tension of it. Great job.
nemo_baker
Oct. 3rd, 2015 09:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you!!
fide_et_spe
Oct. 9th, 2015 09:40 pm (UTC)
This is wonderful. I adored Source Code, it really affected me. I still think about the ending. I like how you've stuck with that same sort of inconclusive thing.

Really well done, so sad, and I did wonder about Tosh!
nemo_baker
Oct. 10th, 2015 04:19 am (UTC)
Oh gosh, thank you so much!! I'm really happy that you enjoyed it, and that you thought it was true to the film's ending. It took me forever to figure out a way to end it that I was satisfied with =P

( 20 comments — Leave a comment )

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