Summary: Our favourite tortured boys are back in this third and final instalment in which they try to outrun Hell.
Notes: See chapter 1 for disclaimer warnings and related info and 35 for additional warning/disclaimer. It's nearing the end now - this is the third last chapter to be posted.
A storm of people charge through the door within seconds, pushing another machine in front of them. I start to move out of the way, but the staff circles Ianto’s bed, never giving me a second thought.
And it’s only then that I realise they can’t see me.
I climb onto the bed and wrap my essence around Ianto, feeling the hands of the medical people pushing through me to pull Ianto’s gown open.
He feels so cold. I want to warm him. He needs to be warmer.
A pretty young doctor with too much makeup, red hair, and a white lab coat over her blue scrubs places cold metal paddles on Ianto’s chest and yells “Clear!” but I don’t. I squeeze tighter around him, sending him all my strength, and whisper in his ear.
“Don’t give up, Ianto.”
The electric shock jerks his body and I hold tight, feeling him grow colder under me as a little more of him slips away.
“Live,” I whisper. “I need you to live.”
I brush my white, opalescent fingers over his face—around the tubes protruding from his lips. Whatever I am, I’m sure I must still have a heart, because I feel it breaking.
As the second jolt shakes his body, I seep my essence through Ianto’s lips. I wrap myself around his heart, willing it to beat—sending him every bit of love I have.
His heart sputters a moment, then picks up a weak rhythm. I feel something in him stir, like a wash of energy—his soul. I’ve felt it before, this intense rush of being closer than humanly possible. My soul soars as I feel his essence swirl into mine.
“We’ve got a rhythm,” a voice calls, and I feel myself flood with relief.
His dark energy wraps into mine like a building cyclone—a strengthening of his spirit. I listen for his thoughts, and at first I don’t hear anything, but then his voice is as clear as if he were whispering in my ear. “Mmm … Jack,” he moans.
And in that instant, I feel it—that intense rush as he blends his essence with mine, making me forget everything but this moment—him.
I embrace him on the inside, touching every part of him as our souls merge, and I never want this feeling to end. Stars flash all around us as we dance, and I’m barely coherent, but I send him my message without words, begging him to live—to fight.
“For you,” he says, “I’d do anything.”
At his words, weak as they are, my heart explodes. “I need you to live. Please,” I beg. In this form I can’t cry, but it comes out as a sob anyway. “Don’t die, Ianto. Please fight.”
I feel him grow stronger still. “I’ll never leave you again.”
The pang is fierce, causing me to ache all over, because that’s what I need him to do—to live and let me go.
I don’t really know what I am. Despite what Grandma said, I’m not even sure if I’m alive or dead. But if I’m not dead already, it would kill me if Ianto gave up.
I imagine wrapping my body around his—the feel of him against me, and my heart can’t stay heavy. This feeling is euphoric. I wish with all my heart that this moment could last forever.
But just as I think that, his physical body stirs, then stiffens. I feel suddenly freezing as his essence pulls away from mine.
“Jack. What … what’s going on?”
I feel his confusion and I cut him off before he can get any farther down the tracks of this train of thought. “Don’t worry about anything but getting better. I need you to get better, Ianto.”
He doesn’t fall for the diversion. I feel his essence pull farther away from mine as he scans his surroundings.
“We’re in me … my body. Tell me what’s going on, Jack. How are you in here?”
“Stop, Ianto!” The thought erupts from my core more forcefully than I intend it to. I work to soften my tone—to keep the fear out of my thoughts so he can’t feel it. “You need to focus all your energy on staying alive,” I tell him. I swirl my essence closer, but he pulls away from me again.
“You’re…” his thought trails off to an echo as he adds, “dead.” Then I feel it—his despair, clamping down on his heart like a vice, causing it to sputter again.
I wrap myself around his heart, pouring my life force into him. “No! I’m not gonna let you give up, Ianto. You can’t die. Not ’cause of me. I couldn’t take it.” I hear the desperation in my thoughts and hope he doesn’t.
Soft in my ear, I hear him, and I feel his energy build. “I’m not going to live without you, Jack. There’s no point. You’re my life … my reason for … everything.”
His soul blends with mine again and the sudden rush of love is so intense as we swirl together that I don’t even notice we’ve left Ianto’s body.
The shout from below pulls me from my reverie, and I’m suddenly aware of the room. We watch from above as the doctor places the paddles to Ianto’s chest again and my whole being contracts into a hard ball as I watch Ianto’s body convulse.
“It’s all right, Jack. I’m right here.”
Ianto’s voice brings my attention back to him, his essence. Then we’re floating, swirling together.
But the next instant, he’s gone.
I look down at the form of his body on the bed, at the nurse still compressing his chest. I dive into that body, looking for his essence, willing him to live.
But he’s nothing but an empty shell.
Ianto’s not here.
I stare in disbelief at the door in front of me—at the peeling sign.
One minute I’m blended with Jack, and the next I’m standing here.
Talk about a rude awakening.
One minute I’m blended with Jack, and the next I’m standing here.
Talk about a rude awakening.
A shiver racks me, but it’s only partly because of the sudden cold of being without Jack. I draw a deep breath, even though I have no need of oxygen anymore, and push through the double doors.
Limbo hasn’t changed. I glance around the endless room, the low ceiling lined with rows of humming fluorescent fixtures, casting an artificial glow over the multitude of souls milling around waiting for their fate to be decided. The same heavy wooden desk sits just inside the doors, with various magazines scattered over its dark, nicked surface. Someone has scribbled over the handwritten sign taped to the front of the desk:
Take a number and have a
seat. nice eternity!
The hole in my chest where my heart used to be aches at the thought of not spending eternity with Jack. I brace my hand on the desk and stifle a groan as the wave of despair washes over me. Because, reality is, I never belonged there with his. I was never truly good enough to belong in Heaven.
When the sensation passes I lift my head and pull the tab of green paper protruding from the dispenser:
I take that as a bad sign.
Glancing up at the lit monitor over the desk, I see, “Now serving number 64,893,394,563,194,109,516.”
So, I’m in for a wait.
I tip my head back and blow out a sigh before dropping into one of the infinite black plastic chairs.
Next to me, a latte-coloured soul with a moss-coloured hue prattles on with his neighbour, a smoke gray soul with mustard streaks, about his plans to give his brother a piece of his mind when he gets to Heaven. I’m not going to burst his bubble by telling his the best he can hope for from Michael is Purgatory. There’s a reason they don’t post statistics. It would cause a riot.
I feel something whoosh past me, like an energetic whirlwind. The magazines on the desk flutter and half of them fall to the floor. And then I catch the faintest wisp of currant and clove. The aching in my chest intensifies and all I can see is Jack’s face. I drop my head into my hand.
We were so close.
But it’s done. I’m here.
I breathe a shaky sigh as an electronic bleeping sound from the monitor overhead signals that they’re speeding right along to the next lucky customer. I glance up. “64,893,394,563,194,666,666,” it reads. I look back at my number as I hear a few shouts and a not-so-pleasant stream of curses from the milling crowd. A mauvish soul with ochre streaks at the end of my row is charging the desk, spewing a string of expletives regarding ripping an unknown someone a new asshole.
I catch him as he storms past. “I’d like to point out that you’re not helping your cause,” I mutter under my breath.
“Go screw yourself! They just passed my number! I was next!”
You and about five hundred thousand other poor souls, I think to myself, looking back at my number as he pushes past and shoves the desk.
“Number 64,893,394,563,194,666,666, please report to door number one.” The androgynous, monotone voice seems to come from everywhere.
When an intricately carved wooden door with a large, gold number 1 materialises near the desk, the pissed-off mauve and ochre soul shoves through it without hesitating, mumbling, “It’s my goddamn turn.”
I follow him through just as Michael stands from behind his immense mahogany desk. He raises one dark eyebrow and points to the soul. And poof. It’s gone, leaving the faintest hint of sulphur in its place.
“I love it when they make my decision easy.” A slow grin creeps across Michael’s face as his startling blue eyes shift to me. “I have the oddest sense of déjà vu,” he says, an amused smile twitching the corners of his mouth as he strokes his black goatee.
“Why am I here?” I ask wearily, bypassing the endless bookshelves and sliding into one of the beige leather chairs in front of his desk.
He sinks into the high-backed chair across the desk from me. “You have to ask?” His brow knits. “I’ve always questioned your intelligence.”
I hold his sharp gaze. “I thought I was tagged for Heaven.”
“You couldn’t possibly believe that was going to stick.” A cold grin slices across his face. “Quality control is very important. We can’t let just anyone into Heaven.”
I sigh, resigned. Turns out Heaven squirms out of contracts with the best of them. “Fine. Do what you have to.”
His brow arches. “I’m not going to do anything.” He looks at me, rummaging around in my head while I process that.
I get it. He’s not going to do anything. He’ll just let me rot in Limbo indefinitely. He can’t send me to the Abyss, but he doesn’t have to admit me to Heaven either, apparently.
He strokes his chin, his dark face twisting into a smirk. “Maybe you’re smarter than I give you credit for. I’m sure you know this is for the best, Lucifer. Search your soul…” his face pulls into a repulsed sneer, “if you truly have one, that is.” He shifts in his seat, leaning toward me, elbows on the desk. “Did you really think you could ever belong to Heaven—to him? He has a purpose,” his eyes flashed, hungry, “and you must see that you’d only be in the way—a distraction.”
Fear flares in me. The look in his eye, filled with enough avarice to rival any of the greedy in Hell, makes me afraid for Jack. “What are your plans for him?”
I lean forward. “No. You. What are your plans for him?”
He stops abruptly as a whirlwind sweeps past us. This time, the scent of currant and clove is unmistakable. I leap from the seat and spin toward the door, but the voice comes from the other side of the room, near the hearth of the blazing fireplace.
“This isn’t right. You can’t send him to Hell. He’s tagged for Heaven.”
I step away from the desk and wheel back toward Michael and his voice. A look of abject terror passes like a shadow over Michael’s dark features briefly before he turns slowly to face Jack. “I wasn’t going to send him to Hell … yet. And you are in no position to tell me what happens in Limbo.” He’s trying to put up a bold front—to not let the terror show on his face or in his voice. But it’s there.
Jack shakes his head slowly. “See, that’s where you’re wrong. I’m in a position to do whatever’s right. As a matter of fact, that is my position.”
I’m gawking. I know I am, but I can’t stop. He’s incredible. He stands unflinchingly before Michael, his sandy hair shimmering in his subtle but undeniable Heavenly glow. What’s also undeniably there is red Hellfire, crackling over his skin in his rage, the scent of ozone laced with a healthy dose of brimstone. But his beautiful sapphire eyes haven’t changed: the windows to his soul. Both eyes and soul, still distinctly human.
A being of three realms.
Power radiates off his in waves, both celestial and infernal, pressing against me as though it has physical weight. I drop to my knee and bow my head. It just feels right that I should.
“What the hell are you doing?” he asks, exasperated.
I lift my eyes and can’t stop the smile that breaks across my face at the scowl on that angelic face.
But when he shifts that scowl on Michael, I see him drop his eyes and stagger back from him in my peripheral vision.
“He’s coming with me,” Jack announces. “We have a job for him.”
He pulls me to my feet impatiently. At his touch, electricity skitters through my essence, and I feel my power surge.
And once again I feel the urge to genuflect. I drop my eyes.
“Please, Ianto, it’s just me,” he whispers. When I finally do look up, a single golden tear is coursing a crooked path down his cheek.
I gaze down into his eyes. Now that I’m looking into them, I can’t seem to stop. His soul swirls, opalescent white, and I lose myself in it. He leans in to kiss me. When our lips meet, the rush of his effervescent power surges through me, consumes me. Our souls blend until we’re truly one.