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Ariadne's Thread 14/15

Word Count: ~ 31.000
Summary: An accident in the archives lands Torchwood agents Jack and Gwen in an alternate dimension, where they unexpectedly meet the Warehouse 13 agents Artie and Claudia, swept away by an artefact as well. To survive, the two organisations need to join forces: Ianto and Rhys travel to South Dakota while the castaways try to outrun a deadly enemy.
Characters: Jack Harkness, Gwen Cooper, Claudia Donovan, Arthur Nielsen, Ianto Jones, Steve Jinks, Rhys Williams, Myka Bering, Pete Lattimer, Leena, Mrs. Frederick, Trailer, OCs
Pairing: Jack/Ianto, Gwen/Rhys, Pete/Kelly Hernandez (hinted), Artie/Vanessa Calder (hinted)
Rating: PG-13
Spoiler: Something Borrowed, Exit Wounds / Doctor Who: The Sound Of Drums
Setting: after Exit Wounds
Crossover: Warehouse 13
Crossover-Setting: after Lovesick
Crossover-Spoilers: The New Guy, Lovesick
Warnings: Mention of canon character deaths, language
Contains: Canon slash
Author's Note: This is quite literally a product of a dream I had. And then I thought that those two shows wouldn't make a bad match. And so, this happened.
Beta: larsinger29 and EmrysofWriting, thank you. :)
Disclaimer: I’m not making money with this fanfic. The tv-shows Torchwood and Warehouse 13 and the characters appearing within it belong to their producers and creators. Any similarities to living or dead persons are purely coincidental and not intended.


Chapter Thirteen
Ariadne's Thread Masterlist

***
***


14.



Claudia stared at Jack. He was leaning against a shelf, almost as if he’d fallen asleep if it weren’t for the blood soaking his light-blue shirt and the unnatural angle his neck was in.

He was clearly dead.

She took a step back. Tears burned her eyes but she couldn’t blink, couldn’t look away. Her vision swam, became unfocussed, and she pressed her hands on her mouth to stifle a sob. In the silence of the alternate Warehouse, any sound right now would seem inappropriate, would shatter her resolve not to cry. She didn’t even think about the Minotaur, about the portal, about going back, didn’t know how to face the others, knowing what she was responsible for.

It was her fault, right? She’d distracted him, stood in his way out and the last thing he’d done in response was protect her.

Claudia took a deep breath and swallowed before approaching Jack carefully. ”I’m sorry,” she whispered and crouch down before him. Would Gwen be angry, she wondered. And how disappointed would Artie be, once again seeing proof for her inability to just keep her mouth shut and do as she was told?

And how could she forgive herself?

The sound of Jack uttering a loud gasp cut through the silence and he jerked upright. Claudia screamed, trying to get to her feet by instinct, but tripping and falling against the shelf behind her. She screamed again, feeling like she had to or she would burst, but the sound came out strangled and breathless, her lungs just as paralysed as the rest of her body. Jack looked at her, then at the blood. He raised a hand in her direction. “It’s alright.”

She stared at him, breathless and shocked, thoughts running through her head at lightning speed. This was impossible, death was final and unchangeable and he didn’t even have some kind of artefact on him that would help him overcome it. Or did he? Her mind started to go through every artefact she knew but she was too stunned to do anything beyond staring at Jack who was looking at her with his hand still raised placatingly. And all she could say was, ”Dude … you were dead!”

”Yes,” Jack replied calmly and a small smile tugged at his lips. ”Yes, I was. But now I’m not.”

”That’s impossible.”

”You just saw it happen.” He grinned wryly. ”And look who’s talking with your kind of job.”

Claudia swallowed. There was no reason not to believe Jack. There was no reason to assume he was playing some kind of trick on her. He’d saved her life after all. ”What did you use?”

He raised a questioning eyebrow.

”I'm just curious,” Claudia answered. ”What kind of artefact is able to do this? Or is it alien technology?”

”It's nothing,” Jack answered. ”It's just … me.”

”What? You had an accident in a laboratory? Got bitten by a spider?”

Jack chuckled. ”Nothing that simple, I'm afraid.”

”You're an alien?”

Jack hesitated for just a fraction of a second, but Claudia noticed.

”OMG, you're an alien!”

”I'm not an alien!” He sighed. ”I wasn't exactly born on Earth, either, though.”

”You're Superman!”

”I'd like to think I have the chin for it,” Jack answered and winked at her.

She laughed. ”Freaky,” she said.

”I admit, yes, it is,” Jack replied with a nod.

”And kind of cool.”

”That, it’s not.” He sighed deeply and got up, stretching and rolling his neck. Then he held out a hand for Claudia to take and pulled her to her feet. She looked at the blood on his shirt and he gave an almost embarrassed smile. ”Unfortunately, my clothes can’t do what my body can.”

”Does this happen often?”

”Being mauled by a Minotaur?” Jack shook his head. ”This was only the second time. Dying? It happens.”

He shrugged and Claudia shuddered at the almost casual gesture he made in connection to him dying. She swallowed, not sure if she was allowed to ask. ”Do they know?”

”Yes,” he answered earnestly. ”Yes, they do.” Then he looked up at the office, clearly intent on changing the topic. ”So I guess we have to climb up there and get the thread?” His eyes widened in sudden realization. ”Where’s the-”

”Gone. It went through. And the portal’s closed.” That much, she’d seen before she’d realized that Jack had fallen. The Minotaur had left and a few moments later, the portal had collapsed. Claudia bit her lip and crossed her arms. ”Do you think they’re okay?”

”I’m sure they are,” he answered with that tone of voice that was confident and calming at once and did wonders for her morale. He looked at the office, then at Claudia. ”I guess we better not try jumping again.”

”After the huge success last time?” Claudia asked and rolled her eyes. ”Puh-leaze.”

Jack looked around. ”Well, we’ve got something we didn’t have before.”

”What’s that?”

”Time,” he said and grinned, ”and we’ve got crates. A lot of crates.”

Claudia smiled. “I like the way you think.”

”I aim to please.” He winked at her and she blushed.

***

Gwen stopped in the door to the office and watched Ianto, who was leaning on the rail of the balcony, staring at the rows of shelves as if looking for something. Or someone. He looked young in jeans and the hoodie, not like the competent and professional Ianto she knew: The bloke who was able to keep his suit clean despite Weevil hunts, alien invasions and an overly adventurous lover. Sometimes, she wondered about him and Jack, about how a relationship between two so emotionally closed off men could even work. They always seemed content with each other, though, never showing that anything was amiss between them while Gwen sometimes came to work ranting about dishwasher duty and dirty laundry left on the bathroom floor. She wondered if Jack and Ianto ever had rows like that. They surely didn’t let it show if they did.

She stepped out on the balcony and let the door close softly, locking out the report Artie was giving the others about what had happened in the other dimension. She stopped next to Ianto and leaned on the rail as well. His face was thoughtful, earnest – a typical expression for him. She couldn’t read him, wasn’t able to see what he felt and feared that was a bad sign. Clearing her throat, she asked, ”Alright?”

He nodded. ”I hate waiting around.”

”Yeah, the hardest part.” She nudged him with her shoulder. ”You know Jack, though. He’ll find another way back.”

”Do you think …” He stopped himself. Gwen waited a moment, let him gather his thoughts. Finally, he asked, ”Do you think it’s time to stop? With Tosh and Owen gone … and Jack talked to Archie last week and he mentioned closing down Torchwood Two … I wonder why we are still doing this.” He looked at her, his blue eyes unusually expressive – sad. ”Knowing it’ll kill us sooner or later.”

Gwen couldn’t hold his eyes and looked towards the shelves instead. She saw movement between two of them, Steve restlessly walking down the aisle with Trailer following him eagerly. Directly underneath them, the Minotaur was gone – incinerated – and only the broken machine bits littered the floor. ”I do,” she admitted. ”I wonder sometimes.” She sighed. ”Then I imagine going back to the police or doing anything else but this and it’s … impossible. After what I’ve seen. Knowing what I know. Besides …” She looked at Ianto. ”Jack will never stop, not without a good reason, and I can’t imagine letting him do this by himself.”

”Sometimes I wish you would leave,” Ianto replied, ”have a family, a good life.”

Gwen took his hand and squeezed gently. ”I have a good life and you’re part of it. Jack is part of it. Besides, what about you? You could leave as well. Find someone else, have a family.”

”It’s too late for me,” he answered. ”Giving up Jack or giving up Torchwood. There’s no choice, really.”

”Do you love him?”

Ianto turned his head in her direction abruptly. He was clearly surprised by her question, taken aback even. That rarely happened. But Gwen had never asked before and she’d felt this moment was a good one. The question had been running around her mind for a while now. His answer was surprisingly honest and simple – like a lot of his answers were. Ianto wasn’t one to talk about himself or his relationship to Jack but he wasn’t one to sidestep questions about it, either. ”Yes.”

”Does he love you?”

He stared at Steve again, probably not wanting to look at her while he answered, ”I can only hope so.”

***

“Nice,” Claudia said, eyeing their handiwork with a satisfied grin.

”Yeah,” Jack agreed, his hands on his hips, ”it is.”

They’d built an over-sized staircase out of the crates they had retrieved from the shelves. It had been hard work and taken them quite a while, but in the end, they’d done it. Without the constant threat of the Minotaur, they had used the time to chat about this and that, but even though Jack had talked almost constantly and Claudia had told a lot about herself, she was quite sure that she still hadn’t even scratched the surface of the person that was Jack Harkness. She knew that she wasn’t a very good judge of character, but she was pretty sure that she could tell when something was off about a person and Jack struck her that way. As if the way he presented himself hid a darker, different man that he didn’t want her to know about. Nevertheless, she quite liked him. He was funny and charming and smart and those attributes coupled with his good looks and bright grin made it easy to overlook the shadows in his eyes.

Claudia crossed her arms and looked up at Jack. ”So, are we going to do this?”

”We’re going home,” he answered with a nod.

”I hope so. I don’t want to go up there and find that the thread isn’t there.”

Jack put a hand on her shoulder. ”Trust me. It’s going to be there.”

Claudia took a deep breath and then Jack started to climb the crates and she followed him. They’d been too worried about the crates becoming unstable towards the top, so they’d only built as high as they needed to reach the balcony. As hungry and exhausted as Claudia felt, it was still quite a jump. Jack went first and helped her up, though, and Claudia breathed a sigh of relief when she could lean on the rail and overlook the Warehouse. She turned to the door then, pausing for a moment, scared of the possibility that the thread might not be there. Jack, though, was determined enough for both of them and quickly entered the office. Claudia followed him.

The room was empty, except for a small table in the very middle – and on it was the ball of string.

”Right,” Claudia said with a relieved sigh. ”Are there gonna be any more nasty surprises or can we just grab it and skedaddle?”

Jack looked at the thread thoughtfully and then used his wristband to check something. ”I think we can risk it. The Minotaur was the danger that was supposed to be hard to overcome.”

”No trap doors? No spears coming out of nowhere? No huge round rock chasing us?”

Jack laughed. ”I don’t think so. Take my hand.” There was blood on his hand and it drew Claudia’s eyes to his still bloody shirt. Softly, Jack said, ”Hey, I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t mention this to anyone on your team.”

”They won’t be able to miss it.”

”I don’t mean the blood. I can always find an excuse for the blood. I mean me dying.”

She nodded. ”Alright then, Kal-El. Deal.” Grabbing his hand, they stepped closer to the table. Claudia looked around, expecting something. In fact, nothing happened. ”Do we just touch it?”

Jack didn’t answer, he just pulled her closer and touched it.



Chapter Fifteen
Ariadne's Thread Masterlist


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