Jack Harkness would later tell himself he did not consciously remember choosing to abandon the strictures that once governed his interference in the Timestream.
Like so many other breathless, broken moments of his past, he would wall it off with the rush of instinct, as if that could somehow offer a sliver of absolution.
The truth was, he knew exactly when the decision was made.
The UNIT medics had been loading the body onto yet another of their seemingly endless gurneys-- cleaning up the remnants of the Thames House massacre like a hive of expressionless,
waxy carrion bugs. Deathwatch beetles, in their dark helmets, breaking the general hum of work as they cut labels and called out numbers.
"One forty nine!" And then the zip of the body bag, thick and oily.
"One seventy seven!" Zip.
There was an awful, unconscious rhythm to the process, bureaucracy which even the dead could not escape,
and Jack took dark pleasure in the ripple of disturbance he caused as he pushed past the technicians.
There were looks, whispers, and some openly raised fingers to point; Jack kept his eyes on the hand of the nurse poised to zip up yet another bag.
Crossing the room and making no effort to slow his strides for Gwen's sake, Jack grabbed the nurse's heavily gloved wrist, pushing her hand roughly away.
Ianto lay still in that sick black cocoon, limbs arranged a little haphazardly within the confines.
His tie was askew, waistcoat rumpled, and his sideburns were matted with dried sweat, but he was beautiful. As poised and empty as the marble boy-gods of Rome.
Jack brushed a light touch over his lover's forehead, thoughtlessly straightening and smoothing his suit.
The woman he'd swept aside was protesting, something about possible lingering contaminants.
Jack spared her a single barren glance and she shut up, fluttering her hands uselessly as her eyes silently appealed to Gwen for help.
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