Title: Made The Twisted Hands Of Hell
Pairings/Characters: Gray, John Hart
Spoilers/Warnings: Spoilers for Exit Wounds, warning for mild torture and injuries.
Summary: When John found Gray, he had no idea how insane he really was. Gray, however, knew just how mad he had become, and why.
Author's Note: Written as a postage stamp extra for hc_bingo using the prompts septicemia/infected wounds, abandonment issues, lost childhood, and hunger/starvation. Note: my headcanon is that Jack's real name is Jaiikve and John Hart's is Chuone. They took on their "English" names when they got to Earth. Obviously, it's canon that John's was sarcasm, making fun of Jack's chosen name.
His neck throbs where they used to feed; the point just in front of the hinge of the left side of his jaw, across his face and neck is burnt by the poison they used to stun their prey and scarred by the toothed sucker jaws. They’ve been gone for months now, he thinks, but the scar still throbs regularly, at the intervals when they would have descended on him, their mouths opened voraciously, beady eyes glaring, sucker lips twitching and convulsing. He figures maybe he can measure time that way.
Gray has no idea how old he is. He only knows that he sounds more like his father had sounded, that his screams were lower in pitch now than they had been when they first brought him here. He only knows that he has grown taller, that they have had to adjust the height of his chains multiple times, that they have changed the size of the strange uniform he’s been given. He has no way to measure time.
He is hungry. He can feel his bones creak against each other. They used to feed him, before the others died and they left. They used to give him food when he did as he was told, when he learned and recited their lessons of hate, their teachings of pain and destruction. Now there is no one left, and his stomach rumbles even at the smell of rotting flesh as the other prisoners around him hang dead in their chains and decay.
They taught him, as they cut him and whipped him and tore him apart, of the fault of the brother that had let go of his hand. They had conjured up with words the memory of the back of Jaiikve’s head, never looking at him, never looking back as he ran. He had let go of Gray’s hand and not once had he turned back. He’d just kept on running and Gray was taken, left to watch Jaiikve’s figure and his own home shrinking as the creatures pulled him back onto their ship.
He had thought Jaiikve would come, that Jaiikve would rescue him someday, that Jaiikve would burst in all heroic—like in the stories he told Gray at night before bed—and kill the creatures, destroy them all and take him home to safety and light. Now he can’t believe it anymore. Everyone has gone. Jaiikve will not come.
His neck throbs in time with the slash in his side. The slash has been there for a long time, never closing, never healing. Sometimes it yanks at him, sending sharp pains through his entire body, making him twitch and moan and have milky visions of his home and of the mother he once knew, the brother that had smiled at him and twirled him around instead of leaving him to die. Sometimes he can feel something thick and warm that isn’t blood sliding down his side from the hole. Sometimes he sweats and thrashes with the need for water, and the next moment he shivers and shakes, freezing and scared. He can do nothing about the rent in his side but live through the cycles of infection.
He had wished for death so often. He begged the creatures to kill him, begged the stars to let him go, pleaded to the gods of his home to take him away. But the prisoners around him weakened and died and shrivelled up and he hung on, always living, always crying out for death. He’s never known why he doesn’t just stop. Something inside him is holding on. He wonders if some part of him is waiting for his brother.
Sometimes Gray falls into a wavering half-sleep, and dreams of a world where he grew up like the other kids in his home, where Jaiikve held on, curling around him in the protective roots of a tree, shielding him from the fear. He imagines Jaiikve’s grin when they realized they’re safe again. Imagines a world where their parents hugged them tight and smiled at them, where they raised them with kisses and treats. Sometimes he imagines Jaiikve playing catch with him on the beach, teaching him how to wrestle and how to fish. He is always wrenched from these dreams by pain from his side or his belly. He always wishes he’d been able to grow up like a real person. He wishes he wasn’t a piece of meat, a sack of bones and hatred, all because his brother didn’t hold onto his hand.
A light glows just outside of Gray’s peripheral vision. He flinches away from it, wondering if it’s them again. Instead, human-sounding footsteps—how does he remember what human footsteps sound like?—come toward him.
“Well, I thought it would be more populated here. This used to be a wonderful city for smuggling and villainy. Must’ve gotten the time period wrong.” A man in a red coat steps into Gray’s field of vision, and he blinks and strains to see him.
“Ah—” Gray tries to say something, but his voice only comes out as a croak. Even so, the man looks up from his wrist.
“Oh…” For a moment the man looks dumbstruck and horrified, staring around at the desiccated and festering bodies all around with wide eyes. Then he slides a cool expression on his face. “Who are you?”
Gray licks his lips and tries to remember Galactic Standard. “My name is Gray. You are the great rescuer. You’ve come to save me.”
The man looks even more surprised, terrified even. Gray thinks he sees a flash of recognition in his eyes, then it’s once again smoothed over. “Yeah, let’s get you out of there.”
He fiddles with the strap on his wrist, and suddenly Gray’s shackles drop him. The man catches him and stands him up, helping him steady his weak and atrophied legs.
“I—You—Thank you.” Gray stutters helplessly, still rusty in his disused Galactic Standard.
“My name’s Chuone. Let’s get you out of here, somewhere clean. Ish.”
Chuone’s arms wrap around him and he flinches, but the man is fiddling with the strap on his wrist—Gray recognizes a Vortex Manipulator from the wrists of Time Agents from his home—and then a sudden yanking and whirling throws Gray off kilter. He lands hard, dizzy and nauseous, Chuone holding him up. They’re standing in a corridor. Gray can see a dingy-looking pub just down the hall. His stomach churns, reminding him of their trip.
“Don’t be sick on the floor yet, mate. Come on, let’s sit you down.”
Chuone leads him to a bench in the bar. Gray sits down heavily, and gulps greedily at the water that’s brought over when Chuone gestures. He gestures again, and a few minutes later, plates of food are set in front of them. Gray can’t care less what the meal consists of. It’s food, and his belly reminds him sharply that it hasn’t been cared for in months. He wolfs down the food so fast that Chuone has to take it away from him so he won’t burst his stomach. He slows his eating down and Chuone releases the plate. When he finishes, he sits back with a sigh of contentment, a new sensation, and puts his head down.
“I rented a room for us, Gray. So you can sleep properly and all that. But lets get you out of that ratty old uniform. I—”
“No! No it’s got to stay. I want it on. I want it. It stays.”
“Okay, okay.” Chuone holds his hands up. “It was only a suggestion. Why don’t we go up to our room and you can wash.”
Gray washes, peering curiously at the blackish water as it swirls down the drain. When he comes out, he’s clean, but he puts the dirty old uniform back on. He sits down on the bed and finds the softness strange and disconcerting.
“Gray?” Chuone asks hesitantly. Gray looks at him. “Can you tell me a little bit about what happened to you? You don’t have to if you don’t want to.”
“They took me.” Gray’s voice is toneless. He’s replayed these memories in his mind for so long that they hold nothing for him now. “They raided my planet, my home. We were children. My brother let go of my hand. He was supposed to hold my hand. He let go and they took me. They tortured me. They hurt me. They—They.”
“It’s okay, Gray. It’s all right.” Chuone’s voice is soft, an attempt at comfort. Then he sits up. “Listen, I know your brother. I can find him for you and maybe we can get you home.”
“Your brother. His name is Jaiikve, right?” Gray nods silently. “After you disappeared and his father was killed, he left his home and joined the Time Agency in order to try to find you. He thought he could use the skills the Time Agency taught to look for you and save you. Instead he got wrapped up in everything to Time Agency corrupts the agents to be. We were partners. We split up for a while and I was paired with another agent. They took two years of Jack’s memories and he went rogue. Disappeared. I haven’t seen him since, but I’ve been looking for him, and there have been rumours.”
“Planet Earth, in the Sol system. Don’t know what time period, though.” Gray is silent, thinking. He considers Chuone for a moment, then turns away. Chuone sighs and nods. “Look. We should get some rest, especially if you want to find Jaiikve.”
Chuone lies down in his own bed and is asleep a few moments later. Gray lies awake. Jaiikve is alive. Jaiikve, the brother who abandoned him, who left him on his own, whose carelessness brought him pain and suffering and loneliness and everything except death. Yes, he wanted to find Jaiikve. For a reunion. He begins to consider his lessons at the hands of the creatures: the technology, the knowledge, the hate.
Gray is waiting when Chuone awakes, one of the man’s weapons in hand and a grin on his face.
“You will go to the market. I know there is a black market here. You will get me these things,” Gray handed the groggy man a list. “You will bring them back here and I will build with them. If you can find information on Jaiikve, bring that back too.”
“Or?” Chuone challenges.
“Or you die. Now or later. Whichever.”
Chuone huffs and gets to his feet, but he goes to the market as he’s told. When he comes back, Gray has already written out all the schematics from memory. The equipment goes onto the desk and the floor around it, and Gray gets to work. Jaiikve talks as Gray builds.
“According to various species of time travellers, Jaiikve is living in 21st century Earth. In a place called Cardiff. He’s running an organisation called Torchwood. Which apparently protects the planet from alien threats, since they haven’t had first contact yet.”
He finishes the bombs quite quickly. They’re easy and small, simple and detectable. Good decoys, good red herrings. Good for the job. He seizes Chuone’s arm as the man passes by to go to the kitchen area.
“What in Goddess’ name are you—” But Gray has flipped open the Vortex Manipulator and his fingers are flying over the tiny keys. Chuone chocks and cries out as the manipulator tightens.
“It records everything you do or say. You can’t take it off, or you will die.”
“What the hell?”
Gray looks at him. He is very serious now. This is important. “You will go to Earth in the 21st century. You will find Jaiikve. You will report back to me on his condition, on everything about him.”
“Aye aye, Captain.” Chuone rolls his eyes.
“You will do it. Or you will die.”
“These are fake bombs.” Gray hands them off. “They will create a distraction. It is your choice how you use them. Do whatever you can. Kill him if you must, but if you do not have to, don’t. I would like that pleasure myself.”
“Your Manipulator will monitor everything you do and say. You will not mention me to him. Go to the market now if you need any other equipment.”
Chuone shakes his head and rummages in his satchel. “No, I’ve got it.”
Gray waits for two days in the hotel room, writing out schematics. His brother is alive, the brother who left him and never took the time to search for him. Jaiikve is in some strange century, and Gray will go there and do what must be done.
He only halfway monitors Chuone. The man follows directions. His parting words, however.
“Why did you say that?” Gray blurts out when Chuone appears. “Why did you tell him you found me?”
“You said you wanted to cause him pain?”
Gray eyes him suspiciously. “Yes?”
“Trust me, that will. He’s been looking for you for years. I remember how frantic he was back in the Time Agency. That will hurt him good. Oh, by the way, he can’t die.”
Gray frowns. “What do you mean?”
“Weren’t you listening when it happened?” Chuone rolls his eyes. “I mean he can’t die, ever. I pushed him off a building and he came right back to life. He can’t die.”
Gray nods thoughtfully, and adds that information to his plan. “Tell me about his team.”
Gray listens closely as Chuone reviews everything he learned about Jaiikve’s—Jack’s—team. He writes bits of information down, scribbling ideas and contingency plans down in the margins.
“You will get me a Vortex Manipulator.” Gray announces suddenly. “From the market it. I can fix it if it’s broken. You will also find me any documents about this Torchwood.”
Chuone does so, reluctantly. Gray can’t stop grinning as he reads the files, nor as he repairs the inner workings of the wrist strap.
“It’s all right now,” he croons softly to the technology in front of him. “It’s okay. I’ll get him back for all that he’s done and then he’ll feel the pain of his actions. I will make him suffer the way he made me suffer. And then it will be all right. His life will be as ruined as mine. We will be equals. And he will never be forgiven. And all will be well.”
The hate in his heart is strangely comforting. There’s no fear left now that he’s gone from that place, those chains. There is no hope now that he knows where Jaiikve resides. Now that he knows the extent of his abandonment. Jaiikve has given up on him, has pushed him aside in favour of this team. There is nothing else. Now there is only anger, betrayal, hatred. Jaiikve must suffer to pay for what happened to Gray. Jack is the one to blame. And when his life is ruined, everything will be okay.