The corridor is empty except for three figures. One of them has been stationed here, one recently taken here, the other here of her own volition. Yet in this case, it matters little who is here, and rather more about who is not.

“What do you mean, he’s not here?” Jack attempts to keep his voice calm, but he cannot help shaking with silent anger. The guard shies away, trembling in the face of the captain’s fury. Jack doesn’t appear to care. “How can you just lose someone like that?” His words are carefully chosen. Someone. Not a corpse, not a body, but someone.

The guard avoids his gaze. “We don’t…know, sir. The bag was found empty this morning.”

Jack’s voice is a seething whisper. “So what are we supposed to tell his family? I’m sorry, your brother’s dead and his body just got lost in the mail?” He runs a hand through his hair.

“We’re doing all we can, sir.”

“Yeah, I’ll bet.” He glares at the guard. “Wasn’t the room guarded?”

The young man nods quickly. “Nobody was allowed into the building without authorisation, sir.”

“Oh, well that makes it okay, then. The bodysnatcher had authorisation. Or d’you mean to tell me that he just got up and walked out on his own?”

Gwen lays a hand on Jack’s shoulder in a vain attempt to soothe him. “Wouldn’t be the only one, would he?” she whispers, smiling.

Jack shoots one last glance at the trembling official before turning on his heel and striding back down the corridor. Gwen hurries to keep up with him. Halfway down the corridor, he turns to her. “Ianto’s phone. We can trace it, right? Even if it’s turned off, it had a tracker chip that we can use to locate it.”

“Assuming whoever took him hasn’t taken his phone from him.” She looks at him in concern. “Jack, I know you’re upset about this, but we have bigger problems right now. The children. We need to think about the children.”

Jack shakes his head and keeps walking.

She grabs his arm. “Jack, you aren’t thinking straight. We need to save the children!”

“We will save them.”

“No, Jack. They need us now. Ianto’s gone. We can’t save him. We can still save them. Jack.” She grips his arm more tightly, as though trying to stop him.

He stops of his own accord at the end of the corridor, and fixes her with a steely gaze. “The children are the symptoms, not the disease. It’s the 456 we need to think of, not them.”

“And not Ianto!”

“Yes, Ianto.” He shakes her off his arm. “Have you replayed the footage from yesterday, Gwen? I have. Everybody in that building died. Why? To make an example?” He shakes his head. “That doesn’t make sense. They could have made their point just by gassing the main room.”

Gwen frowns at him. “Maybe they just wanted to make more of an impact. You heard them, Jack. They’re willing to sacrifice millions of children. Two men dying wouldn’t even make them blink. Particularly when they know that one of them would come back.”

Jack looks at the floor, breathing slower than usual. “What if…what if they thought that both would come back?”

She bends down to meet his gaze. "Jack. What do you know that I don't?"

"Nothing." He shakes his head. "I don't know anything for sure."

Gwen crosses her arms and raises an eyebrow at him expectantly. "Then what do you think?"

"I think we need to find him," Jack says simply.

The End

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