Ianto and Gwen are understandably displeased to find Jack missing, with no sign of his whereabouts other than a cryptic note. Neither of them know what business Jack has in London even on a normal day, and Tosh and Owen haven't been dead for more than fourty-eight hours. He shouldn't have left. Ianto persuades Gwen to go home to Rhys, while he stays and monitors the equipment and tries not to cry.

There is something about crying alone that makes Ianto feel empty inside, and he is not altogether sure that Jack will come back. It's not the first time he's left, after all.

He doesn't know what he'll do if he doesn't. He doesn't know what Torchwood will do, either.

xxx

"I'd like to call in a favour, de Carabas," says Captain Jack Harkness.

The marquis raises one elegant eyebrow. "Really," he says. "Funny. I don't recall owing any favours to anyone like you."

Jack grins. "Thought I'd be dead by now, huh?" he asks.

The marquis sighs theatrically. "It would have been so convenient," he laments.

"You'll find I don't die so easily," Jack says. "Now, then. About that favour."

"What is it that you want?" the marquis asks. "I haven't got all day, you know."

"The egg. I know you have it, de Carabas, and I need it."

"I'm afraid," says the marquis, "That you're too late."

"Excuse me?" says Jack.

"I've already used it," says the marquis. "It's of no use to anyone now. Terribly sorry. Though I don't see what you would need it for, anyway. As you said, you do seem rather hard to kill."

Jack punches him. The marquis seems unruffled, simply standing back up and dusting off his magnificent coat. Jack hears a bit of clapping from a little ways back, where a man stands, watching the exchange with interest in his eyes. "Now, really," the marquis de Carabas says, "That is entirely unnecessary."

"My friends, dammit," says Jack. "They're dead, two of them, and I want them back."

"The egg wouldn't help them, in any case," says the marquis. "Not if they're already dead. And it would only save one."

Jack grins again, all teeth and sharp edges. "Normally I'm against altering the past, but here I was willing to make an exception."

"You would be willing to choose one of them to bring back? How callous you've become, Captain."

"I can punch you again, if you like. The peanut gallery would appreciate it," he says, nodding his head toward the man. "One of them had already died once, anyway. I don't think it would work the same way."

"It's a moot point, Captain. The egg is gone," says the marquis, "And you'll find no amount of mucking about with time will change that. It has a way of doing that."

"So I've heard," says Jack. "I guess I'll be keeping that favour, then."

"If you insist," says the marquis.

"I'm sorry about your friends," says the man, as Jack turns to walk away.

Jack offers him a tight smile and a curt, "Thanks," before he comes along a ladderway and climbs out of the sewer.

"Who was that?" asks Richard.

"Just an old acquaintance," says the marquis, eyeing his nails, with a bored expression on his face. "No one to worry yourself over."

"He doesn't look like he's from London Below," says Richard.

"That's because he's not," says de Carabas. "He's from somewhere far stranger. Are we going?"

"You know, I don't think that's even possible," says Richard.

"Which just goes to show," says the marquis, "How little you know. Hurry up, the market should be starting soon."

"He seemed sad," said Richard. "I mean, his friends just died, and all. But other than that. Just... something about him."

"Dying will do that to a man," says the marquis, his voice gravelly. Richard gets the feeling that it would be wise to drop the subject. He has never fancied himself a wise man.

"He's died?" Richard asks. "Did he do the same thing you did, with the egg?"

"No," says de Carabas, "He's died many more times than that, I'm sure. It's not an experience one wants relive. I pity him."

The thought of the marquis pitying anyone is enough to make Richard shut up and direct his attention firmly towards keeping his boots as clean as possible. It's a futile task, since after a month or two Below, his boots are a lost cause, but it gives him an excuse not to look at the marquis.

xxx

Jack returns that same day, empty-handed. Ianto won't speak to him.

Some problems just can't be solved, is the thing.