Chapter 9

They'd got lucky. Before their hiding place had been uncovered, the men searching the apartment had been called away by Saksonski. Apparently, Jack's coat had been discovered in the laundry room, along with the rest of his discarded wet clothing and they were going to bring in bloodhounds to search for them by scent. Jack hoped that his dip in the river had diluted his scent on the clothing, but he couldn't count on it.

"We need to get out of here, before the dogs arrive," hissed Jack as soon as Lucia opened the cabinet to let them out.

"How can you do that with those men everywhere?"

"I'm gonna need a skirt, a large shawl and an old sack. How about it?"

"Here," Lucia said, thrusting a large, faded shawl at Jack.

Lucia then pointed at the washing line above the stove, indicating that Jack should help himself. She then left the room to find a sack – the sort used to collect anything that could be burnt in the stove to generate heat.

Selecting a few items from the laundry hung up to dry, Jack wrapped the shawl around his head and shoulders, making sure it fell forward over his eyes. He rolled up his trouser legs and pulled on an old skirt. He pulled up his socks, stuffed his boots into the sack that Lucia handed to him and grabbed an old pair of slippers from the hearth.

"What the hell are you doing?" demanded Ianto, watching as Jack transformed his appearance. From somewhere Jack had produced a pair of wire-rimmed glasses that he propped on his nose. When he stooped over clutching a cane, he looked half his actual height and at least twice his age, not to mention female.

"Getting us the hell out of here before the dogs arrive. Put that hat on and pull it all the way down," Jack tossed a woollen hat with holes in it at Ianto. "Where's your makeup, Lucia?"

With a scowl, Lucia handed Jack an old biscuit tin, filled with pots and jars of makeup. He took a pot of rouge and liberally dusted Ianto's cheeks and the tip of his nose. Then he took an eyebrow pencil and added some extra 'hairs' to his eyebrows, giving them the appearance of being much bushier than they were.

"The fire escape?" asked Jack.

Lucia nodded and led the two men through to the back of the apartment, out onto the narrow balcony, from which led a set of rickety, iron ladders, from floor to floor.

"Still just about functional – but don't step on the first or last step on the third floor, there's only rust holding those together."

"What are we doing?" asked Ianto.

"No time to explain – just follow my lead," instructed Jack, as if he always had a sidekick. Truth be told, he always worked alone – only his own skin to save, his own life to take risks with. This was all new to him. "When we get to the street, walk like you're an eighty-year-old who's been working down the mines his whole life. Got it?"

"Quick – get out of here!" urged Lucia, anxious to see the back of the man she called Richard. "Head for the canal, follow it to the west. That will take you to the Irish pub. Frankie will be expecting you."

Jack took Lucia's face in his hands and pressed a kiss to her lips. He then gave her a roll of notes from Ianto's wallet that he'd fished out of the other man's coat pocket. The notes in his own wallet were still sodden and could possibly look suspicious if she used them before drying them out.

They'd taken their time walking along the canal, Jack insisting that they'd be better off walking as slow as possible, to avoid suspicion. With the shawl wrapped around his head and a stoop, Jack managed to look like an old woman, especially as he looped his arm into Ianto's elbow. Every now and then he'd point with his cane at a piece of rubbish and have Ianto pick up a scrap of cardboard to stuff into the sack he was carrying.

Ianto shuffled along the road, mimicking the gait of the old men he'd seen at the Miners' Welfare in his parents' village, back in the Valleys of Wales. A million miles from where he found himself, wearing an old raincoat and a threadbare woollen hat, that was causing his head to itch.

It was getting dark by the time they reached the bridge that spanned the river and the canal. Heavy traffic was building up as they reached the pub.

"Keep going," hissed Jack, steering Ianto towards the alley way just beyond the front of the ugly, grey-bricked building. The only colour on the whole street seemed to come from the bright green doors.

Once in the alleyway, Jack tore the shawl off and used it to wipe the rouge off Ianto's face. He then slipped out of the skirt, rolled his trouser legs down and fished his boots back out of the sack. Once they had adjusted their clothing, they looked less like poor, elderly Russians and more like western tourists. The borrowed clothing was wrapped up in the sack and dropped into large waste skip at the back of the pub.

To any onlooker, it would have appeared as if an elderly couple had gone down the side of the building in search of packaging to add to their sack and had crossed paths with two tall men, slightly scruffily dressed, who made their way confidently into Sally O'Brien's Irish pub.

"Hungry?" asked Jack as they threaded their way through a crowd towards the bar.

"Famished."

"Let's see if we can find time to have something to eat here."

At the tables, there were groups of tourists and ex-pats, watching the sports channel and eating plates of burgers and fries. Ianto was struck by the incongruous sight of bottles of Heinz tomato ketchup with Russian labels.

If Ianto hadn't been feeling hungry before, his stomach was grumbling as a barman shoved past him, carrying two plates of pork chops and mashed potato.

At the bar, Jack ordered two pints of Guinness and two Jameson whiskey chasers. He also asked for the menu and asked for a few items from the bar snacks selection.

"Chicken tenders, a portion of wings and a basket of fries, please. Fast as you can make it."

"Were you going to ask what I wanted?" asked Ianto indignantly. "Who's paying for this anyway? Me or you?"

"Sorry – you. My wallet got soaked. My phone, too."

"I'd have thought you would have carried a special waterproof phone."

"There's waterproof and there's icy river proof. It might work later, but for now we've got nothing."

"Shit."

"Here you go – drink the Guinness," Jack passed the first fully poured pint to Ianto, admiring the cloverleaf pattern in the thick, creamy foam. "It will revive you."

"So, that crap about not being much of a drinker?" asked Ianto, watching on as Jack sunk half his own pint, without it touching the sides.

"In the pub in Oxford?" Jack grinned as he wiped the forth from his upper lip.

"Yep," replied Ianto, casting his mind back to the last time he was in a drinking establishment with Jack – even though he thought his name was Robert at the time. "I take it that was another lie?"

"Yeah – you're onto me, I just can't help it." Jack shrugged and wondered what it was about Ianto Jones that made him want to be honest.

Taking a long, steady draft of his own pint, Ianto sighed with pleasure.

"Not bad, but it tastes better in Dublin."

"I hate Dublin," muttered Jack.

Before Ianto could ask why Jack hated Dublin, the barmaid reappeared and handed over two sets of cutlery wrapped in serviettes. Jack thanked her and then leant forward so he wouldn't be overheard.

"We're meeting a friend here – Frankie. Has she been in yet?"

"Over there, in the booth," the girl said quietly, looking over towards the back of the bar. "I'll bring your food over when it's ready."

Taking their pints and the chasers with them, they walked around the bar as if looking for seats. Ianto followed Jack's lead when he nodded and shuffled into the booth, Jack sitting on the outside to keep an eye and ear on what was going on around them. They were confronted with a dark-haired woman wearing a soft red beret and a bald-headed man wearing a leather jacket.

"You're late," said the woman, putting out her cigarette. "Where have you been?"

"Who's he?" asked Jack glaring at the bald-headed man.

"Don't fret, that's just Toli. He's my guardian. Looks out for me."

"You got my message then?"

"I heard you wanted to buy something from me. Souvenirs – I have some lovely old maps of the city."

"I'm not here to buy fake art. I need you to get us to the Embassy."

Frankie handed over a cardboard roll, inside of which were some prints of the city as it once was, however, in between the coloured prints was a set of blueprints.

"Are those maps of the tunnels?" asked Jack in hushed tones.

"Yes," replied Frankie pulling them away from him. "So, I think five thousand is a fair price for these exquisite prints. You won't get a better deal."

Jack pulled out Ianto's wallet from the coat he was still wearing and handed over five one thousand rouble notes. Frankie laughed in his face.

"Not roubles, dollars."

"How about pounds? I don't have any dollars?" asked Jack. "Call it, let's say, two hundred pounds and you've got a deal."

"Fine," agreed Frankie, handing over the cardboard tube that contained the prints in exchange for the bundle of twenty pound notes.

Ianto really hoped that Jack knew what he was doing – that was all the spare cash he had, apart from roubles.

"Of course, you will need someone to guide you," smirked Frankie as she watched Jack tuck the prints out of sight.

Jack scowled, he should have known there was a catch when she'd settled for a much lower price without haggling.

"Can you take us through them?"

"No. But I can put you in contact with a man who knows how to navigate through the water mains, sewers and other tunnels. His services are not cheap. I will need ten thousand dollars, up-front."

"No way. I told you we haven't got that kinda money."

"OK. Seven thousand and not a penny less."

"Jones?" asked Jack, not wanting to divulge his companion's first name in public. It was too unusual and could get them caught. "Got any more cash hidden on you anywhere?"

"You've got to be kidding, right?" Ianto rolled his eyes, wondering if Jack had any idea how much a research scientist got paid. He'd maxed out his credit cards just getting to Russia and booking into the swanky hotel.

"I take plastic," offered Frankie looking Jack in the eyes.

"You really think I'm gonna trust using my Visa card in this city?" asked Jack incredulously.

"If you can't or won't pay, I can't help you."

"What about that watch – Bulgari isn't it?" suggested Toli, glancing at the timepiece about Jack's wrist.

"It's a family heirloom," protested Jack. The only item left to him by the man who'd left him behind all those years ago. It was a watch that had everything, from a chronograph to a calendar. Its thick leather strap wasn't practical, but Jack wouldn't part with it for the world.

"How about this?" prompted Ianto, fetching an old stopwatch from the pocket of his trousers. "It's antique, got a button on the top and everything. Solid silver."

"Not as valuable as the Bulgari," murmured Frankie, taking the timepiece in her hand and weighing it up. "But it will do."

Ianto had seen the look in Jack's eyes when the bald guy had suggested he hand over his watch. It meant something to Jack – that much was clear. His stopwatch had sentimental value to him as well – but he was sure his father would have forgiven him if was necessary to trade it for the chance of him ever seeing his homeland again.

"You can have it when we get to the embassy," growled Jack, snatching the stopwatch out of Frankie's hand. "I'll be back to buy it off you. I'll be in touch – so don't sell it yet."

"I'll give you a week – if I don't get the money by then, I sell it."

At that moment in their negotiations, Toli hushed them as the barmaid appeared with the food that Jack had ordered. Once she had left the table, Frankie and Toli stood up as if takgin their leave of the two westerners who had shared their table.

"Wait until an hour after sunset. Call me on this number and I'll tell you where to meet us," muttered Frankie, as she scribbled a number on Jack's serviette. "There's going to be a protest outside the British Embassy tonight – there will be many police in the area. I would advise that you wait for us."

Then, as if by magic, both Frankie and her minder melted into the throng of people crowded near the rear exit and disappeared from sight.

"Couldn't we do it on our own?" asked Ianto. "We've got the maps. Do you trust them?"

"I always prefer to rely on local knowledge whether it's being given away for free or sold," muttered Jack, picking up a chicken tender and dipping it into the pot of sauce. "Eat up – I don't know when we'll next get to eat."

"What if they tell the police where to find us?"

"They won't," asserted Jack confidently. "Not until they've taken us for every penny they think we're worth. I reckon they're gonna want more cash before taking us to where we want to be."

"But we don't have any dollars-" Ianto started to protest.

"About that-" Jack began, waggling his eyebrows mischievously.

"What?" exclaimed Ianto, nonplussed by Jack's ability to act as if there was no problem when they were both essentially hunted men.

"Cashpoint. There are codes that travellers can use to access cash if their cards get stolen-"

"But don't you have to call your bank?" asked Ianto naively. "Won't that alert-"

Ianto stopped mid-sentence as he heard Jack chuckling to himself.

"Do I look like the kinda guy to follow the rules?" Jack licked sauce from his lips and grinned at Ianto, a wicked sparkle in his eyes that told Ianto all he needed to know.