Title: Parts of the Process
Summary: And although Ianto goes hurtling through the universe, crossing time and space seems to teach him one thing in particular – that all roads lead to Rome.
Spoilers: Series 1 of Torchwood and the series 3 finale of Doctor Who
Beta: Many thanks go to jadesfire2808 who is the most fantastic of beta-readers and made me aware of my pesky love affair with semi-colons. :)
Disclaimer: All of the characters used in this fic belong to the BBC; I am making no profit with this and no copyright infringement is intended.
- 1 -
It was a rather subdued team that wearily dumped their equipment in the entrance to the Hub, to be cleared away later.
Gwen plopped down on the couch in an ungraceful heap. Owen sat beside her, tipping his head back and closing his eyes. Tosh went over to her station and began punching in the passwords that would allow the system to boot up to full power from the security standby mode. As for Ianto, he began dragging himself up the stairs to see how the pterodactyl had fared in their week of absence.
"Seven days," said Owen, "Seven fucking days, chasing a bloody myth. I'm never doing this again, I swear."
"Technically it was only four days, we spent the rest travelling," Toshiko pointed out but fell silent as Owen snarled at her.
"I can't believe we got sent to the Himalayas for nothing. And why can the Prime Minister – who wasn't even Prime Minister at that point! - send us anywhere anyway?" asked Gwen, "What about that whole 'outside the government' spiel? Aren't we supposed to be independent?"
"Fine, next time you decide whether to comply or not when you get a call from Downing Street," Owen snapped, "How was I supposed to react?"
"Jack would have known," Gwen muttered.
"Yeah, but Jack's gone!" Owen said heatedly and Ianto, sensing an oncoming confrontation, stopped on his way up to the pterodactyl's lair and made a detour to the coffee machine instead. It looked like they could all do with a hot drink to calm them down. Also, both Owen and Gwen couldn't talk with their mouths full, so he started to arrange biscuits on a plate as well.
"Jack is gone," Owen repeated vehemently, "Buggered off fuck knows where with that Doctor bloke and I'm sick of your moaning, all right? 'S not like I don't want him back, but he's gone!"
"About that," Tosh said, interrupting the budding argument, "I think I've found him."
She pointed towards the computer screen where the system was up and fully running and the news from the last few days began pouring in. Toshiko had designed a filtering programme years ago, to sort out the news relevant to Torchwood. She'd set it to specifically scan for any hints of Jack shortly after he'd disappeared, when he'd torn across the Plass and clutched on to an outdated police box for dear life.
"Where is he?" Owen asked frantically, coming to stand behind Tosh and staring at the screen. Ianto, at that moment, wanted nothing more than to join the others in their excited cluster around the computers, but he forced himself to arrange the steaming mugs calmly on a tray and descend the stairs in what appeared to be a collected and rather indifferent manner.
"I don't know yet," Tosh answered, tapping a few keys. "This is the BBC news coverage from three days ago. It seems that Jack has become an enemy of the state?" Her voice had risen incredulously. "Together with the Doctor and a medical student called Martha Jones."
"No relation, I hope?" Gwen asked, turning towards Ianto.
"I think not, look at the pictures," Tosh said, gratefully accepting the cup Ianto offered her. The screens now showed images of Jack, the Doctor and Martha, who was a pretty, dark-skinned woman in her early twenties. Ianto recognised this version of the Doctor with a jolt.
"That's the Doctor all right," he said. "According to the files that's the Doctor No. 1. Our earliest records mention him together with a woman named Lady Rose Tyler of the Powell Estates; there's a sketch of the two of them as well. Both of them were at the Battle of Canary Wharf although there have been some sightings of the Doctor accompanied by other people. Martha Jones here fits the description of a young woman who was with him in 1969."
"1969?" Tosh asked skeptically. "That's almost forty years ago, how could it have been her?"
"We – Torchwood One, that is – have long suspected that the Doctor may be a time traveller," Ianto answered, ignoring the disbelieving looks he was receiving from Gwen and Owen. "It fits in with the various sightings and temporal anomalies in the readings when he's near. We also think that he can change his appearance."
"Blimey," Owen muttered, "And that makes things so much easier."
"But what about Jack?" Gwen asked impatiently.
Toshiko quickly scanned more articles and called up a short video clip, showing Jack, the Doctor and Martha running down a nondescript street, with a news reporter saying that anyone spotting these dangerous terrorists should inform the authorities immediately.
"It doesn't say," Tosh replied. "It doesn't even say what crimes they're supposed to have committed. And there's no mentioning of them at all some hours later, of course. With the assassination of the American President on board of the Valiant and the disappearance of Mr Saxon that's hardly surprising."
"Something fishy is going on here," Owen commented, frowning. "This doesn't feel right. Jack disappearing on us, Saxon's election and then that whole fiasco with the Toclafane – shouldn't we have picked up on aliens contacting the Prime Minister? One week the world nearly ends and the next it goes to hell in a handbasket when we're conveniently dispatched to the bloody end of the world."
"I can run a check-up on Harold Saxon," Tosh offered. "It seems that everything is connected to him – our orders and the Toclafane. Not to forget that he helped to design and construct the Valiant."
"You do that," Owen nodded and, as Gwen opened her mouth, he raised his hands. "Listen, I know what you're going to say. But Jack went of his own free will. You've seen him running towards that box! We can't do anything about it right now."
"I can have a look at the older Torchwood records, see if there's any past sightings of the Doctor with someone who matches Jack's description," Ianto offered and Gwen nodded, relieved.
"And in the meantime, I suggest we go home and get some sleep, ladies," Owen said, barely suppressing a yawn. "I don't know about you two, but I haven't slept in two days and I'm knackered. We'll get started properly tomorrow."
"Fine by me," Gwen said and then sighed. "I didn't really have time to explain things to Rhys. He'll be worried sick by now."
Owen snorted. "Whatever. I want you all back here tomorrow morning, bright and early."
Tosh nodded and got up. The three of them took the lift to the surface, leaving Ianto behind. He sat down in Tosh's vacated chair and accessed the news reports again, staring at Jack's photograph. He proceeded to open the records of Torchwood One describing their various sightings of the Doctor over the years, running an automatic search for Jack – somebody matching his age, with roughly the same appearance - in the reports since 1995 and then checking the number of reports left, sightings from before the age of CCTV to find out the number of files he'd have to go through manually.
Ianto sighed and then stood up, stretching languidly to get rid of some of the tiredness and exhaustion that had crept into his bones ever since Jack had disappeared. Looking at the pile of abandoned, dirty equipment lying in the entrance to the Hub, he grimaced and took off his jacket. He'd have to clear their kit away, feed the pterodactyl and get started on these reports if he wanted to avoid getting an earful from a short-tempered Owen in the morning.
Ianto took a sip from his cup of coffee and got started.
- 2 -
From the archives of Torchwood One, file 68/D/β
Last accessed by Ianto Jones, Torchwood Three, 28th of February 2009
Report filed 13th of October 1981 by Brenda Spencer, Torchwood One
Field Operative: Christopher Jason Brown
Date of Observation: 10th of October 1981, 5.13 pm – 5.24 pm
Doctor: description match, see file 23/D/α
Companion(s): - one human male (no image available, no description match, see notes)
Location: Leicester Square, London
Operative followed targets for ten minutes before losing sight of them in Leicester square
objective of targets unknown
companion: human male in his late twenties, short brown hair, wearing a military style coat; further details not available, no match in the database
Note from Ianto: This is the only description of a companion of the Doctor that roughly matches Jack's appearance. Age seems to be a little off, though.
I'll keep looking.
- 3 -
The police box was standing right outside Ianto's house as he left for work in the morning.
At first he didn't notice it properly; he was busy locking his door, absent-mindedly chewing on a piece of toast and suppressing a yawn. It was ridiculously early to be going to work, especially considering the fact that he'd only come home at midnight last night. At six o'clock in the morning it was still mostly dark outside, with no noise of cars to disturb the damp and heavy silence that signalled the end of the night.
Maybe Ianto would have passed by the blue box entirely if not for the faint light that was shining from its windows as well as the lettering above them, illuminating the usually dark pathway leading to his car.
As it was, he blinked stupidly at the blurry light on the ground in front of him before raising his eyes and nearly choking on his last bit of toast. Ianto recognised the police box as the space-ship belonging to the Doctor. Its unique and slightly odd shape had first been mentioned to him during his two years as a trainee at Torchwood One. He himself had subsequently seen it twice: Once in London, sneaking a forbidden look at it when Yvonne Hartman had tried to confiscate it from the Doctor, and then mere days ago when they'd watched Jack sprint towards it across the Roald Dahl Plass on their recorded CCTV footage.
This ship was where Jack had gone before it had faded from view; this must be where Jack was now.
He took a step towards the box and touched it gingerly. To his surprise it seemed to be made out of ordinary wood; and for a ship housing an incredibly powerful alien it was certainly quite small. The door was fitted with a Yale lock, but it opened easily when Ianto gave it a careful push, still not quite sure what a space ship was doing in his front garden. Had Jack returned? Was that it – had he really come back?
The door swung back and a huge cloud of smoke emanated from the interior of the box.
"Jack?" Ianto called out uncertainly, blinking and coughing. He squinted as he tried to discern anything through the dense and uncomfortably hot smoke. There seemed to be quite a lot of it, considering the size of the box and Ianto gave the door another push so it opened completely. He knocked on the wooden frame; taking a tentative step inside he stretched out his hands, expecting them to meet the back wall of the box. There was nothing but hot emptiness and smoke, however, and Ianto slowly advanced, not quite believing his eyes as they started to make out the shape of a cavernous, huge room.
"Jack?" he called out again, hating how insecure and pleading his own voice sounded.
The fact that the alien known as the Doctor – or Sir Doctor of Tardis as the earliest documents referred to him – seemed to call a blue police box his home had long caused consternation and puzzlement among the researchers at Torchwood. Clearly the box was not very big and at times the Doctor had been observed to enter it in the company of two or three other people. There had been theories and rumours, as well as a certain amount of lewd jokes, making their rounds through the department responsible for tracking the Doctor; the department Lisa had belonged to. She had taken great pleasure in forwarding the most outrageous ones to him via internal mail and it wasn't unusual for her to be still chattering away about this very blue box long after getting home from work.
He'd never seen her more excited than during the day this box had materialised right inside Torchwood Tower.
"Bigger on the inside," Ianto wondered out loud. "It's bigger on the inside!"
He moved further into the room, the smoke finally clearing away. It seemed to emanate from a kind of console in the middle of the room, adorned with a cracked flat screen, numerous buttons and knobs and what appeared to be a bicycle pump. Some sort of column connected it to the ceiling. Ianto turned around, his head thrown back, and took in the whole room: the console to his left, the door to his right. Beams that looked more like organically grown vines made their way up to an impossibly high ceiling and there was another set of doors at the far end of the room. Light seemed to come from everywhere, soft and golden; a worn jump seat was positioned closely to the console.
Ianto grew acutely uncomfortable. The console looked as if some serious damage had been done to it: the smoke and the black, cracked screen were evidence of that. He was definitely alone in the room and he didn't dare to explore the ship any further.
It all didn't quite make sense: the ship showing up in his garden the day after he'd got back from Nepal; the damage done to it though it looked fine from the outside; the open door and the absence of anybody to give him an explanation. If Jack had returned then surely he'd stay close to the ship at least long enough to wait for Ianto to show up?
Ianto was contemplating calling the Hub to let the others know about his findings when the double doors opened and a young man stumbled into the room, barely more than a boy really. He was dark-skinned, with short, coal-black hair; Ianto thought that he might be from India. His movements were jerky, his steps uncertain and his equilibrium off. Wearing oversized, dark blue clothing that hung from his slender frame he blinked owlishly at Ianto out of eyes that looked half-crazed and unfocused.
"Hello!" he said brightly in a brittle voice, "And who might you be, then?"
"I'm..." Ianto gaped at the young man as he made his way towards the jump seat and sank down on it, moaning softly.
"Where's Jack?" he finally asked carefully.
"Jack? Who's Jack?" the man asked, not giving Ianto the chance to respond before babbling on in clear-cut, British English without any trace of a regional accent, "I might be Jack. You might be Jack! Does it really matter in the grand scheme of things? I mean, look at me, all these gorgeous clothes, I really liked that body and then, bang! everything goes horribly, horribly wrong and I get stuck with this," he gestured disdainfully at his body, "Not that I've actually looked in a mirror, mind you, but still... What was I going to say...?" he trailed off uncertainly and closed his eyes. "My head is killing me."
"I'm sorry, but I'm looking for Captain Jack Harkness," Ianto said. "I apologise if I've, er, disturbed you."
"Captain Jack Harkness? Captain Jack Harkness, Captain Jack Harkness... Interesting. Very interesting."
Getting up, he pushed back his shirt sleeves and grimaced as they slid back down again immediately, covering his hands and going past his finger tips.
"It's all a bit muddled at the moment, you'll have to forgive me. But still... Who are you? How did you get in here? Are you travelling with me?"
"You landed your ship in my garden," Ianto pointed out.
"I did? Really? I'm sure that's not where I wanted to go. Or did I? Anyway, that's easily remedied!"
He started fiddling with the innumerable buttons on the console, dancing around it like a mad and slightly drunk pixie.
"Now, please wait just a moment -" Ianto started to say, but the teen didn't even seem to hear him.
"Screen's down, temporal stabilisers are at half power, blimey, she took a bit of a battering didn't she? Take a bit of time to repair her, maybe a top-up? Then again, you got rather too much energy, didn't you, shouldn't need more for years and years! Nah, spend some time in the vortex, you'll be right as rain..."
"Excuse me -"
"Now shut up just a minute!" Ianto was rudely interrupted, "Haven't got much time, terribly sorry, regeneration was a bit dodgy, don't know how long -" the stranger suddenly fell silent and doubled over in obvious pain. Panting, he set a wheel spinning and the door through which Ianto had entered banged shut; the floor beneath his feet began to shake. Ianto stumbled and would have fallen if the hadn't got hold of one of the vines. As it was, he was still thrown off his feet and hit his head on the railing. He gasped for breath, the pain exploding in his skull, all-encompassing for long seconds. A grinding noise filled the room before fading abruptly; and as his mind cleared he could only hear a soft humming pervading the room.
"Um..." he said carefully, "Excuse me? What – What has just happened? What did you do?"
But the young man was no longer standing at the console. Instead he was lying in a crumpled heap in front of it, a golden glow filling his unconscious form.