Title: Something Unpredictable (Chapter 8/?)
Rating/Warnings: PG, mpreg
Description: Jack finds himself with a 51st century predicament in a 21st century world.
Jack was never known for being a delicate listener. It was just a fact that "stubborn" was his middle name, and he had a reputation that preceded him as quickly as he entered a room.
So because of that very reason, work involvement to illness ratio made little difference for the man himself. Suffice to say, if a 21st century man's pride wasn't bad enough, a time traveling rogue from the 51st made reasoning close to impossible.
Even Ianto couldn't get a word in edgewise, and Ianto had a lot to speak about, after all. Jack was simply a man of his word, and if he said it once, he said it a thousand times. So long as he could yield a gun and run without tripping over his great coat, god damn it, that's what he was going to.
"Besides," he brought up at another meeting, his elbows resting emphatically on the table, "What am I supposed to do here? I'm much better in my element, no one can stop me when I gun the S.U.V. over seventy, and I've got at least two months on me before I figure I'll cut back. Two months is a long enough time in my book to get my hands dirty."
As of late, Jack had felt as though he was in put in a corner in the interrogation room, the low, blinking bulbs hovering over him like the moon itself – except now, he was the one getting the pointed finger. And damn that Gwen Cooper. He had to hand it to her; she worked that pointed finger for all it was worth. He had trained her well. Too well.
"Jack, no one doubts you're abilities," she piped up, sitting directly across from him. "But do you realize the amount of things that could go wrong if you—"
"…If I don't stay with my team and be there under a crisis."
Gwen audibly sighed and nearly threw her hands up. "That isn't what I meant, Jack, and you know that."
"Yes. Yes," Jack admitted. "I knew what you were going to say, but I've got everything under control."
"You know that? You know that for a fact?" Gwen crossed her hands and raised an eyebrow. She was giving Jack the upper hand, astonishingly enough, though she knew she had room to step right back in, for decency's sake.
"It's been what I've been trying to tell all of you for weeks now!"
Gwen looked around the table to her fellow team mates who all seemed to mirror the same unconvinced expression.
"Jack, all we want is what's best for you. It may work out for now, but later, very soon in the future—"
Owen spoke up, his voice gravely and tired, frankly.
"Christ's sakes, Gwen, don't encourage this any longer," Owen growled, tracing his fingers over the bandaged palm and shaking his head to himself. He was dead and he had more morality.
"I'm not encouraging him! I'm looking out for what all of you want as well, but…" And she worded herself a bit more delicately. "These things take time."
"What we all want is to reason with him, not go around the table and hear the same old rhetoric. Besides, last I checked I'm the only doctor in this room. And as a doctor…"
Jack let out a sigh and glanced to Ianto with an expression only synonymous to "get me out of here." However, that alone was impossible, because Ianto would only side with the others. Gwen and Owen blurred into the background as Jack watched Ianto go around the table with a tray of refreshments and appetizers. Despite his field contribution to Torchwood, he fulfilled a million and one extra duties, especially now that Jack was seemingly needier than ever before.
Jack, still quiet despite the bantering going on all around him, lifted the decaf cup of coffee to his lips. He couldn't help but blanch and lower the cup back to the table. It just wasn't the same without the few calming shots of caffeine to get him through a few hours. But at least Ianto had brought reinforcements. He leaned forward and pulled the plate of pastries closer to him, taking a cheese danish from the very top. As he relaxed back in his chair, he let the flecks of pastry fly from his mouth and on to his lap as he practically inhaled the sweet delectable, manners be damned.
As if he'd just committed the strangest act under eight different planetary codes of ethics, his team all turned their heads to watch him consume a rather large pastry in less than one minute, flat. It had been all of two, three days since Jack had felt well enough to really eat a piece of food that confidently. In the case of floury, fattening pastries, he couldn't get his mitts on them fast enough.
"Look, I appreciate all the concern." He waved his free hand, his words slurred from mashing on the treat. He just ignored the looks and licked his fingers. "But as I've said thousands of times now, if it gets bad, I'll tell you, and then we'll go from there. In the meantime, I'm beginning to feel like my old self again. You said so yourself, Owen, I'm over the hump."
Owen stepped right back into a conversation, his right and rigid palm tapping the table. "Yes, you may well be—but hell if I know, you know I'm not an obstetrician, I'm up to my eyeballs in reading in case you haven't noticed. And even if I did have any semblance of an idea, we're not dealing with a normal pregnancy now, would you say? You know the risk is higher."
How could Jack not? He'd only heard it practically every other day for the last four or five weeks in varying degrees of bodily stages and shifts. Besides, his first pregnancy hadn't exactly been a success for the record books either, and it was that reminder that hurt the most. He flecked the crumbs away from his lips before folding his hands and staring back into them.
Owen just rattled on before Jack took in a deep breath to mute him.
"I know all that. And I'm reminded every damn day of my life now what I've got to lose." He huffed at that and didn't even have to say what he'd lost before. It was simply evident, and he never let his vulnerability show, even if it seeped out subconsciously, even more as of late. This whole pregnancy thing had been more of a test in his pride than he would have liked to admit.
He folded his hands around the almost empty mug. If he had been looking off at Ianto, a present figure beside him, he might have seen a look of longing or regret or something more. He might have asked why or leaned over to pull him aside. Or maybe not; it was just a possibility. He watched the liquid at the bottom of his cup slosh slightly instead.
The young doctor's heart pang with guilt, anguish, annoyance—hell, he didn't know, but he did know that the painstaking insistence on behalf of the entire team was the right thing. With Harkness at the core of it, it made it damn near possible, as the whole crux of the situation laid on Jack's machismo. How could it not. Torchwood had been his world—hell, practically his pet project in life for God knows how long, and everyone in their right mind knew that.
"I've said it before, but statistically, if I stand corrected, your body is just going to…"
"Let me guess." Jack sighed and spoke quietly. "It'll reject the fetus even more, because the intrusion will become greater, so the stakes are higher by the day. I know that."
"And you're going to be feeling more miserable, which could effect your performance on the field, and God knows, Harkness, is something were to happen, I…" A puff of air flew out of Owen's mouth and he had a stillness that he couldn't even articulate. He just wanted this to work. So long as Jack was going to insist on it, this had to work.
"You'd what?" Jack looked to Ianto, who had been remarkably quiet for a meeting concerning Jack's health, and back to Owen, who was back to tracing his fingers over his bandage. "Owen, for god's sakes."
Owen spoke immediately, as if he was popping a balloon inside of him and exhaling the air. "I'd just be very disappointed in you. A man who always seems to have our best interests at heart, not possibly stopping to think how he might be effect the well being of something he's responsible for."
Jack hated being put in a corner, and Owen, Owen was very much so blocking him from having an opinion. The Captain stared back at him with the most incredulous expression he could muster – as if he was playing a game of poker and didn't care to reveal all he was thinking. But inside, his blood was broiling and his anxiety was rising. And damn it, he had been trying to work on that, too.
"I," he worded himself very deliberately, looking straight at Owen. "I care very strongly for the well being of 'something I'm responsible for' very much so. And I care for the people I work with, too, so as long as I can contribute something."
There was a still silence in the room and Jack's voice raised only a few decibels to get his point across. "Anything else?"
The rest of the team looked around to each other, shaking their hands one-by-one. Jack looked to Tosh and raised his eyebrows.
"Any significant rift spikes I should be aware of?"
She glanced down to her PDA and back to Jack. It was clear that even if there were, she would pass on the memo to Ianto or Gwen, and they'd all hop out of the Hub for "coffees." Jack's keen sense of intuition had already begun to sense this, however subtle it was. Tosh shook her head and cracked a smile.
"We're good for now, Jack."
That was all that needed to be said. "Good. I'll be in my office if you need me."
Jack pushed himself from his chair and stood up to his feet, picking up his cup to swig down the rest. Luckily, Ianto caught the cup in mid air as he "handed" it to him, and with that, Jack stalked off in another direction.
Toshiko Sato, Owen Harper, Gwen Cooper, and Ianto Jones all looked at each other with a familiar, pained expression, and as if the fault was suddenly on Ianto, each person inevitably looked back to him. Hell, even Toshiko—Toshiko, for Christ's sakes—crossed her arms expectantly.
"What the hell are you all looking at me for?" Now Ianto felt interrogated. He clasped the cup on the table and looked to Gwen as she spoke up.
"Couldn't you speak to him? He listens especially to you, and since the baby is also yours…"
"You know how Jack is. He doesn't like to be pressured."
"Not our problem," Owen said truthfully. "We all have our duties. Tosh is the computer genius. Gwen is second-in-command. Your job is… well, shagging Jack, which put us in this position in the first place." And that was another bone of contention between Ianto and Owen. "Now my job, as medic, is to see that Jack's artificial womb doesn't explode—"
Gwen rubbed a line of stress in her forehead, "Owen…"
But he continued. "So seeing as how we've established your job is to apparently knock the boss up, perhaps communicating would not put a complete damper on your relationship."
Ianto spoke up then. "Look, I know you may have a pre-conceived notion on what you think it is between us, but it hasn't all been picking out baby names and putting up wallpaper. Jack and I are in bonding mode enough as it is right now, let alone 'talking'."
At that point, Ianto had a sudden, swooping feeling that he worded that in the wrong way. So much so that Owen's eyes rolled into the back of his head so quickly, he could have suffered whiplash. Tosh just covered his mouth with several of his fingers to hide a smirk.
"That isn't that I meant. I meant that me and him, we're trying to—"
Both women began to snicker, but Owen simply sighed and sat up his chair. "Well, whatever it is, Ianto, it's what got us in this mess to begin with. We're all working over time to convince Jack and all you're doing is sitting around and making the coffee."
"Excuse me, that's all I'm doing?"
And then it was Gwen's turn. "Ianto, Owen's a little right. I think what he means to say is… you could do a world of good if you just spoke to him."
Ianto let out a frustrated sigh and shook his head. "I can't speak to him, there's no reasoning with him. He's set in his ways. You of all people should know that. Even Tosh has tried to reason with him."
Owen and Gwen seemed surprised, and Toshiko only let off a sigh and began to pull her chair out, picking up her idle PDA that was lying on the table. "I've been doing all that I can. I have a few things under the works, side projects like improved mobile GPS and webcam for Jack when he's ready, to help him wean off the missions. But it's all in Jack's camp. Sorry."
"And," Ianto started again. "Even if we locked him in the Hub, he'd still find a way to get out. And we can't have him running off again like last time."
"No, we can't," Gwen mumbled, Owen and Toshiko throwing in their agreeing nods.
At least a minute passed before anyone said a word, the four patient comrades staring back at their respective spots on the table. Little could be said strictly because so much had already been said. Ianto began to slide out his chair and move to his feet, but not without Gwen opening her mouth. This time, words actually came out, and Ianto stopped himself from leaving the room.
"It's important that all of us stick together in this, especially you. It's a big change, isn't it?"
God knows when Gwen had become a therapist, but Ianto couldn't argue. It was intolerably painstaking for any number of reasons, some less obvious than others. He responded with a nod and a quirk of the brow. Gwen looked back to Owen and glanced in the general direction of Jack's office.
"It's a big change for all of us," Ianto offered, smiling because he didn't know how else to prove that all of this was okay and perfectly rational.
"I know it is," Gwen spoke, still and calm as she spoke into her folded palms. It was scarily inevitable for her, even, that when Jack would finally become immobile, it would be her place to step up to the place. There was just no other choice in the matter. Owen was in no position.
She took in a deep breath and twirled her wedding ring slowly. She glanced to Tosh who nodded her head and looked back to Ianto. "But if there's anything you ever want to tell us…"
Ianto shook his head but slid her eyes over to Owen who didn't move his expression. He could see that Owen was disappointed for a million and one reasons, but he considered him family all the same. And family stuck together. Hell, family told each other everything, right?
Except there was nothing to say. Nothing. Not really.
"No, we're all on the same wavelength, I should think." And Ianto passed on another one of those trademark smirks, which everyone always seemed to buy into because he carried so little to the vest to begin with. He laughed then, causing the three people around him to look back up at him.
"Seeing him wolf down the whole of a cheese danish in one fell swoop was quite an accomplishment though."
Gwen's lips pursed into a smile and Toshiko fully chuckled out loud. Owen simply rolled his eyes despite being perfectly amused. Each member of the team was thinking the exact same thing, and each one sporadically burst into laughter, the sort that carried so much honesty that the calamity of the past was hardly any match for the present.