Disclaimer: Anything you don't recognise from the show belongs to me. Jack and Ianto are not, alas, mine.
Warnings: Spoilers for everything through to 'Exit Wounds'.
Notes: It's time for Ianto and his family to go back to their own planet. Jack objects to this, rather strongly.
There is a small piece of technology buried at the back of Ianto's sock drawer that he never, ever looks at, not even on the worst days (the ones when he almost dies or when Jack flirts with Gwen again, or when Jack's long-lost brother turns up and destroys half of Cardiff and half of Torchwood with it).
It fits in the palm of his hand, or would do if he ever picked it up, and is shaped like an elongated egg. There is a pattern engraved onto the surface (or perhaps words) and at one end there is what might, in Earth terms, be deemed a tiny LED. Ianto does not think of it in Earth terms (it is not, after all, of Earth origin).
One day, not long after that most disastrous of bad days when Tosh and Owen had died (been killed), Ianto wakes to discover that the small piece of alien technology he has been hiding for years is making a very loud, very irritating noise. When he digs it out of his sock drawer (in the process unearthing a number of odd socks that he suspects belong to Jack), he discovers that the not-quite-an-LED is flashing in a distinct sequence that he knows by heart. The pattern on the (not quite egg-shaped) device is glowing.
"Oh bloody hell," he says stupidly. "Now?"
There is of course nothing to be done about it, and Ianto dresses (in the pin-striped suit and red shirt that drives Jack wild) and goes in to work as normal. He makes coffee for Jack and Gwen, feeds the Weevils and the pterodactyl, and when Jack is engrossed in a phone call Ianto goes down into the archives and finds a folder compiled many years before in anticipation of precisely this situation (because despite what Jack may think he knows about Ianto's past, the Jones family has been working for Torchwood since its inception).
He takes the folder back upstairs, calls Gwen and Jack into the conference room, and smiles politely when they arrive with confused expressions. He takes the (not quite egg-shaped) device out of his pocket and places it on the table. It is, he explains, a kind of beacon that has been passed down through the Jones family for quite some time.
"It's alien," says Gwen, and Ianto privately thinks she is a little slow today.
"Why didn't you tell me?" asks Jack, who hates it when they keep any kind of secret from him.
Ianto hands Jack the folder and explains. The Jones family is not traditionally Welsh, he tells them. They are not even traditionally human, although Ianto himself is at least nine-tenths so, given the length of time his family has been here and the necessity (pleasure, in fact) of inter-species breeding. Humans, he adds with a self-conscious smile, are so much more tactile than his family had been led to believe at first. Jack's expression is growing grimmer by the second, so Ianto retrieves the folder and opens it to the aged letter (penned by Queen Victoria herself) granting the Jones family sanctuary in England in perpetuity, on the proviso that they provide whatever assistance to Torchwood they can.
That assistance, Ianto explains, has for the last fifty years or so been translated into employment. He has to question if Jack never wondered why exactly Torchwood One had hired him (particularly given his rather patchy educational and employment history). He continues to say that after the destruction of Torchwood One, had Jack not offered him the job of receptionist, he would have gone to Torchwood Two and worked there. Archie, the ring-leader of that tiny office, is a (very) distant cousin of the Jones family, and is well aware of the long-standing relationship between Torchwood and the family.
"So why tell us now?" Jack demands, still looking angry.
Ianto holds up the beacon in answer. This small (not quite egg-shaped) piece of alien technology, Ianto tells them, was given to his family when they were sent away, in case circumstances ever changed and they could be retrieved.
"So you weren't here by choice, then?" Gwen realises.
Ianto assures her that there had indeed been no choice. His forebears (some ten or eleven generations ago now) had in fact been forced to flee their planet through no fault of their own when the atmosphere had become inexplicably rather toxic to them. Earth's environment, he explains, was the nearest suitable alternative. Besides which, his something-great grand-father had always liked the idea of taking bipedal form (something which Ianto himself generally enjoyed so much that he couldn't remember the last time he had actually taken his natural body).
The idea being that when at last they had adapted (or possibly evolved) enough to return to their home world, the beacon would light up and a ship would be dispatched to pick them up. All of which means, he concludes rather apologetically, that he is afraid Jack will have to look for yet another new team member, as he himself will be going home within a few days.
Jack does not take this lightly, snatching the beacon from Ianto and examining it closely. Ianto allows this, and pushes the folder towards a rather shocked-looking Gwen. He tells her to feel free to read it, and perhaps she could try to explain things to Jack? He himself has some phone calls to make. As the member of the family currently working for the head of Torchwood (although quite how Jack ended up leading Torchwood after Canary Wharf, he doesn't know), he was given charge of the beacon and now has to inform the rest of the family.
"But Ianto, surely you can't want to go?" Gwen asks him, reaching across to touch his arm.
It is not, Ianto tries to make clear, a question of want. The planet his family originally comes from have a rather strict hierarchical system (even after nearly three hundred years) and the Jones family (not that they were called that originally, he stresses) are rather important in that system. Frequent communications have ensured that all of the family are up-to-date with the developments of the planet, and it has been made evident that the family are still rather sorely missed.
"But you've never been there," says Gwen, wide-eyed. Ianto tries not to sigh at what he feels is hardly the point.
It is their duty to return, he tells her, and (although Earth is all he has known, and he loves Jack) he is quite looking forward to being with others like himself. He entertains himself for a moment with thoughts of how nice it will be to finally stretch his wings in public, and then realises that Jack is giving him a strange look.
"You," says Jack firmly, "are going nowhere."
Ianto feels obliged to point out that despite their relationship, Jack is hardly in a position to order him to remain on Earth given the original terms of the family's sanctuary (as laid out by Queen Victoria). He stands, adding that although of course he will answer any and all questions they might have, he really does have to make those telephone calls.
The next few minutes are quite confused as Jack grabs hold of him and marches him out of the conference room and into his own office. Ianto is hardly surprised that Jack carries handcuffs with him in the hub (as he once commented, Jack is rather avant-garde in his approach to sexual liaisons), but he is a little taken aback to find himself handcuffed to a chair in Jack's office without so much as a by-your-leave.
It will not, he tells Jack with a roll of his eyes, prevent him from leaving, but he does love Jack, so he is rather far from opposed to a stint of farewell sex. Jack is prevented from replying by Ianto's mobile phone ringing, and Jack answers it and proceeds to have a lengthy conversation with Ianto's mother (who, Ianto is almost positive, had no idea that her youngest son was engaged in an affair with the head of Torchwood). The conversation seems to cover subjects ranging from Ianto's choice of breakfast cereal to the name of the planet the Jones family originally come from (which, Ianto notes with not a little smugness, Jack can't pronounce).
"Going nowhere," Jack says again when at last he rings off and tucks the phone back into the inside pocket of Ianto's jacket.
Jack does not leave his office for the rest of the morning. Gwen brings him (bad) coffee and pastries at eleven, and nervously asks if Ianto wants anything. Jack makes phone calls and reads reports, glancing at Ianto every few moments as if to make sure Ianto has not suddenly disappeared. Ianto considers telling Jack that invisibility is not one of his talents, but judges that this would be rather futile. Jack is clearly not receptive to anything Ianto has to say.
At approximately half past twelve, Ianto politely requests that he be allowed to use the facilities, and feels it rather unnecessary for Jack to cuff them together and escort him to the bathroom. Despite the fact that Jack knows every inch of Ianto's (bipedal) form, Ianto cannot help but feel that this is rather an invasion of his privacy, but Jack is uncompromising, and Ianto makes do. They return to Jack's office, and Ianto is once again cuffed to the chair.
When he politely requests some reading material, if he is to be here until Jack sees sense, Jack tells him he should have thought of that before deciding that he's going to swan off and abandon them. Ianto is fairly sure that Jack hasn't quite grasped the complexities of the situation, and says so.
"I am not losing another team member," Jack snaps. "Alien or not."
Ianto rather regrets pointing out that he is nine-tenths human when Jack lifts an eyebrow in amusement and suggests that his coffee has always been too good to be human-made. Ianto feels this is completely out of order, and makes some pointed comments about people whose idea of a perfect coffee is when a teaspoon can stand upright in the mug. It has no effect but to make Jack laugh.
Gwen brings pizza in for lunch, but Jack refuses to release even one hand to let Ianto eat, so it is a rather messy business with Jack feeding him. Under other circumstances, Ianto allows that it would be erotic. As it is, his muscles are not happy with remaining in one posture for so long, and when Jack manages to smear tomato paste all over his chin, he makes the (rather stupid) mistake of commenting that if he were to change to his original form, the handcuffs would pose absolutely no problem to him. Jack looks at him for a long moment, and then lifts a napkin and wipes Ianto's face.
"Gwen," he says mildly, "open up one of the cells."
Gwen protests, of course, but Jack seems determined that Ianto is going nowhere. Truthfully, Ianto can appreciate his point of view. It has not been long since their team mates were killed, and Ianto will be extremely sorry to leave Gwen and Jack (although particularly Jack, he has to admit to himself). On the way down to the cells, he reminds Jack that it is his duty rather than his pleasure that will take him away. He is (fairly) sure that Jack understands the concept of duty, but Jack informs him that unless said duty is to Torchwood, he is not interested in Ianto's motivations. This, Ianto thinks, is highly unfair.
Several hours later, thoroughly bored and contemplating asking for cleaning supplies so he can give the cell a thorough going-over while he is in here, Ianto is brought back up to the main hub. He is greeted by the sight of Jack facing off against three members of the Jones family, including Ianto's formidable grandfather.
"He's going nowhere," says Jack uncompromisingly, and Ianto sighs at him.
He tells his family (Grandfather Aled, Aunt Helen and his mother Rhiannon) that he has explained the situation to the Captain to no avail. Rhiannon fusses over him, asking if he has been getting enough exercise, and Helen suggests that perhaps Jack's interests are entirely self-serving in this matter. Ianto does not vocalise agreement to this (although he might well do, were his grandfather not in the room).
"I really don't see what the problem is," Aled says to Jack, folding his arms.
He is half a head shorter than Jack, and Ianto finds the sight of them squaring off against each other rather amusing (or he would, if his mother were elsewhere and not tutting over the state of his hair). Jack is determined, and Aled is famous in the Jones family for being stubborn (or, as his older brother Gareth puts it, an obstinate old goat. Ianto is still not sure where the goat epitaph comes from). He is somewhat tempted to intercede, but a large part of him is thoroughly interested in seeing how this turns out.
Then (of course) Jack has to say the one thing that will win over his mother and Aunt Helen. They coo and flutter and Ianto sits down rather hard on a chair Gwen hurries to provide for him. Grandfather Aled scowls at Jack, but even he is (apparently) softening.
"I love him," says Jack, not looking at Ianto. "I don't want him to go."
The beacon is produced, and Aled inspects it carefully, running his fingers over the patterns (or words) engraved on the surface of (not quite egg-shaped) device. He then proceeds to berate Ianto with such a torrent of words that Ianto's ears ring, and he feels quite four years old again (which was the first time he was subjected to one of Aled's critical lectures following a rather unfortunate incident involving his natural form and a half-blind old lady who thought he was stealing babies).
The beacon, Aled explains, has malfunctioned. They are not in fact being called home yet, as Ianto would apparently know if he kept in closer contact with the elders of the family (they were informed during the last contact, only four days ago, that the atmosphere still had not changed enough for them to return home). Ianto is rather surprised to find that he is extremely happy about this, and when Jack swoops down upon him, grasping his shoulders and kissing him as if their lives depended on it, he cannot find it within himself to be embarrassed that his mother is standing right next to him.
"Told you that you wouldn't be going anywhere," says Jack smugly.
Ianto scowls at him and suggests that perhaps he would like to be switched to decaffeinated coffee. Jack backs off quickly, shakes hands with Aled, endures (enjoys) kisses from Rhiannon and Helen, and asks Gwen to escort them out of the hub. Aled takes the beacon with him because he says that Ianto clearly cannot be trusted with it. Ianto keeps to himself the thought that actually, if the beacon ever does activate properly, he might well refuse the call of duty. It is rather nice here on Earth after all, and now that Jack and Gwen know about him, there is no reason why he should not stretch his wings now and again.
"So can I see what you really look like?" Jack demands, as soon as the cog door closes behind the Joneses and Gwen.
Ianto smiles, stands up, and wriggles out of his bipedal form. It is a relief to be himself again, even if the sounds and smells of the hub take a moment to adjust to (his senses are fifty times better in this form than in human form). He extends one paper-thin wing, and then the other, and then stretches all four of his arms and his tail. This form has no eyes as such, but he can see Jack's wonder anyway. He floats over to Jack and lets the human touch him (oh so sensual in this form with more nerve endings in one square millimetre of skin than a human has in an inch).
"Wow," says Jack. "You're beautiful."
Ianto gives the equivalent of a smile. Yes, he thinks, when and if the beacon activates, he rather thinks he might stay on Earth. After all, he was raised to believe in duty above all else. Being loved by Jack Harkness is perhaps the greatest duty he will ever have.
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