Lil' Note: Before the wild goose-chase to the Himalayas. So the Doctor is still unknown to any Torchwood residents beside Jack and Harold Saxon is still just the smiling face on the tele. I was bored and though to myself: Ianto should meet the Doctor while he's stinkin' drunk…and crash the TARDIS. Yes. So this is what you get. Cheers!
"In which Ianto takes a long walk home and has a TARDIS crash land on his porch. Includes a young Doctor, several Masters, and way too many shots of hypervodka."
Ianto Jones was on his way home from work and he was tired. Now, to understand the significance of this, of Ianto Jones being tired on his way home from work, one must first understand the nature of what it was he did at work…which was a lot. On record he was a technical secretary, meaning that if anyone asked what he did he would have to say, "I'm a secretary." Which wouldn't technically be lying because he was technically a secretary in all the technical strictures of what a secretary was; he got coffee and took phone calls and kept the team organized and handled PR occasionally (because God knows Owen and Jack couldn't do that without jamming a boot in their mouth or a tongue in someone else's.)
What he was un-technically was something quite a bit more impressive…though had hadn't really come up with a title for the position. After a while he decided that what he really was was a secretary who occasionally moonlighted as the team's moral compass; something they'd been in need of for a while. It would have been nice if they didn't need one; that would say nicer things abut his team if they didn't have to glance over their shoulders at his face for some sign that what they were doing was somehow wrong. That they knew good from bad without any help.
Given, they could be little blamed, especially with someone like the ambivalent Captain Jack Harkness in charge, who took moral ambiguity to new and startling levels of blurry. The very nature of their job was morally ambiguous. More to the point, the very existence of their job was ambiguous. They were, after all, the watchmen on the pan-dimensional walls. Those who existed in the strange and unknowable cracks in what people recognized as the real world. They. Them. The capitalized 'T' at the start of the vaguely accusatory pronoun.
They were Torchwood.
Today had been one of those really rotten days where it seemed he and his colleagues could do no right by one another, which wasn't to say they weren't doing their job very, very well…just that they weren't nice about it. Toshiko and Gwen had dedicated themselves to an estrogen and nitro-fueled dual to the death over something or another; one of those mysterious Obscure Objects tucked away like a land mine in the shifting fractals of the female psyche waiting to be stepped on. Jack, Owen and he just kind of scattered like frightened rabbits in the wake of their coming and failed spectacularly at male bonding because everyone was in a bad mood.
Owen Harper was a prick by genetic predisposition. Sure, he had his brief, shining moments, but his innate state of wanker was just a fact. Something had been eating Jack for a couple weeks now and had his usually glowing grin of indefatigable mischief doing flipflops when he thought no one was looking. And since the girls were too busy ripping each other to steaming bits of insecure bitchiness, there was no female buffer to protect them from each other and he and Owen ended up smacking the unholy beejeezies out of one another before Jack hauled them apart with the promise of something non-human to shoot.
Like everything else that day, the mission went poorly as well.
Giant Barzuvian Skalk Bugs trying to hatch their carnivorous brood of several thousand in the sewer byways of Cardiff. Toshiko took an insectoid beating trying to knock Owen out of the way, Jack and Gwen got glued together somehow (adhesive chemical properties in the Skalks' saliva. Go figure. Not that Jack wasn't complaining.) They killed half a dozen of the nest guardians with several grenades and a submachine gun while Ianto doused the embryonic pods with a mixture of hydrochloric acid and ignition fuel insecticide. He elected not to tell him team how the mix had liquefied the calcium shell of the pods and left the gargling, screaming, embryos writhing and keening horribly in a stew of bloody fluids and disintegrated flesh.
Gwen went home to her fiancé after she and Jack found a way to dissolve the glue meshing their arms together. Owen would be up all night agonizing over Toshiko's injuries while she slept it off in the medical ward and Jack was holing up mysteriously in his office. Having nothing else to do and having exhausted himself in every possible way you could exhaust yourself, Ianto was fed up, put upon and wanted to go bed and not think about aliens descending from the skies for couple hours. Wanted to curl up on a sofa with a book and a hot tea that was for himself and no one else. He wanted to relax. Alone.
And, having made that very specific thought about how much he wanted to have a nice normal quiet rest of the night, naturally it was moment exactly when a blue police public call box fell out of the sky and crash landed on his front porch. It burst from the ether overhead, blinking into solidarity like a TV flicking on and in a violent zigzag flight pattern the awkward spaceship – like it could be anything else – boomeranged and plummeted diagonally to the ground where it slammed to a stop up against the foot of his front door. It rested there a moment, emitting the last notes of some unearthly whining song, before falling silent and effectively blocking his door completely.
"Oh, that's just cheating," Ianto told the air overhead.
The blue box remained on his porch, steaming slightly. The street remained quiet and undisturbed.
There was a time – another time – where this would have been far too summarily weird to be borne. He would have called Jack and the rest of the team, had them running to his house in the middle of the night to investigate, quarantine, question, wipe memories. Whatever. But as said before, Ianto was tired and he didn't have the patience for that sort of thing just then – the last thing he wanted to see was any of his fellow Torchwood co-workers in all their 3AM glory grousing their way through another intergalactic tourist interrogation. Bugger protocol. He wanted his cuppa. Now.
Ianto just stuffed his hands in his pockets and walked up to the box. He inspected it a moment, circled to the left and to the right. Perception filter for sure, so at least the neighbors wouldn't be gawking. English text on the front, anachronistic 1950's Mackenzie Trench style police public call box disguise – he found himself remotely amused despite himself – so whoever was inside knew something of the human race. The language possibly, if he had the presence of mind to have it written on the outside of his ship. Galactic day-tripper if he was lucky. He could pull some Torchwood authority and ask them politely whether they were bringing strange fruits or vegetables or weapons of planetary destruction and, in the future, to please park off residential property.
Ianto juggled his options, weighed them. Made what was probably a bad choice and knocked on the door. From the inside came series of bangs, a flurry of garbled swearing (if tone indicated content, anyway. Ianto could make out no certain English invectives) followed closely by a tense and sudden silence. Ianto waited patiently and after a while the sound of rapid footsteps gave him seconds' warning before the door flew open and a frazzled looking young man – presumably the pilot – was standing in front of him. Smoke rolled out across the lawn.
Well, the pilot looked human enough for an alien, human enough that Ianto found himself seriously considering whether or not this was a secret project gone wrong in some wing of UNIT that Torchwood hadn't been let in on (in which case Jack would pitch a fit.) The pilot was young and startlingly good-looking, maybe twenty or twenty-two and staring with a pair of wide unbelievably clear methane blue eyes. They were set strikingly in a smooth high-boned face of smooth black skin that looked in some impossible way like it was brand new. His hair curled tight to his forehead, cropped and coiled and dark. He was dressed in pants that looked like slacks, a dark red T-shirt, a gray coat that looked suspiciously like a WWII British army great coat, and Ianto noticed curiously that he was barefoot.
"Hullo. Evening," Ianto greeted, waving in a friendly manner. "You seem to have parked in front of my house and blocked the door. Do you mind?"
The pilot coughed, waved smoke from his face and said something strange; a long beautiful indescribably lovely string of words so musical and nice Ianto forgot that he was probably supposed to be listening. He blinked.
The pilot blinked. Then he grinned a huge appallingly affable smile - bright white in the dark landscape of his face - that somehow completed the sum of his features and made them stunning in their total. That in itself seemed alien somehow. Like there wasn't anyone on earth who could have been that happy to see a stranger outside his crashed spaceship at 3AM. He looked every inch and ecstatic university student, all energy and untempered enthusiasm. The only inhuman thing about him were those brilliantly flashing eyes, so intensely pale sky blue, like painted circuits of glass in his head.
"English!" he enthused.
Ianto, somewhat surprised at that, nodded. "Uh…yes. That's right."
"Britain!" he went on, tone still one of unflagging delight.
Ianto arched a brow. Alien or not that was a puzzling reaction. "Err – Wales actually, but…yes, Britain."
"Yay!" cheered the peculiar alien. "I'm the Doctor."
"The Doctor?" repeated Ianto.
"Yes. The Doc-tor." He placed particular emphasis on the syllable, rolling it importantly and looking pleased with himself.
"I'm Ianto Jones." The Torchwood employee offered a hand. "Nice to meet you, Doctor."
The Doctor stared wondrously at the offered hand for a moment, as thought it might be the most marvelous gift he'd ever seen. The he grinned, if possible, even more broadly and took Ianto's hand in his own cool grasp, carefully slipping his hand in so theirs fit together just so. Like he'd read the Miss Manner's guide to handshake was eager to get it right. He shook hands firmly, down once, up once and let go. "Good to meet you Ianto Jones. And thank you."
He beamed. "My first handshake."
"Oh. Well, you're welcome."
"Am I? Brilliant! Being welcome is nice. I wasn't very welcome on the last planet and they tried to feed me to a giant subterranean sand worm. But I got tea and that's what counts." He giggled – giggled – and grinned a bit hazily at the slightly gobsmacked human. "Oooh, frowny face. You look like my tutor when he's inna tiff over something, that old fart. Not that you're old. Cuz yer really, really not old." He patted Ianto on the cheek. "See! Everything's not saggy!"
Ianto studied the humanoid with an expression of great suspicion. "I'm sorry but… are you alright?"
"I," said the alien with an air of great dignity, "I am perfectly fine."
And with that the pilot collapsed forward and landed in the arms of a very startled Ianto, slumping into his chest like a limp rag doll. The door to the box slammed shut behind him as he fell and left Ianto with a semi-conscious alien in his arms and a blue box on his porch.
"Oh that's just cheating," Ianto snapped.
It was a chore dragging the blathering pilot off his lawn. Because he'd planted his great boxy spaceship in the middle of the walkway, Ianto had been forced to kick his way through the rhododendron bushes in order to gain access to the side alley. This was made more difficult hauling the partially catatonic alien over his shoulder through the side gate to the back door. Bloody impossible. Didn't it just figure? This couldn't happen on any other day when he might have been in a reasonably good mood. No. The sodding weirdness couldn't leave him alone for a night. Denting his front stoop and ruining his flower beds. Bloody hell! And he'd worked really hard to get those rhodies in order this year.
Luckily, whatever species the Doctor was, it wasn't the sort given to chronic obesity because he weighed virtually nothing against Ianto's shoulder. The Doctor kept trying to tell him something, but halfway through whatever he was saying in English, she'd swap to that lyrically indecipherable other language, then fall back – apologizing incessantly – into English, before dithering away again into what Ianto could only suppose was his native tongue. Didn't much matter. What he said in English was about as comprehensible as his weaving dialect of strange music.
"It was all blah-blah-blah…flipperty-whippery," said the Doctor seriously. "S'rry, translator's not workin' cuz I'm pissed. Doesn't work properly that way. It's like balloon animals on Raxacoricofallapatorius." He gasped wildly and grabbed Ianto by the lapels of his jacket, hauling himself so they were inches apart. There was something strong on his breathe, a mixture of cut apples, ammonia, and that lovely tang of having not brushed your teeth quite yet. "They're bad," he whispered in horror. "The balloons are a trap. They lie." And then his knees buckled, forcing the Torchwood employee to catch him up again and drag him the rest of the way to the back door. Ianto grumbled as he dumped the limp skinny alien boy on the patio, digging for his keys again.
God, I hope the neighbors don't get the urge to look outside, thought Ianto, eyeing the barefoot and inebriated alien somewhat sourly. They'll think I'm a closet rapist. An incompetent closet rapist.
"Where'm I?" the Doctor moaned, clutching his face miserably.
"Pissed off your head in my yard. That's where," Ianto snapped at his incapacitated visitor. He rattled his keys around in the lock, hissing as the sticky tumblers finally gave and the door swung in. "You drunk drove your arse into my porch."
"M'not drunk…" scoffed the Doctor. "Oh wait." He frowned in a way thought would have been adorable if Ianto wasn't having a crisis of planetary security rolling about on his back patio. Said crisis sniggered hysterically. "Yes I am! Twenty hypervodka shots and a whole Borrelli System standard bottle of Micartti Green Number Three! An' they said I couldnah…could not hold my liquor. Haha! Ow!" He clutched his head. "Ow! Ow! Ow!"
"What?" Ianto said with some alarm. He bounded down the steps. "Did you get hurt in the crash? What hurts?"
"My head. Brain hurts. Metabolizing alcohol too fast."
"Here let me see."
"Oh no. Oh no. Oh noooo."
"C'mon, just breathe you'll be just…"
And that was when Ianto had the pleasure of being barfed on by a drunken alien life form. Anyone but a Torchwood secretary would have probably run screaming into the horizon, but Ianto just thought it was curious that he chucked up bright neon green liquid and wondered vaguely if it was radioactive. That, he figured, would just be a frosting on the miserable cupcake of his day.
"I puked on yer shoes," observed the Doctor miserably.
"Yes. Yes, you did."
"Micartti Green Number Three?" sighed Ianto.
The Doctor didn't reply.
He curled up on the concrete, clutching one side of his head and didn't answer in English. He just blurted something incoherent about a 'stupidcrannak-pell-gassak-kreess-al-vak' who apparently 'couldn't tell the backside of Venusiun Calliatrope from a Brimblewam' and though Ianto's vocabulary didn't include a goodly portion of those words, it didn't take a linguist to hear the wild hurt and anger threaded through his voice. The hysterical panic fast took him as whatever it was he'd been drinking seemed to stop working its magic amnesia and something horrible, something horrific came back to him. It clawed up in the back of his gaze, darkening those dancing blue eyes. Terror contorted his face, rendered him breathless, and for an awful moment the Doctor could only gasp, hyperventilating wildly.
He said something, a word in his own language and the devastation in his face made Ianto's heart break for a complete stranger. Very quietly, the secretary who was not really a secretary reached out a hand and pulled the stricken young pilot to his feet.
"C'mon. If you can drink alcohol you can drink tea."
"Okay," whispered the Doctor softly. Ianto had led him inside and sat him down on the sofa and was putting the kettle on before he heard the alien add, "Thank you, Ianto Jones."
The Doctor didn't sleep off his drunkenness. Rather he sat there on the sofa, cross-legged and miserable looking with his mug of tea and a ridiculous knitted wool comforter that Ianto had found in the closet. Apparently, the kid came from a galaxy far, far away and had gone on an intergalactic bender of epic proportions after hearing some bad news that sent him into a hyper manic fit of emotion that could only – of course – be assuaged by the liberal application of way too much hard liquor. Then he'd tried to fly his extremely complex pan-dimensional spaceship while still inebriated and blundered the landing by two hundred miles. He surprised himself in retrospect. Apparently, missing your mark by two-hundred miles was alien-tech equivalent of parking slightly off centre.
"By all account I should have ended up on the other side of the universe, arse over elbow, spinning on the edge of some backwater galaxy," he was saying blandly, sounding somewhat proud of himself. "I promise, I'm actually a much better pilot than that, all evidence to the contrary. Really. I am. Actually and really. I was top of my class for piloting."
"And he's modest. Imagine that after crashing into my front yard and chucking green all over my shoes," said Ianto mildly from the kitchenette.
The Doctor had the grace to look embarrassed. If he was blushing, his skin was too dark for Ianto to tell, but he sounded like he could be blushing. "Well, if I'm being honest that's the only thing I was top of my class at…and then I failed that test anyway."
"So where are you from?" Ianto asked, relieving his guest of his now empty mug and handing him a new one. "I'm guessing Earth isn't your usual airspace."
"Ianto Jones, your are a star!" said the Doctor happily, accepting the cuppa with an enthusiastic grin. Ianto took it upon himself to notice that the longer the alien was around him, the stronger his accent became. He was tempted inquire whether this was simple social mimicry or some kind of proper linguistic assimilation, but that seemed rude so he didn't mention it. (The same way he didn't mention how the young pilot had evaded the question.) "You know I don't think I've had anything this good in ages. Puts Academy food and drink to shame, not that that's hard to do, mind you, but even if it wasn't your tea would still be right up there."
Ianto grinned. "So you're a student."
"Yeah, well kinda. In a manner of speaking. Ish." The Doctor brought his mug to his lips and took a long drink. Ianto could hear wheels spinning and ticking behind those bright blue eyes. But the time he lowered the mug he seemed to have some to a decision about whatever he was going to say. "I was a student. I just graduated…sorta."
"How do you 'graduate sorta'?"
"Well, first off graduating the Academy is different from graduating university on Earth. Complicated's the word. And pretentious is another one, but the point stands that I completed my education and I got my…title? No, that's not it… my name?" He frowned. There was obviously something being lost in translation, but he seemed to give it up as a bad job and went on unflappably. "Right. Well, I got what I was waiting for and I took off the minute I got it. Displeased some people, let me tell you," he chuckled and Ianto could positively feel the pride rolling off him, a goody kind of mischief that reminded Ianto randomly of Jack on his many good days.
"You ran away?"
"Not really. If they come after me with technicalities, the ship was technically decommissioned. Out of the mainframe. A free agent. So I can't technically steal something that doesn't belong to them and I can't technically run away if they don't have some kind of actual claim on me. I graduated so I'm a free agent as well. I can do as I like."
"You stole a ship?"
"No. See I just told you how I cleverly did not steal a ship."
"Okay. So when you say you're a free agent is that euphemism for, say," Ianto waved a hand around vaguely, "criminal on the run?"
"No," chuckled the Doctor, grinning broadly, genuinely and making it difficult to believe he was anything but honest. "I'm not on the run, Ianto Jones. What I am, according to them, is ungrateful, rebellious, and unable to possibly know what I'm doing at such a young age. Furthermore, I'm not ready, not experienced, have duties to up hold, and I'm not clever enough – which makes me think they're scraping the bottom of the barrel for reasons, because we all know I'm clever. Regardless of whether or not they like me."
Ianto realized he was smiling at the odd, babbling off-worlder on his sofa. It seemed extraordinary that not hours ago he'd been dousing a batch of alien brood with acids, burning them out of the world before they even began, because their parents chose the wrong world to try and raise their vicious young. Torchwood was like that. Had the sort of effect. Morality started to fail within the bounds of its authority. But beyond that, it felt strangely good to be a member of Torchwood and to choose quite on his own power not subjugate an alien visitor to the darker side of humanity, give them a cup of tea and talk about something like going on a bender and running off after school.
"So this bad news that was so terrible…?" Ianto inquired carefully. "You don't seem like the type to get steamed sick on a whim, so I'm assuming this was really, really bad news." The Doctor looked briefly at him, then looked back to his mug but didn't make any move to change the subject or chatter off on a red herring tangent thirty miles in length. He just held very still, rolling his mug between his palms. "Sorry. That bad?"
"Yeah. You could say that."
"Want to talk about it?"
The Doctor turned his eyes on the ceiling, rubbed the back of his neck like there were some mysterious tension wedged between the cartilages pads of his spine, hiding under his skin where he couldn't get at it. Ianto got the feeling he was getting a side of the Doctor that was perhaps atypical to his usual self, whatever that might be – a distracted and despairing creature with eyes that roved the corners of rooms for solace rather than meet the gaze of someone sitting to his immediate left, speaking with him. Not that Ianto could blame him. In what little he'd seen, the Doctor's sole defense seemed to be his blandish and magician-like sense for misdirection – pulling your focus off the subject with the dazzle of words and fancy.
Again, he reminded Ianto of Jack.
Those bright eyes finally settled again on him and they were dancing and utterly closed. "Do you wanna see my ship?" he asked eagerly.
Ianto, taken completely off guard, just stared. "I think I should warn you, I'm a government employee…one that specializes in aliens."
"Psssh! I already figured that. Pretty obvious the way you just take everything in: You've seen it before. But you're off duty! Besides that just means it'll actually mean something to you and if you were really that sort of person, I don't think you'd warn me about it. C'mon, Ianto Jones I don't do this for anyone," he exclaimed, bounding off the couch and seizing the man's arm in a surprisingly strong grip that pulled him easily out of his seat into a standing position, tea and all, protesting.
"Wait! You don't know what kind of person I am!" The Doctor, heedless of this just led him by the hand toward the door, forcing the man to snatch a sweatshirt awkwardly with the same hand holding his tea, still protesting. "What if I'm just trying to get your alien secrets? What if I call in reinforcements? Area Fifty-One! Dissect you? Molder and Skully!"
The Doctor spun sharply and looked up the half inch that separated the human and the alien in height. He'd raced them round to the front yard and the mysterious blue box was behind him now, in front of them, humming somehow and waiting. "Are you?"
Ianto was flustered. "What?"
"Going to dissect me, call reinforcements, steal my alien secrets?" he repeated in all candor.
The Doctor grinned. "Brilliant! Off we go then." He whirled around and dashed up to the doors, plugging a very ordinary looking key into the lock, twisting, and throwing the doors wide open. He raced inside and the sound of his bare feet slapping the floor went on far, far longer than the three by three meter box should have allowed. Ianto approached slowly, his cup of tea still in hand, coat flung over his arm, in his dress shirt and work slacks, he walked up to the glowing bright doorway and stood in it.
The Doctor was standing in a cavernous room. A huge room. Positively enormous. The walls were a generic navy blue color and slightly iridescent. A long centre walkway led up to a raised centre platform from which a transparent stalk rose from the middle of a circular control console, a clean collection of weird knobs and spinners and awkwardly shaped levers. It was around this strange console that the Doctor was racing about, flipping switches and yanking panels off the underside, crawling under it on his back and looking very much like a mechanic wriggling under the belly of a car.
Tucked off to the right in a lowered section of the room, a collection of sofas, throw rugs, and a coffee table were arranged around an oddly shaped tele-screen and what looked like a regular wood entertainment system. A little beyond that, one level higher was what looked like a kitchen island, all cluttered with a mixture of papers, empty bottles, dirty plates and piles of used teacups. (All the familiar signs of a newly freed bachelor, accountable to no one who cared about that sort of thing.) Opposite the den was a stair case that curled down around and out of sight to lower levels. It all fit very cozily around the main console and – obviously – should not have fit inside a police public call box.
"And what's a Molder and Skully?" the Doctor inquired from the floor.
"It's bigger on the inside," Ianto pointed out cleverly.
"Yeah. It is that. Multiple dimensions occupying one space. Ah! There's the bugger!" crowed the Doctor triumphantly, yanking something out of the bottom of the console table. He shoved the plating back into place, pulled something out of his back pocket and ran it – whirring merrily – along the edges of the panel. He grinned as he clambered to his feet, flipping what looked like a funny silver pen and snatching it out of the air. "Always knew I'd find a use for this thing. And Ushas laughed at me when I built it."
Ianto wanted to point out the impossibility of the interior again, but that seemed unnecessarily thick and unbecoming of a Torchwood agent. Instead he made his way up the walk to the main console and looked it up and down. "What is it?"
"Sonic screwdriver," beamed the Doctor.
"You can put your coat up if you like. I'm not going anywhere for a while and she probably won't let me until she's sure I'm good to pilot again."
"Won't let you?" Ianto repeated.
"Type-40," said the Doctor, as though that meant something. "Means she's smart and temperamental. Since I crashed her drunk, chances are she'll keep an eye on me until I'm sober." He patted a console fondly, smiling up at the ceiling. "Wonderful, yeah? Can you believe they were gonna decommission a ship this brilliant? It's practically murder, that's what it is. Couldn't let 'em do it. Not to her, clever old girl."
Ianto threw his jacket over the handrail surrounding the console and leaned a hip against the curious collection of controls, eyeing the complex and orderly contraption with some reservation. "Type-40. That's like a car model, 'cept for space ships is it?" He swallowed a thoughtful mouthful of tea, inspecting the clutter around the room. "This like a classic or something?"
That seemed to please the Doctor immensely. "Oh, I like you Ianto Jones. Classic. That's what she is."
"And only the classics are temperamental?" Ianto inquired academically.
"No. Only the classics are clever." A crooked smile. "She's got character. Personality. Types-40's got weeded out of the growing selections when the Council decided personality was too variable for a proper ship and started bio-engineering the Type-58's. Clone ships. Mass production cookie-cutter copycats you couldn't differentiate from a doormat," scorned the Doctor. "This one started getting snarky with its pilots so they decommissioned her. Seems to fancy me, though. Does whatever I like without hardly a hiccup. You get a hiccup if they don't like you, vibrations, funny temporal flux, feedback on the wave screens. That sort of thing. "
"So…this ship is alive?" Ianto clarified. "It can think and understand us?" He found himself oddly unsurprised. The way the air in this place seemed to hum and murmur made him feel very much like he were listening to the slow and distant beat of some unknowable heart hidden in the walls around him, in the floor, and the ceiling, and the panels he was sitting on. The Doctor grinned at his Earthling guest and smacked a fist against a stuck lever. It gave and the whole ship sang.
"Oh yes!" he cheered. "Alive and playing favorites. Isn't a Prydonian or any other my generation who can fly a Type-40 like I can and that's because she likes me." He spun a couple dials with gusto and shouted, "Ha!"
"I think you're still a bit pissed."
"Possibly, Ianto Jones. Very possibly."
The Torchwood employee smiled over his tea. "You seem really proud of this old ship."
"I am," said the Doctor, pulling his jacket off and tossing it over the back of a slightly battered looking bench near the console. Without it on, Ianto was permitted to note the stamped blocks of white script printed all over his red T-shirt, each of them reading in various texts: 'I bought this shirt on Mars.' (Ianto was inclined to think this was true.) He was also permitted to note that the T-shirt fit the Doctor's wiry upper body very well, though he didn't seem to realize it. Ianto couldn't say how he knew that, but it just seemed evident somehow that the young humanoid alien didn't get that particular aesthetic benefit of wearing good clothes.
The Doctor looked at Ianto then, hands slipping into the pockets of his trousers as he studied his guest speculatively. "Are you okay?"
Ianto arched a brow. "Why wouldn't I be?"
He shrugged. "Dunno. Sometimes people don't take it very well, being on an alien ship."
"Not my first time," Ianto explained modestly. "First time on a sentient ship, definitely my first go on a ship that looks like a box, but not my first time with alien ships. Mind you, it is my first time on a ship that changes dimensions. It's very House on Ash Tree Lane."
A blank look. "House on Ash Tree Lane?"
"S'bigger on the inside too."
The Doctor grinned. "So, Ianto Jones who works for the government, will you get in trouble for not reporting me for dissection? Are you lot still doing that these days? Dissecting alien life?"
Ianto sipped his tea, shook his head. "Nah. Won't get in any trouble. I'm shagging the boss and he likes it better when we get to play host for off-world visitors rather than hostile. He'll be pleased in all likelyhood. Might even put him in a good mood again." It occurred to him only in retrospect that he hadn't told another living soul about him and Jack until just that second and just why the hell, exactly, had he done that? Ianto felt it was a little late to blush and the Doctor didn't seem phased (possibly he didn't know what 'shag' meant.) That was strange. It had just seemed so natural to say it. "Jack's a good man, in spite of himself."
"This organization of yours," inquired the Doctor, "what is it they do?"
"Everything alien. Used to be our motto was 'If it's alien it's ours' and that wasn't so good. Whole organization collapsed during a major disaster and we rebuilt on a smaller, more informal scale. Now it's more like if it's alien then it's our jurisdiction and the rest of the government can relax. Jack makes sure we get to operate independently from just about everyone. That way we operate under intergalactic laws rather than just our own."
He gestured to the Doctor. "Like now for example. You're technically an off-world tourist. Since Earth is a level five planet and doesn't have an official alien immigration policy until the Leepler Accords, you aren't breaking any laws. My organization can't do anything unless you do something to drastically threaten people. Not that we'd want to. We're too small to worry about who's coming and going all the time. We barely have enough time to worry about the nasties that fall through the Rift."
"Who is this Jack?" the Doctor inquired, delighting apparently in a short, sudden sound of it. "I'm still a bit tipsy, so maybe my calculations are off – which isn't likely by the way – or something's twisted in the timelines, but I'm pretty sure 2007 has earth at still mostly isolated in the universe. Why's this Jack fellow know so much about aliens? The Leepler Accords span across the universe, but earth shouldn't know that."
Ianto shrugged. "Funny thing, Jack. We all love him, let him lead us, everything, but we don't know anything about him. Definitely been off the planet before, though he never confesses to it, not directly. He dabbles in time-travel as a hobby or something." (Well, there'd been a mention of something called the Time Agency, but hell if he knew what that meant and Jack had pulled and evasive question dodge and got them off the subject before any details were spared anyway.) "He's just Jack. Crazy time-traveling Jack."
The alien was beaming again. "Brilliant."
"And you're a time traveler?"
"I love that you're asking me that with a straight face," grinned the Doctor. "Yes. Yes I am."
Ianto cleared his throat and examined the console next to him. "So is it just you in here? No one else?"
"Yep," said the Doctor, rolling that 'p' off the end of his word with emphasis. "Wouldn't have it any other way. We've just started out, me and my old ship. Universe is mine to explore and I'd like to do that on my own for now." He cocked his head slightly. "Is that weird? Do I sound weird?"
"For an alien talking about exploring the universe in a blue box…" said Ianto. "No, not especially."
The Doctor pouted. "It's not always a blue box. Just in London."
"You missed London."
"Point stands. No one's gonna question a bloody phone box are they?"
Ianto chuckled, rolling his mug in his hands and studying it curiously. "You know, I think I needed to have a conversation like this." The Doctor moved to sit on the railing in front of him, bare feet dangling well short of the floor. He could feel those bright eyes on him, attention complete and intent in a way he hadn't had in a long time. Also, unflaggingly cheery. Ianto shrugged a little. "Not to sound overly cynical, but me and mine spend so much time policing all the bad things that fall out of the sky, we never get to think that maybe the universe is occasionally a lot like us." Ianto smirked. "Apparently DUI's are a universal constant across the cosmos."
The Doctor blushed again, but was distracted by something beeping on the console. He hopped of the railing and went to check it. "I'll have you know, I was only just over the legal limit," he said yanking a screen around to face him and examining it.
"That is not a comforting thought, Doctor," said Ianto, laughing. He stopped when he noticed the look on the Doctor's face, a sudden intense expression he couldn't decipher for meaning. "What's the matter?"
"Ianto Jones, did you close the door behind you?" inquired the Doctor, not taking his eyes from the screen he was looking at.
"Yes. Why do you –?"
But Ianto got no further because the Doctor pounced on a lever, slamming it forward, twisted something to the right on the console, and the ship wrenched like someone had seized the little blue box and hurled it at a brick wall. Ianto found himself sprawled on the floor, his tea mug had hurdled off somewhere and smashed itself into little ceramic bits against the wall. The floor under him hummed and rattled violently against his chest, through his bones, making his teeth chatter. The central column set in the middle of the console was grating and whirring making such a strange and unearthly sound it seemed as though some strange living engine was singing.
"Doctor! What are you doing?!" Ianto shouted, grabbing for the handrail and hauling himself up on it. The alien was racing around, adjusting dials and kicking awkwardly placed rotors, a crazy blur of motion and red T-shirt scrambling all over controls. "Did you just take off?! Did you just take off with me on board!?"
"Sorry! I'm really, really, really sorry!" the Doctor shouted. The ship jarred suddenly, throwing them both to the floor before resuming the unsteady rattle of motion. He scrambled back to his feet again and Ianto staggered as the ship shuddered violently, grabbing the frame of the center console.
"Take me back right now!'
"Too dangerous. He tracked my ship to your house."
"Who?! Who tracked you to my house?" Ianto demanded in alarm.
The Doctor blew a really impressive raspberry of scorn. "No one is my master, Ianto Jones. Certainly not him." He darted about, doing a bunch of really fast important looking things to the control panel. "He's just called the Master. Picked that one himself he did and quite frankly, he's a tosser and completely ridiculous. Also, he's gone starkers since the last time I saw him and apparently blown up several small, umm, well, it was either three large corporate coffee shops or one small…err, continent."
"There are hostile aliens at my house?"
"One. Singular hostile alien," he corrected.
"At my house?" Ianto strained.
"Yeah, but he's not gonna do anything to it," the Doctor said in what was not really a very comforting tone at all. "It's me he's after."
"So how," Ianto shouted furiously, "is it safer me being here with you?"
"If I left you there," the Doctor shouted back, "he might have done something terrible just because there was the barest suggestion that you might have met me, regardless of whether or not you'd actually did or not. Or he could have baked you cookies and called you grandma. I don't know. He's crazy remember? If I'd left you there, you might have been in danger. Is that alright with you, Ianto Jones?"
The two men glared at each other. Vaguely, Ianto wondered if he'd just been tricked into thanking his now captor for kidnapping him. They snapped out of their glaring session, however, as the ship bucked forward suddenly, throwing them against the lip of the centre console and forcing them to grab the nearest stable handhold and hang on for dear life.
"Is it always this bumpy!?" Ianot snarled.
The Doctor glowered a little. "I'm being crosshatch destabilized through several dimensions you haven't even heard of and a temporal flux manipulation." He did a couple more things to series of knobs and levers and barked, "No backseat driving!" The ship listed suddenly to the left, throwing the Torchwood agent to the floor and eliciting a long string of angry, musical words from the pilot. "Bugger, bugger, bugger," the Doctor muttered. "He's got me. Ahh… there are so many ways in which this is a bad thing, Ianto Jones. Sooo many ways…" He fiddled with some dials and smacked the side of the display screen, making it fuzz with static, then clear.
"What," said Ianto, coming to stand behind the Doctor and stare, "is that?"
On the screen there was a blanket of stars and in that blanket a black, sleek, dangerous looking sort of vessel. The sort you saw on the Sci-Fi channel when the big bad guy in his super death ship arrived. The Doctor was rolling his eyes a little in disgust.
"That is another TARDIS," he said, as though that were up for debate.
"TARDIS. Another ship like mine. They're called TARDISes," he muttered.
"Why does his look…?"
"Like a war ship?" He shrugged. "I said he was compensating for something."
"What's he doing?"
"Gloating, mostly likely," said the Doctor grumpily. "He's got me looped into a holding field with his TARDIS using…oh well, that's clever. Err, this is really not good. Ianto Jones." He turned those bright eyes on him, wide and worried and then hissed, "Hide!"
"Hide! You can't be here. Who knows what he'll do if he finds someone else onboard."
"Who is this guy?"
"Look, can we debate this point when there is a lack in imminent danger?"
"He's a classmate. I'm not ready to see him, I'm still hung over, he's got my TARDIS, and now you might be in danger and that's my fault. So please, please. Please just –" There was a knock at the door. "He's docked already. Bugger. Just hide."
"I don't know. Pick a spot. I'm not choosy, just – Wait! No! Don't hide there. No. Not there either… Actually, Ianto Jones, that particular houseplant will eat you so could you just –?"
"Oh sod it!" Ianto cried and threw himself behind the kitchen island just as the front door swung open.
Bah! Cliffhanger suckers! Tell me what you think of Ianto. Aww, isn't he wizard? lulz!