So sorry it's been so long since my last update! I honestly meant to update sooner, but life got in the way. Thanks go to Lucy, for encouraging me; Mork, for pestering me to update; and Orrien, for beta-reading this and sniggering in all the right places.
Notes: Finagle, as far as I know, isn't actually a person. But then the Doctor often seems to know people that don't exist. FYI, Murphy's Law: If it can go wrong, it will go wrong. Finagle's Law: If it can go wrong, it will go wrong at the worst possible moment.
Disclaimer applies as usual. Please review! I'd like to know that more than just Lucy and my co-authors are reading this (not that I don't love Lucy, I do - but there's more than enough love to go around)!
"James Bond's wet dream," Jack replied rather crudely.
Ianto rolled his eyes. "Jack, that's –"
Quite what it was, the others never had the chance to find out, as Twitch interrupted. "Who or what is James Bond?"
"Action hero from 20th, 21st century Earth pop culture," the Doctor informed her. "Wears a tuxedo and a girl on each arm. Likes to shoot things. No respect for the moral high ground."
Jack snorted. "Ever with the moral high ground, Doc."
The Doctor ignored him, focusing instead on Twitch. "You surprise me. I thought you'd have all this in your research somewhere."
"Most likely, I do." She glared at him. "I'm not Google, Doctor. I can't suddenly retrieve any information I like – I need advance warning, so that I can sort through to find what I need. And as we didn't have an advance warning this time, I didn't have time."
"And as your research is sprawled in piles across the entire TARDIS, you would have been there for months anyway," the Doctor muttered, not caring if she heard or not.
Jack heard and snickered. "Sounds like you could do with a decent archivist."
Ianto raised his eyebrows. "Excuse me, sir, are you trying to sell me?"
"Sell? Never. More like...loan at an extortionate price." Jack grinned. He winked at the Doctor. "Does all the extra duties, too – cleaning, making coffee..." He broke off with a waggle of his eyebrows.
The Doctor paused to contemplate how best to respond. He settled for turning out his pockets – which took a while longer than expected, as they were bigger on the inside – and showing Jack their emptiness. Relative emptiness, this was – they were still stuffed full of screwdrivers (both sonic and ordinary varieties), fluff, an old cassette tape, paperclips, biros that had stopped working a while back, and – perhaps most curiously of all – a banana. "Don't think you'd accept any of this as currency."
"I'd accept the banana."
"You'd sell me for a banana?" Ianto asked, deadpan.
"No, I'd loan you for a banana. He'd get you for about three seconds – which, knowing you, would be more than enough time to sort out all that research and neatly archive it. With labels."
"With labels?" The Doctor's face lit up. "I love labels. Ever so useful."
Ianto was certain by this point that the Doctor had never attempted to label Jack.
The Doctor caught sight of the young Welshman's expression. "Anyway. Yes. Getting sidetracked. Off-topic. Digressing." He paused for a brief moment and scratched at his chin. "Oh! Yes. Had any...trouble...recently?"
Jack frowned at him. "We're Torchwood. Define 'trouble'."
"Anything you'd need help with," the Doctor supplied. "Anything you'd need me for."
"No, can't say there has been." Jack stretched out the words slightly, buying himself time to sort out the confusion. "I'd have called Martha if there was. Why?"
"Martha! How's Martha doing?"
"She's doing okay, as far as I can tell. Got back from her honeymoon and was straight back working for UNIT. She helped Greg get up to date with modern medical tech."
The Doctor snorted. "Modern. Ha! Couldn't be more backwards if it tried. You really are going native, Jack." He blinked. "Anyway. Yes. Where was I? Greg! I remember Greg."
"You only met him yesterday," Ianto answered with a frown. "That's not really a considerable achievement."
"Is too. I just considered it."
Ianto shot a helpless, worried glance at Jack, whose grin widened. "I think you were saying, Doctor, that you'd like a nice cup of tea?" He gestured towards the Hub.
The Doctor took the hint magnificently. "Right. Yes. Tea. Tea is good." He nodded and took a step forwards. Jack strode just in front of him, leading the way; Twitch followed the Doctor like a puppy.
Ianto sighed and, rolling his eyes, proceeded to catch up with Jack. As they matched strides, Jack glanced curiously at him. "What?"
"I can tell you're resisting the urge to ask a hundred questions," Jack said with a smirk. "I was waiting for the first few to burst out."
Ianto considered this for a moment. He supposed it must be quite a common expression for him, holding back a stream of questions – probably one that Jack had seen more than his fair share of. "The Doctor," he said finally. "He's an alien."
"That's not a question, but yes."
"He doesn't die or age."
"Neither do you."
"You seem particularly perceptive today, Ianto."
Ianto paused and fell slightly out of step. "Is he human, too?"
Jack's stride broke a little – he slowed before stopping altogether and turning to face Ianto. "No. He's from a different planet. Or he was."
"So are you."
Jack ran his tongue against his lips. "That's different. I'm still from one of Earth's colony planets. So's his assistant, actually. No. He's not human. Not in the biological sense, anyway."
"Then in what sense?"
"I don't know." Jack caught sight of Ianto's expression and immediately shrugged. "I don't. Emotionally, maybe."
"Definitely not intellectually." The Doctor appeared between them. "No offence, but you humans? Completely backwards."
"Thank you for that."
"Oh." The Doctor seemed to sense Ianto's sarcasm. "Well. You make nice tea. Most of you. The French don't. Never drink French tea," he advised. "During any era. Always tastes the same. Always tastes of –"
Just then, Ianto's phone bleeped. He looked startled as he took it from his pocket.
Jack looked at him quizzically.
"Message from Rhiannon."
"And..?" Jack prompted.
Ianto looked away, trying to avoid the Doctor's gaze. "She wants to know if you want to go round for dinner sometime this week."
Jack grinned. "Me? Why, has she gone off you?"
"She means both of us." Ianto rolled his eyes, knowing that Jack already knew this, but for some reason hating to say it in front of the Doctor.
"Do you want to?"
"Not sure I can get the time off work," Ianto replied. "My boss is a real slave-driver."
Jack grinned. "I'm sure the Rift can behave for one night."
"I'm sure it can, it's just never the night that we plan for it to behave. Murphy's Law, I suppose."
"Murphy's devices actually worked perfectly," the Doctor countered. "It was the way that they worked that was the problem – not that he ever saw it that way. Very much a glass half-empty sort of man, Edward Murphy. Mind you, he was nothing on bloody Finagle. Could've made Happy Chef depressed, Finagle could."