Written: 3/22/09 – 3/30/09
Characters/Pairings: Jack/Ianto, Gwen, Toshiko, Owen, Jack/OMC
Spoilers: Up to "Exit Wounds", DW: "Stolen Earth" & "Journey's End"
Disclaimer: I don't own Jack and Ianto (heavy sigh), I'm pretty sure they own each other. I do know the BBC and RTD owns all things Torchwood.
Warnings: Slash, implied MPREG.
Summary: While investigating alien tech, Ianto is accidentally lost in time.
Notes: Written for Grace Musica – HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SWEETHEART! I hope you like it. This takes place sometime after "Day In the Death" and before "Fragments". It's looking to be around 3 parts, maybe 5 and approximately 5,000 words. This fic won Best Short Story at Children of Time Awards, Round 3.
Beta by the lovely and gracious cjharknessgirl who was also instrumental in helping me with the direction of this fic.

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Alien tech was tricky. Sometimes it was harmless, other times it would wreck havoc, no matter how careful one was with handling it.

Currently, the newest piece of alien tech about to become Torchwood Three's safekeeping was being studied carefully by Ianto and Gwen, while Jack prepared a portable containment field to encase it in. Jack had determined that the triangular device was a type of vortex manipulator, but had no idea how it worked. The readings they were getting from the device made Jack nervous. While plenty of alien tech can go under their radar and avoid detection by the team, some items made their presence known on their scanners the moment it arrived through the Rift. Those items were considered live and dangerous and were handled with extreme caution.

Jack knew of such devices that were triggered by touch, light or sound. Whether the trigger would open the device to reveal a panel or work telepathically, Jack had no idea. If it was a telepathic device, none of them were trained to control it, Jack included.

The sooner he had it safely contained, the sooner Jack would start breathing easier. He watched as Gwen and Ianto conferred in whispers and then the Welshwoman stood up to join Toshiko, who was standing a good distance away. The Japanese woman had been scanning the immediate area, assuring the device did not let out anything dangerous to humans. The field was currently cordoned off, but normally was a busy area with people walking their dogs and children playing games. Gwen turned her comm on when she reached Toshiko. At Jack's orders, their comm devices were turned off while in close proximity to the device. Jack did not want to take chances of their comms firing up the device.

Ianto remained kneeling near the device. He looked as if he was preparing to get up and leave the area. Jack watched, waiting for Ianto to clear the area, once he noted the containment field was ready for use. With Ianto's comm off, he had to wait for Ianto to leave. He was hoping Ianto would look over to him, so he could give his lover the signal that he was ready.

Ianto finally was on his feet and dusting off the knees of his pinstriped suit trousers. He turned and met Jack's eyes. Jack nodded and Ianto returned the gesture, understanding he should join him. As he pocketed his scanner, Jack spoke into his comm.

"Toshiko, Gwen, stay back where you are. Once Ianto is clear, I'm going to contain this beauty."

"We're not moving, Jack," Gwen replied as Toshiko nodded.

As Ianto started to take a step away, a dog came into the clearing, seemingly from nowhere, barking. It saw Ianto and ran right for him, still barking. Ianto turned to look at the dog and suddenly he was encased in a bright light.

"Oh shit!" Gwen cursed. "The dog!"

"It's sound controlled," Toshiko said, her eyes on her PDA. "And the dog barking has the right pitch to trigger it."

Jack stood where he was, frozen, his eyes wide. If he heard Gwen and Toshiko, he showed no sign as he stared at the empty area where the device and Ianto had been moments before.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Ianto had been dreaming the strangest dream. Or was it a nightmare, he considered briefly. He lay quietly, eyes still closed and his mind going back over the dream. It seemed to stretch out into infinity. A spiral that went on and on. And he had been falling through it, unsure where he was going, with no destination. Panic had filled him as he wondered if he would just fall through the spiral with no end. His head was hurting and he was dizzy. If he was able to in a dream, he would have thrown up. The sense of falling forever ended when he latched onto a voice and found himself following it. He couldn't recognize the voice, but felt it was right to follow it.

No longer dreaming, he still heard it.

"Ianto. Ianto, can you hear me? You have to open your eyes."

He finally recognized the voice and with effort, he opened his eyes. To find Jack Harkness' beautiful blue eyes staring down at him in concern.

But it seemed wrong. "Jack?" he croaked.

"Easy," Jack soothed, squeezing the hand he held. "You've been out for a while."

"What happened?"

"Rift manipulator," Jack replied. "It took you for a little trip, I'm afraid."

"Trip? Where?" Ianto tried to sit up, but Jack held him down with a hand on his chest.

"Slowly. It wasn't kind to you because your mind was not calibrated for it."

"Where did it take me? I don't remember." Ianto forced himself to remain focused on Jack's eyes. Something still felt wrong. Jack's eyes, for one. They seemed older, and yet younger at the same time. There were a few more crow's feet around the eyes Ianto knew so well.

"The future," Jack replied.

"The… future?" Ianto's concentration went away from Jack's face to the clothes the older man wore. Jack was wearing a blue and black striped shirt, tucked into a pair of black jeans. Ianto had seen Jack go without his braces occasionally, but rarely had he seen Jack out of his various colored workshirts and trousers. He wore a leather jacket that had an antique look to it, but was of a fashion Ianto had never seen before.

Jack nodded as he patted Ianto on the chest and drew his hands away. "Yes," he replied.

"And…." Ianto glanced around at the strange room. "Where am I?" He looked past Jack to his surroundings. It was a bland room, painted beige. On the wall across from the foot of the bed Ianto found himself in was a lighted panel. He slowly started to sit up. Jack did not stop him this time, his eyes watching Ianto carefully.

Jack looked at a wall with a heavy sigh.

"Jack?" Ianto warned. "Where the hell are we?" he demanded.

"New York City."

Ianto swung his feet over the edge of the narrow bed and sat up. "You said I went into the future. I look around me and nothing seems familiar, so I'm guessing I didn't return." He stared at Jack, willing the other man to look directly at him. "Besides, I would hate to think I was out long enough for you to move us to New York."

"No. You've been out of it for almost a day. Right. We're in the year 3253."

"I came here alone," Ianto stated, the situation suddenly snapping into place in his mind. "You're from here, aren't you?"

"Yeah. I'm future Jack, I guess you could say."

"How did I end up with you then? In New York?"

"I live here now," Jack replied. "Have for about 150 years."

"What happened to Cardiff? Torchwood?" Ianto asked.

"Are you hungry?" Jack asked suddenly.

"Not really."

"You should have something to eat. At the least, you should get hydrated."

"Where are we?" Ianto went to stand up, and Jack was at his side, steadying him.

"Slowly. Come with me, and I'll answer your questions."

With a supporting arm around Ianto, Jack led him to a door that opened automatically when they approached it.

Ianto looked around them as they walked down a long white corridor with a blue stripe running down the middle of the walls. The floor was covered with plush blue carpeting. "Where is this again?" he asked Jack.

"Torchwood New York."

"Now I've heard everything," Ianto muttered.

"You will. Just give me a few minutes to get you settled in the kitchen."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Ianto sat in a chair at a dining table in what Jack told him was the kitchen for the sector they were in, watching as Jack made them tea. They hadn't spoken since they were in the corridor. Ianto was currently thinking back to the short trip from the room he found himself in. For half the walk, Jack maintained an arm around Ianto for support, but once it was obvious Ianto had regained his footing and was not going to collapse on him, he pulled his arm away and kept a small distance between them. Ianto had also noticed a distance while Jack had his arm around him.

As he studied the fixtures of the gray smoked plexi-glass, silver and gray marble kitchen, Ianto realized it had to be well over a thousand years since Jack had been with him. He had a lot of questions. Questions he knew were better left unanswered. He felt sad that he was in a time long after his own demise. He had to wonder what was going on in Jack's head. Was he reminded of what they once had? Did he realize how much the Captain missed him? Or did he move on completely? Ianto was not sure if the lack of any reaction to his showing up in that time from Jack was due to the other having had at least a few hours, or was it that Ianto so firmly in Jack's past that he did not miss him at all.

Ianto knew it was unfair of him. A millennia had gone by. Jack should be able to move on and not be weighed down by the past. It was not Jack's fault that Ianto was unable to share it with the immortal.

Jack sat down at the table, setting a cup of tea before Ianto and one in his place. A plate of biscuits was between them. "You're wanting answers, I suppose," Jack said with a weak smile after taking a sip of his tea.

"Tea?" Ianto raised an eyebrow.

Jack shrugged. "After all this time, I never mastered making coffee like you can. Not that I gave it up, mind you. Besides, our med officer suggested to keep you away from caffeine for now. I'm to keep you up to your eyeballs in non-caffeinated tea and juices. You're due for a check up in a few hours."

Ianto found himself attempting not to smile.

"Go ahead," Jack said with a knowing look, his eyebrow raised. "I never did forget you, if that's what you want to know." He grinned as Ianto flushed. "You're unforgettable, Mr. Jones."

"So, New York?" Ianto asked, changing what was quickly becoming a difficult topic for him. "How did that happen?"

"Torchwood Cardiff is still in operation. There's a new team, quite competent, and I'm available for a quick trip to help out if they need it. Torchwood New York is…" Jack leaned back in his chair and folded his arms. "You know, everything changed. We now have ships going off to space ports for travel and colonization on other worlds. We have aliens who are not threats to the Earth traveling and living on Earth. Torchwood expanded because we decided we were not going to allow UNIT complete jurisdiction over off-world VISAs. We're now funded by the United Nations, just like UNIT, but they more or less do our grunt work for us. All Torchwood branches have UNIT members working at them."

"And New York?" Ianto asked again.

Jack laughed. "I am 'American', aren't I?"

"You've done so much for Queen and country," Ianto mused. "And we both know you're not American."

"Now it's for the world. No one monarch. New York is the new headquarters for Torchwood. It's still taking shape. But it was time to leave Cardiff. While it grew in population, with technology as it is, it was harder to keep secrets and arouse suspicion. So it was time to move. New York is easier to blend in for a few hundred years or so. I'm still Jack, but I also changed my last name again. To what, I'm not going to tell you. And I'm known more as Director than Captain."

"Well," Ianto took a sip of tea, mentally digesting what the future Jack had divulged. "Isn't it dangerous for me to know all this?" he asked.

"If you sit down and think about it, you'll realize it's something we both knew would eventually happen. So…." Jack shrugged.

"And if I'm stuck here, that hardly matters anyway," Ianto replied. "Should I return, you're going to Retcon me, aren't you?"

"I'm sorry, Ianto. I'm more than certain you make it back. Assuming we don't muck it up on this side. I remember this. I remember you were missing for three days and I was so scared I lost you forever. But you came back. With some of your memories stripped. You remembered going somewhere, but specifics you didn't know. It was a mystery until earlier today when you suddenly appeared in my office and collapsed."

"I remember the device we found. You said it enabled time travel."

"Obviously, it was triggered telepathically."

"But I'm not a telepath."

"Everyone is in some degree. If I remember your testing back at Torchwood One, you did test slightly higher than average. Which makes it my guess that it made the difference between you being trapped somewhere alone, or you ending up here."

Ianto put down his tea cup and stared at Jack in question.

"When it pulled you into the vortex, your mind focused on me. So, the device sent you to me. Just so happened it's me in this time. It could have been a me in anytime, anywhere in the universe." Jack smiled gently. "Makes me believe that we had a bond we were unaware of back then. But that's what brought you to me. At least you're among friends, while we try to send you back where you belong."

"What's the problem? I'm guessing if I did it once, I can do it again."

"You might. But you'll have to focus your thoughts more, or you'll just end up traveling from time to time, finding different Jack's through time. It's going to take some training. I have someone working on a program to help you attune to the device to help your control. And you'll need to do some mental exercises so you can focus clearly on me back where you left from." Jack spread his hands. "It could take a day, or weeks. Depending on you. So in the meantime, we're prepared to make you as comfortable as possible. While I know you'll go back with no memories of what you learn here, there are some things it's best you not know. I'm not sure how it would affect the flux of time and space. You'll have to trust me, Ianto. Whatever I do that might not seem fair to you, it's for your own good, to get you back to where you belong. If nothing else, I need you, Ianto. More than you realize. I need to get you back home."

"But you just said I do return," Ianto protested.

"Yes. But it's not set in stone. It's in flux and it could change what came to be. Are you ready to see your quarters for your stay? I'd offer you a tour first, but you still need some rest. I'll come back for you later and take you on a tour of Torchwood New York." Jack stood up.

Ianto also stood up, picking up his empty cup. Jack shook his head, smiling slightly.

"Leave it, Ianto. We have people to pick up after us." Jack went over to Ianto and grasped him by his bicep. "Let's go."

Ianto found himself being guided by Jack from the kitchen to a lift. Ianto was able to see the mechanisms of the lift through the glass back wall. As they climbed up several levels, the mechanisms of the lift were replaced by a view of New York City. "That answers one of my questions," Ianto commented dryly. "I assume Torchwood New York is a tower?" As he looked over to Jack, he could not help the shiver that ran through him.

"So is Torchwood Cardiff. We still use part of what was the original Hub, but parts of it have been destroyed. We still have the vaults, and the archives for most of the more dangerous items in the old Hub, but we built upward on the lot behind the Wales Millennium Center. Five stories. Most of it is labs and monitoring stations. Now here in New York…." The lift stopped and Ianto stared at the panel, noting they were on the 52nd floor. "Our building is divided into sections. You'll see it all later. There are offices, labs, archives, and public relations and communication/monitoring sections. We're currently in the living section. The upper floors are for those associates who prefer to live close to work. Otherwise, they'd be traveling in from the outer boroughs. We pay well, but not enough for the majority to afford living in Manhattan. All real estate in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx that has a view of Manhattan is also sky high. Again, I'll explain it all later. Let's just suffice to say, we make it affordable for our lower level associates to live in this city. We also have guest quarters, and a few floors with suites and hotel service. This is one of those floors." Jack smiled at him as they left the lift. He removed a card from his jacket pocket. "You have the best suite we have for your stay. I hope you be comfortable in it." Jack led them down a hallway with walls painted in swirls of cool colors of blues and greens. The flooring was hardwood with a runner of a sea green shade going down the hallway. Near the end of the corridor, Jack stopped them before a door and handed Ianto the card. "Standard keycard. No huge trick in using it."

Ianto took the offered card and unlocked the door. "I presume I woke up in your medical section?" he asked, gazing around the loft-like room. It was open and airy, with a wall of windows looking out over the city, with a patio beyond the windows. Ianto noticed that New York City hadn't changed too much. Thought there were some new buildings that went up higher and had interesting spirals and shapes toward the tops. He also figured out that the Torchwood New York tower was not one of the tallest buildings in the city.

"It's an amazing view at night. So many colors in the skyline these days. You have doors to the patio over there," Jack said, pointing toward French doors of metal, "as well as from your bedroom. Which is up those stairs there." Jack indicated a metal curved staircase, but it was not as narrow or tight as a standard spiral staircase. "Someone will be arriving with some food staples for you, but you're also welcome to use the cafeteria on the 10th floor. If you're up to it, you are free to do your own shopping later. Once we find someone to accompany you."

"Why can't you?"

"Whenever I have the time, I'd be delighted to," Jack said. "But my off time is… complicated."

"Complicated, huh? Some things never change with you even after 1200 years."

"Yeah well…." Jack grinned ruefully. The grin left his face when he was interrupted by music. Ianto recognized the song as "Heaven" by Bryan Adams. Jack removed an earpiece from his jacket pocket and placed it on his ear. "Excuse me. I have to take this call." The older man moved toward the kitchen area, putting as much distance as he could between them as he answered the call. "What's up?"

Ianto pretended to stare out at the vast panorama of New York City, straining, he was able to catch small parts of Jack's conversation to whomever called him.

"Oh? Put her on," Jack said, trying to keep his voice down. After a few moments pause, with Jack glancing over his shoulder to assure Ianto was where he left him, he started to speak again. "Hi sweetheart. What happened? Oh, you'll be okay." He made some murmuring sounds meant to comfort the person on the other side of the call. Ianto had the impression by the pitch of Jack's voice that he was speaking to a child. "All right, sweetheart. Give me a few minutes and I'll be there to kiss it better. I love you, too." Jack paused again. "Babe? Yeah, I can leave for a while. I'll be right there. How are you doing? You should be resting. Yes, I know. I'll call off duty for the night and we'll take care of that. I love you so much. See you in a few."

Ianto remained where he was, his eyes fixed on a spiral ahead of him, biting his lip. He knew it was inevitable, but to suddenly be faced by the prospect, he realized it cut him more than he wanted to admit.

"Ianto, I'm sorry. Family problems. I should have already been home, but I wanted to stay here until you woke up and were settled in. I'm really sorry."

Still staring ahead, Ianto started to speak, hoping his voice did not waver. "I understand, Jack. Family comes first, of course. I assume I'll be seeing you sometime tomorrow then?"

"If I could, I'd be back tonight, but I can't. I'm sorry. I have obligations." Jack sighed. "And young children who expect to see me before they go to bed."

"Go, Jack. I'll be all right." Under tight control, Ianto turned to face Jack, plastering a smile on his face. "I'm so glad to hear that you have a family who loves you. Go. Be with them. And I'll see you tomorrow."

"If you need anything, here are some numbers to call, including room service, and my duty officer for the night. And here's my number too. If it's something that you really need me for, don't hesitate to call."

"Sure." Ianto took the PDA Jack suddenly produced from his pocket. "Good night, Jack. And enjoy time with your family."

Jack could not help the bright sunny smile the thought of his family brought to his lips. "I will. Goodnight, Ianto."

Ianto watched as Jack left the suite. Once the door was closed, he went over to the sectional couch and dropped wearily on it. He was glad that Jack was able to move on and find love again. He was also able to have what he could not with Ianto. A family. He really was happy for Jack. He never wanted Jack to not move on once he was gone.

But then why did it hurt so much as he realized that Jack had once again found true love? It was obvious he had by the ringtone and the tone of his voice when talking to his current love, along with the smile that came to Jack's face. Ianto only hoped that he would one day be able to make Jack smile like that before it was time to leave him.

Ianto sat on the couch in the quiet suite, willing himself not to cry. He was not going to cry.

It didn't work.

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