Today was just the same as every other day. Well, as normal as a day in Torchwood can be. Jack was sat at his desk, making calls to UNIT or the government over some new issue. Owen was dissecting another alien body. Tosh was running a rift calculation program, tweaking it to perfection. Ianto was hidden away in the Archive, cataloguing. And Gwen was doing what Gwen does best, liaison and Public Relations with the Cardiff Police Department.
While Ianto was in the basement sifting through some new artefacts that had slipped through the Rift a couple of weeks ago, he came across a small silver box. It was about the size of a matchbox, and on one side there were intricate etchings. Ianto picked the box up off the table in front of him. He turned it cautiously in his fingers trying to figure out what it could do, or be used for. The side with the etchings seemed to be a lid of some kind, but as hard as Ianto tried he couldn't pry off the lid. After five minutes or so of fighting with the box Ianto gave up. He slammed it back down onto the table in frustration and moved onto the next item for cataloguing.
It was around lunchtime, but Ianto had lost track of time. It wasn't often that he let time run away from him, but he was busier than normal and it was something he enjoyed. Because he was concentrating on an artefact that looked like an i-pod, but didn't play music. Ianto didn't hear the distant pounding of military boots on the concrete steps, and neither did he hear the pounding increase behind him until he felt a pair of large hands slide away from his back to his hips, and pulled him away from his position at the table.
Ianto's first reaction was to jump and shout out in surprise, but in his split second reaction, the time it took for his brain to decide who was behind him, he remained calm and realised it was Jack and not some alien or Weevil trying to attack him.
Jack pulled Ianto against him, so Ianto's back was plastered against his chest. Jack loved the feel of Ianto's body against his. He rested his chin on Ianto's shoulder. While peering at the objects on the table he whispered into Ianto's ear.
"So…how are you?" quizzed Jack, quietly.
Jack's voice sent a shiver down Ianto's spine.
"I'm ok, Sir. Archiving as usual. How are you?" replied Ianto.
Jack smiled broadly behind Ianto's ear and said "I'm a lot better now I'm down here with you."
Ianto turned his head slightly to the right and kissed Jack swiftly on the lips. Jack was a little surprised, so he his hold on Ianto's hips slid away while he moved around one side of the table. Jack leaned over the table and rested his elbow on the table, chin in hand.
"Do we have anything worth noting here?" Jack waved his left arm airily over the items on the table.
"Not a lot, but there is this thing," Ianto picked up the silver box from earlier and showed passed it to his lover.
"I don't know what it does, if anything! It's definitely something alien. Tosh scanned it and it has some minute energy readings. I just can't figure it out, or get the bloody thing open. Its so frustrating."
Jack moved to take the box and as Jack's fingers touched the box and Ianto's hand there was a surge of static electricity that was so unexpected they both dropped the box. Each man felt a bodily 'whooshing' sensation before the box hit the floor, then there was nothing.
Ianto woke first. He opened his eyes. He could feel the coolness of concrete beneath him. He focussed on the ceiling then questioned why he was on the floor. His feet felt heavy, weighted down for no particular reason. As he didn't feel dizzy, sick or pain he decided to give sitting a try. Ianto rolled onto his elbow and pushed himself into a sitting position.
Looking down his legs to his feet he saw, with astonishment that he was wearing boots, military boots. Boots that looked suspiciously like Jack's. And the pants he was wearing also looked like Jack's.
Ianto's baffled gaze landed on a body near his, wearing a black suit with a red collar. The outfit that he, Ianto, had worn to work this morning. A horrible thought dawned on him, but he needed more proof.
"Jack?" Oh! Thought Ianto. That is definitely not my voice.
"Oh hell! Jack! Jack wake up!" Ianto shouted.
The suit moaned and rolled towards Ianto. Ianto's mouth dropped, even though he knew what to expect. He was looking at himself. His eyes opened, but they looked slightly different.
"Ianto? What happened?" The eyes on Ianto's body's face widened sharply and zeroed in on Ianto.
"Please tell me I'm dreaming! Please!" pleaded Jack/Ianto.
"I'm afraid you're definitely not dreaming Jack," said Ianto/Jack softly. Jack/Ianto shuffled along the floor towards his body as Ianto/Jack winced.
"Watch the suit Jack. It's not built to withstand your kind of wear and tear."
"Sorry," said Jack/Ianto, "didn't think."
They sat next to each other in silence, separated by a small expanse of concrete, and the silver box.
"Well…at least now we know what it does. Wow! I'm speaking with a Welsh accent. You do realise that regardless of the situation, this is a really big turn on don't you?" said Jack.
"Honestly Jack! Could you be just a little bit serious? But now you mention it, this American voice does send shivers down my spine."
"Ianto Jones!!! I never realised! When we sort this our we're going to have to do a bit of experimenting."
"What do you mean?" said Ianto/Jack suspiciously. He looked at Jack/Ianto who had a naughty tinkle in his eye, "Seriously, this isn't the best time. As you can see!" Ianto/Jack looked a little unhappy at they're currently situation.
"I know. I know. So…plan. First things first, let's try to recreate what just happened, exactly. Oh! By the way, how long were we out?"
"I don't know. You have the watch. What time did you come down here?" Jack looked slightly confused, but worked out they'd been unconscious for about an hour.
"How come we haven't had any unexpected visitors? I would have thought Gwen would have paid us a visit by now since its over an hour and neither of us has appeared."
"I think the hothouse incident had made her more wary of just wandering into rooms without knocking, to ask questions." Ianto/Jack laughed.
"I still haven't forgive you about that by the way. You had no right to tell her," said Jack/Ianto sternly.
"Jack," sighed Ianto/Jack," I can't apologise anymore than I already have done. But in my defence she needed to know. You know she wouldn't have let the matter rest otherwise, but I'm still sorry about what I did."
"Ok," said Jack/Ianto who leaned in and kissed himself. Ianto/Jack pulled quickly away.
"Jack!" exclaimed Ianto/Jack, "this is too weird. Even for us."
"What do you mean?" Jack/Ianto seemed oblivious to Ianto's problem.
"Jack…you've just kissed…yourself. Don't you see that as strange?" there was a pause as Ianto/Jack looked at Jack/Ianto. "I see you don't see the problem with this. Why am I not surprised?"
Jack/Ianto laughed at Ianto/Jack's discomfort and embarrassment.
"Relax. It's not such a big deal. I've always wondered what it'd be like to get with myself."
"You're disgusting!" exclaimed Ianto/Jack.
"You've never thought about-"
"No!" Ianto/Jack blushed. If Ianto hadn't've been so embarrassed, he'd have been impressed to see Captain Jack Harkness' face blush.
Jack laughed loudly, then got back to business.
"Right. Let's try and reverse this body move. I can see you're not entirely at home in my body," Jack/Ianto stood up, turned and reached a hand out to Ianto/Jack to help him up from the floor. After Ianto/Jack stood, Jack/Ianto leaned down and cautiously picked up the silver box.
"Well, nothing. Talk me through exactly what happened," said Jack/Ianto, placing the box on the table in front of Ianto/Jack.
"I picked it up, like so. Tried in vain to get the thing open and after five minutes I gave up and slammed the box back on the table in the far corner. It stayed there until I handed it to you later on."
"So we try that sequence of events." They recreated the handling of the box and as Ianto/Jack passed Jack/Ianto the box they held their breath, waiting for the 'whooshing' sensation, but all they felt was each others fingers.
"Huh-oh," said Jack/Ianto, "I think its time we get the rest of the team involved."
"Great. Owen's going to get a right kick out of this," moaned Ianto/Jack.
Before confronting the team, Jack/Ianto made the decision that they should both act as if nothing was wrong. That they were in the right bodies, as though everything was as it was this morning. This meant that Ianto/Jack would need to act like Jack while he go the team together for the meeting. Jack/Ianto was a little concerned Ianto would have trouble pulling it off, but to his surprise Ianto showed mastery of Jack's tone and body language in his there's-a-problem-and-we-need-to-fix-it mode.
Ianto/Jack had made the executive decision that Jack/Ianto should forgo making coffee, as was Ianto's standard when it came to meetings. The only reason for this was Jack's inability to work electrical appliances that create food or drink.
In the boardroom everyone settled into their seats and glanced expectantly at Jack/Ianto. Jack ignored their looks and concentrated on Ianto/Jack stood at the head of the table. "Jack? What's this all about? Nothing showed on the Rift monitor and there haven't been anymore reports of Weevil activities. So why are we here?" asked Gwen. Jack/Ianto watched her speech and caught Ianto/Jack's eye.
"I think Jack should explain," said Ianto/Jack who waved at Jack/Ianto and threw himself into his seat. Gwen, Tosh and Owen shared looks between themselves and continued to look at Jack. When no on said anything more, Ianto/Jack stared at Jack/Ianto and said, "Go on Jack. Tell them what's going on."
Jack/Ianto rolled his eyes, but stood from his seat, "Ok. While Ianto – that's Jack over there – was in the Archive he came across a silver box. We both touched it and now we've swapped bodies. We've tried to undo the process by recreating what happened, but it didn't work. So now we need everyone to help fix this."
As predicted, Owen burst out into laughter. After a few minutes Owen stopped, caught his breath and said, "You have got to be kidding. This could only happen to you Harkness."
"Jack, what can we do to sort this?"
"We need a full spectrum scan Tosh. Gwen, Owen we need you to find out where the box is from. It has etchings on one side. We need to see if we can translate whatever it is. Ianto and I are going to go back to where we found it and see if we can find out anything more."
A minute passed and everyone was still in their seats.
"Hop to it! Oh and no two people should touch the box at any one time. We don't what this to happen again."
The team left the conference room in silence. Jack/Ianto and Ianto/Jack stayed seated but looked at each other.
"So when do we go back to the scene of the crime?" said Ianto.
"Later. First we need to visit your flat for some hard wearing clothes for your body. I don't want to ruin any of your suits. I do so love the look of you in them."
"Can I do something Ianto?"
"Hmm…that depends Jack," replied Ianto/Jack again suspicious of Jack's tone.
"Can I touch your arse?"
"Jack it's just like touching your own arse."
"No I mean can I touch this arse?" Jack/Ianto pointed at his Ianto's body's behind, "the arse I was sat on? Would it be too weird?" Jack/Ianto waited patiently for permission.
Ianto/Jack stood to join Jack/Ianto and placed his hands on his body's behind. Ianto/Jack gave the bottom a couple of squeezes and proclaimed, "Well. Doesn't feel weird. Feels like I'm grabbing your backside. Let's try this. I'm going to kiss you but grab this bum," Ianto/Jack gestured to his rear, "you do the same."
Without giving Jack/Ianto a chance to respond Ianto/Jack delved into Jack's mouth. The kiss was full of passion and experimental desire. Ianto felt fireworks behind his eyelids, exactly the same reaction to Jack as always. Ianto pulled his back head and looking at Jack/Ianto giggled. Jack/Ianto smiled and took his hands off his arse. He framed Ianto/Jack's face.
"That was nice, but this is better," Jack/Ianto licked his partner's lips and continued their kiss. They were oblivious to the outside world, but Jack/Ianto heard a distant call. As he focused on the noise it became louder.
"Oi you two! Stop it. We can see everything-"
"It's not the hardcore channel! Get a room."
As Ianto/Jack didn't have his ear piece in, only Jack/Ianto could hear the abuse they were getting from Owen and the others. Jack/Ianto took one last long kiss, then released Ianto/Jack. Ianto/Jack's eyes were slightly hazy and unfocussed, just as Ianto's always were after a steamy kissing session. Jack/Ianto stepped back from his partner and turned to stare hard at the internal security camera. He growled quietly into his earpiece. He heard a distant giggle and a faint apology from one of the girls before turning back to Ianto/Jack.
"Experiment one over, and quite successful I'd say. We need to get to work changing us back to our former selves. Did you see where the box was found in the paperwork? We'll go and check out the site."
Ianto/Jack followed Jack/Ianto out of the conference room, still a little flustered but carried said, "Somewhere near the wasteland of Bevil Green, near the industrial estate with the cardboard factory. The report says it was buried deep inside one of the abandoned buildings."
The car journey to Bevil Green was uneventful. Jack drove the SUV through the winding roads of the industrial estate, taking each turn slightly faster than he needed to. Out of the corner of his eye Jack could see Ianto's hands tightly gripping the edge of his seat. Jack also noticed Ianto's eyes widened every time he turned the wheel sharply, but Ianto didn't complain once. He never did. He just tolerated it. Though recently Ianto had started to retaliate silently.
Ianto had stopped using real sugar in Jack's coffee. At first Jack hadn't really noticed. Then he began to realise that in the afternoons he was tired, irritable and the taste of the coffee wasn't quite right. Jack considered he'd been working a lot recently, but that didn't explain the lack of energy. Jack always had bundles of energy to spare – he was immortal after all. After about three weeks of the same thing, Jack made the connection between the days he'd driven a little recklessly and the odd tasting coffee.
One day, while Ianto was fixing the team their morning coffee after a standard rift activity check, Jack snuck up behind Ianto intent on giving him a hug when he saw Ianto reach for a long white cylindrical object. He twisted it clockwise twice and two white tablets popped out of the end and into Jack's favourite mug. SWEETNERS?!?!?!?! Sugar-free sugar. Jack was shocked to even see this in his Hub. Everyone either had sugar or no sugar, not the in-between stuff.
Jack backed away from Ianto, startled, and bolted to his office, locking the door. Jack came to the realisation that Ianto was making his annoyance known without verbally admitting it – a typical Ianto tactic. Why say something when actions were so much better.
Ianto said something about turning right which broke Jack's reverie. Jack slowed to make the turn and saw Ianto smile slightly with approval at the new speed. He'd relaxed his death grip on the leather seating.
Jack pulled up outside a large prefabricated warehouse built in the 1930's for the manufacture of war uniforms. Jack remembered when they first thought to build this warehouse. It took 30 months to erect.
"So this is where Gwen and Toshiko found the box?" asked Jack slipping out of the SUV to look at the building in all its abandonment.
"Yeah. The report says it was in the basement, but there was evidence of additional movement on the first floor."
Ianto pulled a monitor out of his backpack which was linked to the Hub computer mainframe.
Jack peered over Ianto's shoulder to get a better look at the readings, but Ianto turned the monitor over in his hand and stepped towards the building.
"You are so distracting! Did you know that?" sighed Ianto who looked over his shoulder, "and you're fingers are double jointed. They're so weird to get used to."
Jack replied, "There are a number of things I could say about this body Ianto Jones, but as we're trying to find a way to switch us back, I'll withhold comment until after we're back in the right body."
Ianto sighed again and walked towards the steel metal door at the front of the warehouse.
"The monitor isn't detecting any life signs other than ourselves. There's no active or residual rift activity that I can detect either."
Ianto tried the handle of the door, but it refused to budge. Jack was about to step in when Ianto started to shoulder the door open. Jack stood back in amazement at what Ianto was doing. After three tried the door swung open with a deafening crack.
Ianto staggered back from the doorway and immediately doubled over and clasped a hand over his left shoulder. He whimpered loudly and gasped in pain.
"Ianto!" exclaimed Jack, "You idiot. What possessed you to do that?" Jack rushed forwards to catch Ianto, holding him steady on his feet.
"Well…I always wanted to do that! And I though since I'm in your body and you can heal I'd give the macho-I'm-a-god thing a try. Didn't work out as expected though. You should go to the gym more often Jack. Your body's not up to its usual umph."
Ianto took a deep breath and stood up straight. Jack chose to ignore Ianto's comment in favour of getting back to the situation at hand.
"Come on. The sooner we get out of my body the safer it is for everyone. The stupid thing is we don't know if it's my body or soul that has the immortal ability. What happens if you don't heal?"
"I can confirm that it's your body that holds the immortal ability," Ianto replied majestically, "I can feel my whole shoulder knitting itself back together. God that's really strange. I don't know how you put up with it."
"Well that means you'll have to take the lead on this case. If you can heal it means I can't. And I'm not going to do anything to mark or maim this delectable body. But you need to be careful. If you die….if you die and come back – the way your mind pulls itself back to the body – that first breath of another life, new consciousness. Each resurrection brands itself into your brain and it's like nothing you'll ever experience. What I'm trying to say is…try not to be too reckless yeah?" Jack took Ianto's hand, "and I couldn't watch you die. I've seen countless people I love die and I don't want to see you be one of them. Okay?"
Ianto was touched by Jack's heartfelt speech. Ianto made Jack a promise to be extra careful and they made their way into the building.
The warehouse still had most of its equipment stored where it had been left. Machines looked abandoned with bolts of fabric hanging from poles and strips of material still in the sewing machines. It looked as if the warehouse had been taken out of time. Though Jack knew that it hadn't. There had not been massive amounts of rift activity here for a long time.
The sewing machines and other equipment were coated with intricate spiderwebs. The spiders had moved in when there was no sign of human return.
Jack walked through the labyrinth of machines following slightly behind Ianto.
"So this is about the area where Gwen & Tosh found the box," said Ianto. They had arrived at a small cove in one of the partition walls that separated the machinery room from the tunnel of offices.
Both men pulled out their torches and began to explore the area. Ianto pulled away from the cove to look around a nearby sewing machine. He bent down and shone his torch under the workspace. He nearly stood up and move on to another area when a silver twinkle caught his eye at the very back of the workspace, beyond a stool. It had been untouched by the warehouse inhabitants.
Ianto moved the stool and knelt down on his knees to shuffle into the confined space. He reached his arm out and his finger grazed the object, but he was unable to grab it. As the body Ianto currently resided in was bigger than his own he couldn't squeeze into the space anymore than he already had done.
Ianto called out to Jack for help.
"I've found something but I can't reach it. Could you give me a hand?"
Jack helped Ianto up from under the workspace and bent to look at what Ianto had found. Jack knelt and fitted himself into the space while Ianto stood back and watched. Ianto placed his hands in his pockets and focussed on Jack's behind wiggling so he could reach the object. Ianto smiled at the sight before him. It was very funny and rather sexy.
Jack gave a little shout of triumph to highlight that he'd accomplished his goal. As Jack reversed himself out of the space Ianto straightened his face and said, "I think you're rubbing off on me Jack."
"What do you mean?" asked Jack, who's head was still under the table.
"I mean I'm thinking things that I don't usually think. I think a part of you is still in here somewhere." Ianto gestured at his body.
"How can you tell? It's not as if it got up to introduce itself and shake hands…did it?"
"No it's subtler than that. Okay, tell me what you're thinking right this minute," demanded Ianto.
"I'm thinking that that space was far too small, but at least I don't have to go down again because I found our object, and it's a good job I'm not claustrophobic," Jack shone the object with his torch in the palm of his hand, "why? What are you thinking?"
Ianto looked at the object and then at his body.
"I'm thinking how I'd liked to have jumped you while you were under the table. All that wriggling and wiggling of your backside should be illegal. I've never really had a reaction like that. I mean that was an overwhelming desire. It was quite strong. Almost how I imagine you think. I think your behaviour towards sex – and anything that moves – is becoming part of me."
Jack looked a little shocked.
"We definitely need to get a move on with this solution. I can't lose my considerable charm and flirtatious abilities – plus my sex drive – I just can't"
Ianto laughed and said, "Now you're starting to sound like me."
Jack frowned and pulled what would have been his sad face, but on Ianto's face it looked quite comical. Jack huffed and passed Ianto the object before turning his back. Ianto turned his attention to the object in his hand while Jack sulked and muttered under his breath.
The object was half the size of the silver box back at the Hub, though this was half the thickness, about as thin as a credit card. It was a matt black colour instead of silver though there were etchings similar to that on the silver box, and these sparkled brightly, reflecting the torchlight.
Ianto suddenly remembered seeing a small slit in the silver box, almost like the floppy disc drive on a computer.
"Jack!" called Ianto.
"What?" muffled Jack who refused to look at Ianto while he thought about a life without his spectacular charm and flirting capabilities. He had placed a hand over his mouth and was in the process of taking a deep breath to calm his thoughts. These were definitely Ianto's feelings seeping into him.
Ianto didn't know what Jack was thinking, and he was too wrapped up in his excitement to notice.
Jack turned, "What is it?"
Ianto lifted the metal to Jack's eye line and said eagerly, "These etchings are like the ones on the silver box and I remember seeing a void on the box where I think this might fit into. It must be the missing piece to the puzzle. We'll have to get Tosh to do the standard scans to make certain it matches and its safe, but I think we can put it together and change us back."
Jack took the metal from Ianto's hand and gave it a cursory look.
"You really are starting to sound like me," Jack said quietly, "It's intriguing. Maybe while Toshiko is doing the scans you can show me some of your moves…Sir."
"You're impossible, you know that Jack? We'll have to wait and see… but the chances are more than likely". Ianto winked.
Ianto unconsciously placed his hand over the hand Jack held the metal in. Jack realised at the last second that that was how they'd swapped bodies in the first place, but it was too late. Jack felt Ianto's skin touch his, screwed up his eyes and braced himself.
Ianto looked at the face that was his own, scrunched up as if it had tasted something sour.
Jack cautiously opened his eyes when he didn't immediately feel his soul move. He looked at the hand in front of him connected to the body that wasn't his.
"Erm…what are you doing Jack?" questioned Ianto.
Jack's eyes caught Ianto's bemused look.
"I thought when we touched the metal together it might've had the same affect as the silver box."
"Oh. Well. Sorry to disappoint. We need to get a move on back the Hub to run these tests."
Ianto pulled his hand back from Jack's and turned to exit the warehouse. Jack stood looking at his hand, amused at the slight tingling sensation Ianto's touch had left.
"Amazing," he murmured. Then he realised Ianto had taken both torches, so he quickly followed the light Ianto was casting towards the door several feet in front of him.
Jack caught up to Ianto as he neared the SUV. Ianto stowed the torches in the boot of the vehicle and placed the metal in the great overcoat he was wearing.
"I can see now why you love this overcoat so much," said Ianto as he heard Jack approach, "The pockets are quite deep and it keeps you warm and sheltered from the elements."
Ianto and Jack got into the car, this time with Ianto driving. He reversed away from the warehouse, through the industrial estate and out into the mainstream traffic of Cardiff.
"I have a question," said Jack.
"Hmm," replied Ianto who was busy negotiating some heavy traffic.
"How come you haven't named the silver box and it companion? Usually you've given it a working name before now."
Ianto smiled, "The reason I haven't named it is because we're still not sure what it does. We know we've swapped bodies, but we don't need how or if it serves another purpose. You should know I only make decisions when I know all the facts."
Ianto winked and took one of his hands off the steering wheel, only to place it on Jack's thigh, squeeze it once then replace his hand back on the wheel.
Jack was secretly pleased that Ianto had done something he never normally did, even though influenced by Jack's body, but he pasted his face with a disapproving look.
"You're doing it again Ianto, stop it you're freaking me out."
"I know, that's what's so fun!"
"Once I get my body back I'm going to make you very sorry."
"Ohh! I'm scared."
"You should be!" and with that Jack reached across the gearstick and placed his hand on Ianto's knee, so his fingers reached round the back of the knee.
As Ianto had Jack's body and Jack had previously occupied his body for a couple of hundred years, he knew every tender sport, every weakness, and he was about to exploit one of them. Jack patiently waited for the SUV to stop at a red light.
When Jack had touched Ianto's knee Ianto had tensed and braced himself. Ianto had suffered many times while driving when Jack had decided to become amorous. When Jack's hand stayed where it was Ianto was suspicious for a minute then turned his concentration back to the road. When Ianto stopped for a red light he turned to look at Jack. Jack moved his fingers rapidly, tickling the back of Ianto's knee. Ianto was not aware that Jack was ticklish and was taken completely unawares. Jack's pace was so punishing and Ianto laughed so hard he found it difficult to breath. The light had long since turned green and cars were overtaking them and beeping their horns as they passed.
Ianto begged Jack to stop between gasping breaths and laughter. Tears fell down his cheeks. Jack had a determined look all the way through the infliction of his torture. Finally Jack joined in with the laughter and gradually slowed the tickling pace until he stopped altogether.
"Told you you should be scared," said Jack breathlessly. Ianto braced his hands on the wheel and sucked in much needed oxygen.
"Oh I can't wait to get my body back. Then I'm going to tickle you to death…figuratively speaking of course."
"Of course," said Jack, "We should go. The lights have been green three times since we've been here."
"Well it was your fault".
Ianto put the SUV into drive and continued the journey to the Hub.
Shortly before they headed to the underground car park of the Hub Gwen came through on Jack's comm..
"Jack? Are you there?
"Yes Gwen. Have you found anything more about the artefact?"
"Nothing yet, but Tosh is still working on it."
"Okay. We're in the car park now. We'll be down in about 10 minutes."
"See you then!" replied Gwen as she turned her comm to silent.
"They're nearly here," called Gwen as she turned to her colleagues.
"Then maybe things will get back to normal round here," grunted Owen. He was weirded out by Jack being Ianto and Ianto being Jack. When Ianto first joined Torchwood Owen had thought that he was quiet but handsomely understated. Owen had dabbled in the past but never without a woman present. Ianto was the first guy he had properly thought about in that way. But when Jack's interest started to weigh more heavily to Ianto, Owen became angry about his sexual thoughts, and he started to treat Ianto harshly. Since his death Owen had begun to realise how much stick Ianto had had to endure and Owen's anger had cooled. They had actually become friends of sorts. Owen still disliked seeing Ianto and Jack together, though it was hard to avoid these days. It seemed they were around every corner or in every dark shadow, but he just tried to ignore it.
"It's not so bad. You just have to remember who's who," said Tosh loudly, as if for a second time.
Gwen shot Tosh a quizzical look and lightly traced her finger over the silver box on the desk.
"Strange that such a small object could do something so big."
"It looks like the box has a battery facility and in close proximity to two humanoids it activitated, swapped what each of them had started with and then drained itself of all energy. When Ianto originally scanned it he was alone, so it had no energy readings to speak of. It was pretty much just a small silver box."
"Okay, so where's the charger?"
The cog door alarm sounded and Jack and Ianto walked swiftly towards the rest of the team gathered around Tosh's computer.
"What have you found Tosh?" said Jack as he situated himself to view to screen.
Tosh looked puzzled for just a second, having a little trouble remembering who was who, but as she was a professional she hid it and went over her explanation again.
"That might explain what we found at the warehouse. Show them Jack!" exclaimed Ianto excitedly.
"Calm down. It's here somewhere," said Jack distractedly. He was busy searching the pockets of the suit jack he wore.
"This thing has way too many pockets."
"Says the man who habitually wears a floor length coat that's like a zipped up rucksack. This thing has more pockets than a box factory has boxes!" stated Ianto patting the pockets of the wool RAF coat.
"Found it! I'd advise not touching this either guys. We've both touched it together, but you can never be too careful," explained Jack, placing the new metal object on the table with all the care of an unexploded bomb.
"You touched it? Without it being scanned first? How-"
"Tosh – do the standard scans. No two people near these objects at any one time. That's an order," Jack glanced round the group, "Once we know what we're dealing with we can figure out a plan of action."
"And what are you going to do in the meantime?" questioned Gwen quietly, eyeing the metal items dubiously.
"Back to work as normal. The world doesn't stop because Ianto and I aren't…ourselves-"
"Jack's right. I'll do my job and Jack'll do his, although it's probably an idea not to use to the video conference. Might be difficult to explain," said Ianto in charge.
"Okay smart guy, what about the telephone voice? How do you explain that?"
"And the Welsh accent? Or lack thereof?" asked Owen haughtily.
"Erm…," Ianto rolled his eyes to the ceiling, "well, you could say that being here for so long the Welsh have finally made an impact? It's …," Ianto laughed to himself and looked at the rest of the team, "We'll think of something."
Jack noted a gleam in his partner's eye, but decided to question it later.
"Everyone go do what you do, now."
Owen, Tosh and Gwen moved off to their work stations while Ianto led Jack to his office. Ianto led Jack into the office by the hand and shut the door. Jack wandered to his desk, pulled out his chair, sat and hauled his feet onto the edge of the desk.
"So do you want to help me move some files in the Archives?" asked Ianto, raising one eyebrow in a suggestive way.
Jack glanced across at his shiny leather clad feet and said, "What do you do to get these shoes so shiny?"
Ianto sighed and said, "Who cares Jack? They're just shiny shoes."
"Seems like you're getting too much like my inner self. Can you tamper down on the lust and concentrate on the action setting?"
"Why?" pined Ianto softly.
"Because I shouldn't be thinking about the best products to use to get a shine on my boots so I can see my face in them. You shouldn't have been thinking of all the different and varied ways you could have your wicked way with me in the Hub, while the others are here. Don't deny it! It's written all over your face, and no, before you ask, no one else had a clue. Don't forget that's my body Ianto. I know it extremely well."
"Noted. So…," Ianto took two steps towards Jack's shiny shoes and pushed them to the floor, "so…"
"No. Don't get any ideas you! We have work to do remember? The world still keeps turning and the rift still sucks things in and kicks stuff back out. Go get back to your job description Mr Jones, and I'll see you later."
Ianto looked into Jack's face and saw a smile.
"I might need your face for some official business later on, we'll see."
Jack stood quickly and ushered Ianto out of his office. Before Jack could close the door fully behind Ianto, Ianto grabbed Jack's arm, hauled him against his chest and subjected him to a steamy kiss. After what felt like hours Jack pulled away breathing heavily.
"Ex-Pervert thank you. Now go and leave me alone! Archive something or make some coffee."
"Yes Sir," replied Ianto slyly.
Ianto walked away quickly, his face hidden as he smiled and laughed softly to himself when he didn't hear Jack slam the door to his office.
Toshiko was arm deep in MRI schematics when everything fell into place.
"Jack?" said Tosh urgently, "Jack?" Tosh tapped her comm repeatedly, "You need to get down here quickly."
"Wrong Jack Tosh, but I'll go grab him and we'll be right there."
"Sorry Ianto," Toshiko blushed at her mistake and went back to her schematics while she waited for Ianto and Jack. About 10 minutes later the pair trotted out of Jack's office to stop just in front of Toshiko's desk. Tosh was concentrating hard on the plans in front of her, and didn't notice her new arrivals for several minutes until Ianto cleared his throat.
"What've you got for us Tosh?" said Ianto.
"When can we be ourselves again? How soon?" pleaded Jack, wringing his hands gently.
"Well…," Tosh looked up startled, "All I need to do is infuse the new metal object with some alkali formula, place it into the slot in the old box and wait a couple of hours. The formula will diffuse throughout the old box and when you both touch the box together hey presto! You should switch back".
Toshiko smiled and saw Ianto's face screw up in excitement, then it slipped into consternation.
"Will there be an side effects? We've been like this for a while and we've begun to notice some personality changes. We're becoming uncharacteristically like the bodies we're in," said Jack.
"There's no programme manuals for alien tech. The best I can predict is that your personalities are being radiated by the body you're in. When you change back you should revert to your original selves, but I estimate that it'll take a little time before you're completely the same as before."
"That sounds excellent. So if we wait until first thing tomorrow the box'll be charged and we're on the move."
"Yeah. Oh! Before you go I should tell you that I haven't had any luck translating the etchings on either object. The translation program I've been working on hasn't been able to recognise any of the symbols, but it's working on it."
"Alright, so we chalk the etchings up to author creativity and not instructions on how to use the damn things."
"It's six o'clock," said Jack looking at his pristine leather watch, "everyone should call it a night and head home. Back in at 8am to see how the energy transfer is shaping up."
Ianto rounded everyone up and hustled them through the cog door and out into the bay.
Ianto felt empowered by the rush and exuberance of Jack's personality. He could feel it seep into his soul and made him feel more assertive. If Jack felt like this all the time then his self control was immense. Ianto's subconscious was telling him that his behaviour was so out of character and completely inappropriate at times, given the circumstances but his consciousness was getting carried away by flirtatious comments and inappropriate mental images of his own body with Jack's.
As Ianto quickly escorted all the team out of Torchwood for the evening all he could think of was getting Jack alone. At the back of his mind he couldn't help but think of earlier shock at Jack's reaction to the whole body swap situation, but he cast it aside as he locked up the tourist office and jumped down several steps at a time to get back to his lover.
Ianto tracked Jack down in his office – not that Ianto hadn't expected it. Jack had gone studiously back to work, Ianto notes with amusement, as he stood on the threshold of the office door. Jack had most definitely become Ianto's former self. A little distant, quiet and reserved with a wicked sense of humour. Ianto smiled to himself as Jack sifted through some papers to get some information.
"Are you planning on working through the night or do you think you could take some recreational time?"
"Oh Ianto!" said Jack a little shocked that he hadn't been aware of his partner's entrance, "I was just finishing some work that I've been putting off."
"Well as much as I'm enjoying not having to do your paperwork for a day, I'd much prefer to be doing you."
"Do I seriously sound like that?"
"Like what?" replied Ianto, busily taking Jack's clothes off with his mind.
"Crude" Jack interrupted.
"Depends on what you've got on your mind… Anyway… to continue where you started this morning. Here or downstairs?"
Ianto moved from the doorway through the office and behind Jack to grab his chair.
"Dear Sir. Your response is too slow so it ends with my decision. I prefer cotton sheets and a cushioned mattress over a brick wall or a wooden desk. So let's go," said Ianto in a horrendous posh English accent.
Jack was pulled up from his chair and was lead down the iron stairs to his quarters. Jack hadn't ever made this space into much of a home, but since Ianto had entered his life he'd thought hard about creating something special he and Ianto could share.
Jack waiting while Ianto descended to the floor, then he had a spark of lust hit him hard, thinking about Ianto. Jack bridged the gap between their bodies and took Ianto's lips with his. The kiss was the start of things to come, promising a passionate loving night.
Jack woke in Ianto's arms. It looked like something's never changed. He could only manage a few hours sleep at best. Jack snuggled into his partner's warm chest, listening to the calm rise and fall of Ianto's breathing as he slept. All the years that he'd lived and everything he had suffered and he still found it a wonder that people slept and remained breathing. The brain was a fascinating organ. Jack's head kept on rising and falling with each breath. It was like the ocean, he thought, a peaceful lull. Jack could admin, at least to himself, that cuddling up to his own muscular chest was weird, but it was only for one night, if things went according to plan in a few hours.
"You awake?" whispered Ianto groggily.
Jack had been so deep in thought that he hadn't notices the change in Ianto's breathing which indicated he had awoken.
"Hmm," replied Jack.
Several moments passed in silence before Ianto said, "What are you thinking about?"
Jack didn't think now was the time to be all philosophical so he replied, "Couldn't say. It wasn't that interesting anyway."
Ianto stayed silent. He knew Jack, and he knew he would talk when he was ready. Several minutes passed and Jack shifted restlessly. He sat up and leaned on his elbow so he could look Ianto in the eye.
"Have you ever thought about what things would be like if I was mortal?"
"Can't say I've really given it much thought. But I can see you have. Want to talk about it?"
"We both know this is something I normally wouldn't do, but I can't seem to help myself. Since I got back from the end of the earth you've been in my thoughts a lot. You know I love you very much don't you?"
"Yes I know, but I can't see where this is going."
"I've been questioning us. Our relationship and the future. Not in a bad way, "said Jack quickly before Ianto could say anything, "I just mean how things will end up and when you…d-die. Which I hope will not be for a long long time." There was a long pause.
"What I'm trying to say, not very well, is…I don't want to lose you. I cannot begin to imagine a life without you."
"I can't contemplate it. I just wish we could halt this moment in time and just exist as we are. No war or aliens. No rift or people trying to kill us."
"Jack. I wish things could be that simple, but what I can promise is that I'll always be here for you when you need me. And if worst comes to worst I will leave the receipt for my special coffee for you. Then you will always have a piece of me. I love you so much! Just promise me that you'll never leave again without at least telling me where you're going."
"That I can promise."
Jack leaned into Ianto and grazed a kiss across Ianto's chin, then continued a journey around his face, then finally pressing a kiss to his lips.
"Are you ready to go a second round? Or should I get some more sleep?"
"Oh I think sleep can wait," replied Jack, draping himself over Ianto's body.
By 8 am the next morning Jack and Ianto had gotten up, gone a third round followed by a leisurely breakfast and started work on some reports that were due by several government officials.
The alarm sounded and the metal cog door clanked open, revealing Toshiko carrying a cup of chamomile tea from a local shop. Ianto and Jack were stood in Jack's office discussing a recent sighting of hoyx's. Ianto excused himself and went to greet Toshiko and take her coat. Jack waited until Tosh was settled at her desk and had turned her computer before he walked quickly over to her and quizzed her on the progress of the power transfer.
Toshiko gave Jack a hard look and said, "Are you really so desperate to get rid of the Ianto in you? And so early in the morning?"
"Tosh, you have no idea what its like. I dreamt about Mr Muscle last night, you know the guy that advertises that kitchen cleaner? The way his bleach clears the sink and shines the kitchen work surfaces. This isn't me! I have sex dreams not cleaning dreams! I have to get back in my body as soon as possible, "whispered Jack fraughtly. Jack leaned over Tosh's desk as he spoke.
Tosh considered all the years she'd known Jack, and all he'd done for her. She had never known him to even talk about cleaning, let alone dream about it. Tosh thought quickly and said, "I'll just run a diganosic program and we can get under way."
Jack's face brightened into a charming, flirtacious smile and he leant towards Toshiko's ear, whispering, "Thank you, I owe you a big favour."
As fast as Tosh turned to face him Jack had hightailed it back to his office. He clearly didn't want Ianto to see his feeling on the developments of this soul swapping accident. One by one Gwen followed by Owen arrived while Tosh did the final check on the object. By 8.45am Toshiko called a meeting in the briefing room to inform everyone how things were to be set up.
As Owen no longer needed sleep he'd had plenty of time the previous night to head up the medical side of this bizarre procedure. He was going to hoot both men up to heart and blood pressure monitors as well as strapping them to a brainwave system to monitor their brainwave patterns during the reversal. Because no on was 10% positive it would work a second time Owen needed to watch them both closely, but more so Ianto. Jack would survive anything, but he would never forgive Owen id anything went wrong with Ianto. It was risky not to test the object before using it on Jack and Ianto, but as that would mean risking changing the souls of two other Torchwood members, it wasn't advisable.
Owen had set up the medical room with two cushioned recliner chairs that resembled dentist chairs, facing each other.
There was only Gwen that didn't really have a function, but Tosh designated her a computer terminal to oversee the power levels of the object.
Once everyone was briefed, they all dispersed to double check all their equipment one final time. Jack pulled back before he could follow the rest of the team.
Ianto took one look at his lover and said, "Don't worry Jack, Owen is taking all the precautions he can think of. Well, than and he knows if he fucks this up he'll die a second time, and not quickly." Ianto reinforced his short speech with a loving smile.
"Ianto…if something goes wrong-" Jack pulled Ianto's right hand to his lips for a kiss then held them to Ianto's chest, "I love you. So much. You know that right?"
"Jack you're getting soft. I know you love me. As much as I love you. Have some faith. It happened the first time and all we did was black out. There's no evidence to support any ideas that this things will injure either of us."
Ianto lifted his free hand and placed it against the side of Jack's neck.
"We'll both be ok. Those three people out there love us and care for us, so they will not allow anything within their control to go wrong. You trust them with most things involving Torchwood, trust them with my well being."
Jack let out a shuddering breath and closed his eyes for a second, then he pulled himself together for Ianto, and he kissed him.
"Okay, lets roll then. We can't put the inevitable off forever," said Jack who slowly led Ianto towards the Hub's main floor and the medical bay.
Jack was seated first, then Ianto. Tosh and Owen made sure they were both sufficiently hooked up to all the relevant equipment, correctly and safely. As they went away Gwen double checked the placements of the electrodes. Jack and Ianto had been advised not to hold hands once the electrodes were attached. They contented themselves to fortifying glances of courage.
Once both Owen and Tosh have the go ahead, Gwen used a long handled plastic gripper to pick up the object and place it on a small table that had been placed between Jack and Ianto's chairs.
"All set guys, whenever you are. Just pick the object up in the sequence you did the other day and the transfer should happen just like before," said Tosh with a confident smile.
"Ready?" questioned Ianto, already reaching for the object.
"Erm, yes?" replied Jack, his tone was layered with fear.
Ianto picked it up and moved it through his fingers like a coin. Then he reached out the hand to Jack. Jack placed his fingers over the little silver box and as quickly as that felt a whoosing sensation before he passed out.
Jack awoke to a bright light burning his retina's.
"Get that thing away from me!" he growled.
It took him a minute to realise that he had spoken with an American accent. Just to be sure he lifted his legs up to heel the heavy, sturdy weight of his military boots. Jack smiled broadly and opened his eyes.
"Is Ianto-?" said Jack anxiously as he saw that his lover's eyes were still closed and Gwen and Owen surrounded him.
"He'll be ok, but he's just taking longer than you to recover. We never did find out how long you were unconscious for the first time," called Owen.
"But is he…Ianto?"
"As far as we know. His brainwave pattern is the same, but I can only guess he's ok."
Jack got out of his chair and stumbled slightly.
"I'm fine, just getting my Harkness legs back. Oh it's so good to be me again! I'm fantasising about sex already."
"Please Jack, the less we all know about your sex life and fantasies the betters," said Owen testily.
"I think I preferred it when they were the other way around. Ianto wasn't as crude," said Gwen with a smile.
Jack gently pushed his team away from Ianto and asked them to step outside the medical bay for five minutes. Everyone disapproved, but reconsidered when Jack said, "Well I know a couple of ways that can get him up a lot quicker than you can."
This statement cleared the room in under a minute. Jack stepped next to Ianto's chair where he slept.
"Trust you to sleep late," whispered Jack.
He raised his hand and stroked his fingers through Ianto's hair.
"Yan? Yan it's time to wake up. Please wake up! If you do I'll tell you I love you in Welsh. Just open your eyes."
Jack continued to stroke Ianto's hair, while his other hand traced small circles along the back of the skin on Ianto's hand.
"Okay., here's the deal. If you wake up now then I will…treat you to breakfast in bed for a month. And I'll even cook something sumptuous at least once a week, so you don't have to. Now come on, who could resist an offer like that?"
"Who could resist an offer like that? Am I dreaming or do I see Jack Harkness standing over me wearing a smile, and promising to tell me in Welsh that he loves me?"
Jack smiled widely and kiss Ianto on the forehead, then he winced.
"Oh you heard that did you? Well I guess there's no getting out of it now, but I think it's a better idea to say it when we're alone and not with three co-workers trying to listen in on whether you've woken up or not, and what methods I'm using to wake you up."
"Agreed, but I'm going to keep you to your promise."