A/N: This is the start of what I anticipate will be a series of stories to follow on from What Never Should Be. Most of them will only be a fraction the length of the original story - perhaps 15,000 to 20,000 words long on average. There will be some compliance to the show's canon, but please remember that this is still AU. Therefore there is likely to be some variance in the characterisations and the way some characters behave/react.
I am aware that What Never Should Be had the honour of making it onto the "Torchwood Bad Fic" Community. I'll be interested to see whether any of these follow-up stories suffer the same fate....
Ianto Jones was exhausted. Absolutely, bloody bone tired, and yet here he was for the fourth night in a row, chasing long-toothed monsters with bad posture and even worse skin conditions through the streets of Cardiff. Ianto wanted to scream. Just stop, lift his head to the sky and scream until he was hoarse. How in the name of all things sacred had he ended up here? A moment later, the answer to that very question spoke into his ear via the Bluetooth earpiece that he wore on his left ear.
"Ianto? Where the hell are you? Talk to me, damn it!"
"Here…" Ianto answered breathlessly. He could barely speak, but at the same time he also knew that failing to answer would send his companion spiralling into a panic. Then, he'd be in for yet another lecture about maintaining adequate communication when they got back to the Hub when all Ianto wanted to do was to go home, curl up in bed and sleep.
"Where is 'here'?"
Ianto paused just long enough to get his bearings.
"Bute Park, south end. I, uh… I seem to have lost it."
Truer words, he thought ruefully.
"Well, I'm north-west of you… about a hundred yards, and I seem to have found it…"
A deafening roar through the earpiece very nearly shattered Ianto's eardrum, and he yanked the device off his ear as quickly as he could. Even holding it in his hand, though, he could hear the sound of a pained scream on the other end. Galvanised, he broke into a run, all the while praying that he was headed in the right direction.
It seemed he had been closer than estimated. He came through the trees not that far away to find his companion on the ground with the weevil on top of him, biting deeply into his neck. Forgetting about the spray attached to his belt, and the stun gun holstered at his side, Ianto grabbed a heavy stick from the ground and belted it over the weevil's back to draw its attention.
"Hey!" he yelled, hitting the beast as hard as he could.
The weevil uttered another angry roar, its attention finally diverted, and clambered off Jack to throw itself at Ianto. The young man grunted as he suddenly found himself in a wrestling match with the beast. His heart was in his throat as he struggled to keep those claws and teeth away from himself. Exhaustion was starting to take its toll, though, and Ianto quickly realised with dismay that his strength was waning. He couldn't hold off the weevil for much longer, and if it had succeeded in killing his companion…
Ianto gasped as the weevil was suddenly knocked away from him, to the ground. He stumbled but managed to keep his feet under him. Assured that he wasn't going to fall, Ianto turned to watch as Jack struggled once more with the alien creature. For a brief moment, he thought he would need to intervene once more, but then Jack got one hand free to grab his own canister of weevil spray, and gave the beast a hefty dose right in its ugly face. He had a black hood over its head seconds later, and finally managed to inject it with a heavy sedative for transport back to the Hub.
"Thanks for the assist," Jack said dryly as he got awkwardly to his feet. Ianto rolled his eyes.
"Don't be sarcastic. It doesn't suit you. How's the neck? You were bleeding pretty badly."
Jack grimaced as Ianto gently peeled back his collar to view the injury.
"It's nothing. I've had worse from shaving."
This time, Ianto's eyebrows shot up in bemusement.
"That's hardly an appropriate comparison, Jack. Might I point out, you don't shave?"
Jack shrugged as he toed the weevil carefully to ensure it was out for the count.
"Semantics. You know what I mean. It'll probably be healed by the time we get back to the Hub."
"Maybe," Ianto conceded, "but you will still have lost a fair amount of blood by the time we do."
The Captain paused, looking back over his shoulder at the young Welshman.
"What are you trying to say?"
"I'm trying to say that this wouldn't have happened if we recruited other people! We're both exhausted, Jack, and don't try to deny it. I know you're just about as knackered as I am. We've been doing this for six nights now, without a break! And don't try telling me that you don't sleep, because I know damned well that you do."
Jack's jaw tightened.
"Can we at least get the weevil back to the Hub before we start this argument up again?"
For a long moment, Ianto sorely wanted to take his stun gun to Jack. He swallowed the urge, though, and eventually conceded with a terse nod.
He stalked off back in the direction of their SUV, leaving Jack behind to struggle under the weight of the weevil. He knew he was being childish, but he couldn't help it. Jack's stubbornness had been a blessing when he had still been recovering from the aftermath of Torchwood's inhumane treatment of him. Many times, through sheer force of will, Jack had kept from quitting and retreating completely into his own mind where not even the Doctor would have been able to reach him. Now, though, that stubbornness was proving to be less a blessing, and more of a nightmare.
"Ianto! Damn it, will you wait?"
Only when Ianto was within sight of the SUV did he finally turn back to stare at Jack. He was on the cusp of losing his temper completely, and the only thing that kept him from doing just that was the look on Jack's face. It was the same look he always wore when he knew he'd done something to make Ianto angry with him, and it was a look that never failed to wear down Ianto's emotional defences.
"You're angry," Jack said softly. It was almost funny, watching him standing there with the unconscious body of a weevil slung over his broad shoulders, dressed in his personal choice of 1940's period clothing for an off-duty military man – complete with army greatcoat – and sporting a pout that would have put a three year-old to shame.
"I'm not angry," Ianto told him. He was really, really not in the mood for this sort of mind game, even if it was unintentional on Jack's part. "I'm just tired, Jack. I can't keep doing this…" He faltered, realising too late just what it was that he'd said, and a look at Jack told him that Jack had taken his words at face value. "Jack, no, I didn't mean…"
Jack stumbled, and the weevil slipped from his shoulders, landing unnoticed in the dirt with an unceremonious thud.
"Please, don't leave me," Jack pled. Gone was the childish pout, and in its place was a look of pure panic. Ianto strode towards him and pulled him into a fierce hug. He could feel Jack shaking in his arms, and struggling to suppress miserable sobs. Gradually, Jack's arms folded around him, and Ianto fought the urge to cough as he found himself caught up in what he had affectionately come to call a massive 'Jack-hug'.
"I'm not going anywhere, I promise," he murmured, rubbing his hands soothingly up and down Jack's spine. "Don't panic on me, love. I'm staying right here with you. I promised you I would, didn't I?"
Slowly, the tremors and the sobs subsided, but Ianto didn't try to extricate himself from Jack's embrace. To do so would have only triggered a fresh panic attack, and that was the last thing Ianto wanted to do. So, he waited and eventually his patience was rewarded, and Jack's arms slipped away from around his body, releasing him from the bear hug. While Ianto tried somewhat pointlessly to straighten out his rumpled clothes, Jack just stood there looking miserable and all-together sorry for himself.
"I'm an idiot, aren't I?" he asked dolefully. Ianto had to smile, although it was tinged with sadness and regret. It was truly heartbreaking that after nearly six months of running the Torchwood Three Hub on their own, Jack still retained all of his old insecurities and fears.
"Yes, but you're a lovable idiot. Now, what do you say we get our guest back to the Hub before she wakes up?"
Jack nodded and, rubbing briefly at his reddened eyes, he stepped in to help Ianto lift the deadweight of the weevil up and into the back of the SUV.
"So, what are we going to call him?" Jack wondered once they had the creature secured in one of the vault cells. Ianto glanced amusedly at Jack. It was an absurd question, and he personally could not see the point in it.
"Why should we call it anything?" he asked. "And how, exactly, do you know it's a 'him'? I swear, Jack, if you tell me you've shagged one of these things…"
To Ianto's quiet amusement, Jack actually reddened slightly at the accusation, and shook his head vigorously in answer.
"No. Claws, canines and scaly skin aren't a turn-on for me. I don't know exactly how I know if it's a male or a female, except that his growl is kind of low-pitched."
Ianto couldn't help it. He laughed out loud, and the sound came out tinged with a touch of hysteria as a result of his exhaustion.
"You're designating gender on the basis of the pitch and tone of its growl? That's brilliant, that is."
"Don't call him it."
Ianto faltered, taken aback by the sudden tension in Jack's voice.
"I said, don't call him it. He's not an 'it'. He might not be human, but he's not an 'it'."
Slowly, Ianto caught his breath, and realised his mistake. Reaching out, he touched Jack's hand lightly in apology, and was grateful when Jack grasped it willingly.
"I'm sorry, Jack. You are right. All right, then. What do you want to call him?"
"Brad," Jack said abruptly, and Ianto raised an eyebrow as he stared at the unconscious, long-toothed creature in the holding cell.
"And you've come to that conclusion how…?"
"Well, I figured if we find a girl weevil, we could call her Janet, and then we'd have Brad and Janet."
Again, Ianto didn't even try to hide his laughter.
"I knew I shouldn't have let you watch the Rocky Horror Picture Show last weekend! Bloody hell, Jack, are you serious? Brad and Janet?"
Jack shrugged, looking utterly serious, and somewhat bewildered by Ianto's mirth.
"It's better than Magenta and Riffraff, isn't it? Although, I suppose, if we wind up with two males, we could always call them Rocky and Frankenfurter…"
The younger man nearly choked, and only just managed to stop himself from laughing yet again when he caught a glimpse of the utterly sincere expression on Jack's face. There it was – that look of childlike innocence that Jack had never quite rid himself of in the wake of his liberation from captivity, and the recovery of his memories. Jack wanted everyone to believe he was back to being the same brash, carefree, flirty and sexy bloke that he had been prior to the events on Satellite Five. However, the truth was that a big part of him had been permanently affected by the way his personality had developed in those months after Ianto's promotion to Secure Archives.
He was never going to be exactly the same man, and Ianto knew that inwardly he had accepted that. However, he still tended to put on a show that suggested otherwise, and Ianto was disinclined to stop him. If nothing else, it provided Jack with an emotional shield against everything out there that might otherwise hurt him.
"You're right," he conceded, stifling any further urge to laugh. "Brad and Janet is much better than Riffraff and Magenta. All right, then. Brad it is, but you'll excuse me if I hope that we don't find a Janet altogether too soon."
Jack clapped his hands together, and grinned.
"Great. Let's go eat."
With that, he bounded back up the stairs, leaving a bemused Ianto in his wake.
For nearly six months now, Jack and Ianto had run the Torchwood Three Hub on their own, with no back-up aside from a couple of well-timed check-up visits from the Doctor – one of which had coincided with a Hoix infestation at the local Saturday morning fish market, and the other with Jack falling into the recently acquired coffee machine and smashing it to bits. Both times the Doctor had come to the rescue and, in the second instance, saved Jack from suffering Ianto's considerable wrath by demonstrating that his sonic screwdriver could do much more than put up shelves in a pinch.
Ianto had been placated, but Jack still had nightmares about it, on occasion.
For nearly six months, they'd made do with just the two of them, and Jack in particular had been more than happy with that. So had Ianto, if he was being completely honest with himself, but the steadily increasing rift activity was starting to wear thin on them both.
Ianto understood Jack's aversion to bringing more people into the Torchwood fold. He himself wasn't terribly thrilled with the idea of expanding Torchwood, but he also knew that they could not go on with just the two of them in this way. It was going to end up getting them both killed. It had nearly done so tonight, and while Jack would come back, he himself wouldn't. Ianto didn't particularly want to throw that unpleasant little truth in Jack's face, but he would if he was left with no other alternative.
They needed more people, and that was all there was to it.
Of course, it also didn't help that there were some places within the Hub where Jack simply refused to go, which meant that Ianto was doing rather more than his fair share of the workload. Depositing the newly christened 'Brad' in the cells tonight had been an exception for the Captain. As a general rule, Jack avoided going anywhere near the cells.
Ianto understood Jack's reticence. It was in one of those very cells that Jack had initially been locked up by Emily Holroyd and Alice Guppy, after they captured him that very first time in 1899. It was in a similar cell that Jack had been left to rote, and eventually degenerate into the animalistic state that Ianto had found him in just over a year ago. Even now, Ianto was quietly amazed by the incredible transformation Jack had undergone. It didn't change the fact, though, that if Jack was going to keep refusing to even consider hiring more people, then Ianto just couldn't see how they could continue on.
He found himself eyeing the office Jack had claimed for himself, while he prepared a platter of sandwiches and fruit for them both, along with fresh coffee. According to both the records and Jack's memory, that had been the office of each successive head of Torchwood Three with the last being Alex Hopkins, the unfortunate soul whose mind had been warped by a Trillian pendant. It had given him the bleakest possible view of Earth's future and, in a wave of manic depression and insanity, he had killed every member of his team, and finally himself. It had happened right on the turn of the new century, and apparently the bodies had lain there for some weeks before anyone from Torchwood One had realised anything was wrong.
Ianto felt a rush of sympathy for the dead man. Jack had apparently still been a prisoner deep within the bowels of Torchwood Three when Hopkins took over. According to an old journal that Ianto had founding a hidden compartment in Jack's chosen office, Hopkins had been horrified by Jack's ill-treatment, and had begun to do what Ianto had eventually succeeded at. He had tried to bring Jack back from the brink of madness by treating him with a kindness that the immortal man likely hadn't experienced for one hundred years.
He might just have succeeded, too, Ianto mused, had Torchwood One not been informed of 'the freak's' presence, and demanded his transfer to Canary Wharf in London. Ianto couldn't help but wonder whether Hopkins might still have gone on his insane, murderous rampage if he had still had Jack there to care for. It was just one more thing that he had to resign himself to never knowing.
Jack, for his part, had vague memories of Hopkins. Some nights, whilst cuddling in the living room of their home, under the skylight, Jack talked quietly about distant and clouded memories of a man with kind eyes and a gentle voice, who had dared to venture close enough to clean his wounds and wash his face; a man who had treated him as more than simply a freakish phenomenon to be experimented on and tortured at a whim.
He didn't remember all that clearly in the waking hours of the day, but being back within the walls of Torchwood Three resulted in Jack having vivid dreams when he did manage to sleep. Ianto always knew when Jack dreamed of Hopkins, as opposed to anyone else to do with Torchwood Three, because when he dreamed of Hopkins, Jack didn't wake up screaming in terror.
Ianto sighed inwardly as he poured coffee into large mugs for each of them. There had been some serious pros and cons to Jack taking control of the Cardiff Hub, and of Torchwood overall. Among the arguments for was the hope that giving Jack control of the very institute that had caused him so much pain would go at least some way towards allaying what fears he still had of the Institute. It was also the ultimate means of giving him immunity from UNIT, even beyond the Queen's order of protection. While most of the UNIT Chiefs had come to accept Jack in his new role, there were certain elements that clearly still would have preferred to see the Captain locked up once more, 'for his safety and that of others'.
Ianto still chuckled to himself when he recalled the looks on the faces of the UNIT Chiefs, the day that he and Jack had walked into UNIT Headquarters in London for a post-Canary Wharf meeting on Earth's defences. He knew without a doubt that at least two of them would have liked to have had Jack trussed up and thrown in a cell right then and there. They might have actually done so, had the Doctor and the Prime Minister not been there to provide support.
The Chiefs had been told, in no uncertain terms, that Captain Jack Harkness had been appointed the new Director of Torchwood, and as such had the complete support and protection of the Royal Family. She had even gone so far as to rewrite Torchwood's original charter. The Doctor was no long listed as an enemy of the Crown, to be captured and studied, but rather as a protector of the Earth. Jack's name had been immortalised on the charter as well, as the designated Director of Torchwood for as long as he wished to remain on Earth. The move effectively gave Jack complete immunity against any underhanded tactics that certain UNIT Generals might have tried.
They did not even have the option of attacking Jack through himself, Ianto mused with equal parts relief and amusement. The Queen had extended her order of protection to him, as well – not only as Jack's companion and a survivor of Canary Wharf in his own right, but also as Jack's first (and as yet only) official employee, and second-in-command of Torchwood Three.
That was something that Ianto was particularly grateful for, knowing as he did that he was rather high on the list of people that UNIT would have liked to bring in for interrogation. Now, though, UNIT could not touch so much as a hair on either of their heads without bringing down the wrath of both the Crown and the Doctor on themselves. Torchwood was, once again, untouchable.
Ianto smiled faintly to himself. Untouchable, but not unaccountable. The Doctor had promised to look in on them from time to time to see how they were managing, and had also assured them both that he would come whenever they needed his help. They only needed to call. It was that sincere promise more than anything else, Ianto suspected, that had made Jack willing to let the Time Lord go on his way - that, and the fact that despite all of his original protests, Ianto had finally decided to stay with Jack after all.
The Welshman knew he would never forget the look of sheer joy on Jack's face the day that he had made up his mind that his place was by Jack's side. Just seeing the way Jack lit up had warmed Ianto all the way through, and he knew he'd made the right choice. It was no longer just that Jack couldn't live without Ianto. Now, it was equally that Ianto discovered that he couldn't – and, more to the point, didn't want to – live without Jack.
It wasn't the way he'd originally envisaged things working out, but he was happy nonetheless. The work had proved to be hard and exhausting, but they were actually helping people and saving lives. It was how Ianto had imagined Torchwood One had operated, until he'd had his eyes opened to the truth.
The young man smiled wryly to himself at Jack's bellowed call. There were some days that he sorely missed the innocent gaze and the soft, tentative 'Yan toe?', but for the most part he quietly rejoiced in Jack's recovery. Loading the tray carefully with their supper, and adding a plate of Jack's favourite chocolate biscuits as an afterthought, Ianto headed up to the Captain's office.
"You're an angel," Jack said happily, reaching eagerly for the mug that Ianto held out to him. Ianto uttered a throaty chuckle.
Jack regarded Ianto over the rim of the mug as he took a sip.
"Yes, you are. You're my angel. I love you, Ianto."
It was said with complete sincerity, and Ianto felt his face flush in response.
"I love you, too, Jack. You know I do. But that doesn't change the fact that we need to talk about this situation."
Jack's expression tightened, and he thumped the mug down on the desk in a display of childish irritation. Coffee splashed up over the side of the mug and splattered over Jack's hand, causing him to yelp in pain as the hot milk scalded him.
"You daft sod," Ianto murmured. He grabbed the handkerchief from his pocket and quickly mopped up the spilt beverage from both Jack's hand and the desktop, and then ushered Jack out of the office and into the nearby kitchenette.
"I know, that was stupid," Jack mumbled, managing to look both annoyed and embarrassed. Ianto rolled his eyes as he held Jack's burnt hand under the cold, running water.
"Only in that you managed to burn yourself. If you want to spill coffee, then that's your choice, but you're the one missing out. Again, though, it doesn't change the face that we need to talk."
"I don't want to hire anyone else," Jack snapped irritably. "I just want it to be us. Just us. What's wrong with that?"
"Nothing," Ianto assured him gently. "I understand, Jack. Really, I do. But I meant what I said earlier. We can't continue on like this. We need others to help balance out the workload. Jack, please just hear me out. I've been doing a bit of research, and I think I have a few possibilities."
He could see from the tightening in Jack's jaw that the Captain was less than happy. On the other hand, he was at least listening, Ianto conceded. Maybe, just maybe, there was still hope.
"What possibilities?" Jack asked finally, if somewhat sourly. Ianto wanted to cheer, and had to make a real effort to clamp own on his own enthusiasm. Half the battle was in getting Jack to agree to at least look over the options, and he was sure that once Jack did that, then he would be much more open to bringing in more people. Especially, Ianto thought wryly, once he saw the file of one person in particular that Ianto had in mind.
"Come back to your office," Ianto told him. "I'll bring the files in, and we can look through them together. I've narrowed it down to perhaps half a dozen potentials. I think you might be interested in one in particular."
Jack's eyebrows lifted slightly, showing his curiosity had been roused, but he said nothing as he retreated to his office once more. Ianto hurried to get the files that he'd had stashed away for the last week and a half, and headed back to the office. Seating himself carefully on the edge of the desk, Ianto couldn't help but glance around the office as he spread several files out in front of Jack.
The office was looking markedly different from when they had first moved into the base four months ago. Then, it had been dusty, and stark in its furnishings – less an office, and more of a… He refused to use the word 'cell'. He wouldn't even think it, given Jack's past. But that was what it had reminded him of when they'd first seen it, and he knew Jack had thought similarly. It had been particularly telling in the way that Jack had avoided going into the office at all to begin with. It wasn't until Ianto had furnished it with a comfortable old couch obtained from a local charity shop, and many other items that they'd collected during a day's shopping in Cardiff, that Jack had been willing to spend more than just a few cursory minutes inside.
Then there had been the gift from the Doctor. It was a piece of coral from the TARDIS herself, given to Jack with love and reassurance that he would never again be forgotten or abandoned. The gift was especially significant in that it would, over time, grow and eventually become a TARDIS in its own right. The deeper meaning of that had been initially lost on Ianto, but not on Jack. A TARDIS was a sentient ship that could live on for as long as its owner survived. In Jack's case, that would effectively forever. The Doctor and the TARDIS had given Jack the gift of companionship, ensuring that no matter what happened, he would never truly be alone again.
Ianto had been both impressed and relieved by the magnitude of the gift, while Jack had openly wept and almost hugged the Doctor into his next regeneration.
The precious piece of coral now sat under a perpetually burning heat lamp on Jack's new desk, a slightly-odd looking decoration that somehow didn't look the least bit out of place in the midst of an innocuous collection of Penfold's brand stationery.
The finishing touch, though, and perhaps the one that both amused and saddened Ianto at the same time, was the appearance of Jack's now slightly ragged toy dog on the desk. Ianto had almost forgotten about the toy, until he'd come in a couple of mornings after the Doctor had left, to find it sitting there in between the coral and the blotter. Jack hadn't said a word, and went to great pains to pretend that it wasn't even there. Ianto, however, hadn't missed the slightly panicked look in Jack's eyes when he picked it up to look it over.
In the end, Ianto had left the toy where Jack had placed it. He hadn't had the heart to get rid of it whilst they'd still been safe on the TARDIS, and he had no intention of doing so now. If Jack felt even just a little bit better for having it nearby, then who was he to dispute it?
"Not this one," Jack said, his voice jolting Ianto out of his moment of reverie. A glance down showed that Jack had dismissed the file of one Desk Sergeant Kathy Swanson, who was with the local Cardiff Constabulary, and apparently looking at a potential promotion to Detective Sergeant in the near future. "I don't want anyone from the Cardiff Police in here. Too much trouble with local connections. That, and they're all too bloody nosy for their own good."
Ianto swallowed a snicker. That was definitely a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Jack glowered up at him, unamused.
"I'm not kidding, Ianto. They're a bunch of bleeding hearts, and some of the decisions we might have to make aren't going to be pleasant or popular. I don't need some sanctimonious upstart telling us how to run this place."
Ianto laid a hand over Jack's and squeezed lightly.
"We've already been down this path once, Jack. Don't knock the bleeding hearts, because that's what I was labelled for wanting to help you."
Jack winced at the unwanted reminder, and Ianto quietly wanted to kick himself for bringing it up, but at the same time he knew Jack needed to be reminded that having a heart was part and parcel of being human, and that he was, indeed, still human himself.
"I know," Jack mumbled. "I just… I don't trust them."
Ianto rubbed Jack's shoulder soothingly. He knew what Jack meant, and he wasn't just referring to the Cardiff Police. Another side effect of his time in captivity was Jack's innate mistrust of all authority. With the exceptions of the Doctor and the Queen, Jack regarded all levels of authority with a deep suspicion. Ianto had hoped that that suspicion might have subsided somewhat with Jack himself now being in a position of authority, but it seemed it wasn't so.
He decided to take the prudent option, at least for the time being, and not push the subject.
"All right, then. No police. We do need a medic, though, and we definitely need someone who has exceptional computer and tech skills."
"Someone who can hack computer?" Jack wondered. "Because I can do that."
"I know you can, love, but the point is you shouldn't need to. And not just hack a computer, either. Someone who can hack any computer. I think I've found the very person, too. Look at this."
He opened one of the files to reveal the picture of a young woman of Asian appearance.
"Her name is Toshiko Sato. Up until a month and a half ago, she was with a top British technology firm, and she was one of their best and brightest. Top level graduate, IQ off the charts… The works."
Jack frowned as he eyed the front page of the file, where it listed the young woman's qualifications.
"What happened a month and a half ago?"
Ianto paused, searching for the right words. This was where Jack might react badly, and he knew he needed to tread carefully.
"She was arrested for stealing state secrets. Apparently she stole the plans for a sonic modulator from the company."
"A sonic modulator?" Jack echoed in surprise. "Really? I didn't know plans like that existed in this time."
"Well, they do, but they were shelved because they were wrong, and no one could figure out how to fix them."
Slowly, the wonder and curiosity in Jack's face cleared, and he frowned at the picture in front of him.
"She stole plans like that, you think she can be trusted here? Ianto…"
"Hear me out," Ianto urged him. "Please, Jack. Her mother was kidnapped, and held hostage. Miss Sato was told to steal the plans and build the sonic modulator, or her mother would be killed. I think that if she'd been allowed a trial, then odds are she would have been acquitted, or at the very most given a suspended sentence for mitigating circumstances."
"Did she succeed in building the modulator?" Jack asked quietly, his gaze fixed on the woman in the photo. She had such sad, solemn eyes, he thought.
"Yes, she did, and it worked," Ianto said with a small smile. Jack looked genuinely astonished, and Ianto knew why. He'd overheard Jack complaining to the Doctor not that long ago that he had tried to build his own sonic screwdriver, only to fail miserably. The Doctor had laughed, not unkindly, and advised him to forget about trying to replicate sonic technology, that it was not something that humans would be able to grasp until many hundreds of years into the future, and with the assistance of alien knowledge. One lone man, even one from the fifty-first century, could not hope to replicate sonic technology in the twenty-first century.
"Really…" Jack murmured.
"Yes, really. Toshiko Sato isn't merely smart, Jack. She's a bloody genius. And right now, she's wasting away in a UNIT penitentiary, facing the prospect of never seeing the light of day again."
Ianto could feel Jack tense under his touch.
"They locked her away? No trial? Nothing?"
"No trial," Ianto confirmed soberly.
Jack didn't respond immediately, and Ianto knew he was thinking about his own time locked away in an overly bright room with nothing but four blank walls, and heavy chains to keep him subdued. He waited patiently, hoping Jack would come to the right decision on his own, without any outside influence.
"We have to get her out of there," Jack said finally. His voice sounded just slightly strained, but that was all. Ianto transferred his hand from Jack's shoulder to his head, and carded his fingers lightly through Jack's hair.
"It will mean going head to head with the UNIT hierarchy. Do you think you're ready to do that?"
Jack frowned a little, but still leaned into Ianto's touch.
"You mean, am I ready to do it on my own, without the Doctor."
"You're not on your own, Jack. I guarantee that. It'll be you and I together. I just don't want to push you into doing something you're not really ready for."
A loud, derisive snort answered Ianto's words.
"Then you wouldn't have insisted I look at these. Okay, you win, all right? I want Toshiko here, on my team. Now, let's see who else you think is good enough for Team Torchwood."
Ianto snorted, and then burst out laughing.
"Team Torchwood? Bloody hell, Jack, where did you pull that one from?"
Jack shrugged, ignoring the red flush that tried to creep across his own cheeks.
"It sounds good."
"That's because it's alliterated."
Jack turned a mock glare on Ianto.
"Is there something wrong with that, Mr Jones?"
Ianto's amusement softened into something more tender.
"Nothing at all, Captain Harkness. All right, then. Let's see who else we have here…"
to be continued....