From: Harkness, Jack
To: Ianto
Subject: Fieldtrip?
Date: Tuesday 24th February 2009

How would you like to do some sight-seeing at the National Museum?

Jack

- - -

From: Jones, Ianto
To: Jack
Subject: Re: Fieldtrip?
Date: Tuesday 24th February 2009

I am attempting to think of anything good that could come of this question.

I'm coming up blank.

Ianto

- - -

From: Harkness, Jack
To: Ianto
Subject: Re: Fieldtrip?
Date: Tuesday 24th February 2009

Don't you want to expand your knowledge of natural history?

Jack

- - -

From: Jones, Ianto
To: Jack
Subject: Re: Fieldtrip?
Date: Tuesday 24th February 2009

Let me guess: there's something wrong with the new exhibit at the museum?

My powers of Google Fu are far too strong for you, Jack.

What's the problem?

Ianto

- - -

From: Harkness, Jack
To: Ianto
Subject: Re: Fieldtrip?
Date: Tuesday 24th February 2009

You're no fun. I'm sure you hear that a lot.

The exhibit, Mr. Smartypants McSearch Engine Guy, is not, in fact, the Missing Link, like those news reports would make you believe.

It's an alien lifeform – crash landed here right around the time when the meteor hit. You know the one. Killed all of the dinosaurs. It was a bad time. Especially for this guy; he died and was fossilized, just like the normal fossils we find. Except, you know, it's an alien.

If they get much of a chance to examine it closely, they'll start to notice that it's extraterrestrial. We have to get in there pretty quickly in order to stop them.

Jack

- - -

From: Jones, Ianto
To: Jack
Subject: Re: Fieldtrip
Date: Tuesday 24th February 2009

Are you planning on walking into the museum and shouting "TORCHWOOD!" at which point they'll do whatever you want with the exhibit?

Ianto

- - -

From: Harkness, Jack
To: Ianto
Subject: Re: Fieldtrip
Date: Tuesday 24th February 2009

Oh, ye of little faith.

Meet me in the dinosaur exhibit at 11am tomorrow. Wear something tourist-y.

(No, I don't mean the American kind of tourist-y. I don't think you'd pull off a Hawaiian shirt.)

Jack


Ianto lowered the camera and stepped back – and bumped directly into someone standing behind him. He turned, starting to apologize, but Jack caught his arm mid-turn and smiled. "You look suitably tourist-y."

Ianto slipped the camera in his pocket. "Glad to know I meet your approval." He glanced down at his hoodie and dark jeans. "I feel like a teenager."

"You look like a teenager." Jack eyed him up and down. "I look like a cradle robber."

Ianto smirked. "Well, if we were to compare relative age differences--"

"Oh, please let's not." Jack stepped out of the way of a group of people moving down the aisle, maneuvering Ianto along with him, his hand still on Ianto's elbow. "You ready to see this thing?"

Ianto nodded. He looked at Jack fully. "I notice you didn't think it prudent to dress down." The coat and braces were still in place.

Jack shrugged. "No matter what I wear, I'll still stand out somehow. Might as well go with it."

"Then what was the point of me dressing like this?"

Jack grinned. "I wanted to get you out of the suit for an afternoon." Then he turned and started off down the exhibit aisle.

Ianto gaped after him, then followed, hurrying. "You realize there are much more enjoyable methods of losing the suit that don't involve my wandering around the National Museum?"

"I'm well aware." Jack looked over his shoulder, smirking. "And I intend to explore those methods later. But right now, we've got some undercover going on." He stopped at the edge of the dinosaur exhibits and gestured toward a long queue forming through a winding red velvet rope. "There's our man."

Ianto stopped next to him and frowned. "We're going to queue up?"

"Yep," Jack said, pressing a hand to the small of Ianto's back and leading him to the end of the queue. "Just like everyone else."

"The 'screaming Torchwood' option is looking very good at the moment."

Jack smiled at the person in front of them in line, who looked back briefly before turning forward again. To Ianto he said quietly, "We have to keep the fact that there's anything strange about this thing quiet. That means not walking up in the middle of the day in front of hundreds of tourists and telling them to close it down."

Ianto frowned. "Then why are we here?" And, slowly, comprehension dawned on Ianto's face. "We're going to hide."

Jack smiled.

"We're going to hide until the museum closes."

Jack's smile widened.

"We're going to hide here for eight hours!"

"You got it."

"Jack!"

Jack shrugged. "That's the plan, Ianto."

Ianto's face was absolutely stormy, his frown thunderous. "This is all incredibly Mixed Up Files, Jack."

Jack raised an eyebrow. "It's what?"

"The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. It's a children's novel about two kids who run away from home and sleep in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. Rhiannon read it a lot when we were kids." He rubbed his brow. "Why can I remember that? Anyway – Jack, this is the most stupid idea you've ever come up with, and that list is long and varied."

"This is a list you keep?"

"It has footnotes."

Jack laughed. He looked ahead, where the line had moved a little, and shuffled along. "I promise it isn't as stupid as it sounds. We wait until the place is closed and quiet, then we sneak out, examine the thing, make sure I'm right about it and steal it."

"That's just as stupid as I thought it would be." Ianto put his hand on the red velvet rope and started to raise it in order to duck under it and leave.

Jack stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. "Wait. What's the problem?"

Ianto looked at him. "The problem? How are we going to get that thing out of here without being seen?" The exhibit was coming into view now, over the shoulders and between the bodies of the people in front of them. It was about five feet long, four feet wide and a foot thick, all yellow-gray stone. "It isn't the most convenient thing to slip out with."

Jack shook his head, his expression perfectly communicating the patronizing 'ye of little faith' sentiment he so liked to wear when he knew something Ianto didn't. "Not when I've got this." And he pulled out of his coat something small, metal and gun-shaped.

"What," Ianto asked, automatically blocking it from view with his body, "is that?"

"It's a Modified Tissue Compression Eliminator." He grinned, looking at Ianto. "It's a shrink ray."

"Modified?" Ianto asked, raising an eyebrow.

"This one doesn't kill people." He tucked it back into his pocket as a security guard strolled by. "So we use it to shrink the thing down to pocket size and book it back to the Hub. We reverse it there, and Owen has something to play with tomorrow morning."

"Fine," Ianto said. He was agitated, fingers drumming together inside of his hoodie pocket. "But how are we getting out of here?"

Jack shrugged. "You like spy movies."

Ianto's stomach dropped. "We're going to be sneaking past security to get out?"

Jack held up his hands. "It's fine. I have some tech that'll help. And, hey, there's an upside to this."

"I'm certainly dying to hear it."

Jack grinned, huge and smug. "You get to make up a cat burglar for the press."

"I hate you."

----

They breezed past the exhibit, stopping no longer than the other tourists, Ianto taking undetected readings with a piece of Torchwood kit. When they were finished there, Jack led them slowly along the normal circuit that people took through the museum. He seemed legitimately interested in the displays. Ianto hung back, unspeaking, still irritated and out-of-sorts, already thrown off by the way he was dressed (feeling a little more vulnerable, a little less on-top-things; amazing what a few layers of wool can do to a man) and of course by the prospects that the evening held for him. Burglary. Brilliant. Add that to the already long list of reasons he should be serving time in a maximum security prison. Fraud, bribery, forgery, identity theft, blackmail, extortion – Grand Theft Alien Corpse was just one more offense.

Ianto hadn't been to the museum since his last school trip here, and everything felt different. It was a strange and dissonant sensation, that everything in a museum should feel new and unfamiliar, when the point of the place was the age of its parts. The dinosaurs were still reasonably the same, though, and Ianto snapped a few more photographs when Jack wound them round that way once more.

"Why're you doing that?" Jack asked, breaking their hour's worth of silence.

"Myfanwy," Ianto said, settling on a truce, at least for the moment. "I'd like to see her reaction."

Jack raised an eyebrow. "You want to show her dead dinosaur bones to get a reaction?"

Ianto shrugged. "I'm curious. Are we nearly finished with your tour?"

Jack glanced around. "Yeah, I think I've seen everything I wanted to see. Let's go." He started off.

"Where to?" Ianto asked, following. "And if you say the men's toilets, Jack, I swear to God I'm going home right--"

"Not the toilets," Jack said. He stopped in front of a door and smiled, gesturing like a game show prize presenter. "Maintenance closet."

Ianto rubbed his brow once more, vaguely worrying that someday soon he would rub straight down to his skull. "Jack, in what universe is this a good idea?"

"In this one!" He flipped his wriststrap opened and pressed a few buttons. The door unlocked and Jack looked around for a moment before opening it and ushering Ianto inside.

When he pulled it closed, the room was completely dark.

"I hate you," Ianto said. Again.

Time passed slowly. Ianto spent it mentally exploring the reasons why he should, at that moment, be doing anything but sitting in a maintenance supply closet with the smell of cleaner, broom bristles brushing against his back with every movement. Any time he wasn't doing that, he was turning down Jack's various suggestions of ways to pass the time with a withering silence. Jack eventually gave up and sat in the opposite corner, his face lit up by his wriststrap as he prodded at it.

After a long while, Ianto became certain that Jack's wriststrap had Tetris.

At 7:30 exactly, a pleasant female voice began announcing that the museum was closing, and would all visitors please begin to make their way toward the exits, thank you for visiting the National Museum, have a pleasant evening. Jack held up two fingers. Two more hours.

Ianto slept with his head against his knees, his back aching even in his dreams, where he was giving piggyback rides to baby pterosaurs. When Jack shook his shoulder, he started, surprised, and blinked in the dark. "It's time," Jack said, unseen.

Ianto's stomach clenched, and he took an unsteady breath. "Jack," he said.

"We'll be fine." Jack hefted him to his feet. He slowly opened the door and looked around the frame, first one way, then the other. "Coast is clear," he said. "Let's go."

Out the door, along the wall, sliding slowly and carefully in the direction of the exhibit. Jack held up a hand to stop them, then pulled from his coat a device that looked like a small, metal pen.
In a corner ahead, a camera made itself known with a low whirr and a red flashing light. Jack thumbed the side of the device and the noise and light quit. Pocketing the gizmo, Jack looked back to Ianto and gestured roundly at the ceiling. All of the cameras, down. He hurried away from the wall and toward the exhibit, Ianto following closely.

He was grateful immediately for the ease of movement afforded by the lack of the suit, and for the silence of his trainers. Jack sometimes didn't explain himself for the sole purpose of making Ianto anxious. Ianto would hate it if it didn't usually work to his advantage. So they stole across the long linoleum floor, in step, no words required to keep their economy of movement, time being of the essence before someone noticed the frozen frames of the security cameras. In the dark, the hulking forms of ancient, bleached monsters towered above them, silent and empty of threat, but somehow still threatening. Ianto felt distinctly as though he could understand the singular fear of the small ancient mammals that were his great-to-infinity grandparents, hurrying beneath these sleeping behemoths.

Reaching the exhibit, Jack wasted no time in taking up the M-TCE. (Ianto wondered, almost-but-not-quite-hysterically, why he would keep the word "Eliminator" in a device that can
no longer be used to eliminate.) He put a finger on the trigger button, looked at Ianto, smiled, then fired.

With a very quiet pop, the exhibit display – explanation plaque, wooden platform, block of stone and all – shrunk down to the size of a thin paperback novel. Jack bent down, admired it for a second, then straightened up and slipped it into his pocket. He gestured back toward the dinosaurs, toward the door passing into the entrance hall, then started off, sweeping across the room, back under the bones (their eerie creaking audible now without the chatter of tourists and the shouts of school groups), and they framed themselves on opposite sides of the door, looking in both directions for signs of movement, the footsteps of security guards.

There was nothing. Jack went out first and gestured for Ianto to follow, keeping close to the wall, as though attempting to blend. Ianto followed suit, the fingertips of both hands trailing lightly along the smooth, cool wall.

There was a stutter in Jack's step ahead, and he stopped, forcing Ianto to stop and look out across the room.
Torchlight bouncing across the entrance hall. The echo of footsteps.

Jack was frozen, Ianto knew, because he himself was frozen, eyes huge and heart hammering in his chest, because there was no good that could come out of being caught here, no good at all.

Jack knew it, because without a word he slipped the shrunken display from his pocket and into Ianto's hoodie pouch. Then he stepped into the dim light of the hall.

"Hi!" he shouted, smiling.

Then he ran.

Ianto watched, surprised, as Jack took off back into the museum proper, and the security guard shouted after him, then started into a heavy, galloping, uneven run as he shouted into his radio that they had a break-in, all units on alert. When they were gone, Ianto remembered himself. He ran, one hand keeping the display from falling out of his pocket, flying across the linoleum and praying that he wouldn't slip like an idiot and get caught with Jack with no hope of expedient rescue.

When his hand hit the door and the alarms started screaming, Ianto breathed in the cold night air and kept on running.


From: admin
To: Ianto, Gwen
Subject: INSTANT MESSENGER TRANSCRIPT
Date: Tuesday 26th February 2009

GWEN: So. The National Museum.

IANTO: This is a situation rife with mocking possibilities, thankfully not towards me.

GWEN: I want EVERY SINGLE DETAIL!

IANTO: He locked us in a maintenance closet to wait out the museum closing.

IANTO: I'm fairly certain this did not play out the way he pictured it.

GWEN: Was his picture sweaty and naked? Mine certainly is.

IANTO: Gwen. My keyboard is now coffee-tinted. Thanks for that.

GWEN: Put it on Torchwood's tab. "Work related accident." Continue?

IANTO: Right. So we get out and sneak around the museum in a terribly Bond fashion, and Jack shrinks the exhibit with a shrink ray.

GWEN: We have a shrink ray?

IANTO: We do indeed have a shrink ray. So he slips it in his pocket, quite smug, and we make for the exit. At this point I'm wondering why the hell I'm there if he's done all of this without any help.

IANTO: Then a security guard starts coming toward us.

GWEN: NO!

IANTO: Yes.

GWEN: What did you do?

IANTO: I didn't do anything. My life was flashing before my eyes. But Jack, in all of his wisdom, steps out into the light, shouts "HI!" and runs off. After giving me the remains.

GWEN: He WHAT?

IANTO: I had to be there so that he could be a distraction in case we got caught. So the guard runs after him, and I'm left there with the shrunken exhibit and tens of security guards on the move in the building. So I run for the door and set off the alarm as I'm leaving, because I am the smoothest criminal in Wales.

IANTO: But the real smooth criminal here is Jack, who is almost immediately set upon by a cadre of chubby, elderly security guards and restrained until the police come to collect him, and I'm sure they absolutely loved it. Your friend Davidson will be sorry he's desked. How is he now, anyway?

GWEN: He's fine! Keep going!

IANTO: All right. So I go back to the Hub to leave the exhibit and shrink ray and gear up enough retcon to make Belgium forget the millennium, then head over to the police station. They have Jack in a holding cell, and he's running a mug along the bars like a bloody Disney character. I bail him out, pull Torchwood rank, retcon the officers and museum guards involved and berate Jack in public.

GWEN: Bit harsh, isn't that?

IANTO: He deserved it. I think he's seen too many films about jewel heists. I'm putting him on a steady diet of romantic comedies until this passes.

GWEN: Then he'll want to get you into wacky situations involving dogs or misunderstandings.

IANTO: You're right. What would be a safe option?

GWEN: Documentaries?

IANTO: Have you ever tried to watch a documentary about ANYTHING with him? "That's wrong; that never actually happened." "That was actually aliens, you know."

GWEN: Hm. Action films.

IANTO: You're right. That would keep the status quo. Fast driving, big coat, shouting, explosions. Perfect.

GWEN: Glad to be of help.