Chapter One


Ianto looked up from his paperwork as the phone on his desk rang. He blinked owlishly at it for a moment; who on Earth would be ringing him? He'd almost forgotten the phone actually worked. If his family wanted him they called his mobile and everyone in the building used the computer's vid phone application. Ianto glanced at the computer to make sure it was working; which it was. That only left an external source for the phone call.

Reaching over, Ianto answered the phone; trying to keep the confusion out of his voice. "Good morning, archives department."

"If you're not the one in charge I suggest you put him on the phone."

Ianto paused at the brash American accent coming down the line; why did he get the impression this wasn't going to go well?

"I am the head of the department. What can I do for you, Sir?" Ianto replied smoothly, not letting his annoyance at the man's brash manner show in his voice.

"I want to know where your department gets off archiving something into your collection as Torchwood One's property when you borrowed it from us last week!"

Ianto blinked in surprise, as far as he was aware there was nothing on loan from any of the exterior bases in the building. Everything they'd archived in the last week had come straight down from the retrieval teams and had Yvonne's signature on the paperwork. "I'm sorry to hear that, but I'm sure if this is a valid claim we can sort it out for you, Mr..."

"Captain. Captain Jack Harkness. Head of Torchwood Three in Cardiff," came the growled response.

Ianto rolled his eyes at the other man's attitude. Just because Ianto hadn't recognised his voice didn't mean that he needed to be reminded of his rank, where Torchwood Three was located, or his status within said organisation."Yes, Sir, I'm aware of where you work."

The amused snort down the phone line had Ianto smirking in satisfaction. At least the man had a sense of humour; maybe this conversation wouldn't be as headache inducing as he had originally thought. "Nice to see my reputation still precedes me."

"Of course, Sir; you're quite well known for causing problem for Ms Hartman. Now what was it that you were missing?" Ianto asked turning his chair so he could access his computer.

"A Sc'Tarmalk Scanner," Jack replied and Ianto instantly began typing away at his computer in search of the missing device. "I suppose none of you there approve of my stirring Yvonne up," Jack added, clearly attempting to strike up a conversation.

Ianto paused briefly at the more playful note to the man's tone and he had a sneaking suspicion he was being baited, but he had no idea why. Nor did he have any idea which was the 'correct' answer, so Ianto figured an honest response was the safest bet, "Not at all, Sir. I find it quite amusing to see my boss squirm, particularly when she's in the wrong."

The pause that followed had Ianto wondering if he'd just shot himself in the proverbial foot.

"You're not like the rest of her Lackeys. It's a nice change." The smooth friendly voice that answered surprised Ianto a little, he'd obviously passed the test and Ianto was surprised to find himself relieved. What did he care if another base's commander liked him or not; it's not as if they'd ever meet.

"Thank you, Sir. I do like to think of myself as an individual." Ianto smiled at the chuckle that reverberated down the phone line.

"So, why aren't you working for me? That gorgeous accent tells me you belong here in Cardiff, not over there with all those stuffed shirts. Plus, that attitude of yours might get you in trouble with the minions."

This time it was Ianto's turn to chuckle; the complete turnaround from the aggressive start to this comfortable banter both surprised and pleased Ianto. He'd always wanted to meet the elusive Captain having heard and read so much about him, but Hartman tried to keep as few people as possible from having contact with the Captain on his 'visits' so he was quite pleased to know they got along.

"Thank you, Sir, but I'm sure I can keep the minions at bay. Besides I don't think my girlfriend would approve of me running off to the mysterious Cardiff branch."

"A bit worried about image is she?" Jack asked and Ianto was curious by the almost disappointed note in the other man's voice.

"I would imagine so, Sir, since she works in the PR department," Ianto responded pretending he hadn't noticed the difference.

"Why does a secret organisation need a whole department for public relations anyway?" Jack snorted.

"I've yet to work that out, Sir; although she tells me it's very important," Ianto replied smoothly.

There was a comfortable pause as Ianto continued to work on the computer and Jack waited patiently on the other end of the line.

"You know, you don't sound very old," Jack commented after a while.

Ianto frowned in wonder at the sudden change of topic. "I'm not, Sir. But then voices can be deceiving. You hardly sound your age," the comment was out before Ianto could stop it and he wondered what look the Captain's face would be wearing as silence echoed back at him from the other end. He'd obviously surprised the other man.

"You're quite the clever archivist, aren't you? It's not easy finding that piece of information; I've spend a lot of years covering that up," Jack finally said and Ianto was glad to hear the man sounded impressed rather than angry.

"It wasn't easy, but it was possible, especially if the interest is there," Ianto replied coyly

"And what spurred this interest?"

"Curiosity spurred by a rumour." Ianto shrugged instinctively, then rolled his eyes at himself when he realised there was on one to see him shrugging.

"You really should be working for me," Jack stated, referring to his earlier comment about Ianto's employment. "You're going to waste locked in that stuffy office block. Just give me your name and I'll start the transfer."

Ianto chuckled. "I believe that would just agitate my girlfriend and Ms Hartman."

"You girlfriend loves you; she'll understand. Plus, there's no harm in agitating Yvonne; it's a fun hobby,"

Ianto's smiled faded at Jack's comment. He didn't care about Hartman; it was the comment about Lisa that hit a little close to home. Like Jack said, Lisa would be supportive in theory, if he were offered the job. She knew it was somewhat of a dream to work in his 'hometown' and she knew how unhappy he was working in the tower's basement. In reality, he knew that she would have an absolute fit.

"All I need is a name," Jack coaxed, mistaking his silence as hesitation.

"I believe your irritating Ms Hartman is what led you to your current situation," Ianto said, changing the subject completely. "She decided to get you back by booking your scanner into our archives personally," he continued to explain, pushing the subject of his transfer away to the back of his mind for the moment.

"That sneaky bitch!Though, if that's the best she can do, I haven't much to worry about," Jack replied and Ianto could almost hear the smirk in his voice.

"Indeed," Ianto murmured. "I'll have this sorted out and the scanner couriered back to you by the end of the day," he continued as he printed the appropriate forms, ready to be completed the minute he got off the phone.

"You're not going to bring it down yourself?" This time Ianto could hear the pout in the man's voice.

"It's easier to resist the temptation if you're not faced with it," Ianto stated. If only Jack knew how true that statement was; how close he was to actually getting Ianto to Cardiff."Fair enough," Jack conceded, failing to keep the disappointment from his voice. "Thank you for all your help," he added. .

Ianto almost gave in right then; almost told him his name and asked for the transfer, but he stopped when he heard a gentle knock on his door. Looking up, he saw Lisa standing before him with an expectant smile as she waited. He knew he couldn't leave, not yet. He had responsibilities in London, so he'd have to stay. "You're very welcome, Captain. Feel free to call me on this number if you have any other problems, Sir."

"Oh, I'm sure I will."