"Falling Into Place" by riftintime
Summary: Jack Harkness accepts a job at an IT company in Cardiff, hoping to begin a new life. When he's teamed up with a brilliant but broken Welshman, their lives may change in ways they never could have imagined. Jack/Ianto AU.
Pairings: Jack/Ianto. Also Jack/Gwen (sorry – trust me!), past Ianto/Lisa, past Jack/John, Owen/Katie, Tosh/Tommy, Gwen/Rhys.
Rating: Mature. Adult themes, some course language.
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters created and owned by the BBC. No profit is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Author's Notes: This is an AU story, using the Torchwood characters (plus mentions of a few from Doctor Who), and set in the ordinary, alien-free world.
This is my first attempt at writing fiction, and I'd greatly appreciate any feedback. I hope you'll enjoy it.
Special thanks to my friend and beta Prothrombintime for support, encouragement, help with various technical details, and invaluable feedback.
Jack Harkness sat at his desk and gazed out his office window. It was a dull, dreary day in Cardiff, and the dark clouds that seemed to hang impossibly low in the sky had put him in an uncharacteristically melancholy mood. He leaned back in his chair with a small sigh as he listened to the familiar sounds of the large office area beyond his door. His thoughts began to drift, and he found himself reflecting on how much his life had changed in only a brief period of time.
Four months ago, he had packed up and left London behind for good. One day he'd woken up and realised that he didn't know who he was anymore. His existence had become stagnant and dull. He'd felt trapped and restless. He was in the prime of his life, and yet he'd been struggling to remember the last time he'd felt genuinely excited about anything or anyone. He'd decided he needed a fresh start.
Jack wasn't someone who over-analysed things. He tended to make decisions impulsively and once he had chosen a course of action, he rarely looked back. He didn't like to waste his time thinking about missed opportunities or the road not taken. So, once everything was organised, he'd quickly filled his car with clothing, his laptop, some personal effects and a few items of sentimental value. Everything else had been given away to friends or the local charity shop. He'd wanted to leave behind as much of his former life as possible.
John had gone back into rehab, and Jack hadn't been able to deal with it anymore. John was the worst kind of addict – nothing seemed to be off limits. Jack had lost count of the number of times John had been in and out of hospitals or clinics. And each time, Jack had been there to try to help him pick up the pieces. At his best, John Hart was kind and caring, but at his worst, he was a narcissistic monster.
Jack had realised, admittedly rather late in the game, that John was on an inevitable path to self-destruction. It was simply a question of how long it would take him to get there. And, somewhere along the way, friendship had turned into obligation. Although Jack cared deeply for John, and maybe even loved him in a way, it hadn't been enough. He'd finally accepted that his presence really wasn't helping John at all. So, their on-again off-again relationship, if it could have been called that, of almost five years had drawn to a close.
Surprisingly, it had been easier to walk away than Jack had expected. At the time, he hadn't been sure whether to feel relieved about that or thoroughly ashamed. He still wasn't. He felt guilty, but a part of him was sure it had been the right thing to do. And walking away had never been a problem for Jack. If there was one thing that he was certain he excelled at, it was cutting his losses and moving on.
Jack was thirty-two years old. His mother was American, and his father had been Scottish. Although born in Glasgow, he had spent parts of his childhood in both countries. He'd studied history and literature at university, but then decided that a career in those fields wasn't particularly appealing.
He'd travelled for a while and eventually settled in England, specifically London. He'd worked mainly in information technology since, mostly short contracts so that he didn't become too bored. He'd always had a natural affinity with computers. It came easily to him, almost intuitively, and the money usually wasn't too bad. But he'd become tired of being a drone, and he aspired for something more. So, having decided it was time for a change, he'd started looking for interesting job opportunities away from London.
Then, salvation had fallen into his lap. A colleague and friend, Sarah-Jane Smith, had told him about a middle-management opportunity at the Torchwood Institute in Cardiff. TWI was the UK's preeminent provider of medical informatics solutions.
Jack had taken a day off, driven down to Cardiff, and met with the managing director, Alex Hopkins. The interview had gone well and two days later, Jack had secured himself a new job. The only condition was that he would have to start at the bottom and become familiar with the company's products and systems before he would be offered a management position. Jack had quickly agreed to that. It gave him a foot in the door, and the company seemed to be interesting and well respected. Most importantly, it had provided him with the fresh start he'd been looking for.
Jack had known nothing about Cardiff, or even Wales for that matter. Well, he had known from his first trip that it was over a three hour drive from London to Cardiff, and that you actually had to pay five quid to enter Wales. He'd thought that was rather cheeky. Before leaving, he'd done some cursory research online and discovered that living in Wales required an affinity with red dragons, sheep, beer, leeks, and rugby, but not necessarily in that order. Jack had always considered himself to be an adaptable kind of guy, so he hadn't thought any of that would be a problem. His very American accent might be, but then it usually was. He'd always been stubborn about that.
His research had also revealed a misleadingly named Welsh delicacy that was disturbing made from seaweed. He'd decided he would have to draw the line at that. But Welsh cakes had sounded all right, and he'd been intrigued about the possible uses of love spoons.
So it had seemed like Cardiff was as good a place as any to start anew. For the first time in a long while, he'd felt excited. This was his chance to make something of himself. He'd been coasting from day to day for far too long.
He'd arrived in Cardiff and found a quaint little bed and breakfast to stay at temporarily. He took a few days to explore the city, but found himself drawn back towards the bay area where the company offices were located. Deciding that he liked the idea of being able to walk to work, and with so many amenities close by, he'd quickly found an upper-floor apartment not far from Roald Dahl Plass.
The apartment was expensive, almost more than he could afford, but his new job was going to pay pretty well, and he decided that he deserved some luxury. He'd spent too long holed up in a claustrophobic inner London flat. After securing his new home, he'd gone a little crazy and bought new furniture, new clothes… new everything… a completely new life.
He'd just started to settle in when one morning he'd decided that he was in dire need of a haircut. Jumping online, he'd found what claimed to be the best salon in Cardiff and was lucky enough to get an appointment due to a last minute cancellation. And that was how he'd met Gwen Cooper. She'd talked non-stop while producing what he'd had to admit was the best haircut he'd ever had, and then unabashedly asked him to join her for a drink after work.
Several dates later, she'd ensconced herself into his life, and a month after that, he'd been somewhat surprised to find that she had apparently moved in with him. Not that he'd really minded. Gwen was vivacious, attractive, and fun to be with. The Welshwoman had taken Jack under her wing and helped him to acclimate. They seemed to be a good fit. She'd even talked him into doing some after-hours modeling for the salon she worked at. Jack secretly hoped he'd see himself on a billboard someday soon.
Things seemed to be coming together rather well. He had everything he wanted, a great job and a track up the corporate ladder, a pretty girlfriend, a stunning home, an enviable sports car, and the looks, clothes, style, and charm to complete the package.
There had been some bouts of loneliness since he'd moved, and the occasional worry about whether he'd done the right thing. But he'd expected that. He got on well with the majority of his colleagues, and had made a few friends at work. It was a start.
And if occasionally, an inner voice whispered that there was something fundamental missing in his life, he quickly dismissed the notion as mere whimsy and reminded himself that he was happy and content.
Now, just over three months after starting at TWI, he was settling into his new office, and about to take charge of a major new project. Torchwood was expanding their flagship medical charting system to include tablet-based interfaces, and Jack would be heading up the R&D team. It was an ambitious project, and important for the company so that it didn't lose its market share and competitive edge. Informatics was becoming a vital part of twenty-first century healthcare, and providing accessible and easy-to-use interfaces to those systems was critical.
Jack had a lot to prove, but he was confident that he was ready. This was his chance to do something he could take pride in.
The first thing he had to do was put his team together. He'd need the best people that TWI had to offer for his team. And one particular man was at the top of his list.