To The Sticking Place-
If we should fail?
But screw your courage to the sticking place,
And we'll not fail.
Macbeth Act I, Scene 7
Jack getting in shouting arguments over the phone is not a particularly odd occurrence, but after ten minutes of successive insults, Suzie Costello sighs and trundles up the stairs to tell Jack to shut up because he's scaring the new girl shitless.
"...have no right to interfere with the way I run things around here!" she hears Jack bellow as she gets close enough to make out his words. "We had a fucking deal, Hartman! Don't you dare think you can waltz in here and balls things u-Oh, please, the world hasn't ended yet! We fended off those Caxtarids fine without your or UNIT's help!"
Suzie opens the door slowly, careful not to make any noise, and slips into Jack's office as unobtrusively as possible, though she needn't have bothered as Jack is much too busy with his newest in a long string of rows with Torchwood One's bitchy administrator Yvonne Hartman to notice her.
"My team," Jack snarls into the receiver, his hand curled around the phone so tightly it looks as if it might shatter, "is perfectly proficient at both hand-to-hand combat and handling firearms. We do not want one of your psychopathic, xenophobic windup robots. I'll take on Caxtarids and Plasmavores and Daleks before I let any one of your murdering scum into this-What do you mean, I don't have a choice? What're you going to do, kill me?"
Suzie winces and resists the urge to wrench the phone out of Jack's hand before he can do any more damage. While Torchwood Three is basically self-sufficient, Torchwood London still has the power to make things quite difficult for them if they had the right motivation. Though for different reasons, Suzie wants Torchwood London's interference almost as little as Jack. She likes Torchwood Three's chaotic atmosphere and total lack of bureaucracy, complete with a boss who could care less about protocols and regulations. She crosses her arms over her chest nervously and looks over the huge piles of papers on his desk disdainfully, cursing Jack for whatever mad thing he did to bring the wrath of Torchwood One on them.
Suddenly, Jack's face clouds with fury and he jumps to his feet. "She said what?" he yells.
Cold fear wells up inside her and she has to speak up.
"What is it, Jack?" she asks, and his eyes shift to her abruptly, but he doesn't answer.
"She can't do that," he says, angry and desperate at the same time. "There's a fucking rift in time and space here! How are we supposed to do our bleeding jobs if she cuts our funding? And you, what the hell did you say to her?"
"Jack," Suzie whispers.
"You," Jack snarls, now shaking furiously. "You...How dare...You're..." he struggles to find a word to describe his rage and ends up shouting something in a language Suzie doesn't recognize into the phone before slamming it down on his deck causing a pile of papers to fall and scatter all over the floor.
"Fuck!" Jack shouts, winding both hands into his hair, "God dammit!"
"Jack!" Suzie cries, starting to get seriously worried, "What's going on?"
"Apparently, now, after five fucking years, we're understaffed," he hisses, slamming a fist down on the hard oak of his desk. "Now she decides to 'pitch in!'"
"We're getting new members?" Suzie deduces, wondering why this is such a big deal. In her four years at Torchwood she hasn't ever seen Jack this angry before.
"Hartman, that complete cow," Jack snarls, starting to pace up and down in front of the glass wall of his office. "She convinced the Queen that we're some sort of...of rogue branch and now if we refuse the transfers she'll cut our funding!"
"You think they'll be spies?" Suzie asks, stepping directly in front of Jack's desk. Outside the window she sees both Owen and the new tech, Toshiku, or something watching the unfolding scene above them warily.
"Oh, I know they'll be spies," Jack says, gritting his teeth unattractively, or at least in a way that's unattractive outside of sex. "I could deal with bloody spies, but Hartman's decided that we're short on field agents so she's sending one of her London...assassins!" He spits the word like a curse. "There's a reason I haven't had much contact with Torchwood One since I took over. They're all 'shoot first and ask questions later' and 'if it's alien, it's ours.' Xenophobic wankers, the lot of them. And now they're sending one here."
He sinks back to his chair and leans his elbows on the desk, cradling his head. "She's trying to throw all that I've worked for in my face. Finally, when I just got this place back on its feet...One of her best agents, indeed."
Suzie looks out over Hub, disorderly and filthy as usual, over Owen's desk and the quivering tech hiding behind her computer (God, she's only been here a week and already her terrified manner is pissing Suzie off,) and wonders what the Torchwood One agent, so used to the glittering Canary Wharf Tower, will think of this place.
Later, when Yvonne Hartman manages to give them the name, Suzie is somewhat disappointed when Jack pulls up Ianto Jones' file. Most of it is sealed, even the circumstances of his recruitment, but he's only twenty-two. Practically a baby. She isn't ashamed to admit that she wished for something a bit more exciting.
But when Jack manages to get at the sealed information through "old friends" at Torchwood One, she regrets that wish.
They know. It's the first thought that runs through Ianto Jones' mind the second he is introduced to the four person team that makes up Torchwood Three. Captain Jack Harkness' hateful reaction to him when Ianto met him on the Plass could be explained away, because everyone at Torchwood One who's anyone knows that Harkness despises everything and anything to do with the head office, but the looks of horror, disgust, fear, and loathing he receives from the rest of the team when he enters the Hub through their ridiculously impractical "invisible lift" cannot be ignored. Ianto is not particularly surprised they've managed to uncover the classified information in his file, but he'd be lying if he denied that he was hoping he could have a fresh start in Cardiff.
Torchwood Cardiff is a disaster, Ianto thinks scornfully, focusing on surveying the tiny underground Hub. It's a complete mess, garbage, half-eaten pizza, and unorganized paperwork scattered everywhere, blatantly alien machinery just lying out in the open, and is that a human hand in a jar?
"This is Ianto Jones," Harkness is saying gruffly, not even bothering to hide the fact that he finds Ianto abhorrent. "Jones, this is Owen Harper, our medical officer."
He gestures to a short, dark haired man who gives him a look of deepest loathing. Ianto makes a mental note to keep him at an arm's length.
"Toshiko Sato, our tech expert." Harkness points towards the Asian woman, Japanese by the name, sitting in front of several monitors. She doesn't even dare to make eye-contact with him and hunches her shoulders defensively in what seems to be an automatic reaction when Harkness singles her out.
"And Suzie Costello." The woman raises her eyebrows confrontationally as Ianto gives her a short, polite nod, her mouth twisted in disgust. "Second-in-command. She'll be handling your integration into your new position here. Any inquiries can go though her. Any questions?"
Ianto raises a quizzical eyebrow at him and Harkness scowls, seeming to realize his error.
"Nevermind," Harkness corrects himself, and Ianto keeps silent, at attention still, despite the fact that he has boatloads of questions. "But let me make one thing clear," he says darkly, dropping all pretense of professionalism. "You'll find we run things differently around here. You're taking my orders now, meaning you'll follow Torchwood Three's rules, not London's. Understood?"
"Yes, sir," Ianto says calmly, because even if Harkness has sunk to the level of childish petulance, he certainly isn't going to.
For some reason, this only seems to further incense the head of Torchwood Three.
"Don't assume to know what those rules are," Harkness warns and Ianto realizes with a touch of irritation that this probably means there isn't a Code of Conduct manual. "You're a rookie here, an extra pair of hands, until we find suitable recruits elsewhere." The and then I can get rid of you is implied. "And get out of that ridiculous stance. We don't do any of the saluting bollocks here either. Clear?"
"Yes, sir," Ianto repeats, relaxing from his at-attention stance. "However, I am required to inform you that your orders are superseded by London's in certain situations."
Harkness's face twists in anger, and Ianto notes the blood vessel on his temple bulging with wry amusement. He grits his teeth, seeming to be restraining himself from punching Ianto right then and there.
"And those situations would be...?" Harkness questions acidly, straightening and sticking his fists into the pockets of his overly showy military coat. (It is a very nice coat, though.)
"Classified," Ianto responds coolly, honestly wondering why, if Jack Harkness is really this obstinate, Hartman hasn't had him killed yet.
Harkness' eyes narrow at him, but Ianto refuses to look away, calm and collected as always.
"Figures," Harkness says almost sullenly, turning away, and Ianto is struck at the immaturity of a man more than a decade his senior. That's how he appears, anyway; Harkness' file is oddly devoid of any useful information, including, strangely enough, his age.
"I'll be in my office," Ianto's new boss announces unnecessarily, as if he would be anywhere else, and heads up the stairs to the second floor of the underground bunker. "He's all yours, Suzie!" Ianto watches him go with increasing skepticism (Did he really have to swish his coat around like that?) and then turns to Costello.
"Right this way then. I guess I'll give you the grand tour," Costello says, looking over his black ops gear carefully.
He doesn't begrudge her this; it was obvious from the moment he stepped into the room (descended from the ceiling?) that he sticks out like a sore thumb.
"Quick question though," she starts curiously. "How many weapons have you got on you?"
"Seventeen, ma'am," Ianto answers automatically and both Harper and Sato raise their heads from the work they were pretending to do while he and Harkness clashed to stare at him.
"Seventeen?" Harper repeats, as if he hadn't heard perfectly well the first time.
Ianto frowns. It's not that much of a stretch, considering how many pockets he has in his vest.
The amount of weaponry Ianto carries does not seem to bother Costello as much as Harper, however.
"Did you just call me ma'am?" she asks, horrified. "God, I know you London lot are frigid bastards, but never call me ma'am."
"Noted," Ianto replies formally. She is the second-in-command, after all.
She leads him around the main floor first, before proceeding to the lower levels and Ianto pretends not to notice Harper and Sato's eyes watching his every move.
Day to day life is shockingly different at Torchwood Three, moreso than Ianto could have imagined when he was first informed of his transfer. For one, while it was not completely out of the ordinary to be woken up at the middle of the night due to a work-related occurrence in London, it certainly wasn't the norm. In Cardiff, it seems like every other night he is being woken up at three am to deal with the next increasingly ridiculous alien that comes through the Rift.
The small number of staff and the close-quarters they are forced to work in are a given, but what really surprises Ianto is how different the people are at Torchwood Three. They are brilliant, to be sure, but in such a small team, it would have to be a requirement to be brilliant (that or be really good at shooting things.) But they are so...unsuitable for Torchwood work. So loud, questioning everything, so casual and rude, bordering on insubordinate. None of them are Welsh, which annoys him in a vague sort of way, and they seem to assume that because he is, he speaks the language fluently. Ridiculous, as less than a fourth of the population of Wales does and nearly all of them live in the countryside.
Harkness is the most reckless man Ianto has ever met, always rushing headfirst into danger, unlike any leader Ianto has ever heard of before. Harper is caustic and insulting, more like a hormonal teenager than a man with a medical degree, and he never misses an opportunity have a go at Ianto over his professional demeanor, his uniform, and the fact that Ianto is not prone to emotional outbursts. It make more sense after reading his file, but Ianto finds him dull and insipid, and tries to avoid him if possible.
Sato is, well, rather terrified of him. She tries to make herself as small as possible whenever he enters the room, but as she spent the last eight months in a UNIT Detention Facility he forgives her. Even Costello, the only one who will voluntarily talk to him (which says more about her than it does about him,) has a cruel streak that is utterly inappropriate for her position. They are all so blindingly...well, human, compared to the cold, impersonal Torchwood London that he is used to that it makes him feel very old, despite being the youngest of them all. They are all Harkness' hires, of course, which is something in itself when Ianto notices their youth and attractiveness. It corresponds with all the nasty rumours that circulated around One that Ianto never really believed, but he has to say, during the first few weeks of listening to their non-stop commentary on their sexual lives (even Sato pitched in once and a while!) he wondered if they were all shagging each other.
They're lazy and incompetent at the most basic of tasks. They don't even have a filing system when he arrives, just a room filled with empty file cabinets covered with disorganized stacks of paper. And when Ianto asks about it, Harkness snidely suggest that if it bothers him so much, he can organize it himself. It is rather stupid thing to say, technically giving his approval for Ianto to go through all their files, but Ianto is horrified to find that it's not even his main motivation for doing it.
Things are either impossibly busy at Torchwood Three or impossibly boring, and while Sato can always busy herself working on upgrading Torchwood's mainframe, the others surf the web (Ianto is pretty sure both Harkness and Harper spend most of their time in the Hub watching porn) or play useless games. Ianto has little use for either activities and there is only so much time one can spend in the shooting range or making drinkable coffee. So it is he who ends up cleaning up after them. It also gives him an excuse to stay when Harkness goes out, so he can break into Harkness' private files and search his office. Harkness isn't completely stupid, some of the locking devices are pretty difficult to get through, but within seven months Ianto has gone through all the files and reported anything of interest to Hartman. It's mostly alien tech that Harkness had scavenged and not reported to London, but there are an alarming amount of references to "the Doctor" in his personal notes both in his Log and on his computer. Harkness appears to have met him personally in the past and appears to be looking forward to meeting him again. Of course, Ianto wonders what kind of relationship (not that kind of relationship, God, Three was rotting his brain) he had with the Torchwood's Number One Enemy, but it's really not any of his business. He is merely London's pawn in the ongoing power struggle between One and Harkness and if Hartman knows what Harkness' connection to the Doctor is, she certainly doesn't inform him.
But still, Three is so...They don't even hold their firearms the correct way, always carrying them around in a sloppy, casual manner, without holsters most of the time, suggesting that they taught themselves how to shoot. Or, as they all carry them the same way, it is more likely that Harkness taught them, passing on his incorrect method down to his subordinates and Ianto has to remind himself to keep from wincing every time he sees any of them wield a gun. If he had more authority, he would personally drag each of them down to the shooting range and show them the proper way, but he doesn't, so he keeps his mouth shut. At one point they find a pterodactyl (or pteranodon?) and decide to keep it as a pet. Ianto agrees that it's rather magnificent, but still. He avoids commenting on this, tries to keep all the dry comments to the minimum, because the only reason they haven't made rude, patronizing remarks about his age is because they're too busy being disgusted and afraid of him. The second they get too comfortable with his presence...well, he can already imagine what creative taunts Harper will think up and there's nothing in the universe he hates more than being patronized.
They don't particularly like him. Correction: they don't like him at all. They don't like the ease with which he wields his guns, his willingness to kill if necessary; Christ, Harkness practically threw a tantrum when he blew a weevil's brains out. (Excuse him for killing the rabid alien with teeth the size of his index fingers.)He's too serious, too conventional, too...Torchwood One for their tastes. He isn't brilliant like they are, just determined and sober. They think his opinion that aliens are a threat is small-minded, they think he's a monster when all his actions have been to save human lives, but the truth is they're the ones who are delusional. They're too lost in the wonder of the universe all around them to see the death and destruction it brings down upon ordinary people just trying to live their lives.
It's...nice though, sometimes, to be surrounded by people who aren't as jaded and cynical as he is, people who can marvel at the complexities of far-off alien technology instead of immediately treating what they find like a resource that can be used to further the interests of Great Britain. To his horror, he finds that after a while he's actually become fond of their eccentricities and whimsical behavior. Harkness is brave and dedicated (he lives on base,) Harper's is darkly humorous and steadfast, Costello is enthusiastic and hardworking, Sato is brilliant and loyal, and later, Cooper is principled, almost to the point of naivete, but goodhearted in ways that Ianto sometimes wishes he was.
But he has a job to do, he was sent here to monitor Torchwood Three's activities (also, he still has not managed to hack into the mainframe and despite his talents with technology, he's nothing compared to Sato) and breaking away from his faceless "Torchwood One Agent" persona would only make things more complicated. So they hate him, and with his disdainful remarks he makes sure they think he dislikes them as well, even as time goes on it couldn't be further from the truth and alright, maybe that stings a bit. But from the second they got a hold of his file they were always going to hate him, so he doesn't take it to heart.
Even after a year of working at Torchwood Three he is still the outsider, the person that causes all conversation to grind to a halt whenever he enters the room, the stickler for the rules, always reminding them of how dangerous and against protocols their actions are. He fades into the background when things are slow, but during combat he is the immoral, emotionless killer that they all have to watch out for, to keep on a short leash. He hasn't actually killed anyone since he transferred to Cardiff-one of Harkness' first explicit orders was that Ianto not kill anyone unless he got his approval-but he's still the one who shot the human dealer of alien goods in the legs to prevent him from escaping, the one who blows up weevils without even the slightest hesitation, the one who could care less for the well-being of "accidental" alien visitors.
Ianto has tucked his shredded conscience deep inside him and is willing to do nearly anything to do his job. Ianto cannot count how many times Harkness has grabbed his collar, slammed him into a wall, and shouted obscenities at him after he did something the other man obviously finds deplorable.
But that's his entire purpose, after all. He does all the dirty things that other people could not live with themselves after doing, the things they would rather not hear about, and he does them mostly without complaint. He does them because no one else will and someone has to if the human race is to survive the harsh and unforgiving universe they have found themselves in. But most of all, he does them because he can, because the part of him that would have protested against his actions died a long time ago and he doesn't really give a damn.
He didn't use to be like this. There was a time, years ago, when Ianto more resembled the average man (boy) his age. He used to go down to the pub, watch James Bond movies, go on dates. But Torchwood has a way of dulling over that part of his life, making his former interests seem mundane and pointless, sometimes even childish. Working for Torchwood is like flowing water smoothing and shaping a stone into whatever form it likes. It's slow, inevitable, and in the end, you'll be completely unrecognizable from what you once were. But this is something Ianto Jones came to terms with years ago. It hardly bothers him anymore.
And Jack Harkness, Jack bloody Harkness...Ianto hates him sometimes. He hates his stupid American accent, his annoyingly bright smile, his witty commentary when they all might be killed by aliens any second, and most of all his blindingly irrational crush on the man. Ianto's fancied men before, so that's not new, but he's never fancied his boss before, and certainly not a boss who's hated his guts. But Ianto's nothing if not professional, so he buries his absurd infatuation away (to keep his conscience company, let's say) and life goes on.
Of course, this is Torchwood Three, so losing his last shreds of dignity has to happen sometime and when it does, it happens in the worst possible way. Ever.
And it's not funny, no matter what Owen says.
Jack Harkness yawns sleepily, stretching out his arms wantonly. He shifts over onto his other side and pulls up the comforter further, letting out a soft groan. There's a rustling next to him and then the bed jerks violently.
"What. The fuck." An unfamiliar voice enunciates, sounding murderous and-Oh, you have got to be kidding me.
Jack opens his eyes and spins around in horror to see Jones next him on the bed, quite obviously naked, sitting up and clutching the sheet around his waist in a death grip, pale and shocked.
"Oh, no, no, no, this is not happening," Jack says, looking wildly around his room for some sign that this is just a bad dream. A very bad dream. A nightmare.
"You-" Jones starts furiously, right hand going for his hip where his gun belt would be if, as Jack remembers distinctly with a healthy amount of dread, he hadn't removed it with his teeth sometime last night.
"Okay," Jack say, holding up his hands defensively, though by the way Jones is holding onto the sheet, he's probably not going to jump him and attempt to strange him with his bare hands. "Right. What the hell are you doing here? No. That's a bad question."
"How is that a bad question?" Jones hisses angrily.
Jack ignores him. "Okay, last thing I remember is...Shit, what did I do yesterday? Besides the obvious."
Jones splutters and turns red.
"Right then, there were reports of riots in some posh shopping centre-" Jack says, reaching up to run his hand through his hair distractedly.
"-St. David's," Jones interjects automatically.
"-we went to investigate, Tosh brought that new scanner she developed-"
"-you got us kicked out of Marks & Spencer for flirting with the the manager-"
"-traced it to that perfume place on Queen's St-"
"-and the assistant manager-"
"-Tosh found something odd about one of the samples so we brought it back to the Hub-"
"-Harper accidentally sprayed it next to the fan..." Jones adds and then pauses, seeming to go even paler, his bullet-scarred torso stiffening. There are a plethora of suspicious bruises on his neck.
"I am going to get dressed now," he says carefully, Welsh accent oddly amplified, "and how about we never mention this again."
Jones gets out of the bed, dragging the sheets with him, picks up his trousers off the floor and makes for the door.
"Hey! Those are my sheets!" Jack shouts at his back (scarred as well, though not as badly as his chest) and Jones gives him a very rude gesture in reply.
"Son of a-" Jack snarls as he disappears from his eyesight and suddenly feels in desperate need of a shower, almost hysterical at the urge to get Jones off his skin.
When he was younger, and a much different man, he would have hardly cared that he had just slept with a murdering sociopath, in fact he slept with quite a lot once upon a time, but this was different (It was Jones, for God's sake) and he feels rather sick.
He throws his feet over the side of the bed, wiping his eyes blearily and winces at the familiar ache.
Oh, no. Oh, no, no, no. Seriously? Seriously? It's bad enough that he had to shag Jones, but he wasn't even on top?
Swearing creatively under his breath, Jack goes to the showers, trying to calm himself down with pleasant thought of all the different ways he can murder Owen.
To his surprise, he finds Owen in the showers, humming happily under his breath while shampooing up his hair.
"You look like shit," Owen tells him when he spots him, the most cheerful Jack has ever seen him. "Tough luck, mate."
"You," Jack says calmly, "just had a three-way with Suzie and Toshiko, didn't you?"
"And it was bloody glorious," Owen announces triumphantly.
"I'm so docking your pay this month," Jack replies viciously.
Owen gives him a strange look. "What the hell's crawled up your arse, Harkne...Oh, god, Jones."
"You had Jones?" Owen blurts out gleefully. "Oh, Christ, that's...that's...How did he react? Please tell me he went just a bit crazy, please."
"Let's just say, if he had his gun, I'm 100% sure he would've shot me."
Owen cackles in the least sympathetic way possible, and Jack contemplates all the ways he can kill Owen and dispose of the body without anyone ever finding out.
"Ehh, you could've done worse," Owen says generously, washing out the shampoo now. He's in such a good mood he hasn't even made a comment about Jack seeing him naked.
"I suppose Jones is attractive...in, you know, a sort of jailbait way," he continues, sounding doubtful. "I mean, objectively-"
"Finish that sentence and I really will dock your pay," Jack threatens and Owens grins nastily.
"Yes, sir!" he says, saluting, reaching for the soap and Jack purposefully makes him drop it.
"Don't mess with Jones" is one of the first things that Tosh and Owen tell Gwen Cooper when she first comes to work for Torchwood. She isn't sure if they're joking when they first tell her, because she's still processing that, well, aliens not only exist, but that they're also quite a lot of them in Cardiff, of all places, and a serial killer blew her brains out in front of her just a few days ago. Also, they seem to make an inordinate amount of jokes, so how is she supposed to know?
"No, seriously," Tosh says quietly, looking very serious as they all pack the SUV full of stuff to track down the comet on her first day (night?) of work. "They're a bunch of other rules too, but that's at the top of the list."
"Okay..." Gwen says, glancing over at the serious young man wearing the type of clothes that secret military agents usually wear in films. She assumes he is Jones. He's looking over a list of what's probably inventory at the other side of the garage. "Why?"
Owen and Tosh glance at each other.
"He's not exactly..." Tosh started.
"He killed his girlfriend a couple years ago," Owen cuts her off, disgust plain on his face. "They both worked for our London Branch and she went rogue. I dunno what the details are, but she broke the rules and he killed her. That's how he made field agent."
Gwen swallowed carefully and looked over at Jones again, horror causing her entire body to feel like it had been dunked in ice water.
"And Captain Harkness hired him?" she whispered unnecessarily.
"Of course not," Owen says vehemently, glaring at her as if it's her fault that she doesn't know what was going on. "He was transferred here by the higher ups. One, cos we're short on staff, but also to monitor us. Jack and Torchwood One, that's our base of operations in London, don't get along. At all. They have a different idea of how to deal with aliens. Mostly involving killing them. According to his file, Jones has a kill count of over thirty people. That's just humans, mind you. Torchwood One doesn't really keep track of the aliens in the same way."
Gwen glances over at the young man again, wondering, not for the first time, if this taking this job was all a big mistake. Maybe she should've just stayed with the police, away from this kind of institutionalized violen-
"Don't worry!" Tosh says reassuringly, probably seeing the look of fear on her face. "We don't do that kind of thing here, and Jack won't let Jones either. He's been here for a little more than a year and he hasn't killed anyone, I swear." She turns toward Owen, obviously expecting him to back her up. He nods and Gwen feels just a bit better.
"We just thought you should know, becau-"
"Alright, hurry up!" Jack shouts grabbing a metal case from next to Jones and then they're all getting into the SUV and there's no time for talking.
Just hours later, though, sooner than she'd like, she finds out exactly the kind of man Ianto Jones is.
"But what if it doesn't take the bait?" Gwen asks worriedly, holding the gun as far away from her body as the cramped SUV backseat allows. "What if it doesn't leave her body? How do we kill it then?"
"If she dies, the host does, right?" Jones asks, on the other side of the backseat. "We just kill her then."
"K-kill her?" Gwen gapes, leaning forward to stare at him, the rest of the car gone very quiet, "We can't...she's just a poor girl who's body been hijacked by that gas alien thing!"
"They are two people already dead," Jones replies, looking at her part disdain, part confusion, "And if we can't get it out of her, she's dead anyway. We can't risk her killing any more civilians and Harper here has already proved that it's not safe even locked up."
"Fuck you, Jones," Owen says from the passenger seat.
"But it's not her fault!" Gwen protests, feeling sick. "You can't just put her down like an animal! It's not right, it's-"
"No one will be putting anything down," Harkness says irritably and from her seat behind him, she can just see his hands gripping the steering wheel tightly. "Understood, Jones?"
"Yes, sir," Jones replies, almost with an air of weary concession.
Gwen swallows and looks at the gun in her hands, doubt worrying away at her twice as strong as before. She looks up and sees Harkness glaring at Jones through the rear-view mirror. Jones doesn't seem to notice.
Jack is true to his word. No one dies except for the parasite, but in the back of her mind, Gwen fears how this new exciting job of hers will change her.
Time alleviates most of those fears. As it turns out, Jones doesn't casually suggest the killing of innocent girls on an (all that) regular basis and mostly sticks to himself, away from the others. Sometimes, on slow days, Gwen even forgets he's there. Even after that horrible incident with Jasmine.
But even that doesn't change anything really, because Jack controls him and won't let him do any harm while he's in charge. Jones listens to him, probably out of obligation, not as if he actually respects Jack's opinions, but it's far better than the alternative. Gwen trusts Jack, and despite her uneasiness, forces down her misgivings, and focuses on doing her job.
According to Jack, the faeries cannot be contained. They cannot be killed, cannot be stopped. They have been kidnapping children from the dawn of humanity and the only thing they want is their "Chosen" Ones.
"If they want to they can make great storms, wild seas, turn the world to ice. Kill every living thing," the child says, struggling against Jack. "Let me go!"
It's easy to see what the next logical move is.
Ianto Jones' gun is out before any of them see it coming and he presses it deftly against the little girl's temple.
"And if we kill her?" he asks calmly. The entire forest goes dead calm, even Jack, Gwen, and the child freeze next to him. "She's your Chosen One. What happens to you if I kill her?"
"Jones, NO!" Jack shouts, grasping Jasmine tightly. "Put the fucking gun down!"
Ianto ignores him.
"Foolish," the faerie voice hisses angrily, ugly and gnarled face twisting, "We will rip you to shredsssss..."
"Before or after I put a bullet in her brain?" he presses, hoping against hope that his theory is correct.
"Jones!" Gwen cries. "What are you doing?"
"You will not hurt us by killing the child," the faerie snarls. "But we will destroy you if you kill the Chosen."
The voice is angry, not afraid, and Ianto reluctantly believes their words.
"Alright, then," he says calmly and lowers the gun.
Jack lets go of Jasmine and grabs his collar. "You son of bitch," he snarls in his face, but Ianto only feels a sense of disappointment that his plan did not work, not fear of Jack.
He looks stoically back into Jack's angry eyes. Jack sees what he has to do now and it's killing him, and Ianto doesn't mind if he takes his anger out on him.
Jack turns, letting on hand falls to grip Jasmine's shoulder, but keeping the other firmly on the front of his vest. His face contorts, his eyes starting to shine suspiciously, but ultimately he comes to the only decision that makes any sense.
"The child won't be harmed?" he asks desperately
Ianto turns away, holstering his firearm.
None of the rest of the team will talk to Jack after that, but even between desperately seeking their forgiveness, Jack still finds time to be mad at him. It would be funny-he has quite unexpectedly found himself in the position that Ianto inhabits every single day-except for the fact that anyone with eyes can tell that he's miserable. For his part, Ianto avoids him for the rest of the day simply to elude Jack's cold, furious stare. Unfortunately, Jack has other plans.
Ianto wakes up at two in the morning to the sound of someone picking his lock. He didn't use to be such a light sleeper, but the PTSD had to be useful for something, didn't it?
He reaches for the gun on his bedside table and sits up slowly, cocking it as he goes. He's just about to throw both feet over the side of the bed when the door gives. The intruder closes it quietly behind him and takes the first few familiar steps into Ianto's flat.
He would recognize those footsteps anywhere, because, really, how many people wear WWII-era clodhoppers?"
He considers the oddity of the situation for a few seconds, then sets his gun back on the bedside table lightly. He lies back down, tucking his arms underneath his head, and stares at the ceiling.
The footsteps draw closer and stop at his open bedroom door. Ianto hears the light muffled sound of wool against wood; Jack Harkness leans against the frame of his door, not entering his room. There is a long silence.
"Do you often break into your employees' places of residence?" Ianto asks the darkness calmly, still staring at the ceiling.
To his credit, Jack does not react to the fact that Ianto is aware of his presence.
"The girl," Jack says, voice cold. "Would you really have shot her?"
"If it would have killed them," Ianto answers truthfully. "But it wouldn't have, so what exactly is the point of this?"
"So you would murder an innocent child just to get at what you consider to be an alien threat?" Jack asks darkly, his disapproval of Torchwood One policies emanating from his words so potently he doesn't even have to mention their base of operations by name.
"No," Ianto replies, trying not let irritation seep into his voice. "I would have murdered an innocent child in order to save the other children that would have been kidnapped after her."
"That's all this is to you, then?" Jack persists. "A numbers game?"
"Everything is a numbers game," Ianto murmurs and Jack scoffs in disgust, shifting into an upright position.
"So there isn't anyone in the entire world you wouldn't sacrifice?" Jack asks dispassionately, tone of voice suggesting that he's seconds away from hitting Ianto with something blunt and heavy.
"That's right," Ianto replies, but it is a lie. There are approximately five people in the world (who are still alive) whom he could never shoot. He's related to four by blood or marriage, but the fifth is standing in this room.
But that's none of Jack's business, and it's really easier for everyone involved if Torchwood Three continues to think of him as an emotionless soldier.
"You're sick," Jack says in disgust.
"Yes, of course," Ianto murmurs, digging his fingers into the bedspread to control how furious he suddenly is. "But tell me, sir, what's the difference between sacrificing one child or...shall we say, twelve children, again?"
Jack inhales sharply and Ianto would regret bringing it up, but he's too angry now to care.
"How-" Jack starts, sounding strained.
"Military records are not nearly as secure as the government would like them to be," Ianto replies, sitting up on his elbows now to look at the shape of Jack's figure in the darkness.
Jack says nothing, and Ianto can't see the expression on his face.
"I don't know what you were doing in 1965," Ianto says, watching the other man carefully. "I also was under the impression that time travel hadn't been mastered yet, but no matter. The real question is what the hell do you think you're doing in my flat?"
It's not all he's asking Jack, but he doesn't think it has to be vocalized for Jack to get the picture.
He barely sees Jack's face move in the darkness, but in the end he does not reply.
"Get out," Ianto snaps and he does, slamming his flat door childishly behind him.
Ianto lies back down on the bed and tries to convince himself the sick feeling in the pit of his stomach isn't guilt.
And then there is...well, the cannibals.
Owen had spent the entire ride to the small village in the Brecon Beacons complaining, both about the countryside in general as well as Wales, and it had been really annoying. But now, locked in a basement full of human remains that are being eaten by the house's inhabitants with pounding headache, he's starting to think that Owen has a point. On the plus side, Gwen isn't playing stupid school games, prompting Owen to play along and cruelly ask who the last person Ianto ever kissed was. Technically, it's Jack, but the last person he really kissed was Lisa and it takes all his self control to not even bother looking up (not to mention ripping Owen a new one) from the tent he's trying to put together while telling him it's none of his business.
But that's besides the point, the point is they're locked in a basement and while Ianto doesn't mind dying in the line of duty, he'd rather not be chopped into bits and eaten.
Tosh is working on getting them out; Ianto knows that Jack taught her how to get out of even the most secure cell after UNIT released her, but they don't have the proper tools. He would've had something useful in his vest, but it's been taken along with his guns and he feels naked without it. Suddenly, the door opens and a middle-aged woman with a rifle steps through.
Ianto has already been humiliated once today and thinks. "Please," before snatching the gun deftly from her and smashing her on the head with the butt before she can even blink.
"Jones!" Tosh yelps as the woman crashes to the ground.
"Right," Ianto says, inspecting the woman. "Looks human, I reckon."
"So..." Tosh whispers, still slightly in shock. "They're human then?"
"Could be possessed by something," Ianto says darkly. "Let's go. I'd hold on to that if I were you though," he says gesturing towards the crowbar she's holding and Tosh nods.
Only they don't get too far before they're cornered by a large man in a kitchen that has been made into a makeshift butchery.
Still, even with the stench of human remains around him, Ianto doesn't start to feel sick until he notices the lustful way the man eyes Tosh.
Usually, Toshiko Sato tries not to think about Jones. It's not as if he's ever done anything to her, but every time she looks at him she sees the unsympathetic UNIT prison guards that locked her in a tiny cell for eight months of her life that she will never get back. And every time he looks at her she feels the rough, ratty maroon jumpsuit against her skin and the walls seem to close in all around her. It's not fair that he's here because she's gotten so much better, made so much progress, and he only gets in the way. She's stopped jumping at small noises, conquered her fear of elevators and other tight spaces (mostly,) and is generally getting back a lot of her lost confidence.
But being trapped by a murderous cannibal who could be planning to eat her or rape her or both, Tosh starts appreciate his presence.
"Are you shitting me?" Jones says suddenly, no fear on his face whatsoever. "We came all the way up here and you're just an arse load of inbred hicks?"
The man's eyes leave her and he turns his maddened visage towards Jones, gun raising slightly to compensate for the different in their heights.
"What did yeh say?" he asks slowly, annoyance shifting across his face.
"Cos, this is, well, rather pathetic, innit?" Jones says in that condescending voice that Tosh hates. His accent has thickened and he's suddenly sounding much more working class than he did five minutes ago.
On the floor across the room, a teenage boy with his hands tied behind his back moans in pain.
"I was hoping for something a bit more interesting, yeah?" Jones continues, glaring down the barrel of the cannibal's gun. "Maybe something evil, fangs and claws and the like, rabid enough that Jack bloody Harkness would let me shoot it, cos, Christ, let me tell you, he's a regular idiot sometimes. But no, of course not, because it had to be something as pathetic as bloody cannibals."
"Do you want to die, meat?" the man snarls, pushing the barrel of the rifle further into Jones' face.
"Oh, please, you probably forgot to load the bloody gun," Jones says mockingly. "I reckon you're as stupid as that tart locked downstairs with her brains all over the floor, yeah?"
The man's eyes widen and he turns his head to shout. "Gildas! Percy! Git down here! Go see if Hel-"
Jones strikes. He shoves the gun away and kicks the man hard in the stomach, sending him crashing against the wooden table in the center of the room. With a flash, his right hand comes out and then the man's nose explodes in a splatter of blood. Jones kicks him in the head one more time for good measure and he slumps unconscious onto plastic sheeting.
"Well, that's sorted then," Jones says, sounding vicious.
Tosh lets out a shakily exhale as Jones wipes the man's blood on his pants.
"R-Right," she says, cursing herself for her stutter. "We should-"
"Oi, what the fuck are you playing at!" a shout comes from the other side of the room and two men burst through the plastic sheets, guns in hand.
Jones grabs her by the jacket. "Run!" he hisses and then shoves her towards the exit.
So she does. She tears through the plastic sheets and yanks the door open and runs out into the cold night, through the forest. She hears yelling and, oh God, shots, but she is a filthy coward so she does not stop until she nearly collides with Owen.
"Tosh!" Gwen gasps. "Ohmygod, Tosh, what happened?"
"They're not..." she trembles, clinging to Owen while he checks her for injuries. "They're human, cannibals. They've murdered all the villagers. He told me to run, so I...Oh, I left him there, he's-"
"Cannibals?" Gwen whispers. "You mean-"
"She's fine," Owen mutters. "And don't worry, Tosh, he's Jones. We should be worrying about the cannibals."
"Oi, over here!" Gwen shouts, presumably to Jack, but instead a constable is pushing aside the bushes, gun leading the way.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" Owen asks angrily, turning around and Tosh grips his back tightly, a cold wave of fear coursing through her.
The constable smiles-so young, probably around the same age as Jones, dimples in his cheeks-
"Put down your firearms," he says coldly. "Slowly."
Ten minutes later, they're being forced back into the Big House and Tosh gasps at the scene that lies before her.
"What?" the constable chokes out."What the bleeding hell happened here?"
The entire place is a mess. Tables, chairs, and cupboards are smashes into pieces on the floor, the plastic sheeting has been torn down completely and five bodies are spread across the room. To her horror, the one at the far enough of the room, right by the stairs is Jones, beaten almost beyond recognition.
"He killed Percy and Trysta!" one of the only two men standing moans, pointing at Jones' prone form and holding his bleeding arm tightly. "He's fucking mad, that's what he is!"
"Son of a- Uncle Evan!" the constable pushes past them to examine the man who had threatened her in the kitchen. He's still in the same place Jones left him.
The only other man standing, older, most likely in his sixties, aims his handgun at them before they can take advantage of the constable's move.
"You're...you're the villagers?" Tosh realizes in horror.
"But the villagers are dead," Gwen whispers.
"Shut it!" the older man snarls.
"Of course," Owen says, half-sarcastic, half-horrified. "Only in the bloody countryside! You sick fuckers."
"I said shut it!" the man shouts and fires a shot at the ground.
Owen opens his mouth to retort, but then the room starts vibrating and Jack arrives as he always does, just a little late, to save the day.
When Jack has stopped shooting, Tosh rushes over to Jones.
"Owen!" she shouts and Owen abandons the cannibal he was checking over to join her.
"Oh, God," Owen groans, pushing up Jones' shirt to reveal the mess that is his chest. "Shit, there might be internal bleeding!"
Jack steps over to look down at Jones and his face twists in disgust, but he makes no comment.
"I don't think he's been shot," Owen says, checking over Jones' legs and arms. "Definitely a concussion, bruised probably broken ribs, right arm too, his knee's busted up pretty ba-"
Jones gives a muted groan of pain and his eyes flicker open and closed.
"Jones," Owen says, grabbing his hand. "Jones, stay with me, try not to pass out, for God's sake don't move, an ambulance's coming-"
"Kd," Jones mumbles.
"What?" Tosh whispers, leaning down to touch his face hesitatingly.
"Kid," Jones slurs, head lolling. "Kid's upstairs."
"Gwen!" Jack yells over at her. "That's kid's upstairs, go-never mind, I'll go."
Tosh looks up and for the first time notices that the entire lower left side of Gwen's jacket is soaked with blood.
On the floor, Jones lets out a short giggle.
Two hours later, she, Jack, and Owen are sitting in the Brecon War Memorial Hospital waiting room while Gwen and Jones get patched up. Gwen emerges presently and then Jones, right arm in plaster, limping and looking dazed.
"What the hell are you doing up?" Owen snarls, making a beeline for him the second he enters the room. "You're staying here at least for a week after-"
"Shut up," Jones grumbles, waving a uncoordinated hand at him. "I'm fine."
"Jones, maybe it'd be better-" Tosh starts timidly, but he ignores her.
"Let's go," he growls, limping past them and pushes the double doors under the exit sign open.
"Right, then," Jack says, scowling after Jones. "Let's get out of this wasteland."
"Thank God," Owen says raising his eyes upwards even though she knows he's a staunch atheist.
On the way back, Jones rests his bruised face against the backseat window, and he and Gwen both wince every time they go over a particularly large bump. Tosh has to physically restrain herself from staring at him because he looks shockingly young, the youngest he's ever looked in the year and a half he's worked with them.
"Oi, Jones!" Owen says from the passenger seat for the sixth time. "No falling asleep, I bloody told you. Fuck, I knew we should have left you back at the hospital."
Jones lets out a snort of amusement. "Oh, please, this is nothing compared to being tortured by Kirllitane."
There is a long, horrified silence and they all turn slowly to stare at Jones.
"Or Foamasi," Jones adds.
"I think you're confused," Jack says, looking back at Jones through the rear-view mirror. "Foamasi are an inherently peaceful species."
"Yeah, but they never shut up," Jones replies, voice slightly muffled by the glass.
There's another pause and Owen turns around in his seat to stare at Jones.
"Did you just make a joke?" he asks, sounding horrified. "Oh, fuck, it's the end of the universe."
"I have a concussion from having my arse handed to me by middle-aged villagers from bum fuck nowhere," Jones mumbles, closing his eyes. "You'll have to excuse me, this is hardly my finest moment."
Next to her, Gwen lets out a laugh that quickly turns into a cough.
"They were middle-aged," Tosh agrees. "But they were middle-aged cannibals. That has to count for something, right?"
Even in the darkness of the SUV, she sees the corner of Jones' mouth upturn slightly.
Jones sits hunched over on the autopsy table with his shirt off, and Owen Harper glares at his torso as he examines how he's been healing up. It figures that he'd be ripped, the tosser. Of course, he's got the scars to go with it and Owen'll pass on those, thanks so very much.
"I'm fine," Jones stresses, looking uncomfortable. "It's been a week and I haven't keeled over yet."
He pulls his black under armour shirt on with his right hand carefully and then shrugs his vest on.
"Get plenty of sleep," Owen prescribes shortly. "No working overtime and for God's sake, don't go shooting anything for a while."
"I can shoot with my left, you know," Jones responds, wincing slightly as he slides off the table.
"Doesn't mean you should," Owen mutters darkly. "Now get out of my way, I've got that alien slime I need to look at."
Jones complies, giving him a slightly contemptuous look as he goes.
Owen really, really hates him sometimes, No, that's a lie. He hates him all the time. He knows it it wasn't Jack's idea for him to transfer here, but couldn't he just accidentally shoot the man and get him out of their hair?
It's bad enough that they have to have Torchwood One watching their every move, but of all the people they could've sent, it had to be the psycho who'd executed his girlfriend for being a "threat to the security of the Empire" or some Torchwood One bollocks like that. Owen cannot imagine how warped he must be too even think about doing such a thing and then he thinks of poor Katie and hates Jones all the more.
It gets even worse when Jones obediently reports his injuries to his bosses at One resulting in another yelling match between Jack and Yvonne Hartman over his leadership capabilities.
But life goes on, he fools around with Gwen some more, Tosh falls in love with some alien bird and nearly gets them all killed, and it turns out she's been hearing all their thoughts over the past few days.
He and Gwen have wait to ask her what exactly she heard, because Mary's body is still cooling on the floor of the Hub, a bullet through the exact center of her forehead (Jones is nothing if not an efficient killer) and she's still in shock as Jack interrogates her in the conference room.
Finally, Jack exits and sweeps past them and they hesitantly enter the room, Gwen giving him a stern look, clearly saying be nice or else.
"Tosh," she says carefully, shifting awkwardly from one foot to the other. "Are you alright?"
She nods distractedly, tear streaks still on her cheeks. "Yeah."
There is a pause.
"Look," Owen says, but Gwen punches him the arm.
"We were just wondering..." Gwen says gently. "When did you have this...I don't know... ability?"
The look on her face tells it all and Owen inwardly curses, but before he can make sure, Jones enters the room and grabs a couple file folders on the far end of the conference table.
"Jones!" Tosh says suddenly as he turns to leave and he pauses, turning around to face her.
He doesn't seem at all worried about Tosh's ability, making Owen remember why he sometimes wonders if Jones is secretly an evil robot.
"You..." she says quietly. "Is work all you think about?"
Jones doesn't even hesitate, as if it's the same as any other question.
He looks between him, Gwen, and Tosh distastefully.
Tosh looks down at the table quickly, as if ashamed. She's been talking to Jones more since the disaster in the countryside, probably because the prat saved her life.
Jones leaves, and he and Gwen reluctantly turn back to Tosh.
Once it's obvious that Tosh knows about their little affair, Owen leaves Gwen to be all mushy and goes downstairs to get his jacket and go home.
"...did she mean?" Jones is asking Jack, busying himself with his bloody brilliant coffee that after tasting for the first time, they all made a pact to one, never let anyone else make coffee again, and two, never let Jones know.
"She said you smelled different," Jones continues. "She asked what you were."
Jack gives him a cold look. "That's hardly any of your business, is it?" he says.
His captain grabs his camp coat and makes for the exit, Jones watching him go suspiciously.
It seems like they barely get a reprieve after that, because then Suzie comes back to life, they kill her again, and then Owen meets Diane.
And Diane...Diane is wonderful, funny, sexy, and so far ahead of her time. She was wasted on the prudes in 1953, and for the first time in three and a half years Owen doesn't think of Katie while he's with another woman.
But then everything goes to shit, she leaves even though he begs her not to go, he ends it with Gwen, there's the whole debacle with the weevil, and he still can't grieve over Diane properly because then Torchwood One gets itself massacred.
Distress calls start coming in late on Thursday night, but before they can even figure out what's going on, Jack receives a call from UNIT telling him Torchwood One has fallen to an alien race called the Sycorax who wanted revenge on some past grievance that Owen remembers reading about two Christmases ago. As far as anyone can tell, Torchwood One brought down the Sycorax with them, and that appears to be the end of that, until Jack discovers some reference to "the Doctor" whoever that is and suddenly declares that they're all going to London to scavenge the remains of Torchwood One.
"Who the hell is "the Doctor" anyway?" Owen asks as they pack the SUV.
"You don't know?" Jones says incredulously, speaking for the first time in days. The shock of Torchwood One falling seems to have hit him pretty hard, Owen thinks cruelly.
Jones turns to Tosh and Gwen, both looking nonplussed.
"How do you not know who the Doctor is?" he asks. "He's mentioned in our foundation charter, after all."
"Really?" Gwen asks, looking curious. "What about him?"
"He's an alien. Torchwood's enemy," Jones says simply. "Enemy of the Crown is what's written in the charter."
"Well, not anymore," Jack says nastily, from behind them, depositing around metal case into the trunk.
Owen turns to stare at him in confusion. "How do you mean, not anymore?"
"Well, it seems we're the only ones left, besides Two, which really doesn't count," Jack explains coldly. He's been acting strangely too since he looked over the list of all the 800+ people that died, even though Jack has constantly wished Torchwood One's existence away.
"So now it appears I'm in charge," he says, turning to glare at Jones. Jones raises an eyebrow at him, but says nothing, face still as pale as if was when they heard the news of the attack
"And the Doctor's not our enemy," Jack continues. "Never has been really."
"Jack!" Gwen exclaims, looking bewildered. "But this doctor alien was there! How do you know he didn't have anything to do with it?"
"Because I know him," he says, with an air of finality in his voice.
"But Torchwood was founded in 1879, wasn't it?" Tosh says and they all turn to her. "How was he even...I mean, what is he, immortal?"
Jack lets out a strange bark of laughter, mouth curving upwards in not quite amusement.
"Not exactly," he replies and refuses to say anything more on the subject.
Gwen stays behind to watch the Hub (mostly to keep that idiotic boyfriend of hers from being suspicious) and the rest of them pile into the SUV and drive three and a half hours to the wreckage that is all that remains of Torchwood One.
UNIT had removed all the bodies before Jack kicked them out, but there are blood stains everywhere and everything has been smashed to bits. Jack disappears as soon as they get there and while Tosh manages to scavenge what she finds useful, it all looks the same to Owen so he ends up wandering the empty halls with Jones, who is still more silent and pale than usual. Doubtfully because of the carnage before him though, Owen thinks privately, instead it's probably from the shock of the whole power structure of Torchwood being upended.
They're in one of the basements when Owen kicks open a door to find several long rooms filled with file cabinets that appear to be untouched.
"The archives," Jones says, entering the room and touching one of the file cabinets lightly. "Harkness'll probably want all this since the mainframe's fried."
"Lovely," Owen grumbles, imaging all the work that's ahead of them. "He better make UNIT ship it to us cos I'm pretty sure we don't have the funds for this."
Jones pulls at one of the drawers that had been left open a crack and pulls out a folder, flipping it open and wincing at the dried blood all over the pages.
"Well, this one's completely ruined," he says matter-of-factly.
"What the fuck is wrong with you?" Owen snarls, rage at Diane's loss and the brutality all around him pinpointing itself at Jones. "People died here, show some bloody respect!"
Jones puts the folder down on top of the file cabinet, "People die everywhere," he tells him coldly, and it's times like these that Owen can't believe that Jones is only twenty-three. "Don't think these people are special just because they were killed by aliens. Everyone's the same in death. "
He turns around and walks toward the next room before Owen can retort, and he has no choice but to trail behind him, trying to avoid stepping in dried blood as he goes.
The next room is larger, appearing to be a library, filled with shelves and shelves of books and scrolls.
"Oh, it's still here," Jones says, sounding pleased. He walks purposefully over the fallen shelves and scattered books, and Owen follows him to the empty space in the center of the room, where there are several smashed reference computers and more blood stains.
Jones walks to the middle of the room and squats down slowly, placing his palm flat on the floor. Just staring at his han-no, staring at the spot beneath his hand. After what seems like a long time, he stands.
"I used to work here," Jones says suddenly. "My first job at Torchwood."
"What?" Owen says, despite himself. He only looked at Jones' file once and he was a bit preoccupied with the whole girlfriend-killing matter to bother with Jones' pre-Field Agent job, after all.
"Junior Researcher," he says, as if the words are strange to him, but he's faced in the other direction so Owen can't see his expression, still staring down at the spot on the floor. "Four... almost five years ago."
"You were hired when you were nineteen?" Owen asks, shocked not only at the young age, but also that Jones was working for Torchwood before he was. "What, you didn't go to university?"
"Not everyone can afford to get a higher education," Jones says frostily, picking up a book off the floor and flipping through it, turning sideways so that Owen can see his profile.
If it were anyone else, Owen would have felt at least a little bit ashamed, but it was Jones, the man who had murdered his girlfriend for his bloody job, and he refuses to concede the moral high ground to a man who obviously doesn't deserve it.
"I'm out of here," Owen says. "I've got better things to do than watch you reminisce about your old job as a pencil-pusher."
Jones doesn't protest, but follows him through the library to the next room, a contemplative look on his face.
They leave just a couple days later after cataloging all the useful equipment, books, and files for UNIT to ship them. Jack is the only one that brings back anything personally, a black bag filled with a strange looking gun, a pair of 3-D glasses, and a bunch of other strange instruments that Owen doesn't recognize and Jack won't let any of them near.
Jack is moody and irritable for the next few days and then he and Tosh get sucked into the Rift, end up in 1941, and Ianto bloody Jones is standing in the way of bringing them back.
"Don't you dare," he snarls, tightening his grip around the Rift key. "Don't you dare try and stop me, Jones, you bastard."
"Put. It. Down." Jones enunciates, gun pointed directly at his heart.
"You son of a bitch," Owen shouts. "They're stuck in fucking 1941! They'll die there and I know you don't fucking care, but I do! That rift took my lover and my captain and I'm going to get them back!"
"You people," Jones hisses, looking furious and determined. "You fall in love as often as you do laundry. Get over her, Harper. You knew her one bleeding week. She's gone, she left you, and she's not coming back. You don't know what kind of chaos you could bring on us if you open the Rift. We could all get sucked in. Is your week long shag worth it?"
"Shut your fucking mouth!" Owen bellows, too angry to be afraid of Jones now. "What do you know about anything? You're sick, Jones, you are. Last I checked, you murdered your girlfriend for a bloody promotion, so don't pretend you know anything about m-"
A shot goes off and Owen freezes, pain enveloping him. He gapes down at his shoulder and then back up at Jones again.
"You," he gasps, raw agony coursing through him. "What-"
But it's not over yet, so he lunges for the Rift Manipulator, key still in hand, but before he can get there another shot rings out and he screams in pain as his other shoulder burns in excruciating torment. He falls to the floor, key slipping out of his hand and watches numbly as Jones' standard issue black boots step down the stairs and approach him.
No, he thinks. No this is not how it's going to end. He will not give up, he will not let a vile, disgusting murderer who will never know love win. As Jones approaches, saying something that is too quiet for Owen to hear, he strikes. With the last of his strength, he scissors his legs, tripping Jones and lunges for the Rift Manipulator, forcing the key into place. Jones grabs him and throws him away onto the stairs, but it is too late, the machine start up and it is done.
Owen sobs in agony at the collision, Jones yells, "You idiot!" and then it all goes black.
When he wakes up, he's lying on the autopsy table and Jones is hovering over him, pressing plaster to his wounds.
"Motherfucker!" Owen manages to gasp out. "You filthy little-"
"Quiet," Jones snarls, "or I'll shoot you again, somewhere vital this time, like I ought to have the first time."
"Son of a whore," Owen replies, and then whimpers in pain as Jones presses a little too hard on his left shoulder.
"Owen, where's the painkillers?" Gwen says shakily, her pale, worried face swimming into view.
"My kit's on the...-ugh, fuck- it's on my desk, the outside pocket..."
Gwen head disappears from his sight and he hears her clambering up the stairs.
"You..." Owen gasps, "are so fucking fired. Your bosses got themselves annihilated, there's nothing going to save you from-"
"I'd be more worried about you," Jones says coolly."You broke rule number one here: you opened the Rift."
"Yeah, well-" Owen stops, realization dawning on him. "Jack, is he-"
"I'm right here," Jack's voice comes from above him, sounding displeased. "And I cannot believe I'm saying this, but Jones is right. You shouldn't have messed with the Rift."
"I did what I had to do," Owen hisses, furious that Jack isn't more grateful. "I saved your skin, dammit."
"For now," Jones says, and he hears Gwen coming down the stairs again. "Still no sign of Bilis, but make no mistake," Jones grabs his chin and forces Owen to look at him, "next time you try to open the Rift, I will kill y-"
"That's enough," Jack interrupts and Jones lets go of Owen's chin, antipathy written all over his young face.
Gwen injects him with enough painkillers to make him forget that he had ever been shot and presently, Owen sits up and examines the bandages on his chest.
"Shouldn't we take him to the hospital?" he hears Tosh ask.
"I'm fine," Owen growls out, glaring at Jones. "This is the worst bandaging job I've ever seen."
"You'll get over it," Jones responds and exits the medical bay.
"You won't shoot me," Gwen Cooper tells Jones, wildly, desperately. "Bilis was right, he said open the Rift and everything goes back to normal. Owen's right. I'm going to get Rhys back."
"Get away from the computer, Gwen," Jack commands, but nothing on this Earth can make Gwen comply.
"Don't you dare try and order me around," she snarls. "Look who you've sided with, Jack Harkness!"
She waves her hand in Jones' direction. "Are you really the same as him?"
Owen pushes in front of her protectively and she feels a surge of affection for him and Tosh behind them working to open the Rift because surely that will save them all and Rhys, poor, wonderful Rhys will come back.
"This is a trap. All these cracks around the world, they're diversions," Jack says, lies. "This is what Bilis wants!"
"What are you afraid of, Jack?" Owen bites out.
"Oh, please," Jones snarls out viciously. "You're all fools. You all saw the visions, didn't you?"
Tosh's typing stops and Gwen blinks at Jones in surprise.
"What?" Jack says, looking between them, confused.
"They're a lie," he continues condescendingly. "You're so naïve, did you really believe them? They're Bilis' trick and you're falling for it like the morons you obviously all are."
"Shut up!" she screams at him.
"You're so blind," he hisses at them and every word is like a knife to her chest. "After all we've seen today, do you really think something good will come out of opening the Rift?"
"You don't know shit!" Owen yells.
Beside Jones, Jack suddenly draws his gun as well.
"I said," he says quiet and deadly ""Move.""
"What the hell are you doing?" Tosh asks angrily.
Gwen takes a deep breath, praying to any deity she can think of to let her find the words to convince Jack of what needs to be done. "C'mon, Jack," she whispers.
"So, you're a united front now?" Jack says maliciously. "Toshiko, the poor girl who'll screw any passing alien that gives her a pendant? And Owen, so strong, he gets in a cage with a Weevil, desperate to be mauled."
"Please," Gwen whispers, talking a shaky step forwards despite Jack and Jones' guns trained on her. "I've got to get Rhys back."
Jack lowers his gun briefly, mouth twisting in spite. "Yeah, cos you're so in love with Rhys that you spend half your time in Owen's bed."
Rage flashes across her vision and she's punching him before she even realizes what she's doing.
"Fuck you!" she shouts, eyes tearing up so much that she almost misses Owen picking up Jack's dropped gun.
"Don't move," Jones says quietly and then there's the press of the barrel of a handgun against her temple.
She freezes and Owen turns to point Jack's gun at him.
"Put it down!" he demands and Jones' lip curls in annoyance.
"Shit!" Tosh yells. "We need retina scans!"
Jack tries to get up and Owen shoves him down, pointing his gun back at their Captain.
"We," he shouts furiously. "We're relieving you of your command, "Captain". We're opening that rift and getting back what we lost!"
"How many fucking times do I have to tell you?" Jones says, gun still pressed against her head. "They're dead and opening the Rift won't bring them back!"
"I have," Gwen hisses, "to get him back. I don't expect you to understand."
"At what cost?" he laughs. "Do you know how many people could die? How many other people's boyfriends and girlfriends? You're not the center of the bloody universe!"
"Yeah, you'd know all about girlfriends, would you, Jones?" Owen says darkly and Jones shifts, deftly pointing his gun at Owen now, face contorted in anger.
"Owen," Jack says from the ground. "Put the gun down."
"Stay down!" Owen shouts at him, moving his gun back and forth between him and Jones.
"You're in charge, Owen?" Jack asks fiercely, standing. "You've gotta have significantly bigger balls!"
Owen opens fire. Gwen watches in horror as Jack falls backwards, dead.
"I'm sick of people doubting me!" Owen shouts, firing several more times.
The gun against her temple falls to the floor with a clatter.
"Wha-" Jones gasps beside her, voice suddenly high-pitched in shock. "What have you-"
She strikes before he can kill them all, kneeing him in the groin and punching him the face. He falls to his knees, but then tackles her to the ground and they struggle until suddenly there is a buzzing sound and Gwen scrambles away as Jones jerks around spastically, Tosh pressing a stun gun into his side. He slumps into unconsciousness on the floor and Gwen turns to look at Jack's body.
"Okay," Owen whispers, shaking and still holding onto the gun. "Let's go."
Hours later, they're all standing over Jack's body in the morgue.
"You're certain?" she whispers.
"He's cold," Owen replies, sounding as if something has gotten caught in his throat. "No vital signs."
"But," she starts, grasping at straws. "he survived when you shot him. When I first joined, he said he couldn't die."
"He was wrong."
"Brilliant," Jones snarls from the other side of Owen. "Great work. Just...just bloody brilliant."
He stalks off and Gwen barely represses a sob.
"I want to sit with him," she says because Jack cannot be dead, he just can't.
He wakes up three days later and the relief is like a cool drink in the desert. He thanks her, hugs Tosh, forgives Owen, even gives Jones a nod of acknowledgment, and everything is perfect.
And then he fucking leaves.
It has been ten months, one week, and four days and there is no end in sight of Jack Harkness' torture. He has tried to escape six separate times to no avail and he is tired, so, so, tired.
Gwen and Owen are dead. The Master gleefully showed Jack their final moments on a huge screen three months ago. Owen, so selfless and determined, he died saving a child, and Gwen, so beautiful and vicious as she let bullets pelt her body that were meant for Owen, screaming curses as she threw herself in danger's way. He hasn't heard anything about Tosh, or even Jones, and he lives in hope (as if he has a choice) that they, along with poor Martha, are still alive.
The boiler room is so hot, so hot all the time and the fumes are so thick that he can barely remember what a breath of fresh air tastes like, can barely remember what it is like to not have manacles confining his movement, relentless against his wrists. But he cannot break. For the Doctor, for Gwen, Owen, and Tosh, for Martha, and for poor Tish who brings him food every single day. He has been stabbed, shot, blown up, decapitated, flayed, burned, starved, drowned, beaten, electrocuted, strangled, crushed, mutilated, and poisoned, but he will not break.
Tish tells him the date every day, but still, time doesn't seem to function here the same way it did on Earth or all the hundreds of other planets he has visited. Even after living hundreds of years in Cardiff, time has never been so warped and strange.
And so, when he hears the sound of a muffled shot and the body of his guard crashing to the floor, he doesn't quite know how long it's been since his last escape attempt. He blinks blearily through the smoke as the gate opens a few seconds later and gapes as he realizes the identity of the figure that stands before him.
"Hullo, Jack," Jones says, smiling slightly as he approaches him.
"J-Jones?" he questions, looking him up and down in surprise.
He's wearing the most casual clothes he's ever seen him in, jeans and a dirty collared shirt, his hair slightly longer than Jack remembers. He has a rather nasty looking scar across his cheek that looks suspiciously like a Toclafane blade.
"What? H-How the hell did you get up here?" he manages to cough out as Jones pulls a bobby pin out of his pocket. He comes to stand right in front of him, so close he can smell the gun powder on his clothes. Jones reaches out to grab Jack's right manacle and start to mess with the lock.
"Stowed away on a supply ship," Jones explains with a satisfied smirk. "Security's getting really lax, I think you should complain."
Jack lets out a short laugh that even surprises himself. "I see you've picked up a few tricks since I last saw you."
Jones smiles, but keeps his eyes on his work. "Actually, I picked this up years ago, in my lawbreaking youth, of course."
"Jones," Jack blurts out, realizing what him being here really means. "Owen...Owen and Gwen are-"
"I know," Jones says, quietly, smile disappearing.
"Tosh!" Jack whispers frantically. "What about Toshiko?"
Jones pauses in his work for a split-second and it's the only sign that Jack needs. He inhales sharply and closes his eyes as he feels them begin to water.
"It was quick," Jones says quietly, looking him in eyes earnestly and then there is a soft click and Jack's right hand falls free.
"Good," Jack says seriously, gratefully. He twists his arm and wrist around experimentally, wincing at the stiffness.
"So, I'm the only one left," Jones says, and a self-deprecating smile graces his lips as he shifts over to work at Jack's left hand.
Jack has worked with Jones for two years and he's never seen him smile so much as he has in these past few minutes. It's shocking, how much he's changed in this past year. Jack remembers Gwen's last moments, the cold look on Tish's face. Everyone Jack's had contact with has hardened into cruel people he barely recognizes, but Jones, it appears, has actually softened.
"Incredibly ironic," Jones continues, breath ghosting over his left ear as he works, "if you think about it. I became a field agent to get myself killed, and what do I get? I'm the last bloody Torchwood agent on Earth."
"Jones-" Jack starts, shocked, but he's cut off by the sound of sirens and freezes.
"CONDITION RED!" a mechanical voice blares out. "CONDITION RED! INTRUDERS! INTRUDERS!"
"Fuck!" Jones curses, letting his hands fall and whirling around. He closes his eyes inhales deeply, fists clenching.
"What the hell are you doing?" Jack hisses. "Run!"
Jones turns and give him another smile, a sad one this time, "It's too late, Jack."
"No!" Jack growls.
"It's over," Jones tells him, horrifically calm about his impending death. "I always knew it was the most likely outcome, but I had to try."
"They'll be here any second!" Jack shouts, struggling against his remaining manacle. "Get out of here!"
Jones shakes his head softly and Jack rushes as far forward as he can go, grabbing Jones' collar and pushing him back, "Run, you idiot!"
Jones pulls his hand off his collar and clenches it tightly. He reaches out to cup the side of Jack's face, leans in, and kisses him.
Jack makes a soft noise of surprise, but then shuts his eyes tightly, letting go of Jones' hand to wrap his free arm tightly around his neck, kissing him back desperately. He pulls Jones as close to him as is humanly possible, relishing the feel of Jones' arms around his waist, his chest and hips and mouth and tongue against his, tasting of metal and gunpowder and best of all, life.
But then there's the sound of shouting voices in the distance and the moment is over. Jones breaks the kiss, lips swollen, face flushed, and eyes-lids at half-mast, his forehead pressed to Jack's.
"Jack," he says softly, and the sound of Jones' low voice saying his given name, a clipped sort of sound with a Welsh tint, causes Jack to shiver.
Jones pulls away, taking a step back and then another.
"I'll be sure to take a few with me when I go," he says, God, still smiling, and he pulls his firearm out of the back of his trousers. The shouting is louder now and Jack can hear the sound of several pairs of footsteps too, but all he can look at is Jones, "And I'm sorry, Jack."
He darts off to the side of the long and winding underbelly of the Valiant, just seconds before guards burst through the metal chain-link gate, nearly tripping over the body of their dead compatriot. The man in front looks up furiously to see Jack half-free and raises his gun.
"You stupid fuc-" and then there is a shot, pain, and everything goes black.
He wakes, right hand re-manacled, just in time to see Jones' bullet ridden body being dragged slowly across the floor.
A/N: So this is the first part of my crazy long Torchwood fic. I've actually already written it all, so I'm going to post a new part once a week. Obviously this is an AU, in addition to Ianto being a Torchwood One Agent, you'll also notice that the events of the Battle of Canary Wharf went differently (and later) than in canon. Also, while I'm using some of the background info and characters revealed in Children of Earth, let's just pretend the aliens decided to make drugs/human children illegal after the first go in 1965, shall we?
And as you can probably already tell, I'm not British and while I've tried to make the language and phrasing sound authentic, obviously I'm going to fail to a certain extent. Sorry!
Anyway, this is my first attempt at Torchwood fic, so I hope you like it and please review! Special thanks to my betas Resonance and d and Sleeping Soundly!