This takes place post S1/pre S2, but has no Year That Never Was elements. It's more like a Couple of Weeks That Were. This is the sequel to "The Adventures of Jaunty Jones". You don't need to have read that (or remember it!) to read this, but you might miss some of the connections. Imagine the title on a 1950s Sci Fi B-movie poster! While Jack isn't in this story in body, he is in spirit (and flashbacks!) so you'll still get your fix of Capo Jack!
Chapter 1 – In Ianto They Trust
"I said I'm sorry! What more can I say," Owen asked stomping into the Hub ahead of Tosh, Gwen, and a very discontent Ianto.
"How about 'duck'? That could have been helpful," Ianto sniped. His shoes squelched as he walked.
"I honestly didn't know it was going to explode."
"I told you it was 99% water," Tosh interjected. "I told you it was a walking balloon. What did you think was going to happen if you shot it?"
"Well," Owen reasoned, "I was more concerned with it not killing us than with Teaboy getting a little wet. Now that I know you care more for his loafers than your life, I'll adjust my priorities."
"I don't wear loafers, Owen," Ianto said turning Owen's name into a curse. "These are balmoral oxfords and while they aren't worth more than Tosh's life, I'm not so sure about yours!"
"Stop it, the pair of you," Gwen yelled. "I've absolutely had it with all the shouting. Ianto, go make us some coffee. Bring it to the board room. Team meeting!"
Owen moaned. Tosh hung her head in her hands. Ianto, to everyone's surprise, did not roll his eyes and walk to the coffee machine.
"No," Ianto said.
"What," Gwen asked incredulously.
"You heard me," Ianto said plainly. "I'm going to make sure this 'water' isn't contaminated. Then, I'm going to take a shower and put on dry clothes. After that, I'm going to call in to the conference call with the Ministry of Defense. If, and only if, I have time before that, I'll make some coffee, but I will not be attending another one of your team pep rallies."
"We need to discuss what went wrong with the mission…"
"We know what went wrong," Tosh interrupted. "A kind of alien we've never seen before came through the Rift. Owen thought it was attacking and counter-attacked. The alien exploded all over Ianto."
"Yes," Gwen said patiently, "that's what happened, but what can we do to ensure this doesn't happen again?"
"I wouldn't do anything different," Owen said glaring.
"Next time we come across this species, it will be in the database and it will say how far away a field agent needs to be before it pops," Tosh added.
"Okay, and Ianto, what about you?" Gwen smiled broadly.
"I shouldn't be in the field to begin with!"
"That's hardly Owen's fault is it," she said motherly.
"Gwen," Ianto said trying to contain his anger at not only the mission, but the overall situation he was in, "Owen and I have been yelling at each other since the day we met. He wants to yell because he had to kill something. I want to yell because I'm wet. Tosh would love to yell, but she's too much of a lady. It's who we are. If you don't like it, replace us. Owen," Ianto said as he walked, with as much dignity as he could manage while looking like a drowned Weevil, towards Autopsy, "do you have something special to test this liquid?"
"Yeah, let me get a beaker for you to empty your shoe into." Owen and Tosh followed.
The liquid turned out to be mostly water, but did contain some alien DNA and a trace amount of mucus. Owen gave Ianto a special cleaner to wash with and with great sorrow Ianto packaged up his clothes and shoes to burn. After his shower spent actively not thinking about how much better it would have been with Jack, he made the coffees, handed them out, and went to Jack's office.
He didn't like using Jack's office as a rule, but the dedicated secure line was there. He and Tosh had talked about changing it, but it quickly became clear it was going to be more difficult than turning the old conference room into a hot house and would require bringing in outside help. Ianto decided not to make an issue of it.
Uncomfortably, Ianto sat behind Jack's desk and shuffled through the papers for the call. He had ten minutes to spare. He liked to have at least 15 so he could re-read any information and calm himself. He'd sat in on many of Jack's calls and had even taken over quite a few as it became easier to apologize for Captain Harkness being unavailable than to apologize after the fact for Jack being Jack especially when Jack was being Jack and wasn't sure if the mute button was on. It had been one of the signs that Jack trusted Ianto. While he might not have had Jack's love, fidelity, or respect, he did have a little of his trust and that was something.
Thinking things like that was why he needed the extra time before the calls. Even though he was sure Jack wasn't coming back no matter how much he wished he would, Ianto had kept everything in Jack's office as it was with only one minor change. He had closed and locked the manhole leading to Jack's bunker. It was too tempting for him to slip down and immerse himself in all things Jack. The others were too curious about Jack and Ianto didn't want them traipsing through Jack's space and prowling through his things. He knew they would eventually, but he wasn't ready for that.
"What's today's call," Gwen asked sitting in the visitor chair and holding her coffee mug.
"This is the MOD coverall," Ianto said not looking up from the papers.
"And what does that mean," she asked.
Ianto knew she wasn't going away. Gwen had taken over as leader which was fine, surprisingly, with everyone. Ianto and Tosh didn't want to do it and Owen only made a token argument that he was better suited for the role. In actuality, Ianto could tell Owen didn't want the responsibility and he certainly didn't want to give up complaining about whoever was in charge. Gwen had the least amount to do and she wanted to be leader so it all made sense. They thought of her more as a coordinator than the new boss.
The only problem was the lengthy list of things she couldn't do, not that Ianto was knocking her for it. Luckily, she agreed that things that fell into the category 'administrative' should be done by Ianto. Ianto didn't mind in principle. Besides the calls, there were other things that Ianto had been taking more and more control over in the last few months with Jack. Some things, like the budget, he had no problem offering to Gwen. Other things, like the budget for Flat Holm, he felt obligated to keep to himself as Jack had entrusted him with the secret. When the Crown eventually appointed a new permanent leader Ianto would pass the secrets onto that person. Until then, he kept his mouth shut. It had nothing to do with holding out hope for Jack to return, he told himself repeatedly.
Unfortunately, in practice Ianto had issues. Sure, he could offer the budget to Gwen, but she would smile and say "administrative" and push it back to him. On top of his usual duties, Ianto found he now had Jack's "administrative" work plus additional field work not to mention the night watch. Oh the night watch!
The first two weeks after Jack left, the Rift was still spewing out all kinds of flotsam, jetsam, and aliens at a record pace. Now things were slowing down, but not as much for Ianto as he would have liked. They'd all agreed they were exhausted and needed a system so they didn't all spend all their time at the Hub. That led to the night watch. Somehow Ianto's comment about having too much to do had led to him working the night watch four nights a week.
"It will give you a chance to catch up without having anyone to bother you," Gwen had said reassuringly and smiling that smile Ianto was working hard not to hate.
It wasn't that bad. It did give him a chance to keep the Hub from falling into chaos. Ianto fixed up a room with a bed and Tosh setup a computer in it. The Rift Monitor would alarm and the person on night watch would have to see if it was something requiring immediate action. If it was, the person on watch would call whoever was needed. The problem was twofold. First, his scheduled 4 nights usually turned out to be 5 or 6 as Owen wouldn't show up or would be unfit for duty, Tosh was attempting to have more of a life, and Gwen was trying to keep Rhys from exploding over her longer hours.
Second, it meant Ianto was only getting a few hours of sleep at a time. He didn't have the desire to come in every morning at 7 am since he didn't have Jack to spend the time with, but he had too much work to do to come in as late as the others. He'd end up working 18 hour days and it was taking its toll. He was tempted to give up his flat and move in to the Hub. He wondered if that's how it had happened to Jack.
But Ianto wasn't the kind to complain especially since his one complaint had led to his predicament. He took a deep breath and thought of how to explain the MOD coverall call to Gwen.
"Well, we used to have two weekly calls. One was for when we have overlapping cover stories. The other was to keep each other in the loop of anything that might fall into the other group's realm. I've convinced them to combine the two calls and it's been working pretty well."
"Can't you just send them an email," she asked.
"Oh, I wish I could, but they like to have live discussions and none of us want a paper trail."
"Maybe I should sit in," she said.
"Oh-kay," Ianto said not really caring if she did or not, but sensing that wasn't what she really wanted. "Do you just want to listen in or do you want me to introduce you?"
"They knew Jack was on the line, yeah?"
"Jack stopped doing the MOD calls when Saxon began sitting in. Jack wasn't very good at holding his tongue," Ianto said trying not to think about the things Jack could do with his tongue.
"So this is something you've been handling for a while," Gwen half stated, half asked.
"Gwen, I don't want to offend you, but I have to call in soon. Is there something you want?" Ianto hoped he didn't sound snippy, but he was tired and he didn't think he could take much more of her tap dancing around.
"Since you asked, do you think you and Owen would respect me more if I did more Jack things and moved into this office?" Ianto couldn't identify the emotion behind the look Gwen was giving him, but he didn't care for it whatever it was.
"Gwen, we don't disrespect you. Look, how many times did you hear Jack break up an argument between me and Owen?"
"That's different," she said quickly. "Jack didn't want to show any favoritism so he couldn't jump in and tell Owen to shut it and if he took Owen's side he'd have you angry at him."
"Um, no, that's not how we worked." Ianto didn't want to explain anything to Gwen or the others, but it felt necessary. "We kept work and our personal…relationship very separate. That's part of why you and Owen didn't have a clue. Jack didn't break us up because he knew it didn't matter. I've shot Owen. He's literally kicked me while I was down. Us squabbling is nothing. We argue more because we are together more. If we had another field agent, I wouldn't have to go out as much and we wouldn't fight as often." Ianto leaned back and smiled. "I'm sorry, Gwen, but it doesn't have anything to do with you. It's who we are."
"That's very similar to what Owen and Tosh said."
"There you go. We have a majority opinion."
"Owen also said he thinks you are working too many hours," Gwen said leaning forward.
"Again, I'm not going to argue. Did I mention getting another field agent to you today?" Ianto smiled. He'd brought up bringing in another person almost every day since Jack had left.
"Oh I don't think you've mentioned it more than five times today," Gwen said with a chuckle. "Jack will be back any day. We all need to be patient and do the best we can in the meantime."
"You know my thoughts on that," Ianto said unable to fake a chuckle of his own. Gwen nodded sadly.
At first, Ianto had been as worried as everyone else, possibly more so. It only took a few minutes to find the CCTV footage of Jack running across the Plass. He had been sick with worry and counted those among the longest moments of his life. Then they found the footage of what Jack was running to and Ianto deflated.
"It's the Doctor," he said in a quiet voice.
"Are you sure," Tosh said looking at the blue police box on the monitor. Ianto nodded.
"Jack said something about the right kind of doctor," Gwen said squinting at the screen. "Who is he?"
"The Torchwood Institute's number one enemy," Owen said.
"Then why haven't I heard of him," Gwen asked.
"Because he was the Institutes enemy, not Jack's," Ianto explained. "They were friends once. I don't know what they are now. The Doctor saved my life at Canary Wharf. He saved the World."
"I met him once," Tosh said. "Jack was upset he missed him."
"I think he's been hoping to see him for a long time," Ianto said, but didn't elaborate. He wasn't prepared to disclose Jack's secrets.
"Is Jack safe? Will he be back," Gwen asked. Everyone turned to Ianto.
"I don't think the Doctor would hurt him, but being with the Doctor is dangerous. At least one of his, I believe he calls them companions, died at Canary Wharf. Of course, you know how much Jack loves danger! Besides, who would stay in Cardiff when they have all of time and space at their fingertips?" Ianto added "besides me" in his head.
"Time and space," Gwen asked.
"That box is the Doctor's time machine," Tosh said. "He can travel anywhere in the universe in it and still be back for tea."
"So Jack could be back any minute," Gwen said perking up. Tosh and Owen smiled.
"Or not," Ianto said bleakly. He wanted to believe Jack would be back, but he had a bad feeling. His natural pessimism was in full bloom.
"Just because you wouldn't come back doesn't mean Jack won't," Owen said. Ianto knew the medic was grasping at straws.
"If it were me," Ianto began then stopped. If it was him, he'd leave a message. Without a word, Ianto jumped up and ran to the Archives.
"What is, Ianto," Tosh yelled after him. Ianto stopped and turned.
"If it were me and I was in a time machine, I'd go back in time and leave us a message in one of the time locked tubes," Ianto said smiling.
"Like Tommy's instructions," Tosh said jumping up as well.
"Exactly," Ianto said turning and running. There were only a dozen sealed messages. Two were in the secure archive. One was the instructions for Tommy that could open at any time. The other was addressed to Jack with a note that said it would open when Jack needed it. The others Jack said he knew what was inside and wasn't concerned with any of them. Some were set for a particular Rift frequency while others were set for specific dates. Ianto knew none of them were addressed to any of them and he had previously found two of them had malfunctioned and should have opened decades earlier. What Ianto hoped to see was a 13th container – a new container that hadn't been there before, but had somehow come into existence through the magic of time travel.
An hour later he and Tosh returned to her workstation to let Owen and Gwen know there wasn't a message. Ianto decided after that brief emotional roller coaster he couldn't afford to have hope. He decided, intellectually, Jack wasn't coming back. Emotionally, Ianto was still working on it.
"So," Ianto said checking his watch, "should I introduce you on the call?"
"I think," Gwen said standing, "I'll take a page out of Jack's book."
"If that means you're going to try to distract me with glimpses of nudity, I'm not sure Rhys would approve," Ianto said managing a smile.
"No," Gwen said turning red. "I meant if he trusted you to handle it then why should I get in your way. Have a good call." She left office and Ianto sighed. Picking up the ancient landline, Ianto wished Jack and Gwen didn't trust him quite so much.