Jack rubbed his eyes, taking in the scene around him. Them, actually. He could feel Ianto's presence at his side.
"I know, Ianto. I know."
"Tell me what I think happened isn't what's really happened."
Jack swallowed, folding his arms around himself. "I wish I could."
"How far back do you think we've gone?"
"Judging by the clothing, I'd guess early twentieth century." Ianto groaned. Jack understood the sentiment. "This could get a bit…tricky. It appears to be Cardiff. Which means we're now going to have to avoid…me."
"That's easy enough. You know where you've been."
"And anyone who knows me."
He saw Ianto tense out of the corner of his eye. "That might be tougher."
"You have no idea."
"You really got around, didn't you?"
Jack dropped his arms, turning to face Ianto. "Hey! I'll have you know I just happened to have a lot of friends. And enemies."
Ianto groaned again. "Any of them psychopathic, jaded men with an agenda?"
"Do you really want me to give you a list?"
"I'd rather you didn't."
Jack smirked, turning around in a circle to get a better idea of exactly where they were. "If I'm not mistaken there should be an inn nearby. I never actually had to stay there, as I got a room with one of the locals, but we should have no trouble there. At least until we can formulate a plan to get back."
"And what are we going to use for currency? I'm quite sure we'd draw suspicion flashing around such colorful bills and, heaven forbid, plastic cards."
"Our first stop will have to be a local merchant. We can sell something."
"Like what, Jack? The clothes off our bodies?" Jack waggled his eyebrows at him and Ianto glared. "No. I am not walking the streets of twentieth century Cardiff in the buff."
"You're no fun, Ianto." Jack chuckled, beginning the walk deeper into town. "Realistically, though, we're going to have to change. We'll attract a bit too much attention in World War Two period dress and a three piece suit."
"There must be something else we can part with initially," Ianto responded, falling into step beside him.
"My coat is the most logical choice."
"Oh Jack, not the coat."
"It's got to be the coat, Ianto. It'll get us the most money, and we don't know exactly how long we're going to be here."
"Tosh will get us back quickly."
"Rather optimistic, aren't you?"
"Well, someone has to be. You'd likely be quite satisfied to live out our lives here."
"That'd be quite a large undertaking, considering," Jack quipped. "Besides, I've lived all of this before. Trust me, it's not that exciting."
"You don't talk much about it."
"For very good reason."
They walked in silence for several minutes, catching curious stares from passersby. Jack smiled at them and Ianto nodded in greeting, but neither of them spoke, as if by mutual consent. It wouldn't do for them to cause more suspicion than their clothing already did.
There were a lot of different reasons why he didn't want to be back here, the greatest of which being Torchwood. If word got back to them that there were two gentlemen walking through town looking like they didn't belong, there could be trouble. No, strike that, there would be trouble. The kind of trouble Jack had gotten himself into before. And while by the time he'd met Ianto Jack was glad he was working for them, he wasn't the same person back then that he was now, and neither was the institution.
When they arrived at a small store that looked promising, Jack told Ianto to wait outside for him. There was no protest, as he was pretty sure Ianto understood the need for him to do this alone. Heading inside he found the shop to be exactly as he'd expected. It sold everything from clothing to household goods, and many items in between. Stepping up to the counter, Jack shrugged off his great coat and draped it over his arm. There was a rusty bell set out for patrons and Jack tapped on it, wondering if it even worked. To his astonishment a small tinkling sound filled the air.
Within moments an elderly gentleman slowly made his way out of a back room, and smiled gently when he caught sight of Jack. "Good afternoon, sir. How may I be of assistance?"
Jack returned the smile, setting the coat down on the counter between them. "I was wondering if we might be able to make a deal on a price for this coat. I'm new in town and could really use some spare change and a couple more trousers and shirts."
The older man's smile seemed to falter a moment but then was back full stop. "This coat, you say?" He picked it up and eyed it carefully, turning it around and lifting it as if to weigh it. "It's very heavy. Wool, is it not?"
"It is," Jack agreed. "It's kept me warm for a very long time."
"Never seen another like it," the man replied, looking up. "Where did you say you were from?"
"America," Jack told him, figuring the little white lie couldn't hurt anyone. It was the most likely place for him to have traveled from, after all.
"Hmm," the man said, returning his gaze to the coat. "I'll give you five pounds and a shirt and trousers."
Jack tried his best not to snort derisively. "Make it twenty and two pair of trousers and two shirts and you have a deal."
The man's eyebrow went up. "You believe this coat to be worth that much?"
"I do. And I think you do too."
"Ten and one pair of each."
"Fifteen and two pairs of each. Final offer or I'll take my coat elsewhere."
The man's eyes narrowed but he looked back down at the coat, rubbing his thumbs over the collar. He harrumphed and then nodded. "You have a deal."
Jack grinned. "Great!"
"Go on; pick out your items, then. We don't do alterations here, though, as they're all second hand. You'll have to take them to Druitt's on the other end of town if they don't fit."
"Not to worry," Jack told him, picking out two dress shirts and a couple pairs of trousers, "I've got a pretty good eye."
The man watched him as he brought the items to the counter. "You may want a new pair of shoes. The ones you have are a bit odd."
Jack thought about it before realizing the merchant was right. Ianto's shoes were far too fancy for the time period and his own boots wouldn't work at all. He stepped over to a side table and picked out a pair of shoes for each of them, bringing them back to the counter.
"All set then?" the man asked.
The store owner wrapped the clothing in paper, reminding Jack of a much fancier establishment, and then handed him his money, minus the small amount for the shoes. He placed the shoes atop the paper and set them on the table. Jack smiled, thanking him, pocketed the rest of the money and then grabbed their clothes and shoes, heading outside to meet up with Ianto.
"How'd you do?" the young man asked him, raising an eyebrow at the package he was holding.
"Fifteen pounds, two trousers and two shirts."
Ianto frowned. "That's it?"
"Ianto, that's a lot of money. Don't forget when we are."
The frown disappeared. "Right, of course."
"Bought us a couple pairs of shoes as well."
"I can see that. I am going to miss the coat, though."
Jack smiled. "I know, me too. But we'll worry about getting me another later. Right now we should get ourselves a room."
"One room might arouse suspicion."
"I'll just tell them I'm sleeping on the floor. I've had to do that before." Ianto nodded and turned to follow him as he headed for the local inn.
tw tw tw tw tw
"Anything yet?" Gwen asked Tosh, hovering over her shoulder.
It was the third time she'd asked in less than an hour and Tosh's normally calm demeanor was cracking. "No, nothing yet, Gwen. I'll let you know when I have something."
Gwen smiled. "Sorry. Just anxious to get them back, really."
"As are we all," Tosh replied, not taking her eyes off her computer monitor. Surely one of these was the right algorithm.
"Actually it's quite nice without them," Owen said, leaning back in his chair while he played a video game. "No sexual innuendos being thrown around. No shouting for Ianto to meet him in his office. I can't remember when it's ever been this quiet."
Tosh tore her eyes away from the screen to scowl at him. "It may be quiet, but if you don't watch it I'm letting Gwen make the next round of coffee."
Owen's eyes widened. "You wouldn't."
"Bloody Jack Harkness and his bloody artifacts. I could deal without him, but I'd murder a cup of Ianto's special blend right now." He scowled, closing out his game and getting up from his chair. He put his hands on his hips. "Fancy that. I actually miss the Tea Boy."
"You just miss his coffee," Gwen corrected, shaking her head. "I don't understand what happened. One minute Jack's waving that egg-shaped thing around and the next they've disappeared. And we don't even have the first clue where they went, do we?"
"I'm trying to figure that out," Tosh murmured, typing a new equation in to replace the last. She had the artifact connected to her computer by various wires and had drawn up any documentation she could find in their system on something similar. Usually Ianto did that part, as he was so much more efficient, but without him there she knew she was the only one he'd trust in his absence. She'd already had to go down into the archives twice and the idea of Gwen or Owen touching anything down there worried her as much as it would worry Ianto.
There was an alarm and Owen cursed. "Weevils, other side of the city," he said, glancing at his computer.
"Wonderful," Gwen replied, heading down to the armory. She picked out a stun gun to go with her weapon of choice, and grabbed two cans of Weevil spray. "Owen, gear up. You're with me."
"And just who put you in charge?" he asked, while picking out his own weaponry.
"Just go along with it, Owen," Tosh said, letting her frustration get the better of her. "Maybe then I can actually get some work done here."
Owen grumbled but picked up a couple more cans of spray. He then grabbed the keys to the SUV. "Fine, but I'm driving."
"Tosh, can you…"
"Relay the coordinates to the SUV's sat nav? Already have, Gwen."
"You're the best, Tosh!" Gwen called over the sound of the cog door's blaring klaxons. And a moment later they were gone.
"Peace and quiet at last," Tosh muttered to herself, leaning closer to her table and beginning to flip through the various documents she'd pulled from the archives. "Come on, Torchwood. Tell me you've seen this thing before."
tw tw tw tw tw
"Well this isn't so bad," Jack said, placing their things on the dresser before crossing the room and taking a seat on the small bed. He patted the mattress next to him, indicating Ianto should join him. Ianto just cocked a brow. "Aw, come on, Ianto. We should make the best of it."
"Jack, that bed is barely large enough for one, let alone two."
"It's the same size as my bunk."
"Yes, but I also know what, or rather who, has been in your bunk. At least over the last year."
Jack grinned, getting up and closing the distance between them. He settled his hands on Ianto's hips, leaning forward to rest their foreheads together. "Older doesn't necessarily mean grungier. They might not have had twenty-first century laundry facilities, but I assure you, the ladies doing the washing up took their jobs very seriously."
"Slept with a few, did you?"
"Maybe one or two."
Ianto rolled his eyes and pulled his head back. "Is there no one you wouldn't sleep with, Jack?"
He thought about that for a moment. "Owen's on my short list."
"Really? So if he offered, you wouldn't take him up on it?" The eyebrow Jack liked so much was arched in question.
"Have you met him?" He smiled when Ianto snorted. "I like a challenge as much as the next guy, but even I have to draw the line somewhere."
Jack kissed him. Not a passionate, get-him-in-bed kiss, but a gentle, I'm-glad-we-understand-each-other kiss. "Besides, he has asked."
"Before you came to work for us," Jack explained. "He'd just lost Katie, and we were out at a pub. He was pretty hammered."
"And he asked you to sleep with him? Why didn't he just go on the pull, like he normally does?"
"He was in a really bad place, Ianto. He didn't know anyone else here yet and wasn't in the right state of mind. He wanted to lose himself in someone he trusted."
Ianto moved out of Jack's embrace and over to the bed, sitting down. "But you turned him down?"
"As gently as I could. I'm not one to take advantage of a friend. At least, I haven't been that guy in a long time."
"I'm not surprised he hasn't brought it up. Might be a bit embarrassing."
"He doesn't remember."
"You used Retcon?"
"No, I mean…he just doesn't remember. He was too drunk."
"I guess that's for the best." Ianto smiled when Jack sat down next to him. "So what do you think everyone's doing back home?"
"Trying desperately to save us, of course." Jack kissed Ianto's temple, settling in beside him and wrapping an arm around the Welshman's waist. "Tosh is working frantically, Gwen is hovering, and Owen…well, Owen's probably playing video games."
"You don't think he wants us back?"
"Deep down he does," Jack replied, smirking. "But on the surface, he's probably being a complete ass. Even just hours without your coffee and he goes into withdrawals. He needs you back more than anything."
"I do more around the Hub than make coffee," Ianto muttered.
Jack grinned, nuzzling his neck. "Yes you do, Ianto. The place would fall apart without you running things." He pressed a kiss to the spot just below Ianto's jaw, drawing a moan from the younger man when he moved his lips to his Adam's apple.
"Come on, Ianto. It's been a week. A really busy, Rift-filled, Ianto-less week. I died. Twice!"
"And I got your coat fixed. Twice. The coat, if I may remind you, that you just sold off."
Jack pouted, pulling back. "You're really upset about that coat."
"Yes I am."
"There was no other way to get money, Ianto. Not on such short notice. We needed the clothes and the room."
"We're going to find work, and then we're getting that coat back."
Jack frowned. "How long do you think we're going to be here?"
Ianto shrugged. "Longer than I'd like, I'm sure."
"What happened to the optimism?"
"It disappeared with the coat."
Sighing, jack leaned down to untie his boots. "I can see I'm not going to be able to make things better." Ianto didn't respond. "Well I'm going to just settle in back here on this bed," he continued, scooting back and then lying down against the wall. "Feel free to join me."
He watched Ianto's shoulders slump, and then a moment later he was removing his own shoes, jacket and waistcoat. He folded the clothes over a chair in the corner and then made his way back to the bed, lying down with his back to Jack's chest.
Jack smiled into his hair, wrapping an arm around him. "Couldn't resist?"
"Actually, I'm a bit tired. I figured a nap was in order and the floor looked even less sanitary than the bed."
Jack chuckled, tugging the Welshman tighter against his body. "I can't vouch for the floor."
A few minutes passed and Jack thought Ianto might have really fallen asleep. Then there was a slow, steady sigh. "Tosh will find a way to get us back home Jack, yeah?"
His voice was so small and unsure Jack felt his heart clench. "Of course she will."
"I don't fancy being stuck here," Ianto said, linking their fingers together. "Probably can't even get a decent cup of coffee."
"You'd be surprised," Jack said, kissing the back of Ianto's neck. He'd been worried about the man, but now that his sense of humor was back he knew he'd be alright. He used their entwined hands to turn Ianto's chin towards him so that their eyes could meet. "We won't be here long. Tosh is the smartest woman I know. She'll figure this out."
Ianto shifted onto his back, reaching his other hand up to run his fingers through Jack's hair. "Maybe we should make use of the peace and quiet," he said softly, eyes twinkling.
"Yeah?" Jack asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Now you're talking."