I'm still getting the hang of my own continuity and have done a slight reformatting of the main Second Star: I have reworked several chapters and have relocated them here as a compilation of events that take place between The Runaway Bride and Smith and Jones and Jones. Later this may include other small adventures or 'domestic TARDIS flatmate' scenes falling between the other adventures, depending on how tidy I want to keep the main story. These will absolutely fall into the canon of Second Star and will include character development and adventures that will be built upon and referenced later. This chapter, for example, will explain why UNIT is in the naughty corner, which the Doctor points out in Made of Steel. I still want to recognize UNIT as 'the good guys,' and they have been a huge part of the Doctor Who canon, but I thought it wouldn't hurt to have the Doctor give them a bit of a kick in the right direction. Toshiko, this one's for you.
The Doctor was fuming, and starting to remember why he never stayed to clean up, and why he should.
Because damn it, it hurt. He had turned up information on the remaining survivors of Canary Wharf. Several were still in the hospital for injuries, or institutionalized. But ten were in the custody of UNIT, and Ianto had been asleep for hours, so he went looking for them.
He'd had his issues with UNIT in the past, but they'd usually gotten along on good terms, and could be relied on in a crisis. He'd never truly left his post as a consultant, and was authorized to be on the premises, but he relied on his usual modus operandi of sneaking in and mucking about with psychic paper, figuring it was the equivalent of springing a surprise undercover inspection on them. There were truly decent chaps among them, to be sure, but as a whole they'd been given a free hand for far too long. He hadn't realized how much sections of the organization were starting to resemble Torchwood. He'd been thoroughly peeved (understatement) by the contents of their labs, and their plans for confiscated tech that he'd missed from Canary Wharf, (which violated three Galactic standards and eleven laws of time) and managed to surreptitiously break or relieve them of said items.
Then he found their prisoners: not just the Torchwood survivors that had been taken in for questioning, but an entire complex of detainees held without charge. The conditions were terrible, their rights nonexistent, and the treatment by the guards cruel and unwarranted. If Alistair was still in charge, he would have never allowed for it. He'd been caught in one of the cell blocks, gotten knocked about by security, shouted, knocked about the security, forced them to recognize his authorization, got an audience with some higher ups, shouted some more, charmed, growled at, threatened and persuaded them, nearly called the Queen, and eventually negotiated his freedom and permission to rehabilitate most of the prisoners.
Well... permission was a relative term; lacking it for some, (there was paperwork involved) he performed some flawless navigation in a series of, if he did say so himself, incredibly dashing rescues. And got twelve employees of varying ranks under investigation and at risk for the sack for their actions. And proceeded to jettison 128 UNIT procedure manuals into the sun. It was a blatant and arrogant display of his power and lack of regard for the rules, but the delicate fabric of space-time was unharmed and a total of 17 people were safe and cared for instead of suffering in filthy concrete cells. He could only hope that Rose would have been proud.
He returned to the TARDIS with a weary sense of accomplishment and a bit less faith in the humans of Earth, and was informed by his dear ship that the last refugee of Torchwood London was awake and being sent in circles around the corridors until his return.
Ianto found dry clothes in the wardrobe and a fine assortment of teas and biscuits in the kitchen. There was no coffee, though under the circumstances it was probably better that way. Then he got lost, or otherwise had the TARDIS take him on the scenic route. He passed by, among other things, a library, a massive boot cupboard, a laboratory and cricket pitch, before stumbling out to the main room. The Doctor was fiddling away beneath one of the console panels, concentrating intensely on his little project. Ianto gave a light cough, and the alien glanced over and beamed at him.
"There you are! Wondered where you got off too. Could you pass me that spare twiddly bit? Not that one, the other one. The silver... twinkly..." Ianto pointed questioningly. "Yup, that one. I was just rerouting some of the communication outlets: digital com's been on the blink." Ianto passed him the part and waited for a few moments, sitting quietly on the yellow foam seat hooked to the rails. He folded his hands neatly in his lap. "And, there we go!" the Doctor announced, hopping up pulling a little microphone off its hook. "Caaan you hear me now?" His voice reverberated against the coral walls. Ianto barely twitched.
"After your little stunt at the reception, I've gone quite deaf."
"It worked, didn't it?"
"Tremendously well. Your bio-damper, however -"
"Oh, and I was supposed to know that she was saturated with particles older than the sun itse- oh, never mind. So, question is, what do you want to do now? 'Cause we've got a few options, but I s'pose that depends on how badly you want to see home." Ianto looked up with a puzzled frown. The Doctor cleared his throat. "I just figured... after everything you might be wanting a lift. But, since I went swanning off with you, you were listed as dead on the official records. Which might make that a bit difficult."
"Do you want to go home?" Ianto didn't look at him. His eyes darted across the console to the spot on the rails where Donna had spotted Rose's purple shirt. He wasn't quite sure what had become of it, but had a feeling that the Doctor had put it somewhere so he couldn't see it. The Doctor followed his eyes. "No rush."
Well... I should probably tell Rhi I'm still alive -" his eyes widened. "Oh, god, the cybermen went global, I don't even know if she's alive, I didn't even think..."
"Hold on, you got a mobile?" Ianto reached into his pocket by instinct, frowning when his hand surfaced with four guitar picks, a little plastic panda, a throwing die with 17 sides and an aqua green crystal. "Guess not. Oh, I've been looking for that!" The Doctor plucked the panda from his hand and set it on the console, snatching up a handset phone in the same movement. He poked a few random buttons and tossed it to Ianto. "I set the time signature, should be about the same time for them as for you, so call it... 32 hours?" Ianto bit his lip and dialed Rhiannon's number, swamped with dread at the thought that there was nobody to pick up. The Doctor fiddled with the panda so that he didn't have to stare as Ianto waited anxiously. He looked up when the Welshman gave a relieved, watery chuckle.
"Never thought I'd see the day when I'd be glad to hear your voice, you great lump." Ianto winced and scrunched up his face as an indiscernible but decidedly loud male voice sounded on the other end. "You're not getting rid of me that easily. No, there was a mistake. But you're all okay? Rhi and the kids, they're fine?" He closed his eyes and let out a deep breath, then actually smiled. "Good. Good. Brilliant. Rhiannon? Hey, Rhi. Ow. Yes... Sorry. Not had a chance until now. Yeah, I'm - I'm fine. No, I can't, not yet. 'Cause I'm dead. Apparently. On paperwork, that's bureaucracy for you, they won't believe me even if I'm standing right in front of them. No... no, she's - she didn't make it. She's gone, Rhi. Yeah... maybe. It's probably going to take a while to get sorted. No, really I'll be okay. No, you don't need to do that. Uh - from a telephone box." The Doctor grinned. "Lost my mobile. Phone in my flat's been disconnected. Trying not to let them get away with boxing up my stuff. Yeah. I'll sort it out, I'm good with paperwork." He scraped a hand against his face and through his hair. "I will. I'm glad you're okay. I have to go now, yeah? There's a bloke waiting to use the phone. Yep. You too. Take care." He handed the phone back with a shaky, grateful smile, and in that moment the Doctor was glad that he'd stayed to clean up.
"Yes. Thank you."
The Doctor leaned against the console and smiled gently. "Is she your sister?"
"You get on alright, then?"
He shrugged. "Well enough. I haven't lived in Cardiff in years. We've kept in touch, I get back to visit every once in a while, send the kids stuff when I can, but it's been a while since I last saw them."
"You're from thereabouts originally, though? Still got the accent." Ianto nodded. The Doctor leaned an elbow on the console, gazing at him curiously. "So how'd you end up in Torchwood, anyway? What did you do?" Ianto faltered, slightly thrown by the fact that the Doctor was in no hurry to get him off his ship - and more than that, he found himself wanting to stay.
"Bit of an accident, really. I worked at the library at uni and my CV ended up in the right inboxes. They hired me as a temp with one of their cover firms, rather like Donna. I made coffee, answered phones and did a lot of paperwork. After I graduated there was an opening in the archives with the organization proper." The Doctor still looked at him, waiting to hear more. "I was shooting for a position in Research around about the time I met Lisa, but someone else got recommended for that job, so I stayed in Archives. And then I became head of the department last month."
"Head Archivist of the Torchwood Institute? You look about twelve!"
Ianto pursed his lips in slight distaste. "24 next month, if birthdays matter in a time machine."
"Still. You shot through the ranks pretty fast, then?"
"Depends on where you're standing. It was the highest rank in the department, yes, but it was all files and records. Most people saw it as fairly low on the ladder: not nearly as glamorous as Tech Salvage or Foreign Ops. I catalogued information and found things for people, and if they were Junior archivists or assistants I got to tell them to find it themselves." He twitched a smile. "And I read classified files because they were interesting and locked away and I got bored. And I ended up being rather glad that I stayed in my department. Occasional boredom aside, I liked my job." Ianto chewed his lip, wondering just how much he could press his luck on the subject of Torchwood. "Incidentally, there was a great deal about you in the archives. You had two deadlocked filing cabinets, all to yourself." He was offered a smug grin.
"I've been keeping busy."
"So you... did you really save Queen Victoria from a werewolf? With the Koh-I-Noor?"
"Ohyes. And we kept trying to get her to say 'we are not amused.' Part of a bet. While we're all busy running from a cult of monks and a hungry lycanthrope."
"I'm sure she wasn't amused by that. Actually, they left that bit out in the historical records."
"That too? Well, that's good, actually. I lost the bet."
Ianto paused. "You said we. Was this with Rose?" The Doctor glanced at him sharply, then looked back just at his bit of tech after a brief nod. "I'm sorry, Doctor."
The Time Lord shrugged. "S'not your fault." And it wasn't. One barely-graduated archivist was not responsible for the crimes of a 130 year old organization founded by a paranoid monarch.
Ianto looked down and scuffed his foot. "Why did she banish you? Queen Victoria."
The Doctor ran his tongue along his teeth and mulled it over. "Because that's what humans do. Especially the ones in power, that worry about losing it. They turn against things that they don't understand." He stared off at the coral walls, as if he could see past the miles of TARDIS rooms, straight through to the sky. Then his gaze snapped back to Ianto. "You hungry?"
"I got sandwiches from Colonel Wolfe, but Time Lord metabolism and all that, I'm famished. Fancy chips?" Ianto blinked as the Doctor shook his head rapidly. "No, no, no, definitely not chips. I dunno. Maybe curry. Or tamales, there's good ones at a museum restaurant in, oh, 2019. Anyway. What d'you reckon, food?"
"Er -" his brain took a moment to catch up. "Food. Yes. Definitely."
"Brilliant!" Ianto looked at him sidelong as his mercurial host leaped to his feet and began punching in coordinates, shrugging on a soft tan longcoat. He smiled uncertainly, when suddenly the ship lurched and wheezed, and he clung to the seat as off they went, into time and space.