Author: Milady Dragon
Disclaimer: I don't own Torchwood or the Tomorrow People...more's the pity.
Author's note: I wrote this a while ago for the Ianto Big Bang on Livejournal. If anyone recognizes it, yes, I did start a story based on this basic storyline, but changed it to fit the prompt for this challenge. And, for anyone who knows that Rhiannon's last name in Davies in the show, it was actually Evans first, as listed in the Torchwood Archive book, so I went with that since this story doesn't acknowledge Children of Earth.
Hope you enjoy!
By the time Jack Harkness realized that something was going on, it was far too late to stop it.
He firmly blamed the Weevil that had called him away from the Hub, and from his surveillance on his suspended Archivist, but what could he have done? After all, the last time he'd looked in on Ianto Jones the young man had been sitting on the sofa in his flat, staring into space. Jack had wanted to feel sorry for him, but couldn't find it within himself; Ianto had brought that Cyberwoman into his Hub, could have endangered the world by his actions. Anything that he suffered now, as far as Jack was concerned Ianto deserved.
Jack had managed to get the young man home after the chaos of last night. Ianto had been near catatonic, and Jack had taken a little pity on him and had helped him get cleaned up. He'd planted the transmitters – powerful 43rd century devices no larger than a pinhead - while Ianto had been in the shower; one in the lounge, the other in the bedroom. Jack wanted him under near-constant watch.
He'd eventually had to haul the unresponsive man from the shower. Normally, Jack would have taken the opportunity to ogle Ianto's naked body, but still he'd been too angry to even pay attention as he got his employee dressed in sweats and a t-shirt. Then he'd left him on the sofa, and when Jack had gotten back to the Hub and checked the surveillance devices, Ianto had been in exactly the same position he'd left him in.
Jack had started in on his paperwork, only sparing glances at the computer monitor on his desk while he worked.
And then the alert had come in, and Jack had gone to fetch the Weevil menacing its way through Splott.
By the time he'd gotten back, and had looked at the CCTV, Ianto was gone from the couch.
Jack cursed; flipping to the camera in the bedroom, thinking the young man had finally gotten up and gone to bed.
But the bedroom was empty as well.
Cursing again, Jack ran the recording backward, trying to see where Ianto had gone. Had he left the flat? Or was he in the bathroom, the one place Jack couldn't see on the camera?
When he found what he was looking for, he stopped.
Just five minutes after he'd left, two people appeared in Ianto's flat.
And they did just appear: as Jack watched, he realized he was witnessing some sort of teleportation, and he ground his teeth as he witnessed the evidence of yet another of Ianto Jones' lies.
The two people were a man and a woman. The man looked to be in his fifties, wearing dark slacks and a light pullover. The woman was perhaps in her thirties, with dark curly hair and dressed in jeans and a blouse.
They were both wearing odd belts, and something about them tickled Jack's memory. They were wide, and black, and had a checkerboard patterned buckle.
His perusal of those belts stopped as the woman darted forward, sitting herself next to Ianto, pulling him down so that his head was in her lap, her long fingers carding through Ianto's hair.
Ianto didn't respond, he simply let her do what she wanted.
The man joined them, kneeling on the floor beside the sofa and rested his own hand on Ianto's head.
"His mind is in tatters," the woman gasped, the sound carrying perfectly to the transmitter Jack had set up. "What could have caused it?"
"I don't know," the man answered worriedly, resting his fingers against Ianto's forehead. "Ianto…what happened to you?"
The two were silent for a many minutes, and then the man cursed. "This is beyond me. I can't fix this."
"How dare he?" the woman snapped. "How dare that…man! Telling Ianto to kill Lisa like that!"
Jack leaned forward. Ianto hadn't said anything, and yet they somehow knew about Lisa? And also apparently his ultimatum to Ianto…it had to be some form of telepathy. They'd somehow gotten into Ianto's head, and had seen what had happened.
What the hell was going on?
"And he tried!" the woman exclaimed, as the man stood and began to pace. "John, he actually tried to kill her!"
The man called John raked a hand through his dark hair. "That's why he's in such a state, Elena…he tried to kill. He tried to break the Prime Barrier."
Then it clicked for Jack: the belts, the teleportation, the telepathy…and the Prime Barrier. He sat back in his chair in shock, pausing the recording.
Ianto Jones was a Tomorrow Person.
Jack had only heard of the Tomorrow People; he'd never actually met one. By the time he'd been born in the 51st century, they were a peaceful race whose Federation was a model of cooperation through all the known galaxies. They were premier diplomats and negotiators, and their expertise was sought by most of galactic governments.
Of course there'd been some on Earth; he recalled reading about them in a report that had been forwarded from Torchwood One back in the 70's, when it was announced that they were looking to capture one for "study", which was simply a euphemism for vivisection. One of the things that had been mentioned in the memo had been that they wore very recognizable belts, like the ones those two were wearing. As far as Jack knew, they'd never gotten their hands on anyone.
But there was one thing that Jack could never understand. The Tomorrow People had such vast powers: teleportation, telepathy, telekinesis, and other minor mental disciplines…and yet, they couldn't kill, not even to defend themselves. They called that genetic predisposition the Prime Barrier, and it was the one thing they couldn't break.
But apparently Ianto had tried.
Tried…and quite possibly had damaged his mind in the process.
Jack thought back on just how unresponsive Ianto had been, as he'd take the young man home and had cleaned him up. His mind had been damaged then, and Jack had just left him there to fend for himself, not even considering that something might have been seriously wrong. He'd simply thought that he'd snap out of it, that it was the grief and pain that had made him so quiet.
But now Jack knew the truth. A frisson of guilt shivered through him, although he quickly quashed it. It was all on Ianto's shoulders; he'd been the one to bring that thing into the Hub, and it didn't matter if he was some sort of evolved being or not.
Jack restarted the recording.
"This is my fault," the man, John, said. "I asked him to go undercover at Torchwood London. I wanted to know what we were facing. Everything that's happened comes back to me."
"I agreed to go," a weak voice answered from the woman – Elena's – lap.
"Ianto,' she murmured. "Just rest, sweetheart. You're with your family now."
John rejoined them at the sofa. "I should never have asked. You wouldn't have been caught up in that hell if it weren't for my need to know what Torchwood was up to."
Ianto didn't answer. Elena kept stroking his head. "He's out of it again."She sighed. "Why didn't he ask us for help? We would never have put him through all this! And we might have actually been able to do something!"
"We may never know. But it certainly explains his silence since Canary Wharf."
"I know. Even Rhiannon hasn't seen him."
Jack wondered who Rhiannon was. Another Tomorrow Person?
"We need to get him to the Trig,"John went on. "Perhaps their healers will be able to help."
Elena nodded. "They were able to help Stephen, and that was much worse."
While he didn't know who this Stephen was, Jack did know what the Trig was: the world-sized space station that was the seat of Federation power. Once again, he'd never been there, but who didn't know about the Galactic Trig?
"I'll get him there,"John said. "You go and speak to Rhiannon. She'll want to know what happened, and I'm certain she'll want to visit him once he's settled."
As Jack watched, another of the ubiquitous belts appeared, fading into existence in John's outstretched hands. This one was different; it had a small disc on it, and he wondered what that did. The pair fastened the belt around the unresponsive Ianto's waist, Elena hooking it while John held the younger man upright. He curled an arm around Ianto. "I'll take care of him," John swore. "He's like this because I insisted he leave the Archive and go to work for Torchwood." He sighed. "My decisions keep going wrong…"
"Stop it,"Elena snapped. "None of that is going to make Ianto better. You had no idea this was going to happen, John. And it's as much Ianto's fault, because he didn't come to us instead of walking right back into Torchwood again. It might have been to try to save Lisa, but he had to have known that they'd just as shoot her as save her. At least we would have listened to him and accepted his need to heal her."
"He's not a healer, Elena – "
"I know that! But that doesn't make the imperative to help any less for all that. You're the one who pulled him out of Providence Park after his break out. You know how that affected him."
Ianto had been in Providence Park? And it had been after he'd developed his powers? Jack couldn't help but shiver; all those sick minds, overwhelming a new telepath like that…
Jack felt as if he were learning more about his mysterious employee than he had in the three months Ianto had actually worked there.
"This isn't the place to discuss this,"John snapped. "You go on to Rhiannon; I'll get Ianto transported to the Trig. Tim is standing by, and he's already contacted Timus. Everything will be ready for when we get there."
The newest set of names rolled over Jack as he watched Elena nod, then press a gentle kiss to Ianto's temple. With a single glance in John's direction, she teleported out, leaving the older man propping Ianto up against his shoulder. Once the woman was gone, Jack suddenly found himself staring into a pair of dark, accusatory eyes.
John was looking right into the camera he'd left.
But how had he known?
"Captain Harkness,"John said sharply. "Ianto Jones is my family, and I don't like anyone threatening my family. I don't care if you think you're right…in this circumstance, you couldn't have been more wrong, even without knowing Ianto's true nature. Only someone truly evil would order a man to kill someone he loves, even if she was taken over by alien technology. As a leader you should have taken it upon yourself to save your people, and not tried to force a young man to murder. You, captain, are no better than Yvonne Hartman ever was. Don't expect to see Ianto again."
Jack sat there, stunned, as both men vanished.
Escaping to the nearest roof seemed to be the only thing Jack could do, although he really couldn't run from what John had said.
Was he right? Was Jack as bad as Hartman? He'd always thought he was better, than he'd built up Torchwood into something the Doctor would have been proud of. Had he somehow lost the path he'd set out for himself?
Jack thought about what had happened, trying to give it as critical an eye as he could. He'd been infuriated when he'd found out that Ianto had brought a Cyberman into the Hub…into his home, no less! If it had gotten free, it could have built up its army and destroyed the world. Ianto had been at Canary Wharf; he'd seen the Cybermen first-hand, and knew just what they were capable of. So what, if it had been Ianto's lover – and, for some reason Jack felt a twinge of jealousy over that fact – that didn't mean anything if it had gotten free and killed or converted them all. Love didn't save the world; that only happened in fairy tales.
If Jack had one horror, it was that some alien race like the Cybermen finding out about his immortality; or even being converted without them knowing. Would Jack come back from that? Would he regenerate within the metal shell of a Cyberman, trapped within that armor, unable to escape what was happening to him? Would being inside all that kill him over and over again, or would he be converted even as he was coming back from what the Cybermen had done to him?
He couldn't think of a worse existence.
If Jack had to admit to himself, even that one fear hadn't completely colored his actions. He'd thought he'd had something with Ianto, even if it was simply two lonely people taking pleasure in each other. It was betrayal, plain and simple. Jack didn't like that feeling one bit; everyone in his life seemed to do that to him eventually, and he'd thought Ianto might actually be different. He'd been wrong, and it stung. Ianto had slept with him in order to distract Jack from the woman the young man had loved being so close by. And it was obvious that Ianto did, indeed, still love her, even with her converted.
However, that didn't detract from the danger that lone Cyberwoman had represented. Nor did it do anything to relieve Ianto of his share of responsibility in what had happened. The bare truth was this: Ianto had brought an alien combatant into the Hub. There were no other extenuating circumstances.
There couldn't be.
But then, why did he feel the slightest bit guilty?
Three Months Later
Jack tapped the fingers of one hand against his leg, impatient for the meeting to start. He'd wanted to get out of it, but Gwen had pushed, saying that Torchwood needed to be on better terms with organizations like UNIT, and he'd finally gotten tired of her going on about it and had capitulated. At least it was in London; he wasn't so far from Cardiff that he couldn't get back if the Rift exploded or something really bad happened.
He was really hoping for a big bad.
He was confident that his team could handle whatever came their way. But to be honest he didn't want to get caught up with the annual London invasion. Yes, he knew the Doctor was often involved in them, but at the same time Jack knew he couldn't risk running into a Doctor who wouldn't match up with his personal timeline. Staying in Cardiff was the best way for a meeting to happen, or at least he believed it was.
UNIT in London had requested this meeting. Jack didn't know why it couldn't just be over the phone, but the current Commander of UNIT London, General Carson, had insisted that the subject of this meeting was too sensitive to be risked over an unsecured line. Jack had argued that Torchwood had the most secure communications on the planet, but Carson hadn't believed him.
Thus, Jack was in London, sitting in the general's outer office, his patience wearing thin as the UNIT head was getting later and later for the meeting the man himself had requested. He wasn't even flirting with the personal assistant, which said something about his irritation. Just as he was going to get up and tell the private at the desk that he was leaving, and the general could kiss his ass, the outer door opened and the man himself entered.
Jack had never been particularly impressed with General Avery Carson. The man reminded him of one of those little flat-faced dogs, only nowhere near as cute. He was also one of those who would have gotten along famously with Yvonne Hartman, with his xenophobic attitude toward aliens.
He gave Jack the willies. However Jack wasn't about to admit that.
Carson spotted him. "Harkness," he greeted perfunctorily.
Oh yes, this was going to be fun, and not in a good way. "General Carson," he returned coolly, not offering his hand. "Mind telling me why you decided I should be in London, instead of Cardiff?"
The general frowned. "My office." He didn't wait for Jack to reply. Instead, he headed into the inner office, not bothering to offer Jack a seat.
Not that that stopped Jack. He took the visitor's chair, lounging in it as if he didn't have a care in the world. "You going to answer my question, General?"
"I summoned you here – "
"No one summons me, General," Jack interrupted. "Believe me, if I hadn't wanted to come, I wouldn't be here." That wasn't strictly true; Jack had dug in his heels about going until Gwen had convinced him otherwise, and he still wasn't quite certain why he'd given in, except that he'd gotten tired of her riding him about it. Owen had called him 'hen-pecked' when Jack had finally capitulated.
"Fine," Carson gritted. "I asked you here to discuss a matter of global security."
"That sounds ominous." Jack steepled his fingers, and met Carson's gaze. He didn't add that it sounded paranoid, as well.
"What do you know about the Tomorrow People?"
Jack's jaw dropped in surprise. "The Tomorrow People? They're your global threat?"
"I take it you know about them, then."
"I'm Torchwood. Of course I know about the Tomorrow People." Jack didn't feel the need to add that he'd had one working right under his nose. Even without that, he knew more about them than Carson probably did.
"Then you're aware that they're a real threat to the human race?"
Jack rolled his eyes. "Please. They're about as much a threat as a puppy." He sometimes wondered just how many times the Tomorrow People had saved this planet, with only their powers and their wits. They certainly didn't have the back-up of major weaponry, not like humans did.
"Then how do you explain their belief that they're destined to take over the world?"
"It's called 'evolution', General. You should go back to school sometime and study it. It's quite fascinating." Of course, Jack had the benefit of having seen Earth's future, and knew that homo superior never really did any such thing, but Carson wouldn't believe him if he said anything. Besides, the last thing he wanted was to give the man any ammunition against him. Jack didn't want to become a 'guest' of UNIT.
Carson's face went red. "We're talking about the end of the human race!"
This was pissing Jack off…and a pissed off Jack Harkness wasn't a pretty sight. "No, we're talking about the eventual improvement of the human race" he said slowly, as if speaking to an idiot. "And, from where I'm sitting, it needs definite improvement."
"You don't seem to be taking this seriously at all!"
"Believe me, General, I am. I just think you don't know what the hell you're talking about. The Tomorrow People are not a threat. In fact, they've saved this world too many times to count."
"How do you explain their ties to an alien government?'
Jack's eyes narrowed. "You mean the Galactic Federation? Nice bunch of folks, very polite and peaceful. We could use more neighbors like that out in the Universe."
"And what happens if this 'peaceful' Federation decides to invade?"
"Is it just you, or is all of UNIT so bloody paranoid?" Jack scoffed. "Please, the Federation is completely non-violent. I'm not even sure they have any weapons stronger than stun guns. Frankly, I'm surprised they've survived as long as they have, surrounded by some very deadly threats out there. You're barking up the wrong tree, General…if I can continue the puppy analogy."
Carson looked like he wanted to pop a blood vessel. "We need to protect our world from any possible threat."
"And I'm telling you…there is no threat. You've completely wasted my time." Jack stood. "Call me when you're ready to be sensible." He turned to leave.
Jack turned back, raising an eyebrow.
"If you're not with us, you're against us."
Okay, this was now venturing into nutjob territory. "The only thing that concerns me is Torchwood, and this has nothing to do with us. What's worse, you ask me to come here, when we could have had this disagreement over the phone. I have things to do, General, and this paranoia is keeping me from doing them. Good day."
With that, Jack spun on his heel and left, practically slamming the office door behind him on the way out.
As soon as he got back to Cardiff, Jack went to work.
What Carson had said bothered him. If UNIT was going to be taking action against the Tomorrow People, then Jack felt they needed to be warned.
He secluded himself in his office, after sending the team home. Gwen had made noises to stay; but Jack wasn't in the mood to deal with her. Yes, he was grateful that she'd talked him into going; he doubted that Carson would have shared this paranoia over the phone. At least he had advance knowledge, and he cursed himself for not playing along and seeing what UNIT had planned. Oh well, it was too late now.
Ever since Jack had found out that the young man who'd practically seduced his way into a job in order to bring his half-converted girlfriend into the Hub had, in fact, had a bigger secret than that, he'd been doing research into Ianto Jones. Jack had discovered a lot that wasn't in his 'official' Torchwood records: his incarceration in Providence Park; the deaths of his parents, and the existence of a sister, Rhiannon, and her family. He'd thought to approach her, to find out if her brother was all right; but decided against it, not knowing how much she knew and if he would be welcome.
Ever since that night the man, John, had claimed that he was no better than Yvonne Hartman, Jack had been rethinking a lot of what had happened. At first he'd been sure of the decisions he'd made, but as time went on he became convinced that John had been, at least partly, correct. He should never have sent Ianto back in, demanding that he kill the Cyberwoman, knowing that it had once been someone he'd loved. It had been Jack's responsibility, and he should have done his duty, to the world and to Ianto.
Jack also had found himself missing the young man. He'd gotten so used to having him in the Hub, if even in the background, making certain things ran properly, that when he was gone there'd been left a serious hole in the infrastructure of his team. It wasn't even the coffee, or the banter, or the sex…it was Ianto's quiet presence that the immortal found himself feeling for, even now, three months later. If Jack was being honest, he really wanted Ianto back.
When he'd announced, the morning after Ianto had left, that the young man wasn't coming back, there'd been yelling and recriminations from everyone. To Jack's surprise, Owen had been the most vocal, accusing Jack of all sorts of things, from shooting Ianto and hiding the body, to Retconning the man and sending him off somewhere to live with a very large hole in his memories. Once he'd calmed the acerbic medic down, Owen had confessed that he'd understood Ianto, and his need to save someone that he loved. Jack, of course, knew about Katie, and Owen saying that he would have done the same thing if it meant saving his dead fiancée really shouldn't have shocked him, but it had.
Toshiko had been almost as accusatory, although in her own quiet way. She also had understood the need to save a loved one, only it being her mother instead of a lover. Gwen had gotten belligerent, although Jack couldn't tell if it was because he'd assumedly punished Ianto, or punished him without clearing it with the rest of the team first.
Finally, he'd cut them all off, told them that Ianto had gone with his family to recover and mourn, and that Jack had approved it. No, there hadn't been any Retcon, nor would there be. But Ianto wouldn't be coming back; he deserved an easy retirement, after everything that had happened. He'd forbade any of them to look for him, saying it was up to Ianto if he wanted to contact them. Then he'd gone to his office and began his own search.
Which was where he was, now.
Jack pulled up everything he'd been able to find…including Rhiannon Evans' address. Then he grabbed his coat and headed out.
This was his only link to Ianto, and therefore to the Tomorrow People.
He had to warn them.
The Evans family lived out on the Cromwell Estate, in a neighborhood that had seen better days. Jack got out of the SUV, making certain it was locked and secured, feeling a bit uneasy leaving it unattended but certain that nothing too terrible would happen to the vehicle. He walked up to the front door, feeling a faint fluttering of nerves. He had no idea how much Rhiannon knew; although he was certain she was aware of what Ianto was, Jack wasn't certain she'd been told everything that had happened that horrible night.
He knocked, fighting the urge to fidget. Jack heard a child shout from within, and an adult shout louder, and then the door opened to reveal a large man, somewhat soft around the middle, looking at Jack suspiciously. "Whatever you're selling," he said, before Jack could open his mouth, "we ain't buying." He went to shut the door.
"Wait!" he exclaimed, putting his hand on the door to keep it open. "I'm here to see Rhiannon Evans. It's very important." Jack paused, deciding to put all his eggs in one basket and see if any of them broke. "It concerns her brother."
The man – Johnny Evans, if Jack's research was right – froze for a second, the estate tough persona dropping for a split second to reveal a shrewd mind behind his dark eyes. Jack knew then that he, also, knew about Ianto and the Tomorrow People, and wasn't above putting on a façade in order to protect that secret. "You better come in, then," he finally said, pulling the door open.
Jack did so, before the man changed his mind. He found himself in an open lounge, with a large sofa almost dividing the living area from the dining room. There were two children in front of the television, and Jack knew they were Ianto's niece and nephew, Mica and David, and they were playing some sort of video game.
His eyes were drawn to the woman who was standing just beyond the sofa though. Jack could see Ianto in her, in her facial structure, although she had dark eyes and her hair was straight. She was also a little on the plump side, most likely from carrying the two children. She was wiping her hands on a tea towel, her own sharp eyes taking in Jack's appearance.
"Go on, then," she challenged, looking Jack straight in the eye. "What's this about Ianto?"
"Perhaps we should talk in private?" Jack requested, glancing toward the two children.
Rhiannon followed his gaze, then met his eyes once more. "All right," she said. "Come on out to the kitchen, I'll make us a cuppa."
Jack went with her, aware that Johnny was just behind him. A part of him felt as if he'd walked into a lions' den, and Rhiannon Evans was the lioness who would do anything to protect her family.
She bustled about the small kitchen, working at the kettle. "Well?" she asked as she worked. "How do you know my brother?"
He took a deep breath. "I know about Ianto, Mrs. Evans," he murmured. "I know about him…and the Tomorrow People."
"I don't know what you're talking about," Rhiannon answered, her hands continuing to work. "My brother works for the Tourist Board."
"What's this Tomorrow People bollocks then?" Johnny demanded. He took an almost threatening step toward Jack.
"I understand the need for secrecy," Jack went on. "But you have to trust me when I say that the Tomorrow People could be in danger. You must have some way to contact Ianto; you need to tell him that UNIT has started some sort of investigation and that they intend on coming after him and the others. I just wanted to warn them."
"Look," Johnny rumbled, getting right into Jack's personal space, "you're obviously some sort of nutter, and you're pulling a joke. Why don't you leave before I toss you out on your arse?"
"All right, I'll go," Jack said. Judging from Rhiannon's silence, he knew he'd gotten through to her. "But tell Ianto that Jack says it's true, that I know he has no reason to trust me, but I'm sorry for what happened. He knows how to reach me if he needs to."
He allowed himself to be escorted to the door, where he was all but thrown out. But Jack was certain his message had been believed, and that it would be only a matter of time before Ianto would contact him.
That was, if Ianto was in any condition to do so.
Four days later, and Jack was beginning to despair that Ianto had gotten his warning.
He had to concede that he'd done all he could. Jack had tried to track down the other two Tomorrow People who'd appeared in Ianto's flat, but had no luck; he really shouldn't have been surprised by that, since the Tomorrow People lived by secrecy. Perhaps Rhiannon could have gotten his information to one of the others, and they were well warned; but Jack had really hoped to hear from Ianto personally.
He absently chewed the end of his pen, as he tried to do his paperwork, his mind wandering as he thought about Ianto. He really did hope his former archivist was all right; Jack had heard of cases of psychic shock, and knew how bad off Ianto had been that night. Over the months his guilt had built up over how he'd treated Ianto; the man, John's, final words into the camera haunted him.
You, Captain, are no better than Yvonne Hartman ever was.
At first he hadn't accepted that, but as time had passed he had to admit that there was some truth in that. It didn't matter that Jack had felt betrayed; sending Ianto back in to 'take care' of what had been left of Lisa had been the wrong thing to do. As a leader, he should have taken responsibility for what someone under his command had done, and he should have cleaned up the mess himself. How would he have felt if someone had ordered him to kill someone he cared about? What if it had been Estelle or the Doctor or Rose who'd been partially Cyberized? Put into that context, would he have been able to do it?
The answer to that was, of course, no.
He would have done everything in his power to save them. He would have fought every devil in hell if it meant he could have some hope of saving his loved ones.
Which is just what Ianto had done.
Toshiko's voice pulled him from his reverie, and he got up, heading toward the door to his office. "Whatcha got, gorgeous?"
She blushed a bit under the praise. "We've got a Weevil alert out in Splott."
"The estate agents call it Sploe," a snarky voice echoed in his thoughts. He shook it off. "Care to join me on a Weevil hunt?" he asked, grinning. He and Toshiko were the only ones in the Hub that night; Gwen had gone home to spend time with Rhys, and Owen was…wherever Owen went on his downtime. The only reason Toshiko was still around was because she'd wanted to finish up some work.
Toshiko smiled. "I bet you say that to all the girls," she teased, getting her coat.
"Nope," Jack winked. "Only the beautiful genius ones." He turned to get his own coat, slipping it on and wishing a pair of hands were helping him on with it.
In less than a minute, there were in the SUV and heading toward the location of the sighting, Jack driving in his usual "bat-out-of-hell" style and Toshiko keeping an eye on her PDA for any updates. It was mostly quiet, only with Toshiko giving directions every once in a while, and Jack was grateful for it. He needed to get his thoughts in order; although he couldn't help but be disappointed that he hadn't heard from Ianto. Worried, as well; anything could have happened.
It also occurred to him that perhaps Ianto didn't want to see him. Jack had done some pretty terrible things, and Ianto had called him a monster. Why should he want to see the man who'd been ultimately responsible for his girlfriend's death? Why should Jack expect Ianto to remember him with the fondness that Jack had for the enigmatic Welshman?
The drive was about half as long as it would have been had Toshiko been behind the wheel, and Jack parked the SUV on a side street near where the sighting had been made. They got out of the vehicle, and walked side-by-side down the deserted street, on one side a park-like area and on the other a row of multi-story dwellings that looked about three decades out of date.
Jack's instincts were telling him something was wrong.
Toshiko glanced at him, and from her expression Jack was glad that he wasn't the only one having a really bad feeling about this. He was about to suggest they head back to the SUV…
"Captain Harkness, Ms Sato," a strange voice broke over their comm. units. It was male, almost melodic in tone, and Jack stopped in his tracks.
Toshiko stopped as well, surprise writ large on her face. The Torchwood communicators were supposed to be highly encrypted; there should be no way for someone to hack into them.
"I apologize for usurping your comms," the voice went on, "but it was imperative that I warn you that all of the CCTV cameras in your area have just gone down, and readings indicate that the reason was technological in nature. Someone has disabled them."
Jack had no idea who this person was, but the warning and his own intuition seemed to be matching up. But, did he dare trust someone who could casually take over their comms?
Did he have a choice?
"I have also determined," the voice continued, "that the call that got you both out there was false. I have traced it to a dead-end internet account, and am now attempting to discover who and how the account was set up, and how the person was able to feed it into the Hub's computer system."
Jack tapped his comm. open. "I don't know who the hell you are, but how do you know all this?"
Their so-called benefactor paused. "I have been told to tell you: that Ianto says you can trust me. Does that help?"
"Ianto?" Toshiko gasped, a smile blooming across her face.
That tipped Jack over into believing whoever this was. "Let's go back to the SUV," he murmured to his teammate, as he pulled his gun from its holster.
He hated walking into traps. Well, at least traps he hadn't known about beforehand.
His eyes scanned the area, trying to find the source of whatever threat there was out there. The only noise was that of the wind rustling the bare branches of the trees. He covered Toshiko as she made her way back to their vehicle, her own gun out and ready.
They'd made it back to the SUV when Jack saw movement among the skeletal trees. He didn't hesitate; he fired a shot, buying them cover as they both jumped into the SUV.
Jack had the engine started, when a sudden flash caught his eye, coming from one of the roofs across the street.
Oh, fuck no…
He managed to get the vehicle into gear, slamming his foot down onto the accelerator. The SUV surged forward, even before he had the chance to fasten his seatbelt. "Rocket launcher!" he shouted, hoping whoever it was on the other end of the comm was still there.
That was all he had a chance to say. There was a loud whump sound from the rear, and suddenly the SUV was lifted boot over bonnet, and Jack felt a strange weightlessness, the logical part of his mind telling him he wasn't strapped in, that he was being flung about the inside of the tumbling vehicle…he heard two voices shouting his name, but couldn't answer.
The SUV came to rest on its roof.
Jack didn't die, although he should have. Pain flared through his head and back, and he moaned as the agony drew him back from the darkness of unconsciousness. He heard a voice calling to him over the unsteady pounding of his heart; a familiar voice, one that felt like family. He tried to move, and succeeded just enough to see Toshiko, hanging from her seat belt, her dark eyes wide with shock.
"You okay?" he tried to say, but wasn't sure if he was coherent.
It must have been, because Toshiko nodded. "Although I appear to be upside down," she said breathlessly. "What about you?"
Jack wanted to answer, but the only thing that passed from his lips was a whimper.
Toshiko began to struggle with the seatbelt that had her pinned into the passenger seat. "We need to get out of here," she said urgently. "They're bound to come and check on their handiwork."
Then she stopped, touching her ear. "We're trapped in the SUV," she said, and Jack realized she must have been speaking to whoever had tried to warn them. He hadn't heard the voice, which must have meant he'd lost his earpiece in the crash.
Blackness began to nibble at Jack's mind, and he did his best to force it back. He needed to stay awake, because the danger wasn't past, and despite his injuries he had the overwhelming need to get Toshiko to safety. They were both sitting ducks, and while Jack could always come back, Toshiko couldn't.
Of course, she'd yet to know he couldn't die.
He tried to shift a bit, and even the attempt at moving wrung another moan from him.
"Rest easy, Jack," Toshiko tried to soothe him. "Help is here."
"According to the person on the comm, they were able to figure out where the rocket came from, and they have the man stunned and they're holding him – "
The voice was female, and young. Jack's increasingly sluggish mind was painfully adding two and two together, and getting the Tomorrow People, even as Toshiko was acknowledging the shout.
A face appeared at the passenger side window. It was a pretty face, framed in red hair. Gray eyes were looking at them worriedly. "Are you both all right?" she asked, with an obvious American accent.
"I am," Toshiko answered. "But Jack wasn't wearing his seat belt…"
The eyes met his, and widened in shock. Jack must have looked really bad. "We're going to get you both out," the girl said. "You first, Ms Sato – "
The girl smiled. "Tosh, I'm Alexis. We'll get you out first, then we can all help Captain Harkness."
Her face vanished. There was a sudden screeching sound, and to Jack's amazement the passenger side door was literally ripped from its hinges. Alexis reappeared in the opening. "Do you need help to climb out?"
"My belt seems to be jammed," Toshiko answered.
"Okay, I'm going to try to release the catch. Be ready."
"But how – "
The seat belt let go, and Toshiko tumbled out of her seat.
Jack realized their rescuer must have used telekinesis on both the door and the belt.
All he could do was watch helplessly as Alexis helped Toshiko out of the crashed vehicle. Footsteps were approaching his own side of the SUV, and he managed to get himself turned so he could look out his own badly splintered window. Dark trainers appeared, and then a knee as someone knelt to look inside.
Jack let out a combination sob of pain, and a laugh of joy.
It was Ianto.
"Hello, Captain," Ianto said gently. "We seem to be in a bit of a mess, here."
"Y-yeah," Jack managed to gasp. "Care t-to give a g-guy a hand?"
Ianto smiled softly. "That's what I'm here for."
He vanished, and Jack wanted to call him back, but then his own door was yanked open, and Ianto was kneeling once more. "It's okay, Jack," he murmured. "We're going to get you out, but I don't know if we can without hurting you even more…"
Jack tried to nod, but all he got was a sharp stab of pain for the attempt. He knew then that getting him out of that SUV was going to kill him, and it wasn't quite the way he'd wish anyone to find out about his little issue with not dying, but there wouldn't be much of a choice.
But he didn't want Ianto to do it. He didn't want Ianto to think he was responsible.
He tried to shake his head, but couldn't. However, something must have shown in his eyes, because Ianto reached up and placed a hand on Jack's forehead. "I know," he whispered. "I know about you not being able to stay dead. Rest, Jack. Don't worry."
The warmth of the hand on his face caused Jack's eyelids to flutter closed, and the last thing he saw was Ianto, looking down at him with sympathy in his eyes.
Two days earlier
Archive Ship AS-PI-23
"It's been a while since I've been on an archive ship," John mused aloud.
Ianto didn't even turn around. He'd known, of course, the moment John had jaunted onto the vessel. Instead, he telekinetically maneuvered some of the more delicate documents to the scanning table, in preparation for having them input into the database. "It was probably when you asked me to join Torchwood," he said quietly, making certain there was no recrimination in his voice.
He knew John flinched anyway at the reminder, even though Ianto hadn't meant it that way. John always did that: taking on what he considered his mistakes as if they were some unbelievably heavy cross that only he could bear.
Jack had been the same way.
Pushing that thought aside, Ianto finally turned and looked at his mentor. John looked tired and harassed, and while he wasn't an empath Ianto could tell something was wrong. "What's going on?"
"I have to ask…just how well do you know Jack Harkness?"
Back to Jack, and Ianto wondered if John had mentally heard him compare the two of them. Ianto had very powerful shields, but the Tomorrow People were connected in ways that not a lot of people would understand. They never pried into personal thoughts, considering it rude; but could easily 'overhear' surface thoughts. "I like to think I know him fairly well," he admitted, not elaborating any further. John didn't need to know just how well he'd known Jack, at least not in that way. Ianto was nothing if not efficient, and he'd researched Torchwood Three and its mysterious captain while he'd been inside Torchwood London, as well as his habits after the Battle of Canary Wharf. He doubted Jack knew that Ianto had everything on him that he did.
"Do you trust him?"
Another loaded question. Ianto gave it the consideration it deserved. He could honestly say that he did, that Jack Harkness was, inherently, someone to be trusted, but there were certain things that Ianto certainly would not let him get close to…like his heart. But anything else…
"Yes," he answered. "I can say that I would trust Jack Harkness…if the fate of the world was at stake. I believe he'd always do what was right for the greater good."
John looked like he wanted to ask something more, but with a curious restraint simply nodded. "Would you trust him with your family?" he asked instead.
Ianto frowned. He stepped away from the scanning table, removing the frictionless gloves that he wore despite being able to use telekinesis to manipulate the old documents. "What aren't you telling me?" he demanded suspiciously.
"He spoke to Rhiannon."
Ianto's world compacted down to that single phrase. He spoke to Rhiannon. His eyes went to John's, seeing sympathy there. "How?" he managed to ask. "How did he find her? I thought Tim had erased all ties to my family when I went undercover…"
"Computer records," John corrected. "But from what we've been able to find out, there were plenty of paper records, and apparently he knew where to look."
Ianto didn't miss the look of guilt on John's face. "How did he know where to look? And just where did he look, anyway?" He couldn't believe this was happening. He'd wanted to keep his family safe, and Jack had managed to find them…
The older man sighed. "When we 'felt' you go into psychic shock, Elena and I jaunted to your flat. We were there several minutes before Tim realized there were surveillance devices planted around. Elena mentioned Providence Park. It was just a matter of extrapolating from your medical records…I'm sorry, Ianto."
Ianto simply nodded; there wasn't anything else he could do. Jack had tracked down his sister. "You said he spoke to her?"
"He did. He wanted her to give you a message." He paused. "He said that UNIT is investigating the Tomorrow People and that we could all be in danger. The question is…would you trust him to warn you about this sort of thing? Can what he says be taken at face value?"
Ianto found a chair and sat in it. As far as he knew, the Tomorrow People had never had any trouble with UNIT, and he couldn't honestly see why that should change.
And yet…Jack had tracked him down. If anyone would have asked him if Jack Harkness would have bothered to do that for a wayward employee who'd been brain damaged, Ianto would have laughed in their faces. But Jack had obviously done so, in order to give them this warning.
It made him feel…no, he wasn't going to go there. It was too soon after Lisa, and his emotions were all over the place.
John was looking at him expectantly, awaiting his answer. He knew for a fact that the elder TP had already decided on a course of action, and was just waiting to see what Ianto thought of the situation. It wouldn't matter what he said; John would act whether Ianto gave Jack a ringing endorsement or not.
Ianto nodded. "Yes," he finally said. "You can trust him in this. If there's one thing I do know about Jack, is that he always does what he thinks is right."
'Whether it's actually right or not.'
He caught John's rather pointed thought, and nodded, although he didn't quite agree with the sentiment. Ianto had thought it over in the last couple of months, since he'd been released from the Trig's medical bay, and had come to the conclusion that both he and Jack had made mistakes that night. If anyone was to blame, it was him, for having believed that Lisa could be saved even after he'd stopped hearing her thoughts. That should have been his first clue that the Cyber-technology had taken her over completely, but he'd ignored it, just as he'd ignored the danger signs that would have been obvious to anyone else.
No, Ianto was the one responsible. Jack was only doing what he believed in, and he couldn't have known about Ianto's inability to kill. Yes, perhaps ordering him to kill his former girlfriend had been harsh, but Jack had only asked that Ianto prove himself…and he'd failed, miserably. The world could have ended on Ianto's blind faith that he could save one woman after the hell they'd both been through.
"Then we'll act as if the information is valid," John said sharply.
"I take it you have a plan?"
"The bones of one, yes. Tim is already trying to see if he can find anything in UNIT's computer records to show what they plan to do. Once we know that, then we'll know better what to do."
It didn't sound like much to him, but sometimes John was again like Jack, in that his plans could be very seat-of-the-pants.
"We've also started checking into Torchwood," John went on. "Tim managed to get into their communications systems and part of the way into their own computer network before he was rebuffed. Apparently their technology is suitably advanced to keep even him out."
Ianto nodded. He was well aware of mainframe's capabilities, and while he usually had no doubt as to Tim's capabilities, he also knew that the Torchwood mainframe was much better shielded than anyone would take into consideration. There was also Toshiko's brilliance to consider, and she'd made so many improvements to the mainframe that it would have been impossible to get past her security measures.
"We should speak to the Captain at some point," Ianto said, turning back to the document he'd been preparing. Using his telekinesis he carefully lifted it, sliding it back into the drawer he'd gotten it from.
"I agree," John said, "but as for now we're keeping him under the best surveillance we can. I don't want any of us walking into a trap."
Ianto frowned. "Jack wouldn't do that," he answered hotly, inwardly cursing as his professionalism slipped just a bit at John's insinuation.
"I didn't say he would," John replied, his gaze suddenly sharp. "What I'm saying is, since he somehow found out about this so-called plot, then it would make sense that UNIT would try to…take him out of the picture, in some way. I wouldn't want any of us to get caught up in the crossfire."
That made sense, but Ianto knew that if Jack or any other member of the team got into trouble, he'd do his damnedest to help.
"I don't want to think that UNIT really is after us," John went on, "since we've had fairly good relations with them since the invasions of the 1980's, but something must have changed to make them reconsider. It doesn't help that we don't get along with the current government."
Ianto wasn't up on the state of affairs between the British government and the Tomorrow People; he knew, in the past, that things had been quite cordial, with several sitting Prime Ministers being given a way to contact them if needed, but as far as he knew that didn't exist anymore. He'd dealt with a couple of officials in his very short time at Torchwood Three, and he hadn't been impressed. In fact, the Minister of Defense, Harold Saxon, had been just plain creepy.
He sighed. "Then I suppose we should get to it," he said, hoping his voice didn't betray the sudden bout of nerves that had awakened a serious rush of butterflies in his stomach.
Ianto supposed he was about the only one who could boast about having lived and worked within two underground science-fiction superbases.
There were major differences between the Torchwood Hub and the Tomorrow Peoples' Lab. While the Hub had tube station chic down to a fine art, the Lab had more of a spacecraft feel, with its viewscreens and equipment and its resident biotronic supercomputer. Some of the happiest – and scariest – times of his life had been spent there in the Lab.
It hadn't changed all that much since he'd last been there.
As they appeared on the jaunting pad, Ianto was greeted by Elena, who pulled him into a hug. She'd visited him quite frequently while he'd been in medical bay, bringing Rhiannon with her, and Ianto thought of her as one of his best friends.
Paul was next; he hadn't changed either, looking very much like the put-upon university student Ianto had met just before going off to Torchwood One, with dark hair and eyes and was a bit shorter than Ianto himself.
Alexis was new; she looked about fourteen, with red hair and soft features. She was American, and Ianto was convinced she'd be a heartbreaker one day. He'd been fourteen when John had found him, and had trained him into his own powers. He could tell she was still excited about being a Tomorrow Person; it hadn't sunk in yet that she'd be like this for her entire life, and that being some sort of superhero wasn't all it was cracked up to be.
She'd learn soon enough.
And then, there was Tim.
Ianto looked up at the ceiling, where Tim's housing was suspended. The biotronic supercomputer was lit from within, with four glowing hemispheres and cables and tubes running to and from the main body of the artificial intelligence. "Welcome home, Ianto," the supercomputer greeted him warmly, his very human voice filled with affection.
"Thank you, Tim." No one could help but be polite to him; it was the very schoolmasterish voice that John had programmed Tim with.
He glanced at each of his fellow Tomorrow People in turn, feeling the warmth of their thoughts surround him. They were his family, as much as Rhiannon and Johnny and the kids were.
"We've been keeping surveillance on Torchwood ever since Captain Harkness approached Rhiannon," John explained. "Tim has been able to get into their communication system, but the mainframe is taking much more effort."
"There is certainly alien technology," Tim replied, sounding put out. "Otherwise I would have been able to get in yesterday."
Ianto smiled. "There's also a technical genius on the other end of that, Tim. What Toshiko Sato doesn't know about computers simply isn't worth knowing. Her defenses are going to be top-notch."
There was a pause, and the Tim said, "I have pulled up her information, and you are correct. She has quite an impressive intelligence…for a human being."
"Surely you're not prejudiced!" Ianto gasped in mock outrage.
The biotronic supercomputer actually sniffed. "I am only acknowledging that the average human brain is no comparison to mine. You should know this is true."
Ianto couldn't deny it; Tim was one of a kind. "Well, if you don't mind, could you exercise that brain and make me a coffee please?"
"Of course, I should have offered immediately. I don't know where my manners are today."
The scan table began to glow, and a white coffee mug appeared on it. Ianto took it, sipping it cautiously; he needn't have worried, Tim had remembered just how he liked it. "What about UNIT's computers?" he asked, turning back to the topic at hand.
John took a seat at the link table, joined by Elena. "Tim's been trying to find out any sort of information, but while he hasn't had any trouble getting into UNIT's systems, there isn't anything there."
Ianto frowned. "I know Jack Harkness – well, as well as anyone can – and he wouldn't make up something like that."
The elder TP held up his hand to placate the younger man. "I'm not saying he is. I'm simply saying that UNIT is covering its tracks."
"We know for a fact that Captain Harkness went to UNIT headquarters in London," Tim added. "I have tracked him to and from, using the traffic camera system."
"The Torchwood SUV is very distinctive," Elena put in, grinning.
"Yeah," Paul said. "Kinda hard to miss something like that, even without 'Torchwood' on the fender panels."
"And you can't miss the captain," Alexis added. "That coat is pretty retro."
Ianto didn't bother pointing out that, from what he'd been able to gather, Jack had in fact earned that coat.
"We also wanted to make sure that Torchwood would not be the subject of any reprisals," Tim said.
"Exactly," John said. "We don't know how Harkness found out about this so-called plot, but you can assume that UNIT wouldn't want him to be walking around with it, if they even suspected he was in contact with us."
That made sense, and it worried Ianto that UNIT would be so brazen. While he might have once put his teammates in danger, that had been unintentional and he would never want them hurt.
He sighed. "I think we need to talk to Captain Harkness." If felt odd calling him 'captain' but then he hadn't actually earned the right to be more familiar.
"Agreed," John said. 'Are you up to it?' he asked mentally.
Of course John would know he was nervous about meeting up with his former team leader. 'I'll be fine,' he answered.
"You may need to put off your contacting Captain Harkness temporarily," Tim reported. "Torchwood has just received what I believe is a Weevil alert…although there is something suspicious about it. Checking…"
Ianto found himself chewing his thumbnail anxiously, and made himself stop. Jack was perfectly capable of taking care of himself, and if something did happen, then he would simply bounce back. Perhaps he should have a talk with Jack about clearing up his records a bit better if he wanted to keep secrets?
No, he wouldn't bring it up unless he had to.
Ianto had to admit, Jack's inability to stay dead bothered him. He honestly didn't know how someone could cope with it. He could understand why Jack would want to keep it to himself; Ianto had that same fear as well, of being treated like a freak…or worse. Tomorrow People had been the subjects of experimentation before.
"I have managed to trace the Weevil alert," Tim reported, "and it is most certainly false."
"He's heading into a trap," John stated.
"I do believe so, yes. And the captain is not alone; from what I can tell from their comm. signals, Toshiko Sato is accompanying him," Tim answered.
Ianto felt his heart drop. If this somehow turned deadly, then Jack would make it through…but Toshiko was mortal. Jack would do anything to protect her, he was certain of that. But still, there was that uncertainty, that they were dealing with a highly trained paramilitary force that could bring any sort of weapon to the ambush, and not even Jack could stop them.
"We need to warn them," he decided.
John looked at him, but didn't say anything. He simply nodded.
Ianto nodded back, then turned to their supercomputer. "Tim, can you contact them through their comms?"
"Then please do so. If Jack baulks, tell him I said he could trust you."
"Certainly." Tim was silent for a moment. When he spoke again, his voice was urgent. "I was keeping track of them through the CCTV; however, someone has taken the network down in their vicinity."
John began to move. "Let's go," he ordered. "Everyone, get a stun gun and let's jaunt to their last known location – "
"John," Tim nearly shouted, "Captain Harkness has just reported that there is a rocket launcher nearby."
Ianto wanted to panic. A rocket launcher. He knew the SUV was armored, but it wasn't a tank. There was no way it could withstand that sort of weaponry.
There was a mad scramble for the jaunting pad. "Tim," John snapped, "can you tell where the launcher was?"
"Not with any degree of precision. However it would have to have been from an elevated position – "
"Jaunt us to the highest roof. We'll see if we can find whoever shot at them from there."
The Lab vanished, and Ianto found himself on a rooftop in Cardiff. He ignored the feelings that came along with being back there, and concentrated on finding the person with the launcher.
"There!" Elena cried, pointing.
He turned, and he could just make out a dark-clad person moving on another roof just below theirs. "Elena...Paul, with me," John ordered. The three jaunted, and in a blink they were surrounding the assailant. The shrill sound of a trio of stun guns sounded, and Ianto was relieved…for about a second.
"Ianto!" Alexis cried.
He joined her, and saw the SUV flipped over onto its top in the middle of the road below. Without thinking, he jaunted down, not surprised that Alexis was with him. She headed over to the passenger side, and he could hear her talking to someone – Toshiko, he realized.
He himself took a look around, his stun gun out, wanting to make sure they weren't in any danger. 'John,' he sent, 'are we clear?'
Ianto could just see his leader on the roof where they'd stunned the attacker. 'I'm not seeing anyone around,' he answered. 'We're going to make certain this man is confined, then we'll be down to help.'
He acknowledged, then moved to the driver's side of the SUV. It was lucky that the vehicle had reinforced roll bars and body; else he didn't think anyone would have survived the explosion that had flipped the SUV. It had been immense, judging from the smoking pit in the pavement.
Emergency services had to be on their way, so they only had a few minutes. The sound of metal rending came from the passenger side, and he watched Alexis help Toshiko out of the cab.
Ianto slid his stun gun into its holster, kneeling down amid the broken glass. He wasn't prepared to see Jack; his former boss hadn't been wearing his seatbelt, and had obviously been thrown about when the SUV had flipped. Jack was crumpled in a heap, his neck was clearly broken. Blood was pouring from a terrible head wound, and Ianto immediately realized that there was no way to get him out without killing him.
"Hello, Captain," Ianto said gently. "We seem to be in a bit of a mess, here."
"Y-yeah." Jack's voice was barely above a whisper. "Care t-to give a g-guy a hand?"
"That's what I'm here for," Ianto tried to comfort him, but he wasn't sure it was going to work. He stood, and reached out with his telekinesis, ripping the door off its hinges. There was a gasp behind him; and Ianto realized that he had an audience.
It didn't seem all that important at the moment.
He knelt again, taking a closer look at Jack's position. No, he'd been right on first analysis…there was no way Jack was coming out of the SUV alive. "It's okay, Jack," he murmured. "We're going to get you out, but I don't know if we can without hurting you even more…"
Jack obviously tried to move, because a pained whimper escaped his lips. But Ianto could see in his expression that he was frightened, and Ianto realized it was for him, and not Jack himself.
Of course. He was afraid that Ianto would think that, if he moved him,that he was responsible for Jack's death.
Fleetingly, Ianto wondered if this would, somehow, break the Prime Barrier, if he knew Jack wasn't really dead.
He'd just have to risk it.
He rested his hand on Jack's bloody forehead. "I know," he whispered. "I know about you not being able to stay dead. Rest, Jack. Don't worry." He hoped Jack would be comforted by the fact that Ianto knew he wouldn't remain dead for long.
Ianto reached out with his telepathy. It was considered rude to read someone's thoughts, but he knew he could induce unconsciousness if he tried. Jack's mind had always been well shielded; Ianto wondered if it had something to do with his immortality, or if he'd had some sort of advanced training. Anyway, of all of Torchwood Three, Jack had always been the one who never broadcast. It was one of the reasons Ianto had liked spending time with him; it was always quiet.
Jack's eyes fluttered closed under Ianto's ministrations. Despite Jack's shields it wasn't all that hard to force him into sleep; Ianto didn't want Jack to feel any pain as they pulled him from the wreckage.
He could sense the others coming up to him. 'We may have a problem,' he broadcast to his fellows. 'Jack isn't coming out of this SUV alive.'
'Are you thinking of the Prime Barrier?' Elena asked.
'The thing is…' Ianto really didn't want to give away one of Jack's secrets, but he knew he didn't have a choice.
'If he dies as we try to move him,' John said, 'it's not like we took his life on purpose.'
"So you don't think it applies?' Elena said.
'There's something else.' Ianto decided to bite the metaphorical bullet. 'Jack is…different. If he dies, he just comes back to life.'
'He's immortal?' John clarified.
'Bloody hell,' Paul swore.
'Language, please,' Tim chided lightly.
John was staring at Ianto, and suddenly he felt like that fourteen year-old who'd been caught using his telekinesis to shoplift CD's. Ianto was an adult, though, and he met John's glare with one of his own. 'Yes, I didn't say anything, because it's not our business. I found out by accident as it was. Now, are we going to get him out of this?'
'Does Ms Sato know?' Alexis asked.
'The last I knew, Jack was keeping it secret. So I would say, no.'
'Then why don't I take her back to the Lab, and you can work on getting the captain out?'
That made sense. 'Good idea,' John agreed, giving Ianto one last look that said their conversation wasn't over.
'Emergency services will be in the area within five minutes,' Tim reported. 'I shall send a matter transporter belt to Alexis and one to Elena for when you are able to remove the captain from the SUV.'
Ianto turned from John to Toshiko, who was standing next to Alexis. He smiled at her, and she returned it. "We're going to get Jack out," he said, "but we think it would be best if you were safe first."
His former teammate was glancing between him and the others, and Ianto could see her putting a few things together in her head. Then she nodded.
"Put this on," Alexis said, handing over the matter transporter belt that Tim had sent to her. Toshiko looked at, and must have realized it was advanced tech, because she looked at Ianto again, raising an eyebrow.
"It's a matter transporter," Ianto told her. "We'll explain things once we have Jack free and we're safe at the Lab. I promise, Tosh."
"All right," she answered, slipping the belt on. Then she smiled. "I missed you, Ianto."
Ianto returned it. "I missed you, too." He had; he just hadn't thought that anyone would actually feel the same.
Alexis and Toshiko faded away, leaving them to deal with Jack.
"He's fading," Elena said, her voice sorrowful.
Ianto could feel it, too; even though Jack had always had strong shields, they could still sense when someone was dying. It was as if Jack's mind was being sucked down a dark hole, and they would need to be careful not to be pulled down with him. "Let's get him out."
"Ianto," John said, "you and Elena use your telekinesis to ease him out. Paul and I will steady him as best we can. On three..."
Together, the four Tomorrow People got Jack free. Halfway out of the SUV Jack died; the familiar shields were suddenly gone, leaving coldness and emptiness. Ianto gasped with it, as did Elena; she was the empath of the team, and such things always bothered her more than the others.
For Ianto, it was just the idea that Jack was dead.
He suddenly had doubts; what if Jack didn't come back? Yes, he'd read what files there were left in the Archive, but what if something happened and Jack didn't resurrect?
Ianto shoved those doubts aside; they needed to get away before the authorities arrived and started asking questions. It was going to be bad enough when they identified the SUV as Torchwood; they didn't need any well-meaning coppers snooping around and looking for the passengers. Especially since Ianto had no idea just how long it would take Jack to revive.
Elena managed to get the matter transporter belt around Jack's waist. 'We're ready, Tim,' John openly sent, so everyone would hear.
'Can Alexis block Tosh from getting a good look at Jack?' Ianto asked. 'I'm certain she doesn't know about his….ability.'
'We can take him directly to one of the rooms,' John said. 'Then we can wait for him to come back to life.'
'It's a horrible ability,' Elena replied. 'I wonder how he stands it.'
Ianto wondered that himself.
'I am jaunting you in now,' Tim responded.
There was the familiar feeling of teleporting, and the Lab faded in around them. Ianto caught sight of Toshiko; she was standing by the link table, a mug of something in her hands. She looked a bit rough, and very worried, but he didn't get to check closer, for John was already stepping down from the pad, and they had no choice but to follow.
"Why don't you stay with your friend," John suggested. "We'll take care of the captain."
Ianto really didn't want to leave Jack, but at the same time he wanted to make sure Toshiko was all right. He reluctantly let them take Jack deeper into the base, toward the living quarters that had been set up in case anyone needed to stay over in the Lab during missions. He watched them disappear down the hallway, then turned to regard Toshiko.
He didn't have time to react before he found himself with an armful of Toshiko Sato.
Of all his former teammates, Toshiko had been the most serene. He would often find himself standing near her, just to bask in that quiet intelligence. She'd also been the one who usually thanked him for things, whether it was coffee or that file she'd requested. He'd often wondered that, if given time, they might have developed a good friendship. He could sense that she was truly glad to see him, and it made him smile.
Toshiko pulled away, and he was surprised at how angry she looked. "Where have you been?" she demanded, smacking him on the upper arm.
Ianto frowned. Hadn't Jack told them anything? "I needed time."
"But three months?" she asked sharply. "I was worried about you!"
"I'm sorry," he answered, feeling contrite.
"You should be." The anger left as quickly as it had appeared. "It really is good to see you."
"You, too. I've missed you."
Toshiko smiled. "I have you, too." Then she turned serious. "How's Jack?"
"He'll be all right," he reassured her. "John and Elena know what they're doing. They'll take care of him."
Toshiko seemed to accept that as an answer. She looked around the Lab, taking in everything. "And what is all this?" she asked, waving a hand to indicate their surroundings. "Ianto, what is going on?"
He knew he'd have to explain to her, but he also knew that, of all his former teammates, she was the most likely to accept things. "All right," he said, "but it's a bit of a story…"
"I think it's time for me to head home," Alexis spoke up.
Ianto rolled his eyes. "Coward," he teased.
The girl smirked. "Sure, like I want to explain to my dad why I'm out so late. Good thing it's not a school night." She tapped her watch. "Time difference, remember?"
He winced. "Ouch. All right, maybe not so much a coward then."
"Someday I'll introduce you. Who knows, he might kill you off in one of his books. He already has John." Alexis headed toward the jaunting pad. Once there, she turned back to face the pair. "Nice to meet you, Tosh," she said cheerfully. "And Ianto…glad to have finally met you, too." She waved, fading from sight.
"I do hope that's part of the explanation," Toshiko commented.
"It is." He ushered her toward one of the sofas, turning toward the supercomputer hanging over their heads. "Tim, can I have a coffee please? And a refill of what Tosh was drinking, too."
"Certainly," the warm rich tones sounded vaguely amused. Two mugs appeared on the scan table, and Ianto took them back to join Toshiko on the couch.
"That's one more thing for the list," she said, taking the offered mug.
Ianto settled on the sofa, making himself comfortable. He thought about what was most likely going on deeper into the base, and a frisson of fear passed through him. He hoped Jack would be back soon…"What I'm about to tell you is a secret that perhaps only a handful of people know. It's for the safety of those involved, because if word got out they'd be hunted by most agencies on the planet. I'm trusting you with this information."
"You can trust me, Ianto," she answered solemnly.
He nodded, acknowledging her comment. "First of all, evolution hasn't stopped. Humans may be top of the food chain now, but at some point in the future that won't be the case; another race will evolve from human beings, with greater powers and abilities than what normal humans possess."
"What sort of abilities?" Toshiko asked, the scientist within her getting interested.
"Mental abilities; telepathy, telekinesis, teleportation, and other minor powers," Ianto answered. He didn't add time manipulation; he didn't think bringing the Time Guardians into it was necessary. Besides, it would be millions of years before they eventually evolved from the Tomorrow People themselves.
"That certainly explains a lot of what I saw tonight," she mused. "How else do you explain a teenager pulling a door off a reinforced SUV?"
Ianto smirked. "Exactly. Back in the early 70's, the first of this advanced race grew into their powers…or 'broke out', as it's called. Since then, there have been more and more children breaking out. In the 80's Torchwood One put a bounty out on them, hoping to capture one for study."
"Autopsy, more like," Toshiko said angrily.
"They never did get one, though."
"That's good." She paused. "Wait…you were at Torchwood One!"
"I was undercover," he admitted. "John – our leader – thought it best that we have someone in Torchwood, and I was sent in. We needed to know if they were getting close to us."
Toshiko nodded thoughtfully. "It must have been hard for you, though."
"It was. And while London never got close to any of us, I was able to report back about a lot of what they were doing." He sighed. "There'd been a time when we were on good terms with UNIT and the government…but not anymore. John tried to get them to listen to what was going on, but he was brushed off. Of course, he was proved right when Canary Wharf fell."
"I'm a bit confused though," she said. "If you can do all of that, all those mind powers…why didn't you use any of them when…well, you know…happened." She shifted uncomfortably.
She was trying to bring up Lisa without bringing up Lisa. "I couldn't," he answered. "Our powers can be affected by head injuries; when I was thrown across the Hub, I must have hit my head. It completely scrambled my powers." That entire part of events was very fuzzy; he only really remembered waking up to Jack kissing him, and a strange warmth that seemed to course throughout his body.
"Is that why you vanished?" Toshiko asked shrewdly. "You were injured?"
"In a way." He didn't want to get into the Prime Barrier; he was fine talking about powers and such, but to him that entire part of the affair was too personal. He didn't want to get into what had happened between himself and Jack, mainly because he didn't want her pity over it. It was bad enough just mentioning it. "But honestly, I hadn't expected to come back, because I thought I'd pretty much burned my bridges behind me." He hadn't expected to miss them, and them him.
"And that brings us to what happened tonight," she prompted.
Ianto nodded. He told her what he knew: that Jack had somehow found out about UNIT coming after them for some reason, and that he'd managed to get a warning out. He glossed over quite a bit; like where he'd been in all this, and that John had brought him back because of his 'connection' with Jack and Torchwood, and he could tell Toshiko noticed the gaps, but she didn't say anything.
"That explains why Jack had me poking around the UNIT system," she said. "He gave me a list of parameters to follow, but I couldn't find anything."
"Neither could Tim," Ianto admitted.
"I have come to the conclusion," Tim said solemnly, "that any information on the Tomorrow People is either on a dedicated server or kept completely in paper form."
"Tim is a biotronic artificial intelligence," Ianto answered Toshiko's silent question. "He's self-determining and self-aware. "
"You're alive?" she asked, surprised.
"As alive as I can be, with biological components as well as electronic and mechanical," Tim said, sounding almost shy about it.
Ianto could tell Toshiko was impressed. "Who built you?"
"John did," the supercomputer said. "He has quite a good brain for a human."
Ianto snorted. "John builds most of our equipment," he answered. "He has done, since the beginning."
Toshiko looked interested, and Ianto thought it might be a good idea to warn John that a fellow techie would be hunting him down…no, John could take care of himself.
"Toshiko," Tim said, "someone is trying to reach your mobile. I have boosted the signal, and it should be clear to answer."
She reached into her pocket just as the phone rang. "It's Gwen," she said, glancing at the display. She flipped it open. "Yes, Gwen?"
Ianto stood, in order to give her a bit of privacy, but he couldn't help but hear her end of the conversation. He knew that Tim would be monitoring both ends of the call, and if he wanted he could have the blow-by-blow, but didn't want to spy on either of them.
"Yes, we're fine," Toshiko was saying. "Jack was hurt, but…yes, he'll be okay…no, Gwen…yes, I know the SUV was totaled…"
"Let me talk to her."
Ianto turned. Jack stood in the entry to the sleeping quarters, wearing what looked like a fresh shirt, his greatcoat tucked over his arm. He looked just fine; not like he'd recently died. He was just as Ianto had remembered, and he hadn't realized just how much he'd missed the captain until that moment.
Jack was staring at him, a leer tugging the corner of his mouth upward. "Looking good, Mr. Jones. You should wear jeans more often."
The flirting was second nature, and Ianto could tell that it was helping to cover up the wariness in Jack's eyes. Ianto could understand; he'd admitted to knowing Jack's greatest secret, and Jack had to be considering how Ianto had found out. He wanted to tell Jack that he could trust him, but he didn't see his former boss believing him after what he'd done. Yes, Jack had tried to warn them, but then he was a good man, and wouldn't have been able to stand still and let UNIT hunt them down.
Toshiko grinned, handing Jack her mobile. "Hello, Gwen…well, I hardly knew we were going to be shot at with a rocket launcher…yes, have the cops release the SUV to you and Owen and have it taken to…" He glanced at Ianto, an eyebrow raised.
Ianto gave him the name of the mechanic he'd found who could be trusted with the vehicle, and Jack relayed that to Gwen. He listened for a few seconds, then said, "I'm sending Toshiko back to the Hub, and she can explain things…no, I'll be back in a bit, I need to speak to the people who got us out…no, you can get the story from Toshiko when you see her…no, we're both perfectly fine." He rolled his eyes good-naturedly. "Yes, mother," he laughed. "Toshiko will explain…you are at the Hub?...okay, she'll meet you and Owen there…good-bye, Gwen." He snapped the phone closed, handing it back to Toshiko, then turned to regard John, who'd entered into the main Lab area right behind the captain. Elena and Paul were hovering, waiting to see what was going to happen next.
The intensity in the room was so strong Ianto thought he could cut it with a knife.
"Do you mind sending Toshiko back to the Hub?" he asked.
"Not at all," John answered. "We can transport her back whenever she's ready."
"How much should I be telling Gwen and Owen?" she asked.
Jack glanced at John, then Ianto, and back again. "That's up to you lot," he said.
'And you trust him?' John asked mentally.
'I do,' Ianto answered, wishing John would quit asking him that. 'He didn't have to try to warn us, and it's put him and his team in danger. It's up to you, but I think we should be as truthful as possible. I'm not saying reveal everything…'
'But enough for them to understand.' John nodded, turning back to Toshiko. "As much as you need to," he said aloud. "We do have secrets we'd not want to get out, but pretty much everything Ianto has explained should be fine. We need to trust each other, if we're to work together."
Toshiko nodded. "And I'm assuming that anything else that we need to know, we'll be told."
John smiled. "Exactly, Ms. Sato. I'm glad we understand each other."
She returned the smile. "We do. And it's Toshiko, or Tosh. Oh, and Ianto says you're the tech expert around here."
"I am," he answered proudly.
"Then maybe we can talk tech sometime."
"I look forward to that, Toshiko."
'She's good,' Elena teased.
'Got him where he lives,' Paul joined in.
'The way to a man's heart is through his technology,' Ianto added, not bothering to keep the smile from his face.
'Shut it, you three,' John growled half-heartedly.
Toshiko was looking between the four of them, shaking her head. "I suppose this is why telepathy is useful…you can talk about someone right in front of them and they not realize it." She didn't really sound upset about it.
"More like giving John a hard time," Ianto reassured her.
"Nothing new about that," Elena laughed.
"This is the respect I get." John sounded put-upon.
"That's the curse of leaders everywhere," Jack commiserated. "Toshiko, time you were off. Fill Gwen and Owen in, and I'll be along in a bit."
"You got it." She moved forward to hug him once more. "Don't be a stranger," she murmured as Ianto put his arms around her. "You really were missed."
It was more than Ianto had expected, and he was touched. "I won't be," he promised as she pulled away.
John actually escorted her to the jaunting pad. "It was a pleasure to meet you, Toshiko," he said gallantly.
"And you, John," she smiled.
'Quit flirting with her,' Elena warned playfully. 'You're taken, remember?'
'Yes, ma'am,' John snarked back. "To the Torchwood Hub, Tim."
"Of course," the supercomputer answered almost primly.
Toshiko waved as she faded away.
"Now," Jack said turning to face them all, "I think it's time we get down to business."
"I agree," John said, motioning the captain toward the sofa. "Tim, coffees, please."
"Right away." The requested cups appeared on the link table.
"Now, that's a trick," Jack said, staring up at Tim's housing. "Biological-mechanical construct?"
"That is correct," Tim answered.
"Nice technology," Jack said admiringly.
"Thank you, Captain." If artificial intelligences could blush, Tim would be doing it.
"Great balls, too."
Ianto should have expected the remark about the four hemispheres on Tim's housing. It was just such a 'Jack' thing to say.
"Now," Jack went on, "while I appreciate the warning and the save, I'm a bit concerned over the fact that you've been keeping me and my people under surveillance. I'd really like to know how you managed to hack our communications, and if you've managed to get any farther than that." He didn't sound angry or belligerent; merely curious.
"Tim was able to get into the comms," Ianto answered, with silent prompting from John. It made sense that he lead the conversation, since it had been Jack who'd warned them, and he above them all knew Jack Harkness. "Beyond that, he couldn't get into the mainframe."
Jack stood, his arms crossed, great coat hanging from his forearms. "Wanting to check up to see if I was telling the truth?"
Ianto felt himself blushing a little. "That…and making sure UNIT didn't pull anything. I know Tosh is the best, but it never hurts to have back-up."
The captain nodded. "Makes sense. Personally, I wouldn't trust me, either. Oh, and thanks for the warning about the ambush. The idea of one had come to me, but I underestimated UNIT just a bit. I really didn't think they'd move against Torchwood like that."
"We do appreciate your own warning to us, Captain," Ianto said. "I'm just sorry you and the team seemed to have been dragged into the middle of it."
Jack shrugged. "There wasn't any way I was going to let UNIT sneak up on you like that. The Tomorrow People are a force for good on Earth. They shouldn't be made a target by a paranoid general with delusions of aliens under his bed." He paused for a moment. "What about the shooter? I think I remember you saying you apprehended him?"
"We did," John answered. "He's bound and gagged in another room. We don't really have the resources to keep him, though."
"I'll take him off your hands. I'll want to question him, anyway. I assume you also don't have interrogation facilities?"
"You would be right."
"All right." Jack slid his coat back on. "We need to find out who he is, and who ordered him to ambush us."
"You're more than welcome to him," John said. "Although I do ask that we be allowed to watch any questioning you do."
Jack looked at him closely. "I have to warn you: I'm going to do everything I can to get the information out of him. It might get ugly."
John nodded. "I understand, and we won't interfere."
Ianto was a bit surprised by the capitulation. Perhaps John wasn't aware of just how…persuasive Jack could be?
'I remember your memories of that night,' John reassured him silently. "I believe I'll be prepared to witness whatever your captain may try.'
Ianto thought it was being a bit naïve, but didn't say so.
Arriving at the Hub was interesting, to say the least.
Ianto knew how they must have looked: Jack in the forefront of the group, the unconscious body of the rocket launcher shooter draped over one shoulder. John was behind and to his left; while Ianto was on the right. Paul and Elena flanked them, and Ianto was forcibly reminded of Torchwood's so-called 'usual formation' and he had to bite back a chuckle.
Toshiko must have warned the others, because they didn't seem nearly surprised as they should have been with a group of people teleporting into the middle of the lower level. No guns drawn, at least; Gwen had her mouth open, staring at them, while Owen simply rolled his eyes and leaned his hip against the wall.
"Hey kids," Jack greeted. "Be nice for the company, okay? We want them to come back again someday." He carelessly shifted the prisoner into another position on his shoulder. "This is Torchwood Three," he introduced. "Our medic, Owen Harper – "
"Doctor Owen Harper," Owen snarked back. "How many times do I have to say it?"
"– and Gwen Cooper, our police liaison," Jack finished, completely ignoring Owen's outburst. "Children, these are the Tomorrow People, and I'll let Ianto perform the introductions while I take our new guest down to the interrogation room." With that, Jack headed down to the lower levels, leaving Ianto to face his former teammates alone.
He flatly refused to fidget.
"This is our leader, John," Ianto began his own introductions, indicating John. "And this is Elena and Paul. Alexis isn't here, but you should meet her at another time."
'This place is amazing,' Elena said silently. 'And is that an actual pteranodon?'
'It is,' Ianto answered. 'But we might want to speak out loud, until they get used to us.'
'Good point,' John said. 'There's no need to be rude to our would-be allies.'
Gwen approached Ianto, smiling tentatively. "Hello, Ianto," she greeted, sounding a bit nervous.
Ianto took a couple of steps toward her. "Hey, Gwen," he returned, warily.
And suddenly, she was hugging him very tightly. "How've you been, sweetheart?"
"I'm okay," he answered, her very loud thoughts echoing her concern for him. Gwen's mind had always been the noisiest of them all, and he'd had to make sure he was shielding when around her. Ianto figured it was just part of her nature, and accepted it, although he might want to have a word with her about it, since there were telepathic races out there that weren't as scrupulous as his was and he didn't want her to get hurt.
"Let the tea-boy go, Gwen," Owen's harsh voice complained. "Hugging him to death isn't a good way to say hello to someone."
Ianto was surprised that Owen seemed genuinely happy to see him, despite his brusque exterior. He caught a random thought 'I'd have done the same thing it if was Katie' and then Ianto blocked him out, not wanting to hear anymore.
"And what's a good way to you?" Ianto snarked back, leaving one arm around Gwen's shoulders since she seemed reluctant to let him go.
Owen rolled his eyes. "By asking you where my bloody coffee is, of course."
"Typical," he snorted. "You do have your priorities straight, don't you?"
"Damn right, tea-boy."
And just like that, Ianto felt as if he was home.
"All right, people," Jack interrupted, rejoining them. "Boardroom, five minutes. And no, Owen…Ianto is a guest; he is not going to be making the coffee…no matter how much you beg for it."
"Fuck you, Harkness," the medic growled.
"Maybe later," Jack leered.
"You are one sick puppy," Owen said, stamping past toward the boardroom.
'Is this what you had to put up with?' Paul asked. 'Bloody hell, mate…how'd you deal with it?'
Ianto barely controlled his laughter. 'If you think this is bad, just wait…it can and will get worse.' It really was like coming home, even though he'd been the ignored baby brother who the others remembered when they'd needed something. He still had those hard feelings, but he'd been wrong to blame Jack for it; after all, he'd begged for the job, and he'd gotten exactly what he'd wanted. Being ignored had been a good thing, while Lisa had been in the lower levels.
'I'm not sure I want to know,' John said forbiddingly.
Jack ushered them all toward the boardroom, fingers barely touching the small of Ianto's back as they followed Toshiko and Gwen. Ianto was a bit surprised by the gesture, but decided to allow it. If he was honest with himself, he enjoyed the light contact a bit too much than what should have been good for him.
The Torchwood team was already seated around the table, so Ianto joined the TP who were standing off to the side. Ianto could hear them talking in the back of his mind, but he refrained from joining in, more interested in how their presence was being tolerated. Fairly well, if he was any judge, and he was really glad of that. He'd thought the worst for so long, and to know that these people had forgiven him for nearly getting them killed…he was very grateful indeed.
"Okay," Owen said, even before Jack was completely seated, "I'm guessing the man currently cooling his heels downstairs was the one who used the rocket launcher on the SUV?"
"You would be right," Jack answered, settling back.
"Tosh says you were hurt," he went on, "I'll want to take a look at you when we get done here."
"It wasn't serious – " Jack tried to wave him off.
"And you got your medical degree where?" Owen countered.
John stepped forward. "I can assure you, Dr. Harper," John said smoothly, "that the captain's injuries weren't serious, they only looked bad. We're able to, at times, share our lifeforce and help people heal faster. He's perfectly fine now."
'Nicely done,' Elena congratulated.
'He warned us,' John answered. 'The least we can do is protect his secret.'
Jack looked perfectly bland. "See?" he said. "I told you I was fine."
Owen didn't look convinced, but he sat back in his own chair.
"Now," Jack began, "let's get this meeting to order. I'm certain Toshiko has at least clued you in about what happened."
"I also explained a few things to her," Ianto added, "while the others were working with you, sir."
"I figured as much," the captain answered.
"Yeah, Tosh says you're all super-beings of some sort," Owen said. He sounded extremely interested. "Go on then; show us."
"Owen!" Jack ordered.
"No, it's fine," Ianto said, knowing that he was going to be asked to demonstrate before Owen had opened his mouth.
He held out his hand, focusing on the biro that was just out of reach on the boardroom table. With a simple flexing of his telekinesis, Ianto floated it into his palm. "Before you ask," he said into the silence his show had caused, "I won't read anyone's mind. It's considered rude, and unless you're also a Tomorrow Person I couldn't get deep inside anyway, at least not without the other person's cooperation. I can read surface thoughts if they're strong enough, but I usually keep my shields up, because quite honestly I don't want to be bombarded with just how good Owen thinks he is in bed."
"Oi!" Owen exclaimed as the girls laughed. "Sex isn't the only thing I think about! That would be Harkness!"
"The difference being," Jack drawled, "I know I'm good in bed. Owen, you just think you are."
Ianto joined in the laughter at the doctor's expense. "Yeah, yeah," Owen snarked. "Laugh it up. Just remember who does your physicals around here."
He could hear John's disapproval, while Elena and Paul both thought it was funny.
"You've seen us teleport," Ianto went on, "so I don't think you need another repeat of that."
"Perhaps someone can explain exactly what's going on?" Gwen asked. "I know I'm new, but I thought UNIT was on our side…"
"They are," Jack said, "at least for the most part."
"Neither I nor the Tomorrow People's…computer expert," Toshiko said, obviously hesitating over what to call Tim, "could find anything in the UNIT database to suggest they're even aware of you."
"Why would they even want to come after you?" Gwen persisted. "You're apparently not a threat – "
"They aren't," Jack said. "In fact, the Tomorrow People have saved this world more than once. It's just paranoia, plain and simple. Carson thinks they're going to take over the world."
"I can assure you," John replied, "that is not our intention. However, you can look at it this way: the Tomorrow People are to Homo sapiens as Cro-Magnon Man was to Neanderthal Man. Evolution hasn't stopped, and at some point in the far future normal people will be replaced by the next stage in humanity, just as that next phase will also someday be replaced."
"That makes sense," Owen said, in a tone that said he'd like to explore that a bit later on.
"There are also your ties to the Galactic Federation," Jack added.
"Galactic Federation?" Gwen asked incredulously. "You mean you're allied with aliens?"
"The Tomorrow People have accepted membership in the Galactic Federation," Jack explained, saving Ianto or John from having to do so. "They're a loose conglomeration of worlds that are pacifistic in nature, bound together by their vast mental powers. The Federation protects emergent telepaths like the Tomorrow People, giving them citizenship status even if the rest of their home worlds are closed, or class 5…which means no alien interference is allowed. In exchange for citizenship, the Tomorrow People do what we do: protect the Earth from outside threats. Only they have the resources of the Federation if they're needed."
Ianto looked at Jack gratefully for putting it so succinctly. "Jack's right. When I broke out, I automatically received dual citizenship, both on Earth and in the Galactic Federation. All children until they either break out or turn eighteen are granted provisional status within the Federation. "
"What do you mean by 'break out'?" Owen asked.
"That's when a Tomorrow Person comes into their powers," John explained. "Every child has the potential of becoming one of us, but until their abilities emerge there's nothing to tell if someone is going to break out or not."
"There aren't all that many of us yet," Elena added. "There are only a handful on Earth, and the rest with posts within the Federation. One of their greatest diplomats is from Earth, actually. And Ianto trained for archive work off-world."
"You did?" Toshiko was excited, sitting forward in her chair.
Ianto really didn't want things to be deflected toward him again, but he answered the question while sending a sarcastic, 'Thank you,' in Elena's direction. "Well, I did go to a regular school here, but when I turned eighteen I went to study on the Galactic Trig – the Federation's seat of government. I apprenticed on what are called archive ships…each ship is dedicated to a world within the Federation. When my records were made up for Torchwood One, my experience working with the Tomorrow People and my apprenticeship on the archive ships were translated into an Earth equivalent. I was given degrees in Archive Sciences and Computer Programming. That's what got me into Torchwood One. I…just didn't count on finding someone there and falling in love." His heart still ached where Lisa was concerned, but it was getting better. He was certain his feelings for Jack had something to do with it. "After everything, I ended up back on the Trig, and I really didn't think I'd be back. But the captain found a way to get in contact, to warn us about something going on with UNIT."
"And now," Jack said, obviously trying to get the meeting back on track, "we've been ambushed by UNIT, and I can't help but think it was in an attempt to see if we had actual contact with the Tomorrow People."
Ianto could tell that the others were uneasy about that, but that John didn't seem all that surprised. "I agree with you, Captain," their leader said. "Of course, they now have that proof."
Jack swiveled his chair to look John in the eye. "Thank you for coming to the rescue, by the way."
"We couldn't leave you both like that, especially after you did attempt to warn us."
Jack nodded, apparently acknowledging the truth of John's words. "And we'll work on this together. There's no way I'm letting them hunt you all down." He went to turn back to the team, but turned back to John instead. "What did you do with the rocket launcher?"
John grimaced slightly, and Ianto could tell it was because he was uncomfortable with the weapon. "We have it," he answered, calling out to Tim for him to jaunt the weapon to him.
Owen cursed and Gwen gasped as the launcher appeared in John's hands. He very quickly set it down on the table, removing the small matter transporter from it and sending that back to the Lab.
Jack stood up, examining the launcher with his eyes. "Toshiko, I want you to go over this with a fine-tooth comb. Look for registration numbers, manufacturer's marks…anything that might tell us where it came from."
Toshiko nodded. "You got it."
"Gwen," Jack went on, "I want you to go back to where we were attacked, check for any evidence that might have been left behind. I'd prefer you didn't go alone…" he said pointedly, looking at John.
John nodded. "We have some equipment that might be useful. Elena can collect it and meet you there."
Ianto heard Elena acknowledge John's instruction, and she jaunted away. "If you would lend Ms Cooper one of the matter transporter belts either you or Toshiko have, we can transport her to the roof immediately."
Gwen looked excited about the prospect. Jack sat up just enough to remove the belt from his waist, and he slid it across the table to her. She put it on with a happy grin.
"If you need a belt to transport people around," Owen said, "then why are you lot wearing them too, if you can just appear and disappear at will?"
"They're different," Ianto answered. He pulled his jacket open, to reveal his own jaunting belt. "The belt Gwen has, has a small disc on it – that's the matter transporter. The ones we wear we call jaunting belts…they boost our own mental power and help with coordinates and control. Otherwise we wouldn't be able to go more than about a mile at a jaunt and couldn't jaunt blind."
"Paul," John said, "why don't you accompany Elena and Ms Cooper? I'll want you to take a look at the area, see what you could dig up."
"Cheers," Paul answered. He moved to Gwen's chair, offering his arm. "Care to accompany me to the scene of crime, ma'am?"
Gwen stood up, taking the offered arm. "Don't 'ma'am' me," she laughed. "It's Gwen."
Paul returned her grin with one of his own. "We'll keep in touch," he promised. Ianto heard the young man call for Tim to jaunt them to the site, and they were away.
"Owen," Jack turned to the medic, "I want you on standby, just in case something happens when I question our guest."
"You got it," Owen agreed, getting up from the table and out the door.
Ianto felt a small shiver. He'd been on the receiving end of Jack Harkness' questioning, and it hadn't been pleasant.
As if somehow sensing his thought, Jack glanced at him, concern and sorrow reflected in his blue eyes. In that moment Ianto wished he could speak mind-to-mind with him, to reassure him that everything was fine, and that he didn't blame Jack for what had happened.
John caught it though. 'You don't have to be here if you don't want to be.'
'I'm fine,' Ianto answered.
"The questioning might get ugly," Jack said, his attention back on John. "I know the Tomorrow People are a peaceful lot – "
"But we need to get this information," John countered. "You won't get any interference from me…from us."
"Actually, I'd like you to sit in on the interrogation," Jack said, grinning. "How are you at standing around, looking intimidating?"
The man in the interrogation room didn't really look military. He was a thin, weedy person, with hair just a bit too long to be regulation. His clothes were more clubber than soldier, although at least that could have been attributed to him not wanting to be noticed.
Of course, the rather large rocket launcher he'd had would have put the kibosh on him remaining unseen.
Jack had handcuffed him to the bare table, and he looked uncomfortable in the position he was seated in. Jack stared down at him from near the door, and the man seemed to completely ignore his presence.
Jack didn't care for that at all.
He leaned over the table, wanting to loom over their prisoner. That earned him an almost silent snort, and Jack hid the irritation at that response.
"You know," he drawled, "you are going to talk to us. Just us, in this room, for as long as it takes."
The man didn't answer.
Jack moved to the other side of the table, hitching his ass onto the edge, wanting to seem completely relaxed to the man. He was anything but, and yet it didn't have anything to do with the upcoming interrogation, and more to do with the young man watching from the upper level observation window.
There were so many things he wanted to ask Ianto. How was he feeling? Would he come back to Torchwood?
How had he known about Jack not being able to stay dead?
Jack just wanted a little bit of alone time with his former lover/employee. But he knew that wasn't going to happen anytime soon, and so tried to get his mind back into the game.
"So," Jack said, "who sent you? What did you think you'd accomplish, blowing up my SUV?"
Of course, there was no answer.
Out of the corner of his eye, he could just see John standing against the wall, and yes, the man could look very intimidating indeed. His sharp dark eyes were watching the prisoner like a hawk, and Jack wondered if the man would slip up and think just the wrong thing loud enough for the Tomorrow Person to pick up on. He knew that they considered openly looking into someone's mind was unethical, and would only do it as a last resort. But, their telepathy might easily pick up something that might accidentally be thought in the heat of the moment, and that might give them their first clue if their 'guest' managed to shrug off any of Jack's interrogation techniques.
"Look," Jack got up and moved back to the other side of the table, "I'm not sure your superiors told you what you're up against. Better men have gone head-to-head with Torchwood, and they came away unable to remember their own names. If you talk to us now, we can make sure that doesn't happen to you."
The man looked up at Jack then. Worry did lurk in his pale eyes, but on the whole he didn't look impressed. "I know all about Torchwood," he answered, sounding almost glad. "You're all a bunch of traitors against the human race."
Jack smirked. "Am I really? How do you see it that way?"
"You're siding with our enemies," their prisoner answered. "That makes you traitors."
"I see. And your way to test that was by blowing us up?"
"Execution is the punishment for all treason."
John looked a bit ill at the answer, but he regained his composure very quickly.
Jack could relate.
"And just who are these so-called enemies?" Jack asked, sounding curious even though he already knew the answer.
The man's lip curled up in disdain. "You have one right over there," he jerked his head in John's direction.
Jack didn't even glance at the other man. "Did you hear that, John? You're an enemy of the human race." He figured it was the eponymous jaunting belt that had given John away; it was very recognizable.
"This is the first I've heard of it," John answered, in a deadpan delivery that reminded Jack very much of Ianto's own. "And here I thought saving the planet as many times as we have would have meant we were more friends of the humans, instead of enemies."
"Maybe he didn't want to be saved," the captain rejoined.
"Then perhaps whoever they are should have said, and we wouldn't have bothered."
Jack knew that was shit, that the Tomorrow People would have helped anyway, but it made for a good comeback. "You have permission to save me, if you ever need to." He put enough leer in his voice that it would have made anyone blush.
A very large part of him was wishing it was Ianto he was bantering with.
However, John just raised an eyebrow. "I'll keep that in mind, Captain."
Jack turned back to their prisoner. "Now," he continued, "it appears that your definition of enemy and mine are two completely different things. Just how to you get that the Tomorrow People are a bad thing?" He already knew the answer to that, if it was the same rhetoric that Carson had been spewing.
"It's survival of the fittest," the man answered, sounding completely rational about it. "If we don't do something to stop them, then humanity as a race won't survive."
"That tired old trope," Jack sighed dramatically. "Why is it the bad guys always fall back on the 'survival of the fittest' argument? Darwin would be appalled."
If Jack hadn't known what was going to happen in the future, he really would have despaired for the human race.
"Darwin didn't even come up with that phrase first," John pointed out. "It was philosopher Herbert Spencer, and Darwin only used it in his fifth edition of On the Origin of Species. It's not even a scientific description of the actual process of evolution. Darwin meant it as purely a metaphor, and not to infer 'best physical shape'."
Jack grinned at him. "I didn't know that."
John smiled back. "When you're the next stage in human evolution, you know your Darwin."
"You have a point." He turned back to their prisoner. "And just what do you have planned in order to stop actual evolution?"
The man remained silent.
John, however, went pale.
"We need your medic down here…now," he snapped, practically launching himself toward the door and taking Jack completely by surprise.
"What?" Jack demanded, following. Something had happened; their prisoner actually began to laugh.
Ianto met them in the steps; Owen pushed past and went in to the interrogation room, curses floating in the air behind him. The younger man had also gone pale, and Jack could practically see the lightning-fast conversation between the pair.
"Someone care to clue me in?" Jack asked sharply.
John moved up and past Ianto, leaving him with Jack. While Jack had wanted to spend a little alone time with his former employee, this wasn't the way he'd wanted to go about it. "When you asked him how they planned on stopping evolution…" Ianto swallowed hard. "It's a virus, Jack. A genetically altered virus, aimed at homo superior only."
Now Jack felt the blood leave his own face. "Did you get any more?"
"John did; he was closer." Ianto swallowed again. "It was a trap, Jack…but not for you or Torchwood. Whoever is behind this, wanted us to take that man prisoner. If what John overheard was true, they actually injected him with that virus, hoping there would be a TP involved…"
"So they could be infected." Jack couldn't believe it. This was insane. "Bet you wish you hadn't rescued us now."
Ianto smiled tiredly. "No, Jack. I don't."
Jack felt very grateful for that, although he now felt that, in his desire to warn Ianto about UNIT, that he hadn't instead condemned every Tomorrow Person on Earth.
"Stop it," Ianto chided. "You did the best you could."
"Are you reading my mind, Mr. Jones?" Jack teased, and suddenly found that he didn't actually care if he had.
Ianto shook his head. "I never could read you. You're…blank, to me. You have the best shields I've ever run into."
That was a surprise; Jack would have believed that Ianto would have been able to read at least his surface thoughts, like he could the others. "Then, what about…" he trailed off, not wanting to mention his immortality in the vicinity of anyone else.
"You should never put a true archivist in charge of your archives," Ianto answered, smirking. "You never know what they might find."
Jack opened his mouth to answer, but Owen came out of the interrogation room, his kit in hand. "Medical bay, tea-boy," he ordered. "I need blood from you and the other Tomorrow People, to see if that bastard really has infected you lot. And Harkness, I thought we had sensors that were supposed to tell us when a potential infectious hazard entered the Hub?"
"We do," jack protested. "Get those blood samples tested, and we'll most likely find out why they didn't go off."
Muttering something about untrustworthy alien technology, Owen pressed past them. "We're not getting any younger!" he shouted on his way. "Medical bay, now!"
Ianto smiled. "We'll talk later, Jack," he promised, following Owen.
Jack smiled as well. He decided that he liked Ianto calling him 'Jack'.
Once again, the boardroom was packed with Torchwood and Tomorrow People.
The five – they'd called the girl, Alexis, back, and she was obviously trying to stifle her yawns – Tomorrow People were huddled in one corner, not speaking…at least, not audibly. There was a conversation going on there, and while a part of Jack was a bit irritated at the rudeness, he could certainly understand it.
He turned to look at Gwen. She was chewing her lip, watching the group in the corner as they held their own private conference. "What is it, Gwen?"
"She's a child," his teammate pointed out…somewhat unnecessarily, Jack thought. He could see how young Alexis was.
"No," he corrected her, "she's a Tomorrow Person. That means she's grown up very fast from the moment she broke out."
"But Jack," Gwen protested, although he had to give her credit for pitching her voice low, "shouldn't she be in school, and have a boyfriend? What about her parents? Do they agree with her being put into danger?"
Jack only had what he'd read about Ianto's childhood, and could only judge by that. "I would think that the parents knowing would be a vitally important form of support for any Tomorrow Person," he hedged. "And I doubt Alexis would have been able to sneak out of her own house without her folks knowing, even if she did teleport out. Also, I think in America schools are on their holidays, so she wouldn't be missing anything."
"It's not right," she said. "We're adults; we know what we're getting into, in what we do."
"I'm quite sure Alexis knows the dangers of what she does," Jack replied. He didn't point out that Ianto had been the same age when he'd broken out, and that he must have saved the world any number of times before he'd turned eighteen. "John cares for his people, Gwen. He's not about to let anything happen to any of them, if he can avoid it."
"I just don't like it."
Jack knew Gwen; knew she wasn't about to give up on it. Her stubbornness and sense of right and wrong were two of the reasons he'd hired her, and he certainly hoped it didn't lead to trouble with their would-be allies. "It's the way they do things," Jack said. Then he stepped away. "Can we get this meeting started?"
The impromptu telepathic session broke up, but the Tomorrow People still stayed quite close together, although if it was for protection or security Jack couldn't say. His own people took their seats; except for Owen, who stood in front of the large plasma screen, hands in the pockets of the white doctor's coat over a pair of blue scrubs.
"What have we got?" he prompted the doctor, leaning back in his own chair.
Using a hand-held controller, Owen turned the screen on. It showed the blue vortex-like screensaver that Torchwood favored, but changed almost immediately to show what had to have been a medical slide. "Okay," he began, "this is our culprit…a nasty little retrovirus that was designed to shut down any bits of Tomorrow People genetic code it could find. It would basically turn any kid with that genetic signature into a normal human being. In full-fledged homo superior, it would do the same…only it would be lethal in anyone exposed. Well, that's if it actually worked."
The feeling of relief permeated the room like a fresh breeze. "Why doesn't it work?" John asked.
"Seems that whoever created this thought that injecting it into a normal human would simply make that person a carrier, but didn't take into consideration our own immune system. This retrovirus was destroyed by our prisoner's own white blood cells."
"And none of my people have been exposed?" John asked.
"No," Owen said. "You're all clean. I did find some remnants of it in yours and Elena's blood, but it's not going to hurt a thing and will be flushed out of your systems soon enough."
"What about some sort of cure, if they get it right?" Jack asked.
"I'm working on an anti-virus, but if they do make enough improvements on it, it won't work worth shit."
"Do the best you can." Jack faced the Tomorrow People. "From now on, I'd like to suggest that none of you be alone, if you're away from here or from your Lab, and that I'd prefer it would be one of your team, with one of mine." He raised his hand to forestall whatever it was John was going to say. "I know it's going to be a pain, and I also know you're all capable of calling on each other in case something happens, but what if you're incapacitated before you can get a call off to someone?"
"I was going to say that that made sense, Captain," John said, letting a smirk play across his lips.
Jack laughed. "That'll teach me for assuming you were going to argue with me."
"Nah," Owen said, "you're just used to dealing with her by now." He nodded toward Gwen.
"Oi!" Gwen exclaimed, miming a slap in his direction.
"But we do need to find wherever UNIT is keeping their altered virus," John went on, "in case they try to improve it."
"Agreed – "
"I think you might want to hear what I found out about the rocket launcher before you run off and storm the nearest UNIT base," Toshiko interrupted. She was looking downright smug.
Jack raised an eyebrow. "Do tell."
"Well," she began, using her laptop to override Owen's control of the plasma, showing a close-up of the weapon. "First of all, this isn't standard UNIT issue."
Now, that was a surprise. Jack leaned back in his chair, looking at his technician speculatively. "You're sure about that?"
"Absolutely." Toshiko looked disappointed in his question. She input another command, and another rocket launcher appeared just below the one they had. It did look different. "UNIT's have a couple of different adaptations made using alien technology. And as you can see, the barrel is slightly shorter, and the butt of the weapon flared. The one our attacker had doesn't have the adaptations, and you can tell it's not the same at all."
"Then were did it come from?" Ianto asked, coming to stand next to Jack, his eyes on Toshiko.
"That is the question." Toshiko did some more magic with her laptop. This time, what looked like a manifest took up the screen. "According to what I've been able to dig up, that particular rocket launcher was in a shipment that was supposed to have been shipped to Afghanistan six months ago, property of the regular army."
"Well, now," Jack mused. "That is interesting…" Why wouldn't UNIT have used their own weaponry?
"Yes," John added, "since UNIT certainly has its own resources and wouldn't need to steal from the army. We might not agree with war, but we certainly want those fighting one to have the tools they'd need to come home alive."
Jack agreed. No one really enjoyed war, but the soldiers in it deserved a fighting chance. "What about any of the other weapons that were in that shipment?"
'The army is investigating, but so far nothing has turned up," she answered.
"You know," Jack said, "this really casts doubt on whether this was a sanctioned UNIT operation." He felt somewhat relieved by that, because he really didn't want to think UNIT itself had gone that bad.
"If it isn't," Ianto put in, "that would mean they'd need somewhere to make this virus they tried to use."
"A civilian lab then." Owen didn't phrase it as a question.
"It would have to be," Jack agreed, standing. "I think it's time we let our guest know that he's failed in his plan."
This time, it was Ianto in the interrogation room with him, which was far more of a distraction than it had been when the young man had been on the observation level…which almost wasn't saying much.
John and the other Tomorrow People had gone back to their Lab. Their leader had asked Ianto to stay, to act as a liaison between themselves and Torchwood. Jack hadn't been at all unhappy about that, hoping to get this wrapped up and then perhaps get some alone time with Ianto. John had said something about contacting the other Tomorrow People on Earth, in order to warn them, and Jack had agreed that this was the best option. He doubted UNIT knew where they all were, especially if they were acting as normal humans – and he could certainly understand their paranoia about showing themselves. John had said a majority of them on the planet were families, and not involved in galactic politics. It would be a crime if any of them were found out.
They were innocent, and didn't deserve this sort of persecution.
Jack sauntered into the interrogation room, Ianto just behind him. He sent a cocky grin in their prisoner's direction. "Looks like your little virus was a big, fat failure."
The man's smug grin faded. "You're lying."
"Afraid not." Jack leaned over him, trying for intimidation once more. "Whoever created it screwed up. Of course, now the Tomorrow People know about it, and I'm not real sure you want them as enemies."
"Our leader is contacting the Galactic Federation as we speak," Ianto bluffed. John had said they would if the virus became a working reality, but for now they would work on the issue on their own. "I'm certain they – and the Shadow Proclamation – would enjoy hearing about an attempted genocide against a non-aggressive species on a closed world."
The Shadow Proclamation was also a bluff, as well. While the Federation and the Shadow Architects had a co-existence pact, the Federation didn't agree with their use of the Judoon as their personal police force. They felt the Judoon were too brutal and not willing to accept that their judgments could be wrong.
The man paled. "It's not genocide when you're trying to protect your own race from extinction!"
Jack's eyebrow rose in disbelief. "Someone's been taking lessons from Adolf Hitler."
"You can't possibly compare the Nazis to us!"
"I think he just did," Ianto said calmly. "I'd like to know just what the difference is, since they're both the same act, only against different races."
Their prisoner chewed his lip, and didn't answer.
"Sounds like he's not into his own rhetoric," Jack mused, taking a stand next to Ianto.
"It would seem," Ianto agreed. "I wonder if anyone bothered to explain to him how many hundreds of thousands of years we're talking about?"
"Yeah," Jack agreed. "By that time humanity will have spread out amongst the stars and pretty much aren't even entirely human anymore. There's even these sentient heads in jars…just their heads, nothing else."
Ianto looked at him, his expression curious. "Really?"
Jack nodded. He'd seen Boekind in his travels with the Doctor. "Very wise, ancient beings. Communicated telepathically. The sex was incredible – "
The TP rolled his eyes. "Really, sir. Does every story you tell have to include sex?"
"Why, yes, they do." Jack leered at him pleasantly.
Ianto snorted. "I think we should be getting back to business with our friend, here."
"You're right, of course." Jack went back to their prisoner. "Well, now that your dastardly plan has failed, I wonder what your employers had up their sleeve next."
The man didn't speak.
"He's just thinking of ways to escape," Ianto said.
Jack snorted. "Like he's going to get out of here alive."
"Get out of my head!" the man shouted at Ianto, trying to come up out of the chair.
"Naughty, naughty," Jack chided. "You were quite content to kill his people. I don't see why they shouldn't use any and all means necessary to stop you from doing just that."
Of course, it was all just one more bluff, but Jack could tell the man was scared.
It was Ianto's turn to lean forward. "You know I don't take kindly to people who have nothing to do with me and mine trying to kill me and my family. What's keeping me from getting into your head and peeling your mind like a grape?"
Jack shivered. Ianto was dead sexy when he was being intimidating.
Then it occurred to him that he might have to make good on that threat, and Jack wasn't sure Ianto could do that.
"Could I have a moment with you?" Jack insisted, taking Ianto gently by the elbow and leading him out of the room. He stopped on the lower landing of the stairs, practically putting Ianto in the corner, crowding close to him. "Pretend we're having some sort of disagreement, all right?" He pitched his voice too low for their prisoner to hear.
Ianto looked confused for a moment, then agreed. "I suppose you're trying to talk me out of taking a dig through of his brain?"
"Is it working?" Jack asked, trying to ignore the fact that he could practically feel Ianto's body heat through his clothes.
"You might want to try a little harder."
Was it Jack's imagination, or was Ianto shaking just a little? Was that look of discomfort because of Jack's proximity, or was it an act to fool the man in the room beyond?
"Look," Jack said, biting the bullet, "I wanted to apologize for what happened – "
"We both made mistakes that night," Ianto murmured. "Let's just forget about it, and start over, okay?"
"Fine with me." Jack was glad that Ianto was willing to let bygones be bygones. That made his sudden, spur-of-the-moment next question that much easier. "So, after this is all over, how about you…me…dinner, a movie…?"
The utter surprise on Ianto's face made Jack doubt himself…which didn't happen all that often. He really had no idea where that particular question came from, but he realized that he really, really wanted it. He wanted to get to know this special young man, and he regretted not doing that before all hell had broken loose and he'd nearly lost him. He'd only been interested in the physical part of their relationship, and now he knew just how wrong that had been. Ianto Jones would never be just a part-time shag, which is how Jack had wanted it at first. But now, that had changed, and it had taken a rampant Cyberwoman and a rogue UNIT general for him to realize it.
"Are you asking me out on a date?" Ianto asked incredulously, his voice rising a little.
"Interested?" Jack returned, trying to sound a lot less nervous than he actually felt, and managing to fail spectacularly. "And keep your voice down."
Ianto's expression turned calculating, for just a moment, and then it morphed into what Jack would always call a 'shit-eating' grin. "As long as I don't have to interrogate anyone. Some fetishes should be kept to yourself."
Jack leered. "Not even in role play?" He couldn't believe that Ianto had actually accepted the offer, and couldn't help feeling a bit giddy about it.
"All right…but not until the third date."
Jack smiled; not his usual brilliant expression, but this one sincere. "You think there'll be more than one?"
"I certainly hope so."
Jack really wanted to kiss him, but refrained. "Let's see if we can scare some information out of this guy, then we can talk about this later. Follow my lead."
"If you insist." Ianto's face went dark, and he stormed back into the interrogation room.
If Jack didn't know better, he'd swear Ianto was severely pissed off.
Their prisoner looked uncertain as Jack approached the table. "Now," he drawled, leaning forward, his knuckles resting on the pitted wood, "I'm sure we can avoid any of the brain-peeling that my associate here has threatened you with. I'm certain you can be perfectly reasonable and give us the information that we need."
"Go to hell," the man tried to snarl, but it didn't sound quite as tough as Jack was sure he'd meant it to be.
"Are you sure you won't let me dig around a bit?" Ianto practically whined.
"You're actually allied with this maniac?" the prisoner shouted. "He's inhuman!"
"That might be a surprise to my parents," Ianto answered snidely.
'I'd quit insulting the telepath if I were you," Jack said, shaking his head. "C'mon, make it easy on yourself and tell us where you and your people are holed up at. You've failed in your mission, and we're not going to stop until we get to them. " He leaned closer. "I know you know where they are. Just one word and we can end this. Don't make me set the big bad Tomorrow Person on you. You know you want to tell me…"
"I've got it," Ianto said. He grinned at their prisoner, whose eyes were wide with denial. "You know, you really shouldn't think so loud."
"We make a great team," Jack said admiringly.
"You're the one who aimed his mind in the right direction."
"But you did a wonderful job of intimidation."
"If you two are done with the self-congratulation," Owen's voice echoed down from the observation area, "we do have some bad guys to catch."
"He has a point," Ianto said.
"He does. Let me get this bastard put in a cell, and then we can plan."
The location that Ianto had managed to pull from their prisoner turned out to be a fairly nice industrial complex out in Roath, to a building that declared itself to be BioMedical Research Associates. Ianto had seen the very building in their prisoner's mind, and he'd expected the plain concrete and glass building from that mental picture.
It would have surprised him if they hadn't already suspected that Carson had been working on his own. UNIT had enough resources and scientists to have been creating something like the virus that had been attempted to use on them, but it was good to know that it seemed to just be one rogue element and not the entire organization.
He looked out over the winter-brown lawn toward the building. To be honest, he hadn't really paid all that much attention in the briefing back at the Hub; he was still in a bit of shock over Jack actually asking him out on a date. Jack Harkness, who'd had a reputation he'd even heard about at One, who would shag anything as long as it met his definition of gorgeous, who was a love-'em and leave-'em sort of man, who didn't get into any sort of entanglements.
That was the man that Ianto had found himself attracted to, once he'd come to Cardiff with Lisa in tow. And, of course, Jack was also the man he'd betrayed. But, it looked as if that was forgiven, just as Ianto had forgiven Jack his actions the night Lisa had died.
His feelings for Jack had grown since he'd been away, but Ianto had never given them much thought, simply because he'd never expected to see Jack – or the team – again. To know that Jack had hunted him down, and then had warned him – them – about what UNIT was up to…it had given Ianto a new perspective on how he actually felt.
But, a date? Now, that he hadn't expected at all.
Ianto shook himself out of his thoughts, and put his mind back on what he needed to do. He tugged at the collar of his AE suit, knowing that the modified spacesuit would be all that stood between him and any possible contamination once they got inside. They couldn't risk that this contagion would be just as useless as it had been within their prisoner, who was currently keeping Janet company in the Hub's cells.
While he knew he was wearing a silvery spacesuit, to the rest of the team it looked as if he was in an immaculate three-piece suit, thanks to the suit's chameleon shift. He felt the comfortable weight of his stun gun in the shoulder holster he was wearing, and the helmet was making his head itch slightly.
They'd come up with a plan back at the Hub. Using blueprints that Toshiko had managed to dig up, they'd come up with two places that might be of interest, and so there were two teams going in while Jack and his team – made up of Ianto and Gwen – would create a distraction. Tim would be coordinating, having worked out a way to hook into the CCTV footage from within the building. He would get the two teams in, and back out again if there was any sort of trouble.
Gwen had objected when Alexis had been grouped with Toshiko and Paul. Her argument had been that the American girl was too young to be involved in anything so dangerous, and it would have degenerated into an argument had John not stepped in and had the final word on the subject. It hadn't stopped Gwen from making noises about it, and Ianto had finally taken her aside and had informed her that he, himself, had saved the world once before he'd turned fifteen, and that Alexis was a full-fledged member of the team. He also pointed out that Alexis had earned her place, and that Gwen was marginalizing the girl's contribution without realizing it. He did tell her that he could see where she was coming from, and that her heart was in the right place, but anyone who'd been through the trauma of breaking out knew what the risks were, and were willing to accept them for the sake of their people, and their planet. He thought he managed to get through to her.
She did, however, ask about his own break out, and Ianto had demurred, not wanting to get into the horrific two weeks he'd spent in Providence Park, surrounded by all those screaming minds, before John had managed to track him down. It was something he didn't want to dwell on.
There would be a total of three teams: Owen's, which would go after any and all of the genetically engineered virus and destroy it; Toshiko's, aimed at the heart of their computer systems; and then Jack's, going in through the front door and making as much noise as possible. Each team had at least one Tomorrow Person on it, the better to keep in contact; as well as their usual comms, which Tim was also tied into.
Ianto considered them as prepared as they could be as he, following Jack and Gwen, entered the foyer of BioMedical Research Associates. Jack was in full Captain mode, his coat billowing around him, Ianto and Gwen flanking him, and Ianto hoped this was going to work.
'Pessimist,' Alexis teased.
Ianto mentally stuck his tongue out at her.
Her giggle echoed in his mind as they approached the reception desk. "Captain Jack Harkness," Jack introduced himself to the rather large security guard who sat at the desk. Jack actually winked at the man, and Ianto barely controlled the eye roll that he really wanted to make. "Gwen Cooper," he motioned toward her, "and Ianto Jones," he said, motioning toward Ianto. "We're Torchwood. We're here to see General Carson."
The guard stood up, and Ianto wondered just what the man had eaten as a child in order to grow up that large. "There's no General Carson here," the man answered, his voice coming from somewhere near his shoes. "You have the wrong building."
"Nope, don't think so," Jack went blithely on. "This is the place his hired gun told us about, after he blew up my SUV and tried to kill me. I try not to take that sort of thing personally, but it's kinda hard to do when you're hanging upside down from your seatbelt." Jack leaned against the counter. "Now, big boy…why don't you get your boss down here or I'll be on the phone to Sir Alistair faster than Carson can say 'psychotic break'."
It wasn't an empty threat; Jack had wanted to call the Brigadier in, but John had asked him not to, not wanting to get the retired soldier involved because of his advanced age and the Tomorrow Person didn't want him to get hurt. Jack had argued for it, saying despite Sir Alistair's having slowed down, he was still just as passionate about what was right as he ever was.
John had won, but Jack had reserved the right to call if needed.
The guard glowered, then sat down. Jack smirked in satisfaction as he picked up the phone.
'That's not necessary."
They all turned, Ianto startled that he hadn't at least picked up some sort of surface thought from the man standing just beyond the reception desk. He wasn't in uniform, but it was obvious that he was a military just from his bearing. "Welcome, Captain Harkness," the man said, smiling slightly. "If I'd known you were coming I would have had my assistant put the coffee on."
"I don't like to be predictable, General," Jack answered, returning that slight smile.
"Apparently not," Carson replied easily. "Why don't you and your…companions…come to my office and we can discuss this?"
'Carson's here,' Ianto reported to his teammates. 'Looks like we're going to be heading directly into a trap.'
'So what else is new?' Paul quipped, and Elena snorted.
'If it wasn't a trap,' Alexis added, 'we wouldn't know how to handle it.'
'We'll wait five minutes, then go in ourselves,' John said, cutting across the banter. 'Shout out if you need backup.'
Ianto acknowledged, following Jack and Gwen as Carson led them deeper into the building. It was obviously a rather high-tech set-up, and he wondered just what sort of resources were behind Carson and his company. Who was financing all this? Or was Carson somehow getting his money some other way than a mysterious backer?
He really wanted it to be straightforward, but that was hardly ever the case…
If he remembered correctly – and that was a near certainty, with Ianto's eidetic memory – Carson was taking them toward the rear of the building, where the blueprints had indicated possible office space. The structure itself was three stories tall, with the offices being on the ground floor; it had been fairly easy to identify computer areas, as well as laboratories, simply because of the amount of reinforcement that the floors had required.
It certainly helped that they had Tim's electronic eyes everywhere.
Ianto could tell that Gwen was on the alert, much like he was; her surface thoughts – he really did need to speak to her about some proper shielding – bubbled up with the mission…and one about Rhys, her boyfriend, and that she'd forgot to call and tell him she would be late. It made him wonder what Alexis had told her father about the mission, since chances were she'd be out past her curfew again.
He cleared his mind, although it would never be totally empty. A Tomorrow Person was never alone; they could block out their fellows for a while, as he had during his attempt to help Lisa, but it all eventually came back down to connections. He could feel his extended family in the back of his mind continuously, and the knowledge that they were so close calmed him.
Although, he really felt safe with Jack near.
He'd never admit it, though. He had his image to maintain.
Carson's office was well-appointed, with a large wooden desk and leather chair. There was only one visitor's seat, and by unspoken agreement it went to Gwen. Ianto stood on one side of her; Jack the other, and Jack took control immediately. "Now," he growled, all trace of flirtation gone, "I want to know why you decided it would be fun to try to kill me and one of my people."
"You already know, Captain," the general answered snidely. "Or else you wouldn't be here."
"You do have a point," Jack agreed.
"Where is my man?"
"You don't want to know."
Carson's face went red. Then he smiled, and it wasn't a nice one. "Although it was nice of you to bring my enemies to me."
Jack laughed. "You mean Gwen and Ianto? Please! Gwen's been with Torchwood for months, and Ianto came over from One when it fell. Sorry, Carson…you're barking up the wrong tree."
When a person was angry, any sort of mental shielding they had simply wouldn't work in such an emotionally charged state, unless a person was trained properly. However, it also scrambled thoughts that Ianto would have been able to hear normally; that was one of the reasons he hadn't sensed that Suzie had been corrupted by the Glove, because her emotional state had been heightened by using it. It was also how he could always tell when Owen really was angry, or was just playing along.
As angry as Carson was, Ianto should have been able to get something, even if he'd been unable to understand it.
But the man was completely blank.
Not like Jack; Ianto was simply unable to read anything from the captain, even though he could sense the thought under Jack's very formidable shields.
No, it was as if Carson didn't have any thoughts at all.
He contacted John immediately, knowing that Tim would overhear and communicate with Jack and Gwen about his inability to even partially sense Carson.
'Nothing at all?' Elena butted in.
'Not a thing,' Ianto confirmed. 'It's like I'm trying to hear the thoughts of a dead man.'
Carson turned his eyes on Ianto. "But I can hear you just fine." He grinned, as if they were sharing some sort of funny secret.
Ianto swallowed both verbal and mental curses, choosing instead to draw his stun gun. He was gratified to see Jack right with him, only with his signature Webley. He could hear John and the others clamoring in his head, and he had to ignore it, putting all of his attention on the seated General Carson.
The man was laughing.
"Did you really think I wouldn't know a Tomorrow Person when I saw one?" he asked, almost in a sing-song. "I have to thank you, Captain Harkness, for outing the one on your team. I hadn't known he existed."
'Ianto!' John fairly shouted in his mind, and it was all Ianto could do not to flinch at the strength of it.
'Keep doing what you're doing,' Ianto answered roughly, not wanting to halve his attention.
"No," Carson said, standing. "Let's bring all your friends in here, shall we?"
'Stay away!' Ianto warned.
"Who are you?" Jack demanded. Gwen had also stood, and had her own gun out, although she seemed a little puzzled by what was going on.
Ianto couldn't blame her. He didn't have a clue, either.
"General Avery Carson, UNIT London," he answered. "But I've evened the playing field, so to speak." He raised his arm, revealing a large silver cuff around his right forearm. "This came from Torchwood London, and UNIT found it in the clean-up. Turns out it's very useful in hiding a person's mind, at the same time letting them hear what others are thinking…especially practicing telepaths. It's how I first found out about the Tomorrow People, and what they intended for the Earth."
"We don't 'intend' anything," Ianto said, frowning. "We just want to live in peace." He remembered that device, and it had been hard for him to even touch it through gloves, let alone long enough to get it put into the Archives.
"The Tomorrow People aren't a threat," Jack said. "Do you have any idea how many times they've kept this world from being invaded or destroyed?"
Carson was becoming angrier once more. "You think that proves anything? They're just saving the planet for themselves."
"Enough of that," Jack ordered. "We're leaving, and you're coming with us. I'm sure Sir Alistair can find a nice pleasant cell for you – "
"You think I'm going anywhere with you?" Carson snarled. Without warning, he moved, twisting toward what looked like a snow globe on the corner of his desk. He had his hand on it just as a gunshot rang out.
Carson's hand pushed it off the desk.
Ianto did the only thing he could: he caught it with his telekinesis before it hit the floor.
"Owen!" Jack called over his comm. "We need a containment box in Carson's office now!" He looked at Ianto. "Do you have it?"
He nodded. "I have it." Ianto turned, to look at Gwen. She still had her gun out, pointed right at the prone form of Avery Carson. "You okay?" He really didn't have to ask; he could hear Gwen's shock at having shot a human being.
She nodded. "Let's get him secured and get this place under control, yeah?"
"Yeah," he answered, smiling.
"That's my cue," Jack said, grinning. He tucked his gun back into its holster, and then took some white zip ties from the pocket of his coat. He wasn't gentle as he bound Carson's wrists and ankles together, eliciting a moan from the wounded man. As he did, he carefully removed the armband, taking a close look at it. "Interesting," he muttered. "Think we need to do a bit more research on this, then find a nice quiet spot in the Archives for it." He tucked it away in his handkerchief, slipping it into another pocket.
There was a smattering of gunfire outside the office – both projectile weaponry and stun blasts – and the door was flung open, revealing Owen and John.
Gwen and Ianto had spun at the noise, and they both put their guns away quickly. "I think we need to get this looked after," Ianto indicated the snow globe he was holding in mid-air with his mind. "I have a feeling two of us won't like what happens if I drop it, even though we're wearing AE suits."
In fact, the thing was giving him the creeps. He wasn't sure what was in it, but Carson had wanted to make sure it broke…it could only really be one thing.
"Here ya go, tea-boy," Owen said, putting a large containment box on the floor near the hovering snow globe. Ianto was more than happy to get rid of it, and breathed easier once the lid was sealed.
"We found the labs," John said, coming to stand next to Ianto. He rested his hand on Ianto's shoulder, and the younger man could feel the comfort and support the elder TP was giving. "Doctor Harper has all the medical files on the virus, and I'm confident we can shut down the entire system without anything getting free. " He cocked his head for a moment, and Ianto heard the report from Paul at the same time. "And Paul says Toshiko isn't having any problems with the computers, and is transferring everything to the Torchwood mainframe, and Tim is getting a copy as well."
"Traitors," Carson choked, and he would have tried to rise if Jack hadn't pushed him back down. The gunshot wound in his shoulder was bleeding a bit, although not as profusely as some Ianto had seen.
Everyone else pretty much ignored him.
"What about the rest of the people in the building?" Jack asked. "I want this entire place taken down and sterilized."
"We've been avoiding most of them by jaunting or using matter transporters," John answered. "We need to find a way to clear everyone out."
"Pull the fire alarm," Owen suggested. When everyone looked at him, he shrugged. "You'll get 'em all out fast that way."
Ianto laughed. Of course it would be that easy.
Jack stood back, watching as all the employees of BioMedical Research Associates left the building. The majority of them were innocent, having no idea what was going on under their noses. He knew once they had time to go through all the records they would give them evidence they'd need to clear out all the bad apples.
"Now we know why there wasn't anything in the UNIT computers," John said, coming to stand beside him. "It really wasn't UNIT involved; it was Carson and a few others who were in the right place, at the right time." He shook his head. "We did find records that showed Carson and his bully boys coming to the owner of BioMedical, offering him certain technology in order to gain access to the labs needed to create their contagion. It's a damned good thing it didn't work."
"Paperwork damns you every time," Jack answered, half-joking.
John snorted. He was silent for a few moments, and when he spoke again his words surprised Jack. "I believe I may have been mistaken about you being as bad as Yvonne Hartman."
Jack did appreciate the sentiment. "No, you were right. What I did was wrong. I'm just glad Ianto's forgiven me for it."
"Back when he was still recovering," the TP's leader murmured, "there were times when none of us were certain he'd regain his powers. But, he never gave up. It was a rough convalescence for him." John looked at Jack squarely. "There were times when he cursed you…but the majority of the time he hoped that, someday, he could earn your forgiveness."
"There's nothing really to forgive. He did it out of loyalty and love. There aren't any stronger motivations." It had taken Jack a while to realize that, but when he had it had been like an epiphany.
"If you asked him," John said, "I know he'd come back to Torchwood. And really, we could use a liaison, I think." He smirked. "I believe Torchwood and the Tomorrow People could work together."
Jack's heart felt so much lighter at the other man's words. "I think we could, too. And yes, I think I will ask him."
He started to move away, toward Ianto, who was standing with Alexis and Toshiko.
He turned back at John's call.
"If you leave me that wrist strap of yours – Tim scanned it, and he knows it's alien tech – I think I could fix it enough to make it into a matter transporter. And a communications link to Tim, if you're interested. Ianto enjoys Thai, and I'm certain the more authentic, the better."
Jack laughed. He pulled his broken Vortex Manipulator from his wrist, and tossed it toward John, who caught is easily. "I'm taking him out this Saturday, Rift willing. I'll need it back then."
John shared the laugh. "It will be."
He turned back toward where Ianto was standing, striding toward the younger man purposely. Ianto saw him, and left his conversation, walking toward Jack.
This time, Jack didn't stop himself from kissing him.
It felt right.