Summary: Jack is gone, and Ianto is feeling the loss, but... he still has things to do. Boss Man is just around the corner, and he has to deal with him before he can make his way back to Torchwood, back to Gwen and, unknowingly, back to Tosh and Owen.
But with Faeries and Mobsters and Embezzlers getting in the way... well, nothing is ever easy with Torchwood, is it?
Sequel to And I Wake Up
Please Note: EACH CHAPTER is (about)10K. Patience for the next chapter please.
Apologies for the crazy lateness, lots of personal issues, along with rapidly shifting work schedule…
Chapter 5—Leave Me Alone by Alexander Rybak
Comment on Awkward Paws
So yeah, haha, very funny, it's hard to believe that it took you so long to realize that your cat wasn't a boy-cat, but don't think I haven't noticed the issue you've glossed over. I mean, really, Batman can get away with using a kid for his crime-fighting due to his fictional nature, but you shouldn't use 'kittens' for your own personal gain. Really I'm disappointed, you should know better than that, kittens are supposed to go to good homes, they shouldn't have to break into sketchy homes to get a good meal, they shouldn't just be used like this. They should be in good homes, with good families, you shouldn't abuse, or use them when you can't do the work yourself, I mean GOD how can you live with yourself? ALL children, no matter the 'breed', should be in safe, friendly environments, and leaving them on their own on the streets isn't ok in the least, but using them for profit is just as bad.
Really, don't do it.
Ianto wants to do many things in that moment.
He wants to shout, to cry, to hyperventilate, to hold his breath until his heart would stop it's pounding tempo against his ribs—
(It was terribly distracting)
—But mostly he wants to be anywhere else but here.
The pair of boots—army issued steel toe, he ventures a guess—shifts, the weight of the man making the floor creak slightly.
"Well, aside from—"
There's a slight slide of sound, the sifting of fabric, and Ianto guesses that Boss man made some sort of gesture, some change in stance that made the deep-voiced Thug cut himself off.
"Sorry Sir." The boots don't so much as shuffle, but the sneakered third party shuffles in place. Ianto can see that the toes are scuffed, the flash of the bottom worn down… his heat is pounding, but he can still find it in himself to make a face at the quality of the make, to have that much wear and tear from a fairly new looking shoe.
"It's all right, Roderick." Ianto hears the silent threat, the slightly disapproving I expect better from you before the tone evens out. "Alden?"
The sneakers shuffle again, and poor trainer choice aside, Ianto can't blame him. Boss Man is terrifying, and seems to be putting the full weight of his attention on the third party…
Ianto wonders who these two are, to have a private if informal meeting with Boss Man.
Then Sneakers spoke.
"Well… we haven't caught him yet, Da."
There was a significant pause, while Ianto's mind boggled, because eugh Boss Man had children. Probably crazy children. Crazy, with stupid shoes.
"… I mean," Sneakers, Son Of Boss Man, said, seeming to realize that more was expected, "we've come close, but the last group to get close to him got Tazed and then the guy like, lost them somehow."
Boss Man included no inflection to the tone, and Ianto imagined his face was just as inscrutable as it was when he'd watched his men repeatedly shoot Ianto in the head, but there was a world of scorn in that one word.
Ianto very carefully checked the time, holding his wristwatch so close to his face he almost couldn't distinguish the numbers, and felt his insides shrink.
He had between 6 and 10 minutes until Mini would be into their systems, and less than 7 minutes before their security registered that the security had been hacked.
And he was here, in a room with Boss Man, Boss Man's Son, and quite possibly Boss Man's Head Thug, where it was very likely they were talking about him. In fact, it was more than likely, as he remembered using his Taser on a couple of thugs, and in the resulting stumble as the other Thugs tried to get around their fallen comrades he'd scuttled up the side of one wall to get out of sight.
He remembered it vividly, in fact, because he'd very nearly had a panic attack when he'd realized quite how many Thugs were on his tail, and how his Taser was less than half charged.
"Yeah, somehow—I mean, the first report on him was how he'd gotten past Donnie and Marko on that job in London, running up the side of a building, over dumpsters, across rooftops…"
If he weren't so panicked he might think it funny how much admiration was in Sneakers' tone.
"Well, seems he's just better at getting to the roofs than anyone we've got. In fact I think he might actually be getting better."
"You've made no progress."
"Well, no—I mean, Nerys found some obscure linguist to help translate some of the gibberish that he was spewing back when we had him—"
"Nerys. Not you."
There was a moment where Ianto wasn't the only one holding his breath.
One beat, two…
It wasn't a question.
Not 'Da' this time, he noticed.
"Roderick? Status report?"
Roderick's steel-toed boots made a slight noise against the floor as he clicked his heels together, quite possibly in a military salute, and the floor creaked faintly.
Ianto turned his eyes to the faint outline of the USB key, willing the light to go off. Just a little bit. Just a tiny flash of light and he could… If it could just do it now, he could wait until they were distracted with their bit of familial disappointment and nefarious planning, and he could get away, please, please, please, please, please…
"The target Ianto Jones seems to have experience in evasive maneuvers, extensive knowledge of Cardiff's alleyways, exits… and rooftops. Weapon of choice seems to be a home made Taser, electronics housed in a child's toy. The target's Base of Operation is unknown as of yet, though we've manage to narrow it down to a fifteen mile radius of the Upper East end of Splot."
Ianto noticed that he pronounced it 'Sploh' the same as travel and housing agents.
"Good. Tell me what's been learned on the age variant."
"Ranges between ages 8 and 26, roughly, according to our people. The AV is being plotted as more information is gathered, however there is no distinguishable pattern. The age jumps seem to be between 6 and 17 years. Rarely less. "
"I don't see why we've got to get this guy in the first place…"
Boss Man finally moved, his well shined shoes shifting so he was more fully facing Sneakers—Alden, he reminded himself, if only he had a last name to go with it—and in the short interim he seemed to realize that he sounded like a petulant 6 year old.
"Well, I mean, I just don't think he knows all that much, I mean, sure he doesn't seem like he can die, but he can't really, I mean, there's no—"
Alden's rambling dies a quick death. Boss man stepped forward, once to get into Alden's personal space, and to his credit his sneakered-feet only shuffled back minutely.
(Ianto wondered how a man like Boss Man ends up with a son like Alden—then wonders how else he could have turned out, with such a strong, unyielding personality heading the family.)
There's a slight clap, and Ianto pictures Boss Man's hands landing on the faceless Alden's shoulders. His voice, when he speaks, is minimally softer; a wolf trying to comfort a kitten.
"We have an empire, here, now. But what happens to it in 30… 40 years from now?"
The sound of a breath, and Ianto would assume that his 'empire' would go to the son, or perhaps to 'Nerys', thinks maybe Alden would say that as well, but he stays silent. Boss Man seems to hear it, anyway.
"Of course you will… take over, at some point. When you are ready. But you are nowhere near that point. Once we find Ianto Jones and find just what he has had done to himself, however, we will both have more time. Time is more precious than money, than property… it is the most precious commodity. Do you understand me, Alden? Son? We need Ianto Jones."
Ianto couldn't help shuddering a little at the tone, because yeah, it was creepy being talked about this way, but he also couldn't help feeling a bit… sorry for Alden.
Boss Man's emphasis on 'we' while obviously wanting more time for his own benefit…
"Yes, Da. I understand."
Ianto thought that perhaps his own relationship with his father wasn't all that bad, comparatively.
And then Boss Man's phone rang.
Jack grinned at the security guard at the gate, giving him a long once-over. He was more rugged than handsome, but even under uniform he had great shoulders.
They weren't as nice as others he'd seen, say under a well tailored suit, but—no.
Focus, Jack, focus.
"C'mon now, we can all wait here while we get a warrant, or you can just let us in for a little look around."
The security guard under scrutiny, his nametag said only 'Phillips', shifted uncomfortably. His partner, much less attractive, sneered.
"This is private property, and besides which you've got no reason to go looking around."
Owen snorted. "Sounds like what someone with something to hide would say."
In his ear, Tosh said, "Jack, give me a few more minutes, and I'll have a warrant printed out. Get someone of authority sent down here so we can get in as quick as possible."
Jack grinned and moved to lean against the glass partition between he and Phillips.
"If you've got nothing to hide, it couldn't hurt to get whoever's in charge down here to sort us out. We just want to have a look around…" he let his grin widen. "We got a, ah, tip in, and you know what they say about tips. Once the tips in, you might as well follow through."
Phillips flushed red, and the other guy, no name tag that Jack could see, scowled.
"Get away from the glass."
"Call someone down here to stop me."
Phillips already had a phone in hand, resolutely staring down at the chord.
The Other Guy gave Phillips a look.
"Boss's not going to like it."
"He'll like it even less if the alarm goes off."
Jack started tapping on the glass. It annoyed the Other Guy, and if an alarm would get this guys' 'boss' down here sooner, well.
He didn't know when his Vortex manipulator would be up for a scan for Ianto's blood again, and he couldn't risk Ianto getting away.
We need you home, Ianto.
Again, with it not being a question.
His heart was pounding, Boss Man's ring tone (an even chime, completely unremarkable) having startled him, and he checked his watch again. At most, he had 2 minutes before the alarms went off.
At most, he had 4 minutes until Mini had gotten all of the information needed, if he was unlucky.
"Do they have a warrant." Boss Man said, and Alden shifted, rolling his heel and the edge of his foot in his horrendous shoes. Roderick shifted minutely so that his shoes were facing Boss Man directly.
Ianto kind of wished he could see more of them than their knees and under, but also was very happy he wasn't in a position to see their faces.
Then again, Mini would have an easier time finding out whom they were if he could give a face to go with the name…
No, bad as it was, Ianto would rather be entirely under the table, hidden, than risk being seen if he poked his head out from under the table.
He checked the time; 30 seconds if he were unlucky, and the alarms would go—
And then there was a miracle.
"Keep them in sight. I'll be down shortly."
As one Boss Man and Roderick moved for the door, Alden stumbling a moment afterwards to keep up with whatever unseen signal Boss Man had given, and a moment later the door was opening, closed, and Ianto was alone in the room once more.
A moment later, there was a chipper beeping noise form the computer beside him, and the light at the end of the USB key flashed at him.
His heart pounded, adrenalin flooding his system and cramping his arms.
If that had been one moment earlier—if there hadn't been a call—if anything had caused them to crouch down even the slightest—
His lungs were twisting, but he didn't have time for a panic attack.
He grabbed the USB from its port, stumbled only a little coming out from under the table, and went to the window.
More lights were on, and he could see more Thugs moving to fill the courtyard.
Less people inside the building for him to encounter, more people for him to get caught by outside.
They were all focused on the front gate though, so…
Ianto brought up his mental map of the area, matched it up with his map of the building… There was a room on the South end of the hallway that had two windows, and there should be a downspout on the side of the building. It could probably hold his weight.
Either way, if he was remembering correctly, the next window over was a relatively short distance, but from there he could use the ventilation system.
Cliché as it was, with the Thugs on higher alert due to whatever dumbass was at their front gates, it was his most likely escape route.
He stopped at the door to listen for anyone in the hallway, and carefully cracked the door. He didn't see anyone
"I swear it'll take half a moment Da! I'll be right down!"
Another crisis, another heart attack, and Alden sounded very close, and could Ianto rush back under the table? Probably. But without being seen, without having a flash of movement for Alden to investigate? Probably not.
This was all taken out of his hands when the door opened, and Ianto froze.
Stared at the wood, heart pounding, and thought of how ridiculous it was that Ianto was hiding behind the door as Boss Man's son walked into the room, his stupid shoes near silent on the floor. Maybe that was why he wore them, he thought, a little hysterical.
Maybe that's how he gets away with it.
Is Ianto going to get caught because he didn't hear Boss Man's son coming—because Boss Man's son wore stupid, tacky, silent shoes?
A laugh bubbled up his throat, and he just about bit through his lip keeping it from escaping. Wetness ran down his chin, copper in his mouth, and he turned his head to see Alden fumble about on the computer for a moment, then turn, and head for the door.
His eyes swept the room, went past Ianto, hand reaching for the edge of the door—his head jerked, and everything went in slow motion from there.
His heart raced. Alden's head turned towards him, and Ianto saw a man in his mid to late 20's with too much product in his hair, the beginnings of a slightly lopsided goatee, and eyes the same shade of grey as Boss Man's. They weren't half as frightening, though.
The frown, the widening eyes as Alden recognized him, his mouth opening in a shout—
But no sound came out, because Ianto was shouldering the door closed, reversed the movement to slam his opposite elbow into Alden's crotch. He buckled in two with a gasp, and stared at Ianto from the ground, still gasping.
Ianto was panting, too, and couldn't move.
In the cinema's, this would be the point where the protagonist would say something witty, and knock the bad guy out, but in no film Ianto had ever seen had the Protagonist gasping along with the downed enemy in a mild panic attack. He was also blanking on what he could possibly say, in this sort of situation.
"You—" he starts, but doesn't have the breath, and takes a moment to stop, swallow the blood and bile in his mouth, and tries again.
"Your shoes are dreadful," is what ends up leaving his mouth.
Alden looks even more confused.
"W-what?" his voice breaks halfway through.
Ianto swallows again, and nods.
"Tackiest things I've ever seen." He takes a breath. "Really."
It doesn't seem to clear anything up, but it's just as well as Ianto steps forward to punch him in the face. Aim for the temple, to stun if not knock out, Jack's voice murmured in his ear calming his heart somewhat.
Right on impact, Alden shouts—
And that's when the alarm goes off.
Owen glared at Jack.
He'd finally stopped tapping on the glass when even Phillips had looked annoyed, but he was still leaning against it.
If Owen didn't know any better, he'd think that Jack wasn't as invested in getting Ianto back as the rest of the team. But he does know better, so he also knows that Jack's being a berk because he can't do anything else until whoever's in charge of this place shows up.
Jack catches his glaring, and shrugs against the glass.
"C'mon Owen, the security glass isn't sensitive enough for something like this to set it off." Owen shakes his head and pulls out his cell to get Tosh to hack their security feed. Get rid of anything with their face showing, or at least corrupt it enough, and maybe they could dodge being sued for Jack's stupidity. They were only now getting back into anything resembling the 'good graces' of the police force, and a great deal of that was because… well, because Jack wasn't around.
Owen may be crotchety, and he didn't have the same placating skills that Tea Boy had, but even he knew better than to taunt the local Force with information they can't have.
Weevils certainly were 'need to know', but there were better, more tactical ways of putting it.
And fuck it if rooming with Tosh wasn't making him soft.
He shook his head, and glared some more when Jack smirked at him.
When he deliberately lifted his fist to the glass again, Owen knew they were probably screwed.
"I'm telling you," he said, rapping his knuckles against the glass, "it'd take a full on punch for this to—"
The rest of his sentence was muffled by the alarm suddenly going off.
Owen raised his eyebrows. "Good job, Harkness."
Jack, wisely, moved away from the glass.
His cell vibrated in his pocket, a text from Tosh.
That wasn't set off by the security glass. It's their system alarm
Owen frowned. Certainly wasn't from Tosh, then. She'd mention that fist off if tht were the case.
Their cameras got hacked by someone 10mins ago
Someone trying to get in unnoticed
Jack had moved back from the glass at the alarm, and moved to Owen's side when he gestured.
Owen handed him his phone.
Another text came in.
Checking it out now. Might be Ianto
Jack's mouth firmed up, no longer smiling.
"This can't be good in any case…"
Jack shook his head. "No, no it can't. But we still have to check it out. Even if he's managed to escape, we know for a fact that he was here."
Owen looked back at the building.
"Yeah, but for how long?"
The door closes right when another door down the hall opens, his last sight of the hallway is Alden crawling into the open. The alarm covers anything he might be saying.
Ianto immediately goes for the window, heaving it open and shoving at it when it sticks. Making too much noise isn't really a problem, right then.
He doesn't bother closing it behind him, straddling the ledge and then swinging his leg over so his legs dangle, searching for some purchase.
The downspout shakes under his hands, groaning a slight tremor against his fingers, and it's a quick shuffle sideways to reach the next window.
He has to let go with one hand to open the next window, and his heart is high in his chest when one of the nails keeping the spot bolted to the walls jerks and snaps.
The alarm is loud in his ears, even outside, but he can hear his heart above that.
When the window finally (finally) gives, the second bolt holding the downspout groans when he pushes to scramble inside, gasping, and he doesn't know how much longer he can go without putting his head between his knees and just focusing on breathing.
But, storage room or not, he can't stay where he is.
He's not so sure how he'll do in the ventilation; all that dust, the enclosed space, it can't do anything for his breathing issues, but he can't think of any other way out.
He has to push a table over, and put a chair on top of that to reach the vents
(oh the joys of the vertically challenged children)
but then he's in.
He's right; the dark, enclosed space immediately has his breath shortening, and dust clogs his nose, but this is the only way.
Soon he'll be out, outside breathing fresh air, beyond the fence, and he'd be safe to have a nice bout of hyperventilation in peace.
But there would be no hyperventilation until he was out of the building.
(Gods, what was his life that that was his motivation to get out of a villainous lair? Ah, yes, you will be out of said villainous lair, but above that you will have the peace and quiet to have a proper meltdown! Isn't that nice?)
He'd think on how he would get back home afterwards; he probably looked like enough of a wreck before he started crawling through old, dusty vents, but now…
A part of him—no—thought that maybe—no, no, no—if he let himself get killed—no, no, nononono—just the once then that wouldn't be an issue. He was always clean, at least, after he died…. But no. That really wasn't an option. As limited as Ianto's alternatives now tended to be, that was never going to be an option.
Dying would never—could never—be a willing choice.
For now, it's straight past two openings, down carefully one floor at the third right after that, left and straight and down again, and then right again. At that point he has to listen for the quietest room to drop down into—
Or he could just kick out the vent leading right outside. Ianto stares at the light shining through the slowly spinning blades, weighs the risks…
The alarm is still going, and it's hard to listen for anyone through it, let alone through the low hum of the AC—and it's ridiculously easy to kick at the center joint of the fan and break through to open air.
He can barely hear the crash of metal hitting the pavement underneath, but his heart still pounds, waiting a moment before creeping closer to the edge.
There's a bit of wire hanging against the metal, and he tugs on it to find that one of the surveillance cameras had been attached to the top, now knocked loose and dangling.
Well, if he'd wanted to hide how he got out…
He wouldn't have kicked out the end of their Air Conditioning unit.
It doesn't take much to dislodge the rest of the wiring, and there's one less angle to be viewed from.
Ianto takes a moment to pull up his hood—the restriction of peripheral vision is outweighed by increased anonymity—and pull up the zip until the flap covers part of his face.
Then he jumps.
Tosh keeps one eye on the screen showing Jack and Owen at the gate while her fingers fly over the keyboard.
They'd agreed that she would stay in the SUV for just this sort of situation, the darkened glass keeping her from sight, and she was glad for it.
Their systems are tight, but not airtight, and it's easy enough to float over their data stream… the problem is how to dip into it.
She can see how the other Hacker had gotten in, the 10 minute window having come from directly linking up to the network of cameras and crushing that link; taking it over and integrating as part of their system. It's impressive, and has her thinking that whoever hacked into their system did it to get a window to get into the building—but for what she could only guess.
She hoped—gods, she hoped—that someone was breaking in to get Ianto, that he'd made an ally in the time he's been under the radar, one who's willing to do something like this… There's also the possibility that this could be Ianto, though she doesn't know why he would want to do that, or where he'd gotten the tech support to do that… hopes that when this is all over he'll introduce her to that person, as they'd done an impressive job of fitting in with the secure coding.
Tosh didn't think she could get in undetected , not without hooking up directly to their network as Ianto had somehow managed, but…
She didn't need to get in undetected.
She needed to get in so that they couldn't get back to her, but the alarms had already been set off. She needed to get into their files, and their security footage, but once she was in…
It wasn't hard to match her signature to the digital imprint left behind by Ianto's techie, and she didn't hold back in her search for the files.
Information was sent to second and third and fourth party severs, firewalls she'd set up just of this possibility (she hadn't thought she'd have to use them like this, though) keeping anything from echoing back, and the files are hers.
In a moment her screens are full of security feeds from a dozen cameras, and she's setting off a decoy search for bank statements to hide what he's after.
Screen after screen shows only armed personnel, but in one, there's a flash of movement; one of the cameras on the Southern wall… and if Tosh wasn't mistaken, she'd caught the last look of a leg being pulled through a window.
A small leg.
Hope filled her chest and she immediately switched cameras to the next hallways, watching the door that that window should connect to, but the door doesn't move. She gives it a minute, watching it and running a program to find out what the last system search was for, besides her own. Something from inside the building…
She finds the computer that was accessed, but not the files. They aren't part of the system… the computer itself is only hooked up in that it's connected to the building; aside form that it's completely isolated.
If she had the ip number, she could get in, but without that she was as close to getting the information as she was close to the computer itself.
It wasn't going to happen.
Tosh lets out a breath, and turns to searching the cameras again. Still no movement in the hallway that window would connect to, and that shouldn't be right. Alarms blaring, Ianto wouldn't want to stay in one place.
… but then he also wouldn't want to be anywhere with cameras, not if he knew the alarms would go off as soon as the cameras would go back online again.
If his tech knew what he or she was doing (and Tosh had a feeling that they must), then they could loop the video feed while tracking Ianto's movement remotely, effectively hiding his movements so long as they held their place in the system.
But with the alarms blaring, they would no longer have the control to loop those video feeds, not in real time, so how would Ianto…
There was another bit of movement in another camera, this one of the whole camera shifting. There's dizzying movement, and then a swaying scene of… something; it takes Tosh a moment to realize that it's of the ground.
Another shift, and Tosh is already looking to see where, exactly, this camera is attached, because there shouldn't be movement, there shouldn't be any way for these cameras to be bodily moved, not that high up from the ground. There would have to be ladders involved, people on the feed—
Or someone in the vents.
She wants to laugh, because now she's almost entirely certain that this is Ianto. It has to be.
Aside form the fact that it was straight from a spy movie for someone to actually use the ventilation system to move through a building unseen, the schematics for the building show that a grown man wouldn't fit through the ventilation shafts.
She thought back to the window she saw a leg disappear into, and brought up the feed even as the moving camera went dark.
A grown man would have ripped the downspout from the wall, getting from one window to the next.
She switches through several other cameras to see if she can get an angle on the ventilation shaft again, and when she finally does her heart leaps to her throat.
There's a small figure running across the rear courtyard.
The figure's hood is up, and the jacket is large enough to remove any sense of shape, but she's certain it's Ianto.
She stares at the feed until he gets to the fence, and reluctantly shifts focus back to Jack and Owen.
They're back at the fence, and there's a man standing on the other side. The two guards from earlier are standing at attention, looking… scared.
The video isn't all that great, buts she focuses in on the man's face anyway, adjusting the audio until she could hear over the alarm still blaring.
"—busy. You'll have to come back another day." The other man was saying.
"We've got a search warrant—" Jack started to say, and the other man cut him off with a slow shake of his head.
"When the alarm is set off, gates are locked with a deadbolt until the issue is dealt with. At minimum, we have to wait until an hour after the alarm has gone off to use the override, and as I said, my employer is busy dealing with that."
The angle isn't great, but Tosh can hear the grin in Jack's voice when he says, "Sorry about setting off the alarms… I was certain that security glass of yours wasn't so sensitive."
The other man turns his head slightly and Tosh zeroes in on his face for the clearest image for her facial recognition software. He apparently wasn't the one in charge, but from the sounds of it he was still somewhat high up on the social ladder.
Besides that, the two guards were still looking and acting scared of this soft-spoken man—he was large, and certainly muscular, but you didn't get immediate reactions like that from sheer size. He might have a record.
"We suspect the alarm was triggered from an internal source; we are dealing with it. I'm going to have to ask you to come back another day. Warrant or not," he said, obviously having noticed that Jack wasn't exactly offering up said warrant, "no one is entering or leaving this compound until this matter is settled. I'm going to have to ask you to leave."
He feels very, very, very exposed running across the rear courtyard, the lights stark against the night, but if he's guessing correctly they'll think that the alarm will have been set off by the convenient and also so very annoying twats at the front gate. They can't be someone with Boss Man, not if they need a warrant. He'd sigh if he had the breath for it, because really. The police had to come searching tonight? He couldn't figure out if he'd been more lucky or unlucky in the last hour, but figured it didn't really matter until he was clear of the fence.
The small wire cutters he used earlier are still in his pocket, the metal ends wrapped in tissue to muffle any sort of clinking noise it might make through his jacket, then it's a few shaky clips and he's through.
Three feet past the fence, three feet outside the fence, and he no longer feels like he's being squeezed from all sides. It's ridiculous and unsafe, he knows, to go so lax so close to a danger zone, but he knows he needs to just believe he's out of reach, for now. He's three feet outside of Boss Man's fenced in area, and Boss Man can't reach him.
Hell, he's maybe a yard and a half away from Boss Man himself, and his son, and his possible second-in-command Roderick, and they can't touch him.
… But other people might, and that's the thought that finally lets him move his legs.
He'd have to go the long way around to avoid the police no doubt clogging the front of Boss Man's warehouse, but he had to get to the nearest bus station because, he checked the time, he had two hours before the last bus came through for the night.
Ianto brushed at his jacket, watching dust motes in the air, and thought he might actually have to take the full two hours to get back on the bus. He wasn't sure if he'd even be allowed onto the bus…
But then again, me mam'll be looking fer me, honest. I weren't s'posed to be out so late, but m'mates and me were foolin' and look! I got the fair, and…
Ianto shook his head. It'd be figured out.
Just like he'd figure out where Boss Man had any and all copies of his time at the Shooting Range, and figure out what else he'd have to do to get Boss Man out of the picture, because gods he was tired of all this bullshit. He much preferred the supernatural romance his life had turned into in Torchwood to this… to this criminal drama it had become of late. He wanted Weevils, not Mafia Bosses looking for immortality; he wanted obscure bits of alien tech to archive, not hordes of Thugs coming after him with guns blazing—
He wanted Jack, not…
He wanted Jack.
He started the hike around the property, keeping far from the light, and thought longingly for bed. Through his pocket, he felt for the USB and squeezed it. He'd figure things out, and he'd get back to Gwen at Torchwood. He'd get back to the consistent non-life threatening work on the archives, and maybe they could find a way to get Jack back. He had a plan. It was a good plan, it would work, he had to believe that it would work.
He took a deep breath in, let it out slow.
He hadn't felt so close to reuniting with his team in months.
"Fuck. Fuck! Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, FUCK! We literally just missed him."
"Maybe," Tosh cautioned. "There was no clear shot of his face."
"It was Ianto." Jack's voice left no room for argument. "Can you play back the feed on him outside the window?"
Though they'd watched it a half-dozen times already, Tosh brought up the video.
Shadowy and slightly distorted by the angle of the camera, they watched a small figure climb out the window and make a quick scramble to the next, elbows locked to his sides and a death grip on the spout in front of him. His left foot slid against the brick once, twice before the end of his scramble, and then he was back inside the building.
"Again," Jack said.
Once more, and Tosh tried to see what Jack was looking for; the figure (she couldn't think of him as Ianto, not yet) had his face turned away, and all they could see of him was the back of his hair. He hadn't yet put up his hood, but they still didn't have anything for her to get a face off of. All they knew was that he was young, had dark hair, and had one hell of a grip.
"Tosh, there, pause." She blinked at the screen. "What is it?"
"Rewind by five seconds, and replay it from there. There, do you see?"
It was one of the moments when his foot had slipped, but that didn't reveal anything else. The clip repeated, and she looked to Owen to see if he was seeing whatever Jack had caught.
"What is it?"
"…a flinch. Look at his shoulders."
The clip replayed, and Tosh watched his shoulders instead of his feet this time. She frowned.
"What does that mean? Do you think they hurt him?"
Owen was shaking his head, and a slow grin was growing on Jack's face.
"Then what? What could've… oh."
"You think those old spouts might have some rusty edges after all this time?"
The bus ride was as much of an issue as Ianto thought it'd be with maybe a bit more fuss than he'd been anticipating.
Considering everything else that could have happened to him
(The man in front of him raised his arm and pulled the trigger—)
though, a minor cut on his hand wasn't that bad.
The bus driver didn't agree, apparently.
The medical kit comes out as soon as he gets inside—and he's been happy with how much easier it is to get the fire escape ladder down since he's been oiling it, but he doesn't think he could have gotten it down one handed before.
So there's that.
He's dusty and feeling rather disgusting, and he'd rather take a shower first but he's got to make sure his hand doesn't need stitches, or if he'll have to figure out a way to get a tetanus shot.
After the cut's been washed, sterilized, and coated in a disinfectant ointment, all he's got to do is wrap his hand in cling film and he can finally shower.
He keeps his hand out of the spray anyway, and the water runs hot enough to turn his skin pink almost immediately.
Ianto breathes in the steam, takes in the relative silence of his home, and lets himself soak in the fact that he'd been less than 3 feet away from Boss Man.
And now he wasn't.
He was far, far away from Boss Man.
And that was good.
He preferred it, actually.
And it wasn't like he went out looking for Boss Man… But he'd been there, and Ianto had been there, and…
His heart pounded in his skull, and he nodded to himself.
Yeah. He'd be doing his utmost to avoid being within the same block as Boss Man again, because he'd had Weevils bearing down on him, had aliens with guns, had Cybermen and Daleks, and all of them were bad but Boss Man was…
Ianto shivered under the hot water.
Somehow he was worse.
The theme to Mission Impossible goes off somewhere to his right, tinny and muffled, and Will had forgotten about Hank's unfortunate habit of forgetting his phone in nooks and crannies about the house.
Currently it was somewhere under his head, between the couch cushions and, with a bit of rummaging he found it vibrating next to a green army man with chew marks on it.
He checks the display,
And sighs again.
He also had a problem with labeling people normally on his phone.
His fingers over the speakers muffled the tone, and if it were any other time he'd have no problem waking Hank up to deal with it, but both he and Sherry had been looking particularly tired that evening, so…
"Hank I figured out what Jones wants us to look into! I beat you to it, I beat you to it so hard you won't be able to say I can't think outside of the box anymore!"
Will was regretting picking up the phone. Who the hell was this lady, and why did she think it was at all appropriate to be calling at—he checked his watch—2am?
"Excuse me? I think—"
"No, let me get this out first, I already sent you a file, but I found it. I found it! Do you understand me? Jones wants us to look into the factory on 51st and Shorster—they brought up repeated red flags in quality control and there's been talk of chemicals used in packaging that's unsafe for human consumption, but somehow they keep getting past inspection and getting the go ahead to continue manufacturing, and I think I found what's been happening! We just need to, to—ugh, it pains me to say it, and if we end up getting arrested I'll be blaming both you and Jones the whole way there, see if I don't, but we just need to get in there somehow and get into their financial reports. They're bribing the inspectors—or blackmailing them, I suppose, that's always a possibility—and it's not in their records. If we could just get into their systems…"
The lady trailed off, and Will couldn't find the words to speak. That was a lot of information to take in at once, and what he'd processed so far didn't sound good—didn't sound legal. Who was this lady? Who was Jones? Why was Jones giving Hank and this caller jobs to do? Because Hank was in accounting. Accountants didn't deal with things like this. Accountants didn't have to worry about being arrested for doing their jobs.
"…What, exactly, has Hank gotten himself into?"
Because he couldn't have been stupid enough to get himself into something illegal, not when he has Sherry and the kids to look after, not when it sounded like Hank was all for adding to their gaggle of children already. Hank can't have been that stupid.
"… Oh," is what the lady finally said, the silence stretching. "Oops."
And then she hung up.
Oh. Oops. And then she hung up.
Will took in a deep breath, held it for a count of five, and slowly let it out.
Well, he thought, slowly lowering Hank's phone from his ear and grabbing for a pen and a notepad. He can't be in something that bad, not with accomplices this inept.
But then that was worrying in itself.
"What the hell are you calling me about at fucking five o'clock in the morning?"
"Hi, hello? I was just wondering, what does the name 'Jones' mean to you?"
"… You have got to be fucking kidding me. Ha ha ha that is just so funny. Hank if you call me this early ever again I'll kill you. I will actually stab you, repeatedly, probably in the face. And then I'll go back to sleep. Good night."
The day greeted Cardiff with torrential rainfall, enough to convince Ianto that he really ought to stay inside. He was half-tempted to go back to bed, but as soon as he'd moved Jackie had taken over his warm spot, and it wasn't worth the grief he'd get moving her.
Instead, he moved the kittens from their box to the bed to join their mum, moving a door block he'd scrabbled together in front of the doorway.
That was another thin he had to look into.
He was sore, and tired, and his hand ached, but he was still feeling that rush of accomplishment (and no little fear, because Boss Man had been right there), but just because he'd gotten the information he needed didn't mean he could slow down.
He had a lot of things to do…
One of which was to find homes for 6 kittens.
How did one get rid of kittens once you've got them?
In his mind's eye he saw their speckled bodies in a box on the side of the street (no, just—no), then signs posted on street corners ("Please call—", no, or maybe "Please visit—", no again, "Please contact at this e-mail"…? Maybe), a posting on Kijiji… could you do that? He should probably check before dismissing it as a possibility.
Navigating the site, Ianto slowly started shaking his head. Most of these postings were… well, 'shady' would be putting it lightly.
His eye caught on one listing, this one someone looking for cats of good health, and he couldn't help but frown. Why had it caught his eye? Did he recognize the number…?
Ianto made a face, and closed the tab. No, no, it wasn't the phone number, it was the address, and he remembered it because there'd been alien activity there that had resulted in the residents of that apartment complex gaining a taste for synthetic materials and various household items. They hadn't managed to fix things, but they'd at least been able to redirect the urge to eat non-edible items to edible, if questionable, items. Chewing on bones and having an appreciation for road kill was a far sight better than being unable to stop yourself from eating a tasty looking light bulb, or, say, the appealing blue liquid in spray bottles.
His eyes widened. What did they need cats for?
He consciously turned his thoughts away from the matter.
He checked Craigslist next, but didn't manage to navigate past the main page, as he was entirely unwilling to sell or give away cats on a site that sold and gave away locations to meet up to have sex.
(Clearly this site was selling pussies of the wrong sort, is what Ianto absolutely didn't think of or laugh over)
He fingered the edge of the bandage around his hand, and wiggled his fingers.
The injury itself felt warm and tight, skin feeling stretched when he flexed.
One more problem for him to deal with, but not as bad as it could be.
He set a pot of water to boil, and set about changing the bandages on his hand, disinfectant and polysporin set out.
He needed to figure out what to do with the kittens, and soon… not the least because he can't handle so many cats at once. Also, he shook his head; people were more likely to take in a kitten than they are to adopt a cat. It's why shelters had—Ianto blinked, finished wrapping up his hand and set his old bandages in the boiled water to wash and disinfect.
The local animal shelter might be the answer to this question, at least. It would be five less problems for him to look after.
"Good morning, oh brother mine! You know, I have to get up early on weekends because I have children, but you know you don't, so… oh, hey, my phone."
Will sat at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee at his left hand, Hank's phone at his right, and a pad of paper in front of him.
Hank grabbed his mug to get his own cup of coffee—"No. 1 Dad" was right, thank you very much—and craned his head to look at what was written there, looked like a list of some sort, names and numbers and—
"Hey, uncool. I don't go through your phone, and you know why? Because people don't do that."
Will nodded slightly, a slight tilt of his head to one side, and Hank knew something other than a vastly out of character breach of privacy was up.
Because that wasn't Will's yeah-I-did-a-bad-thing-and-am-ashamed-thusly nod, no, that's his I-did-a-bad-thing-because-you-done-fucked-up-and-therefore-I'm-angry nod, and last time that happened Hank had gotten a black eye and a lecture.
There was a lecture before the black eye, too, so it was a lecture-punch sandwich.
But Hank couldn't think of anything that he'd done to deserve a nod of this magnitude, so—
"I got an interesting call last night—or rather, you did."
Hank felt his entire face go blank. Oh god, who called?
"I picked it up, because it was 2am and I thought you and Sherry deserved some rest considering how busy you've been with your three happy, healthy children, you and your beautiful and ridiculously perfect for you wife, and I thought there was no way you'd be getting suspect calls, so. Hank. I'm willing to give you the benefit of doubt here, as there's certainly no way you're doing anything illegal, not when you've got yourself a perfect partner and three great kids, so. I'm going to ask you once. Who, exactly, is Thing Two, and why are they calling about a guy named Jones?"
Ianto hung up on the third animal shelter he'd called that morning, scowling.
Three animal shelters, and three responses along the lines of "We'd be happy to take in five kittens—we are a bit pressed for space, but—oh, well, if they aren't adopted we… can't keep them indefinitely."
Ianto had no reason not to think that the five kittens rolling about on his sheets would be adopted into good homes, but that didn't keep him from imagining that not all of them will stay in good homes.
When he'd been in school, he remembered one not-friend mentioning that she was planning on getting a puppy with her boyfriend. When he'd asked if she really thought she'd be prepared to look after a dog full-time, she'd responded that, well, like, they weren't planning on keeping it. They'd just keep it until it was no longer a puppy.
Ianto didn't want to not trust people on principle, but he also knew he couldn't really trust someone else to ensure that these kittens would go to good families.
He felt a twitch in his jaw and sighed. He really didn't want to feel responsible for these kittens, especially as he didn't know what to do with them, but he already did.
Shaking his head, he decided the problem could stay on the backburner of his mind for now, and checked in with Mini.
He'd left her the information gathered from Boss Man's Lair overnight, to bring down the possible locations of the hard copy of Ianto's time in The Shooting Range.
16 locations, 11 in Wales, 5 in London, and two could be crossed off; one in London (the Shooting Range) and the one he'd visited last night.
He didn't think Mini actually needed the full 8+ hours he'd given her, but he did trust that along with narrowing down the places he needed to get to, she'd also get him the details he'd need to get to the possible hard drives, or USB's, or DVD's he'd need to pick up.
On the main monitor he found that the information he needed was spread out, but on his second monitor he found a small notice; apparently he had mail.
He frowned, and had Mini check for any viruses, bugs, or other possible pitfalls, as the only other e-mail he'd gotten in months was from Boss Man. Did Boss Man know he'd been under the same roof—in the same room—as Ianto Jones in the last 24 hours? He figured that Alden—Boss Man's son, and wasn't that still a mind-boggling piece of information—had probably mentioned him, and probably not favorably.
His frown deepened. Or would he? Would Alden mention his encounter to his father, or would he hide it as another failure—a more direct failure—to catch Ianto as he was apparently tasked to do?
He shook his head gain, and once Mini gave the green light he opened it—
He didn't know his blog could get comments. It made sense, he supposed, but still.
A less dire surprise than he'd expected.
He wondered what he'd written to get a comment on—
He read through it twice, and went to his blog to reread the post on Jack-actually-Jackie, and tried to figure out where any of this was coming from.
He'd known about the vitriol that could be flung about on the internet over the smallest things, but he'd written about misidentifying the gender of his cat—who wasn't even really his cat so much as it was the cat that he shared space with—with some ponderings about what to do with the kittens he'd be dealing with.
His frown deepened, and he was honestly at a loss.
He didn't care that he'd somehow disappointed some stranger on the Internet (honestly it was laughable, considering), but he was rather curious about where any of this was coming from.
He supposed a great deal of it could be due to his musings on what to do with the kittens—it would explain somewhat the emphasis on using kittens for work/gain/profit and how they needed good homes, no matter the breed. Did this guy think he was planning on selling off the kittens? He could, he supposed, but he didn't need the money. He'd been thinking on this already, so he could see where there might be some misunderstandings. Maybe he thought that, since finding out that Jack-the-cat was Jackie-the-momma-cat, he'd… breed her to make money?
He felt a migraine growing behind his eyes; he didn't know anything about cats, he didn't know anything about selling cats, and he absolutely knew nothing about breeding cats, and it was mildly distressing to be accused of something like this over a vague and (in his opinion) mildly amusing blog post.
He thought it must be something along these breeding/selling to the highest bidder types of possibilities, though he still could see nothing in his blog that would have lent any credibility to this idea.
Curious, he set Mini to tracking down the commenter, and wondered if he should respond. Was he going to be the type of person to respond to comments on his blog? There was the option to reply, so obviously it was a thing that people did, but…
He hesitated, mouse hovering over the "Reply" button, before shaking his head.
Better question would be if he had anything to respond with, and he really had no idea what to say to this guy.
Mini brought up the e-mail and connected social media links of the commenter, and Ianto felt his eyebrows raise.
He didn't think that Hank McMasters was such a cat person, especially as he didn't recall seeing any note of previous pets. Maybe it was due to his financial problems…
He blinked and brought up the medical records of McMasters and his family, checking for allergies, and smiled when there was none.
Well, this was one way he could go about dealing with his kittens. Probably not the most ethically sound way of doing things, people-wise, but if he found owners for the kittens himself and… donated, well.
There were probably lots of families that wanted to get a kitten, but couldn't due to money problems, and it wasn't like Ianto would ever be able to use up all of the cash he'd put in his account.
Still a bit baffled over the strange comment, Ianto set Mini to finding people and families with the appropriate qualifications—no allergies, good neighborhood, good home, maybe kids—and shifted to read through the information Mini had gotten on Boss Man's properties.
From 14 units down to 5, with only one in London, Ianto still had his work cut out for him finding where Boss Man hid the footage.
The thought didn't keep his spirits from lifting, though, as he at least had a better idea of what he was going to do.
It was better than what he had a week ago—hell, it was better than what he'd had even 48 hours ago.
He shot a quick glance to the ceiling. Deal with Boss Man, deal with kittens, and then he could focus on getting Jack back.
Lol, I just realized that if you read the note at the end of last chapter, you'd probably assume that the reunion would be in this chapter. Because I said that the end was in sight, and with the cliffie I left, you all probably thought that Ianto was going to be reunited, and I'm sorry but no.
Though I have to admit I did take advantage of the assumption… I know some of you were probably swearing at "He hadn't felt so close to reuniting with his team in months."… I know I can be a bit of a dick sometimes ;)
But… but look! LOOK!
Let me know what you think, and hopefully there'll be less of a gap between now and the next chapter
Just please keep in mind that this story is not going to be abandoned, it just might take a bit of time between updates now that work and whatnot is happening.
Also, if you're wondering, the thing about the puppy, with the girl planning on only keeping it until it was a dog, that was a conversation I had. To those planning on something similar, 1, you're a dirtbag piece of shit, and 2, gtfo of my fandom, you don't deserve any fix-it as you are essentially condemning an animal to be put down, or 'destroyed', because dogs with no training have a hard time getting adopted.
Apologies for rantage to everyone else :) Have a nice day!