He woke up to the sound of the phone ringing, and groggily, he reached out to pick up the receiver. The warm body he met along the way prevented him from grabbing it. Ianto smiled, wondering when Jack had crawled into bed. He sat up to reach the phone, lifted the handset from the cradle long enough to hear "Good morning! This is your wake up call!" before he dropped it and let his head hit the pillow again.
His eyes drifted open, and shut, then popped open. He sat up hard, adrenalin drenching his system.
Beside him on the other pillow, Lisa mumbled, "Fucking concierge."
"Lisa?" he managed to ask in a breathless squeak.
"Urnf," she said, or something like it, yanking his pillow over to cover her own eyes like she always had.
Afraid, he prodded her shoulder: same warm, yielding yet gym-muscled flesh under her blue-grey t-shirt, same cute grunt that promised she would bat him away in another few seconds if he didn't knock it off. Ianto tossed the pillow. He took her shoulders in his hands, moving her to her back, and he kissed her. She even had the same morning breath she swore was his problem alone.
Lisa smiled around the kiss, and kissed him back for a second before pulling away. "Enough of that, now."
"You're here," he said, because he couldn't imagine explaining to her the terrible dream he'd had, of death and destruction, and time travelling cars. Come to think of it, most of what he remembered was taking on the eerie countenance of a bad dream, complete with dinosaurs and zombies. In another minute, his head would clear, and he'd remember he was some minor tour guide for a museum, and Lisa was his gorgeous wife.
The pleasant yet sad glimmer in her eyes said that might not be quite right, either.
"Of course I'm here. But I remind you that my boyfriend doesn't mind me having the occasional drunk weekend with my ex, as long as he's convinced you're hopelessly head over heels for your boyfriend."
Ianto lay his head on his own pillow again. The quickest check he could make told him he, too, wore rumpled clothes under the sheets. Lisa was alive. She had a boyfriend who wasn't him. He had a boyfriend. He touched his head, and felt a plaster wrapping. Bits of last night came back.
"I got hit on the head pretty hard," he said. "Boyfriend. Mine. A picture emerges. Tall, ridiculously good-looking, unfortunately aware of it, has no doubt propositioned you and your boyfriend several times?"
Lisa lay her own head on her own pillow. "I don't know what you see in him. All right, I know exactly what you see in him, but I think you're mad."
"Toss a lifeline to your concussed ex. Did he break us up?"
Lisa shook her head sadly as she made him open his eyes and stick out his tongue. "You know, if multiple doctors hadn't assured Jack you'd be fine as long as someone kept an eye on you last night, he'd have banged you into hospital instead of calling me up to babysit. You start in with the amnesia, and he certainly will."
"That's not a no."
"How's your headache?"
"I'm taking you downstairs. Get dressed." He let himself be pulled up, and she didn't object to one more quick kiss before she booted him into the en suite to change into fresher clothes.
Downstairs, the UNIT briefing had just broken up. Terror, out of proportion to the reality, shook him. Had he slept through his second meeting? Jack would be furious. But Lisa stopped to talk with two people he vaguely recognised, dressed as civilians rather than military.
"Any word?" she asked.
The taller of the two men shrugged. "Same as always. UNIT on our arses, complaints and turtles all the way down." Unexpectedly, he socked Ianto on the shoulder. "Your end came out all right. Commendation. Flash bastards." He smiled as he said the words, though.
"Oh." Ianto wasn't sure quite what to say. His head was still groggy, as though this was a fuzzy dream. Perhaps he should get checked out. The bloke's name was Gareth, wasn't it? Another Torchwood London casualty standing alive in front of him, smoothing his own hair. Ianto didn't miss the wedding band.
Then another voice joined them. "Well, if you twats would work harder, you'd wind up with shiny commendations of your own, wouldn't you?"
Ianto's breath sucked out of him like he'd been punched. "Owen?" He tried to make sense of the crazy image in front of him. "But you're…." It seemed rude to point out Owen was supposed to be dead. "You're in a suit."
Owen glanced down at his well-made if rumpled three-piece suit. "Yeah? What about it? I always wear a suit when I have to coordinate with UNIT wankers." Without preamble, he dragged Ianto closer. "Open your eyes and follow my fingers."
He'd no doubt resisted making this gesture through the meeting, and Ianto humoured him.
"Vision blurry? Headache?"
"Head hurts, my vision's fine."
"You'll live. No booze for a week, no driving for a day, no sex for a month."
Lisa said, "You'll kill him."
"Why no sex?"
"No reason," Owen said. "Just wanted to see if you'd believe me. You have your doctor's permission to go back to the site. Tell Jack I'll be along after the afternoon session."
Lisa rolled her eyes, leading Ianto out towards sunlight and coffee. "He really has to learn how to behave in public. Can't you do anything with him?"
"Never could," said Ianto. Bemused, he let Lisa shove a styrofoam cup of not-great coffee into his hand before she put him in a cab with a kiss on the forehead and a reminder he needed to come back to check out because she wasn't taking his things home with her again after the last time.
The warehouse was a ruin. Police tape covered everything, but Jack was clearly in charge of the scene. Beside him, Gwen pored over some scanner while Martha and Tosh discussed something.
Jack saw him and a smile lit his face. "You should be convalescing."
"Owen says I'm fine. Which is pretty interesting as Owen was dead when I left. Jack?"
"What changed?" Ianto knew before he asked that Jack would say what he always did, that the twenty-first century was where it all happened, and he'd use the maddening 'everything changes' because God forbid Captain Jack Harkness give a straight answer.
Jack looked around them both. Then he shrugged. "A lot?"
Not all of the warehouse had been demolished by the blast. "It's an old Torchwood London holding," Jack explained. "It can take a lot of damage." He led Ianto, with hard hat, through the remnant of the building.
Ianto tapped his torch on. Fallen racks of jars greeted his eyes, and souvenirs from what had to be dozens if not hundreds of alien encounters. Only, these weren't quite right. No floating heads, or stuffed specimens. The wall of badly-filed pamphlets he passed included, along with "Gerald's New Genitals," titles such as, "Our Friends, the Atraxi," and "Learn Basic Enterian in Three Days."
Jack said quietly, "If it's alien, it's interesting."
"No." Jack pointed to a small plaque on a shelf, with 'If it's alien, it's interesting' engraved in bronze. "It's the motto."
"Well. Obviously. I knew that."
"No, you didn't," Jack said, gently. "There are going to be a lot of things you don't know, but I'll help you through."
"You changed all of it," Ianto said, wondering at this friendly new Torchwood London. Had Glasgow and Cardiff gone soft as well, or had they gone their separate ways?
"No. Just a few things here and there. You left a mess. I helped put the pieces back in place." He found a corridor half blocked with a fallen and twisted shelf. They budged it together, hefting the thing out of the way. "With a little help."
He dug into his pocket for two very old pieces of paper that once were pamphlets: one about alien invasions, one about the history of this branch of Torchwood.
"You stole those."
"Borrowed. See, I'm giving them back now." He handed both to Ianto.
"You shouldn't have read them."
"Time Agent, remember? I only took what I needed to know, and they didn't say much." He frowned. "They said nothing about Emily and Alice, for one example. Anyway, I thought you might like to see something. I checked last night to see if this part of the warehouse had survived."
Ianto followed him, curious, as they went into an old storage room with paintings on the walls. He lurched back, not wanting to see the painting of Poopin standing on Strax. Jack shone his own torch. There was a photograph, sepia-tone and old, blown up to portrait size. Three figures stared at the camera.
Of course Strax had tried to look stern. Even Jenny's face was serious. But Madame Vastra smiled across the years, finally pleased with him after all this time. The plaque at the bottom of the photograph read:
"Torchwood London, Est. 1895. The Founders."
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Previous Reel_Torchwood fics:
Jack Harkness and the Chocolate Factory
The Day the Dragons Came (by Mica Davies, Age 7)
Just Because They Protect You Doesn't Mean They Like You
My three favorite words are, "I liked this."