Rating: PG-13 (language, violence)
Spoilers: Children of Earth, scattered ones for the rest of the series
Disclaimer: Everything you recognize belongs to the BBC. Everything you don't is mine.
Summary: It's seven months after the events of "Crossing Back" and the fun begins with a building collapse.
Author's Notes: Sequel to Crossing Back and Crossing Eyes and Dotting Tees. I'd highly recommend reading those first before you attempt this or nothing with make sense. Be warned that Crossing Back is a fix-it fic.
Ianto woke up the sound of Jack mumbling in his sleep. Ianto sat up and stared with bleary eyes at the wall behind Jack’s desk. It was only after he rubbed his eyes for a few moments when he was able to ascertain that it was some unholy hour of the morning of the thirteenth of August and that they’d only been asleep for about four hours. Usually that was a blessing during rough times like these, but he needed much more sleep than that.
Jack’s mumbling suddenly turned into a full out, and equally unintelligible, yell and his arm came flying out to knock Ianto off the cot and onto the floor with a more than disgruntled “oomph.” Ianto remained on the floor for a few moments, silently waiting for Jack to come around and stop flailing about. He wasn’t going to be able to be of much use to either of them he was simply going to get knocked off the cot again.
“Ianto?” There was Jack’s worried voice. That was telling.
“On the floor sir,” he grumbled promptly. This was the last time they were sharing a single cot. The very last time. Before he could say this to Jack he was hauled off the floor with all the finesse of a caveman carrying off dinner and then he was held in an embrace so crushing that it was desperately close to sending him to yet another death. While he struggled to breathe he was shocked to hear Jack whispering something over and over to him. It sounded a lot like ‘sorry.’ Ianto was about to make a quip about him not needing to apologize for knocking him out of bed but he could sense well enough that that wasn’t the problem or the appropriate response.
He pushed Jack just far enough away from him, the other’s arms loosening reluctantly, to get a good look at him. He knew that look; he’d seen it earlier today on the roof – or rather yesterday. “What did you see this time?”
When Jack told him what he’d seen Ianto soon found himself hugging Jack. Unlike the last flashback this was an instance that Ianto vividly remembered. It was completely irrelevant now, of course, no matter how much it had hurt at the time. “It’s fine,” he assured Jack, as he released Jack. “I have you know and I might just have you forever, remember? We don’t need to worry about anything like that happening ever again.”
For the first time since the idea of Ianto being immortal was tabled Jack’s eyes lit up. “Yeah,” he agreed, voice shaking despite the light in his eyes. “My God...” he breathed. “That was much worse than being left behind,” he said. “And you never said a word.”
“I wasn’t hiding anything,” Ianto promised. It was the truth and the last thing he wanted to do was revisit that issue again. “I haven’t thought about much since coming back – at least I don’t remember doing so when I was still dead, I mean. As I said, I have the real thing here.”
Jack seemed to accept that but he wasn’t done yet. “What about Lisa?” he finally asked. “Do you remember that?”
Ianto nodded. “Didn’t go well, but you know that.”
“You said to Tosh that you’d said something that she hadn’t wanted to hear.”
“It wasn’t just that,” Ianto deflected. He’d answer the real question eventually but he needed to warm up to it. “The whole meeting was like we had never known each other. No feelings one way or the other, just completely neutral. Like two strangers waiting for the bus or something.” He rubbed his eyes again and took a deep breath. “What Tosh was specifically referring to was my response to Lisa’s question as to whether or not I would have fallen for you if she had survived.” Ianto remembered that being odd. Lisa had never been the jealous type and it wasn’t like she would have expected or wanted him to spend the rest of his life in celibate mourning for her. He wasn’t sure if it had even been a jealous question. It was probably more curiosity since the two of them were such different people now. Either way, she hadn’t liked the answer.
He wasn’t going to tell Jack the answer though, it was obvious and Jack shouldn’t need to have it told to them. Jack sat in confused but expectant silence for a few seconds before finally growing a brain and saying what he knew. “You said yes.”
“And you said it as a fact and not as a question,” Ianto praised. “Bravo, sir.”
Was Jack blushing? He’d ducked his head a bit and it was too dark to tell for certain. He pressed on in order to distract them both from any embarrassment. “I told her that I would have stayed with her but that I thought that the...thing between us would have taken on a life of its own and pulled us toward each other and away from anyone else no matter what we did to stop it. Naturally she didn’t like that.” The query had been odd for another reason, Ianto remembered. It hadn’t been like Lisa had been waiting around for them to meet again. He distinctly remembered having to seek her out himself, and that had taken some doing if his memory could be trusted after all this time.
Jack’s response of “I think so too” drew him back into the real world. He rewarded Jack with a smile and then leaned over to give him a corresponding kiss. His body, however, chose that moment to remind him that he really should be sleeping; the yawn that Ianto let loose in Jack’s face had to have matched the force of Jack’s arm knocking him off the cot earlier.
Jack’s only response was to blink in stunned surprise. “Thank you for brushing your teeth.”
“You’re quite welcome.”
- - -
They made it through the rest of the night flashback free and personal injury free. Ianto eventually crawled out of bed around ten in the morning and decided to get breakfast going. He knew they had a pancake grill and some mix somewhere. Not surprisingly no one woke up as he passed except Mel, who thankfully did not shoot him before asking his name, rank, and the date of his ‘second birthday’ as it was termed in the identity confirmation questions. She then promptly passed out again. World’s most efficient sniper indeed.
Eventually the smell of coffee and pancakes lured the team in one by one and they were soon clustered around on the couches chowing down on Ianto’s shockingly nutritious breakfast. It was the first time they’d all had some quality time in quite a bit. “Can we just leave him out?” Gwen finally asked, referring to their sleeping beauty in the medbay.
“I wish,” Jack chuckled with a mouthful of food. “However I want him out and the best way to do that is to wake him up and do what he wants.”
“I’ll check out any missing persons with her name from the period,” Mel offered as she ate her last bit of pancake and rose to refill her coffee mug. “That will give us someplace to start and shouldn’t take too long.”
“And what if we get sucked through the rift?” Harry asked.
“You won’t have to worry about it,” Ianto assured him mildly. “I’ll go with John.”
Jack dropped his plate; it cracked but did not break. “No way,” he told him. “You’re not going out there alone with him.”
“If we recall I’m the only one that could see and hear Moira as well as he could,” he reminded the team. “And if all of us go out together who is going to be here to give reinforcements? Also Gwen won’t be here after three, she has a dentist appointment for Tegan.”
“I do?” Gwen started. “Shit!” she swore after a moment. “I’d forgotten about that.” She paused and then brightened. “Rh-”
“Rhys can’t take her today,” he pre-empted. “He has to deliver a load personally so he’ll be driving all day. The regular driver is in the process of getting fired.”
“Reserve?” Mel asked.
“Lois isn’t allowed in the field, Lachlan is still on med leave from the building collapse, Andy might be available and Martha’s out of the country with Mickey dealing with what I suspect is a minor weevil outbreak in Toronto.”
“Why isn’t Martha working for us again?” Harry asked in bewilderment. It was justified. Ianto knew it had been no secret that Jack had been trying to seduce her to the Torchwood side of the force ever since he’d come back from grieving and seeing the world. “Mickey even?”
“Please consult your dictionary and look up the word ‘freelance,’” Mel advised.
“Andy’s free,” Ianto reminded Harry. “At least he is if he gave me the right information about his shifts this time.”
Jack was about to open his mouth until Gwen did. “As field agent coordinator,” she cut in with a pointed look at Jack. “I say Ianto is going out with John, Mel can run the data basing and searches from here. Harry, get as much info as you can out of John before you wake him up. Jack, call Andy and tell him to help Ianto out and then you can help Mel and Harry.”
Jack glared. “Look,” Gwen lectured. “If you and Ianto and John go out nothing is going to get done. You demonstrated that last night. Ianto can see and hear Moira, you can’t as well. Logic dictates that he’s who we send.”
“I’ll be armed to teeth, Jack,” Ianto assured him. “Also if he tries anything it’s not like it’s going to stick.”
“I’m beginning to understand why it pisses you off so much when I say that.” Jack got up off the couch and collected everyone’s dishes and mugs. “Get to work. Now!”
Everyone snapped to. Ianto rolled his eyes at Gwen and then went to the armoury.
- - -
Andy hadn’t been free. Instead of taking it out on him or Gwen or anyone else, Ianto was both amused and pleased to see Jack disappear into his office and later heard muffled yelling sometime after that. Perhaps Jack’s ravings would get through to him more than Ianto’s more polite reminders about providing correct information. Ianto suspected that Andy had finally gotten over his crush Gwen and wanted his evenings off.
What the fuck had Torchwood turned into? Gwen and Rhys were probably the first married couple in Torchwood in a century. Jack and him were a sure thing (though Ianto had every intention of throwing up on Jack’s shoes if he ever proposed marriage) and it looked like Mel and Harry were getting closer and closer to at least shagging. John had once said that is was just sex, sex, sex, with Torchwood. It seemed that John was more right than Ianto had thought. At the rate of things he was surprised that Torchwood ran as well as it did.
“You gonna talk, Dead Man, or are you gonna make me figure this out on my own?”
He and John made a fairly good team oddly enough. That being said it did help that Gwen had caught his arm on the way out and given him the three rules that she said Jack had given her the last time. “Not like it helped me much,” she admitted, fingers tracing her lips as if they were about to fall off, “but I didn’t know what that rule really meant. You do. Keep your guard up.”
Simple, really. John was always in front of him, he didn’t believe a thing he said unless he himself could confirm it, and there was no god damned way he was letting John anywhere close enough to kiss him. Though, at Gwen’s insistence, he was wearing a pair of rubber lips that Jack had gotten a hold of soon after that mess. They probably hadn’t been replaced in the ensuing several years but it was all they had in the worst case scenario.
“Wake up,” John snapped. “We’re here.”
Here happened to be a bus stop along the main street. According to Mel’s research this had been the last spot Moira Stewart had been seen on 16 June 1820. She’s just been sucked into thin air according to that eyewitness and it made sense considering John’s story. This was also not a current Rift hot spot so the chances of anyone getting sucked in were even lower. That would cool Jack down, overprotective git that he was.
In the old days there had been a post office here. Now there was a hotel. It so happened to be the one that Jack had taken them all to after John’s first visit to avoid themselves. He had to gather that John knew that so that sent warning flags. He may not have left right away that time.
A tap on his shoulder and he looked to see John offering him something on a chain. It looked like a simple circle. “Perception filter,” he explained. “Might save you any funny looks when you go mad scientist on the place.”
Ianto took at and looked at it sceptically. John rolled his eyes and pulled another one out of his jacket and slipped it around his neck. Almost immediately the wearer went fuzzy and Ianto felt a powerful need to not look at him. That sounded like what Jack had described last night. Trusting that he slipped the chain around his neck and John was brought violently back into focus. “Good job,” John praised with dripping sarcasm. “Now would you mind doing something?”
“Half a moment,” Ianto griped as he sidestepped a mother and her brood of children. He pulled out the standard portable rift monitor and hailed Mel on the Bluetooth. “Anything new? Any reason she’d be haunting Cardiff?”
“Not according to my information,” Mel reported. “The only person she knew in Cardiff was her sister, who was a governess for a Mr. Robert Brooke’s two daughters. Jack’s gone to investigate the old place, it’s a historical site now and he’s got the site cleared. You’re welcome for keeping him from tagging along with you by the way.”
“Thanks,” he smiled. “Shall I try him?”
“Might as well. Doubt he’s found anything this soon though.”
“What’s going on?” John asked.
“Nothing in Cardiff that would make her only appear in Cardiff,” he reported. “So far looks like she’s here for you. Cardiff could simply be a coincidence.”
“Fantastic,” John grumbled, leaning against the hotel and watching the people coming and going out of it. “Just what I need; a bloody dead wife wandering around.”
Ianto raised an eyebrow but didn’t look up from his screen. “You said you hadn’t married her.”
“I use the term sarcastically,” John drawled. “I thought you’d know it when you hear it.”
Ianto rolled his eyes and, finding nothing on the scanner, called Jack. “Anything on your end?” he asked.
“Nada,” Jack sighed. “She was treated well apparently. This building has absolutely no real history. The only reason it’s a historical site is because it looks pretty. I swear that’s what it says in the literature. Mel cross checked it. This house is cleaner than the archives.”
“Wouldn’t go so far as to say that,” Ianto said, miffed, “but I see your point.” A cluster of people decided to have an incredibly loud conversation to his right to Ianto stepped forward onto the street corner, one eye safely on John. “I had gathered Cardiff was a coincidence.”
“Several. Unfortunately I’m not dead so I can’t try any of them out.”
“Can you list them without killing yourself, please? Oh and don’t you dare ask John to shoot you or jump into traffic to test that out.”
Ianto didn’t respond to that; no need to give John any ideas. “Does John have high empathic scores? Telepathy scores?” The insane laughter on the other end was enough. “Moira’s trapped then,” Ianto said. “Or she did it by accident. Or John’s having us on and he did it somehow.”
“You tell me, you know him better.”
“Fuck,” Jack cursed. “Sorry, Ianto, we’ve got tourists. Be back in a flash.” Ianto grumbled an affirmative as the line went dead.
“Any ideas, Dead Man?” John made his way over to the street corner. “Heard you listing some things and didn’t like that last one.”
“Just offering options,” Ianto lectured. “Now, did anything odd happen when Moira died? Anything that can’t be explained by the illness?”
“No, she went insanely clingy though.” John gave a slight shudder, as if a cold wind had come by. There was no wind but Ianto could see Moira a few feet behind him. He’d draw his attention to it later. “She threw her arms around me, begged me not to let her go and then up and died right there.”
Moira inched closer to John, arm outstretched and reaching. “Behind you,” Ianto warned. John jumped and whirled away from her, almost knocking himself into the road.
“Jesus,” John yelled the spectre. “Can you go cross over or whatever the fuck you’re supposed to do? I was never going to stay with you!”
“Yes you would have,” Moira whispered. “I remind you of him.”
John gritted his teeth. “Jack wouldn’t haunt me. Not his style.”
“Back up,” Ianto ordered. “You corrupted and seduced Moira because she reminded you of Jack? How? She doesn’t even look like him!”
“It’s something in the eyes,” John shouted, whirling to scream in Ianto’s face. Ianto dodged back and almost fell over. “Something from back in his younger days when he and I were the hottest thing next to a supernova, before the Time Agency fucked with his head and before the damned Doctor and certainly before you came along, you Dead Man with a nice arse and no decency to stay dead!”
It was with horrifying clarity that Ianto realised that he was on the edge curb and that he heard a truck coming. So much for keeping Hart in front of him, he thought as John shoved him into the truck. As he fell he grabbed at John’s perception filter and yanked it off, his other hand ripping off his own.
Then there was a world of pain.
Then nothing made sense.