Title: Acts of Mercy
Part: 1 - Chapter One, I'll Be Seeing You
Rating: Various; PG-13 this chapter
Spoilers: Direct for S1, but everything including some book canon.
Summary: AU telling of 'Captain Jack Harkness' - what if Ianto had been taken to 1941 with Tosh, leaving Jack behind to wait and wonder?
Author's Note: Here is where the non-linear parts begin. The song 'Sometimes I'm Happy (Sometimes I'm Blue)' was written by Vincent Youmans in 1927, and has since become a standard covered by many artists, but my favorite is by Joni Mitchell. Many, many thanks to exfatalist for thoughtful beta services rendered, up to and including listening to me whine excessively about characterization and plot, and helping me to know Jack.
Last Part: Prologue - Kiss the Boys Goodbye
I'll Be Seeing You
The Hub is quiet while Jack makes his Sunday morning rounds, filled only with the sounds of idling computers and Myfanwy shifting about in her nest. It's too early for everyone to be in yet, especially for the weekend, and Jack is content enough to allow them the occasional late morning. The downtime allows Jack the opportunity to momentarily let down his guard as captain and simply be himself. It reminds him of his early days as leader, trying to find his footing and build his first team at the turn of the century.
This morning, however, he finds Owen asleep on the couch, still smelling of beer and what might be the perfume of some attempted pull from the night before. The doctor has been through a great deal lately, and while Jack does not agree with Owen's method of forgetting, he can sympathize with the motivation behind it. Diane's leaving had been difficult; Jack had written off the seriousness of it, at first, doubtful that Owen would grow so close to a woman in such a short time, but Owen's reaction makes it clear that at least some genuine emotion had been felt.
Jack finds a blanket and drapes it over Owen, and leaves him to sleep, moving over to Toshiko's station next. Tosh had undoubtedly been Jack's finest hiring decision: clever -- no, brilliant -- loyal, and genuinely fascinated by her work. Her gratitude over being free doesn't hurt, and while Jack no longer holds a thing like springing her from prison as a trump card, he can sympathize with the desire for freedom more than anything. The Rift monitoring software -- Toshiko's greatest accomplishment so far, he thinks proudly -- shows little by way of the readings scrolling by. The Rift seems to be just as quiet as the Hub, this morning; Jack likes to tentatively believe it is granting them a day of peace. He has been in Cardiff, worked for Torchwood, long enough to know that while such things may be rare, they are not unheard of.
Jack glances over Gwen's workstation, neat with the sort of tidiness she probably learned from being a police constable. He smiles faintly at the little reminders of a life outside work: a magazine she'd been flipping through during an off hour, photographs of her and her boyfriend, a sticky note reminding herself to pick up bread on the way home (he wonders if she remembered).
He moves back toward his office, and is surprised to find Ianto there, leaning over the desk. Jack pauses in the doorway to admire the view, watching as Ianto sets down a cup of coffee, gathers up the outbound paperwork, and places more in the inbound tray.
"Ianto Jones," Jack says with a grin. "Just the man I wanted to see."
Ianto doesn't startle, but straightens up and grants Jack a small, enigmatic smile. "Missing your morning coffee?"
"Something." Jack retrieves the mug from the desk and flips through the sheaf of new paperwork with a groan. "Is the Prime Minister's office even supposed to be in on Sunday?"
"No," Ianto answers patiently. "Those forms are from three days ago. The most recent ones are on the bottom, from UNIT, e-mailed over last night. I took the liberty of printing them out for you."
Attention wandering, Jack gravitates over to his old turntable and peruses the records in the cabinet beneath. "Great. I might even get to all that today. The Rift looks quiet."
"I did pick up an unusual police report."
Jack produces a half-century old album from its careworn cover, and carefully places the needle down on the record. A soft scratching precludes the start of the music, low and jazzy. "Weevils?"
"Actually, strange happenings at that old dance hall on Sage Street." Ianto sounds skeptical from where he sits perched just on the edge of the desk. "Possibly a publicity stunt. It's been condemned, getting torn down in a few days."
"Any details on what constitutes 'strange'?" Jack questions, closing the distance between Ianto and himself.
"It's said to be haunted. Ghosts, noises ... old music." Ianto cocks his head in the direction of the turntable. "Something like that, I'd imagine. Glenn Miller?"
"Benny Goodman." Jack winds his arms around Ianto's waist, and tugs the other man close, drifting in a four-step square away from the desk. He hums along with the music, sometimes I'm happy, sometimes I'm blue; it's not an uncommonly covered song. Dozens of artists must have done it, but back then, in the days where music was an art, it didn't matter, everyone made it unique. How many times has he danced to the same songs, with different people? It's always unique.
Ianto easily keeps up with the dance, but Jack isn't surprised. He'd long ago realized that Ianto Jones is the most adaptable of his team; the drifting on his CV, Jack thinks, probably had little to do with the inability to keep a job and more with the inability of a job to hold Ianto's interest. Though young -- not even yet twenty-five -- Ianto has proven himself. Jack simply wishes now that Ianto would see the same potential in himself, and develop more confidence in his abilities.
"Jack, I --" Tosh's voice interrupts them a split second before she realizes she might be intruding on something. She draws back toward the door, flushed with embarrassment. "Sorry, I'll come back later."
Jack stops and Ianto steps away with practiced ease. This is a dance they've perfected, going back to looking as if they're doing nothing more than working, though Jack can't help a little bit of a grin as he sits down on the edge of his desk. "Nah, it's okay. Ianto, I think the ghost thing could be worth looking into. Why don't you head over to Sage Street?"
Ianto hesitates, looking surprised.
Jack doesn't think Ianto will protest, but heads it off anyway. "Toshiko, go with Ianto."
Tosh hesitates now, opening her mouth and closing it again.
He grins at her, eyes twinkling. "Don't worry, I haven't forgotten. Your train is leaving at ten, you're going to be gone for three days, and you'll be back in time for work Wednesday morning. Just a quick look around, and Ianto can drop you off at the station on the way back."
Tosh allows a moment for the statement to sink in, then she beams at Jack. "I'll go get my bag. Ianto, I'll meet you out front?"
Ianto nods. "Just let me get my coat."
Waiting until the click-clack of Tosh's heels has faded, Jack takes the black overcoat down from the coat rack by his door and helps Ianto put it on.
"Is this some sort of role reversal?" Ianto asks, sounding self-conscious and amused all at once.
Jack takes his time, smoothing out the fabric with a private sort of pleasure, and leans down to rest his chin against the other man's shoulder. He presses himself against Ianto's back, arms winding around the narrow waist again. "It depends ... do I get to call you 'sir'?"
Ianto flushes, embarrassment clear in his tone. "Jack ..."
The smile Jack returns is unrepentant, and he tilts his head to nuzzle at Ianto's neck. "Wanna know a secret? I get more of a thrill out of hearing you call me that."
"Jack," Ianto says again, and twists around in Jack's arms for a kiss. The kiss itself is a slow and languorous thing, and ends on a reluctant note when they both pull away. Ianto's eyes are heavy-lidded and his voice distracted as he waves in the direction of the door. "I should, um, go bring the SUV around."
"Mm-hmm," Jack agrees, though rather unconvincingly, as he darts in to steal another quick kiss. They linger for a few seconds longer before he finally releases Ianto from his grasp and stands back.
Ianto falters just short of leaving. "No good cop, bad cop for the ghosts, then?"
Jack shakes his head, grinning. "Tell our ghostly friends I said hello."
"Unlikely, but I'll let you know what we find." Ianto ducks his head in a self-conscious little nod and hurries for the door.
"Ianto," Jack calls, his expression softening. "You'll do fine. I have faith in you."
Ianto probably doesn't need the encouragement, not really, but his smile brightens and makes it all worthwhile, reminding Jack of how young he really is. Satisfied with himself, Jack watches on the CCTV until the SUV clears the Plass, and settles back in at his desk with his paperwork.
Even as it begins to empty out, the ballroom looks little like it will some sixty-odd years in the future. There's no doubt the party is over; the barkeep gave last call half an hour ago, and the musicians are packing their instruments back into the cases. Many of the soldiers wandered off with their girlfriends, wives, or newfound lovers even before that, and now only a few small clusters are left mingling.
Ianto sits with Tosh at the least conspicuous table they could find, although neither of them have managed to completely avoid social interaction this night. The fact that Toshiko is Japanese hardly seemed to bother most of the men, and in an effort to blend in as much as possible, Ianto had asked a few girls to dance as well.
"What are we going to do?" Tosh frets with the strap of her laptop case. "People are going home."
Disheartened that the others have not yet found a way to fix this, but not completely without optimism, Ianto is reluctant to leave the dance hall. Equally as much, he knows that they have nowhere to go, and no money to get by on; the currency has changed too much in the last seven decades. He looks up as a pair of shiny shoes, jutting out beneath perfectly creased blue trouser legs, stop in front of them.
The American, Captain Jack Harkness, has an almost-smile crinkling at the corners of his eyes. They met him earlier in the evening and Ianto has spent a decisive amount of time since trying not to think about it. Their Jack, back home at the Hub, is not as enigmatic or mysterious as he likes to think, and Ianto has long suspected from records and loose ends in the archives that the identity is an assumed one. However, to meet the man it was stolen from seems all too great a coincidence.
There is little about this Jack Harkness that reminds Ianto of the Jack he left behind. He's charming, filled with apparent bravado, but there's the sort of modesty that their Jack's ego would not suffer, as if all the confidence is a very good veneer.
"C'mon, kids," he says, though he must be younger than Tosh and certainly little older than Ianto himself. In this way, he is like Jack, assuming leadership and giving direction with a natural ease. "You can't spend the night in lover's corner."
Ianto takes the initiative to stand, pushing away his embarrassment. "We just got in this morning," he lies, as smoothly as he might feed someone an anti-explanation on paranormal activity. "We were supposed to meet my brother and his wife here, but they haven't turned up. They just moved, and -- I'm embarrassed to say -- I don't have their new address."
Tosh glances questioningly at him, but picking up on Ianto's intentions, she puts on a smile for the captain's benefit. "Is there a hotel in the area you could recommend us?"
Another of the airmen -- Tim? -- the navigator who had earlier helped Tosh work out the coordinates of their location, has appeared. "No use in you doing that for one night," he says with a shy smile. "My family lives a few blocks from here, but my mum and sisters are all off in Swansea right now visiting my aunt. There would be more than enough room for you to stay with me and dad for the night."
"Oh, we wouldn't want to impose," Ianto begins to argue on cue. He wants badly to warn the generous young man that Swansea will be obliterated in a month, but knows he can't. He wonders, errantly, how many times Jack has had to bite his tongue, what Jack knows that the rest of them don't, cryptically phrased: when everything changes ...
"It's not a problem."
"Tim is right," Captain Harkness interjects. "It's late and all the hotels are probably full." He raises his eyebrows in polite implication.
Ianto and Tosh go through the elaborate motions of finally 'relenting' to something Ianto had been attempting to manipulate all along. While Tosh goes ahead with Tim and the captain, making polite conversation, Ianto lingers to gather up their things before following.
It sounds exactly like Jack's voice, but an echo bouncing off glass. Ianto whirls around, but there's no one there and no sign of anything any more out of the ordinary than the fact that he's currently in 1941. He shrugs on his coat and jogs after Tosh and the others.
Owen is standing at Tosh's station, arms folded across his chest and eyebrows lowered into a serious line, when Jack emerges from his office later that morning. Mainframe bleeps quietly, a red warning message flashing on the screen, alerting the user of new Rift activity. Jack comes up behind Owen and stares at it over the doctor's shoulder.
"Of course it would finally show something when Tosh isn't here to tell us what it means," Owen remarks.
Jack clears the warning and watches the numeric language scroll by. "A spike in activity," he interprets, and taps his ear piece. "Tosh, need to pick your brain for just a second."
The comms are unexpectedly silent. Jack glances down at his watch: half ten. Ianto should have been back by now. He picks up the phone and quickly dials.
"Hello, you've reached Ianto Jones. I'm unavailable at the moment, but --"
"Hi, this is Toshiko! I can't come to the phone right now, so --"
Jack frowns, failing to raise either of them on their mobiles, and tries again to the same result. Neither of the phones even ring, simply go straight to voice mail as if switched off or out of signal range.
"What is it?" Owen asks.
"Tosh and Ianto went out two hours ago. Should've been back by now, and they're not answering me." Jack glances up at the screen with a heavy feeling of dread; he doesn't believe in simple coincidences. "Get your coat."
Owen watches in bewilderment as Jack runs back around him to his office. "Why?"
"We're going to the Ritz."
Next Part: Chapter Two - Goodnight, Wherever You Are