Title: Acts of Mercy
Part: 3 - Good Morning, Heartache
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: Myfanwy and Hywel are from the myth of Myfanwy, though I have no idea if this reference was behind the name. Characters in 1941 Torchwood are from the book The Twilight Streets by Gary Russell. I don't think I've spoiled the book much, if at all with this, as they're all introduced in the first few pages, and I'm just borrowing them from their pre-canon, though I recommend reading the book anyway. Remember I said this was going to be non-linear! Thanks to exfatalist for beta.
Last Part: Chapter Two - Goodnight, Wherever You Are
Good Morning, Heartache
Jack takes Ianto down into the Hub on the invisible lift, rather than using the usual tourist information centre facade. Ianto suspects that this is something the captain does on every new recruit's first day, alternately to impress and to intimidate, but after having worked in the glass tower that was Torchwood London, Ianto is less than awestruck by the flash.
"Welcome to the Hub," Jack announces, gesturing around at the sprawling underground base as he steps from the lift.
Ianto straightens his suit jacket as he follows, every bit the attentive new employee.
"Ianto Jones, meet Suzie Costello, second in command." Jack nods toward a woman whose corner station is cluttered with bits of alien technology, more than a few of which look more like weapons than anything else. Her dark eyes, curly black hair, and hawkish nose lend her looks a little bit of the severe, but her expression softens when she smiles and waves over at Ianto.
"Welcome to the madhouse," she greets.
Ianto returns the wave, and Jack moves on to the next introduction. "Toshiko Sato, computer genius," is a pretty Asian woman perched on a stool, glasses sliding down her nose while she pores over her computer screen.
She looks up, and smiles shyly. "Call me Tosh, everyone does."
Jack starts walking again, and stops at a railing overlooking what would look like a white-tiled, old fashioned operating theatre if not for the clearly alien corpse laid open on the table. "Owen, meet Ianto Jones. Ianto, Dr. Owen Harper, our chief medic."
"Only medic," the doctor corrects curtly, without looking up.
Jack shrugs, and keeps walking. A squawk sounds overhead, and the pterodactyl flaps past on a gusty current. "And of course, you know Myfanwy."
Ianto raises his eyebrows. "You named her Myfanwy."
"Yep. I haven't decided if that makes you or me Hywel." Jack pauses, looking considerate. "Not sure I wanna know the answer to that." He puts a casual hand at the small of Ianto's back and steers him in a different direction. Everything about Jack, from conversation to touch, seems casual, and Ianto hasn't decided if it comes naturally to the man or is simply the result of a great deal of practice.
Together, they circle back around to an area stocked with a mini-fridge, electric kettle, and a complex looking espresso machine. Here, Jack's expression turns from cheeky to vaguely chagrined. "I requisitioned this six months ago because they all kept whining about wanting a coffee maker," he explains. "And now none of them can figure out how to use it."
"And the captain mustn't be expected to make his own coffee," Ianto replies, with just the right amount of politeness to keep the sarcasm from biting into Jack's massive ego. He steps up to the machine, and absently places a hand on one of the levers as he looks back over his shoulder at Jack, his question coy. "How do you take yours, sir?"
Jack is standing with a distant, faraway look in his eyes, but when his gaze snaps back to Ianto, it's completely lascivious. "Strong and sweet," he replies, and the rest becomes history.
"Ianto Jones. Born August twenty-eighth, 1983, currently aged twenty-four; nationality, Welsh. Currently posted as general support officer for Torchwood division three, Cardiff."
Tilda Brennan reads her notes as if ticking off a list, voice bored with apparent disinterest. Only moments ago she had done the same with Tosh's information, and now stares up at them silently, trying to be intimidating. Ianto has learned to read people well enough to know that she is thrown off-balance, frightened by the information, and who wouldn't be? Even as a leader, she is out of her element. Jack would know what to do, but Jack isn't here: they made sure of that. Ianto and Tosh had waited outside the Hub's facade, freezing and feeling ridiculous, until the tails of the captain's greatcoat had vanished into a black Daimler, along with a statuesque redhead.
They'd only just managed to get past a uniformed man Ianto heard described only as Rhydian, who had glared significantly behind his glasses before leading them down to Tilda. Now, Ianto stands with Tosh in the office that will be Jack's someday, like a naughty schoolboy awaiting punishment. The room looks nothing like it will, but the contrasts are not enough to keep it from feeling somehow like home, making Ianto long for the same office, in a different time, all the more.
The woman behind the desk, the cool and no nonsense leader of Torchwood in this era, couldn't be any more different than Jack, either. Something about her manner reminds Ianto strongly of Yvonne Hartman, whose regime perhaps had not been so greatly out of place.
"And I am to believe you have," she states slowly but crisply, "through some accident of the Rift, slipped in time from sixty-seven years in the future to the present."
"Ms. Brennan --" Ianto begins.
"That is doctor to you, young man."
Ianto sets his jaw and summons up all the diplomacy he first learned at Torchwood London and has since perfected in his time in Cardiff. "Dr. Brennan, this is very important. Whether or not you choose to believe that we're from the future, we can't be allowed to interact with Captain Harkness."
"Jack?" The young man posted beside the door asks. "What does he have to do with all this?"
Both Ianto and Tosh turn; they had completely forgotten, until the man spoke, that he was even there. He had been only briefly and curtly introduced to them as Greg Bishop. Dark-haired and blue-eyed, dapper in a suit and tie, quietly supporting the leader; Ianto can't help but feel as if he's looking at a direct predecessor.
"Undoubtedly," Tilda notes, her expression pinched as if she finds the very mention of Jack a sour taste in her mouth, "the captain's standing reputation of freelance work for the Institute will continue long into the future."
Ianto is silent for a moment, and Tosh steps forward, speaking up. "Dr. Brennan, I think we were the victims of a temporal shift. It had been occurring in phases at the dance hall, people hearing old music, seeing ghosts. Of course, we know they weren't really ghosts. I believe there's a strong possibility that another shift will occur that will allow us to get back to our own time, but until then ..."
Tilda sits back in her chair and purses her lips, looking back and forth between the two. "Very well. You are still Torchwood officers, and as such, until you may be returned to your assigned posts, you will be given assignments to make use of your skills and abilities to the best advantage of the Institute as a whole. To avoid any matters of temporal conflict, new identities will be --"
"Let me tell you," Jack's voice rings out, suddenly, across the Hub proper. "It's been years since I've seen a Hoix and they don't get any less charming."
Ianto's heart leaps into his throat and he glances over his shoulder, frantic; they had been so absorbed in discussion that they missed the sound of the cog door rolling back. Greg is the one to spring into action, one hand at the small of Tosh's back and the other on Ianto's elbow, leading them to the narrow staircase into the interrogation room below. He whispers a quick "Stay here," then trots back up the steps, reaching the top just as Ianto hears Jack enter the office. He presses himself back against the wall and pulls Tosh with him, both of them hardly daring breathe.
"Those things really will eat anything," Jack says, followed by a rustle of paper. "Fortunately, Llinos and I got it, with only minor damages."
"What is this, Harkness?" Tilda asks archly. Not surprisingly, she sounds even less amused at Jack's boisterous attitude.
"Requisition request for a new rear tire for the car."
"And why, pray tell, do you need replacement parts for a vehicle requisitioned a few weeks ago?"
Jack's sigh sounds long suffering. "I told you, Tilda --"
"-- that was a Hoix. They will eat anything. Up to and including the tires of Daimlers."
Ianto closes his eyes and leans back against the wall. The sound of Jack's voice, more than six decades before Jack will even meet him, sends the blood rushing to Ianto's head. He very suddenly, painfully, misses home, misses Jack. He edges closer to Tosh and looks down to check on her. She smiles up at him, and reaches to take his hand in her own smaller one. Ianto summons a smile back and gives her hand a squeeze.
We'll get through this, he mouths, and Tosh nods, looking only a little teary-eyed as she does.
"-- take care of this," Tilda is saying now.
"Greg always takes good care of me, don't you Greg?" Ianto can almost hear the grin in Jack's voice.
"I do try, Jack." There is good-natured affection in the younger man's response.
Silence follows, then a murmur Ianto strains his ears to hear but can't quite make out.
"Why don't the two of you take your sweet nothings elsewhere?" Tilda again, and more annoyed this time.
"Yes, ma'am. Greg, coffee?"
Ianto scowls despite himself. He closes his eyes again, unable to place or explain the sudden pang of jealousy twisting in his gut.
"In a moment, Jack. I have something I need to finish up."
Receding footsteps signal Jack's departure, and a few seconds later Greg comes down to the interrogation room. "Sorry," he apologizes. "If you'll just come with me, I'll show you to someplace more comfortable."
Greg leads them back through the Hub, which is a strange blend of familiar and unrecognizable all at once; Jack does not appear again. They finally reach a corridor one level down, the sub rooms which Ianto knows will be converted in 1965 to extra storage space. Now, however, Greg opens the door to one to reveal a sparsely furnished, roughly inhabitable space, longer than it is wide. There are simple camp beds with plain white sheets and gray blankets lining the walls, and a door at the opposite end that is opened into a small cubicle of a bathroom, mostly filled by a shower.
"With the bombing, sometimes it's necessary for us to sleep here," Greg explains. "It's not much, but it will be a place until we can move you over to something better."
Tosh sits down on the edge of one of the beds, and Ianto joins her; together, they barely indent the hard mattress. It reminds Ianto more than a little of the narrow bed in Jack's quarters, and he wonders idly what that under-the-floor space is used for now, when Jack obviously doesn't live there.
Greg pauses for a moment, seeming slightly hesitant for the first time. "I'm afraid that I will have to confiscate your personal possessions ... for anachronistic reasons, of course," he states apologetically. "Including your clothes. Mr. Jones, we're of a similar height and build; I have a spare suit here that I'm sure you can wear until you can find something more suited to your liking. Miss Sato --"
"Miss Toshiko," Greg says with a smile. "My colleague Llinos should have something that will do until similar arrangements can be made for you as well. If you'll both excuse me a moment? I'm sure I don't need to tell you that it's best if you remain here until I return."
Ianto sits in silence with Tosh for a long few minutes after Greg has left the room; at some point, they have clasped hands again without Ianto being conscious of it. The tactile sensation is some comfort, at least, in a situation that's leaving him feeling more and more despondent.
"So." Tosh breathes out the word like a sigh. "Haven't changed much in sixty years, have we?"
"Jack has," Ianto replies quietly.
Tosh nods, leans her head on his shoulder and closes her eyes. "The pilot, at the Ritz. What do you think that was about?"
"I think Jack has his name." Ianto frowns, staring up at the bare light bulb that swings from the ceiling. "There's so much we don't know about him."
"I know one thing." Tosh squeezes Ianto's hand, almost painfully. "Jack loves us, and I'm sure he's looking for us. They've probably even now found those calculations."
Ianto summons up a smile, appreciative of Tosh's attempt at cheering him up, if nothing else. "You're right." He pauses, brows furrowed in thought. "Your scanner. When he takes our things --"
"Don't let him have it," she finishes firmly. "I hadn't planned on it. The technology is too advanced. I know for a fact that we won't find half the components I used until 1989, and the rest was contemporary material."
Ianto nods, and lapses into silence to lean back against the wall. It hasn't even been twenty-four hours yet, according to his watch, and yet he feels bone weary. He had slept very little the night before, and then only fitfully, his mind too far lost on what would happen to them next. When they rose early that morning to seek out Torchwood, Ianto had felt as if he would have best not slept at all.
Greg knocks on the door this time before entering again. He hands Ianto a suit on a hanger, and a neatly folded shirt. "I thought your shoes would be fine," he notes. "Miss Toshiko, I think this might be a little large for you, you're such a petite figure."
Tosh blushes as she takes the dress from him. "It will be fine, thank you."
Greg places two boxes down on one of the other bunks. They're the heavy Torchwood regulation boxes of the era, complete with leather straps and brass buckles, name plates on the front ready to hold cards describing their contents. Ianto strains to remember if he has ever seen two such boxes in the archive, but the basements and sub-levels of the Hub are so extensive that even he has not yet managed to sort through all of them.
"If you would just gather up your things and place them in these boxes when you're finished," Greg instructs, and turns to Ianto. "There is another room down the hall where you can change."
Ianto glances at Tosh in question, but she gives him a little nod, and he follows Greg from the room to a smaller one two doors back up the corridor. This looks more like a conventional locker room, dimly lit with open showers and benches. Ianto steps inside, and Greg leaves, closing the door behind himself.
Shrugging off his suit jacket and beginning to unbutton his waistcoat, Ianto finds himself almost nervous to strip off the armor of his suit, as if handing away the final proof of his existence in another century. He carefully folds the pieces and stacks them on one of the benches, pulls free his tie and begins to unbutton his shirt. He toes out of his shoes before he removes his belt, and steps out of his trousers.
The new trousers are of a good length but not especially well-tailored; Ianto can't help but think his father -- who, while dead, technically hasn't even been born yet -- would be deeply critical of the way the cuffs bunch at the tops of his feet. He puts on the shirt, a crisp white, double-cuffed Oxford. There is no tie, but a pair of cufflinks jingle in the pocket of the jacket when Ianto shrugs it on. The jacket is a little wide in the shoulders and a bit longer than he would like, but the fit is adequate for the time period, and the pinstriped navy wool is fine quality.
Ianto is fastening the simple goldtone cufflinks when the door eases open. He keeps his back turned, figuring it's only Greg, and steps back into his shoes. "I'll only --" be another moment, he begins to say, when a pair of strong -- and familiar -- arms wind around his waist.
"Thought I saw you come down here," Jack murmurs, lowering his chin onto Ianto's shoulder. "I've been waiting for you."
Ianto freezes, hardly daring to breathe in his panic. He keeps his head turned carefully to the side as Jack's lips descend on his neck, feathering kisses. It would be so tempting right now, he thinks, to simply sink into that embrace and pretend that everything since yesterday has been nothing more than a nightmare. It feels so much like the goodbye they'd shared in Jack's office, before --
But Jack isn't kissing him. The reminder of it is enough to provoke Ianto forward, but before he can step free, Jack's arms tighten and he leans more of his weight forward.
"Sometimes," Jack is murmuring, "you're the only thing that keeps me here."
Ianto closes his eyes and hesitantly reaches down to cover Jack's hands, locked at his waist, with his own. Jack's chest, pressed to Ianto's back, feels the same, and Ianto knows if he turned around to see, Jack would look the same, too. But it isn't the same man, not really, Ianto tells himself, trying desperately to remember it. The tender words are not meant for Ianto, they're meant for Greg. Ianto should step away, tell Jack that he has made a mistake.
He's saved the trouble by the quick opening of the door, and a woman's voice; this must be the mysterious Llinos, the only member of the team they have not yet met. "Jack," she calls, "Dr. Brennan needs you upstairs."
Jack groans when he pulls away, pressing a last errant kiss to Ianto's jaw. "I'll be back for you later," he whispers, and turns to sweep out the door.
Ianto doesn't move, paralyzed by shock and the unaccustomed ache in his chest. He hasn't felt this way since Canary Wharf, he thinks, such a profound sense of loss since Lisa. It takes several minutes before he can look back at the door, and when he finally returns to Tosh, she doesn't ask what's wrong, assuming it has to do with their circumstances. She's right and wrong, all at once: circumstance has everything and nothing to do with it.
Next Part: Chapter Four - I've Heard That Song Before