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Less Suspicious of You

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When London sent Alex to take over as head of Torchwood Three, Jack was tempted to go on vacation. Preferably a long, extended one somewhere where it would be more trouble than he was worth for Torchwood to find him. Even if such excursions had, in the past, never ended well for him at all. Who could forget India, both before and after partition? Not him, despite a great deal of effort.

But even the past poor results of his reactions couldn't make Jack fond of the idea of putting up with a new boss. There was, invariably, too much posturing, and Jack found it tedious waiting to see if a given leader-of-the-week had a clue – about him or about doing the job. Especially when the results, either way, were rarely a lot of fun.

Alex, however, had surprised him immediately. Not, seemingly, by being particularly different than any of of the others, but merely by not announcing his arrival. Jack had figured on a couple of weeks to plan a really spectacular absence for himself in response to the latest high-level death-by-Torchwood; instead, there was his new boss, offering to help him drag a weevil corpse down to the incinerator. But Jack was perfectly happy to shove his shoulder in to the beast's gut and carry it down on his on his own, where he wondered, absently, about the efficacy of fire on his own flesh.

*

"Not much for authority then," Alex had asked him later in front of everyone.

"Oh, I like authority just fine," he replied with a ready leer. "People who work for London are another matter."

"We both work for the Crown, Jack," Alex replied, and Jack marveled that the man was so clearly weary of him already.

"If that's what the paperwork says."

*

Jack decided not to run; having met the man first, he getting dragged back by him would likely be too humiliating to bear. Besides, Jack liked his flat of the moment and didn't really want to give it up, until Alex let himself into it one night, unannounced.

"Thought you said you didn't have a key," Jack said, not looking up from the book he was reading and not bothering to sit up, even as he was sprawled across an ancient, ratty velvet sofa that went with nothing else in the apartment.

Alex shrugged. "The heads always have keys."

"Because it's just too much trouble to knock down a door before murdering an employee, I know."

"I'm not like --"

Jack tossed the book aside and sat up. "Yes, you're exactly like the others; you said you didn't have a key."

"I thought, maybe, you wouldn't want to have the conversation we need to have at the hub."

"Why's that?"

"My understanding," Alex said, looking at the scuffed wood of the floor, "is that your life tends to get remarkably less pleasant when people know that you can't die, but if you want to talk about it back at the Hub, who am I to argue?"

Jack rose and crossed to him, stopping and holding out his hand only when he was far too far into the man's personal space. "Give me the key. Get out of my flat. Don't assume you know anything, and knock it off with the veiled threats of torture, and we'll get along just fine."

To Jack's shock, Alex just smirked at him before dropping the key into his hand. "And here, everyone said you were such a sweet-talker."

The next morning, for the first time in weeks, Jack showed up at work on time. Alex continued to smirk at him, and Jack thought it felt like flirting in reverse.

*

Of course, because life or time or Torchwood was cruel, Alex turned out to be the best boss Jack had ever had there, always providing him with choices whenever he reasonably could.

He'd even offered, on New Year's Eve, to shoot Jack too.

"They'll be less suspicious of you," he'd said.

"Unlikely," Jack noted, even as he frantically tried to think of a way out of this mess for those that were already dead, even if it wondered if Alex would be grateful if he died by Jack's hand, instead of his own.

*

"I thought you said you didn't want to see my face," Ianto said petulantly, when Jack let himself into the man's apartment.

"Fine. Face the wall while I talk to you," Jack snapped, only to feel himself become slightly nauseated as Ianto turned slowly, clearly expecting a bullet to the back of his head.

"Yes, sir."

"You watch too many movies. And if I were going to shoot you, I'd look you in the eye as I did it."

"I forget how used to blood you must be, working there," Ianto ground out, as he turned again to face him.

"Yeah, you want to hear about that?" Jack offered angrily, ignoring the way Ianto pretended he wasn't Torchwood too.

"Do I?"

"Yeah, you do. Sit down," Jack said, stalking towards him and shoving a palm against the middle of the man's chest until he subsided into one of the chairs at the cheap bit of flat-pack furniture that passed for Ianto's kitchen table.

"I didn't know suspension included unexpected visits and cryptic school lectures. I feel so lucky."

"You are," Jack said taking the seat opposite him and dropping the keys to Ianto's flat on the table between them. "Those are the only copies I've got. Take them and you won't get any more surprises from me."

"Guess I'm not going to be invited back then, huh?"

For a moment, Jack say silently and traced his fingers over the fake grain in the table's laminate, until eventually, he started to laugh.