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Loss of Identity

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“I’m not sure… I follow,” Jack said as he ran along the sidewalk. “I’m—hick!” Ianto grabbed him by the elbow and yanked him back.

“Sorry.” Ianto wrapped his arms around him, holding him still. Their breaths were rapid and shallow from the run, and they could hear the clomping footfalls of their pursuer. Jack made to take off again, but Ianto held tight. “Stand right here, Sir,” he whispered.

“But it’ll fhnn—” He was cut short as Ianto clamped a hand over his mouth.

“Quiet!” Ianto hissed before biting down on the lapel of Jack’s coat to muffle his own exhausted breathing.

From around the water tower came the large beast. Its three rows of teeth were gnashing in rage, saliva dripping from the corners onto the sidewalk. Its missing limb was already starting to grow in from a wet, bloodied stump. Its dozen eyes looked in every which way simultaneously, but couldn’t seem to find what it was looking for.

Ianto stood extra still, closing his eyes tight, trying to wrestle with every instinct inside himself. He wasn’t even sure if his body cried out for fight or flight; it just didn’t want him standing still just five feet away from the alien doing nothing.

Suddenly the door to the tourism office banged open and Gwen slid out, a gun in each hand. She fired once, twice, thrice into the beast before it reared up on its hind legs. She pumped it full of five more before it let out a howl and toppled over. She closed the distance in seconds. “Jack? Ianto?”

Ianto dropped his hand and lifted his head. He nudged Jack forward and they stepped out of the perception filter. “Gwen,” he said, distraught, his voice cracking. “We… we needed it alive to get Jack’s memory back!”

“It is alive,” Gwen said, toeing its lower lip with her boot. It flinched and huffed but its eyes stayed shut. “I got your message and switched bullets for tranquilizers.” She checked her guns. “Only one left in the chamber. Can’t believe it took so many. What a monster.”

Jack stumbled forward, staring unblinkingly. “Monster,” he repeated in disbelief. Then he turned and was sick right on what he didn’t realize was the entrance to the Torchwood Three Hub.

Ianto pressed finger and thumb to the bridge of his nose. This was going to be a long night. “All right. Let’s get this thing in a cell before someone sees it and mistakes it for a parade float.” He glanced over at Jack, who was bent in half with his hands on his knees. “And I’ll get Jack cleaned up.”

*

“You have… an actual pterodactyl?” Jack stammered as Ianto slid his suspenders off to either side and began unbuttoning the crisp, blue shirt that was now splattered with blood from the alien and now sick as well. And Ianto had just done the wash and ironing yesterday. What terrible timing.

“Her name’s Myfanwy. She’s house-trained, you might say. Nothing to worry about there.” He pulled the ends of the shirt out from Jack’s pants and slid it right off him. Leaving it on the floor of the bathroom, Ianto directed Jack over to the sink and helped him rinse and wash up. Probably Jack could have managed it on his own, but he still seemed so confused that Ianto had a feeling he shouldn’t leave Jack’s side right now.

There was far too much for Jack to get into here in the Hub. All he had to do was touch the wrong thing or push the wrong button and… well, Ianto didn’t care to think about all that could happen. When Jack was cleaned up, Ianto sat him down on the closed toilet seat. Then he squatted down in front of the man, holding Jack’s hands tight in his own. That would keep him from touching things for the moment, at least. “We’ve got a few free minutes, and I did promise to explain.”

“Yes, you did. My name… I can’t even remember my name and you bring me into… this?”

“I needed you safe.”

“Safe? That monster could have killed me!”

Ianto smirked. “Actually, it couldn’t. You’re a tough man to kill, Captain Jack Harkness.”

“Captain Jack Harkness?” He repeated without his usual pomp and swagger. “That’s me? I’m a captain?”

“That’s… well, that’s your name. And I’m—”

“Ianto Jones.”

Ianto’s eyes widened. “Did you remember that?” Could it possibly be this easy? Was his memory coming back on its own already? Or… or was what they had together powerful enough for Jack to remember him and only him despite his amnesia?

“No.” Jack freed one hand and reached up to flick Ianto’s Cardiff Tourism Agency nametag.

“Ah. Forgot I was still wearing that. Maybe I’d better leave it on until we get you sorted, hmm?”

“Ianto Jones…” Slowly, Jack smiled. “Not gonna forget you, handsome.”

Ianto felt himself blush despite himself. Even without his memory, there were certain things Jack just knew. “Good. There’s a lot you need to know, and a lot of it’s going to sound pretty strange.” He took a deep breath and gathered Jack’s other hand back. He squeezed them both. It was strange having to explain this to Jack, who was always the one who explained it to everyone else. “We’re Torchwood.”

“Torchwood,” Jack repeated without a bit of recognition in his voice. “And what do you… I mean, we, do then?”

There was no way to sugar coat this part, so out it came. “We catch aliens. They come through the rift this place was built on, just like the pterodactyl did. But we don’t just catch the aliens, we use what they leave behind to arm the human race for the future.” It sounded like he was reading off a recruitment pamphlet already, so he left off the bit about how the twenty-first century was when it all was going to change, and they had to be ready. That part only sounded dramatic when Jack said it anyway. “We’re going to use that thing we captured earlier to restore your memory as soon as possible. Just need to wait until the tranquilizers are out of its system. With me so far?”

Jack nodded, looking overwhelmed.

“In the meantime… how about some tea?” Ianto stood, still holding Jack’s hands.

“Do I like tea?”

Ianto considered this a moment. Then he smiled. “Well, you definitely like mine. Follow me to the kitchen. Just… don’t touch anything along the way, okay?”