The flash of light enveloping him faded.
Ianto turned to see a console in the middle of a large round room. Beside it was a man, looking at Ianto in disbelief.
Now that he thought about it, the man looked rather familiar.
"WHAT?!" the Doctor said again.
"Oh don't give me that! You're not keeping him!"
Ianto was watching the Doctor argue with his ship, still a little dazed at the fact the Rift had dropped him onto the TARDIS of all places. He was content to keep out of it for now, just trying to collect his thoughts. Not to mention the fact that watching the Doctor lose an argument with a ship was vastly amusing.
The Doctor tinkered with the console a bit more, pulling levers and twisting knobs before turning to Ianto with a satisfied: "Ha!"
He frowned at Ianto's expression.
"You seem to be taking this awfully well, Ianto Jones. The last time this happened, Donna didn't stop screaming at me for about five minutes."
"Hazzard of the job. I'm just surprised the Rift dropped me off here."
The Doctor looked a bit sheepish.
"Ah," he said, rubbing the back of his neck, "It actually dropped you off about three light years that-a-way," he vaguely gestured to the up and the left.
Ianto thought about that for a moment.
"I see. And what is three light years...that-a-way?"
The Doctor looked even more reluctant.
"The...ah, heart of a sun," he said, not meeting Ianto's eye.
So this, Ianto thought, is what delayed shock feels like. Good thing he was already sitting on that jumpseat in the console room.
"Good thing the old girl caught you!" the Doctor brightened. His expression turned into one of concern a moment later. Ianto couldn't fathom why, but then, he was having a bit of trouble focusing on the Doctor's face. Everything seemed to be fading.
"Oh, now you faint!"
That's odd. He had expected to find himself on the floor when he awoke. Not that he wasn't glad he was somehow still on the seat - that floor didn't look very clean. He lifted his head and his entire view field was filled with large brown eyes staring at him.
He jerked back, almost toppling off the seat.
The Doctor caught him, helping him sit up. Ianto stiffly nodded in thanks.
"Sooooo," the Doctor began, looking at him shrewdly, "That wouldn't have been the Cardiff Rift that picked you up?"
"Um, yes," Ianto stood and straightened his suit. Thankfully, the Doctor had backed away a bit.
Ianto felt a trickle of dread. Please don't say Torchwood, please don't say Torchwood, please don't say -
Ianto mentally said his goodbyes to everyone.
The Doctor seemed oddly happy. Ianto blinked. No smiting seemed to be forthcoming. Maybe Torchwood London had gotten a few things wrong?
"Torchwood 3? You're Jack's Ianto?"
"You know Jack?" Ianto blurted out. Interestingly, he didn't know whether to feel jealous or relieved.
The Doctor grinned happily and nodded, either not catching or not caring about Ianto's tone.
"No wonder the TARDIS caught you."
The Doctor's smile widened.
"Jack wouldn't have been very happy if you'd died."
"You know Jack?"
Stupid question. The Doctor obviously knew Jack.
"He used to travel with me," the Doctor's smile became a bit strained and he turned back to the console.
A lot of things about Jack clicked into place. Except, Ianto thought, watching the Doctor fiddle unnecessarily with the console, why he hadn't stayed.
"So!" the Doctor said, becoming a sudden whirl of energy, "Ianto Jones! Back to Torchwood! Or...hmmm, how ticked off at me do you think Jack would be if I took you for a few trips first?"
The Doctor flashed him a playful grin, but not before Ianto had caught the sharp loneliness in his eyes. The offer itself sent a jolt of fear and anticipation through him.
He took a minute to think about it. The Doctor's smile began to fade. Oh screw it, Ianto thought, if Jack could do it -
"I can always leave him a message," Ianto said and stepped up to the console.
The Doctor's smile returned in full force, his eyes sparkling and entire body quivering with energy.
Ianto suddenly got an inkling of why Jack would sometimes get the far-away look in his eyes, as though he'd rather be anywhere else but on Earth.
"Where to first, Mr. Jones?" the Doctor said, beginning to run around the console, flicking switches.
Ianto couldn't stop a bit of whimsy filling him.
"Second star to the right and straight on til morning."
The Doctor barked out a laugh.
"I think I'm going to like you, Ianto Jones!"
Jack Harkness was not a happy guy. Not when the Rift had snatched up Ianto.
He spared only another moment to stare at the spot where Ianto had disappeared before spurring into action.
"Tosh, I need everything you got on that spike!" he said into his comm link. From the rustle of activity and furious tapping, he knew she was already on the case.
Behind him, Gwen and Owen were already moving towards the SUV, dragging the Weevil they'd come to get along with them.
Jack watched them for a moment, stomach churning in fear. He knew what could happen to people taken by the Rift. He fervently hoped that wouldn't happen to Ianto.
The sound of his phone ringing seemed incongruously cheerful in comparison.
He took it out, not bothering to check who was calling.
"Harkness," he snapped.
"Bad time to call, sir?"
"Ianto?" he couldn't believe it. It had only been a few minutes since he'd disappeared. Could they have gotten lucky and the Rift had just deposited him somewhere else on Earth or just a bit in the past?
From Ianto's amused tone, there was no way he was in any immediate danger. Jack closed his eyes in relief.
"Where are you?"
Movement could be heard over the connection.
"Um, in front of Jaxar's Emporium - purveyors of the finest cheese in the Alison galaxy?" he sounded like he was reading off of something.
Jack could hear muffled laughter in the background. Rather familiar laughter. Another knot of tension disappeared.
"Is that? Ianto, are you with the Doctor?!"
In the pause that ensued, Jack could clearly envision the no doubt furious miming the two were engaged in.
Relief washed over him.
"Get over here. Now," he said in a clipped voice, trying to sound angry. From the put upon sigh and the low conversation he could hear, he'd succeeded.
"Right away, sir," Ianto said, his voice stiff and angry.
Jack hung up and waited for the TARDIS to appear.
It had only taken a minute for the wheezing of the engines to sound, just long enough for Jack to reassure the rest of the team that Ianto was alright and coming home.
Jack stood in front of the doors, arms crossed, trying to appear stern.
It was a lot harder to keep up the act when Ianto emerged, safe and sound and looking quite a bit more tanned than he had this morning.
"How long was now?" Jack asked, unable to keep a note of amusement from his voice.
"Oh, three months? Give or take," the Doctor said when he'd emerged from the TARDIS after Ianto. The Doctor lifted an eyebrow at Jack's posture, his own only the slightest bit defensive at his interpretation of 'now'.
With an eye roll, Jack gave up the act. He took a step and hauled Ianto to himself. The muffled squeak of surprise when he kissed Ianto was quite rewarding.
"Don't do that again," he told Ianto.
"I'll let the Rift know that further attempts to snatch me would not be appreciated," Ianto said dryly, looking a bit dazed. And horny. Jack doubted the Doctor had been much use in that department.
"And you," Jack turned to the Doctor.
"Me? What about me?"
He looked confused the entire time Jack took to come closer, his expression only changing into one of slight panic when Jack stopped an arm's length away.
Jack gave him no time to pull back, dragging him into a kiss as well.
He could feel Ianto's eyebrow lifting in that way he had, but when Jack finally looked at him, Ianto did not look at all offended. More...intrigued.
"Well that was...um..."
Jack grinned, feeling accomplished at driving the Doctor speechless. And delightfully mussed.
"You're coming back to the Hub with us," Jack told him, brooking no arguments. The Doctor still looked like he might object.
"Finders fee reward, sir?" Ianto said, his composure regained. The Doctor shot Ianto a betrayed look. He was being cornered and he knew it.
This was an opportunity Jack was not passing up. Especially when the Doctor was making no effort to actually get away.
"Precisely," Jack leered, enjoying the way the Doctor's eyes widened.END