The sounds of good New Orleans jazz filled the white-canopied tent, so infectious that most of the party guests couldn't resist dancing to it.
Ianto Harkness-Jones stood by one of the tables, a glass of fruit punch in one hand and his son held firmly against his hip with the other. Even he couldn't keep still, his foot tapping and his body swaying to the band's bright playing. He watched as his husband, the infamous Captain Jack Harkness, danced his way through the crowd, twirling one woman in a complete circle, then grabbing a child's hands and lifting her up, and then moving on to swinging a man away from his dance partner, then back again after dipping him extravagantly.
It made Ianto laugh to see Jack so carefree. He caught Jack's eye; the other man smiled, but it wasn't that mega-watt grin he gave everyone else, this was the smile that seemed to be reserved for Ianto himself. It made him go all warm inside, and he mentally berated himself for becoming such a sap.
Retirement seemed to be good for both of them.
Setting his glass down on the table, Ianto headed over, letting himself move to the music as he got closer to Jack. If someone had told him he would ever be a fan of jazz, he most likely would have laughed at them. But then, he had developed a fondness for Jack's 40's music, so perhaps anything was possible…
Jack reached out for their son as Ianto got close enough. "Hey there, big guy," he greeted the eleven-month-old with a grin, lifting him up and blowing a raspberry into his belly. That earned him a giggle as he pulled both child and husband into his arms, dancing with them both. ""And hey there, handsome," he said to Ianto, one side of his mouth curling up in a cheerful leer. "Enjoying yourself?"
Ianto smiled back at him. "Yes, I am. This was a good idea you had." He was a bit surprised that he was, indeed, having a good time, since he wasn't that much of a party person.
"See, I told you!" Jack leaned forward and kissed him lightly. "I do have good ideas every once in a while."
"I suppose you do," the Welshman teased.
"What say we get out of here and head back to the hotel?" Jack pulled Ianto closer, giving the younger man a solid clue as to what he had in mind once they did get back.
"I've said it before, but you're insatiable, Jack." He backed away, winking.
"And you love me for it."
"It's certainly one of the many reasons."
Together the two men left the tent, appropriating their pram from where they'd left it on the way out. The tent had been set up in the back yard of a palatial home near the French Quarter; they wove their way through the party-goers, making their way toward the front yard, Jack expertly guiding the pram through the crowd with the ease of long practice.
"Look who's also here," Jack turned slightly in Ianto's direction, jerking his chin forward.
Ianto looked where his husband indicated; a man and a woman were standing under one of the live oaks that grew by yet another refreshment table, the man holding a child who looked a little older than their own son. The woman was helping him eat, and it would have been completely romantic if it weren't for the teasing grin the woman wore.
Then the man caught sight of them, saying something to the woman – his wife. She also smiled, revealing a gap between her front teeth. Jack aimed the pram in their direction, his mega-watt grin appearing. "Hello, Williamses!" he greeted them happily, parking the pram next to the one abandoned by the other family.
Gwen and Rhys Williams greeted the two men in turn. It constantly surprised Ianto just how small the world was; who would have thought that he'd be meeting the former Gwen Cooper in New Orleans, nearly four years after she'd stumbled onto Torchwood? Jack had successfully Retconned her that night, after she'd tracked them down during that thing with the Glove, and the PC had shown no sign of breaking the amnesia even after this long.
They'd discovered just last night that the Williamses and their daughter Carys were staying in the same hotel, and they'd gotten along pretty well. Rhys was a laid back bloke whom Ianto could talk rugby with. Gwen's brash attitude got on Ianto's nerves at times, but Jack seemed to take it with a smile and a well-aimed flirtatious comment.
"Great party," Gwen said, feeding Rhys a piece of fruit.
"Sure is," Jack agreed, back to swaying to the music that could still be heard, now that he was standing in one place once more. "I'm glad we came." He bumped his hip against Ianto's, and Ianto couldn't help but rolling his eyes; however he did return the nudge.
"Do you both travel much?" Rhys asked, once his mouth was empty.
"We do now," Jack said, glancing at Ianto. The look in his husband's eyes warned the younger man that Jack was totally up to no good.
"Just what do you two do for a living?" Gwen inquired, holding out a bite-sized sausage to her own husband.
"Brain surgery," Jack answered, managing to pull off the bald-faced lie with aplomb.
Ianto just smiled. Ever since their retirement, Jack's inner conman had come back to the fore, and it was funny to watch him spin these incredible tales to incredulous acquaintances.
"That's a challenging field," Gwen answered, looking a bit awestruck.
"I just had to give it up though," Jack went on. "The racket was really getting to me…"
"Jack – " Ianto tried to intervene before things got out of hand.
"I was treating patients with severe injuries to….the patella," his husband ignored the implicit warning, as he tapped a random place on his forehead, "right here…you get whacked there, you start walking around in circles, losing all sense of direction…"
"I read about that," Gwen answered, totally enthralled.
"You did." Jack looked a bit surprised by that. Ianto could tell Jack was barely keeping the conversation serious, but his husband was too deep in to stop now. "Well, the pressure started getting to me…my hands started to shake, and I was dropping scalpels everywhere…."
Rhys grinned. "Oi, somebody's pulling our legs!"
Jack started to laugh. "I almost had you, didn't I?"
Gwen, who had previously been listening with rapt attention, looked like she was going to choke, but after a second began to laugh as well. "Oh come on," she teased. "What do you two really do?"
"Well, actually," Ianto spoke up, "we're in Special Ops. Were in Special Ops. We're retired now." It had been Torchwood's cover story for so long, saying it just seemed right.
"And that's the truth," Jack added, smiling impishly.
They stayed at the party for a little while longer, until both babies started getting a bit grumpy. The two couples decided to walk back to their hotel, which wasn't that far; by the time they'd gotten back, it had gone dark.
Jack was loving every minute. Retirement suited both himself and Ianto; if someone would have told him even five years ago that he'd be traveling the world with his son and husband he would have scoffed at the idea. Back then, he'd been in a century-long holding pattern, waiting for the Doctor to show up so he could finally get the answers he'd so desperately needed.
Who would have thought that the pursuit of those answers would have given him insight into something he'd never even considered before? That the man who now walked beside him down a darkened New Orleans street would be the one to travel beside him through his very long life?
How ironic, that he would find the one person who would love him unconditionally so far from his own time and home?
He pushed the pram, answering a question of Gwen's that he'd actually barely heard. "It really was great," he enthused, getting his head back into the conversation, "I just love crashing parties."
"You mean, you didn't know those people?" Gwen squawked.
"They didn't know us, either," Ianto replied, chuckling.
"You guys are too much," Rhys snorted.
"You haven't seen anything yet," Jack said, waggling his eyebrows suggestively.
"I'm sure we've seen quite enough," the other man commented, not rising to Jack's baiting.
"Behave," Ianto admonished lightly, as they turned into the foyer of the small hotel they were staying in. It was all brick and wrought iron, and in ways put Jack into a somewhat nostalgic mood.
"You weren't saying that last night!" Jack pouted.
That caused Gwen to giggle, and Rhys to roll his eyes.
"Oh Jack," Ianto said, stopping once they were inside, "we're out of formula."
"And you just remembered that now?" Jack asked, one eyebrow raised.
"No, but since we decided to crash a party earlier in the day, when I thought we might go shopping instead…"
The immortal knew Ianto was teasing him; he'd been just as interested in going to that gathering as Jack had been. "Well then, why don't I take Ianto Gareth – "
"Gareth Ianto," his husband corrected, almost absently.
"Ianto Gareth," Jack re-corrected, "and get some?" He twirled the pram around, heading back outside. "Good night, folks," he said to the Williamses as he left.
"So," Gwen asked, as she took a seat on the upper floor veranda, "is his name Ianto Gareth, or Gareth Ianto?"
Ianto rolled his eyes. "We can't decide," he answered truthfully. "I personally think it's the height of hubris to name a child after his father…or one of his fathers, I should say. But Jack pretty much decided that we were going to name our son after me."
"You didn't have a say in it?" Rhys looked surprised, from his own seat. He was pushing and pulling Carys' own pram, in an effort to get the little girl to sleep.
"The…surrogate we used went into premature labor while I was out of town," the younger man answered quietly, trying to word the story in a way that the Williamses could believe. There was no way he was going to say that Jack himself had carried their son, nor was he going to admit that he'd been in London at the time Jack had gone into labor trying to stop an alien race from stealing ten percent of the world's children. That had been a mess, and it hadn't helped that Jack had been angry at having to stay in the Hub in order to hide his advanced pregnancy, although it had saved him from a rather nasty assassination attempt…Owen was still bitching about Jack's hissy fit to this day.
"So," he continued, "by the time I got back into town, our son had been born and Jack had put 'Ianto Gareth' on the birth certificate."
"That was rather high-handed of him," Gwen remarked.
"I dunno," Rhys mused. "I'd think I'd be honored, personally. I mean, that Jack loves you enough to name your son after you."
Ianto hadn't thought of it that way. "I suppose." He stood. "I'm heading back to our room. Good night, you two."
Jack took a shortcut down the alley, knowing that the store was on the next block and not wanting to take the long way around.
He whistled as he walked, Ianto Gareth's gurgling a happy counterpoint. He'd once swore he'd never get pregnant again, but that was before he'd met and fallen for a certain gorgeous Welshman who'd managed to sneak completely under his radar and to take up residence in his life as if he'd always been there.
It hadn't always been easy – they'd had plenty of fights, and chances were they'd have plenty more in the future – but Jack was quite possibly happier than he'd ever been in his very long life.
He was so lost in thought that he almost walked right into the pair of muggers who'd stepped in front of him, blocking his way out.
Jack gave them his patented smile, hoping to charm his way out of this situation. "Relax boys," he said, "the baby won't hurt you."
One of the muggers stepped forward, opening a switchblade with an audible snick. Jack stifled a sigh, not really wanting to get into it with these two – and they barely looked like they were out of American high school, let alone on the way to a criminal career.
"This is a real baby," Jack added, as he pulled the pram back toward him a bit. Okay, it appeared that levity wasn't going to solve anything. He sighed. "Look, I don't want any trouble."
"Hand over your wallet, and your watch," the second mugger ordered, brandishing his own knife.
There really wasn't anything for it. Jack didn't want to risk Ianto Gareth getting hurt.
He carefully reached into his back pocket, pulling his wallet out. He tossed it underhanded, and the one on the right – the one who hadn't spoken as yet – caught it easily.
"Come on," the speaker demanded, waving his knife. "The watch, too."
"Look," Jack said, trying to bargain, "it was an anniversary present. Can't you just take the wallet?" He really didn't want to give up the watch; it meant a lot to him.
"The watch!" the first assailant barked, taking a menacing step forward.
Jack stifled a sigh. He knew Ianto would forgive him for losing it, if it meant trouble was averted. So, he carefully removed it from his right wrist, tossing it over.
But his jacket sleeve rode up, revealing his Vortex Manipulator. And the muggers saw it.
"And the other thing," the first kid snapped, making a gesture toward Jack's other wrist.
"Look, we had a deal," the older man sighed. "You commit a felony, and I get to go. You have what you asked for; this is of absolutely no value to you." He couldn't risk them getting their hands on it; although Jack knew they would never get it to work, it was still the idea of that future tech getting into ignorant hands. He couldn't allow it.
The boy on the right stepped forward, waving his knife even faster. "Take it off."
"If only Ianto were saying that to me…" Jack moved around to put himself in front of the stroller, putting himself in front of his son, in order to protect him. "I can't give this to you. Just take my wallet and watch, and go."
The mugger who had his watch and wallet got up into Jack's face. "Take it off…now!"
These kids were too stupid to recognize the danger Jack presented. It was a shame; these would-be hoods probably wouldn't live to see twenty.
Jack sent him to the damp pavement with a single right cross.
A flurry of blows later, and both boys were down. It had been pitifully easy to take them both out. Jack sighed, stepping over the inert bodies to get to the carriage, in order to check on Ianto Gareth.
The baby was fine; in fact, he was giggling up a storm. "Did you find the silly muggers funny too, big guy?" he cooed, pulling him from the pram and hugging him.
Jack heard the scuff of shoe on concrete, and without looking he whipped the stroller up and around, catching one of his would-be assailants across the face. Blood fountained from the kid's nose, but the idiot kept right on coming, brandishing his switchblade like it was some sort of sword.
The pram took all the knife damage; it made an excellent shield. The mugger didn't get close enough to hurt either Jack or Ianto Gareth, and it only took about three good hits with the pram's frame to put the kid down for the count.
Jack sighed. Ianto really was going to kill him…
Ianto had just gotten out of the shower when he heard the door to the suite open. He slipped on the complimentary robe, and entered the lounge just in time to see Jack prop the pram up against the end of the sofa.
He raised an eyebrow. "I thought you were going out for formula?"
"Oh. Sorry, completely slipped my mind." Jack carried their son past, and into the bedroom where the travel cot had been set up. Ianto watched as his husband placed Gareth Ianto down, then prepared a bottle.
"Were you daydreaming?" he asked lightly.
"Obviously," Jack answered.
The slightly sour tone in the older man's voice had alarm bells ringing in Ianto's mind. He glanced back toward where the carriage had been set…and his eyebrows went up.
"Jack? What happened to the pram?"
He didn't get an answer. What he did get was the undeniably cute scene of Jack feeding Gareth Ianto his bottle. He leaned on the door jamb, the better to watch his husband taking care of their son.
"It's a bad world out there, sweetheart," he heard Jack whispering to their child. "But you, me and Tad are gonna make it better."
Ianto's heart made a little pleasurable/painful lurch in his chest, and he smiled softly, knowing he'd remember this moment throughout all his long life.
Jack had managed to get away with not telling Ianto what had happened, knowing his husband would get into a right snit if he knew about the attempted mugging. He took off the jacket he'd been wearing and rolled up his sleeves, as he walked slowly out onto the balcony of their second-floor suite. Behind him, he could hear Ianto saying goodnight to Ianto Gareth – and they really needed to settle the name thing soon, he just couldn't understand why Ianto was being so stubborn about it.
He touched the watch he'd retrieved from the alley. It had been a gift from Ianto on their first anniversary, and to say he treasured it would have been an understatement. He was glad he'd been able to get it back as well as his wallet.
It would have been easy to have just let the pair take both, as long as his son was safe. He knew Ianto would have understood the loss of the watch if it meant no harm had come to either of them. But there'd been no way he could have let them take his Vortex Manipulator; even though it was mostly broken, that sort of technology simply couldn't get into the wrong hands. Otherwise he would have just walked away.
"Did you see a gentleman with a baby stroller?"
Jack looked down toward the street; a woman and a man were talking to one of the hotel employees, who was helpfully pointing out that yes, he'd just seen Captain Harkness-Jones come in…
He headed back into the room, to Ianto's, "Jack? What did happen to the pram?"
"Better put something on," he ducked the subject, walking purposefully past. "The police are on their way up."
"The police?" He could hear the sharpness creep into Ianto's accent. "Why? What have you done?"
Jack didn't answer, but wondered why it seemed Ianto always was blaming him when something bad happened. He made it to the door and had it pulled open just as the woman had her hand raised to knock. She was an attractive, dark-skinned woman of a type Jack might have gone for, before he'd met Ianto of course.
Captain Harkness-Jones?" she asked, having been caught flat-footed by the door opening so quickly.
Jack favored her with one of his megawatt smiles. "That's me."
"I'm Lieutenant Kathy Swanson, New Orleans Police Department." She held up her badge. "This is my partner, Sergeant Andy Davidson."
A red-haired man popped his head around the door frame, holding his own badge up. "Good evening, sir."
"May we come in?" Swanson asked politely.
"Certainly." Jack stood aside to let them enter.
The two policemen glanced around the room as they entered. Jack did too, hoping there was nothing incriminating…oops.
The damaged pram was still leaning against the side of the couch.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Ianto enter the room. He was now wearing jeans and a button-down shirt, and was managing to show a distracting amount of chest hair. He was also barefoot, which also did things to Jack's libido that should be illegal.
"This is my husband." Jack introduced, "Ianto Harkness-Jones."
Ianto favored both cops with smiles as Jack introduced them. "Please excuse my state of undress; I wasn't expecting the police at this hour." He waved them to seats.
They each took one of the chairs, as Jack and Ianto sat on the sofa. "What can we do for you?" Ianto asked politely.
It always amazed Jack at just how unflappable his husband could be. Who else would be sitting there, calm as you please, with the police unexpectedly appearing at their door?
"We do hate to bother you both this late," Swanson began, "we're undercover on a series of tourist muggings – "
"Undercover?" Ianto interrupted – also politely, Jack noted. "I would have thought a lieutenant would have more important things to do."
Jack almost growled at how the Welshman pronounced the woman's rank.
Swanson actually preened at the praise. Good job, Jack thought.
"After Katrina," Davidson answered, "we've been working hard to get tourism back up to the way it was, and folks getting knifed in the French Quarter annoys the hell out of the Tourism Commission."
Ianto looked as if he wanted to say something, but didn't. Jack could take a guess as to what it was, and he realized that he actually missed walking in on Ianto behind the counter of the Tourist Information Center back in Cardiff. Maybe he had a previously unknown counter kink…
"There was an attempted mugging about a half a block from here, a little over ten minutes ago," Swanson went on.
"Really?" Jack asked, trying to put on his innocent face…which apparently didn't fool Ianto, judging from the stare he was currently getting from the younger man.
"The victim got away."
"You wouldn't know anything about that?" Swanson asked, her dark eyes meeting Jack's blue ones.
The older immortal held her stare. "No…should I?"
"You match the description we got of the intended victim…a man with a baby stroller."
There was a witness? Jack hadn't seen…oh shit, there'd been a homeless woman, and in fact he'd given her some money from his recently retrieved wallet.
"And we have another witness saying she saw the man enter this hotel," Davidson added.
"The desk clerk said it was you," Swanson put in.
"Well, that certainly narrows it down, doesn't it?" Jack didn't dare look at Ianto; he had this feeling that he'd literally be dead if he did.
The police officers both glanced at each other. "Were you involved in an attempted mugging this evening, Captain Harkness-Jones?"
Jack wanted to roll his eyes. These two were amateurs when it came to interrogation. "No, don't think so."
There was silence for a few moments, then Davidson looked at Ianto. "Excuse me, Mr. Harkness-Jones, but do you care to make any comment?"
Jack did glance at his husband then. Ianto had turned to regard Jack, and there was something in the younger man's eyes that spoke of danger…and completely turned Jack on. He couldn't wait til these cops were gone, so he could see just what sort of punishment his husband had in mind.
Then Ianto smiled slightly. "No," he said, his accent a little thicker than usual, "not at this precise time."
No, Ianto would wait until they were alone, and then Jack would be in serious trouble.
Swanson sighed. "May I see some I.D., please?"
Jack rose. "Sure." He pulled out the Welsh driving license he still carried, even though neither one had set foot in Wales in about seven months.
He handed it to Swanson, and Davidson looked over the woman's shoulder to see it. "That's a good picture."
"I don't take any other kind." Jack could practically feel Ianto's eyes rolling at that.
"What do you do for a living?" Swanson asked, as she pulled a PDA from her pocket and began taking down Jack's license information. The older man was suddenly very glad for his husband's superior identification-making skills.
"I'm a Dyson salesman," Jack lied glibly. "I don't know what sort of vacuum you have, but the Dyson is the biggest sucker of them all." He added a leer to the end of his spiel, which didn't seem to make Ianto very happy, judging from the facepalm.
"Are you here on business?" Davidson asked. "You're an awful long way from home if you are."
"No, we're on vacation," he answered, getting a bit tired of the third degree. He just wanted to get them out of the room so he could see just what sort of trouble he was in.
"How long are you staying?"
He glanced at his husband. "Oh…about a month. Maybe a month and a half." Ianto nodded his agreement.
"Isn't that kinda long for a vacation?" the lieutenant inquired.
Jack crossed his arms, stifling his sigh. "Is it?"
Davidson leaned forward. "Look, if you know something and are afraid to say anything, we can offer you full protection."
He felt Ianto stiffen beside him, then start shaking slightly. It was a sure sign that his husband was trying hard not to laugh.
"Thanks," Jack said, trying to sound grateful, "but I don't know anything."
Both cops stood up, Swanson handing back Jack's license. "Thank you, sir. Here's my card, in case you change your mind."
Jack stood to let them out. "Thanks."
Davidson was out the door, and Swanson not far behind, when she suddenly turned back around. "You know, that baby stroller's taken quite a beating." She indicated the poor destroyed pram, and knocked Jack's hope that it had gone unnoticed.
He grinned. "Baggage handlers," he answered.
Swanson favored him with a look that plainly said she knew he was lying, and that he knew she knew. Then she left, bidding both men a good night.
Jack had barely gotten the door shut when a pillow hit him in the back of the head. He turned to face a livid Ianto, who was now standing.
"Let me see if I understand this clearly," the Welshman said softly, which was a sure sign of danger. "You took our child into a knife fight?"
"It was a fair fight," Jack protested. "There were two of them, and two of us."
"Jack, how could you?" He stalked toward the older man until he was within touching distance…which also meant punching distance.
"It wasn't my idea! Besides, you should have seen them…complete amateurs. Biggest risk was I'd fall down laughing and hurt myself." He explained what happened. "And I couldn't let them get my Vortex Manipulator; you know that."
Once the story was over, his husband simply stood there, not saying anything. His blue eyes were hard and the disappointment in them almost had Jack on his knees begging for forgiveness. He'd known Ianto wouldn't have taken this well, especially where their son was concerned; Ianto Gareth was the number one reason they'd retired from Torchwood in the first place; even though neither man could actually die, they hadn't wanted to raise their son around that sort of danger.
Then Ianto turned and headed back toward the bedroom, still silent. Jack's heart sank; if his husband was giving him the silent treatment, then chances were he'd be sleeping on the sofa tonight.
He just couldn't let it lie like that. He came up behind Ianto, putting his arms around the younger man's waist. "I'm sorry," he whispered. "I won't do it again."
Ianto didn't say anything, but he didn't pull away, either…which was a good sign.
"This is Chapter Two," he went on, "where Jack and Ianto have a child and lead a normal life." He really wanted Ianto to forgive him. There was a lot he could deal with, but his husband being mad at him wasn't one of them.
Ianto leaned to the side a bit, so he could look Jack in the eye. "You forgot the formula."
The next morning, Ianto and Jack – with son – had breakfast at a nice little café just down from their hotel. Ianto wasn't nearly as upset with Jack anymore, and although he did understand why his husband had fought the muggers off, there was still their child to consider. Gareth Ianto wasn't immortal, not like Jack and himself, and anything could have happened to him.
He decided it all came down to trust. If he couldn't trust Jack to look after their child, then what was the point of everything they were doing? Ianto had to trust him to protect Gareth Ianto, and he did.
They arrived back at their hotel later that morning, after Ianto had insisted they pick up the formula that Jack had got distracted into forgetting the night before. They each had one hand on the carrier that swung between them, their boy giggling at the movement.
But, as they left the landing and moved onto their floor, Ianto noticed something wrong.
The door to their suite was slightly open.
Ianto glanced at Jack; the older man had noticed as well, a serious expression replacing the carefree joy that had been on his face before. Jack nodded; Ianto unhooked the small cubby in the back of the carrier, bringing out a very small alien weapon that Jack had claimed reminded him of the Noisy Cricket from "Men in Black". It was a very powerful stun gun, and the younger man had insisted that they carry at least something with them most of the time. Jack hadn't liked the gadget, preferring his Webley, but concealing that gun had been problematical at best. It was currently in their luggage, along with the greatcoat. After all, there was no way they were leaving Jack's coat back in Cardiff…
Together, the two men crept toward their door, Ianto holding the weapon and Jack the bag with the formula as well as the baby carrier. There was an ornate loveseat against the wall just before their room; Jack gently set the carrier and groceries down beside it, so Gareth Ianto would be out of danger.
"Sh…stay put, big guy," Jack murmured, making Ianto smile.
The young man kept heading down the hallway, making no noise at all. He stopped just at the door, risking a peek inside.
Jack stood next to him, shoulders brushing. "One man on the couch," Ianto whispered. "Reading. I can't get a good look at his face, though, it's hidden by the newspaper he's holding."
"A literate burglar?" Jack murmured in his ear. "How refreshing."
Ianto rolled his eyes. Trust Jack to go into a situation joking. "Go for the far wall," he said, "I'll cover you."
Jack moved into position on the far wall, as Ianto counted down. When he reached one, he pulled the door open all the way, and the older man flew into the suite, launching himself at the man on the sofa, getting a faceful of newsprint for his trouble as well as sending the piece of furniture flipping onto its back.
Ianto moved in behind his husband, aiming the stun gun at the newspaper-covered pair on the floor. There was something familiar about their intruder…
"Jack!" came a choked cry.
Ianto recognized the voice at the same time Jack apparently did; he released the choke hold on their prisoner's throat, then pushed the paper away. "Doctor!" Jack exclaimed. "How're you doing?"
"I'd be fine if you weren't on top of me!"
"That's not what Ianto says," Jack quipped, getting to his feet hurriedly, as Ianto went out to retrieve the baby. By the time he got back with the carrier and the formula, the Time Lord was back on his feet, and the couch upright.
Ianto shook his head. While he really didn't care for the Doctor all that much due to his treatment of his husband – and the two of them had had words on the subject – he did recognize that Jack needed the alien in his life, and accepted that he'd be popping in whenever he felt like it. Although, the Welshman did tolerate this regeneration a lot better than the last one. "Where are Amy and Rory?" he asked, taking Gareth Ianto from the carrier and setting him in his playpen. "Should we be expecting them as well?"
"No, it's just me this time," the Time Lord answered. He plunked himself down on the floor next to the playpen and proceeded to make funny faces at the baby, who just laughed at it all. Smart boy, Ianto thought uncharitably.
"Did we ever thank you for the crib blanket?" Jack asked, watching his oldest friend make a complete fool out of himself.
"No Jack," Ianto corrected. "Her Majesty sent the crib blanket. The Doctor sent the barnyard playset."
"You sent that? Aw…did you know those little sheep actually 'bah'?"
That made Ianto laugh. "Jack plays with it more than our son does."
Gareth Ianto grabbed the Doctor's bowtie and refused to let go. "I have a question for you both – "
"The answer is no," Jack cut in, as Ianto cleared his husband's knitting supplies from the table in order to make room.
"You haven't heard the question yet!" the Time Lord exclaimed, trying to wrestle his tie back and finally giving it up as a lost cause. The baby giggled, promptly stuffing the red material into his mouth and getting it nice and slobbery.
"The answer is still no," Ianto sat down.
"Whatever you want to bully us into, we're not interested," Jack added, joining Ianto at the table. "We're off the field assignment list for the foreseeable future."
"We're retired," Ianto corrected, squeezing Jack's hand. He was actually feeling quite proud of his husband, since Jack had serious issues about telling the Doctor 'no' about anything. "We had a nice party. You were there."
"And you said," the Doctor replied, getting up off the floor, "at that same party, I might add, that if there ever was a critical situation, you could be called upon to help."
"Not during the first eighteen months was the agreement," Jack said.
"That's right," Ianto added. "The first eighteen months are the biggest time for the baby's development and we intend to – "
He was cut off by a file landing on the table in front of him.
Ianto really didn't want to open that file. He had the sinking feeling that, once he did, they would be committed to whatever mad scheme the Doctor was hatching, and that was the last thing he wanted. He wanted a quiet retirement, then when Gareth Ianto was old enough for university then they might consider going back to work for Torchwood. And that was if they only had one child. He and Jack had been discussing more at some point, and honestly all Ianto wanted to spend this time with his family. He knew they'd get bored sometime within the next century anyway, and it wasn't like the Doctor wasn't going to be around then…or Torchwood for that matter.
Ianto opened the file.
"Jesus!" He couldn't help the exclamation.
"What is it?" Jack asked, leaning over his shoulder, and once he got a look he said something in what Ianto knew was a word in his native tongue that he understood to be very uncomplimentary.
"Cyber-control module," the Doctor said – somewhat unnecessarily, Ianto thought. If anyone was familiar with such things, it was him.
Shit. The Doctor had him, and that damned alien had known it from the moment he'd arrived. It made Ianto hate him just a little bit more for it.
"What happened?" Jack asked, descending into 'captain' mode for the first time in months.
"It was being housed at UNIT's secure facility in London," the Time Lord answered. "And, for your information, that's not a Lumic controller…it was recovered from an aborted invasion back in the 1960's. This is this universe's genuine article. It was stolen a couple of days ago. UNIT thinks it was alien organized crime…but Toshiko's positive it was John Hart."
"Hart? Oh, hell no!" Jack got up from the table and began to pace. "We're so not interested!"
"Jack – "
"Don't 'Jack' me, Doctor! You know that bastard was partially responsible for destroying a third of Cardiff, for burying me under the city for two thousand years, and for – " Jack swallowed back the words that Ianto knew were on the tip of his tongue.
"He's responsible for throwing me into a Rift Storm," Ianto continued softly. "The same Rift Storm that made me immortal." He could remember it like it was yesterday: the pain, the fear, the feeling of being torn apart and put back together so many times Ianto sometimes wondered why he was still sane. And John Hart couldn't even blame Grey for it, like he could all the other acts of terrorism he'd created; this had all been down to Hart being jealous that Jack was his, and wanting to get the person he considered his primary rival out of the way.
"I won't let him anywhere near my family, Doctor." Jack's face was thunderous.
"You said you'd help!" the Doctor sounded like he was whining.
"Hart is a psycho. I won't risk our son, and that's final!"
"If that controller gets out there, it won't just be your family in danger, Jack. It'll be the entire galaxy…or even the universe. No one's children will be safe."
"That's a low blow," Ianto growled, wanting more than anything to give into the urge to introduce the Time Lord to his right fist…the hard way.
"Look," the Doctor backpedaled a bit, "all you have to do is find him. The Shadow Proclamation will do the rest. They have several warrants out for Hart, and they'll be able to take better care of the controller than UNIT could."
"But the Judoon can't set foot on Earth, it's a class five planet," Jack argued.
"All it has to be is neutral territory, you know that. And that can be easily arranged." The Doctor sighed. "Look, when you're finished…I'll take you somewhere. I know! Planet Disney. That should help with the postnatal bonding!" He practically bounced on his toes, which to Ianto was Doctor-speak for I want to go too!
But Ianto wasn't about to make it easy. "No, that's not enough." He removed the bowtie from his son's mouth, handing the sodden thing back to its owner.
"How about I throw in Barcelona?" The Time Lord was sounding a bit desperate. "The planet, not the city!" He stuffed the tie into his pocket, making Ianto inwardly squirm.
Jack seemed quite content to follow Ianto's lead; the younger man knew that Jack really didn't want to go after Hart, but it needed to be done. And really, Jack Harkness was the best person to bring in John Hart.
"Not enough," Jack put in, picking up the baby and settling him into his arms. "I made a solemn promise to Ianto – that family would come first."
"I want a reference," Ianto said, trying to hide his smirk.
"A what?" the Doctor asked, the question sounding almost like a squeak.
"A reference," Ianto reiterated. "To be used later, to get Gareth Ianto into the best University. I know you have connections, Doctor, and I want this to happen." He smirked. "Plus babysitting duty while Jack and I visit the Vegas Galaxies on our tenth anniversary…of course, you'll be taking us, and all expenses paid. That's including what you've already offered. Oh…and an apology to Jack, for your last regeneration trying to set him up with that sailor while we were visiting the "Star Wars" exhibition in Las Vegas. Really, that was completely crass."
Jack was looking at Ianto with something akin to awe. "Damn, Ianto…I never knew you were this mercenary…it's really hot."
The Doctor stared at him as if he'd never seen him before. Oh, Ianto was getting so much enjoyment out of this. "Wait…I thought it was Ianto Gareth?"
"No changing the subject. Going once…"
"This is blackmail!"
"Going twice." He joined Jack, reaching over and tickling Gareth Ianto, making the boy squeal.
"But really, Jack looked so sad and alone – "
"He was sad because the 'Millennium Falcon Experience In 3D' was closed for maintenance. No excuse to set a married man up with a bit on the side. Not that I don't trust Jack implicitly, but it was in very bad taste."
"I didn't know he was married then! Besides, you ended up hiring Alonso for Torchwood anyway!"
"And whose fault was that? Both Martha and Jack tried to reach you on that phone you're supposed to have, and you never answered. Oh, and that's something else you should apologize for: not coming to the ceremony and upsetting Jack. You're the only family he has left, you should have made the effort." He wasn't going to mention anything about bringing Alonso Frame into Torchwood; it had been Tosh's call, after all. And he certainly wasn't going to thank the Doctor for 'accidentally' introducing them to a young man who was shaping up to be a top-notch operative…not when that hadn't been the Time Lord's intention in the first place.
The Doctor looked absolutely defeated. "And, if I do all this, you'll help out with Hart?"
Ianto simply let his smirk speak for him. Yes, he knew it was blackmail, but he didn't care. The Doctor had come crashing into their retirement for his own purposes. He didn't owe the alien any sympathy.
"Would it do any good to ask that you keep a low profile?" the Time Lord sighed.
"Won't work in this situation," Jack answered. "Not if we want to get John's attention."
"We'll need some equipment," Ianto added. "Tosh'll know pretty much what to send."
"I'll fetch it," the Doctor promised. "I do have one lead…a man named Jones – "
"No relation I hope," Jack leered at Ianto; the Welshman rolled his eyes.
The Doctor sighed dramatically. "Can't you two be serious?"
"We are," the older immortal answered. "This is us…serious."
"Go on," Ianto urged, elbowing his husband in the side not currently being used as a prop for their son.
"Jones works at a local electronics lab; in fact, I wouldn't doubt if Hart has people all over, doing his spying for him."
"John's probably spun all sorts of stories to get them to go along with him," Jack agreed. "He's good at that sort of thing."
The Time Lord nodded in agreement. "I also know he's set up shop somewhere in the Delta, but he's staying pretty well hidden."
Jack nodded. "Probably some sort of cloaking tech, if he's hiding from your more sophisticated scans."
"How did he get the controller away from UNIT?" Ianto inquired, wanting them to move it along.
"From what they've gathered, Hart bribed a colonel to steal the controller; a guy named Sanchez. Apparently he got a bit nervous around security and set off some sort of grenade on his way out. They might never have figured out the controller was gone until it was too late otherwise." The Doctor looked at both of them. "I don't have to tell either of you to be careful, do I?"
Ianto barely restrained himself from rolling his eyes. "We know how dangerous John Hart is, believe me."
"You know…I can take the baby if you want…"
The younger man was actually touched by the offer. "If Hart somehow knows about us and Gareth Ianto, then if we start showing up without him it could make Hart suspicious. He's paranoid as it is, we don't need to add to it. As much as I want to take you up on that…"
"I agree, as much as it pains me," Jack said. "I'm sure he doesn't know we're in the area, but the more we make it look like coincidence, the more relaxed he's gonna be."
Ianto could tell that Jack was already thinking of a way to find Hart. He trusted that, whatever the plan, it would keep them all safe.
The Time Agent now known as Captain John Hart really didn't like Louisiana, for various reasons.
He particularly didn't care for the abandoned factory he'd taken up residence in. It was practically in the swamp, the mosquitoes were hell, and it was so humid he had to drink water…water! If he'd drank what he wanted to – like the case of hypervodka he'd brought to Earth with him – then he'd have run the risk of killing himself by dehydration. Not quite the way he wanted to die. Now, if it was death by sex, well…that would be fun. He wouldn't have minded that.
Plus he had to lie low, if he didn't want the Shadow Proclamation on his arse, and not in a good way. Goddess knew, he'd racked up enough felonies to have them permanently after him, but this job he really didn't want to mess up. Selling the cyber controller to the highest bidder would mean he could retire to the Vegas Galaxies for at least a couple of years, and he didn't want to risk that. And having the auction on the planet where the tech had been stolen from was a stroke of genius. It meant that those damned Judoon couldn't come down and make things ugly for him. Hell, it didn't matter to him if they picked up the winning bidder later, just as long as John got his money.
The strong-arm types he had working for him were pretty easy on the eyes, too. Okay, so Earth did grow them attractive, but that didn't mean the ex-Time Agent had to like it there.
Speaking of strong-arm types…two were currently escorting Colonel Sanchez into the room where John had set up his living quarters for the duration of his stay. "Colonel," he greeted, practically purring the man's rank, "nice to see you. Love the uniform, by the way." He'd managed to get the man into bed by their second meeting, which just proved that, no matter how backward this planet was, the inhabitants were still susceptible to the Hart charm.
Then he noticed that Sanchez wasn't walking all that steady. "And…you're limping. What the hell happened?"
The colonel passed off the reinforced case to one of John's flunkies, then came forward as quickly as he could. "Nothing I couldn't handle," he answered.
John about choked on the free-floating testosterone. "What happened?" he asked again, intending to get the truth. If the idiot had somehow jeopardized his plan…
"There was a change in checkpoint security. I had to use a grenade to get out, and caught some shrapnel." He sounded almost proud.
The flunky with the case – and John couldn't remember his name, but liked to call him Tight-Arse – was checking the contents; he nodded to indicate that Sanchez hadn't, in fact, completely screwed up.
"I see. And it didn't occur to you that that sort of behavior would get you noticed?" Oh why did he have to deal with stupid people?
Sanchez invaded his personal space. Normally, John wouldn't have minded, but he had this thing about screwing people with apparent IQ's less than his shoe size. "I know that thing is valuable," the UNIT colonel murmured. "That's why I took the risk to get it out of there."
John allowed a smirk to decorate his face. "And you did get it to me. Well done." He grabbed the man by his lapels and pulled him into a heated kiss.
Oh, it was too bad, what the man could do with his tongue…
It only took five seconds of contact before the poison lip gloss did its work.
John pulled back, then pushed Colonel Sanchez away. The UNIT man couldn't control his fall, and ended up on his back, wide eyes staring upward.
Captain John Hart watched as his pawn died. And, once that last breath was taken, he turned to his minions. "The colonel will no longer be working with us."
The sounds of the open market bustled around them. Jack had the privilege of reading from the file the Doctor had brought, and it wasn't at all interesting.
"Eugene Jones…2616 Magazine Street…Occupation: researcher, Dynagon Industries," he intoned, as Ianto was checking out the bananas in the stall they were currently standing in front of. "Boring life…boring guy."
He glanced over; Ianto looked engrossed in what he was doing, but Jack knew his husband well enough by now to know he was absorbing everything that Jack was saying. They'd been discussing plans to get John's attention, and going in through Jones seemed the best bet.
"Hey, Mr. Harkness-Jones!"
Both Ianto and Jack glanced toward the voice; it was Sergeant Davidson and Lieutenant Swanson, threading their way through the crowd.
"Lovely," Ianto murmured, as Jack slid the file down the back of the new pram they'd bought that morning, to replace the one Jack had destroyed the night before. "Can I Retcon them…please?"
Jack didn't respond; he didn't have to. He should have known the police would still be interested in the mugging last night, but he'd at least hoped they'd give him a couple of days' peace.
"Cute baby," Swanson said, leaning over the pram and making funny faces at Ianto Gareth. The boy seemed to enjoy it. "Boy or girl?"
"God, I hope so!" Jack quipped, earning an eye roll from his husband.
"He's a boy, lieutenant," Ianto answered, making Jack want to growl as he used Swanson's rank. He'd have to have his husband say it later on, when they were alone and Jack could attack him without garnering an arrest for performing lewd acts in public.
"Coffee?' he suggested instead, this time earning a smile from Ianto.
"I'd love an espresso," the younger man said.
Jack began pushing the carriage down the aisle, Ianto right beside him. Swanson and Davidson moved aside, but began to walk with them.
"Captain," Swanson began, "can we talk frankly?"
"Well sure, lieutenant." Damn, he just couldn't say it as sexy as Ianto could.
"Now, what you did to those two guys…I'm sorry, what did you say you did for a living?"
Jack knew she was trying to catch him out, and he decided to play along. "I'm an airline pilot."
"Thought you said you were a vacuum cleaner salesman?" She sounded vaguely triumphant.
"Well, if you knew…why'd you ask?"
Swanson didn't look very happy at that, and Jack couldn't care less. She seriously needed to go back to interrogation class, because what she'd been taught wouldn't work on a drugged-up Hoix.
They managed to curtail any more questioning until all four had been seated at a small café around the corner from the market. They each ordered a coffee, and the waitress was barely away from their table after bringing their drinks before Swanson was starting in again.
"What you did to those guys…that was on a professional level."
Jack grinned. He wasn't about to admit that he'd been given intense hand-to-hand combat training while back in the Time Agency. "Well, you know…growing up on the mean streets – "
"Mean streets?" Swanson scoffed. "You're from Lima, Ohio!" She made it sound like the capitol of Peru.
"It's pronounced Lie-ma, like the bean," Jack corrected, pretending irritation at the error. It covered the spike of humor he suddenly felt; Ianto had changed all of Jack's "paperwork" to show he that he'd come from that particular town when the older man had become addicted to Glee.
Ianto glanced at him, and Jack could read the smirk in his husband's eyes. Of course the very carefully planned back story for Captain Jack Harkness would hold up to the most stringent scrutiny; after all, Ianto had created it. "How did you know that?" the Welshman asked. Jack was pleased with just how surprised he sounded.
"I have a friend who works for the FBI," Swanson answered, looking and sounding a bit smug.
"She has hidden depths," Jack snorted, taking a drink of his coffee. It wasn't as good as Ianto's, but it would do.
"What else did you find out?" Ianto asked.
"Nothing about our sex life, I hope," Jack leaned toward his husband, leering.
"I'm going to blush," the younger man murmured, his shoulder rubbing against Jack's.
"You weren't blushing last night." Jack couldn't recall blushing being a part of what had happened last night. That was, of course, after his husband had finally accepted his apology about getting into that knife fight.
"Oh, I was." Ianto's voice went down nearly an octave, and did amazing things to Jack's libido. "I was blushing all over."
Jack leaned in even closer, his lips ghosting across Ianto's. "Oh yeah…" he breathed, pressing in for a kiss that quickly turned quite passionate, for them being in a public place.
The detective's strident voice cut through the very pleasant haze that kissing his husband usually caused in Jack's head. They broke apart, and the older man couldn't help but notice that Ianto was, indeed, blushing a bit.
"Who are you working for?" Swanson demanded. "Are you some sort of spy?"
"Why do they always assume you're the spy?" Ianto groused.
"Look, it doesn't have to go beyond me," the woman went on, seemingly not to have heard Ianto's complaint, although Jack did understand just what the younger man was getting on about. "I can help you…you can trust me."
Well, that comment pretty much meant that Jack wouldn't trust her. No one said that and really expected it, did they?
He decided a subject change was in order. "You know what's funny?"
"Funny 'ha ha' or funny 'strange'?" Ianto asked, catching his husband's change of mood in that way he had.
"Are you listening to me?" Swanson acted as is she was about to burst a blood vessel.
"That gray van over there…" Jack indicated the aforementioned vehicle, parked across the street. "It's been sitting there for about seven minutes now…with the engine running."
"So?" Swanson demanded hotly.
Jack just raised an eyebrow at her. "In front of a bank?"
With that, Jack stood. He gave Ianto a quick kiss, then began to walk toward the strangely acting van. He just managed to catch his husband saying, "C'mon, sweetheart…let's watch your daddy play Big Damn Hero…."
It was at times like this, that Jack really missed wearing his greatcoat. It would have added much more flash to his saving the day.
The police station Ianto found himself it wasn't half bad, as far as such things went. It bustled, and from what he could tell the police persons within all seemed to know what they were doing, which was nice when he compared it to some of the idiots who worked at Cardiff CID. The coffee was fairly dire, but that was to be expected. And the chair he found himself sitting it wasn't very comfortable. Well, at least they'd given him a private place in order to change Gareth Ianto while Lieutenant Swanson had been busily throwing Jack into a cell.
Sometimes he wondered why they bothered with saving the world at all.
Ianto bounced his son on his lap as Swanson ranted. She was quite good at it, but he was even better at ignoring her.
"Can we stop with the fun and games now?" She was in full flow, and Ianto was privately quite impressed. "Just who is your…husband, working for?"
He pretended that little gap wasn't there. What was it with people and not accepting that he and Jack were legal partners? All right, some of Jack's background was a bit dodgy, but really Ianto could only work with what he'd been given.
He was also a little bothered by the fact that both Swanson and Davidson seemed to be completely disregarding him as a threat. Certainly, Jack had all the swish of a hero, but didn't they know it was usually the quiet ones who worked behind the scenes for world domination? Not that Ianto would ever dream of taking over the planet…there was just too much work involved.
"I am outraged," he answered. "Jack single-handedly foils a bank robbery and you arrest him. Really, Lieutenant, that doesn't make a lot of sense."
Swanson slammed a hand down on her desk, rising out of her chair in a blatant attempt to intimidate Ianto by trying to loom over him. "You've got a lot of gall! Let me tell you something…we have him behind bars and that's where he's going to stay until somebody tells me exactly what he's doing in my city!"
"I really do think you're overreacting," Ianto answered, trying to sound conciliatory. "We're just here on vacation. Honestly, what sort of spy would bring a baby on an assignment?"
That seemed to be straw that broke Swanson's last hold on calm. "If you don't watch it, you're gonna find yourself in a cell too, baby or no baby!"
Ianto just raised an eyebrow at her. Legally she couldn't hold either of them, but the young man knew that wasn't about to stop her. She was like a dog with a bone…she wasn't about to give it up.
He was about to say something, when Davidson's voice popped up from the desk behind them. "Phone call, Lieutenant."
"I'm busy!" she snapped.
"Okay fine," Davidson said.
"I'm gonna ask you one more time, as politely as I can – "
"Sorry, ma'am," Davidson interrupted again, "but it's about Captain Harkness-Jones."
"Who is it?" she demanded. There was a blood vessel throbbing in her temple, and Ianto feared for her blood pressure. "The President?" The question was just absolutely laced with irony.
"Nope. The Queen of England." Was that a giggle in the policeman's voice?
Swanson sat down hard, her chair creaking in protest. Ianto simply smiled. Yes, Lizzie was such a good person to have in one's corner…
"Let me ask," Ianto said, as he and Jack were leaving the police station, "that stunt you pulled with the getaway car…was that part of Chapter Two, where Ianto and Jack lead a normal life?" He really didn't want to say just how turned on he'd been at the time, and that Jack had managed to pull off dashing even without the greatcoat, and wearing shorts. No, he wasn't about to encourage him…
"That's not fair!" Jack exclaimed, resting one hand over Ianto's, where it rested on the handles of the pram. "Why are you complaining about me having a little fun? Besides, there was zero risk factor."
"To you, maybe," Ianto pointed out. "But what about to the innocent bystanders? They were bank robbers, heavily armed and probably wired on some sort of recreational drug."
Jack brushed the objection off. "They were only focused on getting away. Besides, people in a hurry never look at the driver."
"I've never heard that one before," Ianto frowned.
"Actually, I just made it up. But it's true. And it's all part of my brilliant plan."
"Which brilliant plan?"
Jack reached into the back of the pram, where he'd stuffed Eugene Jones' personal file earlier. "Take a look at this…this Jones guy is worth a little spooking. So I was thinking, tomorrow we could…"
Ianto listened to the plan. He had to admit, it was quite brilliant.
Jack sat, relaxed, in an uncomfortable chair in the lobby at Dynagon Industries, a fancy digital camera – courtesy of Tosh's technical wizardry – sitting in his lap. He played a little air drum to a song that had gotten stuck in his head that morning as he'd taken a taxi to Dynagon, all the while watching the security cameras as they rotated to take in every corner of the seating area. One was just coming around to aim at him, and he gave it his megawatt smile, knowing it would take a perfect picture.
Which was what he was hoping it would do.
This was part of his plan. He knew he had to get John's attention, and what better way than to show up to visit with one of the ex-Time Agent's minions? If he played his cards right, it would get back to John that he was in the area, and that was exactly what Jack wanted. He wanted to throw the man off balance, to get him riled up enough that he might make a mistake and lead them to where he currently was.
To be honest though, Jack really didn't want to see John at all.
He would never have agreed if Ianto hadn't gone along with it. Not even for the Doctor would Jack purposely put his family in danger by engaging Captain John Hart. He'd nearly lost Tosh, Owen, and Ianto the last time Hart had been in Cardiff; even though John had been coerced for the most part, tossing Ianto into the Rift Storm that Gray had created hadn't been on his brother's list of "Things to do in Cardiff when you want Revenge". John had done that all on his own, because he couldn't face the fact that Jack had married Ianto and didn't want anything to do with him anymore.
Of course, John's actions had meant that Ianto would be around for as long as Jack would, so maybe he might pass along a bit of thanks as well. Like…not killing him when he got the chance.
The secretary kept casting looks in his direction, and Jack grinned and winked at her, although it was habit more than anything else. Ianto was always fine with Jack's flirting, as long as it didn't cross the line into something else. It didn't matter that his husband wasn't there. Jack was committed to Ianto for the long run, which in their case meant forever.
A head popped out from behind the reception desk, where Jack had seen a discrete entrance to the lifts. The man who followed the head was easily recognizable: it was Eugene Jones, and he looked about as innocuous as his photo in the file had intimated.
"You wanted to see me?" he asked, almost shyly.
Oh, Jack loved the shy ones. "Couldn't wait, handsome," he answered, standing and shaking the offered hand. "I'm James Harper, of the Chicago Tribune. I'm working on a story about possibly stolen UNIT technology. I was hoping for a comment."
Jones' face went ashen. "I…don't know what you mean…"
"Sure you do," Jack dropped his voice down, knowing it drove people nuts when he did…well, it did with Ianto.
"I…I can't possibly comment on anything like that!" he stuttered, taking a step back.
"Oh really? How'd you feel about a big front page photo of yourself then?" Suiting action to words, he whipped up the camera and began taking pictures of Jones with it. Not only would it give them an updated photo of the man, but it would also take readings and scan for possible alien technology signatures. Tosh was such a genius with tech.
If Jack had thought Jones was panicked before, that was nothing compared to the man once that first picture was taken. He paled even further – something Jack hadn't thought was possible – and threw up his hands to hide his features.
Jack ignored the hands and kept snapping. "Oh now…don't hide that pretty face! Let me see some skin!"
"Oh God!" Jones practically squeaked, still trying to duck away from the camera. "I…I think you should leave now!"
"If you're sure…" Jack brought the camera down, pouting for Jones' benefit.
"I'm sure!" With that, the man darted back behind the reception desk, and was gone from sight.
Jack winked at the woman at the desk as he left, congratulating himself on a job well done.
Everything had been going well for Captain John Hart.
Too well, in fact.
He should have known something would happen that would upset the proverbial apple cart.
That 'something' was a note that simply said "This man has been asking questions…Jones"…and a grainy security photo taken of a smiling Jack Harkness, wearing casual clothes and looking just as yummy as he had the last time Hart had seen him.
John broke the fax machine for bringing him such shitty news.
Then he called on his minions, to get them on Jack's trail.
Jack walked out of the classic records store, pushing Ianto Gareth and looking around for his wayward husband. Ianto had gone off somewhere else, and Jack had been expecting him when he'd finished his own shopping…which was a 45rpm recording by BB King. Ianto had gotten him an iPod for his non-birthday but Jack still preferred the sounds of albums, and more often than not would find treasures in little shops like this one. He'd branched out a bit from his 40's music, but that didn't change his choice in listening medium.
"See, sweetheart?" he knelt down beside the pram, tickling his son with the hand not holding the 45. "Tad was wrong…BB King did make children's records…"
"And your definition would be that, because it's small, it's for children?"
Jack glanced up, seeing Ianto standing there with several bags in his arms. He smiled warmly. "I see you found what you were looking for."
"And you did as well." The younger man stepped forward as Jack rose, greeting him with a chaste kiss. "You have anything you want particularly for lunch?"
"The Williamses said there's this great place for oysters, it's just down the street."
Ianto rolled his eyes fondly. "You just want oysters because they're rumored to be an aphrodisiac."
Jack leered. "Since when have we ever needed help with our sex life?"
"You do have a point."
"I do have them occasionally."
Jack snorted. "If I'd wanted to be insulted, I'd have called Owen." He wrapped his arm around Ianto's waist, to show he wasn't really offended.
Ianto leaned slightly into the touch. "And you know he'd do such a good job at it. He's still not over delivering Gareth Ianto in the middle of an alien incursion."
"Ianto Gareth," Jack corrected, as the family began their walk to the restaurant Rhys Williams had recommended.
His husband didn't dignify that with a response. "So, you think you spooked Jones enough?"
"Oh yeah," Jack answered. "I wouldn't be surprised if John knew I was in town already."
"And are we going to wait until Hart makes the first move?"
Jack didn't answer; instead he guided both Ianto and baby into a small eating establishment that had just enough ambiance for the immortal to feel romantic. A musician was strumming away on a guitar in one corner while a long bar took up one side of the room.
A waiter came up to them, smiling. "Would you like the dining room, or the garden?"
"Garden?" Jack asked, looking at Ianto.
They were pointed toward the back of the restaurant, where a pleasant walled garden complete with water feature had been set up. Jack settled them all at a table for two near the fountain, and couldn't resist taking Ianto's hand.
"This is really nice," he murmured.
"You're right. I'm glad we came here."
Another waiter came up, his ticket book out and ready. "What can I get for you folks?' he asked in a very nice Cajun accent.
"We've heard this is the place for oysters," Ianto said.
"That it is, sir."
Jack already knew he was going to tip nicely; the man wasn't even paying attention to the fact that he was stroking Ianto's hand and playing with the younger man's wedding ring. They'd gotten looks for doing things like that, and it irritated Jack to no end that this century was so backward. Anyone who didn't react was just fine in his book.
"Then we'll have six dozen oysters and two beers," Jack ordered, still playing with Ianto's hand.
"Yes sir, right away." The man grinned as he took their request.
Once he was gone, Ianto sighed. "You know I don't particularly care for American beer," he chided softly.
"Maybe it'll grow on you."
"Like a fungus?"
Jack chuckled. He glanced around the place; there was what appeared to be a birthday party in one corner, judging from the singing; and at another table…
"Did the waiter say if the oysters came with guns?"
"No, I think I'd remember that."
Jack kept his eyes on the four men at the next table…each pointing a particularly nasty gun in their direction. "Then I can't think much of the service in this place."
Ianto followed his gaze. "Looks like you were right about Hart knowing we're here…"
"Don't make any sudden moves," one of the gunmen warned.
"Why not?" Jack asked acerbically. "Is there a bee on me?"
"I don't see one," Ianto murmured.
"What's a sudden move?" Jack went on. "I never understood that."
"I don't either," Ianto said. "I think they watch too many cop shows on the telly."
The man who'd spoken was looking a bit put out. "I want you to get up from the table very, very slowly."
"Very, very…not just very?" Jack really didn't intend to wind them up, but there was just too much good material there.
"Jack," Ianto warned.
He looked at his husband; the younger man had a protective hand on the carriage handle, and had a worried look in his eyes. Jack couldn't blame him; while he and Ianto would just come back from bullet holes, there were a lot of innocent people in the place who could get hurt…and that didn't even include their own son.
Damnit…he hadn't expected John to move so fast…
"Do you remember what happened with that Blowfish at Luigi's, about two years ago?" he asked softly, raising his hands carefully.
"Yes, of course," Ianto answered, his eyes narrowing.
"Don't try anything stupid," the gunman warned.
"Are you sure you remember?"
"Pretty sure, Jack."
"All right…on the count of three…"
"I'm warning you," their assailant said, the tone in his voice decidedly nervy. The sound of guns being racked echoed across the space between the tables.
Jack only had time to count to two, before a waiter came out with a large tray.
He didn't get a chance to react, before Ianto was grabbing the tray and launching it toward the four gunmen. Jack followed up by throwing the entire table, which had the desired effect of scattering the four and actually taking one down for the count.
In the confusion, Jack grabbed the pram's handles. He and Ianto took off out of the place before any of the men could react to them disappearing.
Ianto closed the door leading to the room where Gareth Ianto was. "Like an angel. I, however, am going to have nightmares about gun fights tonight."
Jack looked at him from where he was seated on the couch. His husband was wearing pajama bottoms…while Ianto wore the top. It saved on laundry that way. He was looking way too serious, and Ianto knew that they were about to have a 'talk'.
"Here's what I think," Jack said as Ianto joined him, "I'll call the Doctor in the morning, and you and Ianto Gareth take a nice trip in the TARDIS. I'll call you when this is over."
Ianto rolled his eyes. "Please," he snorted. "Don't be an idiot, Jack. I'm not going anywhere."
"But I thought you wanted the normal life…"
"I do. But not without you." Ianto leaned in, pressing his lips against his husband's. Jack moaned into the kiss, and when the younger man stroked his tongue across Jack's lips, he was granted access to the other's mouth instantly.
A need for air finally broke them apart. "Besides," Ianto whispered into Jack's mouth, "God only knows what would happen to you if I wasn't around."
Jack hummed in agreement. "You do take good care of me." This time he initiated the kiss.
Ianto intensified it, pouring all of his passion and love for Jack into it. He pressed him back onto the sofa, his hands roaming over Jack's chest, tweaking nipples and stroking soft skin.
Jack eventually pulled away. "Let's not start something we can't finish – "
"Too late." Ianto ground his groin into Jack's, letting him feel the erection. And Jack wasn't in any better shape.
"I need to make a phone call." Jack moved out from under Ianto reluctantly, until he was standing.
"You're not calling the Doctor."
"No, I'm not. Promise." Jack headed into their bedroom, picking up the file on Eugene Jones. "We're in this together."
"Yes, we are." Ianto joined him, glad that he didn't have to be angry at Jack, not when he had other plans for the night.
"Who do you want to be: good cop, or bad cop?"
Jack pouted. "You're always bad cop anymore."
"That's because I'm better at it than you are," he answered, quirking an eyebrow in Jack's direction.
"Since you tried to interrogate that Nostrovite the night before our civil ceremony."
"That was hardly my fault! How was I supposed to know its mate had impregnated the registrar?"
"Maybe because she suddenly looked nine months pregnant when she'd been perfectly flat-stomached two weeks previously?"
Jack picked up the phone. "And just what are you doing, noticing a woman's abs before our partnership?"
"Like you didn't?"
"Okay…she was rather fit…"
"Who are you calling?" Ianto crawled into bed, as Jack dialed.
He waved the file in Ianto's general direction. Ah, Eugene Jones.
The man must have answered the phone, because suddenly Jack was speaking in the worst British accent imaginable. "Our organization has been penetrated," he practically jumped into the bed next to Ianto, "by what we know to be Torchwood," he pulled Ianto toward him, caressing his thigh under the pajama top, "meet me…" there was a pause, and Ianto took the opportunity to run his tongue around Jack's earlobe, "but of course. Two o'clock tomorrow, don't be late."
Jack hung up the phone, his full attention on Ianto. "So, tomorrow we gang up on Mr. Jones. You might want to find a lab coat…"
"A wh –" His question was cut off by Jack's tongue in his mouth.
"So," Jack murmured, once they'd come up for air once more, "you were saying, about you not being around…?"
"There's no telling what you might get up to." Ianto moved his hand, to cover Jack's clothed erection. "I have to look out for you."
"You do that so well…" Jack went to work on Ianto's neck, and the sensation of lips and tongue on his skin was driving him wild. "We wouldn't want anything to happen to me…"
"You might get hurt…"
"Badly hurt…" Somehow the pajama top he'd been wearing was gone. "Maimed, even."
"Jack…" Ianto didn't want to talk about it. His husband was doing things to him that shouldn't be allowed, and he wanted more.
"I might get decapitated," Jack went on, his voice a low growl as he explored Ianto's nipples. "Lose my head…" and a sudden grinding into Ianto's unclothed crotch was almost enough to make him come, there and then.
"I know what decapitated means," Ianto moaned, hands sliding under the pajama bottoms to stroke Jack's arse. "Kill the light…"
Jack made a lunge for the table lamp, and missed, knocking it to the floor in his haste.
"I meant turn it off," Ianto chuckled.
"What does it matter? It's off…" Jack went back to work on making Ianto come completely undone, and he didn't think of anything else the rest of the night.
Jones had told Jack that the usual meeting place was one of the local cemeteries, which seemed a bit morbid for Jack's taste. They arranged to leave Ianto Gareth at the Williams' for the day, then took one of the sightseeing trolleys to their destination.
Of course, Swanson and Davidson showed up.
This was getting ridiculous. Jack had hoped that the conversation with the Queen would have gotten the two cops off their backs, but that didn't seem to be the case. He should have listened to Ianto when he'd said he wanted to Retcon them.
He gave them a smile that he hoped was sincere as they approached.
"Well, hello there!' Swanson greeted. The two took seats across the aisle from them.
Jack was already working out a way to get away from them when they met Jones. "Are you following us?" he asked, hoping that he sounded cheerful.
"Why would we be following you?" Swanson's innocent act didn't work at all.
"Let me guess," Ianto's tone was so dry it would have parched a camel, "you're on your day off, and you decided to spend it together."
"Or else there's something else going on?" Jack waggled his eyebrows, hoping they'd get the innuendo.
Apparently they did; Swanson looked pissed off, and Davidson blushed faintly. "I can assure you, Captain, that that certainly isn't the case." The woman's voice had gotten downright frosty.
"Too bad, you make a nice couple."
That seemed to shut Swanson up for a while. Which was a good thing, because she was seriously beginning to get on Jack's nerves.
Surprisingly, it was fairly easy to distract the two police officers enough for Jack to 'fetch' Eugene Jones. All it took was a toy store and a life-sized baby doll that Ianto purchased.
The younger man kept Swanson and Davidson busy while Jack snuck out of the back of the toy store they'd chosen to enter. Ianto was a bit surprised, since they seemed so very interested in Jack, and weren't really giving much thought to Ianto himself…which Jack always did claim was a dangerous thing to do. In many ways, he could be much sneakier than his husband, even though Jack had been the inveterate conman for a long time. But there was the whole Lisa business and Ianto's true colors had been revealed. To this day, he was partly convinced that Jack hadn't either shot or Retconned him because the older man was somewhat in awe of what Ianto had been able to achieve.
And so, with the judicious use of a large box and an extremely helpful shopgirl , Ianto managed to give his husband the chance to duck out the back.
To say that Swanson wasn't happy would have been the understatement of the year.
They'd delayed Ianto just long enough that he knew Jack would have gotten back to their hotel room first, even with the added presence of their new 'guest'. As he entered the hotel, box in his arms, he was accosted by Gwen Williams. "Oh Ianto! Welcome back! Where's Jack?"
Ianto barely resisted rolling his eyes at her. "He's still got some more shopping to do," he dissembled.
That was when Gwen got a look at the box. "You're buying dolls for Ianto Gareth?"
"Gareth Ianto," he corrected by rote. "And no, it was something Jack asked me to get. Sometimes I think he's in his second childhood."
Gwen looked confused, but Ianto wasn't willing to give her the real reason for the life-sized baby doll. "Well, then I suppose you'd want to take Ian-Gareth Ianto with you? He's just inside with Rhys…"
"Thanks, Gwen, for looking after him." He really hadn't; he'd wanted to get their interrogation done first.
"Not a problem!" She beamed. "He's an angel!" She ducked back inside hers and Rhys' room, emerging moments later with a sleeping Gareth Ianto.
The young man managed to juggle both box and baby, and still get the key out and into their room lock. Ianto opened the door quietly, peering inside to see if Jack had set everything up.
He had, and he'd done a pretty good job. All the furniture had been covered by sheets, to make the lounge area look as if it hadn't been lived in for a while. All the area rugs had been taken up, leaving the bare floorboards visible. He'd even taken the globe from the overhead light fixture, so just the naked bulb cast harsh light over the area.
Jack winked as Ianto entered. His husband was sitting in straight-backed chair, opposite the bound, gagged, and blindfolded Eugene Jones. He was looking far too happy for Ianto's peace of mind, but he knew Jack well enough by now to realize it wasn't over the questioning of their 'guest'; it was after the interrogation that Jack would be looking forward to.
He tiptoed to the bedroom, putting Gareth Ianto down in their bed for the time being, rather than taking him into the other room where his crib was. Ianto set his burden down, then went to where the 'lab coat' was where he'd left it. As long as no one saw the back – which had the name of the hotel on it, and had been borrowed from one of the staff – he would be fine.
"Hey, gorgeous!" Jack called out…in Welsh. "Let's get this show on the road!"
Ianto shrugged on the coat, bemoaning the fact that his husband had apparently decided to use his atrocious Welsh to converse privately in front of Jones. God, why couldn't he have chosen something like Italian?
He re-entered the lounge, to see Jack looming over the now un-blindfolded and un-gagged Eugene Jones. The man looked suitably scared. "Are you going to be insistent on using Welsh for this?" Ianto asked acerbically, also in Welsh.
"It's a lot sexier than any other language I know," Jack answered, grinning.
Jones was looking between the two men, as if trying to make out what they were saying. Ianto knew that speaking another language would throw him off, and while Jack's accent was hideous at least Ianto could understand him. "Well, I'm sorry I taught you, since you seem bound and determined to butcher it."
Jack pouted. "I wanted to learn it for you…"
"I know dear, and I appreciate it." Ianto resisted the urge to kiss the pout away. "Let's get this done and over with, all right? The baby is sleeping and I don't want him waking up."
"Right." Jack changed to English. "Let's get this ball rolling." He grinned down at the trussed up Eugene Jones. "You're going to answer all my questions, or else I'll let Professor Rhydderch Ystradgynlais, late of the Clom Institute of Wales ask you."
Ianto had to work really hard to keep a straight face. Where on Earth had Jack come up with that mess? Well, he knew where Ystradgynlais had come from; they'd spent a wonderful fortnight in a little bed and breakfast there, but the rest…?
"This lunatic kidnapped me!" Jones said hoarsely.
"Oh, I'm sorry," Jack said, not sounding sorry at all, "but the Professor doesn't speak any English. But I'll be happy to translate."
Ianto took measured steps over to where Jack had set up their so-called torture equipment. It was really high-tech surveillance gear, augmented with a bit of alien hardware, but it looked wickedly evil. He ran his hand suggestively over several of the dials, smirking in Jones' terrified direction.
"What is that thing?" he squeaked. "What's he doing?"
"Professor Ystradgynlais is one of the leading experts on the prevention and control of extreme pain," Jack explained. "Interestingly enough, he's also an expert on the causation of extreme pain."
"This is easily the silliest idea you've ever come up with," Ianto muttered, dropping back into Welsh. He turned a few dials and flipped a few switches, doing his best to pull off the mad scientist act that Jack had cast him in.
"Please," Jack snorted. "We're gonna peel this guy like a grape. Then we can get back to more fun activities."
"What…what are you saying?" Jones fairly whimpered. "Is…is he gonna do something to me?"
"Well, that all depends on you, and how much you're willing to tell us." Jack's tone went menacing.
"Oh God," Jones moaned, "I can't tell you anything, I don't know anything…"
Ianto wondered if the man was about to piss his pants. He attached a couple of interesting wires to one of the ports on the machine he was fiddling with, hoping that they'd look ominous enough.
"I understand," Jack soothed, walking around the chair where Jones was tied. "And believe me, I respect that." He moved back to stand in front of the panicked man. "Bring the needles," he told Ianto, back into Welsh.
Ianto was caught unprepared. "Needles," he mumbled in English, as he dug around the table looking for something that would substitute.
"Needles?" Jones squeaked. "What are you gonna do with needles?"
"What else?" Jack looked pleased. "You know, in the old days we'd just use matches and rats, but this!" He glanced over at Ianto, "This is state of the art!"
Ianto had managed to find Jack's knitting bag, and pulled a pair of the needles out. He attached them to the ends of the interesting-looking wires, then began to stalk menacingly toward Jones.
"This is called Ianto's Probe," Jack went on, crowding a bit closer to the frightened man. "Now, when introduced past the left eyeball," and Jack demonstrated by putting his thumb in the corner of the aforementioned eye, "you can insert it right into the pain center of the brain. Then with a little electric current – "
Ianto brought the needles closer together, and was quite honestly surprised by the arc he got between them.
"Oh God! Don't! It's not necessary! Please!" Jones was downright begging now.
But the noise apparently had disturbed Gareth Ianto; a muffled crying started up from the bedroom. Ianto looked up, passed the needles to Jack, then went to tend to their son.
He could hear Jack and Jones talking on the other side of the bedroom door, as Ianto picked Gareth Ianto up and began to calm him. It didn't take long for the child to doze off, and Ianto smiled down into the peaceful little face.
"Oh, that's Professor Sato," Jack was saying breezily. "She was a really tough one when she came in here. Now listen to her…"
"Wait!" Jones cried. "If I say anything, how do I know you'll let me go?"
Ianto put the baby back down, and went back into the other room. Jack was looking extremely smug.
"You can apologize any time now," he said in Welsh.
"Okay, so it wasn't such a silly idea," Ianto admitted. And, to be honest, he'd pretty much enjoyed playing the bad torturer guy.
Jack laughed, turning back to Jones. "You're just gonna have to trust us."
Ianto took the needles back. "The whole problem is," Jack said, "is that you don't trust me. Want to goof off this afternoon?"
"Sure. What did you have in mind?"
"Let's take the big guy to the zoo."
Ianto rolled his eyes. "No. I remember the last time we went to the zoo: you ended up nearly missing a foot, and I was turned invisible."
"Oh come on! That can't possibly happen again!" Jack gave in. "We can just hang around here...I'm sure we can come up with something to do…"
"All right. I do have a few things to do around here."
"Excellent!" Jack jumped to his feet, switching back to English. "Now! You tell us who your contact is!"
Ianto threatened Jones with the needles, just to be on the safe side.
"It's…it's a man!" Jones answered, sweat rolling down his face and leaning away from the arcing electricity. "A cute guy, nice cheekbones! I only saw him twice, and he tried to seduce me!"
"Where do I find him?" Jack paced around Jones, back into menacing mode.
"I don't know!" Jones screamed. "Honest to God!"
"Oh Professor," Jack crooned, playing with Jones' ears.
Ianto turned on his most unhinged smile, leaning forward with the knitting needles.
"Wait!" Jones looked like he was about to faint. "I don't know where he is, but I do have a number where I can reach him! It's on a piece of paper in my shirt pocket…"
Jack dug around, pulling out the paper. He unfolded it, glancing inside. His shoulders slumped. "What do you think?"
Ianto looked disgusted. "He's finished." He separated the needles and walked away.
"Mr. Jones," Jack said, "I would advise you to disappear. I'd change your name, your job…and if possible, your face."
Ianto detached the needles, thinking that Jack might want them later, although at the rate he was knitting, the sweater might actually be done sometime around Gareth Ianto having children of his own. Then he picked up the glass that Jack had already prepared. He just hoped his husband had gotten the right dosage of Retcon this time…
Jack called Tosh to see about a trace on the phone number, and he watched as Ianto got to work on his own project, various bits of tech laid out on the coffee table and a file propped open in front of him. He loved watching his husband work; Ianto would never quite reach the pinnacle of tech-head that Tosh was, but he could come very scarily close. That look of concentration…it was dead sexy, and it made Jack half-hard just watching the younger man work.
They'd gotten in a fairly rigorous bout of love-making while Ianto Gareth had been napping, and now had to get working on finding John. As he waited for Tosh's computers to find out anything on the number that Eugene Jones had given them, he thought about his ex-lover and current husband, and realized that John could never measure up to Ianto Jones. And Jack thanked whatever galactic deity that had put him on the path to find him.
"Jack," Tosh said, "I have something that could help."
"Hit me, beautiful."
"The number is a mobile," the current Director of the Torchwood Institute replied. "I can't tell you where it was exactly, but I've managed to triangulate within two miles."
"Can you send me the coordinates?" Jack sat down at his laptop, booting up the secured link to the Torchwood mainframe.
"You got it." Within seconds, a map appeared on the screen, with a circle showing the possible coordinates.
"Is there anything in that area where John might hide?"
"Just checking…yes, there's an abandoned factory…" A dot flared to life on the screen.
"Thanks, Tosh. You're a genius."
"You and Ianto be careful, all right? I didn't really like the Doctor getting you both involved…"
"We will be. And we'll call when this is all over."
Jack disconnected his call, glancing back toward Ianto. Deft fingers were assembling what he would need, and the older immortal thought about those fingers dancing lightly against his skin…and now, they were working confidently on yet another part of his plan to get to John. Talented, that man was.
He turned away and headed into their bedroom, pulling a suitcase out from under the bed. He sighed as he unzipped it, wishing he didn't have to put the Captain back on, but knowing John would expect it. He carefully unwrapped the Webley and its holster from the cloth that Ianto had packed it in when they'd left Cardiff all those months ago; he'd only worn it once, and that had been a joke during that 'Star Wars' exposition back in Las Vegas. He'd gone fully Captain again for that, but it had been a special occasion, and the sex that night had been amazing.
The coat came out next. Ianto loved that coat, and it was possibly the only piece of his 'uniform' that saw regular daylight. And yet, he hadn't worn it in months, and he'd much prefer to be bringing it out for one of their sex games. But no…he had to become the Captain of Torchwood again. Jack swore it would be the last time for as long as Ianto Gareth was still so young.
He'd been Jack for so long, that becoming the Captain again just felt wrong.
It didn't take him long to get changed. Jack caught a glimpse of himself in the full-length mirror, and almost didn't recognize himself. It wasn't just the clothes; it was the entire attitude that he took on as Captain Jack Harkness, Director of the Torchwood Institute and leader of Torchwood Three.
He didn't like it.
Jack strode back into the living room. Ianto looked up, and a sad look crossed his face before he stood up. "Be careful," he said softly, running his hand along the rough wool of the greatcoat's collar. "I have a funny feeling."
"You know I can't get hurt – "
"Yes, you can. You can get hurt quite badly."
Jack nodded, acknowledging that his husband was right. He might have blocked out a lot of what had happened when he'd been captured by the Master, but he did remember the pain.
"Promise me you'll take care."
Jack reached up, caressing Ianto's cheek. "I promise."
He knew if he didn't leave then, he wasn't going to; but the quicker they got John, the sooner they could go back to their normal life. He turned toward the door, and had his hand on the knob when Ianto's voice stopped him.
"I love you, Jack."
The older man turned, as a pleasant warmth spread through his chest. "You really do," he said, that familiar sense of awe he always got when Ianto said or did anything to surprise him.
"I know I don't say it – "
"You don't have to."
"- but I love you more and more every day."
Jack stepped back toward his husband. "You know what's funny?"
The Welshman cocked his head, confused. "What?"
"That's exactly the same way I feel." He leaned forward, kissing Ianto gently.
And, when he finally broke away, and looked into those blue eyes, he knew that John could go to hell for all he cared. That this was where he belonged, and would belong for all the long years of his life.
It took every bit of strength he had to walk away.
Jack had planned on leaving from the front door of the hotel, but Swanson and Davidson were watching the entrance, leaving him no choice but to go out the back.
Those two were really getting to him. He should have let Ianto Retcon them right after the mugging, and that way they wouldn't be on their arses so much. Those two had no idea what they were doing, and Jack couldn't enlighten them. He'd hoped they'd just get bored and go away, but that wasn't what happened at all. Not even Lizzie had scared them off.
As soon as he got back, that pair were losing their memories. That was all.
He exited out of the rear, and cut down the alley and down the street toward the taxi rank he'd known was there. He climbed into the first one, directing it toward one of the local wharves that dotted the city.
"Yes, I have it Tosh," Ianto said into the phone which was cradled against his shoulder, holding it in place while he soldered the last wire. "It's not that hard, and you were good enough to email me the schematics – "
"I know," his friend said, "but this sort of thing can be tricky."
"I've put together bombs before," he retorted, rolling his eyes. "I'm beginning to think you don't trust me."
"No, Ianto…it's not that! I just don't want you to accidentally blow anything up…including yourself and my nephew."
"I'm being careful –" Just them movement out of the corner of his eye grabbed his attention. "Shit, Tosh!"
"What is it?" she sounded alarmed.
"Gareth is walking!" Indeed, his son was tottering across the floor, with such a look of concentration on his face that Ianto couldn't help but "aw" over it.
"Quick!" Tosh squealed. "Grab the camera!"
He scuttled over to the table, where Jack had left the camera that Tosh had souped up, almost dropping the phone in his haste. He started snapping picture after picture, telling Tosh to download them from the camera's hard drive.
"Come to Tad," Ianto coaxed as he snapped. Gareth began to wobble toward him, only slipping once when he accidentally stepped on one of his toys. "That's my big boy! Come to me…"
"Oh God," Tosh whispered. "He's fantastic!"
"Save all those pictures, Tosh. Jack's gonna want to see them later…" That was when he realized that this mission had just caused Jack to miss out on a milestone of being parents. "Damn, he's missing it." Surprisingly a tear came to his eye, making the image in the viewfinder blurry.
"I'm sorry, Ianto…"
"Just something else the Doctor owes us for." Gareth was now close enough, and Ianto put the camera down in order to cuddle his son. "Your dad is going to be so proud of you," he whispered. He decided then and there that they would be having another, and the next time no one would get in the way of Jack being there for all the important things.
Jack had the cab stop just beyond a banged up pier, where a fishing boat was tied up. He paid the driver, then strode toward the boat, greeting the owner.
After a large amount of cash had changed hands, Jack found himself piloting a fishing boat out into the delta, heading toward the coordinates where Tosh had tracked John's phone.
Ianto waited about an hour, then headed out, pushing the pram in front of him.
He noticed just in time that Sergeant Davidson was just outside, sitting on the curb and watching the hotel.
Just lovely. They wouldn't be having these issues if Jack had just let him Retcon the pair after the mugging. Well, when this was over Ianto was doing it anyway. Those two cops were just too stubborn for their own good.
Although, he did wonder where Swanson was….
That thought left his head as he made his way out the back, and into the alley behind the hotel. It was far too quiet, and Ianto could feel the small hairs at the back of his neck standing up.
That, and the soft scuffing sounds of shoes against pavement, told him he was being followed. And he somehow doubted it was by either of their police friends.
He kept pushing the stroller, picking up his pace a little. He caught sight of a gate that led into a section of walkway between two buildings, and headed toward with the intention of going through it, to get to a more crowded area.
The gate was locked.
Turning, he saw two men mere feet away. Ianto recognized them from the aborted attack at the restaurant, confirming that Hart must have found them and put surveillance on the hotel. He just hoped that Jack had managed to get away…
The young man rolled the pram out into the middle of the alley, then put himself between it and the two thugs. He felt intensely uncomfortable at the way they were scrutinizing him, and it was all he could do not to go for them immediately.
"This is who Hart sent us after?" one of the men growled. "He was right. Doesn't look so tough to me."
Ianto barely restrained himself from snarking back. He didn't want to give either of them a reason to start something. But it was funny that Hart apparently didn't think all that much of his abilities; after what had happened with Gray, Ianto would have thought that the man would have respected him at least a little.
"Let's just grab him and the baby and go," the second man said. He was holding something that looked very much like a stun gun.
"I don't want any trouble," Ianto said, holding his hands up and taking a step backward toward the pram.
"That's too bad," the first goon answered. "Because you have all the trouble in the world right now."
He made to grab Ianto; the young man fought back, slamming a solid right hook into his attacker's jaw, then an uppercut to snap his head back. The man fell to the pavement, and Ianto found himself facing the other, who seemed to be a lot more dangerous than his companion.
But that was until the man on the ground pulled a gun.
Ianto's heart went into overdrive. He knew he'd come back from being shot, but…no, he had to calm down. He held his hands up, signaling his surrender.
The assailant with the stun gun smirked. "You're not going to give us any more trouble, are you?"
Ianto didn't have much choice.
Jack found a deserted pier near the warehouse he believed John to be holed up in. He pulled the boat up to it, jumping from the deck and onto the damp wood. He secured the rope to a stanchion, then headed up the weather-beaten ramp and into shore.
He didn't make it far when a voice shouted, "Having fun?"
Jack spun, his hand automatically dropping to the butt of his Webley. Swanson had come up behind him, looking somewhat smug; her eyes widened slightly at the sight of the gun.
"What in hell are you doing here?" Jack snapped, keeping his voice down.
"I'm not here," she retorted. "I'm at home, like you're supposed to be."
"Look Swanson…you're in way over your head here." Jack was puzzled at how she'd found him, let alone followed him, but this wasn't the time to work things out. "Go and wait on the boat until I've finished."
"Not a chance!"
"Could you keep your voice down then?"
"Because noise can travel, and I don't want anyone to know I'm coming until I'm ready for them to know." God, why couldn't this have happened in Cardiff? The local LEO's might not have particularly cared for Torchwood, but at least they'd do what they were asked.
"I'm not letting you out of my sight, Harkness."
"That's Harkness-Jones, in case you've forgotten." There wasn't much he could do, beyond jumping the woman and tying her up on the boat. And, while he wasn't certain she was actually into bondage, he'd actually been raised a gentleman: he might hit on the ladies, but he'd never hit one unless they were rampantly evil. "All right," he capitulated, vowing once more to break out the Retcon when this was done…if the police officer survived. "Stay close. And do what I say, no matter how nuts it might sound. I do actually have a plan, and you're not a part of it."
"Just what is going on, anyway?" she demanded…but she did keep her voice down.
"No. You don't get the right to know. You're the one bumbling into this, and right now the only thing you should be worrying about is staying alive."
With those parting words, Jack strode toward the bulk of the abandoned warehouse, Swanson on his heels. The place loomed over them like some sort of metal corpse, and Jack was beginning to wonder if they actually had the right place. John was far more used to luxury, and a dilapidated old building like this simply wasn't his style.
They actually got into the grounds before they were stopped, by a couple of very large gunmen…and John Hart, looking rather pleased with himself.
In that moment, John Hart knew he held all the cards. He had Eye Candy – and hadn't that been a surprise, to find out the man was still alive – and the munchkin tucked safely away. And now, Jack had stumbled quite nicely onto his territory, and with a pretty woman in tow.
This was just way too sweet.
"You're looking good," he said, eyeing his former partner up and down, taking in the familiar coat and outfit. "Haven't changed a bit. Have I?"
Jack smirked. "Only your men." He gestured toward John's minions.
"Oh these? They're my American accessories. Do you like?"
"Your taste hasn't really improved all that much."
"What does that say about you?"
"That mine has?"
John shook his head, refusing to be baited. "Let's get inside, into the shade. I might even have some hypervodka around somewhere."
"Didn't anyone ever teach you not to drink alcohol in this humidity?"
John motioned them all forward. "You haven't introduced me to your pretty friend."
He could see Jack's jaw jump as he ground his teeth. "This is police Lieutenant Kathy Swanson. Lieutenant, this is John Hart – "
"Captain John Hart." He really hated it when they dropped the rank.
" – intergalactic conman and murderer."
John smirked at the introduction. "You're just jealous because I'm so much better at it than you are."
"Hardly," Jack snorted. "I just gave it up because it got boring."
"Did you just say 'intergalactic'?" the pretty cop demanded.
"You mean she doesn't know what's going on?" John was surprised that Jack would bring anyone with him who didn't know the score. "Nothing about me, or Torchwood, or anything?" He made a tsk'ing sound. "That's not like you to involve innocents. I thought you had more scruples than that."
"Not my choice," Jack ground out. He was mad, and John guessed it had to be about the lovely policewoman.
John let his men prod them inside the main building. "I'm guessing you know what's going on though, don't you?"
"I do. You can't be allowed to sell that cyber controller. It could mean the end of the Universe if you do!"
"Oh, please," John scoffed. "Like I care about that. It's all about the money, Jackie boy. Who cares what happens after I get my money?"
"I do," Jack snapped.
"Yeah, well you've become a bleeding heart. I'm not gonna let you stop me, Jack. And I have the leverage to keep you out of it."
He now led the way into the main section of the factory, part of which had been converted to his own personal use. A section was set up as a lounge, with sofa, chair, and a rather nice table. It was quite cozy, and John was rather fond of bringing certain guests there to show them a good time.
Of course, he wouldn't do that with his current guest. Or, should he say guests?
Ianto Jones-Harkness rose from where he'd been seated at the table, one hand resting on the shade of the pram. John watched Jack's eyes narrow as he saw his husband…well, all that husband crap would soon be over. He didn't have much use for the younger man, and John was rather looking forward to getting him out of the way.
"Gotta admit," he said, "I was a bit surprised to find out Eye Candy was still alive. I thought for sure the Rift would've taken care of him, once and for all." He shrugged. "Guess this means I have to try again."
Jack surged forward, but the goons that had been escorting him grabbed him and held him back. "Don't touch him," he snarled. "You hurt him, and you're dead."
John rolled his eyes. "Please. That's a rather empty threat, don't you think? I can go anywhere…anywhen. You'll never find me."
He decided he didn't like the look on Jack's face; for one of the few times in his life John actually was afraid. "You forget…I have eternity. I can track you down throughout all of space and time, and I can take centuries. And I will find you, John…trust me on that. You do not want to hurt either Ianto or my son."
"I wouldn't harm a hair on your son's head, Jack. Just what sort of maniac do you take me for?"
"The kind that's willing to bring down an apocalypse just so you can make money. I seriously doubt that a baby is going to change that."
That made John angry. "And why him, Jack? What makes him so special that you'd give up space and time and me just to live on this dirtball and play happy families?"
"Because he is everything you're not," Jack answered simply.
John saw his ex-partner's eyes slide toward the man with the pram; something passed between the two, and it made John even angrier than before.
"Looks like I'm gonna have to make you two behave," the ex-Time Agent said, going for nonchalant. "Which is too bad; a threesome would have been nice – "
"In your dreams, Hart," Ianto snarked.
"And my dreams are so much fun! But what you should be doing is handing over your kid. I think he'd make the perfect insurance to keep you both out of my hair."
"You can't!" John had almost forgotten about the cop, until she spoke up.
"Oh, but I can," he assured her. He turned to Ianto, who'd stiffened at the demand. "Give him over, Eye Candy. He'll be well looked after. I won't hurt him, I promise…I'll just threaten to take him somewhere you'll never find him again." He knew he could never harm Jack's child, even if he'd had it with someone else and not John himself.
Again with the eye contact between both husbands. "You know what you have to do," Jack said, giving the other a gentle smile.
John had never seen that sort of expression on Jack's face before. It made him a bit angrier that someone else had put it there. "You heard the man," John demanded. "Give me the kid. I can't have you two risking my cushy deal."
Ianto nodded slightly. He reached into the stroller, lifting the bundle of baby out…and then, simply tossed it into the air toward the conman.
John was so surprised he froze.
The explosion tossed him to the floor.
Jack knew what was going to happen, and he launched himself at Swanson the moment Ianto threw the baby-shaped bomb at John, covering her with his body. He knew that the explosion itself would only be for shock value, and wouldn't be powerful enough to do much damage, but plastic shrapnel from the doll the bomb had been hidden in could be quite painful to extract. His coat would protect him from the worst of the effects.
It was the miniature electromagnetic pulse charge that would cause the most harm…especially to John's wrist strap.
It did exactly what it was supposed to. Everyone was knocked off their feet, including the men who'd been guarding Swanson and himself. He quickly yanked the stunned cop to her feet, then used his fists to make the goons stay down. Then he headed toward where John had been standing.
The man's reaction time was much faster, and Hart was already running off through the factory, with Ianto hot on his heels.
Jack cursed, taking off after the two running men. By the sound of shoes behind, Swanson was following him.
John was fast; he dodged around the derelict equipment, trying to block Ianto's path, but the younger man kept up his relentless pursuit. He heard Ianto yelling something, but the echoes made it impossible to understand.
Jack put on more speed, wanting to catch them both. If everything went according to plan, then John would want to collect the cyber controller from wherever he'd hidden it, and then get the hell out of the building. In fact, he was rather hoping John would do exactly that.
He practically ran into his husband when Ianto suddenly stopped. He somewhat breathlessly cursed in Welsh. "I lost him!" Then he got a glimpse of Swanson. "What the hell is she doing here?"
"I followed him," she hooked a thumb toward Jack, "and stowed away on the boat." She sounded even more breathless than Ianto did.
"Lieutenant," Jack said, "we need you to go back and secure those men. Ianto and I will go after John."
"Look, I don't pretend to understand half of what was said back there, but if you think I'm letting you both out of my sight now - "
"I can take care of myself," the older immortal retorted, "and Ianto knows how to kill someone using only his little finger. Do you want him to demonstrate?"
Swanson's mouth fell open as she glanced at the Welshman. Ianto simply quirked an eyebrow in her direction.
"I'll just…go and secure the other prisoners," she finally said.
Once Swanson was gone, Ianto looked at Jack. "Since when did I get such deadly ninja skills?"
Jack shrugged. "I had to tell her something to get her off our backs."
"She's getting Retcon just as soon as we're done here."
"Agreed. Now, let's find John."
He should have known.
John ran through the factory that had become his base, heading toward the room where he'd stashed the cyber controller as soon as he realized he'd lost Eye Candy in the labyrinth of rusting machines. He needed to get out, and cover his tracks more carefully next time.
But yeah, John had completely underestimated Jack. Sure, he'd known his ex-partner had shown himself to Eugene Jones on purpose, to announce to John that Jack had known he was there. However, John hadn't even considered the idea that Jack would have arranged to get grabbed on purpose. Or that he'd been counting on John going after Eye Candy and the baby. He'd learned that lesson, now that whatever had been in that bomb had shorted out his Vortex Manipulator.
Honestly though, when he'd realized that the man his minions had seen in that restaurant was Ianto Jones…well, that had been a shock. The last time he'd seen the Welshman, he'd been in the middle of being torn apart in the Rift. He wondered just how he'd escaped. Jealousy roiled in John's gut; that Jack had chosen a mere mortal as his partner, and that they'd had a child together…that was what John had wanted, but Jack had turned him down flat. And now there was no chance of anything between them. Maybe he should've left Jones alone? Maybe Jack would've gotten tired of him.
But no, John hadn't been able to take the idea that he had a rival for Jack's affections. And he'd had to risk anything he might have had in the future by tossing the arse into the open Rift. Well, John had always had impulse issues.
It took only moments to get the controller, and then John headed outside, where he hoped to sneak away before Jack and Eye Candy managed to get back on his trail. He might not like Louisiana, but there were plenty of wild areas where he could hide himself until his buyers showed up. He did curse himself; there was no way he could warn them away, now that his Manipulator wasn't working. Maybe he could get a lift offworld…
The coast seemed clear, so the ex-Time Agent stepped from the building and out into the late afternoon sunlight. He was halfway across the overgrown yard heading toward the trees beyond when a form moved to cut him off.
John barely resisted the urge to roll his eyes. "Why can't I get rid of you?"
Eye Candy stood there, a smirk on his handsome features. "I'm like a bad penny…I just keep turning up."
"Look, all I want is to be able to make a little bit of money. What do you have against free enterprise?" John pouted, hoping to get some sort of sympathy.
Instead, Ianto's face went stony. "I've seen what comes from that technology, and I refuse to let it happen again. Hand it over, and we won't throw you into the deepest, darkest cell we can find."
"I don't really think so." He pulled his main gun from its holster, pointing it at his opponent. "Now, why don't you step aside, and I won't shoot you."
"Do you really think I don't know you'll shoot me anyway?"
"You have a point." His finger tightened on the trigger. The sound of the shot disturbed birds for miles around.
John took a step toward his now dead rival. A perfect bullet hole decorated the high forehead, blue eyes cold in death.
"You know," a low drawl said from behind him, "you really shouldn't have done that."
He turned. Jack stood there, arms crossed, looking rightly pissed. But not, to John's surprise, looking like he'd just lost his lover to a well-placed bullet. "He was in my way," he shrugged. "It's a shame really; I bet he was a fantastic lay."
"Oh, you have no idea. Now, I'll take the case, and if you give it to me now I might not kill you."
"Now Jack…you won't kill me."
"In your dreams, Hart. Don't even think I won't, because of the damage that you can do with that technology."
He was confused. "But why aren't you all over me about killing Eye Candy?"
"Because I'm not that easy to kill."
An almost superstitious shiver passed through the ex-Time Agent as he spun at the sound of that hated voice.
Ianto Jones stood there, the hole in his forehead closing even as John watched.
"Oh Goddess," he moaned. "Not two of you!" This was bad. Even if John hadn't tried to kill the man twice, he knew that any chance he'd ever had with Jack was now over. His former partner now had someone who could spend eternity with him, while John was still quite sadly mortal.
There was no choice for it.
John lashed out with the heavy case, catching Ianto across the face with it. The younger man fell to the ground, and John darted past.
Ianto managed to grab his foot as he tried to get away, pulling him down with a hard thud. John had to let go of the case in order to defend himself; he twisted around in Ianto's grasp, kicking the man in the face with his free boot.
That didn't seem to deter Ianto. He practically crawled up John's body, and not in a pleasant way. He straddled John's hips, swinging a powerful right and slammed his fist into John's face.
If John had been any less of a masochist, he wouldn't have enjoyed it.
He bucked his hips, dislodging Ianto and then managing to scramble to his feet. The younger man was just a few beats behind, but it was enough for John to grab the case once more and hare out across the open expanse, Ianto giving chase.
A sudden, very loud whoosh brought John's headlong flight to a halt.
He glanced up, and recognized the Traxian transport that hovered just above him. The Traxians had been one of the races he'd invited for the auction, and John wasn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth at them being about a day early. He could get a ride by offering certain concessions…plus, the Traxians were just plain hot.
The appearance of the vessel didn't stop Eye Candy from rugby tackling John to the ground, the case flying away.
John flipped himself onto his back, staring up into the glaring features of Jack's lover…no, husband. He pasted a smile onto his own features. "Better let me up, Eye Candy. I doubt the Traxians would be happy about you restraining me."
"Ianto!" It was Jack's voice calling, and it caught the younger man's attention enough for him to notice the rather large laser cannon pointed in his general direction.
"You interested in dying again today?" John sneered. "I kinda bet death by super-heated light beam isn't one you can come back quickly from."
Ianto stood up somewhat reluctantly. Jack walked up beside him, glaring. "Don't think this is over, Hart," Jack growled. "We'll find a way to get you."
John just smirked. "You're welcome to try." He leaned over and retrieved the case. "It's been fun, although I wouldn't have minded a threesome while I was here…"
"That will never happen," Jack snapped. "And you know, never is a long time for both of us."
"It's a shame really," John said, backing toward the transport. "It would've been fun – "
Ianto took a menacing step forward, and John backed away even faster. It looked like he was going to come after him, laser or not. Not that John could blame him; of course, now he knew how the man had survived the Rift Storm. It just wasn't fair; John could have used immortality a lot more creatively than staying on just one planet…
The transport landed, and John heard a door sliding open behind him. That was his cue to turn and dart into the ship. "Thank you boys," he called out to the pilots. He could just see two silhouettes in the cockpit beyond. "I'm sure we can make some sort of deal when we get off this benighted planet."
The door closed, and John found himself in the cramped passenger cabin all by himself. He felt the vessel rock slightly as it took off, and he made his way to the cockpit in order to properly thank his rescuers. A very small part of him was disappointed that he was leaving Jack behind, but that ship had escaped orbit a long time ago.
"You don't know how glad I was to see you show up early – " he stammered to a halt as he realized the pair in the cockpit weren't Traxians at all.
One was a thin man wearing a tweed jacket and bow tie, with a mop of dark hair falling over his high forehead. The second…
Was a Judoon.
And it hit John like a gold brick, that this was exactly what Jack had planned. That he'd known the only way to get him into custody would be to make him want to go there himself.
It was a trap. A bloody good one, too.
As the skinny man was slipping a set of electronic binders on his wrists, John threw his head back and laughed.
This was what made Jack the best.
Jack and Ianto stood together as the transport arced gracefully overhead. "I told you," Jack murmured, slinging his arm over his husband's shoulders. "No one ever looks at the driver."
Ianto rolled his eyes. "Yes, you were right."
"Let's go and get our son. Oh, and after that arse-kicking you gave John, we're officially calling him Ianto Gareth."
Ianto nodded, capitulating on both their son and letting Jack guide him back toward the factory…and saw Lieutenant Swanson standing, her mouth open, staring up at the retreating spaceship.
"I'll get the Retcon," Ianto sighed.
Police officer – and partner, who'd been waiting somewhat impatiently for their return to the hotel – finally Retconned, Jack and Ianto knocked on the Williams' door, which was opened by a smiling Rhys. His eyes went wide when he noticed what Jack was wearing, but the immortal didn't care; all he saw was his son, on his feet and leaning against one of the chairs in the suite.
"There's my big boy!" he called, striding forward and lifting the child into his arms. Ianto Gareth giggled. "Your Tad said you walked for him. You're gonna have to repeat that performance for me." Jack was honestly upset that he'd missed his son's first steps, but he looked forward to seeing the pictures Ianto said that Tosh had downloaded from the special camera.
"I hope he wasn't any trouble," Ianto said, rubbing the baby's back lightly.
"He was lovely," Rhys answered. "We didn't mind one bit. Did we, Gwen?"
Gwen didn't answer; she was staring at Jack's coat as if she was recognizing it from somewhere…
Oh shit, not again…Looked like he might need to warn Toshiko that they might have a nosy copper snooping around again.
"Well, we're gonna head on out," Jack replied. "Thanks again for looking after Ianto Gareth."
Rhys glanced at Ianto; the younger man just smiled slightly, then began to gather their son's things. Jack knew he was waiting for the inevitable correction, but this time it wouldn't come. They'd discussed it on the boat ride back, and Ianto had finally seen Jack's side of the argument…that he'd wanted to name their child after the man who'd made it possible, who'd accepted him for who he was and never pushed him for anything.
The man who loved him despite everything.
However, Ianto had commented that their next child would then be named after Jack…
It didn't take long to get back to their suite. There was a blue box that didn't belong there parked in the corner, and a certain Time Lord leaning against the side, arms crossed.
"Good work, gentlemen," the Doctor congratulated.
"Thanks, Doc," Jack answered, handing Ianto Gareth over to his husband. "But we're now officially retired. No more missions at least until Ianto Gareth is of age to date with his parents' permission…which won't be until he's at least thirty."
"Understood. But thanks anyway."
"I'd say it was a pleasure," Ianto sighed, "but it really wasn't."
The Doctor nodded. "Well, I've come to take you on your trip to Planet Disney. Then, after that…whatever you both want to do."
"What about Amy and Rory?" Jack asked.
"They're already waiting for us." He rubbed his hands together excitedly. "You're going to love it!"
Ianto glanced at Jack, and by the look on his husband's face Jack knew he was wondering if this was just a simple trip…
Or the beginning of something else.
God, Jack hoped not.