4 December 2007
Well, this couldn't be right.
Ianto Jones stared at his computer screen, puzzled by what it was showing him. He sat back in his chair, chewing his thumbnail idly, and he kept his eyes on the eBay page as if glaring at it would change what it said.
Pushing his chair back, the dragon headed up to Jack's office. The door was open, which meant either Jack wasn't busy, or he wanted to be interrupted. From the files Ianto had taken in there just that morning, he was guessing the latter.
And yes, his lover was seated behind his desk, twiddling a pen in his right hand, while his left ran through his hair roughly. If Ianto had to guess, he would say that Jack had hit the requisition form that UNIT had sent over…
He cleared his throat, and the sound caused Jack to look up so fast he actually pulled his own hair. Cursing in a language that Ianto didn't understand, Jack took his hand from his head and grinned wryly. "Have you come to save me from my own personal Hell?" he asked, almost begging.
"Actually," the dragon said, coming to sit on the desk next to Jack's chair, after moving another file, "I wanted to know if you'd been approached by Eugene Jones lately."
Jack frowned. "Not recently. I think the last time was that hair dryer he thought was some sort of jetpack."
Ianto nodded; that tallied with his own memory. Most of the time, what Eugene managed to find was useless junk, but he knew enough to always ask Torchwood about it first.
Eugene was one of the very few people out there who had more than a passing knowledge about what Torchwood was. Usually he'd have been Retconned, but he'd proved useful at times, having contacts in the local science fiction community and knowing just how to keep his ear out for anything unusual showing up. While he'd never fit into Torchwood itself, Eugene Jones was very keen on doing what he could to help.
"What's up with Eugene?" Jack asked.
"Apparently, he has a Dogon Sixth Eye for sale on eBay."
Jack's eyebrows shot up. "And he didn't bring it to us first?"
"That was my first thought."
Jack swiveled toward his computer, bringing up the latest internet scans. Toshiko had set up a program that would, using a set of keywords, flag anything that might be of use to Torchwood. Ninety-nine percent of what was found was a waste of time, but every once in a while something would turn up that would be of interest.
That was how Ianto had found the sale; it was his job to go through the nights' findings, and see if mainframe had marked anything they should check out. They'd really been keeping a lookout on eBay recently, with the spate of Sixth Eyes showing up since Canary Wharf. Many of them had gone to buyers in Belgium, but Ianto knew for a fact that Henry Parker had also purchased one. They weren't dangerous really, but for Eugene to have bypassed Torchwood to put it up for sale…
"Yep," Jack said. "That's a Sixth Eye all right. And it's getting some pretty heavy bidding."
"I'd really like to know why Eugene put it up for sale, instead of bringing it to us."
"You and me both." Jack leaned back, looking up at Ianto. "I take it you want to go and talk to him?"
Ianto nodded. "It's pretty slow today, and I'd like to know if he suddenly has some issue with us."
"And here I was going to send everyone home early, and get in some private time with my favorite dragon."
"I thought I was your only dragon?" Ianto teased.
Jack leered. "Well, there's that too…"
"Tell you what," he said standing upright, "why don't I make you a cup of coffee before I leave, and if you have that paperwork done when I get back we can…celebrate."
"I like the way you think, Mr. Jones."
"I hope that's not the only thing you like about me."
Jack's eyes turned mischievous. "There's quite a list."
Ianto chuckled. "I should hope so." He leaned over, pressing a quick kiss to Jack's lips. "Back soon."
Ianto arrived at Passmore Telesales just as shift was changing. He sat in his car and waited, finally seeing Eugene and three others exiting the building. The dragon recognized them as Eugene's friends, from the background check they'd done when the young man had shown up on their doorstep looking to show them something alien he'd found.
He watched as they separated, and Ianto got out of the car, walking toward Eugene. He was seen almost immediately, and Eugene stopped in his tracks, confusion on his features. "This is a first," he said when Ianto was within earshot, "you lot have never come to me before."
"Do you have a moment?" Ianto asked.
Eugene shrugged. "Sure, got nothing else planned. There's a coffee shop just on the corner." He waved his hand down the street.
The aforementioned coffee shop was a Starbucks, and Ianto barely managed to bite his tongue on how he felt about them. He ordered a smoothie instead of coffee, taking a seat at a table with Eugene, who'd bought the most expensive and most doctored-up coffee he could when he'd discovered that Ianto was buying.
Ianto didn't beat around the bush. "I wanted to talk to you about the alien eye you have up on eBay."
Eugene spluttered into his coffee. "You watching me, or what?"
The dragon didn't answer, letting Eugene think what he wanted.
The young man let the silence lay there for a few seconds, then he blurted, "I woulda given you guys a chance, but that new bird of yours sent me away when I showed up a couple of days ago. She told me you weren't interested."
Ianto frowned. There was only one new 'bird' that he knew of. "And you didn't think to come to the Captain or I?"
Eugene shrugged. "She's one of yours; figured she knew what she was talking about. Besides," he grinned, "I'm getting tons of bids on it. Got plans for that money!"
"What if I offered you more?" Ianto really didn't want to pay too much, but a part of him felt it was his fault in some way that Eugene had been turned away. He hadn't gone over that with Gwen, so she hadn't known that the young man was a contact.
"As far as I'm concerned," Eugene said, standing, "you lot lost your chance. I think I wanna wait and see what sort of bids I get for it."
Talking his coffee, Eugene left, and Ianto sighed. Jack was going to love this.
"Gwen!" Jack called, leaning out of his office door and bellowing across the Hub. "Get in here please."
Ianto had been correct; Jack hadn't been at all happy about what the dragon had said. But, he was like Ianto, and really couldn't blame Eugene for trying to sell it elsewhere when he'd been sent away. In fact, he'd promptly put a bid in himself, which surprised Ianto; he hadn't known that Jack had had an eBay account, although he certainly should have guessed.
"You wanted to see me?" Gwen asked, leaning into the office.
"Come on in and have a seat," Jack invited. He leaned back in his own chair, while Ianto had taken up a position against the cabinet behind the desk.
Gwen did so, looking confused. "What's up?" she asked, curious. She glanced between the pair of them, and Ianto couldn't help but notice how the friendliness toward Jack changed to chilliness as those eyes rested on him.
"A couple of days ago," Jack began, "were you approached by a young man saying he knew all about Torchwood?"
The woman looked thoughtful. "Yeah, I seem to remember something like that happening when I was up at the pastry store getting donuts for the team. This guy came up to me, told me he knew I was Torchwood, and saying that he had something we might be interested in."
"What did you tell him?" Ianto asked, crossing his arms over his chest.
"Just that I didn't know what he was talking about," she answered, frowning. "He seemed pretty harmless."
"And you didn't feel you needed to report it?" Jack inquired, raising an eyebrow.
"We got that Weevil call out just as I was getting back," she defended herself. "Honestly, it just slipped my mind."
"Anytime that happens, you need to tell either Ianto or I about it," Jack said. "Torchwood might be a really badly-kept secret in Cardiff, but if someone actually approaches you and says they know you're with us, and then offers you something, we really need to know about it."
"Like I said," she repeated, "the kid seemed harmless. Probably just some nutter who thinks he knows something, but doesn't."
Jack sighed. Ianto could understand his frustration. "Your judgment would be wrong in this case, Gwen. That young man was Eugene Jones, and he's a contact of ours. He usually shows up when he finds something potentially alien that we might have missed coming through the Rift. Sure, most of what he has is junk, but this time he had a very interesting item with him. When you brushed him off and forgot to tell us, he put it up on eBay for sale."
"It's not entirely your fault," Ianto hastened to add, as Gwen was opening her mouth to speak. "We didn't tell you about Eugene or the fact that members of the public will sometimes come forward with potential alien tech. But, he could have also been someone who had it out for Torchwood, or someone wanting to infiltrate us, and we need to know of anything suspicious that might occur. Something bad could have happened."
Gwen looked like she was going to say something, but she simply nodded. "You're right, of course," she answered. "If it happens again, I'll let you know."
"Thank you, Gwen," Jack said.
Ianto couldn't believe it was that simple. If he knew one thing about Gwen Cooper, was that she always had something to say, some rationalization that would cast herself in a better light. Yet, in this case, she was acting perfectly agreeable.
He was very tempted to pull his gun and demand to know what alien race this was, and what they'd done to the real Gwen Cooper.
"Can't we get the tech from him?" she asked. "Maybe appropriate it and then Retcon the man?"
No, this was Gwen all right. Ianto felt distinctly relieved.
"In a case like this, no," Jack answered. "Too many people have seen the item, and while I'm sure Toshiko wouldn't mind crashing eBay – "
"Because she's evil that way," Ianto smirked.
" – it's just too much to do in order to cover up one simple artifact," Jack finished, rolling his eyes. "The best thing for it would be to either bid for it ourselves, or wait to see who does buy it and get it from them."
Ianto knew what he wanted to do: bid for the item. Eugene might have been a bit flighty and too much into conspiracy theories but he was useful, and the last thing the dragon wanted to do was alienate – no pun intended – a potentially valuable resource. And, if word got back to the same circles Eugene traveled in that Torchwood had treated him badly, a source of information could very well dry up.
Gwen might not have been aware of what Torchwood was before she came to work for them, but that didn't mean others didn't.
"That's all, Gwen," Jack dismissed her. "You can get back to work."
"Maybe I can help – "
"No, that's not necessary," the captain said. "Ianto and I will take care of it."
Gwen pouted, but she left the room. "What do you want me to do?" Ianto asked, turning to his lover.
Jack put the tip of his pen in his mouth, clicking it absently against his teeth. "Monitor the bids," he finally said. "I think getting it from the highest bidder is the best thing to do. Once it's been purchased and Eugene's posted it, we can trace it back to where it's going. Then we can get it and Retcon the new owner."
Ianto nodded. It was the best plan they had. "And what about Eugene? If he gets a good price on the Eye, then chances are he might go straight to an online auction from now on."
"We'll have to think of a reason for him not to. I don't want to lose him, even though he's more a hindrance than a help most of the time. There's that off-chance that he could have something valuable."
"Like the Eye."
6 December 2007
Once again, Ianto found himself at his computer, surprised at what he found there.
Who would want to pay fifteen thousand pounds for a Dogon Sixth Eye?
He couldn't understand it. Even at the height of the Belgium bidding wars, an Eye had only gotten as high as three thousand. This seemed too incredible to be real.
He needed to check this out…
"Hey, Tosh?" he called, getting up and heading over to the tech's station.
"Hey, Ianto?" she echoed, turning and favoring him with a smile.
He rolled his eyes playfully. "Have you got a minute?"
"Anything for my favorite dragon."
"I should hope I'm your only dragon," he retorted, recalling Jack saying something like that not all that long ago.
Toshiko clouted him on the shoulder lightly. "Silly. What can I do for you?"
"How would you like to hack eBay for me?"
Her face lit up. "Are you kidding? I haven't done that in ages."
"I thought you might enjoy that." He explained to her what had happened. "I'd like to see if you can find out just who's doing all that high bidding. It just seems extreme for a Sixth Eye."
Toshiko turned back to her screens. "Easy peasy. You could have given me a bit more of a challenge, you know."
"You're the best, Tosh."
"And don't forget it," she answered playfully, already beginning her work.
Ianto smiled, then headed up to Jack's office. He wasn't there, so the dragon used his own unique sense to discover just where his lover was.
Jack was on the firing range, taking practice with the Weevil-shaped targets. Ianto watched as he held his Webley comfortably, hitting each and every thing he aimed at. But then, with over one hundred years of experience, Ianto would have been very surprised if he wasn't an expert marksman.
"Enjoying the view?" Jack asked, lowering his weapon and removing his ear defenders and safety glasses.
"it is rather nice," Ianto admitted, coming fully into the room.
"I'm glad you think so." With a sudden movement, Jack had Ianto pinned against the wall, and was kissing him quite passionately, slipping his tongue into the dragon's mouth and exploring every inch within.
Ianto moaned; he couldn't help it. Dragons didn't kiss, and it had been Jack who'd taught him just how pleasurable it could be. Now, he couldn't get enough, and he returned the kiss just as passionately.
Eventually though, he pulled away. "Sorry," he panted, "business before pleasure."
Jack looked disappointed. "You're no fun."
"That wasn't what you said last night."
His lover's eyes went a bit glassy as he recalled just what had happened the night before. "You have a point. So, what brings you down here, if it wasn't for a quickie on the gun range?"
He explained what he'd found, and Jack whistled. "That's a bit much for a Sixth Eye."
"I know," Ianto answered. "Which is why I asked Tosh to poke around a bit, see if she could find out just who the bidders are."
Jack laughed. "The last time Toshiko hacked eBay she ended up with those silver Manolo Blahniks and a Bekaran deep-tissue scanner."
"She really looks awesome in those shoes."
"And Owen didn't complain about the scanner." Sliding his gun back into its holster, he ushered the dragon out and into the corridor. "It'll be hard to get a bidder that high to forget just what he spent fifteen thousand pounds on."
"And if we intercept the mail," Ianto added as they headed up to the main Hub area, "then it would make just as big a mess. I'm fairly sure that Eugene would figure out it was Torchwood pretty quickly. He might seem scatterbrained, but he's really very intelligent." The dragon had seen his grades, and was still surprised that he hadn't become some sort of mathematician instead of working in an office. "We could always just let it go." They'd done that, with the ones after Canary Wharf; they simply hadn't had the resources to intercept them all.
"That's an option," Jack said slowly. "But I'm really interested in knowing just who thinks an Eye is worth that much."
Ianto had to admit, that he was curious about it, as well. "Someone who apparently doesn't know just what one does, I should think."
"Or someone who just wants to collect alien artifacts, no matter the cost. There are a few out there."
The dragon nodded; that was certainly true. He could name three off the top of his head.
They arrived up into the main area, and the first thing that greeted them was Toshiko, looking extremely pleased with herself. "Here," she said, handing Ianto a post-it note.
"That was quick," he answered, taking the offered note.
"Please," she said dismissively. "It's not like they're UNIT. I could hack eBay with my eyes closed."
He couldn't help but grin as he glanced down at the note.
Ianto frowned. There was a list of five names; two were his and Jack's, and one was Henry Parker's…big surprise. But the other two…
"I know these names," he muttered.
Jack rested his chin on Ianto's shoulder, looking at the note as well. "They aren't any of the bigger collectors, I know that much."
"I can tell you, if you want," Toshiko offered, her expression smug.
Ianto rolled his eyes in fond exasperation. "I'm quite sure you can."
"Cheeky," the technician accused playfully. "Anyway, I'm not surprised you think you know them…they showed up on Eugene Jones' background check – "
Of course. Ianto cursed himself for not realizing it sooner. "They work with him. They're his friends." That epiphany was followed up with, "There's no way they can afford to pay so much for that Eye. Where did they get the funds?"
The smirk on Toshiko's face was priceless. "They didn't."
It hadn't taken Toshiko any time at all to track down Eugene Jones, just by using his mobile phone signal. Ianto parked his vehicle in the lot at the Happy Cook restaurant, glancing in through the establishment's windows in order to try to catch a glimpse of his quarry.
There…he could just make out Eugene, sitting in a booth with his so-called friends. Ianto wondered how Eugene would feel, once he found out that they'd bid on the Eye, in order to build up the price, only to misbid and win, although they didn't have the money to pay for the item. Ianto had a feeling a friendship was about to be ruined, and those two only had themselves to blame.
As he watched, he realized the moment Eugene found out; a fight started, with one of the men – Josh, he thought – reaching across the table toward Eugene. There was a scuffle, and somehow Eugene ended up outside, tackling the would-be thief and grabbing what had to be the Eye.
The dragon was getting out of his car, in order to go to Eugene's aid, when the young man shoved something into his mouth…shit, he didn't just swallow it, did he?
And Eugene was gone, running toward the main road.
Ianto followed, easily catching up with Eugene's out of shape friends and passing them. He wanted to catch up to the young man; he had no idea what sort of effect actually swallowing a Sixth Eye would have, but he didn't want to risk it. He'd have to get Eugene back to the Hub, in order for Owen to remove it as quickly as he could.
And, truth be known, he was actually a bit grossed out by it.
Eugene was only about ten yards ahead of Ianto when he hit the road.
But he obviously didn't see the car coming toward him.
Ianto cursed. He wouldn't be able to get there in time…unless…
He transformed, launching himself forward as his wings were springing from his back. With a loud roar, the dragon flew toward his target, grabbing Eugene in his claws just as the moving vehicle would have struck the fleeing man.
Brakes squealed as the dragon flung himself and Eugene into the grassy verge between lanes, rolling so that he wouldn't land on the frail ephemeral, all the while thinking that Jack was going to kill him for this.
Eugene was awestruck by the Hub…until Owen snuck up behind him and sedated him.
"And you Retconned the witnesses?" Jack asked, leaning on the rail overlooking the autopsy bay.
Ianto sighed. "Yes, Jack. I did. I can to my job, you know."
The immortal turned to regard him. "Hey, I'm not calling you down for saving a life. I just wanted to make sure we don't get reports all over the internet that there's a dragon in Wales. We don't want a repeat of what Archie had to go through."
The dragon winced. Archie up at Torchwood Two had had to recently deal with an American film crew out to investigate Loch Ness. It wouldn't have been so bad if Archie hadn't had to actually coax the real monster into hiding for the duration…
Owen was examining Eugene under one of the many scanners. "I can't believe the prat swallowed it. His gag reflex must be non-existent."
"Can you get it out?" Jack asked, turning back to the procedure.
"I'm gonna have to operate," he answered. "There's no way something that big is coming out on its own."
"I can make the cover story that he was hit by a car, and had to have emergency surgery," Ianto suggested.
"Sounds good. Have Toshiko give you a hand with the hacking. And tell her I know about the Jimmy Choo's, and that I think they'll look great with her lavender dress."
"I don't see why Tosh gets the good stuff," Owen groused, as he began prepping for surgery.
"When you can cover your tracks the way she can, I'm sure you will," Jack said serenely. "Besides, I don't think those new shoes will look as good on you."
"Isn't that an abuse of Torchwood resources?" Gwen asked, joining them at the rail.
"It's only abuse if you get caught," Jack answered.
"But…you know about it…"
"However, I didn't catch her doing it. As far as I could know, she bought those shoes quite honestly. "
"That's splitting hairs!"
"They're my hairs to split." Jack shrugged. "Toshiko earns her perks…when you earn yours, I'm sure I'll be convinced not to catch you as well. It's like me not catching Owen with all that online porn he doesn't watch while he's supposed to be working."
"I don't know what you're talking about, Harkness," Owen denied, not even trying to sound innocent.
"Just so long as no alien tech leaves the base," Ianto put in, "and no one gets hurt. Now, I'm going to go and plot with Tosh. We'll get those hospital records set up by the time Owen's done retrieving the Eye."
The dragon turned and headed over to Toshiko's station, where she was working as if she hadn't just overheard everything.
The Dogon Sixth Eye sat on Jack's desk, glittering innocently. It had taken Owen about an hour to remove it from Eugene's stomach, and they'd managed to get the young man moved to hospital before he could wake up. Ianto had overseen the use of Retcon; they had a liquid form that could be injected through an I.V. for special occasions, but Jack didn't like it, as it was a bit more watered down than the tablet form.
Ianto had also installed surveillance equipment throughout Eugene's house, Jack managing to get Mrs. Jones out for the length of time it took to make sure they would always know what Eugene was up to. They didn't want a repeat of what happened, and besides Ianto wanted to make sure the Retcon held. Since Eugene already knew about Torchwood, all they really needed to do was make certain he didn't remember his rescue by dragon. And, if he did, Ianto would just have to deal with it.
Toshiko hadn't bothered to erase the eBay auction; Eugene would remember that, but as far as anyone was concerned he'd been ripped off by his once-friends. They remembered everything; they'd been too far away to see Ianto change to a dragon, and so they'd only used enough Retcon to set Torchwood's versions of events. The Eye would have been discarded during the emergency surgery.
"You know," Jack mused, staring at the Eye, "it's amazing what trouble a simple thing like this can cause."
The dragon leaned against the desk, in his favorite position. Everyone else had been sent home, and he was just waiting for Jack to hand over the Eye so he could file it away in the Archives. "I know," he said. "People are so…I don't want to use the term 'gullible', but that's pretty accurate."
"Oh, I don't know. I think they just want some sort of proof that human-kind isn't the only life form out there. It's almost like having a fear of being alone."
Ianto could certainly understand that. Being alone wasn't a pleasant thing. Although, now that he had Jack, he didn't have to worry about that any longer. He might not be a dragon, but Jack was as close to a mate as Ianto might ever have. And, with what Toshiko had shared with them after the visitation of the Earth Dragon, he knew they'd been meant for each other.
It made the knowledge that, some day, Jack would most likely break his heart two more times a bit more bearable.
"Let me put that away, and then we can go back to mine," Ianto said, straightening. "I feel like cooking tonight."
Jack grinned. "Sounds like a plan. I'll have everything shut down by the time you get back."
Ianto used his handkerchief to pick up the Eye, then headed down toward the Archives. A part of him wanted to use it, to look back on his life and see it more clearly; but another part really didn't want to relive it. Such things were best left in the past.
He found a small containment box, put the Eye inside, and then slid it into place on the shelf where it would remain.
Then Ianto headed back upstairs, and back to his future.