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Life Happens

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Ianto was hurrying, not quite late but for him even turning up on time was too late for his liking and as he pulled into the parking space Max called out with glee from the back seat. Ianto turned to look in the direction the little boy was pointing and nodded, "Alright then. Engine off, safe to remove the safety harness then."

Max undid the harness on his large care seat and struggled for the door, opening it to clamber down and run towards the group of children yelling that they were here. Ianto got out and calmly stepped to the grass at the front of the vehicle and took a knee as the first child met him, the sea of hands clasping at him as child after child embraced their biological father.

The Survivor's Group.

Once a month they met, many only children now able to have siblings as those who bemoaned the sorrow of not being able to conceive a second child revelled in the friendships with other parent as well as falling in love with children who resembled their own.

This was the third meeting, the three month mark and Ianto rose with a limpet on his back, little arms locked around his neck as the little girl snarled and wriggled. He walked towards the picnic tables as parents now moved to greet the giver of life, the man responsible for the twenty odd children running around … some quite odd with their serious frowns and little coordinated outfits.

"Oh no! You have a horrible animal on your back" one laughed as she retrieved her child, Ianto giving the child a little kiss before settling and a lap was claimed by another child.

"Oh my god" a voice said, a stranger with twins standing there as he looked around at the children and the six women who were calmly preparing the tables to eat as the other men and women had walked back to the vehicles for more food "All these are yours?"

"Yes. These are my wives" Ianto said with a straight face, "We believe in the teachings of the profit. Nice children… how old? I may have a daughter we can promise to one another?"

The man's face paled as he snatched his sons back and slowly started backing up, one of the fathers laughing as he stepped forward to claim his wife "Ianto is family, we all are. He's pulling your leg!"

The man hurried his sons away looking back over his shoulder to show he didn't quite believe them, more laughter as Ianto shrugged and cuddled a child. The roar of an SUV filled the air as Jack sped into the parking lot and skidded to a halt next to Ianto's smaller one, clambering out followed by the rest of the team. The Family all noted the way Ianto's smile faded slightly and he became quiet, the excited childish one gone. A mask had been pulled on that they all talked about. They all saw that Ianto was a closed person, the one they rarely saw was the sweet man their children took after. Clearly things with Jack were still fluid and they exchanged looks.

"Sorry, sorry!" Jack yelled as he waved merrily, "Got me foot stuck in a door!"

"That's a new one" Glenda said softly "Makes a change from the … car won't start"

"Yeah" Jack grinned, then seized a random child and took off screaming with the kids following.

"He still pretends so much he forgets, we know about the Alien thing" Christophe sighed.

I know … he really needs new material that doesn't include the words Alien or shooting" Ianto agreed sagely as everyone laughed softly, "I may make him a word a day calendar or something."

"Hey, you two get any closer to … you know. The conversation?" Fred asked softly, watching the older children race for the wading pool with Owen and Gwen.

"Well …I don't want to push things" Ianto grimaced, "We have another date on Friday."

"Another? Two in the same week?" Ella said with glee as she and Fred had been seeing a lot of Ianto and now saw him as a friend, "So … progressing?"

"Yeah" he smiled softly.

"I don't get it. The house is his that you live in, he clearly loves Max and wants more with you … I really thought he would have moved in with you by now." Fred shrugged.

"Jack … he doesn't do monogamy that well" Ianto was clearly uncomfortable now, "We never agreed to that. I just … if we got serious and then I found someone else waiting for him some nights …I might not feel so happy right now."

"Pessimist" Fred scolded, "Coulda, woulda, shoulda. Come on Ianto, the fear of getting hurt cannot stop the possibility of things feeling so much better. You think the first man who ever tried a segway wasn't scared of falling on his face?"

"You know what happened to the inventor of those things?" Ianto canted his head, "He fell off a cliff on one!"

Fred threw his hands into the air as he puffed with exasperation.

Ianto was such a bloody pessimist.

Chapter Text

Jack leaned in to clip Max into his seat, the little face glowing as he reached out to take Jack's face in his little hands and kiss him "Bye bye Dadda Jack."

"Only until tonight, I will call at bedtime OK?" Jack crooned.

He noted the little face falling and sighed, "Come on now. We talked about this, I have to stay at the Hub an you stay with Tadda Ianto. It's a rules kiddo. Janet might get lonely."

Max let his hands drop to his lap, "Don't handle me."

Jack blinked as he saw Ianto's frown in the small face and knew Max was getting annoyed with the visits. "Maxi, love. I would if I could, I promise but it's just not something that is happening right now."

Unaware of the time bomb he had just charged, Jack kissed the child and closed the door, then ran around to the driver's door to get to Ianto before the door closed, leaning in for a kiss from Ianto before standing back and waving goodbye, the little boy craning his head to look back at the lonely figure.

Ianto turned on the radio and started to tap his fingers to the rhythm as he thought about Fred and Ella. He was still pondering this when the car ahead braked suddenly and he swore as he took evasive action, ending up on the sidewalk.

He glanced back "Oops. Bad word there boss, sorry."

Max stared back silently, making Ianto turn to face him, "Are you OK? Did that scare you love? It's OK. This is a tank!"

"Why can't Daddy live with us?"

Ianto blinked, "Huh? Ah … Max, we discussed this… at length. Daddy and I still need…"

"What about me?"Max challenged his tiny arms folded and Ianto saw himself, a creepy intelligent man in a small child's body and for the first time saw how he must have looked to the outside world at that age.

"Max… let's park" Ianto sighed, leaving the sidewalk and driving to the McDonalds. "Come on, let's get a shake and I will tell you what my thoughts are, OK?"

Max followed with a frown but accepted a thick shake, and a McFlurry with M&Ms … don't ask me how he wangled that… settling to stare at Ianto expectantly.

"OK. Me and Daddy…. We care for one another. Yes I love him but…"

"He sez so too" Max rolled his eyes, "you both say you love but. But. But. But sucks!"

Ianto choked on his thick shake and tried to hide the laughter as his child grew angrier with him, then he leaned in, "There will be no butt sucking at this table young man."

As he had hoped, the boy sniggered with that Jones humour before looking at the table and poking at the napkin his drink was on. Yeah … a coaster kid.

"A long time ago … I loved someone and it went wrong. I am nervous about that happening again. Daddy Jack … he doesn't want to hurt me either and is scared I might get to that sad place without him meaning to. We want it to work. Not just for you but for us as well. The dates outside of work are all so new and …well." Ianto shrugged "I want to hope."

Max pushed the almost gone drink away, "So … it's not a no. It's a maybe with signs of definite?"

"Oh Gods. Are you about to ask me the figures? Got a bet going with Uncle Owen?" Ianto gaped and the child snorted softly with amusement.

"What was wrong with Ella? She was sad" Max showed the Jones intuition as well and Ianto knew he had to be truthful.

"They wanted another baby so Madison would have a sibling but… it's not happening." Ianto said carefully.

"Can't they get another the way they got her?"

"They tried three times before they got her and they have twice since. Of all their tries, she is the only one who sparked darling. It's expensive and scary and so tiring to try then fail. They were telling me that they are giving up. They can't afford it"

"Can we given them the money?" that huge heart asked that was at least two sizes bigger than the entire child.

"They will not accept it. It's a pride thing like ..it's their fight. Sometimes you have to do things for yourself, like you getting your bowtie on today." Ianto said gently, "Like I have to go at my own pace with Daddy. Sometimes it has to be that way."

"But you will get Daddy. They will not get another baby" the sad little one sighed.

Ianto reached out to stroke his son's face, "So handsome So smart. Of course they want another of you, who wouldn't. I could fill the entire world with versions of you and still think there is room for another. A Max in every home… like … Wifi."

Max smiled softly and canted his head to let his cheek rest in Ianto's palm then sighed and slid from his seat to carry his tray to the rubbish like a big boy while Taddy pretended not to help.

Ianto pondered the little boy's questions.

He knew the heart was talking louder than the brain but … could he do something?

Chapter Text

"OH! How did things go at home after the play date ... he had quite a bit of sugar" Gwen smiled as she settled at the meeting table and Ianto looked around the table with that coy blink he has.

"Come on Tea Boy … was he bouncing off the walls all night?" Owen asked.

"No, he was fine. A nice hot bath before bedtime and Jack read him a bedtime story over the phone. Well... I think he did, I couldn't hear what he was telling him" Ianto shrugged.

"So?" Gwen leaned in close, "No closer to something solid there?"

"Solid?" Jack said as he wafted into the room, "A lead in the Gesul Case?"

"No. Gwen is referring to our relationship" Ianto replied calmly and Jack stalled, looking at them both. Ianto rolled his eyes, "As is you and me sir. Not me and Gwen. A healthy comradery there only with her. I am a one person kinda guy."

"Yeah" Jack looked uncomfortable for a second and Gwen leaned back as she pondered this strange conversation. Was this the hold up? Fidelity?

"Jack, speaking of that case. The bartender was well fit" she decided to test the waters and felt Ianto stiffen next to her. Ha. Guessed right.

"I guess, if you like the tattooed skinny man look" Jack shrugged easily as he settled into his own chair, "But … I like mine in a suit these days."

"Oh come on" she decided to push as Ianto went stock still, "You still have your bed warmers right?"

Jack looked up with annoyance then suddenly his face changed as he realised what she was doing and he smiled softly, "I have not been with anyone else since I got back from my time with the Doctor. I might flirt, can't help playing a bit but … no. I have not dipped my wick as Owen likes to put it in anyone else. No. I want this to work with Ianto but I do appreciate your sisterly protection there. Don't worry Gwen … he rings all my bells OK?"

She nodded and glanced over at the man who was suddenly very pale as he moved his files about he didn't even need. Then Ianto said softly, "I thought … that blonde Bobby the other day with those legs…er…"

"Really?" Jack canted his head, "You interested there, Tiger? I didn't know you were…well … still looking."

Ianto looked up and saw the playful smile on Jack's face. "Tease!"

"Says the one who still doesn't let me stay overnight" Jack snorted.

"It confuses him, one day you are there then the next you are not. I would like consistency" Ianto said as he looked at the files again.

"So … Jack should just move in then. There all the time for Max" Gwen said with triumph, "Big of you to say so Ianto."

"I thought I was not invited!"

"I never said you couldn't. I might like that, how do you know I don't want that? Max wants that, I would love to wake up with you but you keep your bloody socks on for a quick getaway and…and….shit." Ianto blinked as he ran out of steam and they all looked at him. He then snapped his pencil and squeaked as he held it up with surprise.

"You know … I like the new Tea Boy, much better than the last one even if you went for the same model. Tell me again how you managed to break him and get a replica with a personality?" Owen asked as he fiddled with a pen shaped like a toilet, "I really like this Ianto. The old Ianto was boring and a bit stuck up. This one is funny. You have to stop breaking things and replacing them with shiny new ones though, the photocopier had my test results still in it when you threw it away."

"Yes, thanks Owen" Jack cleared his throat and motioned for the meeting to start but he kept glancing over at the nervous man who was now beetroot red as Owen silently slid another pen over to him. Unicorn one with glitter in it, Ianto accepting it to start notes.

After the meeting Jack stayed in his seat watching Ianto gather up the files, "Ianto? Would you like me to? I mean… I could stay tonight and see if he is OK finding me there in the morning, right? If he is confused or upset we can say it was a sleepover and no harm done but …"

"But….er…if he's OK…ah…yes. Yes. I would like that" Ianto looked directly into his eyes, "Jack."

Jack watched him bluster off and rose, heading out to find Gwen at the SUV loading a containment box as she argued with Owen about the best route to take for a bit of rift debris.

"Thanks" Jack said without preamble, "Both of you. Thanks for the push. I didn't want it to sound like I was asking. He hates that. I … thanks."

"He never did a housewarming ya know, when you are settled…party?" Owen asked as he leaned into the SUV from the other side.

"If and when it's my home too" Jack promised with delight.

Gwen patted his arm and clambered into the SUV to drive as Owen howled with annoyance, finally realising she had tricked him.

Jack watched them roar off and then walked back in to find Ianto.

He wanted a cuddle.

Chapter Text

He found Ianto in his beloved Archives staring into space. The conversation had obviously shaken him and he was processing so instead of speaking Jack settled on the desk and waited, Ianto eventually turning and sighing softly.

"Must you sit on my desk?" he asked softly.

"Yes" Jack said solemnly.

"Did you mean that?"

"Yes. I must definitely sit here" Jack nodded.

Ianto snorted, then stepped closer, "No … I mean … you want to give us a go? Like … a couple?"

"I hate that word, means some sort of joining together. Like … fitting together, like we need to be whole. Why can't we be two separate entities who enjoy smashing our lives together?" Jack sighed, "I would rather say smash. Let's be Smashers. Yeah? Smacking and slamming, grinding and …. Too much?"

Ianto was laughing, one of those rare occasions when he was showing himself at work and he leaned into Jack, letting Jack slide his knees around him and he wrapped his arms around Ianto's waist as Ianto kissed him.

"So buttoned up" Jack said softly, his hands soothingly sliding up and down that rigid back, "You are a lovely man Ianto, why do you hide so much? You fear rejection? Or having to be seen, part of things when you would rather watch?"

"Yes" Ianto said simply, a hand rising to stroke Jack's face, "Cariad… if we do this … it will be a forever sort of thing. I do not share. Cannot. I would be cloyingly demanding, uncertain and maybe jealous at times when it was not warranted."

"Like me then" Jack assured him, "If we do this … I want a forever thing too. Or as close to it as we can get. I would promise to keep you both in my heart forever and Ianto … you know that is a very long time for a creature like me."

"The last unicorn" Ianto nodded and Jack roared with mirth, rising to kiss Ianto more forcefully.

"If not for your high standards I would fuck you against this desk" Jack growled in Ianto's ear, then slapped his arse as he slid around him and wandered off.

Ianto stood staring into space for a moment then whispered to the empty room "And I might have let you too."

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Jack placed the kitbag in Ianto's car during a lull in the recovery and after work he simply sat in the passenger seat like it was no big deal.

Not a life changing event.

Not the stat of a forever kinda thing.

Ianto slid behind the wheel like it was something they had agreed on, Ianto taking the helm as the Captain deferred.

Not some life altering event.

Not a forever kinda thing.

They drove to Rhiannon's and Ianto tooted, the front door slamming back as Max ran to the car and slammed into the side of it, wresting with the door handle as Rhiannon calmly walked out and opened said door, then leaned in to buckle the child in, then she saw Jack.

"Hi" Jack said softly.

Max screamed as he reached for Jack, popping neatly out of the belt as Rhiannon swore softly and Jack laughed as he accepted a cuddle.

"No buckle, no go!" Ianto coddled and the boy settled back.

"Sorry Aunty Rhia" he said in his little singsong voice.

"Well, not every day your Tad has a surprise like that in the car I guess" she whispered and the little boy giggled happily.

They headed home and Jack helped Max out of his seat, walking with him to the door Ianto was opening for the Victorian style two story house, it's nature seemed welcoming as the warmth slid out for them.

"Wow, that furnace really throws it out" Jack said as he helped Max out of his coat.

"Natural heating, this place is brilliant. "Come on, let's get the TV on for the little man" Ianto was excited, even though Jack had been here numerous times, this was something new. Max seemed to know it as well, looking back to make sure they were both following as he asked if he could have a Scooby Doo one on please.

"How about Daddy sorts that while I get the tea sorted" Ianto said softly, "Pizza, homemade of course."

"YAY!" two voices screamed happily.

Ianto felt light as air, fussing in his little kitchen as the 'children' fought over the remote, which Scooby Doo movie and if popcorn might be included.

"The Island one with Rowan Atkinson" Ianto decided for them, "and yes…popcorn to follow while this cools."

"YAY!"

Ianto came back in to find the blanket across laps and space for him, max happy to be between them as he clutched the plate of pizza. Ianto had been unaware of the level of love he could feel, the overwhelming swelling in your heart when faced with an idyllic promise of a future he thought only belonged to others.

Jack watched Max nod off to sleep and whispered, "We can forego the wash yeah?"

Ianto watched Jack lift the little boy to put him into bed knowing a facecloth would be used to lovingly wash face and hands, rushing to gather up the dishes.

This time, it all felt….

Right.

Chapter Text

"So?" Ella prodded at Ianto under the table with her foot as she watched Fred lifting the boys into the ball pit.

"So … he kinda moved in the other night" Ianto gushed as he looked at his hands, the cup of hot chocolate clasped between them a compromise as he could not stomach the coffee at the kiddie centre.

"NO!" she squealed, Fred returning to time to see.

"What?"

"Jack moved in" she relayed to her husband who lit up, reaching out to clap Ianto on the back.

"Well done mate, how did it feel?" he asked as he accepted his drink.

"Well … terrifying, liberating and sort of ... well … naughty. Like sneaking pre-purchased chocolate into the picture theatre." Ianto giggled and the couple shared a look, then Fred nodded.

"Jack sort of came to us a few days ago to talk" she leaned back to gauge Ianto's reaction which was guarded, as always with Jack involved.

"And" he asked as he looked through his lashes.

"He asked us about Tommy. About our struggle, how it felt and then he slowly got around to you. Asked us if we thought you liked him in a romantic way or a shag way" Fred snorted, "When we said definitely romantic he lit up like a bloody Christmas tree."

"Really?" Ianto re-enacted said lighting up for them and they smiled lovingly at their friend.

"Look, life is short. Even shorter for your ilk, right? Seize him, enjoy him and have some fun for the love of god!" Ella advised, "Stop trying to please everyone, please yourself for a change Yan. You deserve happiness too … look at what you did. Look over there!"

Ella pointed and Ianto turned to see his two..well…sons I guess … wrestling in a ball pit as a little girl struggled to get in, her mother finally lifting her in before waving as the other parents started to arrive for group.

"I wanna seize him alright" Ianto growled, then blushed as Ella giggled at the cute display.

"Hey guys" Wanda flopped onto a chair as her husband slowly made his way towards them, their toddler sleep in the push chair, "Hey Ianto. Was gonna ask … you considered giving more? I mean …. We are ready to try for number three and as you are the father to the two we already have … you know ... the third would feel better coming from the same source. With the Clinic gone…."

Ella looked at her in a weird way and Ianto caught it, frowning, "Don't tell me you were going to ask the same thing!"

"Well … I know the Clinic is toast, the Agency offers others but not you. I agree with Wanda, another baby that looks the same would be better. For the kids as well as us. I know you've not provided in a long time… we can't' afford the bloody fees anyway. Like … maybe the old turkey baster approach? Any ideas?"

Ianto stared at them silently, then asked "Does that even work?"

"AH!" Fred pointed "He says as he considers!"

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"Yes, it does" Owen nodded as he swung in his chair, "I mean ... it's not an exact science but I've known Lesbian friends who did it that way, they got the jizz handed out the bedroom door and …to know…squirt. Took a couple of goes I think."

Owen mimed squirting a syringe as Ianto grimaced, then Jack leaned forward "What do you want to do Tiger? You know ... I will support you in either decision. The children out there worry you now, you check them all. I know you do. Like some guardian angel, you watch them. Spread thin sometimes. More? But then … seeing them makes you happy too. The idea you gave something worthy to the world? Helped."

Ianto smiled at Jack, so pleased he knew how he felt already and there was no need for some long winded argument about it. Jack had simply shrugged and said 'makes sense' when he told him

"I think … we try and see if it feels right? If I feel sleazy or weird after the one try then … no. That's it. But …if we can … I ….."

"I think that a wonderful idea Pet" Gwen patted his arm "I know this has taken a lot to talk to us about, I know you hate the idea that everyone will look at you, want something from you and still you consider their feelings. I think it's a wise idea to try one like a trial run. Ella and Fred are the ones you are closest to. A weekend somewhere. Not in your own home, might be too personal then. How about a weekend at the seaside or something, the kids would love that. Then that night … a container left out … like Owen said. Jizz into a cup and pass it out the door. Nothing needs to be said or discussed about it. Like … putting out the milk bottles yeah?"

"Yeah" Ianto smiled as she made it seem simple.

"Yeah, Jack will milk him then pop it outside the door for collection" Owen said with syrupy sweetness.

To their delight Ianto roared with mirth, his deep booming laugh echoing as Myfanwy poked her head out of her nest to look down lovingly at her skinny chick.

He was happier these days, her little one.

All about the little ones ya know.

Chapter Text

Owen was swinging in his char with his pen tapping against his teeth. Something was on his mind and Ianto could read him like a book so once he had placed his coffee down he settled with his own mug to wait.

"You know … I got to thinking" Owen said after a while, Ianto humming to show he was listening.

"It seemed…the Hunter thing … it seemed to pick and choose who it went after an I wondered why" Owen said as he swing some more, the little alien squishy getting a good squishing as he looked over Ianto. "I did some more tests on the blood samples from the victims. I found something … weird."

"Weird?" Ianto canted his head and Owen looked at him again.

"Ianto … did you ever take part in those tests Yvonne liked to do on her minions?" Owen asked.

"I don't know what you mean" Ianto blinked slowly "I never took part in that project."

"The project" Owen repeated, "what project mate?"

"I don't know what you mean" Ianto blinked slowly "I never took part in that project."

Owen leaned back, placing the alien squishy down and then turned to roar up the stairs "JACK!"

Jack came skipping down with his coffee and leaned against the desk, "Yes dear?"

"I was wondering if you would ask Ianto about the T1 Projects" Owen said calmly.

"I don't know what you mean" Ianto blinked slowly "I never took part in that project."

Owen grinned and poked Jack in his side, "Go on. Ask him!"

Jack frowned at Own then said "Ianto? The Project?"

"I don't know what you mean" Ianto blinked slowly "I never took part in that project."

Owen sniggered and then managed to splutter out "Come on mate, was it a good project?"

"I don't know what you mean" Ianto blinked slowly "I never took part in that project."

Ianto then seemed to shudder and took a step back, "what the fuck is that!"

"Retcon Block" Jack answered with interest, "Ianto … Yvonne used to choose projects and…"

"I don't know what you mean" Ianto blinked slowly "I never took part in that project. Goddamn it!"

"Yeah Definitely" Owen nodded, "We need to get Tosh to go through the old T1 files. Ianto's name mist be in there somewhere, if we can find the P… er … Muskrat he was involved with maybe we can work out what she was testing on him. Then … we might know what the enzyme is I found in the children."

"Max?" Ianto said softly.

"Yeah. Weird, not in you. Like … it needed to pass on or something" Owen agreed, "Ya know … not all the kids. Maybe you donated soon after the Muskrat happened and it's only the kids from that batch that are effected. The two fatalities that were not from you are from another donor … all from the same one. I think Tosh needs to check if that was a T1 operative who took part in the same Muskrat. Could be I found the pattern."

"So .. .whatever it was in the Muskrat … it's not in me anymore?" Ianto frowned.

"Don't know, need to test you some more"

Owen grinned and Ianto sighed, "Blood. You know, you are a fucking Vampyre!"

"Yes. Like the T1 Project" Owen couldn't resist.

"I don't know what you mean" Ianto blinked slowly "I never took part in that project."

Owen roared with mirth as Ianto swung at him and Jack looked up at Tosh who was leaning over the railings with Gwen listening.

"I can try … Their Mainframe doesn't like me though." She sighed.

"He likes poetry" Ianto said as he reached out to pick up the now empty cups and they all gaped at him.

"Ianto?"

"Yes Jack?"

"He?"

Ianto turned to face Jack. "T1 Mainframe. He's a boy. Like ours is a girl. He doesn't like her, they clash. You need to read him poetry, he really likes funny ones. Limericks. Sense of humour there."

"Ianto … are you saying the Mainframes are alive?" Tosh asked with shock.

"They are sentient beings" Ianto looked up with surprise, "You know that … right? Little Brillion Crystals. Not big enough to power a Tardis or anything .. I mean … you need all sorts of other things for that but like the one on Jack's desk … they grow without casings too. Just can't fly."

Everyone stared at Ianto was looked at them all and then sighed, "You didn't know?"

"Ianto … the Chrystal on my desk is a baby Tardis. Yes, I know that but … I did not know it was what will become a Mainframe" Jack explained, "How do you know that?"

"Ralf told me" Ianto said with a shrug.

"Ralf?"

"T1 Mainframe. Ralferssun. He likes to be called Ralf. He lived under the Secure Archives. I dropped a cufflink and pulled up the grating. He was so excited to see someone. I still try to talk to him when I can but I can only call him outside of work as Frannie and him fight all the time. If she knows I am calling him she keeps interrupting the call with rude noises."

"Franny"

"Franny. Our Mainframe." Max said as he leaned over the bottom rails, "Hi Taddy. Aunty dropped me off, don't worry. I told her you were in the Loo so she wouldn't know about the secret base."

"Thank you love" Ianto smiled.

"Our boy knows about Franny." Jack huffed.

"Our boy?" Ianto lit up and stepped into Jack's space, "I like the sound of that. Of course he does, she loves him and his chess playing abilities."

Jack hugged him as he tried to stay calm, the revelations just keep in coming today.

Chapter Text

"Hi" Ianto settled on the sofa in Jack's office, "I … you really didn't know Franny was alive? All this time you've lived with her?"

"I can't believe you do know she is sentient" Jack smiled, showing he was not annoyed or worried about it "It all makes sense now. The teapot… that's why you empty it over that grating by the storage room?"

"Yeah. She likes tea." Ianto sorted, "Cheeky if I am late with it too. It never occurred to me to say anything. I was not hiding it."

No!" Jack rushed to reassure, "I don't think that. I know you would not keep something like that from me intentionally."

"So… you really think I took part in a …Muskrat… and it's part of what brought that thing here?" Ianto frowned.

"What make sense to…hey buddy" Jack smiled as Max stood in the doorway watching them.

"Are you fighting?"

"No, there would be less clothing and…ow!" Jack laughed as Ianto slapped his arm, "No sweetie. Me and Taddy are talking about something that is serious, we look frowny and stuff but about the thing we are talking about, not each other."

"Good. Cos… you know. I don't wanna fight" Max said as he entered and clambered onto the couch.

"We are discussing the sixth birthday coming up for someone we know. I think it should be a learning experience with books and things but Daddy thinks it should be fun with toys. I am conflicted." Ianto sighed theatrically and Max stalled out, wide eyes going between them.

"Mine? It is mine at the end of the month ya know. I will be six. Me?"

"No. A horrible child we must destroy with lots of green slime and peas" Ianto said with a huff.

Max giggled and wriggled, "Can I have a party? Please? A real one with balloons and one of those fountain things ya shove marshmallows in?"

"A chocolate fountain?" Ianto asked as the boy made begging motions with his hands "Max, you really thing we should let Uncle Owen near one of those things? I would need to put so many drop cloths down it will look like a murder room from the Dexter show you are not allowed to watch!"

Max was giggling as he slid closer and then leaned against Ianto with large puppy dog eyes that made Jack gush softly. "Well … I guess the Pirate Bay can be rented out one afternoon for…."

Max was screaming as he ran from the room, racing to tell Own who started screaming as well. Ianto closing his mouth as he looked over at Jack, "Was that a good idea?"

"Ianto … the children's Pirate Bay Ply Centre is perfect for all the families to come. All his siblings can be there. We can all have some fun and with it locked down to just us, there will be an added safety element. Add to that we will not have to clean it all up, they have a cleaning fee as I recall from Owen's last party there."

"Yes, but this time it will not be massage oil everywhere. I still don't know why he thought we would like that" Ianto sighed, "Strange little man with a warped sense of hum…hey Owen."

Owen was racing into the room, "Really? Can we dress up too?"

"YEAH!" Max screamed as he hadn't thought of that, "We can be pirates! Uncle Owen… we can send someone off the gangplank in to the foam pit!

"YESSSSS!" Owen pointed at Max, "Or ARGHHHHHHHH"

"Arghhhhh" Max said back and they took off with matched excitement.

"I'll book it now" Jack smiled as he reached for the phonebook. He was pleased to learn it was available the weekend of Max's birthday and booked it out for the afternoon.

"Jesus, still another two weeks until the party … will they last until then or do we need a little sleepover beforehand to settle them down." Ianto huffed as he walked to the glass so he could watch Owen lift Max into the air and swing him about. Loving, he can be so sweet and loving when not thinking about how inadequate he is.

"Maybe some sample foods for the party and a little 'pirates of the Caribbean' movie night? Just the team and Rhys? Like a pre-party. Then he will get two parties and feel extra special." Jack agreed as he stepped up behind Ianto and let his hands slide around those lovely hips, leaning in to kiss the back of Ianto's neck, "You are so lovely."

Ianto blushed knowing Tosh could look up an see this wanton display of affection and right on cue she did, smiling broadly as she waved and he meekly raised a hand in answer then wriggled his fingers as Jack started to hum softly, swaying them on the spot.

Tosh said something and Gwen looked as up well, her own grin warm as she waved back then turned to throw some paper balls at the boys.

"Look at that" Jack whispered in Ianto's ear before sucking the lobe in "the kids are all playing nice."

Ianto giggled as he leaned back and let Jack sway him.

Felt right.

Chapter Text

"Owen?"

Owen looked up from his notes and leaned back as Ianto walked down the stairs to him, a file in his hand.

"Councillor Warring is one who came up in the database …ah ... from the clinic. The thing is, at the time it was obvious from the photo that he is mine but they had put another name down on the notes. I didn't think much of it at the time, a clerical error and as he was also a T1 Agent I thought they had made an honest mistake." Ianto headed over the piece of paper, "This is the name you have too?"

"Yep" Owen nodded, relieved to see he was right "This kid might be the key. Because it had two donor names…maybe more. If we can find the Muskrat the two of you were in, we might find more donors too. A connection that might help us understand why it happened. Could be the Muskrat is the thing it was following. Not you ... the agents who were part of it."

"Especially if another one is sent" Ianto said softly as he turned to leave and Owen's hand froze, the file almost to his desk as he looked up at Ianto.

"What?"

"Well … more than one Terminator movie right? There was a whole franchise. Stands to reason, if he was not just a rift victim … maybe he was sent like bloody John Hart uses the tears to travel. If so ... we should really expect another one."

Owen let the file hit the desk and leaned back again, seeing the logic, then he rose and went up to watch Max play some sort of game with Tosh. Like Chinese checkers but intensely difficult, stacking, moving and removing.

"What is that?"

"Klingon dominoes" the child muttered.

"He made it up" Tosh gushed, "So clever and it's based on Star Trek Klingon. He even learned the language."

Ianto settled on the floor next to his son and placed down the plate of sandwiches. Not on the floor, the coffee table. He was not that loose! He settled back and then spoke in a weird guttural snarl. "ghop choSay'moHlaH mister?"

"HIja' fahter chaH" Max answered and Tosh giggled as she listened to him asking Max if his hands were clean in Klingon.

"They have an official language?" Owen snorted with a sneer, then he sobered up, "Can I learn it? Is it on CD?"

Tosh smiled as the Treckie showed herself, gushing slightly as she pointed to her desk "It's on there. Picture of the enterprise on the cover."

Owen rushed to get it and grinned happily, retreating as he had something to help him think. Owen has a strange mind, an excitable one and sometimes having something to do helps focus it so something else in the background can be seen.

"HAMISH!" Owen roared soon after, "Found him. You were right, he was in the same Muskrat Frannie found in the Ralf's servers. Shit. Looks like you were both part of some sort of … a Super Soldier Project."

"I don't know what you mean" Ianto blinked slowly "I never took part in that project."

"Shit sorry" Owen snorted, then started to giggle as Ianto glared at him so deeply his eyes seemed to disappear.

"Come on Owen, please say Muskrat. We agreed not to say anything about the T1 Projects" Jack scolded.

"I don't know what you mean" Ianto blinked slowly "I never took part in that project."

Jack glanced at him and grinned widely, "oops."

"Stop it!" Ianto growled then they saw a tugging at the corners of his mouth and he snorted as well. Finally he saw the funny side of it and they all relaxed as he let go of his annoyance at himself.

"So. What do you know about this Muskrat?" Jack asked as he hooked a sandwich and ruffled Max's hair.

"Apparently it was supposed to make the subject strong, able to go days without rest or food … like I said. Super soldier. But there were setbacks, reactions and some…fatalities occurred. She shelved it, Retconned those involved and stuffed it back into the recesses of her many failures."

"So … that's why I am an insomniac? I wasn't one until T1" Ianto surmised "Makes sense. Max here only needs four or five hours a night too. Huh."

"Once he's fully grown I would say that will drop to two or three a night like you usually are" Jack nodded "So ... that side of it worked. What bit went mad?"

"Not sure, me and Tosh have to find another limerick book before we can ask for that .. also we now have the operative list and Hamish is definitely on it with Ianto. He is the other one the thing was using as a reference. So … I definitely think this Muskrat is to blame."

"Jack?" Gwen finally spoke, "Do we have to say Muskrat all the time, I mean ... we've said project before in many situations and it never…"

"I don't know what you mean" Ianto blinked slowly "I never took part in that project."

"Yes. He is keyed to it. In time he will let it go but for now, it is like ringing a bell. It didn't happen before as he was not consciously thinking about it." Jack said as he drew Ianto against him, the murderous look on Ianto's face a warning that Gwen really should not have tried that.

"Sorry pet."

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrowl

Max giggled and made a growling noise as well, then looked up, "See Aunty Gwen. We are both wild creatures here."

"Lovely" she gushed as she knelt and kissed his little face, "Our wild creatures. Amazeballs!"

"Still not a word" Ianto muttered as he relaxed against Jack and let him soothe.

Chapter Text

"So … Hamish and Ianto worked together, were in the Muskrat together and both donated to the clinic" Owen confirmed, "The Muskrat is the reason the attacks happened, that enzyme is in his kids as well as Ianto's."

"So … whatever it is, it didn't work for us" Ianto frowned.

"Well, he died. Sort of …melted. Like … gross. You were unharmed, only one of three that didn't die or go nuts and that's why she panicked and shelved it. Apparently you were the only one to complete the series of … whatever this was. Looks like radiation, some unknown stuff injected into you, water emersion … a lot is redacted … can't read it all. Corrupted too I'm afraid but … looks like you were the success but she was terrified. Something happened that made her both elated and afraid of you."

"Of him … not for him?" Jack sat forward, "Ianto did or became something she wanted but didn't realise how strong maybe? How well it would worked? Like … it was twice as successful or whatever?"

"We might never know. It was deleted so well even Ralf doesn't understand the questions about it" Tosh sighed, "It's almost like they managed to Retcon him too."

"Look … whatever it is … it might not matter now" Owen said as he watched Ianto lean into Jack more, the conversation clearly upsetting him. "You know … we are chewing and chewing when maybe if we let it settle it will all sort itself out, yeah?"

"Owen's right" Jack said as he squeezed Ianto around the waist, "Besides. We have some flotsam and jetsam over in Splot."

"Ah god!" Owen slumped to the floor like someone had cut his strings, "I don't wannnna goooo!"

"Well Gwen and Ianto are going so you don't have to" Jack assured him, smiling as Owen clambered up to his feet and whooped, scooping up the little boy who had been wandering past and Max laughed as he clung to his weird friend.

"Team Wales!" Gwen crowed as she raced for the doors, "I'm driving!"

"Of course, I'm holding the barf bag" Ianto muttered with a frown, the twinkling in his eyes showing his delight in having her happy. Jack had noticed that … Ianto gained pleasure from pleasing others.

Gwen roared up out of the underground car park and they were soon zooming along the road with the music blaring as Ianto quietly looked through the PDA and checked the data Tosh was sending through.

"You know… we…FUCK!" Gwen screamed as a logging truck came through the stop sign and Ianto had seconds to drop the PDA and unclip her belt, dragging her from the driver's seat into his lap as the driver's side was wiped out, the SUV lifting into the air and swinging around, Gwen screaming again as she clung to Ianto who had an arm around her waist, the other around her head to hold her firmly against his shoulder.

They hit another car, the front of the SUV gong under the trailer wheels of the rig, shuddering and jumping as it was slammed. Ianto slid his head and let Gwen's rest against the headrest, closing his eyes. It hit the lamp post swinging some more. Then another car locked into its own dance of doom.

Then there was a weird silence as Gwen panted and slowly opened her eyes, just the ticking of the engine as it died.

"Ianto?" she shakily sat up to look at the man who had just saved her life, his sightless eyes staring back at her as he sat with his head crushed between the seat and the door support. To save her he had let her have the head support.

"Ianto?"

.

.

.

.

"You know … there is this weird symbol" Owen showed the piece of paper to Jack, "It's called The Three Families"

"The what families?" Jack took the page and looked at it, frowning deeply, "where have I seen that before."

The phone was going and Owen swung to watch Tosh answer it, her smile fading as she seemed to stagger for her chair and sit listening, nodding like the person on the other end might be able to hear her.

Owen had a suddenly really bad feeling as he rushed to her. "Toshi?"

Jack had noticed as well, walking towards them and she looked at him silently, handing him the phone.

"Hello?

"Gwen?"

Jack threw the phone like it was a poison snake, staggering back from it with horror as he seemed to gasp for air then grab for Tosh, pulling her in.

Owen had a really, really fucking bad feeling.

"What is it?"

"Just a moment" Jack said softly, his shoulders sagging at he rubbed Tosh's back and then released her to stroke her cheeks, wiping tears away. "OK? Owen and I will go get Gwen and….and…him. You look after Max, yeah?"

"Jack I…I…"

"Don't' say it. Not now. Think of Max, please. Look after him" Jack kissed her and then headed for the doors as Owen followed apprehensively.

Jack didn't speak and when Owen turned to ask him why a single tear rolled down Jack's steel cheek.

Owen was afraid now.

Chapter Text

The carnage was the first clue and Owen made a noise in the back of his throat as they got to the SUV that had been pulled to the side to allow rescue vehicles through. Gwen was sitting on the running board with an icepack, her face streaked with blood and tears as she let a medic see to the scalp wound.

"Where is he?" Jack said thickly.

"They've laid him behind the SUV I said to leave him. I didn't … I knew you would want to pick him up" she pointed and Owen walked slowly around to look at the body under the blanket, Jack kneeling to crouch with his hands in his knees for a long time before he gathered up the body and he hugged him as he pulled the blanket down to stroke Ianto's face, kissing him as he lamented the short time they had. Owen turned away, unable to watch as he went back to Gwen.

"Christ, my head is killing me" Ianto sighed as he opened his eyes and stared back at Jack, then those lovely stormy eyes widened, "Oh gods, Gwen! Is she OK?"

Jack held him, could only hold him and stare as Ianto blinked.

"Cariad?"

"Hi" Jack whispered as he stoked Ianto's cheek and considered the wonder of it. "Ianto, how do you feel?"

"Like… I just crawled over broken glass .. .but I guess we did to get out. How did we get out? Gods, is that the SUV?" Ianto started to struggle and Jack helped him to his feet, "Oh shit!"

"It's OK. We have another one" Jack said with his mind still whirring, "Just metal. Just a thing."

"Still! I have the bloody radio all sorted on that one, the other one is shit!" Ianto huffed and Jack started to laugh softly.

Owen walked around from Gwen and saw Ianto standing there, relieved as he moved forward. He had expected worse the weird way everyone was acting and why had they done that with the bloody sheet "Bud. You OK?"

"Yeah, banged my head" Ianto frowned as he rubbed at it, "Throbs like a bastard."

Come on then, let's get you home for a quiet afternoon yeah?" Owen suggested and as they walked towards the other SUV Gwen slid from the seat with her mouth open, Ianto walking without help if a little unsteadily, clearly alive.

"Ianto?"

"Thank the Gods, are you OK?" Ianto reached for her, "Man, we got really shaken up, like we were in a pinball machine. Is your brain as mooshed as mine?"

"You died" she said softly as she let him embrace her, her arms seizing him tight, "you were gone. Dead."

"Gwen, do I look dead?" Ianto laughed softly, "Look. I'm fine sweetie."

"Ianto… you … like Jack. You … Resurrected." She said as she looked around with confusion, "You … you came back."

"Come on, he's not Superman" Jack joked as he tried to cover up what was happening,

"Like … Odin or something!" Owen laughed.

Ianto seemed to stall out as he stared at her and Jack felt a tickle in the back of his mind as he said softly, "The Odin Objective!"

"I don't know what you mean" Ianto blinked slowly "I never took part in that project."

"Right. So … what was this Muskrat?" Owen asked as he watched Ianto scrub at his head like rats were scuttling about in there.

"We will talk about it back at Base, let's just give Ianto a chance to settle back into his skin, yeah?" Jack asked as Gwen stepped over to touch Ianto, looking at his face that seemed unblemished without the broken cheekbone she had stroked and wept over before pulling the sheet over his body.

"Are you sure you are OK Gwen?" he asked again, hugging her one more, "Come sit in the back with me I … gods, I am so discombobulated."

"Me and Gwen will sit with you love, Owen can drive, yeah?" Jack cajoled the shaky man into the back and sandwiched him between Gwen and himself, pulling at his hands until they were being rubbed softly, "It's OK. You are OK. All that matters."

"That … Odin. I know what that is but…like … it's on the corner of my vision and I can't quite see it" Ianto sighed, "I want to hold Maxi."

"You will love" Jack assured him, "Gwen, I think Rhys can come into the Hub OK?"

"Thanks, I …. That would be grand. Yes" she nodded as she leaned against Ianto, "I was so sure you were dead."

"Maybe I was" Ianto said with a soft smile, "Maybe Jack is contagious. Not bad, worse things to rub off on I guess … I mean … I don't know what I mean. So…so … messy in here. My brain is having some sort of conniption."

"It's OK. Just sit and breathe yeah? We will all sit and just…breathe. We will go to the Hub, get Max and then go home. Gwen, Rhys, Tosh and Owen can all come to ours for some fish and chips for tea and we will all talk then. We will feel better and safer. Yeah?"

"Yeah" Ianto nodded as he rubbed his face, "I died, didn't I?"

"Yes love" Jack whispered and Ianto said something that made Jack's hair stand up on the back of his head.

"I always hated the coming back bit."

Chapter Text

Fish and chips were a hit, Max in the bath tub with so many toys he would prune before agreeing to get out, so Jack padded though to the living room with the bathroom door open and the baby monitor on the boy. So ... OK it was a full on camera and everything but this was their only baby ya know, the large screen full of the boy laughing as everyone watched.

"OK. Odin" Owen said and Ianto turned ot look at him with interest.

"Odin is the chief god of Norse mythology, who gained great wisdom by undergoing several trials. In order to achieve knowledge from beyond the realm of the dead, Odin decided to sacrifice himself. He took a spear and drove it into his side. Then he tied a noose to the world-tree Yggdrasil, and hanged himself for nine days. He then returned stronger than ever. The God of Gods." Ianto informed him.

"Also … the name of a Muskrat Yvonne was invested in. Something to do with some blood samples from like … years ago. Decades. Like … ah… 1927. Called the Angelo Samples." Owen was talking and looked up in time to see Jack pale, "Hit a nerve?"

"I was … subjected to an experiment back then … yes. That name … Anglo was someone involved. I was bled dry several times so they could watch me come back. They sold the blood like it was some elixir. Stands to reason she somehow got some"

"the thing I notice most in all this is that he had not reacted to the name even if it was clearly recognised as part of the Muskrat. Maybe that was left out of the files that were handed to the participants." Owen pointed at Ianto who frowned. He was still stuck on the image of Jack's torture. Gods, that would haunt him now.

"So … why did the others die? Three of us didn't. What happened to the other two?" Ianto asked.

"I tracked one down. In Provy House!" Tosh said with delight, "He is not the other provider. That one died. This is the only other remaining one."

"No offspring?" Owen guessed and she nodded, "Poor bugger is mad and safe at least in there."

"I assume that's why he's been under the radar for the Thing. He went about quarter of the way through, nowhere near what Ianto went through. He scrubbed out as they were satisfied that he didn't seem to take to the treatment." Tosh agreed. "No offspring ... no trigger."

Ianto rose and went to the bathroom, setting on the side of the tub and Jack placed his hand up to halt all talk, "Ianto is getting upset, let's call it a night."

"You are pruning, look at you. Benjamin Button getting older and younger at the same time. Look at those fingers!" Ianto was scolding over the monitor and Jack smiled as he watched Ianto lean over to kiss the little boy on the screen, "Well? Can't have a bedtime story with Daddy if ya don't' get PJs on young man."

Everyone watched Max light up as he scrambled out of the bath and held his arms out for Ianto to dry him lovingly, talking excitedly, "Daddy makes all the noises too. He is the bestest ever reader ya know. Out loud I mean."

"Well … sometimes he reads to me in a silly voice too. A big weird when it's a letter from her Majesty mind. I had no idea she sounded like a sailor" Ianto replied and the sweet little laugh echoed as Max threw his head back, his hands on Ianto's shoulders as he stepped onto his PJ bottoms.

"Taddy?"

"Yes my little stinker?"

"You will not leave me…right?"

Ianto looked up at Max and Jack watched something flicker across his face as he took Max's face in his hands and leaned in close "Max. I swear to you on Odin Himself. I will never go away. Me and Daddy are here forever, "

"Good. I don't ever want to be alone. They were nice but … not my parents. I knew that. They tried but .. .didn't feel right. You do. You and Daddy are the same as me. Right?" Max canted his head, "Like Odin. We just come back. Right?"

"Shit" Owen breathed, "Was he listening?"

"No. He knows" Tosh said as she considered things, "Ianto 2.5. He has listened all along, thought about it, surmised, read what was on our desks … like Ianto … gleaning from everything around him. He is almost a clone."

"Wait. Ianto is immortal?" Rhys asked.

"Think so. Like me. My blood … some sort of weird project…don't know. Seems so" Jack nodded as he watched the screen, Max doing up his buttons as he went through the prime numbers with Ianto then moved on to spelling. Jack didn't voice his other fear. What did this make Max?

"Wait. Did he just spell Lamination?" Owen gaped.

"Yep, and that was Crematorium" Jack said proudly.

"How old is he again?" Rhys asked.

"Sixth birthday coming up. We have to think about putting him back into school but he is so advanced." Jack smiled, "Thinking about a dog."

"Does he like them?" Gwen asked, "Or is he a cat person? Ianto is so …so him. I see Ianto with a cat for some reason."

"I don't know…ya know … I never thought to ask. He did like Moses." Jack considered, "Huh. Ya never know."

"Well ask. He might be allergic or something" Gwen nodded, satisfied that she had done her duty as a mother hen.

Now Jack was worried.

He already had the bloody dog picked out.

Chapter Text

Ianto was stumbling, his head full of hornets that were biting and clawing at him. His hand slid along the wall as he clutched the teapot in the other, the concentration as he put one foot in front of the other immense and more than once a sob escaped as the pain became unbearable.

He had suffered migraines before, but not like this. His skull was splitting in two. He could practically hear the tearing, honestly. Almost there, he had a promise to keep and he ever forgot those, never. He slid down the wall, finally there in the safety of the secure archives as he knew she searched for him.

They probably all searched for him, the fucking klaxons so loud as the alarms sounded to say he had escaped. But then … that might just be his brain doing that, making that sound as it swelled in his skull like the others. His handler Lisa said he was melodramatic, even as she smiled and patted his hand all the time. If not for the fact she was one of Yvonne's he might have had a go at that ya know. Nice legs.

They were dead, he had lain there strapped down as he watched two interns convulse and die, blood pouring from their ears, mouth, nose … even eyes like they were crying blood. It was horrific to watch knowing they were all on the same trial. Christ one had been a good friend he was flatting with. Shit, that will bugger up the lease. Watching the doctors run about screaming 'not again' as they tried to save them was no comfort either ya know. Then he had blacked out he thought he was gone too.

He had woken alone, silent and cold in a room by himself.

He remembered his promise.

"Ralf" his voice rasped, "Buddy. This might be the last time I can do this … she really fucked things up this time. Here ya go … you be careful. You are important ya know"

He tipped the tea into the grating that sat by his desk, watching it swirl away. As he leaned over the grating he was struck with a scent, like … green apples mixed with cinnamon. Sweet, yummy. Ya know?

Then there was this brilliant golden glow… came like tendrils, like some alien was loose down there but he was not afraid. He was dying, he knew whatever she had done, it was working and this was just a hallucination or something. It had happened slower than the others but he was weeping, his hand wiping blood from his cheek. He was dying.

"Yvonne, what did you do" he sighed, letting himself fold over the grate. "Goodbye Ralf, I will miss you. You are probably the only friend I have here apart from Lisa and I think she is just crafty enough to handle me."

Ianto let his eyes slide shut as he hoped Lisa would be OK.

Funny.

He thought dying would be a bright light, sort of a whooshing feeling then ... a room or something.

Funny.

Looks just like the secure archives.

Ianto watched Yvonne and several of the medical team running towards him as he sighed softly as he realised he had just woken from a fugue not died damn it all, those lovely warm fingers that had stroked the back if his neck disappearing back down the grating as Ralf released him.

"What happened, what do we do?" the doctor asked as she shakily reached out for Ianto, "Looks like he has survived."

"Retcon" Yvonne barked, "Retcon the survivors and put them back at their desks. Monitor them and if they have any more side effects we will look at closing it down all together."

The last thing Ianto saw as the needle plunged into his vein was the doctor staring at Yvonne, "Really? After all this? Eradication?"

"If any of them show abilities…yes."

.

.

.

.

Ianto lay next to Jack blinking fiercely as he tried to comprehend what that had been.

A dream? A memory? Ianto turned his head to Jack and considered waking him but sleep is rare when you are someone the Crystals have loved enough to show their hearts to. He knows this so instead he rolled to face away and stare at the clock.

Three hours.

Jack will probably sleep one more.

Ianto pondered and knew he had broken the Retcon maybe because he had died and reset or something, probably would remember more if he pushed but he didn't want to push. He didn't like what had just been shown and anything more was going to freak him the fuck out. He knew this with all his heart.

Max was in the doorway.

"Taddy?"

Ianto rose and went to him, knowing before he got to him that he had wet the bed and he knelt, pulling him against him and ignoring the cold slap of soiled clothing. "It's OK. Come on, a hot shower and fresh Jimjams. Maybe some hot chocolate and a book, yeah?"

"I had a bad dream" Max whimpered, "I saw you runned over by the truck."

Ianto did not correct the grammar as he might have in the daytime, Max allowed to be a little boy here when he wanted to still be loved as much too. Soon they were settled on the sofa with a blanket and matching cups, Ianto reading softly as the clock ticked over.

When Jack came out they were both sleep, holding one another for grim life as if something evil stalked them.

Jack stood for a long time just looking at them as his hands clenched and unclenched.

He knew he was in this one deep.

For life.

Chapter Text

Ianto sat at the workstation in the deep archives of T3 staring at the screen with confusion and contemplating the cryptic message, then he took a deep breath and gently tapped something in the keyboard and waited.

A ping.

He tapped some more and another ping told him he was through that firewall as well. Now came the real test. Had she changed his password?

Ianto shakily tapped again and the entire room lit up with noise, music that was uplifting and …well…welsh.

"Hello Ralf" Ianto smiled softy, "I remember. It's a bit hazy but…I remember. My friend, my dear friend. Are you OK?"

Ianto read the screen and frowned, leaning forward as he watched the rapid sequences flashing, boxes opening and closing then a map. He printed it and stood, pulling his old jacket off the chair, the one he usually wore to clean out cages and such, moving swiftly to Jack's office.

"Excuse me Toshiko" he said politely as Jack and Tosh looked up from the files they were going through, "Jack, I need to take a haunt through the old tunnel system down below. Alright to take Owen? He might want to check for signs of Weevil."

"Sure" Jack nodded going back to his conversation and Ianto turned, almost running Own off the top of the stairs. "Cachou!"

"Shit, was looking for Tosh, she has my pen!" Owen yelped.

"Sorry … wanna go exploring in the lower levels? A tunnel to London?" Ianto asked and Owen nodded, running back down to grab his jacket and the large torch that he always carried. Looked ridiculous but Ianto knew it was a good Weevil deterrent.

As they headed down Ianto grabbed a backpack and slipped it on then nodded, Owen looking at it with interest, "What's that for?"

"Looking for something I lost" Ianto said softly, "think it might be down there towards London."

"Cool, as long as it's not cyber" Owen shrugged, excited to be on a hunt and they spent the next hour or so walking sedately along taking some photographs and Owen poking at things. Ianto watched Owen and saw the child in him still, his face lighting up as he detected Weevil and when they found a young mother with a baby who was not afraid, just moved to the edge of the light an stood like she was showing them before taking off down a side tunnel Ianto knew Owen was made.

"Seems adolescent herself" Ianto commented, "Good sign, if they are breeding so young. I was worried that we had lost quite a few after the Abbadon thing."

"Yes, was a little boy too. The males are harder to keep alive, the other males sometimes kill them. He looked nice and healthy though, right?" Owen smiled and then watched Ianto stop to crouch and poke at something then grunt, rising and moving faster now. A dead rat.

"It looked healthy too" Owen said as he looked back, "Poison?"

"No … old age" Ianto replied and Owen laughed, "Seriously. That rat was old Owen."

Ianto stopped and Owen slammed into the back of him with a yelp, Ianto grunting as well.

"Shit sorry, are you OK? Slamming into you like that. Your hip, is it…Ianto?"

Ianto was ignoring the man as he reached out to tap a piece of wall, the brickwork moving and opening as Owen gaped.

"Ralf?" Ianto called softly, "It's me. My god, you came farther than I thought."

Owen watched as Ianto crouched and held the backpack open, something running towards him and with shock he realised it was a rat with something attached to it or something resembling a squid-rat. "Look away Owen, he doesn't want you to look at him, look at the wall please."

"Is that an alien squid?" Owen asked as he complied.

"It's a Ralf" Ianto said softly, "His heart. His true self."

"It was blue" Owen crouched, "It was sort of … glowy."

"He's shy. It's like … bad to look directly at him" Ianto rose and held the back pack in the front, cuddling it possessively, "Don't look at him, OK?"

They were almost back to the Hub before Owen stopped walking, "Hang on. Ralf. Fuck me sideways, are you carrying the fucking T1 Mainframe?"

"Yes and no. Ralf, not his shell and I can't take him in, Franny will have a meltdown. I have to get to the parking garage. This way" Ianto changed course and they came up from the grating by the car washing area to find Jack waiting.

"I wasn't listening to you, only after you were gone did Gwen ask where you were and I realised what you were doing. Do you have him?" Jack asked calmly.

"Yeah. Come on, let's get him out of here" Ianto moved to the smaller SUV they only used for covert trips and he settled in the back with the backpack.

"OK, how long as Rhiannon got Max?" Jack asked as he and Owen got in, driving for home.

"Until four. Plenty of time" Ianto smiled softly in the mirror, "Cariad, I got him. Ralf. Right here, he's OK."

"What happened?"

"We woke him up, made him aware of his losses and he wanted to come home. He wants to be near me. Is that OK? He was alone, scared and it was so silent. After so long under the Tower … he came as close to me as he could before he ran out of steam and I never even knew he was there. I can't let him down now"

"Of course love" Jack nodded, pulling into the driveway of their house.

"It's OK Ralf" Ianto crooned softly, "Welcome to your new home."

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So I have entered the world of blogging ... no doubt I will fail miserably and forget it in due course but for now I will try ot be more ... present. LOL

madmenowoman . wordpress . com ... no idea what will happen

Chapter Text

Ianto was in the cellar, sitting in the corner near the cupboard under the workbench with the backpack. Jack was nearby and Owen was safely upstairs where he would not be touched if Ralf had a conniption.

Jack's old Great Coat long since relegated to the rag bag like they always do when they are his spares…the original still in his closet safe and sound these days…but Ianto had not been able to throw it out, was now in the bottom of the cupboard. Ianto gently placed the backpack in there, then opened the zipper and shifted back, "There ya are buddy."

They watched an iridescent blue tendril reach out to touch the coat, Jack's latent energy still in the fabric even if he had not worn it since Abbadon. Yeah, it was that coat. A thousand deaths in a single moment.

"He likes it" Ianto sighed with relief, "He will settle and then explore the place through the sockets and wall linings. The power point there will be all he needs. This time tomorrow the entire house will be his. He will be ours."

"Will he need food?" Owen called from the top of the stairs, "Is he OK?"

"He's OK buddy" Ianto smiled as he looked up the stairs at him, "He will feed off us. Our energy, our laughter, our life. He will feed off the animals outside, the birds that feed in the garden … life."

"Kinetic energy?" Owen guessed and Ianto nodded as he and Jack came up the stairs into the kitchen. Ianto closed and locked the door, then patted it softly, "Now what?"

"Now? We forget about him. We let him be and when he is ready he will come to us and tell us he is ready to work" Ianto nodded.

"Your own personal mainframe" Owen smiled as he threw himself on the sofa much as Max does.

"Coffee? Or hot chockie?"

"Ooooo, chockie please" Owen called, sending like a child as well. Owen then flopped back and threw his arms behind his head. "I love this sofa."

"Jack chose it" Ianto called back as he handed Jack his cup and then walked through to Owen, smiling as he watched the man wriggle deeper, "Jack did thatin the store, I was so embarrassed, especially when Max got in there to show it fitted two. Comfy though."

"I like the big cushions"

"I like the way he sighed when Max cuddled in" Ianto smiled as he looked back at Jack walking in behind him, "I knew it would be a family sofa."

"We need one of these for the Hub. Great for sleeping when waiting for tests to run through. The Doss Room too far away ya know" Owen said.

"I like the Doss Room. I thought you all used it." Jack said with surprise.

"Not since Gwen. It stinks of her" Owen screwed his nose up and Ianto nodded as he agreed.

"Well … I guess a new sofa for the Main Hub then" Jack shrugged, Owen sitting up with glee.

"Can I pick the colour?" Own eased.

"I don't see why not" Jack shrugged, "Maybe one for my office too. Then if Max is there he can snooze up there in the quiet."

"Awesome, I wanna get some blankies….I mean blankets too" Owen said with a cheeky grin.

"And if we put the new sofa in the meeting room instead of down on the Hub floor we could have a personal movie theatre with the wide screen" Ianto guessed as Owen hooted.

"Just another family night" Ianto rolled his eyes.

"Yeah" Jack grinned as he settled on the left side matching la-z-boy "One big mental family."

Ianto settled in the La-z-Boy that didn't match the new set, it was old and definitely his with the table beside it covered in books, pens and pads as well as a couple of strange little bits of tat he seemed to be playing with.

"Cool" Owen wriggled to his side and grinned at Ianto. "Can I call ya Mummy?"

"Why? Am I your Mummy?" Ianto sighed as he rolled his eyes and Jack choked on his coffee, "Damn, this Retcon is better than I thought, I mean .. .shitting out you would have hurt."

Owen roared with mirth as they all laughed.

The family home settled and ….well …

Came alive.

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So ends this section. Next will be school I guess.

Maybe.

I still wonder if there was only one of those things or the mate is still out there … ya know?