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Falling through Space

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The first breath was like ice. Sharp needling pain tore through his lungs as Ianto bolted upright and fought for air. Senses temporarily overwhelmed he struggled to focus as everything bombarded him at once. The hard ground, the bright lights, the pain wracking through his body as his arms failed in search for something to ground him.

Eventually his hand collided with something and he managed to anchor himself to a reality that was fast escaping his grasp. Latching on, Ianto slowly managed to come back to himself and eventually realised that not only was he clinging desperately to Jack, but the other man was doing the exact same to him.

“Jack,” blinking against the lights, Ianto tried to remember where they were, “where… what happened?”

Shaking his head, Jack winced, “I don’t…” Ianto could see the second Jack started to remember as a cloud passed over his features, “we need to find the Doctor.”

“Yeah, alright,” Ianto accepted the hand Jack offered to help him up but stalled him as he tried to walk away, “we should be careful. The Dalek’s could still be hanging around.”

Glancing down at the piles of dust in front of them that hadn’t been there before, Jack got the impression the Doctor had already dealt with the threat using the Delta wave, “You’re right, come on,” that didn’t explain how they were still alive though.

The two men shook off the effects of… whatever it was that had happened to them, fairly quickly. Managing an accelerated jog upstairs to where Ianto had seen the Doctor last, only they weren’t quite fast enough, “Hang on, can you hear that?” Ianto asked, breathless as the sound of the Tardis in flight reached his ears, “No, no, no!”

Skidding around the corner, Ianto and Jack were just in time to see the Tardis dematerialise right in front of them, “Shit,” Ianto panted as he collapsed against the wall, fighting for every breath, “what do we do now?”

Ankle deep in Dalek dust, abandoned by the Doctor with no idea how the hell either of them were still alive, Jack gave Ianto the only answer he could think of, “Do you reckon this place has a bar?”

-

Satellite Five did in fact have a bar, albeit a very poorly stocked one hidden in what appeared to be the managers office on floor 5. The man had apparently been a connoisseur of cheap hypervodka and not much else but Jack wasn’t complaining as long as it took the edge of, “How are we not dead?” He asked after his third glass, feeling all the better for it, “We were dead right?”

“I dunno,” Ianto frowned into his own glass, slouched in his seat. He didn’t want to think about it, the sting of being left behind was still fresh and adding alcohol to the mix probably hadn’t been the best idea, “went so fast.”

Jack looked up from his drink, an unreadable expression on his face as he broached the topic that had been plaguing him since he woke up, “You died for me,” Of that he was certain. The memory had come back to him a little while after regaining consciousness and he knew it would stay with him for as long as he lived. He might not know how they were alive but he was certain Ianto had been dead.

“Yeah, so what?” Ianto couldn’t hold his gaze for long, eyes darting away, “You were going to die for me too. Besides,” he chanced a look up and saw that Jack’s face wasn’t so unreadable anymore, “neither of us are actually dead so you can stop giving me that smug smile.”

“What smile,” Jack teased, grinning wider as he decided they could talk about it later. Or never, never worked too, “this one?”

“Shut up.”

“You love me really,” Jack sang, battering his eyelashes, “you came back for me!”

“I said shut up!” Ianto snapped, slamming his drink down as he got to his feet and started to pace, clearly agitated and not at all amused as Jack had been going for. The truth was he didn’t remember what happened, he knew he had gone back for Jack, he remembered running towards him, towards the Dalek’s but that’s all. Did he really die? If he did how come he was still alive? And why had The Doctor abandoned them?

Why did it hurt so much?

“Hey,” Jack set his need to get blindly drunk to one side and focused on the man in front of him. It was all well and good drinking to try and numb the pain but he couldn’t stand to see Ianto upset, “I’m sorry, Ianto? Listen, I-”

“It’s fine,” Ianto shook his head, “whatever.”

“Oh yeah, because that sounded so convincing,” Jack rolled his eyes. They needed to start using their heads, without people manning the station they were going to be in trouble sooner rather than later and Jack didn’t want to be hanging about when the authorities turned up. It wasn’t just his decision what to do next, they were in this together, it was only fair Ianto had a say, “What do you want to do now?”

“I want answers,” Ianto decided, “I want to get off this bloody space station and I want to find the Doctor. You can search for him using your wrist strap,” he asked hopefully, “can’t you?”

“I suppose we could,” Jack agreed, glancing down at his vortex manipulator, “yeah, we can go running after him or…”

“Or?” Ianto pressed

“I could take you on that date?” Jack suggested, “Alpha Centauri is still out there, waiting for us.” He raised an eyebrow, “If you still want to that is?” It was entirely possible that Ianto hadn’t meant anything he’d said earlier, it could have been the adrenaline talking or the fact they’d been facing certain death.

Ianto gave it a moment of thought, did he still want to? He didn’t know if he’d be able to relax with all these questions buzzing around his head, “It’s not that I don’t want to but don’t you want to figure out what happened?”

“I know what happened, the Doctor left us behind,” Jack sighed. He’d take Ianto on a while goose chase if that’s what he wanted but he could offer him so much more, “All that matters is that we’re alive though, right? Why don’t we take the scenic route to find him? I’ll make it worth your while,” he hadn’t had to try so hard to convince someone to go on a date with him in a long time, if ever, “why don’t we celebrate not being dead by living a little?”

“Alright then,” Ianto couldn’t help but crack a smile as Jack grinned at him, “show me the stars Captain.” The Doctor wasn’t going anywhere they couldn’t follow eventually, why not have a little fun first?

Chapter Text

In all the time that Ianto had been travelling with the Doctor, he had yet to meet any proper aliens. Sure, he’d faced the Cybermen and the Dalek’s and if you’re being picky he did see Margaret’s Slitheen claw when he was trapped inside it’s ferocious grasp but apart from that it had mostly been humans he met on their travels. Jack was going to change that.

“Here we are,” Jack grinned as they landed on Alpha Centauri, it was a bit bumpy carrying an extra passenger along with the Vortex Manipulator but he’d got the right planet and more importantly, the right date, “what do you think? Ianto?” Turning around he saw the other man swaying heavily on his feet, “Whoa, easy,” he reached out to steady him, “sorry about that. I should have warned you, traveling with two is always a little rougher. You’ll be alright in a minute.”

“Yeah,” trying his best to keep whatever small amount of food he had in his stomach down, Ianto took deep breaths and took a look around where they were, “wow.”

The sky was dark above, lit up by a ginormous moon and thousands of stars, twinkling down at them like diamonds on an inky canvas. Distantly he could hear the sound of people cheering and laughing, the festival Jack had mentioned obviously in full swing, “Yeah?” Jack seemed pleased with his reaction, taking his hand to lead him towards the party, “You haven’t seen anything yet.”

The twilight moon festival was everything Jack had hoped it would be, the planets locals were all out having fun, dancing in the streets as unfamiliar music blasted from every direction. Thankfully they didn’t look so out of place in the crowd since the festival often raked in hundreds of tourists, some of which were even human.

Jack could practically feel the beat of the music thrum through his body, the urge to dance strong as he led Ianto further into the city, “This way,” he pushed through a crowd of people, never letting go of Ianto’s hand until they reached an improvised dance floor right in the centre of town, “I believe you owe me a dance, Mr Jones.”

Feeling slightly overwhelmed at the sight of actual real life aliens who for once weren’t trying to kill him, Ianto had no qualms about letting Jack pull him close and take the lead, “They’re birds,” he told Jack, his lips brushing the mans ear as he was gently drawn in closer, feeling like a little bit of an idiot as he got a doting smile in return, “I mean, they’re huge birds Jack.”

“Come on now,” Jack grinned practically plastering their bodies together as he moved them to the beat of the music, “think about what we must look like to them.” Now pressed flush up against one another, Jack raised an eyebrow as he felt something hard digging into his hip, “Ianto, is that a gun in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?” He hadn’t expected things to progress this quickly but he wasn’t complaining, not at all.

Flushing, Ianto snatched his hands away and dug into his pocket, his fingers closing around the Doctors sonic screwdriver which he promptly pulled out to show Jack, “Looks like he left without it.”

While he was slightly disappointed that Ianto did not in fact have a party going on his his pants, Jack couldn’t say he was upset that they had the Doc’s sonic at their disposal, it would make things a lot easier, “Well,” he pulled Ianto back in, keeping a somewhat respectful distance between them this time, and upped their tempo as the music grew faster, “serves him right. Finders keepers I say.”

After an appropriate amount of dancing, during which Jack managed to cop a few feels, he decided he’d best get some food in Ianto before the other man keeled over. There was only one problem, neither of them had any money, “Are you sure I can even eat this stuff?” Ianto eyed the street vendors nervously, he didn’t trust the food that was sold on the streets of his own planet, let alone an alien one, “How are we going to pay for it?”

“Well, it looks like they take galactic credit, I can work with that.” Jack told him peering at the signs above the stalls, “We just need to find a cashpoint round here somewhere, can’t be that hard.”

Finding the cashpoint was the easy part, withdrawing money was another matter entirely. Jack’s account had been closed for centuries by this time and even if it hadn’t been, it’s not like there’d be any money in it anyway. Luckily enough, he had more than enough experience hacking into these machines, “Hang on,” Ianto grabbed his arm as he went to break the encryption locks, stopping him from bypassing the accounts matrix, “what are you going to do?”

“Just… borrowing some funds.” Jack told him cagily, “Trust me, we won’t get caught. Nine times out of ten this goes off without a hitch. It’ll only take me, ooh, five minutes?”

“Or,” Ianto pulled out the sonic screwdriver with a smile, “we could use this?” He might not condone stealing but it’s not like they weren’t going to put the money back into the local economy, really they were helping if anything.

Jack pulled a face at the sight of the Doctors gadget, “Do you know how?” It seemed like a complex piece of kit, if they broke it he wasn’t sure he’d be able to put it back together.

“I think so,” how hard could it be? He’d managed to get the lift working earlier and it couldn’t hurt to have a go, “Move over and let me try.”

“Okay,” Jack raised his hands and stepped aside, letting Ianto approach the cashpoint and do his thing, “do you know what setting to put it on?” He probed, silently doubting his plan.

It wasn’t that simple, “Not really,” he admitted as he pointed the screwdriver at the screen, thinking hard about how he wanted the machine to give him money, “it’s more like a negotiation, some sort of psychic link.” Once again the sonic buzzing filled his head as he politely asked the device to give them some credits, “Ha!” Ianto gave Jack a smug smile as the cashpoint spat out a familiar card loaded with credits, “One clip of space credits, as requested.”

“God, you’re so sexy,” Jack groaned, “Y’know that?”

“Thank you?” Ianto didn’t know what had brought that reaction out in him but he wasn’t exactly complaining when Jack was looking at him like that. It felt… nice, better than nice even, fantastic, “So, drinks?” He dared to tease a little, “Come on Jack, show me what this world has to offer.”

Jack grinned like the cheshire cat, “You asked for it.”

Chapter Text

Jack hadn’t known how right he was when he said Ianto would look beautiful under the star lit sky on Alpha Centauri, that man could outshine a supernova with a single smile if he wanted to. The festival was better than Jack remembered, who knew having three moons in alignment was cause for such celebration? He wasn’t complaining though, as long as it gave him the chance to twirl Ianto around the city and entertain him with stories of the planets history and culture. He loved the way he could capture the mans attention, how he hung onto every word he spoke with that look in his eye as if Jack were the most fascinating thing he’d ever seen.

After dinner and dancing, with their bellies full of cheap drinks and their lungs full of cold night air, Jack took Ianto up a nearby hill and collapsed down onto the dewy grass to watch the sunrise and welcome the dawn of a new day together.

“So, what’d you think?” He asked, turning his head to watch Ianto as he lay down next to him on the grass, “Not bad for a fist date, eh?”

“No, not bad at all,” Ianto grinned, shuffling closer so he could rest his head on Jack’s shoulder, the alcohol in his system giving him the courage to act on impulses he’d usually push down, “I had a lot of fun with you tonight.”

Melting inside, Jack brought his arms up to loop around the other man, enjoying the unexpected cuddle while he could, “Me too, I’m glad you enjoyed yourself because this was just the beginning,” he smiled softly, “I have so many places I want to take you. The Fifteenth Broken Moon of the Medusa Cascade, Diamond Coral Reefs of Kataa FloKo, the Lightning Skies of Cotter Palluni's World. All of it, just waiting out there for us.”

“Yes, well, that all sounds great and everything,” Ianto yawned, his eyelids growing heavy, “but maybe we could catch some shut eye first?”

As much as Jack didn’t want to move from where they were, he knew sleeping outside was not an option, during the day the twin suns would burn them to a crisp, “I know just the place, come on,” Jack clambered to his feet and pulled Ianto close to him to try and lessen the effect of his vortex manipulator when they travelled, “hold on tight.”

Ianto squeezed his eyes shut tight and fought down the urge to throw up once they arrived at their destination, he really didn’t want to test whether or not the vomitomatic was still functional, “That thing sucks.” He groaned, clutching his stomach.

“Hey!” Jack grumbled, petting his wrist strap affectionately, “It’s only designed for one, cut it some slack.”

Once he was sure he wasn’t going to throw up, Ianto took the chance to take in their surroundings and see where Jack had brought him this time, “It’s a hut,” he noted, “a messy hut.”

My messy hut, so quite whining.” Jack kicked some clothes under a set of draws in a vain attempt to tidy up, “It’s got a bed, hasn’t it?”

“Since when did you have a hut?” Ianto asked, slowly making his way around the circular room, trailing his fingers over the wooden panels that made up the walls, “Is this your house?”

“Sort of, in a way,” Jack hedged, debating how much to tell him as Ianto sat down on the bed and made himself comfortable, “I won it off a… friend of mine in a card game, it’s more of a pit stop than a home.”

“I see,” Ianto stifled a yawn, rubbing his eyes in an attempt to wake himself up a bit, “it’s nice.”

Chuckling to himself, Jack shook his head and grabbed a blanket from his cupboard to drape over his sleepy companion, “Get some sleep Ianto, you’re exhausted.”

“Wait!” A hand shot out to grab his wrist as he went to walk away and try catch a few winks in one of the chairs, “I mean, you could… it’s not like this bed is small or anything.”

A slow smirk spread it’s way across Jack’s face as he looked down at a slightly flushed yet determined Ianto, “Are you asking me to share the bed with you Mr Jones?”

Huffing, Ianto let go of his wrist and shrugged, pretending he didn’t care, “Maybe,” He didn’t want to admit it but he needed to feel close to someone right now, after everything that had happened in the last 24 hours he couldn’t stand the thought of being alone, “is that a problem?”

“Not at all,” Jack slid into bed next to him without a second thought, not wasting a moment as his hands immediately started exploring Ianto’s body under the covers, “just so I’m clear, are we sleeping or…?”

“Sleeping,” Ianto grabbed one of Jack’s hands as it dipped past his waist, “and hands can be kept above the belt, thank you.”

Snorting, Jack did as he was told and settled for pulling Ianto back against him by the stomach instead, “It was worth a shot. I’ll behave though, I promise.” He waited a few moments for Ianto to relax back into him, enjoying the soft body in his arms as his breathing evened out, “Get some rest.”

“Hmm,” Ianto hummed, already half asleep, fully relaxed in Jack’s embrace.

It might sound creepy if Jack admitted to watching Ianto sleep but he couldn’t help it. He defied anyone to do anything but when they had their arms full of glorious cuddly Welshman. It pleased him to no end to discover that Ianto Jones was a closeted snuggler, if this is what his future had in store for him, Jack couldn’t wait to enjoy every moment of it. Even his little snores were cute, it really wasn’t fair.

At some point he must have dozed off because one moment everything was perfect and the next he was cold and alone once more. He tried not to panic when upon sitting up in bed he couldn’t see any sign of Ianto, he even managed to keep a level head until he searched the bathroom to find that empty as well, after that he might have gone a little insane. Jack practically turned the room upside down looking for clues in a tornado of hysteria before the front door swung open to snap him out of it, “Ianto!”

There he was, stood without a scratch on him with his arms full of delicious smelling food, “Good afternoon Jack,” he pointedly ignored the mess, “are you hungry?”

“Where did you get all that from?” Jack asked as Ianto handed him a breakfast pastry that smelt suspiciously like cinnamon, “Where did you go?”

“Well, I woke up a few hours ago and fancied a look outside to see where we were,” Ianto told him as he righted an overturned chair so he could sit at the table for their late breakfast, “and I saw a load of people walking towards some sort of settlement? So I followed them and found all these shops, real alien shops Jack!” He grinned before it dimmed a bit, “I think everyone knew I was a tourist though since I can’t speak the native language, must have charged me double for all this.”

“Look at you, my little Ianto all grown up going to the shop by himself,” Jack pretended to dab away tears as he tried to play off his panic, “it seems like only yesterday you were clinging onto me on that mountain range on Nowhere.”

“I seem to remember it was you that was trying to feel me up, not the other way around,” Ianto pointed a finger at him as he sampled a strange looking fruit, “Wow. This is amazing, you’ve got to try some.”

“Ah, no thanks,” Jack pulled a face, “I’m allergic to Novaberries.”

That made Ianto pause as he stared at the multicoloured fruits, “Oh? I suppose I’d better be careful what I eat around here.” Who knows what this food would do to his body, humans were exactly built for space travel, “None of this can kill me right?”

“No, of course not,” Jack reassured him, “and even if you were allergic to any of it, we’re two buttons away from a hospital. I’m not going to let anything happen to you,” he promised, “not again.”

“Ditto,” Ianto wiped his mouth with the napkins he’d been given and stretched his arms over his head, “so what’s on the agenda today then?”

The planet they were on wasn’t the most breathtaking nor did it offer the most excitement but it would be a good enough place to start introducing Ianto to how things worked when not on Earth, “Well,” Jack finished his pastry and threw the empty wrapper in the bin, “we should probably keep a low profile here until I can get you some papers, technically I’m a citizen but you? You’re gonna need some documentation in case people start asking difficult questions.”

“Like a space Visa?” Ianto laughed at the absurdity of it all, “Am I an illegal immigrant now?”

“You bet, but don’t worry,” Jack winked, “I like a rule breaker.”

“Into bad boys are you?” Ianto teased, “Well I’ll have you know I once put a glass on a table… without using a coaster,” he raised an eyebrow, “it was quite the scandal.”

Playing along, Jack bit his lip, “Oh baby, tell me more.”

“How about the time I didn’t wipe my shoes on the welcome mat?” Ianto tried not to laugh as Jack moaned ridiculously, “And when I put my feet up on the coffee table.”

“You’re so hot,” Jack couldn’t help the stupid smile that was no doubt splayed across his lips, “you have no idea how badly I want to ravish you right now.”

“There’s more where that came from.” He promised, enjoying the chance to flirt without immediate danger dogging their every step, it was nice, “Just wait ‘till I tell you about my shoplifting days.”

Chapter Text

The planet Jack had brought him to was called Gemini, where the people were alien but Ianto was the strange one. It wasn’t so bad for Jack, him being able to speak the local language but Ianto felt like a fish out of water, he’d taken the Tardis’ translation circuits for granted and now he was paying the price. If he had to listen to Jack laugh and joke with one more person while everything went over his head, he was going to lose it, “What is she saying?” He asked as the purple woman they were chatting to spoke utter gibberish.

“She’s just telling me where’s a good place to eat,” Jack whispered quickly before turning his attention back to the woman, either ignoring or not registering the small annoyed huff that escaped Ianto’s lips.

At first hearing Jack speak alien languages had been fun, maybe even a little hot, but after a whole day of listening to him witter on without understanding a word, it was getting old fast. It wasn’t making him feel any better that the natives were pointedly ignoring him as well, only having eyes for Jack.

Not that Ianto was jealous or anything.

With all that in mind, you couldn’t really blame him for wandering off. He’d only meant to stray as far away as the next market stall but before he knew it he was halfway down the street and completely lost. Jack was going to kill him.

Instead of staying where he was and waiting for the other man to find him like a lost child in a supermarket, Ianto figured he was already lost so he might as well carry on walking. He’d never really been very good at following the ‘Don’t wander off’ rule. Besides, Jack could scan for him using his vortex manipulator so there was no real harm in it, as long as he didn’t get kidnapped or arrested.

It could only have been about half an hour earth time before he heard Jack calling out his name, swiftly followed with the man locating and embracing him, “I need to get you a damn bell,” Jack grunted as he pulled away, slapping his arm none too gently, “what did you get lost for? You gave me a heart attack! Anything could have happened.”

“I was just having a look around, none of this would be a problem if we had mobiles,” Ianto told him, still a little miffed that he’d lost his along the way, “we could just call each other on them.” He’d bet his none existent pension that he’d left it aboard the Tardis.

Jack wasn’t convinced, “Or you could stop wandering off.”

“Where’s the fun in that?” Ianto blinked innocently, turning away to lead Jack down a busy street, “Come on, I’ve seen loads of people going this way, let’s go see what’s so exciting.”

Jack rolled his eyes with a dramatic sigh as he let himself be pulled along, “What am I going to do with you?”

Ianto didn’t answer him, too busy staring wide eyed at the auction paddock they’d stumbled across, “Hey, not bad for your first trip, a few of these look like absolute steals.” Jack whistled as they passed a cruiser going at half the price you’d get from a mainstream dealer, “Oh, aren’t you beautiful.” He cooed at a banged up old freighter, “Are you seeing this Ianto?”

“They’re spaceships, actual real life spaceships,” he felt like a kid on Christmas morning, “and none of them look like 1960’s police boxes!”

“You would have loved my chula ship,” Jack felt a pang of loss at the thought of it, blown to pieces, beyond repair, “there’s nothing quite like flying.”

“Could we…” Ianto trailed off uncertainly, it was one thing to use the doctors sonic to get them a couple of credits from a cashpoint but it was another to suggest they withdraw enough to buy an entire ship, “never mind.”

Jack seemed to be thinking along the same lines though if his torn expression was anything to go by, “We shouldn’t… it wouldn’t be right.” In a different time Jack wouldn’t have hesitated to simply steal one of the ships if it took his fancy but ever since he met Ianto he’d been trying to be better. It wouldn’t be right to con these people out of a spacecraft, “It would have been fun though.”

Biting his lip, Ianto knew Jack was right, that didn’t mean he wasn’t disappointed. How cool would it have been to own a real life spaceship… but they had to draw the line somewhere, “Can we stay and look at some more? You can tell me all about the different flight patterns and engines if you like.”

Remembering all too well how flustered Ianto had gotten the last time he sprouted off some technobabble, Jack wasted no time launching into a lecture about the pros and cons of carbon neutral fuel supplies. It was a delightful way to spend the afternoon. He had noticed earlier that Ianto had been getting irritated by not being able to converse with the locals and was glad he’d perked up after seeing the ships. Maybe he should teach him a few basic phrases in galactic standard, if he wanted to learn of course.

It was almost dark by the time they were ready to leave the auction, most of the ships having been snatched up by wealthy buyers for a fraction of the price they were actually worth. They’d had fun though, circulating the paddock and swapping flirty looks. Jack was just finishing a little rant about how the mark 7 shuttlecrafts by GoZone Inc had the most poorly designed emergency thrusters he’d ever had the misfortune of seeing when Ianto pulled him to a gentle stop with an interested gleam in his eye, “What?”

“Look,” he pointed to a small cruiser tucked away behind one of the larger, sleeker models, the paintwork was scratched and the hull had more than a couple of dents. Jack couldn’t see what had drawn Ianto’s attention to it until he was pulled closer, “it’s an earth ship, right? Or at least, it was owned by humans?” Ianto asked, walking around the ship with curious eyes, “I mean, it’s got English plastered across the side of it so it must have been.”

He wasn’t wrong, the faded paint across the back proudly declaimed the ship ‘Bad Wolf’ in scuffed English letters, “You’re right, she’s in a bit of a state though, poor girl.” Jack ran his hand over the dented metal and pouted, “Who did this to you, eh?”

Laughing at how Jack treated the ship like a lost puppy, Ianto nearly leapt out of his skin when a paw the size of his head landed on his shoulder, “Ah!” He ducked under the paw quickly and backed away to Jack’s side.

The paw belonged to a towering, hairy, being. A species Ianto did not recognise who, of course, spoke no English. The garbled words coming out of their mouth (muzzle?) meaning nothing to him, thankfully he had Jack to translate for the giant alien bear, “They apologise for frightening you, they meant no harm,” Jack soothed him, rubbing a hand up and down his back as Ianto stayed far away from the giant bear, “they’re asking if we’re interested in the ship.”

“I thought we agreed we shouldn’t use the sonic to steal anymore money,” Ianto hedged, speaking in hushed tones, “and besides, do you even know how to fly it?”

“Of course I know how to fly it,” Jack puffed out his chest, “I’m an excellent pilot.”

It was a nice little ship really, she could easily house two men, maybe even three at a push. A little on the old side for this time period but still going strong. They didn’t make them like this anymore by Jack’s time, it was all cheap alloy alternatives and sleek edges, not the sturdy reliable stuff she was made of. In a different life Jack would have talked the vendor into handing it over for free, used his silver tongue to charm his way into getting what he wanted. Now though, he was going to cut a deal the right way.

The words might have been alien but the language was all too familiar, Ianto had been watching Jack haggle all day and could recognise it when he saw it. The fact still remained though that they didn’t have any funds so unless Jack was going to persuade the bear-alien to simply hand over the ship free of charge, Ianto didn’t know how he proposed to pay for it.

“Care to fill me in?” he asked as the giant fuzzy creature ambled away.

With a pleased smile on his face, Jack rubbed his hands together, “How do you feel about a little job?”

Chapter Text

Ianto hadn’t honestly known what to expect when Jack told him they had a little job to do but as far as he was concerned he’d come out on top. In exchange for the ship Jack had offered their services fixing up three other small shuttles, one of which needed extensive repairs to the engines while the other two were mostly cosmetic jobs. All Ianto had to do was pass Jack whatever tool he needed and look busy if the owner happened to pass by.

That’s not to say he wasn’t paying attention to the many explanations Jack gave him as to what he was doing as he went. Well, at least he tried to pay attention but it was more than a little distracting when his teacher was covered in some sort of slick alien grease, looking all hot, sweaty and unfairly attractive.

“Ianto, are you even listening to me?” Jack asked as he repeated his request for the tool he needed, snapping Ianto out of his daydreaming, “I need the wrench please.”

“Right, yes,” Ianto grabbed the tool Jack was pointing at and handed it over, eyes drifting down the mans exposed torso once more as he shamelessly checked him out, “wrench.” He couldn’t decide if this planets warmer climate was a blessing or a curse, seeing Jack topless was an experience to say the least.

Grinning, Jack subtly flexed, not at all ashamed as Ianto’s hungry eyes darted from his chest to his arms instead, “Thanks,” it felt nice having Ianto check him out, “the internal mechanisms are giving me a bit of a hard time here.”

“Mmhmm,” tilting his head to one side, Ianto slipped back into his daydream, thoroughly enjoying the view, “internal mechanisms.”

Wanting to see how far he could push things, Jack dropped the wrench behind him and turned around to pick it up, “Oops,” bending at the waist, he gave Ianto a front row seat to the rear of the year 5094 in all its glory, “I’m so clumsy.”

His little ploy seemed to have worked if the flush painting Ianto’s cheeks was anything to go by when he eventually turned back around, “Did you do that on purpose?” Ah, he’d been rumbled.

It was worth a shot, “No,” Jack tried his best to look innocent as he got back to work, “I don’t know what you mean.”

“Right,” clearing his throat, Ianto gave himself a little shake and tried to get his mind out of the gutter, “what were you saying about the internal mechanisms?” He might not understand all of the gibberish Jack was sprouting but after a so long working for Van Statten he’d quickly learnt how to adapt to new tech, “Instead of trying to force the piston latches with brute force could we try a more delicate angle?”

Wiping his dirty hands on his trousers, Jack raised an eyebrow, “I’m all ears.”

“Try this,” Ianto handed him the sonic, “just point and think, it seems to work for me.”

Shrugging, Jack gave it a go, pointing the sonic screwdriver at the latch mechanism and thinking about how he wanted it to unlock. He focused all his attention on the scuffed metal but nothing happened, “Nope, it’s not working.”

“Shame,” Ianto held his hand out for the sonic and twirled it between his fingers as Jack handed it back to him, “can I try?”

Standing clear, Jack stretched his arms above his head and smirked when Ianto’s eyes were once again drawn back to his figure, “Knock yourself out, I could use a break.”

Not letting himself mentally drool for too long, Ianto eventually tore his gaze away from Jack and focused on the piston latches, “Let’s see,” directing the end of the sonic to hover roughly an inch away from the latches mechanism, Ianto thought very clearly about how he wanted it to unlock and sure enough after a few moments a familiar sonic hum filled his head, “tada! Easy peasy,” unable to keep the smug smile from his face, Ianto turned back to Jack feeling very proud of himself, “pick your jaw up from the floor Jack and stop looking so surprised. I have a very extensive skill set.”

A surge of deep, primal want crashed over Jack like a wave as he watched Ianto shine like the sun in front of him, twirling that damn screwdriver between his fingers effortlessly. He didn’t know it was possible to feel jealous of a screwdriver but here he was, “I can see that,” stepping into his personal space, Jack watched with catlike eyes as Ianto’s breath hitched. His body didn’t tense, in fact it seemed to gravitate towards him if anything, “you’re utterly amazing, did you know that?”

“Um,” what the hell was he supposed to say to that? It didn’t help that Jack’s half naked body was casually now mere centimetres away from his own, all smooth warm skin over firm muscles, “thanks.”

Chuckling, Jack brought his hands up to rest on Ianto’s waist, gentle yet firm, “You’re welcome, if complimenting you results in a blush like this every time, I should do it more often.” He delighted when the pink on his cheeks only turned a shade darker, this time spreading down his neck too, he wondered how far it went, “Once we’ve finished our work here, what do you think about going on another date with me?” He was planning to romance the shit out of him if given the chance.

“Yes!” Ianto answered eagerly before reeling himself back in so he didn’t come off as desperate, “I mean, yes.”

“Right,” Jack smiled easily, hands slowly working their way up and down Ianto’s sides, almost as if he were petting him.

“Right,” Ianto nodded, feeling a little overwhelmed but not in a bad way, “okay then. Good. It’s just I’ve never, um, I’ve only ever dated girls- women, not, um…”

He was utterly adorable, Jack felt his heart clench in his chest as he reached down to take Ianto’s hands, linking their fingers together, “That’s fine Ianto, we can take this at your pace and if this is all you ever want,” he held up their joint hands between them, “then I’m completely fine with that too.”

“And, hypothetically,” Ianto posed the question, “if I did want more… how would I go about that?”

“Theoretically?” Jack smirked, thoroughly amused by the way Ianto’s eyes kept darting down to his exposed chest, “all you’d have to do is ask.”

Taking a shallow breath, very aware that Jack was in his personal space, Ianto took the leap and dived in head first, “We could always give that kiss anther go,” he let out a breathless laugh as Jack’s eyes widened comically, him not having expected the suggestion so soon, “Suppositionally.”

Jack could only stand there in surprised elation as Ianto pulled his hands away and reached up to slip them behind his head, pulling him for a kiss he certainly hadn’t been expecting to receive. Unlike there first kiss this one wasn’t rushed, it was slow and slightly nervous on Ianto’s part but the other man soon grew more confident as Jack started kissing him back in earnest. Neither knew how long they stood there with their lips locked but it was long enough for both parties to be more than a little breathless when they parted for air.

“Wow,” Jack knew he was grinning like an idiot but he didn’t care while he had Ianto in his arms, solid and warm and just right in a way he’d never experienced before, “feel free to do that whenever you like.”

Heart racing, blood practically singing through his veins, Ianto rested their foreheads together and tried not to let his voice show just how wrecked he felt, “I never want to stop kissing you.” Shit, had he said that aloud? If Jack’s breathless laughter was anything to go by he had, “Shut up.”

“Why don’t you make me?” Jack teased him, Ianto’s lips silencing him as he dove back in for another kiss.

He could already tell their time together was going to be glorious.

Chapter Text

After their impromptu make out session was interrupted by the alien bear Ianto had decided to name ‘Mr Fuzzy’ much to Jack’s delight, the two of them hurriedly got back to work. It didn’t take all that long once they were focused again, well half focused anyway. With the aid of the sonic screwdriver, the engines were up and running at pique efficiency in half the time it would have taken Jack to do manually, and the cosmetic jobs were finished before the sun set that evening, “There we go,” Jack patted the freshly smoothed out metalwork with a smile, “I’ll go retrieve our payment, shall I?”

Ianto grunted from where he was sat on the floor, not caring that the dusty ground was ruining his jeans as he took a very well deserved break. The two of them had been working flat out all day and his feet were killing him, “I’ll wait here, don’t get lost.”

“Please,” Jack scoffed, “I’m not you.”

Disgruntled at the insinuation, Ianto raised his head and shouted at Jack’s retreating back, “Hey!” He didn’t get a response as he continued to walk away and it might have been Ianto’s imagination but he could have sworn Jack was putting an extra little swing to his hips…

Shaking his head, Ianto tried to remember a time when he hadn’t been shamelessly checking out the other man. He’d always admired the male form in a shy, reserved kind of way. Had always enjoyed looking at posters of his childhood hero’s a little too much, Rhiannon used to tease him something awful all those years ago, she never really stopped.

But it was more than just appreciating pictures of Han Solo and James Bond at this point, he’d kissed Jack and he’d liked it. Very much. Christ, he wanted to do it again and again and never stop. Kissing a bloke was a bit different to kissing a woman, for one he didn’t have to lean down and feeling stubble against his face was going to take some getting used to but it had been good, great even. Jack was an amazing kisser.

He didn’t know how long he spent sat there daydreaming about Jack’s lips but eventually the other man came jogging back over with a trademark Harkness grin on his face, “Come on, our ship awaits.”

“Are you gonna fly me off into the sunset Captain?” Ianto teased as he climbed to his feet, letting Jack take his hand without a second thought as the two of them ambled down the dusty, practically empty, streets towards their new ship, “Take me to a galaxy far, far away?”

Shaking his head while Ianto chuckled to himself, Jack sighed fondly, “Y’know, I don’t understand half the stuff that comes out of your mouth sometimes.”

“Well I’ve got to keep you on your toes,” Ianto winked, slipping his hand free as they approached the Bad Wolf so he could run his fingers over the lettering, “this is really ours now?”

Approaching the exterior control panel, Jack unlocked the ship doors and activated the ramp so they could climb aboard, “Yup,” he grinned, “all ours babe.”

Something deep inside Ianto shrivelled up and recoiled violently as he cringed, whipping his head around so fast it was a miracle he didn’t get whiplash, he scrunched up his nose adorably, “Let’s not make that a thing.”

“What,” Jack pouted, “you don’t like babe?”

Eager to investigate the inside of the ship, Ianto swerved around Jack and clambered up the ramp, “Not particularly, no.” Pet names had never really been his thing, he’d used them in the past at a girlfriends insistence but part of him prayed that Jack would drop the subject and leave it be. He didn’t want to be trapped inside a metal can, hurtling through space, with a man who would only call him some variation of ‘Babe’ the entire time. It just rubbed him up the wrong way.

“Fine,” Jack acquiesced, following him aboard for the first time to explore their new transport.

The inside felt roomier than the exterior had initially suggested and yet it was still far cosier than the Tardis had been. Not that either man minded of course, Ianto personally having the thought the cavernous space that The Doctor rattled around in was a bit excessive. It had felt a bit empty but he could see that wouldn’t be a problem aboard the Bad Wolf, “So, what do you think?” Jack asked, “The bridge should be down this way.”

Falling into step beside him, Ianto ran his hand along the wall as they went, trying to imagine how it would feel when they were in space, “Let me guess,” he smiled as Jack unlocked the bridge doors and let him through, “Pilot and co-pilot stations?”

Beyond the doors sat two seats positioned in front of a complex array of buttons, switches and other miscellaneous controls, “Got it in one,” Jack whistled as he took a closer look, pointing out various dials and read outs, “Astrogation and communications, I can control the ships power from here and fine tune the ventilation systems so we have enough air cycling the ducts.”

“Hmm, fancy,” Ianto didn’t really understand half of what Jack twittered on about but he figured with enough time to kill trapped in close quarters between adventures, he was bound to pick up a thing or two, “Jack? There’s no windows, how will we see where we’re going?” He pointed out, nodding pointedly at the reinforced metal sheets that made up the hull in front of the pilots chairs

“It’s all built in view screens these days, there was a huge health and safety uproar a few decades ago because of a spike in deaths related to window fractures in space.” Jack told him, “So they chucked out the glass and built the hull right across. We don’t really need to see out there anyway, out in open space we can just set the autopilot and let it do it’s thing… honey-pie.”

“Stop trying to make awful pet names a thing,” Ianto glared at him, unable to repress a pout in disappointment, “so we don’t actually fly the ship?” He’d been looking forward to that.

“We can,” Jack corrected him, “but trust me, the novelty will wear off sooner or later and you’ll be thanking the gods that we have an autopilot. Otherwise one of us would constantly have to be at the controls.”

He had a point, Ianto thought to himself, it’d get lonely really fast if one of them had to be constantly concentrating on not crashing the ship, “That makes sense I suppose.”

Clapping his hands together, Jack grinned and changed topic, “We should probably rename her, don’t you think?” He asked, “Bad luck to keep an old name.”

Ianto had never heard of that but he wasn’t going to pass up the chance to name their ship, “The enterprise?” He suggested, “What about the millennium falcon? Serentiy?”

Narrowing his eyes, Jack crossed his arms over his chest, “Why do I feel like these are all references I don’t understand?”

“What?” Ianto gave him his best innocent expression, “No, I just think they’re cool names is all.”

Jack didn’t seem convinced, “Well, I like Tardis Jr.”

They were not calling it that, “No.”

“But-”

Ianto shook his head firmly, “No Jack.”

“Okay,” He relented, “what about little T?”

Laughing now, Ianto rolled his eyes, “No.”

“Alright, how about we strike a deal,” He’d win, Jack told himself confidently, everyone had a price and Ianto’s couldn’t be hard to find.

Intrigued, Ianto thought it was only polite to hear him out, “I’m listening.” Besides, no matter what Jack offered him there was no way he was going to let him call their brand new ship Tardis Junior.

“You can have first dibs on the chairs,” he offered, gesturing to the two pilots chairs behind him. He’d seen the way Ianto’s eyes had flickered between them when he first entered the room and one of the chairs quite obviously had better arm rests that he would be willing to sacrifice for the cause.

Scoffing, Ianto shook his head, “Nope,” he’d have to do better than than.

“And I’ll teach you how to fly it.” Jack added to sweeten the deal.

Now, he was getting warmer, “I dunno.” Ianto dithered.

Jack went for broke, “I’ll stop with the pet names. Final offer, you get first dibs on the chairs, free flying lessons and no more adorable names.”

“Okay,” Ianto knew when to take what he could get, “deal.”

Pumping his fist in victory, Jack knew exactly what he was going to call their ship. It was the same name John had never let him use back in the time agency for any of their vehicles, “She shall be henceforth dubbed, ‘Thane in my ass’.” He declared, “Great, right?”

Ianto, of course, didn’t understand the pun as Jack had yet to tell him his birth name but it was funny none the less. Actually, it worked out for the better that Ianto was unaware of the joke since he was sure he’d never allow it if he was in the know, “Sure Jack,” Ianto shrugged, “great name.”

“Thank you,” he preened, “now lets go take a look at the sleeping quarters, Mr Fuzzy out there told me they were quite spacious.”

-

After ensuring that they were stocked up on basic supplies Jack took their ship up and out of orbit, taking it nice and steady while Ianto sat looking terrified in the copilots seat, “We’re about to reach open space,” Jack kept up a running commentary of what he was doing to try and sooth his traveling companion, “I’m engaging the main thrusters and plotting our course, it’s perfectly normal for things to get a little bumpy around now but I swear we’re perfectly safe.”

“Mmhmm,” Ianto squeezed his eyes shut as the ship rattled around him, repeating to himself that he would not throw up under any circumstance, “shit,” he whispered as his stomach flipped in an all too familiar way. Unbuckling his harness, Ianto ignored Jack’s warnings as he bolted for the ships washroom. Toilets had advanced since his time but they still were still fundamentally the same, they just had a lot more built in gadgets now.

Swearing to himself, Jack pulled the ship up and got them steady before engaging the autopilot and disengaging his own harness to follow after Ianto, “Are you alright?” He raised his voice, knocking on the washroom door, “Ianto?” Retching was his only response, “I’ve got the course plotted,” thankfully the noises came to an end, “we should be fairly stable so you can come out.”

On the other side of the door Ianto was spitting out frozen cubes of his own sick and feeling very sorry for himself, “Right,” he rested his forehead against the cool metal wall as he clutched his now empty yet still churning stomach, “I think I’ll just stay in here for a bit, thanks.”

“Okay,” Jack touched the door briefly before moving away to give him some privacy, “I’ll be on the bridge if you need anything.”

Alone, shivering and still a little nauseous, Ianto wondered to himself how it was that a 21st century valleys boy had found himself find such a peculiar situation. He didn’t let himself ponder it for long, thoughts like that rarely did him any good. Instead he brushed his teeth to get rid of the taste of frozen sick and made his way to the small kitchen they had onboard to dig out the plain crackers he’d found stashed in there earlier.

After twenty or so minutes of sitting in silence while his stomach settled, Jack sought him out and settled on the opposite side of the dining table they had wedged in the corner to make more space for supplies, “How are you feeling?”

“Oh, y’know,” Ianto shrugged, nibbling his fourth cracker, “space sick.”

“I didn’t know you’d react like that,” Jack felt terrible about it, “I’ve been flying since I was a kid, it never had this effect on the people from my time. I assumed since you were fine on the Tardis it wouldn’t be an issue.”

Waving off his concern, Ianto slouched in his seat, “It’s okay Jack,” he felt better already, “I’m completely fine, honest.” It was masking how fast you could get used to something as strange as space travel.

Finally relaxing, Jack gave him a relieved smile, “Good, you’ll tell me if you start feeling sick again though?”

“Scouts honour,” Ianto held up his hand and let out a long sigh, “So… what now?”

“Now?” Jack asked, “Now we travel the stars, there’s a space station not far from here I want to take you to, it’ll be a lot more fun than the last one. I swear.”

“I’ll hold you to that,” Ianto pointed a cracker at him threateningly, “you don’t want to be around me when I’m angry.” Nodding his assent, Jack did his best to look serious even as he privately thought Ianto looked as threatening as a kitten sneezing.

Chapter Text

It took Ianto a while to adjust to space flight, the strange way the ship moved under his feet was just so different to anything else he’d ever experienced. Jack had chalked his newfound klutziness up to the artificial gravity, saying it took a while to adjust to, but Ianto personally thought it had more to do with his nerves than anything else.

It was only once he was given a couple of hours to himself to think while Jack tinkered around with the ships controls that he realised just what he had gotten himself into. He was in space. In a spaceship with only Jack for company, a man he knew so little about, all alone in the vacuum of nothingness where anything could happen. Jack could kill him and no one would ever know, his mind supplied darkly as he watched the other man fiddle with his tools, he could die in space and no one would ever know.

He knew Jack wouldn’t do that, of course he knew he wasn’t in danger and that Jack wasn’t a threat but if he were to threaten him, well there’d be no one round to stop him. No way to escape. Just him and Jack alone in a tin can flying through open space.

Now, he knew he was being an idiot, he trusted Jack. He didn’t know why but he just did. That wasn’t the problem, even if he wasn’t in danger of being murdered by his travelling companion there was nothing stopping an asteroid or a meteor slamming into the ship and killing them both. Or Space pirates murdering them as they tried to steal their ship. Or they could run out of fuel and get stranded-

“Whatcha thinking about over there?” Jack broke his dark musings with an easy smile, “You’ve been quiet for a while now.”

“Nothing really,” Ianto shook his head, this was Jack. He needed to stop being paranoid, “You never said where you were born,” he chose a random topic to distract himself, “I get the feeling it wasn’t earth?” Maybe if he knew a bit more about him the dark voices in his head would stop nagging at him, “Could we visit?”

Jack raised an eyebrow, going silent for a moment, “Me?” it couldn’t hurt to tell him, “I was born on the Boeshane Peninsula, in 5074. I was a different person back then, it feels like a lifetime ago.” Seeing that something was still obviously bothering the other man, Jack put down his tools and meandered over to his copilots seat, “It’s a long way away and there’s not much there, it’d be a waste of a trip.”

“If you say so,” Ianto yawned, fighting off his fatigue as he span around in his chair, “how long till we reach the space station?” He really wasn’t in the mood to try and get some sleep just yet, today had been long and probably one of the most bizarre experiences of his life but there was no way his brain was going to be quiet enough to actually let him get some sleep anytime soon.

“Not long. A few days,” Jack told him, “a week max,” thankfully the station was pretty close. For their first trip out into the stars on their own vessel, Jack had wanted to chose something fairly basic, and boy was he glad of it too since Ianto had shown an immense initial discomfort to space travel, “From there we can go wherever you like, it’s pretty central.” He wanted to show Ianto everything bright and beautiful in the universe, he deserved it, “You’d love Midnight, I have to take you there at some point.”

“Midnight,” Ianto slouched further down in his seat as his eyelids grew heavy, “is that a planet or a timeframe?”

“It’s a planet,” Jack smiled, imagining how beautiful he would look with the sparkling city of diamonds behind him, “most famous for it’s sapphire waterfall-”

Ianto called bull, “It's a waterfall made of sapphires?” No way.

But Jack was telling the truth, waving his hands around animatedly as he made his point, “Yes! There’s this enormous jewel, the size of a glacier that reaches the Cliffs of Oblivion, and then shatters into sapphires at the edge,” he’d only ever seen it once briefly on a mission for the time agency to ensure the Leisure Palace was installed without a hitch as competitors tried to derail the project, “They fall a hundred thousand feet into a crystal ravine, you’d love it.” It would be nice to visit again for pleasure instead of business.

Ianto didn’t know if it was exhaustion catching up to him or the fact that Jack looked so enthusiastically happy but in that moment all he could do was let out an embarrassingly besotted sigh and sink further into his chair, accidentally allowing another, smaller, yawn to escape.

Jack didn’t know he could find a yawn sexy but somehow Ianto managed it, “How about we retire for the night?” He suggested, “Check out just how comfortable these sleeping quarters are?” A few precious hours tucked up with a cuddly Welshman was exactly what the doctor ordered.

Already half asleep in his chair anyway, Ianto didn’t put up much of a fuss when Jack pulled him to his feet, rubbing his eyes tiredly as he followed him to their quarters, “Okay.” Moving pretty much on autopilot, Ianto stripped down to his shirt and boxers before practically collapsing into bed with a huff, “What are you just standing there for?”

“Well…” Jack looked around the room, cursing Mr Fuzzy as he realised he’d over exaggerated the space available, “there’s only one bed.”

“So?” Ianto gave him an unimpressed look, showing no hesitance in sharing the bed with him much to Jack’s surprise, “Look Jack, it’s been a long day and I’m exhausted. We’ve shared a bed before and besides,” Ianto Let out one last final yawn as he properly settled in for the night, shuffling around trying to get comfortable, “I trust you not to do anything.”

Ianto trusted him.

Jack was honestly resisting the urge to swoon.

When was the last time someone had told him they trusted him and meant it? It had to have been long before the time agency recruited him and then some. Yet here Ianto was declaring that he trusted him of all things, it was almost laughable. He’d tortured and murdered his way through history for the time agency, he’d done things he would never be able to wash his hands clean of, a guilt would follow him for the rest of his life, looming over his shoulder to taunt him.

Ianto would run as far away as he could get if he knew half the abhorrent crimes Jack had committed. Instead he was lying peacefully in bed, dressed in makeshift pyjamas, floating through open space with only Jack for company and he was fine with that.

He didn’t deserve Ianto’s trust but he hoped he could earn it properly one day, “Thank you.” Jack carefully climbed into bed next to the other man and kept his mouth firmly shut when Ianto’s head found its way to rest on his shoulder. The kisses they had traded earlier in the day were still fresh in his mind and Jack didn’t know if his teasing would be welcome, it was probably for the best if he kept quiet and enjoyed this while he could. Who knew when Ianto would grow board of adventuring and wish to go home?

While all the two of them got up to between the sheets that night was actual sleep, Jack still awoke feeling refreshed and oddly satisfied six hours later. He figured it may have something to do with the utterly adorable specimen that had claimed his arm as a pillow at some point while they were sleeping but he couldn’t be sure.

He’d just have to make sure to repeat the circumstances later, y’know, for science.

“Stop starin’ at me,” Ianto’s voice was muffled, startling Jack as he hadn’t known he was awake yet, “it’s creepin’ me out.”

“Sorry,” he wasn’t, “I’ll stop,” he wouldn’t.

Groaning, Ianto pushed himself up and rubbed the sleep from his eyes, smiling down at Jack shyly as he grew more aware of the situation he was in. It wasn’t every day he woke up in bed with a man he’d throughly snogged the previous day. In fact, scratch that, this was the very first time and he wasn’t quite sure how to act, “Good morning, did you sleep well?”

Jack opened his mouth to reply that he had thank you very much, but Ianto beat him to it with a cute little frown working it’s way across his forehead, “Hang on, do we even have morning in space? Or night for that matter? How are we supposed to know what time it is?”

Of course those were the questions Ianto would be asking, he was so completely and utterly human, in the best way possible, “Don’t worry, this ship runs like clockwork. Literally, it can convert time into any measurement you want. Rotations, Rells, even earth Minutes. As for the time of day,” Jack shrugged and sat up as well, “I’d say this is as good a time as any to call morning, don’t you agree?”

“Yeah,” Ianto agreed, stretching his arms out a little as he shook himself awake, “good morning then.”

“Good morning,” Jack slid out of bed when it became clear Ianto wasn’t going to initiate something, he should probably go check on the autopilot anyway to make sure they were still on course, “I’m going to do some routine checks, how do you feel about some flying lessons?” He had promised after all.

“Really?” Ianto grinned, an excited gleam in his eye as he also scrambled out of bed, “You’ll teach me how to fly this thing?”

“We made a deal didn’t we?” Jack chuckled as Ianto stumbled over his own two feet in a hurry to pull his jeans on, “I’ll make a pilot out of you yet Ianto Jones.”

Chapter Text

Jack didn’t know if he was proud, turned on or extremely annoyed at how quickly Ianto seemed to take to flying. As it was, he was feeling a combination of all three as he watched the other man take them through some simple manoeuvres with ease, “Relax your grip a little,” he pouted as he tried to nitpick, “don’t put too much pressure on the engines, ease up on the thrusters a bit.”

Flicking the switches on the dash after only a moment of hesitation, Ianto followed his instructions to the letter and Jack accidentally let out a little huff, “What?” Ianto panicked, thinking he’d done something wrong, “What did I do?”

“Nothing,” Jack told himself to stop being petty and smiled at him as he looked over, “you’re doing everything just right, it’s a little annoying really. Did you learn how to drive this fast too?”

Laughing, Ianto shook his head, “Oh no, I was a disaster, failed my test twice and got through about seven instructors before I passed.”

“Now why do I find that hard to believe?” Jack laughed along with him, trying to imagine a younger version of Ianto giving his driving instructor a heart attack and having a hard time of it, “You’re doing great though, really, you’re a natural.”

“It’s a little like driving,” Ianto admitted, “Only I can also go up and down and there’s no road. Less stuff to hit out here as well. No curb to mount.”

Resisting the urge to a lewd joke about mounting, Jack settled for merely teasing him instead, “Just wait till I get you navigating us through meteorite storms, that’s going to be fun.”

“Whatever,” Ianto rolled his eyes before returning his full attention back to the controls.

While flying was fun to begin with, it didn’t take long before the two of them grew bored. They were trapped together aboard a ship flying through empty space with not much else to occupy themselves with other than each other. It was inevitable that boredom would creep in eventually. They managed to starve it off for a few days however, Jack took to teaching Ianto some Galactic standard and more complex manoeuvres while Ianto had fun teaching him some 21st century ‘car games’ in return. 20 questions and would you rather had definitely killed a lot of time but even they failed to entertain after the sixth day of isolation.

“Iantoooo,” Jack groaned as he slumped pitifully in bed, “I’m bored.” He’d suggest they participate in some mutual stress relief but Ianto had startled like a rabbit the last time he tried slipping his hands down his trousers, he just had to wait for the other man to come to him. He could be patient.

That didn’t mean he wasn’t bored though.

“Try the quiet game, you need practice at that one,” Ianto told him, barley sparing him a glance over the top of the book he was trying to read. Alright, maybe it wasn’t so much a book as it was an instruction manual but Ianto figured it still counted, “Or you could go take inventory on our food supplies.”

Now that sounded like torture, and Jack knew what he was talking about because he had experience with torture before, “Urgh, no.” He would literally rather be doing anything else, “Hey,” sitting up in bed, Jack tilted his head to one side and observed Ianto. He was sat comfortably, utterly relaxed, at the end of the bed engrossed in the boring manual he’d read from cover to cover at least three times at this point and Jack got a great idea, “Mind if I read along too?” Ianto didn’t get a chance to respond as Jack wasted no time scooting down the end of the bed to practically drape himself over his shoulder, “I’ll be quiet, I swear.”

“Sure,” Ianto didn’t believe him for a second, “as long as you’re quiet.” True to his word though, Jack didn’t say a peep as he settled down next to the other man. He’d promised to be quiet, he didn’t say anything about trying to behave, “Jack,” Ianto warned him as a wandering hand slid further and further down his chest after only a few minutes, “I’m reading.”

“Don’t let me distract you,” he whispered back, nuzzling his neck while his hands explored their new playground. Ianto’s body was delectable, all fuzzy chest hair and firm muscles hidden beneath a softer looking exterior, he was exquisite, “I-”

“Jack,” Ianto tried to interrupt but the other man was too busy trailing open mouthed kisses up and down his neck, “Jack.”

“Hmm,” pulling Ianto further back into his embrace, Jack grinned, “yeah, say my name.”

More amused at his latest attempt at seduction than anything, Ianto rolled his eyes and dug his elbow into Jack’s ribs to get his attention, “Seriously, there’s an alert,” he gestured to the panel that had lit up on their wall, “look.”

“Oh,” pouting, Jack released his hold on his prize and took a better look, “we appear to be two clicks away from the station, in about twenty minutes we’ll need to get ready to dock.” Just when things were getting interesting.

“See,” Ianto slid out of his grasp, “it didn’t take that long did it?” He would never admit that he was close to giving in to his advances, not when it was so much fun to see Jack work for it, “Let’s go dock a spaceship.”

“You mean, let’s go so you can watch me dock a spaceship,” Jack corrected him, mood slightly lifted as he got to walk behind Ianto the whole way back to the bridge, eyes firmly planted on his arse the entire way, “Just because you can do some basic zig zag manoeuvres it doesn’t mean you can dock us safely, it takes years of practice and an immense amount of skill-”

“Didn’t you say that it was all computer controlled?” Ianto smirked as he slid into his seat, relaxing back into the comfortable fabric, “you told me that you just have to ‘push this button here and watch the magic happen’,” he did an excellent impression of Jack’s American accent if he did say so himself, “right?”

“I don’t sound like that,” Jack frowned at him, pushing the button Ianto had waved at to initiate the docking sequence, “and you’re no fun.”

“You’ll get over it,” Ianto said, only half paying attention to him as he gave most of his focus to the space station in front of them. It didn’t look like the game station, it was a completely different shape, more flat but he knew that didn’t mean anything. For all he knew this place could be run by another Jagrafess or they could be attacked by an army of Daleks the second they disembarked, “promise me not to leave my side?” He knew it was a pathetic thing to ask but he honestly couldn’t see himself feeling safe without Jack within arms reach, not aboard a space station anyway.

Jack’s face looked surprisingly soft when he looked over, “I promise,” he understood, hell, he felt the same way, “so long as you don’t go wandering off without me again.”

“Well…” Ianto laughed as the ship shuddered around them, powering down as they landed, “I’ll try my best.” 

Chapter Text

The space station was amazing, teaming with alien life and there was so much to explore. Jack had wanted to take Ianto up to the observation deck and get him to chose the next planet they would visit, imagining the soft twinkle in his eye as he got to pick, the faint blush on his cheeks when he inevitably ducked his head to avoid whatever compliment would fall out of Jack’s mouth.

He’d thought it was going to be perfect, and it was. Right up until they got into the lift anyway.

It was the doors that set Ianto off, he had thought he was doing so well until he almost suffocated on his own breath in the tiny carriage. He’d managed to get this far, pushing the still fresh memories of the attack to the back of his mind as he clung to Jack’s hand but it was the stupid, horizontally closing doors that brought it all rushing back and tipped him over the edge. Jack hadn’t known what to do, had panicked when Ianto crumpled to his knees struggling for air before eventually crouching down next to him to coach him through each breath.

Jack was telling him how to breathe. Helping him. Instructing him.

Ianto couldn’t even breathe without needing someone else’s help. He’d never felt this weak before. He’d never been so pathetic. Crumpled on the floor, shaking, panicking, with Jack giving him step-by-step instructions just so he could bloody breathe.

The air shook out of him. Faster than he wanted it to.

And Jack just started over. Told him to breathe in. Told him to let it out.

Told him to breathe in.

Told him to let it out.

In. Out.

Again.

And again.

In… Out… In… Out…

Until Ianto didn’t need prompting anymore. Until he wasn’t forcing himself. Not thinking about it. Just… breathing.

“Are you back with me?” Jack asked carefully, his hand still pressed firmly against his chest as Ianto shuddered slightly on the floor, “Tell me what you need.”

What he needed was to grow a pair, “I’m fine, uh, need to get out of the lift.” It was like he was back there, Jack had just kissed him and tricked him into the lift, the doors slamming shut as he forced him away so he could face the Dalek’s alone, “Please.”

“Okay,” Jack took him out on the next floor and looked around for somewhere to sit, easing him down onto the seat even as Ianto batted his hands away, “what was all that about?”

“The doors reminded me of the game station,” he admitted after a few tense moments of silence, it might be the most ridiculous thing anyone had ever said but Jack deserved to know, “I obviously haven’t… processed everything yet. I’m sorry for frightening you but I swear,” Ianto squeezed his hand, “I’m okay now.”

“Like hell you are,” Jack muttered to himself but at Ianto’s insistence he was willing to drop it, for now, “Are you hungry? I’m sure there’s a couple of food stands around here somewhere,” and just like that they were back to normal. Ianto honestly did feel fine, it was like whatever had caused him seize up had left completely and he certainly wasn’t going to try an examine it.

So Jack just led Ianto around the station, holding his hand firmly the entire time as he pointed out features of interest to distract them both.

It was nice, Ianto couldn’t help but think to himself, holding Jack’s hand and listen to him babble on about random space stuff was just nice.

“Jack?” Ianto loathed to interrupt his very passionate monologue about the injustice of prejudice against certain alien species who were not permitted to board the station but he had the sudden urge to do something and he didn’t want to let it pass before acting on it.

“-yes?” Jack came to a halt and gave Ianto his full attention, momentarily stunned as the other man pulled him in for a kiss out of the blue. Soft lips confident as they collided with his own, the fiery tease of his tongue grazing his bottom lip before pulling away as if shy.

Jack didn’t know when his eyes closed but when he opened them Ianto was pulling away with a slightly embarrassed yet determined look on his face, “Thanks.”

“No, thank you,” Jack grinned, whatever he did to prompt Ianto to kiss him like that, he just hoped he could do it again, preferably soon, “What did I do?” He doubted it was his energetic speech about how Hath should be allowed on board without a guard present... then again maybe he’d stumbled across a unique kink? If that’s what got Ianto’s motor going then-

“Just…” Ianto shrugged, “being yourself.”

Jack would never admit that gave him butterflies. He was Captain Jack Harkness, intergalactic lothario and yet all it took was three little words from Ianto Jones and he felt like a besotted teenage girl. Just being himself. How could that affect him so much?

He didn’t care and he didn’t particularly want it to end either, “I’m glad to be of service,” leaning forward Jack stopped just shy of kissing him again to check it was alright, closing the distance quickly when Ianto gave him a minute nod. He could wax poetry about kissing Ianto Jones, there weren’t enough sonnets in the universe to encapture the unrelenting emotion that surged up within him as there lips met.

“Excuse me,” a voice interrupted them in galactic standard, “may I remind you that any and all acts of sexual nature are to be confined to floors 33 and 34.” The voice belonged to a humanoid figure with purple tinged skin and four squinty blue eyes, “There are younglings of various species about that shouldn’t be exposed to such... displays.”

Ianto might not have understood all of what was said but Jack seemed to have it under control, sheepishly turning back to him with a coy smile, “Sorry about that, they’re a bit strict about public displays of affection ever since the great orgy of ’98.”

He didn’t even want to know, “Alright… what were we doing that offended them?” He asked, just so he knew not to repeat it, not because he was getting ready to start a fight if it had anything to do with the fact they were both men. There was enough of that on earth, if he encountered it in space too, Ianto didn’t know if he could be held responsible for his actions.

“They thought I was trying to fertilise eggsacks in your mouth,” Jack told him casually, only holding his hands up in surrender when Ianto glared at him in both parts shock and horror, “in their defence we do look very similar to a species that actually does that.”

“Why do I have to be the one getting fertilised?” Ianto huffed after a moment, annoyed that he left like his masculinity was dented because that was beyond stupid, “Why can’t you be the one with egg sacks?”

Rolling his eyes, Jack told him “They didn’t think you were a woman Ianto,” raising an eyebrow he added, “It’s actually the males of their species that get pregnant.”

“Oh,” right, that was… something, “alright then.” He really didn’t know what to say. Next thing he knew Jack would be telling him that He could get pregnant too, he chuckled at the idea, now wouldn’t that be something?

Chapter Text

“I don’t believe a word of it,” Jack chortled, slapping the table the two of them had claimed as their own while they ate, “you told her you were a student at the University of Mars?” He shook his head with a disbelieving grin, “and she bought it?”

“Every word,” Ianto insisted, “I can be very convincing.”

“Oh, of that I have no doubt,” Jack winked as he finished his drink, “So what happened next? Did she throw you down over her desk and have her wicked way with you, teacher student style?”

“Hardly,” Ianto scoffed, remembering the pushy woman from satellite five all too well, “she was only interested in my credits.”

“Isn’t it always the way,” Jack sighed, kicking back in his seat to hear the rest of the story, “So what did happen then?”

Regaling Jack with stories of his adventures with the Doctor was serving as an interesting enough way to kill some time, the two of them weren’t allowed up onto the observation decks for another hour yet. Something to do with maintenance work, “Well I just ended up going along with it really, got a chip implanted in the back of my head and had a nasty surprise when nausea struck.” He’d never asked for the additional surgery and yet he’d woken up with it anyway, “She installed the vomitomatic while she was at it, said it was a ‘special offer’ or something.”

“You got chipped just so you could use the computers?” Jack shook his head, “I would have just found someone else and made them do the research for me, I’m sure we’d have come to an arrangement.”

“Yes, well,” that actually wasn’t such a terrible idea, too bad he hadn’t thought of it, “it came in handy didn’t it? I never would have survived the games later if I hadn’t.” He’d have been blown up on countdown before the Dalek’s even got close, “Anyway, fast forward a bit and the computer tries to kill me, I have a row with the Doctor and tell him to take me home but then someone,” he looked pointedly at Jack, “threw a chula ambulance our way and we got… distracted.”

Chuckling, Jack leant over the table, “Hmm, one of my many talents.”

So modest, Ianto rolled his eyes, and yet he was still attracted to him, “Remind me to get you to display a few of your others once we get back to the ship,” he smirked as Jack’s eyes widened, “wouldn’t want you getting bored again.”

Tilting his head to one side, Jack spoke softly, “Traveling with you could never be boring.”

How Jack could go from practically cackling with laughter one minute to seductive and charming the next was a talent in and of itself. Ianto was about to tell him as such when he was rudely interrupted by near deafening klaxons sounding overhead, “What’s going on?” The station rumbled beneath their feet as the overhead lighting flickered, momentarily cutting out all together before coming back on but in red, bathing the entire floor like a blood soaked blanket, “Jack?”

“I don’t know,” Jack got to his feet and pulled Ianto after him as he went to investigate, “stay with me, do not let go of my hand.” Weaving through the crowd was easy, finding a terminal to give them information was not. Eventually Jack ended up shoving someone out of the way, leaving Ianto to apologise for him as his fingers dances across the screen, “It’s the airlocks,” that didn’t sound good, “They’re malfunctioning, we’ve already lost the top ten floors and it’s not slowing down.”

“Can you stop it?” Ianto glanced worriedly at the screen, watching as the life signs blinked out on the next floor down, “or at least slow it down to give people the chance to get back down to the docking bay and to their ships?”

“I can try but all the lifts are down, if we want to get down to the docking bay we’re going to have to use the transmat and it won’t have enough juice for everybody if they all try to use it at once.” Jack gnawed on his bottom lip as people started to panic around them, “We need the override code, if we shut everything down excluding life support then we might stand a chance,” they’d already lost three more floors, “but only the director of the station has the code.”

“Can’t we just use this?” Ianto pulled the sonic out but Jack was already shaking his head before he finished, “Why not?”

“It’s deadlock protected,” else he would have suggested it already, “the Doc told me it doesn’t work on deadlocks.”

Well in that case they needed the override code then, “Where’s the director?” Find the director, find the code, save the space station, Ianto told himself, simple. He wasn’t going to die in space, he wasn’t.

“I don’t even know who the director of this place is, let alone where they are,” Jack kicked the terminal in frustration and slight fear as the number kept dropping. Thankfully they were only on floor 45, Ianto panicking in the lift and forcing them out earlier a blessing in disguise, otherwise they would be toast right about now. It wasn’t a pleasant thought but Jack knew if they failed to save the station then at least he and Ianto would be safe with his vortex manipulator.

“Move over,” Ianto gave him a shove and practically stabbed the computer with the sonic, closing his eyes as he concentrated, “here we go, the directors files weren’t sealed.” He read the information aloud, “Mr Skip Layton, CEO and founder of SkipTec Industries. There’s a number here, can you contact him using your wrist strap?”

“I can try,” Jack punched in the numbers but it went straight to voicemail, a melodic even voice thanking them for calling STI but there lines were currently occupied.

“STI?” Ianto would have to come back to mock that later when their lives weren’t on the line, “Not important, we need to guess this code. Try Password or Override Code.”

“No one is actually stupid enough to use Override Code as the Override Code Ianto,” Jack told him even as he typed it in, a big red X covering the screen as they guessed wrong, “We’re losing more and more floors, 25% is already gone.” They were running out of time, “I can’t find any trace of a virus in the system, I don’t even know what I’m fighting! We need to-”

“Hang on,” Ianto cut him off, eyes darting over his screen as he tried to soak up as much information as he could and quick, “It says here that SkipTec is running itself into the ground, bad investments, poor stock, they’re broke-”

That had nothing to do with the threat of imminent death they were facing, “So what?” Jack failed to see how this was important.

“So, what if the airlocks aren’t malfunctioning. You said it yourself there’s no virus in the system.” Ianto’s accessed the airlocks programming and jabbed his finger at the order code, “See, they’re being opened remotely. Someone’s doing this on purpose and I bet you anything that it’s some overpaid CEO looking for a payout.” It wasn’t a particularly nice thought but it made sense, “We just need to block the signal.”

“That I can do,” Jack took over at the terminal, breaking through various firewalls until he could emit a wave to cancel out the one coming in, “It’s not a permanent solution but it’ll buy us some time to get everyone out safely.”

“Right then, You work on getting the lifts working and I’ll get people to stop overloading the transmats on the upper levels, they’ll need to be evacuated first incase the signal comes back.” Pulling Jack in by his shirt, Ianto planet a kiss on him and smiled shakily as he pulled away, “Good luck, I’ll meet you back here,” and then he was gone before Jack could utter a single word.

He could only pray Ianto kept himself safe.

Chapter Text

Ianto soon realised there was one, quite obvious, flaw in his plan. While Jack had taught him a few common phrases in Galactic Standard he wasn’t nearly fluent enough to effectively converse with the panicking hoards of people fighting over the transmats. Language barrier or not, that wouldn’t stop him from trying.

The mob had already busted three of the six functional transmats from overloading them and the remaining ones were facing the same fate if everyone kept piling up on them. Ianto just needed to get everyone to line up so they could evacuate effectively in safe group sizes, which was easier said than done. Thankfully he wasn’t the only one trying to implement this idea, two other male presenting beings were doing the exact same but with little success. It spoke volumes of the stress Ianto was currently under that he didn’t so much as bat an eyelash at the fact they were both cats. Human cats, of course they were human cats in space. He just hoped Jack could continue to block the signal because this was going to take a while.

The two men(?) were trying to help the young push to the front and were grateful for his help as Ianto parted the crowd ahead of them. He recognised their uttered thanks and what he assumed was an explanation of what they were doing but most of it went over his head, “I don’t speak much galactic standard,” he mangled the pronunciation but the two beings understood, “I can help.”

Meanwhile downstairs Jack was fighting at every turn with the lifts while trying to simultaneously keep blocking the incoming signals from whoever was trying to kill them. Why couldn’t they just have stairs, he asked himself, or better fucking back up procedures? It seemed like every time he made even the slightest inch of progress he was kicked miles back by the downright ridiculous control units that were blocking him from powering the lifts, if only he could find a way to boost the power-

His wrist strap.

It was risky, he could burnt it out in the process and leave him and Ianto stranded in this time period. The other man would never find his way back home, they might never find the Doc again but if he didn’t then thousands more people could die. Ianto could…

It was worth the risk.

While Jack was working on that, Ianto and his two new cat friends were tirelessly organising swarms of scared aliens into travel groups. The two men worked in perfect synchronisation and while the language was difficult to understand, their meaning transcended it. They projected authority, a sense of calm even in the face of danger and Ianto was unbelievably glad to have their help.

So far they had cleared ten floors and were working on the eleventh, by then they had a good rhythm going and had only been forced to physically restrain one being as they had started acting violently. It seemed the kitties had claws and they weren’t afraid to use them. The two alien cats would do most of the talking while Ianto helped groups of people on and off of the transmat pads, giving what little direction he could in the form of gentle nods and pointing. It worked though, it was working brilliantly until the airlocks started opening up again on the evacuated floors above.

“Ianto!” Jack’s tinny voice sounded over the stations intercoms, various aliens startling at the unfamiliar language, “They’ve found a way round my signal and are opening the airlocks, you need to get down here ASAP. I’ve almost got the lifts working so haul your ass.”

Apparently ‘airlocks’ was a familiar enough word for the majority of the aliens present as the panic they’d fought to subdue was back in full swing. Thankfully the collective split into two, half of them rushing for the lifts while the other half stayed by the transmats, it could have been so much worse if they’d overloaded the systems, then they’d all be dead.

Ianto wasn’t going to ignore Jack’s warnings though, if he got the lifts working then the lower levels would be fine, he needed to get down to safety and quick if he didn’t want to get ejected into space. He couldn’t imagine it would be very pleasant after all.

“We should go down,” Ianto spoke to his two new friends in English, pointing down and then towards the transmat once the majority of the floor had already evacuated, leaving only a few stragglers who seemed competent enough to sort themselves out.

They seemed to understand what he was trying to say and gestured for him to go first, twisting their mouths up into what he assumed to be a smile, whiskers twitching when he smiled back.

It was all going to well until he heard them call out behind him, their tone telling him more than their words ever could. Ianto only had a split second to panic that something was wrong before an intense stab of pain struck the back of his head, sending him falling to his knees. The last thing he remembered before blacking out being two worried, kitty faces hovering above him.

-

Jack fidgeted nervously by the transmat pads as he waited for Ianto, he’d helped all those who’d come in by shuttle onto the escape pods and sent out a distress signal to the local authorities so they could handle the clean up. It wasn’t perfect, too many lives had been lost but they’d done the best they could with what they had. Now he was just waiting for Ianto and the more time that passed him by the tenser he got.

Maybe he’d been onto something when he’d complained about losing his phone, Jack would give anything to hear his voice right about now.

Jack thought he knew what worry felt like but it was nothing compared to the way his whole body almost shut down when he saw two Catkind men carrying the bloody and limp body of his friend, “You two, stop right there!” He sprinted over, hands shaking as they inspected Ianto for injury, “What did you do to him?” He snarled, practically snatching Ianto out of their arms and into his own.

Before they could defend themselves though, Ianto gasped awake in his arms, coming back to conciousness suddenly and somewhat violently as he clung to Jack for dear life, “I- what- Jack!” He was shaking like a leaf, a pained expression on his face as Jack clung back just as hard, “What happened?”

“That’s what I’d like to know as well,” holding the trembling man close to his chest Jack stood between the Catkind culprits and the emergency escape pods, “not so fast you two, you’re coming with us.” He’d get answers from them if it’s the last thing he did, they were going to pay for assaulting his… for hurting Ianto.

-

“I’m fine Jack,” slapping the fussing hands away, Ianto sighed and relaxed into his copilots seat, sparing a warm smile for their new traveling companions/hostages that Jack had taken, “and I told you, they were only trying to help. Someone attacked me from behind and they brought me straight back to you, didn’t they?” He was lucky the two Catkind hadn’t just left him for dead, anything could have happened if he’d been abandoned unconscious like that.

Rover and Bailey were brothers, they’d been on the station looking for work as mechanics and while they didn’t speak any English Ianto was fast growing to like them even if Jack was a bit miffed he had to act as translator, “Hmmph,” Jack crossed his arms, giving their guests a glare, “I suppose.”

“You suppose?” Ianto raised an eyebrow.

“Well, they let you get hurt in the first place didn’t they?” Jack shot back, shaking his head, “It doesn’t matter, we’ll just drop them off on the nearest planet and be done with it.” He didn’t like the way Rover was looking at Ianto, or the way Bailey had been running his paws through his hair while he looked for the injury that wasn’t even there.

“They saved my life Jack,” Ianto glanced at them and smiled kindly, “the least we can do is give them a lift.”

Nope, that wasn’t happening, “The ships too small,” Jack frowned at him, “we don’t have room.”

“So what,” Ianto glared right back, “You’re going to just dump them on the next planet we come across?” Memories of the Doctor kicking him out of the Tardis in the wrong time flooding into the forefront of his mind, “Just like that?”

“Just like that,” Jack agreed, plotting their course as he spoke.

“But-“

“But nothing,” Jack snapped, “I’m the Captain of this ship, my word is final Ianto.”

With a heat behind his eyes that Jack didn’t like at all, Ianto shot to his feet and glared holes into him, “Fine, enjoy keeping your prisoners company by yourself,” he growled and not in a sexy way, “Captain.”

Helpless and already regretting his words, Jack gulped and watched Ianto stalk out of the room.

That could have gone better.

Chapter Text

After storming out, Ianto wasn’t exactly sure what to do. The ship was fairly small and he didn’t have a lot of options, he could either go sulk in the kitchen, mope in the bedroom or brood in the small cargo hold. In the end he decided to go mope in the bedroom since that’s where he’d be most comfortable and as the minutes ticked by his ire only intensified when Jack didn’t come after him.

To be fair even if he did he wouldn’t want to talk to him right now, Jack was in a lose-lose situation but that didn’t mean Ianto wasn’t royally pissed off with him. He had no idea what had gotten into him, the man that had snarled at him back there wasn’t the man he knew. He had thought they were in this together, co-pilots, he’d thought they were equals but Jack had made it abundantly clear who was actually in charge.

Sod him and his sodding ego, Ianto huffed, climbing out of the nest of bedsheets to go and give him a peace of his mind. He was all geared up ready for a fight when he heard voices as he passed the kitchen. Rover and Bailey were sat at the table, hunched over a piece of tech talking quietly together as Ianto watched from the doorway. They looked comfortable now they were out from under Jack’s watchful eye and Ianto hated that he’d put them in this position.

He must have made some sort of thoughtful sound because the next thing he knew Rover and Bailey’s heads whipped round in unison to stare at him, “Uh, hi,” he waved sheepishly, wandering over now there was no point trying to hide, “may I?”

Though they didn’t understand his words, they got the gist of what he was asking. Bailey pushed out a chair for him and after only a brief moment of hesitation Rover handed over the tech they’d been working on too.

Ianto was surprised to find that he actually recognised it, in his hands he held a translation device though it looked like it had been through the wars. Van Statten had bought on just like it, only this was was clearly busted. Turning it over a few times, Ianto got an idea, “Help?” He offered, grinning when the two brothers nodded slowly at him.

Digging the sonic out of his back pocket, Ianto barely had to try and connect with it before the fast growing familiar buzzing filled his head. It was like the more he used the sonic, the more in tune they became with one another and sure enough after only a few seconds the translator spluttered to life in his hands. Bailey and Rover watched with wide eyes as he slipped the sonic back in his pocket and offered the translator back to them, hoping beyond hope that it worked on English.

It didn’t.

It worked on Welsh though.

And that’s how Jack found them, Ianto doubled over as he roared with laughter, speaking Welsh with that sinful accent while Rover and Bailey entertained him with some silly story about their travels and dammit if that didn’t infuriate Jack even more. That was his job, not theirs, “What’s going on here?”

He’d never killed the mood so fast, the Catkind shrunk back in their seats and Ianto’s smile vanished from his face to be replaced with a glare, “We were just having a conversation, I didn’t know we needed your permission for that, Captain.”

And yes, sure, he deserved that Jack told himself, but that didn’t mean his hackles weren’t raised by it, “Stop acting like a child Ianto,” he didn’t know enough galactic standard to talk to them properly anyway, “speaking to them in Welsh just so I can’t understand what you’re saying? Real mature.”

“Actually, if you’d pulled your head out of your arse for just a second I would have told you that I fixed their translator,” he sniped, “it doesn’t work on English. Forgive me for wanting to thank the people who saved my life.”

“Look-”

“No,” Ianto shot to his feet, going toe to toe with Jack as he let his frustrations be heard, “I don’t know what your problem is but you’re being an arse.” If he let Jack walk all over him now it would set a precedent, “If this is how you’re going to behave from now on then I don’t see much point in us traveling together, I’m not just some doormat you can walk all over whenever you feel like it.”

Very aware that Rover and Bailey were watching them closely, Jack backed down and pursed his lips, “It was never my intention to hurt you,” Ianto didn’t look happy but he did appear to be slightly less murderous, “I guess I was just frustrated and I took it out on you, which I know isn’t an excuse. I’m sorry. You were right, the least we can do is offer them a ride to where they need to go.” Swallowing his pride he turned to Rover and Bailey, if playing nice with them would get Ianto to stop scowling at him then Jack knew what he had to do, “I’m sorry for my behaviour, where are you headed?”

-

Things were still tense aboard the ship but Ianto had stopped walking out of rooms whenever he entered them so Jack considered that as progress. Rover and Bailey had temporary quarters set up in the cargo hold and even though he couldn’t prove it, Jack was certain they were making moves on Ianto when he wasn’t looking, “I’m just saying,” Jack whispered as Ianto gave him a bored look, “they’re following you round like lost puppies.”

“Jack,” Ianto resisted the urge to frown, “they’re trapped in a ship with two men they don’t know, one of whom abducted them while the other spoke gibberish they couldn’t understand. Are you seriously upset that they want to be my friend and not yours?”

It wasn’t friendship he was worried about, “Just… be careful, we don’t know them either.”

Nodding thoughtfully, Ianto had to admit he was right, “Okay,” it couldn’t hurt to be a little cautious just in case, “I’ll be careful.”

Chapter Text

Rover and Bailey had told Jack they were headed to a spa resort on the planet Bodego just on the edge of the solar system, there was work waiting for them and Jack was all too happy to get them there on time. Early in fact, he was generous like that. The trip would take three weeks, not including a pit stop they’d have to make to replenish their supplies along the way since there were four mouths to feed now instead of two and Jack couldn’t wait to get there.

Sat by himself at the ships controls, Jack scowled at nothing as the sound of Ianto’s laugher echoed through the vents. Ever since he’d fixed their damn translator Rover and Bailey had taken great joy in entertaining Ianto while Jack kept them on course. It was driving him insane that he couldn’t understand what they were saying, the device only outputting Welsh much to his chagrin. He was suddenly a lot more empathic to Ianto’s struggles on Gemini when he’d been chatting away with the locals.

It’s not like he hadn’t tried to teach him any galactic standard, it was just a difficult language to learn. It would take weeks to teach him even the basics, if not months-

Another peal of laughter interrupted Jack’s thoughts, this time pushing him over the edge. He’d always hated being excluded and he wasn’t going to start getting over his hang ups now, “Hey,” he announced loudly as he swung into the cargo hold, his wide smile freezing on his face as he resisted the urge to growl, “I don’t get an invite to the slumber party?” He tried to keep his tone light and jovial and the Catkind seemed to buy it, Ianto not so much.

The three of them were sat on the floor, surrounded by the blankets and pillows Ianto had set up for their guests as makeshift sleeping quarters, looking quite at home, “Jack!” Ianto raised an eyebrow at him even as he smiled, “You’re welcome to join as long as you promise to play nice.”

If it was a choice between being civil or leaving Ianto alone with the two nefarious felines, Jack knew what he had to do, “You know me Ianto, I don’t bite unless you ask nicely,” striding forward he nudged him to one side and placed himself firmly between Ianto and their guests.

“You’re not tired from all the posturing earlier?” Ianto teased, bumping their shoulders together to show he was only kidding.

Jack had to admit it wasn’t his finest moment, he’d thrown a bit of a tantrum when upon entering the kitchen that morning he found Bailey eating from his favourite bowl but he refused to feel ashamed about it. He had a sneaking suspicion the damn Cat knew what he was doing, though he couldn’t prove it, “I’m wide awake,” Jack insisted, “what were you talking about that was so funny?”

“Oh,” chuckling, Ianto told him, “Rover was just telling me about the time he and Bailey got caught in a thunderstorm on their home planet, they-”

“Oh a thunderstorm!” Jack grinned, placing his hand on Ianto’s knee, unconsciously marking his territory, “I have a great story about a thunderstorm. Picture this, a planet made entirely of ice, frozen oceans for as far as the eye can see, then there’s me, butt naked on a-” Bailey had the nerve to interrupt him, his translator spewing Welsh and stealing Ianto’s attention away from what was one of the most entertaining stories of all time and space, “what’s he saying?” Jack frowned.

“The translator doesn’t work on English,” Ianto gave him an apologetic look, “they can’t understand you.”

“I wasn’t talking to them,” Jack muttered under his breath.

Ianto cocked his head to one side, not heaving heard him, “What was that?”

“Nothing,” Jack smiled tightly at him, “how about I use the translator? Speak to them in galactic standard and translate it into Welsh for you?” now Jack wasn’t trying to blow his own trumpet but he felt that suggestion deserved a little something more than Ianto shaking his head at him, “What?” He could have just told the Catkind to beat it and scram, he thought Ianto wanted him to be civil?

“The translator only works for two at a time,” stretching his arms over his head, unaware that Bailey and Rover were staring at the exposed skin of his abdomen as he did so, Ianto yawned, “but I’m exhausted, apparently playing host is tiring work.” Rubbing his eyes, Ianto hesitated only a handful of seconds before leaning close to Jack and pecking his cheek, “I’m going to get some sleep, since you’re not tired you can keep Rover and Bailey company. You can swap thunderstorm stories.”

Then just like that Ianto was saying goodnight to their guests in Welsh before disappearing out the door, leaving Jack in the company of Bailey and Rover. While Ianto may not have noticed them checking him out, he certainly had and now they were alone he planned to clear a few things up.

Rover beat him to it, “You and he are close, yes?” Abandoning the translator, they spoke in Galactic standard, “Like… brothers?”

“Ah, no,” Jack smirked at them, pointing to his cheek where Ianto had kissed him, “we are... lovers, so if I were you I’d stop trying to touch what doesn’t belong to you.” Not that he thought of Ianto as his property or anything, the man could do whatever he liked, Jack just wanted the Catkind to back off. They’d had a good thing going, fun adventures, trading kisses that were ever growing in intensity, yes he wanted Ianto to be his lover but perhaps more importantly he wanted him to be his friend. Jack wan’t used to feeling this way, placing companionship over lust and desire, and he didn’t want to run the risk of these two furballs stealing him away.

“Lovers?” Bailey challenged him, “Ianto didn’t mention that.”

Okay, so maybe technically that was a bit of a white lie but if things had carried on the way they were going Jack was sure they’d reach that point sooner rather than later. It wasn’t his fault they’d thrown a cat shaped wrench in his plans, “Yes well, where he’s from it’s not discussed openly.” He bluffed, “He’d be embarrassed if you mentioned it.”

“Oh,” Rover’s whiskers twitched, “but you’re not betrothed? Not promised to one another?”

Jack didn’t like the sound of that, “No,” he wouldn’t lie and say they were official, Ianto would kill him if he found out he’d claimed they were married or something, “but I hope you will respect that we are committed to one another.” Technically they hadn’t had that conversation but Jack surprised himself by realising it was true on his part, since when did he do commitment?

Since he met Ianto Jones apparently.

Rover smiled, though it didn’t reach his eyes, “Of course, we are your humble guests after all.”

Lair, Jack thought to himself, he would definitely have to keep a close eye on these two for Ianto sake.

Chapter Text

When Ianto woke up the next morning he was slightly disappointed to find himself alone in the bed, having grown used to the familiar warmth and weight of Jack laying next to him, of course that was only until he turned around and was treated to a truly spectacular thing to see upon first waking up, “Wow,” his brain to mouth filter wasn’t operational just yet, “I could get used to this.”

In the doorway of their bedroom Jack was doing pull-ups shirtless on a metal bar he’d never noticed before, “Oh, Ianto,” Jack didn’t pause what he was doing, continuing the steady up and down motion effortlessly, “I didn’t mean to wake you. I was just doing a few morning pull-ups.”

“Don’t stop on my account,” Ianto settled down once more, propping his head up so he could shamelessly watch Jack do his thing, “I’ve got quite the view.”

Without missing a beat Jack winked, “I think I’ve got a better one,” and there it was, that precious Ianto laughter filling the room, “like what you see?”

“Yup,” Ianto allowed his eyes to wander across the planes of Jack’s chest for a while before refocusing on his face, “though I think I’d be able to appreciate it better if it wasn’t so far away.” turns out being half awake did wonders for his confidence.

Gasping dramatically, Jack dropped down from the bar and gave him a scandalised look, “Mr Jones are you flirting with me?” He was loving this assertive aura right now, “I’ll have you know I’m not just a piece of meat for you to ogle.”

“Yes you are and you love it.” Ianto bit his lip as Jack stalked closer, “Now come here and let me kiss you, Porkchop.” Laughing in delight, Jack let Ianto pull him down into bed and wasted no time peppering his face with kisses, “Be honest, did you plan that?” Ianto gasped as Jack started mouthing at his neck.

“Plan what?” Jack smirked against his skin, groaning deeply when Ianto’s fingers threaded through his hair and pulled his head up so they were looking at each other, “You have the most beautiful eyes.”

Trying to ignore the compliment, Ianto fought down a blush, “The whole ‘oh you caught me doing pull-ups’ thing.”

Leaning forward to nip at his bottom lip, Jack whispered, “Are you complaining?”

“Far from it,” he admitted. They hadn’t really found the time to do this in a while, not since the Catkind came aboard. It felt weird to Ianto to just sneak off into another room and… do stuff when they had guests that would absolutely know what they were doing. Or at least think they knew what they were doing. He couldn’t care less about Rover and Bailey right then though, Jack had his full undivided attention and would continue to do so as long as he didn’t stop that delightful thing he was doing with his tongue.

“Hello,” Jack practically purred, pulling back from their kiss as he felt a certain something beneath the sheets, “what do we have here?”

“Well it’s not the sonic this time,” Ianto winced at his own fumbling attempts at being seductive, his eyes going wide as he felt Jack grind there hips together, “you…”

“Oh yeah,” Jack propped himself up over Ianto, effortlessly supporting his own weight as he put a little space between them, “but if you don’t want to-”

“I want to,” he might be bright red but he was telling the truth, “I really want to but I don’t really know how this works.” Ianto obviously knew the theory but putting it into practice was an entirely different kettle of fish.

“There’s no rule book we have to follow,” Jack dipped his head to kiss him softly, “we just do whatever feels good.”

Yeah, right, Ianto nodded, he could do that, “Okay.”

“Really?” Jack pushed himself further up, noting the way Ianto seemed both annoyed and excited by the show of strength, “because you don’t sound too enthusiastic.”

“I am,” Ianto looked up at him with those damn trusting eyes and Jack was lost, “but you might need to, uh, take the lead so to speak.”

He liked the sound of that very much, “You sure?”

“Positive.” Ianto insisted.

That was all Jack needed to hear, now that he had the green light to proceed he took a moment to really think about his next move. Something too bold and he ran the risk of completely derailing their morning but something too safe and they’d never move forward. It was a tricky decision so Jack did what he always did when faced with a hard choice. He went with his gut and slipped his hands down his partners pants.

Ianto seemed to enjoy it too if the noises he was making were any indication, and the nails scratching down his back were a nice touch, “You like that?” Ianto’s reply was just a vigorous nod of the head, “What’s the matter, cat got your tongue?”

The blissed out expression of Ianto’s face turned to one of disgust almost immediately, “Ew, gross!” Ianto sounded frankly revolted, “Do not make me think about Rover and Bailey when you’ve got your hands down my pants.”

Jack would never admit it but hearing Ianto confess he wasn’t at all interested in their guest gave him a much needed boost, “Oh, and what would you rather I make you think about?” Jack asked him, rocking his hand back and forth lightly, “I thought you were into pus-”

“Stop, don’t finish that sentence,” Ianto looked like he was either going to burst out into laughter or throw up, “oh god, why are you like this?” He chose laughter, hiding his face in the crook of Jack’s neck, “this is not how I expected this morning to go.”

“Whoever said sex has to be serious was an idiot and a prude to boot,” Jack licked his lips, “if it’s not fun what’s the point?”

Ianto supposed that made sense, was about to tell Jack as such before they were interrupted by the ships alarms blaring out of the ceiling, “That doesn’t sound good.”

Chapter Text

Ianto’s initial assumption that of the sounding of alarms wasn’t good rang true as he and Jack raced to get dressed and over to the bridge to see what was wrong. Rover and Bailey were already waiting for them there, looking increasingly concerned as red lights started flashing to accompany the deafening sirens, “We’ve got incoming,” Jack cringed at the display, “Three Judoon enforcer jets, armed to the teeth.”

“Judoon?” Ianto questioned, the name sounding familiar.

“Self proclaimed space police,” Jack told him, “but more like thugs for hire.” They were obviously after him, he was something of a wanted man in these times, though that was entirely Johns fault and nothing to do with him. Well maybe a little bit to do with him but now really wasn’t the time to get into it, “Ianto, buckle in,” getting caught was not an option, not only would he be thrown into prison for an unknown period of time but if they found out Ianto was an unlicensed time traveler? Not good, “I’m going to try and shake them.” He hasn’t scored the highest in piloting at the time agency for nothing, slipping into his chair Jack engaged the thrusters and set his jaw.

Let them try and catch him.

It didn’t take long before the Judoon started firing, bright green beams shooting past as Jack weaved in and out of them, spiralling intensely and causing the ship to shudder and groan around them in retaliation, the poor girl was old after all, “Jack, on the left!” Ianto shouted, drawing Jack’s attention toward one of the jets that was gaining on them.

“Hold on!” Flicking switches with one hand while the other yanked the steering hard right, Jack prayed this would work, “this is going to get real bumpy.” Diving down he pulled at the controls, looping around in a large arcing semicircle to try and throw them off.

It didn’t work.

“Shit,” Jack hissed as four more ships appeared out of nowhere, there was only one option at this point, “initiating vortex jump in three, two-” mere micro-seconds before he could activate the control sequence an explosion tore through the ship, sending them hurtling through space, whirling out violently as everyone hung on for dear life.

Ianto squeezed his eyes shut, gripping his chair terrified. It felt like the spinning would never stop, sparks exploding from the controls as the red flashing lights just got faster, “Jack!” Everything was so loud, roaring in his ears as fire surrounded him and just like that he was back at Canary Wharf, petrified and certain he was about to die for what felt like the hundredth time in his short life.

Light exploded behind his eyes as the ship collided with something, throwing him out of his chair and into the burning console, “Fuck,” rolling off, Ianto felt hands- no paws- trying to help him up, slapping the fire out on his chest as he was dragged out of the wreckage onto something that felt suspiciously like sand.

“Ianto,” Furry digits dug into his shoulders, claws stabbing him slightly like tiny needles as he was shaken roughly, “Ianto!”

Opening his eyes Ianto was confronted with three brand new, slightly concerning, pieces of information. First, he was sat on a beach with a singed looking Rover and Bailey hovering over him. Second, the ship was in ruins behind him having obviously crash landed and third, there was no sign of Jack, “Where’s Jack?” Ianto looked around helplessly but no amount of whipping his head back and forth made him appear.

When Bailey and Rover didn’t say anything he knew with sickening clarity what it meant, “No,” hauling himself to his feet, ignoring the pain that radiated through his body, Ianto pushed past the two Catkind and stumbled into the burning inferno, “Jack!” He called out as loud as he could, choking almost immediately on the thick smoke, “Jack!” There was no reply but he kept going, all the way back to the bridge even as the sharp jagged walls of the interior sliced through his exposed arms, both cutting and burning him as he pressed forward, “Ja-,” he could barely speak, hacking up half a lung as the smoke stung his eyes.

Though none of that could compare to the pain he felt when he found him.

Jack was still sat in the pilots seat, his head drooped to one side as blood dripped down his left arm and from his fingers to pool on the floor like a nightmarish crimson puddle, “No,” wheezing his way through a coughing fit, Ianto fell forward and crashed to his knees in front of the man, “no, you can’t be.” But he was, Jack Harkness was dead.

A piece of metal from the ships control panels had broken away and implanted itself deep into his chest. Ianto didn’t know how long he sat there weeping amongst the flames but eventually an ominous creaking of the hull broke him out of his grief, the ship was going to collapse in on itself and Ianto refused to allow Jack to be trapped inside. He deserved better. It had only been an hour ago that he’d woken up to his ridiculous flirting and now he was-

Slinging Jack’s bloody arm around his neck Ianto sobbed, pulling the metal away so he could drag his body back the way he came. He collapsed twice and almost gave up but there was something, some small spark within him, that pushed him to keep going, to get back up again and keep trying.

He was almost blinded by the light once he reached the opening, the fresh air felt like soothing balm to his lungs when he climbed out, his breath rattling unpleasantly between the crying and smoke inhalation. Jack didn’t look any better under the sunlight, his entire upper body a mess of blood and open wounds from where the metal had impaled him, “No, Jack please no.” Ianto’s hands shook as they searched for a pulse he knew he wouldn’t find.

He was really dead, gone, forever.

“Ianto-”

“Fuck off,” Rover and Bailey could go and fuck themselves if they thought he was going to leave Jack, they must have seen him when they pulled him from the ship but they’d left him there. What if he’d gotten out sooner? If they’d pulled Jack out of the wreckage before him would he still be alive? Was there even a chance to save him?

“But Ianto-”

“I said Fuck. Off,” he demanded throatily, clutching Jack’s body to his chest as he rocked slightly back and forth, unable to come to terms with what was happening.

And then things got a whole lot more freaky.

The body in his arms spasmed as Jack audibly gasped, his arms coming up to grip Ianto’s sides even as he screamed and tried to pull away, “Ianto,” Jack panted, eyes wide with pain and confusion as the other man kicked and pushed him away, “what- where- what’s going on?”

Rover and Bailey seemed equally as shocked and backed away a good few feet, clutching at each other with wide eyes as Ianto slowly began to calm down, “Y-you were de-dead,” he asked, “how are you alive?”

“I was what?” Jack looked down at his chest, noting the giant tears and bloodstains in his clothes, “How is that possible?”

“You’re asking me?!” Ianto squeaked, not quite believing what he was seeing. Maybe he’d passed out trying to get Jack out and this was all a figment of his dying imagination, “Your wounds…” cautiously raising a hand, Ianto touched the exposed flesh where Jack had been stabbed by the metal of the ship, it felt normal, soft and warm, “It’s like you stitched yourself back together.”

“Holy shit, Ianto!” Jack’s eyes widened as he finally processed Ianto’s appearance, he was covered in burns and cuts, bleeding sluggishly from a particularly deep one on his shoulder, “You’re covered in burns.”

Now that he mentioned it, Ianto was in a lot of pain, “At least I wasn’t dead five seconds ago,” he shot back, “I had to go back in for you.”

“You went back for- okay we can talk about that later. Right now we need to get you to a hospital,” Jack looked around the planet they were on, only seeing the ocean and sand around them “where are we?”

“I dunno, not earth if the sky is anything to go off,” Ianto looked up at the green tinged blue, “we must have crashed when you tried to vortex jump.” He was just grateful they managed to crash on a planet with oxygen, it would suck to survive the crash only to suffocate afterwards, “What about your wrist strap?”

Flipping the cover, Jack visibly winced, “Oh man, looks like the jump did a real number on it,” while still operational Jack knew it would need some serious repairs before he could consider it trustworthy, “Looks like we’re on New New New New New New Earth though,” when Ianto gave him a look that very clearly told him to stop messing around he insisted, “seriously. At least that means there’ll be a hospital close by, though it’ll be tricky getting you in without papers.”

“Me?” Ianto asked him, “You’re the one that died.”

“Yes, but I’m fine now,” Jack reached out to cup Ianto’s left cheek, the one not covered in harsh blisters and speckled blood,, “you on the other hand are covered in some serious looking burns.” No doubt he’d freak out about his miraculous resurrection later but right now getting Ianto medical attention was more important.

Chapter Text

Rover and Bailey hung back a little as Jack insisted he carry Ianto the majority of the way to the hospital, neither of them really understood how Jack had survived the crash as they had been sure he was dead when they left him inside but they knew better than to ask questions and draw attention to themselves while tensions were so high, “Do you think they know?” Bailey whispered, keeping his voice low just incase they were being listened to by the couple ahead, “They have to have-”

“Shh,” Rover slapped him round the back of the head to quieten him, “not another word. They don’t know the Judoon were after us and I’d rather not they find out brother dear.”

Bailey’s whiskers twitched uncomfortably but he didn’t disagree with his brother, “Alright, fine.” He didn’t like lying to them but they had to keep themselves safe. Rover always knew what was best, ever since they were cubs his older brother had always been the one in charge, he kept them fed and clothed living on the streets. Rover was the brains behind their operations and he’d be foolish to step out of line now, “What’s the plan?”

“Well our deal at the resort is out of the question, we’ll never get there now,” Rover complained, eyes flickering over to Ianto as he groaned in pain ahead of them, “I think we should stick with these two. Wait until Ianto heals and maybe we can convince him to join us, you saw that gadget he has, and the way he fit in with us perfectly on the station, too bad his friend caught up with us, we could be halfway to the Vagas Galaxies by now.” It was too bad they hadn’t made it to the escape pods, there was a lot of money they could have coaxed out of those thankful passengers, Rover was only annoyed he hadn’t thought of the con himself, whoever had disengaged the airlocks was a genius.

Bailey wasn’t so sure, “I don’t know, they seem to come as a unit.” Naturally upon first meeting the exotic creature, he’d felt drawn to Ianto and while he might look and appreciate the humans form he’d never try and separate him from his partner, “I don’t think Jack would go for it.”

“Who said we’ll be asking Jack’s permission?” Rover winked, upping his pace so they didn’t get left behind.

Up ahead, Ianto had finally stopped complaining about Jack carrying him like a child and was staring at his arms with thinly veiled astonishment, “Jack, I feel-”

“If you say fine I’m going to spank you once you’ve recovered,” Jack warned him, only half joking.

“No but look, my burns,” Ianto had noticed the pain becoming more bearable over the last hour of so but he’d just thought it was the adrenalin or something, “they’re fading away.” Skin that had been bright red and fiery to the touch was now but a pale pink, little more than sunburn, “What’s happening to us?”

“I don’t know,” Jack slowly lowered Ianto to his feet and inspected his injuries, sure enough his cuts had all but vanished and his burns were healing themselves, “maybe… the hospital might not be such a good idea.” If the wrong people started asking questions they could land themselves in a world of hurt, “How do you feel, honestly? No sugar coating it.”

“It still hurts a bit,” Ianto admitted, “like the worst sunburn of my entire life but nowhere near as bad as it should be.” Had he caught some sort of regenerative gene in space? He’d be tempted to believe it but that didn’t explain how Jack had risen from the dead right in front of him, “What do you think we should do?”

What a great question, too bad Jack had no idea how to answer it. They’d been walking for about an hour now, fleeing the site of the crash in case authorities turned up, and were about half an hour away from the nearest city according to his vortex manipulator, “We should press on to the city. Maybe I can find some parts to fix this thing,” Jack told him, gesturing to his wrist strap, “and once it’s stable be should find the Doctor, he’ll know what’s going on with us.”

“Okay,” while he might agree with his plan, Ianto refused to let Jack carry him any further, “I can walk by myself though, I don’t need you mollycoddling me, alright?”

“Ianto, you were literally covered head to toe in third degree burns an hour ago.” Jack pointed out, reaching out to lift him once more, “I’m just going to-”

Leaping away from his outstretched hands, Ianto refused to be manhandles, “And you were dead,” he snapped, feeling his chest constrict at the thought of it, his stomach threatening to rebel, he needed to change the subject, “You’re not carrying me a single step further, I can handle this on my own.” Thankfully Jack didn’t push any further but that did mean that they ended up walked in silence for a few minutes before Ianto could stand it no longer, “Any idea where we can find him? The Doctor I mean.”

Jack thought about it, wracking his mind for a time or place they could find a version of the Doc that coincided with them, “21st century Earth,” he told him, fairly confident, “Cardiff. He’ll need to go back to refuel at some point, we can wait for him there.” Plus there was an added bonus of the fact that Ianto actually came from that time period.

Rule one of stake outs on alien planets, find yourself a local to help you blend in, thank you agency training.

“Makes sense, what about Rover and Bailey?” Ianto huffed as they continued their climb up a tall grassy hill, “We got them stranded on an alien planet, seems rude to just skip town without helping them.” He was already out of breath, maybe letting Jack carry him hadn’t been the worst idea in the world but right now he needed to feel in control and if walking up a hill was what that took then so be it.

“Right now,” Jack told him, “all I care about is you. We can give them some compensation and they can be on their way-” he stopped himself, “you’ve still got the Doc’s sonic right?

Oh shit, “Uh,” patting down his pockets frantically Ianto yanked out the Doc’s gizmo with a sigh of relief, “thank god I pulled these trousers on.” He didn’t even want to imaging trying to explain to the Doctor how he’d lost his sonic, he knew it would never end well for him.

They were nearing the top of the hill when Jack noticed Ianto was really starting to struggle for breath, his first instinct was to insist he carry him the rest of the way and if needs be just scoop him up to stop his protests but something made him pause. Maybe it was the grim determination on Ianto’s face, perhaps it was his brain finally rebooting and turning back on for the first time since he’d laid eyes on the man but instead of throwing him over his shoulder Jack considered his actions.

“Hey,” Ianto looked at him with steely eyes, daring him to suggest he carry him again, “let me help you?” It might be the crash talking but Jack realised maybe he didn’t need to try and solve Ianto’s problems for him when he could offer him help and support so he could solve them himself.

Ianto stared at the arm Jack offered out in support, suspicious for a moment before caving and letting him take some of his weight. It took an almost embarrassingly long amount of time for him to chance a quick glance over, his eyes meeting Jack’s own concerned ones which were staring right back, “Thank you,” he managed to struggle out.

“You’re welcome.” Jack rewarded him with a small smile as they reached the top of the hill, they were almost there, “Ianto Jones,” he looked out at the city below, at the myriad of flying cars darting from lane to lane swerving to avoid the tourist shuttles, it was all so normal to him but even now he could see Ianto found it within himself to be amazed, “welcome to New New New New New New New York.”

Chapter Text

After a long afternoon of pushing their way through bustling stalls in the city centre, looking for replacement parts for Jack’s vortex manipulator, Ianto was beyond relieved when he finally got the chance to lay down. They’d managed to find a hotel not far from the markets and after a little help from the Doc’s sonic their reservation had appeared on the systems, “I’m exhausted,” Ianto yawned as he stretched out on one of the four beds in the room, kicking his shoes off with a sigh of relief.

“Get some rest,” Jack watched over him as he slowly started to drift off, he was concerned about how quickly Ianto had healed and was worried he’d overexerted himself. Whatever was going on with them wasn’t normal, by all rights he should be dead and yet here he was. It made him think back to the game station, Ianto had been dead one minute and alive the next, whatever this was it was effecting the both of them equally. They needed to find the Doctor, he was the only person Jack could think of that would have answers.

“Do you need any help?” Bailey offered as his brother slumped unceremoniously on one of the spare beds, snoring as soon as his head hit the pillow, “I’m good with smaller tech, Rover handles the bigger stuff.”

“No, I’ve got it,” Jack squinted at Bailey, getting a weird vibe off him.

Shrugging, Bailey perched on the end of the bed closest the door, “Is Ianto going to be okay? He was pretty badly burnt.”

“He’ll be fine,” Jack told him firmly, hoping that he was right, “I’ll make sure of it.”

“And you?” Bailey surprised him, sounding like he actually cared, “Are you okay?”

No, he wasn’t, but he didn’t need to know that, “I’m fine”

“I hope you know I wouldn’t have left you inside the wreckage if I knew you were still alive.” Bailey told him guiltily, “And I’m sorry if our presence has caused you trouble, my brother might not realise that we’ve put you in an awkward position but I’m sorry if it’s strained your relationship.” While Rover enjoyed getting between the two of them, Bailey had felt bad about it. Winding Jack up had been fun purely because the other man was far too easy to tease but it felt wrong to drive a wedge between the two humans on purpose when they’d been nothing but kind towards them.

Jack didn’t know how to handle Bailey being nice to him, it was much easier to dislike him when he was being a prick, “Well, it’s not your fault the Judoon decided to attack us. I’m just sorry we can’t take you to Bodago.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Bailey shook his head with a small smile, “I wasn’t over the moon my brother was taking us there anyway. Maybe this worked out for the best.”

“That’s one way of looking at it I suppose,” Jack turned his attention back to his vortex manipulator, replacing the fried components with the new ones he’d procured from the market stalls, “You’d better get some sleep, you look… tired.”

Sighing, Bailey climbed under his covers and Jack almost missed his whispered, “I am,” before he went to sleep.

-

The next day Jack took them back out to the markets, he needed a few more parts he hadn’t been able to find the day before and try as he might Ianto was unable to mask his disappointment at not being able to play tourist as he was dragged from stall to stall like a rag doll by Jack, “I’m just saying, we’re on a brand new alien planet and all I’ve seen of it so far are the markets. Theres a whole planet of museums and-”

He was cut off by an alien vendor shouting in galactic standard, trying to promote whatever he was selling. It was driving Ianto insane that he couldn’t understand what anyone was saying, Rover and Bailey’s translator had been lost in the crash so he couldn’t even speak to them, “What was that Ianto?” Jack spared him a glance between haggling, “Just a minute.”

Unconsciously pouting at his shoes, Ianto startled slightly when a paw touched his elbow, “Bailey?” The cat gave him an understanding smile and pointed over to one of the stalls, silently asking him to go with him, “Jack, I’m just going with Bailey a moment,” he didn’t get a verbal response but he assumed the other man heard him because he waved a hand in his general direction, “Lead the way.”

The stall Bailey guided him over to was full of mismatched tech, only a few pieces of which Ianto vaguely recognised, perhaps Bailey wanted to buy something?

Ianto stood back as he watched his friend talk to the vendor, stifling a yawn as most of it went over his head and pretended he’d been paying attention when Bailey gestured for him to come forward, “What is it?” He asked as Bailey offered him a small triangular device, it resembled some sort of scanner with a wide screen and a few buttons running up the side, “What do you want me to do with it?”

Handing the vendor some credits, Bailey gently pulled Ianto away from the stall towards a less crowded area, still within clear sight of Jack but it was noticeably quieter. Muttering to himself in galactic standard, Bailey seemed to be trying to figure out how to communicate with him. Eventually he settle on pointing at the triangular device and made a buzzing sound, looking hopeful that Ianto would understand him.

“Uh,” frowning at the blank screen a couple of thoughts ran through Ianto’s mind, Bailey was either telling him that it had something to do with Bee’s or that he was holding an electric toothbrush of some fashion, “I don’t- hang on,” Ianto pulled out the sonic and smile when Bailey grinned at him, “You want me to use it on this?”

Naturally Bailey didn’t respond as he couldn’t understand him but Ianto gave it a go anyway, it took a couple of attempts as Ianto wasn’t even sure what the triangular device was but eventually the sonic got it to cooperate. The screen spluttered to life and Ianto was pleasantly surprised when it made an adorable little dinging sound as it booted up, not unlike an earth computer.

“Here you go,” he handed it back to Bailey, glad he could help when the other man beamed at him, furry fingers dancing across the buttons quickly. Ianto was about to make his way back over to Jack, thinking he’d played his part, when a cautious paw grasped his arm loosely. There was a hopeful expression on his face when Ianto stopped and turned back to face him, “Bailey?”

Holding the device up, Bailey used what little English he’d managed to learn and offered, “Help?” Not sure what he meant by that, Ianto shrugged nervously and only flinched back once when he held the device up to his head, “Help Ianto?” Bailey asked again, pulling away slightly in case Ianto didn’t want him to.

After a moment or two of deliberation, Ianto nodded slowly and let Bailey hold the device to his face again, squeezing his eyes shut when he felt a tingly sensation in the back of his head accompanied by a strange taste of coconuts at the back of his mouth, “What was that?” He asked, swallowing a few times to get rid of the taste.

“Did it work?” Bailey asked him and it took Ianto a few seconds to realise that A, he understood what he was saying and B, Bailey wasn’t speaking English.

“I don’t…” Ianto stopped and tried to focus, it was like there was an entire new language stuffed inside his head, “How did,” Ianto paused and tried again, the words feeling foreign in his mouth even as his brain told him what he was saying was right, “What language am I speaking?”

“Galactic Standard,” Bailey told him and Ianto laughed in shocked delight as he understood ever word, “that device is a portable dictionary of sorts, it allows you to download languages onto it and upload them to compatible systems.”

“This is so weird,” Ianto couldn’t help but giggle at the strange sounding words that were tumbling out of his mouth, “how did you know I would be compatible with it?”

“I took an educated guess,” Bailey smiled, “I remembered how you were able to use the terminals on the space station and how you told us you had a chip implanted in your head to help you. If you don’t like having the language streamed into your head like that, it can easily be removed with this,” he gave Ianto the triangular device, “I realise you couldn’t have actually given your consent to having it all downloaded, I hope I didn’t overstep.”

“Not at all,” Ianto didn’t know how he could repay him, “thank you. Really, I’m very grateful.”

“It’s the least I could do,” Bailey told him, “let’s get back to the others before Jack worries where you’ve disappeared off to.”

Jack hadn’t even noticed he’d been gone, him and Rover fighting in hushed tones over who was going to buy a power cell. Jack wanted it for his wrist strap while Rover insisted he also needed it, “Boys, let’s not argue or do I have to put you both in timeouts?” Ianto teased, enjoying the baffled look on Jack’s face as he spoke in fluent Galactic Standard, “Pick your jaw up off the ground Jack, you’re catching flies.”

“Ianto, how are you doing that?” Jack asked, recognition flashing across his face when Ianto showed him the device Bailey had bought, “Where did you get that?”

“From over there,” pointing behind him, Ianto smirked, “Do you like what you hear?”

Jack would be the first to admit Ianto sounded hot speaking Standard with his ever present Welsh accent but he didn’t think the other man would approve of him describing a blow by blow explanation of what he wanted to do to him, “Very much so, we’ll have to explore that later,” unfortunately they had other stuff to be getting on with, “Come on, there’s a place not far from here I should be able to get a stabiliser.”

“But I thought we could go explore the city a bit, do some tourist stuff?” Ianto asked him, “We could always split up and meet back at the hotel later?”

“I don’t want you going off by yourself and getting lost, this thing won’t be able to track you until it’s fixed.” Jack told him, “I understand you want to explore but I can’t be in two places at once and finding replacement parts is more important right now than sight seeing.”

“If Ianto wishes to go sight seeing, I can take him.” Bailey offered, “I promise not to let anything happen to him.”

“See,” Ianto gave Jack his best puppy dog eyes even if he felt like an utter tool doing so, “Bailey will come with me while you and Rover carry on with your shopping.”

Now Jack didn’t trust Bailey as far as he could throw him but he knew if he told Ianto no that he’d only sneak off later, probably by himself, “Alright,” it was the lesser of two evils, “but take one of these.” Ianto took the offered metal disk, not sure what it was but willing to take it if that’s what it took to keep Jack happy, “I picked them up a few stalls back, emergency teleport. If you run into trouble, anything at all, twist it and it’ll activate and bring you to me.” He didn’t mention it would only carry one, nor the fact it was incredibly uncomfortable, because he actually wanted Ianto to use it and he knew he wouldn’t want to leave Bailey behind.

Jack had no such concerns.

“Alright mum,” Ianto rolled his eyes with a cheeky grin, “can we go now? I promise to bring you back some alien souvenir tat.”

“You’d better,” Jack warned him.

Still smiling, Ianto stepped forward and pulled Jack in by his shirt to give him a quick kiss, “See you in a bit.” It was nothing more than a peck really but Jack was thrilled to receive it, “try not to get into trouble without me.”

“I’ll do my best.” Jack promised, keeping his eyes trained on Ianto’s retreating form as he wandered off with Bailey into the crowd. That fur ball had better keep Ianto safe or he’d make him wish he’d never been born.

Chapter Text

Ianto was pleased to find out that however many times New York was a great place to be a tourist, there was so much to see and do and his only regret was that he didn’t have Jack with him to enjoy it all. That being said, Bailey wasn’t bad company, “Okay, so we’re here,” he pointed at the electronic map plastered across a tourist board, “and the Museum of Old Earth Relics is this way.”

“The museum of what?” Ianto raised an eyebrow, “Old Earth?”

Bailey nodded and gestured for him to follow, “The first earth, I’ve always wanted to see an exhibit on it.” He and his brother had never found the time, Rover had said they had business to focus on whenever he asked, “That’s where Catkind originated from after all, it’s the home planet of my ancestors.”

“As in, Earth Earth,” Ianto checked.

“Sol 3,” Bailey glanced over at him, “the same planet humans came from.”

“Oh, I’m aware,” Ianto laughed, leaning in close as he lowered his voice conspiratorially, “can you keep a secret?” He smiled when Bailey nodded quickly, “I’m actually from there.”

“But… Old Earth died.” Bailey frowned, not following.

“I’m a time traveler from the 21st century,” Ianto whispered, “don’t tell anyone, it’s a secret.” He felt like he could trust him, he didn’t think Bailey would hand him over to the space police.

“Really?” Bailey clearly didn’t believe him, “When were you born?”

Ianto shrugged, “Late 20th century,” on the off chance someone else was listening he didn’t want them going back in time and stopping his birth.

Squinting at him, Bailey tried to call his bluff, “No way.”

“Yes way,” Ianto shot back, not missing a beat.

They continued walking a few steps before Bailey bit his lip, whiskers twitching, “Really though?”

“On my life,” Ianto swore, “cross my heart”

Apparently that was enough to convince him because Bailey immediately switched from suspicious to amazed, “Wow,” he almost looked like he was in awe, “that’s… what was it like?”

“I dunno,” Ianto shrugged again, “it was just home I guess.”

“Right, well we can go somewhere else if you don’t want to visit the Museum of Old Earth Relics. I can’t imagine it would be much fun looking at what’s left of your own time”

“Are you kidding, I want to see what future historians thought it was like. Maybe I can even point out a few things they got wrong”

-

Jack sighed to himself as he waited in line to pay for his spare parts, he’d forgotten what it was like to travel before he met Ianto. The man had a way of making him see things in an entirely different light, without him everything was just the same as it always was. He’d give anything to be out exploring with him right now instead of waiting in line to buy stupid power converters. He’d even managed to take Bailey with him, Jack wasn’t fond of either brother but out of the pair he definitely preferred Bailey’s company to Rovers. There was just something about him that gave Jack the creeps.

It didn’t matter in the long run he supposed, once he got his vortex manipulator working he’d be taking Ianto back to the 21st century and leave both of them behind with a nice sum of money to apologise for getting them stranded. Personally he’d have left without doing so but Ianto had insisted it was the right thing to do and he wasn’t going to argue.

“That’ll be seven credits fifty,” Jack handed the money over to the shop keep and told them to keep the change, “have a nice day, next.”

Pocketing the power converters Jack made his way out of the shop and looked for Rover, spotting him by a couple of benches fiddling with a piece of tech, “Hey, I’ve got everything I need. You?”

Slipping the device into his pocket Rover nodded, “Yes. We should get back to the hotel,” he told him bluntly, “We can wait there for my brother to return with Ianto.”

“Alright, sounds like a plan,” Jack agreed easily, not attempting to strike up further conversation as they started walking in silence back to the hotel. Perhaps he could see if he could get an upgrade to a private room for Ianto and himself, he didn’t like the idea of sleeping in the same room as Rover for longer than completely necessary.

-

Ianto found himself laughing, not for the first time, at one of the displays in the museum. This particular one was an exhibit on ‘The Advancement of Cellular Communications’ and it tickled him to no end to see two rusty old tin cans connected by a piece of string with the words ‘early 22nd century’ printed below it.

All the dates were shockingly wrong and he took great pleasure in explaining what it was actually like to Bailey, “What about the Candlestick telephone?” He asked, pointing to the dusty relic which claimed to be from 2040, “Have you ever seen one of these?”

“I’ve seen one before yes,” Ianto nodded, “though I’ve never used one. They’re from around the Great War I think, early 1900’s?” moving further down the display he smiled at an ancient looking, dull red rotary phone, “Now this is something I’ve used before, my Nan had one just like it, you’d spin the wheel according to which number you wanted to input before we started using buttons instead.”

“Fascinating,” Bailey peered at the phone through the glass, “and what about that one? A No-Kay-Ah brick?”

“Ah, the Nokia 3310,” Ianto couldn’t help but grin at the sight of it, battered, worn and yet so familiar, “I actually had one of these in 2001, it was virtually indestructible.” Further down the line there were a few flip phones, a large display of touchscreens but once they passed the IPhone 4 of 2011, which claimed to be from 2211 so it was only 200 years out, Ianto was just as much in the dark as Bailey.

Screens grew in size and got slimmer as time passed, projecting interactive holograms and the like until eventually they became nothing more than a chip you could have implanted in your head, “Ianto, come look at this!” Bailey crowed from another display, drawing Ianto’s attention to a rusted bicycle sat atop a podium, “What do you think this is?”

“It’s a bike,” Ianto meandered over, “you sit on the seat and push the peddles with your feet to turn the wheels and propel yourself forward.”

“I’ve never seen anything like it, Oh!” He grabbed Ianto’s arm and enthusiastically pulled him over to a scale model replica of New York City, “Look at this! There’s so much concrete!” Ianto had never known someone to get so excited over concrete but it was incredibly endearing so he didn’t say anything, “What are those small metal boxes on the ground?”

“You mean the cars?” Ianto asked, the model looked a little different to the New York he knew having been there a few times to pick up artefacts for Van Statten but that could be because it claimed to be of the 31st century.

Bailey turned to him with wide eyes, “Did you have a car?” Ianto had no idea he was such a history nerd but his joy was infectious, “Did you drive a little metal box around on a road?”

“Yes, I did.” There had to be a car in the museum somewhere, “Though I wouldn’t say it was little, it could seat five people.” Passing by a range of Televisions and a very well polished jukebox, Ianto found what he’d been looking for, “Here you go, this is a little ahead of my time but it’s a car alright.” To be fair it looked more like a tank than a car, but at least it was all in one piece, “It’s a Tesla Cybertruck, from 2052 apparently.” He told Bailey, reading off the little card, “Said to be a staple car for it’s time. I might have to invest in one if I ever go back home for good.”

After spending a few more minutes perusing the displays, Bailey practically begged Ianto to go on a guided tour with him and it was honestly impossible to say no to his adorable begging kitty face, “Alright fine, but after that we’re going to the gift shop.”

It felt nice to be doing this, lately it felt like everything alien was trying to kill him and it was a nice change of pace to experience some carefree fun with someone other than Jack. Don’t get him wrong he adored spending time with the other man but it was nice to make new friends too. The guided tour ended up getting a lot of stuff wrong, but some of it was right as well which was nice.

When their guide started talking about the great pandemic of 2020 though, Ianto decided he’d rather not know too much on the off chance that what they were saying was accurate, “I don’t know if it’s a great idea for me to hear too much about the future of my own time,” he whispered to Bailey, “Maybe we could visit the gift shop now?”

Thankfully he acquiesced without complaint and the two of them sloped off without drawing too much attention to themselves from the rest of their tour group. Ianto should have known Bailey would go crazy in the gift shop but to be fair he wasn’t much better, “Ianto, should I get the model car or the soda can keychain?”

It was sort of heartwarming to know that Museums still sold pointless crap in the future, “Get both,” Ianto told him, waving the sonic at him, “my treat.” He didn’t see the harm in using it to buy a few trinkets, Bailey had bought him that portable dictionary after all, he was only returning the favour.

And if he happened to pick Jack a few things up as well then it really wasn’t anyone’s business.

Chapter Text

Once they finally left the Museums gift shop, ladened with more bags than was probably wise, Bailey suggested they stop at a little tourist café down the road for something to eat, “I’ve never tried old Earth food before, can we stop there? It’ll be really quick,” he flattened his ears against his head as he begged, “please?”

Laughing, Ianto bumped their shoulders together, “You don’t have to convince me, though I don’t know why you’re so excited to eat old Earth food. It’s nothing to write home about.”

“Yes, that’s because it’s literally your home.” Bailey rolled his eyes, his tail curling up with happiness, “I want to try some traditional Earth fruit, like an apple or maybe even a pear.”

“Let’s not get too crazy,” Ianto teased him, “next you’ll be saying you want to try some grapes.”

Bailey gasped as he held the door open for him, “Do you think they’ll have grapes?”

Ianto honestly didn’t now if he was being serious at that point, “Maybe?” It felt so strange to him being on the opposite side of experiencing alien culture. Things that seemed so normal to him were blowing Bailey’s mind right in front of him and he had to wonder, why Earth? Of all the planets out there what made his so special? Because he was from Earth and he knew just how awful Humans could be, “Bailey-”

Grabbing the menu as he sat down, Bailey interrupted, “What do strawberries taste like? I’ve tried the artificial ones before but these say they’re organic, can you believe it?”

“Uh, sort of like Novaberries?” He remembered thinking they were quite similar when he tried them, “but less bitter and they don’t tingle.”

“Really?” He sounded contemplative so Ianto let him peruse his menu in peace, “Do you like traditional boiled chicken eggs?”

“They’re alright I suppose,” Ianto nodded, thinking back to his childhood when his mum would make them for breakfast, “It’s nice if you can dip soldiers in the yolk.”

A confused expression clouded Bailey’s features, “You dip soldiers in boiled eggs? Don’t they have more important things to do?”

“No, not-” Ianto chuckled, “sorry, that’s what we call toasted bread that’s been cut into strips.” Though he was sure someone out there had probably eaten eggs off a soldier before, it’s not the food he’d choose but he could think of worse.

Bailey was still confused, “Why?”

Stumped, Ianto shook his head slowly, “Y’know I’m not sure.”

“Strange,” Bailey hummed, scanning the menu again, “they have juiced apples as a drink. I might try that and some strawberries on pancakes.”

“Have you had pancakes before?” Ianto asked, quickly reading his own menu and deciding he’d have the same. It said they were made with organic chicken eggs and cows milk which made Ianto wonder if they were either liars or if cows and chickens had actually survived this long as a species. Both of which were equally as probable in his opinion.

“Nope, I’m not even sure what it is!” Bailey grinned, moving to get up so he could order but sat back down when Ianto urged him back into his seat, telling him he’d cover it as thanks for helping him out with ‘learning’ galactic standard, “Thank you, that’s very kind.”

Meanwhile over in the hotel Jack and Rover were both sat silently in their shared room focusing on the tech they’d bought, Jack on his vortex manipulator and Rover on his communications device. They hadn’t spoken a word to each other in over two hours and Jack was silently begging Ianto to come walking through the door.

He considered activating his own half of the emergency teleport so he could join the other man wherever he was in the city, probably bored to tears of Bailey by now but he kept telling himself the sooner he got his Vortex Manipulator working the sooner they’d be out of here. That didn’t mean Rovers continuous typing wasn’t grating on his nerves though. Who was he messaging? Why did he look so serious? Why-

Jack was snapped out of his dark musings as his wrist strap shocked him, jamming his thumb in his mouth he told himself to focus on what needed doing. Rover was just being a moody sod because his brother wasn’t here, he should just be grateful the mangy cat wasn’t trying to strike up a conversation.

-

“So, how did you and Jack meet?” Bailey asked once he finally found his voice after his first taste of strawberry, Ianto privately thought the other man looked like he was going through a religious experience but hadn’t he been the same the first time he tried hypo-tequila on Alpha Centauri?

“Oh, y’know,” Ianto twirled his fork around in the air, “I was the unwilling traveling companion of this crazy guy and his not so crazy friend. Jack tried to con them into buying an ambulance which he claimed was a warship and ended up almost ending the world in 1941 by converting everyone into these gasmask zombie type creatures with the help of some miscoded nanogenes. Long story short we worked together to fix everything and Jack joined the gang, it was a pretty good day all things considered.”

Bailey just blinked at him for a moment as he processed everything, “Okay,” he paused, “that’s not what I was expecting.”

“No?” Ianto tilted his head to one side, “What were you expecting?”

“I thought you were going to say you met in a bar or something,” Bailey admitted, “not mid con with miscoded nanogenes and, what was it, gasmask zombies?”

“Believe it or not, that’s not the strangest thing we’ve been through together,” Ianto laughed at the incredulous look on Bailey’s face, “When you next see Jack ask him about Margaret Blaine.”

Bailey was quiet for a while after that, a pensive look on his face until he finally broke the comfortable silence that had fallen over them while they ate, “You said Jack was trying to con you,” he wrung his hands under the table, “and you forgave him?” He’d be the first to admit he and his brother were not good people, they’d grown up with nothing and did what they had to in order to survive. That’s what he told himself anyway, to try and ease the guilt that sat heavy in his heart.

Rover never seemed to care, his brother did what he liked, when he liked and never looked back but Bailey had never been able to just let things go like he did. He thought himself unforgivable but if someone so good as Ianto could forgive someone for their shady past, maybe he wasn’t beyond redemption like Rover so desperately wanted him to believe.

“I did forgive Jack,” Ianto nodded seriously, “because he did the right thing in the end. He’s a good person, he just made some bad decisions. Does that make sense?”

It did, by god Bailey wanted to believe it was true, “And you trust him?”

“Undoubtedly,” he sounded so certain, so sure, “with my life.”

That gave Bailey a lot to think about, “He’s lucky to have met you,” he didn’t really mean to say that but it was too late now, “not everyone would have been so forgiving.”

“Yeah, well he’s also annoyingly handsome so I suppose that might have played a part.” Ianto joked, smirking over the rim of his glass when Bailey burst out into surprised laughter.

“Can you keep it down,” a man, human looking, butted into their conversation from the next table over with a revolted expression on his face, “some of us are trying to enjoy our meals Mog, I’m surprised they even serve your kind in here.”

Now Ianto was no expert but that sounded very much like racism to him, “Excuse me?” He glared at the man when he noticed Bailey looking down at his plate, clearly embarrassed, “What did you just say to my friend?”

“I told him to keep his little Moggie mouth shut,” the man sneered, “tell your friend to try not cough furballs up everywhere, people are trying to eat in here.”

“Ianto,” Bailey whispered, “leave it.”

Ianto was certainly not going to leave it, “Has it escaped your notice that we are trying to enjoy our meal too? Only your racist bullshit is really bringing down the whole atmosphere.”

“What did you just say to me?” The man’s hackles visibly rose, obviously he hadn’t expected a confrontation, “You’re seriously defending the Ally Cat?”

“Yes, I am,” Ianto turned fully around in his seat so he could stare the man down, “and I think he deserves an apology.”

The man scoffed, “I’m not apologising to a Mog-”

“Call him that again and you‘ll be sorry,” Ianto warned him, from the way Bailey kept twitching he assumed it was a derogatory term. He knew it probably wasn’t the best idea to cause a scene and their little argument had gained a lot of attention from the surrounding tables but he refused to back down. This guy was being a dick and all because what, Bailey had laughed at his joke?

The guy got to his feet, “Are you threatening me?” His stature was obviously meant to intimidate him but this fool had no idea who he was dealing with, Ianto had long since lost any sense of self preservation.

“Yeah,” he got to his feet as well, squaring up to the guy even if he was a head taller than him, “I am.”

He’d obviously caught him off guard because for a moment the bigot just stared at him with wide eyes before falling back on his bullshit lines, “What, he can’t fight his own battles? Does your pet Mog need y-”

The man never got to finish his sentence as Ianto’s fist connected soundly with his jaw, the element of surprise sending him sprawling to the floor, “Ianto!” Bailey leapt to his feet but he was too late to pull him out of the way from the fist that came flying back at him. From there it was a bit of a blur, punches were exchanged, Ianto even managed to land a kick to the other mans balls before he was, shall we say, escorted out of the café.

“You alright?” Ianto winced as he dabbed his bloody lip, giving Bailey a once over to see if he’d been hurt, “Sorry you didn’t get to finish your pancakes.”

“That’s what you’re worried about?” Bailey didn’t quite snap at him but it was close, “That I didn’t get to finish my pancakes?” That was the most ridiculous thing he’d ever heard, here Ianto was with a bloody lip and what no doubt was going to turn out to be a black eye, and he was worried about his pancakes.

Not sure what else to say, Ianto straightened himself up and flexed his aching hand, “Well, yeah.”

Sighing, Bailey told himself to try and calm down, “I don’t care about the pancakes,” technically that was a white lie, he just didn’t care about them as much as he cared about everything else that had just happened, “Why would you do that? You’re hurt, Jack is going to kill me when we get back.”

“It’ll be fine,” Ianto waves his concerns away and gestured for them to start walking, trying to put as much distance between them and the café, “Jack will understand, that guy was being a dick. I’m more concerned about you.”

“It’s nothing I haven’t heard before,” Bailey felt guilt crash into him at the sight of Ianto’s blood, “you really didn’t need to do that. Ever since that hospital was uncovered to be growing humans to use as lab rats it’s become common place.”

“I’m sorry what?” Ianto had clearly missed something here, “Human lab rats?”

“The Sisters of Plenitude?” Ianto just gave him a blank look, “The Order of Catkind nuns that were illegally growing artificial humans in a farm to develop cures for their hospital?” It had been all over the news but thinking about it Bailey realised that Ianto obviously wouldn’t know about it seeing as he recently revealed himself to be a time traveler, “It was a big news story, a lot of Catkind nurses were arrested and it’s given our kind a bad name ever since.”

Ianto personally thought that was a bit hypocritical, the human race had decided to hate an entire species because of the actions of a select group of what sounded like cultish nuns? On the grand scale of things members of their own species had done far worse, Hitler, Stalin, Jedward, the list goes on, “So it’s a case of a few bad apples spoil the bunch?”

“I’m not familiar with this metaphor,” Bailey frowned.

“It doesn’t matter, that guy was wrong.” Ianto sighed, “Clearly humans never really outgrow prejudice,” it was a depressing thing to realise but in all honesty he wasn’t surprised, “I’m sorry my species sucks, Bailey.”

“I don’t know,” he chuckled, throwing an arm round Ianto’s shoulder in a friendly hug, “they’re not all bad.”