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And Yet

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1. Love the Coat

Lisa, it's me.

Hi, love. Your readouts are good tonight. How's the pain?

Sorry. What did you want to talk about? Tonight?

Well...I think the plan worked. Sort of. There was a Weevil -- you remember reading about them and making all those jokes about only the Welsh? If you hadn't teased me about Welsh Weevils I probably never even would have remembered. But it worked. He was there, chasing it. The Weevil nearly ate my face before he pulled it off me.

No, it's funny. Really.

It got his attention, anyway. I remembered to give him my name and let him know I was on to him, hopefully that'll be enough. I thought maybe...all the records say he's kind of a rebel, you know. He was a freelance agent for Torchwood for years. I thought he'd go for the mysterious dark-haired loner look.

Don't laugh! You should be resting.

I just hoped he'd ask me to help him or something. The sooner I can get in, the sooner we can get you set up properly, start looking for help. It's all right, though. We knew this would probably be just the first step. I'll get in. Just...not tonight.

I know. It'll be better soon. I promise.

And yet, in some other universe...

"Love the coat," Ianto Jones calls. "Shame you're getting blood all over it."

Jack turns. "Well, I don't see you offering to help."

Ianto smiles, and Jack finds the Weevil's body neatly flipped over his shoulder, Ianto grasping the thing's armpits and helping to carry it along. In the light from the streetlights where the SUV is parked, Jack can see just how tight those jeans are.

"You often hang out in darkened parks wearing that?" Jack asks.

"Only when I'm cruising aliens," Ianto replies. "Shame you got this one. I almost had an even dozen."

"Still don't know what you're talking about," Jack says.

"Take me back to your nonexistent secret base and I'll make all things clear," Ianto says. Jack considers. Well, it's not like he's running out of Retcon anytime soon.

"You're good with a stick," he concedes. "How are you with a gun?"

"I get by." Ianto climbs into the passenger's seat.

By the time he admits to being a member of Torchwood One, Jack's too impressed by the kid's guts to care. He makes him a freelance agent, field-cleared, and doesn't discover how good Ianto's coffee is until it's far too late to demote him to secretary.

The kid doesn't ever seem to sleep; he's not really a member of the team, does his own research and takes on his own missions, but when he's not out in the field he always seems to be at the Hub. Often as not he's on the firing range, where Jack has proudly shown him how to take all that rage from the battle of Canary Wharf and channel it into eyes and hands, into the barrel of a very steady, rather large gun. Ianto isn't amused by the gun jokes, or if he is he hides it well. He hides everything well. Jack has learned not to ask.

Once in a while, Jack sees something lurking behind Ianto's cool blue eyes. He knows how he could draw it out; Ianto's tough but he's also lonely and he's just a kid. Jack thinks if he could seduce him he could find out what's under the mask.

But he's just a little afraid of Ianto, too, and so he keeps his distance.

Jack never realises just what the turning point is, actually, though he knows that there came a time when Ianto made some kind of leap; the fury went out of his eyes, the desperation left his face, and his field-work actually suffered a little, though Jack was willing to let that go. It was probably just that he'd finally settled into his role with Torchwood Three, no doubt aided by his burgeoning relationship with Tosh after the cannibals nearly gutted them both.

Jack likewise never sees the body of Dr. Tanizaki, butchered by Lisa's conversion unit, or Lisa's body with the bullethole through the forehead. Ianto gets rid of the evidence. He could have lied to himself that Lisa was still there somewhere, but Lisa would never hurt anyone that way. Jack has taught him to be ruthless; Jack has taught him to protect people.

And Jack has taught him never to be sorry for doing what has to be done.


2. I Have A Secret Weapon

From: Susie
To: Harkness, J
Subject: Background Check - Follow-up


Here's the info you wanted on Ianto Jones. I'm attaching what's left of his Torchwood One file -- the mainframe was damaged during the battle and while I think I've recovered all of Jones's, there might be some scrambling. Nothing important is missing.

Basically he's average. In fact he's kind of boring. I looked up the CCTV from the area you encountered the Weevil and while he does look pretty bloody good in those jeans, there's nothing out of the ordinary in his fighting style. He's obviously untrained. I don't know what kind of impression he was trying to give you, but I imagine other than any drunken scrapping he might have got into during university (there's an expunged drunk and disorderly charge, won't find it on his record) he hasn't seen much outside action.

He was a researcher at Torchwood London, a junior suit. He has no particular skills that I can tell. Try not to read his yearly reviews, god, they're boring.

Here is one thing though. If you do read his reviews -- he's good at blending. You could say he's feeding his boss what he knows she wants to hear. His answers are textbook up-and-coming industry professional. Lots of big words that don't mean very much.

Watch out for him, Jack. I'm guessing he wasn't in the park by accident. He'll tell you what he thinks you want to hear or what he thinks will get him in to Torchwood. Don't get conned.

By the way, he's wearing those jeans again. And waiting for you outside. Have fun.


From: Jack
To: Costello, S
Subject: Re: Background Check - Follow-up

No fear, Susie mine. Torchwood One is a taint that doesn't scrub out. I'll kick him around and send him on his way.


And yet, in some other universe...

It wasn't the clothes, really, so much as the persona. Clothes, hair, the necklace, all just props. Loner hadn't worked; he might as well try Metro. Jack Harkness was supposed to like pretty boys. But of course, once you dressed like a pretty boy and touched Jack a lot you were kind of stuck, unless you wanted him to get suspicious because you'd stopped. And then, you just plain didn't want to stop.

Ianto isn't sure he can identify the cause of the guilt twisting his guts up when he and Jack are together. A few months ago he would have known; he would have been positive it was guilt over cheating on Lisa. But Lisa can hardly move, can't speak very well, is so very sick, and it's been so long since anyone touched him like Jack touches him...

Maybe it's guilt that he's betraying Jack. Jack, if he knew, would undoubtedly think all this was a sham, that Ianto could never really be attracted to him while he's keeping his girlfriend in the basement. And honestly, while he does clean and do research and make the occasional coffee, Ianto is well aware that his basic function in Torchwood is to keep Jack happy and well-fucked, and he enjoys it all thoroughly.

Or, a dark voice inside him suggests, maybe it's guilt because he put this persona on for the sole purpose of getting into Torchwood, but now he likes it. He really likes it. He doesn't miss the business suits, doesn't miss the boring heterosexual flirting in boring heterosexual bars. He likes being hot and stylish and desired and sarcastic.

Whichever part of his life he's actually faking, it can't go on. And he can't think how to stop it except to tell Jack the truth. So he takes Jack by the hand one night, after he's had two or three drinks for courage, and leads him shyly down to the basement. Jack obviously thinks this is an invitation for semi-public sex, but Ianto puts a hand against his chest and shakes his head.

"Jack," he said softly. "I need to show you something. It's going to make you want to kill me. I want you to know that's okay. If that's what you decide, I mean."

Jack looks at him like he's lost his mind.

"Ianto -- what could possibly -- are you okay?" Jack asks. "Mentally, I mean."

Ianto shakes his head. "Not for a long time."

He slides the key into his fingers and unlocks the door. Jack's eyes widen fractionally as he takes in what's inside.

"She's my girlfriend," he says, as Jack steps cautiously into the room, weapon already in his hand. "She was caught up in the Battle. I brought her here to try and save her."

A week later, he wakes up in his father's house, sore and fuzzy. He has no memory of the past two years. Car accident, his father says, sitting on his bed, helping him to eat a bowl of soup. Slight brain damage. He'll recover, but he might have lost those two years permanently.

He feels oddly free.

"I'm so sorry," his father tells him, real pain in his eyes.

"It's okay," he murmurs, and eats his soup.


3. You Are Not My Responsibility

I wonder what would happen.

Rose is about three now, by my reckon. Old enough to know her daddy's gone, young enough to love anything that crosses her path and smiles at her. The perfect age, really.

I could go to London. Torchwood One would love to have me, they'd trip over their feet and give me a corner office and a constant rotating stream of hot young personal assistants. And I could accidentally run into Jackie Tyler at a shop and ask her out for a coffee. You can't really know whether you'll get along with someone you've never met, but you can learn a lot about a woman from her daughter. I'm willing to lay odds that Rose's mum and I would get along just fine. Jack and Jackie.

I could woo her and take her away from the council flats and make them both happy in a posh townhouse, right in the middle of all the London action. I could hold Rose close and tell her bedtime stories, and make sure that she knew Daddy Jack would always be there to look out for her.

I'd sing her to sleep to all the greats -- Glenn Miller and the Gershwins and Fats Waller. I'd teach her how to dance, and dance with her mother late at night when Rose thinks I don't know she's watching us through her barely-open bedroom door. Jackie would think, how lucky I am, this man loves me and my daughter too, treats her like she's his own, and I know he'd do anything for us.

I could adopt her. Rose Harkness. I'd send her to the best schools. I'd watch her grow up, stroke her hair when she cries about some boy who dumped her and jokingly threaten to kill him (and if someone hurts my baby Rose, I mean really hurts her, I will kill him).

I could make her study, even if she hates me for it, and do well and go to University. Her mum would be so proud, over the moon, a daughter at University. I'd even get her a job at that department store, over the summer, while she's taking her degree in Biology or maybe English Lit or something. To show her the value of hard work and teach her how to budget her money. She'd roll her eyes and laugh at me but that's all right. She'd be at the department store when the Doctor comes for her.

But I couldn't let her go.

Because she'd be my baby Rose, and the universe is so dangerous. The day the Doctor comes for her I'll call her and say come home early, quit if they say you can't, your Dad Jack wants you to make him peanut butter toast and watch old movies with him all afternoon. She'd be so frightened and relieved when the bomb goes off that night and ask me if I knew, and I'd smile and say I had a feeling, that's all.

I couldn't let her go. I know I couldn't.

So I don't do any of it. Because she shouldn't have to live out her life without knowing the Doctor. Then she wouldn't really be Rose at all. Instead, every year, I send her a present at Christmas and a card on her birthday, anonymously, just something small to bring a little light into her life.

And I wait for the Doctor to take her away.

And I wait for the Doctor to take me away.

And yet, in some other universe...


The kid is bright and good-looking, and therefore fulfills all the criteria that Jack requires in an office assistant. He also has a photographic memory and a head for maths, which are useful. Now he turns his head up from where he's fiddling with some artefact Jack brought him to play with, all respectful attention.

"Yes, sir?" he asks.

"How old are you?"

Ianto's lips quirk. "Twenty-three last August."


An eyebrow. "At the moment."

"Are you gay?"

"Are you coming on to me?"

"No," Jack grins. "That would be harassment."

"Yes, sir. And no, sir. Happily fascinated by women."

"How much overtime have you put in this week?"

"Paid or unpaid?"

"What's the difference?"

"Well, when I'm being shot at, or covered in alien pollen, or blowing things up, I'm paid. The rest of the overtime, I'm just enjoying my work."

Jack picks up his coat. "Come home to dinner with me tonight. I'd like you to meet the wife and daughter."

Ianto is quick on the uptake. "Especially the daughter, Captain?"

Jack grins. "She's twenty, she's gorgeous, and she's studying astrophysics. You should have lots to talk about."

Ianto's eyes dart to the picture on the desk of a laughing blonde girl in an oversized vintage RAF coat, the coat currently hanging over Jack's arm.

"I will endeavour to charm, sir. I won't even put it down as paid overtime."

Jack laughs. "Good kid. Come on."

Rose -- vibrant, young, alive -- rolls her eyes a little at her dad, bringing his work home with him, but smiles at Ianto politely and lets him pick her brain about her course. At the end of the evening she taps her mobile number into Ianto's phone when she thinks Jack isn't looking and Ianto blushes, faintly smitten.

The day Torchwood London burns, Ianto and Rose are not even in the city -- he took the day off to take her camping over a long weekend. The day Mr. and Mrs. Harkness finally sell the townhouse in London to move to Cardiff for Jack's work, Rose asks Ianto to marry her.

And Jack isn't sorry.

He isn't sorry at all.