|sam_storyteller (sam_storyteller) wrote,|
@ 2005-07-18 11:55 am UTC
|Entry tags:||doctor who, sga, torchwood|
Fandoms: Torchwood, Doctor Who, and SGA
Rating: PG-13, I suppose. I'm not sure how to rate implicit sex with frondy aliens.
Summary: Extended summaries of five fanfics I'm never going to write, and one fanfic that I wrote accidentally while trying to write a summary for it.
Spoilers: Through the end of S2 for Torchwood and SGA, S4 for Doctor Who
Warnings: Discussion of PTSD.
Originally posted 7.2.08
1. Typing, Telephones, Light Filing
Having met the Companions of the Doctor, after the world distinctly didn't end and is back in its orbit, Ianto thinks it makes sense that Jack and Donna get on best. You'd think it would be Jack and Rose, but frankly Ianto thinks Rose is weird and Jack seems to understand that right now she's the Doctor's, heart and soul. And maybe Jack fancied her once but he's had a couple thousand years to grow up a little. Rose says he's changed. Ianto finds it hard to argue with that assessment.
Jack likes Martha too but he kind of puts her on a pedestal, the way he sometimes does with Gwen, where he listens to her even when she's not making very good sense and gets all weird around her and Ianto wonders if, omnisexual or not, Jack has Chick Issues.
But Donna's older than Martha and Rose. She's more grounded, like Jack, and together they're -- well, way more mature than Jack is without someone like Donna around. Donna and Jack are really the grownups of the Companions set, and doesn't that say something about the Companions in general? Or maybe about the Doctor?
Anyway, despite Jack and Donna's instant chemistry, Ianto is supremely secure in his position. Jack wants him, wanted him from the start, and made the executive decision not simply to want him but to want him to the exclusion of most other people. He must be special, because Jack wanted to date him, and Ianto knows from observation and research that Jack doesn't so much date, at least not anymore.
Besides, Ianto likes Donna. She's efficient and he gets the temping thing because he did it for ages, so they have a common ground. Also, she has absolutely amazing tits.
What? He's not dead.
Jack thinks they should take advantage of Donna being there for a few days, while the TARDIS is undergoing repairs (poor thing; Ianto's already given her a sparkling new exterior-paint-and-fixtures-polish job, earning him a much-coveted smile from the Doctor). Ianto isn't quite sure how it would all work, but Jack understands the mechanics of things, and Ianto has never had cause to mistrust Jack's instincts in this.
Donna is: a) definitely not just a temp, b) fantastic in bed, and c) capable of completely dominating two men, one of whom is a natural top (and the other of whom was a military captain in at least three wars).
Ianto can see why the Doctor picked her.
2. The One On The Right Is On The Left
Inspired and aided by hija_paloma, who also contributed several lines verbatim.
It's a little-known fact outside of the closed, clannish Atlantis base that all the Atlantis offworld teams have nicknames. Officially there are two different designation systems: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, et cetera for the science teams, and One through Fifteen for the exploration and diplomatic teams. Unofficially, every team has a callsign like "The Wraithers" and "The Lucky Eights". The engineers who do their drills under McKay are McKay's Digging Twelfth and the members of the Emergency Evac team, which is outside the normal designations, are the Crazy Shepherds. They wanted to be the Runners but Sheppard put the kibosh on that after Ronon came on-board.
There's a rank structure, of course; the less competent soldiers or the freshest recruits get the low-hazard science teams, generally, and tend to get lame names like Einstein's Lawmakers and the Sonic Screwdrivers and Torchwood Five, because the scientists outnumber the soldiers in a vote and McKay always backs the scientists and Sheppard, that prick, always backs McKay. Though they can't be too mad about that because even the most bullheaded Marines know you always back the person you're sleeping with in any discussion.
The Sonic Screwdrivers are the laughingstock of the barracks, but secretly they like that their scientists think they can fix anything.
(Actually, amongst themselves and in the barracks, the Wraithers are called the Wraithkillers. Sheppard knew a nice Wraith once* so he doesn't like it, but he knows that in a military society you have to let the little things slide or they'll stage a mutiny and he's totally scared of Cadman. She took down McKay. Anyway, out of respect for Sheppard they pretend they're the Wraithers in public.)
Sheppard's team hasn't got a name. They're just Sheppard's Team. This makes McKay verklempt; his team is His Team and should have the best of everything. He keeps trying to come up with a suitably awesome name but no matter how cool they sound in his head, whenever he says them out loud they sound stupid and he can't even imagine telling Sheppard they should be called "the Fantastic Four" without being mocked for the rest of his natural life. And rightly so.
Sheppard has tried to explain the law of inverse notoriety to McKay, but it's hard going. The point is that the more famous you are, the less self-promotion you need to do. They're too cool for a name or an insignia; they're the elite lead exploration team and don't need any of that. There's nobody on Atlantis who doesn't know who they are. McKay grumbles that Sheppard's apparently too cool to even wear colours, and Sheppard looks at him and says, hey, now you're getting it!
In the end he just lends Mckay his tattered copy of Terry Pratchett's "Hogfather" and hopes the part about the Portrait Hall will sink in.
*3. Please, Don't Ask
Inspired and aided by hija_paloma; rageprufrock is the one who first came up with the idea for how Sheppard names his Wraiths, I just nicked it.
Most of his colleagues and a pretty decent portion of his Marines know that Sheppard names the Wraith they capture after ex-boyfriends. Nobody makes a big deal about it, but Lorne thinks it's pretty fucking funny. McKay doesn't, because how would you like it if -- for example -- your boyfriend named all your cats after his exes? Not cool, right?
Then, during a two-week stay on Earth to try and sort out some hierarchy issues and attend a math consortium at Harvard, McKay happens to be with Sheppard when they run into Todd.
"This guy?" McKay says, when Todd's out of earshot. "This is the guy? You named a Wraith after this guy? Jesus, you're so fucking lucky you found me."
Sheppard can't really argue with that.
4. Employee Assessment
Inspired and aided by adina_atl
How have you grown this year as a person and an employee?
Ianto has definitely grown since coming home to Cardiff. He didn't used to be responsible or tidy or, for a while, sane. Or, technically, bisexual, though since it's genetic he actually always has been and just never noticed, or maybe never bothered, he's not sure.
What are your goals for the next year? The next five years?
Gwen thinks she has -- grown, that is -- and she doesn't even like how she thinks she's grown. She thinks she's become hard and morbid and dark, but really she's the same loveable halfwit as ever. Mostly it's that now, she's armed.
Name one conflict you encountered recently and how you handled it.
Ianto does like Gwen. It's almost impossible not to. It's just that it was hard before, keeping Jack and Gwen both on an even keel with Tosh and Owen to help, and now he's alone in his efforts. He misses them both, like the low, constant ache he felt after London, the sensation of having something twisted up in his chest and being unable to right it. Gwen and Jack are, at least, a good distraction.
Would you say you have a good relationship with your boss? With your coworkers?
Sometimes, though he loves them both, Ianto feels a little bit like the parent of two especially intelligent three-year-olds. But really it only comes up once in a while, like when he has to fill out his (and Jack's and Gwen's) employee assessment forms. Jack doesn't hold with such things but when one is in charge of maintaining Torchwood's innocent mundane facade it is, of course, important to leave a paper trail.
5. Talking is Overrated
Inspired and aided by fodian
Ianto never really thought he'd find himself in a position to kiss someone in order to shut them up, but he's done it twice now and both times it's worked spectacularly, so his thesis that "kissing=blissful relief" appears to be sound.
The first time it was Jack, of course, banging on and on about some planet or something, Ianto couldn't even be fucked to listen. He knew it was his fault Jack was rambling, because even preoccupied by Lisa he's managed to notice that Jack only talks space-bullshit when he's nervous or anxious. And of course Jack was anxious, Jack was always anxious around him after Lisa, but especially once he'd had the shit kicked out of him by cannibals.
Jack feels like he has to fill any awkward silence, with stories like "did I ever tell you about the planet where wearing clothing is considered provocative?", which is when Jack realises that maybe nonstop talking isn't a good idea. Because let's face it -- he has no stories that don't involve sex, and he wouldn't want to be forward or anything, not with Ianto. And yet he can't stop. Which is when he realises that maybe he should have spent some portion of the last hundred and fifty years working on his interpersonal skills beyond what it takes to get someone into bed.
Anyway, Ianto knew Jack couldn't stop but he just couldn't listen to one more improbable story about alien sex, so even though they were sitting in public in a cafe he leaned in and kissed him to make him shut the hell up and it totally worked, so there you have it.
It's kind of the reverse with Gwen, because Gwen's not a huge talker most of the time but Ianto knows (because Owen is a gossip) that Gwen can't do the intimacy thing without big long monologues. And apparently Gwen thinks they're intimate now because Tosh and Owen are dead, so she just won't stop seeking him out. She does most of the talking, so he can sort of get on with his work, but he doesn't want to insult her by writing reports while she's talking.
But the reports really do have to get done.
So one afternoon, when she's off on a tangent that would probably be interesting if Ianto cared anything at all about the existence of Rhys Cooper-Williams, he catches Jack's eye where the other man's standing on the catwalk, leans over the lever of the coffee machine, and kisses her.
Gwen reacts fairly predictably; she pulls back, puts her hand to her mouth, giggles, and runs off. Jack, whose reactions are predictable in a different way, smolders.
He watches Gwen go, speculatively. He's not willing to share Gwen with Jack, because that's a nuclear holocaust in the making, but perhaps Jack wouldn't mind if Ianto and Gwen had some fun together.
After all, they're his team, and team bonding is important.
6. Stupid Human Tricks
Inspired and aided by bobthemole and imaginarycircus and abetted by hija_paloma.
Torchwood was celebrating.
Perhaps it was a little strange to be celebrating the fact that instead of facing down giant alien monsters they'd scared the crap out of some mischevious students, but they took their triumphs where they could get them.
"Students," Ianto muttered, rolling his eyes. Owen toasted the sentiment silently.
"It's all in good fun," Gwen replied. "Did you go to university, Jack?"
It'd been at least three months since he'd let anything slip about his past, so Jack was inclined to throw them a bone; he'd assumed that the whole "Hey, I'm an immortal" thing would have lasted them at least a year, but this particular batch of agents were nosey-parkers.
"Sure," he said.
The residence unit is pretty generous, all things considered. Jack has a bedroom to himself, shares a bathroom with only one other person, and shares the kitchen and lounge with only seven others. It's not as big as his childhood home, but it's a goddamn sight bigger than the militia barracks and it's certainly palatial compared to the little cell he spent most of the last year in.
He shivers and opens the window. The fresh air helps dissipate the crawling feeling along his skin whenever he thinks about the war. He's done with that now; he's eighteen, a man, a decorated veteran who served through the armistice. With the shadows in his eyes to prove it.
Kethsai is the most prestigious pan-species university in at least three galaxies. Jack is determined to do Boeshane proud here, even if he could have done Boeshane proud with a lot less effort at some lesser, human-majority school.
So far he hasn't seen a single other confirmable human. Lots of humanoids in all shapes, colours, and configurations, but no humans. The humanoids make him a little jumpy but it's the rest of the aliens -- the ones who don't even look close to human, who have unrecognisable bodies and strange appendages or no appendages at all -- they freak him right out. He's going to have to adjust to the idea that none of them want him dead; he's never dealt with an alien unless he or they were on the business end of a blaster.
As he gazes out the window a large, bulbous alien with six delicate frondlike tentacles slithers past and he's pretty sure that she (he?) waves at him. So, all that about wartime paranoia having been said...hello, tentacle.
"Scuse me, is this yours?"
Jack turns, jumpy, to find a fuzzy-haired, gangling-looking young man (man? Maybe? Alien? Human? God, this is going to be hard) leaning in the doorway. His arms are crossed, and in one hand he's holding the rubber ducky that Jack's Civilian Rehabilitator gave him as a joke when he left for school.
"Uh, yeah," he says, startled. "Sorry, I left it in the bathroom -- was it in the way?"
"No, no no, not at all. Can I ask...what is it?"
"It's a rubber ducky," Jack says, drawing closer, and then reconsiders. "A stylised representation of an old Earth waterfowl."
"Huh." The man studies it. "What's it for?"
"It's not really for anything."
"But what's it do?"
"It's decorative. Uh. A traditional human adornment for the shower or bath."
Jack waits for the snort of derision, but instead the man beams. "Brilliant! Waterproof art. Love it. I'm bunked in next door, if you don't mind? I do want to share my shower with someone who owns a rubber ducky. And you're a human?"
"Yes," Jack says, almost defensively.
"Interesting! I'm not," the man says. "Erh. Well. Not. But, sort of. Half-human," he adds cheerfully. "I've never met a full-on human before. Long story, very boring. You look pretty much like me."
Jack can cope with this. He grins. "Thanks," he says, moving closer. "I'm Jack Harkness. And you are...?"
"Oh, my name..." a flick of the hand holding the rubber ducky. "Unpronounceable. Just call me Student."
"Yeah. People'll get used to it."
Jack gently takes the duck out of Student's hand, making sure their fingers brush. "Thanks for liberating the duck, but I'd better put him back."
Student merely grins. "Nice to meet you, Jack Harkness. I've got to run. See you around."
And he's gone. Not a hasty exit, not a startled one; just, Student has places to be, which are more important than Jack Harkness seducing him.
Aliens, one; Jack, Nil. Still, the game is barely begun.
"What did you study?" Tosh asked.
Which was going a trifle too far, actually, so Jack leered at her and slid his hand over Ianto's thigh under the table and said, "Comparative Anatomy."
"Jack, you scandal," Gwen said, laughing. Ianto was blushing lightly, high on his cheekbones, but that could just as easily have been from the pint in front of him.
"What?" Jack asked. "I can name every major bone in the human body -- " Ianto snorted into his drink on the word 'bone', which meant Jack was rubbing off on him (lovely thought; perhaps later), " -- and their corollaries in eighteen or nineteen different alien species."
Jack's Civilian Rehabilitator, Erin, told him that the best way to get past any blocks or issues he had at school was to jump in without looking back. When Jack raised an eyebrow and asked if she told all her veterans that, she smiled and told him he was a unique case.
(Everyone always says this, but Erin seemed to mean it in a kindly way, not in an "oh god, you were how old when you joined up?" way.)
(He's made out with her three times, but she has a girlfriend who's a little proprietary and he had to leave before he could bring her round to his way of thinking.)
His first week he focuses on classes and learning all the transit codes for his various lecture halls and getting his certification to take flight courses. The digital advisor AI suggested he study Applied Engineering, Xenology, and Chemphysics, and then let him test out of first-session Applied Engineering, which gave him a big gap and flying, well, seemed to fit naturally.
He lasts precisely five days, which is three days longer than he generally has in a new environment, before he gets into a debate about trans-spatial aerodynamics with one of the frondy-tentacly people (Minarans) and ends up pinned to a store-room wall by the surprisingly strong fronds, kissing what he hopes is only its mouth, and experiencing firsthand how Minarans like to win arguments.
It helps. If aliens are like him, and like to touch and feel good and make other people feel good, then there won't be any problems. Aliens aren't built to hate -- just the aliens that took his childhood away. And that means that they don't get what these other aliens get, which...
Jack is very confused, but the idea comes to him that if he's friends with aliens, and nice to them and treats them just like humans (which means the entire school is fair game, sexually) then somehow he's defying the bastards who destroyed his home.
Truthfully he breaks all kinds of hearts (or the alien equivalent) his first session at University, but he never intends to. It never occurs to him that not all cultures feel the way humans do about sex. He feels really bad for some of them; they're obviously confused, because what's so awful about doing a friend a favour and getting a little endorphine rush? Is it really that horrible to make someone feel nice about themselves? And anyway shouldn't they expect it?
He knows what aliens think about humans. Oh yes, "Humanity has touched every star!" with the unspoken appelation, "in their naughty parts". Everyone thinks humans are sexy and always ready for a good time but in the balance just a little bit dim.
Jack isn't dim, and sometimes he wants to scream at people who pat him on the head and condescend to him and offer to tutor him in classes. He wants to hurt them, because they're the enemy, but this is not appropriate categorisation or reaction, that's what Erin would say. So he goes out and he gets laid and he comes back and dials up Erin on the vidphone and rants loudly to her about being treated like a moron just because he's got an endocrine gland and a cock.
"So, prove them wrong," she says.
"Oh, thanks, I couldn't figure out that on my own."
"No, in the moment. Every time you want to assault someone, dig up something really smart out of that big brain of yours, Jack, and tell it to them. It's proactive training. It'll make you feel better and make them feel stupid and then they won't do it again."
"Jack?" a fuzzy head pokes around the wall of Jack's room.
"Who's that?" Erin asks, smiling at the newcomer.
"Ooer, hello," Student says. "Are you a human too?"
"Yes -- are you one of Jack's friends?"
"Still here in the room," Jack says pointedly.
"I'm Student. We share a shower," Student says.
"Not like that," Jack tells Erin quickly. He's become oddly protective of his friendship with Student. Every time he gets close to making a move he gets shut down, but it never seems like a shutdown. Jack's never really had a friend he didn't sleep with before. It's weird and fun, if occasionally inconvenient.
"Jack, come do Relativity with me," Student whines. "It's not straightforward in the least, you're a liar, and I'm not going to get tops in history if I don't know all these archaic myths back and forward."
"Go on, Jack," Erin says, and flicks off the vid.
"Are you taking history with Grssssh?" Jack asks, as they sit down at the big round table in the middle of the lounge. Two screens flick on in front of them.
"Yeah. Nir says you're engaging in chemical-emotional abstractions with him."
"Fucking," Jack answers absently. "Stimulation of specific nerves which affect pleasure centres, for mutual enjoyment."
"That sounds interesting."
"H'm. Okay, let's start with Einstein."
"Do let's!" Student says enthusiastically, and they're off.
Jack is fucking Professor Grssssh, and also Professor Ehr, as much as you can engage in sex with someone who has no dermal-nerve-linked pleasure centres in the brain. Ehr's a Sentin and all that kind of stimulation comes in visually, through the eye just above their reproductive membrane. It's really different, because it means that the sex is nice but Jack always has to remember to wear bright colours, she likes that, and he's working up to something involving body paint which should be awesome.
He also sometimes sneaks up on the maintenance woman, the one with four arms, and hauls her into his room and lets her have her way with him. Four arms. Four hands. Twenty fingers. Alllllll of them wanting to touch every inch of him. Though really what first attracted him to her was her habit of singing old Earth songs as she went about her work. My Way never sounded so good.
Jack's not dim. Jack's just...got a lot of hormonal energy to expend.
"You must have torn the place up," Owen observed.
"I can never tell if he's being sarcastic with me anymore," Jack complained to Gwen.
"Go on, Jack. You must have," Gwen answered, nudging him with her shoulder. "I bet you were the lad who had the loud parties until three in the morning and still got full marks on all your exams."
"Not all of them," Jack said.
"What'd you fail?" Ianto asked.
"Ethics," Jack answered. The others got a wonderful unique look that somehow managed to blend skepticism and amusement. "What? I was not always the model of propriety you see before you."
"Loud parties," Gwen said. "Knew it."
There's a party on the station one night, just after second session has started, and Jack decided to meet up with the two other humans in his boarding-class plus the three who've just arrived, which means that now he is drunk, happily sated (the cute one, John, has a smart mouth in all senses of the word) and just a little tired.
When he staggers into his room he finds Student there, sitting on the desk next to the window, holding something up to the low artificial light streaming in.
Jack glances at the open bottom drawer, the small box, the curious look on Student's face. His first thought is to pull him down, punch him in the face, and take his medals back, but that's a Bad Instinct trained into him by combat. Instead he leans against the doorjamb and takes a deep breath.
"Listen," he says, "human culture isn't communistic."
Student looks up, startled. "Oh?"
"We don't like people going through our stuff."
"What? Oh, sorry. What are they?" Student asks, sounding unrepentant and pointing to the medals. Jack tries not to sway as he holds out his hand imperiously for the box. Student reluctantly puts it in his hand and he drops it into the drawer, slamming it shut with a vicious kick of his boot.
"They're my medals," he says.
"Medals? Like, for academic achievement?"
"Valor," Jack spits. His skin suddenly feels too tight for his body. "I was a soldier."
Student's eyes go round and wide.
"I'm -- I didn't mean to intrude. I didn't know humans had a privacy taboo. I was just waiting for you to get back and I got bored."
"It's not a big deal," Jack says, though it is. Of all the things he could have ferreted out, why did it have to be the medals?
"You'll tell me if I break it, won't you?"
Student ducks his head to try and catch Jack's eye. "Aren't you proud of them?"
"No. I'm not."
Jack flops onto his bed, rubbing his eyes. University is good, he's made friends and had a lot of lovers and every class he comes out with top marks except for ethics, and who fucking cares about ethics? As far as he's concerned most species should stop trying to kill each other before they get to the finer points. He's held a load of study sessions for kids who are falling behind, one of which resulted in an orgy, which was nice. He fits in here, and Student has to come in and dig out his medals and fuck him up with all the reminders of what he used to do and be.
"Why were you waiting for me?" he asks, suddenly exhuasted.
"I thought maybe you'd introduce me to the other humans. If, you know, they came back with you."
"Saw them off earlier."
His bed shakes slightly. He opens his eyes and Student is lying next to him, mirroring his pose.
"Is this soothing?" he asks. "Looking at the ceiling? People seem to do it a lot."
Jack shrugs. "Humans don't always know why we do what we do, Student."
"That seems like an inefficient way to run a species."
"Tell me about it," Jack laughs.
Student touches his arm, just a light stroke along the outside of it, but there's a gentle sensation that Jack recognises as an invitation -- telepathic contact. Student is asking permission. When he doesn't move, the gesture comes again, and this time it's like fog clearing away in his head.
There's such contrition in Student's hesitant thoughts, increasing when he feels Jack's unhappiness, that suddenly Jack feels a great affection for the weird, mysterious kid.
"Tomorrow," he says, glancing over. "I'm having lunch with John and Miranda. You can come along and meet them."
Student grins huge and touches his temple, and that's the last thing Jack knows before sleep claims him.
Gwen was always inquisitive, and Owen would pick up what he could get and push for more, and Tosh wouldn't ask herself but she'd do research when she could. Ianto didn't seem to wonder too much about Jack's past, except as it related to who Jack was in the present; ironic, considering Ianto knew a good deal more about Jack's history than the others put together, and had managed to find out without asking or even leading the conversation round to it. Somehow he'd just...let it go.
It was easy, with Ianto. Because Ianto's questions weren't "Where did you go to school" or "What planet were you born on"; Ianto asked questions like "If you could go back to your own time, would you?" and "Do you ever feel trapped, being unable to get off Earth when you want?"
Or, as Jack pressed his nose into Ianto's shoulder and rested his mind, "You don't drink at all, do you?"
"No," Jack mumbled.
"Is there something...physiological?" Ianto asked. "Emotional?"
Jack looked up at him, then pushed himself up on an elbow.
"Are you asking if I'm an alcoholic?" he asked, amused. Quaint old term for it.
"Not really. Just curious as to why. Why, are you?"
"No." Jack eased himself down again. "I never got the taste for it, which means the only reason to drink is to get drunk. And that's generally for one of two reasons."
"Do tell," Ianto drawled.
"Either to cope, or to forget. I don't want to forget any more than I already have. And I try to find more productive ways of coping."
Sometimes in the middle of something else entirely, like writing a paper or buying a bowl of Kanir from the canteen, Jack will suddenly stop and think about the fact that he's an orphan.
It's weird, because it's like it randomly flits through his head. Nothing triggers it, it's just suddenly there. Like the homesickness for a home that no longer exists and the nightmares where he's fighting a war that's been over for a year. His mother and father are dead, and his brother long since lost; he is alone.
If he could predict when it would happen it wouldn't be so bad, but he never can. Admittedly, sometimes he knows that sleeping with John will bring it on, because John's human and a reminder that there are eight humans total in this entire school, which is a lot of pressure. (Still, John's worth it. He's evil and angry and mentally really messed up, he's a veteran too but he doesn't even talk to his CivRehab agent. Thing is, he's so great Jack kind of doesn't care. Ethics. Fuck it.)
The solution is to either find some work to do or, if there's no work, to buy a bottle of alcohol -- doesn't matter what kind -- and get drunk alone so that at least he's numb instead of miserable and not bothering anyone else overmuch.
He tries not to disturb his residence-mates, but once in a while they have to haul him off the sofa and dump him on his bed to sleep it off.
Lately, though, if Student hears him or if he comes out of his room and finds him on the sofa he'll take the alcohol away and sit down with Jack and pull his head onto his shoulder. At first they just sat there, while Jack thought about kissing him and Student breathed even and steady, his alien heart beating double-time (or maybe he has two, Jack isn't sure). Now, mostly, Student talks to Jack, softly.
"I understand how you feel, though maybe you don't think I do. I'm the only one of my kind on the entire station. My people never leave their homeworld. Well, some do, but not very many. We used to...when we were a young race we traveled the stars, we treated time like it belonged to us to do with as we pleased. Now -- my dad didn't even want me leaving planet to go to school. I get homesick too, you know. The food's all wrong here and most of the people are incredibly stupid. Not even educationally stupid, not incapable of learning, just incapable of having independent thoughts. Inflexible. You aren't, though."
"M'very flexible," Jack mumbles. Student ruffles his hair affectionately.
"Yes, you are. That's why I like you. I thought it'd be different, you know, here, I thought people would be different. My whole race is so bound up in protocols and laws...but people here are just like that. Maybe it's where we got it from. Maybe Dad was right about the Lower Races, I don't know."
"The what?" Jack demands.
"Lower Races. You lot. Not just humans, mind you..." Student says, but when Jack looks up he can see that he's teasing.
It's a nice thing to do, really, because Jack can't let an insult to his species go unpunished. He's allowed to get angry about being called a Lower Race and challenge Student to a Duel to the Mild Injury on the quad at four in the morning. It's the first of many such duels, which Jack understand are also a subtle way of teaching him how to use energy epees, but mainly enjoys because it's fun to play with Student, and if he's naked (as he generally is) it sparks up the rumours about how humans only wear clothes when they're somewhere they think there's a nudity taboo.
Even after coming to Earth and basically crashlanding in one of the most restrictive periods of so-called modern civilisation, Jack had been with a lot of people. Acquaintances picked up in bars, pretty girls and boys met in shops, co-workers, subordinates, superiors. Ianto wasn't the first junior agent he'd slept with and wouldn't be the last. He was, on the other hand, one of the youngest. Jack didn't often go for anyone much below thirty; it looked improper and youth often reminded him too much of Rose, even now.
Ianto was an exception to almost every rule. Jack was supposed to cut off people who'd betrayed him, destroy any danger to Torchwood, be a father or a big brother to people who looked up to him, and not get too attached to people who were sleeping with him.
Yeah. Out the window with all of those.
Perhaps it was because Ianto was young, but his eyes looked old, and reminded him sometimes of other people and other places he'd taken comfort in.
Student never ever gets naked.
Jack would really like to get him naked just once, but he doesn't even seem interested, and even when Jack actively makes a go of it (because he's graduating soon and he wants the experience!) he fails spectacularly. Jack has to sleep with like two new people a week just to keep his spirits up.
"Do you have a sex taboo on your homeworld?" Jack asks, one afternoon while they're swotting for exams and eating stasis-preserved peaches in sweet syrup that Erin sent him as a present.
"We don't have sex," Student replies, without looking up from the notes he's taking.
"What do you do for fun?"
Jack snorts. "How do you reproduce? Drastic mass cellular mitosis? Cloning?"
Student still doesn't look up, but he does smile. "Our children are woven on genetic looms."
"Bullshit!" Jack laughs. Student raises his head and his eyes dance.
"You know, Jack, there's a ship waiting for me, back in my hometime. Well, not specifically for me. But there are these huge bays full of ships, going to rot for lack of use, and I'm going to take one someday."
Jack licks his fingers. "You're a menace."
"Perhaps. When I do, do you want to come with me?"
He realises he's staring and also his mouth is hanging open. He shuts it quickly.
"I want you to," Student says. "Maybe not right away, it might take me a few years, I have some more learning to do, but eventually?"
"I'd like that," Jack replies, breathless at the notion.
But he doesn't, of course, because the Time Agency recruits him and he has his own schooling to look after and before he knows it Student has faded from official record completely, just vanished. Jack shrugs and gets on with his Agency career; he has John, who is both a pleasure and a responsibility, and besides he's learned never to get too attached to anyone.
It's three university degrees, eight hundred years, and eight regenerations later for the Doctor -- and an officer commission, a court-martial in absentia, several million in confidence jobs, and fifteen years (minus two missing) later for Jack -- before the fuzzy-headed boy makes good on his offer. Jack doesn't even recognise him when they meet again.
But he'd be pleased to know he was remembered, if he had.
"When you've lived long enough," Ianto said one night, in the dark, Jack's arm slung carelessly over his shoulders, his hand on Jack's wrist. "When you've lived long enough and humanity takes to the stars again, will you go?"
"I hadn't thought about it," Jack replied. "It's far in the future still. Not in your lifetime, I'm afraid. And I'm sorry for that. There are places I'd take you, if I could..."
Ianto drew his arm up slightly, kissed the inside of his wrist, and set it down again. "Doesn't matter. I was just wondering."
"Why do you wonder?" Jack asked.
"Why not?" Ianto said, closing his eyes. "I think about you, what your life will be like. I -- like to think that someday you'll get cut free of Torchwood. You could go back out, find a place for yourself. Maybe find him again."
No need to ask who he meant. The Doctor was an unspoken temptation between them, but Ianto was the one who shared his bed and kept his faith. Ianto was the one who was there when sometimes Jack still got caught, drinking a Coke or buying a new Stephen King book or driving the SUV, by the memory that he was alone. His family were dead (not yet born) and all his friends and lovers would die before him. But Ianto was still there.
Jack watched his chest rise and fall.
"I'm here now," he offered.
Ianto smiled without opening his eyes.
"Yes. You are."