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sam_storyteller ([personal profile] sam_storyteller) wrote2005-07-17 02:00 pm

The Theory of Two Centres 1/8

Title: The Theory of Two Centres
Pairings: Canon. Set post-S2.
Rating: R for eventual sex; also violence.
Summary: Ianto Jones woke up in a bed that wasn't his, in a flat that wasn't his, wearing clothing that definitely wasn't his.
Warnings: Another one I'm not sure how to warn for. There are themes of memory control, definitely, but they're mainly voluntary; this touches heavily on the episode Adam, for context.
Notes: Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] la_rainette, [livejournal.com profile] adina_atl, and [livejournal.com profile] spiderine for advice on fighting, firearms, italics, titles, eggs, and grammar. All are important!

Originally posted on 10.20.08

Also available at AO3.

Chapter One

Now

Ianto Jones woke up in a bed that wasn't his, in a flat that wasn't his, wearing clothing that definitely wasn't his.

Well, for a given value of 'wearing'; he was stripped to a pair of boxers (also not his, perhaps the most disconcerting thing) and laid out on top of the bed-that-wasn't-his's duvet, covered with a thick wool coat. The coat, at any rate, smelled really good.

He pushed it aside and sat up, muzzily. He didn't remember the night before, never a good sign -- last thing he remembered was arriving in London, and stopping at the job office on his way to the bedsit he'd rented sight-unseen with the last of his money. Then...blankness.

This definitely wasn't a bedsit.

There was a CD in the room, hanging from a hook affixed to the wall -- no, not a CD, a DVD, with a post-it note in his own handwriting.

Play me.

He took it off the hook and looked around. Clothing first, for preference.

The wardrobe was full of suits that looked like they would fit all right, but rummaging uncovered a pair of jeans and a white t-shirt -- the shirt wasn't his either, he didn't think, but it was almost his size. Armed against the world, he ventured through the bedroom door.

Nice enough flat, he supposed. A bit sterile, a bit posh for his tastes, leather couch and large TV and --

His books on the shelves.

Books he'd left in a box with a mate when he bolted for London. His DVDs, too, some of them anyway. And on further inspection he was positive at least two of the posters on the walls were his, though they'd been put in nice frames.

It took him a little fumbling to get the DVD in and get it to play. When he did, a strange man's face came up on the television -- strong jaw, cleft chin, spiky brown hair.

"Ianto," the man said. "I'm really, really not happy about this."

Oh, god, Ianto thought. I'm in a horror film. I'm in Saw.

"On your left there's a kitchen table with yesterday's newspaper," the man said, and held up a copy of the Echo. A Cardiff paper. Ianto paused the disc and found the paper.

September 29th, 2008.

No way.

He flicked the pause off without looking at the television and the man's voice filled the room again. American accent. Bizarre.

"Before you freak out, just watch this all the way through," he said, as Ianto commenced freaking out. "My name is Jack Harkness. I'm your friend. I know you're scared, but keep listening. There's food in the kitchen for you, and the coffee should be on."

Ianto peered into the kitchen. The coffee machine's light was on. He made a face, then came back to crouch by the television.

"You're in your own flat, in Cardiff. You're safe, I promise. You have the only key -- it's on the hook in the hall, by the front door."

"Bollocks," Ianto said, looking around him. He'd never be able to afford a place like this.

"You think you're twenty-one, but you were twenty-five in August. You've just lost four years of your life and, believe me, I know how that feels," Harkness continued. "It was for your own safety."

Ianto looked down at the paper, smoothing his hand across it. The top story was about the discovery of a body in the bay, the fourth found in eight weeks. Hardly heartening, given his current predicament.

"Listen carefully to me, because you have to make a choice and I need you to think about what I'm going to tell you," the man continued. Ianto settled down, crosslegged, his face still very close to the television. "If I've done this right, you won't remember your life in London or after you came back to Cardiff. You did some very dangerous work. You've nearly died several times. Don't believe me, check out your left arm, just below your shoulder."

Ianto involuntarily looked down. There were three long parallel scars running across his arm. Scars that had not been there yesterday, when he caught the train to London.

"I'm not going to waste your time explaining what went wrong, and you wouldn't believe me if I told you," the man in the video continued. "We did this for you. People who care about you, your friends. You chose this, believe it or not. Which makes me so proud of you..."

Ianto watched as this man, Harkness, visibly controlled himself.

"You have options now. You don't have to go back to that life if you don't want to. I wouldn't force it on you. There's a job waiting for you at Brooks and Barnes, the financial office near the University. It's not glamorous, but being a file clerk rarely gets anyone killed. Show up, tell them Harkness sent you, they'll set you up. If I know you, in three or four years you'll be running the place."

"Or what?" Ianto asked the television.

"You can walk away. Start a new life. Find someone to love, buy a house, make a family. It might not appeal now, but..." Harkness shrugged. "You can have a good life. A safe life."

"Or what?"

"If you come back to us, you have to give that up, is the thing," Harkness said. "The coat you woke up with, as you can see..." he tipped his head, indicating the coat he wore, "It's mine. You want to walk away, keep it as a gift."

Ianto glanced down the hall, where the coat lay unceremoniously dumped on the floor.

"If you want to find out why this happened, if you're willing to take that risk -- think carefully about what you're giving up -- bring it back to me. There's no time limit. Come when you want. Down by Mermaid Quay, the Roald Dahl Plass outside the Millennium Centre. I'll find you. Anytime. Just wait for me there."

Ianto stood up and walked down the hall to the bedroom, picking up the coat, dusting it off. The pockets were empty.

"I know you're a curious man. Don't let your curiosity stand in the way of your happiness, Ianto."

The man leaned forward and his face disappeared from view. The screen went black. End of message, Ianto thought.

Four years lost. A man who obviously cared about him, urging him to walk away before he went somewhere that might lose him another four years down the line. Somewhere he got scars he couldn't explain. Somewhere that kept him in Cardiff when he'd never wanted to see the bloody town again.

On the other hand...

He shook his head and shouldered the coat on. The cuffs brushed his knuckles, but he was tall enough to wear it without tripping on it, at least. And he'd need it -- it was pissing down out. Fucking Cardiff, it was always pissing down out.

He found socks and a knit cap in the closet, pulled on a pair of shoes that weren't his but fit like they were, and walked out into the rain.

***

Then

"Jack, I think it's me."

"What's you?" Jack asked, looking up from his crossword. Ianto, hands shaking, dropped the front page on his desk.

"The strangler. I think it's me," he said.

"That's not funny."

"I'm not laughing. I remember -- " Ianto bit his lip. "You have to lock me up, Jack. I remember killing these women. My shoes were wet this morning from the rain. And -- " he fumbled in his pocket and pulled out the black leather gloves that he didn't, actually, recall buying. He threw them on top of the paper. "There's blood on my gloves."

***

Now

Cardiff wasn't much different from when he'd left yesterday -- four years ago. A couple of the shops had closed and others had opened. There were buildings with what looked like bomb damage, though it had to have been an earthquake or maybe urban renewal or something. There were some new buildings, too. It struck him as strange that he didn't find this more unsettling, but he was inclined to trust Harkness. Jack Harkness -- familiar name, like something on the tip of his tongue that he couldn't quite figure out.

Everything he saw confirmed Harkness's story, anyway, or at least confirmed the lost time. The newspapers bore the day's date, September 30th, and none of the films at the cinema or the bestsellers in the bookshop windows were in any way familiar. The clothing was subtly different, and the technology -- thin televisions, tiny laptop notebooks, oddly-designed mobiles. Weird.

He got a curry and ate it at a dim table in the little restaurant, drying out enough to be presentable as he poked through the shops (Radiohead had a new album out and Robbie Williams was apparently Over, thank Christ).

He knew where he would eventually end up, because he'd made the decision before he'd left, really. He'd needed to confirm with his own eyes what had happened, but there was never any doubt in his mind. Safety had no chance against the fascination of the unknown.

Which should have been his first clue, come to think of it...

He lurked in the shadows for a while, standing well outside the Roald Dahl Plass, watching tourists wander through. He leaned against the wall of the Millennium Centre and shoved his hands in the pockets of the coat, burrowing into it. A couple of people shot him curious glances, but nobody paid him too much mind. A car, blue lights flashing, roared past him and down into a parking garage. They must have upped the police budget in Cardiff if the cops could afford flash SUVs like that.

No sign of Harkness, though.

He pushed away from the wall and walked warily towards the Plass. There was always the chance -- he'd seen every Bond film ever, and The Bourne Identity, he knew from action films -- always the chance that someone was waiting to shoot him, but he doubted it. Honestly, it was Cardiff. Nothing interesting ever happened in Cardiff.

Then he reached the centre of the shallow basin, stepping up to study his distorted reflection in the fountain, and felt rather a fool.

"Ianto."

He knew he hadn't heard footsteps, but the guy was just suddenly there -- larger than life, standing behind him, putting up his hands as Ianto whirled in surprise.

"Easy -- I'm not gonna hurt you," the guy said, in the same flat American twang from the video.

"You," Ianto said, fingers tightening on the cuffs of the coat.

"Yeah," Harkness replied. He gave Ianto a smile full of even white teeth. "Captain Jack Harkness," he added, offering his hand.

"Ianto Jones," Ianto replied, taking it. "Brought your coat back."

"So I see," Harkness replied. "Thanks. I would have missed it. Keep it on till we get inside."

"Where are we going?" Ianto called, as Harkness began to walk away.

"I'd take you straight down but it's a little overwhelming," Harkness said. "Come on. This way."

Ianto ran a few steps to catch up with him. Harkness was wearing a short black jacket that didn't suit him at all. When he caught him looking, he grinned again.

"It's yours. I thought it was a fair trade," he said, thumping down a wooden stairway. With a flourish, he opened a door into --

"A tourist office," Ianto observed.

"Your tourist office. Sort of. Come in."

Inside, Harkness shook the water out of his hair, brushed it back with his fingers -- was the man capable of looking less than perfect? -- and shed the jacket, hanging it on a coat-tree in the corner. Ianto took off his hat and hung it next to it, then offered Harkness the wet coat.

Harkness accepted the coat, slung it over an arm, and leaned over the counter to press a button. A false wall slid open, revealing a hallway beyond.

"Welcome back to Torchwood," Harkness said, and led the way into a lift. Ianto would have been happy to ride in silence -- the lift felt enclosed, claustrophobic -- but Harkness kept talking.

"You worked here for two years, and for two years before that at a larger branch in London."

"Is this some kind of...spy thing?" Ianto asked.

"Not exactly. We're outside the government, but in broad strokes it's the same. Top secret, gun-toting, witness-interrogating, et cetera," Harkness said. "But we handle...different cases."

"What kind of different cases?"

"It'll be easier to explain in a minute," Harkness said, as the lift opened. "You didn't spend too long considering your options, I see."

"Didn't really see that I had them," Ianto replied. "File clerk? Honestly?"

Harkness just sighed and gestured him through an enormous round doorway at the end of the corridor. Beyond that, two barred doors in a metal cage swung outwards, accompanied by yellow flashing lights and a blaring alarm.

Ianto stepped through into a jaw-dropping atrium, a huge domed enclosure easily five or six storeys high, centred around the shaft of the fountain that came through the Plass above and terminated in a pool in the floor. The walls were brick, descending to tile the lower they came, and the overall impression was one of a very grand Tube station taken over by anarchist technogeeks. Doors led off in all directions. There were glassed-in rooms on every level. A desk nearby held more computer technology than he'd ever seen in one place in his life.

"This is the Hub," Jack said, his voice oddly muted.

"Oh," Ianto drawled, staring upwards. "Is that what it is."

"Jack, is that you?" a female voice called, and a woman emerged from a doorway to their left. Pretty; pale face, black hair, Valleys accent like his own. "I was wondering -- Ianto!"

She ran across the platform they were standing on, stopping just short of where he stood as if she'd had some kind of signal. Ianto glanced behind him to see Harkness making a slashing motion across his throat. Harkness lowered his hand with a sheepish smile.

"Ianto Jones, Gwen Cooper," Harkness said. "She's a friend. She's been with Torchwood about a year and a half."

"Hi," Ianto said uncertainly.

"Hi, Ianto," she said, her voice rich with affection. "Glad you're back."

"Thanks, I think." Ianto rubbed the back of his head.

"MARTHA!" Cooper called, leaning back to shout down the doorway she'd just come from. "IANTO'S BACK!"

"Brilliant!" came another voice, apparently belonging to Martha. A dark-skinned woman emerged, beaming, and this one did hug him. After an awkward second, he hugged back, then pulled away as soon as he could.

"And this is Dr. Martha Jones," Harkness said, a bare hint of disapproval in his voice.

"I'm so glad you came back," she said.

About eight million thoughts crossed his mind at once. The surname Jones wasn't exactly uncommon in Wales, but her accent was closer to London. She was undoubtedly his type, and she seemed really happy to see him, and there was a ring on her finger even if there wasn't one on his...

"Are we married?" he blurted, because really could this day get any weirder?

Martha looked at him in shock for a moment, then laughed and glanced at Harkness.

"No relation," she said. "We're not married."

"That's...good?" he tried.

"Very good," Harkness said, resting a hand on his shoulder and murmuring in his ear. Ianto fought the urge to blush. "Martha's playing medic for us. She supervised your dosage. She needs to do a scan to make sure everything's okay. You good with that?"

"Erm," Cooper said. "There's a Weevil in the exam room."

"Well, shift it," Harkness said impatiently. "Is it dead?"

"A what?" Ianto asked. None of them answered. "Like a...bug?" he tried.

"Not so much, no," Cooper said. "Jack, how much have you told him?"

"Not enough," Harkness said. "Ianto, this way."

He led him to the desk full of technology and tapped in a few commands. A map of Cardiff appeared, overlaid with odd pink dots. They didn't mean anything to Ianto, but it seemed Harkness could read them like a book.

"There's a Rift in the fabric of space and time that runs through Cardiff," Harkness said. "It spits things out. Sometimes it takes things. The things it brings us are alien, anachronistic. Each of these points represents a Rift spike. Somewhere the Rift has opened and dropped something here that was never meant to be here."

Ianto gave him a sceptical look. "Now you're just having me on."

"I'm not."

"This is Cardiff, it's a fucking wasteland, nothing ever happens here," Ianto said.

Harkness looked sad. "I always wondered what you were like before London got its hooks into you," he said.

Ianto shifted uncomfortably, perplexed by the statement. "And anyway, even if it were true," he continued, "there's no way you could keep all this a secret. Aliens dropping out of the sky? You'd be arse-deep in conspiracy theorists."

"That's what we do," Harkness said. "We keep the Rift secret. We clean up after it. We protect the Earth."

"So you're a cover-up," Ianto replied.

"We, Ianto. You included. The last two years, you've been part of this," Cooper said, stepping forward. She rubbed his arm affectionately and he jerked back, startled. It was her turn to look at him as if he were breaking their hearts.

"This is absurd," he said.

Harkness sighed again. "I thought you might think that. MARTHA!" he yelled.

Martha's voice drifted up from some other room. "YES JACK?"

"HOW'S THAT WEEVIL LOOKING?"

"WEEVIL-Y!"

Harkness rolled his eyes and took Ianto by the arm, steering him into what he realised was some kind of medical bay.

"Look at it," he said, as Martha tied a surgical mask across her face. From the railing, Ianto looked down at the body on the autopsy table.

It looked human enough, if you ignored the feet and hands, but there was the face -- a horrible disfigured face, all wrinkles and snout and staring black eyes. Incisors like razors. And you couldn't really ignore the clawed hands, or the knobbled feet with only four toes.

"That's a Weevil," Harkness said in his ear. "It's an alien. Born on another planet. They live in the sewers in Cardiff. You and I used to hunt them."

Ianto waited until Harkness had pulled back to lean on the rail. Then he bolted.

Or, rather, tried to bolt. Harkness caught one arm with lightning reflexes and Cooper stepped in front of him, blocking his escape.

"Ianto," she said. "It's all right, sweetheart, it took me like that too -- "

"You're mad," he said, struggling against Harkness's grip. "You're lunatics! That's some poor sod in -- in a costume, or..."

"It's real," Harkness hissed. "Stop struggling!"

"Then let me go!" Ianto retorted, and jerked his elbow backwards. Harkness went down with a sharp exhalation, clutching his stomach, and Ianto swung at Cooper. She ducked and moved and somehow he found himself face-first against a steel girder, Cooper holding both his arms behind his back. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Harkness getting to his feet, one arm still across his stomach.

"That's the second time you've sucker-punched me," he wheezed. He was laughing. "Some things don't change. Let him go, Gwen."

At Harkness's command, the pressure on Ianto's arms eased and then vanished. He put both his palms against the girder, pushed away slowly. He was going to -- well, say something, or try to run again, but before he could open his mouth there was a sharp shrieking noise, a sudden wind that cut through his t-shirt, and a flap of leathery wings --

Ianto froze.

Everyone else had backed well away, and they probably had good reason. Standing on the walkway in front of him was an enormous creature, half again as tall as him with a wingspan that was easily fifteen feet if not twenty. It opened its huge, sharp-looking beak and Ianto cringed away, but it didn't attack. It just mewled, then let loose with a high chugging whine.

"And this," Harkness said, keeping his voice even, "is Myfanwy."

"Myfanwy," Ianto said faintly. He fought the urge to bolt again as the -- oh god, it was a dinosaur, a pterodactyl -- inched closer to him.

"I always kind of thought it was a joke on your part," Harkness added.

"What, naming a giant killer beast Myfanwy? You think?" Ianto asked. It clattered its beak demandingly.

"She won't hurt you," Gwen said. "She likes you."

"For lunch!"

"You're too tough," Harkness remarked. Something slid across the floor. Myfanwy tracked it with a tilt of the head. Ianto eased himself down to pick it up, hoping it was a gun, and found that it was instead a large steak cradled in white butcher paper. "Go on. She wants you to feed her. She missed you."

"This is my life, is it?" Ianto asked, carefully trying to keep the hysteria out of his voice. Animals could smell fear, couldn't they? "Killing aliens and feeding dinosaurs?"

"You make a mean cup of coffee, too," Martha put in.

"Oh, so, nothing out of the ordinary then," Ianto remarked. Myfanwy stretched out her neck and nudged his arm with her long, incredibly dangerous-looking beak. Moving very slowly, he lifted up the steak. Some kind of reddish sauce oozed off it. Myfanwy backed off, hopping up and down, flapping eagerly, sending paperwork flying. Ianto hastily tossed the steak in a low arc and she caught it, swallowing it in a single fluid movement.

He could have sworn she said "Ahhh," when she was finished. Then she launched herself up into the air, powerful wings arrowing her towards a huge gap in the masonry. Her nest.

"She's your pet, really," Gwen said, as Ianto wiped his hand on the paper and crumpled it into a ball. "She won't let the rest of us near her."

Ianto turned and gave her a measured look. She held out her hand for the paper ball, and he dropped it into her palm warily.

"This is real," he said. "There's a secret base under the leisure district and Cardiff's full of aliens and dinosaurs."

"Yep," Martha said.

"And I work here."

"Yep."

Ianto turned to take in the walkways and desks and technology, the dinosaur nest, the medical bay, the fountain and its pool.

"Brilliant," he breathed.

***

After nearly being eaten by Myfanwy, having an alien brain-scan didn't seem so scary, really.

"This'll take some time," Martha told him, as she fixed what looked like electrodes to his scalp. "It's going to test to see if there's anything left."

"Anything...of what?" Ianto asked.

"Drugs in your system, that sort of thing," she said evasively.

"Shouldn't I be strapped down or something?"

"Why, are you going to punch me in the stomach and do a runner?" she asked with a smile. He glanced sidelong at Harkness, who was watching from the railing.

"No," he said.

"Fine then. You can't move about much but you can talk if you want. You must have loads of questions."

"Can't really think what to ask first," he said. "All this James Bond stuff, all right, aliens, okay, but it sounds a bit like I'm the janitor."

"Not by a long shot," Harkness put in.

"Though you used to be," Martha added, giving Harkness a look.

"Got promoted then, did I?" Ianto asked. "Do I get to have a gun?"

"Yeah, let's wait and re-teach you how to fire one first," Harkness replied.

"Don't listen to him. If you asked him for the moon he'd find a way to slip it under your pillow," Martha said, which didn't make much sense.

"So I'm a secret agent. Am I suave?" he asked, angling for another grin from Martha. She obliged.

"Very. And you look great in a suit," she added.

"Saw all those, in the wardrobe. Are they dress code?"

"They should be," Harkness said. "What, you don't like a nice suit? They show off your ass."

"Just never saw myself in one, that's all."

"Yeah, well, see yourself in them a lot, 'cause I've never seen you in anything else till now," Martha said. "I'm starting the scan. This may tingle."

Ianto stilled, waiting for something to spark and electrocute him, but even the promised tingle didn't appear. It must be working, though. Martha was suddenly absorbed in the machinery.

"Have I got a girlfriend then?" Ianto asked. "She's not going to be best pleased about this, if I do."

Harkness bowed his head over his arms where they leaned on the rail. "No," he said quietly. "You had a girlfriend. She died."

"Oh," Ianto said. "Am I in mourning?"

"Not anymore. It's been a little over a year now. Sixteen months."

Ianto considered this. "Was she in Torchwood too?"

"That's a complicated question," Harkness said. "One thing at a time."

"Not like I remember her, anyway. This whole big...bat-cave, underground...thing, is it just the four of us?"

"Three," Harkness said. "Martha's on loan, she's not permanent. There were two others. They died. Owen and Tosh."

"And I got my brain rebooted. Good to know what I'm getting into, I guess," Ianto mused. "What would have happened if I hadn't? Would I have died?"

"No," Harkness said, and he straightened. "Other people would have. Martha, send him up when you're done."

"Jack -- "

"I'll be in my office."

Ianto watched him go and glanced at Martha. "Was it something I said?"

"It was everything you said," she replied sadly.

"That's hardly my fault. Nobody's told me yet why exactly they had to take four years," he pointed out.

"And it's not for me to tell. Jack'll tell you in his own time."

"But you were there."

"Yeah, I was," Martha smiled at him. "I made sure we only took as much as we had to."

"You mean I only lost as much as I had to."

"Either-or," she sighed.

He fought the urge to scratch the faintly-itchy electrode pads. "Who took me -- " to that place I woke up in " -- home?"

"Jack did."

"Good boss, eh?" Ianto asked, thinking about waking up nearly-naked.

"I've had lots worse," Martha agreed.

"What happened to the people who died?" Ianto asked, as a thought struck him. "The people from Torchwood. Did I kill them?"

"God -- no!" Martha looked at him, shocked. "They were -- " she gestured, as if she were trying to tell the story without words. "Listen, Ianto, there aren't any easy stories in Torchwood. Nothing's not complicated. Try not to make assumptions."

"Assumptions are all I've got," Ianto said. "Aside from surprise, dinosaur!"

Martha left the machine and came to stand in front of him, taking his hands in hers, pressing them together.

"Jack and Gwen care about you," she said intently. "They trust you. Jack's trusted you with secrets -- you can't even imagine. When we found out...that we had to do this, Jack wouldn't believe it. He didn't want this for you."

"So, what, I should just keep my mouth shut?" Ianto asked, but he could hear that the sharp sarcasm he'd intended came out more like a plaintive question.

"A little blind faith now will be worth it in the long run. Promise," she said.

"And I trust you too, right?"

She beamed at him. "Ianto Jones, there was a time when you and I used to talk about our sex lives. And not as doctor and patient. S'weird," she added, suddenly thoughtful. "I reckon I know more about you than you do, just now."

"I reckon most people who've met me in the last four years know more about me than I do," he replied.

The machine behind them beeped and Martha hurried back, studying the screen.

"You can take the sensors off now," she said, and he began peeling them off his skin. They were sticky, but they left no residue.

"Neat trick."

"Hm? Oh, well. Aliens. Clever."

Manufactured on another world, he thought, looking down at them. Something that wasn't human had made this. The sky was full of aliens.

Actually, in a sense, it was comforting. One mystery of the universe solved, at least.

Harkness was sitting at his desk, leafing through papers, when Martha brought him up and gave him a gentle shove through the doorway. Ianto held out the slip of paper Martha had pressed into his hands.

"Martha says I'm clean," he said. "She says it worked. So, thank you, and all."

"You're thanking me for stealing four years of your life," Harkness pointed out, not looking up.

"Well, better than killing me, I guess," Ianto replied. "What were you going to do if I didn't come back? How were you going to make sure it worked?"

"Watch. Wait. We put a tracker in your phone, another in your car. And I don't need much sleep," Harkness said, still without actually looking at him or taking the paper from his hands.

"So, civil liberties, not a big concern for Torchwood."

Harkness did look up at that. Ianto offered him the paper again. He took it carefully, then sat back, tipping his chair up on its back legs, studying Ianto.

"Not when it's a choice between civil liberties or the human race being destroyed by aliens, no. Besides, we're not the Gestapo. We just...do what we have to. Quietly. And hurting as few people as possible."

"That's a lot of power for three people and a dinosaur."

"I'm used to having a lot of power," Harkness gave him a dangerous grin. "You okay with that?"

"Sure. I never got any awards for obedience in school."

"Mmh. Yeah, there's a hot anarchist streak in you." While Ianto was trying to figure out just how he meant the term hot, Harkness gestured to a chair. "Sit down."

Ianto drew the chair up, sat, rested his elbows on his knees and leaned forward.

"You want to come back to Torchwood?" Harkness asked.

"Nothing better on offer."

"That's not good enough. You either want to come back or you don't. If you don't, you need to tell me now, so we can make the last few hours go away as well. And next time you wake up there won't be a video from me waiting for you."

"Playing a bit reckless with your memory-eraser machine, huh?" Ianto said.

"It's a pill."

"Oh, pardon me."

"Answer the question."

"Do I want to spend my time chasing down aliens, getting my arse kicked, and hand-feeding a pterodactyl? In Cardiff?" Ianto asked. He shrugged. "Course I do."

Harkness gave him a smile that was -- different from the other smiles he'd seen. Private. Almost intimate. Ianto caught his breath, silently.

"Good." Harkness offered him a flashdrive. "Take this home tonight. It'll give you access to casefiles you worked. You can read your reports, catch up on what we've been doing. Don't print them out, don't try to move them to your hard drive, and don't even think about emailing them anywhere. Because if you do, I'll know."

"You know it's funny," Ianto said, twiddling the drive between his fingers. "Martha just gave me this big long lecture about how much you trust me."

"I just met you," Harkness pointed out. "The first time we met, you'd already had two years of indoctrination in London. I don't know what they taught you there from what you already knew, but I'm damn well going to teach you discretion here. I trust you. That doesn't mean I'm an idiot."

"Oh, yes sir," Ianto said sardonically, and saluted.

The gutted look on Harkness's face told him he'd misstepped again. He stood up hastily.

"I'll just start on my homework then, right?" he said.

"You do that," Harkness replied, his voice as level as ever as he bent back to his paperwork. "See Gwen on your way out, she has your ID."

He found Gwen at a desk on the far side of the Hub, sifting through a carton full of photographs.

"Jack said you'd have my ID," he said. She smiled at him.

"Coming back on board, then? All cleared?" she asked.

"Yep."

"I'm so glad, sweetheart," she said, hugging him. He endured it until she pulled back, her smile going from eager to anxious.

"Do I...like that stuff?" he asked.

"What stuff?"

"The hugging and all."

Gwen covered her mouth with one hand. "Oh, wow."

"What?"

"Sorry. It's just a little strange," she said, her smile turning affectionate again. "No, you're not a big one for hugs. Can't help myself. I thought we might never see you again."

He spread his arms in a silent and yet, here I am.

"ID," he prompted.

"Yeah -- here you go. Key to the Information Centre upstairs, swipecard and manual lock key for the rolldoor -- we don't use both except for lockdown. Official Torchwood ID for crime scenes, standard fake identification kit..."

Ianto fanned out the handful of cards, blinking. There was a UN diplomatic corps clip-badge, two different driver's licences (one with a false name), a University of Cardiff student card, a hospital janitorial badge, some various government-services cards, and two military IDs.

"What's UNIT?" he asked, holding one up. Lt. Ianto Jones, UNIT, Information Technology and Research Systems, Top Level Clearance.

"Mostly, boys who look good in red berets," she said, apparently enjoying some kind of in-joke. "And I, uh." She shuffled a stack of photos resting on one corner of the carton on her desk. "I thought you might like some photos. Last time I was at your flat you said you hadn't taken any since London...you don't have to," she added, as if she were talking herself out of offering them.

"No -- I'd like that," he said, almost snatching them out of her hands.

There he was, that was definitely him, wearing a pretty fancy three-piece-suit -- with a pink shirt, god, he looked like the arseholes he used to pass on the street and make fun of for having nine-to-five jobs and two-point-five children.

But he had to admit he looked happy. Satisfied, even. Arms-linked with Gwen, grinning at the camera, standing in a park somewhere.

The next photo, someone else was next to Gwen, had his arm around her --

"That's Rhys, my husband," Gwen said.

"Does he know what you do?"

"Well, he does now. We don't give him the details, generally."

"He's not part of Torchwood, then."

"Not so much, no. He manages a lorry company. Harwood's Haulage."

"The Hotfoot Haulers?" Ianto asked, amused.

"They've got a new slogan now," Gwen said defensively. Ianto flicked the photo to the bottom of the pile. The third one was another of Rhys and Gwen, with half of Harkness blurred in the foreground. Gwen snickered.

"Jack doesn't really like photos," she said. "Well, not of him, anyway. Not the kind you can get developed at the photo counter."

Ianto raised an eyebrow and flipped it again.

"He likes that one, though," Gwen said softly.

It wasn't in the park, like the others. It was obviously snapped casually, probably without them even noticing. Ianto, suit jacket off, sleeves rolled up, was sitting sideways on the ratty couch near the entryway, writing in a book propped on his legs. Harkness was leaning against the wall next to the couch, holding a small, indistinct object, perhaps a PDA or one of the dozens of gadgets Ianto had seen on the desk. He had his head turned to the side, tilted down, mouth slightly open as if he were saying something to Ianto.

"Tosh took it," Gwen said. "About a week before she died."

"How did she die?" he asked. "Martha said it was complicated."

"She was shot," Gwen answered. "In the line of duty. She died defending Cardiff. That's her, there," she added, as he uncovered a new photograph. A beautiful Japanese woman, sitting on a high bar stool, and Harkness again -- standing, one arm around her shoulders, her head pressed sideways against his chest. They looked the picture of a happy couple, actually. Ianto glanced at Harkness's office.

The next photo was her again, sitting with Ianto -- still in a suit -- and a smaller man in a leather jacket.

"That's...Evan?"

"Owen. Our medic." Gwen bit her lip. "He died just before Tosh. Sort of. Anyway," she added, patting him on the arm and pasting on a bright smile, "take the rest home, you'll suss them out. Jack said he gave you a bunch of old casefiles. That ought to help clear everything up."

"Yeah. Thanks," he said, tucking the photos safely into a plastic bag she offered, along with the identification cards and keys. "So. See you tomorrow, I guess."

"Bright and early. I'll bring the coffee," she said. He carefully did not make a face.

***

He felt intrusive in the flat that was supposedly his, as if he were living in a stranger's home. He went to the kitchen first, opened every cupboard, learned where he kept the can-opener and the measuring spoons and the tableware. Most of it looked like it didn't get much use. The tiny dishwasher next to the sink was half-loaded.

There were familiar foods in the cupboards, brands he liked, and flour and spices and sugar and the rest. There were coffee beans in the fridge, which was new. Also take-away from some Chinese restaurant he'd never heard of. He sniffed it cautiously, then threw it out.

The living room had bookshelves built into the walls, but the one that interested him was freestanding next to the television, full of his DVDs. On a whim he separated out all the ones he didn't remember seeing and put them in a pile next to the -- well, it was a really nice television, that was the only way to look at it. He wondered how much money he made at Torchwood. Quite a bit more than most twenty-one...

More than most twenty-five-year-olds, he suspected.

A box of file-folders in a lower shelf yielded up information about his bank account, personal credit-card (no debt, how...responsible of him), where to pay the rent on his flat, what his gas and electric bills were. There was an entire file dedicated to his dry-cleaning bills. And there was paperwork he'd last seen in a shoebox as he packed it into his suitcase for the move to London: his parents' death-certificates and his father's will, his A-Level transcripts, some various odds and ends, all neatly filed and labelled.

He put the files back in the box and scrubbed at his face.

God, there was so much to remember, now that he'd forgotten.

His head had begun to ache as he left Torchwood. Given all the talk of coffee he identified it for what it was: caffeine withdrawal. He wandered back into the kitchen, considered the coffee machine briefly, and then put on a kettle for tea.

There was a computer on the kitchen table, which booted to a sterile, newly-installed Windows desktop when he turned it on. He plugged the drive into a port and watched as the desktop flickered away and some new operating system burst across the screen, along with the odd T-shaped hive of hexagons that was apparently the logo for Torchwood. Down in the corner, just before it faded away, he caught the text:

Developer T. Sato.

Apparently he had temporary access to a limited number of files on one folder of the server. The rest all demanded a password he didn't have.

The kettle whistled. He poured the water into a mug, dropped a tea-bag into it, and snagged an apple from a bowl next to the stove. Sitting down at the kitchen table, he began to explore what his life at Torchwood had once been.

Anything to avoid the strange bedroom, with its new bed and unfamiliar pillows and the wardrobe full of suits.

***

Then

"I remember killing them," Ianto said. "I remember killing them all."

"You didn't kill anyone," Jack said, pacing back and forth.

"I'm pretty sure I did," Ianto answered, battling to keep his voice even. He remembered it, remembered the surge of desperate pleasure as their breath left their body. He didn't want Jack to see that.

"It wasn't you. I won't believe that."

"You don't know what I might be capable of. We both know I'm not right, Jack. Not after all I've seen. Nobody would be."

"Problem is," Jack said, in measured, neutral tones, "You remember killing eight women. Only four are dead."

"They found a fourth body," Ianto said dully.

"Four women are missing. Eight go missing, even Cardiff PD starts sniffing around. Four women, Ianto. Something's in your head. Feeding you memories that don't exist."

Ianto leaned against the bulletproof glass of the cell, studying the stone floor.

"I think we need to find out what it is," Jack said softly.

Ianto gave him a weak smile. "Exploding time again, then, is it?"

***

Now

The next morning it took him three tries to get the Tourist Centre door unlocked. He also had to figure out how to swipe his access card through the reader, and nobody had mentioned you had to turn the little key next to it to get the door to roll back. By the time he'd got inside, his fifteen-minutes-early edge was nearly gone, and both Harkness and Gwen were already there. Gwen, as promised (oh, lord) had a cup of coffee waiting for him.

"Not that the suits aren't great," Harkness said, by way of greeting, "but I did miss the sight of Ianto Jones in denim."

Ianto looked down at the jeans and hoodie he was wearing, then back up. "Should I have worn a suit?"

"Did you want to?" Harkness asked.

"It's just that it seems a bit impractical, doesn't it? I mean. Investigating bloody crime scenes, rolling around on the floor of a slaughterhouse, chasing after ghosts, ripping holes in time...seems like something you'd want to dress down for."

"He underestimates the persuasive power of the suit," Harkness said to Gwen. "Don't worry about it. Wear what you want. Wear nothing, if you want. I wouldn't mind. Hey, we should make that a rule. Naked Friday or something."

That couldn't be any kind of appropriate for the workplace, but it was dawning on Ianto that it was hard to pin down "appropriate" when you were dealing with Torchwood.

"Where's Martha?" he asked.

"Gone to London," Harkness said. "She'll be back in a few days. Her fiance gets cranky if she doesn't go see him once in a while."

"So," Gwen said. "What do you think? Of the case files?"

Ianto shoved his hands in his pockets. "I think there's three great big gaps in the case files."

Harkness and Gwen looked at each other.

"I linked them up chronologically," Ianto continued. "Even if it made sense to start two years ago instead of four, that doesn't help me to know what I was doing in London. And after that there's months where I didn't seem to do much at all, my name's not in most of the files, and then another month where there's just empty space. And again six months after that, only this time the gap is eight weeks long."

"I didn't think you'd catch on that fast," Harkness said. "I dumped the datestamps."

"Yeah, but it's not hard to figure them out. I know how to work a newspaper search engine. I matched them up to various 'gas leaks' and such in the papers. Obituaries, police reports, that kind of thing."

"Did I tell you that you were in research in London?" Harkness asked. He sounded impressed.

"Bollocks do I care what I was hired for in London! Why are there gaps in the case files?"

Gwen giggled. Harkness gave her a quelling look.

"There are things I wanted to talk to you about face to face. The gaps represent those times. We'll get there," he said.

"When?"

"Today, so settle down," Harkness retorted, and there was just enough of a hint of steel in his voice to make Ianto suppress an insolent reply. "I want to take you through protocols and weapons training first. Come on. Firing range."

The firing range was a dim cavern reeking of cordite and littered with smashed stone and ripped paper. Several targets were set up at varying distances, and there were six different weapons laid out on a table in one corner, along with two pairs of noise-blocking headphones and two sets of safety goggles. Harkness offered him the goggles, then the headphones.

Ianto picked up one of the guns, curiously.

"Like this," Harkness said, hands already reaching for Ianto's, but Ianto watched in almost out-of-body surprise as he swung the gun up, cocked it, and fired six rounds straight through the centre of one of the targets. It had happened so fast he hadn't even had time to think about what he was doing. He lowered the gun slowly.

"O-kay," Harkness said, muffled but surprised. "Muscle memory's a beautiful thing, huh?"

Ianto looked down at the gun in his hand. He lifted it slowly and relaxed, feeling his body settle naturally into a stable stance. Yes, this felt familiar, felt right. He squeezed off four more rounds before the chamber clicked empty. Not quite so accurate this time: three of the shots were wide of centre.

"Do you remember how to -- " Harkness started, but Ianto automatically dropped the magazine out of the grip and slotted a new one into place. "Guess so."

The other guns didn't come quite so easily, though he still managed to hit what he was aiming at. Jack showed him how to clean each one as well, though he felt like this was probably something he could have done in his sleep. There was a clear implication -- cleaning the guns was his job.

And then they reached the last weapon on the table, which didn't look like an actual handgun at all. Harkness took the earphones off, so Ianto did as well.

"This is a stun gun," he said. "It's a pretty little thing. We make them here, from a prototype that fell through about twenty years ago. Less painful, more effective than a taser, but it's close-range only. The head, here -- "

"Has to come into contact with the person you're stunning," Ianto surmised. Harkness offered it to him. Ianto flicked the safety switch and pulled the little trigger. Blue light danced across the head.

It was really quite beautiful.

"You're...fond of the stun gun," Harkness said. He sounded like he was trying to be tactful.

"Yeah, I can see why," Ianto breathed. He glanced up from the gun in time to see Harkness with an oddly open, pained look on his face.

"I used this in the slaughterhouse," Ianto said. "I read about that case. I stunned two men who were trying to escape. That's...pretty good."

"Tosh never liked carrying a gun. She said she didn't think you did either."

"Beats working in a chip shop," Ianto shrugged. "Now what?"

"Feeding time," Harkness said.

"Ironic Myfanwy again," Ianto sighed.

They climbed up the walkways, dizzyingly high, up and up and up into the dome of the central atrium until they reached a final set of stairs that led straight into the hole in the brickwork. This stairway was different from the others -- wood instead of steel, solidly made.

"You built this," Harkness said. "Got tired of hauling dinosaur chow up a ladder."

"I'm just full of surprises," Ianto muttered.

"Yes," Harkness said, stopping a step above him and turning. "You are."

He offered Ianto the bag from the butcher's, then stood back against the rail so Ianto could pass him. It was a tight squeeze. Harkness didn't seem inclined to make it any easier.

"Normally we only feed her once a week, but she's been off her food for a while. This," Harkness took a bottle out of the bag, "tells her what's good to eat. You put a little of that on there, like so, and -- "

There was a loud clattering noise from the dark recesses of the nest, and then a rustling. Myfanwy, a shadow in the dim light, crowed and squawked.

"Just like yesterday," Harkness said, over his shoulder. "Hand out, hold up the meat, throw it. There."

Ianto realised he was standing between a man who captained a top-secret alien-hunting spy organisation and a dinosaur. It wasn't the most comfortable he'd ever been in his life.

Myfanwy accepted the food mildly and didn't seem intent on eating him -- she even took the final bit of meat out of his hand, delicately tugging it from his fingers with the very tip of her beak. Still, he didn't feel really safe until they were standing on the floor of the Hub once more.

"Chow time for us," Harkness rubbed his hands. "Gwen?"

"Sandwiches!" Gwen called from the conference room above them. "Got your favourite, Ianto, chicken and mushroom."

They settled into the conference room easily enough. Ianto recognised it from the photo Gwen had given him of himself with Owen and Toshiko.

Gwen had bought his favourite kind of crisps, too.

"Rift's been quiet, lately," she remarked, taking a delicate bite of her sandwich.

"Small mercy," Harkness said around a mouthful of food. "Can't wait to see what it's storing up for us," he added, then glanced at Ianto, who realised he was staring. "What?"

"He always does that," Gwen said conspiratorially.

"What?" Harkness said, still chewing.

"You talk with your mouth full," Ianto told him. Harkness opened his mouth to protest, then stopped himself and kept chewing.

"After lunch," he said, when he'd swallowed, "We run drills."

Gwen moaned.

"You're rusty," Harkness informed her, "and Ianto doesn't know them at all."

"They were on the flashdrive," Ianto said.

"There's twelve different protocols and eighteen access codes involved," Harkness said.

"Yeah, and I did read them."

"There's a difference between reading and knowing."

"Go on then, quiz me," Ianto replied, taking a bite of his sandwich.

"Fine. Protocol nine." He was talking with his mouth full again. Ianto swallowed.

"Agents on the floor to armoury, small arms, spare clips, converge on target and eliminate. Agents exterior to the floor lock down the Hub using code three-nine-four and monitor via CCTV station in the Tourist Centre," Ianto recited.

Harkness and Gwen both paused mid-chew.

"Protocol two," Gwen prompted.

"Item or individual, having been disarmed, is isolated in a cell on level minus-six, minimum two agents in attendance, armed. Agents prep and transfer item or individual to secure interrogation cell two for interrogation or examination. Access code to interrogation cell two is A-three-A-A-three." He studied them. They seemed awfully startled.

"How long did you spend on those last night?" Gwen asked.

"Not much time." He looked back and forth between them. "Did you not know?"

"Know what?" Harkness asked.

"I have total visual recall," Ianto said, surprised. "I read it, I know it. Really useful for card-counting."

"No," Harkness said. "You didn't say. Ever. But that explains a lot."

"Explains bugger-all to me. Anyway, I don't know where interrogation cell two is, or the armoury, so it's kind of useless." Ianto shrugged. "We'll still have to run the drills. Though I don't see how we're going to accomplish seven, ten, or twelve with only three people, they're designed for six."

"Torchwood is all about improvising with what we have," Harkness replied.

"Good to know," Ianto said, and took another bite of his sandwich.

Orienting himself in the Hub took a little doing, because he'd pinpointed the main entry as south, when in reality it was almost due west. Re-situating himself slowed him down at first, but by the third or fourth hour of security drills he was feeling more confident, if also completely exhausted.

Which was, of course, when an alarm blared out from what he'd started thinking of as the Tech Desk. He flinched out of the chair he'd been sitting in, almost falling over as Gwen ran past him.

"Rift activity?" Harkness called, emerging from his office and shrugging into the long, woolen coat Ianto had returned to him the day before.

"No -- looks like a pair of Weevils."

"Daytime -- they're getting bolder. Come on. Ianto, stay here." Harkness tossed him an earpiece. "Stay on comm."

"But I can come -- "

"No, you can't, not yet," Harkness replied, cutting him off.

"But if there's two -- "

"Ianto! Stay here!" Harkness insisted, hustling Gwen out the door. Ianto stared down at the earpiece and then hooked it over his ear, wondering what he was supposed to do with a bluetooth that had no phone. Fancy gear, Torchwood got. He wondered where their money came from.

"Ianto, can you hear me?" Gwen said in his ear. "Tap the little button and talk."

"Yeah, I can hear you," Ianto said, holding the button down.

"Just tap it, you're feedbacking on this end," Gwen said. Ianto let go of the button. "Better, thanks."

"Keep in touch," Harkness added. "Don't talk unless we talk to you, just listen and pay attention."

"Brilliant," Ianto muttered.

"You'll get all the Weevil-hunting your wicked little soul wants, just not yet," Harkness added.

Harkness must be driving; Ianto listened to Gwen give him directions, occasionally correcting herself as the Weevils moved around. After a few minutes of this, Ianto crossed to the Tech Desk and started fiddling. He'd seen a CCTV camera feed at some point, he was sure. Perhaps Torchwood had its own surveillance...

He whistled low as a map of Cardiff came up on the screen. This time the points of light were yellow, and the legend at the bottom read CCTV NETWORK - CARDIFF.

He clicked on one of the yellow dots. A feed came up in the corner. Torchwood had access to what looked like every traffic and public security camera in the city. Scratch that --he clicked around the map, edging towards Newport -- they had access to every camera in the country.

He resettled the map to the southwest, where Gwen was apparently directing them. It didn't take long for him to find the backspace hotkey, and he flicked quickly through the feeds until he found a black SUV like the ones in the tech specs on the drive Harkness had given him. It really was a very pretty car.

He hit enter and watched, gleeful. The program followed the car automatically, leaping from feed to feed. There must be a tracker tied into the Torchwood network. Which meant that if he jumped ahead a bit...

"Captain Harkness, I have a visual on the Weevils," he said, tapping the button in his ear.

"What?" Harkness and Gwen asked in unison.

"On the CCTV. Cardiff Road where it runs into Redlands -- no, get back on Penarth," he said, as Jack turned in the absolute wrong direction. "Penarth!"

"All right, all right!"

"Past the roundabout. Right where Barry turns into Cardiff. Jesus god," Ianto added, as one of the Weevils seemed to fly up a twelve-foot stone wall. "They can climb like fuck, can't they. Hey -- no, get on Andrew road, they're going for the rail tracks."

He watched the SUV skew into the camera frame and shudder to a halt, just as the second Weevil came down over the wall. It wasn't a particularly elegant way to hunt, he decided -- the modus operandi seemed to be just to get close enough to the bastards to get them in the face with mace, or perhaps some kind of pepper spray. He had to give Gwen points for speed, though. She was better at ducking than Harkness, too.

And Weevils just plain didn't seem to be all that bright.

By the time they'd both been sprayed, Harkness was fitting a bag over the head of one and Gwen was trussing up the other.

"Can I ask," he said, tapping the earpiece, "wouldn't it be easier just to shoot them?"

"Well, one, they're at least semi-sentient," Harkness said. He grunted as he picked up the hooded Weevil. "Two, it takes more than a bullet to get 'em down and keep 'em down. Three, it's a lot less fun. Four, nice work."

"Thank you," Ianto said, oddly pleased. He had Helped Catch A Weevil. Even if it was from several miles away.

Considering everything, Harkness and Gwen would probably like something to eat when they got back. And coffee, maybe.

He didn't actually realise what he was doing until he was standing at the coffee machine with two cups of strong, steaming coffee in front of him and a plate of biscuits at his elbow. He didn't even think he knew how to work a machine like that, but obviously muscle memory applied to drinks as well as firearms. Maybe he knew how to mix a martini now, too.

"Oh my god, that smells good," Gwen called as she entered, hauling a Weevil after her.

"Coffee," Ianto called back. "Thought you might like some. What do we do with them now?"

"Cells," Harkness said, following Gwen, a body slung easily over his shoulder. He didn't look particularly well-muscled, but then he wore a lot of layers and Ianto had to admit there was a certain unshakeable solidity about the man. He carried the Weevil pretty easily. "We lock 'em up, tag 'em, let them wear themselves out for a few days, and turn them free underground. Tagged Weevils found aboveground a second time generally put up more of a fight and we have to put them down."

"So, shooting, in the end," Ianto said, following them down into the cells with the coffee in his hands. Gwen slammed a door shut, dusted her hands, and took the drink gratefully.

"I love you so much right now," she said into the coffee.

"It's nice to be needed," Ianto informed her solemnly, and offered biscuits.

"You see? This is why we had to have you back," Harkness said, taking the other cup. "Smart, ornamental, makes good coffee, doesn't mind shooting things."

"I could have a job anywhere in the world, with that on my resume," Ianto replied. Harkness winked at him over the rim of his cup.

"But you wouldn't have me to appreciate your talents," he said. "O-kay. Gwen, go home, shag Rhys. Ianto, with me."

"Captain?" Ianto asked uncertainly, as the other two made for the door. Harkness stopped. Gwen did too, turning around on the stairs.

"Dinner," Harkness said, with an almost bizarre gentleness. "I promised to tell you the secrets of existence, right?"

"Oh, do we have those on file too?" Ianto asked.

"You'd be surprised. Come on."

***

Then

When Martha drove the wattage up on the neural probe, Gwen looked away. Jack had made her promise not to interfere if she stayed, but he didn't say she had to watch. Ianto tried to soldier on against the pain, sweating and panting, but in a minute he was going to scream. He could feel it building in his lungs, pushing past his windpipe --

And then there was just silence, numbness, distance. Like when Owen gave him the blissful little pills after an injury. He could feel his breathing even out, could feel his body sagging against the restraints, but he didn't feel any pain.

Or any control.

"Vital signs are normal," Martha said.

Ianto's eyes flicked open and he lifted his head without meaning to, felt his lips curve in a cruel grin.

"Hiya, Jack," he said. Words in his mouth, words he didn't mean to say --

Jack crossed his arms. "Who am I speaking to?"

"Don't you remember?" Ianto asked, grin still fixed in place. It was as if he were watching someone pretending to be him. No danger, no feeling at all, just an impulse moving his muscles, using his voice. "No, you wouldn't, would you."

"I want your name."

"Call me Adam," Ianto said. There was a harsh rasp of laughter. Oh, that was him. "Or give me a serial number. You're good at that, aren't you? Box it up, give it a label. Ianto knows all the labels."

"What are you?"

"Something you killed. Thought you had, anyway. Thought you had me all figured out. Well, I got past you once, Captain Jack Harkness."

"You won't again, I promise you that," Jack said.

"Ah, but I've got your boy, haven't I?"

"What are you?" Jack repeated.

"Give us a kiss," Adam said. Ianto noticed Gwen was watching again now, a hand over her mouth.

"We will hunt you down in his head if we have to," Jack said, leaning on the chair, hands on Ianto's strapped-down wrists. "I'll find you in his head and this time I promise you'll die in pain."

"Come catch me then. The longer you chase me, the deeper I go...someday you'll look in his eyes and all you'll see is me."

"You killed four women."

"Yeah," and a nostalgic look crossed his face.

"Why?"

"Because I could, Jack. But you'd know all about that, wouldn't you?"

Jack's eyes widened in shock.

"I don't kill for pleasure."

"Well, not anymore," Adam replied.

"Cut the power," Jack said, not looking at Martha. "Bring him out."

"Don't have to tell me twice," Martha replied, powering down the probe. Ianto heaved forward into his own body again and Jack caught him, a hand on his chest. After a few moments spent drawing in huge lungfuls of air as Jack untied him, he looked up.

"Please take me back to the cells," he begged, and Jack for once nodded and let Gwen and Martha half-carry him away.

***

Chapter Two
ext_1798: (rodney mckay brilliant/iconzero)

[identity profile] wildestranger.livejournal.com 2008-10-20 11:14 pm (UTC)(link)
Most intriguing. I really like this Ianto. Also, good plot. :)

[personal profile] starkdependant 2008-10-20 11:16 pm (UTC)(link)
SAM I LOVE YOU. This was genius.

[identity profile] londonbard.livejournal.com 2008-10-20 11:16 pm (UTC)(link)
I like your fiction so much that if you wrote for publication I would be hunting the books.

[identity profile] kelspots.livejournal.com 2008-10-20 11:51 pm (UTC)(link)
I was actually just thinking the very same thing to myself. Can't wait to see where this goes! Thanks.

(no subject)

[identity profile] hanuueshe.livejournal.com - 2008-10-21 00:47 (UTC) - Expand
ext_7410: (TW hot Ianto)

[identity profile] cageyklio.livejournal.com 2008-10-20 11:22 pm (UTC)(link)
Well, that improved Monday somewhat. Thank you.
such_heights: amy and rory looking at a pile of post (tw: end of days)

[personal profile] such_heights 2008-10-20 11:22 pm (UTC)(link)
a;sldja;sldkja;sjda;l

I cannot even BEGIN to tell you how excited I am about this. Good God.

:D :D :D

[identity profile] piss-and-ink.livejournal.com 2008-10-20 11:25 pm (UTC)(link)
Very, very intriguing. I love how practical and straightforward it is, rather than Jack just pining away from afar and then being unable to control himself and tell Ianto everything. This all really does seem very Torchwood business-like. I like it.

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2008-10-21 01:21 am (UTC)(link)
I'm sure there are rules in the Torchwood Employee Manual for occasions like this. :D

[identity profile] shiny-starlight.livejournal.com 2008-10-20 11:32 pm (UTC)(link)
Dude! Just.... dude!

[identity profile] jazmin-firewing.livejournal.com 2008-10-20 11:44 pm (UTC)(link)
YIKES! Dissociative Personality Disorder with a murderer! Poor Ianto! Also, those poor women! :...(

This looks really really interesting. Please write more soon!

[identity profile] drgaellon.livejournal.com 2008-10-21 01:28 am (UTC)(link)
Noooo... it's a possession. See Episode 2.05.

[identity profile] demotu.livejournal.com 2008-10-20 11:54 pm (UTC)(link)
I am loving many things about this - but the best part, without a doubt, is your portrait of Ianto, sans his Torchwood experience, and from that, the different dynamic between him and Jack, which oddly, seems less because he doesn't remember Jack, and more because he's four, significant years younger.

Every two days? *whines with impatience but secretly loves the old-fashioned feel of serial fanfic*

[identity profile] demotu.livejournal.com 2008-10-21 01:10 am (UTC)(link)
Also, this is a weirdly appropriately-titled fic for me to be reading when I should be studying Kepler's laws for my mechanics midterm...

[identity profile] nikki4noo.livejournal.com 2008-10-21 12:36 am (UTC)(link)
Oh brilliant start! Now they and we get to see the Ianto before Torchwood. Intriguing....

[identity profile] zanetun.livejournal.com 2008-10-21 12:42 am (UTC)(link)
I am literally clawing at my desk (good thing it's glass). Oh my God, Sam. You have me stunned with, with everything! I love the feel of Ianto being just that much younger, with no Torchwood in his past. It's stunning, seeing him like that. Waiting with bated breath!

[identity profile] hanuueshe.livejournal.com 2008-10-21 12:51 am (UTC)(link)
HOLY-!

Well. This is wonderfully brilliant to have on a Monday night. And just wonderfully brilliant in general. I love how snarky and carefree pre-Torchwood Ianto is- it does seem very much like him.

[identity profile] hedda62.livejournal.com 2008-10-21 12:55 am (UTC)(link)
Ooh, ooh. Looking forward to more!
(deleted comment)

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2008-10-21 01:18 am (UTC)(link)
Awww *pats* hope it gets better for you.
ext_52148: silhouette of Cate Blanchett as Bob Dylan (not there)

[identity profile] bluebombardier.livejournal.com 2008-10-21 01:14 am (UTC)(link)
as;dlfkhgio;
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aflbgkjfn

I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN YOU'D DO SOMETHING WITH ADAM. NOW. THEN. AMNESIA.

OH MY GOD YOU FUCKING GENIUS I CAN'T STAND YOU.

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2008-10-21 01:18 am (UTC)(link)
*grins and bows*

We aim to please.

[identity profile] kinkerbelle13.livejournal.com 2008-10-21 01:15 am (UTC)(link)
*flails*

Ooooh, it's good. It's really, really good. There's so much about Ianto that you just have a way with. It's fantastic. The bits about muscle memory are really terrific, I must say. Some things about Torchwood you can't unlearn. Also, a dark little part of me is waiting for the stopwatch and/or Jack's body muscle memory to kick in because DAMN, it'll be good when it happens.

*is on the edge of her seat for more*

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2008-10-21 01:17 am (UTC)(link)
I have to admit the bit about muscle memory was just because I didn't want to write all the scenes where Ianto had to re-learn how to use a coffee machine and fire a gun. *sheepish grin* But then later they turned out to be useful plotwise anyway....

(no subject)

[identity profile] wynstaeth.livejournal.com - 2008-10-21 06:17 (UTC) - Expand

[identity profile] kaimu.livejournal.com 2008-10-21 01:18 am (UTC)(link)
Oh this is so exciting! I loved the entire chapter, and it's a chilling aftermath for Adam, but my favorite part (that had me momentarily flailing in the middle of reading this) was that Jack gave Ianto his coat!!! That made me really, really happy.

[identity profile] itcamefromjapan.livejournal.com 2008-10-21 01:19 am (UTC)(link)
SAMMMM.
I rarely comment on fic, for I am no good at it. However, I finished and had an irrepressible urge to tell you how tremendously wonderful this is, and how much I'm looking forward to the next part.
I mean, not that I expected anything less. But still.

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2008-10-21 01:19 am (UTC)(link)
*grins* Glad you enjoyed it!
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[identity profile] qthelights.livejournal.com 2008-10-21 01:20 am (UTC)(link)
Loving this! Your Ianto is brilliant. Actually all the characters are so well written I can't *not* see them clearly in my mind.

[identity profile] gritsinmisery.livejournal.com 2008-10-21 01:21 am (UTC)(link)
Holy... wow.

This is brilliant. No more til Weds? *whimpers*

[identity profile] drgaellon.livejournal.com 2008-10-21 01:26 am (UTC)(link)
Oh, you evil-minded BASTIGE... making me wait. :p I don't like you anymore.

I lie. I still want to have your brilliant, blond babies.

[identity profile] lefaym.livejournal.com 2008-10-21 01:34 am (UTC)(link)
Eeep! And I'm sure the cliffhangers are only going to get crueller. :P

Loved this.

[identity profile] vivichick.livejournal.com 2008-10-21 01:35 am (UTC)(link)
Oh. So so so wonderful, Sam.

I feel so bad for Jack. Ianto-from-4-years-ago is kind of insolent and rebellious. You know Jack will love that, but it's so painful to watch him love this man who doesn't remember loving him.
And you write it brilliantly.

I look forward to more from that convoluted brain of yours, Sam.
Wonderful.
annotated_em: a branch of a Japanese maple, with bright red leaves (Default)

[personal profile] annotated_em 2008-10-21 01:56 am (UTC)(link)
*shifty eyes* Um. I've never even seen Torchwood, and this is just amazing. I'm looking forward to the next chunk!

[identity profile] angely78.livejournal.com 2008-10-21 01:57 am (UTC)(link)
Thats incredible, and incredibly unique as well. I've read a few where Ianto tries to retcon himself out of existence after Cyberwoman, but this? This is GOOD. This is AMAZING. And I will admit to jumping in my seat when Adam's personality reared its ugly little head. Because of all the people this had to happen to, the worse would have to be Ianto. Not Tosh, Ianto. Because of how exquisitely controlled that lovely boy is; imagine having something so basic as your personality taken OUT of your hands completely. It makes me feel for people who suffer from MPD, and goes WAY beyond the simple voices in my head. God.

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