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ArWen the Eternally Surprised
Author: Ria Time: 2007/11/22
Arwen encounters a strange monk and gains a little extra time.
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The Clash of Worlds: The Fellowship of Necessity
Submitter: Date: 2011/10/30 Views: 264
Chapter 2

Jack waved up at the window and blew Ianto a kiss before he unlocked the car, chuckling when the kiss made him drop the curtains back into place. They were so much closer since the disaster that the 456's invasion had been not withstanding the rather rash and hurried civil partnership when Ianto's condition worsened. Oh yeah, bad move or what? Still... Ianto sometimes wore the ring. Not when they were likely to see anyone, he had to admit, but he wore it. Jack, of course, didn't have one, because Ianto had been in hospital and Jack had been holding onto the hope that he'd survive and choose one like Jack had chosen for him, but then he'd got out of hospital a month later having decided that Jack's idea had been fucking stupid, considering that Jack didn't love him enough to admit it even to himself... The hardest part of Ianto's recovery, for Jack, was the fortnight when Ianto had cut off communications with him, the fact that he hadn't known that his partner was out of hospital at all until he walked into work to give him the cold shoulder for another few days...

He shook his head and glanced up again to see Ianto watching him from the living room window. The soft golden glow was so warm and tempting, and this was home, but work called for the night and Ianto really needed a night at home after the week they'd had, so Jack was going to the Hub and Ianto was staying... Sighing, he dropped the keys into his pocket and gave another small wave to the window, then turned to walk down the street towards work.

Ten paces later, his phone rang and he kept walking as he answered it. "Did I forget something?" he glances back just as Ianto pulled the curtains aside.

Ianto huffed into the phone. "Yeah, the car?"

He laughed and kept going. "Needed to clear my head, figured the walk would do me good."

"Are you okay?" Ianto asked hesitantly. "Did I say something?"

"No, no, it's not you," he hurried to reassure him. "Just wishing I could stay home tonight."

"I could come with you?"

"It's okay, get some proper sleep, you need it," he pointed out as gently as he could. "it's been a long week."

Ianto sighed down the phone, nearly deafening Jack in the process, and hummed an agreement. "It really has. I'll see you in the morning, then?"

"Yeah, I..." he swallowed and turned the corner into the park. "Come in when you're ready. I don't think anyone else will be up all that early."

"Okay, call me if you get trouble, though?"

"I promise," he chuckled. "Sleep well."

"I'll do my best, see you tomorrow."

"Yeah, see you tomorrow." He hung up and slid his phone back into his pocket, then dropped his gaze to his feet to watch his step through the park, absorbed in his thoughts. He knew he needed to turn a corner with Ianto, he even knew which corner it was, he just didn't know how to go about doing it.

Keeping his head down meant that he dodged the attention of a couple of men hanging around, just inside the shade of the trees. A couple of years ago he would have checked them out, work or no, but now... He shrugged to himself and carried on, and they glanced at him once and ignored him. Maybe he was losing something, not gaining it.

His route led him down Bute Street, which was eerily quiet at this time of night. Ten minutes walk from both the city centre and from Mermaid Quay, no one came to this area if they wanted a night out, so the few people he saw were making their way home quickly. Head down and ignoring them, and with his mind still churning over the state of his relationship with Ianto, he didn't notice the darker shadow following him along the other side of the road, pressed into the dark line of the hedge.

He jogged through Mermaid Quay, dodging through the thicker crowd of revellers enjoying the balmy air of the early summer outside the bars, and made for the Tourist Information entrance. The boardwalk in front of it was nearly deserted, although there were a few people leaning over the railings above, drinking bottled beers and watching the rippling reflections of lights from the Turkish Restaurant on one of the piers. Jack leaned on the post on the corner where the boardwalk turned to run along the front of the wall and watched a pair of seagulls bobbing on the water, into patches of bright colour and then out of them into the shadows of the supports again. Raucous laughter rang out from the railings above, and he turned his back on the water and let himself into the office, then down through the secret door into the Hub.

The cog door rolled back on a very different Hub to the one he'd left, though. Papers were strewn everywhere, drawers opened and boxes overturned and emptied. He reached for his gun with one hand and his comms. with the other, drawing back into the shadows at the bottom of the stairs to regain the element of surprise he'd lost in the blaring of the door alarms. When nothing moved, apart from a file that slid off Gwen's desk with a slither, he stepped forwards, keeping his gun raised and sweeping the area carefully. Movement in his office caught his eye, and he ducked around the Hub to approach it from the more concealed entrance up from the Archives, where the stairs would give him some shelter and the concrete would muffle his footsteps better than the ringing metal grills.

Down in the Archives, it was clear that whoever had turned over the Hub had been down here as well, but either the style or Ianto's aggressively meticulous filing system had put them off. At least the neat filing had deterred them from making too much of a mess drawers were ajar, but the files were still in order, if a little rumpled.

He shifted his grip on his gun and activated his comms. with the intention of calling Ianto, but stopped before he did it. He'd wait until he had more information, or until he'd tidied the Hub up a bit, before he called the team in. If it was a trap, it was better for him to find out than one of them.

At the bottom of the stairs, he crouched and took off his boots, knowing that they would give him away on the stairs, and peered up along the wall. His office was in darkness and it was nearly silent but for the sound of someone being very quiet and the slight creak of the chair. With his gun extended in front of him, he crept up the stairs, hugging the wall that he knew was least visible from the chair, then glanced around the corner as soon as the chair was in view and...

And lowered his gun with a huff. "Doctor."

"Jack," the Doctor unfolded his arms from behind his head and swung around to look at him. "Is it even possible to make a quiet entrance here?"

"Yeah, it is," he holstered his gun and propped his hip against the desk, straightening up the papers that were just as disturbed in here absently. "If you know you need to. I take it it wasn't you who made such a mess?"

"What? Oh, no, they left when I arrived," he stopped Jack's hands in their restless tidying and looked up at him. "Did you find it?"

"Did I... Oh, yeah, we did," he tipped his head back and studied the crack in the ceiling. "It's safe."

"Good, good," the Doctor got up from the chair and started pacing around the room, letting Jack sink into it and watch him. "Things are moving, Jack. Too fast, but also not fast enough. The Lord of Time, and now I've not got enough of it. Jack, where is it?"

He met the Doctor's gaze, then nodded and got up to open the hatch down to his bunk room. The dust was undisturbed down here, and the tiny space looked particularly unwelcoming when lit only by the light from the open hatchway. He found and opened the safe as quickly as he could with shaking hands and pulled the wrapped bundle from the very back of it, then passed it up through the hatch to the Doctor and climbed out, shutting the cover with a satisfying clang. The Doctor had taken the chair back again to unwrap the bundle carefully, so Jack leaned against the glass wall and watched him studying it, hands deep in his pockets to hide the fact that they were still shaking.

"It's... just that and..." Jack focussed again and smiled at the familiar buzzing and tipped his jaw questioningly. "It's sort of like a smartphone," the Doctor explained without taking his eyes from the object. "Its main purpose is as a communication device, but it can also store data."

"So what do you need it for?"

He sighed and leaned his forearms on the desk. "The Lashimi are a warlike race who crave power above everything else. Entire galaxies are under their thrall already, and it's spreading. Earth is nothing more than a pitstop for them, a developing world that already has the technology to produce the materials they need to, but hasn't over-exploited its natural resources. They'll use the world as a munitions factory and farm the human race for soldiers to spread their war across the universe. Everyone and everything will burn in the fires of war."

"What do you need me to do?" he asked softly, staring at the top of the Doctor's head. He finally looked up at Jack and opened his mouth to speak, but Jack shook his head. "Don't say it, Doctor. Just tell me what you need from me."

The silence stretched out into discomfort, so long that he might as well have let him say it, then the Doctor finally nodded and sank back into the chair. "They're part cyborg by now, and everything they do is directed by their council on the Lashimi homeworld via their control ship on the worlds they target. Their control ship is here already, so they can monitor all my movements in the TARDIS, and I can't get close to them. They know I'm here, they know I'm onto them, and they will see me as their biggest target. I need to put the code that will destroy their computers onto this, and then the code needs to be downloaded onto their system in the heart of the control ship."

"That sounds like a job that can only be done by someone who won't die in the process," he smiled wryly. "Where do I take it?"

"Jaack..."

"Doctor, do we have another option?" he huffed and ran his hand over his face. "This is how it works, I'm the only person who can do it, so I have to do it. I'll leave as soon as you've got the code onto it."

"What about Ianto?"

"What about me?" Ianto asked from the doorway, not looking at either of them.

Jack shook his head again and then dropped it back against the window. "No, I... No."

"Jack," Ianto paused and Jack shut his eyes tightly. "I'm coming with you," he finally said, cutting off Jack's growl. "I'm not going to stay behind and wait for you to come back again, I can't Jack."

"I'm not... Ianto, look at me," he watched Ianto desperately until he finally met his gaze. "Ianto, if you came with me, you wouldn't come home. I will, I always will. But can't you understand that you're the one thing I can't afford to lose?"

Ianto held his breath for a moment, then stepped up to crush himself against Jack, smashing their mouths together in a kiss that was half dominance and half desperation, as if he would die without the contact and really, really wanted Jack to know it. When his hands loosened their painfully tight grip on Jack's upper arms, Jack finally found the brainpower to move and broke the kiss for just long enough to replace the air that Ianto's attack had knocked out of him whilst he slid one hand under the back of Ianto's T shirt and wound the fingers of the other through his hair. The Doctor's attempts to get their attention were ignored, and eventually Jack was aware of the lack of the other presence in the room. Ianto broke for air and trailed sharp, biting kisses along Jack's jaw to his ear. "Say it," he growled against Jack's ear, "tell me. I need to know."

Tightening his grip on Ianto's hair, Jack tugged him back until he could meet Ianto's eyes. "I love you."

Ianto's touch gentled and he leaned in to kiss Jack again and whisper, "thank you" against his lips. He sucked Jack's bottom lip into his mouth and soothed it with his tongue, whilst one hand cupped Jack's cheek to angle his mouth better. The other hand slid down over Jack's ribs and around to his back, where Ianto hooked his thumb through one of Jack's belt loops. "Desk?" he suggested on a breathy laugh.

Jack huffed and tilted his head towards the door. "Doctor."

Biting his lip, Ianto leaned back to look for the Doctor, then looked back at Jack with a pout. "Desk quickly?"

Jack laughed and leaned in to kiss him again, but pushed Ianto away as he did so. "Later, I promise."

"You're not going to go running off to save the world immediately, then?" Ianto took a step away and fixed his gaze just to the left of Jack's face. "Or do I get to say goodbye?"

"Hey," Jack stepped up to him again and cupped his face between his palms, trailing his thumbs over Ianto's cheekbones. "I wouldn't leave without saying goodbye."

Ianto nodded and looked over Jack's shoulder. "We should find out what he wants then..."

"Yeah," he sighed. "Yeah, we should." He brushed his lips against Ianto's forehead and then against his lips, then pulled away fully and turned out of the office into the main Hub to find the Doctor.

He was bending over Tosh's work station, poking at a bundle of wires with the business end of his sonic screwdriver and apparently concentrating intensely. Jack perched on the edge of the desk and watched him working, and Ianto dropped into the chair at his own work station. "Tosh will be pissed if she finds out you've been using her computer," he pointed out, pillowing his head on his arms.

The Doctor ignored him, focussed on what he was doing, but Jack looked around at him again. "You should be in bed. Why did you come in?"

Ianto shrugged and closed his eyes. "Didn't fancy sleeping yet anyway. Good job I did, really."

"Not complaining," Jack reassured him. "Just..."

"Hmmm..." Ianto smiled, and the half of his face that wasn't buried in his arms was enough to let Jack know that he understood better than Jack did, as usual. "So, Doctor, where are we going?"

"Ianto, you..."

"Jack, stop it," he sighed and hid more of his face away. "You've lost the argument."

"No!" he snapped. "I can't lead you into danger like that. It's bad enough when it's a matter of knowing daily that you might not come home, but to lead you into a situation where I know you won't come home... please," he sagged and rubbed at his eyes. "Please don't ask me to do that."

"I'm not asking you to do that," he offered gently, and when Jack opened his eyes, Ianto was sitting up in his chair and watching him, sadness weighed down on him. "There will come a point where you have to go on alone, but until then..."

"You'll need all the help you can get, Jack," The Doctor still didn't look up. "And neither of you will be able to focus on the task in hand if you're separated too early."

Jack huffed. "Are you ready to tell us yet?"

"What? Oh, yes, right," he held the device up on an open palm, his warmer body temperature keeping the light barely visible, even in the dim night lighting of the Hub. "The data is on it, now. It'll be easy to connect it when you get there. You could just leave it around for one of them to connect up, really, but it's better to be safe than sorry. Importantly, you can't leave yet."

Jack and Ianto looked at each other and Ianto waved his hand loosely. "So all the amateur dramatics?"

"Kept you out of my hair, and you sounded like you needed it."

"Doctor," Jack snapped. "What do we need to do?"

"Right, yes. You need to protect this. They've already found you, but they know that I came here, so they'll assume that I have it. I don't know when you'll have to move, but it needs to be under the cover of chaos, when you can slip through the gaps more easily."

"When?"

"When the time is right," he ran a hand through his hair and stared ahead. "I can't tell you exactly. It won't be more than three months, definitely. But when they come for you, you have to be ready to go. And you have to stop the USA and China doing something stupid like trying to wage war."

Jack nodded slowly and let out a breath. "And what about you?"

"I'm going to gather information," he swung out of his chair and headed for the lift. "I can't stay, I have to get moving. You'll hear from me. If I've not told you to move when three months have passed, though, you have to go."

"We will," Ianto told him, and Jack felt Ianto's hand slip into his own

"I know," he stopped on the lift and looked at them sadly. "And I'm sorry, I'm truly, truly sorry."

"Doctor? You..."

"I can't tell you, Jack," his gaze burned into Jack as he rose up on the lift, and Jack clenched his free hand into a fist. "You can't know."

Jack stood there silently until the Doctor was out of sight, then turned to face Ianto and pulled him in for a brief kiss. Nudging his nose against Jack's, Ianto sighed. "It's not his fault, Jack."

"I..." Jack hugged him fiercely. "I don't want to lose you."

"I know," Ianto let himself be held and dropped his head against Jack's shoulder. "For what it's worth, I don't want to die."

Jack's lips were soft against the bruises he'd left on Ianto's hips, lingering over the mark of each finger whilst Ianto's own fingers tangled in his hair, scratching lightly at his scalp as they wound down together. "You know, you're assuming that he's apologising for..."

"For sending you to your death," Jack finished for him, resting his cheek on Ianto's thigh and looking up to his face at last. "Do you think he honestly expects me to forgive him for that?"

"No," Ianto sighed. "But... it might not be that at all. He'd apologise for the sun rising."

Jack sighed again and pressed the corner of his lips against Ianto's skin, and closed his eyes so that Ianto felt the brush of his eyelashes. "I can't live on the assumption that you'll live, though, when I know you'll leave me in the end. I... Ianto, I want to spend as much time with you as I can."

"Hang on..." Ianto tapped the tip of Jack's nose . "First we got married..."

"I thought it was an emergency!" Jack protested.

"No, wait for me to finish," he chided. "First we got married, then you asked me to marry you, then you moved in with me, then you told me you loved me, and then, finally, you tell me that you want to be with me? We're living our lives backwards."

"Ianto, I..."

"It doesn't matter, Jack," he cut him off. "What matters is that we do our jobs to the very best of our abilities and make sure that, if I don't come home, it was worth it."

"It won't be for me," Jack pointed out, almost petulant.

Ianto ran his fingers through Jack's hair again. "We're not having more life-affirming sex, Jack. The others will be in soon, and we need to tell them what they need to know to help us save the world. And then we'll go back to our everyday lives, chasing the flotsam and jetsam of the universe across Cardiff and finally falling into bed together at the end of a far too long and far too stressful day."

"Marital bliss," Jack rubbed his cheek against Ianto's thigh again. "I want to take you away from all this and just enjoy being with you whilst I can."

"We can't."

"I know," he knelt up and shifted to kneel between Ianto's thighs, leaning forwards to kiss his stomach. "Doesn't stop me wanting it, though."

"We need to get some sleep, Jack. Or I need to get some sleep," Ianto ran his fingers down Jack's cheek, then pushed him back so that he could stand up. "Come with me?"

"I'll follow you down," he promised. "Just let me tidy up up here a bit."

"Take as long as you need," Ianto smiled and bent down to kiss him, scooping his own trousers and Jack's T shirt up at the same time. "I might be waiting, but I'll probably be asleep."

"I won't be long, really," Jack chuckled as he stood up and cupped Ianto's cheek. "Go and get settled."

Ianto pulled his trousers on, then shrugged into the T shirt as he padded across the Hub, picking his way between scattered papers and artefacts. Jack watched his progress with growing detachment, the immediate sense of desperate loss that had nearly drowned him before retreating into the background now he'd had the chance to prove that Ianto was still with him now. There was a separation in his mind work on one side and Ianto on the other. As long as work had to take precedence, it did, even if Ianto was slowly dying and they hadn't had a chance to say goodbye and might not get it if work didn't end soon enough for Ianto to start. Once work can take second place, though, and Ianto needs to be put first, Ianto is all he can think about. When Ianto is all Jack can think about, Jack makes mistakes. He proposes marriage to someone who's so high on painkillers that he can't actually make a legally binding decision, and then follows through on it without saying the important bit. The Hub is trashed and they've been invaded, but he has to make love to Ianto on his desk and know that he's alive before he can deal with it.

Now, he could deal with it.

He secured the device first, locking it back in the safe in his bunker and getting out as fast as he can again. His office was mostly Doctor mess, which meant that it was probably tidier than it was when Jack left work, but the Hub was a disaster area. The most important things were making sure that the Rift monitor and the other detection systems were still working, and making sure that the armoury was still secure. It was easy work, but kept him busy for a while rebuilding the defences that they managed to get through before the Doctor scared them off so that he can get in and check on the detector. Systems running at ninety percent, good Tosh had never managed to get it above ninety five, even on a good day, but she was sure she'd get there.

The door to the armoury was ajar, but nothing was missing. They didn't need weapons, just the one that fell into the wrong hands. Unless... He looked back towards his office and shakes his head. He wouldn't be able to get anything off it without the Doctor's help, even if there was something on there to find.

He cleared the strewn papers off the floor and stacked them neatly on Ianto's desk before he headed down into the archives, to the cosy suite that he and Ianto had set up down there, out of the way of anyone else finding it. It was minimal, just a bedroom and living room big enough for the two of them, with a tiny bathroom leading off the living room. It was theirs, though, and damnit, that mattered.

The living room was in darkness, and there was no sign that Ianto had even been in there tonight. Jack went straight into the bedroom and took his trousers off, dumping them in the laundry basket, before he crawled up the bed and squirmed under the duvet to cuddle against Ianto, who was still half awake and slung a heavy arm over him to hold him in place. Jack kissed his chest and settled down, switching his brain to 'off', just for a few hours whilst all was still right in his world.

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