A Good Man – Chapter 20

As a young man growing up on the Boeshane Peninsula, Jack Harkness had lived his life to the fullest, and the unofficial adage of the 51st century of “So many species, so little time” seemed to have been created with Jack in mind.

Growing up without the guidance of his father, who had died the same day his brother had disappeared, meant there was no one around with either the capability or the desire to rein him in.  His mother, who never recovered from the shock of losing both her husband and her youngest son at the same time, had lost what little control she had over him not long after.

Eventually, after one run in too many with an over-protective father, or designation thereof, Jack decided it might be prudent to get away from the planet for a while and, accordingly, he applied to join the Time Agency.  No one had ever been accepted into the Time Agency from Boeshane before, and his acceptance to the agency turned him from being regarded as the local layabout to being a poster boy virtually overnight.

Joining the Time Agency however didn’t curb any of his habits; it just gave him more places, and more times, to play around in.

By the time he left the Time Agency, his longest relationship had been two weeks.  His partner for those two weeks liked to claim they were actually together for five years, but Jack resolutely chose to ignore the “time loop” and stuck to the two weeks.

After he became immortal, and subsequently trapped by Torchwood, any thought of him having a long-term relationship became even less of a reality.  With the exceedingly low average life expectancy rate of Torchwood agents, and the rareness of him being allowed contact with people outside of Torchwood, Jack simply would not allow himself to become attached to anyone.  His relationship with Estelle Cole, and how much it had hurt when he had to leave her behind, only served to reinforce to him how committing himself to someone would only hurt him – and them – in the end.

Jack’s own parents had been fiercely loyal to each other, which was unusual for his time, and had been faithful to each other for their entire relationship.  Jack had initially been proud of his parents for their dedication to each other, but seeing the way his mother had fallen apart after his father’s death, and the way she had never been able to piece her life back together again afterwards, made Jack question exactly why anyone would ever want to put themselves through something like that.

When they had finally got out of bed that morning, Ianto and Jack were both quiet and subdued.  Ianto, because he was still suffering from the after affects of what he had gone through the day before and Jack, because it was finally getting through to him that he simply couldn’t keep his distance from Ianto, no matter how wise a decision he thought that would be.  Nearly losing him the day before had made that painfully clear.

After a late breakfast, they moved into Ianto’s lounge room and lay back on the lounge together; Ianto with his head resting on Jack’s chest and Jack absently running his fingers through Ianto’s hair.

Jack had never been to Ianto’s flat before and he took the time to look around him.  His attention was immediately drawn to a couple of photos of Ianto and someone he assumed was Lisa.  It was the first time he had seen what she looked like before the conversion.  They had made a good-looking couple he reflected.

As he lay there though, Jack felt a nearly overwhelming urge to run.  The situation seemed too close to domestic for his liking and Jack Harkness simply didn’t do domestic.  Not even once had he ever come close to considering settling down with someone, and the feelings he seemed to be developing for Ianto scared him beyond belief.  Sitting on a lounge, relaxing, and just generally spending time with someone wasn’t something he equated with himself.

It was almost a relief when he heard the sound of keys in Ianto’s front door.  He sat himself up in a rush, almost pushing Ianto off of him.

“Who’s that?”

Ianto looked at him, a bit put out about Jack pushing him away the way he did.  “It’s probably Owen.  He said he’d come over today.”

“How come he has a key to your place?”  Jack asked.  He ignored the stab of jealousy he felt at the thought of Owen having a key, when he himself had never even been there before.

Ianto paused, considering how to answer that.  “He got one from me while you were suspended.  Seems I counted as a suicide risk.  He wanted to be able to check up on me, in case he couldn’t get a hold of me for some reason.”

Jack looked away, surprised.  He hadn’t really let himself think along those lines while he was suspended.  He knew that Ianto would have taken what happened badly, but he had never considered that suicide could possibly have been one of Ianto options.

Owen walking in stopped Jack from saying anything further.  Jack stood up when Owen came into the room.

“It’s about time I headed off,” Jack said, ignoring the look of disappointment on Ianto’s face.

Owen looked from one man to another.  “You don’t need to leave on my account,” he said to Jack.

“Someone needs to be at the Hub, we can’t leave the Hub unmonitored.”  Jack replied and turned to leave.

“Jack…”  Ianto began.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” Jack dismissed whatever else Ianto had been going to say and walked out.

Jack looked at his watch.  Just after 2.00am.  He had been on this roof for nearly five hours now.  He stood there looking over the city trying to think about absolutely anything else other than Ianto Jones.

Jack had spent most of the day hidden away in the Hub, some of it in his bunker, some of it in the Archives working on the new filing system Ianto had instigated, and some of it in Ianto’s office staring at the door to the Secure Archives.  His Vortex Manipulator was in there somewhere.

And now here he was, standing on a roof, not thinking about Ianto.  Ianto would be in bed by now; it was much too late for him to go back there.  Jack closed his eyes and sighed.

Not.  Thinking.  About.  Ianto.

He opened his eyes and looked at the sparkling lights of Cardiff.  Ianto would enjoy the…

Not.  Thinking.  Abo…

But who was he kidding he thought.  It was practically all he had done all day.

If Ianto was asleep now, he would be having nightmares about the cannibals and that meant Jack had left him on his own with his nightmares…

With one final glance at the lights of the city, Jack got back to Ianto’s flat as soon as he could.  He wasn’t too surprised to find Ianto had not locked the front door behind him.  Hearing mutterings coming from Ianto’s room, he rushed in to find him in the middle of a nightmare.

Jack quickly stripped down to his t-shirt and underwear and got into the bed.  He pulled Ianto close to him, trying to wake him gently.  Ianto woke with a start, but when he realised who was there he curled himself against Jack.  They held each other tightly.

This is it, Jack thought to himself as he listened as Ianto’s breathing return to normal.  No more running.

Far from being the scary concept he had thought it would be, Jack’s vow not to run from Ianto actually turned out to be quite calming for Jack.

Whilst it didn’t mean they immediately turned into the couple of the year, Jack felt surprisingly comfortable with the thought of being with Ianto.  He stopped demanding they be kept a secret, and even though they didn’t flaunt it in front of everyone, the team soon knew that they were together.  He found that quite liberating, especially given that other than a few smart aleck comments from Owen, nothing really seemed to change in the team because of it.

One other side benefit to come out of the incident with the cannibals was a renewed friendship between Toshiko and Suzie.

When Tosh had first arrived at Torchwood, their common interest in technology and alien artefacts had created an instant bond between them.  After the glove and its matching knife had been found in the bay though, they had drifted apart as Suzie became more and more thralled to the glove.  When Suzie returned from her week off, Suzie had seemingly reverted back to being more like the person she had been previously, but Tosh, who had been burnt before, had continued to keep her distance.  Suzie staying overnight at her house, to help her deal with the trauma of the cannibal incident, however seemed to break away those last remaining barriers and re-sealed their friendship.

This meant that when Tosh headed straight for the pub one night after a very bad day at work, she was not alone.

Before the Second World War, and the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Toshiharu Sato had worked at Bletchley Park.  Although he had signed the ‘Official Secrets Act’, forbidding him from giving away any Crown or government secrets, his whole family knew that he had been a highly sought after cryptologist who was very well respected in his field.  His love of codes, and trying to break them, had been handed down to his only granddaughter, Toshiko.

Her work at Lodmoor Research Facility, and later at Torchwood, had developed her skills so finely, that she was now even more skilled than Toshiharu had been.  She felt very honoured to be able to continue the work of the grandfather she had been named after.

The significance of her work – like the fact that translating alien languages could open so many possibilities – only served to heighten the lack of respect shown by Owen and Gwen the day they accidentally broke her computer and destroyed her research.

This, compounded by their not-so-subtle comments at the dig site earlier in the day, caused her to feel very upset, so with Suzie in tow she headed off to the pub to relieve some of her tension.

At the pub, after countless drinks, and many, many giggly stories, Suzie nudged Tosh’s shoulder.

“Don’t look now, but I think you’ve got an admirer,” she said to Tosh.  Suzie grabbed a compact mirror from her handbag and used it to show Tosh a blonde woman sitting on the other side of the room.  She hadn’t taken her eyes off Tosh since the moment they arrived.

As if knowing they were on to her, the blonde woman chose that moment to walk up to them.  She stood next to Tosh, leant on the back of her stool and started talking straightaway.

“So the guy over there’s been staring at me all evening, and I’ve told him he’s wasting his time but he won’t listen.  So I’ve come over to talk to you because I know how this ends.  He gets a punch in the neck and I get barred.  And I’ve already been barred from about twenty pubs, and I don’t want to get barred from this one because they do these nice olives on the tables.”

Throughout this whole speech, the woman had only been looking at Tosh and totally ignoring Suzie.  This got Suzie’s back up immediately, especially given that no one had even spoken to the blonde woman at all while they had been there.  Her story seemed a bit too contrived, a bit too carefully planned, to Suzie.

“Err… right.  OK, then,” Tosh replied uncertainly.

“Cool.  Let me get you a drink,” the woman said in reply.

“Really, there’s no need,” Tosh protested.

The blonde woman turned to the bar tender.  “JD and Coke.  And, Toshiko, Suzie, what do you want?”

Tosh and Suzie looked at her suspiciously.  “We didn’t tell you our names.”

“Oh, yeah.  That was the other thing.  I kind of know who you are.”

As Tosh stood in the car park watching Suzie drive away, her thoughts went back to the woman in the pub.

After the day she had had at work, it was a welcome relief to have someone interested in her, for there to be someone who had gone out of their way to find out specifically about her.  There was a vague niggle in the back of her mind that it was really Torchwood that Mary was interested in, and that there was something stalker-ish about how Mary had approached her, but she pushed those thoughts quite firmly out of her mind.

By telling herself it was part of her job to make sure the woman really didn’t know anything that she shouldn’t, she was able to deny to herself she had been flattered by the attention had paid to her when she walked back into the pub to talk to her again.  Mary was still sitting at the bar and staring straight at her as she came back in.  They looked at each other and smiled.

Moving over to the tables, Tosh found herself talking to Mary about the things they found and the similarities she had found between the cultures of humans and alien species.  She didn’t notice that Mary wasn’t really listening, as caught up as she was in what she was saying and in the need to simply be able to vent to someone.

When Tosh finally stopped for another sip of her drink, Mary pulled something out of her handbag.

“I want to show you something,” she said to Tosh.  She pulled out a gold tin and took out a green crystal that was on a gold chain.

“It’s a pendant.”  Tosh said.

“Put it on.”

Tosh was immediately overwhelmed by dozens of voices rushing through her head.  She looked around and then at Mary in confusion.  It took a while, but with the help of Mary, Tosh was finally able to focus on Mary’s voice only.  Mary explained her version of what the pendant was and told Tosh to keep it.  With it being alien technology, Tosh’s first instincts were to take it back to Torchwood and hand it over to Ianto.

Mary just laughed and took another sip of her drink.  “I bet you don’t.”

This only made Tosh more determined than ever to hand it over to be investigated properly.  When she arrived at work the next day she went in through the abandoned tourist centre, but just before she pressed the button to enter the passageway she stopped.  She thought about the pendant, and all those voices she heard.  This was Torchwood though and there were only five other people there.  Maybe it would be different with only five other voices to listen to; maybe there would be a way of controlling it this time.

She decided to put the pendant on, just for a little while, just to test if she actually could control it this time.  Entering the Hub, the first people she came across was Owen and Gwen.  Standing there, she listened to their thoughts and almost immediately she realised they were sleeping together.  It wasn’t just the kiss that she had found out about in the Brecon Beacons, but an actual full-blown affair.  Owen, the man she had been in love with for so long, and Gwen, the only one in a relationship outside of Torchwood, had an arrangement.

That was only two voices, but what she had heard from just those two voices totally unnerved her.  Rather than staying to talk to them beyond the morning greetings, Tosh escaped to one of the tables near the kitchen, just trying to be somewhere she wouldn’t have to hear any more thoughts from Owen and Gwen.  She was reading a book, trying to concentrate her thoughts, when Ianto passed through with an empty coffee cup.

She looked up in surprise; she hadn’t heard him come in, hadn’t heard any voice in her head.

Ianto looked at her and smiled.  “I’m about to brew some of Jack’s industrial strength coffee.  Would you like a cup?”

“I’m…  I’m fine.  Thanks, Ianto,” Tosh replied.

As Ianto walked away, she concentrated really hard to see if she could hear anything from him but all she managed to hear was a partial sentence “an inch of me that doesn’t hurt”.  There may have been a thought about Jack towards the end, but she didn’t hear enough to make any real sense of what he was thinking.

Ianto took the coffees for him and Jack back to his office, but by the time he made it back to the office, his hands were shaking so badly he nearly dropped the cups.  Jack, who had been waiting there for him, jumped up and took the cups from him.  Putting them down on the table, he guided Ianto to a chair.

“Ianto, what’s wrong?”  Jack placed a comforting hand on Ianto’s cheek.

Ianto leant into the touch for a moment before replying.  “I’m not really sure.  I was making the coffees, Tosh was there, and as I started coming back here, I felt something.  I don’t know what it was though.”

“What did it feel like?”

“I don’t know how to describe.  It felt like something was poking at me, and then I had this instant headache.  That was when my hands started shaking.”

“Tosh was there?  What was she doing?”

“Nothing really.  Just reading a book.  It wouldn’t have been anything she did.”  Ianto raised a hand and placed it over Jack’s hand, pressing it against his cheek a bit harder, taking comfort from the touch.

After a moment, Jack pulled him up from the chair.  “Come on, you should lie down for a bit.”  He took Ianto down into the bunker and helped him onto the bed.  He covered Ianto up and went back into the Hub.

Ianto stayed in the bunker for most of the day, and Jack took it upon himself to keep an eye on the team.  It didn’t take him long to notice that Tosh was even more withdrawn than usual.  She also seemed to be deliberately avoiding Owen and Gwen.  Jack knew she had been upset the previous day by their actions, but it wasn’t like Tosh to hold a grudge for so long.  He began to wonder if she really had just been only reading a book earlier.

The next day, Suzie began to notice the changes in Tosh as well.  She also noticed a strange new pendant that she was wearing now as well.  It wasn’t the type of jewellery that she had ever seen her wear before, and she wondered where she had got it.

That afternoon Ianto suggested the team go for drinks.  They hadn’t gone out as a team since the incident with the cannibals, and as he had been out of action for most of the previous day recovering from that strange headache, he thought it was time they all had a catch up.

During the drinks, Ianto, Jack and Suzie all noticed that Tosh seemed to be distracted.  At first, they thought it might have had something to do with Owen.  He and Gwen had been at each other all night with their snarky comments and private jokes.  The three of them were aware of Tosh’s feelings toward Owen, and thought that could possibly be what was upsetting Tosh.

They weren’t all that surprised when Tosh made her excuses and left early.  Suzie offered to give her a lift home which Tosh accepted.  When they got to Tosh’s house, they both saw Mary waiting out the front.

“Isn’t that the girl from the pub?”  Suzie asked.  “The one who knows about Torchwood?”

Tosh didn’t answer, she just continued to look out the window.

“Tosh!  What are you doing?  You can’t be talking to her!”  Suzie exclaimed.  Her eyes narrowed as she saw Tosh starting to blush.

“You don’t understand!”  Tosh finally spoke up.  “For the first time in so very long, someone is interested in me.  She took the time to find out about me.  Me!  Not you, not Jack, not Gwen Cooper, but me!”

Suzie shook her head.  “That’s not true.”

“What?  You don’t think she could be interested in me?  Poor old plain, boring Toshiko?  Is that it?”  Tosh yelled back at her.  “Mary is the first person in ages who has made me feel wanted and appreciated.  Like I’m someone who could be attractive to someone else.  Unlike Owen, shagging everything and everyone.  Everyone except me!”

Suzie smiled and shook her head again slowly.  “Oh Tosh.  That is so not true.  You’re not plain, you’re not boring and you’re not unattractive.  If that was the case, do you really think I’d do this?”

And with that, she leant across, took hold of Tosh’s face and, cradling her cheeks gently in her hands she pulled her closer and kissed her deeply.

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