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Chapter 4


Captain Jack Harkness considered that at some point in his long life the Doctor had missed the most aggressive threat to Earth and humanity. It wasn’t Daleks, Cybermen, insane Time Lords, or even paradoxes.


It was paperwork.


In linear time, he’d only been gone from Cardiff a few months. He knew Gwen had handled some things while he was gone, but he had guessed correctly – and Tosh had confirmed – that Ianto had done almost all of the paperwork. It was another thing he owed the younger man for and certainly not the least.


Jack let a smile cross his lips. He’d only been back a few weeks and even with the trouble with the Sleepers, he’d made time to take Ianto out not once but twice. He knew the Welshman hadn’t really expected him to follow through on his offer of a date, and that made him even more determined to do it. They’d gone to dinner and a movie within a week of his return. He’d threatened Owen and Gwen with physical harm if they called him or Ianto for anything short of “the imminent end of the world and I mean in the next ten minutes.” He hadn’t had to threaten Tosh. She had been the one doing the warning.


“If you hurt Ianto again, immortal or not, you will be in a world of pain,” she had warned quietly and simply. She then had taken Rift duty for the night, in exchange for a future consideration.


The first date had been wonderful. They’d ended up on Ianto’s sofa, alternately snogging and talking. Jack had told the Welshman about finding the Doctor, the end of the Universe, and what the Time Lord had said about his immortality. He’d drifted off to sleep in Ianto’s arms, but not before promising to tell him the rest soon.


Their second date had come the night the Sleeper had killed him. He’d bled out in the SUV on the way back to the Hub, talking to Ianto the whole time. The other man knew he was dying, so he had just let him talk about his plans for a second date. When Jack had come back to life in Ianto’s arms, they had said very little to each other. Later, Jack had seen the archivist heading towards him with murder in his eyes, due to the condition of the SUV and the matter of duct tape. He had avoided him and had assumed he went home with the others.


He’d been surprised when Ianto had poked his head into the office at half past six. “Were you planning to stop for dinner?” he’d asked, a curious expression on his face.


“I figured to call for takeaway. Why don’t you go home?” Jack had asked. “It’s been a long day.”


“Longer for you, seeing as how you bled to death,” Ianto had observed. “And got the SUV disconcertingly sticky.”


“Let’s not forget looking dashing while saving the world,” Jack had grinned, knowing Ianto was actually concerned about him and masking it with annoyance.


Ianto had rolled his eyes in response as he scolded, “And leaving me here with Owen’s suggestion of a threesome with him and Tosh ringing in my ears. I will require therapy that I plan to expense.”


“What?” Jack had practically bellowed, and then pointed at the younger man. “New rule. No orgies in the Hub without me.”


“I declined,” Ianto had informed him, giving a mysterious smirk. “You still haven’t answered my question. Were you planning to stop for dinner?”


“Eventually.” Jack had looked the other man up and down. “What are you thinking?”


“Get your coat,” Ianto had gestured. “We have reservations at Scallini’s followed by dessert and coffee at Cabra. We can go back to my place and watch that film you mentioned. I even have real popcorn.”


Jack had blinked a couple of times. He had described this date as he was bleeding out in the SUV. Not only had Ianto listened to every detail, he had made it happen. “I'll get my coat and be right with you,” he had managed to reply, keeping his voice deliberately light.


“I'll be waiting,” Ianto had assured him.


Their second date had ended much the way the first had, with them curled up on Ianto’s sofa, kissing, talking, and generally ignoring the DVD that was playing. Without much prompting, Jack had shared everything he could about the Year That Never Was. It had helped to talk about it. Ianto had even said he understood better now why Jack was holding back from resuming the sexual part of their relationship.


“I can’t begin to imagine what he did to you,” Ianto had observed, tightening his grip on the Captain. He seemed to be collecting his thoughts, and then asked, “Jack, did he...?” His voice trailed off as if he was unable to voice thoughts he didn’t really want to be having.


Jack had hastened to assure Ianto that Saxon’s weapons of choice had not included rape. “I disgusted him,” he admitted woodenly. “Touching me that way – even to humiliate or hurt me – wasn’t something he would have even considered. Killing me creatively was enough. It’s just ...”


“You’ve associated touch with pain,” Ianto had concluded. “I’ll wait,” he assured the older man. “I know it might take you a long time to be comfortable with casual human touch again. I feel it when we hold hands or kiss.”


Jack had blinked, thinking about the subtle changes in Ianto’s behaviour. He had learned to go slowly and not make any sudden moves that might startle the Captain. “Thank you,” he had whispered, moving to kiss the Welshman. They had not really talked about anything of consequence the rest of the night.


The memory of their second date made Jack smile. He’d heard that ‘third dates’ were special in the Twenty First Century. Ianto had hinted boldly a few times that he’d like Jack to stay the night soon, and not on the sofa. Jack finally thought he was ready for that, too. It was nice to anticipate physical contact rather than shy away from it. Thanks to Ianto, touch had once again come to mean pleasure rather than pain.


Looking back at the mound of paperwork made Jack’s smile become a grimace. They’d never get out of here, let alone to dinner or anything more enjoyable if he had to deal with this tonight. He was just about to shout for Ianto and bargain to get out of these reports for one more night when the archivist appeared in his office door. “Just who I was thinking about,” Jack grinned.


“Should I be flattered or just plain terrified?” Ianto gave him a gentle smile that told Jack they were alone in the Hub. He never let his mask drop that far if the team was around.


“Perhaps anticipatory is more the word,” Jack responded with a gleam in his eye. “I was thinking maybe dinner then back to yours for … coffee?”


“I’d like that.” Ianto moved closer. “But I think you need to see this first.” He handed Jack a report. “Tosh was running one of her routine traces – keeping an eye anyone searching for information on Torchwood, you, any of us, the Rift. You know the drill. She wanted to get out of here early, so I offered to finish it.”


“What had her in such a hurry?” Jack asked. It was not like Tosh to leave a task unfinished.


“You know what tomorrow is.” Ianto raised an eyebrow. “I think she wanted to get her nails done.”


“Ah.” Jack nodded. Tomorrow they would wake up Tommy Brockless for his annual day of freedom. Tosh had grown fond of the young soldier and enjoyed spending his time out of Torchwood with him.


“Anyway,” Ianto continued. “You asked her to add Harold Saxon and something called the Toclafane to the query.”


“I did.” Jack had told Ianto about Saxon but not about the specifics of who the creatures were who had devastated the Earth and helped murder his team.


“There’s been activity under Saxon obviously, but nothing alarming until you cross check it with other searches including the Toclafane, Torchwood, Martha Jones, and even the Doctor,” Ianto continued, pointing to the relevant data.


“Fuck.” Jack looked at the report. “This guy is good. Half of these UNIT reports are their eyes only.”


“And too many terms to be coincidence,” Ianto warned, his own brow furrowed with worry.


“One could lead to the other,” Jack noted cautiously. “Especially if he got into UNIT files.”


“Yep. Except for one thing.” Ianto took a deep breath. “Jack, he pulled up information on Abbadon.”


“What?” Jack demanded, frantically scanning the report.


“Earlier today.” Ianto indicated the relevant information. “He’d been researching destroyer demons of all types and looking at visuals. When he found Abbadon, he pulled every image there was.”


Jack pinched the bridge of his nose. “Any idea who it is?”


“He’s good, but Tosh is better. Her tracer program had him in half an hour. Dr. Adam Michaels, a researcher at the British Museum. He’s an expert in linguistics and ancient cultures and holds at least three doctorates.”


“So brilliant but otherwise seemingly normal.” Jack began leafing through the pages. “Anything on his personal life?”


Ianto pointed to the last page. “He’s in his thirties, originally from Wales, and lives outside London with his partner, an antiquities expert named Duncan MacLeod.”


Jack tensed as his brain made a tenuous connection. “Is there a picture of this guy?”


“I think so.” Ianto took the papers from him and shifted through them, finding what he wanted. “Here. From the staff bios at the Museum.”


Running his hand over his face, Jack sighed at the image of a slender man with classical features and piercing hazel eyes. “Well, I can tell you he’s not an alien.”


“You know him?” Ianto asked, deliberately keeping his voice light. He never demanded answers from Jack. They were his to give or withhold – something no one else on the team really understood.


Jack nodded. “It’s a very long story. How about I tell you over dinner at yours?” Somehow, he doubted the night would now go as planned.


“Is he an immediate security risk?” Ianto was still all business.


Jack shook his head and then smiled bemusedly. “He knows how to keep secrets, but I have no idea why he would want this information.”


“Then tell me about it over dinner,” Ianto replied decisively. ”It’s been a long day. If we get out of here, maybe we can figure it out.”


Jack smiled, but shook his head. “I doubt it. Nothing with this guy is ever easy. Once we’ve dealt with Tommy, we’ll check into it further.”


“Should I arrange for a trip to London?” Ianto asked with his face impassive but his eyes sceptical. “You know him; he might talk to you.”


“No.” Jack shook his head. “If I know Adam, he’ll make his way here soon. Just keep an eye out. He’ll come through the tourist office.”


“Noted.” Ianto turned to leave. “I'll meet you downstairs when you’re ready.”


“Ianto,” Jack called him back. “Be careful. He looks like an academic, but he’s as deadly as they come. I don’t think he’d hurt any of you, but I’m not taking a chance. If you even glimpse him, you call me.”


“Noted, Sir,” Ianto nodded crisply. “Chinese or Thai?”


“Thai.” Jack gestured to his desk. “Let me tidy up so I can find what I need to avoid in the morning and I'll be right down.”


“I'll call so we can pick the food up.” With that, Ianto vanished down into the Hub.


Jack picked up the young man’s report before reaching into the locked drawer of his desk and pulling out a file. “Methos, you sly bastard,” he muttered. “What are you up to now?”





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