Pairing - Jack / Ianto,
Summary - Five years after leaving, Jack and Ianto return to find a lot of changes and few old faces. Follows on from 'Eternity'- probably best to read that first.
Spoilers - Post Children of Earth, but only minor ones.
Old Town New
The moment they had set foot back on Earth, the insistent bleeping had begun from Jack’s wristband. Jack smiled; he knew exactly what it was and who had sent it. They had been gone for almost five years by Earth timelines but he knew that they would be waiting. He and Ianto had felt it was time to return, both feeling that they’d had enough time to work through the awful events of those five days, where Jack had lost his grandson and, from his decision, his daughter, and Ianto had lost his life.
Jack had given that back to him, though, no matter how different from his old life it was. Ianto was immortal now, or as near to it as Jack was, and that knowledge that he had all the time in the world had let him live in ways he had never dared before. Jack had shown him new planets, had quite literally given him the stars, but now it was time to return to where they belonged. There were people here that they had left behind.
“Ready?” Jack asked, checking the wristband’s screen again.
Ianto nodded, taking the hand that Jack offered as they walked through the streets of Cardiff. This was such a change from where he had been yesterday, a noisy, crowded transport ship on which they had hitched a ride home.
The little blue dot on the wristband was still flashing on the tiny street map, showing them their path, until eventually they stopped in front of an office building.
“Are you sure this is the place?” Ianto asked, eyeing the modern glass and steel structure.
Jack nodded, pushing open the door to go inside. There were no advertisements or publicity for what the building housed, just a smiling young woman sitting behind a reception desk that blocked their way, making it impossible for anyone to get by without her knowledge.
“Good morning, gentlemen,” she said. “My name is Alison. How may I help you?”
Jack frowned at her. If this really was the place then he was used to just letting himself in. Ianto, however, smiled back.
“Captain Jack Harkness and Ianto Jones, Torchwood.”
Her smile never faltered but her eyes widened a little in surprise. “I do beg your pardon, sirs.” She picked up the phone and made a quick call before typing something into her computer. She handed them each a security swipe-card. “You need lift number two, just back there. The cards will give you full access.”
Ianto nodded, thanking her and heading for the lift. As soon as he swiped his card in the reader, the lift set off, automatically stopping at the first floor.
Ianto turned just in time to see Gwen come running and launch herself at them, dragging each of them in turn into a rib-cracking hug. She grabbed them both by the hand and started walking in the direction she’d come from.
“Oh my God! I can’t believe you’re back. It is so good to see you both; after that last time I wasn’t sure if you were ever coming back.”
She led them into a large lounge-like room, with huge windows almost entirely covering one wall. As they walked in, both Jack and Ianto had to stop and do a double-take.
“Hello Jack. Eye-candy.”
Jack glanced at Gwen. “What is he doing here?”
Captain John Hart sighed, looking offended. “I work here, thank you very much.”
“I needed someone with alien knowledge,” Gwen told them with a shrug of her shoulders. “You were gone and John offered.”
“’Told you I was planning on sticking around on this planet for a while. I came back here looking for you,” John told them. “All I found was a bloody big hole in the ground. Gwen found me and explained what had happened. I was sorry to hear about your boy, Jack.”
Before Jack could say any more, the doors at the end of the corridor opened and Rhys came through, carrying a dark-haired little girl. Ianto grinned and looked to Gwen.
Gwen nodded, beaming proudly. “Our daughter; we called her Isabella.”
As Isabella began struggling, Rhys set her down on the ground. She looked up at Jack and Ianto for a moment before a smile lit her little face.
When she ran to him, he smiled, stooping down to pick her up. “Hey, Princess.”
Jack laughed, seeing his amazement reflected in Ianto’s face. “I can’t believe it, Gwen. You have managed the one thing in the universe that no one else ever did,” he said. “You’ve domesticated him.”
John scowled at him, opening his mouth to retort but a stern look from Gwen made him rethink. Instead, he turned Isabella in his arms so that he could fire a rude hand-gesture from behind her back.
Half an hour later, Jack and Ianto followed an excited Gwen around the new Torchwood facility. The whole place was state of the art, unlike the damp and dim Hub. Despite the clean airy spaces and modern technology, Ianto found himself missing the old place. Sure it was damp and kind of gloomy but it was Torchwood. Jack slid an arm around his waist and he knew that it wasn’t just him.
“I miss the shadows; everything here is so bright,” Ianto said.
“Fun places, shadows,” Jack said in a low voice, smirking, before turning serious. “It just doesn’t seem like home; the old place always did.”
Ianto nodded. “We’ll get used to it, I suppose. That is, if we’re staying.”
“Do you want to?”
It was something that Ianto had thought a lot about recently. When they’d come back, neither had said whether they wanted to make this a quick visit or stay for longer. They just hadn’t discussed it.
“Yeah, I do. Not forever, but for a while.”
Jack looked relieved. “I’m glad you said that. I’d have had to resort to bribery otherwise.”
Knowing what Jack’s bribery usually consisted of, Ianto grinned. “You still could if you wanted.”
Jack laughed, his expression turning innocent as Gwen looked back over her shoulder at them.
“And this is the medical bay. We had it fitted with everything we needed- we even managed to recreate a few of the alien technologies from the old place, with a little help from Lizzie, of course.” Gwen pointed through the glass doors to the two people in the medi-bay, a young blonde woman and a tall, dark haired man who looked as though he should be on the front cover of GQ rather than in a Doctor’s coat.
“Nice,” Jack told her appraisingly.
He heard footsteps behind them and then John’s voice announced, rather huffily, “If I’ve got a hands-off order on the staff then so has he.”
Gwen sighed. “He doesn’t need to be told, John. The only reason you ever were is because of that incident with Archie.” She turned to Jack and Ianto. “Archie was our original medic,” she explained, then glared at John. “He quit.”
John looked slightly embarrassed, which made Jack all the more intrigued. Not a lot got under the skin of John Hart and it damn sure took a lot to embarrass him.
“For the record, I don’t need telling,” he said, his arm tightening around Ianto’s waist. “I’ve got everything I want right here.”
John contemplated that for a second or two before he smirked. “I don’t suppose you’d consider sharing, would you, Eye-candy?” he asked Ianto.
“Sorry, but he’s mine.” Ianto told him. “And I have a name, space-boy. Try using it.”
“Oooh, he’s cute when he gets annoyed, isn’t he, Jack?”
Gwen looked between them before her gaze settled on John. “Stop baiting Ianto,” she told him. God, it was like having another child around to look after.
Leaving John to tag along, Gwen took them into the medi-bay to introduce the new members of the team.
“I’d like you to meet Doctor Adrian McAuley and Elizabeth Parker. Lizzie is an absolute genius when it comes to technology,” Gwen said.
The woman blushed. “Gwen is exaggerating, rather a lot, I’m afraid.”
“No, she’s not,” the man said, holding out his hand for them to shake. “And you would be…?”
Jack shook his hand as well in turn. “Captain Jack Harkness.”
He looked impressed. “I must say that your legend precedes you. We’ve heard a lot about the two of you.”
Ianto smiled. “We deny everything.”
Gwen took them around the rest of the facility, down to the cells that had been created in the basement of the building. Both men were impressed; he wasn’t sure how she’d managed it but Gwen had done a wonderful job of rebuilding Torchwood from the ashes. They came full circle, back to the lounge on the first floor, where Rhys was waiting. Isabella was sitting with John, a colouring book and a packet of crayons between them.
“So is this it?” Rhys asked. “You two are back?”
Ianto nodded. “Yes. That is, if you want us back.”
He had been dreading this moment. After all, he and Jack had left them for years, leaving Gwen to clean up the mess on her own, to start again. Luckily, Gwen simply brushed his doubts away with a wave of her hand.
“Don’t be stupid; this is where you belong,” she told them. “Besides, we could use the help. It’s not always this quiet, you know. You just arrived at a good time.”
John looked up from his seat on the floor. “Of course you’re staying,” he told them, “So sit down and make yourselves comfortable. Come on, if you ask really nicely, me and Isabella will even let you share our crayons, right Princess?”
The little girl looked up at them, her dark eyes assessing them in a very Gwen-like way, before she finally held out a red crayon to Ianto. He took it with a smile, sitting down cross-legged on the floor beside her. Eventually, Jack joined them as well.
Ianto caught Jack’s eye and smiled. It was as though they had never left.
To be continued.