Fandom - Torchwood
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.
Jack was woken from a comfortable sleep, with Ianto’s warm body wrapped around his, when a bleeping began from the vicinity of the floor. Ianto stirred too, frowning at the interruption, until it dawned on him that the sound was coming from the pockets of the clothes dropped on the floor earlier that evening. Both of their pagers were sounding, bleeping insistently until they got up to find the devices and check the message. This had been another of Gwen’s initiatives; instead of Jack having the only rift activity detector that worked outside of Torchwood- the wristband he wore- she wanted them all to have one. The pagers had been upgraded with a little off-world technology to alert them of any rift spikes that the detector registered as a possible incursion. The alert was then graded from one to five for severity, one being time to arm themselves and warn the police. When Jack read the message, he suddenly became alert.
“It’s a three,” he said, hurriedly getting dressed and urging Ianto to do the same. Ianto didn’t take long but he was still a couple of steps behind Jack when they raced out into the corridor.
“What’s going on?” John asked, emerging from the apartment at the end of the corridor. He wandered out still fastening his trousers, his shirt and jacket under one arm.
Ianto noticed Loz slink out into the corridor beside him, fully dressed but still fastening his jacket. He knew that Loz’s accommodation was at the opposite side of the building; it appeared that despite Gwen’s warnings, John was still getting a lot closer to his colleagues than the rules said he was allowed. Then again, Loz had joined them the opposite way around- he’d started out in John’s bed and then been recruited. He smiled, not expecting that argument to fly with Gwen.
By the time they reached the central control room of Torchwood- which John had christened the Batcave- the rift activity detector had a set of co-ordinates displayed. Ianto cross checked them with a map of Cardiff and then called Gwen, telling her the location and that they’d meet her there.
There was a brief squabble for the car keys, which Jack won, leaving John looking annoyed. His scowl deepened when Ianto climbed into the passenger seat.
“Hey, no fair,” he grumbled. “How come I have to ride in the back again?”
Ianto leaned out of the door and looked back to John. “Just get in, would you?”
“You know,” he began as he climbed into the back of the four-by-four and slammed the door, “I liked it better before you two got back. At least then I was allowed to drive once in a while.”
Jack laughed as he sped out of the parking garage. “They let you in control of a car?”
“If I remember correctly, you had quite a reputation for wrecking ships,” Jack pointed out. “How many did you manage to destroy?”
“One, and that wasn’t my fault!”
“Yeah, right,” Jack baited. “Try three.”
When they arrived at the rendezvous site, Ianto and Loz made their way over to where Gwen stood waiting. She looked around, frowning.
“Where’s Jack and John?”
Ianto pointed back to the car, where the pair were just getting out. “Probably fighting over the car keys again.” When Gwen sighed, he added, “Just be thankful you didn’t have to ride with them.”
When Gwen split them off into teams to search the surrounding area and take readings, the good-natured squabbles between the pair ceased immediately. Whilst they acted like a couple of warring kids, they never let it interfere with their professionalism on the job. A quick look around showed nothing obvious at the site; there was no sign of the usual flotsam that the rift tended to spill out every so often. Something, however, had triggered the level three alert and they needed to find it.
Two hours later, however, Gwen had admitted defeat and called the search teams back in. They had found a rift trail, easily trackable via the wristbands that Jack and John both wore, but it had led them on a merry chase around the streets before simply vanishing into thin air. She didn’t like leaving like this, not knowing what had come through, but there was nothing they could do here. Whatever it was would show up again and then they could retrieve it.
John made himself a mug of coffee and took it back to bed with him. After being woken up at goodness’ knows what time to go on a wild goose chase around the city he found that he couldn’t go back to sleep when they came home. He took it back to the small lounge in his suite and started flicking through the TV channels, finally settling on an old black and white movie. Suddenly, his wristband started bleeping. He frowned. It had been a long time since it had done that, since before he joined Torchwood, in fact.
So, something had come through the rift, only it hadn’t been flotsam. Only another being could have activated that particular frequency, and one he knew at that. The signal stopped abruptly; whoever it was just wanted to let him know they were here. The signal had not been transmitting long enough to track; it was their move now. All he could do was wait.
“Gwen Cooper, Torchwood.”
Gwen flashed her I.D at the police constable who had been put in charge of keeping the public back and he nodded, lifting the yellow police tape for her to go underneath. John and Ianto followed Gwen into the bar and looked around at the mess. There were smashed chairs and burned black smudges up the walls, broken bottles and glasses littered the tables and the floor, glass crunching under their feet as they walked.
At the far end of the room, restrained and under guard, the police had the culprits. There was a great deal of arguing going on.
“Tell me again why this is a Torchwood problem?” Ianto asked the officer in charge when he filled them in on what had happened.
He took a plastic evidence bag from a nearby table and handed it to Ianto.
“This,” he said simply.
Ianto had to agree that this weapon did not belong on this planet; he had seen similar ones on his travels with Jack. He passed it over to John, who agreed. There was a scuffle across the room as one of the prisoners jumped up and barged her way through the policeman trying to stop her..
She was about six feet tall, with bright red curly hair that spilled down her back almost to her waist and wide green eyes. Her stiletto-heeled boots added a good few inches to her height and the skin-tight leather trousers and vest left very little to the imagination.
John stopped dead when he saw her.
“Verla? What the hell are you doing here?” John asked, a grin on his face as he went to greet her. When he went to kiss her cheek, she rolled her eyes, hauled him closer and kissed him properly.
As Ianto cleared his throat pointedly, John pulled out of her grasp and turned to his colleagues.
“Verla, this is Ianto,” he said, indicating to the other man. “And Gwen. Verla is an old friend.”
“And I presume she’s also the cause of the alert yesterday?” Ianto asked.
John glanced across at the other two women who were with Verla, and the men who stood a short distance away.
Verla glared at the men. “Those animals thought they had the right to touch me,” she said. “I defended my honour.”
It took them about half an hour to arrange for Verla and her two friends to be released into their custody, after persuading the men not to press charges. They had come out of the fight worst, the three women kicking their arses rather spectacularly. Between that embarrassing piece of information and the fact that Verla could easily press sexual harassment charges against them, they had decided to forget the whole thing.
They took the three back to Torchwood, collecting up the rather impressive collection of weapons that the police had taken from them as well. John sat in the back of the car with Verla, Ianto driving, whilst Jack came out to collect Gwen and the other two women.
“So what brings you to this neck of the woods?” John asked.
Verla smiled. “I heard you were here- whatever made you set up home here? I mean, it’s so…” Her words trailed off as she cast a disdainful glance around at the city surrounding them.
“This place isn’t so bad,” John told her. “It has its appeals, if you know where to look.”
Verla cast a critical eye over him, and then over Ianto before letting out a small laugh. “I can see where you find your appeal. It took you longer than I expected to find me after I signalled you, though- you’re slipping, sweetie. I left a trail that you could have followed blindfolded.” She smiled wistfully. “That was a fun week, wasn’t it?”
Ianto smiled as he glanced in the mirror; there wasn’t a lot that could embarrass John but Verla seemed to have managed it. John met his gaze and glared, daring him to say anything. When Ianto kept quiet, he turned back to the woman.
“So, you never did tell me why you were here.”
Verla looked to Ianto and then back to John, as though gauging his reaction as to whether or not she could speak in front of him.
“I told you, I came to find you,” she said. “Do you remember when you told me that you owed me? Well, I’m calling in that favour.”
John sighed; he had the feeling that neither he nor Torchwood were going to like whatever her favour involved.
Back at base, they led Verla back to one of the secure interview rooms, just in case she wasn’t a friendly as she was making out to be. Her two friends were led into separate rooms also, being watched over by Adrian and Lizzie. Loz was nowhere to be seen and as soon as Gwen reached their room, Ianto moved himself to stand by the door, just in case.
“I don’t want to talk to her,” Verla whined, pouting, as she indicated to Gwen. “Now those two,” she said, casting an appreciative eye over Jack and Ianto, “they can stay.”
John looked across to where she pointed and smiled. “Verla, Gwen is in charge here. Just be nice,” he warned.
She frowned. “You’re no fun any more.”
“Start talking,” John told her.
Verla had been a thief when John first met her, one of a band of intergalactic con-women who had become all too comfortable with killing those who stood in the way of their goals. Her associates were not as at ease with her choices and had staged an intervention, packing her off to rehab, where John had been at the time. It had been his second stint in murder rehab (he just didn’t see the point, but if he wanted to keep his job with the Time Agency, he didn’t have a choice). His time there had brightened greatly at her arrival, although they had both managed to get into a lot more trouble than they would have on their own. Their last escapade had brought John before the officials, facing a failure from rehab and expulsion from the Time Agency. Verla had taken the rap for him and bought herself a short sentence in custody. He had always told her that he would repay the favour and it appeared that now was the time to settle the debt.
“We picked the wrong mark,” Verla was telling him. “It should have been a simple con but he worked it out and by then it was too late. Vanna was already in place and we couldn’t get to her.”
“Since when did Vanna work with you?” John asked. He had met Vanna, Verla’s younger sister, a few times but he would never have expected the innocent girl to have taken up the cons with her sister.
“This was her first job. It was her job to get close to the mark, the Magestrix of Liegen Prime.”
John saw the others perk up at the mention of Liegen Prime, but they didn’t say anything. Vanna hadn’t noticed, busy taking a small device from her pocket.
“They executed her, in the city square. My baby sister.” Vanna pressed the button on the side of the device and a holographic image appeared. “We came to avenge Vanna, to find her executioner and take his life as he took hers. I know he is here on this world, John; help us to find him and your debt to me is fulfilled.”
John didn’t know what to say, how to respond. He owed her, that much was true, but it wasn’t that simple.
The face looking back at him from the holo-imager was Loz’s, his colleague and current bed-mate.
To be continued…