Pairings/Character: Jack/Ianto, Caden/Tosh, pre-Rhys/Owen Kathy, Gwen
Summary: It was supposed to be a simple camping trip. Jack wanted to bring the team closer together and to test Ianto’s shield strength. Too bad none of them saw this coming.
Disclaimer: I do not own Torchwood. But I do know that Jack and Ianto belong to each other. I do own all original characters.
Author Notes: The next story in my Alien!Ianto series, it’s my take on Countrycide
Beta: The amazing royalladyemma
Owen honestly had no idea why he followed Rhys into the Tourist Information Office. If he were to analyse it, it could be because he was actually coming to like the other man, but if he were being honest with himself, it was probably because he felt guilty about almost sleeping with Gwen. ‘And I never do guilt,’ Owen bitterly thought to himself. ‘I can not figure out what it is about Rhys that makes me feel this way!’ Why does he make me want to act like a human being?’
“You didn’t have to follow me; I just needed a minute alone,” Rhys called over his shoulder as he came to stop in front of the postcard rack. Fire coursed angrily through his veins as he struggled to control himself when every instinct in his body was telling him to burn the entire building to the ground.
Owen shrugged his shoulders as he came to stand beside the tense Welshman. “Someone needs to keep the innocent postcards safe from your wrath, cause if you burn ‘em Tea-Boy will have your hide, which I know from experience will lead to a jealous and pouting Jack staking his claim on Ianto even more than he already does.” Owen shivered dramatically. “Trust me when I tell you that I am in no mood to see another live episode of the Jack-and-Ianto show.”
A chuckle escaped Rhys and he felt a little of the rage and sting of Gwen’s careless and hurtful words begin to fade away slightly. The look of pure disgust and terror on the other man’s face at having a front row seat to a Jack-and-Ianto show really was funny. ‘I can see Owen’s point though; as much as I care for my Prince and am glad that he’s found his mate, I have no desire to witness such a personal and intimate moment between them.’ There were just some things a knight doesn’t want to see and this was one of them.
“I think the only ones who wouldn’t mind seeing Jack and Ianto together like that would be Tosh, Kathy and probably Estelle.” Owen didn’t even think of adding Gwen’s name to that list; they both he and Rhys knew all too well exactly how she would react to seeing Jack and Ianto making love.
‘I wonder if her head would explode.’ Owen forced back a smirking chuckle as that image crossed his mind; he knew he wouldn’t mind seeing their so-called heart’s head explode. ‘You know, it just might be worth the mental trauma I’d no doubt receive if Gwen and I did watch Jack shag Ianto silly.’
“Why did you come after me? I’d have been fine once I cooled off.” Rhys tried to keep his voice light but traces of emotion crept through anyway.
Caught unprepared by Rhys’ question, Owen shifted from one foot to another and made sure to keep his gaze anywhere but on the Welshman. After a moment of uncertainty, the medic decided that the direct approach was the best course of action. He looked Rhys in the eye and said, “Because you just found out the woman you love isn’t who you thought she was. I may act like a bastard sometimes, but even I know that’s one kind of pain that nobody gets over easily.”
Despite his previous decision to be honest with him, there was no way that Owen was going to admit to anyone that something inside his heart had urged him to go after and comfort Rhys.
Trying to maintain an air of casualness, Rhys flipped through the postcards; even though he looked at the pictures, he wasn’t seeing them. “I know I should be more torn up about learning the truth about Gwen but in all honesty I’m not and I should be upset by that but I’m not. She hasn’t been the Gwen I fell in love with for a very long time. I just didn’t want to admit it to myself.” Rhys admitted but his voice was so soft that Owen almost missed his confession.
Owen would be the first to admit that he was rubbish at consoling anyone but something about Rhys made him want to try. He placed a comforting hand on Rhys’ shoulder. “Listen, mate, I gotta tell you that I’m probably the last person to help you with this mushy stuff. But even I can see that you deserve better than Gwen and the way she’s been treating you.”
Rhys shrugged his shoulders; he focused on a spot on the wall so that he wouldn’t look at Owen. He knew that if he did, he’d start to tear up. Unknowingly, the man was repeating what his own mother had been telling him since the day he’d met Gwen.
Owen could sense the man’s distress, but he continued anyway. “I’ve seen real love, Rhys; hell. I’ve even experienced it myself with Katie and I know that she would never treat me the way Gwen has treated you. It’s just not the way people who love each other behave.”
Owen was amazed when he didn’t choke up as he talked about Katie, even though he could feel the familiar ache in his heart, in the part that would always belong to Katie. It surprised and shocked him that he opened up so willingly to Rhys. Telling him all about Katie and the way losing her shattered his heart into tiny pieces was actually somewhat comforting. Owen realised that even though his heart was still being put back together he knew that he would be all right in the end.
Rhys didn’t have to be a telepath like his prince to feel Owen’s pain and he discovered that all he wanted to do was offer the other man some type of comfort. He turned from the wall and looked at Owen.
“Katie sounds like a wonderful woman; I wish I could have met her.” Rhys’ heart went out completely to the snarky medic who was still mourning the woman he loved. But no matter how much he supported the man’s grieving process, he couldn’t help but feel the tiniest bit jealous of the love that Owen still obviously held for Katie. ‘She must have been so very special for Owen to still love her this much.’ Rhys wasn’t sure why it bothered him so much that Owen still carried a torch for his deceased fiancé; after all, he and Owen were just friends.
As Jack and Ianto exited his office it didn’t take a mind reader to tell something was wrong; the tension within the Hub was as thick as a blanket. Ianto found himself grasping Jack’s arm with a bruising grip as wave after wave of negative emotions battered against his shields. The caustic atmosphere was so intense that Ianto could feel each and every thought and feeling as if they were physical beings.
Sensing Ianto’s pain immediately, Jack’s arms curved protectively around Ianto as he supported his young lover’s weight. “Are you going to be all right?” Jack whispered as he gazed at Ianto with pure concern in his eyes. He could see tiny stress lines forming around Ianto’s eyes and there was a muscle near the corner of the younger man’s mouth that was twitching.
Tucking his head beneath Jack’s chin, Ianto concentrated on breathing in Jack’s scent, allowing it to wash over and through him. He took advantage of the moment to try and strengthen his fading shields. He had to be strong for Jack’s sake. “I will be in a moment.”
Worry gripped both Caden and Tosh as they watched the struggle for control that was so clear on Ianto’s face. “Jack, why don’t you go ahead and take Ianto home? There nothing big happening for the foreseeable future, and with Caden and Rhys around we should be able to handle it. It’s far more important that you focus on Ianto.” Tosh spoke firmly as she grabbed Ianto’s coat and handed it to Jack.
Out of the corner of her eyes she saw Caden dart up the stairs and return a moment later with Jack’s military greatcoat. It really warmed her heart that she and Caden were so easily on the same wavelength and she smiled at him over Jack’s shoulder.
Jack smiled gratefully at Tosh, gratified that the young woman was as concerned about Ianto as he was. “That’s just what I was thinking, Tosh. If nothing big happens you can all call it an early day” He winked at the man who came to stand behind Tosh. “Besides, you look like you would really enjoy a night of pampering, don’t you agree Caden?”
Caden wrapped his arms around Tosh’s waist and gazed down fondly at the woman he was falling head over heels for. Anyone looking could see his feelings spilling unchecked from his eyes. “You would be correct, Captain; mon ange could definitely use a night of indulgent treatment.”
Tosh could feel her cheeks heating up at being called ‘my angel’ in French; it sounded so romantic. “Enough about me; our focus should be on Ianto. Jack, he looks like he’s about to collapse!” Tosh’s voice was laced with worry as she gazed at her best friend’s pale and trembling form. ‘I have a feeling I know who is the main cause for Ianto’s pain.’ Tosh fought the urge to glare at Gwen; the woman was over at her desk, sulking and fuming.
Tosh wasn’t the only one with the desired to lay into Gwen. It was quite obvious to everyone that Gwen was the source of the negative thoughts and feelings that were pummelling Ianto’s shields like wild beasts. It took all of Jack’s willpower to control himself and not glare daggers at Gwen.
‘It seems my talk with her went in one ear and out the other. If this keeps up I really might have to let her go.’ Jack knew he was going to have to do more than just talk to Gwen; she was clearly a danger to Ianto’s mental state. Her distrust of the Welshman was causing problems within the team the problems that she was responsible for could lead to potentially dangerous break-downs in the field.
A soft moan escaped Ianto and Jack could feel how much effort his young man was putting into simply remaining upright; if it weren’t for Jack’s embrace, he would have been on the floor. Jack stiffened and worry coursed through him; ‘That’s it! Ianto is in too much pain; he can’t stay here any longer!’ “All right, it’s time to go home, Yan. Tosh, I’m leaving the Hub and the world in your capable hands.” Jack tried to keep a smile on his face even though his worry for Ianto was clear in his eyes.
Gwen bristled at Jack’s words. “Jack, I really think I should be the one in charge when…” Her voice died out as everyone but Ianto stared angrily at her. She huffed with obvious annoyance and spun her chair around. ‘I don’t see what the big deal is; Ianto’s obviously faking just to get a day off of work.’ Gwen scowled to herself as she watched Jack, Tosh and Caden fuss over Ianto; it made her sick to her stomach to see Jack so taken by Ianto’s act. ‘Don’t worry, Jack; soon I’ll free you from Ianto’s hold and you’ll see that I’m the one you really belong with.’
Gwen’s negative thoughts battered violently against Ianto’s shields and it every ounce of willpower he possessed not to simply curl into the safety of Jack’s arms. He hoped his mate could sooth the tremendous pain he felt as Gwen’s over-powering hatred of him became impossibly stronger.
“Jack, please...” Ianto whimpered into his mate’s neck. He knew how weak and how pathetic he sounded but he really didn’t care. All he knew was that if didn’t get away from Gwen and her hurtful thoughts within the next few minutes, he’d lose the battle for good.
Tosh and Caden watched as Jack hurriedly bundled Ianto up in his coat and all but dragged him out of the Hub, clearly wanting to put as much distance between his young lover and Gwen as he possibly could.
As they entered the Hub, Owen kept one eye on Rhys’ fuming form. They’d bumped into Jack and Ianto as the two men were rushing out and it had been clear to both of them that Ianto was suffering terribly from the negative thoughts within the Hub. Owen had stopped them long enough to make Jack promise that if Ianto got worse the older man would give him a call. Owen wasn’t going to lose his teammate, to say nothing of the maker of the finest coffee he’s ever tasted, because of some self-centered brat who refused to think about anyone but herself.
The moment he saw the precarious state of Ianto’s mental health, Rhys had been filled with rage; Gwen’s deliberately callous treatment of Ianto was endangering his prince’s well-being and there was no way he could stand for that. He honestly didn’t know where the sweet girl he had fallen in love with had gone, but it was clear that she wasn’t the same woman any longer. No matter how he examined the situation, Rhys could no longer see any future for them and that broke his heart.
As soon as Owen and Rhys entered the Hub proper, they were struck by how rich the tension in the air was. Huddled at her desk, Tosh was clearly upset and Caden was doing his best to comfort her. Gwen, the sole source of all the problems, was at her desk, wearing an ugly scowl and ignoring everyone. She pretended to focus on the paperwork on her desk, while a dark cloud of anger surrounded her. The dark aura was so strong that it made everyone stay clear of her.
Owen took one look at Tosh’s trembling form and made a snap decision. “Caden, why don’t you and Tosh run out and get us some lunch, and then, if it stays quiet we’ll call it an early day.” Owen figured if he didn’t get Tosh away from Gwen the ex-Police Constable would soon be sporting a broken nose. One thing had become very clear very quickly; anyone who dared to mess with Ianto immediately earned the formidable wrath of the deceptively quiet Toshiko Sato.
‘Hell, even Jack knows enough to fear Tosh’s wrath!’ The medic hid a grin. ‘Anyone with half a brain quickly learns it’s not the guards or even Jack who would do you the most damage; no, the one to fear is Toshiko Sato, Torchwood’s own fire-breathing dragon.’ Owen was barely able to fight back a snort as he remembered the last time Tosh’s temper had reared its magnificent head.
Mild-mannered Tosh had shown her true colours when she’d become a raging she-dragon, giving Jack holy hell after the events in the Cyberwoman’s basement. She hadn’t taken too well to Jack holding a gun to Ianto’s head, and days later after everything had calmed down, Tosh laid into Jack and made it perfectly clear exactly what part of his body their fearless leader would be missing if he didn’t take good care of Ianto.
The heart-warming that love Jack had for Ianto was clearly obvious to everyone and even Owen had to admit - never out loud, mind you - that Jack and Ianto really were good for one another. ‘If I can see that our fearless leader and our Tea-Boy complete each other then why can’t Cooper and her oh-so-beating heart see it?’ Sudden realisation hit the medic. ‘Or is she so blinded by her lust for Jack that she absolutely refuses to see the truth that Jack doesn’t want her?’
There would have been a time when Owen would have taken Gwen up on her silent offer, but that was before he’d gotten to know Rhys. Now that he considered the rough but gentle Welshman a friend, he wouldn’t hurt Rhys like that for any reason. Try as he might, he couldn’t understand how Gwen could pine after Jack with no thoughts or care about how it affects Rhys. ‘Rhys deserves better than Gwen and the way she’s treating him.’
Owen was pulled out of his thoughts by the feeling Caden’s hand on his arms. “If it’s all the same to you, I would like to take Toshiko out for lunch and then we can bring you all back something afterwards.” The dark-haired knight’s smile was filled with pure affection and there was a tiny hint of love in his amber eyes as he gazed at Tosh.
Owen cast a glance at Rhys with the silent question in his eyes, ‘are you okay with just us and Gwen in the Hub?’
Rhys knew that it was going to be uncomfortable being around Gwen in the confines of the Hub, especially with his confusing feelings for the two of them. But at the same time he knew that couldn’t deny Caden and Tosh their chance for time alone. He could see that they had true potential to find something truly great with each other and he wasn’t going to stand in their way. Rhys grinned at Tosh; “Just try and behave Caden.”
A mock pout appeared on Caden’s lips as he gazed at Rhys with wounded but smiling eyes. “You wound me, sir! I am always a gentleman.” He lowered his eyes and pretended to sniffle at his leader even as his lips quivered with amusement.
“And maybe I don’t want him to be a gentleman,” Tosh unexpectedly added, earning three shocked looks from Owen, Rhys and Gwen. Caden, on the other hand, looked at her like he wanted to do something very naughty with her. Tosh saw the look in her angel’s eyes and a shiver ran down her spine; she really hoped he’d act on whatever he was thinking.
“Jack is going to be so pissed when he finds out that he missed the exact moment when it became clear that the unbendable and dedicated Toshiko Sato has finally been corrupted by a pretty face.” Owen snorted with glee and shook his head. “And it wasn’t even his!” Everyone but Gwen joined in the laughter; she merely sat behind her desk and glowered at them all.
“I don’t think we get pay to sit around and chat about Tosh’s love life.” Gwen snapped loudly as she pushed back her chair and shot to her feet, sending her chair went flying backwards to slam into Owen’s.
“You don’t seem to have a problem when it’s your life we’re talking about,” Tosh retorted sharply, “but then again you’re Gwen Cooper and you’re so much more human than the rest of us.” The computer genius was so tired of the snide remarks Gwen consistently uttered against her and Ianto. ‘Oh how I’d love to rip out her hair!’ Tosh thought viciously.
Sensing that there was definitely a fight brewing between the two women, Owen did the only thing he could think of in a pinch. “Gwen, go home!” he ordered sternly.
“Fine! I could use a day away from this stupid bloody Ianto-love-fest!” Gwen yanked open the bottom drawer of her desk, grabbed her purse and keys, and then viciously slammed it shut. She stalked past the others with her head held high and her brain working a mile a minute. ‘I’ll use this time to find out what Ianto is really up to and then once their eyes have been opened they’ll all be sorry they treated me like this.’ Gwen smiled smugly to herself as she exited the Hub; it was finally her time to shine.
The four left behind watched with relief as she left and there was one single thought the forefront of all their minds; something needed to be done about Gwen before she got someone hurt.
Jack had been a nervous wreck during the entire drive home; he kept a firm grip on the steering wheel as he watched Ianto out of the corner of his eye. He wanted to make sure the younger man didn’t pass out from the obvious pain he was in before Jack could get him safely home.
When they got to Ianto’s flat, Jack took the keys from the younger man’s trembling hands and opened the door to what was quickly becoming his own home as well. Once they entered, Jack took off Ianto’s coat and then he laid down the law. “Into bed, Mr Jones! You need to rest!” Jack ordered as cheerfully as he could even as he fought to keep the fear from shining in his blue eyes. He wrapped an arm around Ianto’s waist and pulled him closer.
Ianto hated to admit weakness but with Jack he was willing to let down his guard; he leaned into Jack’s body and breathed in Jack’s scent. “Will you cuddle with me? I sleep better with you around.” Ianto admitted in a soft voice no louder than a whisper.
“Of course I will, sweetheart.” Jack pressed a gentle kiss into Ianto’s hair before leading him to their bedroom. Jack took gentle care as he stripped Ianto out of his suit and into his pyjama bottoms and quickly tucked Ianto into bed before stripping himself down to his boxers and climbing in after Ianto.
Ianto quickly curled into Jack’s arms and rested his head above Jack’s heart; the immortal’s heartbeat soothed him. “Good night, Cariad,” Ianto murmured softly, his voice heavy with sleep.
“Rest well, Yan.” As he felt Ianto slip into the land of Nod, Jack extended his own shields to help block out the outside world. He prayed that a good night’s rest was all Ianto would need to regain his strength; he didn’t want to think about what would happen to Ianto if his mental shields collapsed again.
Jack had no idea how long he laid there listening to Ianto’s slow even breathing, and once he was sure Ianto was sound asleep he decided to give Kathy a call. He was too anxious to find out what she had for him to wait for their morning meeting. Gently easing the soundly sleeping Ianto out of his arms he waited for a moment to make sure that Ianto wouldn’t wake up. Satisfied that he hadn’t disturbed Ianto, he climbed out of bed and padded out to the living room where he found Ianto’s phone and quickly dialled Kathy’s number.
“Are you all right, Ianto?”
Jack grinned at the worry in Kathy’s voice. “It’s Captain Harkness.”
“Is my prince all right? Because if he’s not then we will be having words, Harkness, we will be having words.” The threat was clear in Kathy’s voice.
Jack couldn’t blame her for being so worried; it actually warmed his heart to know that his Yan had such strong and dedicated people looking out for him. “I won’t lie, Kathy, Ianto’s shields aren’t as strong as we thought.” Jack glanced over his shoulder toward the darkened bedroom. “He’s resting right now and I thought I would use this time to find out about what you have found out for us.”
A sigh came over the line. “You better be right about rest being all Ianto needs, and you better be taking good care of him,” Kathy growled.
“Ianto is the most important person in my life and I will do my best to keep him safe.” Jack vowed.
“All right I’m trusting you, Harkness. As to why I wanted to get in contact with you, well, there have been seventeen disappearances in the last five months in Brecon Beacons. There are no leads and my people are clueless. I don’t like it.” Kathy had hardness in her voice that concerned Jack.
“You think one of your people might be involved?” Jack asked.
“I don’t want to but with this many disappearances and not a single trace, something isn’t right. I’m hoping that the Rift is behind all this, and that’s why I want Torchwood to investigate first. I’d really like for you to solve the problem before I have start to looking into my fellow officers.”
It was this type of clear and decisive thinking had that Jack wondering - and not for the first time - what Torchwood would have been like if he had hired Kathy instead of Gwen. “It wouldn’t hurt to have Torchwood take a look, so send me over what you’ve got.”
“Thank you, Harkness.” Kathy actually sounded sincere.
“Why, detective, I think you’re starting to like me.” Jack’s smile was blinding even though he knew Kathy couldn’t see him. “Ahh!” He nearly jumped out of his skin as two arms wrapped around his waist and he looked at Ianto who seemed well rested.
“Harkness!” Kathy’s voice brought him back to his phone call. “Are you all right?”
“Yeah, I’m fine.” Jack gently stroked the side of Ianto’s face. “Where were we? Oh, yeah! You like me, don’t ‘cha; you can tell the Captain!”
“Don’t let it go to your head, Harkness; your ego barely fits through the door as it is.” With that pithy comment, Kathy hung up the phone.
Jack pouted as he snapped the phone closed and tossed it onto the table. “I don’t think she likes me very much,” Jack stated mournfully. He saw Ianto’s sweet smile and instantly forgot all about his woes as he turned around and pulled Ianto in his arms. “How are you feeling?” He asked fondly as his eyes searched Ianto’s face for any signs that he was still in pain.
Smiling brightly, Ianto kissed Jack on the nose. “I’m feeling much better; I think a good rest is what I needed. So what does Kathy have for us?”
The moment he saw the mischievous grin that appeared on his mate’s face, Ianto got worried. “Jack, just what are you planning?”
“I think the team could do with some team bonding so we’re going camping, Yan,” Jack declared with a wide grin on his face. ‘I mean seriously, what could possibly go wrong on a simple camping trip?’