Title: Echoes Of Our Souls
Fandoms: Torchwood/The Avengers
Pairings/Character: Steve/Ianto/Tony, Jack/Ianto/Steve/Tony, Natasha/Tosh/Darcy, Maria/Owen/Martha, Clint/Pepper/Coulson, Thor/Bruce /Jane, Nick Fury, past Steve/Bucky/Peggy and mention of Rhys/Gwen
Summary: After Jack left, instead of falling apart like the others him to, expected Ianto moved on with all aspects of his life. When Jack returned from his journey with the Doctor, nothing was the way he thought it would be. Now he's on a quest to win back Ianto's heart but Tony and Steve are not making it easy for him. The three men must figure out a way to put aside their differences in order to fit into Ianto's life, but it may take a mission gone wrong for them to finally see that Ianto loves them all equally.
Art by: hollymarchosias see it here and here
Disclaimer: I do not own Torchwood or the Avengers.
Author Note: I had to mess with the Avengers timeline in order for this to work.
Jack was gone.
Ianto couldn't wrap his mind around it. Jack had spent a week in the morgue, a week during which the team mourned his sacrificial death and then suddenly celebrated his miraculous return to life. A strong and wonderful feeling of hope had sprung up in Ianto's heart when Jack had kissed him so warmly and so naturally in front of the others. Ianto had truly thought they were fine and that Jack was read and willing to make their relationship more than the passing shag Owen had so callously accused him of being.
All of Ianto's hopes died a brutal, fiery death when he'd returned from a coffee run with Tosh and Owen only to learn that Jack had left them behind... left him behind.
They gathered around Toshiko's desk, watching the CCTV footage of Jack running desperately across the Plass towards a fading, old-fashioned, blue police box. As the others debated what they were seeing, Ianto knew immediately and without question who Jack had left them for.
'After all,' he thought, 'if you were one of the fortunate few who'd survived Canary Wharf you would ever forget seeing that same Police Box leaving us broken and bleeding, trying to fend for ourselves. '
To Ianto this image brought nothing but pain and suffering. The first time he'd seen it his world had burned and the woman he'd loved had died. Now it had taken Jack from him and Ianto's world was shattered beyond repair. 'Yvonne Hartman and Torchwood One were right after all,' he concluded bitterly. 'The Doctor and his ship really are the enemy; they leave nothing but pain and heartbreak for those of us left behind in the wreckage.'
Without saying a word, Ianto walked away from the others; they were still studying the footage and arguing over whether or not Jack had left with the strange box voluntarily. 'But can I really fault Jack for leaving?' he thought to himself and his mind ran in a dozen different directions looking for an answer. As he began picking up the mess in the Hub it came to Ianto in a flash of clarity.
'I can't,' he realised, 'not when I know how long Jack has been waiting for the Doctor.'
When he'd first started working in Three's vast archives, Ianto had found several files that had fallen behind an old filing cabinet. When he went to re-file them, he discovered that there was no other paperwork to be found, no matter where he looked. It only took him a few moments to realise that Jack had purged his history after Alex's death. 'He must have missed these when he destroyed his past,' Ianto realised.
Ianto took the opportunity to study the files he did have, the information they contained, and combined with the rumours he'd heard at Torchwood One, it hadn't been hard for him to figure out some of Jack's secrets. Not only had Jack travelled with the Doctor but the only reason he'd stayed for so long at Torchwood Three was because he was waiting for the Doctor to come back.
"And it's finally happened," Ianto whispered. "The Doctor has come back for him."
Despite the fact that his own heart had shattered into pieces, Ianto couldn't find it within him to hate or even to be angry with Jack not when he knew how long Jack had been waiting for him. 'I hope you can find the happiness you seek with your Doctor, the happiness that you couldn't find here with us,' Ianto wished Jack silently, 'or with me.'
As he looked around the messy Hub, Ianto experienced another flash of blinding clarity. He realized at that moment that it was over; he was done being Torchwood's Tea-Boy, the one who did all their dirty work and never got one single bloody thank you. 'I think it's time I found my own happiness and I know for a fact that Torchwood has absolutely no place in it.'
Ianto was tired of all the death and destruction that followed Torchwood like a shadow; he hated the way that death tightened its icy grip around his neck a little bit more every day. 'What do I have to show for my life since I joined Torchwood? Endless nightmares of my friends being stripped of their humanity before being left to burn. My beautiful Lisa suffering for months as the monster inside slowly took her over. I work like a slave for a team that sees me as nothing more than furniture; if it weren't for the coffee I'd be totally invisible.'
He shuffled along quietly; 'And finally, the man I've fallen hopelessly in love with has left me behind to chase after another man.' Ianto felt a sharp pain lance through his heart and he mentally shook his head. 'The bad far outweighs any good that Torchwood has brought to my life and I'm tired of giving everything... of losing everything without getting anything back.'
While Ianto wandered slowly around the Hub, completely lost in his thoughts as he stuffed empty pizza boxes, half-eaten biscuits and crumpled crisp packets into a large bin bag, another was watching him. Owen saw the pain and heartbreak that kept flashing through Ianto's eyes; it was a look he was all too familiar with. 'Jack, you bastard, would it have killed you to at least leave him a good-bye note?'
Owen never thought he'd say it out loud much less think it, but he actually felt for the poor bastard. He'd tried to warn Ianto that Jack was only using him but even if Ianto was only a part-time shag he deserved better than this.
Owen wasn't the only one watching Ianto; Tosh's eyes sought out the one member of the team to whom she was the closest. 'Oh, Ianto, I'm so sorry.' The pain she saw in those blue eyes made her want to reach out and hug Ianto, to protect him from anything that could possibly harm him. But she knew Ianto well enough to know that he wouldn't want to be cuddled, especially in front of the others. For now, Tosh knew that all she could do for Ianto was offer him her friendship and silent support.
For the next few weeks Ianto was a whirling, roiling mass of emotions and every single day the idea of leaving Torchwood behind grew all the more stronger. The only thing keeping him here was his friendship with Tosh, and his love of Myfanwy, although oddly enough, even Owen played a small role. But the empty loneliness that Jack had helped to fill after Lisa died was once again engulfing him like a slowly rising tide. As hard as he tried to act normally, Ianto wasn't sure how much longer he could continue acting like he wasn't dying inside.
What he didn't know was that he wasn't hiding his emotions as well as he thought and both Tosh and Owen were growing all the more worried about Ianto. Neither one of them could deny that they were also debating their own futures with Torchwood Three.
None of them saw what was coming until it was too late.
"What the bloody hell is UNIT doing here?" Owen roared as he, Tosh and Ianto returned from a Weevil hunt that Gwen sent them on.
Owen still had no idea why Gwen thought she was in charge when any of them had more seniority than her, but she'd bucked, thrown a hissy fit, and then refused any orders the others gave. So for the time being and in order to keep Torchwood working, they decided to let Gwen think she was in charge.
But now, as they stood open-mouthed, staring at the armed UNIT soldiers positioned around the Hub, his blood ran cold. When he realised that a smug-looking Gwen was standing in the middle of it and on UNIT's side, all he could think was that that had been a very bad idea.
"I'll take this," Gwen patted the closest soldier on the arm as she stepped forward. "Using my authority as your leader, I contacted UNIT for some help. I explained to them that Jack had to go on an undercover mission and wouldn't be back for a while. UNIT graciously offered to send us some soldiers to assist us," she proudly told them.
Without a second thought and without consulting each other, Ianto and Owen both instantly and instinctively moved to hide Tosh with their bodies, to shield her from the watchful eyes of UNIT's soldiers. Ianto felt Tosh's trembling hands grasp the back of his suit jacket and with a quick glance backwards he saw she was trying to make herself as small as possible.
"Well you can just send them on their merry way. This is a Torchwood base, Gwen. UNIT has no right to be here!" Owen snarled as he fought the urge to let Janet and Myfanwy lose to deal with these annoying and highly unwelcomed guests. 'And maybe even Gwen. What the hell was she thinking going behind our backs and contacting UNIT?'
At the sight of her teammates looking less than pleased with her, Gwen's good mood began to fade as she scowled at them. "What the hell is your problem?" she demanded. "You could be a little more grateful that I stepped up and that I made the decision that got UNIT to send us some help on such a short notice!"
Owen turned his gaze onto Ianto. "Ianto, why don't you and Tosh go and take an early lunch? I will join both of you once I've had a little talk with Gwen and our guests," Owen suggested, trying to maintain a calm exterior. His insides, however, were screaming aloud with anger, hatred and even a hint of fear.
While he and Owen were not always on the same side, Ianto was pleased that in this case they were thinking the same thing. "Of course; we'll be waiting for you at our usual spot." He kept his voice as casual as he could. "Order you the usual?" In the past few weeks, the three of them had been meeting at a small diner down on the waterfront; it had become their hideout, a place free of anything and everything Torchwood.
More important than the decent coffee – even to Ianto's standards – and the generous portions, it was also a place where Gwen never came. She was far too busy trying to keep her rapidly failing relationship with Rhys afloat.
"Yeah, mate, that'd be great," Owen nodded his head in understanding and watched gratefully as Ianto wrapped a protective arm around Tosh and led her back out of the Hub. 'If anything happens to Toshiko because of Gwen Cooper, I'll feed her to Janet and never look back,' the medic vowed.
Once he was sure they were safely away from the Hub and UNIT, Owen turned around and leveled his glare at Gwen. "We need to talk in private, now!" Owen snarled through clenched teeth. He crossed the distance and snagged Gwen by her elbow before he turned his glare onto the soldiers; it felt completely wrong to have UNIT in a Torchwood base. "Don't get too comfortable; you won't be here long," Owen warned.
'Gwen has no idea the advantage she's just given these bloody bastards.' UNIT had made several attempts at gaining a foothold into the Hub but Jack had always managed to keep them out. Now, in one foolish attempt at her idea of helping, Gwen had completely undone everything Jack had set up. Worse than that, her arrogance had placed Tosh and Ianto in major possibly mortal danger.
Sensing that Gwen was about to start complaining at his rough treatment of her, Owen swiftly propelled the two of them up the stairs and into Jack's office. Owen knew that the room was ferociously protected; there was no sound recording available and only one CCTV camera. 'Seems Jack didn't want anyone to know what he and the Tea-Boy got up to.' Owen was grateful for Jack's secrecy; it meant that UNIT wouldn't be able to overhear them.
Gwen stumbled when Owen suddenly released her arm and she righted herself before turning to face Owen with a scowl on her face. Owen slammed the door shut hard enough to rattle the glass in its frame and then he pulled the blinds down over all the windows. "Owen! You're being beyond rude to our guests, and I demand you go out there and apologize to them this very instant!" Gwen demanded.
Owen whirled around to face her. "First off, little girl, you are in no position to give me orders, because despite what you may think you are not in charge here! You are the newbie, the trainee the rookie of the team! Why in hell would we listen to you? You barely know what you're doing!" Owen demanded as he crossed his arms over his chest and waited for an answer.
"Jack hired me to replace Suzie and since she was his second-in-command that automatically makes me his second." Gwen informed Owen smugly. She refused to let him see that she knew his words held a ring of truth to them.
Owen shook his head. "No, Gwen, once again, you're wrong. Jack hired you fill the void Suzie's death left not to replace her. You were a beat cop who'd never even held a gun until Jack taught you, while Suzie Costello was a certified weapons expert. I hate to tell you this, Gwennie, but you aren't even in the same league as Suzie." The doctor couldn't prevent the sneer in his voice as he used her name.
"How dare you! I'm just as good as Suzie was!" Gwen couldn't believe that Owen dared to think she was less than Suzie had been. "Better even, since she tried to kill me!"
Sighing deeply, Owen rubbed his temples; he could feel a headache beginning to form. "Seriously, Gwen, I'm not here to debate you versus Suzie in who's the better field agent. What I am here is to discuss your actions in calling in UNIT without talking it over with the rest of the team." He held up his hand when she opened her mouth to interrupt. "There is a reason why none of us talked about bringing them in for help."
Gwen thrust out her chin. "I know that," she muttered defiantly.
"Do you, now," Owen drawled. "Why don't you tell me what you think that is?"
Unable to meet the man's eyes, Gwen looked down at her shoes and refused to say anything. She was suddenly beginning to think that maybe she'd made a small, very small, miniscule even mistake.
Owen rolled his eyes. "UNIT has spent years trying to sink their claws into Torchwood. They want our Archives, our records and our weapons, and you've just handed them the keys to the kingdom on a silver platter. Worse than that, you've put Ianto and Tosh in danger."
Gwen scowl grew darker as she crossed her arms across her chest. "I did nothing to endanger Tosh and Ianto!" Gwen would never do anything to place a teammate in danger.
Sadness filled Owen's eyes. "I'm afraid you did, Gwen. What do you think is going to happen to Tosh without Jack here to protect her? How long do you think it's going to be until UNIT drags her back into her cell? And what do you think UNIT will do once they find the reports of Lisa? Ianto will be deemed a traitor and either be put to death or locked in the cell next to Tosh." Owen took no pleasure in pointing out these horrible truths to Gwen.
Gwen's hands flew to cover her mouth but a tiny gasp escaped, nonetheless. 'Oh my god, what have I done?' She had completely forgotten about that. "Surely they can't be that bad?" Gwen asked weakly; she refused to believe that their sister organization could be so ruthless, not if Jack's precious Doctor worked for them.
"They are, Gwen. And if you were smart you would get the hell out of Torchwood just like I'm going to get myself, Ianto and Tosh out before we all end up in a UNIT prison cell." Owen immediately regretted letting his temper get the best of him and for just blurting out a plan he wasn't completely sure about yet.
"Wait, why do we have to leave Torchwood? I've done nothing wrong!" Gwen's voice had risen an octave.
Snorting derisively, Owen raised an extremely sarcastic eyebrow. "Did you forget that on your very first day you unleashed a alien sex gas that killed more than a dozen innocent men? How about the time you deliberately disobeyed Jack's orders and snuck Suzie out of the Hub? Maybe you don't remember the little fact that Suzie came within a heartbeat of killing you." Owen saw Gwen blanch white as a sheet as she recalled the way Suzie had very nearly sucked the life right out of her.
"Or how about the fact that you stood right alongside the rest of us and committed mutiny against our boss, which led to us unleashing a life-force sucking monster being released on the world, Maybe you remember that only way it could be stopped was by feeding on our boss, which left him in the morgue for a week? Or do you not recall sitting next to him for days on end – an act which cruelly denied Ianto the opportunity to say good-bye to his lover, by the way," Owen pointed out with brutal honesty. His efforts were rewarded when Gwen's eyes widened to an impossible size and he was pleased to see his point had been made.
Gwen chewed anxiously on her lower lip as she looked hopelessly at Owen. "What am I supposed to do?" she asked softly. "Torchwood has become my life, Owen."
Sighing again, Owen crossed the distance between them and rested his hand on her shoulder. "Gwen, you have something the rest of us don't and probably never will. You have a normal life with a perfectly normal someone who loves you and wants to have a perfectly normal life with you. There's a reason why Jack always tells you to hold on to it, to keep it going."
Gwen couldn't tell Owen that she'd all but lost Rhys since she'd assumed command of Torchwood. Between the long hours and the middle-of-the-night call-outs, she'd missed more dinners at home than she'd eaten, and she couldn't remember the last time she'd woken up next to Rhys in the morning.
"Please, Gwen, let go of the hopeless dream you have that Jack is your knight-in-shining-armour and remember the man you have at home waiting for you. I would give anything to have had a normal life with Katie." Even years later, Owen felt the pain of loss he always associated with Katie; 'I just cannot understand why Gwen would risk a true chance at happiness for something that will never happen.'
Silently, Gwen watched as Owen left Jack's office and she couldn't shake the awful feeling that this was the last time she might ever lay eyes on Owen.