Pairings/Characters: Tony/Ianto, Natasha/Pepper, Jack, Rhys/Gwen, Rhys/Suzie, Owen/Diane, Nick Fury, Coulson/Clint, Maria Hill, Jasper Sitwell/Tosh and Jack/AU!Ianto
Summary: After the events of Countrycide Ianto comes to the realisation that Torchwood was no longer the place for him. As he struggles to find a new life for himself Ianto is approached by Nick Fury and unexpectedly finds himself working for SHIELD. Given his past experience in working with ‘difficult’ alpha-males, he is assigned as Tony Stark's new handler; does Tony have the compassion and willingness to help heal someone whose as broken as him?
Disclaimer: I do not own Torchwood or The Avengers
Art by: hollymarchosias
Two Days Later
The air in the Hub was so rich with tension that Owen could have cut it with a dull scalpel. From the isolation of his office Jack watched as Tosh completely and deliberately ignored Gwen. The former police constable was clearly agitated as she whispered to Owen; their heads were bent close together as they argued at Gwen’s desk.
Jack sighed with defeat and frustration at this team’s divisive behaviour. ‘Not that I can fault Tosh for being angry,’ he knew his sweet, brilliant and loyal Tosh was upset on Ianto’s behalf. ‘I should have known something was up when Gwen and Owen arrived early today, before anyone else. They’re normally the last to show up.’
Marching uninvited into Jack’s office, Gwen and Owen had presented a united front when Gwen asked Jack if it wouldn’t be better for Ianto to Retcon him and give him a new life free of Torchwood. Gwen was worried about Ianto after his ordeal with the cannibals; she felt that this latest incident, coupled with the nightmare of the Cyberwoman, might have finally broken Ianto. “I think it’s for the best that we let him go.” Her unspoken message was clear as a bell: “…it’s time you got rid of him…”
The Torchwood leader steepled his fingers on his desk and studied his employees in silence; there was something in Owen’s eyes that made Jack seriously doubt just how much his medic truly agreed with Gwen. Jack wondered how Gwen thought Ianto would handle the massive memory loss that wiping everything Torchwood would create in the young man’s mind. He was missing two years of his own life and he hadn’t stopped looking for them yet, and with his immortality, he never would. Jack couldn’t image what the loss of four years’ worth of memories would do to Ianto. ‘I can’t – I won’t – have that on my conscience for eternity.’
Before Jack had a chance to tell Gwen that he appreciated her input but Retconning Ianto hadn’t even crossed his mind that chance was taken from him when a furious Tosh entered the room and made her opinion known in no uncertain terms. No one had heard her arrive and as she went to her desk, she happened to glanced up at Jack’s office and was shocked to see that Owen and Gwen had come in before her. Suddenly afraid that something had happened to Ianto, Tosh dashed up the stairs as quickly happy as she could.
Tosh reached the office door just in time to catch the end of the Gwen’s heart-felt speech about Retconning Ianto and giving him a new life. Not having heard Tosh arrive, all three were stunned when from behind them a low voice hissed very dangerously, “How dare you?”
Jack was the first to see the clear warning in his tech genius’ eyes and wisely stayed quiet; he’d noticed Tosh’s growing protectiveness over their youngest member and he was sure she had something very impassioned to say. Having to admit he was curious, Jack thought it would be good for Gwen if she heard Tosh’s opinion on the matter.
Shocked and wide-eyed Gwen spun around, careful of her gunshot wound, to face a furious Tosh. Not sure what she did to piss off Tosh, Gwen sent the other woman a sickly-sweet, guilty smile. “Tosh! How are you? We didn’t hear you come in.” Have you seen Ianto today? How’s he doing? We’re all so worried about him, you know. How are you feeling after your horrifying ordeal?” It was clear from her nervous demeanour and the way she bombarded Tosh with questions that Gwen was trying to play off the damaging words she’d spoken just moments earlier.
Fire burned in Tosh’s dark eyes as she glared daggers at the three of them, though her expression did soften a little bit when she looked at Jack, before her eyes flew back to Gwen and then they turned to ice. “Of course you didn’t hear me, Gwen, you were too busy backstabbing Ianto!”
“Oh come on, Tosh, you know…” Gwen smiled again, trying to disarm Tosh’s anger.
“Don’t you dare ‘come on’ me! Did you know that two days ago Ianto risked his life for me! He knew he was probably going to die but he made sure I got the chance to survive. Would you have done the same, Gwen? Would you give your life so one of us could live?” Tosh looked Gwen up and down with obvious contempt. “Somehow, I don’t think so!”
Stunned by Tosh’s vehement outburst Gwen could only stare in open-mouthed surprise at the quiet technician. She was totally unsure of what to say to or how to calm down the enraged woman, she’d never seen Tosh display so much heartfelt emotion. Finally something occurred to Gwen as concern began to pour off her in waves. “Oh, Tosh, don’t be like that,” she gushed. “I know you like him, but surely even you can see that Ianto would be better off not remembering the horrors he’s seen. I’m only looking out for him!”
The look Tosh gave Gwen was full of pure disgust. “No, Gwen, you’re not! You want Ianto out of the way because he’s a reminder that you, our so-called ‘heart’, failed to notice that someone besides you was in pain. Ianto didn’t register with you because he’s just the Tea-Boy, yet he’s seen more horrors than anyone of us expect Jack has seen.
Before she could stop herself, Gwen snorted in derision. “Some of those horrors were his own fault, the evil bastard! I’m the one that almost got converted down there!”
Toshiko saw red and lightning flew from her eyes. “Ianto wanted to save Lisa! There was nothing evil about his actions; he did what any of us would have done in his place! Or do you not care enough about your precious Rhys to try and save his life?”
“Don’t you try and turn this on me!” Gwen sputtered.
Tosh continued as if Gwen hadn’t spoken. “Robbing Ianto of his memories of Lisa and his friends he lost would truly make us as heartless as you like to claim we are! You all make me sick.” Tosh turned on her heel and stalked out of Jack’s office.
As he watched her leave, Owen felt ashamed to have even considered siding with Gwen in the first place. “She’s right,” he muttered under his breath, “I would have done anything to save my Katie.” In that moment, the snarky medic came to a startling revelation about himself; he hated Ianto because he saw so much of himself in the younger man. He understood Ianto’s desperate need to save the woman he loved and he knew all too well about the soul crushing pain that Ianto was feeling because he’d failed and Lisa was still lost.
Looking Jack in the eye, Owen stated, “I’m with Tosh, it wouldn’t do Ianto any good to lose his memories of Lisa and the others, and it just might be the thing to permanently break him.” Owen knew Retcon had been a bad idea when Gwen suggested it but for some reason he didn’t want to explore at the moment, he was weak when it came to her and he did not like her having this kind of power over him. Shaking his head the medic quietly exited Jack’s office.
“Well shit, this certainly went tits up in a hurry!” Gwen bit her lower lip as she turned to face Jack; things really hadn’t gone as she’d hoped. She’d thought she was acting in Ianto’s best interests, but it was clear not everyone saw it that way. Tosh showing up when she did was a true pain in the arse, but Owen’s defection was a true shocker. ‘Can’t they see I’m just trying to do what’s best for Ianto? He’s been through so much that I think it would be merciful to give Ianto a new life free of all the pain and suffering he’s gone through.’ Gwen just couldn’t understand why no one saw that she was only trying to help. Anxiously, she waited to hear what Jack had to say on the matter.
Jack sighed as he looked at his newest recruit. “Gwen, I know you think you had Ianto’s best interest at heart, but Ianto would lose everything all his memories about Lisa and their time together and I couldn’t do that to him. It would be truly heartless. If Ianto wants to be Retcon than it is his choice and only his choice to make, we do not have the right to decide something like that.”
Jack sighed as he looked at his newest recruit; he knew she was trying to be the heart of Torchwood, which was why he’d hired her, after all. But in the back of his mind there was a tiny voice asking, ‘Would she want to Retcon Owen if the shoe were on the other foot?’ Finally, he said, “Gwen, I know you think you have Ianto’s best interests at heart, but if I were to Retcon Ianto he would lose everything, not just his memories of Lisa and their time together and I can’t do that to him. It would be truly heartless. If Ianto wants to be Retconned then it’s his choice and only his choice to make; we do not have the right to decide something like that for him.”
“But Jack, he’s so young and he’s seen so much, can you honestly tell me that you don’t think he would be happier not remembering?” Gwen stuck out her lower lip and pouted at Jack as she came around to the side of his desk and perched on the corner. Hoping that if she could somehow get Jack to agree with her then the others would have no choice but to agree to Retconning Ianto, for his own good, Gwen decided to play dirty. “I thought you cared about him, Jack, but apparently I was wrong.”
Appalled by Gwen’s last statement, Jack narrowed his eyes and pursed his lips as he bit back a sharp retort. His temper under control, he said, “I do care about Ianto, just as I care for all of you, but that…”
“Well then, you have to agree with me that giving Ianto a new life would make him so much happier than he is now.” Gwen announced triumphantly. ‘I knew Jack would see things my way; that’s why he relies on me so much, because I always know what’s best.’
Jack shook his head. “No, Gwen, I don’t think he would be happier. True he wouldn’t remember the bad things that he’s endured, but he wouldn’t remember any of the good times either. There would always be a piece of him missing; all Retcon would do is leave a great gaping hole in his heart that would drive him insane seeking answers. Trust me; I know what those kinds of empty feelings can do to a person.” For a moment a dark cloud passed over Jack’s face and then he looked at Gwen. “We are not Retconning Ianto and that’s the last time I want to hear you mention it again,” Jack growled with finality as his little voice asked, ‘why is Gwen really pushing this so hard?’
Jack stood up, startling Gwen with the abrupt move, and looked at her with hard, cold eyes. “Gwen, why is it so important to you that Ianto be Retconned, and I want the truth this time.”
Gwen visibly blanched as Jack towered over her; despite the circumstances she couldn’t help but be turned on by his closeness and oh, dear lord, his scent! ‘How am I supposed to tell Jack that I’m afraid Ianto’s going to steal him away from me, that that’s why I want the bloody Tea-Boy gone!’ Gwen wasn’t blind; she’d seen the looks that Jack cast at Ianto, and the way he’d stand in his office windows watching as Ianto went about his daily chores. He was falling for the younger man and she couldn’t lose Jack’s interest in her; he was her only key to escaping the boring and dull life that a future with Rhys offered. ‘There has got to be more than spag bol, nappies and Sunday dinners with Rhys’ mother!’
Forcing a fake beguiling smile on her face Gwen met Jack’s gaze head on. “Don’t be silly, Jack, there’s no other reason except that I’m worried about my teammate; he’s been through so much in his young life and I just think he deserves better, that’s all.” She smiled oh-so-sweetly at Jack; “Well, I better get to my desk before Owen comes up here and yells at me for straining my gunshot wound.” As if to emphasise the point and remind Jack that Ianto wasn’t the only one who’d been hurt, she clasped her hand to her side and gave a wince designed to invoke sympathy. Then, with one last smile at Jack, this one a little more real than the last, Gwen took her leave.
Watching her leave, once again shook his head. ‘Gwen really is a lousy liar, although in truth all of them are except Ianto.’ The former conman had to admit he was actually quite impressed by Ianto’s ability to fool him; it was a skill that had served him well in the past. He acknowledged that his earlier rage toward Ianto had been very, very real but at the same time Jack couldn’t help but admire Ianto’s determination to save Lisa. ‘Tosh was right; Ianto didn’t do anything we wouldn’t have done if we were in his shoes.’ For a moment Jack thought about Rose and what he might have done to save her but then he firmly put those thoughts back in his past where they belonged.
But Jack was nobody’s fool and in his gut he knew that Ianto’s time at Torchwood might well be coming to an end. He knew that both UNIT and SHIELD had been snooping around both Ianto and Tosh and Jack can’t help but wonder if they wouldn’t be happier somewhere else after all. Linking his fingers together Jack stared off into space, his eyes focused on nothing. “When are you going to make your move, Fury, and would it wiser if I let them go? Because I can’t help but think it would be better for Ianto if he got a fresh start free from Torchwood?” Jack did not want to lose Ianto but because he did care for the young archivist, he needed to do what was best for Ianto. Given how everybody but Tosh seemed to have forgotten and ignored the younger man, even more so after that abomination in the basement. For God’s sake, they’d even forgotten that the cannibals had nearly tenderized him to death!
Yes, maybe it would be for the best if Ianto left Torchwood before his uncaring teammates got him maimed or killed but it didn’t mean that it wouldn’t hurt any less. But Jack knew that whatever the outcome of the debacle in the Brecon Beacons, it was ultimately up to Ianto and Jack vowed to himself that he would support whatever decision the Welshman came to, even if it meant that his own heart was broken in the process.