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
Months flew past in a blur of experiments and missions and Ianto and Tony grew ever closer as their relationship developed and grew stronger with each passing day and it was obvious to everyone at SHEILD that true love was blooming between them. However, no one else knew that neither man was will to take the biggest chance of their life, neither man wanted to be the first to say those three little words that would change their lives forever.
All that changed when, for the first time since he’d started working with Iron Man, Ianto witnessed Tony get seriously injured.
It had started out as a run-of-the-mill mission, no big deal and no one was expecting any problems. What their confidential informant either hadn't known or didn’t bother to tell them was that this time the enemy had weapons that were far stronger than anything Iron Man currently had. Ianto could only watch with open-mouthed horror as the man he had come to love with all his heart was blasted out of the sky and went plummeting to the ground at an alarming speed.
"Tony!" Ianto screamed as he started running toward his lover. Nothing else mattered to Ianto at that moment but getting to Tony.
Ianto had no clue how he reached Tony's side so quickly; it was later on, during the team’s debriefing when Clint was retelling the story that Ianto Jones was a stun-gunning, ass-kicking ninja machine, who took out all the enemies who got in his way without blinking an eye.
Ianto collapsed next to Tony's fallen body and ever-so-carefully lifted off his helmet; the sight of the deeply dented armour worried and scared Ianto. ‘I cannot survive losing another lover, not like this!’ Ianto fought back the flashbacks of Canary Wharf and ignored the phantom burning pain in his hands from pulling Lisa out of the fire.
Fighting to hide his pain from his lover, Tony gently cupped Ianto's face with his hands. "Hey, I'm okay," he whispered when he saw the haunted look appearing in Ianto's eyes.
It took a moment for Ianto look at Tony; he just couldn't tear his eyes off the damaged armour. "You could have died today, Tony! You're only mortal!” Realising how antagonistic his words sounded, Ianto reached up and gripped both of Tony’s hands in his. In a softer tone he continued, “I could have lost you, Cariad, and you would have never know how much I truly care about you," Ianto took a deep shuddering breath as he looked Tony in the eyes and he laid his heart on the line, "how much I love you."
His pain fading away at Ianto’s declaration, Tony surged forward and kissed Ianto with all the passion his heart held; for so long he’d been waiting to hear those words from Ianto. “I love you too.” He pressed another albeit quicker kiss to Ianto's lips. "Now how about we go kick some ass and then head home where we can have a proper celebration?"
A choked half-sob half-laugh escaped Ianto's lips as he nodded his head. "That sounds like a plan to me." Ianto pressed his lips against Tony's a second time before he pulled back and helped his lover back to his feet. Suddenly the damage to Iron Man’s armour wasn’t so bad after all; after all, it had saved his lover’s life.
Tony paused before putting his helmet back on and he looked at Ianto curiously. “What did that mean, what you called me? Cadid?”
Smiling at Tony’s attempt to repeat the word, Ianto stroked a gentle hand along his lover’s cheek. “Cariad,” he repeated slowly. “It means beloved in Welsh.” Ianto’s voice dropped to a whisper. “You are my beloved.”
Overcome by an unexpected wave of emotion, Tony quickly slipped his helmet over his head, hiding the tears in his eyes. Past lovers had called him a lot of different things, but none of them had ever affected him so strongly. “Cariad,” he said quietly to himself. “Beloved.”
Ianto knew that his and Tony's relationship had changed dramatically but he had no idea what other changes that were still to come.
Any plans that Tony and Ianto made for their post-mission celebrations were put on hold when, the moment they were back in the Helicarrier, Tony was whisked away by the SHIELD doctors and Ianto was called to the command bridge.
Phil Coulson could tell that Ianto Jones did not want to be at the briefing; no, it was obvious to even the most casual of observers that he would rather be down in medical bay with Tony. Phil understood that feeling all too well, Clint had spent more than his fair share of time in the medical bay and it was tough not being there for them. But Fury had requested Ianto's attendance on the bridge immediately and no one refused Nick Fury.
Arriving on the bridge Ianto came face-to-face with someone he thought he would never see again. “Tosh? What are you doing here?” The pure shock in Ianto’s voice was clear as he spotted Toshiko standing next to Jasper Sitwell of all people.
“Toshiko Sato is our newest SHIELD Agent,” Fury informed Ianto. "Agent Sitwell has been assigned to show her around but I thought you would want to know about Miss Sato's arrival right away."
"Yes, sir, you would be correct." Ianto could hardly believe his eyes; it really was his Tosh right there before him.
Tosh smiled warmly at her old friend before looking up at Jasper. “Would you mind if I spoke to Ianto for a bit? We have a lot to catch up on.”
Jasper shook his head a faint flush on his cheeks. "No, that's fine; I'll catch up with you afterwards. You do remember where the mess hall is?" Tosh nodded back with her own blush colouring her cheeks.
Ianto looked between Tosh and Jasper; he was surprised to see the normally calm and collected tech genius blushing like a schoolgirl. 'Good for you, Tosh, you deserve a chance at happiness.' “I’ll take good care of her for you,” Ianto promised and fought back the smile that wanted to break forth at the delightful blush that appeared on both their cheeks.
"Shall we?" Ianto offered Tosh his arm and with a smile Tosh slid her arm into Ianto's as the young man turned his attention to Phil. "Please tell Tony I will be down to see him the moment the doctors give the all clear." Ianto wanted to spend time with Tosh but at the same time he wanted his lover to know that he would be right there the moment he was allowed to be.
A hint of a smile appeared on Coulson's face. "I will be happy to inform him." He knew that the old friends had much to catch up on.
Tosh looked at Ianto with expectant curiosity. “Tony?”
Ianto had the grace to blush before her knowing eyes. “Let’s walk and talk, okay?”
It wasn’t easy, but after collecting a couple of sandwiches Ianto and Tosh managed to find a quiet corner in the cafeteria and after they’d eaten, Ianto made a pot of his coffee much to the joy of everyone else lucky enough to be there. Tosh blinked in amazement and then wisely got out of the way when there was a mad rush across the room for Ianto's coffee. As Ianto set their mugs down on the table, she grinned cheekily. "I see something's never change! I swear, Ianto, in no time you'll be ruling the world."
Hearing his best friend echo his lover’s words brought an amused smile to Ianto's lips. "I very much doubt that will be happening any time soon. Tony doesn't like to share and he's afraid that someone will become addicted to my blends and try to steal me away to satisfy their vice, so he doesn’t like it when I make a pot anywhere but home. It's a rare treat for them to get my coffee."
Tosh’s ears perked up; “Home? I there something I should know about?” She sipped her coffee and continued, “Is this home with the Tony you mentioned earlier?”
Unable to stop it, Ianto blushed to the tips of his ears. “Tony Stark, yes. You’ll meet him later; he’s in the med bay being checked out after a mission went south on us.” Determined to change the subject, he asked, “Speaking of med bays, how’s Owen these days?”
“He’s fine.” Toshiko concentrated on the contents of her coffee cup. Hearing the terse tone of Tosh’s response, Ianto wisely decided not to pursue the topic.
Ianto really had meant to keep up to date about the goings-on of Torchwood but he’d had his hands full with Tony and SHIELD. Regretfully that meant that his friendship with Tosh had slipped through the cracks; hopefully now, though, he could make things up to her and as Ianto studied his friend he finally asked, “Not that I’m not happy to see you, Tosh, because I am, but why are you here?” Ianto had honestly believed that there was nothing that could be tear Tosh away from Torchwood or Jack.
Tosh stared into her coffee cup she had truly missed Ianto’s coffee and its comfortable familiarity gave her the courage to get through the next few horribly difficult minutes. Drawing a deep breath, she straightened her shoulders and looked Ianto in the eye. “Jack’s gone, Ianto. After you left things just fell apart.” She shrugged and a look of helplessness crossed her face. “There was a string of murders all with one thing in common, the culprit left Torchwood’s name smeared on walls or floors in the victim’s blood. Cardiff’s detectives were at a loss, but Gwen happened to be at the constable’s office visiting with Andy Davidson and she saw an artist’s rendering of the murder weapon.” She paused and sipped her coffee.
“Do you remember that metal glove and the bladed weapon we recovered from the Bay? The ones you named the Risen Mitten and the Life Knife? Well, somehow she managed to convince Jack that we should allow her to use the glove to bring Suzie back from the dead. Only what we didn’t know at the time was that that was exactly what Suzie had planned on; somehow she’d figured out that there was a connection between the knife and the glove.”
Ianto stared at Tosh, utterly gobsmacked by the story she was telling. He had no idea what to say, though, so he merely sipped his coffee.
“I don’t know how she did it, Ianto, but before she died Suzie set a plan in motion that would bring her back to life and not for just the two minutes we’d achieved before. Owen discovered that the longer Gwen wore it more the glove was slowly draining the life from her and into Suzie; it was literally reversing the gunshot wound in her head and transferring it to Gwen. Then Gwen decided to sneak Suzie out of the Hub but before we could get out ourselves and follow them a level-four Hub lockdown was triggered and…” Blinking back tears, Tosh reached out and gripped Ianto’s hand tightly. “…by the time we got out it was too late. Suzie had drained the life from Gwen.”
Ianto bowed his head and mourned the loss of Gwen’s life; while they weren’t close and they certainly were never friends by any stretch of the imagination, Ianto would miss her. Gwen Cooper, one more epitaph to read, ‘Death by Torchwood’. “What happened to Suzie?”
“Jack tried, he really did, but he couldn’t bring himself to kill her so she sat in the cells for almost two weeks until he made his decision. He Retconned her, removing all of her memories of Torchwood, and then he set her up with a new life in Swansea. He wanted her close enough to keep a very close eye on her but still far enough away from Cardiff that her memory shouldn’t be triggered. Owen tweaked the Retcon formula and it’s now next to impossible to break it, but Jack didn’t want to take any chances.”
Ianto nodded with grudging approval of Jack’s judgement. He knew it couldn’t have been an easy choice for the leader; Suzie Costello had been Jack’ first hire when he’d been forced to create his own team at the New Year’s Eve tragedy. Ianto had been closer to Suzie than to Gwen, and despite hearing about her rather unexpected homicidal tendencies, he had a true admiration for her ability to reverse-engineer alien artefacts. Between the combined skills of Suzie and Toshiko, Torchwood had accomplished some true technological innovations.
“I’m sorry to hear about Gwen and Suzie, but I’m glad to see you’re all right.” Ianto squeezed Tosh’s hand gratefully. ‘I don’t know what I’d do if it had been Tosh instead of Gwen that Suzie killed.’
Tosh smiled at her friend; she had a good idea what he was thinking and it warmed her heart. “In a funny – and I mean Torchwood funny, not ha-ha funny – it would seem that a piece of Gwen is still alive in Suzie. After Gwen’s memorial service, Rhys Williams decided to leave Cardiff; too many memories, he said, but I believe that it was because he wanted to get as far away from Torchwood as possible.”
“Can’t really blame him for that,” Ianto grinned ruefully. “After all, I crossed the pond to get away!”
“And yet I still found you.” Rolling her eyes at Ianto, Tosh smacked his hand. “Anyway, turns out he transferred to Harwood’s Swansea branch, she accidentally rear-ended his van, one thing led to another and they fell in love.” She noticed Ianto’s wide-eyed stare and giggled. “I know! Talk about weird coincidence and opposites attracting and all that, but from what I’ve seen of them they are pretty adorable together.” Tosh never thought they would work as a couple but in some strange way they did. “I wonder if somehow, Rhys knows that Gwen’s in there some place?” she mused quietly.
Ianto blinked as he processed Tosh’s news. Suzie was with Rhys? ‘Well, whatever floats their boat.’ “I wish them the best of luck.” And Ianto found he truly meant it; he hoped that Suzie would treat Rhys the way he should have been all along. Finally, he gathered the courage to ask the one question that had been on his mind since he’d first laid eyes on Tosh on the command bridge, but he disguised his true purpose by saying, “So what about Owen and Jack?” He was dreading learning the truth about Jack’s fate because even though he was happy with Tony he would always have his what-if memories and fantasies with Jack.
Ianto watched a series of emotions appear and disappear in Tosh’s eyes and he knew it was going to be much tougher for Tosh to talk about their fates. Staring into the depths of her nearly empty coffee cup she began, “After the events with Suzie and Gwen we were all drifting aimlessly through our lives. You’d’ve thought that losing two more members of our team would have brought us closer together, but instead, the exact opposite happened. The only time Jack emerged from his office was to answer Rift calls, Owen started setting all-time records for drinking and shagging, and I…”
“It’s all right, Tosh, you don’t have to tell me,” Ianto could feel his friend’s pain and it hurt him to know that he hadn’t been there to help her.
Flashing a grateful smile at Ianto, Tosh drained her coffee cup. “Then the Sky Gypsy came through the Rift carrying a pilot and two passengers straight out of the 50’s. I was able to help the young girl, Emma; she’s in London now interning at a top design shop. Owen fell in love with the female pilot, Diane Holmes, but she couldn’t adjust to having her wings clipped, even temporarily until she could get a new license. She decided to take her chances and fly back into the Rift; she asked Owen to come with her and he said yes.”
“I am sorry, Tosh.” His words felt woefully inadequate; he knew Tosh had carried a torch for Torchwood’s snarky medic for years, but he was blind to her feelings and often flaunted his sexual conquests in her face.
“It’s all right, Ianto,” Tosh shrugged stoically. “My grandmother always told me that everything happens for a reason. So, that left Jack and I trying to deal with everything and then some and we had no idea what we should do. It was awful, I won’t lie. We were lucky that the stuff the Rift spit out after the Sky Gypsy was just odd bits of space trash, I guess is the best term for it, but the Weevils decided that it was party time and we were out every night for almost three weeks straight. I’m telling you, I was going out of my mind! Then one day the TARDIS arrived.”
Ianto’s breath caught in his throat and his stomach clenched. Everyone at Torchwood knew about the legendary TARDIS; she was the Doctor’s vehicle, a ship capable of travelling through both space and time. Rumour had it that she was actually a sentient being and that she and the Doctor shared a symbiotic relationship, although no one could back that claim up with any proof. In his heart, Ianto was happy for Jack; the Welshman knew how long the immortal had been waiting for the Doctor – his Doctor – to return to Cardiff. “So Jack’s gone with the Doctor? Good for him; I’m glad, really. He’s been waiting a long time and it’s about time he was happy.”
Tosh shook her head emphatically, sending her dark hair flying in front of her face. “It wasn’t the Doctor, Ianto, it was you.”
“Huh?!” Ianto was unsure if he’d heard Tosh right. “What?”
“It wasn’t the Doctor, Ianto, it was you.”
“No, that’s not…” Ianto frowned, trying to wrap his mind around Tosh’s earthquake of an announcement. “I’ve been right here every single day since I left Cardiff. I think I’d know if I suddenly appeared in the middle of the Hub in the Doctor’s TARDIS!”
“Trust me, Jack and I were just as surprised as you are to see you come walking through the door. It took some time to explain but it turns out that he was an alternate universe Ianto who came through the Rift in the TARDIS. Through cataclysmic events, his world and all its inhabitants were lost to him. It was one of those moments when the Universe intervened and this other Ianto happened to be in the right place at the right time and he was rescued at the very last second by the Doctor – his version of the Doctor. With nothing else for him, he accepted an invitation to go travelling with the Time Lord and his Jack and they were very happy for quite a while but then the Universe stepped in again and he lost both of them at some place called Satellite Five.”
Tosh knew that no matter how long she lived, she would never forget the look of utter sadness and pure terror that flashed briefly in Jack’s eyes; it was obvious to her that somehow he knew what the other Ianto was talking about. “After Jack and the Doctor passed away, the TARDIS ended up sacrificing part of her life force to keep Ianto alive and after they’d floated around aimlessly in the time vortex for a while, she decided there was only one thing to do thing break them both out of a deep depression, so she brought him to this Universe to find his happy ending.”
“You said she gave up a piece of herself to Ianto – does that mean he’s immortal, like Jack?” There was a spark of hope in Ianto’s heart; from the moment Jack had told him about having to live forever, the only thing Ianto could think of was how unbearably lonely Jack was going to be, having everyone he would ever know and ever love die on him.
“I don’t know, he never said, at least not to me. If he is then I’m pleased for both of them. I guess you should know that once you left, Jack was never the same. It’s like you took something vital from him and he just slowly started fading away, so when this new Ianto arrived Jack was absolutely smitten with him. They connected from the very moment they met and the more time they spent together, the more Jack returned to his former self.”
A spike of pure envy ravaged its way through Ianto’s heart as he listened to Tosh’s story. He knew it was unreasonable to be jealous of his own self but he couldn’t help what he was feeling. ‘That should be me with Jack!’ he thought and then immediately felt ashamed of himself. ‘I have Tony in my life now and I should just be satisfied that Jack’s as happy as I am.’
Tosh hadn’t realised that Ianto had stopped listening to him and she was still talking as Ianto rejoined the conversation. “…I could see the longing in his eyes to join him in the TARDIS and travel the Universe again and I just couldn’t let him give up this chance. I knew that I was the one holding him back, that he wouldn’t abandon me so I contacted Director Fury. After they successfully recruited you, SHIELD approached me from time to time with an offer that I really wanted to accept but that I’d always turned down because I just couldn’t leave Jack. I owe that man my life in more ways than one.”
“Oh, Tosh,” Ianto couldn’t think of anything to say; he could see the pure emotions in her eyes. “I don’t think Jack would have minded you going; of all of us, I think you hold the sweetest spot in his heart.”
For a moment the Japanese computer genius was left speechless by Ianto’s words and tears welled up in her eyes. She stared at Ianto for a long minute before giving herself a shake. “Thank you for saying that, Ianto,” and the sincerity of her voice nearly brought Ianto to tears of his own.
His voice was husky as he told her, “I meant every word. Now, back to Jack and me…” a sudden thought crossed his mind. “Do you think that if we met, the other me and I, would the Universe explode or something?”
Tosh looked at him for a second and then started giggling. “No, it wouldn’t. He’s from an alternate universe so you wouldn’t be crossing your own timelines.”
“Huh,” Ianto nodded.
“Anyway, I got in touch with Director Fury and told him that if the job offer still existed, I would be very grateful to join his team. He told me I had one week to settle my affairs and Agent Sitwell would collect me at my flat. With one phone call, I had freed up Jack to go with his new Ianto. When I told him what I’d done, Jack practically squeezed the life out of me he hugged me so hard! When he’d stopped crying – I’d never seen him cry, Ianto, not when Gwen died, not even when you left – and he confessed that he’d been planning to transfer me to SHIELD since we lost Owen to the Rift. He didn’t say it, but I don't think he trusted himself to keep me safe any longer.”
Ianto was contemplating the idea of Jack in tears; ‘Did he cry over me?’
“Jack closed down the Hub, secured the Archives and was at my flat waiting for Jasp…” Tosh blushed prettily. “…Agent Sitwell to arrive and the last time I saw him, he was waving at me from the TARDIS’ door as she vanished.”
“I’m glad he’s happy, Tosh. He’s been waiting almost two hundred years for the doctor to return and return him to the stars.” Ianto knew he sounded slightly poetic, but he didn’t care. He knew how many nights Jack spent atop the highest buildings in Cardiff, staring out into space, wondering when – if – he’d ever be going back.
"So what about you? Is it true you’re dating Tony Stark?" It was Tosh’s turn to ask the question she’d been dying to ask since she arrived.
Ianto wasn't at all surprised that Tosh knew about his relationship with Iron Man; between the gossip-mongering tabloids and the ratings-hungry entertainment news shows the fact that Tony was in a committed relationship with Ianto was big news and they were the focus of many stories. "Yes, it's true. I am in a relationship with Tony."
Tosh could see how the sparkle in Ianto's eyes that she knew far too well was never there during his time at Torchwood. "I'm happy for you, really truly happy for you."
A smile that lit up his eyes graced Ianto's face; it was one that Tosh had never seen before. "Thank you, Tosh, I am happy here and I know that you will be too. I can't wait for you to meet Tony; you're going to get along famously."