The TARDIS was extremely unhappy; someone had taken her precious Ianto and planned on hurting him. She could not, would not allow that to happen. 'It's a good thing Jack's already with us.' The TARDIS didn't want to waste time hunting down the often elusive immortal, not when Ianto was in danger.
The Doctor, who had realised the mistakes his last regeneration had made when it came to Jack, had vowed to make it up to him. He’d invited the immortal to travel with him for as long as he wanted; he knew it was a half-assed apology for tossing Alonso at him in that seedy bar, but it was a start. Once again the Time Lord mentally kicked himself for not recognising how absolutely devastating the death of his soul mate, Ianto Jones, had been to Jack.
"Whoa! Doc, what's happening?" Jack wore an excited grin as he hung on for dear life as the TARDIS rocked from side to side.
"I'm not sure but something has gotten her worked up." The Doctor couldn't remember the last time his ship had ever acted like this.
"Well wherever she's taking us she's wants to get us there in a hurry," Jack commented and he tightened his grip on the strut as the TARDIS gave an unexpectedly vicious lurch sideways.
As she navigated her way through the violent eddies and whirlpools of the Void, the TARDIS wished she could have had a chance to prepare Jack for the fact that his beloved Welshman was now a child. 'I hope you will forgive me for not telling you sooner, Jack, but Ianto's safety is more important. I just hope he is there.'
Ianto awoke lying in a small cage on the floor of a dark room and immediately cried out for his fathers. He was cold, hungry and so terribly alone; he wanted Darcy, he wanted his bunny, but most of all, he wanted his Da and his Dada. He cried out again, this time louder, and the door to his room suddenly swung open.
“Da?” he whimpered; when he saw that a stranger stood in the doorway, he started crying in earnest, great gulping sobs of fear that echoed eerily in the empty room.
“Shut up, kid,” the man kicked the side of Ianto’s cage, “or I’ll give you something to cry about!”
With a shriek of terror, Ianto scrambled as far away from the man as he could get and as the door slammed shut, cutting off the shaft of light from the hall, Ianto curled himself into a tiny ball of misery and wept softly, waiting for his fathers to come and save him.
Loki hated hearing the constant whimpers of despair that fell from Ianto’s lips as his tiny body trembled with fear. The God of Mischief was invisible to all those but the child as he wrapped himself around Ianto’s small frame. The little boy gratefully curled into his chest for warmth and safety, and his eased a little. “Do not worry, little one, your fathers and the rest of the Avengers are on their way to help you, and as a special surprise, there’s someone else coming that I think you will really like seeing again.”
Teary-eyed Ianto looked up at Loki and held up his hand. "Ouchies," he wept softly. During his short life, Ianto had known nothing but love and tenderness; the rough handling, profanity and loud voices were so far from the life he was used to. Shortly after he’d woken up, the soldiers had come, pulled him out of his cage and hauled him off to a room that was much too brightly lit, where everything was white and scary, and where no one was nice to him at all.
One man had stripped Ianto of his clothes, throwing them to the floor and kicking them out of the way, and then he’d sat Ianto on a cold hard metal table, laughing when Ianto had cried out. Another man had been particularly mean to Ianto, poking and prodding him roughly, measuring and weighing him, sticking needles into him – when he was stabbed with a frighteningly large needle for the first time, Ianto had cried out in pain and surprise and the man had casually slapped him across the face, telling him to grow up. Even now, hours later, there was a large red handprint clearly visible on Ianto’s pale swollen skin.
The mean man, a scientist with a reputation for ‘losing’ his test subjects, had stuck patches all over his body, on his arms, legs and torso and zapped him with electrical impulses and when Ianto screamed in pure agony, the man had cruelly laughed at him and continued with his testing with increasingly powerful charges. At one point, Ianto had mercifully passed out from the pain, only to awaken later to find he’d been stuffed into a new machine that was slowly sucking all the air from his lungs over and over again. It had been a terrifying experience.
Hours later the soldier had thrown Ianto back into his cage where he’d huddled miserably in the corner. He was exhausted, starving, and shaking violently from the cold; when the first man had redressed him, he’d left off Ianto’s sweater, shoes and socks. As Ianto welcomed Loki’s presence, he felt a little bit better; at last he had someone familiar, even if only slightly, but it helped ease the fierce loneliness. He wasn’t used to being so very alone and he didn’t know what to do. All he wanted was for his fathers to arrive and take him home.
Hate for Ianto’s captors flared like wildfire in Loki's eyes; he wanted to get Ianto out of his cage but his body was still physically trapped in the Asgard prison. "When I arrive I will kill you all," Loki vowed darkly, sending his thoughts across the universe to the men evil enough to harm his Ianto. He could feel the TARDIS at the back of his mind, urging him to hold on; his ride was nearly there. "Hang on a little longer, my dear boy, we will soon be there."
“Dada,” the soft trembling whimper escaped Ianto's lips; he’d never been so frightened in all his life and he didn't want to be alone with the men who kept hurting him any longer. It tore at Loki's heart to hear such a heart-wrenching sound coming from someone he loved. "I promise I'm coming, small one, as is your Jack and we will get you out of here." He tightened his arms around Ianto and pressed a kiss to his hair, relishing the way Ianto cuddled closer to him.
Fury only had to take one look at the barely contained rage burning in Coulson's eyes to know the answer to the question that he hadn't even asked yet. "I take it the Black Widow is interrogating your suspect."
"Indeed, sir." Coulson confirmed in a smooth tone.
"Good.” The Director nodded briefly. “I would offer SHIELD's support but I don't think it's going to be needed. Bring our tiny Avenger home." Fury wouldn't admit it but despite his efforts to the contrary, the young child had grown on him.
"We will, Sir." Coulson knew that this was the most important mission the Avengers were ever going to undertake just as he knew that there was absolutely no way they were going to fail.
The Doctor and Jack shared a confused look as the TARDIS appeared around a young man who looked far more dangerous than he let on. The Time Lord was the first to react, while Jack hung back, ready to leap into action at the first sign of trouble.
Stepping forward, he thrust out his hand in greeting. "Hello, I'm the Doctor and who are you?"
One eyebrow raised, Loki stared at the man, completely unimpressed by him, while his prison uniform disappeared to be replaced by his usual outfit. "I am Loki, the God of Mischief and I know all about you, Time Lord, and the Immortal,” he cast a quick glance in Jack’s direction, “but now is not the time. A friend is in grave danger." Loki's eyes drifted upwards and a dark, dangerous look turned them almost totally back. "They are torturing him."
That was all the TARDIS needed to hear and without warning she leapt into action, knocking the Doctor and Jack off their feet, although Loki somehow managed to keep his balance but he did laugh as he watched Jack and the Doctor untangle themselves and regain their footing. His amusement was brief, however, with his eyes burning with rage he sent out a message across the universe. 'Hang on, Ianto, we are coming.'
Ianto’s reprieve from the cruel testing regime only last a short time before two soldiers returned to his little room and stared down at the whimpering child. "Man, doesn't this kid ever shut up? It wasn't that bad and you’re not really hurt, not yet at least," one of them snarled as he yanked Ianto out of his cage with one hand while rubbing the back of his neck with the other; he could feel a headache forming at the kid's constant cries. "Shut up!" he ordered, lifting his hand to strike the child.
“You’re not going to touch him,” a dangerous voice snarled from behind the A.I.M. agent and that was the last thing he or his companion ever heard as his world turned black and a gargled sound escaped his lips. Their limp bodies dropped like rocks to the floor, landing with a thud.
Former Time Agent John Hart was a lot of things but there were some boundaries even he wouldn't cross and harming a child was pretty much at the top of his list, so when he’d been contacted by a real TARDIS of all things and told that there was a little boy being tortured and experimented on, he’d responded instantly. “Certainly couldn’t hurt the old karma now, right?” he’d asked hypothetically.
"People like you make me sick," John stated matter-of-factly as he cleaned his knife and sheathed before stepping over the dead soldiers’ bodies, frowning with distaste as he noticed he’d stepped in blood. “Great,” he growled, “just great.”
Turning his attention to Ianto, John felt his stomach lurch violently and he had to swallow convulsively to stop his urge to vomit. In addition to the handprint on his face – the blow had blackened the skin beneath one sad blue eye – there were multiple bruises on his arms and legs, and without even looking John knew his torso and legs would be badly bruised as well. Knowing he didn’t want to see, John gently lifted Ianto’s shirt up and saw multiple burn marks on his back and chest, as well as several places where scabs were forming over flesh that had been sliced away.
John carefully replaced this shirt and then noticed that on Ianto’s head, a patch of hair the size of a dime was missing where it had been removed by the root. There were circular marks around Ianto’s wrists and ankles where he’d struggled against the shackles that had tied him down to the examination table, rubbing his skin away and making his flesh raw. It took all of John’s will-power not to vomit as he thought about the torture this tiny creature had endured at the hands of a sadistic madman.
"No one deserves this, especially not a child,” John declared fiercely. “Don't you worry, Eye-Candy, I'm going to get you out of here," John Hart vowed as he reached out slowly so he didn’t scare him even more, gently lifted the terrified child into his arms and held him tenderly against his chest. “It’s all right now, sweetheart, Uncle John’s here and you’re safe,” he murmured comfortingly as they left the room. “I’m gonna take you to see your daddies, okay?”
Ianto perked up a little at the word ‘daddies’; “Da?” he asked quietly. He raised his head a little and looked around. “Dada?”
John swallowed past a lump in his throat; he’d always had a thing for Ianto Jones, but this was entirely different. Gone was the self-assured, almost cocky young Welshman who’d defended Jack so fiercely, and in his place was a sweet, innocent child who just wanted to go home. In a totally uncharacteristic move, John buried his face in Ianto’s hair and kissed the top of his head. “Yeah, kid, dada,” he whispered.
Ianto didn't know why but he trusted the new man implicitly and he clung as tightly as he could to his unknown saviour who saved him from being hurt again.
It hadn't taken long for Natasha and her knives to get the info the Avengers needed to mount their rescue mission, and Maria had volunteered to fly the jet personally. She was under direct orders from Nick Fury to bring Ianto back no matter what.
Agent Phil Coulson’s job was to handle the Avengers and keep them from rushing off into danger without a plan, and it was a job he did very well. This time was different however; this time he was fully prepared to completely let them off the leash and then go find something else to do for a while. "Bring him home," was the only thing he said to Clint as his lover kissed him for luck.
"We will,” he promised and then a dangerous grin danced across Clint's face. “Heaven help anyone who stands in our way."
Coulson and Maria shared a telling look; there wasn't going to be anything left by the time the Avengers got through with them and the two season warriors simply they couldn't find it within themselves to care.