The Doctor and Jack had no idea why the TARDIS had brought them to wherever they’d landed, but Loki seemed to know his way around and from the tension in his shoulders he wasn't happy. About to round a corner, Jack halted abruptly as a familiar form went rushing past them.
"John?” he asked in disbelief, “what are you doing here?"
John whirled around his gun coming up instinctively to rest against Jack's forehead, his finger twitching on the trigger but before either man could say or do anything a tiny voice spoke up.
Suddenly realising that John wasn’t alone, Jack looked away from John’s deadly gaze to the child in his arms and he swallowed hard, his breath catching in his throat. Despite the fact that he was looking at a young boy no older than two he knew those blue eyes anywhere, "Ianto?" he asked incredulously, almost afraid of the answer.
“’ack!” the child repeated demandingly, holding up his arms for a hug and making grabby hands impatiently. A molten rage unmatched by anything he’d ever experience before filled Jack’s body and soul as he took in the bruises that littered the tiny arms as well as the swollen cheek and black eye. Someone had hurt his Ianto! Someone was going to die and nobody – not even the Doctor – was going to be able to stop him.
“Come here,” Jack very carefully scooped Ianto up into his arms and cuddled him close to his chest, his heart so overwhelmed by the fact that he was holding his beloved Ianto in his arms again that he never once question the ‘how’ of the situation. He buried his face in Ianto’s hair and whispered, “I love you, Jones, Ianto Jones,” so quietly that only the presence of the TARDIS in his soul knew what he’d said. "I've got you, Ianto, and this time I'm never letting you go," he vowed. Nothing was going to separate him from his Ianto again, not when he'd been granted a second chance with his Welshman.
The toddler’s face lit up in a happy toothsome grin, “‘ack!” as he reached out and patted the cheeks of the man who was holding him before snuggling deeper into his hold. He’d never felt so at home in his life as he did at that very moment; it was as though he’d been missing something vital and now he was finally whole again.
The Doctor’s face could have been carved out of stone as he saw the bruises on the small child that Jack cuddled close. To hurt a child was purely unforgivable in the Time Lord’s mind. ‘A child is a precious gift and these apes, no, that’s an insult to apes, these vile creatures dared to harm someone so innocent and untouched. Well I promise it will be the last thing they ever do; I’ll see to that.’
Drawing a deep breath, the Time Lord managed to put a comforting smile on his face as he reached out and gently stroked Ianto’s unbruised cheek. "Come along, Jack, we’re leaving. The sooner we get our young friend into the TARDIS’ sick bay the sooner he’ll feel better."
Jack involuntarily shivered as he heard the darkness seeping into the Doctor's tone; it was clear that he was slipping into his Oncoming Storm persona. Looking down at the exhausted child lying in his arms, Jack didn't have an ounce of pity for those who dared to lay a finger on his Ianto.
Jack turned his gaze onto John with deadly rage burning in his eyes. "What did you do?"
John’s eyes widened to comical proportions and looked truly horrified. "Jack! How could you!? You really think I could do something like this to a child? I know I haven't always been the nicest guy in the Universe, but when have I ever harmed a child?" the other Time Agent demanded indignantly. “I thought you knew me better than that!”
"I know, and I'm sorry. I really am.” Jack had the good graces to look ashamed of himself and his accusations. John was right; he would never hurt anyone incapable to defending themselves. He looked at John, the Doctor, and finally at Ianto, his precious supposed-to-be-dead Ianto. “But I just don't understand; how is this possible? I lost Ianto."
"Bloody hell, Jack, you really don't know? Where the hell have you been, man? Your Ianto Jones is really Ianto Stark-Rogers, the only son of Tony Stark and Steve Rogers. He's a legend! I knew Eye-Candy looked familiar back in Cardiff but I never had time to figure it out; you were always kicking me back into the Rift. I finally found some peace and quiet on Tanta Lagos, so I did some research and it wasn't hard to track his timeline to find out who he was," John explained. He was simply unable to wrap his head around the fact that Jack didn't even know who his love really was.
"There's no time to waste on chit-chat; we have to get going now!" Loki snapped at the men, he was gripped by the almost uncontrollable urge to rip apart the bastards who hurt Ianto.
Jack tightened his grip on Ianto and the little boy sank deeper into his hold, the immortal could hardly wrap his mind around the ground-breaking news John had just dropped on him. "Right, let's get Ianto out of here."
Not one single A.I.M. soldier who’d been tasked with keeping the Avengers out stood a chance against the righteous outrage of the team, and more importantly no one had a prayer in hell against a very angry Hulk. The one-sided battle didn’t last very long at all, and in less than fifteen minutes the Avengers were in the building and there wasn’t an enemy combatant left standing; the vast majority were permanently out of commission. Satisfied with a job well done, the team gathered themselves and prepared to leave, although no one put their weapons away just in case – you could never be too careful.
“Am I too late?”
As one the Avengers all froze and slowly turned at the sound of a new voice and then they gaped in astonishment. They had to be part of a mass hallucination; there was simply no way they were seeing the figure they thought they were seeing heading straight towards them.
"Brother?" Thor asked his tone one of in pure disbelief.
A deep scowl his marred his face as Loki led his little group to join the Avengers. "Not now, brother," he responded.
"But how…” The God of Thunder was unsure whether or not he should be happy to see his troublesome sibling. “How are you here? How did you escape your prison cell?" Thor couldn't wrap his mind around the fact that the last time he’d seen his brother he was being locked up in a very secure cell.
Loki stopped and huffed out a deep breath of exasperation as he stared at his brother like he had just said the stupidest thing ever. "Did you really think an Asgard prison could hold me? Oh, I am disappointed in you, brother. I thought you knew me better than that!"
Ianto's blue-grey eyes filled with tears and his lower lip trembled as his eyes searched for and finally landed on the familiar forms of his fathers. With a loud cry of, "Da!" he held out his arms desperately wanting to be in the familiar embrace of his parents.
Pushing everyone out of his way, including the bulk of Bruce’s Hulk, Steve wasted no time in swooping in and snatching his son away from the man who held him so tenderly. ‘My son!’ While one part of his mind registered the slight hesitation with which the man released Ianto at that point it didn't matter to Steve. Nothing mattered at that moment in time except having his beloved son back in his arms. “Oh Ianto,” Steve paid no attention to the fact that there were tears spilling down his cheeks as he pressed his little boy to his chest. “My sweet baby,” and the pure gratitude in his voice was unmistakable.
Within a matter of seconds Tony's metal-covered arms were gently wrapped around the two most important men in his life, joining the family in a close hug. He’d never seen a more beautiful sight in his life as the man he loved held their son in his arms.
As overjoyed as he was to see his fathers again, Ianto needed to show them how the bad men had hurt him, and he held up his bruised arms to his dads. With his lower lip trembling and a cracked whimper in his voice, he said, "Ouchies, da, dada." It was a scene that broke everyone's hearts.
The sight of the injuries covering Ianto's tiny body had the Avengers seeing red all over again and had any of the A.I.M. soldier still been capable of defending themselves, they would certainly have met their deaths. Even though the metal encasing his lover, Steve could feel Tony trembling against him and with one look at his partner’s face he saw the pure fury in Tony's eyes, something Steve was sure was reflected his own.
‘They have tortured my son! They will pay, oh how they will pay!’
"Hulk, smash," Tony ordered, his voice as hard as the green guy’s fists.
The Hulk’s grin was not a nice one; he was so going to enjoy hurting those who’d hurt Hulk's tiny friend.
Everyone knew they would always remember the day Ianto and the Hulk met; it had been after a tough mission and Bruce had yet to calm down and return to his mild-mannered self. He’d met the small child when he’d stomped into the living room, didn’t see him on the floor and nearly tripped over him. Ianto had taken one look at the giant green guy and put down the plushies he was playing with. Standing up on wobbly legs he had lifted up his arms and in a commanding tone that he clearly got from Tony and which brooked no argument, he’d demanded, “Up!”
Everyone had tensed as one of the Hulk’s huge green hands had gently wrapped itself around Ianto and lifted the small human up to eye level, where they’d studied one another for several seconds. Then, a big toothy grin had appeared on Ianto’s face as he snuggled in close against the Hulk hand; no one dared to breathe or move as Ianto curled up and decided to take his afternoon nap in the Hulk's arms. After that incredibly touching introduction, it had become a common sight to find Ianto dozing in the Hulk's arms.
"Well, that was certainly fast" the man who’d been watching everything from his hidden office declared with a maniacal grin on his face. "Oh well, I got what I needed." He wrapped his hands around the vial of Ianto's blood and the data chip containing the scans he’d run of Ianto. It was clear that for now the Rift was dormant within Ianto, but as he got older he would gain control of the power that lay within him. "We will meet again, Ianto, and no one, certainly not your freak, will be able to keep you safe from me."