New Earth, New Wales, New Cardiff
Autumn in New Cardiff had always been Ianto's favourite time of year, he loved watching the leaves change their colour, and Ianto had a perfect view of the courtyard from his office. Looking out, he could see several students wandering about the college; while school was not yet back in session some of the students had still chosen to return earlier.
Taking one last look out the window, Ianto returned his attention to the shelves of one of his numerous and well-filled bookcases. Gone were his sturdy and functional adventuring clothes and in their place he wore an immaculate and well-tailored suit that highlighted some of his best assets; it had been a gift from someone very dear. Pulling out his glasses from his pocket, he located the book he had been looking for and carefully pulled it from its place. He knew that books were very old-fashioned but to Ianto there was nothing better than the feeling of touching real paper and feeling the weight of the books in his hands.
Of all the artefacts that he’d gathered during his years of exploring and excavating, the books that he recovered were his greatest personal treasures. The antiquities, gold, jewels and other valuable items that he recovered went to museums and universities, but the books were all his. Each one was individual, written in different languages, many of which were now dead, and bound in a variety of materials. Ianto was proud of the fact that he’d read each and every one of his books, although for quite a few of them he’d had to use translator programs.
Ianto Jones, Professor of Archaeology and Ancient Civilisations and an extremely popular lecturer, concentrated on the pages of his book, trying to ignore the growing mess that was slowly overtaking his office, all thanks to the one man who had just arrived unannounced and then proceeded to commandeer his desk.
John 'Doctor' Smith, the Curator of the National Museum in New London, was happily examining the numerous small artifacts that Ianto had pocketed on his last adventure. He occasionally used his spectacles to get a closer look at an item’s details, but Ianto could tell that the Doctor was distracted by something else, Ianto knew his mentor and friend all too well.
"Do you think the idol will ever show up?" John finally asked the question that was burning in his mind.
“That’s a good question,” Ianto shrugged his shoulders. “I don't know. Just because Owen had it, it didn't mean that he kept it." Snapping his book closed and replacing it on the shelf he took off his glasses and focused on John, trying his hardest to ignore the pair of raggedy green trainers propped up on his nice clean desk. He completely failed to notice when two pretty co-eds paused at his office window to get a good look at the school's hottest teacher. The main reason at least half the female student body chose to study Archaeology was to stare at Professor Ianto Jones; they’d been known to leave small gifts on his desk, to slip love notes into his pockets and to flirt unabashedly during office hours. Ianto Jones was on campus; this was must-know, must-spread gossip, and in a very short time, this section of the courtyard and the hallway outside Ianto’s office was going to become very busy, very shortly.
With a quick smile and wave at the now crowd of five girls outside the window, John shook his head wondering how someone who knew so much and was so intelligent could be so blind; of course he knew why his young protégée suffered from a lack of confidence where matters of romance were concerned and while John really wanted to hate Jack Harkness for breaking Ianto's heart he couldn't, not when he knew how much Jack was suffering as well.
Paying no attention to the feminine giggling and whispering coming from outside his office Ianto continued speaking, "Getting it away from those Tarqin warriors would be a neat trick," and a hard look entered his normally peaceful blue eyes, "I hope they got him good."
Before the Doctor could say anything there was a rapid tap on the door before it opened and a pretty young blond woman pushed her way in with an armload of reference texts, and Ianto quickly helped her find a spot for them.
"I couldn't get any of River Song's texts, Professor; someone has already got them all checked out till next month when classes start." Rose Tyler, Ianto's teaching assistant, informed him, smiling shyly when she saw that John was smiling brightly at her.
Ianto fought the urge to roll his eyes; oh how he wished those two would just stop dancing around the obvious and act on their feelings for one another. "That's all right, Rose, thank you for getting these."
Rose favoured Ianto with a bright smile. "You're welcome, I’ll keep checking back periodically, just in case the books are returned early, okay? Is there anything else you need?" She hoped to stay a little longer, maybe even work up the courage to speak to John.
Ianto shook his head, while he adored Rose it was for her own safety that she remained ignorant about some of the treasures he went after. He had powerful enemies who wouldn't hesitate to use Rose against him, so the less she knew the safer it was for her. "No, that's all, Rose. I'll see you on Thursday; you go and enjoy your time off, you've more than earned it." He made sure to flash her his sweetest smile.
Rose pouted, she hated it when Ianto gave her that smile, it got her every time and there was just no way to say no to him. "All right, then, I'll see you on Thursday; don't you two work too hard now."
Ianto waited until Rose was gone and the door was closed before turning his attention back to John who was scowling deeply as he examined the last of the artifacts. "Hey, if you don't like them, I can always return them," he jokingly pointed out to his old friend.
The humour flew over John’s head at super-sonic speed and his scowl deepened. "No, no, they are beyond beautiful; I have no doubt that the museum will buy them as they usually do. No questions asked."
Ianto's eyes narrowed as he studied his friend, the man was definitely keeping something from him. "Then what's wrong?"
A sigh escaped John's lips; he knew Ianto wasn't going to like what he had to say next. "I brought along some people today."
Ianto stiffened with immediate suspicion. "What kind of people?" he growled out.
"Government." There was an element of shame in John’s voice; he knew they were Ianto's least favourite people.
“Government people?” Concerned Ianto shifted his gaze to the artifacts. "You brought the Government to my office? Are you insane?" He started cataloguing all the items that might be of questionable provenance.
John waved his hand dismissively. “Oh stop worrying; it's not about your business. They're from UNIT."
"I've already served." Ianto bit out the words with extreme distaste; those were memories he’d rather not revisit for a very long time.
John nodded his head with understanding; he’d heard all about Ianto’s ghosts but he also knew that what they were looking for would be very interesting to Ianto. "It’s UNIT Intelligence, Ianto; they're looking for Harold."
In that very moment Ianto completely forgot how to breathe.
Not wanting government representatives no matter what branch they came from in his office, the only other room that Ianto could think of meeting the UNIT men in was his lecture hall. Leaning nonchalantly against his desk Ianto studied the two men standing before him, Colonel Mace and the only UNIT member that either the Doctor or Ianto liked, Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart. He’d known Ianto since the day he was born; he’d been the one to introduce Ianto’s parents to one another.
Colonel Mace studied Ianto intently. "But you did study under Professor Saxon at the University of New Wales?"
Ianto couldn't say that he did just a little more than study with Harold Saxon; their relationship had been short and brief but very passionate. "We haven't spoken in at least ten years. I'm afraid we had a bit of a falling out." That was putting it mildly. The end of his affair with Harold had been quite dramatic and devastating after Ianto had met and fallen deeply in love with the man of his dreams, the love of his life, a man who in return shattered his heart into jagged, irreparable pieces. 'Just like Harold said he would.'
Alistair studied Ianto with a faint smile on his face. "I figured that, son, but we still have to ask. You really know nothing of his current whereabouts?"
Alistair was one of the few people Ianto couldn't lie to. "Sorry, Alistair, all I have are vague rumours; last I heard he was heading for deep space looking for the Toclafane."
It did not escape either man's notice the disappointed looks that Alistair and Mace exchanged.
"Then Dr Jones is our best hope of trying to make sense of this," Alistair pointed out to his companion.
Mace didn't look convinced but he couldn't go against Alistair if he made it an order. "Well, you must understand, Dr Jones, that the information we’re about to reveal is all strictly confidential." Mace stated. “If need be, we can have you sign the Official Secrets Act.”
"I understand." Ianto was suddenly very curious to know what they had found and how it could possibly involve him.
Mace placed his briefcase on the table and Ianto watched with open interest as he opened it and carefully pulled out what looked to be a very old notebook. It took a moment for Ianto to accept that he was actually seeing the symbol on the front and it had Ianto breathing out a single word, "Gallifrey." Eyes wide as saucers, Ianto looked at the three men. "That says Gallifrey." Now he knew why they needed Harold Saxon; everything Ianto had learned about the Time Lords had come from him. "May I?" he asked Mace looking pointedly at the book.
When Mace glanced over at him for advice Alistair just smiled. "Dr Jones may be one of the few people who can understand what’s written in there."
Ianto tried not to let his excitement show as Mace handed him the notebook and he handled it with pure reverence as if it was a newborn baby, and they watched silently for several minutes as he slowly read the pages and muttered to himself.
"Well, what does it say?" John finally demanded to know when the suspense got too much for him.
Ianto’s eyes were wide and filled with amazement as he looked at them. "It has to do with the Well of Time, the birth place of the TARDIS! This tells where to find it; it's a journal of a Time Lord, of his journeys and struggles. This is the key to everything!"
John couldn't remember the last time he saw Ianto's eyes light up with so much true happiness, well, actually he could and it had been far too long since he seen that look in Ianto's eyes. For the longest time he’d been worried that he would never see it again, he was glad to see his fears were unfounded although he wished it could have been personal business and not professional that put it there.
Alistair knew that there was no way they would be able to stop Ianto from chasing after the Time Lords or their treasure, he also knew that if the legends were true and the TARDIS really could travel through time and space, it would be disastrous for the entire universe if they fell into the wrong hands. He was very grateful that Colonel Mace had agreed with him that coming to Ianto was the best choice. "Dr Jones, you've been very helpful. I hope we can call on you again if we have any questions."
It took all of Ianto's willpower not to smile although he knew that he couldn't fool Alistair for long and that the older man was well aware that he would be going after the TARDIS, with or without UNIT's backing. "Most certainly, sir."
Ianto was not at all surprised to find John standing on his doorstep later that night with a familiar manic grin on his face, and the younger man just shook his head with fond resignation as he stepped back and allowed John entry to his home. Neither man said anything until they reached Ianto's study and John was not at all shocked to see Ianto's desk covered with open books, holomaps and drawings, basically everything the man had on Time Lords. Once Ianto close the door John could no longer contain his excitement, "They want you to go for it, Ianto! They want you to find the Well of Time and even better, they'll pay."
A smile graced Ianto's face. "Good work, John, but I have a feeling Alistair also had a hand in arranging all of this and that, of course, the museum will get the TARDIS when we're done."
A bright grin lit up John face, he’d known that Ianto would say that. "Of course."
"Okay, so I can leave first thing in the morning;, I have contacts that can help me find Toshiko and if anyone can help me find the Well of Time it's her." Ianto was looking forward to seeing his oldest female friend again.
"I know a pilot who can get you to wherever you need to go, no questions asked," John offered, "And no, it's not John Hart," he quickly clarified before Ianto could ask.
Relief appeared on Ianto's face. "Anyone has to be better than John Hart; I don't think I could handle being called Eye-Candy for this entire journey."
John knew Ianto was going to kill him when he found out the name of the pilot, but there was only one person in the entire universe that John trusted enough to keep Ianto safe on this journey. He wouldn’t deny that there was just a bit of underhanded match-making going on; maybe was the chance they needed to rebuild their relationship. 'But you better not hurt him again, Jack, or there will be no place to hide in this universe from me.' Hiding his triumphant grin, John nodded in agreement; "I'll get in contact with him tonight and tell him where to meet you tomorrow."
"Thank you, John, you have no idea how much your support means to me," Ianto told him and then he gave in to his excitement and grabbed the older man up in a huge bear hug. “This is going to be the most amazing and rewarding trip of my entire life!”
A sliver of guilt entered John's heart. 'Don't thank me just yet. I'm about to reunite you with the person who broke your heart.'