The next morning found Ianto transporting down to the nearest shuttle bay; all John had told him was the name of the ship his ride owned, the Myfanwy, and where to find it. For some reason he’d been awfully tight-lipped about her pilot. 'Just what are you up to, Doctor?' Ianto couldn't help the strange sinking feeling deep within his gut.
All thoughts of the mystery around his pilot faded as he finally found the Myfanwy docked between two rather disreputable-looking cargo ships; she was slim and sleek, her metal shone in the light and she was absolutely, "Beautiful!" he breathed out the word lustfully.
"I'm glad you think so."
Ianto stiffened completely and his gut dropped like a rock as a voice he hadn't heard in nearly five years came from behind him, a voice that still haunted his every dream. Taking a deep breath and carefully schooling his expression into one of total blandness, he turned around to face the man he’d given his heart to only to have it shattered into tiny pieces.
Jack Harkness swallowed hard as he stared helplessly at the man he still loved with all that he was and who had so cruelly and thoroughly broken his heart that he’d never even pretended to give to another person. "Hello, Ianto, it's good to see you again."
"I wish I could say the same to you," Ianto shot back viciously.
Jack winced and rubbed the back of his head with embarrassment. "Yeah, I guess I deserved that."
"You think?” Crossing his arms over his chest Ianto glared at his ex-lover. “I think there’s a whole lot more you deserve but I'm going to be the bigger person here and walk away from this without starting a fight."
Jack knew he’d hurt Ianto deeply, and he'd spent the intervening five years regretting that he ever let Gwen Cooper get her claws into him. He had been so infatuated with the Welshwoman from the moment they’d met that he hadn't given any thought to how deeply it might hurt when he started sleeping with her while they were dating. He’d planned on coming clean to Ianto when John learned about the affair and had told him, “either you tell Ianto about your little indiscretion or I will,’ and he was going to do just that.
But what Jack hadn't counted on – hadn’t even dreamed was possible – was Gwen arranging for Ianto to walk in on them while they were only half-dressed. He had never forgotten the devastated, heartbroken look in Ianto's eyes before he’d silently turned away and walked out of his life. The very next day, while looking for Ianto in hopes of at least apologising to him, Jack had learned that Ianto had taken the Doctor up on his latest deep space archaeology trip and he’d never seen his beloved Welshman again.
Until now. And now there was no way he was going to let him walk away again. “I know about the treasure of the Time Lords, Ianto, that's why John contacted me, because I’m the only one crazy enough to fly you to the places you need to go.”
“Well, I am crazy,” Jack quickly reminded him.
Ianto wasn't about to let Jack win, there was no way he could let him get the upper hand. "You know, there is John Hart, I'm sure he'd be more than happy to take care of my every need." Ianto knew he was being cruel but he couldn’t help himself.
The snarl tore itself from his lips before Jack could stop himself, jealousy had reared its ugly head and it was a feeling he only ever got when around Ianto Jones. "I don't think so, Tiger Pants, I happen to know that John has gotten a very generous job offer that will keep him away from New Earth for the next year, so unless you want to wait to find your treasure, I'm your only hope," Jack drawled out his words, pleased to see that his old nickname for Ianto still managed to make the man blush.
Ianto's eyes narrowed with barely concealed anger; he couldn't wait a year, a fact that Jack not only knew but was clearly using to his advantage. "Fine, seeing as you’re my only hope I guess I have no choice but to agree to this idiocy. But let me make one thing perfectly clear, Jack Harkness, this is only a business arrangement, absolutely nothing more," Ianto snapped at him.
Jack couldn't help himself as he smirked cheekily at Ianto and told him, "I’d almost forgotten how beautiful you are with that determined fire blazing in your eyes."
"Jack! I'm serious." Ianto refused to give into the charming Boeshane man, he’d been down that path once before and he knew that it would only end in heartbreak for him.
Jack was not blind to the old pain simmering in Ianto's haunting blue eyes and he hated himself a little more for being the reason it was there. "I'm sorry, Ianto, I really am. I never meant to hurt you and I understand this is strictly business," the ‘for now’ of that statement went unsaid. Jack knew he had screwed up big time when he’d cheated on Ianto with Gwen, but now, miraculously, he had been given a second chance and this time he was determined to do everything in his power to win Ianto back.
"Do you need to tell anyone that you’re leaving?" It hurt Ianto to ask that question but he needed to know whether or not Gwen was still in the picture.
“No,” Jack shook his head and he tried not to notice that a small flicker of hope appeared in Ianto’s eyes; clearly the man was still interested in him if he was asking such a personal question. "There's no one. I ended it with Gwen that same day when I realised what she’d done and I have spent regretting that I hurt you every day since you walked out of my life."
Ianto wasn't sure what to think of Jack's confession so he just filed it away to consider later, when he was alone. "Right, well then, let's get going."
'All right, I'll let you go for now, but now I know you’re still interested in me and I swear, Jones, Ianto Jones, I will win you back,' Jack vowed silently as he conceded that for now the personal aspect of their discussion was over. But it was going to be a very long journey with only one another for company and sooner or later they were going to have to talk. "After you," Jack said with a sweeping flourish and a deep bow and then he grinned as Ianto rolled his eyes at his over-the-top theatrics. "Would you mind telling me where our first stop is?"
"New Shanghai, they have something we need," Ianto curtly informed him; he was so unsure about how he was going to face working with Jack again, but he knew he had no choice, not when he was so close to finally solving the mystery of the Time Lords. There was one thing, however, that Ianto was very sure of; ‘I am giving John Smith a loud piece of my mind the next time I see him!’
Jack had already purchased and stowed away the myriad supplies that they’d need for the trip before Ianto’s arrival, so it only took a few minutes to load Ianto’s sparse belongings into his cabin and equipment into the cargo hold and they were ready to set off. Jack watched as his former lover headed into his ship and try as he might to stop himself, he found his gaze drifting down to Ianto's jeans-clad arse and it was so hard not to drool, 'It's still perfect,’ and a soft groan escaped his lips. ‘This is going to be one long trip.' Knowing he could look but not touch was going to be pure torture for Jack, but it was a torture that had been of his own making and he had no choice but to deal with it the best he could.
As the hatch to the Myfanwy closed and sealed behind them, neither man noticed the hidden figure watching them from the shadows. "You were right; they’re going after the treasure of the Time Lords." They listened to whatever orders they were receiving over their comm link, a dangerous smile curving their lips, "I will keep a close eye on both Dr Jones and Harkness and report back to you when they are close enough to finding the Well of Time."
Arriving in New Shanghai didn’t take as long as he’d expected but still the journey took far longer than he’d wanted it to, and Ianto was very grateful to exit the ship. It had been a tense trip trapped in Jack's small cockpit; it wasn't easy sitting next to the man who still smelled so good and could make him weak in the knees with a simple smile but Ianto had refused to pass the time hiding in his cabin. He still had his pride, after all. 'The sooner this is over with the sooner we can go our own ways and I won't have to deal with Jack Harkness again.' Ianto ignored the pain in his chest at the thought of never seeing Jack again. Pushing those thoughts to the side Ianto quickly waved down the hover car waiting for them.
Ianto and Jack were barely seated in the car before their driver peeled out into traffic and the force of the acceleration sent Ianto flying into Jack's body with an undignified grunt. At the feeling of the Welshman's body pressed against his after so many years apart, Jack bit down hard on his lower lip hoping that the pain would keep his body from reacting. It felt so unbearably good to have Ianto’s very firm bottom pushed up against his thigh for the first time in a very long time and Jack wished it never had to end.
Beneath his hand Ianto could feel Jack's heart beating furiously and he knew his heart was beating just as fast; he also knew he should move away but he couldn't find the strength to, not once he’d made the mistake of looking into Jack's love and lust-filled blue eyes.
Their driver and the woman sitting across from Jack and Ianto shared an understanding look through the mirror as the two men seem to be stuck in a soulful moment. They gazed at one another as if the entire world had ceased to exist, and neither witness to the scene was sure if they should say something to break up the moment.
Their driver finally cleared his throat. "I hate to break up this tender moment but I'm Andy Davidson and this is Kathy Swanson; we’re UNIT Intelligence."
Andy's voice broke the spell that was slowly being woven over them and Ianto quickly pulled himself out of Jack's embrace, a hasty move that had Jack mourning the loss of contact. "What's the big rush?" Jack asked in a low growl, not at all happy that his moment with Ianto had been interrupted.
"I’m afraid that you're not the only ones after the prize; sources tell us that a few well-known guns-for-hire bounty hunters arrived two hours ago. Now luckily Kathy here managed to detain them for a bit, but we have to hurry," Andy explained. "Hang on to something," he warned as he made another sharp turn.
Despite enjoying the feeling of Ianto body being thrown into his Jack was grateful when they finally arrived at their destination; he wasn't sure his stomach could handle any more of Andy's driving. Andy skilfully landed the car and exchanged a warning look with Kathy as she exited the car with a small black suitcase; it had already been decided that she would go through the front door while Jack and Ianto would find another way in, one where they wouldn't been seen.
"Be careful," Andy whispered softly to Kathy as she passed by his window.
"I always am," Kathy reminded him with a soft smile.
Ianto and Jack said nothing as they waited for Andy to finish making sure that Kathy got to the meeting place safely before Andy headed into an alley on the other side of the street.
Kathy was not a fool; her sharply-trained eyes had seen the two figures exiting a nearby car and heading in her direction and she immediately placed them as the two Weevils that had been detained by UNIT earlier the same week. 'Damn, it this is not good. I can only hope that Jack and Ianto are in place,’ Kathy thought with a scowl on her pretty face.
She didn’t need to worry as Andy, whistling a happy tune, casually pushed a bulky trash container into place to cover up a newly created entrance in the rear wall of the Yvonne Hartmann Museum where a hole had been cut into it. ‘Good luck, mates, you’re going to need it,’ Andy offered as he strolled back towards his car.
Inside the museum the Weevil known as Janet made a distasteful face, she hated the scent of human females. They always wore that flowery stuff that made her nose itch and the blond woman strolling their way with her bodyguards seemed to have taken a bath in the perfume she wore.
Yvonne forced a smile on her pretty face. She hated dealing with lower life forms; they were so beneath her, but these two worked for a very powerful man and were going to give her a lot of money. Still she was a proper New British lady, and manners dictated that she treat all her guest with respect so with a plastic smile that never reached her eyes, she asked in her politest voice, "Won't you join me for a cup of tea?"
Janet and Brad exchanged long-suffering looks; they hated tea but they knew that Yvonne Hartman didn't take no for an answer, even to such an innocuous question. Nodding their heads they agreed to go along with things for now.
In another part of a museum where ancient artifacts were artfully laid out in glass cases at deceptively random spots on the shining marble floor, the room was silent until an out-of-place noise filled the air. Had anyone been in the display room, they would have seen a steel ventilation grate move as a hand slid it gently across the marble. Ianto cautiously stuck his head out of the opening just enough to make sure that the area was clear before he crawled out of the small space.
"Stop staring at my arse, Jack," Ianto mumbled under his breath; since the moment they began crawling through the vents Ianto had felt Jack's burning gaze focused solely on his behind and he was so very grateful that Jack couldn't see his blushing face.
Jack didn't need to see Ianto's face to know his ex was blushing, he knew Ianto all too well. "I can't help it, Ianto; it’s a downright delicious arse, I should know." Jack let himself get lost in his fantasies of just what he had done to Ianto before he foolishly threw it all way.
While Ianto and Jack were slowly making their way into the museum Yvonne was forcing herself to endure tea and snacks with Janet and Brad; at the moment she was trying not to be sick as she watched the two Weevils eat raw meat. 'Only a little longer; soon our transaction will be complete and I will never have to deal with them again.'
As they noisily devoured the hunks of bloody beef from the silver tea tray, Brad and Janet exchanged looks, both wondering just how much longer they would have to put up with her before they could finish up the job they had been paid to do and head back to the comforts of their sewer headquarters.
"Wow!" Ianto whispered softly as he took in the artifacts that filled the glass cases, hung from the roof and decorated the walls. There were so many unbelievably rare items on display and even some that he’d never heard of before. ‘When this is all over, I have got to come back here and explore!’
While Jack loved the sparkle that appeared in Ianto's blue eyes whenever he discovered something new, this time he was forced to carefully reminded Ianto why they were there. "Ianto, keep your eyes on the prize. We can play lookie-loo tourist and rescue some of these things later, okay?”
Ianto knew Jack was right; he had to keep his mind on why he was there but still, it was just so hard to leave all those wonderful treasures behind in the hands of someone like Yvonne but he didn't have a choice. "Right."
Together the two men moved stealthily and quickly through the artifacts although there were a few times when Jack had to catch Ianto by the arm and keep him from wandering off when his eyes caught sight of something he’d been searching for out in the field.
Finally and without encountering a single obstacle, they reached their destination. Sitting on a marble under a cut-crystal dome was a coral that seemed to be glowing even in the dim light.
"So what is it?" Jack asked, squinting his eyes at the strange-looking coral; he wasn't sure but he would have sworn that it was singing to him.
Ianto didn't answer as he slowly lifted the glass case, immensely grateful that Kathy had done her job and taken out the alarms. With shaky hands Ianto reached out and touched it, the coral felt warm in his hands. There was nothing but pure awe in Ianto's voice as he told Jack, "This is a TARDIS coral, I'm actually holding a baby TARDIS in the palm of my hand! Can you hear her, Jack? Her song is so beautiful."
Jack actually could hear what Ianto was talking about; the song seemed to be endless, it was time and space itself. "I can hear it, Yan; it's one of the most amazing sounds I’ve ever heard," Jack admitted his gaze moving from the coral to the man holding it.
At Jack's response Ianto shifted his gaze to the other man and found that he couldn't breathe as he saw the intense emotions swirling in Jack's eyes. "What is the most amazing sound you've ever heard?" he found himself asking.
"You, Ianto Jones, every time you speak," Jack admitted.
The tender moment between the two estranged lovers was interrupted as Yvonne, Brad and Janet, having finished the welcome ceremony, were heading their way, preceded of course by Yvonne’s muscle. The unexpected sound of metal feet reached their ears, and whirling around, Jack and Ianto came face-to-face with Yvonne's bodyguards who running at full speed between the display cases. Moving as one both men reached for their sonic blasters and fired, taking the first man down before he could get off his own shot.
"Ianto!" Jack roared in rage as Ianto was tackled from the side by another bodyguard that knocked the blaster from the Welshman’s hands but before Jack could reach Ianto's side there was another bodyguard heading his way.
Managing to land a stunning blow to his captor’s head, Ianto rolled to the side making room to move as he reached for his trusty bullwhip. With one savage crack the bodyguard lost his blaster and was left eyeing the whip warily before he pulled out his stun baton and stood watching Ianto with a grim look on his face. Ianto tried not to let his opponent see him wince; he hated those damn things.
Jack had been momentarily distracted by the appearance of the whip; he had firsthand knowledge of what Ianto could do with with that particular bit of braided leather and it took him back to old, much happier times. Jack’s inattention allowed his opponent to gain the upper hand.
While Ianto and Jack were facing off against their enemies, Yvonne and the Weevils were getting closer and closer to the artefacts gallery; the atmosphere was strained as none of the three bothered with idle conversation, until an explosive suddenly rocked the building, sending ceiling tiles and dust showering down on their heads.
“What on earth?” Yvonne shrank back against a wall, searching for answers.
Sharing a look Janet and Brad forget why they were there as they ran to investigate; confused by their reaction but unwilling to be left behind, Yvonne had little choice but to follow them.
Panting Ianto struggled to keep his breathing under control; he and the other man had been facing off for several minutes, managing only to make non-contact passes at one another. Lifting his hand Ianto began swinging the whip over his head once again, and then without warning it whizzed out towards the other man's face. But the bodyguard was quick to move and he took two lightning-fast cuts at the leather, hoping to catch it and send a charge back down its length to shock its wielder only to miss by mere centimetres.
A clever idea formed in Ianto's head as he swung for the man's feet, and he watched as the man jumped nimbly while trying unsuccessfully to catch the whip again. Ianto repeated the action and once more the man hopped over it; Ianto can see that the man was growing cocky so he again snapped the whip at his feet, and as the other man concentrated on easily avoiding the leather weapon, Ianto saw it, the split second opening he wanted.
While his opponent’s attention was focussed solely on the movement of his feet, Ianto unexpected snapped the whip again, sending it flashing up from the floor to wrap solidly and irrevocably around the man's neck. Whenever he possibly could, Ianto studiously avoided taking a life but this man had seen him and Jack, he knew what they had taken and therefore Ianto knew he could not let him live. With a heavy heart he gave the whip one strong pull ending the other man's life in a single, painless instant.
Having already taken care of his own opponent Jack got to Ianto’s side as fast as he could and the guilt and deep sorrow in Ianto's eyes made his own heart hurt. Reaching out and cupping Ianto's face with his hands he forced the younger man to look him in the eyes. "Hey, you had no other choice; if he had gotten the chance he would have killed you," Jack reminded him softly. “I’d rather have you survive, Yan,” and without thinking, Jack leaned forward and placed a chaste kiss on Ianto’s forehead.
Ianto knew Jack was right but before he could thank the other man gunshots unexpectedly filled the air; Jack grabbed Ianto and shoved them both behind a massive marble column. Peeking out cautiously, both men were surprised to see a snarling Yvonne Hartmann standing there with an ancient but clearly in working order a big black Thompson Submachine Gun.
Having followed Brad and Janet as they ran through the building, Yvonne had fallen a little behind – her six-inch spike heels were no match for the Weevil’s flat feet – and she had arrived in the artefacts room just in time to see the Weevil’s hover car burst in to flames. She wasn’t stupid and it hadn't taken Yvonne long to figure out that someone was trying to rob her.
"Come out and face me, you cowards!" Yvonne snarled loudly; no one stole so much as a paper clip from her and got away with it.
Jack and Ianto exchanged worried looks. he was pretty sure Yvonne wasn’t referring to them, but she was cutting off their only escape route; well, at least she was until Jack's eyes drifted up to the huge bronze gong just hanging above them. Following Jack's gaze Ianto groaned softly knowing that Jack had come up with one of his crazy plans, plans that sometimes actually seemed to work. Praying that this was going to be one of those times, Ianto nodded at Jack, gently tucked the precious coral inside his shirt and prepared to act.
Reaching up together they pushed with tremendous effort to get the gong up a mere inch and slip it off its hook. Just as Ianto through they were going to fail, it bounced to the floor landing on its edge and chipping away at the marble with its monstrous weight. Jack and Ianto wasted no time in steadying it and then Jack gave a silent countdown to three before they put their whole bodies into rolling it across the room towards the window. As it began to roll Jack firmly linked his hand with Ianto; he wasn't going to risk accidentally losing his Welshman. that of, Moving as one, they slipped behind the rolling gong and carefully matched their speed to it; their long legs made it easy to keep up with it as they ran across the room.
An enraged scream escaped Yvonne's lips as she opened fire on the gong, and the vicious cacophony of machine gun fire was joined by the musical reports of bullets hitting the massive bronze artefact and ricocheting away.
Behind the gong, Jack tightened his grip on Ianto's hand and despite the danger of the situation he couldn't help but feel a flicker of hope surge in his chest as Ianto squeezed back. "Get ready to jump," Jack ordered when he realised that the gong was about to be stopped by an inconveniently placed marble bench. Ianto used his free arm to cradle the delicate form of the coral when as one they took one long stride up onto the bench and then dove through the glass of the high window.
Their timing was absolutely impeccable; they crashed through the leaded glass just as Yvonne's bullets hit the wall where Ianto's head would have been. As they sailed out into free-fall, Yvonne’s scream of impotent rage echoed in their ears.
Ianto and Jack landed in a shower of glass on the jutting roof of the museum's first floor. They rolled back against the wall and went into a low crouch as they looked around. Suddenly, Jack shielded Ianto with his body as they were fired upon multiple times by the Weevils who had escaped their burning vehicle and taken to the emergency walkway of the building across the street.
"Run!" Jack snapped harshly as he hauled them both to their feet; making sure Ianto was in front of him, Jack pushed the other man across the roof and towards the rear of the museum. If the situation wasn't hadn’t been life or death Ianto would have had a few choice things to say to Jack for his rough and imperious treatment of him.
"Where are they?" Kathy grumbled under her breath; her job was done and she joined Andy in craning her neck trying to locate the two men.
A thud in the backseat had both her and Andy whirling around to find the two missing men in a tangled heap half on the seat and half on the floor. It was only by pure luck that Andy had lowered the roof of the hover car, a fact that both Jack and Ianto were extraordinarily grateful for as they jumped from the roof of the museum into the slowly moving car.
"Are you two all right?" Andy demanded once he got his heart rate under control.
Both men groaned as they struggled to straighten themselves out in the cramped quarters; the snarky 'I've felt better' retorts went unsaid as they finally climbed into their seats. Highly concerned for welfare of his fragile treasure, Ianto gently pulled out the coral he had cradled safely against his body and held it up for Kathy and Andy to see. The proud but reverent smile on his face was truly blinding and seeing it, having it fall on him made Jack feel so much warmer than before. “Ianto, you’re brilliant!” Jack couldn’t stop himself from reaching out and caressing Ianto’s cheek and he completely failed to hide his surprised pleasure when he felt Ianto lean into his touch.
"Great, we got it." Grinning with excitement, Andy gunned the engine, once again sending Ianto sliding into Jack's arms. "Where to now?"
Jack couldn't help but feel a sense of dread in the pit of his stomach at Andy's question and the look of pure mischief in Ianto's eyes as he happily informed Andy of their next destination only confirmed Jack's fears. "New Egypt, we’re going to visit Tosh." Turning to gaze at Jack, Ianto took great joy in how pale his former lover turned at the mention of their old friend.
Only one thought ran through Jack's mind as he forced himself to release Ianto: 'I am a dead man.'