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Metal Tears for the Tin Man (6/27)



"I said it earlier but it bears repeating – smoking hot!" Jake laughed and then groaned in almost orgasmic delight as he sank his teeth into the best fried chicken he'd had in… well, a week.

"Simmonds, if you say hot one more time in conjunction with Harkness, I'm going to shove you through the Rift," Ross muttered. "Now knock it off – you're ruining my lamb chops!"

"His head's too big to fit through it," Tom mumbled around his own pork chop, lifting a finger when Jake perked up. "Not that head."

"So, you gonna tell us what Martha left you?" Jake asked after giving Tom the stink eye. "Are you gonna share it?"

"No, and definitely not," Tom said forcefully.

"Locked it in the safe," Ianto commented around his mouthful of salmon.

"I bet it was pervy pictures for him to wank to," Ross chimed in with a laugh.

"Gross," Jake muttered, nose wrinkling in disgust. "D'you mind, I'm eating here!"

"Oh, this from the one going off about Harkness' junk every five minutes," Ross pointed out.

"Still not telling you lot what it was," Tom said mildly.

"Yeah, well, you're just put out because you're the only one on the team not getting any," Jake shot back wickedly. "Even Ianto's pulling almost every night he goes out, but that's because he gets to choose from everyone. Although it looks like I won't be getting any until after the mission is over… thanks to my team lead warning my sex machine to lay off while I'm working," the young man finished, shooting his best mate a dirty look.

"You have down time in three days; use it well," Ianto countered, "but if you come in with your brain leaking out your ears, there won’t be any more until we get back to London."

"What brain?" Ross asked, ducking when Jake winged a chicken bone in his direction.

"Oi! No getting us tossed out of here!" Tom ordered, grabbing Ross's arm before he could retaliate.

Ross snickered as he put the chicken bone on his plate but nevertheless settled down. "I have to say this for our little Jakey's 'sex machine'; he wore that chair well today. And he knows his stuff. I'm beginning to see what Rose and the Doc see in the bloke. I think maybe we hit the jackpot, pardon the pun, when the Doctor saw fit to send him to us."

"Told you he was more than a pretty face and a great body… and a huge… smile," Jake said with a leer. "Some of the stuff he's told me about his Cardiff and his Rift – we've not only hit the jackpot with him, but this universe seems to have a proverbial horseshoe up its arse, Lumic aside, that is. Poor bastard hasn't had an easy time of it, that I can tell you. And that's even before his," Jake shot Ianto an uneasy sideways glance, "erm, lover, died."

Tom and Ianto nodded before the physician spoke up. "Okay, Jake, never say I haven’t done something nice for you. I'll switch down nights with you; just keep the noise to a minimum."

"And if you leave suspicious puddles anywhere, I'm hauling your ass out of bed to clean it up – both your asses," Ianto added threateningly.

"Thomas, I love you," Jake whooped, ignoring Ianto's threat save for flipping him off. His chicken was suddenly the last thing he wanted, and he shoved the plate into the center of the table before fishing out his wallet and throwing down a couple pound notes to cover his share of the tab. "Have at, gents, I've got a captain to do… actually get done by, he's a bit of a top, that one."

Pushing away from the table, Jake threw on his jacket and headed for the door, reaching for his cell as he did so while wondering aloud if they'd have enough time to make use of the office.

"I'd make sure you brought disinfectant wipes with you if you decide to use the office for your shift," Ross sighed, his face scrunched up in disgust. "I, for one, will be avoiding it until the cleaning staff come through."

"And I'll dig out earplugs for all of us," Tom added. "Still, it's better than three days of him whinging about it."

"Too bad we didn’t borrow that cascade device Rose had," Ianto mused, knowing from personal experience how loud Jake could get – not that he had minded at the time.

"God, anyone got an iPod with them so we can plug it into the system and crank the music?" Ross groaned. "I hate wearing earplugs when I'm sleeping. It makes me feel exposed because I can't hear anything." And then there was the sad and sorry fact that he was the only one on the team not getting any, as Jake had taken great pleasure in pointing out just before he'd gone to get laid. The only thing worse than being frustrated because the bird you wanted to get horizontal with was taking her time deciding if she actually wanted you too was having to listen to someone else get lucky, even if it was your male friend getting lucky with a bloke. You still got to listen to sex sounds, and it still got you hot and bothered with only Rosie Palm and her five sisters to help you find relief. In other words it was going to be a bugger of a night all round.

***

Jack held a tumbler of scotch in his hand – a night cap this time, nothing more; thanks to Jake's constant attention and promiscuous affections he had stopped needing the alcohol as a way to ensure relatively dreamless sleep. Looking out the office window at the glittering lights of Cardiff, Jack was lost in thought.

Upon sending the 'lads', as he too had come to call them, off to get something to eat, he'd called up Rose to brief her on their arrival. He'd had to endure a multitude of threats about what she planned on doing to his masculinity if he ever suggested she was pregnant again , but once she'd gotten it out of her system, they'd settled down to the business at hand with no problem - once Doc had finally stopped chuckling, that was…

And then, just as the call was winding down, Rose and John had hit him with their bombshell. They wanted Jack to take over operational control of the field teams, thereby turning the Torchwood leadership from a partnership into a triumvirate. Rose would still handle the admin and PR aspects, Doc the R&D and gadgets, but they both felt that with Jack's rather copious experience with running Torchwood ops in his own universe, he'd be the best person for the job.

It was tempting. Moreover, it was what he loved doing. Helping John in the lab was fantastic and fun, but... whether he liked it or not, Jack knew he was a born leader. And he was good at it. "And I miss the excitement," he murmured to himself, taking a sip from his glass. The perimeter alarm sounded, and Jack glanced over to the wall of monitors, quickly zeroing in on the breached quadrant. Jake. And he was alone and grinning like a cat about to get some cream. "Guess Jones let up on his no sex while working policy," Jack mused, not quite sure how he felt about that idea but not willing to look a gift horse in the mouth, so to speak.

But that brought to mind another thing Jack would have to deal with sooner rather than later, preferably before his saying yes to Doc and Rose became public knowledge. Because Jack already knew he would say yes – he just needed a few days to wrap up his personal business - from his present as well as his past. There was no way around it now; he would have to have a 'talk' with Jake and establish some new rules for sleeping with his boss, and then Jack would have to sit down and really figure out just how he felt about Jones and whether or not he could work directly with the man or not.

But not right now. Right now the door to the office was being flung open to allow a playfully predatory Jake entrance. "Well hello, soldier," Jack leered, "so what can I do you over?"

***

By the time the three remaining members of Alpha team had returned to the Hub, it was suspiciously quiet, causing Tom to breathe a sigh of relief. "Sounds like round one's over at least."

"We should have chipped in and got them a hotel room," Ross muttered as they headed back to the bunk room where at least he started to strip down for the night.

"Tom, if you want to kip off for a few hours, I can watch the monitor," Ianto offered. "I need to catch up on the reports from the last crew."

"I'm not going to turn down a few hours of shut-eye," the taller man allowed, pulling off his fatigue jacket and dropping to his bunk, not bothering to remove anything else as he'd be on duty soon enough.

"What about those earplugs?" Ross groused only to have the pillow from Jake's bunk dropped on him.

"Use this instead," Ianto suggested with a smirk.

"But what if I suffocate?"

"Then you won’t have to worry about the noise, will you?" Reflexively checking his sidearm even as he ducked the pillow that Ross lobbed at him, Ianto headed out of the room and out to the monitoring station, where he opened up his laptop and immersed himself in the minutia recorded over the last month by Delta team. It was at least an hour before he was distracted by noises coming from the guest quarters, and when he recognized them for what they were, he let his head fall back against the tall back of the computer chair he was seated in.

"Christ almighty..." Jake's voice was easy enough to distinguish, but after a time, he realized it was the other one that he was listening to, the other one that was making the fit of his trousers tighter. "Bugger," he hissed, only to look toward the door at the sound of a snicker, relaxing when he saw that it was Tom standing there.

"That sounds like what they're up to, all right. Go to bed, Ianto, I've got it now. Anything interesting going on?"

Other than that? The words almost slipped out, but Ianto held them back by force of will. "The Rift's been quiet for the most part, only a few spikes and nothing they could find from any of them. Let me know if anything pops up."

"Other than Jakey and his sex machine? Will do," Tom chuckled, setting his mug of coffee on the desk and sinking down into the seat Ianto had vacated. "Go on, I can handle this," he said, shooing Ianto out of the room, waiting until the other man was gone before settling back to do his own reading.

***

Jack slid into his trousers as quietly as possible, only bothering to ensure his zipper was done up, and made his way to the bedroom door. Jake was asleep – well, passed out – on the bed with a silly grin still plastered on his face. Okay, so maybe Jones had a point, he thought with a dry chuckle as he slipped silently out of the room. Being back here, at the Hub, had his old habits coming to the surface, and he wanted to check on the Rift again just to make sure.

The readings from this Rift were still too new to him to be able to extrapolate correctly, but the way it had been surging lately had him sitting up and paying attention. Oh, it was nothing noticeable, not the kind of spike that would have Rose scrambling a field team, but it was constant enough that Jack suspected something was coming through – something small enough to slide in almost undetected, and with the other end of the Rift being unfixed, that could mean anything from animal and plant life to tech to an alien life form; there was no way to determine what came through. And that alone was enough to make Jack twitchy at the best of times, so he had no problem in giving in to old habits and checking things out – just to make sure.

"What I wouldn't give for Tosh and her whiz kid ways right now," Jack murmured as he headed down the stairs to the subterranean office that served as not only the team lead's office but as the board room and also housed the Rift monitoring equipment. "Maybe I should think about recruiting… no." Jones may have still managed to get himself into Torchwood, and Owen too as a consulting physician, but if Jack could avoid recruiting the rest of his old team to Torchwood, he would. "Not gonna repeat the same mistakes, Jack, this is a fresh start, remember?"

Tom looked up as he entered the room, momentary surprise flitting over his face as he took in Jack's state of undress. "Something you need, sir?" His dark brows furrowed together as he realized how that might have sounded, especially in light of what he'd been listening to for most of the night.

Jack shook his head. "Nah, old habits and not being able to die and all that," he told the Wild Boys' medical officer. "Sit down, Tom; I just want to check the Rift readings. They're a little more erratic than I like, even with my limited knowledge of this version of the Rift."

"How so?" Tom asked, instantly concerned. "Have you told Rose or Doc?"

"Not yet," Jack replied, answering Tom's last question first and beckoning him over to the monitoring station where he pulled up the logs for the last three weeks. "Not until I'm sure. As I said, it could be nothing, but here, look at this."

Some deft manipulation of the program had the graphs turning transparent and superimposing themselves over each other in sequential order. "There's a pattern, you see?" Jack said, pointing to the almost minute rise in activity at the same times in each forty-eight hour period. "I'm currently leaning towards some sort of communication coming through on a wavelength that this system can't currently recognize. It's just too… consistent to be chance."

"We can download the data and send it back to London, let Doc take a look at it," Tom suggested even as he leaned forward to study the readouts.

"We could, but wouldn't you rather figure it out yourself?" Jack asked. "You boys aren't exactly lacking when it comes to brains and good instincts, well, for the most part. Doc's running with an overflowing plate as it is, and to be perfectly blunt about it, he's never actually dealt with the Rift on a consistent basis, not as part of the Doctor or as John Smith himself. He's got all the know-how and memories of the Doctor, but he does have limitations."

"Plus he's ga-ga right now about the possibility of Rose being pregnant," Tom added dryly. "And if that's the case..." He nudged Jack out of the way and hit a few keystrokes, smiling in satisfaction as the display changed. "I think that shows the pattern you’re talking about in a clearer fashion."

Jack crossed his arms over his chest and watched Tom work, flashing the younger man an approving grin as the display changed. "Not bad, kid. Not bad at all," he chuckled. "Guess this means we'd better get the team up and get to work."

Tom nodded as he keyed the com panel. "Ross and Jake, you mean; I'll call Ianto; he's out for his run. And you can have the honors of waking your sleeping beauty."

"Wouldn't exactly call him a beauty," Jack chuckled, ignoring the flip flop his stomach did at the thought of a sweaty and panting Jones. "He drools and snores in his sleep. But I probably should take a shower and get dressed. Wouldn't want to offend Ross' delicate sensibilities."

"At this rate we're going to have to pay for him to get any," Tom chuckled as he keyed the radio to call Ianto back in.

"Trust me when I say the alternate reality was much worse when it came to Lisa. At least this one lived," Jack replied quietly. "Of course the other one had better taste in men," he continued, trying to make light of it. "She was living with Ianto."

"Huh," Tom murmured, surprised and intrigued by this tidbit of information; aside from what Rose had told them in the beginning, none of them except Jake really knew anything about Jack Harkness.

"Yeah," Jack replied, feeling the need to share at least a bit of his life. "You probably know part of the story - we had your Cybermen invade my old universe. They managed to take out most of Torchwood One before they were stopped, thanks to the Doctor, Rose, Jake and a lot of brave men and women who died trying to defend Torchwood, and the Earth, from the invasion. And to top it all off, the Daleks showed up too – fuckers.

"Anyhow, Lisa was in R&D and Ianto was the Alien Tech archivist at One. It was Ianto that ended up in Cardiff and talked me into letting him join Three, not Lisa. I'm sure you can fill in the blanks." Well, truthfully, he wouldn't be able to fill in all the gaps, especially Ianto's duplicity and the Cyberwoman in the basement , but Jack would rather forget the rest of the story himself, so… no, it was better to let those particular memories fade into nothingness; it wasn't as if Jack needed to remember those moments after all – he just needed to remember his lover and his love – he needed only to remember Ianto.

"Anyhow, a shower and a wake up call for me and you get to wake Ross the Grouch," Jack said, refocusing on the present. "Say meet back here in half an hour? Does anyone on your team know how to make a decent cup of coffee?"

"Not I and you'll have to ask the others to find out if they do," Tom called as Jack left.

"Damn. I could use a decent cup of Joe," Jack muttered as he climbed the stairs towards the guest rooms only to come up short as Jones appeared at the other end of the catwalk hallway. He was flushed, dripping sweat, chest heaving with his exertions and looking far too perfect for Jack's peace of mind. "Screw the Joe, I need a scotch," he groaned quietly as his libido kicked in and his mind tried to slap it back into submission while he tried to figure out if he should keep going or run and hide until the younger man passed by.

Ianto raised his head and stopped when he saw Jack at the other end of the walkway, half-dressed and his hair in disarray as if he'd just climbed out of bed – which he probably had. "Jesus fuck," he muttered under his breath as the arousal he'd finally run off slammed back into him. Recovering, he started to walk again, closing the distance between them, preparing to pass the other man and head toward the shower. "I hope the fact that you’re out here doesn’t mean you wore Jake out," he commented.

Jack's chuckle was low and dirty. "He was still passed out and smiling when I went to check on the Rift," Jack glanced down at his wrist strap and read the digital display. "Shit, over an hour ago. Time really does fly when you've got a mystery to solve," he laughed ruefully.

"Anyway, I'm on my way to wake him and grab a shower. I've got a project for you boys. Tom's waking Ross right now, and I want everyone in the monitoring room in half an hour, so we'd both better get a move on."

"Mystery, what mystery?" Ianto turned and shouted the question at Jack's vanishing back. Cursing at the lack of an answer, he took off, running toward the bunk room to grab a shower and change, beating the others to the monitoring room by a good ten minutes, winding up deep in conversation with Tom when the other three finally arrived.

"Let me guess, you also snooped around for your Christmas presents because you couldn't stand the suspense," Jack asked Jones mildly as he strode into the room, hair still damp from his shower. "He did, didn't he?" Jack asked Jake with a grin. "And he reads the last chapter of the book first to know what happens."

"In some things, surprise isn’t good," Ianto shot back even as he moved back to give the others a view of the monitor. "So please, update us."

Jack's eyebrow went up at that. "Impatient and eager. An interesting set of personality traits," he observed. "Fine, I'll update you," Jack continued, contemplating in amusement how Jones would react when he found out that Jack was going to be his new boss. This little mystery was proving to be even more beneficial than Jack anticipated because if nothing else came of it, he'd know for certain how well he'd be able to work with the other man.

"Tom, bring up the graphs on the wall display, will you?" Jack requested of the team doctor and then launched into his observations and an outline of this morning's findings with Tom providing the visual display of what he was saying. When he finally wrapped up, he looked at the four men. "So what's your next move?" he asked, pointedly removing himself from the scenario. Time for him to see what the Wild Boys were really made of.

"I know this may sounds low tech," Jake began slowly, his mind working through the possibilities. "But has anyone tried running the signal through a Goldwave to see if that turns up anything?"

Tom glanced over at Jack and, at a negative shake of his head, started to do the requested task, only to be bumped out of the way by Ross. "It doesn’t have a broken leg; let the master get to work." He performed the task Jake had suggested, then several others of his own devising as well, stopping when Ianto leaned in.

"Look, there, not only is it cyclical timewise, there's also locational correlation. Ross, switch it to a 3-D layout of the city." After Ross did as he asked, he pointed out the clusters. "It's bunching."

"Multiple targets then," Jack said from where he'd come to silently stand directly behind and to the left of Jones in order to watch them work. "This suggests that this isn't something physical coming through the Rift. It looks like we have deliberate Rift chatter or things coming through and being intercepted at those points. That means that this is likely a coordinated effort – but to what end?"

"The only way to find out is to check out those locations, see if we can find anything out there," Ianto pointed out.

"Uploading the data to the SUV's computers," Ross announced as his fingers flew over the keys.

"Sync to my wrist strap too," Jack ordered, taking it off so that it could be connected through the small data port on the underside.

"There are five of us, so we'll cover more ground if we break into two teams. Tom, I want you to stay here and be our eyes and ears through the CCTV cameras. It sucks, I know, but you've been up longest, so your reflexes will be the slowest if something should hit the fan," Jack pointed out logically.

Tom looked over at Ianto for confirmation, nodding at his team lead's agreement. "Ross, you and Harkness take the eastern clusters; you can take the SUV he brought up. Jake and I will handle the western ones."

Ross handed Jack his wrist strap back. "Data's uploaded there, also downloaded our communications program to it – unless Doc gave you a com patch or armor disc?"

"Didn't need the com patch before so I never bothered to get one, and I don't need an armor disc so I told him to keep it," Jack replied absently as he did up the fastenings around his wrist. "After all, even when I die, I come back so it's no big deal."

Jake frowned at the pronouncement. It might not be a big deal, but from what he'd gleaned from Jack's stories, it could be quite painful depending on the extent of the older man's injuries. However, he bit his tongue and remained silent as it wasn't his place to insist that Jack follow SOP. Having Jack ride roughshod over Ianto's command was one thing because he was a bit of a loose cannon to begin with, but Jake wasn't about to step on his friend's toes just because he was sleeping with Harkness. It was up to Ianto to address the situation – and deal with it when Jack refused like Jake already knew he would. "I'll go load up the spare vehicle too, then. Ross, give me a hand, will you?"

After Jake and Ross left, Ianto looked over at Tom. "Review the time frames of the last cluster, and let us know if you find anything." Tom nodded, and he and Jack started out. "Doc didn’t send an extra disc," Ianto commented as they headed toward the garage.

"Like I said, no big deal. I don't need armor because I can't permanently die. It doesn't make sense to waste it on me when people who do stay dead need it more." Shrugging into his greatcoat, Jack took out his sidearm and checked to make sure that there was a bullet in the chamber and that the clip was full and that the safety was off. "Sorry if I overstepped back there. It's hard to remember that I'm not really in charge anymore."

"No need to apologize, I'm not going to turn down good ideas." Ianto's gaze went unfocused for a second before he subvocalized an answer. "Tom sent some new data to the SUVs – and it doesn’t matter if you can come back from the dead or not, there's no point in dying in the first place if you don’t need to." Ianto's slightly skeptical tone said he didn’t quite believe the claim.

Jack chuckled softly. "When you've done it as often as I have, you get used to it," he pointed out with black humor. "Besides, think of all the new and interesting ways I can die. It never gets dull. But don't worry; I don't plan on dying in this jacket. It's the last one I've got, and I want to keep it for a while. It was a," Jack paused a moment, "a gift from a good friend."

"It's good to have something to remember friends by," Ianto agreed, stopping at the munitions locker and removing a machine pistol and checking it over. "Do me a favor; while you're out there, remember that this isn’t your Cardiff; follow Ross's lead if something's unfamiliar."

"Yes, Dad," Jack replied with a snicker. "Seriously, Jones, I'm not going to take any chances. Stop fussing over me; I'm not one of your team, and I can take care of myself. Thanks for thinking of me though. I mean that," and Jack did. It warmed an iced-over part of his heart - which both concerned him and filled him with a bittersweet sadness. He really was learning to live without Ianto's presence; because even if Jones was physically an exact match, personality wise they were as different as cheese and chalk, and yet, even in this universe which was so very different from his own, there was a Ianto Jones still taking care of him – even if this one was a pain in his ass nine times out of ten.

"Be that as it may," Ianto said as they entered the garage, "you are my responsibility while we're here, so you'd better get used to doing as I say."

"Oh baby, I love it when you take charge like that," Jack shot back without really thinking as he headed to the SUV he'd 'requisitioned' when he'd come to Cardiff a week ago. Ross was already behind the wheel and waiting for him and it continued to amuse him how the members of Alpha team continued to play chauffeur for him despite his intimate knowledge of the city. Yet another sign of Jones' need to protect the consultant, Jack guessed.

"So what's the new information that Tom sent?" he asked the other man, his parting shot already forgotten with the thrill of the chase before him.

Jake, who'd been waiting outside the vehicles for them to appear, laughed easily as he got behind the wheel of the other SUV. "Looks like he's finally stopped avoiding you at all costs, then."

"Makes it easier for all of us since it seems he's staying until we figure out what's going on with these signals," Ianto shrugged as he climbed into the passenger side of the vehicle, giving everything a once-over as he did so to make sure they had all the gear they needed.

"Yeah, but there's avoiding and then there's avoiding," Jake replied. "Don't get me wrong, I'm glad he's coming out of that shell he's been burying himself under. It's just weird, you know? Him flirting with you when he's getting over, well, you."

"From what I understand, him flirting is instinctual - now are you going to drive, or are we going to let the two of them figure this out before we even get to our site?" Ianto asked before logging on the computer to scan the information Tom had sent over.

Jake raised an eyebrow at the tacit order but did as he was told. Some things were better left alone after all.

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
tartan_tarte
Nov. 14th, 2009 03:45 pm (UTC)
This fic is totally engrossing; truly LOVE it! Can't wait for more. :D
rina_angyl
Nov. 18th, 2009 04:42 am (UTC)
I can't begin to tell you how thrilled Rina and I are that y'all like the story! We have much much more to tell - we even have story arcs plotted out. This is the fic that ate our brains - but what a way to go! Mmmmm, Jones....
100px_x_100px
Nov. 15th, 2009 12:26 am (UTC)
Oh I just love this fic! Ianto and Jack get more facinating with each paragraph.

More please!

Pretty please with a randy Ianto on top!
rina_angyl
Nov. 18th, 2009 04:40 am (UTC)
More is coming, honest! R.L. is being a 452 to Rina and I and our beta. Much overtime, family time, and crazy time in our lives right now - but we are plodding through the edits, corrections and betas I promise!
traciaknows
Nov. 17th, 2009 05:45 am (UTC)
I keep thinking that Jake's not going to take it well when Jack and Jones give in to some of their attraction. But I'm also thinking that if they do give in, you'll have plenty of agnst to work with0- jack's grief for Ianto and Jones possibly thinking that Jack only really wanting him for ianto's face. Yeah, you got me hook, line, and sinker here. :)

can't wait for more.
rina_angyl
Nov. 18th, 2009 04:39 am (UTC)
hehe - wait and see, my pretties, wait and see!

Angyl
::who is feeling her halo slip tonight::
scifiangel
Feb. 5th, 2010 07:11 pm (UTC)
I just started reading this today. I had planned on reading it all straight through before commenting, but I just had to tell you how very much I love the banter you have between the "Wild Boys." I just can't stop smiling. It's brilliant. Now on to the rest of the story. Although I may not have the time to finish it before I have to go to work.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )