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Metal Tears for the Tin Man (11/27)


Ianto could tell the instant the device began to work as Jack froze, his gaze focused in the distance. He glanced at his watch and set the timer for five minutes, not willing to allow Harkness even a second over the limit. He settled his weight evenly on both feet, one hand near his sidearm, and waited, not envying Harkness having to relive the night's events.

The device bore Jack's mind back to the events of the night before and trapped him in the role of ghostly observer as he was once again made to watch a bipedal, lizard-like creature throw Jake into a tree and then dart into the undergrowth, its skin shifting to blend with its surroundings. A chameleon creature – great, that would make it so much easier to track. Jack raced to follow the creature, thankful that he was familiar with the events and could divorce himself from the team hovering around Jake before Jones took off with Jack following a short time later. It allowed him to be in the perfect position to watch the creature very calmly stop, position himself and lie in wait for Jones.

Jack was already dealing with the echoes of his self-directed anger and guilt at being responsible for causing injury to yet another person he cared for, so he was almost blindsided by the fresh wave of rage that inundated him as he watched Jones duck for cover while a tree exploded from the energy discharge. A new sort of anger crept into the equation – colder and more distant but equally intense – it was tinged with irritation, as he observed himself joining Jones in his defensible position. Disbelief, shock and an increase in that anger washed over Jack as he observed their quick conversation followed by him darting out into the open in order to draw the alien's fire and give Jones the opportunity to take the thing out.

In hindsight Jack knew he'd been too busy concentrating on not getting vaporized by the Judoon weapon to feel that kind of hostility towards their newest Rift transplant, which meant that the emotion had to have come from another source. Turning from the sight of himself as he dove into the bushes, Jack watched Jones open fire on the alien position, his expression one of concerned fury… for Jack's safety?

And then he heard Jones' mental voice as clearly as if he'd spoken. "Fuckwit, fuckwit, fuckwit!" Guilt, anger, and focused intent all weighed down on him before morphing into relief as Jack watched himself get up off the ground and noted how closely Jones looked him over even as he was checking the area around him for the creature that had already slipped away into the night.

Well, didn't that just make things a helluva lot more complicated than they'd been not five minutes ago? Jack thought to himself as the memory began to wind down. As if from a great distance Jack could hear Jones calling out to him, and he knew that his time was up. "Harkness? Almost five minutes, Harkness. You have ten seconds, and then I'm taking your ass down." Color began to seep into the black and white surroundings of Jack's memories, and night bled into day as he was slowly released from the machine's grip just in time to have Jones tackle him to the ground.

"What the hell?!"

"You were over the limit," Ianto explained unrepentantly even as he rolled off Jack and to his feet, offering the older man a hand up. "Did you learn anything?"

"Bipedal lizard-like creature with a very annoying chameleon-like ability to blend in," Jack replied after taking a moment to shake off the aftereffects of the vision. "It's a fucking exterminator; we're just collateral damage. It wants the bugs and it'll take down anything or anyone that gets in its way." Of course that wasn't all that Jack had learnt, but he wasn't quite sure what to make of what he'd been shown of Jones's reaction and the warm feeling that seemed to be centered in the vicinity of his heart as he'd witnessed the concern.

"A fucking exterminator?" Ianto demanded, staring at Jack. "And one that blends into the environment, we're fucked." He turned, staring at the park around them, his mouth set in a thin line. "That's our priority now; the butterflies are nocturnal; who knows what the new one is. We get rid of it, then we get the rest of the bugs."

"First things first, we need sleep," Jack countermanded firmly. "Your team's been going for almost twenty-four hours straight, Jones. And before you argue, we've got time. If it's hunting our bugs and they only come out at night, chances are it's taking the opportunity to rest now too. We can sleep in shifts and have someone constantly monitor chatter and Rift activity if it makes you feel better, but you need to rest."

"I really hate it when you make sense," Ianto sighed, rubbing a hand over the back of his neck.

"Get used to it," Jack replied with a small laugh. "I usually do. C'mon, Jones, it's time for all good little Wild Boys to be in bed. I'll take first shift."

"Should I start calling you 'Daddy'?" Ianto asked dryly as they reached the SUV and climbed inside.

"Considering your den mother tendencies, that would be a little disturbing. Does that make Jake, Ross and Tom our kids?"

"Good thing they got my looks," Ianto shot back, feeling some of the tension that had gripped him since Jake had been injured and Harkness tried to get himself killed ease with their banter.

"Your personality too, well, Ross did at least. He embodies piss and vinegar – just like mummy," Jack rejoined with an easy laugh. He'd learned to compartmentalize things a very long time ago, and now that he had a clear course of action he could focus on, next steps, so this… this quipping was as easy and as effortless as breathing.

"Of course, you realize that means you're fucking your son," Ianto chuckled as he backed the SUV away from the curb, heading back to the Hub. "Kinky, even for our Jake."

"Well, it's not like he can procreate," Jack grinned. "Besides, he may change his mind after I have a talk with him. While I've never understood why people tend to frown on hooking up with the people you work with, I think I'm going to have to set a few ground rules for this, whatever it is, with him. Then again, he could get a kick out of sleeping with the boss – which again, I don't get. A title is just words on a paper; it means nothing beyond keeping the President and politicians happy. I've never run my division that way – we were too small to be anything other than a cohesive unit. I was just the front line of defense, and I caught all the flack from the higher ups, something I had no problem doing. So this whole 'don't sleep with the boss' mentality doesn't apply, not to me anyway.

"That being said, I guess you've finally got me toeing the line, Jones, because that whole no sex while on active duty in Cardiff? It's going to become a permanent one. It's going to be strange though; I was used to having free range of the Hub. Played many a game of naked hide and go seek after hours. The greenhouse was especially… inspiring," Jack smiled softly at the memory which was, surprisingly, more bittersweet than agonizing. He could actually breathe and remember. It was happening more and more.

"Hunh," he said after a moment. "I have a feeling there's an 'I told you so' in my future from Doc and Rose. It's kind of aggravating how often they're right."

"Glad to hear it," Ianto answered, wondering what epiphany Harkness had come to. "And I never said I was against sleeping with people you work with, have done it quite a few times myself."

"Ah, so it was just my fucking Jake stupid then," Jack replied knowingly. "Well, like I said, you may not have to worry about that much longer."

"It was the stupid part – going out in the field hopped up on endorphins and loopy is a sure way to end up dead – and what do you mean by that? What have you got planned?"

"Well, Jake may not like the new rules. It's not as if either of us is emotionally invested beyond being friends as well as fuck buddies. He helped me rediscover the desire to keep living, and I taught him a thing or two about many things. I knew he was sleeping with other people too, and I had no problem with that. If I had to choose between having Jake as a friend and teammate and as a lover, the choice is easy; lovers I can get without so much as batting an eye – friends are a lot harder for me to come by," Jack admitted.

"And he's a good one; all the lads are," Ianto nodded, "and you've certainly won them all over."

"One team down, three to go," Jack muttered. "Gotta say though, I'm not used to running four teams. One was hard enough. This is going to be a challenge."

"Well, don't offer to sleep with Bianca; she might get out her K-bar and relieve you of some bodily parts."

"Not even if she propositions me?" Jack retorted automatically before he could stop that. "Not that I'd take her up on it. I'd rather not set a precedent. I mean if I sleep with one team lead…"

"Anders might get jealous?" The question was asked with restrained amusement.

Jack laughed. "I think I'm looking forward to meeting this Anders. He sounds like just the kind of pompous ass I have the most fun with."

He was about to ask a question when Tom's voice broke over their com patches. "Just got a call from Harper. Jake is resting comfortably; they're following concussion procedures and waking him every half hour or so and waiting for the results of the CT scan and MRI they did on him. Harper will let us know the results as soon as he gets them. But he is guardedly confident that Jake suffered no permanent head trauma and he'll be back to his normal self in a few weeks. He is recommending desk duty for at least a fortnight though, just to be on the safe side."

"Oh, Jake's just going to love that," Ianto sighed, though his voice held a large measure of relief at the update.

"If those are doctor's orders, he's following them," Jack replied firmly. "Thanks for that, Tom. Next time Harper calls, find out when he can have visitors, would you? Wait, scratch that." The Millennium Centre and the glass and steel structure that was the Hub came into view as they rounded the corner, and Jones hit the code to allow them into the underground parking. "I want you and Jenkins to hit your bunks. We're just pulling in downstairs. I'll mind the store while you three grab some sleep. I'll talk to Harper myself."

"Will do," Tom acknowledged before signing off.

"So, how are you going to explain to Harper that the person interviewing him for a medical journal is now at Torchwood?" Ianto asked as he parked the SUV.

"I was conducting an investigation for Torchwood, and the answers he gave proved that he was human," Jack replied, the lie rolling off his tongue easily. "Had to make sure he wasn't an alien sleeper agent. There would have been a minute hesitation as they translated the information they were provided."

"Mmmhmm," Ianto nodded before chuckling. "You are good, Harkness; I give you that."

"Been doing this for a long, long time. Some things have become second nature." Getting out of the passenger side of the car, Jack waited for the younger man to precede him up the stairs. "Get some sleep, Jones. Someone can relieve me in five hours; it should give them at least the minimal amount of rest to function properly. Sleep well," Jack finished as he turned and headed into the office, expecting Jones to continue up to the barracks, but instead, the younger man stopped in the doorway.

"I'd like to apologize," he said carefully. "For my behavior when we found out about your position."

"You were pissed, and you had reason to be. I should have been honest with you from the moment I decided to take the job." Jack took the Quantum Transducer and carefully placed it on the desk. His first task once the kids were all tucked into bed would be to send it back to John with a brief explanation of what he'd gone through. Next job would be to log his report.

Jack kept his back to Jones as he carefully stripped off his greatcoat and hung it up in the closet "However, I had my reasons. I promised you the truth from now on, so here it is. I wanted to make sure I could work with you, considering my past... relationship. I had to know that I could function, and I'm sorry if it put you and your team on the spot but…" Jack shrugged his shoulders and slid his hands into his pockets as he turned around.

"Good news is I can. You're damned good at your job and an asset to Torchwood. Chances are, with a few more years seasoning, Rose and Doc would have been offering you the job had I not come along."

Ianto nodded, accepting the explanation for the truth he was sure it was, and then smirked. "You never know, a few more years and I still might come gunning for it. Let me know if you hear anything, would you?"

"You're more than welcome to try," Jack's grin was shark-like, "if you think you can take me. I'll let you know if anything about Jake or anything urgent crops up. Anything else I can handle. Good night, Jones."

Ianto turned but paused and looked back over his shoulder, giving a slight grin. "Don't you mean good morning, Harkness?" he asked, raising a hand in farewell before he continued back toward the barracks, his steps now showing the drag of tiredness.

"Smart ass," Jack said loudly enough for the retreating man to hear him. "What have you gotten yourself into this time, Jack?" he muttered to himself as he rounded the desk and turned on the computer monitor to begin his reports.

***

"But I can monitor the Rift, Jack," Jake protested even as he yawned loudly. "I feel like I'm shirking."

Jack brought Jake's hand up to his lips and kissed it softly. "Just heal, Jake. Those are your orders as given by the head of field ops. Got me? Besides, you've got great eye candy here," he teased as he noted the rather attractive orderly outside and, as if called by thought, Dr. Harper stopping in to check on his patient again. His Owen had never shown such bedside manner or dedication to his patients, which had Jack wondering if there was maybe something more to his impressive work ethic.

"I'm just leaving, Dr. Harper," Jack assured the other man. "I was simply reinforcing your orders with my own. Bed rest until your doctor releases you, understood?"

"Bollocks. No more wrapping you around my finger, eh?"

"I'm your boss now, sweetheart, so not a chance. Play nice for the good doctor. I promise that you'll get updates on the investigation. Good day, Doctor." Jack walked out of Jake's room and headed to the elevator at a fast pace. He still had one more report to write before he could get some shut eye – the incident report. He hadn't wanted to until he'd read Jake's chart and had spoken with him personally.

"Just a minute, Captain Harkness, I'd like a word!" Jack cursed under his breath – he'd almost made it.

"Of course, Doctor," he said pleasantly, turning to face Owen as he walked determinedly after Jack.

"My office is just in here." Owen indicated a set of doors that lead to the administrative wing. "I'd rather this be a private conversation if you don't mind."

Jack's eyebrow went up at that, but nonetheless he followed dutifully behind Owen and allowed himself to be ushered into a coldly clinical and incredibly utilitarian box of an office. God, how did people work in these things? It was little bigger than a prison cell and had about as much personality, Jack thought to himself in disgust.

Owen shut the door behind Jack and began to pace the small area next to the desk, collecting his thoughts. "You could have told me you were Torchwood instead of coming up with that cockamamie reporter story," Owen began.

"I was investigating the report that there might be an alien sleeper agent in the hospital. If you'd been one, you wouldn't have been able to rattle off the information you did as effortlessly as you did. You knew the answers; the sleeper would have had minute pauses as their implant fed them the information which a lay person wouldn't have noticed. A trained Torchwood operative, on the other hand," Jack replied, giving Harper the lie he'd constructed when asked the same question by Jones.

That gave Owen pause. "Okay, yeah, I guess I can see that," he admitted. "Bollocks, I was intent on giving you a proper reaming for that stunt."

"How about you just come out and ask me what you really want to," Jack suggested kindly as the proverbial penny dropped. The last time he'd seen this side of Owen Harper, it had been over the female pilot who'd been lost in time - Diane. Harper was smitten. "In fact, let me make this simple. Jake and I have sex and are friends. That being said, I have a feeling that if the right person showed the right kind of interest, he'd find himself in the enviable position of having Mr. Simmonds' undivided attention. He and I? We're fuck buddies, nothing more. And as I told someone earlier, if I had to choose, I'll take the friendship over the sex. Does that answer your question?"

"Bloody buggering bollocks," Owen murmured faintly, stopping his pacing and collapsing into his chair in order to stare at Jack in shock. "How did you…"

"I have exceptional powers of observation," Jack replied mildly, and the advantage of knowing another version of the good doctor. "Now if that's all, Doctor? I have an investigation to run, and you have a patient to visit."

Comments

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
erindarte
Dec. 9th, 2009 12:05 am (UTC)
YAY! update-awesomeness. And: ooooh, never thought of Owen/Jake... cool! Loved the post and totally looking forward to the next :D
rina_angyl
Dec. 13th, 2009 03:53 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Angyl gets credit for Owen/Jake. I love the idea too! More to come soon!

Rina
100px_x_100px
Dec. 9th, 2009 02:24 am (UTC)
Hehehe. So, Owen wan't Jake enough to confront Jack..., Should be interesting and fun for the boys.

I love the evolution of the Jack, Ianto relationship. Such approach-avoidance! It's wonderfully frustrating, especially now since Jack has an inkling. The question is; will he have enough courage to go-for-broke?
rina_angyl
Dec. 13th, 2009 03:57 pm (UTC)
This Owen is a little less... crazy than the 'real' Owen and as for Jack and Ianto, well more will be revealed but it wouldn;t be as much fun if it was a smooth, easy road, would it?
traciaknows
Dec. 9th, 2009 02:37 am (UTC)
As cute as Jack and Jake are, I'm excited by the chance to move in a Jack and Jones direction.

Great update folks. It was needed today.
rina_angyl
Dec. 13th, 2009 03:58 pm (UTC)
Hope things have gotten better! And yes, Jake was a needed healing time for Jack but they were never meant to be long-term.
nicolec78
Dec. 10th, 2009 03:52 am (UTC)
Thanks for another marvelous update. As always, I can't wait for the next.
rina_angyl
Dec. 13th, 2009 03:58 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much! More to come soon :)
humantales
Dec. 13th, 2009 02:18 am (UTC)
It's so nice to be able to see Jack healing, but will he hook up with Ianto? Will he hook up with anyone?

Good chapter and I'm eagerly awaiting the next one.
rina_angyl
Dec. 13th, 2009 03:59 pm (UTC)
Thanks! And as for Jack, well, time (and more chapters) will tell ;)
owensheart
Dec. 13th, 2009 12:22 pm (UTC)
Woah Owen?Jake? talk about a surprise!
oh this is awesome!!
rina_angyl
Dec. 13th, 2009 04:01 pm (UTC)
LOL glad you liked it! I think Owen is just what Jake needs, and they're cute together! Smart Angyl for coming up with that pairing <g.
rina_angyl
Dec. 13th, 2009 05:45 pm (UTC)
Hehe and may Angyl say she was waiting to see Owensheart's reaction - I mean with a name like that I had a feeling...
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )