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Metal Tears for the Tin Man (2/27)

The double doors leading to the waiting room outside of Rose Tyler's office burst open, admitting four men dressed in black fatigues. "Hey, beautiful," the shortest member of the group, a blond whose hair was mostly covered with a black ball cap he wore backwards, crowed, "did you miss us?"

"Like the bloody plague," Donna Noble sighed before yelping as another of the men, this one lean and with dark hair, snuck up behind her and gave her a hug.

"Oh, you did and you know it!"

"I did not miss your groping, Ross Jenkins!"

"Pray tell then, just whose groping did you miss?" the oldest of the group, a man who was also the tallest and most muscular, asked.

"Not yours either, Tom Milligan."

"Ahh, then it must have been mine." The last member spoke from where he lounged against the wall. "Imagine, Jake, our good Dr. Milligan isn't up to snuff for Donna."

"That's because Donna doesn't think any of you pack of puppies is appealing at all," the redhead huffed. "And did the four of you manage to bring back a vehicle in one piece this time?"

"Does one squashed piece count?" Ross asked innocently.

"You can have a lovely time explaining it to Rose then."

"We were just on our way to do that, planning on announcing us?" the man leaning against the wall asked, favoring her with a bright smile.

"You lot... Rose, the Wild Boys are back... Yes, they're all alive though it may not last for long. Go on in, boys, and don't - "

"We know," the four chorused as they headed for the door to Rose's office, "don't touch anything and keep the feet off the furniture."

Rose was sitting behind her desk, chair facing the window as she tried to figure out how to do this. She'd become proficient at the whole HR thing by necessity more than interest; at her heart she was still Rose Tyler from Powell Estate who worked as a shop girl and had an overwhelming craving for chips when she needed comfort food. Doc had faith in her, as did Donna, her teams and even the President of Britain - would she ever get used to Britain being a democracy? - but at times like this the little girl from the less posh side of town reared her belligerent head.

Behind her the door opened and her four favorite 'lads' poured in, pushing and shoving and joking about, having more in common with a pack of mongrels than the 'wild boys' they claimed to be. Any other time she'd smile and crack a joke, joining in their good mood, but today she felt like she had the weight of a whole different universe on her shoulders. More importantly, she felt she carried the possible future happiness and mental stability of the little slice of home that had suddenly appeared in her life - Jack Harkness. "Oi! knock it off, you four; this isn't nursery school, you know!"

All four of them blinked in surprise, not used to being dressed down by their superior in this fashion. Ross and Tom, revealing their military backgrounds, straightened to attention while Jake crossed his arms over his chest and lifted his chin as the street-renegade part of his personality came to the fore. The three remained quiet, waiting for their team leader to speak and hopefully smooth things over with Rose.

"Is this about the SUV?" Ianto Jones asked, deciding to keep things light and see if he could find out what was going on. "Because you know, gravity singularity, not quite expected, and we did get the tech away from the bloke who found it."

Rose sighed and pinched her nose - leave it to Ianto to remind her of her other ongoing headache - but had to smile nonetheless. "Smart arse," she muttered as she pivoted her chair to face them. "Oh, sit yourselves down; I'm not gonna ream you out over the SUVs that you've destroyed this quarter alone. Next one's coming out of your collective salaries, by the way.

"No, it's not about the cars. Have I ever told you the real story of Rose Tyler?" she asked after a lengthy pause. "Not the made up bubble gum one that the world at large knows."

"We know bits," Ross answered as they all dropped into the comfortable chairs facing Rose's desk.

"Jake tells us what he knows on a need-to-know basis," Ianto confirmed.

"You're from another universe, you and your mum," Tom continued. "You came here with - and forgive me if I'm not quite clear here - another version of Doc."

"And helped stop Lumic," Jake ended.

"Need to know, hmmm?" Rose shot Jake a hairy eyeball. "Do you and I need to have another talk about the definition of need to know?" she asked with mock sternness, buying herself some time and distance to figure out where to begin the story that would affect the lives of not just Jack but the happy-go-lucky leader of the Wild Boys as well. Because like it or not, Ianto Jones was just as much the star of this story as Jack, just a slightly different make and model, so to speak.

"First and foremost, what I'm going to tell you never gets discussed beyond you four, Doc and... the person this story involves, at least until they want it discussed,“ she quickly amended and then glared pointedly at the door. “That means you can get your bloody ear away from the keyhole, Donna Noble. Off to lunch with you!" Rose called out, laughing softly when she heard grumbling and the distant sounds of a desk drawer being opened and then closed rather forcefully.

Holding up her finger to silence the lads, Rose waited a ten count then reached under her desk and pressed a button. There was a soft hum, and then all the ambient noise that was all around them but no one really heard suddenly ceased, leaving the room as quiet as a tomb. "Didn't want her walking in just to see if we'd suddenly disappeared - the side effects of walking through the cascade are rather debilitating, not to mention unpleasant," she said matter-of-factly.

"Now where were we? Oh yes, story time. Once upon a time there was a shop girl from East London who met a Time Lord quite by accident, and her life suddenly became so very exciting, and she got to meet all sorts of interesting people, but one of the most interesting of all was a certain captain named Jack who loved to dance..."

Almost an hour later, Rose watched the lads in general and Ianto in particular try to digest the life and times of Rose, the Doctor and Captain Jack Harkness as well as deal with knowing that one of their other selves had been Jack's lover and was now dead, having sacrificed himself for Earth in order to stand by the man he loved until the bitter end. "Well, I did warn you it was quite a story," she said after long moments of silence.

"So this Jack," Jake began before grinning with gallows humor, "is he hot?"

"Apparently Ianto thinks so," Tom laughed, joining in on the teasing.

"Hey, be nice to him," Ross called, "he's dead."

Ianto leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees and steepling his fingers in front of his chin. "All right, so this story obviously has a purpose, and it is?"

"How does a man who cannot die commit suicide?" Rose asked instead. "Luckily, we may never know the answer to that because the Doctor, the Time Lord Doctor, found his friend and found a way to let him leave a universe of heartache behind.

"My dear friend Jack is right at this very moment helping Doc in his lab with the new upgrades for the Valiant. Jack Harkness belongs to us now, and we're going to help get him back to as close to his old self as we can but... well, I didn't want you all to freak out if a strange man suddenly stopped dead and stared at Ianto like his world was ending all over again," Rose sighed.

"Jack has a special fondness for our Doc as he grew out of the hand that Jack carried around for centuries," she said with a morbid chuckle. "So Doc is going to tell Jack about our Ianto so that he doesn't... do anything rash," Rose continued, "but like I said, I just wanted you to be aware of it.

"As for how hot he is - you'll have to figure it out for yourself. He'll be the man walking around in a blue RAF greatcoat; can't miss it - or him."

Ianto was quiet as the others parried back and forth about the situation, coming up with one absurd situation after another for their meeting of the mysterious Jack, and when he finally spoke, it was directed at Rose. "So, would you rather I head back out, give him more of a chance to acclimatize, or get this over with quick and dirty?"

Rose was about to respond when movement behind the boys caught her eye. Sighing, Rose murmured, "Too late." Jack stood in the doorway, a silent sentinel frozen in time, his eyes riveted on the one face he'd never thought he'd see again.

It was one of the biggest negatives of the cascade shield that while people couldn't hear in you also couldn't hear out. Normally, Rose would have activated the motion sensors placed strategically around Donna's work station cum reception area, but she'd seen no reason to today, an obvious mistake.

Doc hovered behind Jack, his expression torn between worry for their friend and fond exasperation for Rose's forgetfulness. The cat was well and truly out of the bag now, Rose thought to herself as she turned off the cascade and sounds from the outside world flooded back in, and the four field agents turned to see who she was staring at, their hands automatically reaching for their sidearms.

"Ianto," Jack's anguished whisper resonated through the room, and then he was gone, the man abruptly turning on his heel and pushing past Doc, disappearing as quickly as he’d appeared.

"Well, that could have gone better," Doc sighed as he ambled into the room and perched on the corner of Rose's desk. "Wouldn't even let me finish my rather brilliant speech, just bolted up here as if an army of Daleks were after him.

"Right then, so how're you boys doing? Destroy another car yet?"

"Oh yeah, he's hot," Jake said under his breath, causing Tom to reach out and cuff him on the back of the head.

Ross looked around the group then back at the empty doorway. "Someone going to go after him?"

"Well, I don't think it should be me," Ianto put in though he too was still looking in the direction the anguished man had gone.

"Do you want it to be Jake?" Doc asked with an affable smile and a waggle of his eyebrows.

"I'll go," Rose said, pushing up and away from her desk. "Let's face it, you lot are useless when it comes to emotional trauma - even when you're up to your neck in it. And, no, Jake, being bi or gay or whatever doesn't mean that you're any better equipped to handle it," Rose finished with a slight chuckle, cutting him off before he could do more than open his mouth.

"Men, useless the lot of you unless there's an itch to scratch or a spider to kill," she teased, bussing a kiss over Doc's temple. "Play nice with the boys, and keep them out of the lab. I don't trust any of you not to blow up my building!"

"Hey now," came the almost universal response from the males.

"We never blow things up that we don't mean to," Tom protested.

"Well, most of the time, anyway," Ianto chuckled.

Rose's snort of derision was her only response as she headed out into the reception area, only to find Donna at her desk instead of at lunch.

"Wot? Did you think I'd miss all the excitement? The beefcake went that way, by the way," Donna grinned up at her boss, pointing a thumb at the left hallway. "Hey, is there another one like him somewhere? Because if there is, I'm calling dibs!" she called out as Rose took off in the same direction.


Jack spun on his heel, eyes wild and pained as he stared at his diminutive blonde friend with accusatory eyes. “You knew! Dammit, Rose, you knew Ianto was not only alive in this universe but he worked here, and you didn’t tell me!”

“And what would you have done if I’d told you right off, Jack?” Rose shot back. “Run again? This is your home. We’re family, you and I, and you bloody well know it. You belong here. The Doctor gave you to me, and I’m keeping you too!”

“I’m not your Doc, and I’m not a pet, Rose.”

“No, you’re my Captain and my friend,” Rose replied. “And you’re my responsibility. I did this to you, Jack,” she whispered, her lips quivering as she tried to contain her emotions, but her eyes already swimming with unshed tears. “I wanted so much for you to live that I did this; I gave you this pain. And I need the chance to make at least a small part of it right again. Maybe… maybe this could be your second chance, to get things right… with Ianto.”

Jack could never stand there and let a pretty woman cry, even when that was all he wanted to do himself. Wrapping his arms around Rose’s shoulders, Jack tugged her forward and tucked her head under his chin before burying his face in her hair to hide his own wet eyes. “Can’t do it, Rose,” he whispered. “Losing him once nearly destroyed me. He’s still mortal; he’ll still grow old and die; and I’ll be left alone again. Everyone leaves me eventually, Rose; it’s just the way it is,” Jack’s voice was a strangled whisper. “So why should I court pain? Better to not get involved, not get attached and then my heart won’t shatter completely when I lose the next one. And the next one. And the next one.”

“Oh Jack, I’m so sorry!” Rose wailed.

“Hey, hey! Sorry for what, Rose? For giving me my life back? For letting me come back to you and the Doctor? Sorry for giving me a purpose like protecting Earth? Never be sorry for that, Rose. Don’t even be sorry for Ianto because as much as it kills me to remember, one day it won’t, and I’ll be able to remember the man who made me human again and how much I still love him, will still love him, even when the universe finally winks out around me.”


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 20th, 2009 03:35 am (UTC)
Oh. Ouch. 'Could've gone better' is a bit of an understatement there.
Chances of Jack not getting attached? Heh.
Anyways: love it.
Oct. 22nd, 2009 04:48 pm (UTC)
Yes, Doc does have a way of downplaying catastrophic events, something you may want to watch out for ;-)

Glad you're liking the story - more to come by the end of the weekend at the latest!

Oct. 20th, 2009 05:31 am (UTC)
This story is addicting. I can't wait for more.
Oct. 22nd, 2009 04:45 pm (UTC)
Oooooh! I've never been told I'm addicting before - LOVE IT!

And as soon as RL stops beating on me I'll get the next two parts that have come back from our dear beta edited and then Rina and I can post them. (hopefully this weekend if not sooner!)

Oct. 20th, 2009 11:43 am (UTC)
Uh, that didn't go very well, did it. hope JAck will change his mind though

Great chappie
Oct. 22nd, 2009 04:43 pm (UTC)
Jack is many a splendid thing but you'll have to wait and see if time really does heal all wounds Thanks for the feedback!
Oct. 20th, 2009 08:46 pm (UTC)
I love this, great update, so hope Jack can get used to it
Oct. 22nd, 2009 04:42 pm (UTC)
BWAHAHA! Glad you're liking the story and you'll just have to wait and see, won't you?
Rina and I now have the next couple of parts back from our beta and once RL has stopped kicking me in the butt I'll get them edited so we can post them. So stay tuned true believers!
Oct. 22nd, 2009 07:55 pm (UTC)
And the other 20 parts sitting in your in-box ;)

Edited at 2009-10-22 07:55 pm (UTC)
Oct. 22nd, 2009 08:28 pm (UTC)
Oct. 26th, 2009 11:24 pm (UTC)
I was so intent on getting to the next part of this fic I forgot to leave feedback! I'm looking forward to each new installment of your story.

Excellent, original Jack and intriguing AU Ianto in Pete's World; what's not to love?
Oct. 27th, 2009 12:19 am (UTC)
Aww, thanks so much for coming back to leave it! I know we both had fun exploring the similarities and differences between these versions of Jack and Ianto and the canon ones, glad you're enjoying them!
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )