jenexell (jenexell) wrote,
jenexell
jenexell

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[FIC] Progress - R - 5/7+epi



Title: Progress
Series: Sempiternitas
Author: jenexell 
Pairings and Characters:Series will eventually be Jack/Ianto. This part: Ianto. Jack. Suzie. Tosh. Owen. No pairings.
Rating: Mature (swearing and some adult themes)
Disclaimer: If this was real, I wouldn't share. As its not, I'm sharing with no personal gain or profit, other than perhaps to feed my attention whore complex. non-recognisable elements are mine! plagiarists will be eaten alive by weasels. Much information has been gleaned from the show (obviously), Dr Who eps, various Wiki's, other internet sources and my font of all Dr Who knowledge ttfan . I have not read the books, so if something was mentioned in a book, but not on TV, I probably won't have it.
Distribution: My Journal (jenexell), and quite a few other places too. (attention whore complex). If you want it, link back to my journal, don't steal its naughty.
Warnings: Some strong language, medical stuff, violence. use of guns.(so basically all the warnings for Torchwood). References to adult themes such as people trafficking and prostitution.
Spoilers: Everything and nothing. Set pre-series, so may make reference to things mentioned in the show, but not the content of actual eps. AU from 2004 onwards.

Summary: Second story in the Sempiternitas Series: Ianto Jones, prisoner of TW3, is settling into his new life, and things are as back to normal as they get in Cardiff. But the imminent arrival of a certain VIP stands to change everything.

Author's Note: So here it is, the second one. Thank you to everyone who commented and supported the first story. I've tried a few new things with this one so I hope it works as well.

Just to let people know. I know some people have mentioned it about the last story. This SERIES will eventually be Jack/Ianto but the stories in it won't necessarily be.

This story is part of a series, and probably won't make a lot of sense unless you've read the first story,"Into the Storm".


Previous Parts
:: Part 1 :: Part 2 :: Part 3 :: Part 4 ::




Part 5
Cardiff, November 2004
Two days to Arrival



Jack woke at his desk. Sticky eyed and stiff. His face buried in the crook of one bent elbow.

He didn’t actually remember falling asleep. But then again it was hardly surprising he didn’t remember. After all, if he was tired enough to fall asleep at his desk, he likely wasn’t exactly switched on before he got there.

In the past he’d told a comfortable lie. Back when his condition, his immortality, had been common knowledge amongst those he worked with, discussed and revealed between them without his knowledge or consent; making him something less than human in their eyes. He’d learnt quickly to keep what he could to himself and in some ways it was just easier to tell people when they questioned the fact that he had no home, no flat, nothing beyond a camp bed in a store-room in the lower levels, that he didn’t sleep, or at least he didn’t need much of it. Easier than trying to explain the conditioning he’d received from the Time Agency meant to help in the event that sleep deprivation was used against him. Or about his nightmares.

Besides, it was only half a lie. He could, and quite often did, function with little or no sleep for long stretches of time. There were times though when it would catch up with him, when his body would demand and he would be powerless to do anything but obey. Like after dying. It struck him as ironic but his body always craved sleep after death. And of course after long periods of physical exertion.

No deaths in almost a year now. That was getting on for a record while working at Torchwood. As for periods of physical exertion, well none recently of the kind he’d like. The dull ache throughout his frame however reminded him that in his not so distant past there had been something far less pleasant. Trudging around, hour after hour after hour in dark dank tunnels. Running, sprinting, slipping and sliding through muck and mud in a desperate attempt to reach a silent Suzie. Carrying his second through the same tunnels, trying to keep his balance, his weight and hers. His clothes sopping wet and his toes going numb in the cold. More trudging. More Hours of fruitless searching.

Jack moaned into his arm and then let out a pained groan as he forced protesting muscles to obey, sitting up slowly. He rubbed at his eyes, and checking his watch he saw it was half six in the morning. Blinking to clear the sleep from his vision, he moved his arm and tried to focus on whatever it was he had fallen asleep working on. Or maybe he hadn’t been working on anything. Maybe he’d sat down with the intention of working and just dropped. It was possible.

Trying to guess what he’d intended to work on wasn’t the easiest thing he’d ever tried to do. His desk seemed to have disappeared under a sea of paper, with only a few islands of sanity peeking through. A tall desk lamp, his coral, a 2 foot tall statue of an obscure goddess from an even obscurer planet. Beneath where his head had rested was a drawing. Or at least a copy of a drawing. Suzie had faxed it over at some point the previous evening, clearly having spent a good amount of time she should have been resting, attempting to re-create on paper what she had seen in the tunnels.

It wasn’t a work of art. But then Suzie wasn’t an artist. What she was, was an engineer, and it showed in the details and annotations provided explaining the parts she remembered. Crab like with four legs and two arms, or maybe they were mandibles? Jack curled his lip. It was not a nice looking doo-hicky whatever it was. Not scary looking really, just creepy. All made of cannibalised domestic electricals and vaguely arachnid in shape.

On the edge of the page, there were some notes of his own. His handwriting - usually quite elegant and flowing from years of having to use nib and ink - was scrawled and scratchy looking. He vaguely remembered doing it, but for the life of him he couldn’t remember all the random crap that had been floating through his mind the night before.

A quick scan and Jack realised that random crap was probably the most apt description going. At one point he’d written ‘I Hate Spiders’ in big letters, then drawn little spiders crawling around the words. There was a spider web inside top loop of the first S.

Some of what he’d scribbled was slightly more insightful. He’d jotted down all that they knew about the whatever-it-was, into two lists; one for evidence of sentience, and one for evidence that it was a tool of some kind. There were also a number of questions.

Who has skill to build?
Why spare parts?
Spare parts = self-repair? Self-replication?


Jack grimaced, the idea of little self-replicating robots chowing down on high voltage electricity and tearing up kitchen appliances for spare parts as they spread across the globe was more than a little disturbing. Jack loved technology, he just wasn’t a fan of the apparently almost universal human obsession with giving it a mind of its own.

He needed coffee. He needed it to be Monday. Either the previous Monday so he could do the week over with the full use of hindsight or the following Monday, so the weekend would be over and he could go back to feeling like he was actually in control. Of course, since neither was actually possible without either Doctorly intervention or buggering about with the rift, he’d settle for coffee. And lots of it.

Pushing away from his desk, Jack stood and stretched; white t-shirt, braces off his shoulders and feet clad only in socks. He looked down and wiggled his toes, confused. Then he remembered; for his second foray into the tunnels he’d found a pair of stout rubber boots. Not the warmest but definitely waterproof. He’d discarded them somewhere in the central Hub along with a waterproof coat he’d also pulled out of a store. He’d have to find them and clean them at some point. There had to be something, somewhere in the rulebook about the boss not having to clean shit off his own shoes.

Wishful thinking. Coffee.

Shuffling out of his office, Jack made his way past the couch and then turned through the archway leading into the back rooms. Turn right, down two steps, turn left. The showers, lockers, toilets and an access to the lower levels lay further down the corridor, but the room he wanted was the first door on the left.

Pushing it open, Jack stopped dead in his tracks, squinted against the stark brightness of the strip light bouncing off the white Formica cupboards and cabinets, white painted walls, and black and white checkerboard linoleum flooring.

At the far end of the kitchen, Ianto also froze, bowl held up at chest height, spoon half way to his open mouth. Fully dressed in a dark suit, there was a napkin tucked into the collar of his crisp white shirt, and peeking out below it was a jewel blue tie. The vague thought passed through Jack’s mind that the red tie he’d seen the day before yesterday had suited him better. And then he momentarily paused to wonder where the hell Ianto Jones had found a napkin.

Ianto’s spoon dropped back into his bowl with a clink. The napkin disappeared into a suit jacket pocket, the steaming mug on the counter was snatched up, and before Jack had really processed the fact that Ianto was ever there, the young man had scooted past him.

Pooft. Gone.

Coffee. The kettle was still warm. He clicked the switch, found a mug, dropped two heaped spoonfuls into the bottom from the almost empty jar of Tesco own brand instant coffee and leant back against the counter.

His eyes swept over the kitchen as the kettle rumbled behind him. Something was different. Slowly he turned full circle. There was something missing.

Then it clicked. Not something, a lot of somethings. Mugs, plates, packets, carrier-bags, boxes, cutlery, scrunched up dish towels. There were no dishes in the sink. Between the four of them they usually kept the kitchen fairly clean unless the world was ending, but never this tidy. The counter tops were bare apart from the jar of instant coffee, box of tea-bags and a bag of sugar carefully placed up against the wall near the kettle, and a plate, a knife and a tub of margarine neatly laid out near the toaster.

The toaster which chose that moment to make a grating rattle and a half hearted attempt to eject its contents. The smell of the toast wafted invitingly through the small space.

Jack’s stomach growled.

~Tw~wT~


7:15am

Quick trip outside.

The Plass was heaving with activity, workmen and officials milling around as they were setting up for the first day of the opening weekend festivities. Ianto had to wonder if agreeing to this was the best idea he’d ever had. Seeing the Captain in the kitchen this morning had rattled him and after spending the previous day in a kind of denial, throwing himself into what he needed to do, he now found himself remembering why it was that he’d wound up working in a tourist office in Cardiff in the first place. Too late now he supposed.

He needed to finish up the last few things inside, and take his bowl and cup back downstairs.

Stepping back into the Tourist Office, he smiled to find Tosh gazing around with a grin on her face.

8:30am

Last minute rush.

Checking, checking and rechecking the displays and racks. Straightening the stacks of leaflets and shelves of brochures. Ianto still wasn’t entirely convinced about the souvenir ashtrays, but they were in the boxes of stock delivered yesterday so he assumed he had to have them on display.

The entrance to the Hub via the Plass was apparently blocked off by temporary barriers. At least according to Owen when he’d stomped in a few minutes before. Ianto wasn’t quite sure what to make of that. He hadn’t known there even was an entrance via the Plass.

9:04am

Homocidal urges.

Mrs Miggins had been at the Tourist Office four minutes and Ianto was starting to worry again. Not about the state of the Tourist Office but about himself. Risk to the public. Dangerous alien. He knew all the reasons the Captain said he couldn’t let him go and ever since the incident with Tosh Ianto wasn’t the slightest bit inclined to argue. He’d never felt quite so much like a risk before though. Not like this.

Four minutes with MrsMiggins and Ianto was fantasising that he knew how to control the fury of the energy trapped in his body. Just one little spark...


10am

Opening time. Time to face the hordes.

10:30am

The hordes were clearly caught in traffic, but at least Mrs Miggins had gone.

11am

One customer down. Hordes apparently still on route. Nevertheless, Ianto was rather pleased with the way he’d managed to bullshit his way through that one tourist’s request for information. Pulling one of the brochures down from a shelf, he began to read. Best to be better prepared.

12:10pm

Closed for lunch.

Tosh had appeared dead on Twelve and said she was going on sandwich run for the rest of the team. Ianto was about to volunteer to go for her, then changed tack and said he’d go with her instead. He needed the air. Tosh looked exhausted. Pale with deep bags under her eyes. They hadn’t spoken in a couple of days and Ianto knew something serious was going on down in the world below, but when he asked the now familiar wall appeared in Tosh’ eyes. He wasn’t allowed to know. He left it at that and looped his arm through hers as they wandered through the unusually large lunchtime crowd in Mermaid Quay.

13:30pm

The horde had arrived!

Oh no. His mistake. It was just a woman with four noisy, sticky fingered, pre-school aged children trying to find out bus routes, and an OAP looking to get out of the wind for ten minutes.


3pm

Coffee.

He wasn’t the biggest fan of instant, but sometimes coffee was coffee. Trying slip into the Hub unobtrusively should be an impossibility, what with the claxon and bright flashing lights. And yet his entrance didn’t even make anyone blink. The atmosphere in the main Hub was stiflingly tense. Then a shout - a real bellow of frustrated, impotent rage - and something smashed inside the Captain’s office. Coming out of the kitchen, Ianto almost dropped his mug.

Owen poked his head out of the autopsy pit. “Hartman?”

“Hartman.” Suzie a Tosh replied with sighs of long sufferance.

Who the hell was Hartman?

4:15pm

‘The South Wales Comprehensive Tourist Information Guide: 2004 Edition’ was oddly enthralling. Who knew there was a Knitted Doll Museum in Barry*?

5:21pm

Almost closing up time.

The sounds of the opening; crowds, music and speeches had been trickling down from the Plass all afternoon. Ianto was tempted to go up and see what was going on for himself once he’d closed the office. It was certainly more appealing than the prospect of heading back downstairs. Not that he didn’t know exactly what was going on up the top end of the Plass today. Mrs Miggins had insisted that he memorise the itinerary for the entire weekend.

Standing up straight from where he’d been leant with his hip against the counter, Ianto raised his arms above his head and stretched, cracking a yawn. All things considered, the day hadn’t been too bad. If he tried really hard, he could even forget that there was a top-secret underground base below his feet, or that he was tied to it with an invisible leash. There had been no tests for two days now, and for the same two days he hadn’t had to sit and wait to be fed. He had a reason to get up, to get dressed and actually go through the motions of a normal day. Like a normal person. Normal.

Not some kind of freak or monster. Just a normal guy. Who got up, got dressed, went to work, dealt with customers and a boss he could never hope to make happy, who waited for five thirty so he could knock off.

Ianto smiled to himself.

It was a pretence, a sham really, but it was the best he had, and a week ago he’d been beginning to see the rest of his life flowing out before him being nothing but a tiny room, puzzle books and brief glimpses of an outside world he’d never be allowed to touch. Unconsciously he rubbed at his left shoulder. He’d known last week, and still understood now why it had to be like that. That didn’t mean however, that he didn’t like this new arrangement more. He just had to make sure he didn’t do anything to make the Captain take this away from him.

Time to start closing up. The float in the till would need counting and putting in the safe. He’d need to have a little tidy and sweep round.

He was just in the process of deciding which to do first when the door opened.

Looking round, Ianto gave his new customer a polite but apologetic smile. “I’m sorry, we’re closing.”

The man, taller than Ianto and thick set like a bouncer didn’t reply, just stopped in the middle of the shop and looked around.

Ianto blinked. He must be more tired than he thought; he couldn’t focus properly on the man’s face.

Thinking perhaps to try a different tack, Ianto repeated what he’d said in Welsh.

Still no reply.

OK. What to do now. Strange man in the shop. Not replying. If he wanted the money out of the till, Ianto was more than happy to hand it over. But something about the whole scenario didn’t scream robbery. He’d been in a robbery before, when he’d been closing up the coffee shop he’d worked in while at University. Robbers usually ran in waving some kind of weapon making demands. They didn’t wander in calmly and look around in silence while exuding an aura of menace. Or did they? Who the hell would rob a tourist office anyway?

It was still hard to really get a handle on the man’s face, but now at least Ianto could make out an expression. A scornful, cocky expression. The man wandered over to the post card rack. There was no way now for Ianto to get out from behind the counter without going through him. Damn.

Picking up a postcard, the man flicked it round in his fingers, turning his head to look at Ianto “So, Where is she?”

“Where is who?” Ianto shook his head. “There’s just me here.”

Perhaps not the wisest admission he’d ever made. The man’s eyes narrowed. “You don’t really think I’m going to buy that do you? Just hand her over and I’ll be on my way.”

“Honestly, I have no idea who you’re looking for. Perhaps if you gave me a name, or do you have a picture?”He was getting scared now, although he did his damnedest not to show it. What the hell was he supposed to do?

Out of the corner of his eye, Ianto spotted something and as subtly as he could, sidled closer. Pride was one thing, very large intimidating men demanding something he couldn’t give were quite another. Suzie better not have been bluffing.

The man was still coming towards him. He was between him and the door. Maybe if he could just try and make a break for it? Hide in the crowd in the Plass maybe?

Taking his chances, Ianto made to run for it. He got about four paces before the man caught him, grabbing the back of his jacket and slamming his fist into Ianto’s stomach.

“Now that, wasn’t very clever.” He drawled as Ianto folded over, falling to one knee as the shock and pain of the blow radiated throughout his body.

Shit, he’d forgotten how much being punched in the gut hurt. It had been years. Wheezing, Ianto looked up at his attacker in confusion and dismay, gritting his teeth. “I don’t know anything about your girl!”

“Don’t play games with me boy. Now tell me where the dirty Dreneka is and we’ll forget all this ever happened.” The man snarled as he hauled Ianto off the floor by the back of his collar, shoving him back against the counter, holding him there with a hand around his throat; brochures, leaflets and souvenir ashtrays scattered all over the floor. “We know she’s here somewhere. Just tell me. Make life easier on yourself.”

“I... don...”The pressure on his throat meant it was impossible to draw enough breath to answer. All he could do was shake his head in furious denial. His fingers scrabbled ineffectually at the man’s hand, he couldn’t get his legs into position where he could kick him.

A click. Ianto’s eyes snapped from the man’s face to just over his shoulder.

“Or how about you put him down and I won’t blow your brains across the room.”

Twenty minutes ago, Ianto Jones would have sworn blind he could quite happily live the rest of his life never hearing that particular American accented voice ever again. But then that was twenty minutes ago.

The hand on his throat gripped tighter, and the man turned his head. “I can snap his neck faster than you can pull that trigger.”

“Pattern intensity at sixty-eight percent. sixty-nine percent.” A voice in the background. Was that Tosh? “Seventy-percent! Jack...”

Couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t breathe. He kicked out uselessly, eyes finding the Captain’s imploringly and finding only impassiveness staring back.

“Well if you’re gonna snap it, I suggest you do it fast.” The Captain shrugged, taking a deliberate step back.

“Seventy-two percent!”

The man scowled and glanced back at Ianto. For a fraction of a second he looked unsure.

A fraction of a second was all it took. The hand on Ianto’s throat loosened fractionally. Air rushed into his lungs and propelled by panic and anger, Ianto launched himself off the counter. Guided by instincts he hadn’t used since he was a kid, he clouted the man hard in the face.

~Tw~wT~


Well, to say the afternoon had taken an unexpected turn would be an understatement.

Leaning back against Tosh’s work station, Suzie found herself watching the two people on the couch. Tosh and Ianto. Well actually, she was watching Ianto. For the last ten minutes he’d been trying to reassure Tosh that he was alright. It was strangely cute.

And mildly disturbing. When she’d instructed Tosh as to how she wanted the security system recalibrated, giving Ianto Jones a panic button hadn’t even crossed her mind. Everything she’d ordered had been about protecting them; the team and Torchwood.

Shaking her head ruefully, she had to give the boy credit. It was quick thinking to use the entry button to get their attention. Of course when the alarm had gone off none of them had actually considered that Ianto might be in trouble. She’d been furious. And embarrassed. After all, putting that much trust in Ianto had been her idea. Tosh had look alarmed and sad, Owen unsurprised and Jack about ready to spit fire. Owen had started yelling about the Pattern intensity almost at the same moment they’d brought up the CCTV and Suzie wasn’t sure who’d moved faster, Tosh or Jack.

Nor was she sure who any of them had been more concerned for when they’d realised the predicament Ianto was in. After all, Ianto might have been the one in immediate obvious danger, but with the Pattern readings spiking, all of them were aware it might be his attacker who came off worse. They all remembered the way Jack had been thrown across the vaults last time.

In the end Ianto’s attacker had wound up on the losing side, but only because of that punch. Every time she pictured it in her head she felt like grinning. It was quite the sucker punch. Who knew the mouse had it in him?

Well, thanks to that blow, subduing their visitor hadn’t been half the problem they’d expected. Jack and Owen had hauled him off to the vaults, and given she could already hear Owen’s grousing, they had to be on their way back.

Sure enough, they soon appeared. Jack striding over to stand in front of Ianto, hands on hips. “What happened?”

Ianto looked back up at Jack with wide eyes, retreating back into the couch. “I... ah... He just came in... Started.. started going on about some girl.”

Suzie couldn’t see Jack’s face, but she heard his huff of annoyance. “Word for word Ianto. What did he say to you?”

Much to Suzie’s surprise, Ianto did exactly that, the words leaving him without inflection, like they’d been memorised off a flash card. “So, Where is she? You don’t really think I’m going to buy that do you? Just hand her over and I’ll be on my way. Now that wasn’t very clever. Don’t play games with me boy. Now tell me where the dirty Dreneka is and we’ll forget all this ever happened. We know she’s here somewhere. Just tell me. Make life easier on yourself...”

“Back it up.” Jack jumped in, halting the flow. If he’d noticed the peculiarity of Ianto’s recitation he didn’t comment on it. “Say the last bit again.”

“Sir?”

Suzie coughed. Sir? Really? That was too much.

“The last bit.” Jack repeated, as Suzie caught Owen’s eye and they shared a smirk behind Jack’s back. Oh yes they’d be discussing the Sir thing later.

“We know she’s...” Ianto started, but once again Jack cut him off.

“Before that.”

Ianto blinked at him, looked down, frowned then spoke again. “Now tell me where the dirty Dreneka is...”

“Dreneka.” Jack repeated, once more cutting Ianto off. Taking a few strides away, he rubbed his forehead, stopping and turning back. “You’re sure that’s what he said?”

“Yes sir.”

“Jack?” Suzie jumped in, curious. It wasn’t a word she knew, but it was clearly one Jack knew. “What does that mean?”

“I’m guessing nothing nice given the context.” Owen threw in. “Unless it’s culturally acceptable where he comes from to call someone a dirty beloved.”

“You’d be amazed where that’s culturally acceptable,” Jack muttered offhandedly and then sighed. “But you’re right. That isn’t a nice word. The best translation I know of is whore. But it’s worse than that. A Dreneka is a receptacle. A living toy. An owned, used... thing. Good for one purpose. A tool to be used.” Jack shrugged as Tosh, Suzie and even Owen gave him disgusted looks.

“Charming.” Owen replied curling his lip.

“In what language?” Tosh asked with concern.

“Not a human one.” Jack replied quickly.

“So we have a thug using an alien word.” Suzie summarised.

“We have an alien thug using an alien word.” Owen clarified, and when Suzie stared at him in confusion, he crossed to the nearest terminal and pulled up the CCTV of the vaults. There, in the cell was the man from the Tourist Office. Well something in the same suit at least. But it wasn’t a human in that suit. For a start he appeared to be white - not human skin tone white, but bright white – no ears, a highly pronounced brow and deep set black eyes. “Jack took a device off him when we got him down there. Some kind of perception filter...”

Jack shook his head. Pulling something from his pocket, he threw it to Suzie who caught it deftly. “Nothing so sophisticated. I’d need you to confirm it for me, but my guess it’s a light refractor. Using a low powered force-field to interrupt the way light bounces off an object, or in this case a person, so what we see appears distorted.”

“Like looking through a prism or in one of those funny mirrors at a fair ground?” Ianto spoke up, ducking his head and curling down in his seat again when everyone turned to look at him.

Jack narrowed his eyes, frowned and spoke slowly. “Yeah. Exactly. When the eye won’t focus properly on the image, the human brain tends to fill in the blanks, so it works pretty well as a disguise.”

Distracted by the object Jack had thrown her, Suzie barely registered the exchange. Turning the small device over and over in her hands she examined it. It wasn’t very big, not much larger than the palm of her hand. It was heavy, rounded and smooth. Tear shaped. Sliding her fingers round it, she found a seam around the edge. It barely took a tiny amount of pressure with her finger nail and the thing popped open, like taking the back off a mobile phone.

Shell lifted, she looked inside.

“Intel, Hotpoint, Philips, Sony, all the parts are branded!” Suzie exclaimed. Something caught her eye and she reached out. “Hold on, what is that under there?”

“Suzie don’t touch it!”

As her fingers made contact with the strangely organic amalgam of contemporary electrical components, something happened that Suzie did not expect. It moved.


There, staring back at her from inside the device, was the same thing she’d spotted in spidery thing in the lower tunnels.

A shining blue crystal, pulsing gently.

Tbc...


* I have no idea if this exists, it probably doesn’t, but you do find the oddest little museums in the strangest of places.

Part 6
Tags: fic, ianto jones, jack harkness, janto, owen harper, sempiternitas, suzie costello, toshiko sato
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