Links to previous chapters:
Chapter 1 Chapter 16
Chapter 2 Chapter 17
Chapter 3 Chapter 18
Chapter 4 Chapter 19
Chapter 5 Chapter 20
Chapter 6 Chapter 21
Chapter 7 Chapter 22
Chapter 8 Chapter 23
Chapter 9 Chapter 24
For nearly two weeks after the wish machine incident, the captain was horribly grumpy. He snapped at everyone, even Toshiko. The tech confided in Ianto that Captain Harkness never got so grumpy unless he was feeling particularly down about something.
The bad mood lasted until Gwen finally shouted it out with the captain in the middle of the Hub. After that, he just seemed depressed.
Ianto was having issues as well. At least two nights a week, he would go out to clubs or bars and try to find someone to take home, but somehow he never found the right person. He denied the voice in his head that told him he was measuring them all against the captain until he told Connie about his problem.
"You're measurin' them all against the captain," she said flatly.
"I know," Ianto sighed, staring at his kitchen table.
"Are you really this into this guy, that you can't shag anyone else?" Connie asked seriously, since apparently it hadn't been clarified enough.
"It does seem like it."
"Let's see if we can fix that," she said brightly, and ducked under the table.
A few minutes later, she slid back up into her chair. She tapped her finger against the side of the table.
"This is a real problem," Connie admitted.
So when the man in the red jacket with cheekbones to die for shoved him up against a wall as he walked home from the Hub one night and began to kiss him enthusiastically, Ianto didn't push him away immediately.
This turned out to be a mistake, since it was exactly then that the entire team rushed around the corner.
"Let him go, John!"
'John' broke off the kiss, rolled his eyes, and said, "Maybe next time, eh?" before turning to face the team. "Long time no see."
A flashlight found its way to Ianto's face and he heard a gasp. "Jones?" The medic said in surprise.
"He one of yours, Jack? I gotta say, good taste."
"We were partners," said 'Captain John Hart' as he was shepherded into the conference room at gunpoint. "In every way," he winked at Toshiko. She scowled.
"It was two weeks, John," Captain Harkness said sharply, pushing the shorter man into a chair.
"Except, the two weeks was trapped in a time loop, so we were together for five years, it was like having a wife," he commented to the rest of the team.
"Why are you here?" Captain Harkness growled.
John swiveled slowly to face him. "I can't just be checking out the sights?" he glanced appreciatively over at Ianto, who was standing, a bit uncertain of where he was meant to be, in the doorway.
"Why. Are. You. Here."
"All right, all right, no need to get overexcited." John managed to convey an entire slew of inappropriate suggestions with his grin. Then he leaned across the table toward Captain Harkness and his face became serious. "An Arcadian diamond."
The whole team, and John too, saw a gleam come into their leader's eyes.
"I thought you'd be interested in that."
"Who'd you steal one of those from?" Captain Harkness challenged.
"Hey, I resent that!" John defended. "This woman owed me, I did her a favor, she said she'd give me the diamond. When she tried to cheat me, we fought over it, it fell into a nearby Rift. I tracked it to here. I figured I'd try and get some help in the morning, but I got lead straight to you," he glanced back at Ianto.
"'It fell into a nearby Rift?'" Gwen said incredulously. "What do you think we are, a group of half-wits?"
John raised an eyebrow. "If you think you know better than me about how time and space travel work, all tied down here on your little planet, then yeah, I think you're an idiot."
Gwen bristled, but noticeably did not have a comeback.
John looked pointedly at Gwen as he spoke. "You definitely need a blonde, Jack."
"Could you locate the diamond, Tosh?" Captain Harkness asked, ignoring his former partner.
Toshiko was already twiddling with her palm pilot. "I think so, if I can get the coordinates where it originated, but there'll probably be several possible matches, since the object that came through would be so small."
"Well, I can wait," John said, standing up from his seat and flicking the lapel of his Napoleonic coat.
"Where do you think you're going?" demanded Captain Harkness.
John smiled. "I'm gonna go and get a drink, while the local law enforcement agency finds my missing property. That's how it works, when you're the good guy Jack."
The Torchwood leader pointed at the ground. "You stay in here while we confer." He swept out of the room, and was quickly followed by Gwen and Dr. Harper.
Toshiko stayed behind and spoke to Ianto in a low voice. "Why were you kissing him?" she asked curiously.
"I wasn't. He just caught me by surprise, is all," Ianto answered. When Toshiko nodded sympathetically and left, Ianto knew he'd fooled her.
"Well that was a bare-faced lie," John commented, turning the wheeled chair from side to side as he gazed at Ianto's body. "I could tell, you were ready to go," he nodded at Ianto's crotch.
"I'm not gay," Ianto insisted weakly.
John shook his head. "You're not even foolin' yourself, boy," he said, standing up. He strode forward until he was standing nose-to-nose with Ianto.
Just then, Ianto felt like all the bravado had disappeared from John's expression. "You don't have to hide, you know," he murmured. "Life's too short."
Ianto's breath stuttered and his gaze dropped from John's eyes (which seemed to look straight inside Ianto's mind) to his lips.
"You know, strictly speaking, molesting the staff is my job."
Ianto jumped backward and almost collided with the doorframe. Captain Harkness gave him a look as he passed into the room that made Ianto drop his eyes to the floor.
"We'll help," Captain Harkness announced. Ianto heard a sound of approval from the other captain. "But only on the condition that you leave Earth immediately after."
"What if I want to hang around for a while?"
"This is not a game, John. Take it or leave it."
"Fine," John said after a short pause. "Get me my property and I'll clear outta your atmosphere."
Ianto turned away from the cog wheel door he'd been about to walk through. "Yes sir?"
The captain motioned for him to follow. Ianto let out an almost silent sigh; he'd been just about to go home.
Ianto closed the door of Captain Harkness' office behind him and sat in the chair. The other man was already leaning back against his desk, watching Ianto as he entered.
"You need to be careful with John," Captain Harkness began tersely.
"I have no intention of being around Captain Hart enough to be anything with him."
The captain gave a small, brittle smile at that. "He gets under your skin."
Ianto didn't have anything to say to that, and it looked like Captain Harkness was reminiscing, so he waited.
When the captain came out of his memories, he looked at Ianto seriously, but with a hint of honest tenderness that knocked the Welshman of guard. "He'll act charming, friendly, insouciant, he'll be an amazing shag" (Ianto's heart nearly jumped into his throat and choked him to death) "but he is not," the captain emphasized, "trustworthy. Don't believe a word he says. No matter how much you like him, even if you start to love him, promise me you will watch your back around him. Please."
Ianto was at a complete loss for words. Finally, he cleared his throat. "I… I promise, sir."
Captain Harkness' eyes seemed to take in every single detail of his face. Finally, he sighed. "That's the best advice I can offer. Normally I'd say don't let him kiss you, but I guess that isn't going to be an issue this time around." He gave a crooked smirk.
"I suppose, sir." Was Harkness on any illicit drugs at the moment?
"Go home, Jones," Captain Harkness raised his arm in dismissal. Ianto nodded and left by the cog wheel door. He could swear he felt the captain's gaze on the back of his head the whole way.
So when the man in the red jacket with cheekbones to die for shoved him up against a wall as he walked home from the Hub and began to kiss him enthusiastically, Ianto pushed him away.
"Aw, did he give you the no kissing rule?" John complained. "He only invented that 'cause he wants me all to himself."
Ianto ignored him and continued walking toward his flat.
"Really? You're givin' me the cold shoulder? And what'd I do to deserve this?"
Ianto spun around and found himself inches away from the other man. "I can't have them thinking I'm…" he struggled for words.
"Is this still about the gay thing? Will you get over yourself already, I-"
"No!" Ianto almost shouted. He glanced around. Luckily, it was past midnight and there was almost no one else on the streets in this area. "Well, not entirely. It's not safe for me that they think I'm the sort of person who shags random time travelers!"
"Well if you're not shaggin' random people, where's the fun in life?" John held up his hands as if to indicate the empty streets around them. "Sometimes, takin' a risk is what makes it all worth while."
Ianto stared. "Do you seriously think that?" he asked exasperatedly.
His gaze was met steadily by a pair of intelligent blue eyes. "Yes, I do."
Ianto seriously considered the prospect. On the one hand, if his colleagues found out… Ianto shuddered. They still didn't like him, even if they'd been loosening up a bit lately. Plus, if one of them had the idea of reporting this to London Ianto would probably end up being interrogated and Retconned. On the other hand…
Takin' a risk is what makes it all worth while.
"My flat's this way."
"You don't have to go, you know," he offered.
John gave him a disparaging look while pulling his jeans back on. "I'm not exactly the cuddlin' type."
"I mean-" Ianto said a bit louder, waiting until John was paying attention. "I have a spare room."
The captain raised an eyebrow. "You'll shag someone, then offer them your guest room?"
"You'd have to check into a hotel," Ianto explained, "and it's pretty late."
John cocked his head and stared at him. To the point where it was becoming odd. "You don't have to stay, if you don't want to," Ianto said somewhat defensively.
"No!" The captain looked surprised. "No, I'll take the room, I just…" John looked really surprised.
"Is something wrong?" Ianto was started to get a little offended by the staring.
"No. Never mind. The one on the left?" John picked up the rest of his clothes from the floor as he walked down the hallway. Ianto blushed at the trail of clothing that led to the front door.
"Yeah. Towels're in the closet if you need one."
Ianto waited for a response, but none came. He turned over and pulled the covers up to his chin.