Summary: Jack is gone, and Ianto is feeling the loss, but... he still has things to do. Boss Man is just around the corner, and he has to deal with him before he can make his way back to Torchwood, back to Gwen and, unknowingly, back to Tosh and Owen.
But with Faeries and Mobsters and Embezzlers getting in the way... well, nothing is ever easy with Torchwood, is it?
Sequel to And I Wake Up
If you have not read And I Wake Up, you should stop reading this and read the first story.
Do it. While the first chapter has some recap-y elements, you will not understand most of it without reading the first in this series. Seriously, go back, you've gone too far! Wouldn't you rather read the previous 70k before this one? Yeah, you should go do that.
Lots of thanks to Randompersonofdoom (HI!) for all her amazingness and awesomesauce and for humouring me when I've been bugging her about writing problems...
and of course for making AIWU into a podfic. She's recently put up chapter 3, and I am super excited for 4... like you have no idea.
So yeah, enjoy :) Notes on the actual story at the bottom :)
Chapter 1—Too Tired To Wink by Ludo
It starts with running.
Somehow it's less of a surprise than it should be, perhaps, but then a number of things turn out that way.
Ianto Jones is running.
Toshiko Sato is running with Owen Harper.
Gwen Cooper-Williams wishes she could be running…
And her husband, Rhys, is making a grocery run.
Others are running, too, with less connection to Torchwood, less importance, but somehow that's not quite right.
But then, some might tell you that nothing is ever right nowadays.
Ianto Jones is running down streets and alleys, he's running on fumes, and anxiety, and fear, and the knowledge that should he stumble or slow down he would be caught.
He could be caught this time.
He wouldn't be, not if he could help it, but he could.
(Not a good though, not a good thought at all, happy thoughts, happy thoughts, happy thoughts—)
Thugs behind him, walls on either side—and look, ahead, a wall in front of him, but that wasn't a problem.
Many things were problematic, but walls and blockades were less so now than they had been, say, a year ago.
(A year ago was a wonderful time, he thought.)
The treads in his boots—remarkably comfortable and fitting the way he knew only happened through podiatrists and inserts—caught on the vague edges of the bricks. Velocity helps him pull himself up, the calluses on his fingers clutching, holding, and he has one moment of ridiculous thought between one wheezing breath and another
(Spiderman, Spiderman, does whatever a spider can—)
and he's over.
He drops onto a twine-wrapped stack of flattened boxes, wheezing, but away from the Thugs, and he can spare a moment, can spare just one breath for a laugh, and he's running.
He's tired, so, so very tired, but all he can do now is run.
Run and hope he can chance slowing down for some chips on the way back.
(Look out, here comes the Spiderman…)
Not many good storybooks start with running, but anyone can tell you that the running's the best bit.
A knight never rescues a damsel at a leisurely stroll, never trots after a soaring dragon, never walks to the villain, but if we're going to look at things from a storybook perspective, where there's a Knight there's usually a Princess.
Or, in this case, a Prince.
The Knight is usually somehow a Prince as well, never mind the impracticality of allowing the heir to a kingdom ride off on his own to dangers unknown, but for the practicality of the story let's just say this is going to be a tale of a Knight and his Prince.
Tosh is running down a separate alley, doing figures in her head, calculating speed, distance, probability…
Sudden movement in front of her, a figure snarling, and Weevil Spray is out before it can take a second breath.
The Weevil goes down.
Owen slows to a jog from the alley where the Weevil emerged from, bending to secure the bag over its head.
"Well, can't say I ever thought I'd miss being the Weevil King…"
Tosh grinned at him. "Don't get too down… you my not be King anymore, but you're at least a Baron." She shakes the can in her hand; not much left but enough for the off chance of the Weevil coming to before they can get it back to the mostly repaired Hub.
While a great deal of it was still cracked and rubble filled, the main areas and the cells were rebuilt and better than ever, storage rooms set up and every wall made with the same care as the archives in the hopes that should there ever be a bomb set off in there again…
Rhys backed the new SUV into the alley, tricked out even more than the previous one even while missing the TORCHWOOD engraving, and after the Weevil is in the trunk he heads out to do a grocery run—something he's gotten used to with Gwen's odd cravings.
Weevil in it's new cell, Tosh goes back to updating the Rift Monitoring equipment and repairing their firewall.
Owen sets in to work on the monitoring equipment, recalculating the regular vitals for the Weevils, and working out the order forms for the medical equipment he still needed.
She's very careful not to change the back door entry that she'd shown Ianto, way back when, and it's with an ache in her chest that she wonders why he hasn't found his way back to them yet.
The Prince is very well dressed and practical, with a mind turned towards organization.
These are all qualities one might expect to find in a Prince, but are usually found lacking.
This fact, one might theorize, may be the reason these princes are urged to marry, in the hopes that their spouse might make up in where they are deficient. One might further suppose that this is also why so many peasants find their way into royalty, as it is well known that commoners are regular practitioners of uncommon sense and practicality.
This is all, however, supposition, and is not to be taken as fact…
Well, actually, if one were to take all that into consideration, the fact that this Prince was indeed practical, organized and perhaps even knowledgeable of uncommon sense on top of knowing how to snazzily dress oneself, then perhaps this Prince isn't actually a prince.
It's much more likely that he would be a peasant, with all these qualities, and perhaps the fashion sense might come from being a Tailor rather than a Prince—
Although this would have to be a oddly well learned Tailor, so perhaps the Tailor's son? Yes, perhaps with a higher education this Tailors son might have made it to working in the castle, so as to meet his Knight, and perhaps with his mind turned towards organization, he might be an Archivist in the Royal Library…
But no. This is a story about a Knight and his Prince
Far away, there is a figure draped carefully against the side of a bar.
He's had too much to drink, and could feel the onset of alcohol poisoning churning his gut, acidic at the back of his throat, but he didn't care.
That was the whole point of the alcohol after all.
He needed to drown his feelings.
He surveyed the crowd, wondering whose bed he'd be in tonight, wondered how exotic he could go, how different.
He caught the eyes of an attractive female, six legs and two arms sparking his interest as much as the shiny black skin that covered her, and let a slow grin cover his face.
In the low lighting, it took her nearly to him for him to see the red hourglass marking between her breasts, and once upon a time this would have made him hesitate. Hers was a species that had developed from an Earthly source… the Black Widow.
Now, he met her half way, knowing he was going to die tonight and thought this death would be better spent having sex than through alcohol poisoning.
What else did he have to lose?
She took him in her arms, and he had one moment to think that some spiders were lucky, to go their whole lives solely for this moment, to mate and then die, before he let the rest of the alcohols fog take over.
He had nothing left to lose.
The Knight is big and strong, daring in all his ventures and indeed noble of heart… however, he makes a strange Knight, so willing to brawl and uncaring of rank.
Indeed, he is most willing to employ underhanded methods to get what he wants, is willing to lie—in fact is able to do so boldfaced and smoothly, and so easily takes insults to his honor.
Indeed, he seems more a Mercenary than Knight, with loyalty not so easily earned through birthright as others of his station…
Save his ideals and willingness to stick to them, indeed it would be more fitting to call him a Mercenary, but even then he is much too complex a person to fit to one mold.
Con-Man, Rapscallion, Pirate, Thief, Hero, Whore, Bandit, Confidante, Spy, Mercenary, and, indeed, Knight… all things that describe this man, are things he is and could be, or at one point was, but his is an old soul and so struggles against being kept in such a neat little box such as these labels.
In the end, the only real label he might fit perfectly is Man, though even then he finds it in himself to wiggle in that slot… but to come down to such a base label does not say much for him, so we come full circle once again.
For this is a story about a Knight and his Prince.
Ianto almost didn't shower once he got back to his Hideout, feeling that Jackie and her box of kittens could deal with him smelling of sweat and vaguely of garbage… but ultimately the tacky feel of it on his skin urged him to the bathroom.
He stepped into the tub and turned on the nozzle, jerking at the cold water but letting it wash over him as it warmed up.
He was sore, and after this he would have to stretch—carefully with his shoulder; he'd nearly dislocated it when he slipped when climbing.
He looked down to the water swirling down the drain, and wished he could stand to have a bath. It would feel amazing, a nice scalding soak to rid himself of the accumulating aches and pains…
But Ianto didn't trust himself to not drown himself, so shower it is.
(Yes, he knew it was pointless to drown himself, but it's a thought, it's a thought, it's just a thought, just a fucking—)
Something else, too, is that showers are for thinking forward.
Baths are more of a reflective time, and he couldn't deal with that right then. Because he had to look to the future—not too far, mind, because he still didn't want to think about the what if's of whatever was happening to him, but he could focus on Boss Man.
Boss Man and getting whatever hard copy of his time in the Shooting Range there as from him.
Then… well, figuring out whatever else needed figuring out, and finding some way of dealing with Boss Man in a more long-term way would be fantastic, but…
Small steps first.
You might ask why this is a story about a Knight and his Prince, and not a Prince and his Knight.
That is a silly thing to ask.
She's just about to sign off for the night when the Hub's monitor lights up with a notification.
She almost dismisses it, tired, but figures she should check it out now rather than later—it could be important, and though things had been quiet lately in terms of murderous aliens…
Well, best not leave anything to chance.
Her eyebrow twitches slightly in annoyance when she reads the alert; apparently an employee of Torchwood's DNA showed up at a crime scene. She doesn't know how at the moment, but it's easy enough to hack into the Police Server and find out which matched, and corrupt the sample—
Goes back to read the description of the crime scene, trying her best to understand, because it just didn't—
No, no, it was right… She sat back in her chair.
Ianto? How could his DNA be there… or…
The police report came in that while carrying out a drugs bust in an old building in London, a large bloodstain was found on the floor and walls of one area… but no body.
They got several samples from all over the area, and it seemed that all were from the same source…
Ianto… But how did—
Was it even possible—
It looked like just too much—
Just how would—
She forced herself to stop, closed her eyes and tried to slow her whirling thoughts, because she just—
She couldn't help but jump around the thought.
There was so much blood, and if all of it was Ianto's…
But the estimated timeframe for the possible homicide is nearly four months ago, maybe longer, and it didn't make any sense.
Because it was after that that she got the files from Ianto, though, well… she didn't know for certain that it was Ianto.
It had the right writing style, and it made sense with the Thames House kids, and it was just—
The possibility she most wished for.
And it was in that file that most of the information on the Thames House children came from.
She didn't like the idea that some stranger had managed to hack their way through her firewalls; that they'd navigated into her systems, but that person being Ianto was only one possibility.
And it was just so much blood…
Tosh ran her fingers through her hair, pulling at a snag, and sighed.
She didn't know what to do here.
If it was Ianto, then it was fantastic, but if it wasn't…
Tears pricked her eyes.
She didn't think she could deal with losing Ianto a second time.
Once upon a time there was a Knight and his Prince, and they cared deeply for one another.
They cared for each other in accepted, encouraged ways, and they cared for one another in ways that were most often found culminating in the back of the stables and found in whispered, giggling conversation of the scullery maids. Both thought that they cared for the other in ways more complex than this.
They did not mention this however, as they each thought the other could do better, had done better, and would not reciprocate.
Both men, though thoughtful and bright, were sometimes also immensely dim.
She just couldn't deal with it hanging over her head any longer. It felt too much like a threat, like a bribe, like something she didn't want any part of, and she couldn't deal with it.
He could convince the others, could pretend like he was doing things out of the goodness of his heart, but Tyra… Tyra didn't trust the goodness of a person's heart.
She trusted irrefutable facts, she trusted motive, she trusted reason, and the motive behind a motive…
No one did anything out of the goodness of his or her heart.
They always did things for a reason.
The picture the not-so-mysterious HM had painted of Jones was very pretty, but it was clear that Hank McMasters had been reading too many superhero comics. There just weren't people like that in the real world. Everyone had something they wanted.
And why would this Jones figure pay all her hospital fees for her Aunt if he didn't want something? If it wasn't something now, it was something in the future. She didn't like the uncertainty.
She didn't like owing anyone anything; she paid her bills early, she didn't take favors without being clear on how she would be paying them back, she didn't ask for anything she couldn't get on her own. Just thinking of Jones butting into her life and making her owe him had her clenching her fists and grinding her teeth.
How dare he.
So she decided she wouldn't play his game.
She would get the money to pay the medical bills same as she was before, and when Jones came to collect whatever favor he was looking for—
Well, she would be able to hand him back all his money and be rid of him.
If he revealed her, he would be making it impossible to cash in that favor in any way, and perhaps show his hand to Hank McMasters and Eunice Bakely.
Honestly, the two of them thinking he was some sort of Robin Hood figure… didn't they remember that a great deal of Robin Hood's character revolved around stealing? He was a hero, sure, but his is a character nearly consumed with spite and revenge, even covered as it was with charity.
So that morning, of course when she got to work she set up as she always did—as she always did before Jones came into the picture.
She took small amounts of funds where they wouldn't be missed, took the small percentiles that would have been extras in her companies pockets and put it in her own, and felt a slow curl of satisfaction in her chest.
Jones played a good game, but he'd made it obvious even while holding his cards to his chest that he was looking for something—
And he wouldn't get anything from Tyra if she didn't put any chips on the table.
The Knight was older than he had any right to be, and had had many lovers in his time, and so thought that the Prince could do better and did not want to hold him back. He did not want to hurt his Prince as he inevitably hurt all those he loved.
The Prince, knowing of the Knights staggering age, knew that his love would be one more added to lifetimes of caring, and certainly wouldn't be the last, and so did not want to put undue pressure on the Knight. He knew of the tragedy of his Knight being a romantic soul, and thought that giving his care and keeping expectations to a minimal, then perhaps when the Prince one day died the Knight would maybe not experience so much sadness.
Neither thought to ask the other if there was hope for something more.
When Ianto is running from Thugs next, he's been killed twice already and tries to lose them in a park.
He's small now; maybe 9, maybe younger, and he'd been turning into the park when he'd died last, so it was entirely possible that they hadn't seen how old he was this time—not a risk he was happy to take, but apparently Boss Man was sending out people with better track time to get him.
So maybe they didn't know that he was a smaller target, maybe they would try looking up in the branches more than down in the bushes for him, maybe they'd be looking for the next building he'd be able to climb to see where he went, and hell, maybe Weevils would fly, but he didn't have much of an option and he needed to catch his breath and grab a drink if he had the chance. So the park was where he went.
He's in the underbrush, inconveniently trimmed as urban parks tended to be, and he's certain that perhaps this is it, this was how he was going to be caught.
He'd give himself away with shifting bushes, or maybe his empty stomach would gurgle and grumble and draw attention, or maybe they did catch a glimpse of him, and would check the bushes, and there were a dozen other ways he'd likely give himself away, but at that moment he did his best to stay still and try to listen for any noise beyond the pounding of his heart.
He nearly jumps out of his skin when he feels a poke in his back and something pull on a lock of his hair, and probably would have run from cover right then if the little glowing figure didn't from behind the small branches in front of him.
He'd like to say it was training or perhaps that he didn't scare easily, but he could be honest with himself in this.
Faeries scared the fuck out of him.
He doesn't have time to react any more than that because heavily booted feet are pounding past him then, a second set following at a slower pace.
He lets out a small breath when they move out of sight, but doesn't take another one until they're out of earshot. Still strains his ears to hear them, because he knew there were buildings up ahead he could climb, and buildings behind him that he could limb with a little more difficulty, and they knew that… but they would also maybe think to check the forested area for him before checking the rooftops. He thought he should probably move. He thought if he left now, the Thugs were far enough away that he could reach the buildings, climb them, and likely at least be on the roof by the time the Thugs made their way back—
But there was a Faery in front of him, and likely one on his back from the feel of it, and yes, that was most definitely one playing with his hair…
Wind rustled the sparse leaves above him and he was suddenly very aware of the damp seeping through his pants legs, at the wrists of his jacket; he shivered, and pretended it was from the cold.
"Helloooooo," the Faery in front of him said, drawing the word out, and keeping it whispery and thin as the winter wind.
"Hello Sneaky Boy…" came a voice right by his ear.
"Tricky, Tricky Boy…" said another, on his back.
The voices were whispery and secretive, like they knew that he was hiding and playing along. Ianto pursed his lips, and gave the one in front of him a worried look. If they thought it would be funny to reveal him…
But maybe he could…
He shifted slightly to raise a slightly muddy finger to his lips.
"Shh, I'm winning at hide and seek."
He tried for nonchalance, but couldn't keep from tensing when the sound of footsteps drew nearer again, steel-toed boots showing through the bottom of the brush he was in. His spine was a steel line, and he could feel the Faery on his back crawling on all limbs up his shoulder blade.
The glow. Would the Thugs see the glow around the Faeries? Could they see through the brush? He didn't move his finger from his lips; hardly dared to breath as he watched the boots.
Shifted weight, turned, walked a short way one direction, then the other, the other Thug coming back and past (presumably to check the other buildings)…
If they'd just move on, if he could just…
Well, he would be able to focus entirely on the Faeries if he wasn't freaking out about the Thugs. He wasn't entirely sure they'd just let him go on his way if he tried…
He spared the Faery in front of him a glance; it's tiny hands were clutched in front of it's mouth, and it was crouching and moving silently to peer at the boots of the Thug sticking around. Like the host of a children's show playing at being sneaky.
He thought it was only the Faery on his back that kept him from jerking at the sound. It was loud, and attention drawing, and—and—
And it had the Thug moving towards it, away from Ianto. The Faeries made the hacking, gagging cough of a noise, the one he could see throwing it's head back and turning to him with it's razor sharp smile in place.
"Sneaky Little Boy…"
"Funny Little Boy…"
"Our Little Boy dies so much…"
"So much Dying, so little Crying…"
"Hiding from Who…?"
"We Know, Ianto…"
"We Knew, Yan-Too…"
"Yes or No…?"
"Shall We tell Him…?"
More laughter. Ianto hated that laughter. Right then he was warring with annoyance and fear, because they knew who Boss Man was, and they were—
Ianto blinked, because the Faery in front of him was grinning and showing it's sharp little teeth, it's fangs, and it had it's hands on his face.
"But Not Now…"
"No, Now We're Playing a Game…"
"Hide and Seek, Hidden From Seekers…
"We can help…"
"Yes We Know Where to Hide you!"
Yes, we know where no one will find you!
There were branches closing over him from above, and roots pulling up from the ground to wrap around him, too quick, too strong, he couldn't—
He felt panic bubbling up inside him
"We know where to Hide You…"
"Yes, hidden from everyone!"
"No one will find you, not ever!"
Dirt rushed up past him, he had to close his eyes against the dirt, felt it close over his head, oh god they were going to bury him alive, and he was falling—
All the air was pushed from his lungs as he bounced, flower petals pushing in his face and he looked around to see he was in his Apartment. Lair. His Secret Base of Operations.
"Wins! Our Little Boy Wins!"
"Hide and Seek! Hide and Seek!"
"Hidden from Seekers! Yes!"
"Yes Followers! Unknown Followers so much Fun…"
"Little Girl, Little Boy, Little Boy too…"
"The Father of Which is Looking for You…"
"And Friends, Yes Friends! They Look for You Too!"
"But Don't Know, all Adrift…"
"Should We give Him a lift?"
"And a Fall! That's All!"
He scrambled from his bed, flower petals following him as they were dragged off his sheets, and the sound of their childish, off beat hacking cough-laugh faded into silence as he fought off the shakes moving through him.
The Faeries knew where he was living. Not a surprise, but threatening, alarming, distressing, made him so, so, so—
He sat down, pointedly on his petal-free couch, and placed his head between his knees.
Too much. Too much.
Too much muchness. Certainly too much rhyming.
Too Much Faeries.
He'd say they'd be the death of him, except—
As mentioned before, both the Prince and the Knight were strange for their titles; one more practical than anyone born to Royalty had any right to be, and the other was all too un-Knightly in thought and action and belief, and perhaps this would answer why this was a story about a Knight and his Prince… but…
Tosh wrung her hands, tugged at her hair, straightened the papers on her desk, again, and fiddled with her nails. She tried to focus on this, on—oh, look, she should probably clean her nails. And she'd chipped one the previous night…
She pulled a nail file from her purse and cleaned them up, made sure they were all the same length, and…
She made a face, biting her lip.
She couldn't keep her mind off of it.
But she couldn't think of anything beyond it…
She'd gotten back to the apartment to find Owen already asleep, and had been anxious on the couch for… well, she didn't know how long, but she fell asleep for part of it before waking up again.
The sun was only just making its way up from the horizon, and she couldn't—
Staying at the apartment, at Ianto's apartment, wasn't something she could deal with right then. But she couldn't just wake Owen up, so she'd headed into work early. Because she might as well get work done if she wasn't going to sleep, and she wasn't going to sleep any time soon, but as soon as she got to the Hub she couldn't…
So now all she could really do was wait for Owen to sow up, to ask him to check out the police file and say whether or not it meant that Ianto was—was dead.
Her eyes stung at the thought, because she didn't think she could handle it. Didn't think it was…
But it would explain why he hadn't gotten back to them.
As far as they could tell—and a great part of this was gained from the information Ianto, or Not-Ianto, had gotten for them—was that roughly four months after the Thames House incident, all the adults who died from the gas reappeared in seemingly random places as much younger versions of themselves. Ones with all the memories of their older selves, just younger.
Well, all the adults save Jack.
(She was momentarily sidetracked by the thought of what Jack must've looked like when he was that young, before the thought of Jack brought her back to the fact that he was gone, brought her back to the thought of Ianto, brought her back to the thought of Ianto dead—)
So it was safe, she thought, to assume that this would also include Ianto…
Ianto out there as a child, a small child, a small child with all the training of a Torchwood Agent and with the terrifying efficiency that was trademark to Ianto Jones.
They'd all wondered, once they found out about the Thames House Kids, why Ianto hadn't made his way back to the Hub. Made his way back to Torchwood. To Gwen, at least. Tosh frowned.
Did Ianto even know that Jack was gone?
(If he was alive, that is…)
But if she was reading the police report right… well, Ianto wouldn't be able to get back to them even if he tried.
Because if he wans't—wasn't—
Then he was being… held. Somewhere.
Someone had him.
If he was alive, someone had him, and was hurting him, or someone once had him, because Ianto was efficient and organized, and he'd find some way to escape, wouldn't he? Of course he would. He was Ianto Jones.
What else would he—
He'd be dead.
She looked around for a box of tissues, found it, found it empty, and dabbed at the corners of her eyes with the edge of her sleeve.
(Ianto would've made sure the tissue was restocked)
Of course it's at that point that the new entrance to the Hub would slide open, the old alarm for the door absent due to the unanimous agreement of how annoying it was, and for Owen to walk in.
She turned away from him, blinking and trying to control herself, because she should be done with—
It'd been months—
And he wasn't even—
Except that no, she'd found out that her best friend had died, and then that he might not actually really be dead, only missing, and now she had to face the possibility that he was dead again, and without even—
She shook her head, and ignored the fact that Owen most definitely knew she'd been crying, or close to it, and took a deep breath.
"O-Owen, could you just." She swallowed, cleared her throat. Gestured him over to the screen and focusing too hard on the keyboard in front of her. "Yeah, um, could you just, look at this please—the blood, it's just." She stopped. All the saliva in her mouth dried up, her throat dry, and she decided that yup, she needed water. Yup. Water.
She moved out of the way for Owen to get at her seat, and set about to find water.
Not coffee, not tea.
She avoided the kitchen area, with it's coffee machine and mugs and veered to where she thought they'd put a large pack of bottled water.
She heard Owen mutter to himself as he read, and knew she should probably just tell him what to focus on—he was probably reading it with the same thoughts as she'd had, that the report had something to do with an alien, or else with something else Torchwood related…
And it was.
Owen went silent.
She cracked open a bottle and downed a third of it, another, and grabbed another bottle before turning back to him.
"Yeah, um, it's a, uh, it's something. Isn't it." She wanted to make it into a question, but didn't quite manage it.
"This is at least 10 quarts of blood here."
He said this like it should mean something to her, and her throat closed up again. She thought the only thing that kept her from getting angry or frustrated with him was how baffled he sounded right then.
"And that's—what does that mean?"
Owen turned back to the computer, and read through the blood reports again, went through the pictures.
"See, here," he pulled up a wide shot, one that got most of the… stain in the shot.
"There is at least 10 quarts of blood here, and with the time line given… okay, the average human body has around 4-5 quarts of blood, averaging about 10 pints." He turned to another picture, frowning. More blood at a different angle.
"More or less, I mean. Different heights, different weights… it means there's room for error. But that's an average adult. The test results here are saying all this is Ianto's but…" he turned to her, eyebrows raised.
"But… but Ianto should be a child…" Tosh finished for him, mind turning to the numbers of the situation.
There was twice as much blood as an adult male would be able to hold naturally at the scene, four times as much as a child would be able to hold… all of it Ianto's…
"Exactly. A child has about 7 pints in them, little more than 3 quarts, and without a transfusion it takes little over a month for someone to recover from losing, say, two pints."
The calculations were aligning in her mind, then, a month for every two pints, with how long Ianto would have been a child…
"… And a person can survive on… how many pints of blood?"
"You can survive up to 40% blood loss without risking circulatory failure. And that's cutting it close. And without a transfusion…"
Tosh felt her knees go weak, and caught herself on the edge of a table. But this… but it was…
"We should probably tell Gwen about this…" her head felt stuffed full and hollow, all at once, and she didn't recognize her own voice.
Owen sighed, and sat back in his chair.
"She shouldn't be dealing with so much stress right now… fuckin' hell…"
He sighed and scrubbed his fingers through his hair.
Tosh understood, she really did, but she was at a loss here, and it looked like Owen was, too.
They needed Jack.
But he was gone, and they were on their own right then, and they had to rely on each other.
They sat in silence for a long time, before heading for the door.
One day there is a threat to the kingdom, and the Prince is reminded once again of his obligation. It is an unneeded one.
The Knight is reminded that he is not just bound to protect his kingdom, but also his Prince, and so is with him with a select few individuals as the other Knights ride to battle.
It is for this reason that he feels particularly responsible for the death of the Prince, heart aching from his Prince's last confession of love, and so soon rides off into the sunset for some sort of distraction.
For he is a Knight, and he is noble, but his heart is crushed and his loyalty was only ever truly with his Prince…
He contemplates what his Prince would have wanted, but that thought process leads to thoughts on his own unvoiced confession, and so that sort of contemplation is drowned out through several pints of spirits and worn down in several dozen beds spread through far away kingdoms.
Ianto laughed into the pillow he was using as a headrest.
He'd never really felt the need to spend any more time than needed on a computer, and certainly not on YouTube… the hours in a day not devoted to Torchwood were turned towards movies he knew he liked, or books he knew he liked…
Tosh had brought a number of new movies into his life, as well as a couple of books she'd enjoyed, but for the most part once Ianto got home he was tired. Tired, and interested in something entertaining that wouldn't require much thought.
He clicked the next video that caught his eye, this one a short clip of a sloth being carried to the other side of a street.
As soon as it was lifted, its arms went out wide, and whoever uploaded the video added dramatic music, and he laughed.
Not to say this required any thought process—in fact, it required so little thought he knew he should be moving to do something else, something productive, but then he finds a video with a teenaged girl ranting about… something, and he spends the next hour feeling slightly less like he's done nothing by looking up all he can on the subject.
No, this didn't require much thought at all, and when he finds a 'vlogger' he immerses himself into their channel, going to the other vloggers he suggests, and then on from there, and has a brief moment of inspiration—
He could start his own YouTube channel!
Well, he could, but he wouldn't.
He had unique experiences to share, had interesting things to talk about, knew how to be political with his opinions, and he was immensely private.
The sense of community that these vloggers were getting from making their videos was interesting, was attractive, but no.
He briefly thinks about writing a blog instead, because it would 1, keep his face (repeatedly changing face) from the Internet, would 2, not be traceable to him, and so would keep Boss Man and anyone else looking from him from finding him…
And 3, it would give him something to do when he wasn't watching cats fall off things.
He turned his head to look at the box of kittens sleepily tumbling over each other, Jackie licking them and looking every inch the satisfied mommy cat she was.
Besides, he could watch kittens being cute and cats falling off things here.
Before he's had any time to think it through much further, he's looking into blogging sites and domain names and debating the merits of buying his own site…
Was he actually considering this?
Really and truly? It actually seemed like it was equally a good and bad idea…
Well, he had experience in writing in his diary, and he certainly wasn't going to go and reveal important, sensitive information…
He looks down at the keyboard, wondering.
But what would his sites name be?
He considered the conventional e-mail choices, usually some mix of a thought or of names, or a mix of first and last name for a professional e-mail. And he thought this blog thing would be professional.
Well, he thought people also used amusing anecdotes and monikers, but he didn't—
He made a face.
He didn't really want…
First impressions were important, and he thought it would be considered important here, on the Internet, as well.
He could, he supposed, change it at some point, but he didn't start things intending to stop halfway. Or change things in the middle.
So perhaps Jones? He certainly wasn't going to use his first name, what with the ridiculous buzz that still lingered over his and Jack's deaths.
He typed it out, considered it, changed the first initial to lowercase for contrast and thought it would do.
would be getting its first post in a moment.
Elsewhere, there is a figure spending his off time looking up certain things in his spare time.
He does it with flair, with the sense of a man imagining himself in a movie, with the distinct lack of shame that was trademark to people who thought they were doing something so freaking cool right then.
And he is doing something cool, if not entirely legal, but he means no harm.
He's just looking for…
Hank grinned to himself, thinking that Jones really had a sense of humor here. The grin dulled slightly, when it occurred to him that for Jones to set this up he would have to know they were looking for him, had to know at least part of their plans, and that…
Well. It was still freaking awesome, is what it was, but also a bit eerie.
Very I Know What You Did Last Summer, but like the side edition called I Know What You Talked About At The Bakery.
Awesome and creepy and eerie and cool, all things that described Jones…
He pulled up his private, private e-mail, and sent the link to Eunice. Sent it to her super secret e-mail he'd helped her set up.
To: eBake .uk
From: hm .uk
Subject: We've Been Outed!
The Great and Powerful Oz sees all and knows all!
P.S. Same place and time next Saturday? Need to meet up.
What the Knight wasn't to know was that the Prince was not dead, and so this is where the running truly starts.
The Knight runs away from all that might remind him of his Prince, the Prince runs to where he hopes he might be able to make contact with his Knight, the Kingdom runs in what it hopes to be the right direction, and all in all, while everyone waits for the moment that the Knight and his Prince might be reunited…
The running is still the best part.
Gwen frowned over the information, rubbing a hand absently over her stomach.
"Could whoever has Ianto be giving him transfusions?"
Owen shook his head.
"Not that much… at that point it'd be showing other people's DNA, but the tests show it's all Ianto's, and it looks like all of it was given in less than a month."
A tiny foot (she thought) to her kidney had her wincing as she looked to Tosh.
"Have you reviewed the CCTV footage of the area yet?" She gave a reassuring smile when Tosh blinked, startled, and shook her head. She shifted on the bed (damn bed rest, damn bed rest, damn it damn it damn it!), and thought she could understand what was happening with Tosh right then…
It was distressing to think of Ianto in such a harsh situation—harder still to even consider the fact that even as they speak he could be getting tortured, and Gwen thought Ianto and her had gotten close in the time between Tosh and Owen's death and… well, Ianto's death, but in the time she'd had to deal with the thought of Ianto maybe being dead, or being tortured, or being… anything, having to trust him and trust Jack and trust that things would work out for the best, and she had to trust Ianto now.
She had to trust that she would be able to help him if he hadn't already helped himself, and she'd be able to help him the most by keeping a level head.
And Tosh… Tosh had been through quite a bit these last few months, and if they had the time for it, as soon as Tosh and Owen showed up what should have happened was a few months leave, quite a bit of therapy, and a calm, relaxed atmosphere for Tosh and Owen to be able to come to terms with all the changed in their lives…
But they didn't have the time, or the resources to do that.
So she could understand that Tosh wasn't thinking clearly, that Owen wasn't either (else he would have suggested it to her earlier), and that was why Tosh, Queen of the Tech of Torchwood, hadn't thought to check the cameras around the building.
"Right, I can, I can get right on…"
"Good. Stay a moment longer though… Owen, do you have any theories on how so much blood came to be there?"
"It's possible it's some sort of bloody alien tech making it so that blood loss isn't a problem… but anything outside of that is just…" he trailed off, scowling.
"Fuckin' hell… If Jonesey's going by the average size of a, say, 10-year-old, there's about three times as much blood as there should be decorating the place. At about 7 pints, he can lose, at most, 3 pints before risking his circulation, which is something we can't rely on because as far as we know the bastards who've got him aren't interested in him being able to walk or talk or do fuck all. Give about 2 months for him to be healthy again, and you can take another 3 before having to wait again.
If they got him right from the get go, for him to still be, well, functioning, the most blood they'd likely be able to get from him by now is still only half as much as fucking there and it doesn't make a bit of fucking sense!"
"And we don't know if Ianto was even there with them for the entire time… evidence says that he was there a couple of months ago, and he's certainly not there now. The blood isn't fresh, and…" Tosh bit her lip, and Gwen waited her out, practicing her breathing exercises.
One thing about this being ridiculously pregnant thing, is that going to the pre-natal groups has done amazing things for her patience, and ability to not get frustrated with people.
She'd have gotten upset with Rhys well before this, otherwise, with how obviously relieved he's been when her tantrums petered out…
(she still had them, knew when she was being 'horomonal', but they happened much less nowadays. Good thing, too, since otherwise shed be in a perpetual state of frustration at being bedridden while Tosh and Owen were doing all the legwork.
There was a reason she'd not chosen an office job.)
Tosh seemed to figure out what she was going to say.
"I… I still think it was Ianto who gave us that information on the Thames House Children, but I think we should be prepared for the possibility that it wasn't. Because if it wasn't…"
Gwen had actually forgotten about that; the file that had mysteriously shown up on their servers with all the information they wanted on the people who'd 'died' in Thames House, and the accepted theory on it being from Ianto….
She frowned. But if it wasn't Ianto… That meant that someone had hacked into Torchwood's servers. Her lips thinned. She didn't like the possibility.
Another kick, or maybe a punch, this one much harder than the last, much more abrupt, and that called in the cavalry.
She tried to protest when he started to usher Owen and Tosh out of the bedroom, made much less effective when she yawned midway through.
"Tosh, look over the CCTV tapes! And Owen, get the blood samples from the police! They might give you an idea of what's going on!"
They called back a general sound of agreement, and Gwen heard the low rumble of Rhys' voice as he bid them farewell.
She waited for him to make his way back upstairs, ready to give him a tongue lashing—she was pregnant, not an invalid! She could talk about work without a problem! He needed to save the babying for the actual baby, is what he needed to do.
And she would have told him as much, too, except that when he got back to the room she'd already fallen asleep.
Carefully shifting the pillows out from their stack behind her, he pulled the blankets up round her and went to get a healthy snack ready for her when she woke up.
Thinking of things, in this storybook way, you might imagine that perhaps the Knight finds his way back to his Prince, or perhaps some outside influence would come and make things right…
And you'd be correct, in a fashion.
Because there is a Healer and a Magician working to find their prince and their Knight, and a Matron doing her best while pregnant to oversee them, and outside of that there is also a Mercenary who might eventually make his way to either or both the Knight and Prince, a small band of Merry Man-and-Women actively searching for someone very like the Prince, and also a Villain who might bring about the Knight and his Prince reuniting…
But these are all only possibilities.
Jack rolled from a mass of limbs, and patted the nearest one fondly.
He appreciated any and every form, and admired the range of motion certain forms could carry out, but by far the Gregori'laxons knew how to take advantage.
Then again, he thought, he'd probably take full advantage of it himself if he had that many limbs. So much sensation!
His smile turned brittle around the edges as he left the antechamber, moans of the other half-dozen recruited to help Bessy (or Bess'angroth'yar if you preferred) let loose some tension… there was still a hollow point inside of him.
He'd hoped that it would lessen somewhat with Bessy, because if you wanted to feel filled you went to the Gregori'laxi, but there was still…
He imagines a perfectly wry eyebrow rising, a small smirk teasing around the edges of a soft mouth, and a voice rolling with Welsh vowels asking him… asking him…
Just the thought of those rolling tones had his heart aching and loins stirring guiltily.
He shook his head to clear the thoughts, and flexed to assess the damage.
Huh, none, really… Ah. Right, he'd died. He was in half a mind to be annoyed at his tendency to be all healed up after dying, except it was usually a useful thing.
You also went to the Gregori'laxi if you weren't afraid of the possibility of death through coitus, and were willing to put it in writing to fend off the lawsuits.
The empty space yawned behind his ribs, and he turned around to make his way back to Bessy.
Maybe he wasn't feeling filled because he'd recovered from it already?
Best way to find out was to go back.
Bessy made a happy noise when he struts back into the fray, and he let his clothing be tugged and ripped off.
He'd just have to keep coming back until he felt less hollow.
"Miss me, gorgeous?"
Perhaps the Matron, Healer, and Magician might find their Prince and find some way to contact their Knight. Perhaps the Mercenary or Villain might bring them together.
Perhaps, even, the small band of Merry Man-and-Women might find the Prince while searching for their much like the Prince not-Prince.
Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps, but there is one figure who might be able to fix this all with one swish of his magic wand. Find the Prince, answer all his questions of why and how and what's happening, bring his Knight back, allow them all to live happily ever after and all that….
But this figure, let's call him a Fairy Godfather, is off elsewhere. He's off with his granddaughter and her two teachers exploring the universe, but also distilling the Human Essence and testing the trust of his assistants, and also saving the universe from a race of giant spiders called the Eight Legs, and is also in the 1880's saving London from a ventriloquist dummy-cum-murderer, and far away being poisoned on Adrozani Minor while also searching for Zeiton-7 on Varos, and protecting Gallifreyan secrets in 1963 London, and also having his memory erased by the Master, and also doing some very un-Doctor like things he chooses to forget, and also travelling with Rose and being asked "Are you my Mummy?" and really, with a Fairy Godfather so busy…
Is it any wonder that he's not had the time to make his way to the Knight and his Prince?
He will, eventually, after quite a bit of timey-wimey wibbly-wobbly stuff happens, and a stop to grab a snack of fish sticks and custard, and may perhaps even in time to wave his magic wand and fix everything and answer all the questions, but it is only one of the many, many possibilities.
Ianto frowned at the screen. He didn't know why Mainframe had brought it to his attention—it wasn't something he'd set up, and he'd honestly forgotten about them, so why…
He checked into their financials, all three of them, and saw that two of the three had stopped… but one has started up again.
Had something happened?
When he'd been trying to figure out how he would be able to pay for food and clothing, and general amnesties, he'd decided that pick pocketing had too much risk…
But stealing from embezzlers, well, that was fair game.
(So to speak.)
Mainframe had pulled up, from the parameters he'd set, the embezzlers most profitable to take from, but three of the rough dozen pulled up, he could see had reason. And, damn his bleeding heart, he'd decided that instead of stealing from them, he'd just have to help them out.
And after he'd started taking the .5% interest from banking interests, he certainly had the means to do so.
Out of morbid curiosity, he checked his banking status and felt his eyebrows raise.
(He briefly considered retiring, thought about how bored he'd be without a regular threat to his health and sanity, and thought about how much therapy he'd have to go through to be able to retire without going stir crazy)
(At least he'd be able to afford it)
So he'd looked into their situations, and donated some cash and sent what he'd thought to be a polite and courteous message that outlined something along the lines of 'you don't have to embezzle any longer, and if you continue to do so you won't just be ruining your life, so please stop' with the subtext of 'here's money, stop stealing it' and a good dash of paranoia inducing 'if I could find you, anyone could…' and…
He thought he'd given enough for them to be comfortable even if a financial problem came up beyond their original problems, and yet here she was…
He had Mainframe pull up any changes in her life and… nope. No. No. No… Nothing.
Ianto was seeing absolutely nothing that would cause her to need more money. Her Aunt's medical bills are paid for, with regular installments so that she could live in comfortable conditions… No relatives have popped up needing physical therapy; she doesn't have kids; no payments for pregnancy tests (and wasn't it a bit creepy that Mainframe could find this out?) so no children on the way…
The money she's been taking doesn't seem to be going anywhere, either, and there's no evidence to say that she's found her way into any sort of shady dealings, or extreme debt…
(He kept in mind that everyone was in debt in one way or another, and that not everyone had his sense of mind to avoid such debt-inducing situations)
Ianto sat back and frowned.
He'd never met the woman, had never had the chance to interact with Tyra Shaw, but from what he could tell form her records she wasn't the sort of person to embezzle to pack her own pockets.
Perhaps she was looking to do something for herself, now that she didn't have to worry about her Great Aunt's medical bills?
He shook his head. No, no, that didn't make sense either. If she cut down her current hours by a third, she would still be making more than enough to live a healthy, wealthy lifestyle.
She wasn't poor by any stretch of imagination, and yet she's hoarding embezzled money, just saving it away and while Ianto could see the merit in that, it wasn't something that you did. It wants' something that what he'd seen of her moral character would allow. And tat gap in embezzling… Something must have occurred to her in the time between when she'd stopped embezzling to when she'd started up again. But he couldn't see anything.
There wasn't anything to find!
He broadened Mainframes search parameters, looking for any sort of alternative identity, or side project, or private investment, looked for any reason as to why she would be saving up money like this.
Her car was bought last year, so not likely, and he house is well loved and kept, and the reasons were eluding him. He ran his fingers through his hair, and straightened his cuffs.
Mainframe beeped at him for attention, pulling his thoughts to the report she pulled on one of the warehouses that may hold a hard copy of his time at The Shooting Range, and he cast one last look at the file on Tyra Shaw.
Looked at her address.
She didn't live all that far away, actually…
As he turned his attention fully on the situation with Boss Man, he thought he'd have to pay Tyra Shaw a visit when he had the time.
But until then, our Knight is off mourning his Prince, the Prince is off trying to figure things out, and everyone else is, in one way or another, searching for both.
Eunice looked at Hank from over her latte, an eyebrow raised.
"Are you sure it's him though? It seems a bit… obvious."
She couldn't help but make a face, because honestly? Jones setting up a blog was a baffling enough thought (because, try as she might she couldn't get past the thought that only angsty teenaged girls actually blogged), but to go on and name it iJones?
Hank beamed at her, fairly wiggling in delight where he was seated.
"Exactly! It's obvious enough that no one would suspect it! And here—look;" he pulled out his phone, pulling up the first page of the blog, "he's saying he doesn't have many expectations for this blog but is interested in seeing where it's going… He's interested! We caught his interest! That's fantastic! And now we can show him that we can totally handle anything he throws at us!"
"And how, exactly, are we going to know he's throwing anything at us? We've hit a dead end just about everywhere in looking for this guy!"
The smile he threw her was half a watt short of blinding.
"No, you see, this is where it's brilliant." He downed the rest of his coffee with a grin, and tapped his phone.
"No, you see, it's brilliant this way! All we have to do is wait for him to update his site. And we're in."
Again, thank you to RandomPersonOfDoom, my nearest and dearest podbuddy, and now onto notes about the actual story.
I have most of chapter 2 written out (would be all, but I had a plot thought when I was nearly done this chapter-appreciate it! It took forever to write!), and a great deal of 3, but I *should* (a tentative should) have the next chapter out next week.
A reminder that all my chapters are about 10k in length (9736 for this chapter), so you won't have to deal with any 'but it doesn't *feel* done' waffling about. It's done when it's reached the upper lip of 9000, or has gone to or beyond 10k.
Hope you all enjoyed the first chapter, and look forward to the next :)
Tell me what you think :D