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

Please Note: EACH CHAPTER is (about)10K. Patience for the next chapter please.

Sorry!

I know. It took forever for me to post this! But, as I wrote in an AN (at least on Ao3, sorry ffn!) updating what's been happening in my head, with writers block and a lot of plottyness that was getting in the way of this coming out sooner.

And also job, and social life, and real life things, but who cares about that stuff?

PSSH. Like I have a real life…

But I apologize for the lateness, and sorry to all those who thought this was being abandoned… but those people also deserve a slap on the wrist, because, seriously? You think I've written a 100k of fic and then ABANDONED IT? This is a serious relationship, and while I may have gotten a bit distracted by my Cybernetic story, and in watching other fandoms, it doesn't mean I want to break up.

srsly guys. srsly

Hope you enjoy!

Chapter 4—Road I'm On by 3 Doors Down

What first greeted him was the sight of sandy beaches and palm trees.

Also people—many of whom were mostly naked, their skin just about uniformly tanned. Very nice, if a bit clonelike in their attractiveness…

His mind jumped to the time he'd had sex with a group of aliens with a Hive Mind, how all of them looked alike, how one gasp of pleasure was echoed by the many, how a flick of tongue here got a writhing response there, a crook of fingers or flex of his palm would be echoed in sensation through the mass…

He blinked. Refocused on the now… Looked around him, at the stores, the booths… listened. His eyebrows rose.

He looked again, and noticed a tourist booth.

WELCOME TO HOLLYWOOD BEACH, it said.

Huh.

He took a moment for that to sink in.

Hollywood.

Jack supposed he shouldn't have been so quick to hop on a transporter – any transporter – without looking at the specifics…

Now how to get to Wales?

.-~-~-~~-~-~.

The call Gwen gets, almost 24 hours later, is a shocking one.

It's 3am, and the baby had been kicking at her bladder and making it hard to breathe, so it's not like she's getting a particularly good sleep…

But still.

3am.

The world had better be ending.

This is what she's thinking when she picks up the phone.

"What?"

"Oh, Gwen? Gwen! Great! Finally! Did you know that there are a lot of Gwen Williams's out there?"

"Wh—Jack?" She can't believe it, shock rippling through her so hard it hurt, so she says it again.

"Jack?"

"Of course!" He says it like it's no big deal, like it isn't a surprise that he's on the phone, like—like—like—

Oh god. Ianto.

He doesn't know.

Grief, worry, and anger hit her all at once like a freight train, and she can't speak through the hurt of it all. Rhys stirred next to her, mumbling out a question, but all she can hear in that moment is Jack.

"Anyway, I could cobble together the money to get to Cardiff, but I don't have any cash on me here for a cab… well, I have money, but Wales doesn't take intergalactic credits, so—"

"Wh—you're back? Where are you?"

"Cardiff airport."

He's at the airport. Bloody hell.

"The airport. You're at the airport."

There's another rippling inside her, and through her shock she figures out what it's about. It's a revelation, and absurd, and a relief, and a worry all rolled up into one, and she thumps Rhys's arm to get his attention.

"Wha…?"

"So if you could just—"

"No, Jack, I can't. I'm having a baby."

"You… what? You're still pregnant? Wasn't your due date… three days ago? Roughly?"

She stays silent, staring back in the dark into Rhys's eyes, wide with shock.

Really? His eyes said.

She nodded.

Jack took a moment to absorb that.

"… Is Rhys there with you? Could I get a ride from him?"

"No, because he's going to be bringing me to the hospital."

"To the—right now? Oh. OH. Right now? You're having—right now?"

"Yes, Jack," she said, as Rhys threw the covers back and ran for his pants. "I'm having a baby. Right now."

It's an afterthought to say it, but she does eventually get out "But I will get you a ride. Don't be shocked, they're real, they're who they say they are, and who they look like, and don't cause a scene," into Jack's delighted silence, before hanging up and calling Tosh and Owen.

"Yes, Hello? Tosh? I'm going into labor—yes, again, and hopefully for the last bloody time. I need you and Owen to make a run for me before you do anything though… Tosh, Tosh…yes, Tosh, it's not—he's back. Jack's back. He's at the airport."

.-~-~-~~-~-~.

Ianto has fleshed out his plan as much as he could manage, and still isn't happy with it.

That being said, he also can't see how it could be any better.

He sighed and wished that, in the comic book his life had become, he could have a less competent arch nemesis. It would be wonderful to be able to sneak into a warehouse and know that the Thugs would be substandard, that the security system didn't have so many backups, that one simply needed to go to the weakest point in their security and be able to get in and out with hardly a hitch in the plan.

Instead, he gets Boss Man.

Boss Man and his ridiculous backup security plans. Backups and deadman's switches, and triplicate copies of every bloody thing that could be triplicated. The man was far too paranoid for Ianto's good.

He checked the clock, 3:36am flashed red at him, and exhaustion hit him abruptly.

He'd been able to ignore it for the most part… but above the growing pains, the surreal jumps to emotional extremes, even the hunger between deaths, Ianto found he had the most trouble with figuring out a sleeping schedule.

Children need a certain amount of sleep to be healthy, to grow, to develop as human beings… and Ianto was still, to an extent, used to his most adult memories of getting by on 5 or less hours of sleep.

He thought this was a significant thing to think on, because he really did think it was worse than the hunger of waking up after a death, to a degree.

Not as bad as being killed over and over again for days on end, but still.

He fell into bed, not bothering to change, and thought about the few things he'd have to do before he could head over to Boss Man's first Warehouse.

He laughed, and his last thought before unconsciousness was to wonder what other people were planning for their Saturday night.

.-~-~-~~-~-~.

There isn't much conversation between Tosh and Owen when they're on the road to the airport.

Gwen had woken them up with her phone call, and they'd been half-way through getting dressed before they'd registered what she'd said.

That, Tosh thinks, is what they get for rigging up the Rift Monitor to alert through their cell phones…

They'd grabbed coffee before they'd headed out, both needing it after the amount of Weevil activity that's been happening lately. It was a bit… irritating, she thought, to get the call from Gwen so soon after they'd gotten home. Tosh was functioning on… she did quick mental math, a little over 6 hours of sleep over the past 48 hours, and that was including the naps she'd managed to squeeze in.

"Bloody Harkness, waiting until bloody three o'clock in the fucking morning to make his grand return… Couldn't he have made his way over, say, three hours ago when we could've used him? For fuck's sakes…"

Owen was working on less.

It kind of showed.

It didn't help that getting parking went about as well as one can expect, parking at an airport, and then on top of that they had to find their way to the pickup area.

Owen grumbled that they should've been able to just go to the driving pick up area, except Gwen had told them it would probably be better to pick him up more… in person.

Tosh tries to imagine how it would go, if they had pulled up in front of Jack in the SUV, and tried to get him to get into the car…

Has to wince, because Tosh really couldn't imagine Jack not being able to smuggle a gun across the border, and it had been distressing enough having Gwen point a gun at her…

She doesn't want to imagine what it would be like having Jack treat her like a hostile alien.

As it is, she thinks she'll have to deal with it anyway.

When they do finally see him, dressed in his period clothing and sticking out like a… well, like a man in period military garb hanging out in the middle of an airport, all she can feel is relief.

Jack's here, he's back on Earth, and things will be better.

He'll know a way to get Ianto back, he'll be able to track the people holding him, he'll be able to—

Her thoughts get cut short when Jack notices them. She smiles at the look of shocked disbelief on his face, at the hope there, because she wants to shout yes, we're alive Jack!

She still wants to shout it, for different reasons, when the look of hope turns darker, to anger and suspicion and determination…

She can practically read his thought process.

There are aliens posing as my dead friends/teammates, here for me, it's highly likely that they're going to cause damage, and this is an airport full of people…

She sees his hand go to where he usually keeps his gun hidden, and thanks the fact that he has the presence of mind not to wave it about in the middle of an airport.

"Who are you? What are you doing here?" He demands, as soon as they are within hearing distance.

They stop short when they see his hand go into his jacket, and she knows he has a gun ready against them.

"Gwen told you we'd be picking you up, right? Please fuckin tell me she told you we'd be here?"

She sees a small bit of realization dawn on his face, but the hand in his coat doesn't waver, his arm doesn't relax.

"Jack," she says as gently as she can, "It really is us. I don't know what made you come back, I'm just glad for it, because Ianto—"

She cuts herself off at the savage look on his face. Doesn't know how to start again.

"First, you," he nods at Owen, "Tell me what it was that killed your fiancée."

She sees Owen flinch from the corner of her eye.
"don't mess around, do ya…" he sighed, and took a step closer to Jack.

Jack immediately tensed.

"Cam down, calm down, I'm just not willin' to be blabbing this around and letting anyone hear us… even if they would think I'm crazy… I… was engaged to Katie Russell. She had a alien parasite in her brain, and it gave all the symptoms of Alzheimer's It was eventually going to make her die. When it was going to be removed, you… you came in during surgery, because if the bloody thing got disturbed, it would release a toxic gas, and, surprise of all fucking surprises, it did.

You retconned everyone, almost got me believing in it myself, that it had never happened… and that's how I got this bloody job. Where you can't stay fuckin' dead." Owen glared at Jack. "And you'd know that best of all of us, Harkness."

Jack relaxed some, but kept a level look when he turned to Tosh.

"And you. What was it that attracted my attention to you, that made me come get you from UNIT?"

"… You told me that the plans for the sonic modulator weren't actually complete. That the plans didn't… work. But the one that I made did… because I automatically fix things as I go. You said I had a choice: five years with Torchwood, or spend the rest of my life with UNIT… I chose Torchwood."

Jack nodded and… well, he didn't relax, but he looked like he was much less likely to start shooting them if they made any sort of abrupt movement. She checked her watch, and realized that, while labor can sometimes take hours and hours, it would still be best if they made their way to the hospital as soon as possible.

"Look, Jack, we can start explaining in the SUV, but we have to get to Gwen. We can tell you about Ianto, but it would probably be better if you'd wait for us to get to the Hub, we have all our information—"

"We should probably feed Myfanwy as well, Tea boy'd never forgive us if we let that old dinosaur get malnourished—"

"The Hub? Myfanwy? I thought…"

A look of alarm crossed his face. Before Tosh or Owen could say or do anything, he'd run over to a half-asleep looking ten-year-old waiting by some luggage.

"Quick, what day is it today?"

Owen spun around and dragged a hand through his hair.

"Bloody hell, seriously? Is he fucking serious?"

The kid looked at Jack, sleepy and annoyed.

"It's Christmas Eve, bugger off…"

Jack blinked, stunned. Was near frantic when he started tapping away at his Vortex Manipulator.

"No, no, no, no, no…. What? How could that… There must be some mistake…"

"Are you joking? Oi, is this loony with you?"

Owen sighed, and leveled the kid with a look.

"Yeah, unfortunately… C'mon Harkness, let's get to the car so we can fuckin' explain, so you can stop jumping to conclusions. For fuck's sakes, it's four in the fucking morning, I shouldn't have to fucking deal with this shit…"

Tosh touched Jack's arm, nodding slightly behind Jack, where what must be the ten-year-olds parents were coming from, looking worried.

"C'mon, Jack. We can explain it while we head to the hospital."

Still looking a bit shell shocked, Jack gave her a suspicious look, but followed.

After a moment of walking, he glanced at her.

"…Is it really Christmas Eve? Because that would really help explain some, because things are always really bizarre on Christmas…"

"No Jack. It's not Christmas."

He looked like he didn't know if he should be relieved about that or not.

Another pause.

"… I wasn't joking earlier. I do actually need to know the date. My vortex Manipulator is acting up and… You guys already have the Hub rebuilt? And Myfanwy's alive?"

Tosh smiled.

"You missed out on some things while you were gone."

"You're telling me…"

.-~-~-~~-~-~.

Early Labor lasts, on average, 6-12 hours.

It takes Gwen Williams 4.

During that time, Jack nearly shoots Tosh and Owen before thy have a chance to explain. In the short amount of time it takes to get from the airport to the hospital, they manage to roughly summarize the past 9 months, even despite Jack's insistence that he'd been there for the first few months of Gwen's pregnancy.

Owen points out that it's easier to explain everything all at once, and points out in his particularly delicate way that if Jack hadn't swanned off to parts of the galaxy unknown, they wouldn't feel the need to make sure he was entirely caught up with the situation at hand.

That explanation, along with the uneasy silence that follows it (because goddamnit, he knows running away wasn't the smartest thing, but he'd needed to get away from the memory—), means that they don't get through the entire 9 months before Gwen goes into active labor.

Active labor often lasts up to 8 hours. Sometimes hours longer.

It takes Gwen Williams 9 hours, almost exactly, to give birth to Anwen Williams.

In that time, Jack is alternately ecstatic and horrified at the idea of Gwen giving birth, while also alternately ecstatic and horrified at what he's learned about Ianto.

He's happy that Gwen is having a baby (always a thing to celebrate, giving birth to new life), but also horrified, because he knows exactly how much less safe present-day labors are compared to, say, even the 30th Century.

Having had his own children in less safe times did not take away from the fact that he knows every single way that this birth can go wrong. Even if one assumes no alien involvement wreaking further havoc.

This is all warring with his feeling for Ianto, as well.

Ianto is alive! He wants to laugh and cry and scream, because Ianto is alive, and he doesn't, he doesn't, he doesn't want to think about the fact that that means he's only going to die later, so he's going to focus on the surreal thought that Ianto is alive.

And, from what he's learned from Owen and Tosh, most likely in danger. He's missing, and most likely in the hands of a group who are intent on doing him harm… for reasons that he cannot yet see. It couldn't be Torchwood related, not with how they've acted…

As per the usual, he finds his thoughts turning away, slightly, from the task at hand, to the fact that…

Well. Ianto's mind in the body of his 10-year-old self.

What was Jack supposed to do with that?

He tries picturing it, and just… can't.

It's ridiculous, but all he has in mind is a kid in a suit, wide baby blues and combed back dark hair.

And that mental picture always morphs to the way he remembers him most fondly, in that suit, about to get out of that suit, eyes warm, smile fond, eyebrow quirking…

And, as it had for the past half-year, his mind makes the switch.

Ianto, in his arms, eyes dazed, not from sex, cheeks flushed, not from sex, eyes watering, not from sex…

From dying.

"I love you."

"Don't say that."

The rasp of his breath, rattling in his lungs, the way his throat swelled as it reacted to the poison in the air, the way he could hardly focus on him, the way he couldn't react the way he was supposed to, how he couldn't give Ianto what he deserved—what he needed to hear—

"It was good, yea?"

"Yea."

He hadn't been able to say what he needed to say, what Ianto needed to hear, and it haunted Jack in the months since Ianto died.

"Don't forget me."

"Never could."

Never would.

But Ianto was, somehow, miraculously, amazingly, gloriously alive, and had been for roughly 6 months, for about the time that Jack had been gone…

And his 26-year-old mindset was in his 10 year old body.

He waited with Tosh and Owen in the waiting room, waiting for Rhys to come out to tell them what was happening, if they could come see Gwen yet, if they could come see Anwen yet, and thought that if it were for anything else, he'd be insisting they get to the Hub (the rebuilt Hub, and wouldn't that be a change?) so he could see it for himself. Tosh had mentioned a video of some sort.

But this was Gwen, who had been pregnant and now wasn't, and this was a Torchwood Baby, and he had a yawning Tosh and Owen beside him—

And he wasn't even remotely close to getting around to processing that yet, because he was supposed to be the one to never die, and not that he was complaining, but this was the third time for Owen, and Jack couldn't deal with this again, dammit!—

and he could wait, just a little longer, for an image to go with the thought of a wee Ianto Jones.

(Though dammit if it isn't hard to focus on that.)

.-~-~-~~-~-~.

"So… a kid?"

"Yes. In a suit."

Hank and Eunice exchanged looks.

"And… he was from Jones? Jones sent you a kid?"

Tyra looked harried.
"No, he didn't just send me a kid, he—you don't understand! He got past George!"

Hank's eyebrows rose.

"Who's George?"

"My doorman! Jones, he sent a child to my building, and somehow that child got to my apartment! Do you not see how alarming this is?"

Eunice shifted in her seat, and tilted her head.

"Why is it important that he got to your apartment? Or past your doorman?"

Hank felt bad about… well, they were sort of being ridiculously doubtful of her story. He'd like to say that it was because she'd admitted to embezzling again, and because she didn't want to owe Jones anything, of all reasons… but he had enough insight into his own mind that he could see that some of his uncharacteristic doubtfulness was stemming form the fact that Jones chose to get in contact with her.

With Tyra Shaw, the Duchess of Doubtfulness, the Mistress of Missing Adventures, the Queen of Questioning a Good Thing, the—

Okay, he didn't know her, but he'd brought up the possibility of adventure and a possible Robin Hood/Batman-esque figure, and her response was to run away and continue embezzling funds.

And she didn't even do it because she needed it. She did it because she wanted to be able to spite Jones.

Jones who, from what he understood of this situation, sent her a message basically detailing that if she didn't stop embezzling, he'd report her. He'd still pay for her Great, Great, whatever's Aunt's medical bills, and keep her comfortable, but if Tyra had continued embezzling it would lead to him reporting her.

He gave her a chance, paid for her relative's medical bills like he'd done for Hank, and she threw it back in his face.

And Jones gave her another chance.

And now she was making it sound like a horrible thing?

What the fuck?

"No! You don't understand!" She pursed her lips, and took a deep breath, looking like she was doing her best to gather patience.

"Look, I… I like my security. I like knowing that I don't have to worry about anyone breaking into my place, I… I just like the security, okay? So my building, well, it has a swipe card you need to get in the front doors, manned by George. And there's Corey for backup. But it's mostly George. There are security cameras everywhere, and you need another card and a passcode to get to my floor from the elevator."

"What, you live in a place like that and you had to steal to get your Aunt the medical care she needs?" Hank agreed with Eunice on that one…

"I had my rent paid through all the way to next year. But that's not the point! Jones sent a child, and he got to my apartment! George didn't call to send him up, and there's certainly no way he'd be able to get my floor code, let alone the right key card for it! And he sent a child! A small… strangely well dressed child! Like a tiny undertaker. Jones uses children! And he got to my apartment! How can he stand himself?"

.-~-~-~~-~-~.

Ianto sighed and wondered what to do with himself.

He still had a couple of hours until he had to be all ready, time to kill before he had to be at the Warehouse… So…

Ianto touched his toes for a count of ten, and then slowly stretched his arms high above his head.

Repeated the movement, and felt some of the tension leaving his shoulders.

He didn't want to go out for fear of encountering Thugs (as, seriously, he'd be seeing enough of them when he broke into the warehouse later tonight), he had enough food—would be making himself a high-energy early dinner to prepare for the night ahead—and there was only so many videos on YouTube you could watch before feeling entirely useless…

A chime came from the computer.

He raised his eyebrow, wondering what alert had been set off, worried until he saw what it actually was.

Gwen had her baby! She—wait.

He checked the calendar, and frowned.

Was it normal to be late? Wasn't her due date three days ago…?

He blinked and shook himself from any sort of ridiculous guilt. He'd been a bit busy, and this is why he'd had Mini set to tell him when any hospital put down a record of a newborn with parents listed as Rhys and Gwen Williams. Or Cooper. Or Cooper-Williams.

He hadn't been entirely sure what Gwen would be doing…

But apparently she was sticking to Rhys' name, as there, as Welsh as can be, was Anwen Williams.

Anwen Williams. Ianto said the name aloud, and nodded to himself.

He hadn't seen her, but he was sure Anwen Williams was a beautiful baby girl.

He checked the clock.

Grimaced.

Well, that really didn't take all that much time. And there wouldn't be much information on how Gwen is, and how the baby's doing, not for a while yet…

Ianto sighed, and got back to stretching.

He was probably healthier than he'd ever been in his life, what with all the exercise, and the healthy food, and he was fairly certain that he was burning off any and all unhealthy fats every time he died…

He made a face, thinking of the last time he'd eaten take out, thinking of his time in Torchwood where that was what he'd eaten most of the time…

Mind, he'd done as well as he could, considering. One couldn't say that pizza or Chinese could ever really be healthy, but he had, with the Torchwood Credit Card, bought the better stuff.

And he'd never broken down and bought any of that premade crap people seemed so content to eat…

He blinked.

Finished his set of stretches, and moved to his keyboard.

He knew what he could do for the next little while…

It's certainly not too soon to make another blog post

.-~-~-~~-~-~.

"So… what, exactly do you want us to do with this information? I mean, we can't exactly do anything to Jones."

The look Tyra gave her was only a hair off of being manic.

"I want… I want in, on whatever you two are doing in regards to Jones. I don't know who he is, and I don't know how far you've gotten on finding out about him, but I… I want to know what he wants. What he really wants. I want to know exactly how dangerous he is, and find out if he really is the golden hearted individual you're insisting he is."

Hank laughed, a quick bark of laughter, and it was a strange thought to have, but Eunice was realizing that this dork actually had the capacity to be mean. She already knew he had the ability to be bitchy, but she hadn't actually thought he could be a bitch.

Though, to be fair, he probably wasn't even aware of how much of an ass he was being, so busy scrambling to defend Jones.

He's got such a fan-boner for the guy…

She couldn't say she wasn't disappointed in Jones herself—despite herself, she'd started buying into Hank's dorky claims of him being a superhero of sorts, and the idea that Jones would use kids to do his dirty work…

Eugh.

Just eugh.

"Look, great thought, good effort, but I just don't know if we actually need help from a little girl who can't even think outside the box… I mean, this is Jones! He seems to have contingency plans for his contingency's plans contingency plans!"

"Hey! I can think of, of situations outside of the box too!"

Hank scoffed. "Oh yeah?"

Tyra's mouth firmed. "Yes. Like… Well, what if we're looking at this all wrong, hmm? What if you are wrong about Jones."

Eunice sighed, and Hank shook his head at Tyra.

"Nuh uh, that's not thinking outside of the box, that's you repeating your paranoid little self, and if you want to be part of this you have to—"

"That's not what I'm talking about!"

Eunice sighed again, wondering if she's really the only mature one here, and smacked Hank upside the head.

"Stop being a child. Tyra, you don't have to match him, crazy theory to crazy theory…"

But Tyra was shaking her head. Eunice rolled her eyes. She'd tried.

"No, see, you make it out like Jones is brilliant for choosing his 'name', because even now, when you do any sort of search for 'Jones' you get a couple dozen results for Ianto Jones, right?"

Hank reluctantly nodded, and Eunice was interested despite herself. Both of them were crazy, having wild ideas about Jones, but…
"Well," Tyra drew out the word, "What if you're looking at it the wrong way? What if he didn't choose that because we'd never find him under all the results on Ianto Jones and that Jack guy? What if he chose it because we'd never believe that it could be him!?"

"Oh, c'mon," Hank moaned, "You aren't suggesting that…"

"Yes! I am! Because what if Ianto Jones isn't really dead? What if Ianto Jones is Jones!?"

.-~-~-~~-~-~.

It took well into the evening to catch Jack up on all the details.

They'd gotten the bare facts down while waiting for Gwen to have her baby, but there were some things you have to get down into the details to fully get across—and the situation with the Thames House Children was definitely one of those situations.

"An institution has been set up to find all the Kids… as soon as it got out what, exactly, was happening with them… well, families needed to be contacted, more people were looking for them, and with quite a few of the… sort of deceased knowing delicate information, it was decided that it'd be for the best to get everyone together. From what Owen's seen of the work done up on them, most of them are showing signs of being regular 8- to 11-yearolds…"

"Unlike Tea Boy. I had to make an appointment with the bird in charge of the institution, but I should be able to get comparative blood samples day after tomorrow. And, before you ask, yes this appointment is also to interview the kids, so you don't have to worry about that…"

"Can you show me what, exactly, is wrong with Ianto's blood? And show me the pictures from the scene that the police stumbled upon…"

Tosh pulled up the pictures on one monitor, and Owen's results on another.

Looking at his expression, looking at the amount of blood in the pictures and remembering her own reaction to them, she quickly pulled up the CCTV footage as well.

"This is the footage I got of Ianto leaving the building… He's alive, Jack. I don't know how, but he is."

She had to play it back three times, but by the end of the third, she thought that maybe Jack had started to allow himself to believe.

.-~-~-~~-~-~.

"Oh, c'mon, how the hell could Ianto Jones be alive? He died! On camera! As did everyone else in Thames House!"

"Well," says Eunice of all people, "we never technically got to see a body…"

"We didn't see any of the bodies! Because only family could do that, because the bodies were released to the families so they could be buried! Come on Eunice, you aren't really believing this, this…"

"Equally Absurd Jones Theory?" she smirked.

"It's not absurd!" Hank didn't think Tyra really believed her own 'theory', not when it was obvious that she only made it up to prove she could think outside the box, but it looked like now she was warming to it. The woman was completely bonkers!

"No! Look, what do we actually know about Ianto Jones? We know he worked for te government, and that he was at Thames House, but what else? Practically nothing!"

"We know he has a badass older sister. Remember? She slapped Denise Riley on national television!" Eunice looked entirely fond when saying this, and Hank had to agree. Honestly, the woman should have gone to jail. To even consider taking children form their homes…

"Oh, and that he was in love with that other bloke, Jack whatshisface…" Eunice sighed, dreamy expression on her face. "Declared his love with his dying breath…"

Hank pointed at her.

"HAH! I knew it! You're a closeted romantic, aren't you?!"

He dodged the slap she aimed at him, and grinned. "Nah ah ah! It's too late! Your tough woman persona is shattered forever, you mushy little romantic you! No taking it back!"

"Guys!" Tyra slapped her hands down on the table, attracting attention from the other tables in the bakery. She flushed, and sat back down, only continuing when attention moved on from their table.

"Look," she says, in a much more even tone, "I'm saying it's a possibility. We don't know who Jones is, or what sort of resources Ianto Jones has—or had, okay, okay—or what he really did… But this is much more believable to me, more than a—a robin, batman, whoever hooded figure just giving away money and not expecting anything in return."

Hank made a face. "You're happier thinking it's a government lackey than Batman or Robin Hood?" He would really never ever understand this woman…

Eunice nudged him.

"Look, whatever and whoever Jones is—that's not what we should be focusing on right now. Tyra, you want to join us in trying to find out as much as possible about Jones, right? Well, if I'm remembering your job right, you're in the perfect position to find out where Jones's money is coming form, and as soon as we find out more about that, more roads will be open to us, right? Hank, stop giving her such a hard time—she may not be trying to find Jones The Superhero, but she is still willing to help find Jones. So why don't you stop making an ass out of yourself, and tell her what it is that we've been doing… It's starting to get dark out, and I don't want to be here at closing."

He'd somehow forgotten that Eunice could be viciously practical sometimes…

He heaved a sigh, feeling immensely put upon… but felt slightly better at the fact that Tyra obviously wasn't happy having their little fight ended this way.

"Fine…" he turned to face Tyra more head on.

"So," he starts, pulling out his phone, "First thing you should know, is that Jones made a website for us…"

And then his phone chimed.

He blinked at it. Looked at Eunice.

"Is that…?" she asks.

Hank nodded.

"Is that what? Isn't that just a text?"

Hank shakes his head, slightly stunned.

"No… Jones has a website he pretends to blog on, and that" he says, wonderingly, "is the noise my phone makes to tell me he put up a new post…"

Tyra blinked.

"Oh."

.-~-~-~~-~-~.

Ianto stretched his arms above his head, thinking he should probably find some way to get a better computer chair up here—one that was more easily adjustable, more convenient for his regular change in size, and checked the clock.

Considered it…

Shrugged.

Time for food, and then he'd better get dressed for tonight. He could stand to leave early. He could explore the surrounding area a bit if he was too early to the warehouse.

.-~-~-~~-~-~.

"… How close are you to finding the people who were holding him? How close are you to finding Ianto?"

"Not very. I… well, I'm a little bit behind, still, in the latest progress in hacking. It's amazing how far everything's come… but it's been a bit difficult catching up. I know they'll make a mistake sooner or later though. They've already started leaving loose bits of data behind when trying to lose me. But I'll get them."

"And no sign of Tea-Boy yet, either. There must be some reason for him to be staying away, but…"

Jack was silent for a moment, looking over the information displayed in front of him with a frown.

"… Does he know you're alive?"

Tosh and Owen traded looks.

"Um… don't think so. I've made sure it's in every database in our system that we've both managed to come back, but from what I can tell he hasn't checked in for a while. Not since the last time he left a file on the Thames House Children. Why?"

"I was just thinking… If, say, he didn't know you were back—or even if he did!—would Ianto bring danger around with Gwen pregnant?"

"Well—…"

Owen closed his mouth, frowning.
"… Probably not. He wasn't all that family oriented, but I see where you're getting at. Even knowing you were around, he likely wouldn't want to bring any big bad around Gwen when she's in the condition she's in…"
"Oh! Oh no!" Her hands flew to her mouth without thought.
"What?"

"Oh no, it's just… We… After a point, we couldn't keep fielding questions for you, so it got to the point we had to send the Government a notice that you were gone, and…" she couldn't finish.

"… And what's the likelihood that Ianto caught that message?"

A feeble smile came to her face. "Very likely."

"Fuck."

"Yeah, you could say that again… But I think I have the answer. Owen, do you still have Ianto's blood samples on hand? Go get them."
"Jack, what do you need them for?"

He looked up from his wrist strap with a grin just this side of desperate.

"I'm going to find out exactly where Ianto is."

.-~-~-~~-~-~.

I have no idea where I am…

Ianto tried pulling up his mental map of the area, but if he was remembering it correctly, there should have been another two streets until…no, wait, if that was North…

He reoriented himself, and breathed a sigh of relief.

He had to calm down…

He'd been jittery on the bus ride into the is part of town, having to paste on his Everything Is Alright smile for a concerned looking businessman, and when that hadn't worked he'd had to get off on the stop before his destination.

Nerves had him confused and disoriented as he made his way to where he was supposed to be, and now that he was actually within sight of the right block, he felt like he was coming down from a sugar high.

It was not a good thing.

But at least he was in the right area.

He checked the sky, then his watch, and settled himself just out of the way of civilian traffic to wait for it to be a little darker.

He was glad he came early to this.

He listened to the sound of people walking past, hurrying home, hurrying to their loved ones, and tried to imagine that after this he'd be able to do the same.

He looked up, the sky still more blue than orange for the moment, and wondered where Jack was…

.-~-~-~~-~-~.

"You really found all that? I remember reading about it in the paper…" Tyra gave him a wide-eyed look, and tried not to be annoyed at the insufferably smug look he returned with.

"Yeah, and now there's another post on iJones, and… what are you doing?"

Tyra spared him a glance before going back to her blackberry, pulling up iJones to read the blog herself. She read through the posts quickly, each one only a few pages in length each, and frowned. How could he have…?

"How did you get anything about transvestites from any of this? How do you know this is even from Jones…?"

She went back and read through it, trying to see…

"See, this is what I'm talking about, you can't think outside of the box!"

"Dumbass, I couldn't find anything in it, either." She looked up at the other woman for a moment, measuring… Tyra really didn't know what to do with either of them. Hank McMasters was entirely inappropriate, and half the time she doesn't even know what he's saying, what he's talking about, and Eunice Bakely… Well. Tyra had never met someone like her.

This was mostly because Tyra did her best to avoid people like Eunice Bakely.

Eunice was very violent.

She looked back to the blog.

… But also seemed very fair. She was very goal oriented, perhaps even more so than Tyra herself… She hadn't seemed to get distracted even when both Hank and Tyra had gotten off on a tangent, though she still thought her theory on Jones being Ianto Jones merited more consideration than…

No. She needed to focus.

"… And now you—we need to find out what Jones is challenging us with now?"

"I thought the whole reason you started embezz—oof, fine, I mean, I thought you started up again so you wouldn't be playing Jones's game or whatever?"

Tyra did her best to give him a stern look.

"If he's giving us specific things to look into, it means he's in a position to be noticing them himself. The more… the more challenges we overcome, the more we'll know about Jones. The more we'll know his interests."

"Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, huh…?" Eunice raised an eyebrow at her, and Tyra nodded.

"Exactly."

.-~-~-~~-~-~.

Tosh watched as Jack placed one of the blood samples on his Vortex Manipulator, watched as the following glow lit up Jack's face. Lit it up more literally than the determination and hope on his face.

Oh, she hoped for more than Ianto's sake that this worked…

"And you can find anyone on Earth with this? Just by their DNA?"

"Yep. Down to the meter… Give me 10 and I'll have his exact coordinates."

"I'll update Gwen… if she's still resting, Rhys will let her know when she wakes up." Tosh hit the speed dial, and hoped that Rhys hadn't turned Gwen's phone off.

"Wait… why haven't we heard of this before?"

"Well, we haven't really had need of it before."

"Yeah well, if we had, we wouldn't have…"

Tosh smiled as Owen and Jack bickered, both keeping an eye on the glowing screen of Jack's wrist strap, and felt something inside of her relax.

Jack was back. Everything was going back to normal. Comparative normal.

And they were going to find Ianto.

Rhys picked up, and she filled him in on what they were doing, only wishing that Gwen could be here rather than on bed rest.

.-~-~-~~-~-~.

Getting past the perimeter isn't as hard as Ianto thought it would be.

(This is good, as his nerves would have had him caught otherwise…)

There's a barbed wire fence surrounding most of the building, apart from the front entrance, which has been decorated with far more aesthetically pleasing spikes. The building itself was a sort of warehouse-chic; red brick and tall windows, security cameras visible even form the distance.

He knows there are smaller, less obvious cameras set up in nooks and crannies.

He thinks it might have been a bit harder if he was back to his 6 foot self, rather than four-foot-nothing, but it would also be easier if he wasn't also all knees and thumbs.

There's a moment when he's terrified he's been seen, before he can plug Mini's Chord into the first accessible security camera, but somehow the Thug convinces himself that he hadn't seen movement.

Miraculously.

He breathes a sigh of relief, and waits for Mini to let him know that she's taken over that part of the security.

His heart is still hammering from the fright, and he's running high on adrenalin, but he still becomes increasingly aware of the chill in the air. His nose and ears are going pink, he's sure, and he can see his breath faintly in the dim light. It's not quite night yet, but it might as well be for how early it was getting dark lately… at least it provided a cover for him, though.

More shadows to blend in with, enough odd shapes created in the semi-dark to use as cover, and he again thinks, My name is Jones, Ianto Jones, when Mini flashes a small light twice. Finally.

He checks the screen, memorizing the positions of the cameras in the immediate area, and checks his surroundings.

No one directly around, he backs up a few paces and sprints as quietly as he can for the wall.

There's a slight dent in one of the bricks that he can use for a foothold, and the mortar had been worn away higher up so that when he scrabbles at it he has another hold. He has to grip with his fingers at the edges in the brick with his other hand, and the toe of his other boot slides against the wall before catching on a small space. He didn't dare shift to get a look, and instead focuses on carrying himself up with as much momentum as possible.

Another hand hold, a lucky push with his feet, and a lunge, arm stretched upwards, and he's got his fingers on the edge of the second-floor window.

It's not the floor he wants to be on—no, that's on the third floor—but he might have to use it as his point of entry.

He gives himself a moment to debate—he'd made plans for either situation, just in case—and sighs to himself.

He should have figured this plan out earlier.

When it was warmer.

He was losing feeling in his fingertips.

The windows didn't have alarms connected to them, which he counted his blessing for, but they were also the original windows for the old building.

They were obviously not used too often.

Honestly it was easier getting his rusted old fire-escape ladder down that first time than it is getting this window open, at night, dangling from it's ledge, and…

Well.

He stays annoyed at the world in general because he can, and also because it gives him the extra push (ha) to get the window open wide enough for him to get through.

He immediately closes it once he's inside, pauses to listen if anyone's coming to investigate the inevitable noise he'd made…

As delicately as he can, he dives for cover behind a stack of boxes, and hears the door to the room open.

.-~-~-~~-~-~.

His heart pounded, and he wished it were because they were going to finally get Ianto back. Well, he wished it was only because they were getting Ianto back.

"Fuckin' hell! How in the fuck did your driving get even worse?"

He really wished he knew, because there should be no way that Jack could have nearly hit that post, and yet he had, and now Owen was doing his best to pretend that it wouldn't get worse once they got to a less busy part of the city.

Wasn't doing a good job of it.

For fuck's sakes…

It was dark enough out that the night-life was starting to pick up—which translated to more and more people J-walking and—

"For fuck's sakes Jack! Get off the sidewalk!"

He could (sort of) understand Jack's recklessness, but really, he'd died once by being shot, again (sort of) by being disintegrated slowly in radioactive waste, and the fact that he was seriously considering the possibility of dying of a car crash… well, despite the apparent precedent of Torchwood agents apparently not being able to stay dead, Owen really didn't think he'd be coming back again.

An absurd part of him wondered if it was like baseball…

Strike one!

Strike two!

Strike three! And you're outta here!

But to be taken out once (sort of) and for all by a car crash…

Owen nearly ripped the panic bar from the SUV when Jack took a wild turn, two wheels—the wheels on Owen's side, dammit!—lifting off the ground for several heart-stopping moments before slamming down, the whole bloody car shaking from it.

His stomach is residing somewhere in the vicinity of his throat, so he feels the steady stream of expletives leaving him is entirely justified. Tosh is silent in the back seat, but he's swearing enough for the both of them.

He has to flinch when a couple of blokes who look like they were extras on The Godfather have to dive out of the way to avoid being hit, and hopes to whatever fucked up god was out there that they survived the trip.

Because wouldn't it be a laugh if they did end up dead trying to find Tea Boy?

His thought is interrupted when the air is punched from his chest, Jack breaking suddenly, driving the seatbelt into him, and stares at the little old lady crossing the street.

Fucking Harkness…

.-~-~-~~-~-~.

Ianto hardly dares to breathe.

He hears footsteps wander about the room, and shifts slightly. The room he'd broken into had turned out to be a barely-used storage room, seemingly the place they'd put all the unused furniture. Chairs stacked up in one corner, a few hastily labeled boxes, and a few tables and desks stacked and positioned about the room.

The area he's managed to squish himself into was where they'd obviously decided to try and optimize space usage, and had stacked two tables on top of each other, their legs tangled and the top of one against the floor. The space between wasn't much, and the small space provided between the top of the uppermost table and where a smaller box had been pushed up against the side was even smaller, but Ianto could fit.

He made himself fit.

He looked through that space now, peering over the edge of the box, and tracked the vague shadow of a Thug as he made his way around the room.

Checking obvious hiding places.

Ianto cast his eyes to the window, still visible from where he was, and winced.

Dammit, he really should have done this when it was warmer.

When everything was less wet.

It wasn't quite cold enough to be snowing yet, but that didn't keep it from coming down in rain.

And Ianto had apparently overlooked the fact that he'd be tracking water in.

Damn.

Damn, Damn, Damn.

The faint trail led straight for him, and if the Thug looked down, maybe he'd bend down to investigate, and if he did that and turned to look over here…

Ianto was screwed.

He would be screwed, if he…

He held his breath when the shadowy figure of the Thug blocked the light coming from the window, and dared to hope that the man wouldn't look down.

Hoped, and hoped, and hoped…

The Thug grunted, dissatisfied, and headed for the door.

Ianto didn't dare to breathe.

The door closed.

Ianto waited…

Waited…

The door opened again.

A huff, and the door closed again.

Ianto let out his breath, and checked the time.

Ok. He had little more than 15 minutes to get to the third floor, hook Mini up, and…

Figure out how he'd be getting out.

.-~-~-~~-~-~.

Hank scowled at his computer screen, trying to find the words…

Because honestly, despite Tyra's enthusiasm in repeating it—

"A Child! Seriously!"

—it hadn't quite hit him exactly what that meant until he got home.

Until he got home and saw his own children.

They'd left soon after Tyra started spouting nonsense about knowing ones enemies, and he'd reluctantly agreed to make her a super secret e-mail to use to keep in contact. They'd all agreed to look into what the hell Jones's somewhat baffling post on eating healthy could be directed towards, keeping each other posted on what it could be about, and even though Hank was determined to beat Tyra to the answer, he couldn't focus on that.

Because seriously.

What was Jones's deal, using children to do his dirty work? Whose child was it anyway? He had a sudden thought—

What if it was Jones's kid?

Hank tried to imagine sending Charlie or Erik on their own into a strange building to go talk to a stranger; couldn't.

You don't do that to kids! You just, well, you just don't!

So here he sat, trying to find the best way to say that to Jones, to get across that while Hank was all for just about everything else Jones seems to be up to, this is not kosher.

Not at all.

And because Jones didn't seem to check his e-mail—or at least, not the one he'd used to initially contact the three of them, he had to figure out some other—

AHA!

Hank laughed to himself, not even caring that it more resembled an evil chuckle than a real laugh, and thought that in this, at least, Jones has left himself open.

Because the thing about blogs?

You can leave comments…

And oh the comment Hank would be leaving…

.-~-~-~~-~-~.

Ianto had to try three times to get up the stairs—

The first time he'd convinced himself that he'd heard someone coming, and had quietly scrambled back down to the second floor to hide.

It turned out that no one had been taking the stairs… at least, not until Ianto's second attempt. Then, of course, the door had opened before Ianto had even touched it.

"Yeah, yeah, I'm just heading down now—"

He'd stared, heart pounding, at the leather-clad back in front of him, the Thug having turned around to talk to, presumably, another Thug, and very quickly realized he didn't even have time for a heart attack.

And then he very quickly scrambled down the stairs again, nearly breaking his neck when he'd leapt the last couple of stairs, and had to huddle in his hiding spot again, certain that the Thug had heard him.

The third time had, indeed, been the charm, but only slightly (if that made any sense), as he'd nearly been caught again on the other side of the door.

He'd had to slip into the first room he could for fear of being caught by whoever the Thug from earlier had been talking to, and had turned slightly, door nearly closed—

Of course, there was a Thug looking out the window, a number of monitors set up beside him where Ianto could barely see what must be the view from the security cameras.

And that was an interesting thing to him, curious as he was as to what exactly Mini was doing to the security cameras he showed up in, but another thing that held his interest was not being caught.

That the Thug hadn't heard the door open was a miracle. That he was facing the other direction was a miracle. That he hadn't turned around yet while Ianto stood frozen in the doorway was a miracle.

That Ianto hadn't broken down and actually had a heart attack yet was probably less a miracle, and more to do with the fat that he was 10, and he didn't think 10-year-olds could have heart attacks just like that, but that was something he could ponder on later because he was one peripheral glance away from being caught.

So he left.

Well, that made it seem simple, made it seem like he was cool as a cucumber, slipping out the door without a sound…

But really, he nearly brained himself with the door trying to get it open too quickly, and struggled through a too small gap, like keeping the door mostly closed was going to keep him from being noticed, and then, once he was back in the hallway, he nearly slammed the door shut behind him.

Eat your heart out, 007. He was really that smooth.

Actually looking around him this time, he very, very carefully closed the door behind him, keeping the latch from clicking shut and giving him away, and crept down the hallway.

He counted the doors, and there, the third down on the right, was the one he needed to go through.

Pressing an ear against the door, he couldn't hear anything, so he very carefully cracked it open a sliver.

There was a lamp on, casting shadows in the room, but he couldn't see anyone, so he very carefully made his way inside.

Carefully.

Really, he'd probably laugh at himself later, but for now his heart was hammering, pulse loud in his ears, and his shirt was damp through from hoe much he was sweating.

If and when he got out of this place alive, he might actually die of hypothermia on the way back to his apartment.

He choked down the laugh that thought brought him.

He thinks he might be in shock. Again. Could you go into shock from being frightened? It was another thing he should look up later.

The computers in the room were already on, the hard drive kept under the desk to provide more room for the three monitors set up there.

It was nothing to plug in the USB, but he didn't allow himself to relax. He'd made it halfway—no, not even half way, as he still had to wait for the information to download. Or send. Or whatever.

He had a moment of panic—how will he know when it's done?—before he remembered that the light on the USB would flash.

He took a deep breath, and checked his watch.

He had—shit. He had a little less than 8 minutes before an alarm is likely to go off.

Shit, shit, shi—there was noise just outside the door, and Ianto had a minute to clamber under the table, hidden in the shadows and partially behind the hard drive, before the door opened.

Hand over his mouth, knees pressed to his chest, he watched as three sets of shoes came into the room.

One was dark and shined, what was obviously a very well cared for dress shoe, pared with a well-cut hemline of a suit.

(He had a bad feeling about this.)

Another was some sort of boot; Ianto guessed steel-toed, with dark jeans… he guessed that this one was a Thug.

(Bad, bad feeling…)

The third set was what looked like… designer sneakers. The sorts that people thought they could still wear to a formal event, just because they were designer.

(He was a bit confused, but still had a bad feeling…)

The door closed behind them, the light from the hallway now only a thin line under the door. He hoped they would go away soon… but if they didn't, well, they probably would when the alarm went off. He hoped.

"So," starts a very familiar voice, and Ianto's hopes plummet, "what is the status of our… special project?"

Ianto closes his eyes, and hopes he's dreaming.

Because if he is, and that means that he's out cold somewhere—maybe even in his hiding place in the storage room—and that's preferable to being here, now

And if he isn't dreaming…

That means that Boss Man just walked into the room Ianto was hiding in.

.-~-~-~~-~-~.

So, BABIES! (or rather, BABY! But that sounded a bit too much like I was being overly familiar with you…)

And Jack/Tosh/Owen/Gwen reunion! Jack is actually back on earth! WAH!

And also Boss man! PROGRESS!

And also the Embezzling Trio… I have to admit it. I laughed. Oh Tyra…

I hope you see why this was taking so long now…

Know that I AM working on the next chapter now (lol to the cliffhanger :D), but I'm not giving any guarantees that it won't be like this chapter in terms of lateness. I apologize in advance, just in case, but this isn't summer any longer. As much as I'd love to sit around and just write all day, I can't actually do that. (ULTIMATE SADNESS)

So thank you all for the support you've given me over the course of this huge-ass bit of AU head cannon-y-ness, and thank you in advance for your patience :)

Because you know what? I can see the end. The End is Nigh. Because I think this might also be a 7-chapter story. Maybe. Scary thought, and I think it's another reason it took so long to write this story.

O_O

Also please don't hate me for the cliffy. I'm 80% sure the next update won't take as long…

~Doodled93~