Summary: Daleks vaporized his arm. Cybermen gave him a new one. Somehow, Ianto Jones survives.

Ta DA! I'm not dead!

Purple-alien plot is finished here.

Enjoy!

Chapter 8—Aliens

Owen wasn't lying when he said that there would be physicals—Ianto's following hour is taken up with his own.

He has his blood taken; Owen measures his height and weight (frowns, at that), and also the lengths of his arms (turns out they're symmetrical). He checks his temperature, his reactions, his eyesight—everything. When he goes to measure his waist, hips, and shoulders, Ianto sighs and tells him he already knows the numbers—can't look this good in a suit without having it tailored, can't really have it tailored by anyone else now that he can't be sleeveless in public—but Owen measures him anyway.

He worries between Owen's grumbling that Jack will be done with the burly purple aliens at any moment, but it doesn't happen, even when Owen pulls out a scanner and has him stand with his arms out. Turns out he needed his measurements for the device.

"This means we can skip you having to turn your head and cough, Tea Boy… god knows I'll leave that for bloody Harkness."

He wants to make a joke at that and opens his mouth to do so, but Owen cuts him off just as he realizes that it's very likely that any budding relationship between them was… well.

The scanner apparently does what it needs to, as Owen is absorbed in the next few minutes with the stream of data that comes from it.

"Well," he drawls, glancing up at Ianto, "you've somehow dodged infection, and aside from mild dehydration and needing to eat more protein—honestly, you've impossibly managed to get all skin and bones and muscle, git—you're in the peak of health, save one arm. I'll have to measure the weight of that," he points, "on it's own to get a better read of your weight. Now, since I already promised that the whole undoubtedly gory story would wait for Jack, the only big question I can ask is… can you actually take that thing off."

He didn't actually phrase it as a question, but Ianto shook his head all the same.

There was a pause, Owen wrote something down in Ianto's file, then,

"I figured, since it was around bone, just— well. How often do you clean your shoulder?"

Ianto shrugged reflexively, ignored the way Owen stares at the motion. "Every time I shower. Regular body wash—vitamin E cream for the scarring afterwards." That was something he'd learned from Lisa before—well. Before.

"You don't do anything particular to clean the metal?"

He couldn't help his nose scrunching slightly, and shook his head to cover it.

Owen hummed under his breath.

"Well, the vitamin E is a good idea—you should find yourself a tea-tree oil ointment to pair it with—good for more than just acne, and you've so far avoided an infection but it should help with that, too. Webbers' makes a good mix of the two, very easy on the skin—"

Ianto gave him a look, which Owen returned.

"I like my face to be smooth as a babies bottom, thanks very much. Personal grooming habits aside, everything else I need to know will have to wait until Jack—and likely the rest of our sorry crew—are present, so we should probably go see what's keeping them. C'mon then, clothes on… Jack may appreciate the view, but you look about as comfortable in your pants as I do having to see you with only them on."

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

If you thought three giant purple aliens couldn't look like sulking children, you'd be mistaken. One had even sat on the ground, back facing them.

Gwen was just beside the edge of the force field talking in that low tone she got when she was playing Good Cop to Jack's Bad. That voice made her sound even more Welsh, somehow, and Ianto always wondered if that was what got people to respond to it so well.

Wondered if he should lay on his accent a bit thicker for the Big Explanation, if that would lessen the betrayal.

"They say anything?" Owen was asking, and Tosh shook her head. "So far nothing, just this…"

"Pouting?" Ianto offered up before he could think better of it.

Tosh laughed a little and nodded.

"Exactly. I don't know if it's their culture, or what else it could be."

Ianto raised an eyebrow.

"As much as I hate to bring up the possibility, could it be possible that they're children…?"

"They certainly look grown to me," Jack grinned, while at the same time one of the aliens looked up with an "Oi!"

Ianto would be relieved at the flirtatious tone, if not for the heavy look in his eyes.

"I dunno Jack," Owen drawled out. When Ianto glanced at him, he cocked his head at the three aliens. "These blokes don't look the least bit mature to me, I mean, look at them."

Owen's words seemed to get the aliens more agitated, and Ianto nodded, getting the idea.

"They're kids, really."

"Oi! Stop callin' us dat!"

Ianto pasted a look of surprise on his face, and nodded as patronizingly as he could manage. "Oh, I'm sure your parents would say you're very grown up."

That was the right thing to say.

As one, all three aliens looked up to the ceiling, shoulders hunched.

"Bruv," one whispered, "wot we gonna do if'n—"

The apparent leader shushed the other, face turning a deeper purple in either anger or embarrassment, Ianto didn't know.

Movement to the side caught his attention, and Tosh caught and held his eyes, flickered a glance to Owen as well, and raised her eyebrows. Ianto frowned, what…

"Oh, too right," Owen agrees, but to what Ianto didn't quite know. "I'm sure they'll have a lot to say when they show up."

The three aliens froze. Ianto caught on.

Perhaps the good/bad cop routine wouldn't be needed.

"W-wot? How're dey—"

"Well of course they'll be able to find you," Ianto say over their sputtering, "I mean, you can't imagine they wouldn't be able to track you by—well, you know." Ianto smiles, shrugs like it's obvious, and three purple faces turn upwards.

"Bruv, the ship! The Ship! Dey—"

"Shut UP!"

"But the signal—"

This time the apparent leader clamped one massive hand over the others mouth.

Jack laughed, grinning as he started doing something to his wrist strap. Quite possibly getting whatever 'signal' the three stooges' ship was giving off.

"You know I'm a little disappointed I didn't get to play hard ball with these guys, but this works too. Tosh, I'm linking up the mainframe to the signal, can you—"

Tosh's fingers were a blur over the keys, before, "Got it."

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

Tosh's computer monitor flickers, grey static rolling down it in lines, and Ianto would be worried about it if Tosh hadn't been mumbling about sending transmissions so far out of their galaxy.

It had taken her roughly half an hour with the help of Jack's wrist-strap to find the origin code—sort of like a homing beacon for spaceships, Jack had explained—and then forty minutes on top of that to get a message and return-address through.

The face—faces? Maybe?—that slowly developed on the screen were exceptionally bug-like, black exoskeletons—or armor, maybe?—decorated with swirls and crisp lines in a variety of colours.

If it was armor, it was rather pretty.

Bug-like, and pretty.

The faces peered through whatever sort of display they were using, before gasping and turning away, arms coming up to cover their faces.

Jack started laughing.

"Oh my—Cover yourselves!" said the one on the left. It—she?—sounded rather like Ianto's Maidenly Aunt who'd get exceptionally shrill when Rhiannon wore trousers.

Jack was still laughing, head thrown back, and the bug-people peeked through their arms before making rather grossed out noises for bug-people.

"They, haha, ha, they're Zur—oh my god this explains so much—they're Z'drcsillag!"

Zurich-lag? Zuri-sa-lag? It was a vaguely Hungarian-Polish sounding mess of a name, but the two figures on the screen made pleased noises.

"Yes, indeed, a pleasure to make your acquaintance, I'm sure—only would you please get some coverings? You are all rather distressingly naked…"

Ianto shared a glance with Tosh, confused when Jack laughed again.

"Hah! Yeah, bet we are to you. I haven't been to a Z'drcsillag party in ages! But I'lltell you now this is nothing compared to your offspring!"

The arms came down and two sets of glittering blue eyes glared at Jack before, seemingly remembering themselves, they averted their eyes.

"What do you mean? Speak plainly, now."
"Well that's what we're calling you about."

From through the barrier, one of the three purple aliens—who looked remarkably different from their…parents, shouted "DON'T TELL 'EM!"

The ring leader cussed and said, equally loud, "SHUT UP ALREADY!"

The Z'drcsillag on the screen gasped, and let out a number of clicks and whistles that managed to sound questioning.

"Aw Mate…"

"Bruv I didn' mean to…"

"Release our children at once!"

"I'd love to, especially as they broke into our compound and tried to get into our Vault, I'd love to get them off our hands… Though if you're going to try and make this out to be a kidnapping—which, by the way, would be an amazing feat, as this is the first time I think anyone's ever seen a less than mature Z'drcsillag, you hide them so well—then I suppose I should be getting in contact with the, ah, proper authorities, don't you think? Maybe the Judoon?"

The Z'drcsillag gasped, entirely forgoing the raised arms to shudder in their shells—exoskeletons. "You wouldn't. My darlings in the hands of those brutes!? And they're—oooh no, they're naked, aren't they. My darlings, naked in a strange place, in public, oh…"

The Z'drcsillag on the right collapsed sideways, its partner briefly disappearing from the screen, presumably to help.

Fainting aliens.

Honestly, Ianto didn't know what he'd do with a normal job at this point.

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

It took until the elder Z'drcsillag's got within transport-distance for he and Tosh to get the barrier down, Owen and Jack training their guns on their rather downtrodden forms.

Ianto did get to see a Z'drcsillag, as the three Stooges… maybe mother, but he was entirely unsure as they all seemed to have the same sort of voice, but he did get the chance to see one, and this time not through a static-filled screen.

The Z'drcsillag that came through was nearly 8 feet tall, and solidly oval. Its black external-shell/exoskeleton had gold, silver, and bronze etchings, floral and geometric shapes flowing together attractively.

If the Z'drcsillag, however you pronounced that, did make the transition from soft-fleshed purple chavs into intricately covered, um, rather Victorian creatures, then all the power to them.

The older Z'drcsillag had flailed its arms about when it caught sight of the three Stooges—

"Heavens! You're naked!"

—and had quickly slapped on some sort of clip on each of them. It didn't stop its twitching until they'd disappeared, teleported elsewhere in a very Star Trek manner, and then it turned towards the group looking as sheepish as an 8-foot upright beetle-being could look.

"I am simply—oh, I am terribly, terribly embarrassed and—oh you're all… naked. Well. I apologize, but I, ahem, am going to have to apologize facing… this way." And it turned about-face.

As odd as Ianto thought of their definition of 'naked', he didn't mind the change in view. The dome of their back-piece was like one large metallic mandala, and it looked a bit like where there wasn't metal there were even more etchings in the black carapace itself.

"Yes, well, I am truly, truly apologetic, I am sorry that you had to go through this, that they would do something so embarrassing. Oh, it's just dreadful. If there is anything, anything I could do to make it up to you—and thank you so much by the way for leaving those Judoon out of the picture, yes,-but if there's anything I could do, please let me know."

"Just make sure they don't show up here ever again, alright?" Jack grinned.

It was a nice grin, Ianto noticed, very attractive for all it did to a turned back.

"Yes. Well. Your entire planet seems rather distressingly naked, so I do not believe that shall be a problem. Oh! And before I leave, I really must commend you," it gestured behind it, still not turning, but the gesture was still distressingly in Ianto's direction. "The detail work on your limb is beautiful, so shiny. Excellent craftsmanship. Anyway I mustn't be rude and gust, so I must take my leave."

And the Z'drcsillag teleported out of the Hub.

Attention turns from where the 8-foot bug person was to Ianto.

He tries for a smile. Doesn't think he quite manages it.

"So. Am I the only one dying for a cuppa?"

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

Explaining Canary Warf to his team wasn't any easier than explaining what he could to Tanizaki—harder, actually, because if he wasn't getting interrupted by Owen with questions about the original injury, what he remembered about the surgery aspect of it, he was getting interrupted by Tosh asking about the tech they used, and if he remembered what anything looked like inside the arm, and when that wasn't happening he was getting interrupted by Gwen's sympathetic noises.

And when he wasn't interrupted by them, he interrupted himself when he looked too long at the closed off expression that took over Jack's face at the first mention of Daleks, at the colour that drained from his face when Ianto first stuttered out Cybermen.

"For my first encounter with a live alien species, I think I did all right, considering… And, ah, I'm not sure if Cybermen are considered aliens, because of the, you know, but, ah, I think I've done all right. Considering."

Considering Lisa, Lisa, LisaLisaLisa was running through his brain, but he bit his lip because he'd already, haltingly, said all he was going to say on that matter, but it still hurt, and there was still a bubbling ball of anxiety that he'd be dealt with the same way.

That at some point, he'd need to be dealt with, in some way.

But then, a couple bullets through your vitals was better than somehow launching a Cyberman Army, wasn't it?

"Oh Ianto…"

"Goddamnit Tea Boy…"

Gwen didn't say anything but pulled him into a slightly awkward hug—they weren't all that close, even now. Tosh made it a little less awkward by joining, and Owen scowled and ran rough fingers through his hair.

Jack was terribly, horribly silent, and Ianto was afraid of what his expression might be.

He didn't look.

After a moment:

"…We need to make sure there isn't any programming. Let Tosh look you over—Owen, you already had your turn—and we can get started."

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

It is extremely, extremely uncomfortable being shirtless after consciously being covered for so long, even more so because of the audience.

Ianto isn't body-shy, stays fit through at-home exercises—he isn't even ashamed of his scars, because everyone's got them.

Okay, maybe not the ugly twist he's got spreading from his shoulder, but hey, scars are scars.

But he's got a rather large, hmm, shiny problem with his body, and he's said it before, he could see the appeal of sleek lines and smooth metal—but he'd actually see the appeal if it were on someone else's body. Not his own.

So.

Tosh again checks around his neck, along the line of his shoulder, and after a questioning glance, presses around the pink-edge of his scar.

It's sore, but not the shooting pain it was, not even the deep-ache it sometimes still was—

She uses various bits and bobs to test the arm, and a whole line of alien and human tech is used against its mystery-metal, trying to find a way inside.

Thankfully, the arm doesn't fight back.

After a while, something from Owen's mutterings catches Ianto's attention.

"What was that?"

He looked uncomfortable for a moment.

"… Wouldn't be safe or sanitary to pull the arm off, not with it attached to bone. I'll have to figure out a way to x-ray it, but seems like the only way it'll come off is…" He mimes a chopping motion. Ianto sighs.

"Won't work."

Jack frowned.

"Ianto…"

Ianto raised an eyebrow and gave Jack a flat look.

"The arm," he waggles it, "is resistant to harm. It is also resistant to me being harmed, which I suppose is good, but it is also resistant to being… parted from me."

Jack continued to frown. Ianto sighed again and stared at the high ceiling of the Hub. A flash of movement, Myfanwy shifting in the makeshift nest he'd helped her put together.

"I tried removing the arm. With a saw. To my shoulder. Obviously it didn't work."

Owen whapped him in the back of his head. "Bloody fucking idiot!"

"Hey, it didn't work!"

"No fucking excuse! Don't fucking try it again!"

Tosh shook her head.

"Jack, I can't find any way in, and none of my tools are even making a scratch."

Jack tried what appeared to be a variety of mysterious things with his wrist-strap next, but whatever data he got from it seemed lacking based on his expression.

After a moment, Jack caught Ianto's eye, and jerked his chin towards his office.

"C'mon, one more thing to check for today."

Ianto took heart in the somewhat soft look Jack directed his way before the five of them headed to his office.

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

"Well, we know the cells won't hold you, so…" Jack says, gesturing Ianto towards the chair.

Ianto wonders where he pulled it out from, as he'd certainly have noticed a chair with that many straps on it before. There were two where his arms were obviously meant to go, one for his upper arm and one on his forearm, and two each for his legs.

Or—no, that was just three, he supposed, as one strap was to go over both his thighs, and two were there to keep his shins in place.

There was another strap that would go over his stomach, with a wide padded part to keep it comfortable…

That seemed odd, somehow.

There was no headrest for the chair, which Ianto thought he should be thankful for.

No straps to hold his head in place.

That was just as well, he supposed.

"I'd stay there if you asked me to," he feels the need to point out.

It's not like he'd have anywhere to go—Ianto may know the Hub exceptionally well, but he had nothing on Jack. He could see now that it had only been through exceptional luck that Jack hadn't gone wandering about the Hub at night when Lisa was still—well.

He was just lucky.

But he was the one who'd have to order the materials for the new Weevil door (so long as he got through this), and it'd be annoying to order so much more.

Jack says nothing to that, so Ianto sits in the chair.

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

The straps on his arms are done quickly, efficiently, and Jack only asks for his left arm to check the tightness.

His heart starts to beat a little quicker when the strap around his middle is done up, but he chalks that up to the stress of the situation in general.

First one, and then the other shin strap is done up, Jack feeling around it to check the tightness this time, and he's feeling a little light headed, because this seems a little bit… off, a little bit… familiar? Wrong. Just…

The last strap goes across his thighs, and he can't help but give a little wriggle to test the tightness, and he can't

Really

Move

He just

"Now then, Ianto we just need you to—Ianto? Ianto. Ianto?"

There was a roaring in his ears, and he'd like to get away from it except he can't move, he was pinned down except for the trembling in his limbs he could feel, except where he couldn't feel it, and really he just couldn't move couldn't move couldn't move couldn't

There was a snapping noise, and the collar of his shirt dragged lightly at his neck as there was movement, except Ianto couldn't move couldn'tmovecouldn'tmovecouldn't

His hand hurt from where he was gripping the armrest—the arm—he—he didn't—couldn't breath very well, there was something over his chest, until another snapping sound and he could breath easier, another snap and he could move his other arm, and there was a hand on his shoulder—hands on his shoulders—they weren't metal, thank God they weren't metal hands—he just couldn't feel it, and one moved to the back of his neck. Pushed his head down—

Before his head was between his knees, there was another snap, and the strap across his thighs gave way.

From between his knees he saw his cybernetic hand reach down and slip metal fingers beneath one strap; put pressure he couldn't feel beyond a forming bruise on his leg (that he was now also feeling on his arms, what did—) and then another snap as the leather gave from the pressure.

Another snap, another leg freed, and then his arm seemed perfectly happy to match his hand in clutching at his ankles.

The hand—Jack's hand—was still on the back of his neck, and Ianto suddenly became aware of how heavily he was breathing, how it stuttered in his throat, and slowly, like someone was turning the volume back up on real life, he could hear Owen cussing up a storm over Tosh frantic murmurs.

He pushed back a little; just the slightest of pressures, and Jack's hand retreated. He didn't know what to do with the small parting squeeze, so he put it to the back of his mind to review at a later date.

For now he had to get the mirroring sensations of the Cybermen strapping him down and Jack strapping him down out of his head, had to not focus on it, because he didn't—he couldn't—

Another gasping breath, and Ianto slowly returned himself upright.

Something odd out of the corner of his eye had him looking to the right and—the armrest was attached to his arm. The snapping noise from much earlier was the entire right armrest being snapped off from the chair.

"S—" Ianto had to cough, work enough saliva in his mouth to swallow, and then tried again.

"Sorry about that. Sir."

Jack's hand was still there, warm against the back of his neck. Ianto shivered.

He stared down at the extra weight on his arm because it was a surer thing than what Ianto might see looking into Jack's eyes.

And then Owen's hands were tugging him up and pulling at the straps keeping the armrest attached.

"Fuckin' hell, I should've figured that you wouldn't have gone to talk to someone about Canary Warf—I mean, you didn't talk to anyone about losing your bloody arm, so why am I surprised at this twist. C'mon, up you go."

"Owen, we still need to figure out how to get that thing off of Ianto—"

The look Owen gave Jack was scathing. "Well we can fuck that for now, Harkness. So far as we've seen, Tea Boy's hardware has done nothing but keep him from damage—though really, the intelligence of the thing is debatable since it accidentally—"

"—probably accidentally—"

"—sent an electrical charge directly to his torso, but then, it's a robot arm. Doesn't exactly have space to be the brains of the operation."

"'You shouldn't trust something if you can't see where it keeps its brain,'" Ianto felt the need to mention, because when in doubt quoting Molly or Arthur Weasley at least dissipated some tension, and got a cuff to the back of the head in answer. Ianto caught Tosh and Gwen's smiles, but Owen still had him manhandled facing away from Jack.

"Seems like it's taking answers from your brain, though, and so far as I know you still like all of us living and functional, so the likelihood of you deciding to suddenly off us is about the same as it was yesterday and the day before that, so I'm going to vote postponing removal of your unique prosthetic until well after the shock has worn off."

"Seconded," Tosh raised her hand, smiling.

"Since when was this a democracy?" Ianto tensed, but he could hear the smile in Jack's voice. "Fine, we can hold off until after everyone's recovered from our little adventure today, but Ianto…"

Ianto craned his neck around to give Jack a weak smile.

"…Should I prepare one of the holding cells for the night?" Ianto wouldn't be surprised. He wouldn't argue, as everything was turning out better than he'd feared, so—

"No need. You can stay in the bunker with me." He suddenly grinned, and Ianto didn't want to get his hopes up, "You know there's plenty of room for the two of us."

Ianto let Owen lead him back to the autopsy bay, his heartbeat drowning out Owen's mutterings about new bruises and lesions, and hoped it wasn't his imagination that Jack's eyes were a burning weight between his shoulder blades.

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

So yeah, rather lengthy, but the aliens thing wasn't turning out the way I wanted it to, and I'm still a bit dissatisfied with the last few paragraphs, but…

Hope you enjoyed, I'm planning on moving back to Episode-related chapters next, but, yes, with added drama over Ianto and his shiny cyber arm…

Ao3 users will read this a day later, as formatting is being a B* right now and hopefully will be fixed by tomorrow.

Thanks so much for your support!