Characters: Ianto, Jack
Challenge/Prompt: fanfic100, 010. Years
Word Count: 1500
Genre: Gen [1 slashy kiss]
Summary: Ianto Jones is carrying around two years of Jack Harkness’ memories in his back pocket.
Author’s Notes: This is a really really random AU idea I had a while ago and then wanted to play with. I knew perfectly well all the stuff you learn about Jack in CJH when I wrote this; I just ignored it. But who cares? This is a case study in bastard!Ianto and was way too much fun, even if it has crashed my laptop innumerable times. *sighs* Written as personal crack, though it isn’t, like, cheerful or anything ;)
Ianto Jones is carrying around two years of Jack Harkness’ memories in his back pocket.
Or nearly, anyway.
They used to be in his back pocket, before he realised that they could get lost that way, and even though no one would think anything of the metal silver rectangle, about the size and shape of a playing card, it would be inconvenient.
Even that’s a lie.
He took it out of his pocket the evening that Lisa died. Jack didn’t deserve the possibility of getting those two years back. It now lives in an envelope under his bed, in the flat he hardly ever goes back to. Sooner or later, Jack is going to trip a wire that will send Ianto tossing the Memory Storage Device (MSD for short) into the bay, and it will serve the captain right.
Ianto worked for the Time Agency for years (he’s older than he looks; but that’s the nice thing about being a Time Agent. Sign a contract with them, and you’ll never grow old. At least, not on the outside. But that’s a story for another time), but finally packed it all in when he met Lisa while working undercover in Torchwood One. He left on good terms with the Agency; well, he’s on good terms with them until they discover what he did in their vault.
He’s good at archiving. So it really didn’t take all that long to work out exactly where the most guarded and important artefacts the Time Agency didn’t want anyone laying their hands on were stored, and why they were stored there. Ianto calmly helped himself to a handful of the smaller items, along with descriptive files detailing what they did, before he walked out. Leverage is a useful thing, and besides, it’s not as though the Time Agency would actively miss any of it.
After Torchwood One imploded and Lisa was- Lisa was- Lisa was different, Ianto had nowhere to go. But some searching through his box full of things from the Time Agency, and he found the playing card-sized MSD, along with the file on Captain Jack Harkness.
One of the best Time Agents the Agency had ever seen. Ianto, who had got to the rank of Lieutenant in his time, couldn’t help whistling through his teeth, admiring in spite of himself, at some of Jack’s more impressive stunts. The man really knew time and how to manipulate it expertly.
So it was almost a pity that the only reason Harkness was infamous amongst the Agency was because of what he’d done after walking out. The conman act was cute, the tortured man in the Air Force coat in any bar that would have him thing was frankly adorable, but that wasn’t why he was whispered about. No. The fact that the man seemed to be able to reshape time around himself and come back to life any time he died was the reason that every single Time Agent knew his name.
So Ianto was fairly impressed with the fact he’d managed to land the man’s memories. He did a google search for Captain Jack Harkness, found out the exact location of Torchwood Three, and calmly went and applied for a job there. And got it. He carried Jack’s memories around with him constantly, wondering whether he’d offer to give them back or not.
An MSD works simply. Memories are removed from someone’s brain and neatly filed onto a complex computer chip inside the thin and nondescript metal container. While this essentially wipes them out of the person’s mind, they can access them using the MSD, and put them back if absolutely necessary. A painful but basic operation can reinsert the memories into the brain. An MSD is indestructible, small, and practical. Half the Time Agents carry their lives around in their pockets, preferring only to keep the most practical of memories inside their heads. Ianto never liked that idea, so he never tried it.
But an MSD can be used as a weapon, in the wrong hands. The Time Agency only employ this in the most desperate of situations, but it’s simple to wipe the problematic memories of their agents and file them away somewhere where they can never be regained. It is the worst nightmare of all Agents to be stopped by the sinister-looking, blue-skinned Investigative Agents, who exact punishment for the strangest and most random of crimes. There are hundreds of stories entailing Agents who wake up to find years and years of their lives gone, with no way of regaining them, and no idea what happened during that time.
But after Lisa, Ianto no longer feels pity for Jack’s state. So the man has no idea what he did for two years. Who really gives a fuck. Worse things have happened.
One day I’ll have the chance to save you, and I’ll watch you suffer and die.
Ianto hadn’t added the fact that five minutes later he’d watch Jack sit up, rubbing his head, hungover from death. It’s impossible to keep Captain Harkness down for long, so instead, that evening, he turned the MSD over and over in his hands.
The greatest punishment is never getting back what he wants so badly.
Ianto still holds off though; he isn’t exactly sure why, but the idea of getting rid of two years and the possibility of ever getting them back in one fell swoop seems a little – a lot – cruel. And if he does it, then he’s just as much of a monster as Jack. Just as much of a monster as the Time Agents who started this whole mess.
A few weeks later, and Jack finally kisses him for the first time. Ianto hasn’t been trying to encourage him in any way – he won’t even look him in the eye, not any more – but at the end of a stupidly long day, Jack grabs his arm, backs him against Owen’s workstation, sending paperwork crashing to the ground, and their mouths connect. Either Ianto is better at acting like everything’s ok than he thought, or Jack really is dismissive of everything that doesn’t fit into his view of the world. Apparently, Jack has decided to act on his months of sexually harassing comments, but Ianto’s days of obediently submitting to Jack’s whims are long gone.
“I can’t do this, sir,” Ianto murmurs, and then decides his days of being dutifully broken and passive should probably end here. “I won’t do this, sir.”
The last person to kiss him was Lisa, and whatever she became he loved her once and Jack killed her. And the feeling that rushes through Ianto isn’t misery, or loss; it’s anger.
When he leaves the Hub, Ianto doesn’t go to his car. Instead, he walks towards the Bay, hand in the pocket of his coat. The MSD is cool against his fingers, and maybe he shouldn’t let one misjudged kiss be his tipping point. Maybe he should just give Jack back his memories and try to rebuild some of his shattered bridges. Maybe it’s not too late to fix all this.
But none of that matters any more.
Ianto skimmed stones as a kid, and the MSD hops over the water in four arcs before it sinks without trace with a nondescript plopping sound. Immediately, Ianto feels his breath rush out of his chest; it’s not relief, but the weight of the decision has vanished. And now, maybe, he can start to move on.
When he turns, Jack is standing about eight feet away, just watching him. Oh shit.
“Was that an MSD?” Jack asks, and there’s a guarded edge to his voice. Ianto is pleased, even though he knows he’s in trouble now. It’s always nice to remind Jack that he’s not holding all the aces, and no matter how hard he tries, he’s not omnipotent.
“It was,” he agrees softly.
Jack has one hell of a poker face; Ianto has no way of telling exactly what’s going through his mind right now. Jack couldn’t have known that Ianto used to be a Time Agent; no one does.
“Whose MSD was it?” Jack asks, and, to his credit, his voice doesn’t crack, doesn’t waver. Ianto hopes he’s apprehensive, but there’s no evidence either way. Jack is always an enigma, no matter how hard you try to win with him.
Ianto sticks his hands back in his coat pockets, turning away.
“Yours,” he replies flatly.
He fully expects a bullet in the back of his head or at the very least some kind of physical attack. But Jack doesn’t follow him.
“Are you happy now?” he shouts after Ianto, and even now, his voice doesn’t break. Brave, brave Jack, holding it all together when lesser men would be falling apart right now. There are a lot of things about Jack that Ianto admires, in spite of himself, in spite of his better judgement.
“Yes,” Ianto replies, and walks away into the night without looking back.