Chapter Eleven: Missing
Summary: In the wake of his untimely death, Ianto Jones accepts a deal that will change his life forever.
Rating: Strong T, for now.
Warnings: Spoilers for The Series That Never Was (AKA, Children of Earth); brief description of torture; random bad language
X-over: Torchwood/Doctor Who/Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter books.
A/N: Sorry for the length of time between updates. RL has been wreaking havoc and then, to top it off, I went and got sick. Nothing serious, just enough to keep me from achieving anything much for a while. :/ Go figure. I wanted this chapter to be longer, but I figured that a shorter offering sooner rather might be preferable to a lengthier offering who knows how much later. The stupid thing is, the story is just about finished - I just has a ridiculous habit of hand-writing my stories, and then I have to motivate myself to sit and type them up. And I'm afraid I am easily distracted....
Anyway, here is the next chapter, and I will do my best to make sure the next one is not far off. Because I know, I'm a bitch for leaving the last chapter where I did, and leaving poor Jack in limbo.
Go Here For Chapter Ten
Ianto arose after dark, feeling refreshed and almost fully healed from the bullet wounds he'd received not twenty-four hours ago. Now, he wanted nothing more than to find Jack and see that he was okay.
He knew that Dev had ripped Jack a new one for getting involved in the fight, and that Ash was avoiding Jack like the plague to keep from saying or doing something cataclysmic out of anger. Aimee told him about it earlier when he woke up, worried that Jack would take the dressing-down badly.
Ianto had not doubt that Jack would be upset, but not for the reasons that everyone expected. It wasn't the first time that Jack had gotten someone hellaciously mad at him, and it wouldn't be the last. If his lover could survive the wrath of an angry Time Lord, then nothing Dev Peltier had to say was going to affect him permanently.
No, what would have Jack distraught would be the memory of that night in Thames House, brought back with a vengeance by last night's events. Ianto knew Jack well enough to know that it was not having people mad at him that would be bothering him, but the perception that he had almost lost his lover all over again.
Ianto emerged into the bar, frowning. He had fully expected to find Jack hovering at his door, if not by his bedside, waiting for him to awaken and emerge. When he found that was not the case, he figured Jack would probably be waiting in the kitchen or the bar. The kitchen had been empty, aside from a few of the younger Peltiers, and it looked like Jack was definitely not in the bar. He joined Aimee at the bar, accepting the beer she passed him without protest. It was one of the minor injustices of his new state of being, that alcohol no longer had any effect on him. He thought it immensely unfair that he could no longer enjoy the simple pleasure of getting pissed.
"Any sign of Jack?" he asked after sculling the entire bottle.
"No, and Ash is not happy," Aimee told him ruefully. "He was supposed to take Simi shopping tonight, and apparently he never showed. Simi was upset, and you know how Ash is where Simi is concerned."
Ianto's first instinct was to cringe at the thought of how many ways Ash was going to kill Jack for letting down the Charonte demon, but that was quickly pushed aside to make way for concern.
"Jack wouldn't have stood up Simi, no matter how angry Ash is over last night. He adores Simi. There's no way he wouldn't have turned up, unless something happened to stop him."
"You think Stryker might have taken another crack at him?" Aimee wondered. "Ianto, it's only just turned dark. You know daimons aren't able to go out in the sunlight anymore than you can."
"What if he got a human to help him?" Ianto pressed. "He already tried it once, with Gwen as a lure. What if he did it again? Aimee, I know something is wrong. Jack simply wouldn't have stood up Simi. I'm absolutely positive about that."
"Okay, I believe you," Aimee conceded, "but Ash might not be so easy to convince. He really is hyper-sensitive where Simi is concerned and just between us...? I've heard whispers that Jack couldn't handle the blame he got after last night, and he's bailed."
Ianto bristled visibly, and his lips curled back instinctively to reveal his fangs in a silent snarl.
"No. No way. Jack might be a lot of things, but he's not spineless. He knew he fucked up last night, and he was prepared to take whatever Ash or anyone else dished out to him. He wouldn't have bailed over that, I guarantee it."
Aimee's eyebrows lifted as "Sweet Home Alabama" suddenly filled the otherwise quiet bar.
"Well, hon, you're gonna have your chance to try and convince him. He's just arrived."
Ianto turned in his seat and, sure enough, Ash strolled in with Tori on one side and Simi on the other. Simi, Ianto noted, did not look happy and he had to fight an urge to flee when she made a beeline straight for him.
"Where is Jacky hiding, Yan? The Simi isn't happy, and when the Simi isn't happy she gets the urge to start eating peoples."
"Yes, Ianto," Ash said darkly as he came to stand behind his demon. "Where is your soon-to-be ex-squire? Inquiring minds want to know."
Ianto somehow managed to quash the panic he felt at the threat in Ash's words and tone, and spoke urgently.
"Ash, something is wrong..."
"Damned right something is wrong. Jack stood up Simi for a shopping date. Nobody stands up Simi, Ianto. Nobody."
"But I think he might be in trouble..."
"Oh, he is in trouble. He made Simi unhappy, and no one gets away with that."
Ash was getting angrier by the second, and Ianto knew he had a severely limited window to make the other man understand the wider situation. At the end of his temper, and starkly afraid for Jack's safety, Ianto snapped.
"Damn it, Ash, will you shut up and listen to me?"
All around them, silence fell like a blanket as the bar came pretty much to a stand-still. Beside Ash, Tori smile – in amusement at Ash and in encouragement to Ianto.
"I think you ought to listen to what he has to say, Ash," she told him in a gently reproving tone. "The same goes for you, Simi. Listen before you eat."
Ash frowned, but his temper had been soothed enough by wife to allow Ianto to speak.
"All right," the Atlantean said in a forcibly calm voice. "I'm listening."
"Jack hasn't bailed," Ianto said firmly. "I know that's what everyone thinks, but I know him better than that. He doesn't run and hide when he fucks up. He faces his mistakes. He knew he fucked up last night and he was willing to face whatever you were prepared to dish out to him. As for Simi, he adores her. There is no way in hell that he would have stood up her unless something bad happened to stop him. You have to believe me, Ash. Jack is in trouble, I'm sure of it."
"Akri?" Simi asked with a thoughtful frown. "If Jacky didn't stand up the Simi, and he's been stoled away by nasty daimons, does that mean the Simi can feast on daimons? 'Cause the Simi would get much better eats out of daimons, and she wouldn't have to feel guilty for eating one of her quality peoples."
"Maybe, Simi," Ash murmured as anger began to fade away, making way for concern. Not for the first time, and mostly likely not for the last, Ash cursed the vortex that kept him from seeing Jack's life. "If Stryker has him, they'll be in Kalosis, because Stryker knows it's the one place I can't go."
"And I don't think using Styxx will work a second time," Tori murmured. Ash concurred.
"We need to know for sure. There's no point trying to do anything until we do."
"How are you going to find out?" Ianto asked anxiously. Ash smiled grimly.
"I need to ask someone who wants me dead."
Ash knew that it probably should have bothered him more than it actually did that Nick was never difficult for him to find. Given that the Dark Hunter-come-whatever that he was becoming was one of those who existed in Ash's blind spot, it really shouldn't have been so damned easy to track him down.
Ash knew instinctively that it was a case of Nick keeping tabs on him, rather than the other way around. Maybe, just maybe, he was less bothered by it than he ought to be purely because he had other more important things to worry about than the ongoing pissing match between him and Nick.
"What the fuck do you want now?" Nick asked bluntly as Ash seated himself next to Nick at the bar of an incongruous little dive.
"Information," Ash said. "One of the squires has gone missing. Do you know if Stryker has a human prisoner in Kalosis?"
Nick snorted into his tequila.
"Now why would Stryker give a rat's ass about the squires? They're snack food to him, nothing more."
"Not this particular squire," Ash murmured. "This one is something special."
Nick looked sideways at Ash with eyes that reflected his inhumanity.
"Like you thought I was?"
Ash swallowed the urge to sigh. Just once, it would have been nice to have a conversation, however brief, with Nick that wasn't laden with recrimination and guilt. He said nothing, though, knowing with a heavy heart that he deserved every bit of the recrimination that Nick cared to lay on him. Judging by the infuriating smirk that touched Nick's lips, he knew exactly where Ash's thoughts had settled, and was more than happy about it.
"Does Stryker have a human prisoner or not?" he demanded. Nick shrugged.
"Have no idea. I haven't been to Kalosis since we got Tori out for you. You know the daimons will tear me apart if I show my face there again. Why don't you go, if this little peon of yours is so fucking important?"
"You know I can't. You know why I can't."
"That's right. Mommy dearest will rise up and destroy the Earth. You know something? Right now, that's not such an unappealing thought. So why don't you fuck off, before I get ideas about taking you there myself?"
Ash stood, his expression cold and angry.
"You don't have that kind of power, Nick."
He walked away, and was out the door before Nick whispered to himself, "Don't bet on it, Apostolos."
Outside the bar, Ash focused his thoughts inwards and reached out for the only other person whomight be able to answer his question.
Apollymi responded immediately, and Ash wondered briefly why he'd wasted time in a verbal sparring match with Nick when he could have gone straight to a more reliable source.
Apostolos, my son. I don't suppose you've come to your senses and changed your mind about freeing me?
Ash did sigh, then. That was why; a guilty trip of a whole new variety was on offer whenever he made contact with his mother.
You know why I won't do that, Matera. Please, I have a question to ask, and I don't have a lot of time. Can you tell me if Stryker has any human prisoners in Kalosis?
The answer was unexpectedly abrupt, and it took Ash a moment to regroup.
No, he doesn't, or no, you don't know?
I don't exactly associate with Stryker now, Apostolos. But... I can tell you that he returned to Kalosis some nights ago absolutely furious, and has not left since. I'll do you the courtesy of not asking you about it, since I know you won't tell me.
Ash sighed again, though this time it was out of relief.
Thank you, Matera.
Be safe, my son.
"Stryker doesn't have Jack," Ash announced upon returning to Sanctuary. "Apparently he's still sulking over his failed attempt to take him a week ago. Ianto, I'm sorry, but you are going to have to face the possibility that he might just have decided to walk."
Ianto had to consciously suppress an urge to snap at Ash. He knew how it looked, and he knew that anyone who didn't know Jack as well as he did would make that assumption. He understood, but that didn't lessen the sting of the insult.
"He hasn't quit," Ianto insisted. "He's in trouble, and he needs our help."
"You truly believe that, don't you?" Aimee asked, and Ianto nodded.
"Yes, I do. What do I have to do or say to make you all believe it, too?"
Ash reached out and, in a rare gesture, clapped the young Dark Hunter on the shoulder.
"We don't need to believe it. As long as you believe it, we'll support you." Ash looked around, and his gaze quickly found Dev. "Get word out to your contacts, Dev. If anyone's heard a whisper about Jack, I want to know what it is. Simi, head over to Club Charonte and talk to your brothers about Jack. See if anyone them know anything, or have heard anything."
Simi left in a flash, as did Dev.
"Now," Ash said, turning his attention back to Ianto. "Tell me about UNIT, and just how eager you think they'd be to get their hands on Jack."
Some hours later, just after eight in the morning, London time, Ash found himself on the doorstep of an English townhouse, wondering whether he'd lost his marbles at some point over the last day or so. It was the only logical explanation for why he was going so far for a squire – even one as extraordinary as Jack. Anyone else, and he would have washed his hands on them by now. He knew the Sanctuary Weres were wondering what was going on, and he really wanted to resolve this before the inevitable questions started.
One thing was for sure – he was going to put his booted foot so far up Jack's ass when they found him that he wouldn't want to sit down for a whole fucking year.
Ash immediately regretted the thought, recalling the horrific wash of memories from Jack, and the knowledge that the man had already suffered that indignity, having been chained in the bowels of the Valiant for twelve months. Maybe he'd threaten something else, instead...
The door opened to reveal a silver-haired man with steely eyes.
"Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart?" Ash queried, although he already knew. The man's eyes narrowed almost imperceptibly.
"I am he. How can I help you, young man?"
Ash never failed to be amused by that particular term of reference, but the passing millennia had given him some skill in keeping that amusement to himself.
"My name is Acheron Parthenopaeus, Brigadier. I'm here on behalf of a mutual acquaintance. I believe you know Captain Jack Harkness?"
Alistair snorted, unable to stop what had become an instinctive reaction at the mere mention of Jack's name. Ash couldn't resist smirking.
"Obviously you do know him."
"You'd best come in," Alistair said, ushering Ash into the house and through to the living room. "Please, sit. I'm sorry, I can't offer refreshments. It's my housekeeper's morning off, and I'm afraid my hands just aren't up to lifting a pot of tea anymore. Blasted arthritis."
"It's okay," Ash assured him. Alistair seated himself and then turned a sharp look onto his visitor.
"Yes, I know Jack Harkness. Can't say I especially like him. The man is far too flamboyant for my liking. However, that doesn't translate to a lack of respect, and that is something I have in spades for Jack. I don't know who you are, or what you want with him, but know this. If you mean him harm, there is not a place in this universe that will be safe for you to hide."
Ash's eyebrows shot up. That was an unexpected reaction. He'd seen the loyalty that Ianto held for Jack, but this man displayed the same unswerving loyalty even despite claiming to not even like him.
"I don't mean him harm, I promise you," Ash assured him. "Jack joined my employ a couple of months ago. I'm concerned because he's gone missing, and I'm aware that certain agencies would like to get their hands on him."
Alistair's brow knotted in a frown.
"UNIT would certainly love to get hold of him, but as far as I'm aware, they've got no idea where he went to after leaving London. You know that the British Government tried to have him charged with treason in absentia?"
"No," Ash said with barely contained annoyance. He was starting to get rather frustrated with all the surprises being sprung on him courtesy of Jack. One thing he was less than fond of was surprises. "I didn't know that. You think a Government agency might be responsible?"
"Oh, I doubt it. They'd have even less idea of Jack's whereabouts than Jack. Our Government is in something of a crisis at the moment, Mr Parthenopaeus. They are far too busy trying to keep their positions after the recent incursion to be dedicating serious time to searching for the likes of Jack. No, the problem is that Jack Harkness is a wanted man by more than just humans."
Ash fought back a grimace. If only he knew the full reality of that statement.
"You think he might have been taken by aliens?" Ash asked aloud, and wondered at how he kept a straight face as he said it. Not that he doubted the existence of aliens, but it still sounded ludicrous coming from his own lips.
"I'm suggesting that it's a possibility," Alistair said. "I'm sorry, what exactly is it that you do?"
"A bit of everything," Ash answered vaguely. Alistair lifted an eyebrow amusedly.
"That's the sort of answer that Harkness would give. Fine, be obtuse if you will. The reality is that if Harkness is no longer on this planet, or in this time, then there is only one man capable of finding him."
Ash's eyes swirled silver as he again reflected on the multitude of Jack's memories that he had been made privy to.
"Yes," Alistair confirmed. "The Doctor."
to be continued...
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