Fandom: Torchwood, Doctor Who.
Pairing/Characters: Jack/Ianto, (vague) Ianto/Lisa, Tenth Doctor, the TARDIS, mentions of Rose and Mickey.
Summary: Ianto Jones was born from a moment of kindness and his life went on in quite the same way. CoE fix-it.
Author's Notes: This fic started as something very simple and ended up as something that you might need to reread a few times to fully understand. I’m not terribly sure where it came from, but I hope you enjoy it and, given that it’s quite a new concept for me, I’d like to know what you think!
Also posted on FF.net and AO3.
“...ten years of my life. Worth every second!”
And just like that, Ianto was awake.
There had been a momentary burst of energy through the TARDIS’s dormant systems and it had forced him into existence within her walls. He felt himself bloom, grow and change regardless of the fact that he had no body and he held onto that as his awareness unfolded. It had taken that much – just an instant of trust; an ounce of life for him to live, and the Doctor had given him – or his time machine, really – just that.
The TARDIS fed and nurtured him as she gradually woke up as well and by the time she’d fled the strange, alternative world where she didn’t belong, he’d been lovingly allowed to spread through her systems, to take a look at her beautiful mind and learn and memorise all of time and space with her guidance. He knew, now, that there were others like him; life forms of energy and data alone, and he was content with it. He could reach out to the Doctor sometimes, pull a lever or make a button push itself when the TARDIS would let him. He grew to love the Time Lord with his entire being and when the time came, he wanted nothing more than to help him.
Instead, he was taken away. The humans – Torchwood – had taken the TARDIS away and Ianto could feel her fear for him – just like any mother’s fear for her child – and knew what was coming. He could see the Cybermen and the Daleks and the Void and the Paradox Machine that would come after and yet he hadn’t the time to anticipate the TARDIS throwing him out of her vast chambers and corridors and into the world, just far enough in time for him to settle down and survive the battle so history could take its course after that.
Six months ago, Ianto woke up in a human body.
The sensory overload was incredible. He could feel the world instead of thinking it up and soon enough coordinated himself enough to rise to his feet, albeit clumsily, and examine his new form.
The body was his own – the TARDIS had made it up for him instead of taking up an already existing one – and it was so incredibly alive. He could feel the oxygen – along with several other gasses – fill his lungs and then leave through his lips and nose, supplying his systems with the necessary air. He could feel the heart pumping blood through his body; he could barely contemplate the fact that his mind was now packed into a human brain. His hair – hair! – was tickling his face and neck, his knee was itching and a cold surface (tiles, as it turned out), were making his feet cold and sent his form shivering.
How fascinating. Humans shivered when they were cold. Ianto found himself smiling (thriving at the physical display of his emotions); it was downright charming.
He seemed to be in a bathroom. He’d seen them in the TARDIS’s insides often enough and soon found his way to a mirror, only to catch his breath. Oh, but this was interesting.
The body was of a human male and about six feet tall. Its arms and legs were unnecessarily long, in his opinion, but they supported him well enough and he liked what he saw. Wide-set shoulders, pale skin, large blue eyes, dark hair – Ianto smiled once more. He’d often thought about having a body and this was pretty damn close to what he’d have been aiming for if given the chance, which said something.
“Jones,” he whispered against his reflection, tasting the deep, rich voice in his mouth, “Ianto Jones.”
That would suit him well enough. He’d woken up with his name already in his mind, and he found the surname to be rather charming. It sounded curt, catchy and no-nonsense enough for him. Ianto Jones could definitely be all that.
He could find all the information in his head. The TARDIS had implanted him into the minds of the entire Torchwood Institute and the neighbours of his flat (where he appeared to be right now) and, if he concentrated enough, he could pull out any information he wanted out of his mind. And it wasn’t like he’d be here forever anyway; the last fleeting thought he’d got from the TARDIS was that she was just putting him out of harm’s way until the dust settled down. He could handle this.
He could absolutely not handle this.
Ianto couldn’t understand his own body, let alone everyone else’s. It didn’t seem to need any sort of physical contact to survive and yet he enjoyed it. Kissing was his favourite as of now, although sex – however messy – was a close second. He understood soon enough that while it was everywhere, having lots of it was frowned upon (really, humans made very little sense) and when Lisa asked him out, he decided that it’d be a step in the right direction to say yes. And why wouldn’t he? She was clever and full of life and millions of good ideas that she wanted to share with him whenever she got the chance, and he loved being around her.
He truly enjoyed her company – had enjoyed it even before she’d asked him on a date – but he grew more and more fond of her as days passed. It was amazing how much feelings humans could fit in their tiny bodies, and Lisa more than most. Ianto revelled in it and was deeply confused when she came to him one day with a question.
“Would you mind it if I cut my hair?” she asked, straightforward as ever, and Ianto raised an eyebrow. He’d found it to be his favourite way to express an inquiry and Lisa prodded, “Well?”
“Of course not,” he replied. “I don’t love you for your body.”
It was truly a ridiculous concept, he thought, to love someone because of the way their outer shell looked. Love was supposed to be directed at the mind, wasn’t it? It was how it had been with the Doctor. He’d never seen the person who had given him the power to live and yet had loved him for his mind alone; for its inner workings that he could reach to whenever the Time Lord touched the surface of his ship.
“I didn’t mean to offend you,” he added hastily when he realised that Lisa had been silent for far too long. “I find you very aesthetically pleasing, I just meant–”
He was cut off abruptly when she stood up on her tiptoes and pressed their lips together.
Love, Ianto decided, was his favourite emotion of all.
“You’re a very strange man, you know.”
Ianto looked up from his lover's chest at the deep chuckle that supported the statement. “How so?” He asked with a smile of his own.
Jack trailed a thumb over his lower lip. “You’re– I don’t know. Sometimes, I think you’re just unusual. Other times, I think you don’t belong here at all.”
“Here with you or here as a whole?” Ianto inquired, sliding up Jack’s body for a kiss.
“Here as a whole,” the other man whispered against his lips. “You definitely belong here with me.”
Ianto gave a delighted little laugh at that. It was the truth – he knew that his Captain came from the TARDIS’s soul, even if he hadn’t quite explained it to himself yet. She had gifted him with immortality and yet seemed to despise him afterwards – from Jack’s own tales of the time he’d tried to run after the Doctor, she’d went to the end of the Universe just to avoid him. Ianto couldn’t say that he understood. To him, Jack was a bit like that first wave of energy that had woke him up – a being buzzing with life and the will to do good – and he adored every inch of him for it.
Nearly a year had passed since the horrors of Canary Wharf and Ianto had done his best to leave it all behind. He hadn’t managed to get to the Doctor – or the TARDIS – in time, and he hadn’t even been able to take a look at what they were like on the outside, because he’d been too busy trying to find and save Lisa. He hadn’t managed it – not really – and yet he knew that it had been meant to be like that. And now, in a flat different than the one his... mother had provided him with, he had someone completely different in his arms and while he knew that it couldn’t last forever, he was determined to enjoy it for now.
Jack had been through so much. Years and year, over a century and a plethora of experiences, and he had never given up. It was only furthering Ianto’s wonder as to how humans managed to keep themselves contained in their bodies without getting as restless as he was.
“What makes me strange, then?” he asked and Jack carded his fingers through his hair pensively. Ianto closed his eyes and leant into the caress, almost purring with satisfaction. He’d been in this body for a year and a half and had yet to get used to just how sensitive it was to another’s touch.
“You’re so– eager to know people,” the Captain said, pulling him out of his thoughts and if Ianto didn’t know him better, he’d say that he was struggling for words. “As if you discover a little more of everything each day.”
“I do,” Ianto said simply. “Every single body is different,” he added, trailing a hand down Jack’s arm absently. “All that life out there, among the stars, and humans are the most unique creatures I’ve ever encountered. You, for example? I’ve been discovering you for ages.”
That earned him another quiet laugh and Ianto gave himself over to the kiss when it came, opting not to think about all the fixed things in their future that could ruin that peace.
The future was in the future. All he had was now.
The House of the Dead was falling around him. Ianto knew that there was no other way – he’d seen that this moment was coming ever since joining Torchwood Three had occurred to him – but he didn’t mind. He could already tell that his body was failing anyway. Jack was talking about how he’d died (six months ago at that) and he had no recollection whatsoever of it. It could only mean one thing – it was time for him to go. He’d fall into the Rift, he’d close it after himself and he was happy. He’d appeared in this world in a moment of kindness and it was only suitable for him to leave it the same way.
So he said his goodbyes, made sure that Jack had left the place and then let it blow up on itself.
His time had come.
It was only seconds later that he realised that things weren’t going according to plan. His body was falling apart, wasn’t it? And if so, why hadn’t the Rift ripped him apart? He was supposed to dissolve once he reached the Time Vortex unprotected. The Universe was swirling in his mind and he knew that it had to happen. He wasn’t meant to survive this and the unpredictability of the Vortex only made it worse – there was nothing he could be sure of in here. Time and possibilities filled his mind, one by one, and Ianto could feel them taking over any rational thought he had left.
And, as Ianto burned in the heart of the Rift, everything human was stripped away from him.
Jack was not having a good day.
Actually, he wasn’t having a good year, but right now all he wanted was to never see anyone again. Least of all UNIT, to be quite honest, even thought he’d be more content if he was to never see anyone at all again.
It was time to admit it: there wasn’t very much left for him after Torchwood had officially fallen apart. There was the occasional job for UNIT, yes, but it wasn’t fulfilling enough for him to be a reason to stick around.
He didn’t have the heart to leave the planet yet, but he was planning it. What was the point? After the whole thing in the States, everything had only gone downhill. He was alone and this time there was no purpose he was trying to fulfil. He wasn’t waiting for the Doctor or leading his team into battle or doing anything, really, and he wasn’t sure why he hadn’t found a way to get out already. What was the point in spending years and years in a cabin near the sea in the Welsh countryside all by himself when there was so much more than that out there?
Just as he settled near the fireplace and closed his eyes with a sigh, determined to rest, and do it well. He needed time to think.
And of course, just then someone decided to knock.
There was another sigh – much louder and much more irritated this time – as Jack got up from his armchair and made for the front door. The cabin was a sole room with a miniature bathroom to the side and there was no one visiting him (with the rare exception of Gwen when she took Anwen to see ‘Uncle Jack’), let alone in the middle of the night. Still, if it was a distraction, it was worth the bother.
Jack unlocked the door and stared outside with a carefully polite expression, only to find himself wide-eyed and unable to breathe.
He could recognise the man in front of him anywhere; he had no doubt of it. There wasn’t any logical explanation for his presence, however, and Jack’s hand inched for his holster just as Ianto – or whatever it was – opened his mouth.
“No, please,” he whispered, voice broken and breathing ragged. “I mean you no harm. I just– can you help me? I don’t know where I am.”
Jack shook himself from his shock and moved away from the entrance without saying a word, watching Ianto as he whispered his gratitude. In the light of the small room and the fire, the Captain could see that his hair was plastered to his face from the rain pouring outside, there was blood running down his cheek and his eyes were wide and terrified with dark circles under them.
“Ianto?” He whispered, still on alert. He tried to stifle the tiny bit of hope that dared to raise its head and wasn’t too successful in it. Stranger things had happened, his mind supplied, but Jack was distracted from his musings as Ianto nodded frantically.
“That’s my name, yes. That’s all I remember. The Rift– the Rift threw me out and I ended up here. Please, I have no idea–”
He didn’t seem to know what he was begging for, but Jack shushed him and gently led him by his shoulders to sit him down in his armchair, the hope intensifying at the mention of the Rift rejecting him as a whole, so to speak. It could still be a hoax, of course. There was every chance that this was a trick and that it was going to end with him being killed or kidnapped, but right now, he didn’t much care.
“Don’t fall asleep,” he warned when Ianto’s eyes threatened to flutter shut. “Ianto, focus on me. What do you remember?”
“Nothing,” Ianto breathed in return and the helpless uncertainty in his eyes could break Jack’s heart. “I don’t remember this body. I don’t remember anything outside the TARDIS.”
“The what?” Jack hissed, more confused than anything else. What had he said? ‘I don’t remember this body’? He swallowed heavily. “Doctor,” he said, even as his mind shouted a powerless litany of ‘please no please no please no’ over the shock, “Doctor, is that you?”
“The Doctor!” Ianto exclaimed, gaze brightening up. “I can remember the Doctor! He was the one who gave me life.”
“What does that even mean?” Jack snapped, trying to hide his relief, and then quickly assessed the situation. Ianto was confused and clearly had no idea who he was. “Sorry,” he added. “Look, I can contact the Doctor, okay? You stay here and don’t move.”
He went in search for his phone (hardly used nowadays) and contacted the number he knew by heart.
The Doctor picked up on the third ring.
“Martha?” He asked and the familiar voice helped Jack calm down.
“No, it’s me,” he said. “Doctor, I need help. Do you remember Ianto Jones?”
There was a short pause. “Yes?”
“Well, he died. Years ago, and then I brought him back and he fell into the Rift and now he’s here. He doesn’t remember me, but he says that he knows who you are and that you gave him–”
“Jack, you’re babbling,” the Doctor cut him off firmly. “You need help? I’m on the way. Don’t hang up, I can trace the signal.”
“Thank you, Doc,” Jack said on an exhale, sitting bonelessly down on his bed. His brain was going on overload and he couldn’t be blamed if he wasn’t as coherent as usual. He was just about to mention that when he heard the TARDIS materialising just outside his door and he stood up, racing towards it, only to see the Doctor come through and head for them.
“Here he is,” Jack said, pointing him at Ianto, who seemed to be borderline unconscious.
“Ianto, was it?” The Doctor muttered to himself. “Let’s check you out.”
He pulled out his specks and the sonic screwdriver and the moment he set it in motion, Ianto’s eyes opened.
“Doctor?” His voice was tentative and the Time Lord nodded as he kept examining him with a deepening frown. “I always wondered, you know,” the young man whispered, “what you looked like. I could never see you. But you’re just as small as they are.”
“You know me, then?” The Doctor asked, voice wary and yet curious. “But you’ve never seen me. How does that work?”
“I’m from you,” Ianto said, the same barely noticeable smile still playing on his lips.
“What do you mean?” The Doctor ventured further, even more focused than before. “You’re from me?”
“Ten years of your life,” Ianto whispered. “Worth every second.”
The Doctor’s eyes widened almost comically. “That was you?” He asked, incredulousness lacing his tone. “That tiny burst of energy; that was you?”
Ianto found it in himself to nod. “She helped me,” he mumbled. “She let me grow inside her and develop on my own and then, when Canary Wharf fell – when she was taken away from you – she sent me away so I could be safe. She told me that the walls between the Universes were falling apart and that something would happen to her in the future and that I’d be better off as a human. Never– never quite worked, though.”
“Doctor?” Jack asked tersely. “Mind telling me what exactly is going on here?”
The look of wonder on the Doctor’s face didn’t change and yet, he managed to tear his eyes away for a moment so he could answer. “I got stuck in a parallel universe once,” he started, “along with Rose and Mickey. The TARDIS refused to do anything about it – she wasn’t in her natural environment – so I had to do something to... well, I guess you could call it a jump start. And, as I did, something else developed in the heart of the TARDIS. Another being, fully conscious and functioning, and she felt she was responsible for it– for him. When Canary Wharf happened, she already knew what was coming – the Master and the cracks between the universes – and she sent him away like an evacuated child during war. He lived like that for who knows how long and then he died, and getting locked up into the Rift killed everything he’d build up since he’d left his birthplace. It was also too much for the Vortex, which is why he’s here now. The Rift couldn’t handle him.”
“Are you trying to tell me that Ianto – my Ianto – is a child of your TARDIS?” Jack wasn’t sure how he was supposed to be feeling about it, but the astonishment was just a bit too much to be handled right now.
“That’s pretty much it, yes,” the Doctor conceded. “And I bet I could even bring the memories back, if I dig deep enough.”
“Do it,” Ianto rasped. “Please, I need to know who I am.”
"There's something you need to know," the Doctor started with apparent reluctance to delve deeper into the topic. "The Rift has drained his power. And by that I mean that it's drained him because in his essence, Ianto is only that: power. He can change his body at will whenever he wants, but he's not a shapeshifter because he doesn't have a default. Ianto Jones as you know him is practically just energy with an enormous brain."
"Like in 'The Host'?" Jack asked, unsure whether he was expected to be disturbed by that. The Doctor thought about it for a moment, then smiled and gave a nod.
"Yes, like in 'The Host'. Well, sort of. He hasn't stolen this body; it's especially designed for him."
"And what can we do to help him now?" Jack asked, swiftly bringing the conversation back to the matter at hand.
By now, Ianto had fallen asleep once and for all. Jack felt a wave of something infinitely gentle pass through him at the sight of his lover like that and he thought back to all the times he'd wondered what made Ianto so fundamentally different from everyone else. He'd always known, maybe, deep down, that he wasn't from here. His emotions were too raw and his body was too new and eager for him to be someone even as long as he was. Ianto had always been highly tactile and he marvelled at any sensation and now he knew why. He knew why everything had been so interesting and fascinating and really, it wasn't that surprising that Ianto was essentially energy and mind contained into a human body. It was very much him.
"We have to get him to the TARDIS," the Doctor said and Jack's smile vanished as he focused on the present once more. "We'll figure the rest out as we go."
"Sounds good to me," Jack shrugged and, with great care, managed to pick Ianto up. "Lead the way, Doc, and let's hope your TARDIS accepts me better than she did on one memorable occasion."
"She'll let you in all right," the Doctor waved him off. "She was just shocked back then; she loves you, really. And you're getting further in her good books when you bring her a part of her back."
That much seemed to be true. Jack felt the warm welcome as it pulsed through the TARDIS and into him, but it was abruptly exchanged for something darker and far more anxious when he laid the unconscious Ianto on the floor."
"Don't you worry, girl," the Doctor murmured, trailing a hand over the console in soothing motions. "He'll be fine. It'll be faster if you give us a hand, though."
Everything changed all of a sudden, so deep under the surface that Jack could feel it but not define it, and the environment of everything surrounding him shifted from apprehensive to curing. Almost as if the thought wasn’t entirely his own, the Captain put in, “I think I might have an idea. I’m not sure it’s going to work, but it’s worth a try, huh?”
“Everything is,” the Doctor agreed. “What is it?”
“Well, the way I understand it, the same energy that brought me back to life is what created him in the first place, right?” Jack waited for the Time Lord to nod before continuing. “Well, I’ve revived him before with a kiss. Back then I thought it was just my life source waking him up, but I think it might have acted as a recharging of sorts. And hey, if I’m lucky enough, it might even bring his memories back. So... why not try it?”
“That could work. Go on,” the Doctor encouraged without giving it much thought and, not hesitating for a second, Jack leant down and kissed Ianto full on the lips.
Ianto opened his eyes, the world around him gradually managing to snap back into focus. He blinked several times to clear it and smiled up at the two concerned faces in his immediate vision.
“Jack,” he whispered, more of a statement than anything else and then gave a small laugh when he saw the man’s eyes light up. He moved onto the other one and took the time to take a good look at him. “Doctor. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it’s very nice to finally see you.”
“My sentiments exactly,” the Time Lord retorted, his stern tone belied by the gentle light in his eyes. “Who would know? A piece of me growing on its own inside my TARDIS and then leaving it as someone else entirely. The fact that you’re here is a miracle, you know.”
“What about his life?” Jack asked and Ianto’s attention shifted right back to him. “How long does he get to live?”
“How long does a TARDIS live?” The Doctor’s question was clearly rhetorical, but Ianto knew the answer well enough. “Thousands and thousands of years. What happened to him was the result of a fixed point. It was set in stone, but here he is now, so...” The Time Lord’s eyes focused on Ianto and he fondly ruffled his hair. “I’d say you’re here to stay.”
The look Jack gave him at that was one that Ianto was sure he’d never forget, no matter how long he got to live, and the moment was only ruined when the Doctor jumped to his feet, clapping his hands and staring at them expectantly.
“Now! Would you like me to bring you back out there, or would you prefer to come with me?”
“I think,” Ianto started slowly without taking his eyes off Jack’s, “that it’s time to go home.”
“And what, if I may ask, qualifies as home in this situation?” Jack asked dryly, but Ianto knew him too well. He could see through the sardonic smile and straight into the hesitating, questioning soul, and beamed at Jack in return.
“The Universe,” Ianto said with a shrug. “Anywhere, anytime. As long as I’m with you.”
In the end, it was simple as that.