Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep! Clunk.
Jack’s hand slid off the broken alarm just as the clap light near his bed flared to blinding life. The damn thing could burn the color from his shrinking irises like a bucket of bleach to the face. Sticking a hand up to shield himself, he tried squinting through his fingers, attempting to see the numbers on the reddish Hotel Lea Monde hand clock hanging near the half closed door. A lost cause to begin with. Jack had to laugh then, because he could still recall the moment when the alien bought it, probably as a lark. He never quite knew just how much the Time Lord really saw. But, due to Rose’s gift of immortality, he had come closer to knowing than anyone left in this universe, and for that he was grateful. As his eyes adjusted to the light, he sat up in the double bed, being careful in his movements so as not to disturb The Doctor, who had been sleeping for a week in the exact same position. But that side of the bed... it bounced. It couldn’t bounce if there was weight on it, which meant that the Doctor was no longer in their bed. Jack felt his heart slow as he reached up to brush grit from his eyes and threw back the sheet. Someone had replaced the sheet over him in the night. Shrugging off the last shreds of sleep he fixed his attention on the empty space to his left. Had the Time Lord woken up? Jack hoped so. Otherwise...he slid a hand under his pillow and wrapped careful, itchy fingers around his sidearm, feeling very much of a mood to shoot something. Edging toward the door, he nudged it open with the gun barrel, then slipped through the widened gap into the den. There was a bulge in the black leather chair that had nothing to do with exposed springs or lost upholstery staples or shoddy workmanship. The chair was new. So what was it? Jack tiptoed over to the big thing, sticking his sidearm around in the pile of fabric, a shoeless wonder in jimjams and bare feet.
Suddenly the bundle of soft fabric moved, revealing a pale flash of smooth, downy flesh. Jerking the gun away from Adric’s tiny thigh, Jack shoved it back in his waistband, then covered the twins back up. It was someone’s cloak they were snuggled in, a huge, cheesy gothic costume piece of black velvet. But who’d left it there, and were they still in the flat? And where was Theta? Had he been carted off somewhere, or did he just wake up and decide to make breakfast as if the past week hadn’t happened? Gingerly he patted the small bulge of cloth in the chair, then quietly back-stepped to the door, casting his eyes around the room for surplus shadows. As he neared the kitchen, the one lit room in the flat besides the bedroom, the rakish tones of Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill’ began drumming softly from the player. Someone was definitely in their flat, and that someone possessed the presence of mind to keep the volume low enough that it wouldn’t burst two dozing infants’ sensitive ears. For their sakes, Jack hoped it was Theta. Sucking in a silent breath, he slunk toward the light, hiding his presence in familiar shadows as he crept. From his vantage point behind the kitchen door, he could see the black leather chair easily. The twins were obviously enjoying the intruder’s taste in music, because they hadn’t slept longer than one hour a day since they were born, and the player must have been on before Jack had woken up. Besides, if they’d been given any kind of sedative, they wouldn’t have been sleeping at all. They would have been cold. Cold, rigid and... very dead. So he eased out from the safety of the door and strode into the kitchen with a single word on his tongue, laying on the swagger as he purveyed the room for sudden movements. But other than the pale overhead light, there lingered no sign of the trespasser. Absently he wondered why his house guest had stopped at liberating his outfit for the day, instead of one of his many firearms. An olive tank, black trousers, black running shoes, a long black duster from his loner days that would serve till he got his favorite coat back. Even the pair of dark sunglasses he’d broken out from storage. Why those? Jack flipped the light off and checked the player, which had been set to repeat. No need to ruin a good thing... so he left it on. It would kick off by itself soon enough anyway, and the music might cover any shooting if he had to play cops and robbers with Mister Intruder. Planting a kiss on the barrel, he raised his gun slightly and walked toward the back door, reaching for the handle. There was something dark and sticky on the curve of the brushed chrome. With a sigh he brought a finger to his lips. Blackberry preserves... still slightly chill from being in the refrigerator.
He slipped his fingers around the doorknob and jerked the door open, just in time to see the TARDIS dematerialize across the lot. Damn. Damn. Damn. Fury wasn’t a suitable word for what he was feeling. Backtracking to the bedroom they’d shared Jack scrambled across to the closet, wrenched the pull chain free of the naked bulb in one slow, calculated jerk as brightness blared out from the narrow space. Then he dragged a shoebox down from the top shelf. He had filched Martha’s Indigo that day on the Dalek flagship. That one act was why they hadn’t spoken for so long in the months before the attack on UNIT. She would kill him when he came back to work, but there was no longer time to worry about anything or anyone. There was only one thought drumming through his mind. Save Theta Sigma. What was the alien doing going off and leaving like that so soon after waking up? Had he finally lost it? With a last look at the twins, who were still sleeping, he punched in Ianto’s number, left a message for the Welshman to come take care of them. The Hub was in walking distance...
In anticipation of ramming his fist into the Time Lord’s delicate cheekbone, Jack’s fingers curled around the teleportation device commissioned by Project Indigo, caressing it. Then he settled the lanyard around his neck and pressed the button.
And pressed it again. And again. Again. Still nothing. Then, as he rubbed the device between finger and thumb, he noticed a sticky, peeling something under his hand. He turned it over, and almost dropped it to the floor when he saw what was there. A huge, yellow smiley face sticker was pasted there, sturdily attached to the silverish round with what looked to be several different kinds of industrial paste. And there was a message in fine black pen, written in the Time Lord’s eloquent, spidery hand.
I don’t think so, Jack. Did you honestly believe I didn’t know about this? Really, sweetheart, you’re getting lazy in your old age. Oh, and... go answer the door. Your friend the Welshman should be arriving just... about...
A tapping at the door made him jump. That must have been Ianto. How Theta had managed that, well... he -was- a Time Lord. A Time Lord with a cell phone. The bastard. Jack swore to himself that when he saw the Doctor’s face next, he would make certain to kiss him hard enough to engage a lot more than that respiratory bypass system...after he threw him over his knee. One must always respect one’s elders. And that was only the first lesson. Oh yes. Jack Harkness was about to steal a page from the Cheshire Cat and go Doctor hunting, Alice style. Now he just had to confirm the quickest route to the underground rift on the map that Ianto had brought him from the city sanitation department.
“Well, Ianto,” he called, grinning like his newfound patron saint as he met the Welshman at the door with a smile and a kiss, “... time for a trip down the Rabbit Hole. You didn’t mark the location of the Hub on here, did you, in case someone gets their hands on this? No? Good. I’m off to charge this thing, then. Don’t wait up.”
“Ah, Jack? Doesn’t it worry you?” Ianto mumbled, feeling his ability to concentrate dwindle in direct proportion to the nearness of Jack’s lips, “... I mean, he did call me first... that means he knew you would call me second, right?”
Jack Harkness just laughed and kissed him again. It was a good feeling.
“Nah. I’m more worried about what I’m going to do to him when I get there. Wish me luck!”
Another kiss, and Jack was out the door.
Ianto smiled as the Captain’s retreating figure sprinted to a manhole and slid out of sight down its length. Then he closed the door, and turned to the twins, who were rousing in the chair, as the music had gone off.
“Well, now! Looks like uncle Ianto was just in time! Who wants a story?”
Two sets of frighteningly bright brown eyes blinked sleep away, then faced him as one, blank and sweet and probably fishing for any crack they could find in his Uncle persona.
“Oh, I guess not. Bath then? No? Well, do you want to take over the world? You know your erm... the Doctor wouldn’t approve of that.”
That stopped them for a second. However was he going to survive an hour with these two, let alone a whole day?
“Yes, we know,” a soft voice muttered clearly.
Oh, grand... now he was hearing things.
“Simple. Just put the cd back on repeat. Mummy set it up for us. He is a Time Lord, you know.”
The first had been Jamie, but this one was Adric. He had a way about him, a sort of look that... oh, dear.
“Did you just... I mean... but you’re only... ”
Ianto could feel the room narrowing around him. Time to hunt up Jack’s stash of spirits... He started off toward the kitchen.
“Infants, yes. We’ve been aware of that fact for a while, now. You know, you might want to check the upper cabinet,” Adric called out to him before snuggling back down into the cloak with his brother, “... and consider yourself lucky. We don’t talk for Daddy yet. It’s much more fun to do what Mummy says and play ‘look at us we’re stupid.’ You won’t tell, will you?”
Had that been worry in his tone?
Ianto bit back a snicker.
“Don’t you worry your little heads. Uncle Ianto won’t say a word. I do hope I get to meet your mother before he leaves, though. He sounds quite nice!”