Word count: ~ 2,300
Warnings: Canon (assumed) character death.
Summary: “Stop,” the Rani cuts him off. “Ianto is my child, Doctor. You can check the Matrix if you're doubtful.”
Disclaimer: All recognizable characters are the property of their respective owners. I am in no way associated with the creators, and no copyright infringement is intended.
A/N: Apparently this is now a chaptered story. Who knew? -.-“ (It will be short-ish, though—there are probably only two or three more chapters.)
(Please note that I've taken some liberties regarding the knowledge [or lack thereof] that fandom has regarding TARDISes. I know that the Doctor’s is a Type 40 TT Capsule, but the Mark number is mentioned as both III and I in canon. I went with the more recent reference. However, we do know that 40s are “obsolete” and 103s are “nearly human,” so I went with something in between, Type 99, for Ianto, which is never mentioned in the show, but probably exists. /end geek-out babbling)
You are not wrong who deem (that my days have been a dream)
Ianto knows his mother is not a good person.
She’s not even good, in any connotation of the word. But she had loved him, loved him so much that it hurts now to think of it, because he is here and she is gone, and now he has to adjust to life without that fierce, boundless love.
His mother is never evil, though, either—amoral, really, uncaring, because she always holds her experiments and her work higher than morality or laws. Ianto doesn't hold her at fault, because she’s a genius, even by Time Lord standards. Her genius doesn't mesh with the rest of the world, and she can't understand the problem with pursuing her biochemistry to the exclusion of ethics.
He supposes that, by the Doctor’s definition, she is evil.
But the world is not so simple, not so straightforward, especially in the eyes of her son.
Everyone knows that the Rani is a genius, is brilliant at her work. Everyone on Gallifrey has heard the story of her lab mice growing huge and eating the President’s cat, and her subsequent banishment.
Only the Doctor and the Matrix know she has a son.
Ianto has never asked her who his father is, or was. He doesn't know if the Time Lord is dead, or aware of Ianto’s existence, though for the second question all deductions point to “no.” His mother has never mentioned anything about this strange, unknown man, and Ianto has never particularly wanted to know.
He has his mother, and she has him, and the Doctor hovers on the fringes of their tight-knit unit like the insane uncle no one talks about, and it’s a good family. Ianto wouldn't change it for anything, and he most certainly would never change his mother.
That's not to say he always agrees with what she does, or participates in it, especially when he gets older. Ianto makes his feelings clear on that point—the Doctor has had a touch too much influence on his life to put him at ease treating whole worlds as the Rani so casually does. Still, she is his mother, and he’ll never love her any less. She understands, too, that he’s not the same as her. They are both smart, both brilliant, but Ianto’s genius lies in his memory, his ability to connect events and draw conclusions, recall the most complex information as simply as breathing.
“The Archivist” is his name when he graduates from the Academy, because he has Gallifrey’s entire library in his head. The Rani smiles as he walks towards her in his robes, newly made a Time Lord, and she looks so proud that those around her stiffen and turn, looking for some type of experiment.
But there's none. Just Ianto.
It hurts, coming back to himself—to his true self. Like a barefoot waltz over broken glass, time slices across his nerve endings, stabs deep into his epidermis and stays.
As a human Ianto had always had a good grasp of time, but it was never anything like this.
Then again, being a human could never be anything like being a Time Lord, and to compare the two is foolhardiness. Different operating systems, different purposes, Ianto thinks, half-dazed by the fact that he can feel the universe again, can feel all of it, every centimeter and every atom, all moving and twisting and there.
“Mother,” he whispers, because as a Time Lord his first though has ever been and will ever be for the odd, brilliant woman who birthed and raised him. “Mother, don't be dead. I'm waiting for you.”
The sound of a gun cocking pulls him back to the moment, and Ianto looks up from where he has fallen to his knees. Tosh, Owen, and Gwen all have their weapons out and pointed at him, though Tosh seems fairly halfhearted about it. Owen’s eyes are narrowed, while Gwen’s are wide, but the doctor also hasn't started shooting yet, which is a good sign.
“You're a prat,” Ianto tells him with a roll of his eyes. “Last week you filed a half-finished report on a blowfish under Z in the hope that I wouldn't find it. You take your coffee black with three sugars, and you ate all of Gwen’s biscuits yesterday.”
Gwen splutters and turns accusing eyes on Owen. “That was you? You told me it was Jack!”
Owen sighs and lowers his gun. “It’s still Ianto,” he admits, albeit grudgingly. “Can I shoot him anyway?”
Holstering her weapon, Tosh steps forward and helps pull Ianto to his feet. “What was that?” she asks curiously. “The light, and speaking to your mother? I thought she was dead, and used to live in Newport.”
“Chameleon Arch,” Ianto explains, accepting the help. His knees still feel suspiciously weak. “A Time Lord technology that modifies the biology of one species, so the cells register as another species. Our memories and Time Lord nature are trapped in a fob watch kept under a portable perception filter.” He hesitates for a moment, and then says softly, “My mother’s not from Newport, but…she could be dead. I'm not sure anymore.”
“Time Lord?” Owen splutters, spinning back towards them. Ianto sees his hand twitch towards his gun again. “You're a bleeding Time Lord and none of us ever noticed?”
With another roll of his eyes, Ianto waves the now-empty fob watch in the doctor’s face. “What part of ‘modifies biology so that cells register as a different species’ don't you comprehend?” he snipes. “And I didn't know, either—not until I heard the Doctor’s TARDIS taking Jack away.”
Those words get their attention, and Gwen perks up. “You know where Jack went?”
“When,” Ianto corrects. “A TARDIS can go to any time and place, as long as the pilot is good enough.” He sniffs a bit. “And the Doctor has an old Type 40, Mark 3—practically obsolete. It leaves a clear trail if you have the right equipment to detect it.”
“You can…follow it?” There’s hope in Tosh's voice, and a look of wide-eyed faith on her face. “We can go and get him back?”
Ianto thinks about protesting, thinks about pointing out that Jack left—happily and with much enthusiasm, if the tape is anything to go by—on his own, but…
But Jack is still Jack, and Ianto is still Ianto, and the memory of that slow, sweet, victorious kiss from just hours ago is in the forefront of his mind. He had been uncertain, hesitant, because he knew Jack had kissed the real Captain Harkness when he was in that other time, couldn't quite comprehend what it was that Jack thought they had.
That kiss had answered all of his questions, settled the vast majority of his doubts. He means something to Jack, and that's all that matters.
Now Jack is out there somewhere, in some time, with a TARDIS that no doubt cannot handle what he is, and a Time Lord who hasn't managed to alter his perception of Jack yet. Ianto has, through sheer determination, so it stands to reason that he should at least make sure the Doctor’s TARDIS doesn't do something foolish, like flee into a supernova. And besides, Jack is always one to find trouble, no matter where he goes. With the Doctor nearby, it’s doubly likely he’ll get embroiled in something significant.
“Yes,” he finally says. “Yes, we can follow him. Who’s coming?”
Gwen, Tosh, and Owen trade glances that speak a thousand words within the confines of an instant.
“Right,” Tosh says decisively. “I’ll set the Hub on lockdown and the Rift monitor on automatic. Give me three minutes.”
“I’ll get weapons,” Gwen agrees.
“Medical kit,” Owen chimes in, already halfway to the autopsy bay. “Oi, tea boy, how are we doing this? You got a spaceship hidden away somewhere?”
Ianto wants to laugh. He wants, just a little bit, to cry. In the instant between coming back to himself and his explanation, he’d expected recriminations, fear, doubt, and anger. Not this easy acceptance, and certainly not this.
Family, he thinks, smiling to himself. Mother, I have a new family. Aren’t they grand?
“A spaceship?” he echoes. “No, Owen, I've got something much better. A TARDIS.”
The room where he once kept Lisa and her conversion unit has long since been scrubbed clean of physical evidence, if not memories. Ianto leads the team into the room and shuts the heavy steel door behind them, locking it.
“All right, my dear,” he announces to the room at large. “You can come out now. I'm sorry it took me so long to remember.”
A shimmer along the far wall draws all eyes, and as it fades away the blank grey stone becomes a dark green door with a silver knob, with a silver nameplate in the center that bears the words “The Archivist.”
Something settles in Ianto’s chest, in his mind, and warmth fills him. He breathes out a soft sigh of relief and puts his hand on the door.
“Beauty,” he murmurs, leaning forward to rest his forehead against the door. “My beauty, I've missed you so much.”
Here is the piece of himself that he could not find anywhere else, the piece that always longed for orange plains and silver trees and grey clouds, flutterwings and rovies and blood-red grass. Here is where his mind and heart and soul all sing home in their very loudest voices, and his TARDIS sings back, high and clear and so lovely as to bring tears to his eyes.
He touches the doorknob, which grows warm under his fingers, turns it counterclockwise, and pulls the door open with a whisper of well-oiled hinges and escaping fragrant air. The light inside is golden, the control room all bright, polished wood and the smell of fresh-ground coffee and spun sugar, not cloying, just enough to tease. Ianto steps in, and no matter how much he loves the Hub and Cardiff and his life there, this is what feels like coming home.
The others file in behind him, quiet in their awe, and Ianto turns to grin at them. The expression stretches his face in ways he’s still readjusting to, because it is the expression of Ianto the Time Lord, son of the Rani, not Ianto Jones, administrator and general support agent of Torchwood Three, Cardiff.
“Welcome to the TARDIS,” he says, spreading his hands. “Isn’t she gorgeous?”
For once, not even Owen has something scathing to say. The TARDIS sings to all of them, and no one can argue with that statement in the least.
“Right,” Ianto says, once Gwen and Owen are settled in the big, squishy armchairs off to the side, and have been given strict orders to hold on tightly. “Tosh, you'll help me fly her.” He steers the tech to the control panel, positioning her in front of a dizzying array of buttons and levers. “There are normally six pilots in a Type 99, and while I can do it myself, following the Doctor’s TARDIS at the same time will make it a bit complicated.”
Tosh's eyes are huge and her expression is eager as she strokes a careful hand over the glowing golden wood. “She’ll let me?” she asks cautiously. “The TARDIS won't mind?”
“Not at all,” Ianto reassures her. “You can hear her, can't you? In your head? I’ll input the coordinates as I find them, and all you have to do is listen to what she tells you. She’ll help you fly her.”
The TARDIS hums in agreement, and Tosh smiles, brilliant and amazed. “All this technology,” she murmurs, running her fingertip around an instrument panel. “I've never seen anything this intricate before. Ianto, this is—”
“I know,” he murmurs, smiling at her. “I know, Tosh. After this, if everything goes well, I’ll have to do maintenance, and you can help with that, too. I'm sure she wouldn't mind, right, my beauty?” He pauses in booting up the tracking program, pats the console, and feels her chime softly in his head, an eager agreement. His TARDIS has always been a vain thing, loving admiration, and she preens under the collective awe of Ianto, Tosh, Owen, and Gwen.
The system pings, the first set of coordinates flashing on the screen, and Ianto’s fingers fly as he punches them in, already calling up the next set. The Doctor’s TARDIS is leaping from one point to another, doubtless trying to shake Jack off, hopping across time and space as fast as it can go.
“Hang on,” Ianto calls. “This will get a bit bumpy!”
Then he pulls down a lever, hits a button, and turns a switch, and the TARDIS shudders out of 21st century Cardiff, hurtling forward after Jack with Ianto and Tosh clinging to the controls.