A tapping came from the metal hatch above. Jack glanced at Ianto, snoring softly into his shoulder. They really hadn't done much, some fooling around, playful interaction with each other, before Ianto fell asleep against Jack's shoulder, arm slung across Jack's belly in a comfort-need. Ianto was a good bed-partner, he didn't hesitate to try whatever Jack suggested, and even suggested a few things himself.
He reached to the button on the wall of the old bunker.
"Who is it?" he quietly asked.
"Can I come in?" It was Gwen.
"Come down," he said. "Quietly."
The hatch above opened and her pixy face peered in. She hesitated at the sleeping man and the musky scent of sex.
"It's ok," Jack whispered. She climbed down, mindful of the noise.
"It can wait," she whispered, making sure Ianto didn't stir. Jack patted the side of the cot and she squatted down next to him.
"What's on your mind?"
She scratched at the edge of the cot, not quite looking at him.
"Couldn't sleep," she said. "Kept turning over but no one was there." Tears made their way down her freckled cheeks. "This is my fault."
Jack flicked a salty drop from the top of her nose. "Yes, it is." She looked at him, surprised, and then disguised it. "Thought I'd lie?" he asked. "Gwen, I told you at the beginning to keep it together. I don't know why you didn't just tell him that your job was top secret and you couldn't talk about it. It would have been the truth and he would have had a chance at resetting his boundaries to either encompass it or not."
Jack stroked a lock of brown hair, pushing it behind her ear before touching her sad face.
"If you want to be held, come up," he said, patting his chest. She looked at the small cot and the two broad-shouldered men.
"Not enough room," she said.
"Plenty," he assured her, giving his chest another pat. "I won't break. Come on."
Gwen saw none of his usual insinuations, and gingerly draped herself across the right half of his body. "Am I too heavy?" she asked. The frame creaked threateningly and she hesitated, looking at it in alarm. Well, if it could hold two grown men in mid-shag...
"No, I like people-blankets," he said. He put a hand on her back and brought her down to him, resting her head on his shoulder. She gave a watery smile and gave in to the warm, hardness of his body. His shoulder was soaked within minutes.
Ianto woke up several hours later and paused, startled, at the third person in
bed with them.
"Fallout?" he whispered. Jack gave a nod. Ianto kissed him and eased himself out of the pile.
Jack dozed as he waited for Gwen to wake up. She had had a rough year; he was surprised that she and Rhys had lasted that long. It was touch and go for a long time, though. Jack had, of course, researched Rhys thoroughly; if there had been anything he felt the man could have done to be a team member, he would have recruited Rhys and kept the two together. Unfortunately, nice though the man
was, there was nothing out of the ordinary about him that would have been a benefit to the group or to the Cause.
She eventually began to stir, snuggling into him before realizing that he wasn't the scent, or physical shape, she was used to. She sat up.
"Good morning?" he offered. She looked at the empty space on the other side of him and groaned, slumping and covering her eyes.
"No, just Jack."
She gave him a look. It occurred to her that his chest wasn't bare.
"Pajamas? I never pictured you for pj's."
He shrugged. "Sheets feel weird against my skin."
"You'll drop trow at every opportunity but you don't sleep naked?"
"Well, Gwen, if you want to see the package, all you have to do is ask." He reached for the sheet. "There's morning wood you can..."
She jumped out of the bed and he chuckled. "Did.... what did Ianto say?"
"About the package? Not so much what he said than what he did..."
He smiled and swung himself out of bed. Gwen tried not to look at the skin showing above the low-riding bottoms; the curve above his butt and the line of muscle above his hips, dipping dangerously, invitingly, into the front of his pj's. He gave his spine and limbs a stretch, cracking a few joints in the
process. It had been a while since he found himself at the bottom of a pile.
"He didn't say anything," he told her. He tapped the wall and a hidden closet opened. It was filled with his clothes which he proceeded to pick through, hanging them on a rod until he had taken his shower. "He kissed me and went upstairs. Want details?"
He chuckled again; she was too easy. "Listen, why don't you go use the showers, freshen up, and I'll take you to breakfast?"
She sniffled and gave a reluctant nod.
"Alright." She hesitated for a moment before putting her arms around his waist for a squeeze. "Thanks, Jack."
He pecked the top of her head and squeezed back.
They didn't get to breakfast. There was a Christmas Tree eating family pets in Ceredigion.
"There isn't!" Tosh exclaimed in disbelief.
"Probably not a Christmas Tree," Jack said. "It'll take us about an hour and fifteen minutes to drive there, so pack accordingly and be sure you make the little boys and girls room before we leave."
"It's a 2-hour drive, Jack, not one hour," Owen told him.
"Not if I drive, Mr. Glass Half Empty. Ianto, hold the fort!" Everyone buckled up quickly and made sure their drink containers had their lids on tight. Jack was an excellent driver but he still drove as though he were trying to surpass the speed of light.
"We need a helicopter, Jack," Gwen informed him from shotgun.
"We have a helicopter."
The team blustered at him.
"And we're driving across the country why?" Owen demanded, leaning in from the back.
"Because I wanted to drive. Are you in a rush?"
He swung around a corner, scaring an old man and his dog. "Sorry!" he yelled out the window. A cane was raised and shaken at him.
"We have a helicopter and we never use it?" Gwen asked. "Why?"
Jack shrugged. "I like to drive," he repeated.
"Control freak is what you are," Owen informed him. Jack glanced in the rearview mirror, his face blank.
"What's your point?"
They grouched, slumping in their seats. Tosh booted the computer on her side and Owen dragged another computer screen over to play a game.
Jack kept the smile to himself. "Tosh, tell us about carnivorous trees, please."
Knowing she'd be diligent about the case, Jack waited while she pulled up the files. There was a rustling next to him. Gwen was taking a bite out of a chocolate bar.
"Hey," he protested. She shoved the bar into his mouth and he took a bite. "'ank u."
While Tosh recited facts and figures, the countryside flew past. Although playing his game, Jack knew Owen was paying attention; Owen was quite capable of multitasking when he needed to. Gwen was still in a funk, as evidenced by the chocolate, but once they got to the job site she's snap out of it and get the job done. Tosh needed to relax, Jack decided. She needed a hobby. She'd look good in black leather. Maybe 6-inch heels.
And they expected him to lead them. Moses he was not. Sometimes he wished for his former life, hopping from one planet to another, playing one con after another. No one to answer to, no responsibilities to anyone other than himself. With an indefinite lifetime ahead of him, though, pulling cons was suddenly petty. Sure, he had a nice stash hidden away for his retirement, but he had to admit that he was having fun on Earth. He wasn't sure he understood this need the Doctor had to help others all the time, though. Of course, there was the vested interest in making sure the humans lasted longer than their current century, or HE would never be born. The time paradox hurt his head.
"Jack, are you listening?" Tosh interrupted his thoughts.
"Yes, Dionaea muscipula and Nepenthes," he repeated. "But unless someone gave their flytrap a little extra get-up-and-go, it's too small, and the neps are in places like Borneo. No, the reports said specifically a tree. But keep going, something might be useful once we figure out what we're dealing with."
"There are no carnivorous trees," Tosh told him.
"Not on this planet," Jack agreed. "We don't know what's out there." He ignored the glance from Gwen; they knew he wasn't from their neck of the woods but he refused to get into details with them. They didn't need to know anything other than the fact that he was as human as they were. They all knew he went off with the Doctor every once in a great while, but having been born out there? No, Tosh and Owen weren't ready for the information, and he wasn't sure Ianto was quite ready for it; aliens were responsible for Lisa's death. Ianto still had some nightmares to get rid of. Jack was pretty sure Ianto was deliberately keeping blinders on.
That was alright; Jack had spent his own time being blind in someone else's bed, too. In more ways than one. It helped. He did have to admit to some affection for the young man, though; Ianto was a sweet man, sensitive to the needs of others, and passionate in his dealings. He was discovering himself, the strength within, and Jack enjoyed seeing the process. He had more experience with Torchwood than any of the rest of the team, but his self-confidence was lacking strength. Jack noticed small changes, here and there, especially Ianto taking on more responsibilities such as going out on job sites and working the job.
When he disappeared for a year, his absence caused the rest of the team to learn how to work together; Ianto had grown a great deal during that year. And although the team was no longer completely dependent on Ianto's services, Ianto still took it upon himself to be their housekeeper while the others were off on jobs. Jack was pretty sure Ianto was going to roast Myfanwy, their pterodactyl, if the flying lizard crapped one more time on the main stairs. Pterodactyl poop had to be the worst thing on the face of, well, any planet!
Jack looked to his left and held out a hand. He took Gwen's apple, took a large bite, and handed it back.
"Do I need to say it?" he asked around the juicy fruit, glancing at the couple extra pounds at her waist. Not that he really cared; he thought she was beautiful.
"No," she moaned.
She reached into her bag and took out a handful of sweets. Jack took them and handed them to the back of the SUV, and then took her hand for a moment.
"You're beautiful, he's an idiot," he informed her. She gave him a watery smile.
"Who the hell, in their right mind, could leave those boobs?"
She colored nicely, snatched her hand back, and bumped her head into the window.
Owen leaned in over Jack's shoulder. "Just the slightest touch," he said in a stage-whisper into Jack's ear. Gwen smacked him on the arm.
"Not cool telling tales, Owen," Jack told him. "I can tease her, you leave her alone. Or I'll tell everyone about your hamster fantasy."
The girls squeaked in surprise. Owen frowned.
"Oi! I never said that!"
Jack nodded sagely, an index finger pointed at the roof of the SUV. "Ah, but who are they more willing to believe? You or me?"
Owen flung himself back into his seat. "You can be such a bastard."
"Yes, so my mother told me."
"Do you have a mother?" Tosh asked innocently. "'Cause we've noticed that you and Myfanwy have the same eyes...."
Pleased with himself, Jack was quite happy to discuss his dubious parentage via the pterodactyl. Actually, his mother had been beautiful and loved him to pieces....
They were in Ceredigion before they knew it. The police met them at the home in question, introduced them to the home owners, and sat back while the team did their thing. They looked at the ground around the edge of the cliff behind the house and down to the ocean beating against the rocks below. There were scuff marks around the yard, as though a bush was dragged through, and there were red splotches on the ground.
"Blood," Owen said, lifting a cotton swab to the sun and squinting at it. He capped it and stuck it in his jacket. The home owners were watching nervously from the fence at the front of the house, as were several neighbors standing around them. None of the trees or bushes looked unusual, nothing was out of
place. Jack looked around, stuck his hands into the pockets of his greatcoat, and kicked at the roots of an old tree. It kicked back.
"Found it!" he yelled as he took a step back. The team came running, guns drawn.
"Now, now," he said, waving them down. "Let's make sure its bark isn't worse than its bite." They'd get him for it later. "So," he addressed the tree. "Anyone home? These people are a little upset about you eating their pets. Is there anything else you can eat? And I don't mean us. Pets are important to people, here, and eating them makes people very unhappy."
"Nothing," Tosh said, watching the readouts.
"Are you from around here?" Jack asked it. "We could try and help you get home. Gotta talk to us, though. Can't help unless we know what's going on."
They were pretty sure they heard a rumble and it didn't sound friendly. Jack reached into his pocket and took out a lighter. He flicked his bic and the tree gave a violent shudder.
"Talk," he ordered. "Find a way to make us understand you."
Branches reached out and grabbed him, lifting him high into the air. His team yelled and aimed their guns.
"Don't shoot!" Jack yelled. "You'll hit me!"
"And that's a problem why?" Gwen yelled up.
Jack quickly thought about it as thinner branches squeezed, wrapping around his torso and holding him secure. "Point taken. But shooting a bullet into wood is a little redundant, too."
Small twig branches wrapped around his head like a crown of thorns, piercing the outer most layers of his skin. Jack cried out from the pain, feeling the warm trickles of blood fall down his face and neck. His brain was buzzing, filling his ears with white noise. Images began to invade his mind, the fall through the Rift, drifting along on air currents, following the smell of the sweet, tangy ocean, and landing on moist grass. Roots began to grow, genetics deciphered and adapted to local plant life. Great amounts of water were missing, as were the creatures that lived in the water. In adapting to the local surroundings, small mammals began to disappear. The tree was small and growing, only a little blood was needed, once in a while. No one noticed a bird or squirrel that was no longer there. But then the locals began to crack down on feral pets. Stray dogs and cats became less and less of a nuisance in the neighborhood. It had to take any mammal that came within reach.
"I sympathize, I've been hungry, but you can't continue with this," Jack said, breathing through the pain. "I can send you back through the Rift; I don't care where you end up from there or what you do. You cannot stay here. Leave or we turn you into kindling."
He could sense its questions about him. He didn't belong on the planet, either.
"I'm human," he told it. "I belong here more than you do."
"You there!" he heard Gwen shout at the people at the front of the house. "Someone bring me an ax!"
The tree shook and dropped Jack. He landed hard, the wind knocked out of him. The needle-point marks on his head disappeared before any of the civilians saw them. His arms were grabbed, and he was dragged across the yard and out of the reach of the tree. Gwen picked up the ax and took aim.
"No," Jack groaned, holding his side as he rolled over and up. "It's going to head back into the Rift. It didn't know where the Rift was. I showed it."
"Oh? And what's it going to do, walk across the country until it gets to Cardiff?" Owen questioned.
"Some sort of reproduction process," Jack said, wincing as he took a breath.
"It'll pop a pod and take a tail wind over. I gave it the reproduction time to get it done. If it isn't, we'll be back to deal with it."
"How did it communicate with you?" Tosh asked, her dark eyes bright with curiosity.
"Directly into my brain," Jack said. "I don't recommend it."
Jack told the homeowners that they put a poison in the tree roots. It would be dying soon. No, they didn't know what had happened to the tree, but maybe it got mixed with the genetics of flytrap or something from the Asian jungles. Just keep their pets near home for a couple of weeks, until the tree was dead. They'd be back to dig it up and haul it away for burning. The locals were satisfied.
"No, you don't," Gwen said, snatching the keys from him as he headed for the right side of the SUV.
"I agree and I'm the doctor," Owen told him.
"I'm fine," Jack insisted. Owen shoved him into the backseat.
"You'll rest," he ordered. "And take a look into the mirror; you look like night of the living dead." Jack looked into the mirror and had to admit that drying blood all over the top half of his body was a little gruesome. Maybe he could take a small nap, he decided as he broke upon a bag of wet wipes and began to clean up. On the way out of town, they dropped a packet of ret into the town's water supply. By morning, no one would remember the carnivorous tree or their visit.
Jack slept all the way back to the Hub. Since they were no longer in a rush, the trip was a little over 2 hours. They woke him up and he stumbled, groggy, into their secret offices. Ianto took one look at him and went to start a shower and find fresh clothes.
"Do you need help, Jack?" Gwen asked, concerned as he stumbled toward the showers.
"Ianto can scrub his ass for him," Owen informed her. Jack stopped and turned to storm across the room with a sudden burst of energy.
"If you don't stop sniping at Ianto, and what he does or does not do, I will cover you in barbeque sauce," he said quietly into Owen's face. "Are we clear?"
"Yeah," Owen said, looking cross-eyed at Jack's close-up.
"Thank you, Gwen, but I'll be alright by myself," Jack said as he continued to stare at Owen. He whipped around and continued on to the showers. I don't know why I put up with that asshole, he snarled to himself.
"Why do I put up with that asshole?" he asked Ianto as the younger man came into the room. Ianto didn't need to ask of whom Jack was referring to.
"Because he's a brilliant doctor," Ianto told him.
The door opened again and Gwen came in. She kept her eyes from drifting downward at Jack's perfect, hard body. With one set of showers, five people, and cramped quarters, privacy tended to go out the door very fast.
"Jack, you can be all kinds of stupid, do you know that?" she informed him. He took his head from under the water, not sure he heard her right.
"You should be," she said. "Dammit, Jack, he's got a case of hero-worship and he doesn't know how to handle it. He wants you to notice him."
Soap slid into his eyes and ears. "He what? Gwen, he doesn't want me."
"I didn't say that," she said. "He needs your approval, and he hates himself for it."
"Then he needs to get his head out of his ass because no one needs my approval for shit," he said, sticking his head back in the water and scrubbing at his dark hair. Gwen looked at Ianto. He shook his head.
"He doesn't get it," Ianto said softly.
"What?" Jack called out over the water.
"Nothing," Gwen said, raising her voice so he could hear her. "Just.... Go easy on him. Talk nicer. And let Ianto handle his own fights."
"Owen's a wanker," Ianto pronounced. "I don't give a shit what he says."
Jack stepped out of the water and took a towel from the railing. "I will protect any of you," he told them as he scrubbed the water off. "I'll even protect Owen, if someone is going after him, but I'm tired of his sniping." Ianto took another towel and patted Jack's back.
"I can beat his ass even if I'm drunk," Ianto told him. "Owen's sloppy at hand-to-hand." He slid his arms around Jack's waist from behind and pressed his mouth to the back of Jack's neck. "Thank you for taking care of me."
Gwen smiled at them and left the room.
"He's an asshole," Jack told him, not bothering to correct Ianto on his vision of his own fighting skills. He gave the hands on his stomach a pat and stepped away to get dressed.
"Yes, he is," Ianto agreed. "And if you were trying to rise above the muck that he was born in, you'd be an asshole, too. You are an asshole, Jack; but we still let you live."
"Yes, but you love my asshole," Jack said with a grin as he sat on a bench to pull socks on.
"Yes, it's a great asshole, Jack, but your tight ass has nothing to do with learning how to play nice with the rest of the kids."
"Enough of Owen," Jack said. "Let's discuss Gwen."
It had been hard getting Ianto back to a human state of being after his Lisa had died. Winter had set in for weeks around the Hub. Sex had been rough, after the Lisa issue; both men had issues to deal with, and the mutual pain and using of each other helped them to cope. After Lisa died, with Jack being one of the hands that fired a gun, Ianto left for a week without contacting anyone. He came back and cornered Jack. Jack stood still, allowing the beating, until the man broke down, sobbing. Ianto came back to Jack's bed that night, curling up against him, and talked about his life with Lisa. Jack held him, his heart feeling the pain of the loss. Of all the races in the universe, humans had the greatest depth of emotions. The beating he took reminded him exactly why he was helping to protect the Earth.
"Gwen," Jack called to her from his office door several hours later. She turned, raising her head to look at him over the computers. "Stick around, would you?" he asked.
"We're going for pizza," Owen said to him. "You coming with?"
"Maybe later," Jack said. "You guys go, I need to see Gwen for a moment."
"Sure," Gwen shrugged. Owen and Tosh trooped up the stairs as Gwen shut her computer down and walked toward Jack. He ushered her into his office and shut the soundproofed door.
"How are you?" he asked as he walked around his desk and sat down. He threaded his fingers behind his head, kicked his feet up onto the desk, and leaned the chair back.
"It was a good day," she said, taking the seat in front of the desk.
"You handled the crowd well," Jack said. "You're a lot more confident now then you were a year ago. Are you more comfortable in your position?"
"Yes, I am," she said with a nod. "I still wish you'd be more open with knowledge, though."
"Can you understand why I'm not?"
She slouched a little, looking at her hands. "I don't know," she said, not looking at him. "I think.... I know that there are things we're not ready for, I keep getting the feeling that you are not only from out there but also maybe.... I don't know.... I know you have an American accent but how can you be American if you're from out there?"
His hands moved to his stomach as he considered her. "I lived in America for a long time. Fought wars at their side. Who and what I am doesn't really matter, Gwen; I'm as human as you are, and I'm here and I'm working for my keep just like everyone else. Does that help?"
"I suppose. I can only trust that you know what you're doing. You know a lot more about alien stuff, obviously, than we do, and you know more about galactic politics than we do. I'm trying to pay attention and learn."
"You learn fast," he observed. "You not only learn facts but you also put theory together well. Do you understand how that sets you apart from the others?"
He watched her face, the freckles standing out as she colored slightly. "I don't
know about that...."
"Sure you do," he interrupted with a snap of impatience. "You just don't want to notice it because this society finds it rude and anti-social to stand out. There's a difference between dominant and domineering. One day, Gwen, you're going to find yourself on the line; stand or fall. Take your stand, lead with compassion while taking the firm hand."
She stared at him, blank. "I don't understand."
He shifted his feet to the floor and leaned his elbows on the desk. "I know," he said. "One day, you will. That's ok. Change of subject."
"Would you like to spend the night with me?"
Her freckled turned funny shades. "Uh..."
"No is an acceptable answer," he assured her. "It's an open invitation. Have some fun. Get a few screams out. No strings attached. I'd like to do all sorts of things with you. To you. Sometimes a good, loud orgasm cures all sorts of ills. You want one?"
He was pretty sure she was going to hyperventilate. Her eyes were dilating,
though, which told him a multitude of things.
"I, uh... yes?" she squeaked.
"Good," he declared, thumping the desk top. "Me, too. Anything you don't want to do, anything you'd like to try, you'll get it. Believe me, there isn't too much I won't do. Go out, get some pizza, have some fun with Tosh and Owen. Throw some darts. Dance a little. Go home, get a change of clothes, and come back here. I have work to do, so I'll be in here. When you come in, stop, take your clothes off, come around my desk, bend over the desk, ass in my face, and tell me to fuck you. Can you do that?"
Ok, she wasn't hyperventilating but he was sure, now, she was going to faint.
"And while I'm fucking you from behind, Ianto is going to masturbate in front of you. When I'm done, he's going to continue the fucking. And believe me when I tell you he's got a few inches on me. You will be used all night, by the both of us, until you are completely worn out. Are we clear?"
"No!" She jumped up, grabbed her bag, and ran out and up the stairs.
Jack smiled, shook his head, and opened his computer again.
It was half past one in the morning when he looked at the clock. He moved, groaning at the stiffness in his neck and shoulders. His strange physiology soon redacted the pain. Getting used to his new immorality has taken a temporary road down Insanity Way until he relaxed and got used to it. Although drinking one's self onto the floor was no longer fun because his body wouldn't allow him to get that drunk. So he stuck to water, tea, and coffee, usually. Alcohol just wasn't the same anymore, if you couldn't wake up shit-faced on a floor somewhere.
"Jack? Something wrong with your bed?"
He cracked one eye to see Ianto moving silently around the small office.
"She didn't come back," he commented from behind his eyelids.
"Did you expect her to?"
Jack shrugged. "I guess not. Would have been nice. I have a feeling she'd be a great partner."
Gentle fingers massaged his temples and worked their way down to his neck and shoulders. Jack forced himself to relax into it. He couldn't remember the last time he had a sexual partner that gave instead of demanding attention. Jack was tired. Not that he'd admit it to anyone else. And he had to thank Whomever was listening for Ianto. Was it love? Maybe. He wasn't ready to think about it. Affection, sure. He was aware of Ianto's love/hate relationship with himself; Jack didn't take it personally. Ianto's insides would figure itself out. Ianto didn't have a family, none that was worth touching in with, so the team was his family. They bickered like siblings, they may as well be their own family. Jack was the big brother and their father, and comforting lover when needed; sometimes a body needed a good orgasm to get past whatever was ailing it. Strong shoulders and long arms were also good for comfort. Jack could provide whatever he needed to provide. Hey, he lived through the 60's in the USA; there wasn't much Jack wouldn't do when it came to physical pleasure. And the pleasure planets he had been to.... well, there really wasn't much Jack couldn't do.
Having someone give, instead of take, was a novel experience, though, and Ianto gave very well. Ianto was a generous lover and Jack appreciated it.
"What do you think, Yan?" Jack asked as nimble fingers kneaded his neck. "Does she interest you?"
"I suppose," came the quiet response.
"You suppose? Do you think she's pretty?"
Jack took a hand and pulled the young man around. "I need to hear better than that, Iefan," he said. He used Ianto's given name, instead of the nickname; Ianto knew Jack wasn't going to let it go, not if the Name was used. "If she had taken me up on that crazy offer, would you have been ok going through with it?"
Ianto hated it when Jack forced him to verbalize his feelings; Jack knew it needed to be done. Ianto had become more and more assertive over the past couple of years, thanks to Jack's pushing, and it was showing. Ianto could be trusted to take the lead on the smaller, non-threatening cases, now, instead of sending out Gwen, Owen, or Tosh who were needed at sites that were a serious threat to the community. After almost getting turned into the main course at a BBQ a couple years back, Ianto put the breaks on if his skin was involved.
"I don't know," Ianto said. Jack took him by the hips and gave him a shake.
"Does she turn you on?" he insisted. The young man turned red, his fair skin an easy mark for over-anxious capillaries. "I'll take that as a yes," Jack said and pulled him forward until he was straddling Jack's legs and sitting. "Now. If she ever does come to my bed, and if she's ok with it, you may join us. I'm not going to tell you to, this isn't an order, it's your body. Alright?"
The Sir's were humorous, especially when they came during non-office, intimate moments. Jack was sure Ianto wasn't the hard-core leather type but he did seem to need to be bossed around, so Jack bossed him. It made the boy happy. Not that Jack couldn't use a good spanking, once in a while.
In the morning, the troops trooped in with varying degrees of hang-overs and non-morning personalities. Owen was inhaling his Starbucks while Tosh went to commune with her computers. Gwen kept her head down and went to her work. Jack smiled briefly.
"Combat training day!" he announced. He received moans and groans and threats of bodily harm. "Glad you're all with the program! We will be joined by MI5 at the local training facility. Get your game on, kids!"
While Jack smiled at several cute men in uniforms (they returned the smile with blank stares), the team changed into their workout clothes. Their instructor and five other men began with basics, much to Owen's impatience. They had been through it more than once. Jack insisted on working on fighting skills or target practice during slow times. He had even taught the nimble-fingered Owen how to pick pockets.
"Defend yourself with both arms in front of your body, close to the centre line. Keep your arms only slightly tensed. Wait until your fist moves out. Then increase the impact by moving your shoulders, hips, legs and feet towards the target. Breathe out during the punch. Just before contact, tense the fist and lock your wrist so that the hit is solid. To reduce ligament and joint damage, the arm is never thrown out to its full extent. Finish the punch with your arm still slightly bent. For the recovery and your defense, relax your retreating arm slightly and get back on guard." As the head instructor instructed, his assistants were demonstrating. He had worked with the Torchwood group before, so he ignored most of the antsy pushing and shoving; their boss would deal with them, if they got too rowdy.
"The basic punch starts with the fist palm up against the hip. Your feet should be in line and shoulder width apart. Imagine that at arms length there is a centre line from head to toe and you direct your punches into it. On the full thrust of your arm, the palm of your hand is facing down. To lock your fist for the impact, push the thumb side of your fist forward. The back of your fist should be straight with the forearm and locked so that the wrist can cope with the impact."
The ladies made a few practice punches, following the example being set by one of the men. A couple of helpers went over to reposition arms and stance. Tosh reddened, flustered at the attention from the handsome young man. He smiled back at her. Jack happened to know that the young man was single and lived nearby.
"In some standing or grounded situations you may become either blinded, stunned, shocked or surprised. Do have a set of well rehearsed techniques that do not rely on visual contact. They will occupy the opponent and give you time to recover. Trap their arms in a bear hug. This will allow you to stamp on their insteps, use head butts, or bite their throat and face. Grab a handful of hair and move back, pulling their head into a knee lift or slamming their head into the ground. Push the palms of your hands up the opponent's cheeks. Your thumbs will fall naturally into the eye sockets. At this stage use one hand to palmheel the lower body targets. If the opponent has their back to an obstruction, you can palm heel the chest area. This will whip lash their head into the wall and back into your head butt. Grab at their throat and attack the groin area with the free hand. Grab the groin area and attack the face area with your elbows or head butts."
Jack didn't hear what Owen said to Gwen, but he saw the outcome; Owen got a look of pain on his face and he doubled over, grabbing his crotch where Gwen had kneed him. The instructor didn't blink as he continued.
"Survival in combat can be attributed to many factors other than numerical and technological superiority. History has shown us that many a battle has been won by a weaker opponent who can disrupt the enemy with an sudden or unconventional attack. If you pull an opponent's hair it will cause a great deal of distracting pain. It will also make their eye's water. With a good grip on someone's hair it is possible to slam their head into the wall, the ground, your knee or head butt. When you claw at someone's face or throat, their natural reaction is to either copy the action or at least lift their hands in defense. This can be used to apply another technique in response to the opponent's behaviour. A strong grip can be broken by sinking your teeth into the opponent's hand, wrist, cheek, throat, nose, eye brows or the lower part of the leg. If you know the opponent's style, unbalance them mentally by breaking all their rules of engagement."
Jack suddenly found one arm pinned from behind by a hand made of steel and a knife at his throat. Expecting a struggle, the man gave a startled yelp and dropped his knife, jumping away and clutching at his groped balls, staring in shock at Jack.
"No foreplay in front of the children," Jack admonished him with a shaking finger. "Call me later and we'll talk handcuffs and knife-play."
The trainer gave a faintly disapproving frown at his officer who should have known better. It wasn't the first time the Torchwood people had come in for a little training; everyone knew how notorious Captain Harkness was with both hands and mouth.
The next problem came in the form of Owen. Not that anyone was surprised. Time and time again, Ianto took Owen down, plunging him face down in the dirt. Owen became angrier, and thus clumsier, making it easy for Ianto to shame him. The trainer looked at Jack. Jack gave a brief shake of his head and the men stayed back while the boys fought. The ladies gave groans of impatience and went to stand at Jack's side. When Owen was breathing more dust and dirt and blood than oxygen, Jack went up to them and squatted down, his greatcoat rustling in the dirt. Owen spit mostly blood into the dirt as he glared from Jack to Ianto and back.
"I don't know what it's about and I don't particularly care," he said quietly.
"I might later. At the moment, though, you're grounded. Go to your room. And you're on Myfanwy detail for a week starting today." He knew whatever it was, wasn't Ianto's fault; Ianto didn't start fights. Owen, however, could find insult in a sunny day.
Owen snarled and yanked himself up, stumbling off to their SUV. Jack took his coat off and settled it neatly over a short fence before rolling up his sleeves and joining the rest of his team.
"Even out the playing field," he said. "Let's continue."
It amused the instructors to see Ianto and Gwen setting up a take-turn schedule to use Jack as their pounding board. Getting Tosh to take a swing at him was another matter. He knew she could get angry and knew she could clobber someone, if she needed to.
"Just do it, Tosh," he said, motioning for her to come at him.
"I can't," she said. "You're too tall for me. How am I supposed to immobilize you from down here?" She pointed at the top of her head.
"That's easy," Gwen said. With a gleeful grin, she yanked on Jack's arm, pulled it behind his back, grabbed the scruff of his neck, and shoved him into the fence face first. "Spread 'um, you're under arrest!" she yelled in his ear as she frisked him with one hand and hobbled him with one knee crunching the back of a thigh. She slapped cuffs on him and attached him to the fence.
Jack was laughing while Tosh looked on in shock. "Gwen! Honey! I didn't know you cared!" he howled in laughter. The instructors were laughing, too, and clapping. When she released him, Gwen was laughing with him. He hugged her, lifting her off the ground, and declared the day completed.
Chapter 1: Fallout
by Michele Briere
Summary: Jack's chicks need some attention, there's a tree on the loose, and training day keeps them busy.
Notes: this story is pre-second season. I'm sure a lot of my extrapolations will be null and void by the time we are halfway through season 2, so I will incorporate what information I can if I chose to do another story. Don't expect canon, I tend to do my own thing; especially if I think the show's writers didn't catch something.
(Combat training information was taken from the following website: http://www.stormpages.com/handtohand22/)