There were very few people in attendance at Judy Harper’s funeral. Owen didn’t want to go, but his teammates argued with him until he agreed. “Closure,” they told him. The four looked like a firing squad as they stood behind him. Even the minister kept looking at them uneasily while he read quickly through the rites, eager to leave the dark group.
    Jack didn’t believe in God, not in the sense that the Earth people did; he had been around long enough, though, that he could fake his way through a religious ceremony, if he needed to. One didn’t live in 1800’s America without learning to at least fake a belief system. He wasn’t sure if he believed in anything at all.
    When a person time-traveled and lived to one-hundred and six…sev… alright, eighty…mumble mumble years old, one began to look at life with a different perspective. Jack winced; he would be 200 years old in less than 20 years. Damn. He gave his moussed strands a pat; at least he still looked good. Forty easy. He could deal with 40. Getting lines at his eyes, though….
    “Owen, are you sure you shouldn’t take some time off?” Tosh was asking as they walked slowly back to the SUV. She had a comforting hand on Owen’s shoulder. Jack found it interesting that Owen was accepting it.
    “Don’t need it,” Owen said tightly.
    “Some people need to work to get through things,” Jack told her. “He’ll take time when he’s ready for it.”
    Tosh turned to look over her shoulder. “Jack, I’m going to make sure he gets home.”
    He gave a nod and waved them on; it wasn’t time to comfort Owen, he was still too angry. Owen would come in to work in the morning, make busy work and, at some point during the week, he would collapse. Jack had seen the type before and they didn’t appreciate people making a big deal out of things until the sympathy
was ready to be accepted.
    Jack walked slowly, swinging his and Ianto’s laced fingers while Gwen had a light clasp on his other arm.
    “This might be a bad time but…. Rhys wants a word,” Gwen said. Jack considered it.
    “Is he going to hit me?”
    She smiled. “No, I don’t think so.”
    “’Cause he’s a big boy, ya know.”
    “He isn’t going to hit you, ya big baby.”
    “Shall I come with to protect you?” Ianto asked gravely.
    “Nah,” Jack shook his head. “I haven’t been beat up in a while. I heal fast.”
    Gwen laughed and then quickly settled as she remembered her surroundings.
    “What can we do for Owen?” she asked. “I feel badly for him.”
    Jack took his arm from her hand and slid it around her shoulders. “He isn’t ready for help,” he said. “He may never ask for it. Just be his friend and wait for him to let you know what he needs. Don’t baby him; you know he’d never accept it.”
    There wasn’t much they could plan for the day because there was an urgent message as soon as they returned to the Hub.
    “Agent, I need your help.” The message was without a picture, the voice had a strangely furred lisp sound to it. “My name is Sana; I escaped from a Qylfant cruiser and am in hiding….I don’t know where this is but I will set this message with a locator beacon. Please! I am in danger!”
    Jack cocked his head and listed to the message again as he leaned in close, closing his eyes to shut out everything except the voice.
    “Who is she?” Gwen asked.
    “I know the accent,” he said, confused. “But… she shouldn’t be anywhere near this sector of the universe….”
    Gwen and Ianto looked at each other, wondering how much trouble they were about to get into.
    “What’s a Qalfant cruiser?” Ianto asked.
    “Qylfant,” Jack automatically corrected. “A race from very far away. War traders.” He made quick work of tracing the signal that was imbedded in the message. “She’s…. Moosehead Lake? Oh, that’s bad.”
    “Where’s Moosehead Lake?” Gwen asked, wrinkling her nose.
    “Maine,” Jack said. “North-Eastern US. East of New York. Lots of hunters.” Thinking about all the Yankees with guns roaming the forests of Maine, Jack picked up the phone and quickly dialed.
    “Torchwood 3, Harkness, code Blue, North America.”
    He put the phone down and paced with worry as he waited for the automated system
to contact the Americans and call him back.
    “What can we do?” Gwen asked, watching him pace.
    “Prepare guest quarters,” he said, “for an indeterminate period.”
    “A guest guest or a special guest?” Ianto asked.
    “A special guest,” Jack said. Ianto left the room, his usual silent self, to create make-shift quarters for Jack’s mysterious caller.
    The phone rang. Jack snatched it.
    “Harkness. Moosehead Lake. Female, felinoid, name is Sana. No! Treat her with respect, she’s a friendly and she’s in trouble; just bring her to me.” He gave out the GPS coordinates of the call. “Thanks; I owe you one.”
    He put the phone down and turned. “Get Tosh and Owen back here,” he told Gwen.
    “Washington UNIT is going to bring her in.”
    Gwen inclined her head and went to her station.
    While they waited, they searched for any signs of the Qylfant ship hiding on or above the planet. There were none.
    “It’s too soon,” Jack muttered to himself in agitation. “Dammit!”
    “What’s too soon?”
    He spun around. “You have a bad habit of overhearing things you shouldn’t,” he told Gwen irritably. She stepped into his office.
    “And you have a bad habit of keeping secrets,” she countered. “Jack, we can’t properly assist you if you keep things to yourself. I’m not stupid, you know; you’re human, from the future. I can only assume you know about some sort of historical event that is supposed to occur now or in the near future. Is this it?”
    “The future is always in motion,” he said tiredly into his hands. “Possibilities happen with every decision we make.”
    “Bullshit!” she hissed angrily at him. She gave the door a jerk, making sure it was tightly shut. “What the hell should we be expecting, Jack!”
    Jack stood behind his desk, leaning on it with his hands. “Gwen, my saying anything to you WILL affect the future,” he hissed back. “I can’t tell you shit, not without possibly causing a hell of a lot of damage! I do not believe that our visitor is part of those major changes but if something happens that tells me she is, I will let you in on it!”
    She glared at him. “And how alien is she?” Gwen asked after a calming moment.
    “Can she pass?”
    “No,” Jack said, shaking his head. “If I’m getting the accent right, she’s completely alien. She’s a friendly, though, at least her people in general are, so we must do all we can to help her. She doesn’t belong here.”
    “What century does she belong in?”
    “That isn’t it,” Jack said, shaking his head. “She’s only about ten thousand years out of time, which is a drop in the bucket compared to universal time; we can get her through the Rift and to safety. Once she’s across, she’ll be in the main shipping zones and she’ll be able to find someone to send her home.”
    “Is that why we don’t get invaded on a regular basis?” Gwen asked. “Because we’re not near shipping lanes?”
    “Correct,” Jack said with a nod. “Earth is considerably farther out than the boondocks, and we’re pretty much alone.”
    Tosh and Owen came in twenty minutes later, rushing to prepare whatever it was they needed to prepare. “Is she injured?” Owen called out as he walked swiftly to his lab.
    “I don’t know,” Jack said. “She didn’t sound it.”
    “Anything special?” Owen asked.
    “I sent bio-specs to your desk,” Jack told him. Owen brought his computer up and began to read, glad to get his head around something other than his mother’s death.
    It was three hours more before UNIT called in from the computer.
    “She insisted on seeing and speaking with you before we could even get near,” the colonel said in exasperation.
    “Fair enough,” Jack said as he sat in front of the screen. The team gathered behind him, too curious to be polite. They bit back the gulps at the sight of what looked to be a gray saber-toothed tiger with aqua-green feline-slit eyes. An orange-striped tail snapped, relieved at the sight of Jack. He wondered what the Qylfants wanted with her; no one tamed a River Cat, it was suicide to even try.
    “It’s about damned time,” she snarled. “Where are you, Time Agent, can you help me?”
    “Yes, of course,” he told her. “I’m actually quite a ways away from your location, which is why I asked those men to get you. They will bring you to me, and we’ll see about getting you home. Are you injured?”
    “No,” she said, shaking her head and giving her ears a flick. “A few scratches; nothing serious.” A torn-open flank filled with maggots would be a ‘scratch;’ Owen would need to check her over to be sure.
    “Good,” Jack said, giving her a quick visual. Her fur was a mess, in need of a serious cleaning. Considering how fastidious they were, it must be making her crazy to have messy fur. “Colonel, please make sure the lady is given whatever she needs, and see to her comfort. I’ll expect you before morning?”
    The colonel stuck his head into camera view at the order, daring the lion’s den of sharp fangs and claws. He wasn’t happy about handing the alien over but Torchwood’s word over-ruled anything he had to say about it.
    “Jet standing by,” the American said. “We’ll be there in a few hours.”
    “We’ll meet you at the base,” Jack told him. The colonel gave a nod. “Sana, they need to keep you out of sight for this, so don’t fight them. Earth is still unaware. We can get you into shipping lanes; from there, you’re on your own.” Arched whiskers showed her acceptance. Jack and the colonel signed off.
    “Ianto, how’s those quarters coming!”
    “Clean.” Jack jumped when Ianto reported from directly behind him. “I don’t know if I should get a bed or a pillow. And what about… other functions?”
    “Bed. And don’t even think about a bag of litter.”
    “Well, what about food?” Ianto asked, trailing after him. “Anything special?”
    Jack stopped, reminding himself to be patient. “Not that I’m aware of,” he said.
    “You’ll have to ask Sana if she has any preferences. I don’t know this particular person personally, so I can’t advise you.”
    There was another question on Ianto’s face but he wasn’t voicing it. Owen did.
    “How did she know to ask for you, if you don’t know her?”
    “I’m famous.” He went into his office, grabbed the file from his desk, and went into the board room. His team followed, ducklings after their drake.
    “Her species is called River Cats, by the general populace of the universe,” he began as they found seats. “The human throat doesn’t do their sounds well, and we can’t get their own name. They live and work on the rivers of their planet, so we call them River Cats. They accept it. They are fairly primitive, pre-industrial, and they don’t like uninvited visitors to their planet.”
    He spun photos across the table, sliding them into the hands of his team. “Difficult to tell male from female, although the girls do tend to be a little bigger than the boys. They are matriarchal. Morals and ethics are high; it’s difficult to get one of them to do something unethical according to their own rules. They are a feudal society, so sometimes duels at dawn happen. To them, that’s good ethics.”
    “Can we expect to be called out at some point from this visitor?” Owen asked.
    “Guns I can do, blades and claws I’ll need a little more practice on.”
    “Don’t come on to her, don’t insult her, and I think you’ll be safe,” Jack told him. “Tea with the queen manners.”
    Gwen leaned in, a glint in her dark eyes. “Have you had sex with her species?” she asked, her curiosity getting the better of her.
    “Not hers specifically, but another felinoid species, yes,” Jack said. “Hey, as long as they are sentient and consenting.” Gwen and Ianto gave him looks. Jack raised a hand. “I promise not to admire her tail, ears, or whiskers. Although, tails and whiskers playing on sensitive areas….”
    “Ewwww!” came the wrinkled noses from around the table. Jack chuckled.
    “I think those cat costumes are still around here somewhere,” he commented thoughtfully. The room was cleared within seconds.
    “I did draw a line at that serpent race!” he called after them.
    When the official unofficial aircraft called to say they were 30 minutes in Jack hopped into the SUV and raced out to the secret military base that they used when needed. The night was dark, thankfully, and the plane was the same dark blue as the nighttime sky. It taxied in, coming to a stop within 20 yards of where Jack waited. The door opened, the stairs unfolded, and Colonel Ashcraft disembarked first. He met Jack halfway. The man didn’t look happy.
    “How is she?” Jack asked.
    “Not happy with her dinner,” the UNIT colonel said irritably. “Apparently the meat should be still warm and bleeding. Other than that, she seems fine. Are we going to get any information on her or her people?”
    Jack held out a small disk. “Nothing really worth while to you; her people are pre-industrial. Here’s the specs.”
    The colonel accepted the small tidbit on a disk and sneezed.
    “Bless you,” Jack responded. Ashcraft nodded his thanks.
    “Allergic to cats.”
    With a dark blanket thrown over her head, Sana scurried out of the plane and into the SUV at Jack’s direction. He made sure she was in, even her tail, before shutting the door. Jack shook the colonel’s hand and got into the driver’s seat.
    The plane was taking off even before the hatch was closed.
    “How are you?” he asked Sana. “You can take the blanket off, the windows are blacked out.” She lowered the blanket, folding it neatly across her lap, and watched the passing countryside with the eye of a warrior in unknown territory.
    “Tired,” she growled. “Colonel Ashcraft was kind enough to give me food and water, so the hunger is gone. I was unsure of what foods were safe to eat, so I ate nothing while I was in hiding. The food was old. Not fresh.”
    “The meat is our way, no offence was intended; we can get you fresh meat to your preferences.” Jack promised. “How did you get on a Qylfant cruiser?”
    He felt like a Time Agent again, he realized, as he listened to her story; rescuing someone lost from their own home was one of the things he had done that were legitimate while he was an agent. Ok, so he didn’t have a TARDIS; his jumps weren’t as smooth as a Time Lord’s, a vortex manipulator actually ‘hopped’ them around, but he could rescue someone time-lost with the best of them. Sana wasn’t too lost; she could fit in if she was unable to get back to her own time.
    She had been training one morning, running along a game trail, when the cruiser came silently by and cornered her. A stun-beam caught her, and the next thing she knew, she was on board the cruiser along with other captives. The Qylfant told them they were being sent to front lines to fight for the Qylfant Empire.
    Jack made rapid calculations in his head, trying to remember where the empire was during that particular time period. Sana confirmed with an arch of her gray whiskers.
    “Those men on the ship were discussing wars on this planet,” she commented. “Can I be of service?”
    Jack knew he had to be careful here; her offer was extremely generous. “With great respects, we must decline,” he said. “The people here are, for the most part, unaware of their place in the universal community. You would be in danger; either killed outright for being a stranger or being used in a lab, experimented upon.”
    Ears and whiskers were drawn back in shock. “Are they so primitive here? How are they not aware of visitors?”
    “None are so blind as those who refuse to see,” he told her.
    She gave a single, low growl. “Truth.”
    “The Rift opens again in two days,” he told her. “We will make sure you get through to a more suitable place. Can you tell me if the Qylfant cruiser is still in the area? How did you get away?”
    The ship had stopped for a repair and she took advantage of the distraction to steal a fighter ship from the bay; she didn’t know how to fly it well, but she had watched the pilots carefully. The ship bumped and fought her across two galaxies until she got a little bit of control. By that time, she had crashed into a forested area. Somehow, she wouldn’t say how, she had gotten hold of the emergency frequency of the Time Agents and used the ship’s communication unit to call out for help.
    Jack had long ago set receivers around the planet to pick up that code and transmit it immediately to wherever he was. This was the first time it had been used. He was relieved that it actually worked.
    He suddenly panicked. “Where’s the ship?”
    “I blew it up,” Sana commented. The sight of the upcoming city lights caught her interest. “I’m afraid your people were reporting a meteorite crash just after I left with Colonel Ashcraft and his men. They won’t find much beyond minute pieces of metals and a decent-sized hole in the ground.”
    Jack gave his earwig an irritated smack. “Put me through to Colonel Ashcraft,” he snapped. “Tosh! They blacked us out! Get me updated information on the Moosehead area; I’m sure there’s not much left of the forest where Sana was found.” He waited for a moment.
    “Colonel! Never again attempt to keep information from us. I want a complete report on all findings from that crash site fire, and I want all materials found to be sent to us. We will come out ourselves…. thank you.” He tapped the earwig again.
    “Tosh, make sure UNIT sends us everything and send a copy of the conversation to Torchwood One and UNIT DC. With extreme prejudice.” He swore in several languages, not all of them Earth-based. Sana’s tail twitched in appreciative amusement.
    When they got to the underground parking garage, Gwen and Ianto were waiting, standing guard with guns. They looked around and quickly motioned Jack and his guest into the tunnels and safe from prying eyes. No one was supposed to be in the private garage but things happened, once in a while.
    They got Sana into the Hub without incident and Jack introduced everyone. His team tried not to stare at the alien cat who was almost as tall as Jack’s own six feet as she stood next to him.
    “We hope you will find your quarters comfortable,” Gwen said bravely. “Please let us know if you need something changed or added.”
    Sana inclined her head in acknowledgment.
    “May I be of assistance while I am here?” Sana asked. “I am not used to being waited on.”
    The team shook their heads, immediately offering hospitality to their guest.
    “I think Ianto was saying something about needing help with some repairs,” Jack interrupted. Ianto looked at the long fangs and agreed.
    Sana’s broad, triangular nose twitched as she glanced at Jack then to Ianto and Gwen. Jack knew she was smelling their mating on each other, and trying to determine the correct sequence of leadership.
    “I am commander,” Jack said low, in 31st century English. It had changed enough that the team wouldn’t understand, but he didn’t put it past Tosh to figure out the linguistics. “She is second, he belongs to me.” It wasn’t quite right but it was as close as he could get to something Sana would understand and respect. “It is our way here.”
    She arched whiskers at him.
    “Ianto will show you to your quarters,” he said in current English. “Your strength will be welcome for the repairs that are needed. Yan, make sure Sana gets a good meal, first.”
    “Yes, sir.”
    Once Sana was away and down the hall with Ianto, there were sighs of relief.
    “Now that’s what I call a Star Wars cantina moment,” Owen said. “No weird, body-hopping spirit thing, no glowy floating thing, just a real live, walkin’ talkin’ alien.”
    “And this is just routine from where you come from, Jack?” Tosh asked.
    “Everyday,” Jack said. In fact, his first year on Earth made him feel claustrophobic with its lack of variety. “Tosh, get to tracking the fire in Maine and make sure UNIT gets ALL that material to us.”
    The calls began to come in within 45 minutes. Everyone in the Top Secret community wanted to chat with the alien. It wasn’t too often they ran into an alien that wasn’t making plans on destroying the planet. How many aliens came their way that they could sit and chat with over tea?
    “No,” Jack said to all of them, taking a sip of his hot tea. Someone at UNIT had a big mouth, he grumbled to himself; probably payback for taking over the situation.
    “Jack,” Ianto came into his office, a concerned frown on his face. “Do you really want her to help me?”
    “It’s a cultural thing,” Jack said. “Guests become part of the family during their stay; she’d consider it bad manners not to help. She’s very strong and quite capable; her people might be in a non-industrial age but they learn fast.”
    “Alright,” Ianto shrugged. “Don’t blame me if she blows something up.”
    While Ianto babysat, Jack went out to meet with Rhys. He knew it had to happen at some point, once Rhys discovered who Gwen’s new playmate was. He considered not going at all; Rhys’ insecurities were not Jack’s problem. One of those odd flashes of ancient memory hit him, though; voices arguing, a man and a woman,
before they settled on a compromise and peace once more came to the house. Jack didn’t remember the faces of his parents, anymore, but sometimes their voices would echo like ghosts in his head.
    “How the hell do I compete with an immortal from the future?” Rhys asked with a pained expression, his hands wrapped around a mug of coffee. Jack was glad that he didn’t need to retcon the man; Rhys kept secrets well, and Jack had to admit that neither Rhys nor Gwen had a tendency to gossip.
    “We’re not in competition,” Jack said quietly, glancing around. “This wasn’t deliberate, Rhys.”
    “I thought you were… you know… gay!” Rhys took a turn at looking around.
    “I don’t do labels,” Jack said, getting a little impatient with current social mores. “I can’t help who I fall in love with. I can tell you that Gwen and I did nothing while she was with you. This is very recent.”
    Rhys nursed the mug between his hands, looking unhappy. “Did she do anything with anyone else?”
    “Not that I’m aware of,” Jack lied. He was an expert at it; Rhys would never guess, and apparently Gwen’s previous use of the retcon on Rhys was still working. “Rhys, this is no one’s fault; Gwen took a job that forced her to become another person. If it will help with your pain, I can give you something that will make you forget.”
    Rhys jerked back in shock. “No!” he barked. “I know about that stuff! I don’t want to forget, it’s part of what makes me who I am! I love her! I did love her! And she was the most fantastic part of my life!”
    Jack leaned forward, his heart thumping against his ribs. “Are you…. Do you want her back?”
    The mug was shoved to the middle of the table. “No. Yes. No, too much has changed. I can’t keep up and she’s happy. All I want is for her to be happy. Are you going to hurt her, Jack?”
    “I have no plans on it,” Jack said evenly. “Can’t promise that I’ll be a model citizen, I have my asshole moments, but I can promise that she’s in good hands. She makes her own decisions, and I respect her for it.”
    Rhys nodded as he turned his mug around. “I suppose… all that hullabaloo at our wedding seems like fate, now. Just wasn’t meant to be.”
    Jack leaned further across the table. “Rhys, I really am sorry about that. We had nothing to do with her decision, though. We tried talking her out of changing her mind, we really did.”
    “She chose her job, is all,” Rhys commented.
    “She chose to protect you,” Jack stressed. “You and your family and her family.”
    “Then she should have quit!” Rhys hissed, looking around again.
    “She chose to protect the planet,” Jack said calmly. “She chose to allow you to find someone who would be happy at home, making babies, and snuggling in after a hard day at the desk. There’s nothing wrong with it, Rhys. Are you going to sit there and wallow or are you going to ask your secretary out?”
    Rhys was knocked back in shock. “What?”
    Jack crossed his legs, flipping his coat and straightening the edges. “Come on, mate, you can’t tell me you haven’t considered burying your face between those wonderful, full breasts? I’m told she makes excellent pies and pasties, and she has a sweet, yet strong disposition. I’ve known women like that, and I can tell you they have a lot of love and passion to dish out.”
    He watched Rhys for a moment, struggling with the internal battle. “Rhys, you are a terrific man. You’re honest, loyal, and a good friend, from what I’ve seen. Hell, if you were the least inclined, I’d do you myself; you are kinda cute.” Rhys flushed and crossed his arms. “I can guarantee you that Gwen is not the only woman who will find you attractive. I’ve seen three women in this café that have given you the eye since we’ve been sitting here. Go put your rugby kit on, show off those Welsh legs and great ass from what I’ve overheard during ‘girl’ talk, prance around for a while, and invite your secretary to the practice and game. And when you get to the play-offs, I expect an invitation for my entire team. When you marry the woman, we expect invites to that, too. Just don’t sit us near your mother.”
    While Rhys struggled with Jack’s plan of action for his life, Jack stood, put money on the table, gave Rhys’ shoulder a pat, and walked back toward base. Although prepared to watch Gwen marry the man, Jack knew it would have been the wrong choice for her. The wrong choice for the world. The world needed Gwen Cooper not Mrs. Rhys Williams.
    Jack felt his heart quicken a little at the thought of being present when Earth changed. A name would be remembered throughout the centuries, and it wasn’t his name.
    “Well, he looks in one piece,” Gwen said when he came in through the rolling door. Ianto strolled by.
    “Looks like we can keep the steak for the grill,” he commented.
    Tosh wrinkled her nose. “Steak is much better without having been basted with ‘black-eye’,” she commented.
    “We talked,” Jack stressed. “It was a pleasant talk.”
    “Is he alright, Jack?” Gwen asked, following him into his office and giving him her best sad puppy look.
    “He will be,” Jack told her as he swung behind his desk and sat. “He’s hurt and a little confused, but he’ll work it out. Gwen, I think we need to make him forget.”
    “No!” she said in a panic, shaking her head. “He won’t give anything away! Don’t make him…”
    Jack leaned forward, clasping his hands on the desk as he studied her. “Gwen, it isn’t a case of whether or not I trust him, nor is it a case of his pain; my concern is a little closer to home. I’m concerned that someone will get hold of him and make him talk. In his current state, he’s apt to say a little too much to a sympathetic ear during a night out with the lads. I’ll do it.”
    Gwen swiped at her face. “Sometimes I hate you, Jack,” she bit out, and snatched a retcon from the small box on Jack’s desk.
    “I’ll do it!”
    Jack watched her leave, feeling her pain. She was very confused over all the changes in her life during the past couple of years, especially during the past couple of months. He opened his computer, put in the password that not even Tosh knew about, and opened a file that had been read hundreds of times already. Sometimes he hated him, too.
    Watching Ianto and Sana from his office began to lighten his mind and heart. Ianto wasn’t used to having a cleaning crew, and he kept stepping on Sana’s tail. The first time she warned him off with a hiss, he was so startled that he literally jumped over the railing and down to the next level. Owen fell from his chair, rolling in laughter.
    Jack wasn’t a complete idiot; he knew to lock up the toys and goodies that were usually lying around. More than once he had come across a damsel in distress and had been taken for ride. He couldn’t allow the Cat to die on his watch, though, because who knew how important her bloodline was to the future of the Cats? One day, in a far distant future, they would evolve into the dominant race of the galaxy, taking over from the humans who had begun to die out. He really needed to get Sana back home and preserve that timeline. When she thought she was being innocent while inspecting a few hands-off items, he knew he really needed to get her off his planet.
    Ianto had called a local slaughter house, put in his order, and went upstairs to wait for the delivery. Sana smelled the fresh kill and was a happy kitty. She did need to be told that Myfanwy was off-limits.
    At dinner, Ianto watched in horrid fascination as Sana tore into a hunk of raw, freshly slaughtered beef. Blood dripped from her long incisors. He shuddered, pushed his plate away, and picked at his salad. Owen had taken one look at the hunk of meat and declared the need for quiet time. Tosh offered to see him home.
Gwen wasn’t back from her earlier errand.
    “Jack,” Ianto said softly from the region of Jack’s chest later in the evening.
    “Why did you bring her here? How do you know she isn’t here to steal something?”
    “As long as she’s here, we can keep an eye on her,” Jack said as he ran his fingertips along Ianto’s shoulders. “When the rift opens, we’ll put her through and not worry about her anymore.” Before heading off to bed, Jack and Ianto had locked down the Hub even tighter than usual. Gwen had the codes to get in, if she decided to come back at some point during the night.
    Ianto leaned up, propping his head in his hand. “Are you supposed to marry her?” he asked curiously. Jack looked at him, wrinkling his brow.
    “No, Gwen.” Ianto’s mouth tilted up in humor. Jack’s brow cleared as he once more wondered about Ianto’s brain.
    “No,” he said. “Not that I’m aware of.”
    “Do you think you’ll want to marry her?”
    Jack turned them over until he was half-laying across Ianto. He got comfortable, sliding a leg between the younger man’s legs. “What’s on your mind, Ianto?” Ianto shrugged as he traced Jack’s broad shoulders. “Nothing, really,” he said.
    “I’m just curious; you know a lot about the future in general, how much of your future do you know?”
    “And how much do I know about yours and Gwen’s and everyone else’s?” Jack guessed.
    “I suppose.”
    “I don’t know,” Jack said. “I know a lot of general information about Earth’s future and very little of specific people.”
    Ianto shifted impatiently. “Jack…”
    Jack frowned. “No, Yan,” he said firmly. “I don’t know what’s gotten into you and Gwen, lately, but I’ll tell you the same thing I told her –the more I tell you about the future, the more it alters. If I thought for one moment that you were doing something that was completely wrong, I’d tell you. Until then, forget all about my history. You just live your life. Can you understand that?”
    Ianto took his hands from Jack’s shoulders and slid them under the pillow beneath his head. “I understand,” he said, although clearly not liking it.
    “Good,” Jack responded. He softened a little and put a kiss on the inside of Ianto’s bicep before nuzzling the pit hair, which he knew was ticklish. Ianto smiled and twitched.
    “Don’t move your hands,” Jack warned him. Ianto’s eyes heated up; he knew the rules. Move and the game ends.
    Ianto had been such a serious person that it made Jack cringe. No one should be that serious, life was too short. For most people, anyway. So after Ianto joined TW3, Jack began to systematically poke at those titanium walls. Landing on top of Ianto while trying to catch a pterodactyl that had come through the rift, completely lost, confused and out of her time, had produced instant sparks which surprised not only Jack but also the completely straight Ianto. It wasn’t until after Lisa died, and Jack discovered Ianto’s secret reason for joining the team, that he began to plan the over-throw of those final walls that had been built up inside of Ianto.
    Contrary to popular belief, Jack didn’t intentionally try to split up lovers. He couldn’t help it if his swish attracted every Tom, Dick and Harriet. He respected couple-space. He hadn’t always but living 100 years in a primitive, puritanical Earth had taught him about honor and respect.
    Teaching Ianto to have fun had been like pulling teeth. It had never occurred to Ianto that sex could be fun, that it didn’t always have to end in a mind-altering orgasm. Trees, the ocean, streams, rocks, and unoccupied houses all served as locations for hi-jinx with Jack, as did mind-games such as “Don’t move the hands” or “Things to do with a stopwatch” or “Catch me if you can.”.
    Paint-balls filled with massage oil was fun, too. It had been an eye-opening experience for Ianto. As self-confidence returned to Ianto (he’s the one who came up with the stopwatch games), Jack found himself loving the younger man more and more. There was a true friend in Ianto, something that Jack had long been without and hadn’t realized how much a friend was needed until he discovered that he could sleep in Ianto’s arms. It had been a long time since he could sleep in someone’s arms without needing to keep one eye open.
    Jack wasn’t really sleeping later in the evening when he felt the side of the bed tip; he had been going over plans in his head revolving around Sana and her circumstances.
    “You alright?” Ianto whispered. Jack was glad the two had become close.
    “I will be,” Gwen whispered back. “It had to be done, I know it did.”
    She lay on her side, Jack in the middle, and took Ianto’s hand which had been laying on Jack’s back.
    “I’m sorry,” Ianto said.
    “I wasn’t going to sneak it on him, though,” she said. “We talked and he took it himself.”
    “What story did you plant?”
    “That we had fallen through the cracks of my new job,” she said. “I kept it as close as possible.”
    “Good,” Ianto said. “Well, I mean not good but…”
    “I understand,” Gwen said. Jack could hear the small smile in her voice. That smile was a beautiful thing to see.
    “Ianto, I know this is none of my business, but would you tell me about the first time you and Jack, you know…?”
    Ianto moved, laying his cheek against Jack’s back. “It was a couple of weeks after Lisa died,” he said. “After I came back, I beat the crap out of him. He just stood there and let me do it. I didn’t realize that he had tears on his face. I collapsed and he held me. When I woke up, I kissed him. We didn’t really do much, just kissing and touching, but I think something inside of me began to heal.”
    “I thought…. I mean, I think we all thought that you and he had been sleeping together for a while, now,” Gwen said, frowning.
    “I know,” Ianto said. “We’ve been fooling around for a while. We had full-on sex only a few months ago.”
    “Is he your first?” Gwen asked gently, smiling.
    “No,” Ianto admitted, also smiling. “I've always known I was bisexual. Didn't do a lot with it, but it's always been there.” Jack was taking mental notes……
    Ianto leaned over, thumping Jack's back. “Oh, hey, there’s a retro this weekend; would you go with me? Jack hates those things.”
    “Yeah, sure, sounds like fun.”
    The two eventually fell asleep on him, talking like a couple of girlfriends at a sleep-over.
    It wasn’t Gwen or Ianto that woke Jack up a few hours later, it was the proximity alert stationed next to his bed. Jack jumped up, unceremoniously dislodging his bedmates, and ran into the main Hub to check the computers.
    “What’s going on?” Gwen asked, pulling a robe close. She looked over his shoulder and was immediately awake. Someone had crossed through the Rift and was closing in on the Hub.
    “You should get dressed, Jack,” Gwen reminded him. Jack looked down. He was naked. He passed Ianto in the hall and was handed a robe.
    “Get Owen and Tosh in here!” Jack called out as he jogged past.
    It took only seconds to get into clothes and boots, and then to Sana’s quarters.
    “Who’s after you?” he demanded as he slammed the door open. The large Cat hissed in warning. “You need to tell me now or I’ll stake you out as a sacrificial offering!”
    “Time agents,” came the growl.
    “What did you do?”
    “I stole the royal crown from Rimaldi 6.”
    Jack swore, slammed her door shut, and locked it.
    He could care less about the Rimaldi crown; the last thing he needed was his own ex-comrades finding him. He knew it was going to happen some day, though, might as well be now.
    “Gwen!” Jack yelled. She followed him into his office and shut the door. “You are going to North America. I want you to track Sana’s movements from the time her ship entered our airspace to the time she stepped into this building. You are looking for a silver and ruby crown, like this.” He drew a quick sketch and pushed it toward her. “It’s pretty small; the head it goes on is a lot smaller than a human head. It has traces of ionium in the metal; you can track it that way. Take Ianto with you, I’ll have Tosh notify Unit DC that you are coming over and to keep out of your way. And if that…… swiped it while rounding up Sana, I want his skin on my floor.”
    “Got it,” Gwen said, not questioning his anger. She left his office, grabbed Ianto and their equipment, and headed out toward the garage.
    When the Time Agent got to Torchwood, Jack was waiting at the front door. The sight of him stopped the agent dead in his tracks.
    “Oh, my,” Corollas breathed, eyes widening. “So this is where you’ve been hiding. We all thought you were dead.”
    “Keep thinking it,” Jack said.
    “Jack!” Owen came running, gun drawn, and stood a step behind Jack.
    “Jack?” Corollas questioned. Jack lifted his chin.
    “Captain Jack Harkness,” he warned the shorter man. Jack took pleasure in the fact his ex-partner wasn’t aging gracefully.
    “Oh, yes? Captain John Hart. Where is she? And where did you get that gods-awful accent?”
    Jack took note in the similarities of the name chosen on the spot; ‘John’ never could think for himself.
    “You’ll need to be a little more specific,” Jack said. “Actually, I much prefer you get off my planet. Now.”
    “Tall Cat,” John said, waving a hand over his head and ignoring the order. “Long teeth. Crown with red tear drops. She stole it from me.”
    Jack barked a laugh. “From you? More likely she’s your partner and you both stole it from the Rimaldi.”
    “Jealous?” John purred, stepping closer. Owen waved the gun at him.
    “Hardly,” Jack said, rolling his eyes. “I had sex with you for 2 weeks; that doesn’t constitute a relationship.”
    “Five years!” John corrected with an irritated snap.
    “It was a time-loop -2 weeks.”
    Owen cleared his throat. “Look, I’m sorry to interrupt this lover’s quarrel, but could we get on with the smashing and bashing part?”
    “Sure,” Jack said. His arm shot out, his fist hitting John square on the chin.     Much to Owen’s amazement, John not only fell on his ass but he fell on his ass ten feet away. John jumped to his feet and ran at Jack. They tumbled to the ground, fists making raw meat of their faces. Jack stood, grabbed the front of John’s coat in his fist, and slammed the man against the wall, lifting him a foot from the ground in order to get a better belly target. John kicked out, sending Jack flying backwards and into a trashcan. He jumped to his feet and ran at the other man.
    The wooden door of the shack was shattered by the impact of their bodies. Owen looked around before following them into the building.
    “Tosh, make sure this gets erased,” he said wearily into his earwig.
    The men battled their way through the pier hut where a hidden elevator took them under the bay and into the Hub. Jack was punched and he fell down the concrete stairs. He blacked out for a moment and then woke up again, knowing he had broken his neck in the fall and was now being repaired. When he got up, John squinted at him.
    “A broken rib, at least,” he commented in confusion.
    “Several,” Jack said, wiping blood from his mouth as he monitored his insides.
    Several ribs were quickly knitting together, as was the broken clavicle which he had snapped into place. “You always did hit like a baby.”
    John leaped down the stairs at him. Jack ducked and the man flew past him, crashing into Tosh’s desk. A gun-butt was brought down against the back of his head and he collapsed on the floor. Jack took the few steps across the floor to them.
    “I was having fun,” he complained to Tosh.
    “Sorry,” she said. “Next time someone is beating the crap out of you, I’ll let them.”
    Jack frowned. “He wasn’t beating me.”
    She handed him a tissue for blood pouring from his mouth. A tooth came out.
    Another one would take its place by the next day.
    Ok, so maybe he had gotten a little soft over the years…..
    “Put him in a cell,” Jack told Owen. “When we send Sana through, we’ll send him, too. They deserve each other.”
    “Do we want his toys?” Tosh asked, kneeling and looking over all the weapons and stuff that were attached to John’s body.
    “No,” Jack said. “Then he’d definitely be back.”
    “Won’t he come back anyway?” she asked, getting to her feet.
    “He can try,” Jack said. “He’ll have to find us without his ship’s guidance system, and then through a few million years of Earth history and countries for each of those histories. He doesn’t have the life-years for it.”
    “Who is he?” she asked.
    “One of his ex’s,” Owen told her, jerking his head at Jack. Jack frowned.
    “For 2 weeks!” he emphasized. “We were Time Agents together, and we got stuck in a time-loop with nothing better to do!”
    “He’s a Time Agent?” Owen asked. “Interrogation comes to mind.”
    “I don’t think so,” Jack said. He bent, hauled the unconscious man over his shoulder, and carried him into the cells where he dropped him onto the cold slab. On his way back toward the main center, he took a stun gun out of the rack and went to the guest room. He opened the door, shot Sana, and hauled her, too, into the cells where he put her across from John. The Weevils sniffed at them and wrinkled their already wrinkled lips with low growls. Jack removed the wrist band from John, took the time crystal out, and replaced the watch. There was no sign of Sana’s time watch.
    Jack looked at his watch, waited, and then turned up the sound on the CCTV in the cells. His new guests were waking up.
    “No!” Sana screeched when she spotted her partner across from her. Jack smiled.
    “Jack, I thought Time Agents were like police,” Owen said when he came back into the main Hub.
    “They were supposed to be,” Jack told him. “Not enough oversight.”
    “But you could actually time travel?” Tosh asked.
    “Of a sort,” Jack said. “More like jumping around and hoping to hit the right time in the right place. Made a mess, which a certain Time Lord went around correcting.”
    “And they’re dead now?” Tosh asked, frowning as she pieced bits together.
    “Only one left,” Jack said. He went into his office and shut the door.
    When the technology became available, Jack had been one of the first agents recruited. The initial concept of Time Agent was a good one; the legendary Time Lords were no more, and more and more evidence of time disruption was taking place. Someone needed to fix things before the universe unraveled. It didn’t take long before the new Time Agents began taking ‘souvenirs.’ They became menaces to the galaxy, who quickly became disenchanted with them. Jack didn’t attempt to tell it otherwise, he did his share of pillaging, but he tried to do it where it wouldn’t be noticed, and where no one would be hurt. Corollas always laughed at him, calling him weak. A meeting with a real Time Lord showed Jack the light.
    It took two days for Gwen and Ianto to come home with their prize. They were preceded by an angry Unit commander who cried foul at Torchwood’s invasion.
    “Just in time,” Jack said when they walked through the door. Gwen handed him a small case. Jack opened it, gazed upon the six-inch diameter crown, the tiny, priceless, ruby-red teardrops winking at him. “Where was it?”
    “You won’t believe it,” Gwen said, biting her lip in humor.
    “Sitting on the head of a baby Jesus at a nearby church,” Ianto told him. Jack chuckled and shut the case.
    “Jack, come with us!” John yelled when Jack went into the cells and gave the box a gentle shake.
    “This is my home,” Jack warned him, a glint in his eyes. “Stay away.”
    “What’s here?” John asked, eyes glinting with greed as he leaned into the clear cell wall. “What are you keeping to yourself, eh? Share with us!”
    Jack shook his head. “You would never understand,” he said. Thankfully, it hadn’t occurred to Torchwood, in any of the centuries, that Jack didn’t belong on Earth anymore than anyone else who fell through the rift.
    The rift had been open for a few hours and would remain open for a couple of days, this time. It was a dangerous time for the Torchwood team; lots of things fall through whenever the rift is open for so long. Time Agents had no place in Earth’s near future, and these two particular ones needed to be gone. They were shackled and marched out of the Hub and into the SUV to be driven to the rift opening. Jack gagged them to make sure neither of them said anything that the locals weren’t ready to hear. Sana made quick work of the leather gag with her sharp teeth, so a steel ball-gag was used on her.
    “Well, she did a good job cleaning,” Ianto said as they were pushed through the glowing rift.

Chapter 5: Jack Needs A Vacation

by Michele Briere
Rating: R
Pairings: Jack/Ianto/Gwen
Summary: While Owen is in mourning for the loss of his mother, which wasn’t much of a loss, the team gets a rescue call from North America. Jack is irritated at the curiosity of certain humans, having forgotten about the needs of life-partners, and the last thing he needs is a visit from another Time Agent.

Note: I’m using Captain John but not as he was introduced on the show. I don’t want to copy someone else’s story. He’s a great character, though, so we’ll play with him.

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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6