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Fic: Stolen Hope 10/?

Title: Stolen Hope 10/?
Rating: Teen
Warnings: Very vague mentions of sex, some coarse language, terrible pick up lines and Owen being crabby
Pairings: Jack/Ianto, slight Owen/Tosh later on.
Summary: Hope is a powerful emotion and in some corners of the galaxy, hope is a delicacy. Where has the alien from the crash site gone and just what does Ianto and a Jubilee Pizza delivery girl have to do with all this?
Chapter summary: In which there is gratuitous snuggling
Previous chapters: Can be found here
A/N: I am so, so, so sorry about how long I've taken to write this. End of year ceremonies for school and exams starting and November 5th festivities have cluttered things up a bit. So in apology, most of this chapter is the gratuitous snuggling mentioned earlier. Enjoy and have yourself a brilliant day/night/evening.

Tasha had always been terrified of hospitals, ever since she was a little girl. It had never made sense to her that a place which existed solely to make people feel better should be so stark and cold. The doctors and nurses may be kind and address her by her name but she knew they really only thought of her by her national health number. It was too white, the ward filled with the soft breathing, coughs and groans in the other beds. She had pulled the curtains around her bed and huddled under the covers and tried to block out the memories she had of this place.

How Mattie had been brought here and had never come back home.

“Natasha?”

She raised her head, blinking back the hot tears welling in her eyes. The nurse was peering around the curtain, a chirpy smile plastered across her face.

“Dr Harper has just arrived to see you,” she said as she helped Tasha to sit up, straightening her blankets and smoothing them down.

“Who is Dr Harper?” Tasha asked.

The nurse smiled at her. “A specialist.”

Tasha nodded. Another one. She had woken up about two hours ago and had been prodded and poked at by at least five doctors in that space of time. Despite their cheery smiles and comforting words, she knew they were at a total loss as to what had caused her to collapse. She didn't know either. She would have asked Shaal if she knew but her friend was nowhere to be found. Tasha didn't mind. She knew Shaal would be nearby, keeping her safe. Because Shaal wanted to help.

She smiled dreamily.

“Hello Natasha,” a voice said, bringing her out of her thoughts.

The man who had pulled the curtain back was a skinny, dark haired young man with sharp, keen eyes that flicked over her and made her feel suddenly conscious of her unwashed hair and hospital issue pyjamas. At his shoulder was a brunette woman in a leather jacket. Tasha felt a twinge of jealousy. This woman held herself with confidence and her wide eyes were ridiculously pretty. She smiled kindly at her and Tasha realised with a jolt that unlike the regulation smiles of the nurses, this smile was a genuine one.

“I'm Dr Owen Harper,” the man said as he sat down on one of the uncomfortable plastic chairs at her bedside. “This is my associate Gwen Cooper.”

“Hi,” Tasha said shyly.

The woman nodded. “Hello.”

“Right then Natasha-”

“Just Tasha thanks,” Tasha found herself saying. “Only my mum calls me Natasha.”

Dr Harper paused for a moment then nodded. “Alright Tasha. Let's see what's up shall we?” he said, producing a handful of medical tools out of the pocket of his white lab coat, which was covered in badges.

Tasha sat still, opened her mouth when she was told so Dr Harper could peer down it, let him shine a light in her eyes and take a blood sample. All the while Gwen stood quietly, smiling slightly when Tasha glanced at her. How she could manage to stand there and not look awkward was utterly beyond Tasha. Finally Dr Harper put the last piece of equipment back in his pockets and stood back.

“Right, from what I can tell, you're perfectly healthy,” he said with a small smile. Tasha couldn't help but feel that perhaps Dr Harper wasn't a man who smiled genuinely very often. The smile was kind, but almost rusty in a way and it didn't quite reach his eyes. “I'm just going to have a word with one of the nurses and we'll leave you in peace.”

With this he pulled the curtain back and was gone, leaving Tasha and Gwen alone in the tiny space. Gwen waited a moment, then sat down on the chair that Dr Harper had just vacated.

“How are you Tasha?” she asked, her soft voice calming after the loud cheerfulness of the nurses.

“Well nothing hurts,” Tasha replied, sighing inwardly. She felt fine, she didn't know what else these medical types wanted her to say.

Gwen shook her head. “No, I mean,” she paused. “How are you coping? Hospitals aren't the most enjoyable of places.”

“Oh,” Tasha tried to cover her surprise. “Well, it's a bit scary I guess.”

Gwen nodded sympathetically. “Who called the ambulance for you?”

“A friend of mine, Monica. She was dropping round, wanted to see if I fancied going out for a drink,” Tasha said laughing slightly.

“Lucky she found you,” Gwen said, staring at Tasha in a way that made her feel as though the older woman was looking right through her skin and into her mind. Almost as if she knew something about her and needed to make sure that it was true, like how Monica studied her after she'd told her she liked her shoes when she didn't. “Has anything... Strange happened to you Tasha?”

Tasha blinked. “What like?” she asked, her thoughts instantly flitting to Shaal. Could she tell Gwen about her? Then it suddenly felt as though a wall of steel closed in her mind. She didn't want to tell this woman anything.

Gwen shrugged. “Just, anything odd. Made any new friends lately?”

“You think I've been seeing dealers or something? I don't do drugs,” Tasha said, slightly sharper than she would have liked to.

“I'm sorry, I didn't mean it like that,” Gwen reassured her, placing a hand on her arm. “We just want to get to the bottom of this Tasha so you can go home.”

“How do my friends have anything to do with that?”

“Just in case one of them had done something to hurt you.”

“No,” Tasha said, hanging her head. “I've only got Monica here. All my friends were at home.”

Gwen squeezed her arm gently. “I'm sorry.”

“It's okay.”

Tasha's mind was reeling. She hadn't meant to say that, any of it. She tried to think of anything else to say or to apologise but she couldn't. Her mouth wouldn't open, she couldn't raise her head. It was like she had been frozen in place. Gwen didn't seem to notice, she was too busy being sympathetic and couldn't see the wide-eyed panic spreading across Tasha's face.

The moment of silence was broken when Dr Harper stuck his head back around the curtain.

“Gwen, we've got to go,” he said tersely, then nodded at Tasha. “Look after yourself.”

Gwen rolled her eyes and winked at Tasha. “I'll see you around. Hope you feel better.”

Tasha nodded and waited until their footsteps had vanished down the hallway. Slowly she began to regain control of her body, her limbs relaxing and her thoughts becoming more coherent. She rolled over and pulled the blankets back up over her head. She didn't know what was wrong with her. She just wanted to go home.

Out in the hospital carpark, Gwen and Owen were climbing into the SUV. Gwen was thoughtful. As far as people went, Tasha Parker seemed to be one of the quieter ones. Shy and polite, a little bit awkward in an endearing manner. She hardly seemed like the kind of person to be mixed up in a Torchwood case. But there had been that slightly skittish, worried look in her eyes when Gwen had asked if anything was wrong. There was something that she hadn't told them and probably wasn't liable to do.

“Jack said that these creatures brainwash their victims,” she said thoughtfully.

Owen glanced at her, then turned his eyes back to the road. “Yeah. Do you think it's been messing with her head?”

“I think we might need to take a look around her flat,” Gwen said slowly. “There was something about her that just didn't seem quite right. I asked her if anything strange had happened to her and it was like, oh I don't know, a light just went off. She closed up completely.”

Owen snorted. “That's why you don't ask anyone involved with aliens if anything weird happened. They tend to get the drift.”

Gwen resisted the urge to smack him one. “So what did you find out from her then?”

“She's perfectly healthy,” Owen said shortly. “There's nothing wrong with her that would have caused a collapse. She's not overtired, she's not dehydrated, she's not been abusing substances. I think Jack's Acherite or whatever might have been using her as a snack.”

“Jack said that they can only feed on the willing,” Gwen said, trying to remember exactly what he had told them about the creatures up in the boardroom yesterday. “The hopeful. So she must know what's going on.”

“We'll get back and get Tosh to give us the address.”

Gwen looked at him slyly. “Why don't you and Tosh go and look around?”

Owen raised an eyebrow. “And drag her away from her computer? I'm a cruel man Gwen, but even I have standards.”

She laughed. “No, she can scan for any residual energy and it'll get her outside. She spends too long shut up with that computer.”

“Yeah, alright,” Owen said as he overtook an old lady driving at least ten miles slower than the speed limit.

XxxXxxX


Ianto usually had two kinds of morning. There were the mornings at the Hub where he'd wake up crammed into Jack's tiny bed and would have to haul himself out of the bunker to wash and dress before everyone else arrived. Jack would normally have gone out or would be sat up at his desk, reading reports and checking Rift activity. Then there were the mornings at home where he'd wake up sprawled across his bed and could walk around making his breakfast in just his pyjamas with no fear of bumping into Owen and could sing in the shower without being overheard.

However there was a third kind of morning that was slowly becoming more common. The mornings where he woke up in his own bed, wrapped in a warm embrace, the gentle sounds of someone else's breathing near his ear and the steady thump of a heartbeat under his fingertips. He'd look up into bright blue eyes and be met halfway with a kiss that generally tasted of morning breath, but it didn't really matter. They were still some of the best kisses he'd ever had.

“Morning.”

It was always whispered, as if Jack was scared of disturbing the quiet around them. Sometimes the greeting would be followed by the rustling of sheets as he pressed himself closer or the wet smack of an exuberantly sloppy kiss but mostly it was just the soft greeting followed by a gentle caress. Ianto would just stare back, admiring the contrast of Jack's dark hair against the white of his pillowcases, the way the sheets clung to his body and he would wonder just how long Jack had been staring at him for.

He trailed his fingers over Jack's chest, enjoying the feeling of the smooth skin as he traced the lines of his ribs and relished the small shivers he got in response. Jack grabbed his hand and pressed it to his lips. They shifted closer together and Jack buried his face into the ruffled mess of Ianto's hair, breathing in his scent. They lay like this for was either minutes or hours, Ianto couldn't tell. He was warm, he felt safe and he kept slipping in and out of a light doze. Finally he woke up enough to realise that as comfortable as he may be, he was absolutely starving and was beginning to verge on being desperate to use the bathroom. He gave Jack one last kiss before disentangling himself and getting up.

He grimaced as the chill of the morning prickled over his flesh, making him break out in goosebumps. He pulled his pyjama bottoms on and shuffled off to the bathroom. When he came out, Jack wasn't in bed, but judging from the smell of bacon filling the house, he wasn't far away. He went downstairs and was treated to the sights of Jack Harkness frying bacon in just his underwear. He laughed and wished he had a camera, Gwen would have fits if she could have seen it.

“What?” Jack asked, perfectly dignified. “I said I'd cook breakfast.”

“I'm not complaining,” Ianto said, holding his hands up in surrender.

“Good,” Jack said with a wink. “I could lose the boxers too you know.”

Ianto rolled his eyes and shook his head but smiled. It was nice to have breakfast made for him for a change, even if Jack's cooking prowess didn't stretch much further than anything that could be fried or shoved in the microwave for a few minutes. He watched Jack clumsily crack eggs into the pan, cussing at the broken yolk and wave the spatula around as he chattered, dripping bacon grease all over the floor. Ianto didn't mind. Well, he did a little bit, but he could make Jack clean it up.

“Is this done?” Jack asked, prodding at the eggs with a frown.

Ianto peered over his shoulder. “Looks alright,” he said and took two plates from an overhead cabinet.

The bacon was just a little too crispy and the eggs a bit runny, but it didn't matter. Ianto was just happy to sit down to a decent breakfast for once, rather than scavenging cold pizza out of the fridge back at the Hub or cramming some form of pastry down his throat while speeding out to a job in the SUV. He glanced at Jack who was currently trying to stuff his breakfast between two slices of bread and was struck yet again by just how much he cared for him, terrible table manners and all.

He quickly glanced away when Jack met his gaze, clearing his throat noisily. “So, this alien, what is it?”

“Acherite,” Jack said and took a huge bite out of the dripping egg and bacon sandwich he'd made. Ianto waited patiently for him to finish chewing and carry on. “It's basically one massive brain with a skeleton. Beautiful creatures though, but they have a nasty habit of getting your hopes up then draining all of your energy and emotions.”

“You've come across them before?” Ianto asked, neatly placing his knife and fork side by side on his plate.

Jack nodded absently, preoccupied with his breakfast monstrosity. “Slap bang in the middle of a civil war. Blundered into some rebels, got hit with some pretty powerful pheromones to keep me close by. Then they power their weapons off my energy and leave me face down in a burning building to die.”

Ianto frowned. “Was this before the... Accident?”

“No. I was fresh out of the Agency.”

“Then how did you survive?”

Jack raised his arm and pointed to his wrist strap. “I had just enough energy to activate this and teleport out of there. I went to New New York Hospital, spent a few days being fussed over by Catkind nuns and then had to book outta there fast before anyone from the Agency came after me.”

Ianto stretched and leaned back in his chair. “So why is one here?”

Jack shrugged. “Accident I think. It must have survived the crash and been drawn to the city to feed. After that... Well, I don't know why it's tried getting into the Hub. We'll figure it out, we usually do.”

“Do we have any leads?”

“Your little friend Natasha Parker.”

Ianto frowned. “Who?”

“Delivery girl.”

“Oh right. Tasha,” Ianto paused. “What's she got to do with it?”

Jack shrugged. “She turned up just a few hours before you went down and she was recently hospitalised for collapse from no known causes. It reeks of Acherite.”

Ianto shivered. How long had Tasha been involved with the alien? She always seemed so... Ordinary really. He didn't mean it unkindly, she just wasn't the kind of person you associated with alien invaders. But then, what did he know about her really? She was quiet, a bit nervous really, had a bit of a chat and then went. Not like Becky or Sam, they were noisy and talked far too much. It was a bit weird to think of her as helping an alien overdose him. He shifted uncomfortably and began to clear the table to take his mind off it.

Jack got up to help and took the dirty plates off Ianto and stacked them in the dishwasher. Then he gently took Ianto by his wrist and pulled him closer to kiss him gently.

“I'm gonna have to go soon, they'll be needing me back at the Hub.”

Ianto nodded and tried not to pout like a sulky toddler. As much as he wanted to keep Jack here all to himself, he knew that Jack had to go. It didn't mean that he had to like it however.

Jack nuzzled at his neck. “Come on, let's go take a shower.”

“A shower?”

“A shower.”

“Ah. Lead on.”

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
lilferret
Nov. 6th, 2011 06:32 am (UTC)
Yes, Ianto, a shower. Boys. :p Loved it.
misfitmiss
Nov. 6th, 2011 07:58 am (UTC)
Boys indeed... Glad you enjoyed it~
bluelilacs
Nov. 6th, 2011 08:22 am (UTC)
I hope they can get Tasha away from Shaal before she causes her serious harm, although it may be a bit difficult to catch an invisible alien.

Love the boys waking up together, cuddling and kissing and not wanting their time in bed to end quite yet. Very sweet how they lie together just sharing tender touches, gazing into each others eyes and enjoying the peace and quiet.

It's so telling when Ianto isn't bothered by morning breath, grease on the floor, over-cooked bacon, under-cooked eggs, or terrible table manners. Of course, having Jack making and eating breakfast in just his boxers would be enough to put everything else clear out of your head, especially when breakfast in underwear time is directly followed by shower time. Such yummy visuals!

And then comes the "Duh!" moment, cuz how could I possibly forget the famous wrist strap? Obviously, he had to have gotten there somehow in the first place, but thanks for the explanation.
misfitmiss
Nov. 7th, 2011 08:36 am (UTC)
I'm glad you enjoyed the chapter~

I'm actually really glad you pointed out that I hadn't mentioned how Jack got away, I should have done it in the last chapter really rather than leaving it to be explained later.
bluelilacs
Nov. 7th, 2011 03:27 pm (UTC)
Realistically, it probably really didn't need explaining as everyone else probably figured it out to begin with. Some days I'm just a little slow on the uptake. Lol.
lazy_8s
Nov. 6th, 2011 06:38 pm (UTC)

Great chapter! Looks like the Team will be watching Tasha, to lead them to Shaal. It will be interesting to see how Shaal reacts when she realizes that Torchwood is onto her. Also, I love when Jack is all domestic, which leads to a Shower. Ianto is certainly in for a treat. :)
misfitmiss
Nov. 7th, 2011 08:37 am (UTC)
He deserves a bit of a treat, poor thing. I've been utterly nasty to him for the past who knows how many chapters
chironsgirl
Nov. 7th, 2011 12:15 am (UTC)
Nekkid....wet....Jack....*thump*
XOXOXO
oh_my_janto
Nov. 7th, 2011 05:57 am (UTC)
Just caught up with this - great story! Totally digging on jealous!Jack.
misfitmiss
Nov. 7th, 2011 08:36 am (UTC)
Thank you very much, jealous!Jack is so much fun to write
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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