Small Mysteries

A/N: This chapter is missing a scene that is very explicitly NC-17. Should you care to read the chapter in its entirety, with said scene included (ie, Jack, Ianto and shower nakedness), then you will need to trot over to "A Teaspoon and an Open Mind", and read it there.

Half an hour later saw them all seated in the Hub’s boardroom, with the odd-shaped box sitting in the middle of the table, like a strange, slightly misshapen centrepiece. Two chairs had been added to accommodate the newest members of the team, giving a somewhat brimming feel to the table.

“Okay, Tosh,” Jack stated, giving her the floor.

“It’s no weapon,” she stated in reply, sounding completely certain of her conclusion. “I’ll need more time, but as near as I can tell, it’s just a box.”

“A box,” Owen said flatly, looking from the item to Jack. “You were going to let five weevils chow down on you over a bloody box.”

“We had no way of knowing that it was just a box, Owen,” Ianto spoke up tersely. “For all we knew, it might have contained a dangerous weapon.”

“Do we know what’s in it yet?” Alex asked, sensing an oncoming argument, and being eager to avoid it.

“Well, no, not yet,” Tosh answered, looking just slightly uncomfortable at having to admit that. “It appears to be hermetically sealed, perhaps with a time lock.”

“As in, it won’t open until a certain time?” Bobby queried. He felt slightly foolish, but had long since decided that it was better off to ask slightly idiotic questions, rather than end up in trouble later on because he’d been too proud to speak up. Jack, for his part, looked pleased at Bobby’s inquiry, and nodded.

“That’s right. A time lock would mean that the box will only open when a certain time arrives. It may be a calendar point in time, or a time that’s triggered by a particular event. Either way, that’s basically what a time lock is.”

“And that’s what that thing is sealed with?” Gwen asked.

“Nope,” Jack answered bluntly, surprising all of them. “It isn’t a time lock on that box. There’s a different kind of seal on it.”

He reached across the table and picked the box up. It wasn’t particularly big, and it sat easily in the palms of his hands. As he brought it closer to himself, an odd look flashed across his features and he visibly winced, the box tumbling out of his hands. In an instant, Ianto was there at his side, his face creased with worry.

“Jack? What’s wrong?”

Jack shook his head, looking confused and momentarily lost.

“Nothing... I’m fine. I just...”

“Jack Harkness, lost for words,” Owen snorted. He leaned to the side and nudged Alex lightly. “Enjoy the moment. It doesn’t happen very often.”

“Shut it, Owen,” Gwen snapped at him angrily. Owen glowered back at her, but didn’t argue further.

“What is it?” Bobby asked quietly and tensely. Jack shuddered just a little before running his fingers through his hair.

“It’s not a time lock,” he said again, this time with even more certainty. “It’s a psychic lock.”

“A what?” Owen burst out. Jack reached out tentatively towards the box again, but stopped short of actually touching it.

“A psychic lock, Owen. What it means is that only the one who sealed it will be able to open it.” He shook his head. “It’s not dangerous. It’s most likely just got some kid’s keepsakes in it.”

“So, what you’re saying is that it’s basically a treasure box?” Alex asked in surprise, and Jack smiled and nodded.

“That’s about right, Alex.”

She huffed lightly in bemusement.

“Psychic aliens. I’m going to hear something new every day on this job, aren’t I?”

A smattering of laughter erupted around the table at her incredulous tone, and Ianto patted her hand in sympathy.

“Don’t worry. Even those of us who have been with Torchwood the longest still get thrown by what we encounter.”

“Don’t stress, Alex,” Jack told her with a grin. “Just think of it as a really big adventure. Now, Tosh, I want you to spend the afternoon going over the computer and rift alert systems with Alex. Owen, you can take Bobby with you for an hour or so and go over standard alien autopsy procedures. Later, he can go down to the archives with Ianto, and see how we deal with things at that end.”

“You mean, how I deal with things,” Ianto said blandly as the others began to move towards the door. Jack only smiled, eliciting an exasperated roll of the eyes from Ianto. Once the room had been vacated, the young man walked around, clearing the table of empty coffee mugs, and took them through to the kitchen to wash. He headed back to the board room with the intention of turning off the lights, but was surprised to find Jack still sitting inside in his chair, staring at the box with a gradually deepening frown.

He paused in the doorway, trying to judge whether or not it was a wise decision to interrupt. The choice was taken out of his hands when Jack spoke in a low voice, without looking up from the artefact.

“Come in, and shut the door, Ianto.”

Ianto did so, feeling intrigued, and more than a little confused. At Jack’s quiet urging, he seated himself in the chair just around the corner of the table from Jack, watching him curiously.

“Jack? There is something wrong, isn’t there?”

“Generally speaking? No. Tosh was right, this thing isn’t a danger to anyone. Not physically, at any rate. No, I need your help, Ianto. I don’t especially like asking you this, but could you see what you can get from that thing?”

Ianto frowned, and sat back a little in his seat.


“I know, I know. I shouldn’t even consider asking you, and I’m sorry. But there’s something about this box that rings a bell. It’s familiar, but I’ll be damned if I can remember.”

“What do you expect me to be able to tell you, Jack? Because odds are, I’ll just get a flurry of emotions, and not be able to tell you anything solid.”

“Can you just try?” Jack pleaded with him. “Please, for me, Ianto.”
Ianto sighed. He hated it when Jack begged him for anything outside their bedroom. Not least of which because it was utterly pathetic, but also because he was at a total loss to resist once Jack got that pouty, kicked puppy look on his face.

Sparing Jack a rueful look, he took the box and shut his eyes, allowing his mind to focus entirely on the item in his hands.

Sitting back, and fighting a desire to make physical contact with his young lover, Jack watched as the tiniest, adorable frown flickered across Ianto’s face, followed by the softest of smiles. The smile quickly melted away, though, and Jack felt his heart clench at the expression of grief that took its place, accompanied by a single tear that left a silvery track down his face.

“Ianto?” Jack asked softly, anxious not to cause his lover any more stress than he already was. “Can you see who it belongs to?”

“A child,” Ianto murmured. He opened his eyes, and for brief moment Jack thought they’d changed colour. But no, they were the same colour as always — beautiful dark brown. He set the box back down with care, and leaned back in his seat.

“So it is a kid’s box,” Jack mused.

“That’s the impression I got. Couldn’t tell you her name. Just that it’s a girl. The emotions were strong, though. She was so sad, Jack, like she’d lost everything in the world that was important to her. There wasn’t anything solid, though. Nothing clear that I could make out.”

“Thankyou, anyway,” Jack murmured, not quite able to conceal his disappointment. Ianto regarded him in puzzlement.

“It’s just a little girl’s treasure box, Jack. Why are you experiencing such a strong reaction to it?”

“I don’t know,” Jack admitted. “I don’t know that I’m technically worried by it, but I am confused. You know me, Ianto. You know my psychic abilities don’t extend beyond a little bit of telepathy, but when I picked that box up, I had the most powerful urge to cry, and I don’t know why.”

“But you’re not empathic,” Ianto pointed out, and Jack nodded his agreement.

“I know. That’s why I don’t understand it. It’s why I hoped you might have been able to help.”

“Sorry,” Ianto murmured, feeling oddly as though he’d disappointed the Captain. A hand closed over his own, and he looked up to find Jack gazing intently at him.

“It’s fine, Ianto, really. It was just a slim chance. Thankyou for trying.”

The Captain’s gratitude was sincere, and served to diminish the chill that had settled in Ianto’s gut — a feeling that he always got whenever he put his mild psychic talents to use. It was erased entirely when Jack leaned across and brushed a soft kiss across his lips.

“It can go down to Archives for cataloguing and filing. No reason to spend more time on it than necessary.”

Ianto nodded.

“I can use it to teach Bobby the filing system.”

Jack smiled wryly.

“I half thought you were going to dump my coffee over my head when I suggested you show Bobby the Archives.”

A small smile touched Ianto’s lips.

“Reflex action. It’s actually a good idea, and Bobby is meticulous enough that I think he’ll be quite safe to let loose in the Archives, and I won’t have to worry about having to clear up any chaos after the fact.”

Jack couldn’t resist a hearty laugh. He knew, perhaps better than anyone, just how protective Ianto was of his precious archives, and he hoped Bobby would understand just how much of an honour it was that Ianto was prepared to trust him with them.

“So...” he said, sidling up close to Ianto, until their bodies were pressed flush against each other. “We have at least an hour. Any suggestions on how to fill the time?”

Ianto leaned in close to Jack and sniffed carefully.

“I’m not entirely certain that you’ve managed to completely cleanse yourself of the odours of the sewer.”

Jack’s grin became positively salacious.

“Are you volunteering to wash me?”

“Well, you clearly didn’t do a thorough job the first time, so I think that perhaps I’d better. Don’t you think so?”

“Oh, I do,” Jack purred. “I really do.”

“I’ll take care of the CCTV for the showers,” Ianto murmured, turning his head and swiping his tongue lightly over the shell of Jack’s ear, delighting in the erotic shiver that swept through his lover. “You go and make sure the water’s nice and hot. I’ll follow you in three minutes.”

Jack needed no further encouragement. He stole a quick kiss and swatted Ianto on the arse before darting out of his office. Barely hiding a smirk, Ianto seated himself at Jack’s desk to shut down the CCTV cameras that monitored the bathroom before heading out to join Jack.

It was impossible to miss the way Jack practically bounded past them, disappearing down the corridor that led to the showers, and the mile-wide grin on his face was equally impossible to misinterpret. The clincher was Ianto emerging from Jack’s office a few minutes later, and strolling casually but swiftly across the floor of the Hub and disappearing down the same corridor.
Alex watched first Jack and then Ianto go with suspicion. When she looked back to Tosh, the young woman had only a tiny smile on her lips to suggest she had any idea what was going on.

“Ianto just followed Jack, didn’t he?” she asked, not entirely certain that she really wanted an answer to that question. Toshiko’s smile widened just fractionally.

“Yes, he did.”

Alex chewed her lower lip, trying to decide whether she wanted to take it any further. After all, this wasn’t the NYPD, there were no rules (so far as she knew) about fraternization, and wasn’t the boss at liberty to do as he wanted? Assuming the other half of the equation (in this case, Ianto) was willing, then was it really any of her business?

“Go ahead and ask,” Gwen spoke up from where she sat at her own desk, a knowing grin on her face. “You know you want to, Alex.”

Alex couldn’t deny that. She wasn’t even sure that she really wanted to try. Instead, she simply gave in to need and blurted out the first thought on her mind.

“They’re going to have sex, aren’t they?”

Gwen snorted with laughter, while Tosh minimised the computer window they had been working from, and began to type furiously.

“Oh, yes,” Gwen confirmed. She got up and pulled her chair over to Tosh’s monitor. “Judging from the direction they were headed, we’re talking hot and steamy shower sex here. Tosh...?”

“Just about got it,” Tosh replied. “Ianto tried to disable the CCTV for the showers, but he really ought to know better. Here we go...”

The computer monitor stuttered to life, and the three women found themselves watching Jack and Ianto in various stages of undress, currently ravishing each other’s mouths. Alex stared at the image in front of her, feeling her face heating up both from embarrassment and unexpected arousal. It wasn’t that she was embarrassed by the footage itself, but there was a stark difference between watching risqué surveillance footage, and watching your new boss screwing a fellow employee.

Beside her, Gwen whistled softly, drawing her attention briefly away from the monitor.

“No matter how many times I see them at it, it never ceases to amaze me how toned Ianto is. I mean, we all agree how hot he looks in those suits, but who’d think he’d look so much better out of one?”

“Well, Jack, for starters,” Tosh retorted, and both women laughed.

“You do this a lot, don’t you?” Alex queried, starting to feel more than a little uncomfortable about spying on Jack, especially when he was... dropping his pants...

Her mouth went dry, and she shot her hand out and thumped a single key on the keyboard, cancelling the image.

“I’m sorry,” she apologised hoarsely when both Toshiko and Gwen looked at her questioningly. “I just don’t think... I mean, I really don’t feel comfortable watching that.”

Gwen smiled, then, and squeezed her shoulder lightly.

“It’s all right. Just wait until you walk in on them and get an eyeful that way. Nothing will prepare you for that.”

Alex’s eyebrows shot up and she shook her head in bemusement. She couldn’t wait.

“God, what a day,” Alex groaned as she flopped into one of the waiting armchairs inside the apartment that had been rented out for Bobby and herself. Bobby smiled wryly as he dropped a shoulder bag onto the table and sat down in the chair opposite her.

“I know. It was a little more than I expected.”

“How was the autopsy lesson?” Alex asked with a grin, and Bobby chuckled softly in response.

“Interesting, actually. I think Owen was disappointed that I didn’t have to run off and throw up, and he definitely wasn’t expecting me to want to be quite so hands-on.”

Alex couldn’t help it. She snorted with laughter.

“First Rogers, and now Owen. You really know how to push their buttons, Bobby.”

Bobby smiled and shrugged.

“No point being shy about it. When we go home, anything along those lines will probably fall to me to deal with, at least to start with. Who knows how long it’ll take us to get a medic?”

“I suppose,” Alex murmured. She eyed him with a faint smile. “It just makes me smile to picture you up to your elbows in alien guts. Rogers would think it was poetic justice.”

Bobby rolled his eyes.

“Maybe, although, I’d like to know exactly where Jack and Ianto disappeared to while I was working with Owen. I was with him for nearly two hours, and they didn’t surface until nearly half an hour after that.”

Alex, who had been in the middle of untying her shoe laces, froze.

“No,” she said finally, an odd note to her voice. “No, Bobby, you don’t want to know.”

He looked at her, puzzled.

“Alex? What aren’t you telling me?”

“Let’s just say that Jack and Ianto were otherwise engaged,” Alex said, gulping a little as she recalled the brief glimpse she’d gotten of their coupling. They’d only really been kissing at that stage — albeit half naked — but that alone had been enough to throw her completely off-kilter.

She risked a glance up at her partner, and was mortified to see a smile spreading across his face.

“Jack and Ianto slip off somewhere together for a couple of hours… I’m guessing somewhere without CCTV coverage…”

Alex coughed conspicuously.

“Actually, the CCTV was working a little too well,” she admitted, and Bobby’s eyebrows shot up.

“You were spying on them?”

“No! Well, technically not spying, and it wasn't me. It was Toshiko and Gwen… I just happened to…”

She trailed off, suddenly aware of the way that Bobby was grinning at her and struggling not to laugh.

“If you tell me you already knew, Bobby...”

Bobby chuckled.

“Not specifically, but Owen left me with the body to go and ask Ianto to make him a fresh cup of coffee. He came back without the coffee, looking a little green around the gills and muttering something about 'them' being 'at it again'. He wouldn't tell me exactly what was going on, but I figured it probably revolved around Jack and Ianto doing something inappropriate during work hours.”

Alex smiled wryly.

“I don't think Jack knows the meaning of 'inappropriate' where Ianto's concerned. God, this is all going to take some getting used to.”

“Look on the bright side, Alex. Once we get back to New York, we won't have to worry anymore about stumbling in on our boss in a compromising position.”

“Like he'd care,” Alex said with a short laugh. “Knowing him, he'd probably ask us to join in.”

“He doesn't have any boundaries when it comes to sex,” Bobby mused. “Male, female, alien... Ianto called him omni-sexual.”

“I don't think that's entirely true, that he doesn't have boundaries,” Alex corrected, her smile fading. “I don't think he'd ever do anything without mutual consent.”

Bobby nodded in agreement.

“I'm sure of it. He may take some getting used to, but I really think we landed on our feet with this. It may be dangerous, but we have a new boss who really does give a damn about what happens to us.”

“Ross gave a damn,” Alex argued. “He's just too much like you, and didn't know how to let it show. I tell you, Bobby, I won't enjoy the first time we have to walk in and take a crime scene away from them... or any squad in the NYPD.”

“Me, either,” Bobby murmured. “Alex, I know you said you were okay with all of this, but are you really? Because Jack wasn't kidding when he said that the NYPD will probably hate us. I mean, it doesn't make any difference to me, because most of them already did anyway. But you... They respect you. I'd hate to see you lose that.”

“I made my choice, and I'm standing by it,” Alex told him firmly. “And I don't care what anyone else thinks. I know I chose right, Bobby. Don't ever doubt that.”

Bobby sighed softly, and rose to his feet, making his way over to the picture window.

“It's so peaceful here. Hard to believe that so much crap could descend onto one city.”

“Are you saying you'll be glad to get home to New York?” Alex asked teasingly. Bobby shrugged.

“I'll be glad to be back on familiar territory, But this... It's more than I ever imagined possible, Alex. I... I can't begin to explain just how good I feel right now.”

“Like you're finally where you're meant to be?” Alex asked, and Bobby nodded in answer.

“Yes. Just like that.”

Smiling knowingly, Alex got up and headed for one of the two bedrooms.

“I feel the same too, Bobby. Now, get some sleep. I have a feeling tomorrow's going to be a pretty busy day.”

Bobby watched her with an affectionate smile before conceding with a nod and heading off to bed to try and get a full night's sleep.

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