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Mouse Trap: Chapter 1

Mouse Trap
By: Memory Dragon
Summary: Jack is acting strangely, leaving the rest of his team baffled by his odd mood.  But when it comes to light how much danger he's really in, it's up to Gwen and Ianto to save him... with the help of an odd stranger.
Disclaimer: I do not own Torchwood or Doctor Who, nor do I make any claim to.
Warnings: A bit of Ianto/Jack slash, but you'd get that by watching the series anyway.  No sex.  Also, there are a good many references to the Torchwood books (Most of them from Almost Perfect), but you don't need to have read the novels to get this.  Just know that Ianto was turned into a girl for a good majority for that book and lots of awkwardness ensued.  This is a cross over with classic Doctor Who, most specifically the Big Finish audio plays.  Again, you really don't need to have listened to them to understand what's going on, but I did steal the bad guy from one of the audios.  I suppose I should mention there is a heck of a lot of Ianto torture in later parts, but that should probably have been a given...
Author's Thanks: Many thanks once again to nemaline for betaing for me.  I don't know what I'd do without her.  <3

Chapter One:

Gwen Cooper really hadn't meant to be late that morning.  She had woken up right and proper for once, getting out of bed when her alarm rang the first time.  She brushed her teeth, took a shower and got dressed with no problems or curses thrown at the clock.  Then she was half undressed again by the obnoxious scamp she called her husband as Rhys attempted to draw her back into bed for some tongue dueling.  Twenty minutes later the curses started flying every which way as she caught sight of the clock again, much to Rhys' amusement.  After one more quick snog, Gwen fixed her hair and shirt before racing out the door.

It was the best she could hope for that Jack still hadn't returned from checking out that temporal trace in Swansea last night.  Which would probably mean more work in the long run if he still wasn't back, but it might be something new, something exciting, something that thrilled her and terrified her at the same time, reminding her of why she loved her job.  It might also be something so horrible that it would shake her to the core, but Gwen always preferred to remain positive.  If it happened, she would deal with it.  Until then, Jack was hopefully still off investigating something potentially exciting so he wouldn't be there to remark on her general tardiness for the fourth time this week.  It was a particularly bad streak, even for her.

However, if he was still gone, Ianto would be discreet about it, especially if she made it up to him later by helping with some of the more mundane of his duties.  He always appreciated that, so he could get a bit more time with Jack in the evening, if whatever it was their immortal boss had gone to check on hadn't been overly threatening.  And even if it were, the poor dear had nearly worked himself to the bone with trying to fill both Owen and Tosh's shoes since their deaths.  A bit guiltily, Gwen realized for the umpteenth time that she should help him out more often than just for bribes.  But there was never any time and something always came up...  She honestly didn't know how Ianto managed it all.

The problem with getting into the Hub, she thought as the sirens and lights of the cog door announced her arrival to anyone in the underground base, was that there was no way to enter it inconspicuously.  It was impossible to sneak in and hope no one noticed she was late.  Security purposes, Jack said, but Gwen secretly suspected it was so he could tease people who were habitually late like her, or see how hungover Owen...

Pushing the sharp pang of loss aside, Gwen smiled gratefully as Ianto appeared with a steaming cup of coffee, almost making up for everyone knowing that she had just walked in.  It had the exact amount of milk she liked and tasted exquisite, as always.  "Bless you," she told him with a smile, taking a blissful drink as she savored the taste.  God, what would she do without Ianto's coffee every morning?  It hardly bore thinking about.  "Has Jack returned?" she asked, the wonderful feeling of caffeine running through her veins and boosting her cheer in the face of Jack's knowing smirk.

Ianto nodded, but before he could answer, Jack himself came out from one of the storage halls.  The immortal didn't look over at them once as he walked, fiddling with some bit of alien tech he'd picked up - not one Gwen recognized.  He looked up briefly as he walked past to smile absently before returning to his office and shutting the door. 

It was so unlike Jack that Gwen stared openly.  No greeting, no teasing, appreciative once over like he was contemplating a Da Vinci master piece...  Jack always gave anyone who fell under his umbrella term 'attractive' (generally anyone who walked by) an appreciative once over, including those he saw every day like herself.  Gwen had long since suspected Jack was also carefully assessing any danger or threat the person might pose as well, though with Jack there was no doubt a bit of mental undressing was going on too.  It certainly wasn't all a cover and it was non-threatening and flattering for the most part.  Gwen had stopped feeling embarrassed over it after the first week.  Never once since she'd known Jack had he shown that much disinterest in a humanoid (and occasionally non-humanoid) body.  "That chronon energy source he went to check out," she asked slowly, "was it dangerous, do you think?"

Ianto shrugged, just as baffled by their boss' behavior as she was.  "I think whatever it is has just distracted him.  He'll probably come out of it in a bit and be back to his old self by the afternoon."  His blue eyes betrayed far less surety than his voice and a lot more worry with a hint of something Gwen couldn't put her finger on, however.

"I'm sure he will," Gwen assured him automatically, reaching out and touching his arm comfortingly.  "He'd tell us if it were something really serious.  Let's give him a day and see what happens."

Ianto met her gaze for a moment, silently confirming her suspicion that he was far from reassured, but he knew better than to argue with Gwen.  Especially when there really was nothing either of them could do and he'd never been one to make much of a fuss over anything.  "Come on," she said, giving his arm another encouraging squeeze.  "I'll help you with that report for UNIT."

Once Ianto was sufficiently distracted from the worry, Gwen left him for her own duties of scanning police reports for anything unusual and preparing her own weekly status report for Jack.

The rest of the day went along quietly enough.  There was a report that sounded like a Weevil sighting, which Ianto took care of after Jack made it known he was too busy and a minor rift spike that turned out to be nothing when Gwen checked the area.  Nothing big or scary coming to destroy earth today, no thrills.  Just a quiet catch-up from the last major emergency and some cheerful banter with Ianto to keep the poor lamb's spirits up.  In a silent thanks for her efforts, Gwen found a chocolate bar on her desk after lunch.  It was a typical Ianto gesture, finding just the kind she liked -with a bit of caramel to make it stick to the roof of her mouth- and placing it invisibly on her desk so she couldn't thank him properly for the thought, knowing she'd probably be too distracted the next time she saw him to remember it. 

When she left that day, Ianto said he was going to stay behind a little longer to get a bit more work done.  Gwen knew the truth, that he would be testing the waters with Jack and hoping for a bit of sex and/or an explanation, but she didn't comment.  She hopped for his sake that Jack's strange attitude would blow over soon.

The next day she made it to work a little earlier than usual, quietly making up for her previous tardiness.  The atmosphere in the Hub was almost as tense as it could get in emergency situations and was it her imagination or did the temperature drop a degree or two when Ianto walked in?  His usual polite and quiet manner took on a near imperceptible iciness that Gwen had come to associate with him being angry. 

Ever since the incident with Lisa, Gwen had taken it upon herself to watch the young man more carefully, learning to read his moods.  His words about none of them caring had struck her in particular quite hard and with both Tosh and Owen gone...  She couldn't take her co-workers and friends for granted any more.  So she had watched him, learned to tell when he was upset or fighting with Jack, and sometimes meddling when she shouldn't, much to his embarrassment.  At the end of the day, however, there were always little things like the chocolate bar which he had to express himself when he felt too awkward otherwise.

He ignored the few probing questions she sent his way, however, so Gwen settled into work as usual.  There was a bit of a mix up with an artifact that UNIT had requested access to, which Gwen took care of easily enough as Ianto had looked busy and Jack was still locked in his office.  The Rift was quiet, almost as if it were as afraid of Jack's odd mood as they were.  Which was a silly notion all together, but he was certainly starting to scare Gwen with his odd behavior.  He just wasn't acting at all like Jack normally did, hiding away and ignoring everyone.  Even his body language was different.  Not any less confident, but so much less flashy.  Quieter.

The third day she came in, there was a tension in Ianto's shoulders that meant a fight with Jack.  Since her attempt to corner Jack failed completely, Gwen did the only other thing she could think of to bring back peace to the Hub.  She pounced on Ianto the next time he brought her coffee.

"What happened with him?" she asked flatly, not bothering to politely beat around the bush.  The tension in the Hub was starting to get unbearable and she wanted it gone. 

Ianto looked startled at her bluntness, but quickly pulled out a polite smile to cover for his momentary lapse.  "I don't know what you mean."

After handing her the coffee, Ianto automatically started to make for the door, very obviously not wanting to be having this conversation.  Gwen was having none of that, however.  Jack might be able to slip away each time, but Gwen was positive the Welshman would buckle with a bit of pressure.  So she grabbed his arm, half dragging the man to the nearest chair and sat him down for a proper interrogation.  "Jack is acting stranger than ever and the two of you got into a fight over it, yeah?"

Ianto looked away, searching for an escape route but finding none.  Giving up, he fell into a brooding silence.  A silence that wasn't going to get Gwen any answers, she noted with annoyance.  "Ianto-"

"No offense, Gwen, but my personal life is weird enough without having to share every little spat with a co-worker," he said glumly, cutting her off before she could elaborate on reasons talking would be good for him.

"Yeah, but this isn't a normal fight, Ianto," she said, falling back into the good cop role as she wheeled over another chair and took his hands.  "Look, the atmosphere around the Hub is driving me nuts, Jack hasn't come out of this odd mood and my friend is being hurt by all of this.  Maybe if we put our heads together we can figure out what's wrong.  Just tell me what happened?"

Ianto stared at their linked hands without really seeing them, but he debated how much trouble it would be to fight her on this.  Finally, he gave in.  She gave his hands a squeeze as he started speaking miserably.  "I don't know what happened, Gwen.  I don't.  I've tried thinking about what I might have done, but I can't..."

Bless.  The poor lamb was taking Jack's odd mood like this was all his fault!  "Just tell me what happened," she said in her most sympathetic voice. 

"I brought him up some coffee last night and asked if he might need anything else or... well..." He didn't elaborate further past the 'or' and it was fairly obvious what followed the conjunction.  It was kind of cute how Ianto wanted to pretend she'd miss the fact he wanted sex if he simply didn't say it out loud.  "He just started to snap at me.  Told me to just go home and leave him alone.  Then when I asked him about how he was acting, he just shuffled me out of the room and locked the door, saying he couldn't think with..."

"With what?" she asked encouragingly, rubbing her thumb over the back of his hands.

"'With a insufferable idiot who keeps interrupting him every five minutes,'" Ianto quoted softly, his face flushing with anger and shame even as his voice hardened with fury and hurt.  "Yes, I've been hanging around a bit to try and figure out what's wrong but..."

For her part, Gwen was truly shocked to hear Jack's words.  Calling Ianto an idiot so callously... and without any real cause when he was the one who was making everyone worry!  "He actually said that?" she asked after he went silent, still numb.

"He did."  The anger had drained out of him, leaving Ianto with a very pathetic figure.  His tone took on a rough quality to it that Gwen had learned to associate with him being very upset.  "I know... I know Jack is different.  I know that.  A relationship with an immortal would never be normal."  He paused after that, half afraid of going on, but Gwen gave his hands another gentle squeeze.  "But... I haven't done anything, have I?"

"Of course you haven't," she said as convincingly as possible.  Ianto wasn't the problem here.  "Ianto, Jack is the one acting weird, not  you.  He's the one at fault right now, though I can't for the life of me think of why he's acting like this..."

"It's not just that though.  Jack..."  Ianto's eyes darkened as he shook his head, not really seeing Gwen sitting across from him anymore.  "He'll never love me in the same way I love him.  I accept that.  It was... amazing, just to have him love me the way he can.  But now... It's like he's completely lost interest!  I don't even exist to him any more, except as an annoyance!"  He was growing steadily more agitated as he went on, his eyes looking a little wet as he blinked furiously. 

She'd had no idea...  Ianto had admitted to her before how seriously he felt about the immortal when they'd all been trapped in that damned temporal mess of a house, Jackson Leaves, but this... "Gwen, what's wrong with him?" He asked suddenly, actually seeing her again, pleading with her for an answer she couldn't give him.  "Why is he acting like this?  I want...  I want the old Jack back."

"Oh, Ianto.  I don't-"

"I'm sorry," he said as he stood up, rubbing his eyes furiously.  Damn.  She'd said or hadn't said the right thing, because now he was closing up again quicker than she could blink.  He must have decided he'd already said too much.  "I shouldn't've...  Just forget it.  I'm fine, really."

"Ianto, this isn't-" -your fault was what she was going to say, but Ianto was already leaving the room as fast as his feet could carry him.

Debating following after him, Gwen gave a sigh and decided it was just better to let her coworker be for now.  She turned and ran straight into their immortal boss who was failing rather obviously in his attempt to look like he hadn't been eavesdropping.  He shoved his hands in his pockets awkwardly as Gwen placed her hands on her hips and glared.  "I take it you heard that?"

"Bits," Jack admitted, looking embarrassed by the whole thing, though from shame or getting caught, Gwen couldn't say.

"Jack what the hell is all this about?" she demanded.

"Sorry?  I don't know-"

"You know exactly what I'm talking about!" Gwen advanced upon him as her anger and frustrations grew.  Not even her surprise as Jack took a step back diminished her fury.  "Why are you acting like this?  It's almost like you're a completely different person ever since you got back from checking that chronon signature.  What happened out there?"

Jack remained silent, not looking at her.  Finally, she threw her hands up in disgust.  "Fine.  Don't tell me.  But you could at least explain to Ianto why you're suddenly decided on being a callous bastard."

That got a guilty response as his eyes flickered over to the spot Ianto had recently vacated.  Jack opened his mouth to say something, then stopped and pulled his hands out of his pockets to rub his temples.  "Is he alright?" he asked with a small wince.  "He wasn't... crying or anything?  I would hate to-"  Again, he paused, thinking his words over.  there was something about his cadence and how he pronounced the words that was just slightly off, but Gwen was far to furious to even begin to think about that. 

"You should know the answer to that yourself!" she cut in, not waiting for him to continue.  "Jack, what the fuck is wrong you?!"

"Is that language really necessary?" he asked testily.

Gwen simply stared at him in shock.  "You called Ianto an 'insufferable idiot' and you're telling me to watch my tongue?"  Word choice aside, Jack's response had been the far more hurtful one.  And since when had he taken exception to cursing?  He wasn't overly prone to it himself, she knew, but he'd never commented on it before unless he was joking.

"Now look here, I-"  Jack closed his eyes, held his breath for a moment, then attempted to smile tightly as he let the breath out.  "Would you mind talking with him?  I'm awfully busy right now and things will-"

"You can go fuck yourself, Jack Harkness."

It was Gwen's turn to storm out of the room, leaving the openly gaping Jack behind.  Talk to Ianto for him?  That was an all time low, right there and it pissed her off to no end.  Gwen had never thought of her boss as cowardly, but she was awfully close to it right now.

Both Ianto and Jack avoided her for the rest of the day.  Well, that was fine.  She only had sympathy for Ianto, but Jack she didn't want to see again for at least a week.

After work, she went to the location Jack had logged with the chronon spike before he'd left to investigate.  It was, much to her dismay, a fairly normal street corner.  There were several very nice flats up to the right and a little grocery down the street along with a quaint little bookstore, but no one she asked remembered anyone like Jack's description.  Since Jack was far from the most inconspicuous man on the planet and easily recognized, she could only assume he really hadn't been there and whatever it was that caused the spike was long gone. 

By the time she got home, she was fuming and Rhys wisely stayed silent as she vented.  Then he gave her a back massage, bless the man.  She couldn't even begin to deserve him.

* * *

Ianto was trying very hard to just work on autopilot.  A polite smile as he greeted Gwen and Jack, handing over their respective coffees, a blank mind as he picked up the remnants of the lunch he and Gwen had shared (Jack hadn't come down once and the food Ianto had left for him remained largely untouched), a complete focus on the task at hand, and refusing to let his attention wander from any report he was working on kept him sane.  It was just like after Lisa's death, trying to make it through the day without breaking down and letting the others know how hollow he felt. 

It was mostly working.  Gwen wasn't fooled and she was still trying to comfort him, but she understood when he needed some space to just shut down.  In some ways, it was harder than after Lisa's death, because now people took notice of him.  Even with only Gwen left, she payed far more attention to him than she ever had before.  Which was good, because he really did appreciate her attempts to cheer him up, but they were constant reminders of the fact there was something wrong with Jack.

He'd been giving the immortal a wide berth since the 'incident' two nights ago, only coming into contact with him to hand Jack his coffee and deliver lunch.  For one, he was still angry with the man who had made no attempt at apologizing for snapping at him.  Maybe he wasn't as good as Tosh at writing programs and working bits of alien tech, but he most certainly wasn't an idiot.  That was no way to talk to one's boyfriend either.  That hurt, hearing Jack call him that.  For another...  it was just painful being around Jack.  No longer did Jack's eyes follow him as he walked into the room, nor did the immortal catch his hand a moment longer than necessary as he passed over the mug.  Gwen was right - Jack was one acting strangly and maybe this wasn't his fault, but...

Ianto stared at the computer screen blankly.  Gwen had told him about her useless trip to the site of the chronon readings.  He didn't tell her he'd already checked around, attempting to find out for himself.  Jack briefly appeared in the CCTV cameras walking by, but there was no other sign of Jack that night.  Where ever he had been, it wasn't any place with cameras that Torchwood had access to. 

Giving himself ten more minutes of trying to get this report done, Ianto decided to just ditch it for the time being.  He gave a quiet sigh as he rubbed his eyes with the base of his palms.  Powering down the computer, Ianto decided to just go back to his flat.  Gwen had invited him over to dinner but...  Well, he didn't want to intrude and the last time he'd been over was still a bit of an embarrassment.  It wasn't like he'd asked to be in the body of a perfect woman at the time.  No, he'd just go home and find something to do.  Maybe a movie?  He'd tried that last night and it had worked to a certain extent.  It had been distracting enough, even though he didn't have the foggiest idea what the plot of it had been.

Spinning his chair around, Ianto was surprised to see Jack standing next to him.  Had he really been that out of it not to notice him there?  "I thought you didn't want me around," he said bitterly, anger festering up again.

Jack at least had the decency to wince at that.  "It was a poor choice of words... I'm sorry for that and calling you an idiot.  I was frustrated."

Ianto couldn't quite put his finger on what was wrong, but there was something off about how Jack spoke.  And the fact that Jack was apologizing... it was a bit late for him to be doing it.  However, Ianto found he didn't care so much now that he had the apology.  Some part of him knew he was letting the immortal off the hook too easy, but right now he just wanted things back to normal.  He rubbed his eyes tiredly, but nodded to Jack.  Did this mean they were good again?  "It's... fine, Jack.  Just...  No, it is fine.  I probably over reacted a little."

Smiling brightly, Jack's expression had an uncharacteristic openness that nearly took Ianto's breath away.  Oh, Ianto had missed the physical part of their relationship.  Did this mean they were set for some make-up sex?  He hoped so.

Unfortunately, Jack quickly dashed his hopes of getting into Jack's bed that night.  "Splendid.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I should get back to-"

"Jack, wait."  Ianto lightly grabbed the immortal's arm, standing up so they were eye level.  Jack didn't react by moving closer, however.  In fact, the man tried to put as much distance between them as possible, like a polite stranger who thought Ianto was being entirely too forward. 

Ianto let go of his lover's arm in shock.  What just happened?  Hesitantly, the Welshman tried to reach out to Jack's face with a small caress and this time Jack literally did back away, looking flustered.  "Ah, look.  I've really got to get back to work now.  So much to do.  There's never enough time to get things down and I should know being... Well.  If you'll excuse me?" he asked, looking every where but at the hurt and betrayal he saw in Ianto's face. 

For his part, Ianto stared numbly at the babbling Jack, his mind endlessly playing back Jack's half panicked flinch when Ianto had touched him.  "Is it something I've done?" Ianto asked with a stricken tone, scarcely believing what was happening. 

Jack was the one who gave him new meaning in his life after Lisa's death.  Even after that betrayal, Jack had never pushed Ianto away like this.  He'd let Ianto keep his job, staying on despite the almost endless loss that would have engulfed him had he been on his own.  And Jack, almost completely unaware of what he was doing to his young lover, simply sighed in frustration.  "No, it's not that.  This isn't anything you've...  Look, this isn't working."

It was funny how a few simple words could completely shatter him.  Ianto very suddenly couldn't breathe properly, like his chest had constricted and he couldn't hold enough air in his lungs for his body to function.  "What are you saying, Jack?  Do you mean that we're...  Do you want to end this?"

"Yes." He paused a moment, as if rethinking the question.  "No, what are... Oh!  That's...  I mean, you're...  Oh, my.  Look, if you'll just let me explain."

Jack was getting more and more uncharacteristically flustered, but Ianto was reeling too much to notice either that or the slip in Jack's accent.  "I'd rather you didn't explain, if you don't mind," Ianto said quietly, blinking back tears.  Maybe eventually he would want to know why Jack broke up with him, but right now that information was too much for him to handle.  Sinking back down into his chair, Ianto vaguely realized that he should probably say something.  But what do you say when the person you adored more than anything else in the world suddenly wanted to break off the relationship?  "Just leave me alone for a while, please," he said, not sure what he was going to do but being away from Jack would help.  No.  No, it wouldn't, but he could pretend it would for now.

"If you would just listen-"

"Just leave, Jack.  Please."  Ianto didn't want to hear it.  He just wanted to crawl away some where and sob until he ran out of tears. 

"But I need to-"

"Just go!" Ianto said more forcefully.  "Go back to whatever it is that you've been so busy with lately!  I'm fine so just go away and-"

"Would you just be quiet!" 

He was so shocked by Jack's outburst that Ianto simply obeyed, looking up at the immortal in surprise.  "Thank you," Jack said, and it slowly occurred to Ianto that Jack wasn't speaking with his usual American accent.  It threw him further off balance and his stressed brain could only take so much.  "Now if you would kindly just listen to me, you would know that this is all one big misunderstanding.  I know I look like him right now, but I am not Jack Harkness.  So you see-"

There was a soft click as the safety on a gun was taken off and Ianto looked over to see Gwen standing there with the barrel of her gun pointed right at Jack's head.  "Then who the hell are you?" she asked coldly.

~TBC~

Memory:  Okay, so here's the start of a new fic!  There's seven chapters and an epilogue all together, so hopefully people will stick around and enjoy it.  As for an updating schedule...  I don't think I'll be sticking to my usual once a week chapter update, unfortunately.  My beta reader is currently very busy with university and I don't want to stress her out that horribly.  So the updates might be a little sporadic, but I promise you it will get done eventually.  I've never been one to leave fics unfinished.  We're both going to try and aim for an update every two to three weeks.

Anyway, guesses as to who the Jack impostor really is?  It's probably a little obvious, but hey...

Quote of the chapter, quite possibly giving some insight as to why the impostor stayed hidden for so long...

"Everyone lies Michael, the innocent lie because they don't want to be blamed for something they did not do. The guilty lie because they don't have any other choice. Find out why he is lying and the rest will take care of it's self."
-Jeffrey Sinclair, Babylon 5

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
omgmeg
Feb. 28th, 2011 02:17 am (UTC)
Hey, it's Romana! Er.. Rose! XD
On the contrary, I have no idea who the impostor is. XP [/derp]
dragonofmemory
Feb. 28th, 2011 04:52 am (UTC)
Re: Hey, it's Romana! Er.. Rose! XD
Heh, heh. And you were even there when I plotted this one! Oh, my many plot bunnies of the OOC thread...
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )