?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Mouse Trap: Chapter 3

Here you go, Chapter Three!

Mouse Trap
By: Memory Dragon
Disclaimer: I do not own Torchwood or Doctor Who, nor do I make any claim to. I also make no claim to the rovie and the character Erimem, who are both from the Big Finish audio plays.
Warnings: Lots more Ianto torment. That won't be letting up any time soon, just to let you know. Also, some Jack torture thrown in for good measure.
Author's Thanks: A great many thanks to nemaline , even though she does forget to beta sometimes. XD

Anyway, on with Chapter Three!

Chapter 1 Chatper 2

~

Ianto rubbed his eyes, trying to focus on the wires in front of him as the Doctor tinkered with the programming. Delicate work, the Doctor said. Don't jumble the machinery, the Doctor said. Don't breathe on it wrong or you'll mess everything up. The Doctor hadn't exactly said the last one, but Ianto was very close to snapping it.

The Time Lord was brilliant, there was no denying that. That didn't mean working with him when you were even just a little bit slower at understanding it than he expected you to was easy. The Doctor either assumed Ianto was on the exact same wave length as him or got frustrated if Ianto took more than five minutes to understand a highly complex medical or technological concept. Sometimes both at once.

It certainly didn't help matters that Ianto's own temper was frayed to the very end of his wits. In his head, he knew the Doctor wasn't Jack. That didn't make the lack of intimacy whenever he looked up and saw Jack's body any easier to bear. Nor did it make the Doctor's occasional angry outburst when Ianto did something wrong any easier to take, despite the completely different accent.

Plus earlier, when he'd met the Doctor during the Dalek invasion, Ianto had been too busy (and terrified) to really take in meeting the man. Now, however, on top of the other hurts, he found his mind constantly wandering back to Lisa and the Cybermen.

Ianto jumped as a hand rested on his shoulder. Jack's hand, that wasn't lingering just a second longer than normal to send shivers down his spine as Jack traced up his neck. Just a friendly, but cold and polite touch. God, he missed the real Jack almost more than he had those months Jack had disappeared without a trace. That had been the Doctor's fault too.

"Why don't you go home for the night," the Doctor said with a hint of concern. "Come back to it with a fresh mind tomorrow."

Ianto shook his head more out of weariness than being stubborn. "I doubt I'd get much sleep." There was nothing for him at his flat, no point in returning home. Which left him with work that he was really getting too tired to focus on. Still, falling asleep at a computer was something he was accustomed to. Coffee might help as well.

Speaking of Torchwood's drink of choice... "Would you like some coffee?" he asked, not knowing if Time Lords even needed caffeine. "It won't be Jack's special blend... I noticed you didn't particularly care for that."

The panic-turned-to-relief look the Doctor gave him as he spoke told Ianto all he needed to know about what the Time Lord had thought of Jack's industrial strength brew. "I was afraid you'd expect me to drink that..." the Doctor said with a small wince.

At that, Ianto managed a small grin for the Doctor. "I wouldn't wish Jack's coffee on anyone. I can make just about anything you can find at a normal coffee shop though, if you have a request."

"Actually, a cup of tea would really hit the spot, thanks. With three and a half sugars, if you don't mind."

Wincing, Ianto nodded. The Doctor would ask for tea. That was an awful lot of sugar too. Still, attempt it he would. Getting up, Ianto couldn't help but notice the pain in his shoulders as he rolled them back in stretch. Maybe attempting to sleep would do some good... but no, the nightmares probably wouldn't be worth it in the end.

The act of making drinks was relaxing at least. Ianto fell into the rhythm of making the coffee machine work its magic after putting the kettle on. The tea took a bit longer, so Ianto took a few minutes respite sipping his own coffee to mellow his nerves. Then, because he knew tea was far from his strong point, he made a second trial cup of coffee for the Doctor. Given the amount of sugar the Doctor had asked for in his tea, Ianto took a few guesses as to what the Doctor might like, adding a bit of vanilla flavoring and cream to the mix.

He made sure all three of the mugs were in no danger of spilling before taking the tray back into Jack's office. He placed his own coffee by his makeshift work station and presented the cup of tea to the Doctor. "Fair warning," he said with a small sigh. "I'm not very good at tea..."

After thanking him politely (which was, admittedly, kind of nice since the rest of Torchwood had long since taken for granted that he was the bringer of coffee), the Doctor took a sip and winced. "Yes, I see your point. You could stand for a few pointers..." The Doctor smiled warmly to show he was only teasing. He'd been about to take another sip regardless when he caught sight of the third cup. "Is that other cup your back up plan?"

When he wasn't being treated like an idiot who could barely pass primary school, Ianto found it a lot easier to deal with the Doctor. Ianto hadn't exactly been the most pleasant himself when he'd ended up in a new body either, he remembered. So he smiled and nodded, taking the tea cup as the Doctor passed it back and handing over the coffee. "I was guessing at what you might like," Ianto admitted nervously, surprised to find he wanted the Doctor's approval. "I can try again if you'd like something a little less sweet," he added.

"When in Rome, I suppose." The Doctor toasted Ianto before taking a drink, a vaguely shocked look crossing his face for a few moments before he took another drink. "Now this is very lovely. Is this how you convert people?"

Ianto couldn't help a small blush cross his face as the Doctor beamed at him. It was such a foreign expression on Jack's face, but at the same time so very... cute. Yes, that was the right word for it, cute. Not a word one generally associated with Jack, to be honest, but Ianto found he almost wished Jack would smile like that more. "I'll.. um... get back to work then," Ianto said, feeling oddly flustered.

It was easier to work with the Doctor after that. Something about the encounter made it a little easier for Ianto not to take the Doctor's rants personally and remember the Time Lord wasn't Jack, though there was still a dull ache in his chest when he looked over to ask a question. For his part, the Doctor flitted around, doing some of the programming on Jack's computer, working on parts of the machine, supervising Ianto almost all at the same time. It wasn't until Ianto looked up to ask another question, however, that he noticed the Doctor was slumped over at Jack's desk, sleeping peacefully.

Rubbing the soreness out of his neck, Ianto stood up and stretched. No point in continuing now, not when Ianto only had a vague notion of how to keep going. Carefully, he draped Jack's greatcoat over the Doctor's shoulders and cleaned up quietly. After washing the mugs and giving the main part of the Hub one more formal going over, Ianto hesitated as he decided what to do next. Despite his protests earlier, he really did need some sleep...

Finally, Ianto found himself climbing down into Jack's quarters before his mind had come to a decision; his feet made the choice for him. The Doctor wasn't using Jack's bed and while sleeping down here wasn't as good as waking up next to Jack, Ianto could at least be comforted by Jack's scent as he curled around the pillow. They would get his Captain back soon. They had to, or Ianto really just might fall apart.

Ianto woke to find someone shaking his shoulders, the taste of ash and fire in his mouth and the smoke almost smothering him. He gasped for breath, relieved to find clean oxygen filling his lungs. The awful metallic screaming had also blessedly stopped.

Jack was standing over him, helping him sit up slowly. Though Ianto was still trembling, he felt most of the fear reside and fade away as reality reasserted itself. Jack was here, a fact that comforted his sleep clouded brain to no end. His reason for continuing on after the nightmare surrounding Lisa's death was over. Ianto leaned forward, resting his head against Jack's shoulder.

Then Jack tensed slightly, awkwardly patting him on the back. When Jack spoke, all the memories of the last several days came back full force as the wrong accent reminded him of who this really was. "Are you alright? I heard you shout..."

Ianto jumped, pulling back almost immediately. I had been before you spoke, Ianto thought quietly, but didn't stay that out loud. Instead he nodded, feeling flustered and taking a few seconds to collect his scattered thoughts. "Yeah. Yeah, I'm... fine. I didn't mean to... Sorry, I thought you were Jack. It was just an old nightmare." Ianto swallowed heavily, trying to push all thought of those awful silver bodies out of his mind. Despite his current absence, Ianto still had Jack in his life now. He had moved on from Lisa's death.

But the Doctor had other plans, bringing up the exact thing Ianto was trying to forget. "You were mumbling something about the Cybermen?" he asked gently, concern in his eyes.

Clutching at Jack's pillow and looking away, Ianto forced himself to take a deep breath before answering. He put as much of his professional mask as he could muster on his face, despite his sleep mused hair and eyes that were still slightly wet. He was fine with talking about this, he reminded himself firmly. He had Jack now and talking about a single nightmare he was still waking up from wasn't going to crush him. Ianto hoped so, at any rate. His voice sounded shaky to his ears, however. "Old memories," he said tersely. "I had a run in with them two years ago. Then a second time a year ago, when I was pretty stupid and thinking I could..." He should his head, trying to shake the memories away as well.

At this though, the Doctor's eyes flashed with anger, bringing back the all too vivid image of Jack holding a gun to his head and telling Ianto to exterminate Lisa. "You thought you could what? Harness the power of the Cybermen?" Ianto flinched away, but the Doctor's self-righteous anger went on, cutting through him. "You humans are all the same. Didn't you realize how dangerous they were the first time? You little idiot! You could have caused-"

"You didn't save her!" Ianto snapped back, anger and shame causing him to loose his temper as the nightmare played across his mind so intensely. It didn't help that the Doctor was still in Jack's body, looking stunned at the outburst from the usually quiet man. "You didn't save Lisa! You didn't even try to help. You just packed up and left as quickly as you could, not even bothering to see if the machines were still working, half-way through 'converting' her. I just wanted... I wanted to change her back to human."

Silence descended over them as Ianto ran out of steam, flushing as he realized what he'd just said. Shaking his head softly, Ianto rubbed the moisture out of his eyes. "I'm sorry," he said quietly, not waiting for more condemnation from the Doctor in the body of the man he loved. "I shouldn't've yelled. You haven't even done any of it yet, have you? And yeah, I know it was stupid, so you don't have to worry about me trying it again."

"No, I'm sorry. I jumped to conclusions," the Doctor said gently. "And I'm sorry for your loss. I'd hoped that Nyssa and I changed things when... Well, that's neither here nor there."

"There was nothing you could have done," Ianto said finally. It was true, though it didn't make him feel better no matter how many times he told himself that. He didn't know what the Doctor was talking about, but Ianto didn't particularly want any more apologies either. "I know that, really. Me and Lisa... we were never that important to begin with. We were even in the last group to be converted. Even if you had managed to stop them a few seconds earlier..."

Ianto shook his head again, knowing that line of thought would get him nowhere. Lisa's death wasn't the Doctor's fault and resenting the man who had saved more people from what Lisa had gone through - including himself - wouldn't do any good. "Really, I should be thanking you for my life. I shouldn't have just yelled like that."

"That's quite alright. I probably shouldn't have pried." The Doctor smiled warmly, which Ianto returned with a polite smile of his own, even though the motion didn't reach his eyes. If the Doctor took note of that, Ianto couldn't tell, but the man went on speaking. "However, you do have one thing wrong. You and... Lisa, you said? Yes, you and Lisa, you weren't unimportant. I... may snap at you more than I should, but don't let anyone tell you that you aren't important. And I am sorry for what you had to go through."

Ianto felt his throat tighten at the Doctor's words and he sat there silently, trying to take them in. The words themselves didn't ease any of the pain of the events, but it helped the resentment he'd tried to swallow down for so long, especially when Jack told stories about how wonderful his travels with the Doctor were. "Thank you," he said finally, swallowing heavily.

With a smile that lit up the whole room, the Doctor clapped him on the back fondly before standing up. "Right then. Do you want to get a bit more sleep or get back to work? I think I've gotten the power source stable, finally."

"I'll... I'll be up in a bit. I'll take a shower first." Ianto tried not to think of how Jack would have offered to join him instead of nodding politely and leaving him to the emptiness of the room. He looked briefly to the clock to calculate how much sleep he had actually gotten. Four hours. Well, he'd worked on less before, though how long had the Doctor slept if he'd gotten the power source working?

Still, Ianto didn't move to get out of bed just yet. He curled back around Jack's pillow and tried to soak up all the comfort it could give him as he composed himself from the encounter with the Doctor and the nightmare. Ianto allowed himself five minutes of clutching the pillow against him before getting up and preparing for the day ahead. He'd slept over at the Hub plenty of times before, even before he and Jack started their affair, to finish a report or even just spend a bit of time with Lisa if no one had been around to see it. He was fairly used to getting ready here and Ianto had long since taken to leaving several changes of clothes at the Hub, especially now that he was doing more field work. Going back to his flat with blood on his sleeve would cause more gossip than it was worth.

Getting a few other chores done, including feeding the resident aliens, he made some coffee for the Doctor before inquiring if he wanted anything to eat. It was still early, but Ianto knew of a little bakery a few blocks away that would be open, so he stopped by to pick up a bit of breakfast for both of them. Back at the Hub, he made coffee for himself and settled back down into the wiring.

It was awfully hard to start working again though while someone was staring at you. "Is there anything else I can get you, Doctor? More coffee?"

"Er, no. I'm fine, thank you." The Doctor looked a little flustered at being caught staring, but Ianto found he didn't mind quite so much. It was a very... cute expression. Again, something so foreign to Jack...

"Then?" he asked.

"Ah," the Doctor said, trying to gather his thoughts. "I was just... Are you always this efficient?"

Blushing a little at the phrase, Ianto scratched the back of his neck as he thought about a response. "I... try to be, at any rate. Someone has to take care of this lot, or they'd never get anything done."

The Doctor's thoughtful gaze didn't let up, however, and the unnerving feeling returned. "And it's just the three of you here, keeping the rift under control?"

"Recently, yes," Ianto said hesitantly, not wanting to reopen another wound this morning. He shifted uncomfortably, wishing Gwen were here. She as always much better at explaining these sorts of things, since she actually worked through her grief when all Ianto had been able to do was sit there in shock. "We had two more people who worked here, but they both died a little while back.

Ianto was proud of himself for saying that without his voice giving anything away, even if he felt a little stiff and awkward about it. Those memories still hurt too much to really think about.

"Sorry. I didn't mean to bring up another painful memory."

The Doctor might have said something more, but Ianto's computer console was beeping lightly from the other room. "Probably Gwen coming in," he said by way of explanation. "I'll be right back..."

"More efficiency? Let me guess, coffee for her?" The Doctor asked with a small smile.

"Trust me, you don't want to deal with her when she's without."

That gained Ianto a small laugh as he quit the room, heading back to the coffee machine that was his life line to the Torchwood Hub. He'd just put the milk in when a caffeine deprived Gwen poked her head in the door. "Coffee?" she asked like a parched woman desperate for water.

He handed her the cup with a small smile, which she accepted with a grateful look. "What would we do without you?"

"Have horrible caffeine withdrawals?" he remarked pleasantly, prepared to leave the conversation at that and get back to work.

After her first sip of coffee, however, Gwen had other ideas. "He's not bullying you, that Doctor?" she asked with narrowed eyes as she critically looked him over. No doubt she was taking note of his lack of sleep. "If he is, I'll give him a piece of my mind about it."

"He's fine, Gwen. He just gets easily frustrated if I don't follow his whirlwind explanations." Which was pretty much every time, but the Doctor was making an effort to try and be patient with him now. "If I could deal with Owen and all his grumpy mood swings, I can deal with the Doctor. At least he's polite."

Ianto shook his head lightly. Compared to Owen, the Doctor was a breeze to deal with. It was the fact that the Doctor was in Jack's body that bothered him more than the Time Lord's quirks. In fact, Ianto felt like he'd quite like the Doctor under normal circumstances. It was just too hard to remember that it wasn't Jack yelling at him, despite the accent differences.

He jumped as Gwen reached out to his shoulder, not expecting the contact. At least, that was his official excuse, not that he was already wound up as tight as a coil. "How are you holding up, Ianto? Really?" she asked quietly. "With all that's going on..."

Gwen was in one of her mothering moods and without anyone else in the Hub to distract her, there was nothing Ianto could do to avoid it. He wasn't entirely sure he wanted to right now either. "I'll survive," he said awkwardly, trying not to fidget. "Just need some time to sort things out, I guess." And Jack, but they were getting him back soon, Ianto reminded himself firmly. "We've handled worse than alien mice before. We just need to have a really big piece of cheese, right?"

"I don't suppose Jack counts? No, he's probably too cheesy even for mice." Gwen said mournfully, eliciting a small grin from Ianto. "We'll get him back."

For a brief instant, Ianto really just wanted to throw himself in her arms and cry on her shoulder. Gwen wouldn't mind, he knew and all of this - Lisa, Jack, the Doctor, this overgrown mouse - it was too much for him to deal with on his own. It wouldn't be long before he broke down completely. He didn't, however, because he'd never be able to live down the embarrassment. There wasn't time either and they both had work to do. He hesitated for a moment longer before simply nodding, not trusting his voice to speak.

There was a small explosion from Jack's office, causing both of them to look up and see the smoke sneaking out the door. "I better go make sure he hasn't hurt himself," Ianto said with a worried expression, hurrying over. Another small boom made him run faster, suddenly very doubtful the Andrazi power source was as 'stable' as the Doctor had claimed.

* * *

Jack was, all things considered, not thrilled with being inside a computer. A lack of physical body to flirt with really put a damper on his mood and a cramp on his style. Not to mention when the overgrown mouse wasn't torturing him, Jack had absolutely nothing to do. When you had the mental processing capacity of the speed of light, one got really bored, really quickly.

He wasn't even allowed to connect to the internet, where he could at least entertain himself. The mouse had built some sort of shield to keep him from a connection and the lead walls really didn't help.

Increasingly frustrated, Jack made a few pornographic figures in ASCII, programmed several viruses and anything else he could think of to keep the mouse and his goons busy. He did all of this in the first few minutes of his computer-y existence. Back to being bored again. For a lack of better things to do, he started to completely defragment and rearrange his memories for the optimal storage capacity. Surprisingly enough, this kept him occupied for several hours.

Long enough for the mouse to return and get very annoyed over those ASCII pictures. And the viruses. Tosh would have been proud of him for those. Hell, she'd probably have enjoyed being a computer a lot more...

That was when Jack discovered that there was indeed a fate worse than dying or simply being bored. Being turned off or rebooted.

It felt like every circuit in his brain was cut off all at once, no matter how long he tried to grasp at his memories. Then, booting back up again... it was excruciatingly painful, only bits of him being forced back to life at a time. He couldn't tell if everything that made him Jack was still there, still saved away or if parts were lost, missing forever in the time he'd been turned off.

He went through that at least five times before finally allowing the mouse to input a few commands. Yes, fine. He could move a few files around, do a few equations and... Hey, cool! He could check weather patterns. He spent a whole two seconds toying around with his new ability, very pleased to have some connection to the outside world even if it were only minor.

The mouse left him for a few hours after that, giving Jack more time on his hands than he knew what to do with. He defragmented, rearranged programs, rearranged them again (Ianto would be proud) went through every memory stored in the data banks... Anything he could think of to stay sane, to stay Jack and not some computer program.

He even learned High Gallifreyan from the TARDIS' memory banks which he was allowed access to. He learned a lot of things from those memory banks, though for some reason he was cut off from the TARDIS herself. Pity. He wanted to ask if she was as finicky as the Doctor said or if he really was just that bad of a pilot. Plus, the old girl would probably be able to help him out of this situation. Still, trying to chip away at the block that kept him from her gave him something to do.

A few hours of useless battering told him that the block was far out of his ability. Which was saying something, considering he currently had the brain of a computer. That meant it was back to rearranging the data, because he was too afraid of losing himself to the monotony of continuously trying to break through.

Jack was actually glad when the overgrown rodent returned; it was a change of pace and it gave him something to focus on. Converting sound waves into the Gallifreyan binary he was forced to think in took some adjusting to, but it gave him something to do.

"I have some equations for you, computer," the rodent said, twirling its mustache as its voice dripped with patronizing glee. "Now, you are going to cooperate, yes?"

Jack sent a small, painful electric shock through the control panel the mouse sat on as an answer. The rodent - a rovie, according to the data banks, though Jack figured out fairly quickly that it hated the comparison to the Earth equivalent - gave a short pained squeak and responded by pulling the plug.

When Jack was fully conscious again and the mouse asked the same question, he gave a small whirl of his fans in grudging submission. He had to chose his battles, not waste what little control he had over his sanity. The equations were simple enough as a computer, anyway. As a human, he might have struggled with it for hours, but his logic data banks were easily accessed and computing the basic numbers took less than a parsec. Nothing hard about it except...

Except those equations were dealing with weather patterns, he noticed with some surprise after comparing them to the TARDIS data banks. In fact, with these sorts of equations, one could create a tidal wave that could take the UK completely off the map.

No.

Jack stopped any and all processes the Mouse had started and refused to do anything more for it. If Jack had a body, he'd have been trembling by the tenth reboot, but he still stubbornly refused to do anything more for the despicable creature. He wasn't going to be used to destroy the place he was sworn to protect.

Realizing that his threat of pulling the plug was no longer effective, the rovie changed tactics. It brought up a folder from the databanks on the screen, which Jack eyed wearily. "You know what this is, don't you?" the rovie asked, not waiting for a response. "This is your memory and personality encryption. Everything that makes you into that pathetic little ape that got in my way." Yes, Jack was well aware of that and he was very uneasy that the mouse had access to such things. The rodent stroked his beard thoughtfully as he continued. "This cluster of RAM here is part of your memory, isn't it? What would happen if I were to press this little button, the one that says 'delete'?"

Jack immediately sent another electric pulse to shock the mouse away from the control panel, but it jumped out of the way a second before the pulse reached and pressed the button before Jack could send another. Panicked, Jack searched through the memory banks, not even sure which part of his life it had been. You couldn't permanently delete something that easily, right? It still had to be somewhere, but when Jack checked it wasn't. Not anywhere.

"Yes, that's right," the rovie said smugly in such a way that Jack wanted nothing more than to punch its nose in. "It was permanently deleted. Gone. Say good-bye to it forever!"

A sick fear settled into his circuits like a virus, coursing through every electronic emission. That mouse had his entire life and personality to play with at his claws and Jack's sanity was bound to be wrapped up in it.

"How much of your memories and personality do you think I'd have to delete before your stubbornness disappears, I wonder?" the rovie continued in that squeaky little voice that was suddenly a lot more malevolent and sinister. "I think I could delete quite a bit before you became useless to me. Yes, I could delete quite a bit indeed."

Furiously, Jack started to copy the files, move them anywhere the mouse wouldn't get to, all while sending as many sparks as he could manage towards the rodent. Unfortunately, like some sick twist from a Douglas Adams novel, the mouse was smarter than him. In fact, the rovie as on par with a Time Lord's mental capacity, something that even as a computer Jack couldn't match. The Doctor might have been able to, but Jack was at a loss.

The rodent deleted five more memory clusters before the 'fight' officially ended with Jack's terrifyingly quick defeat. He hadn't stood a chance and let out a small whimper in the form of a few pathetic bleeps as the rovie brought up more files.

It felt like an eternity later, but finally the rodent spoke again. "I think that's enough for now. I'll let you rest and think over your decisions to help me or not. I will see you again, ape-creature." With that the mouse jumped down from the console, exiting the room with a manic laugh and swooshing of his cape.

How much longer could Jack stand against that? His memories and personality... how could he keep a hold of himself if that creature deleted more or even... or even erased him entirely. No, he couldn't panic now. Jack had to stay calm and limit the damage.

Again he searched for those deleted clusters to no avail. He didn't let himself dwell on it, however, instead starting to back up the rest of the contents of the folders in as many places as he could. He put locks and traps and viruses on them to guard the memories and protect them. Maybe it wouldn't change his overall fate, but it would delay, keep the rovie busy as long as possible. Hopefully Torchwood would find him when he didn't come back. They'd search, wouldn't they? Then he could find out what happened to the Doctor...

The next day when the mouse came in, Jack was ready for it. His defiance was met with anger, which worked for a while... then the mouse calmed down and broke through all the defenses he'd painstakingly put up with relative ease and destroyed eleven more clusters of his memory before the encounter ended. Eleven more memories and emotions, horrifyingly erased right in front of him as part of Jack went with them forever. Memories of being human, of sight and sound and touch, the things he craved more than anything right now. Jack was almost glad when the mouse pulled the plug for the day, falling into mindless oblivion.


~TBC~



Memory: I do like Jack as the computer. I'm sure he could find a way to make binary sexy. XD It was so hard to not put "End of line" in there too.

Please do let me know what you think! It really does help.

Quote of the chapter:

"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee."
-Abraham Lincoln