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Mouse Trap: Chapter 6

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: Some Jack torment this time! Just to be different. XD
Notes: Hey, sorry for this being a week late. My beta and I got in a huge fight that took a bit of resolving. Anyway, it's here now?
Author's Thanks: Many thanks to Cy for the beta!

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5

~

Ianto woke up to find he was in more pain than he could ever remember being in. Nope, not Heaven then. He wasn't in Hell, was he? Sure, he hadn't been a saint, but he always thought he'd done more good than harm. At least, he tried to, and wasn't God supposed to be forgiving? He didn't think he'd have been damned just for his affair with Jack.

Trying to think back over his last memories, all Ianto could remember were hazy bits. Jack barking commands with a British accent. Gwen yelling that she wasn't leaving. Two other female voices he didn't know, one American and the other British with an aristocratic sound to her. Then silence, as the pain grew and Jack had told him to sleep.

Just asleep then? Did that mean he wasn't dead? That would be a lucky break which he wasn't sure he was due. Or not so lucky, as the pounding of his head reminded him. His voice finally started working, letting out a low moan as Ianto tried to open his eyes.

Immediately, cool hands pressed against his forehead, followed by a moist cloth dabbing at his temples. "Be still, noble warrior. Your wounds were great."

Okay, that was weird, even for Torchwood. Noble warrior? Who used terms like that anymore? "Where..?" Ow. That hurt. When did his throat get that raw? No more talking for a few moments. Hopefully whoever this was would get him water.

"You're in the TARDIS," the strange woman said. "Peri! Go tell the Doctor that our brave friend has recovered."

Peri. The Doctor. Slowly, Ianto was able to piece things together enough to remember what had happened. Which meant that the girl who was speaking was Erimem, the other of the Doctor's companions? Hadn't the Doctor said she was royalty from ancient Egypt? But if that were true, why was she speaking with a British accent? Oh, his head hurt way too much to be thinking about such things.

"Can you sit up?" she asked.

Ianto had been avoiding movement altogether, knowing from past experience that movement after being severely wounded was bad. But the girl he assumed was Erimem was rearranging his pillows and helping/forcing his head to move up. Once he was settled (and in quite a bit more pain), something cool pressed against his lips. "Drink this," Erimem said softly. "The Doctor said it would make you feel better."

Bless her. Sitting up to drink was worth the pain it had caused and he automatically obeyed, swallowing the cool liquid. It tasted awful and medicine-like, but it did sooth his throat so he gulped it down as fast as she let him. Finally, she pulled the cup away and Ianto decided to try opening his eyes.

"Lisa?" he croaked out, surprised enough to try and sit up properly. Which was, as he assumed the first time, a very bad idea. The girl who he had mistaken for Lisa - who now looked absolutely nothing like her, he noted with no small embarrassment - was pushing him back down.

She was stunningly beautiful, that much was obvious. Great, he'd just mistaken Egyptian royalty for someone else like a bad pickup line Jack might use. "I'm afraid I do not know of this Lisa. Is she a friend of yours?" she asked, her voice every inch the Pharaoh the Doctor described her as.

Closing his eyes again for a moment, Ianto summoned up his politest smile. Which wasn't much given the circumstances, but he tried. "Someone I knew a long time ago. Sorry for mistaking you for her."

"Someone you lost?" the girl asked, hitting closer to home than he really wanted to dwell on right now. It must have shown on his face, because Erimem immediately started to back pedal. "I am sorry. I shouldn't ask such questions, not when you're still-"

"Erimem, the Doctor says we gotta get him out there," the American voice called out from the next room before a girl who looked a little older than Erimem walked in.

"He nearly died, Peri. We can't just move him! He can't afford to lose any more blood and if the wound reopens, what happens then?" Erimem turned to berate her friend for rushing them and Ianto noticed that Peri was equally good looking. That was a fact that the Doctor had neglected to mention. He was beginning to wonder if the Doctor were just as bad as Jack, surrounding himself with pretty young things. Though, he knew the real reason for Jack doing that had less to do with physical appearance and more to do with a perspective on life that he had gotten too old to see. Was it the same with the Doctor?

"I know," the American replied, glancing down at Ianto with a worried expression. "That's what I told the Doctor. But if we don't do something, everyone's going to die. The Doctor thinks Ianto can help."

At this, Erimem grew grave, glancing at the door. "Has it gotten much worse?"

"You can't even go outside anymore without being nearly blown away."

Worse..? What was going on outside? The mouse had been captured, hadn't he? If something had happened while he'd been sleeping... Well, he'd never find out just sitting here thinking about it. Time to try his voice again. "What's gotten worse?" he asked, startling both girls from their conversation.

They traded glances and then the girl called Peri explained. "There's a hurricane going on out there and the Doctor says there's even worse on the way. We need to get you to the control room though. Come on, you can lean on us."

What happened next was a blur of pain. Ianto tried to keep as much of his weight of the girls as possible... which ended up not being very possible at all, as they half-dragged him as gently as they could out of the strange rooms that made up the TARDIS. Not that he could see much of it, or even regret missing out on the opportunity. There was just too much pain for him to focus on anything.

He did notice the howling of the wind as soon as they crossed the threshold of the TARDIS though. It was faint enough that he almost couldn't hear it, but even in his pain hazed mind he remembered what the building was made of. You could hear the wind even through solid concrete.

After that, Ianto lost track of time. There was simply no end to the pain and it felt like an eternity before they finally reached the computer room again. It was quieter in there, with only the hum of computers since even the wind couldn't reach this far. Though why they couldn't just move the TARDIS so he wouldn't have to walk so far... Then again, with the stories he heard from Jack, a short jump like that was probably impossible and would only land them in a completely different time and place. Probably better to walk. He nearly fainted in relief that he didn't have much farther to go, but he held on. If they'd seen fit to bring him out here, then he probably didn't have time to faint.

They had to make time for him to swoon, unfortunately, since his attempt, though valiant, was only partially successful. Ianto slowly waded back to full consciousness to find he was sitting in a make shift chair of computer hardware and other electronic bits and Gwen sitting anxiously beside him with her arm around Ianto. "Gwen?" he said, wishing for something to sooth his throat again. God, he sounded so hoarse.

"I'm right here," she said quickly and he found himself being hugged all the tighter for it. Which was painful, but Gwen looked like she needed the hug more than he did. Erimem had said he'd nearly died - and it certainly felt like it.

For the first time that fact really sunk in and residual fear rose up. It wasn't like Ianto hadn't been near death before, but the fear of it never really went away. He let himself lean into the hug, needing it just as much as she did. He tried speaking again to distract himself from those thoughts, pleased to find his voice sounding a little more like his normal tone once he'd swallowed. "Where... Where is the R.O.U.S.?"

It was a question neither Peri nor Erimem had brought up and he was quite curious as to the rodent's fate, especially if there was still something going wrong. Unfortunately, the question only puzzled Gwen. "What's a R.O.-whatever you said?" Peri asked, bringing a glass of what looked like water with her. Bless her.

"You know, Rodents of Unusual Size?" Ianto asked, gratefully accepting the water. Gwen had to help him hold it due to how much his hand was shaking, but he was fairly sure it wasn't because of fear. Just a bad knife wound and a lot of lost blood...

He paused to take a drink, gratefully gulping down the water as he looked around. All of them had puzzled expressions, even the Doctor. Erimem he could understand, even Peri, if she'd gone off with the Doctor before The Princess Bride came out. But he'd thought that Gwen at least... "I guess no one's seen that movie then," he said, feeling just a little crestfallen. Not only had he nearly died and could barely sit up on his own, but no one got his clever movie reference. It was times like this he really missed Owen's snarky back up on all things movie related.

The Doctor coughed politely, bringing everyone's attention to him. "The rovie is safely caged inside the TARDIS and most unwilling to help with our current predicament. How are you feeling though, Ianto?""

The matter of the mouse settled, Ianto let himself feel all his hurts in order to take stock of himself. Another reason to miss Owen. As caustic as the man was, he was a damned good medic and had some wonderful painkillers. "I've... I've been better. Been worse too, probably, but it's hard to remember those times at the moment."

The Doctor nodded and wasn't quite able to hide a touch of worry in his face, which Ianto felt rather touched about. "We'll get you to a hospital once things clear up, but I'm afraid the situation here is quite desperate. The rovie has set the computer to create a massive storm, one that could very well wipe out the whole nation if its not stopped, and it used my TARDIS and the rift to power it." The latter came out as a huff and the two girls who traveled with the Doctor traded amused glances. Ianto got the impression this was an old rant and given how the Doctor had reacted to seeing the TARDIS console earlier, Ianto wasn't too surprised. "I've disconnected her, but it's still drawing power from the rift... and it's building. Which is why we need you here."

That really didn't sound good. Ianto shivered lightly, immediately feeling Gwen's arm tighten around him as she started to rub his shoulders to warm him up. He didn't have the heart to tell her he hadn't shivered because he was cold. "What can I do? Ianto asked, feeling weary. "I'm no Tosh and you're better at computers than I could ever be. I don't think I can even read what output on the screen is saying, from the looks of it. Why do you need me?"

"Ah," the Doctor said glumly, looking over at the controls. "Therein lies the problem. Whenever I or anyone else gets near the computer to change the settings..." Demonstrating as he trailed off, the Doctor started to approach the console. He reached out to touch the controls and a burst of electric energy zapped his hand away. "It's non-lethal as long you don't keep putting your hand in it," the Doctor continued to explain as he rubbed his hand, "but it is making things rather difficult for us."

"It's not everyone though. I can get close, but the OS still won't let me work it," Gwen said, hugging Ianto in encouragement. She really was going overboard with this mothering bit, but Ianto highly doubted he could sit up on his own without her support. It was partially for her comfort too and so long as it was passive on his part, Ianto didn't really mind too much.

"So... you're trying me because I'm the only one left to try?" Brilliant. A walk all the way here for something that probably wouldn't work. More than likely it wasn't that simple, but Ianto felt entitled to a good grumble after everything that had happened and he hurt too much to try and think clearly enough to come up with a better alternative.

His sarcasm went completely unnoticed - or flat out ignored - by the Doctor, who shook his head before continuing. "It protected you before when you were trying to trap the rovie and it made sure not to hit you along with your attacker. Ianto, Jack is in the mainframe of this computer. You and Gwen are the best shot we have at convincing him that we need to change the programming."

"Jack?" This computer was where Jack's consciousness was?

Before he could even get his head around the concept, the computer made a few whirling noises in response. It captured everyone's attention and the Doctor relaxed enough to smile. "It hasn't done that before," Peri said in surprise.

"So you can hear us," the Doctor said, beaming down at the computer. "Now be a good fellow and - Ouch! Honestly, we're trying to stop... Yes, yes, alright. Electrocution if I stand any closer."

The happy expression faded to exasperation as the Doctor continued to be shocked until he had moved a safe distance away. He looked back to Ianto with a small sigh. "He responds to you, that's for certain. Gwen, can you help me move Ianto closer?"

"I found a real chair!" Erimem called out from the doorway, dragging a metal chair behind her. Not the most comfortable of things, but it was better than the computer cluster.

"Thank you, Erimem. Just what we needed," the Doctor smiled again, though he didn't try to get close to the computer. "Just be careful not to get shocked."

The resulting move wasn't as bad as the walk to the main computer room. Much shorter and less of a strain, though Ianto still felt dizzy when Gwen and the Doctor finally eased him into the chair. The Doctor was right as no electrical shock accompanied Ianto placing his hands at the controls. "What do I do now?" he asked.

The Doctor tried once more to move closer and got zapped for his troubles. He looked over at Ianto thoughtfully. "Why don't you try talking to him? If you can get him to understand that we're here to help then maybe he'll let us change the program."

Well, here goes nothing.

* * *

Jack was scared. There was no denying it, he was scared, hurt and not sure how much of him was human and how much of him was computer anymore. The mouse had deleted so much, taken away so much of what made him human, that it was all he could do to cling to the last vestiges of his memories. Even the memories he'd hidden and copied to so many places were sought out and destroyed with malicious pleasure. He couldn't remember what it was like to have the rain on his skin or lips pressed against his. He couldn't remember what fish and chips tasted like or what the music actually sounded like.

He was terrified.

As if that wasn't bad enough, that was when he came in. There was no question about it. The person who walked through that door was Jack. His body, up and wandering around as if he hadn't been sucked into a computer. Scared didn't even begin to cover his feelings, if he even had such things anymore and wasn't just a computer program.

In his panicked state, Jack almost failed to notice the young man who was being brought in along side Jack's body. Someone familiar, someone who was badly hurt... Searching the broken remnants of his memory banks, Jack found a name and an emotion.

Ianto Jones. Trust.

Everything else in the file was gone. Jack was painfully aware that this had been a very large file before and he should know more about Ianto Jones. He couldn't remember, nor could he do anything but watch fearfully as Ianto was finally pushed forward and caught by Jack's body. He was helpless to do anything as someone with his face dressed Ianto's wounds carefully. Under normal circumstances, he might have enjoyed the view of Ianto's shirt being taken off, but there was far too much blood and Jack was barely keeping his head about the proverbial water. It should be him dressing those wounds, not.... not whoever it was that had his face. He was still Jack Harkness, wasn't he?

It was quiet for about twenty minutes before the mouse came back. It didn't take long to realize what the rodent was planning either. Jack had failed and he wasn't right for the system. Too stubborn. Which meant total erasure as the mouse decided it was better to try again.

Terror swept through him, all through his circuits, as Jack desperately tried once more to back up all of his memories. It was futile, he knew, but he couldn't not try.

That was when he saw Ianto slowly coming up behind the rodent. If Jack still had a body, he'd have been holding his breath. As it was, he stilled all non-vital systems until all he could hear was the whirling of his cooling systems and the voices of the outsiders. He whirled back to life with a few bleeps of a cheer when Ianto trapped the mouse, but the guard was coming up and-

Jack didn't think. He didn't have time to. Up till now, his electric blasts had been painful and aimed to induce a state of unconsciousness. Anything more might short his circuits and he didn't want to be powered off for as long as it would take to fix it. The moment the guard's arm landed on the console, however, Jack aimed to kill with every bit of power he had, and kill he did.

Thankfully, his was able to cut the power just before it overloaded, and Jack didn't want to try that again. What happened next was all a bit of a jumble as he redirected the power to its proper places. Another guard was coming in, one that wasn't touching the control panel, along with three other people, one of whom took out the other guard. Ianto was being taken away and there was nothing Jack could do.

Gwen. Another name that resonated with him deeply, but with an empty file aside from a picture of her in a wedding dress. He wanted to cry in frustration at it all, but Jack lacked the tear ducts to do so. He did the only thing he could, which was to keep everyone who tried to mess with his programming away, shocking them with less deadly versions of his attack if their hands got close enough.

He didn't shock the woman he recognized as 'Gwen,' but he didn't run any programs for her either. The problem was, all he had was her name and a picture, not whether she was friend or foe. He couldn't lose more of his memory, not to this person or the one with his face. They'd taken Ianto away, the one person he could remember trusting and it was all he could do to hold onto his sanity and keep the intruders at bay.

The storm outside was getting worse and worse, but Jack couldn't touch the programming for that either. Oh, he tried several millions of times, but the mouse blocked it off from him when it wasn't using Jack to make adjustments.

At least the new people weren't as deft and nimble as the mouse and they couldn't get through to his circuits or programming without a sharp surprise. That didn't stop the man with his face from trying, but Jack slowly increased the shocks for him to keep him at bay. He was Jack Harkness, not this impostor, and Jack wasn't going to listen to whatever arguments they had to get at his programming. He had to believe that, had to keep hold of the fact he was real, or he might very well turn into the mindless drone of a computer that the mouse had been trying to turn Jack into.

When Ianto was brought back into the room, Jack's fans nearly stopped. Ianto was so pale... too pale. How much blood had he lost? There were still traces of Ianto's blood on the floor, painting the tile red. He gave a few bleeps of concern, but only the impostor seemed to notice. Well, a small bolt his way discouraged him from any trick he might try.

Then Ianto called out his name, looking not at the impostor but at Jack and the computer console... Ianto was definitely someone he could trust. Oh, Ianto. He was here, right here. His consciousness, he had to be Jack Harkness. He had to be... electrocuting the impostor with just a little bit more sadistic pleasure. Not on his watch, buddy.

Ianto was carefully moved closer, tentatively placing his hand on the console. He was the one person Jack could remember enough to trust, so he wasn't about to harm a single hair on Ianto's head, but...

Letting out a sharp yelp of surprise that drew the attention of the whole room, Ianto pulled his hand back briefly. "Are you alright?" the impostor had the gall to ask. "He hasn't shocked you, has he?"

"No," Ianto replied slowly, replacing his hand on the console as Jack continued as he had before. This time, Ianto didn't move his hand away, running it over the light sparks curiously. "Doesn't hurt. It's more like a little bit of static, actually. It feels like one of those clear balls you see at museums with lighting inside when you touch the edge. It just tickles a bit."

Gwen let out a low chuckle. "Yup, that's Jack in there. He would figure out a way to flirt as a computer."

His file on Gwen didn't have much in it beyond her name, but he wrote gratitude for understanding him into it. He clung to their acknowledgement and familiarity, desperately needing to reassure himself that he was still human.

And oh, what he wouldn't give for a real body. Ianto was smiling - weakly, it was true, but a real smile - and all Jack wanted to do was kiss him and Gwen senseless for confirming who he was. "I've missed you, Jack," Ianto said quietly, his lilting accent never more perfect to Jack's sound recorders. His systems hummed happily in response.

The impostor interrupted his moment of happiness with a polite cough, turning Ianto's attention away. "I hate to intrude, but we need to get - Ow!" With a few smug bleeps, Jack gloated as the impostor glared at his screens.

"Jack, you've got to stop that." The smile fell from Ianto's face, returning to a more weary and pained look. But this was an impostor, wasn't it? One of the bad guys? Jack made a few unhappy and confused bleeps, still eying the impostor suspiciously, even as he tried to get Ianto to smile again with the light sparks. "It's alright, Jack," Ianto continued to assure him. "This is the Doctor. We need you to let him stop-"

Ianto was going on, but Jack had already accessed the Doctor's files in his memory banks. The Doctor was a fairly large file, only partially there, but what was left told him all he needed to know. He sent out another shock wave; even if it didn't reach the Doctor, it would get his point across that he wanted the Time Lord impostor well away from him.

The electric shock surprised everyone in the room, including Ianto and Gwen. "Why is he still attacking?" Gwen asked, bafflement in her voice. "He had absolute faith in you, Doctor."

"Jack, this is the Doctor," Ianto said, trying again. "He's your Doctor, the one you traveled with? You used to tell me about him from time to time. I know he doesn't look like it right now, but it's him and he's here to help."

In response, Jack sent out another electric shock in warning. Come nearer and the results won't be pleasant. They'd all seen what he'd done to that guard. Jack honestly didn't think he could kill again, if push came to shove, but the wonderful thing about being a computer was the complete inability to discern if he was bluffing or not. It was better than even the best poker face, that, and the bluff was too convincing for the Doctor to chance it.

"If the Doctor was his friend, why does the computer keep attacking?" the American girl asked, placing her hands on her hips with a touch of anger.

"Programing? The rovie might have left some instructions against letting me near that he can't break." The Doctor scratched his head thoughtfully, then turned back to Ianto. "Ianto, try asking him why. He's still responding to you and maybe he could bring up the coding?"

Ianto nodded, looking up at Gwen briefly as she squeezed his good shoulder in reassurance, once again reminding Jack of his current lack of body. "Jack, at least show us why you keep attacking the Doctor," Ianto pleaded, lightly caressing the paneling Jack would have given anything to feel.

For a moment, Jack debated it. If this were some kind of trick to get access to his programming and memories so they could delete more of it... He couldn't risk any more of his memory, not in his current state. Jack was too close to losing himself to the computer languages and data storage. Already he was thinking in terms of files and data caches, not memories and emotions. Too much more of this and...

"Please, Jack," Ianto asked. "You've got to show us what's wrong."

Trust. That's what the file of Ianto Jones said. Ianto Jones, with his complete and unbidden loyalty and devotion after being taken back when that trust had been broken. The trust had been broken once, hadn't it? But not since then, no. And there had been reasons for that single betrayal, though the details were missing from his memory banks. It caused Jack pause, but ultimately the trust won out. It was all he had left of Ianto's file.

The screen flickered to life in front of them as Jack considered what to project from the file on the Doctor. Hurt. Loneliness. Betrayal. Love that nearly broke him. One word stood out above the others, however, and that was the word he put up on the screen.

"It's just a circle with some weird design," Gwen said, peering at the screen.

"It's Gallifreyan, the language of the Time Lords. The rovie probably forced him to learn it as part of the OS, " the Doctor corrected absently, looking through his pockets before muttering something about having the wrong jacket and not really needing the glasses anyway. The last bit Jack had to strain his sound sensors to hear, not quite certain what it meant.

Finally, the Doctor looked up at the screen, sans the glasses he'd been looking for, and raised his eyebrows. "Abandonment? Do either of you know what he means by that?"

Gwen and Ianto traded glances, a silent conversation going on between them that neither the Doctor nor Jack could decode. Finally, Ianto turned not to the Doctor, but to the screen to address Jack. Which was very sweet, but his motion sensors and cameras were off to the right. Didn't stop Jack from reveling in those Welsh vowels addressing him, not the impostor, as Jack. "He's not going to abandon you this time, Jack. The Doctor's done nothing this past week and a half but try to find a way to help you. You've got to let him help, or that storm will kill everyone."

Jack paused, fear making him put off the decision. Ianto could be trusted. Ianto had missed him, addressed him as Jack, not the impostor, but... The feeling of hurt and abandonment by the Doctor was too strong, especially paired with the Doctor wearing his face. A quick check on the storm told him there wasn't much choice, however, not if a high death toll was to be averted.

"Please, Jack. You can trust him," Ianto said again, fingers brushing against his keyboard. Oh, did he want Ianto to touch him more like that. Jack would take any commands Ianto input if he typed just so.

Jack sent a few more tickle shocks to Ianto, who smiled, running his fingers over control panel again. "You'll do it?" Ianto asked quietly, looking so very tired. But absolutely gorgeous with a smile on his face. In response, Jack brought up as much of the files that had to do with the storm as he had access to.

The Doctor/impostor took a weary step forward, slowly stepping closer when the electric shocks didn't come. For his part, Jack watched with every bit of his guard up, ready to send a strong electric pulse should the Doctor try anything funny.

But as soon as the Doctor's fingers hit the keys, any suspicion dropped from the Doctor's form as he peered over at the screen. He only paused for a moment to check for the still missing glasses. "Well, this is a nasty bit of work," he said softly as his hands flew over the keys in quick, precise movements. Jack couldn't help a low hum of appreciation. He may not trust the Doctor, but oh, was he good.

"Can you fix it, Doctor?" The Egyptian girl asked, leaning closer. Now that he wasn't shocking anyone and everyone that came near, Jack found that both her and the American were both more than welcome to have a go at his circuits. Very nice on the camera lenses.

The Doctor smiled broadly, an expression that struck Jack as... not quite wrong exactly, but certainly never an expression he'd have worn when he had a body. "Actually, I don't believe I'll have to. Once I take out this block..."

There were a few more quick keystrokes that Jack watched carefully. What was the Doctor up to, saying things like - Oh! The block that kept Jack from accessing and changing the weather program was gone! Immediately, Jack set to work re-calculating and changing the perimeters back to normal Welsh weather. Not an immediate change since that would wreak as much havoc as the storm was, but a gradual progression to lessen the storm. He did drastically cut back on the worst of the wind though, hopefully making things easier for the people outside.

"Splendid," the Doctor said, taking hold of the lapels of the greatcoat as he beamed down at the computer. "Jack has taken care of it. Quite masterfully too, if I do say so. Peri, be so kind as to run and check if the wind has died down to make sure it's actually responding to the program changes, please?"

Jack missed a bit of the conversation after that, feeling very pleased at the praise. For all his mistrust of the Doctor, he found his craving for the Time Lord's approval out-weighed the sense of abandonment. So pleased was he, that he forgot to monitor what the Doctor was doing and realized a millisecond too late that the impostor with Jack's face brought up his memory banks.

Immediately, Jack hid the program and sent an electric bolt in the Doctor's direction. "Jack, what are you doing?" Gwen asked, shocked by the sudden change. "He's helping you! Didn't he just help?"

No, the Doctor wasn't helping anymore. He was trying to delete more memories, trying to erase more of what little he had left. What's worse, is the Doctor had the nerve to look angry about it. The people outside were safe now and there was no reason for him to let this 'Doctor' try to abandon him again. He already set up a program to shock anyone who came near, except for Ianto and Gwen.

"It's a small wonder he's attacking everyone!" the impostor said, eyes flashing with fury.

"What?" Ianto asked, looking perplexed.

"Yeah, Doctor, what was that thing you brought up on the screen before he attacked you?" Peri asked. She was leaning just a little too close to the console and got a nice little shock for her troubles. Not anything too harmful, but still painful.

The Doctor waved her back, but he didn't seem to be angry with Jack, which was all the more confusing. "That malicious rodent has been deleting parts of the computer's databanks - the parts of Jack's memories and personality matrix! Jack has had most of his life deleted and he's probably barely got enough left to maintain sentience."

Anger mixed with sorrow as the impostor paced the room. His words grew softer, but no less impassioned. "Of course, it doesn't help that I'm here, looking exactly like what his memory banks tell him he should look like. A normal human would have gone mad with it all. I'm not sure he hasn't, to be honest. I never thought it would go that far."

Gwen pivoted, leaving Ianto to advance on the Doctor. Ianto started to follow her, but sat down again quickly as the blood drained from his already pale face. Giving a few bleeps of concern, Jack resumed the light tickling of Ianto's fingers to encourage him to stay seated as Gwen started shouting. "What do you mean, mad? What's the mouse done?"

The Doctor didn't back down from her, instead shaking his head sadly. "I'm sorry. I really am. But a man is the sum of his memories, and I'm afraid Jack's have been ripped away from him in an attempt to make him less stubborn. He only has bits and pieces of his life now."

Jack couldn't see Gwen's face as her back was facing his cameras, but he could see her shoulders tense and start to shake. And Ianto... the look of loss and hurt on Ianto's face took him aback. Was Jack... was he someone important to Gwen and Ianto? He knew he could trust Ianto, but - Oh, why couldn't he remember?

"Is there any way to recover it?" Ianto asked quietly from his chair, looking down at the console with a pained expression. "Things that are deleted from a computer aren't really gone, right?"

"There might be a way to reverse the damage, if the rovie bothered with making a backup." The Doctor stopped pacing to regard the machine that had put Jack in the computer thoughtfully. "I could see if there's anything I can find in the transference machine and the TARDIS databanks. Even then, I don't think he'll let me near enough to help. That rovie has tortured him so much that he can't tell friend from foe anymore."

The Doctor shoved his hands his his pockets, barely checked anger returning to his voice. The impostor's reactions confused Jack more than anything. Why was he getting angry and sad over what had happened? He'd abandoned Jack, hadn't he? Abandoned and now stealing his body and he'd attempted to erase more memories just now too. This didn't compute in the Gallifreyan code that he was forced to run his data through. It didn't make sense.

"Oh, Jack," Ianto said softly, barely loud enough for the transmitters to pick up. Wasn't there anything he could do to cheer Ianto up again? He liked that small smile from earlier, not this hurt and broken look. Searching through his databanks, Jack was more than frustrated to find nothing useful he could use. Too much had been deleted, been stolen from him. But he could...

Carefully, Jack put a few words up on the screen. Just a small encouragement, he hoped. Ianto took notice, peering at the screen with a look of confusion on his face. "What is he doing with all those circles?"

The impostor looked up at the screen, reading the symbols that Jack belatedly realized weren't in English. He wasn't sure enough of what remained of his memory that he could force it into English. The OS forced an over-write of his language systems and it was too strong for him to break. Thankfully, the Doctor translated. "I think he's trying to tell both of you to cheer up. Or he's offering to buy you a drink. Given what I know about Jack, it's probably both. That's an atrocious use of the intransitive verb, by the way."

Well, sorry for not knowing enough about Time Lord grammar! He'd been about to see how far his electric shock would reach when the Doctor started to laugh quietly to himself. "Extremely clever though. I'll have to remember that one."

If Jack was going to be called 'clever,' he might just forgive the Doctor for that one. Gwen was smiling lightly too, meaning it had worked to cheer them up a little. The impostor placed his hand on Ianto's shoulder comfortingly for a moment, smiling down at him. "He's right. We'll figure out some way to get him back to normal. Just keep talking to him and try to convince him we're here to help."

Ianto stroked the panel gently in such a way that Jack longed for a real body. He couldn't even remember how that felt, to have someone's hand running over his skin. Did that mean he wasn't actually real? No, that couldn't be right. Ianto and the others, they were calling him Jack, not the impostor, right?

"We'll get you back soon, Jack. You just have to trust us," Ianto said, his voice a little gruff.

Jack hoped so. He wasn't sure how much longer he could keep this up.


~TBC~

Memory: I'm going to miss Jack as the computer. He was awfully fun to write. XD

Quote of the chapter:

"Part of the inhumanity of the computer is that, once it is competently programmed and working smoothly, it is completely honest."
-Isaac Asimov

"The trouble with computers, of course, is that they're very sophisticated idiots."
-Fourth Doctor