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Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013 09:54 pm
Title: What Never Should Be: Ghost Machine
Chapter Three: Sober Meetings
Author: blucougar57
Summary: Disharmony and conflict threatens the Torchwood Three family when ghosts surface from the past. (Sixth story in the "What Never Should Be" universe.)
Rating: T
Warnings: None, as yet.
A/N: We'll be seeing Jack and Gage reunited in hopefully the next chapter, depending on how the muse cooperates...



Chapter Three: Sober Meetings



It was past noon when Ianto and Gage finally headed to Roald Dahl Plass, and the Torchwood Three Hub. Gage had been awake just after nine that morning, but the need to buy him new clothes took precedence. After all, the man was too stocky to fit into anything of Ianto's, and too short to be comfortable in anything of Jack's. In the end, he'd worn a pair of Jack's sweat pants, an old tee-shirt and joggers for the quick jaunt to one of the shopping centres nearby to find something adequate until they could do a proper shop.

As they crossed the Plass and headed for the tourist information centre that was the front for one of the Hub's entrances, Ianto couldn't help smiling faintly at the sight of Gage admiring the expensive new clothes.

"You look like you've never had new clothes before," Ianto teased lightly. A slightly pained look flickered across Gage's face.

"Well, it's been a while... as you probably gathered from what I was wearing last night. I don't have a penny to my name, Ianto. I had no money for food, let alone clothes. This... You have no idea how much I appreciate it."

Ianto gazed at his friend critically as he unlocked the tourist office door down on the pier.

"You are going to tell me and Jack everything, Gage. I want to know how you ended up practically destitute. You were a senior archivist for Torchwood, for crying out loud! That should have gotten you a job in any reputable institution, even if you couldn't explain to them what your job at Torchwood actually entailed."

"Don't start with me, Ianto," Gage growled. "You didn't see what it was like after Canary Wharf. I left the TARDIS soon enough afterwards, and I did see. The name of Torchwood was poison pretty much everywhere, and there was still the issue of UNIT. They weren't just looking for you and Jack. They had their sights on me, as well. They were after anyone who walked away from Canary Wharf, by whatever means, but I learned through the grapevine that they were especially interested in me because they'd somehow found out that I'd left with you, Jack and the Doctor. You have no idea how long I'd been on the run before I landed here in Cardiff. When they found out that I was... well, Earth-bound, they came after me with the proverbial guns blazing."

Ianto frowned, baffled.

"They shouldn't have even known you were with us. I saw the post Canary Wharf list, and you were listed as missing. I never corrected it, because I knew you were okay... except, you obviously weren't okay, were you?"

"You know now that I was pretty messed up when I left you lads," Gage conceded. "Let's just say that my state of mind didn't exactly help me when I went home." He paused, looking around in sudden amusement. "This is your front? A bloody tourist office?"

Ianto smiled wryly. He saw the diversionary tactic for what it was, and chose not to call Gage on it. He clearly was not yet ready to talk further, and Ianto wasn't going push the issue. Just as long as he understood that when Jack got home, there would be no getting out of it.

"It suits our purposes. I even manage to open it for a few hours, a few days each week, to avoid any real suspicion. There is another entrance, but it's too busy on the Plass at the moment to use it, even with the perception filter." He leaned behind the desk and hit the button that opened the secret door in the stone wall. "This way. Oh, before we go down, I need to warn you. We have three other team members at the moment. There's our tech and computer expert, Toshiko Sato; our medic, Owen Harper and our new trainee, Gwen Cooper. They all know that Jack can't die but where Tosh and Owen know about Jack's history with Torchwood, Gwen doesn't. He hasn't told her yet, so don't go blurting anything out. And the other thing is that Gwen doesn't know that the rest of us know about Jack's inability to stay dead."

Gage raised an eyebrow quizzically.

"Sounds like he doesn't trust her very much."

"It's partly that. She used to work for the Cardiff Police as a constable, and you know what Jack is like when it comes to anyone in authority."

"I do recall his animosity, yes," Gage said dryly.

"Well, that hasn't improved much, and it took some time for him to accept she has potential as a Torchwood agent. He doesn't fully trust her yet, though, and he decided he'd use his immortality as a test. If she lasts another few weeks without giving anything away, then he'll consider telling her more. But for now..."

"I understand," Gage assured Ianto. "My lips are sealed. But how are you going to explain me?"

Ianto shrugged.

"Gwen knows Jack and I were both at Torchwood London. She just doesn't know that Jack was a prisoner there. I've already told her that you're an old colleague from One. Tosh and Owen have heard about you from Jack, but they both know to be careful about what they say around Gwen."

Gage frowned as he followed Ianto down the stairs.

"This could come back to bite you both, you know. She's not going to be happy when she finds out that everyone else already knows these big secrets that she thought only she was privy to."

"I know," Ianto agreed. "I agree with you, but this is Jack's decision, and I don't feel that I have the right to be dictating who he should or shouldn't have to tell his own story to."

"It's your story too, mate."

"Not the same, Gage. Not even in the same dimension."

Gage shook his head as they came to an enormous, round metal door.

"I wouldn't be so sure about that."

Ianto activated the door, and it rolled open with a wail of an alarm that cut off very abruptly once they were through and the door had closed again behind them. Gage eyed the door grimly.

"Noisy entrance you've got. No fear of surprise assaults there."

Ianto chuckled as he led Gage across the floor.

"The invisible lift is much quieter. Also not so great for anyone with vertigo." He looked around as his three colleagues approached with varying looks of curiosity. "Gage, this is Dr Owen Harper, Toshiko Sato, and you met Gwen Cooper last night – if you remember last night."

"I told you, I wasn't that drunk," Gage growled. Ianto ignored him.

"Everyone, I'd like to introduce Gage Adams. He was a friend of mine and Jack's from Torchwood One in London. He survived the Canary Wharf invasion along with us, and he's come to Cardiff in the hope of making a fresh start."

Owen snorted.

"Join the club, mate."

Gage glanced questioningly at Ianto, who shook his head minutely to warn the Irishman off asking any questions. Sufficiently warned, he turned his gaze to the two women, and his face lit up at the sight of Toshiko.

"Well, now, here's an absolute sight for sore eyes," he all-but purred, taking great delight in the deep blush that suffused Tosh's cheeks, as well as the obvious jealousy on Owen's face.

"All right," Ianto growled. "No need to try and give Jack a run for his money."

While Gage grinned, Gwen took the opportunity to ask one of the many questions she'd had on her mind since Ianto had taken responsibility for Gage the previous night.

"Are you going to be joining us permanently, Gage?"

"I don't know yet," Gage answered. "But, I like to think I can keep my mind open to the possibilities. And there do seem to be many of those here!"

His attention was once again on Tosh as he answered, and she blushed even more deeply than before. Ianto rolled his eyes. Jack would either be proud as punch, or insanely jealous. He didn't know which he preferred.

"Gwen, did you do as I asked with the tech last night?"

She nodded.

"Yes. I brought it straight back here and put it in a containment box, labelled it and left it for Tosh along with a note."

"It was here on my desk when I got in this morning," Tosh confirmed. "Just between us, Jack could take a lesson or two from Gwen about how to label things clearly. It took me an hour to decipher his last label."

Ianto refrained from commenting on that. He knew Jack's handwriting looked like drunken spider legs, but that was much because he had spent so long not using that skill that he had all but forgotten how to do it. He was effectively still learning how to write again, and it wasn't easy in the slightest.

"That tech was acquired by Gage from a young lad who was trying to sell it on. Gage, go with Toshiko, and see if, between the two of you, you can't work out what it's supposed to do."

"Actually," Gage said, "I might be able to shed a little bit of light on that before we start poking and prodding."

Ianto's expression hardened fractionally.

"I'm going to be annoyed, aren't I?"

"Probably," he conceded. "Look, my little altercation didn't start in that pub, it started at the train station. I spotted the kid with the tech, and saw him trying to sell it to a couple of mug punters. He was asking too much for it, though, and couldn't get rid of it. I approached him and tried to make out like I was an interested buyer, except I think my appearance at the time went against me. He went as far as to let me have a look at it, though, and it triggered while I was holding it."

"What did it do?" Ianto asked with a frown.

"Not a lot, admittedly, except it was like it took me back in time. I was still at the station, but I was watching this little boy... looked like he was a World War evacuee... wandering around looking lost and saying he wanted to go home. It felt like I was connected to him. I could feel his fear and uncertainty so clearly. It was almost like I was him. Then the kid snatched the device back and hoofed it across the road to the pub. I didn't want to let him get away, so I went after him and caught him up in the pub. You probably know the rest from that point on."

"So, it's like some kind of time machine?" Gwen wondered.

"Not in the literal sense," Gage said. "More like a kind of psychic device. It was like wearing one of those holographic goggle things. I felt like I was transported back in time, but I never actually went anywhere."

"I think we get it," Ianto murmured. "Tosh, if you could do an examination of the device, we'll look into finding the lad that Gage got the device from."

"Why?" Gwen asked with a slight frown that told Ianto her thoughts had immediately gone to the welfare of the boy that Gage had taken the tech from. "We have the device. Why do we need to find him?"

"Two reasons," Owen explained before Ianto had a chance to say anything. "We need to know whether the kid used the device, and we need to know whether he has anything else that he shouldn't have. Either way, we'll probably have to retcon him."

Gwen's frown deepened.

"I don't like the way we use that stuff."

"It's an unfortunate necessity," Ianto pointed out, experiencing a mixture of frustration and pride. He'd already explained to her more than once why they used retcon, but at the same time he was pleased that she retained her natural concern for the people that Torchwood dealt with. Just privately, he knew that Jack felt the same way, even if he would never admit it. "We try to be as sparing as possible with it, but sometimes it is necessary."

"I know," she conceded. "I do understand. I just don't like it."

Ianto smiled reassuringly at her.

"Duly noted. Now, to work, people. I expect we'll have a lot of ground to cover to find the young man in question. Jack will be home the day after tomorrow, and it would be good if we could have this sorted out by then."

As he spoke, though, he couldn't help but feel like he'd just jinxed them in the worst possible way.

* * *


to be continued...


Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013 11:38 am (UTC)
Every new chapter of this delights me. I cannot wait to see Jack and Gage's reunion. :D

Although, I am concerned about where you're taking us with this. The next episode is Cyberwoman, after all, and Lisa died at Canary Wharf... So, I'm not sure where you're going with this but Gage reappearing is looking suspicious. Don't get me wrong, I love Gage - but I do wonder at him turning up now. Please let me be wrong and have him not hiding anything?
Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013 02:22 pm (UTC)
Another chapter! Awesome!

I like that Gage seems to fitting in a little, and his flirting with Tosh was cute. However I can't help but think there's something going on with him behind the scenes, and I can't wait for Jack to get back so we can get some sort of explanation. I love Gage but I just have this really bad feeling...
Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013 12:36 am (UTC)
So Gage saw the little boy in the train station, wonder who is going to be involved with Lizzie? Love Gage's attraction to Tosh, Owwen better watch out?! Will be interesting when Jack returns. Thanks for sharing, Love this!
Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013 02:42 am (UTC)
Wonderful update! I am a little worried about Gage's story,
I'm getting a very bad feeling about it.
Saturday, April 6th, 2013 01:32 am (UTC)
I was so excited when I logged in and saw that you were posting the next story in this 'verse!!! I love it! I've been wondering where Gage was and when he'd come back into the story. Can't wait to see his reunion with Jack!
Monday, April 8th, 2013 12:15 am (UTC)
Glad to see another story up in the WNSB verse; just read all 3 chapters of this. Love your version of each of the episodes. Trying to figure out if the re-appearance of Gage is a good thing or bad. Thanks for the great update, looking forward to more.

I'm sorry that this is my 1st time commenting on any of your fics, although, I have been reading them for a while; Another World & No Greater Gift are 2 of my favorites, plus the prev 5 in the WNSB verse. I've been offering apologies to quite a few of you wonderful authors. Now on, I intend to let you know I do appreciate your efforts.
Saturday, April 13th, 2013 02:39 am (UTC)
I love that you've brought Gage back into the story. I was wondering what had happened to him. I had forgotten about the circumstances surrounding his leaving, so it will be interesting to see Jack's reaction when they're finally reunited. After reading some of the other comments, I have to say I really hope there's nothing shady in his reappearance because I really liked him in this before.

Loved the update and can't wait to see what happens when Jack gets back.

One small typo:
Gage frowned as he followed Gwen down the stairs.
It should be Ianto instead of Gwen.