Three millennia had passed since the last time Jack Harkness had walked the hallways of the Time Agency.
Back then he could never have imagined how his life would be changed by his decision to join the organisation. It was ironic then that, now he could barely remember what was life was like before he became immortal and set off on the path which would lead him back to the agency again.
The last time he had been in the fifty-first century, the corridors of the agency had been streaming with soldiers and students alike. Neither of them paying much attention to what was going on around them, or questioning the orders too closely. They had been there to do a job, and they were going to to do it the best way they knew how.
Now, Jack’s footsteps were the only sounds which echoed through the halls. The place looked like a ghost town, but Jack knew the reality was much more complex. He wasn’t making his way through the main building; he was heading for Floor-2. The place a once naive young man had been brought in to teach the younger generations skills that would protect life in their century and the ones which came before it.
It was risky to return to a place where he knew his younger self could walk around the corner any second, but curiosity was a weakness Jack had never been able to ignore.
With steps which were more confident than he felt, Jack moved through the corridor. It was the middle of the night, so even in the sparsely populated Floor-2 everyone was safely tucked up in bed. Leaving Jack free to do what he wanted unhindered.
Jack moved past the classrooms, pausing briefly as memories of fooling around with Ianto in them came flushing back, before he continued on his way.
At the end of the corridor he came to a stop. To the left were the dormitories, to the right were the corridors and offices which had always been out of bounds for Jack; even when he had been a member of staff, he had never been allowed beyond the always-locked doors.
Really, there was no doubt which way Jack was going to go during his after hours exploration now.
Even though he was positive there was no one around, Jack couldn’t help throwing a look over his shoulder - just in case. There was no one there; the coast was clear.
While he had been at the agency, Jack had tried - multiple times - to use his Vortex Manipulator to unlock the door. None of his attempts had ever been successful, and he was certain they wouldn’t be now.
If he hadn’t made some alterations to the device over the last few centuries, that is.
Jack flicked the leather case back on the manipulator and began pressing a series of buttons. The lock screen in front of him beeped and flashed red. Access denied. Not one to be deterred, Jack continued pressing various combinations. He wasn’t concerned that he was going to be locked out completely; he’d once tried 34 times in the same day, to no avail.
It didn’t take that many attempts this time, thankfully. Jack couldn’t suppress a smile when, on the sixth attempt, the lock beeped and flashed green. Access granted.
Jack’s heart was pounding in his chest and he couldn’t stop a grin from spreading across his face. He felt like a giddy schoolchild.
The smile slipped from his face a little when he saw that the corridor behind the door looked exactly the same as every other one in the agency. Nondescript and plain; nothing to indicate what went on behind the scenes.
Trying to ignore the feeling of disappointment, Jack moved down the corridor slowly. As he passed, he tried the handle on each door; they were all unlocked, and were all nothing more than boring offices. Nothing that intrigued him enough to continue looking further.
It was only when he reached the door at the end of the corridor, that he came up against the resistance of a lock and his curiosity was peaked.
He threw a look over his shoulder, just in case someone was trying to sneak up on him, before turning to survey the lock. Like the one before it, it was practically ancient by the fifty-first century’s standards, but this time he knew exactly what he had to do to gain entrance, and soon he was pushing the polished mahogany open.
Somehow, and Jack would never be able to explain his reasoning why, as soon as he stepped across the threshold Jack knew whose office he was standing in.
After all these years of wondering who the Commander of the Time Agency was, and what was so secretive about him, Jack had finally gotten closer than he had ever been.
Jack let his eyes roam eagerly over the space in front of him. He didn’t want to miss a thing; wanted to take everything in.
A dark desk and chair set in the centre of the room, behind which sat a wall of filing cabinets and another wall of television screens, all of which were powered down for the night. Three of the walls surrounding the desk were covered in equally dark wood panelling, while the fourth was covered from floor to ceiling with a clouded over window.
Idly, and feeling more than a little like a child on Christmas morning, Jack moved across the room to where he could see a control panel; it was beckoning him closer, begging for him to press the buttons he could see.
Jack knew he shouldn’t; of course he knew that. Nothing good ever came from pressing unmarked buttons. But then, he reasoned, when was he ever going to get the chance to be in the Commander’s office unaccompanied? He needed to see everything there was, and this was his one opportunity to do so.
Without stopping to second guess himself again, Jack jabbed his fingers firmly against the largest button on the console.
At once the grey cloud covering the window cleared, allowing Jack to see what was behind, and suddenly Jack started to wish he had never made the decision to visit the Agency in the first place.
It may be the middle of the night, but apparently there were still at least one person out of bed.
Beyond the glass, Will Kanaris - a Floor-2 tutor and the young man who would later become known as Captain Jack Harkness - lay strapped to an examination table. He was hooked up to a number of machines which were flickering as they constantly monitored the patient’s vitals.
There was no resistance from Will, no struggling to avoid what was happening to him, but only because he was unconscious.
Jack’s blue eyes shot down to his Vortex Manipulator and he felt the breath go out of his lungs. In his desire to sneak into the Time Agency, he had never thought to check the date. He had been more concerned with making sure he didn’t bump into the younger version of himself.
It was July 31st 5080.
The day two years of his memories had been stolen by the Agency.
Jack had been in the Commander’s office for almost an hour and he hadn’t moved an inch since. On the other side of the window, Will Kanaris was still as unconscious as he had been when Jack arrived.
No-one had been in to check on the younger man, and there had been no indication that he was about to wake up.
Over the years Jack had always thought that, if he had the opportunity to, he would do everything in his power to stop them from taking his memories. It was typical of the universe and her games that he would arrive after the procedure had already happened. There was nothing he could do now; everything about Floor-2 and his training of the Agency’s assassins had been erased from his memories.
Behind him, the door opened and Jack reacted instinctively; he quickly pressed the button to hide the window once more. As the glass clouded over, he reached for the gun which he had secured at the small of his back.
He froze before his fingers had even brushed the metal of the gun handle at the figure darkening the doorway of the office.
The figure was wearing a black and red high necked uniform, with the logo of the Agency embroidered on the breast pocket. Jack knew without a shadow of a doubt that there was no one else this figure could be.
The Commander of the Time Agency himself.
“Well, that explains how my security was breached so easily,” the Commander drawled, closing the door behind him with a soft click.
The sound of the other man’s voice broke Jack out of his daze with a crack. He was tempted to comment that it hadn’t been easy to break in, but he couldn’t get the words past his lips.
When the Commander realised that Jack wasn’t about to speak, he huffed a sigh before moving further into the room, never turning his back on Jack. “What are you doing here?” he asked warily.
There was silence between them for a beat until Jack found his voice. “I thought I’d swing by the Agency and see what was happening behind the scenes before everything went to ruin.”
He hesitated for a second, before pressing the button once more and revealing the window and Will’s unconscious body beyond it.
The Commander drew in a breath when the window cleared. He clearly didn’t need to see what was on the other side. He knew exactly what was going on in his Agency.
When he didn’t speak further, Jack’s blue eyed narrowed into a glare. “Aren’t you going to say something?”
The other man raised an elegant eyebrow at the words. “What do you want me to say?” he asked; a question for a question.
Something inside Jack snapped and he felt the anger that had been brewing bubble up to the surface. “I want you to tell me that he,” Jack pointed to his comatose younger self, “hasn’t just been put through the hell I think he has.”
There was silence for a beat, before the Commander said softly, “You know I can’t do that.”
Jack snarled and, acting without conscious effort from him, he snarled and punched the Commander in the face. “You fucking bastard!” he yelled.
The force of the blow had snapped the Commander’s head to the side, and he straightened up to face Jack once more. He didn’t look angry, which just served to make Jack himself even more furious. He wanted a fight dammit, and the bastard was too stubborn to give him what he wanted.
“All these years and you still settle things with your fists,” the Commander murmured. He moved around Jack and hid the window once more. “I know you’re not going to believe me, but I did what I had to because neither of us would have survived if I hadn’t.”
His words were cryptic, confusing and Jack had zero patience for either. “Ianto, if you don’t start speaking sense…”
Ianto rolled his eyes and Jack watched as he headed over to the desk. Without saying a word, Ianto reached into a drawer and pulled out a thick file; far thicker than any file that Jack had seen in his long life.
The thud of the file echoed around the room as Ianto threw it down on the desk.
“What’s that?” Jack asked petulantly.
“Everything about the Time Agency,” Ianto replied, reaching for another file. This one was much thinner and didn’t make as much noise as it landed beside the first. “And this, is everything about Ianto Jones and Will Kanaris.”
Jack didn’t speak as he waited for Ianto to continue.
“In two weeks and three days, I will have no other choice than to give this file to the government.” Ianto placed his hand on the thicker file. “The other is going with me to the Torchwood base on Boeshane.”
The pair of them fell silent, neither of them knowing what to say. In the end it was Jack who broke the silence with a heavy sigh as he sat down on the sofa pressed against one wall. “What happened?” he asked softly.
Ianto remained stoic for another moment, before he let the mask slip and he started to look more like the man Jack had loved for centuries. “I’ve been keeping my ear to the ground for decades,” he said, moving back around the desk and sitting down next to Jack. “Waiting for any kind of word that the Time Agency was being created.”
He offered Jack a wry smile. “I was curious about who the commander was as well,” he admitted, making Jack grin back at him. “I remember you saying that you were signed up when you were still a teenager, and the closer it got to then, the more I started to realise that no-one was going to create the Agency for me. I had to do it myself.”
Jack hummed in understanding; what Ianto was saying made sense, but there was still one thing he couldn’t get his mind past. “How did you know I wasn’t planning on doing the same thing?” he asked.
It had been almost a hundred years since they had last seen each other - both of them choosing to spend time apart occasionally to save their incredibly long relationship. For all Ianto know, Jack could have been biding his time until he created the agency.
Ianto laughed and rolled his eyes. “Just because we weren’t together doesn’t mean that I didn’t know where you were.” Jack raised an eyebrow. “Cali has been giving me updates. I knew you weren’t anywhere near here or Boeshane.”
He wasn’t surprised to hear that their granddaughter had been giving Ianto updates on what he was doing. They were a very tight family unit and, with the exception of their separation period, were rarely out of contact with each other.
“I bought land out here and started recruiting,” Ianto surmised.
Jack looked at Ianto with a raised eyebrow, a thought suddenly occurring to him. “Ben not getting into the agency…”
A light blush coloured Ianto’s cheeks and he ducked his head a little, even as the corners of his mouth turned up in a satisfied smile. “I’ll admit that I was being a little selfish with that. He was more than qualified to be a time agent - more than either of us, truth be told”
Jack laughed and shook his head. “You knew him being here could skew the timeline.”
“Partly,” admitted Ianto. “Mostly I was afraid if I gave him what he wanted, there would be no reason for you two to ever break up.”
Jack knew he should be annoyed. His acceptance into the Time Agency, especially when he hadn’t even applied in the first place, had been the final nail in the coffin of the relationship with Jack’s ex-boyfriend. But then he thought about everything he’d found since then, and the family he now had, and he couldn’t bring himself to feel angry with Ianto about the decision to turn Ben away.
“At least Zack makes sense now,” Jack mused, more to himself than Ianto, thinking of the young man who had been sent to recruit a teenage Will Kanaris into the Agency.
Ianto let out a sharp laugh. “What I can I say, I knew you had a weakness for dark hair and grey eyes.” His words drew a similar chuckle from Jack, before Ianto turned the conversation back to what Jack had seen in the other room. “I am sorry about what I had to do.”
Any humour that Jack had been feeling immediately drained from his body at the reminder of what the Agency - what Ianto had done. “I’m not going to lie and say I’m okay with it,” Jack said, his voice soft; he left lost in his memories of what he had gone through in the years between losing his memories and having them restored.
Ianto opened his mouth, but Jack wasn’t finished. “But I understand why you had to. You know as well as I do how tricky time travel can be,” Jack commented. “If I hadn’t had my memories wiped, I would have been here when the agency fell, and I would never have ended up in Cardiff.”
The other man reached out and covered Jack’s hand with his own. “I think our paths would have crossed one way or another,” Ianto whispered.
Jack grinned and released the other man’s hand. “Sap,” he mocked, running his thumb over Ianto’s cheek bone.
Blue-grey eyes twinkled back at him as Ianto leant closer. “Don’t tell anyone,” he instructed. “I have a reputation to keep; can’t have you telling everyone my secrets.”
“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Jack swore as their lips met.