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Myfanwy 2

November 2017

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Ghosts of the Collider - Chapter Nine

Ghosts of the Collider - Chapter Nine
Author: Milady Dragon
Series: Dragon-Verse
Rating: PG-13
Pairing(s): Jack/Ianto, Toshiko/Kathy
Warnings: Language, Violence
Spoilers: Both series up to S2, E4, "Meat" and the radio play, "Lost Souls"
Disclaimer: I don't own Torchwood, I would have treated it better.
Author's note:  This is the Dragon-Verse version of the radio play, "Lost Souls".  I decided to use the real-world dating for the activation of the LHC instead of what the radio play inferred, and that put this right in the middle of Series Two.  It actually makes a really good segue into "Adam", which you'll see later. 


SummaryAfter a call from Martha Jones at CERN, Jack sends Ianto, Toshiko, and Patrick in to investigate.  Can they discover the secret of the Collider before it's too late?



10 September 2008

The clean-up took hours, and by the time it was done Martha was exhausted.

Despite the fact that Major Webster had pretty much called her paranoid ever since she’d brought her concerns to him over what was going on, he actually put her in charge of the Collider victims, setting her loose in the infirmary with anything she could have wanted at her fingertips. She immediately had the victims brought in from the shed where Harrington had put them; on the whole, they’d stopped glowing within an hour of Collider’s activation. The ones who’d been newest exposed – like Patrick and Leon Foiret – had improved quickly. The ones who’d been attacked first took longer, and were severely debilitated even when they’d stopped glowing. It would be weeks of recovery for them.

As for Oliver Harrington, the agent who’d tackled him happily turned him over to Webster. Introduced as Agent Sitwell, he promptly took over the moving of the victims back to the base and turned out to be a fairly decent assistant in the infirmary. When Martha mentioned it, he’d just shrugged and claimed field medic training.

The rest of Torchwood were off doing what they needed to do to get things calmed down. Martha knew that Ianto had closeted himself with Webster and the head of CERN security, and did she want to be a fly on the wall in that meeting. She knew her friend; knew the dragon would have plenty to say about how things had been bumbled. Honestly, the first victim should have at least tipped them off to something strange going on, although Martha supposed she should give Harrington credit for managing to completely sweep things under the rug under the influence of whatever had come through into the tunnel.

Toshiko was with Professor Johnson, helping her to make the repairs needed to prevent such a rift opening ever again. When Martha had come back into the control room after seeing that Ianto and Patrick were alright, the professor had been excited over seeing what she’d built to Collider for: the Higgs particle, only to have Toshiko gently tell her that the experiment had been flawed, with a pair of bicycles and two lost comm units in the tunnel when the proton and anti-proton beams had slammed into each other. Martha had felt instantly sorry for the woman when she began to cry.

But Toshiko had offered to help her fix things, and Professor Johnson had perked up instantly. Now they were both by the control panel, taking in technobabble.

Yes, Martha had travelled with the Doctor and knew for certain that technobabble was an actual language.

Agent Barton stayed in the infirmary as well, keeping an eye on Patrick and glaring at anyone who got into Martha’s way. She had to admit, she appreciated it; she really didn’t need anyone bothering her when she was working.

Of course she remembered hearing Barton’s name mentioned during that Year, although she’d never met him. He’d been off undercover for the SHIELD part of the Resistance when she and Ianto had come through New Saxon but she’d heard enough to know that he was trustworthy. Plus, he was well known to Patrick, which put Barton into another completely trustworthy bracket altogether.

So she let him watch, and kept to her work.

At some point, Ianto finally came to fetch her. By that time she was nearly dead on her feet; she glanced at the clock on the wall, surprised to see it was nearly 22:00 local time. No wonder she was tired.

“Is Patrick okay to leave?” he asked, touching her gently on the shoulder as if he thought she was going to break if the caress was any firmer.

“Yes, please,” she heard Patrick say from his bed a few feet down from where she was working on one of the worst of those affected.

“If he pops off one more time about being fine and wanting to leave, I’m going to pump him so full of sedatives he’ll sleep for a week,” Martha grumbled good-naturedly.

“I love you too, Martha!” Patrick snarked.

She shook her head tiredly. “This is what I have to put up with.”

Ianto smiled. “Then we should all go back to the hotel and rest.”

“But I have too much to do here!” she protested. Martha couldn’t just leave her patients.

“You’ve done all you can, correct?”

She had to admit Ianto was correct.

“You’re dead on your feet, and we still have to debrief for Jack. So put away the tools of your trade Dr Jones, and come with me.” He smirked. “And I suppose Patrick can come too.”

“Thank God!”

Martha had to laugh at the antics. This was one of those times when she really wished she’d gone to work for Torchwood instead of UNIT; these were her people, her family, and she missed them.

She snapped off her sterile gloves, tossing them into the receptacle. The CERN medical personnel could handle anything that came up; Julia and the others would be fine in their capable hands. Her friend had regained consciousness fairly early, and was currently sleeping. It was well-earned for all of the victims.

“Agent Barton?” Ianto called out, surprising Martha a little.

The SHIELD agent stepped forward, almost standing at attention. Martha frowned slightly, wondering just what she was missing. “Yes sir?”

“I’d like you to come with us for the debrief. Do you think you can be spared long enough to come back with us to our hotel?”

Barton kept a professional expression on his face, but his pale eyes gave away his surprise. “Of course. Let me tell Sitwell I’m going.”

Ianto nodded, and the man turned smartly and headed toward his fellow agent. Martha looked at Ianto closely. “What happened?”

Ianto’s ancient eyes met hers. “When we were down in the tunnel, he…well, let’s just say I gave myself away.”

Martha gasped. “You’re usually so careful.”

“I had Patrick to look after.”

And this was the truth of Ianto Jones…he would always put himself second when it came to the people he cared about.

Then her eyes narrowed as she realised just what this meant. “Are you going to Retcon him?

Ianto looked torn. “I can’t let him remember what he saw…”

“But at the same time…” she prompted.

“Patrick knows him and trusts him. That carries a lot of weight.”

“If it helps, I trust him too.”

Ianto looked down at her fondly. “You know it does.” He put his arm around her waist. “Come on, let’s collect Toshiko and spring Patrick and get the hell out of here.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

**********

They got back to the hotel about half an hour later. Without anyone saying a word they all congregated in Ianto’s room, the dragon making them welcome by immediately calling down for room service. Martha was grateful; she hadn’t realised how hungry she was until she’d had a chance to relax a bit.

Patrick collapsed onto one of the overstuffed chairs, sighing as he sank into the cushions. Ianto sat on the side of the bed, and Toshiko joined him, while Martha decided that the hard-backed chair next to the small table was the only way she was going to stay awake. Barton actually took the floor, leaning back against the wall, his jacket off and his sleeves rolled up, revealing forearms that Martha appreciated for their aesthetic beauty while not comparing him to Tom at all.

“Let’s get this over with,” Ianto began, “because it’s been a busy day and even I’m tired, which means the rest of you are probably about to collapse. Especially Patrick, who looks half-asleep already.”

“You’re not far wrong, Boss,” came the exhausted reply.

“Agent Barton,” Ianto addressed their guest, “I asked you along because you saw something in the tunnel that no one else outside of my team knows.”

“I figured,” Barton answered, his tone and face serious.

Martha still wasn’t sure what Ianto was going to do. Yes, she could see where it would make sense for Ianto to Retcon Barton; the more people who knew Ianto was a dragon the more dangerous it might get for her friend. But, at the same time, it said something about the SHIELD agent that he apparently hadn’t made any sort of report yet, and she was about to speak up when Patrick beat her to it.

“You can trust him,” the American said. Patrick raised his head from where it had been resting against the back of the chair to look at Ianto directly. “And I bet if you asked nicely Clint won’t put anything down in writing and simply make a verbal report.” He glanced over at the seated Barton. “It will most likely get you a level out of it and I bet my uncle and Fury would agree to it.”

Barton’s eyebrows went up. “You’re sure about that?”

Patrick shrugged. “What can it hurt to ask?”

Martha could see Ianto trying to work things out, to justify him coming clean to a near-complete stranger who could conceivably tell others about his true self. She could certainly understand his hesitation; after all, there were several reasons he was the last of the dragons, and trusting humans was one of the main ones. While Martha honestly didn’t think SHIELD would do anything, there was still a chance and Ianto wouldn’t want to risk anyone getting hurt because of him.

“Ianto,” Toshiko murmured, scooting up next to him and putting her arm around him, “trust what your heart is telling you.”

He smiled, hugging Toshiko. “Darling Toshiko, you seem to be able to say the right thing.”

She looked pleased with his response. “How long have I known you now?”

“Long enough it seems.” Ianto took a deep breath and then addressed Barton. “Agent Barton, what you saw in the tunnel is only known to my team and a handful of other people, simply because I am the last of my kind and my sense of self-preservation has been honed by centuries of hiding. But Patrick does trust you, and I believe you to be a good person, so I’ll be honest as long as you do make that proviso: that you don’t put anything I’m about to say in any sort of paperwork you submit to your superiors. I’d also prefer that you keep it a secret, but I do understand about conflicting loyalties and I won’t ask you to do that.”

“We can also ask you to sign a copy of the Official Secrets Act,” Toshiko offered. “The very nature of what we do is covered by it, and you can use it to avoid saying anything altogether.”

“This is true,” Ianto conceded. “Patrick had to sign it, which is why he didn’t let you know who we truly were.”

“I guess that would be the first question,” Barton replied slowly. “I did hear the discussion between Professor Johnson and Dr Sato-Jones…” he frowned. “Are you two even married?”

“No, that was just a cover,” Toshiko answered, shooting a look toward Martha, who simply shrugged. It had been a really good cover story, after all, even if Martha said so herself. “My fiancée is going to be laughing about it when we get home.”

“As is my mate,” Ianto added. “It’s a good thing Jack isn’t really the jealous type.”

Toshiko lifted an eyebrow. “Are you sure about that?”

“Maybe I should have said that Jack isn’t going to be jealous because it’s Toshiko.”

That caused a ripple of laughter through the room, even coming from Patrick who was looking more and more exhausted the longer he sat there. Martha was tempted to call an end to the meeting and send him to bed, but she knew it would be fruitless; Patrick would want to stay through the debrief, because certain decisions would affect him directly.

“So you all really do hunt down alien threats?” Barton asked, genuinely curious.

“That’s what we do,” Ianto confirmed. “Torchwood has been protecting the planet since Queen Victoria’s time. She’s the one who chartered Torchwood after a run-in with an alien werewolf.”

“You’re not shitting me?” Barton asked incredulously, grinning like a maniac. “And honest-to-God alien werewolf?”

“I’m not shitting you,” Ianto grinned tiredly. “I’m the Second in Command of the current iteration of Torchwood based in Cardiff.”

“And Webster was right,” Toshiko added, “we are a bit out of our jurisdiction, but Martha is a good friend and we weren’t about to let her hang out to dry because some UNIT major thought she was crying wolf.”

“Which I appreciate,” Martha said graciously. “As will Julia, when she’s able to say so.” At Barton’s look of confusion, she elaborated, “Julia is a friend of mine, and was one of the victims of whatever it was that came through the Collider.”

“It pretended to be loved ones who’d died,” Patrick said. “Claimed to be my grandmother, even though I’d never met her before, and my mom’s folks. Made me want to stay with them.” He shuddered. “Ianto…Clint…thanks for pulling me out of there. I don’t think I’d have had the strength to do it on my own.”

“It was trying to do the same for me,” Ianto explained. “It tried to convince me it was my mother, father, and my sister.” He leaned a little against Toshiko, and she took his weight easily. “So long dead, and they still haunt me.”

“For me,” Barton put in, “it was my brother. If whatever the hell it was had tried to tell me it was my parents, I would have run a mile instead of begged to join them.” He’d gone a little pale, and Martha knew there was a story there but she wasn’t about to pry.

“We’ll do some more research and see if we can identify the alien when we get back to Cardiff,” Toshiko said. “Maybe there’s something in mainframe that matches it.”

“I’ll phone Jack and we’ll debrief fully in a moment,” Ianto said, “but we do need to get back to our other issue before we do.”

Martha knew they’d have to figure out just where Agent Barton stood with what he’d seen in the tunnel. Had he been trying to dodge the subject by bringing up Torchwood? She didn’t know, but she was inclined to trust him. However, she also knew that Ianto didn’t just tell anyone about himself; he’d waited years to tell Kathy Swanson, and he’d trusted the detective inspector almost from the start of their friendship.

“If it helps any,” Barton offered, “I’m pretty sure I know what you are.”

The silence in the room was almost deafening.

Martha certainly hadn’t expected that.

And then Patrick began to laugh.

Barton gave his fellow American a sly smile, as if they were sharing some sort of joke. Ianto glanced between the two, and Martha was positive she could see the gears whirling in his head.

“Jesus, Clint,” Patrick chortled. “That was a ball-breaker of an announcement.” He turned tired eyes on the dragon, who was sitting ramrod straight, staring at Patrick incredulously, almost accusingly. “And no, I didn’t tell him a thing. And if you think I did you really don’t know me as well as you think.” He didn’t seem upset by the silent accusation, only amused by it.

Ianto shook his head. “Sorry, Patrick. I didn’t mean anything by that.”

Patrick waved his hand tiredly. “Nah, don’t worry about it, Boss. We’re all off our game tonight and Clint’s a bastard who likes to just bust shit out like that whenever he wants to stir things up.”

Barton had turned serious once more. “Be that as it may,” he said, “I’m completely serious. You see, I get paid to be observant, whether it’s down the shaft of an arrow or reading the body language of a mark…although, I admit I see much better at a distance. I didn’t even think something was off when we shook hands earlier, which was my fault really because I wasn’t expecting it.”

Ianto nodded, a small wry smile gracing his lips. “I do have a higher than average body temperature.” To Martha’s gaze he appeared relaxed, which was a good thing. It meant he was taking Barton at face value, and was perfectly willing to listen and accept whatever the agent had to say.

“As I said, it wasn’t something I was expecting,” Barton went on. “But the eyes, of course, were a dead giveaway. No pun intended, of course.”

“Of course. But how do you know about my kind?”

Barton shrugged. “It’s not common knowledge, but I ran away to the circus when I was kid –“

“The Amazing Hawkeye, the World’s Greatest Marksman,” Patrick interrupted.

“It’s a long, complicated, and in some ways not a pretty story,” the agent went on. “But at the circus we had a fortune teller, Madame Dominie. She didn’t think the circus was a place for a nine-year-old, and she tried to get me and my brother to turn ourselves in to various DCS services in the states we travelled through, but when she finally realised we were there to stay she kinda took me under her wing. She helped me with reading and writing, and was almost like the mother my own mom should have been.

“Anyway, most of the others thought she was just a spectacularly good con artist, when…well, the only way I can describe her was magical. It wasn’t that she did anything like flying on a broomstick or yelling ‘Expelliarmus’ at people, but it was something about the way she saw things; she once told me that I’d only find my soulmate once I’d died, which was just a wee bit spooky, let me tell you. And she would tell these stories that everyone considered to be fairy tales…but there was such a ring of truth in her voice whenever she spoke of Fae, and Dragons, and Elves…you just had to believe her. So, when someone whose hands are warmer than normal, whose eyes look older than their face, and then the eyes…well, I could only put it together.”

Martha couldn’t believe it. She was so relieved she couldn’t help but laugh. Barton seemed a bit shy at her response, which made her laugh even more. “So you heard stories as a kid, and when you met Ianto you just happened to add two and two and come up with dragon?”

“I wasn’t hired by SHIELD just for my good looks and charm alone,” Barton answered cheekily.

“And you have plenty of those,” Toshiko quipped, her own voice light with humour.

Barton winked at her. “Your fiancée is a very lucky lady to have gotten to you first.”

“I like to think that I’m the lucky one,” Toshiko said, blushing slightly.

“Love is a good look for you, Toshiko,” Patrick murmured. “You wear it very well.”

The technician blushed even redder, resting her head on Ianto’s shoulder.

Ianto was shaking his head, the relief and disbelief plain in his eyes. “I can’t…sometimes the strangest things are really just as simple as the passing along of old stories. If you ever want to leave SHIELD, Agent Barton, come to Cardiff and you’ll have a job waiting for you.”

“Thanks, Mr Jones, I do appreciate the offer but I like what I’m doing. Although the whole ‘alien threat’ part of the job description is tempting. And I wouldn’t mind seeing your dragon form someday.”

“I think that can be arranged. And it’s Ianto. You’ve guessed my deepest secret and seemed willing to keep it.”

“Then it’s Clint. Of course I’m willing to keep it, although I may have to tell Coulson and Fury about it. But I won’t put the knowledge in any written report.”

“I’ll hold you to that. Now,” Ianto pulled out his mobile and began dialling, “it’s time we debriefed so we can all get some sleep.” He set the phone on the table next to the bed.

“What are you wearing?”

The soft smile on Ianto’s face belied the eye rolling he was doing at Jack’s words. Martha couldn’t help but love those two. “I’m calling for an official debrief, Jack. I have the team with me.”

“Then it’s not the fun kind of debrief, then.” Martha could actually hear the pout in Jack’s voice.

“God, you two are disgusting,” Patrick moaned. “And I can’t even tell you to get a room.”

“I think it’s sweet,” Toshiko replied.

“You’re their biggest fangirl in the Hub,” Patrick mock-accused. “Of course you’d say that.”

“Someone sounds like they missed their nap,” Jack laughed.

“It’s been a long day,” Ianto said, “I think we all missed out on naptime today.”

“Everything all tied up then?”

“Yes, Jack. And we’re all fine, although Patrick got a little close this time…also we have a guest, besides Martha. Jack, I’d like to introduce you to Agent Clint Barton, from SHIELD. Clint, this is Captain Jack Harkness, Director of the Torchwood Institute.”

“Nice to meet you,” Barton – Clint – said in a friendly tone, waving his hand toward the phone as if Jack was standing right there.

There was a pause, and then Jack said lightly, “We inviting strangers to our meetings now, Ianto?”

“I’ve invited him because he saved both Patrick and myself in the course of our investigations.”

There was yet another pause. “Then of course you’re welcome, Agent Barton.”

“Thank you, Captain,” the SHIELD agent replied.

The debrief didn’t take long, but then they were interrupted by a Rift alert and Jack had to head out to check on it. Martha said her farewells with the others, ready to go back to her room and call Tom to say goodnight. Patrick had fallen asleep halfway through the phone call, and Ianto looked disappointed that the call had to be ended. He and Clint got Patrick into Ianto’s bed and stripped out of his clothes, setting his gun on the side table so he’d see it when he awoke. Martha knew how much her American friend liked his guns and would be upset if his was missing.

“Where will you sleep?” Clint asked as the team left the room and Patrick to his well-deserved sleep.

Ianto shrugged. “I don’t sleep well in my human form, so I’ll wait until we get back to Cardiff. I can go for days without really sleeping.”

“And Ianto is a nervous flyer,” Toshiko teased.

“I don’t think I ever expected to hear that,” Clint snorted. “Of course, I also didn’t expect to meet you today, either.” He left what Ianto was unsaid, and Martha knew already that it hadn’t been a mistake to let him in on things. “I do have to ask, though…what would have you done if I hadn’t…you know, already guessed? And if Patrick hadn’t vouched for me?”

“Let’s just say it’s a good thing you’re not a virgin,” Martha replied, keeping her face and voice serious. “You aren’t, are you?”

Eyes wide, Clint shook his head.

“It’s so hard to find them these days,” Ianto moaned dramatically. “I’ve lost so much weight since moving to Cardiff…”

The confusion cleared from Clint’s features. “Wait, this is a joke, right?”

Toshiko was letting herself into her room when she said, “Ianto likes his virgins with Dijon mustard. Don’t ask me why.” She pushed the door open. “Ianto, you’re welcome to stay in with me tonight. I doubt you’ll keep me awake.”

“Thanks, Tosh,” the dragon answered. “Can I borrow your laptop to get my reports started?”

“Sure, no problem. At least you don’t download porn like Owen does.”

Ianto gave Martha a hug, and she leaned into him for a little longer than was strictly necessary; but then, Ianto gave good hugs. Then he turned and winked at Clint, following Toshiko into her hotel room and shutting the door behind them.

Clint was giving her the stink-eye, and Martha just grinned and said, “C’mon, let’s get a room for you for tonight. It’s too bad we didn’t think to get Patrick’s room key from him, you could’ve kipped there. If I know Ianto he’ll also arrange for us to go back to Cardiff tomorrow and I’m sure I can convince him to charge any room to Torchwood. I’d offer to share with you, but my Tom might not appreciate it.”

“That’s fine,” Clint answered brightly. “My boyfriend might not appreciate it, either.”

Martha laughed. If the rumours she’d heard during that Year were true, she knew exactly who his boyfriend was, and she wasn’t about to get on the bad side of Agent Phillip Coulson.


Chapter Ten

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Comments

Awesome!!!! Love the end :D:D:D:D:D
Thanks! One more chapter to go...
Brilliant ending, and I loved the banter between the team and Clint. I'm loving this new wrinkle of having the Marvel characters in the Dragon 'Verse, and I hope we'll see them pop in every now and again.

Looking forward to the next story when it posts! :D
Thanks, glad you liked that. We'll see them again at some point, don't worry. :)

One more chapter of this, actually, and then the next one...
OOh I love it!! Clint and Coulson..bartson? Please write more about them!!
Thanks! Glad you liked that. And Clint and Coulson will show up again, at some point. :)
Wonderful!
Thanks! Glad you liked it. :)
Of course he figured it out... Clint Barton is a really impressive character.
It must be strange for Ianto to every now and then come across believers in the old tales. I love that you have made it cannon that Ianto gives good hugs. :)
Clint really is, isn't he? He's not just a pretty face.

Ianto can't believe it sometimes, that people actually know about the old stories. Being the last dragon he just doesn't consider the fact that people would care.

Ianto just looks like he gives good hugs, doesn't he?
Aww! That was a lovely update :-) Was this the last chapter or will there be a Dragon-Captain reunion epilogue? ;-)
Thanks, glad you liked it.

And I can't really say anything about the next chapter, but it should be up soon. Spoilers, you know? *winks*
Please, please, please!!! Bring Barton and Coulson in for a mission or two... or three... Patrick needs them just to keep up his snark factor. And to get on Ianto's "bad" side :D
This was so good!
Don't worry, Clint and Coulson will show up again at some point. In the meantime Patrick will have to practice his snark on his teammates. :)

Glad you liked it!