Author: Milady Dragon
Pairing(s): Jack/Ianto (mentioned); Jack/John Hart (Past); Arthur/Merlin
Spoilers: Up through Torchwood Series Two, "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang"
Disclaimer: I don't own Torchwood, I would have treated it better. .
Author's note: This is a bridge story between John Hart's appearances, and hopefully answers a few questions...as well as asks a few.
A/N2: Here is the PDF for Partners in Every Way, which also includes this story. Download Here.
Summary: John Hart finds himself in hot water once he's back where he belongs.
23 March 5112
John Hart was getting drunk.
He felt he deserved it.
The former Time Agent waved the bartender over, and the Jaxian slid another double hypervodka into Hart’s waiting hands. He poured the shot down his throat, reveling in the burn, slamming the glass down hard on the faux wood of the bar top.
He just wanted to forget the whole bloody clusterfuck.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t meant to be.
He called for another drink, but the bartender didn’t arrive in his usual, timely manner.
And John Hart wasn’t drunk enough that he didn’t sense the two looming presences at his back.
He turned, overplaying his drunkenness in order to lull them into a false sense of security. The two men were horribly gorgeous; both dark-haired and dark-eyed, one a little shorter than the other and with longer hair and an artfully scruffy beard. They weren’t armed, but from Hart’s perspective he didn’t think they needed to be; they simply oozed dangerous in a way that should not have been possible in what appeared to be pure blooded humans.
They wore matching red tunics, and Hart knew exactly what the crest on each breast meant.
“Hello boys,” he slurred. “If you’re up for a threesome…”
“Good evening, Captain Hart,” the taller of the two greeted, sounding way too polite for his own good. “As much as we appreciate the offer, we don’t have the time.”
“Besides,” the second said, smirking, “his wife wouldn’t agree to it.”
The taller man rolled his eyes good-naturedly. “And your mate would personally castrate you if you even considered it.”
Mate? Oh Goddess, he was one of those…hadn’t he had enough trouble with dragons and their mates lately?
“If you’ll please come with us…” The taller of the two smiled calmly, but it didn’t reach his eyes.
Hart knew the guy could afford to be nice about it, because he was going to go with them whether he wanted to or not. He slid off the stool, and heavy hands rested on his each of his shoulders, keeping him firmly between the two men, making Hart feel as if he were being marched to his execution.
Maybe he was, if they were on to what he’d just tried to pull.
Damnit, he should have knocked the dirt off his boots the moment he’d heard the word ‘Torchwood’ in that bar, back in the past.
His escorts teleported him into a well-appointed office, with a wonderful view of what only could have been the city of Gliese, if the lurid sunlight painting the buildings in various shades of red was any indication. That meant he could only be on one planet.
He really was so screwed, and not in a pleasant way.
The shorter of the men shoved Hart into a pretty comfortable chair, keeping a hand on his shoulder in order to make Hart stay in place. They’d removed his vortex manipulator when they’d got him in the bar, and even if he’d wanted to escape, Hart knew they’d only track him down once more. After all, this was fucking Torchwood.
The door behind him opened, and then closed. Two men moved into his line of sight, and it was all Hart could do not to curse out loud.
Both men were drool-worthy. One was blond, wearing a red tunic with the same insignia as the two who’d brought him there, with a sword and blaster buckled at his waist. Sharp blue eyes met his, and Hart felt like the guy was trying to read his mind. He wanted to look away, but instead he plastered a smirk on his lips and leaned back in the chair, acting as if the scrutiny wasn’t bothering him.
The second man was dark-haired and lanky, dressed casually, his own blue eyes showing a faint ring of gold around the irises. Here was the real power, if the rumours were any indication; ancient power, and it was most likely this man who’d found out about Hart’s little jaunt to the 21st Century.
“Thank you, Lancelot…Gwaine,” the blond said, nodding to the pair who’d teleported John to Hubworld.
The taller of the two nodded then handed over John’s wrist strap, and the shorter gave them a jaunty salute then together they left the office. That meant John was alone with these two, who were probably two of the most powerful men in the Human Empire if his assumptions were correct.
Yep, he really should have run at the first mention of ‘Torchwood’ back on old Earth.
“Well now,” John said lasciviously, “if I’d known I was going to be invited to a party, I would have dressed inappropriately.”
“Captain Hart,” the blond man said coolly, ignoring the comment and moving around the desk. He removed the sword from its sheath, setting it across the touch-sensitive top, and then he sat in the overstuffed chair. His companion leaned against the front of the desk, his rather nice arse perched on the edge. “It seems we have a problem.”
“Now boys,” John said, trying to relax but completely unable to, “I’m sure this has been a complete misunderstanding –“
“So you didn’t just get back from the year 2008, where you tried to locate an Arcadian diamond that had been sent through the old Cardiff Rift?” The blond raised a well-sculpted eyebrow, and it was as full of disbelief as an eyebrow could get.
The other man simply smirked at him, not saying a word. But then, he really didn’t have to.
“All right,” Hart admitted, “so it wasn’t so much of a misunderstanding then.” There was no way he could deny it, not when he knew they had him dead to rights. He’d be lucky to get out of this with a simple rehab. Unlucky and he wouldn’t be getting out at all. He knew the rules…one had to, in order to know which ones to break.
“Now,” his interrogator went on, “I know very well that the Time Agency trained each and every one of its agents to avoid that particular era, especially Torchwood –“
“The Time Agency doesn’t exist anymore…thanks to the pair of you!” He couldn’t help but be a bit mad about that. “And I didn’t actually get the diamond, which I’m sure you already know.” No, he’d learned that his contact had gotten high on primitive narcotics and had stolen a sports car…and then had been killed by Torchwood. They had the last piece of his puzzle and they most likely didn’t even know it. He wouldn’t be able to go back and get it either, not after his parting shot at Jack. He was quite sure Eye Candy wouldn’t let him live long enough to get even a ‘hello’ out.
“That’s neither here nor there. What is relevant is that you did, in fact, travel into a prohibited time and interact with the historical Torchwood.”
“Too much could have gone wrong,” the dark-haired man finally spoke, frowning. His eyes flashed, the gold in them spreading to cover the bright blue. Hart could feel the power flowing off of him, and he swallowed hard.
“Merlin,” the other man chided lightly.
The gold faded back, and while John had guessed who he was dealing with from the start it was good to have it confirmed.
Merlin Williams-Song was literally the most powerful Sorcerer in every galaxy that the Human Empire stretched to. Rumour had it that he was also the son of the last Time Lord, and John was willing to believe it, with his ability to look into the timelines. It had been Song who’d instigated the closing of the Time Agency, and he’d had the evidence of corruption needed for the Emperor to do just that. The technology and knowledge of the Time Agency had been folded into Torchwood, which put it under the control of the man behind the desk.
The Once and Future King.
Pendragon and Song had come to prominence nearly fifteen hundred years ago, when they’d taken over Torchwood. At first, the then-rulers of what would become the Empire hadn’t been pleased that someone claiming to be King Arthur was running around, but once Pendragon had made it clear that all he wanted was Torchwood and that the Imperial throne was safe, he was allowed to get on with it.
According to the history Hart had learned, that had also marked the return of magic, after so many millennia of it having mostly disappeared. That was thanks to Song, who’d proven to everyone that magic was real, and he’d begun training new sorcerers in the craft. The majority of the schools for magic were accredited through Torchwood, which gave them an even larger power base.
John remembered that he’d wanted to be a sorcerer when he grew up, but it had never happened. He was still a bit jealous of their prestige and power.
Now, Pendragon and Song were inseparable. They were mates.
But then, Pendragon was supposed to also be a Star Dragon, so that made sense.
“But I didn’t mess anything up,” John argued. “It was a complete and utter wash.”
“That doesn’t cut it,” Pendragon glared. “You went into a prohibited time zone, and you knew what you were doing.”
John couldn’t help but be angry. All he’d wanted was the Goddess-cursed diamond, and he’d run full-bore into history. “I thought I was early enough to avoid all that bollocks.” Instead, he’d met the legendary Torchwood Dragon, which meant that his ex-partner was…
And then, it really and truly hit him. When he’d first run into Jack, he’d thought he’d been running Torchwood for his own gain; when he’d said the name of his team, John had really believed that it was all a con, that Jack had known what he was doing, and that it wouldn’t take much for John himself to talk him into leaving with him since Torchwood was such an historical organization. He’d thought his ex-partner had had real balls, conning his way into Torchwood, as Hart had assumed he had.
He’d been wrong.
Jack Harkness – his ex-partner – had been the first Director of Torchwood; the immortal who’d launched Torchwood into the future; who’d built Hubworld from the ground up; who was the ancestor of the Star Dragons; who’d done so many important things that their society would not exist if he’d been removed from the temporal picture.
John felt the blood leave his face. Why hadn’t he figured it out before now? He’d put his foot in it badly, and he could have screwed up time beyond repair. “I didn’t know!”
“Ignorance doesn’t excuse what is a serious crime,” Pendragon intoned. “The 21st Century was when everything changed, when Earth made its first steps to the stars. Torchwood led them outward, and changing just one thing could have condemned our present.”
It was unfathomable. John couldn’t wrap his mind around it.
It made him furious.
His ex-partner had gone and mucked about in the past, and had come up smelling like Oanan roses.
It wasn’t fair.
Jack wasn’t any better than John himself was, and yet he’d somehow gained immortality and respect and power beyond anything John had thought possible. He’d become a fucking legend while John was a nobody, without much to his name.
He wondered where his ex-partner was now, and if he was still with Ianto Jones.
Then he realized it didn’t matter, because he’d still be pissed off at them.
“We’re going to make an example of you,” Pendragon said. “We can’t have anyone making unauthorized trips back to the past –“
“Which is one of the reasons the Time Agency was disbanded,” Song interrupted.
“- and possibly risking a paradox…or even worse,” Pendragon finished. “Any small change could have catastrophic consequences.”
“Wait!” he exclaimed. “Give me a chance to make things right.”
“And we’re supposed to believe you’d do that?”
John floundered. There wasn’t a lot he could actually do.
Or maybe there was…if he could get into future Jack’s good graces, wherever he was…then his ex-partner could put in a good word for him. And there was only one thing he could think of that would put Jack firmly in his pocket. Yes, the last barb he’d thrown at Jack had been a sharp one, but if he could have it true…
He opened his mouth to answer, but was interrupted when the door suddenly slammed open. He turned in this seat to see a beautiful, dark-haired woman storm in, dressed in a white blouse, dark red waistcoat, and dark trousers, a blaster strapped to her leg in classic gunslinger position, her hair in a braid over her shoulder. Yes, he wouldn’t have minded a piece of that.
She looked about as pissed off as John had been.
“Might I speak with you two in private, Arthur?” She didn’t so much ask as demand, as if she had a perfect right to barge in and interrupt the two Torchwood leaders any time she wanted, and to call one of the most powerful men alive by his first name.
John wondered who she was, although she seemed just a bit familiar.
Pendragon favoured her with another arched eyebrow. “We’re almost done here, Madam,” he said pleasantly. “Perhaps you could wait outside…?”
“Arthur,” Song turned to give the seated man a look, one that John tried to interpret but couldn’t.
Then he nodded slightly to Pendragon, who sighed. “Very well.”
The woman held out her hand, and Song passed Hart’s vortex manipulator to her. She practically chucked it at John, who wasn’t quite stunned enough to completely fumble the catch. “Get out,” she ordered.
John wasn’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth.
He promptly scarpered, his idea on how to make things up to Jack tumbling around in his head.
Anwyn Harkness-Jones stood in her son’s office, glaring at both Arthur and Merlin as if her very gaze could cut through the most space-hardened metal. She let her eyes shift into their dragon aspect, in order to get through to them just how displeased she was.
“Arthur Harkness-Jones! What were you thinking?” she demanded. “When Gwaine told me that you’d had Hart detained –“
“Mother,” Arthur said, rubbing his eyes tiredly, “you don’t understand –“
“I understand you wanting to save your Grandfathers pain by stopping Hart from going back to the past, but you both know you can’t do that! Yes, it was horrible, but if you change that, you change everything!”
Anwyn thought her boys had known better. That they wouldn’t risk disrupting the future. But to think they’d tried something like this…she loved them dearly for wanting to spare her Fathers, but they just couldn’t risk it.
“Mam – “ Merlin began.
She turned on him. “You, Merlin, even more than Arthur, should know the consequences of messing with time –“
“Mother!” Arthur shouted, cutting across her tirade and surprising her into silence. He hardly ever raised his voice to her. “If you would let Merlin and I explain?” He waited a couple of beats, and Anwyn kept her mouth shut, knowing that she had to give both boys a chance. They must have had a good reason for trying what they had, and she wanted to hear it.
“Mam,” Merlin said, “we had to bring Hart in. If we didn’t, then he wouldn’t have gone after Uncle Gray.”
That hadn’t been the answer she’d been expecting, and Anwyn was surprised by that almost as much as Arthur yelling at her. “What do you mean?”
Merlin sighed. “I Saw it…if we’d left him alone, he would never have gone after Grandfather’s brother. The last thing we wanted to do was give him any sort of ideas, but we didn’t have a choice. We had to set him on that path.”
“We could have just ignored it,” Arthur added, “but we couldn’t, no matter how we felt about it. But if we hadn’t prodded Hart to think about finding a way to fix things with Grandfather, he would never have told Uncle Gray about Grandfather and Grandtad. That would have changed history, and we couldn’t allow that.”
“You mean to say…”Anwyn swallowed, hard. “You mean you had to deliberately set Hart on the path to Uncle Gray?”
The pain in Merlin’s eyes was palpable. “We didn’t want to, but the timelines…we had to preserve the timelines. We would’ve given anything to keep our Grandfathers from hurting…”
“Right now, Hart thinks he’s going to be doing Grandfather a favour by bringing Uncle Gray to him,” Arthur said. “He has no idea that he’s dealing with a psychopath who wants revenge on Grandfather. “
“And Grandfather and Grandtad both know about it,” Merlin said, rubbing his eyes. “The moment I Saw the timelines twisting, we went to them and told them. They both wanted us to fix things, even though they both know what happened.”
“It was bad,” Anwyn replied slowly, “but something wonderful came of it. They wouldn’t want to change that.”
“We know.” Arthur stood and came around the desk, putting his arm around his mate’s waist. “We’ve done a lot to protect the Empire, but it’s bad when it involves family. And it’s not the first time we’ve had to do something distasteful to our own family…”
Anwyn’s heart contracted at the expression of pain on her eldest son’s face. “What do you mean?”
Arthur and Merlin glanced at each other, and she knew it was one of those silent conversations her boys often had. They both looked so sad, and she couldn’t help but reach out and hug them both.
They clung to her, and finally Merlin was the one to pull away first. “Mam, we’re the ones who took Grandfather’s memories away…”