Title: Often Imitated, Never Duplicated
Pairing: None (implied Jack/Ianto)
Spoilers: “End of Days”
Notes: 1100 words. Written for ‘s Undercover challange.
Summary: Ianto tries to walk in Jack’s shoes. It’s not a comfortable fit.
“This will never work,” Ianto concluded gloomily as he studied himself in the mirror.
“It has to,” said Tosh. “If he’ll only talk to Jack and we have no Jack, we just had to make one.”
“I look nothing like him and I can’t sound American.” He tried to speak like Jack, coming down hard on his R’s and flattening his vowels. “Does this sound like an American to you?”
Gwen and Tosh both refrained of laughing. Owen didn’t.
“See?” Ianto said. “It will never work.”
“You sound fine,” Gwen said. “Why don’t you concentrate on looking authoritative and in-command.”
“And don’t forget to flirt with everything that moves,” Owen suggested. “You do know how to flirt, don’t you, Ianto?”
Ianto scowled and looked back at the mirror. Physically, he supposed they’d done the best they could: if the contact only knew Jack as a tall, dark-haired man, he would pass. They’d found an overcoat close to Jack’s in shape and color, and he’d borrowed a pair of Jack’s boots and put on trousers, a blue shirt and braces of his own. He tried to walk like Jack around the Hub: big strides, arms loose, head up and confident.
He felt absurd.
“I’m convinced,” Tosh said–mostly to be kind, Ianto thought–and handed him Jack’s earpiece. “And there simply isn’t time to quibble further.”
Ianto nodded and put on the ear piece. “Captain Jack Harkness,” he said as they all rode the lift up to the garage. “I’m Captain Jack Harkness.”
* * *
For over a month now, there had been stories around Cardiff of a healer–someone who could not only cure diseases but could also bring back the dead. He asked for no money and wouldn’t leave a name–and when his body was found in the Bay a few days earlier, he’d been identified by two police officers who’d met him at an accident scene.
A man had contacted the police, saying he had the healer’s machine and would only give it to Jack Harkness. And of course, Jack was nowhere to be found.
Ianto felt like a child playing dress-up as he waited at the appointed place in Bute Park. He tried to keep out of any lamplight, the better to disguise his features. “Captain Jack Harkness,” Ianto murmured out loud, “I’m Captain Jack Harkness.” No, he sounded hopelessly Welsh. If the contact knew Jack, he’d know in a moment he was being duped.
Tosh said through the earpiece, “Just relax, Ianto. Just get the artifact and get out.”
“He might have killed that man,” Ianto murmured and his hands clenched into fists in his overcoat pockets.
“What if he wants money?”
“We shoot him,” Owen interjected and Ianto winced.
“That’s setting a fine example.” Movement caught his eye and he said, “Someone’s coming.”
“We’re covering you, Ianto,” said Gwen through the earpiece and Ianto cleared his throat and held his head high.
A man paused several yards away down the path. “Harkness?”
“Yes,” Ianto said. “I’m Harkness.”
“I’ve heard so much about you.” The man hesitated, then stepped out of the shadows. He looked perfectly ordinary: dark-haired, round-faced, in a macintosh that was buttoned up to his chin. “I’ve waited so long to meet you.”
“Now you’ve met me.” His accent was slipping: the sooner they got this over with the better. He held out his hand. “Do you have the machine?”
“Captain Harkness,” the man whispered, “you have no idea of what I’ve done.”
“Stall him,” Tosh whispered in Ianto’s earpiece. “Maybe he’ll confess, if he did kill the healer.”
Ianto took a breath and said, “What have you done?”
“To meet you–I’ve–I’ve–you don’t remember me.”
Ianto’s hand faltered. “Why would I?”
“You kissed me. It was like kissing God. I’ve tried so may ways to find you again, get your attention–I had to–” The man sounded broken, like he was about to collapse. “Captain, you don’t understand what it’s like!”
Oh, I do, Ianto thought. “It was just a kiss,” he said shortly.
“How can you be so cold! Everything that I’ve done–all the years I’ve looked and waited–” He nearly sobbed.
“Do you think I’d be impressed by you murdering for me?” Ianto said and the man’s head jerked up.
“You sound like you’ve gone native.”
“I’ve been here a long time,” Ianto said and held out his hand again. “Give me the machine.”
“Kiss me first,” the man whispered. “Please.”
“Don’t even think it, Ianto,” Gwen said through the earpiece.
Ianto thought, Do what Jack would do, grabbed the man’s face and kissed him fiercely. The man gasped and pulled away. “You’re not him!”
“Shit!” Gwen yelled into his earpiece and there was the sound of running feet and the man looked around in a panic as Ianto tried to hang onto him, tried to keep him from escaping.
“What is this! What are you doing! What is this!”
“You killed him,” Ianto said and didn’t bother imitating Jack’s accent any longer. “You killed him just to get Jack’s attention, you fucking monster.”
“I just want the Captain,” the man sobbed and Gwen was prying Ianto’s arms from around him now and Owen was searching him for the machine. “You don’t understand. I just want the Captain.”
Ianto let go of him and turned away, wanting to hit something. Gwen touched his arm and he jerked away, and started striding across the grass towards the Taff. “Ianto!” Gwen shouted after him and ran to catch up. “Ianto–”
He whirled at her, enraged and helpless. “I want Jack back!”
“I know, Ianto,” she said gently. “I know. We all do.”
“You don’t know. You can’t know.” He pointed at the other man, now sobbing as Owen held his arms. “He has an idea. But no one knows, not really.”
“Come on, Ianto,” Gwen said. “Come back. We have the machine. We need to take him to the police.”
“You go. I’m walking.”
“Ianto,” she began, then cupped his cheek in her hand and ran her thumb over his chin. “We all miss him.” She patted his cheek and let her hand drop, and headed back across the grass to rejoin Owen.
Ianto watched her go, his hands shoved in his pockets, and took off in the opposite direction, following the path that ran alongside the Taff.
After ten minutes or so he slowed down his strides, and finally stopped. At the river’s edge he took off his coat and spread it out on the grass, sat down and pulled up his knees. The river murmured peacefully between its banks, and Ianto looked up from the water to the stars overhead.
“You’re still out there, aren’t you,” he whispered. “Far away . . . what do I have to do to get your attention, Jack?”
The stars were indifferent, but he was used to that.