Author's Notes:
Eternal thanks to jadesfire2808 for her beta-fu and much Appreciated handholding to get this done.

Comments and concrit are love.


We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.

- H.P. Lovecraft



The shadows were getting thicker, eating the light and closing in like predators while the coldness of the water tower crept through the fabric of Ianto's suit. But the metal presence of the fountain didn't soothe him as it usually did. They were trapped in their own base.

"This is a paradox," Jack gasped, panicked in a way Ianto had never seen before. "I've been trained to deal with this, but it's really just like all those things they told about the nuclear bombs in the Fifties." Jack ran a hand through his hair, ignoring Gwen's confused frown. When she didn't get an answer, she turned to Ianto instead.

He shrugged. "Duck and cover if you see the blast," he told her, a little scared by how much sense Jack made sometimes.

"But that's never going to help!" she exclaimed, distracted for a moment from watching the shadows getting darker, creeping closer. Her eyes widened when she turned back and realised that her desk had now vanished in the wall of blackness.

"Exactly." Jack laughed mirthlessly. Ianto was sure this was as close to a panic attack as Jack could get, and Ianto was beginning to feel claustrophobic himself. He could almost see thoughts and ideas tick behind Jack's eyes, trying to figure something out. But instead of coming up with a plan, he gazed into the darkness, his shoulders slumping.

"The universe will want to take care of this," he said gravely, "and there's nothing we can do when it comes to pick up the pieces."

"What do you mean?" Ianto asked, but Jack shook his head.

"You really don't want to know," he replied, urging them even closer, an arm around each of their shoulders.

The world seemed to narrow, the shadows to deepen even more, and Ianto wasn't sure that over at the other side of the Hub, now shrouded in darkness, the world was still there. Maybe nothing but them existed anymore. Epicentre, Jack had called it earlier, and the word made it sound awfully like it was their fault. The thought was dizzying.

"One chance," he heard Jack say and watched him open his wriststrap, frantically pressing buttons, eyeing the darkness, only his quickened breathing betraying his fear.
Ianto decided he really didn't like to see Jack panicked. It was disconcerting, making him wonder how much worse he should be feeling, if he could only understand. But this was too big, too abstract, the childhood fear of the dark suddenly coming alive - he was watching himself from far away, his mindscape as blank as the wall of shadow closing in, and the feeling of Jack grasping his wrist with urgency.


***


A sudden bright flash of light blinded Ianto completely, the onslaught of light after that world of darkness too painful to his senses.

He blinked the tears away, finding himself inside a cavernous room, metal grating supporting coral struts that reminded him instantly of the arteries in a human heart. He blinked again when he understood what he was seeing. He'd read the files, but seeing it for the first time was something else entirely. Over by the central column, pinstriped trousers and white trainers stuck out from under something that might be a console.

"Doctor?" He asked, his voice unusually hoarse.

With an unearthly speed, the alien had disentangled himself from his ship, spotted him, let out a tirade of annoyed prattling, put on his glasses and sniffed the air in front of Ianto's face, all before Ianto could even clear his throat. He was a bit baffled when the Doctor looked him up and down, his initial frown resolving into a huge smile.

"Ianto Jones," he exclaimed, turning back to the console, "defender of Earth. But you shouldn't be able to pierce my ship's shields, no, no, no, I made sure of that after that one incident, well-" he looked over his shoulder as if making sure he was still there, his fingers continuing their delicate dance over levers and buttons (was that a bicycle pump?), "two times, really." He grinned. "What brings you here, Ianto Jones?" The Time Lord's voice deepened with concern. "Jack's in trouble, isn't he?" Those mercurial mood shifts were baffling, but the concern seemed to be genuine.

Ianto nodded, the strain of the travel catching up with him, pulling his shoulders down, stifling his voice and making his head spin. The floor suddenly seemed the most comfortable place to be, but impressively strong hands held him up when his knees began to weaken. A gentle pat to his face made him focus on the man (no, alien, Ianto reminded himself) in front of him again, the Doctor's frown deep and clearly an expression his face was well used to.

"What happened?" he asked, one hand holding Ianto up effortlessly, guiding him towards a jumpseat, the other resting gently on his forehead, the alien coldness somehow soothing his troubled senses. When his back hit the soft padding of the chair, his hands finally unclenched from the piece of leather concealed within. He held it up for the Doctor to take, and was grateful when that cold touch of the alien's fingers seemed to creep into his mind and guide him into unconsciousness.

It had been a rough ride, and even Ianto Jones had his limits.


***


"A paradox," the Doctor repeated as Ianto sipped his tea - which was relaxingly hot and far too sweet. But then he shouldn't judge the beverage, as it had apparently been made from a plant native to a planet he'd never even heard of. He wished for a decent cup of coffee, but crashing into a stranger's ship uninvited and then insulting the tea didn't seem the best thing to do when he needed said stranger's help.

He tried to recall everything Jack had told him hastily before sending him away, but his memories were jumbled from the teleport, the danger suddenly seeming so nightmarish that it was hard to remember more than he would of a dream. Somehow, the Doctor had been convinced tea would help, and soon details slowly came back.

"Jack called it a Moebius Bomb," he tried, frantically trying to grasp the shadowy memories, and watched as the Doctor's eyes widened in surprise.

"Oh," the alien said, which seemed pretty anticlimactic for a being who seemed so prone to the extremes of all emotions. "That's bad," he explained when Ianto stared at him blankly (and didn't the Doctor seem to be awfully familiar with that look of noncomprehension in his conversational partner?), "really, really bad." He ran a hand through his already messed hair, pacing through the small kitchenette, "a Möbius Bomb?" He pronounced the word as if he'd met it's namesake in person - which he probably had. "You're sure?"

Ianto nodded, and sipped at his tea. Maybe it would help to further jumpstart his mind. "And he sent you," the Doctor trailed off, squinting at him before resuming his pacing.


***


"Sir," Ianto tried, but the Doctor cringed in an almost comical way.

"Oh, don't call me that," he whined, as his ship groaned and wheezed through what was probably time and space. It felt oddly like a rollercoaster to Ianto.

"Doctor," he tried again, and got a mad smile in return before the Time Lord grabbed a switch that looked deceptively like a handbrake and did exactly what Ianto had feared: The ship stopped in whatever it flew, throwing him across the room with the remaining momentum.

Right. Space ships had handbrakes. After the day he'd had, this shouldn't have come as a surprise.

"Doctor," he tried, once he'd stumbled back to his feet again and had made sure nothing but his pride was wounded, "how do you actually fight a paradox?"

The alien had simply bounded back to the console room as soon as he'd finished the tea and was busy doing whatever made the time ship fly. Ianto wasn't sure if all the levers and switches the Doctor operated had anything to do with it at all.

"Oh, Ianto Jones," the Doctor exclaimed, rolling the last name over his tongue like a delicate wine. He seemed to be having too much fun for this much danger. "You don't fight paradoxes." The alien smiled, setting his ship in motion again; apparently into the opposite direction, if the jerks were any hint. "That way lies chaos!" he added in an overly dramatic voice and raised an index finger. The finger went to scratch his left sideburn as his thoughts trailed off again. "Who said that, actually? Seems awfully familiar, but," glancing at Ianto, pointedly ignoring his eyeroll, he sighed. "Paradoxes can't be broken without the fabric of time being ripped apart - that's why Möbius Bombs are so dangerous, they weaken the fabric of space/time, which creates paradoxes. Like ripples on still water."

Ianto nodded, surprised that this explanation actually made some sort of sense. The Doctor must've seen understanding dawn in his eyes, and apparently he didn't like it.

"Of course it's infinitely more complex than that, with mathematics involved that could literally blow your head off!" He grinned, his hands creeping dangerously close to the handbrake-thing again.

Ianto - having learned from the bruises - grabbed the metal railing hard. Sure enough, a few seconds later, parts of the TARDIS' inventory that weren't nailed down changed direction marginally later than the ship itself. A book entitled '800 Year Diary' hit Ianto's shin, he ducked out of a spanner's flight trajectory, and by doing so overbalanced, landing on his back once more.

Amidst the chaos of movement and sound, the Time Lord steered his ship without ever losing his footing and Ianto had to admit he seemed to be in his element, his movements like a delicate dance with time and space, around a console that seemed far too elaborate for just one pilot.

"You don't fight paradoxes, Ianto Jones," the Doctor repeated, raising his index finger once more, then pointing at him, "you solve them!"

Ianto frowned, considering to let the expression stay on his face, he seemed to use it an awful lot aboard this ship anyway. The sheer size of the interior should keep the frown fixed for at least another 5 weeks.

"Sir," he started, but the renewed cringe stopped him.

"Don't call me that," the Doctor said, clearly pained, "next thing I know you'll be saluting!" He shuddered theatrically.

"Isn't it the nature of a paradox that it can't be solved?" Ianto asked, flinching as a shower of sparks sprang from the grating next to him. The Doctor laughed, the sound carrying over the pandemonium of grinding sounds coming from the ship.

"Oh, you humans," he shook his head amusedly. "Don't worry, Ianto Jones," he said, "now you have me! I solve five paradoxes before breakfast! Well -" he stopped, "actually I haven't eaten anything today, so this really doesn't count, does it? Anyway." He ruffled his hair, pressed a button, hit a bell and threw a mallet across the room against a plate that Ianto was standing next to. He wasn't quite sure if that last one was only for show, but who could tell with this ship?

"We're landing!" The Time Lord yelled as the entire ship shuddered and a feeling of freefall made Ianto's stomach flop. The groaning stopped, and Ianto found himself still firmly on his feet. He seemed to be getting better at this, he thought as the Time Lord grabbed his coat and sprinted towards a door that Ianto presumed was the exit from this madness the alien called a ship. Ianto tried to warn him, but the Time Lord yanked the door open to reveal a wall of black on the outside. The Hub was gone, Ianto realised, and the thought made his stomach drop again.

"Not. Good." The Doctor mumbled, the excess energy suddenly gone, revealing the man who could bring down entire regimes with just six words. Ianto shivered, suddenly unsure if the danger outside was worse than the danger he was currently travelling with. The Doctor, far too good at reading human body language (or thoughts, who knew?) smiled wistfully at him, some of the anger bleeding away. The small gesture was enough to quench Ianto's unease.

"Jack was right. I thought they were all gone," the Doctor said, his voice quiet, nearly drowning in the calm and rythmic and almost organic noises of the control room, "destroyed like all those other weapons desperate times call for," he said, gazing at the dark. "Tell me, Ianto Jones," he closed the door carefully, bounding back up the stairs, "did Torchwood find something new and shiny they didn't understand?" There was sharp edge to his voice as he scanned readouts on a monitor stuck above the controls. Ianto had asked himself that question a million times since the nightmare had started, but could think of nothing. The glint in the Doctor's eyes told him that the alien demanded more than a simple 'I don't know', though.

"It had been a quiet week," he started, trying to think of everything. God, he had so hoped they'd have just one quiet week after the what they'd been through. This time, they'd made it as far as Thursday. Always the Thursdays, he thought miserably. "Caught some Weevils, found a Draconian power core - it was a toaster," he continued when he saw the Doctor open his mouth to lecture him on the danger of that one. Jack had laughed, and they had spent a glorious night roasting every food in sight - and one thing lead to another once they'd found some cheese at the back of the Hub's fridge.

"Some Rift spikes, but nothing out of the ordinary," he shrugged. It had been quiet, Jack lazily sifting through paperwork the entire afternoon until the reports of cut off power and lack of communication had began to trickle in.
Epicentre, he could still hear Jack say, the frightened look in his eyes as he'd shoved his wriststrap into Ianto's hands, telling him to find help. He rubbed his face, and a hand landed on his shoulder, tearing him away from reliving those last hours as Cardiff and probably the rest of the world had slowly vanished into nothingness. A set of deep, dark brown eyes stared into his, an otherworldly calm spreading through his body. He could suddenly understand how Jack could trust this alien so easily.

"We'll figure it out," the Doctor said, "I like Earth far too much to let it get swallowed by something like this."

Ianto nodded, believing this alien would do everything he could to help. It was strange to imagine how wrong Torchwood had been about him.


***


"Why didn't Jack do it?" It was another of the million questions Ianto had asked himself earlier.

"What?" The Doctor looked up, his eyes glazed over as if the calculations on his screen still ran across his eyes as he stared at the human sitting on the metal grating he'd obviously forgotten all about.

"Jack. Why didn't he come here?" Ianto asked, and silently added why Jack had been so sure that he would save the world. It was a terrifying demand to live up to, making his palms sweaty.

"Oh," the Doctor said, turning his eyes back to the complex geometric lines on the screens in front of him and followed Ianto's gaze towards the open TARDIS door. Outside, the darkness remained unchanged, not reacting to any dial the Doctor flicked, not minding his angry stare when another trick didn't work. Ianto looked away, it was worse than staring into an abyss.

"Probably thought his connection to the Vortex could revert the paradox," the Doctor mused, tapping his front teeth with his fingers in concentration.

"What?" Ianto asked, for what seemed like the hundredth time. The Doctor waved a hand, as if trying to fan the Lower Species Explanation from thin air.

"He's connected to the Vortex," he halted, glancing at Ianto's frown, "the space/time continuum? Do you people ever watch anything else apart Star Trek? It gets old!" Ianto didn't rise to the bait, and as the Doctor's eyes travelled back to the screen, he continued, "I told you, you can't fight a paradox without tearing a hole into the fabric of existence." He snapped his fingers, pointing at Ianto. "Like a sock, yes, like a sock!" He beamed, apparently waiting for comprehension to dawn on Ianto's face at that metaphor.

Jack's voice ran through Ianto's mind again, explanations about a higher authority, the Keepers of Reality and Lords of Time, who apparently solved things like this even without breakfast. It didn't help to quell his annoyance.

"You tear at the wrong thread, and the entire thing turns inside out, unravelling a perfectly fine sock," the Doctor rambled on, "and then all that trouble with finding another matching starts, honestly, I never manage, it's some universal law or something and I'm stuck with two -

"Doctor," Ianto stopped the tirade about socks, wondering if throttling would help with the rambling.

"It was too dangerous for him to leave. He trusted you to find me," the Doctor said, the half smile on his face turning sly. "He trusted you to save the world. And," he continued when the embarrassed silence grew, "he probably thought you'd be the perfect person to keep me in line." He grinned, refocusing on the swirling mass of lines that were probably calculations.

"Möbius Bombs are tricky," he explained, "some were designed as carpet bombing of certain dimensional planes. Send them through, watch them burn out reality, conquer the empty space that's left." He shook his head in disgust, but Ianto was sure to notice a certain amount of guilt in the gestures as well. Jack hadn't told him much about the Time War, but he didn't doubt that both sides had been desperate. War did that to people.

"But Earth has never been targeted before, never been important enough...," he grinned, "I made sure of that. Too much history, me and Earth."

Ianto decided not to ask. Someone who looked so human talking about a planet like he'd had a love affair with it was weird, even for the archivist of Torchwood Three.

"Must have washed up through the Rift," Ianto mused, "something we didn't see coming."

"Yes," the Doctor nodded, "and without any kind of equipment you had no chance. Well," he shrugged, "you could always duck and cover, of course." He smirked, "Do they still teach that? Anyway." He pointed at the swirling mass of circles and lines that slowly dissolved into numbers and mathematical symbols that Ianto could recognise, but understood about as much as the swirling lines. He was good at maths, but this was something completely different.

"I know how to solve this. The trick is, we already did!" He beamed, waiting for Ianto's reaction to their easy win.

"What?" Ianto asked instead of congratulating the Time Lord, tiring of the word.

"Paradox. Both answers are correct. Schrödinger?" The Doctor glanced at Ianto hopefully, who only shrugged in response. The concepts were familiar, but their connection made no sense. The Doctor apparently interpreted his shrug the wrong way. "A guy who really hated cats?" He tried, then shook his head, obviously searching for a simple explanation for the stupid human. "You're here, which means we can solve it because it's been solved already, because I will, er," he tried to come up with an explanation, but made wild gestures with his hands when words weren't forthcoming. "Time is a bit murky, paradoxes even more so," he finished, clearly not pleased with the answer.

"What do we do?" Ianto asked, getting better at diverting the Doctor's attention to the things that really needed explaining. He had a really bad feeling when the manic grin returned to the Doctor's face. Ianto mentally prepared himself for another bout of mad explaining.

"You see, what people don't understand about time is that it is truly a dimension of its own. It's easier to think of it as one of your three dimensions. Like mass is a strain on space, Möbius Bombs are strain on time, curving it until it circles back on itself, like a snake biting its own tail."

Images of the Norse myths circled through Ianto's head, and he wasn't sure if he liked the end of the world picture they were painting. He certainly couldn't fight a gigantic snake to stop this.

"So, the paradox creates a time loop, draining the dimension of possible futures until the present collapses and the dimension is purged." There was definitely guilt hidden in those eyes about this somewhere, but Ianto wouldn't ask. It wasn't his fault that this had happened, and certainly not the Doctor's. Bad luck seemed to be an universal constant. "The darkness is the symptom you can see with your limited senses. It's not the absence of light, but an absence of futures," the Doctor added glancing at Ianto, those brown eyes nearly black. There was no way of telling what they saw when they gazed at that dark.

"How can we stop it?" Ianto swallowed and gazed at the complicated patterns of numbers again, not finding the solution there.

"We have to pierce the paradox!" He halted, pulling a face. "Probably not the best metaphor after all that talk about how you can't fight it, is it?" Ianto nodded, having thought the same thing himself.

"You're here, that's the important bit. You're outside the paradox' influence, which is good, because without my people, nipping in and out of pocket universes isn't all the fun it used to be anymore."

The Doctor's face darkened for a fraction of a second and in that moment, Ianto understood what Jack had meant when he'd talked about a man who was feared as the Oncoming Storm on countless worlds. But the moment passed, and the seemingly harmless maniac was firmly back in place. "But - " he tapped a certain equation on the screen, "it's only creating a localised time relapse. If we cancel that out before the wrinkle attracts any Reapers, we'll be right as rain."

When Ianto didn't share his glee, he sighed, "You have to solve it the old-fashioned way," crossing his arms in front of his chest.

"And that is...?" Ianto felt much like on his first day at Torchwood, desperate to figure out what he was supposed to do and where he'd find the manual. It really didn't help his nerves.

"Well," the Doctor looked everywhere but at him, which was probably a bad sign. "You're protected from the paradox' effects by Jack's wriststrap and my ingenuity - " a metal groan crossed the room and made the Time Lord stop and listen, "yes, yes, our ingenuity," he corrected, and before Ianto could wonder about the relationship a Time Lord shared with his ship, the Time Lord in question had grabbed his wrist and put Jack's leather strap around it. It was an uncommon weight, even more so with the responsibility it carried.

He had to save the world. Ianto swallowed, and the Doctor patted his shoulder compassionately.

"We just have to make sure that you'll be here." Ianto had no idea what he meant, just nodded and watched the Time Lord twist more dials on the complicated console, staring at the diagrams in concentration. "You'll be fine," he added with the ease of a practised but unconvincing liar.


***


"Ianto?" Jack looked up from his paperwork, confused as to how he hadn't noticed the Welshman sneaking up to stand in front of his desk. Ianto seemed utterly rattled, glancing around the office as if expecting a Weevil attack any second.

"What is it?" Jack asked, putting the weekly report back on his desk.

"Does your wriststrap monitor Rift activity?" Ianto asked, distracting Jack for a moment from the unusual question. His accent seemed to get thicker when he was troubled or nervous.

"Why do you ask?" He frowned, calculating his chances of getting the man in front of him talk like that more often. It was hot.

"Jack!" The urgency in Ianto's voice shut Jack's libido up for a second or two.

"It can," he conceded, "but I normally don't use it, it's only short range anyway."

Ianto nodded and fled out of his door without another word. For a moment, Jack was baffled, then he scrambled out of his chair and raced after him. Ianto never asked things like that if they weren't important, and something like a half-formed idea niggled at the back of his head. It was disconcerting, making him hurry down the stairs two steps at a time. Ianto must've been quick, as he found him up on the mezzanine, busy working his coffee magic.

Damn, the boy was fast.

"What was that all about?" He asked, realising that Ianto hadn't been wearing a tie a minute ago.


***


"Ianto?" Jack looked up from his paperwork, confused how the Welshman could've snuck up on him to stand in front of his desk. Jack hadn't thought it was possible to be more silent than Ianto usually already was. He looked like he hadn't slept in a very long time. None of them had had much rest after Switzerland, even if the week had been quiet so far. Maybe he should give them tomorrow off. Nothing ever happened on Thursdays anyway and they all definitely needed some time away from the Hub.

"What is it?" Jack asked, putting the weekly report back on his desk, making a mental note where to continue later.

"What do you know about time loops?" The odd question tore Jack from his ponderings, but then Ianto usually found the strangest files in the archives that would need some explaining.

"Not much, temporal fault lines, mostly created if there's a strain on space/time. It's complicated. Humans usually don't even notice them," he halted, suddenly unsure what to make of this, an uneasy feeling travelling down his back.

If he hadn't known better, he would've said someone had just walked over his grave.

"Why?" he asked confusedly, but Ianto waved it off almost annoyed and stalked out of his office. For a moment, Jack was baffled, then he shook his head and sifted through the paperwork on his table, his attention fixed to the readouts of recent Rift spikes.

He wasn't even sure what he was looking for, but he had a hunch.


***


"Ianto?" Jack looked up from his paperwork, confused how the Welshman could've snuck up on him to stand in front of his desk. "What is it?" Jack asked, putting the weekly report back on his desk, the weirdest kind of déjà-vu hitting him as his fingers travelled over the paper and his eyes up to meet Ianto's. For a moment he thought he could remember being in exactly this situation a hundred times over, but he chased the thought away. They'd be in serious trouble if he could, and the week had been too quiet to ruin it because of an insubstantial hunch.

Ianto glared at him with an impatience Jack didn't think he deserved. He frantically tried to remember if he'd forgotten something important, as Ianto certainly thought so and he definitely felt like.

For a moment, Jack just stared, speechless at the strong sense of déjà-vu. Something in the back of his brain began to nag him as he watched Ianto leave his office, and his fingers opened his wriststrap before he even realised what he was doing.

Something was very, very wrong here.


***


Shadows were hunting him down a bleak corridor, Ianto's hand cold and sweaty in his as he pulled him along, running, running from the darkness that was out to catch them, swallow them whole in a mouth full of sharp fangs of non-existence.

The darkness gained on them, coldness creeping up as Jack lost his grip on the younger man's hand and Ianto yelled in pain and fear and ---



Jack jerked away suddenly, finding himself on his desk, the small lamp thankfully dispersing the last wisps of the unpleasant dream.

He rubbed his hands over his face, trying to remember what he'd been doing before the unusual bout of sleep had attacked him. It was late, later than he'd realised, and he finally closed the last of the files that had needed updating. It was a shame to store the Draconian toaster in the archives, though.

He started when a familiar shadow fell over his desk, the strange dream too fresh to avoid the reaction.

"Ianto?" Jack looked up, stifling a yawn. A day spent with the boredom of paperwork always made him tired enough for Ianto being able to sneak up on him like that. The weirdest kind of déjà-vu flitted through his mind, and his confusion turned up another notch when he found himself with his arms full of Ianto, nearly hugging him to death.

For a moment, he was baffled, then he returned the hug with interest, but Ianto batted his hands away when they began to wander. He rested his forehead against Jack's, closing his eyes and breathing in deeply, just like Jack had seen him do before to calm himself down.

"If you don't mind, Sir, I'd like to go home early, I think I caught the flu." A hunch told Jack it wasn't an honest explanation for the dark circles under Ianto's eyes, but all of them had deserved some downtime after that trip to Switzerland.

"Yes... sure," Jack paused. Something was wrong here, but he couldn't quite place the feeling. At least the déjà-vu had vanished; that always creeped him out. "I want those files on the Werthan gun before you go, is that all right?" He hadn't been able to find them, and it would keep him busy tonight. It should be enough to keep him from sleep if no other, more pleasant activities were forthcoming. Ianto's face fell, the odd joy of seeing him expertly shoved to the back of his pretty eyes.

"Of course, Sir," the Welshman sighed with an emotion Jack couldn't quite place. It wasn't annoyance, and it wasn't relief. He narrowed his eyes, but couldn't figure it out. The strangest sense of unease travelled down his spine again, reminding him that dream of darkness and Ianto, but couldn't remember any details.

He shook his head and returned his attention back to the files as Ianto left without a word.


***


Outside Jack's office, Ianto stretched and breathed in deeply. Finally, the nightmare had ended. There was a really long bath and a good drink waiting for him at home, followed by what was going to be his first decent sleep in weeks. The Doctor could be quite a slavedriver when the fate of the Earth depended on it.

And no one would ever know, time snapping back into place and leaving him without any proof except his memories and probably a bruised rib from the Doctor's too-overjoyed hug as he'd watched reality unfold again with glee. He had to admit that it had looked astonishing, even with only his 'limited senses', as the Doctor had put it.

He understood Jack's infatuation with the mad Time Lord a little better now, but travelling with him was terribly exhausting.

On a whim, Ianto ducked his head back into Jack's office.

"Oh, and Jack, when you see the Doctor next time, tell him I prefer my tea unsweetened."

The clatter of files that dropped from Jack's hand in response was the best sound he'd heard in weeks.