Prompt: The Thin Man – Released in 1934, starring William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles, Dashiell Hammett’s wise-cracking, crime-solving couple
Word Count: 31,921
Character/Pairings: Jack/Ianto and just about anyone from the Whoniverse at large
Spoilers: Way off the map, so nothing I can think of
Disclaimer: The only thing I own is the computer I typed this on and the way these words are spun together. This is a work of fan fiction and no one, least of all me, wants to be stepping on copyrights.
Summary: Captain Jack Harkness, former Torchwood agent, brings his husband to his old stomping grounds of New York City to meet his friends. He didn’t anticipate walking into multiple crimes, missing people, and a general mess. What’s happened in Torchwood?
Special Thanks: To my wonderful betas cjharknessgirland faithharknessfor sticking with me and helping me push this out of my fingertips. Without their encouragement, this would have stayed in limbo for all time.
Dr. Toshiko Sato checked her equipment one more time, more to avoid looking at her teammates in the elevator than to recheck that she had anything. Martha Jones was sweet and Tosh liked her, but Mickey Smith always made her nervous. And then there was Gwen Cooper.
She could never really pinpoint what it was about Gwen Cooper that made her uneasy. Certainly it wasn’t her manner. Gwen was open and friendly to everyone. Maybe it was part envy because men were so attracted to her. Toshiko had never had men swarm around her like bees wanting a honeysuckle. Or maybe it was just that Gwen was so confident while she was a bundle of insecurities. That was probably it.
The elevator doors opened and they walked down the hall together where the Director was waiting. There were two men behind him. Of course, Tosh recognized Jack Harkness right away. She supposed anyone who had met him would remember him. He was the unforgettable sort. The man beside him was very good-looking – not in the “look-at-me” style that was the Captain’s trademark, but in an understated restful way. This then must be the man they were all so curious about – the one who had lured Jack away from Torchwood.
Jack grinned at them. “Tosh! Great to see you again,” he said, giving her a quick kiss on the cheek. “And Martha, the voice of the nightingale! Mickey Mouse looking good. And Gwen. How’s Torchwood’s cover girl faring?”
Martha and Gwen giggled. Mickey sighed. “So, Captain Cheesecake, I thought you had forsaken us.”
More teeth showed as Jack flashed that incredible smile. Tosh had seen both women and men nearly faint when it was directed at them. Tosh herself had been affected. She had had a bit of a crush on Jack, along with the rest of Torchwood.
She did wonder what Gwen was thinking. She’d made a serious play for Jack when she started, but Jack had been merely flirtatious with her, exactly the same as he was with all of them. Gwen had confided later that Jack had told her he didn’t date any co-workers, implying that was the only reason he’d proved resistant to her charms. Tosh had doubted it then and still did.
Jack brought the young man with him forward. “This is my gorgeous husband, Ianto. I bet you’ve all been wondering about him.”
“Hello,” Ianto said in a deliciously mellifluous voice. “Let me see if I have the names right. Mickey, Martha, Gwen, and Tosh, yes?”
“Yeah, you got it,” Mickey said. “Quick on the draw, aren’t you?”
“Sharp as a tack, Mr. Mouse,” Jack said. “Don’t you forget it.”
John cleared his throat. “If we’re quite done with the introductions, could we get on with the business? Tosh, scan the door first. Get any traces that you can. Then do the rest of the place. Martha, you’re going to get a first-hand look at the body. I didn’t let them move her. Mickey, Gwen, you know what you need to look for. Don’t touch anything without gloves.”
It was all business then. Tosh got as much information as she could at the door and then moved inside. Gwen was searching a cabinet and she could just see Mickey rummaging in the kitchen. Jack was examining a large clock that hung on the wall. She aimed the scanner at it. “Dylisian, Jack. Be careful. There’s a cavity behind it.”
Jack nodded. “Toss us some gloves, would you, Tosh?” She fumbled in her bag and gave him two pair. He gave one to Ianto. “Take your hands out of your pockets and help me shift this.”
“I thought I wasn’t supposed to touch anything,” Ianto said mildly as he pulled the gloves on.
“That was when the police were here. Now, I want your brawn. You may need your brain, too.”
“I always knew you married me for my brawn.”
“No, it was for your money. Your brawn was an unexpected bonus.”
They sounded so easy and free with each other. Tosh had never seen this side of Jack. He was always so much in control. She moved the scanner around the room, trying to pay more attention to her readings than to the men behind her.
“Careful, Jack,” she heard Ianto say sharply. “I felt something move.”
Suddenly it was like Jack had never left. That sharp assurance in his tone and the way he snapped out orders. “Gwen, take hold. Ianto, back away slowly.”
Tosh couldn’t help it. She turned to look. Gwen was standing where Ianto had been before. Ianto had moved away a few steps, but his eyes were riveted on Jack. Jack took the tweezers and slowly and carefully extracted a long, thin, green crystal from the back of the clock. He gave it to Gwen and reached in again. Another green crystal was removed and Jack’s shoulders relaxed a bit. “Okay, gorgeous, you can come back over here now. Go ahead with what you were doing, Gwen.”
Gwen’s expression was part annoyance and part something else – Tosh wasn’t sure exactly what. John emerged from the bedroom. “What was it, Jack?”
“A nice little poison glass cylinder, looks like. Just waiting for someone to take the clock down. Ianto felt the mechanism move, but I got the trigger before it could go off. It had a redundant system, too. Looks like she didn’t want anyone else to get to her little safe here.” Together he and Ianto lifted the clock down and set it on the floor. “Mickey, looks like your criminal past is required.”
The safe turned out to be full of money. Bills of many denominations. It was the first of several caches they found. When Tosh moved into the bedroom, Jack followed her. Martha was frowning at the corpse. “John, how old was Suzie?”
“The scanner shows tissue that’s not aging as fast as the rest of her. If I’d seen this part by itself, I’d have guessed it was from someone seventy or older. This bit looks to be from a twenty-five year old. Was she put together from spare parts or something?”
“Either that or she had a hell of a plastic surgeon,” Jack put in.
“I’ll have Rose give you her last physical results. What else?”
“Well, she was definitely killed by the bullet, which is apparently a 35 millimeter. At least, that’s my guess. Went straight into her heart. There wasn’t a lot of bleeding because she didn’t live very long after that. I’d give it three seconds or so. There is bruising on her neck, but it’s not what killed her. She wasn’t sexually assaulted, but it looks like she may have had sex sometime today. I’ll need to do some more work when I get her to the lab.”
Mickey and Gwen came into the bedroom. Tosh noticed that Gwen kept darting glances at Jack when he wasn’t looking at her. She paid no attention whatsoever to Ianto. “I guess old habits die hard,” Tosh thought to herself.
John looked up at them. “Mickey, get the body bag. Gwen, you finish up in here. What have you got so far?”
“Three containment cartons and half of a fourth. We’ve been putting the money in a bag.”
“I see two cubbyholes,” Tosh said. “One behind the headboard and one on the north side of the closet.”
When Gwen headed for the bed, Jack went to the closet. Ianto continued to look at the body. There was something about the way he looked at it that made Tosh wonder what he was seeing. Was this the first time he had seen death up close? If so, it wasn’t a pretty one. He didn’t look shocked or horrified, though. More like this was a puzzle he needed to solve.
“Ianto, look at this.”
Tosh wasn’t sure what had caused the upset in Jack’s voice. They had found other money stashes. Ianto crossed to him and gazed down at the money that Jack was holding. “What the hell?”
She held out the scanner again. It was just rag paper money – nothing to get upset about. Jack called for John. When John came in, Jack extended the money to him. “Notice the band?”
She moved to examine it more closely. It was a simple print with holly going around it. In the center was a stylized swan wearing bells around its neck. John said, “Is that from the Swan Foundation?”
Ianto nodded. “More specifically, it’s the money that the Swan Foundation gives out to children with cancer for Christmas. It was stolen from a safe at the Foundation offices. How did it end up here?”
John sighed and shook his head. “You reported the theft to the police?”
“Of course,” Jack said. “Plus, we launched an internal investigation.”
“Great. We’ll have to tell Swanson then. She’s going to love this. A murder and now a robbery. We’ll be lucky if we ever get her out of our hair.”
Jack grinned. “Maybe you should consider recruiting her.” The smile didn’t last. “Look, Doc, I’ve given you all I have. Can we talk about this tomorrow? I’m tired and I know Ianto is, too. We’ve got a party to arrange.”
“It should be an unusual one,” Ianto said. He yawned at the end of it. “I’m sorry, but Jack is right. We still have some jet lag. We need our beauty sleep.”
Tosh noticed the glance that he and Jack exchanged. They seemed to communicate without words. It was one of the signs of a close and loving relationship. She was envious and wondered if she would ever find something like that. It probably wasn’t possible in Torchwood. Jack had resigned rather than lose it. “I think that’s the last cubbyhole in the apartment,” she offered.
John sighed again. “Not like we don’t already have enough to process. Okay, Jack. Please call me when you wake up.”
Jack raised an eyebrow. “Maybe not when I wake up. I hope to have something to do first.” He looked at Ianto, who raised a corresponding eyebrow. “Okay, make that I’ll call as soon as I’m able.”
The phone rang. He waited for it to be picked up. Finally a sleepy voice said, “Yes?”
Alex Hopkins kept his voice cheerful and light. “Hello. You don’t know me, but I know you. I know where you went last night. I also know what you did there.”
“What are you talking about?”
“It’s no good pretending. I am, or rather was, a friend of Suzie’s. You may have disabled all the CCTV cameras, and you were possibly wearing a perception filter. However, there’s a little piece of tech that Suzie kept hidden. It transmitted everything to my computer. I have the footage saved and arrangements made should I happen to disappear. It shows you quite clearly.”
There was silence, and then the voice spoke again. “What do you want?”
“Money, of course. You seem to have access. Let’s start with a million. That should buy my silence for a while. After that, we’ll see.”
The voice answered with a considerable growl to it. “That’s ridiculous.”
“Is it? Considering what I know about your operation, I could blow the lid off it to Torchwood. They take it as a personal affront when they find someone like you on their very doorstep.”
“It will take awhile to get my hands on that much. How will I get in touch?”
“I’ll call you. Say, around 5:00 this afternoon?”
“I’ll be waiting.”
Alex hung up the phone with a small smile of satisfaction. He now had time to consider his next move. Of course, if all else failed, he could pass on the info to Torchwood, but he wanted more than that. Suzie had been content with carving out her own little comfortable niche. Alex was destined for something grander than that. For the first time, he thought he might get it.
Captain Jack Harkness considered himself an extremely lucky man. He had survived the rigors of being a fighter pilot and years of fighting aliens. How he had managed to elude the Grim Reaper for all that time, he never knew. He kept several hundred people alive who otherwise would have died in horrible circumstances. All that paled in comparison with the happiness he had now.
He didn’t have to look far for his source of joy. Ianto lay beside him, his mouth quirked with that smile that indicated peaceful dreams. This time he’d gotten it right. He’d fallen head over heels with the one person on this planet capable of loving him back the same way – even with all his faults and his mistakes in the past. Jack reached out and traced Ianto’s cheekbone with gentle fingers. “Hey,” he said softly. “You awake?”
Ianto didn’t open his eyes. Instead, he sighed and muttered, “Depends. Who wants to know?”
“That sexy guy with the delectable arse you took to dinner last night.”
“Okay, for him I’m awake.” Ianto opened his eyes and tried his best to look startled. “Wait. You look an awful lot like my sexy husband who also has a delectable arse.”
“We’re indistinguishable.” Jack began kissing his way down Ianto’s neck and onto his shoulder. “Like twins only better.”
“The idea of you being twins is both exhilarating and horrifying.” Ianto caressed Jack’s chest with warm hands. “Exhilarating because I can imagine what you’d do with me and horrifying because you’d be the death of me.”
“But you’d die satisfied.”
Jack pulled him closer and then stretched to press the button on the comm unit that indicated “Interrupt us and you’ll be cast into the seventh layer of hell” but the stupid thing dinged before he got the chance. They stared at it. Even without the warning light they were very seldom bothered before breakfast. They made no secret of how they spent their mornings.
After a moment, Ianto tapped the comm. “What is it?” He sounded as disgruntled as Jack felt.
“I’m very sorry, sir.” The voice belonged to Lois Habiba who acted as their joint PA. She was an altogether efficient woman and married to one of Ianto’s regular security detail. “I know it’s early, but there’s a Detective Swanson and Sergeant Davidson here to see you about the missing money. She was most insistent that she see you without delay.”
Jack didn’t – quite – grind his teeth. He nodded to Ianto. Ianto said, “Give us a couple of minutes to get un-naked and then we’ll come out.”
“You know Kathy heard that,” Jack said with a grin.
“Good. Let her think about what she can’t have.” Ianto sat up and kicked the covers off. “They can wait until I’ve brewed us some coffee, anyway.”
“You are a gorgeously arrogant bastard, Ianto Harkness,” Jack said, chuckling. “I’m so proud.” He ducked as a pair of pants came hurtling his way.
He dallied to allow Ianto time to prepare the coffee. No one could brew coffee like his spouse. Jack insisted that Ianto put some sort of mood-altering substance in it to keep him docile and sweet. Ianto had looked down his nose and told him that the creation of perfect coffee was an art and he couldn’t help it if the rest of the world (including Jack, he was sad to say) weren’t as talented.
Since these tussles invariably led to make-up sex, they enjoyed them very much.
Ianto handed him his blue and white striped mug when he came out. They must have a hundred of them since Jack always had it in a mug like that. It smelled delicious as always. They went through the main room, with Ianto holding his cup as well as Lois’. Dwyer and Hartford were on duty, and Dwyer looked guilty. “Sorry, sirs,” he said. “They came to the door and kicked up a fuss in the hall when I told them they couldn’t come in. I know you dislike scenes, Dr. Harkness, so I thought Lois could handle it better than I could.”
Jack winked at him. “Your lady wife can handle anything. Why do you think we hired her? It’s all right. Don’t worry about it.”
Beside him, Ianto nodded. “We knew they’d be coming – just not at the crack of dawn.”
Before anyone could point out that 9:30 wasn’t normally considered the “crack of dawn”, Jack led Ianto to the room serving as Lois’ office. Everyone rose when they came in. Detective Swanson’s face held her habitual frown, but Andy smiled at them. Jack sipped his coffee and said, congenially, “Let’s sit down and get comfortable.”
Ianto gave Lois her coffee. She sniffed at it and took a sip. Jack caught her eye and they made humming noises in unison to show their appreciation. Ianto relaxed and Jack was glad to see he had his regular enthusiasm back. Lois had put the two officers in straight-backed chairs at the table.
Before joining them, Ianto said quietly, “Go on and make phone calls, Lois. People will be leaving work soon.”
Detective Swanson barely waited until the door closed before snapping, “I understand that the money allegedly stolen from the Swan Foundation safe somehow ended up in Suzie’s Costello’s apartment.”
Jack wasn’t going to let her get away with that routine here. “Look, Kathy,” he said bluntly, “I don’t know what put that big Torchwood chip on your shoulder, but you can take it off and leave it outside. Neither Ianto nor I have anything to do with Torchwood. Stop showing me that you’re a bad ass and start doing your job. Yeah, last night we found what looked like the money that was taken out of the safe at Swan stashed in a nice cubbyhole in Suzie’s spare closet. I trust Toshiko sent you all the pictures you could ever want?”
She glared at him and then suddenly relaxed. “Okay, Jack,” she said. “But you don’t know what it’s been like since you’ve been gone. Backbiting, turf wars, rumor-mongering – it’s been hell. Worse than with the FBI and Homeland Security combined.”
Jack flashed his most charming smile at her. “Does that mean you’ve missed me?”
“And how.” That was Andy’s contribution. “Are you coming back?”
Ianto tensed beside him, but Jack laid a calming hand on his knee. “Not a chance in hell, Sergeant. I’m married to my work and he’s not going nearer to Torchwood than we were last night. I wasn’t kidding you, Kathy. John just asked me to come take a look around.”
“It was my fault, mostly,” Ianto said, blushing. “I sort of talked him into it.”
“Well… it’s… um…”
“He finds it sexy to watch me work.” Jack winked at Ianto, who obligingly blushed again. Jack so enjoyed that blush. “Now that that’s settled, and we’re all friends now, could you go make us some more of your coffee? Then we’ll have the entire police force tamed.”
As Jack knew he would, Ianto fled to get himself under control. Jack leaned forward and spoke without a trace of humor. “For God’s sake, keep this connection to yourselves. If the press gets wind of it, our almost-a-vacation goes out the window. We didn’t come prepared to handle a full-on media blitz.”
Swanson gave him a brief smile. “Duly noted, Captain. This case is ugly enough without that. Could you tell me what you told the officer yesterday when you discovered the theft?”
Patiently, Jack went over everything. He was finishing as Ianto returned with the coffee and Jack helped himself to his blue and white striped mug again. He waited for the taste to kick in for the policemen.
Each of them took a sip and stared at Ianto in wonder. “How…?” Andy managed.
“Don’t question it,” Jack said. “Just enjoy.”
Andy took another sip. “Any openings in your security force, Captain?”
Swanson cleared her throat meaningfully. “Back on track, please?”
“Oh. Right. It’s good though.”
“Yes, it is very good.” She nodded in appreciation and Jack was relieved to see Ianto smile at her. “Right. How sure are you that what you found is the money from the safe?”
Ianto tilted the chair on its back legs. “We only use those bands at Christmas and only for our charity giving. We do lots of things, but distributing that money has been a tradition in our company since it was founded. Of course, it was a farthing back then, but we’ve adjusted for inflation.”
“No security footage?”
“Lots of it.” Jack shook his head. “Only there are unexplained outages three times. We’re assuming that one of them is when the money was taken.”
“Is that usual? Outages, I mean?”
“No. Normally, those tapes would just have been stored and then wiped without ever having been looked at. The theory is that the thief intended to replace the money before the distribution tomorrow and we wouldn’t have known it was gone.”
“So, it looks like your thief and my murderer may be one and the same. Or at least working together. I suppose there’s no way Ms. Costello could have taken it herself?”
“She was in the building during the suspect period, but not during an outage. A little courtesy tour. She was never out of sight of at least four other people the entire time she was there. Also, the office was full of people who would certainly have noticed something. The outages occurred late at night when the office would have been deserted. She certainly wasn’t in the building after hours.”
Ianto said, “We started a scan last night just to be sure. There’s no sign of her at any entrance to the building, except when she arrived with the other Torchwood people.”
“It may not have any bearing, but why was a group from Torchwood there?”
“Occasionally, Torchwood suggests a promising line of research for grants handed out by the Foundation,” Jack replied. “Just like a hundred other organizations. In exchange, they supplement the grant with something extra, but not necessarily money. If you really want to know all of the boring details, I can get you a copy of the grant report. That’s why Ianto is here. The grant announcements are on New Year’s Day and he’s going to be handing them out.”
The detective shook her head. “I doubt that would get us anywhere. Is that all you can tell me?”
“I’m afraid so. The theft was more of a nuisance than anything else. We replaced the money and it’s more than covered by insurance. That is, until it showed up in a dead woman’s apartment.” Jack sighed. “Got anything you want to tell us?”
She smiled albeit wryly. “Torchwood seems to be more efficient than the police lab. Dr. Sato sent us some preliminary information this morning. We have a few people definitely identified and another few tentatively identified. The surveillance camera in the apartment corridor had a period of ‘outage’. Sound familiar?”
“I turned ours over to Tosh – Dr. Sato, I mean,” Jack said. “She might be able to coax something from it. Any of those people have a connection with Swan?”
“Two so far. They’re pretty weak. There’s a psychologist named Sweeney and a biochemist named Noble. They’ve both been consultants on Swan projects in the past.” She leaned forward. “Interesting coincidence. The body was found by Dr. Noble’s ex-wife.”
Jack managed to keep his countenance straight and glanced surreptitiously at Ianto, who had also not changed expression. “If you’ll leave the particulars with Lois, we’ll get you details on them.
“Dr. Harkness, are either of those names familiar to you?”
“Sorry.” Ianto shook his head ruefully. “We live in Cardiff, so the operations over here are mostly unknown by me. I may have seen the names on a grant list, but I don’t remember them. Same thing about the Tokyo and Copenhagen branches. I know about ten consultants in London, but that’s because I’ve met them socially.”
So either Ianto had forgotten Donna’s last name, he wasn’t connecting them, or, most likely, he was taking his cue from Jack. After all, Jack didn’t know for sure that the “Noble” person was Donna’s father. He’d check with Lois later. If it was, this had just taken an interesting turn.
They rose, with Andy still clutching his mug of coffee. “Keep it,” Ianto said with a grin. “I have others.”
Jack led them out, but Andy got in one last “About that opening…” before he got them out of the suite. Jack turned and slid an arm around Ianto’s waist. “Okay, kids, back to the routine. Hold all calls. We didn’t get enough beauty sleep.”
Ianto raised his eyebrow. “Are you implying that I’m not beautiful?”
“I’m implying that if you don’t get back into that bedroom, what happens out here isn’t going to be pretty.”
“An offer I wouldn’t think of refusing.”
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