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[info - community] zvi organized [info - community] 3_ships 2009. I wrote a pinch-hit for [info - community] amyfortuna, who asked for a Torchwood story with Jack Harkness/Ianto Jones/Toshiko Sato and virtual reality.

Title: A Word Can Do This
Author: voleuse
Fandom: Torchwood
Ship: Jack Harkness/Ianto Jones/Toshiko Sato
Rating: R
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Summary: Time takes hold of us like a draft upward.
Notes: Spoilers through S3.

Night fell like a blanket over Cardiff, and for once, Tosh was slipping into her own bed, cocooning herself in the blanket before adjusting the wires of the alien gadget she'd affixed on her right temple. She closed her eyes, and decided to think person instead of place, and once she'd chosen, she rushed into sleep like she was sliding down a waterfall.

When she opened her eyes again, she was enclosed in a closet, the scent of wool and leather powerful as they pressed against her. Moonlight spilled through the gap of the door, slightly open. When she rubbed her hands against her thighs, she touched soft cotton skirts, scratchy with cheap lace overlay. She tugged at the skirts, unable to identify the time period in the dark, but then Ianto moaned in the darkness, and she pushed the door open with a smile of anticipation.

The bedroom was brighter, but still wreathed in shadows. She edged her way to the bed, recognizing two people as her eyesight adjusted. Ianto was leaning over the mattress, clad in vaguely militaristic tweed. She had to tilt her head and squint before she recognized Jack lying on the bed, not only because of the velvety black cape draped over his torso, but also the Hollywood-esque teeth and glowing irises.

"My god," she said, distinctly, "Van Helsing and Dracula? Really?"

Ianto half-twisted to see her, looking abashed. Jack grinned, his fangs flashing white in the darkness.

Tosh folded her arms, realizing the purpose of her alarming decolletage. "I'm not even going to ask where you've put the stake," she continued, "but personally, I draw the line at fangs."

"Suit yourself." Ianto half-twisted back to Jack, who arched quite graphically, the cape falling away. He smirked. "It's rather stimulating, once you're used to it."

"Thanks, but no." Tosh managed not to stumble over her skirts as she strode forward. She rested her cheek against Ianto's arm, rubbing against the tweed like a cat. "You go on, though." She kissed his arm, clasped a hand around his.

"You guys are adorable," Jack observed. "Now, if you don't mind?" He arched again, and Tosh leaned forward to tug the cape fully out of the way.


The next afternoon, Jack found Tosh at the coffee as she stirred four sugars in, hoping the extra would complement the caffeine. "Tired?" he inquired.

"A bit." Tosh took a sip of her coffee, winced, and set it down in favor of tugging on her wholly unnecessary scarf. Jack gazed at her throat knowingly, and she felt heat rush to her face. "The VR doesn't completely replace human REM cycles, after all. It's a bit inconvenient, but given that we're not the target species--"

"Of course." Jack took in her expression, then nodded and took a step back. "I'm impressed you were able to adapt it so far, Tosh."

"The possibilities for application are endless." Given the room to breathe, Tosh managed to gather her composure more surely around her. "Combat projections, training simulations--"

"Not to mention the extracurriculars."

"Right." Tosh picked up her coffee again. She took another sip, found it more palatable. "If you're interested in re-enacting pseudo-Victorian romance novels."

Jack leaned against the counter. "I didn't hear you complaining." She rolled her eyes, and he laughed. "Well, if you had a choice, where would you visit?"

Tosh considered the question. "I've never been in space before," she said. "We deal with all this alien tech, but I've never seen where any of it comes from." She bit her lip. "You've probably been to a million places."

"Close enough." Jack folded his arms. "Tell you what, when you fall asleep tonight, try finding me." He dipped his head, took a sip of his coffee. "That is both delicious and disgusting."

Tosh laughed and went back to work.


She found Jack in something that looked like a bar from one of those science fiction movies from the seventies. There was a band of blobby-looking things playing jazz on a nearby stage, and she was wearing go-go boots and a formless dress that fell mid-thigh and no lower. He cast an appreciative eye at her legs, then frowned at her hair.

"It should be bigger," he noted.

"I've often thought the same thing," she retorted.

Jack placed two hands over his heart. "Below the belt, Miss Sato." He spun on his stool, braced his elbow against the bar. "Can I buy you a virtual drink?"

Tosh smiled, observing the crowded bar. "It doesn't look like I've got a place to sit."

Jack patted his knee, waggling his eyebrows. "Best seat in the house."

Tosh rolled her eyes, but allowed him to grasp her waist, swing her into his lap. "Is there anything here that wouldn't poison me?"

"Trust me," he said, and the bartender poured something bright green into a shot glass, "you will adore ambrosia."

Tosh tossed the drink back, blinking pleasure as Jack adjusted the drape of her skirt. "That's amazing," she croaked.

Jack's hands were firm on her hips as he pulled her against his crotch, and she marveled that the movies were right--space aliens didn't wear underwear. Then she was seated fully against Jack, and she marveled at other things entirely.

"Are you buying for everybody, or just the ones sitting in your lap?" Ianto asked, sliding into the stool next to them just as a lizard in monk robes vacated it.

"One of the reasons I always envied the cactus people," Jack confessed as he signaled to the bartender again. "There just isn't enough time for a man with one--"

"Please don't finish that," Tosh gasped. She reached behind her, fumbled with unfamiliar fastenings one-handed. Jack choked on his own drink, and she braced her arms against the bar, twined her legs around his as she rose, sank down. She hissed, checking her first, writhing impulse, and smiled at Ianto. "Aren't you going to say hello?"

Ianto laughed and kissed her, ambrosia tart on his tongue. "Should I ask what's going on under there?"

Jack grunted, and Tosh shrugged. "If you want." Jack pressed his hands against her knees, and she shuddered. "Oh, god."

Ianto rested a hand against her leg, over her skirt. "Should I peek?"

"Um." Tosh blinked. "It's a bit crowded for that, isn't it?"

Jack's laugh, against the back of her neck, was strangled. "I could have told you that four minutes ago." He bucked under her, and her elbow jarred the remnants of Ianto's drink.

"They're virtual," Ianto corrected, but he slipped his hand under her skirt instead of lifting it. "This is virtual," he repeated, his fingers circling, pressing just right.

"Could have fooled me," Tosh replied, and Jack reached out and pulled Ianto down for a kiss.


A/N: Title and summary adapted from Adrienne Rich's Burning Oneself Out.

Originally archived here.

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