Consequences of War chapter Ten

Disclaimer - Don't own Torchwood.

Ariene and Rhiannon were less than pleasant when it was time to put them down to bed that night. Ianto was sitting in the living room, perched on the end of the sofa wondering how he was going to manage to persuade his brother that he had to leave now. Knowing Gethin he'd force him to stay until morning and Ianto would be subjected to checkups for a couple of hours to make sure he's still in the building. They were always worrying about him leaving at a drop of a hat since they hardly ever saw him. Still, he'd have to set his phone alarm to wake him in a couple of hours and sneak out then, first leaving a note. Ianto hated doing that. Sometimes he wished he could tell his family. The selfish inclination to share the horrors was always quashed when he remembered the tragedy, the hardship and the pain that went along with even just knowing about Torchwood. The mere knowledge of the secret organisatation - except to those resident in Cardiff - ruined people's lives. It was only a word but it deserved fear and respect.

Ariene and Rhiannon had loved their presents. They had giggled and laughed gleefully, while Ianto felt uncharacteristically drained for a little while. AFter it had settled down he shrugged figuring it was just one of those things that happened every once in a while like dialing the wrong number or reflux.

They had become increasingly unruly towards the end of the evening. Too much ice cream had made them over exciteable and now that Ianto reflected upon it, he hadn't realised how much he had missed his only remaining family at that point. He never spoke of them for fear of making them real, noticed and subject to change and death. it made him feel like he was protecting them somehow. he told them nothing, and told no one else of them. It had worked so far.

Rhiannon had shouted, cried and pouted when told she had to go to sleep now. "I don't wanna!" She had cried, stamping her little feet against the carpet and running around the sofa in the futile denial of the inevitable. Many times she stood defiant before her father, hoping to get her own way but usually never in front of her uncle. It was always such a treat to see him that the girls behaved, but not today. They were too annoyed with him for broken promises and shattered hopes.

Ianto lowered his head to his hands. His line had thought brought him to his own problems. To his own very real shattered hopes that hurt more than those of a six year old could. It was amazing how difficulties appeared just as important to someone so young. It took years to learn the difference and then we deny never having done something so selfish. Children are selfish by nature. You have to teach them not to be. At least, that's always what Tad had taught them. Tad had been a very wise man before he died. Before the cancer claimed his body and forced him to make a difficult decision. It had affected everyone in the family. The clock ticked on the ornamental mantle piece. Gethin daren't light it now that the children could move about and an incident with the fire guard strenghtened his resolve not to light it until the children were much much older. It had taught Rihannon however, that sometimes her father was right and she was not. It was in fact the incident that lead her to question things. The 'why' factor had to be known in every situation. Gethin teased Ianto that she got it from him. But truthfully, she didn't spend eough time with him for this to be so.

Ianto himself had to learn to question when it came to Jack and not accept things so blindly. He had done his time of being the bit on the side and it was killing him. He wanted more, or nothing. A weight plummeted to the bottom of his stomach. He would never get more. Jack Harkness wasn't the type to commit or to need. 'Yet he had needed his Doctor' a nasty voice of insecurity and malice whispered within. He could never ever compete with someone as great as Torchwood's number one enemy. It just made Ianto envy and dislike the alien but knew in his heart this Doctor must be a good guy. Jack would never leave for someone cruel, hateful and violent. He didn't have to like it but he had to accept that. Otherwise he'd be eating himself up inside. Ianto didn't want that to consume him.

"Come one. The spare room is ready," Gethin surprised him by appearing before him silently, talking loudly and gesturing down the hall.

Ianto narrowed his eyes. "You don't have a spare room anymore. You gave it to Ariene,"

Gethin chuckled. "Well they got too big for their boots so they are back together in the same room again. Bunk beds," He added wickedly. While he could laugh about it now, it was not funny having one of them shout at him at the top of their lungs at 6 o'clock and various other times to help them out of bed. One time he had been in the shower, and Rhiannon had refused to let him help her in fear of being dropped by slightly moist hands. Then she complained she had to wait another ten minutes for his hair to dry and missed some of her favourite TV show. There was no winnning with them.

"I can't stay," he tried.

Gethin frowned. Ianto was sure like Gandalf there should be black clouds rumbling above his head from the vibes he was getting. "Ianto Jones, you never visit, you always make excuses, if we do talk to you it's a five minute phone call with a suspicious ending. You say that you miss them but never make the time. Anytime you do visit it's bearing gifts to hopefully ease your suffering so they forget that they haven't seen you in months. Wait until they are older Ianto. You won't be able to buy them then!"

They had had this arguement before. Their relationship although strong at times was feeble to the point of breaking at others. They had been strained for some time now. But family was family. That was mother. She believed in sticking with each other through thick and thin - no matter what. Life had taught Ianto that that wasn't at all possible. Sometimes you just had to let go. It was that or be dragged down too.

His work was so important and he couldn't share it with anyone but Jack or Tosh. Even then, what did he and Jack talk about unless it was comfort through the times when one or both couldn't cope? And Tosh? He didn't like to upset her with his dreams of being eaten alive and then or watching the life being sucked out of everyone he loved. Or the terrible memory of Owen shooting Jack. He was haunted be guilt for not being there while Tad died, or when Man slowly gave up from grief. Gethin had never forgiven him for being unreachable. Torchwood One didn't allow families. If he had so muched as called them they would have been retconned or worse. Even now, no one knew he was here. It was against protocols and Jack would be livid because if something happened, and he was unaccounted for....

'They'd just think I was invovled somehow,' Ianto blinked. Where had that come from? He knew, definately after struggling along in Jack's absence that they would not automatically jump to such a conclusion. Even he and Owen had become amicable.

Ianto opened his mouth and his brother crossed his arms and leaned back slightly. Ianto had classed this as his 'I'm in a pissy mood' pose. He did it almost every time. Predictability was comforting. At one point he had found routines to be his haven, but being an active member in the team and spurred a like for adrenalin. Even so, discerning an escape route from a cell wasn't his idea of a fun time. "My boss hasn't granted me leave that covers tomorrow. I need to be back to shower, get changed, set up the office, make sure it's clean, tidy, the plants are watered, check e-mails,"

"E-mails?" Gethin questioned. "A tourist office gets e-mails?" He asked skeptically.

Now it was Ianto's turn to be predictable. Hands on his hips, he resisted the urge to sigh. Gethin almost smirked. It was Ianto's huffy 'just listen and accept what I'm saying' stance. Oh no. Ianto Jones didn't pose. The thought of him in a pose was amusing.

"Just an idea. We're seeing how things go. People E-mail questions, naturally on things in Cardiff, and sometimes Wales in general and receive directional advice and brief history notes."

"What a joke! You're just making it up!" Gethin yelled. He was tired of the excuses. If Ianto didn't want to see them he should just say and drop the pretences. "What's more important than your own family?"

Ianto bit his tongue hard. Blood spilled into his mouth shocking him. It was evident in his eyes, allowing Gethin to believe it was his outburst that had caused it. He had nearly blurted out that the world, that Torchwood was more important, that Jack was more important, but once upon a time Lisa had been the most important thing of all.

"Lisa, must really be something, if she's taking you away from us," Gethin spat when there was silence. He advanced on Ianto's still form, thinking him nothign more than the little office worker that he portrayed himself to be and grabbed his arms. He shook violently.

Now, Ianto was shocked by his brother's words. Finally, the truth was out.

"We helped you after your little shop lifting incident. I covered up the fact that it wasn't the only time. You could have been in a lot of trouble. You are in debt Ianto. That debt must be repayed somehow,"

Ianto didn't understand. His brother wasn't making sense. They had had arguements - close mindedness, excuses, that sort of thing but this, this was different. It was like an inbred rage that his brother had been hiding for years. Did he truly not know the man before him? Gethin continued to advance scaring Ianto to the core. He didn't want to hurt him, but he was being left with little choice. Lashing out quickly he grabbed his shoulder, gripped his wrist and forced it behind his back. Running him into the counter he winded him and by the sounds of that oof, a lovely bruise would be appearing sometime tomorrow. He scarpered. His only thought was, that if he could hide such rage from him, were his adorable neices safe? Ianto shook his head. Of course they were. Family it seems, meant everything to Gethin. He wouldn't hurt his kids. They were all he had left.

"I've just never seen him a little tiddly. Too much wine. That's all." Ianto tried to convince himself. They hadn't had much whilst the children were finally put to bed. Ianto only counted a few drinks but he supposed it was possible that stuff was stronger than it appeared.

His head was a mess of whirling thoughts. By the time he had gotten home, he had been stopped by the police and given a ticket. Oh wasn't Owen going to love that? Why not play that Torchwood card? Why not? Oh perhaps that might piss off the overly tired and cranky officer? That it might mean less cooperation knowing that Torchwood got out of a ticket for speeding when not on the job, but merely driving home alone and looking slightly dazed? Ianto was surprised they didn't breathalize him. It seemed they hadn't grown that brave. Yet. He was most definately not going to put it down to emotional distress. Dr Harper would have a field day. Jack would act weird.

For once his thoughts did not stay with his boss. He walked through his silent apparant thinking of nothing but rest, sleep and more sleep. The soft douvet, the cold pillow and the dark room was soothing. This early morning he had managed to avoid taking another chunk out of his leg by misjudging the distance between the door and the table. How many times must he walk into the damn thing?

Ianto lay down with his head upon the pillow. It had been an exhausting day in the fact that his head was still loud with the memory of his neices high but delighted voices. Hyper active children could be as waring as catching aliens - perhaps even more so. If he was expected to do this regularly he (as regularly as he could afford)he wasn't sure he could survive being jumped and trodden upon by four tiny feet. Sure they were small and cutesy but hard soled shoes were not pleased on certain areas. Ianto frowned. There was a strange whirring at the back of his mind. Almost as if he could hear it inside himself. Had ne not been so worn out, he may have considered this more fully but his headache began to throb more insistantly so he settle for some aspirin and a good night's sleep.