Ianto watched the life in the hub below, wondering how they did it. Tosh and Gwen were sitting on the couch, Tosh with her laptop propped on her knees so she at least appeared to be working. They were talking easily, sharing the current gossip he supposed. They laughed quickly, and seemed to know exactly what to say. Owen sat at his desk, angled towards them, with the feet propped up on the corner. He threw in a comment or bit of innuendo when it suited him, speaking without thinking, and without looking up from his sudoku puzzle. Jack was, well, somewhere. His office Ianto supposed, though he should be swooping in at any moment with a leer and an interesting case.
He wondered how they all made it look so damn easy.
Ianto descended the steps and moved quietly through the hub, matching its occupants with the coffees on his tray. Gwen and Tosh, blue and pink mugs respectively. They gave little smiles of thanks as Ianto handed them their drinks. He gave his own slight smile in return, hoping it looked sincere.
He went to stand behind Owen, the man's green mug hovering precariously over his head as the doctor slouched in his office chair, feet thrown up on the table, resting on a pile of folders. Ianto glared at the boots that were leaving scuff marks all over the paperwork and wood, and briefly considered spilling Owen's coffee on his head.
He cleared his throat instead, before moving so that he was in Owen's line of sight.
Owen jerked and nearly fell over in his chair, falling forward and feet hitting the floor. His sudoku book went flying, and Ianto caught it neatly. "Fuck! Do you have to constantly sneak up on people? It's creepy!"
"You're getting scuff marks all over the desk. It's going to take forever to get them off, and you're certainly not going to do it."
"It's a desk. It's my desk. Who cares if there are a few scuff marks? Go count your coffee beans or something." Owen flipped his off and leaned back again throwing his feet back up on the desk, scraping the sole of his shoe purposely on a batch of reports Ianto had just printed out.
Ianto glared at him, and tried to think of a comeback, something witty, and … and… normal. No one got his sense of humour. He didn't usually get his own sense of humour. What would Jack say? Go...cut up some dead bodies? Eh. How about you do some actual work? Oh forget it. What's the point? Ianto was just the tea boy, server of coffee and cleaner of shit. No one expected a witty come back from him. There was something though, right on his tongue, biting and cruel, and if he could just think.
"What?" Ianto asked, blinking. Owen was giving him an odd look, one he usually reserved for weird, yet slightly pathetic aliens. Well that fit. Ianto realised Owen must have been waiting for a comeback for quite some time. Ianto frowned and put Owen's coffee on the far end of the desk. He would have to stretch for it, and there was always the chance he could overbalance and fall. He'd have to put his feet down at any rate.
Ianto quickly moved away from the desk, and Owen's questioning stare, but he also took the sudoku book, revelling in the small victory.
There was Jack. Ianto watched the man walk out of his office, reading from a folder, heading towards them. Without looking up the captain pushed Owen's feet off the desk. Ianto smirked. Then Jack took the puzzle book and handed it back to Owen, who smirked in turn. Ianto resisted the urge to stick his tongue out at the doctor.
Jack finally looked up and took the last remaining mug from Ianto's tray, replacing it with his folder, before propping himself up on Owen's desk where the feet had been.
Ianto picked up the file and flicked through it idly.
"Okay kids," Jack began, speaking loudly enough to get everyone's attention. "We've had a weevil sighting up at some camping grounds near here. No death's yet, but hell if I know how one got so far from the cities. I need two volunteers to come with me to check it out."
No one moved. Ianto tried to sink into the floor. 'Not me, Not me, Not me', he prayed silently.
Jack rolled his eyes at the lack of enthusiasm. "Okay fine, Gwen, Tosh you're staying here to keep a eye on the hub." He took a sip of coffee and hummed appreciatively.
"I guess you've been already traumatised by the countryside enough." He added with a grin and a wink.
Ianto turned to look at his boss, the twitch of an eyebrow the only sign of his surprise. It had been a joke. Ianto was fairly certain of that. Maybe his captain hadn't realised he was in the room?
Jack turned to the younger man beside him. "Ianto, I'm gonna need the camping supplies, and everything else we'll need."
"You and Owen, lucky boys," Jack continued. "have just won an all expense paid adventure holiday with yours truly! This will be fun!"
Owen spluttered into his coffee, and Jack held up a hand to stop the protest, "Ah! None of that. You're coming whether you like it or not. Just think. Three guys out in the woods, bonding with nature, having fun!" Ianto snapped the folder closed.
"Camping?" Owen clarified, voice squeaking slightly.
"Yup. No cannibals I promise." Jack took another sip from his mug, and leaned over towards Ianto, intending to give him the thankful kiss that usually accompanied such fine coffee. Not bloody likely.
Ianto gracefully sidestepped him and turned towards the basement.
"I should go get the supplies ready." Ianto said calmly as he headed away from the group, setting his own untouched coffee on Tosh's workstation and ignoring Owen's snickering comments about frigid boyfriends.
Ianto managed to walk slowly until he was out of site, before allowing his pace to quicken with the need to be away from the main hub.
Jack hadn't meant anything by it. It had just been a stupid, poorly thought out joke. Jack was never in top form before his coffee. But he had been right. Of course Gwen and Tosh were traumatised. Gwen had been shot and poor Tosh, she had been frightened to death, nearly eaten.
And him. He had been the one "tenderised", with his head shoved in a canvas bag. It was his arms, legs, heart that had been fought over. It was him that had been told that they considered testicles a delicacy. And really, who the hell looked at their equipment the same way after an observation like that.
He was still off meat, still felt the cleaver against his throat in quiet, boring moments when he had nothing to keep him occupied.
But, he wasn't supposed to be traumatised. Not Ianto. He was supposed to brush it off, and make coffee, and not throw up when Owen ordered meat lover's pizza for a solid week after.
The captain dressed from another era. Probably subscribed to that era's Neanderthal grunting, chest thumping, macho 'boys don't cry" bullshit. Except he didn't. Jack had always been so understanding before. He had just been joking. He wasn't like that.
"Well fuck it." Ianto declared out loud, feeling himself start to shake with a sudden, familiar cold. He dug through his pocket, pulling out a small pill bottle and tipping out the one last white tablet. He slammed it into his mouth, and chewed to make the medication get into his blood stream faster, instead of having to wait, even though the world was still slightly fuzzy from the last dose. wincing only slightly at the taste. He'd have to get his prescription refilled. He'd been taking more than usual lately. But that was okay. Dr. Brenson had said to, until they settled out the dosage. Today was just one of the bad ones, and he needed a little extra help.
"Fuck it." He repeated.
He laughed suddenly, and tried to ignore the tinge of hysteria it held, leaning against the wall to steady himself. He ended up sliding down the bricks, landing with a hard jolt that knocked the breath out of his lungs.
"Fuck it." He said for a third time, rolling the word around in his mouth, wondering why he always ended up sounding like Owen at times like this.
He buried his face in his knees and waited for the medication to begin to take effect.