Working Title: The Torchwood Canary
Episode Title: Torchwood Three
Disclaimer: I do not own, nor ever will, Torchwood or the characters within.
Notes: A series of interconnected episodes starting from Canary Wharf and leading into Season 1 and probably beyond
Summary: Captain Jack Harkness returns from the ruins of Canary Wharf and Ianto Jones settles into life at Torchwood Three. Follows on from After The Battle and Cardiff.
Torchwood Three – Part 1
Captain Jack Harkness pulled into the underground parking area of Torchwood Three and brought the SUV to a gentle stop. He looked out the window at featureless concrete walls and pillars. Home at last, he let his breath out with a small smile. He felt better already and he hadn't even gotten out of the vehicle. It had been the longest two weeks Jack could remember surviving in a very long while and certainly not one he ever wanted to repeat. The mess created by Torchwood One was beyond nightmares and for the last few days all he had wanted was to get out of London and back to Cardiff. Back to home.
He reached over and poked his sleeping passenger. Owen Harper didn't move so Jack poked harder. The doctor had crashed before they'd gone a few miles and Jack had not been surprised. Owen had been long working hours trying to save as many as he could. Jack knew how Owen felt about survivors so he had readily agreed to any and all of the doctor's plans for support and counselling, although Owen had managed to browbeat just about every bureaucrat, politician or General into agreeing with him all by himself.
Jack poked the doctor again. "Wakey-wakey Owen, we're home," he said in a sing-song voice.
"Fuck off, Harkness," Owen grunted, mostly asleep and tried to roll over only to get caught in his seatbelt. He woke up properly as the strap threatened to strangle him and he struggled to pull himself upright in the seat. Jack chuckled lightly and Owen glared as best he could through a wide yawn.
"Come on Doctor Harper, let's go see the girls and then you can go home and sleep some more," Jack said as he opened his door and stepped out. He stretched for a moment before reaching into the back to grab his bag.
"What about the rest of the stuff?" Owen asked as he pulled his own bag out and looked at the boxes stacked in the back.
"I'll get them later. Let's get ourselves in first." Jack locked the SUV and headed towards the door to Torchwood. "They would have seen us arrive and no doubt they'll be waiting for us."
"Hope Suzie's got the coffee ready," Owen said with another yawn. "And food too. I missed lunch," he added as he followed Jack through the door and into Torchwood Three.
"You needed the sleep," Jack commented as they walked through the cool passages. Owen shrugged. He knew that. He also knew he needed a lot more and that he probably wouldn't be getting it any time soon.
"I could say the same to you," he remarked.
"Later," Jack replied dismissively. Owen nearly smiled. He hadn't expected any other answer. They all knew they were supposed to catch up on their sleep whenever they could and they all knew they never did.
"Suzie said there were a couple of weevils needing autopsies," Owen said, ignoring his own sleep needs and thinking ahead to what he had to do now he was back. "And I need to check over the birdman."
Jack smiled at the thought of the winged man. He'd only spoken to him once on the phone since he'd left him in the Hub two weeks ago. The Welshman had been polite and not too flustered by Jack's flirting. Jack had kept it light not knowing how the young man was coping with the events of Canary Wharf. Toshiko and Suzie had both said he'd been settling in well, but even after that first meeting Jack knew Ianto Jones was not one to wear his heart on his sleeve. It would be fun he thought to find out exactly what made the man tick. It wasn't just the wings that piqued Jack's interest. It was the calm, almost stoic impression the Welshman had demonstrated when everything had been falling down around him. For the second time Jack reminded himself.
"That can wait until tomorrow. There's no hurry." Jack paused. "Unless you think he needs it before we tell everyone about One?" he queried. "Suzie and Tosh are going to want to know."
Owen let his breath out noisily. "Yep, and we can't really exclude him from knowing. He probably already knows the worst from what we've told the girls so far. I don't think the details are going to make it any worse."
"Not any easier though," Jack pointed out.
"We'll just keep an eye on him. The moment he looks peaky, we'll stop. We don't have to tell them everything and we sure as hell don't need to do it all in one go." Owen shook his head. "Going to be hard enough to actually talk about it anyway," he muttered.
"Yeah," Jack agreed. He'd been less than forthcoming about what they'd found in London when he'd rung to check on his team, but he hadn't been able to keep them from learning some of what had happened. Now he was back though, they'd want to know more.
"You can do all the talking," Owen said.
"Gee, thanks," Jack replied flatly.
"We all know how much you love to talk," Owen responded with light sarcasm.
"And I know how much you love writing up reports," Jack threatened casually. Owen shrugged at the empty threat and felt better at having lightened the mood.
"I really want coffee," he stated loudly as he took the last few steps leading to the main hub.
"You're in luck, Owen. Ianto's just made some." Suzie's unexpected reply made Owen trip over the last step in surprise.
"Ah," Jack's soft exhalation had Owen looking at him curiously. He followed the Captain's gaze and blinked.
Ianto Jones, birdman and ex-Torchwood One prisoner, was standing just outside the kitchenette area holding a laden silver tray and wearing a suit. A surprisingly well-fitted three piece suit Owen noted.
"Love the suit," Jack said with obvious appreciation as he headed straight to Ianto with very bright eyes and a wide smile. Ianto took a step back at the Captain's exuberant approach but gamely offered the tray.
Jack took the proffered cup keeping his eyes on Ianto. The young man looked gorgeous in his tailored suit with the dark wings settled at his back. He looked healthy too, Jack noted as he gazed at the pale blush highlighting the Welshman's cheek bones. He was too intent on studying Ianto's face to notice Owen elbow his way past and grab a cup.
"Oh, now that is coffee." Owen's voice broke Jack from his staring and he took a distracted mouthful from his own cup. He blinked as the strong, rich blend assaulted his tongue.
"Oh yeah," he breathed as he took another taste and then a deep breath of the aromatic steam. "This is perfect. Marry me, Ianto Jones." He grinned widely at the startled man.
Suzie and Toshiko stifled laughs and Owen scoffed as Ianto looked around for some help or an escape route. It wasn't forthcoming as the others simply smiled back at him. He took a deep breath and met the Captain's highly amused blue eyes.
"I'm sorry, Sir but I believe a person should bring more than coffee making skills to a life-long commitment."
Toshiko clapped a hand over her mouth and Suzie let out a most unlady-like guffaw. Owen rolled his eyes.
"And I believe that with this coffee and that suit you have all the skills necessary," Jack replied, his grin never flagging.
"How indiscriminate of you Captain. I'm sorry but I feel we just don't know each other well enough for me to be able to accept your proposal." Ianto tried to look as sincere as he could but it wasn't fooling the others and he could feel his blush deepening. Suzie and Tosh choked on their laughter.
"I've never been called indiscriminate before," Jack mused, smiling at the bemused Ianto.
"Not to your face perhaps, "Owen muttered loud enough for Jack to hear and mock-glare at him. Owen smirked back. Jack glared for a moment longer before turning back to Ianto.
"I'm sure we'll get to know each other more than well enough," he leered in an overly friendly manner.
"That's what I'm afraid of," Ianto sighed with a rustle of his wings. "I believe in long engagements."
Jack shrugged smoothly. "I can do long." The others groaned. "I can also do short if you get tired of waiting," he added with a helpful manner.
"I'm sure I can be patient Sir," Ianto replied blandly, wondering just how badly he was blushing.
"Welcome back Jack," Suzie said with a smile as she decided to save Ianto from further embarrassment.
"Thank you," Jack said to her well aware of what she was doing and willing to go along with it for now. There would be time enough later for more flirting with the delectable Welshman. "It's good to be home again."
"It's good to have you back," Tosh told him. "We missed you." Jack stepped over to her and swept her into a big hug before moving to Suzie and hugging her with a more restrained movement. He knew she didn't like to be touched too much.
"Well, it looks like you've more than managed with us not here," Jack said approvingly.
"You haven't read the reports yet," Suzie pointed out.
"The Hub's still standing," Jack replied. "That's good enough for me." He looked around. "Actually it looks cleaner than it did." He frowned slightly. "And tidier."
"That would be Ianto's doing," Suzie said with a smile at the young man.
"Really?" Jack looked at the winged man.
"Yes," Suzie replied. "When he's not been working in the archives, he's been helping out here."
"He was supposed to be on light duties at the most," Owen said with a frown.
"We knew that, Owen. We kept an eye on him and didn't let him do too much," Tosh interjected.
"He is standing right here," Ianto muttered.
"He will do better to follow doctor's orders in future," Owen snapped at him with a glare. "Down to autopsy now, birdman."
"I feel fine," Ianto told him. "Suzie and Tosh have been most careful of my recovery."
"I'm sure they have. However I'm the doctor here and I am the one best qualified to judge that."
"Owen, it can wait til tomorrow," Jack interrupted, reminding him of their earlier conversation. Owen scowled and nodded reluctantly before turning on Ianto.
"Tomorrow morning at nine sharp. With all your records for a complete checkup," Owen said firmly.
"Umm, we don't have all his records," Tosh said hesitantly.
"Yes, we do," Owen said. "One whole filing cabinet's worth I believe. It would be easier if it was on the computers but hard copy is just as good."
"What filing cabinet?" Tosh asked.
"It came down with all the other stuff," Jack said keeping an eye on Ianto. "We sealed it up and sent it here."
"Is that why there's no record in the database?" Tosh questioned with an apologetic look towards Ianto.
"No, the records are there as well," Ianto replied in a resigned voice. He'd known they'd be wanting to go over his records. He knew that Tosh at least had looked for them in the recovered data from One. But she hadn't asked and he hadn't said, content to be left alone for the while. He had not expected to have the doctor insist on his medical checks this soon after returning. He'd thought he'd have a few days grace at least.
"I couldn't find them," Tosh said diffidently, wary of causing any offense.
Ianto shook his head giving her a small smile of reassurance. "They're buried rather deeply. Ms Hartman didn't want anyone to be able to find them without her express permission." His eyes were blank for a moment. "A lot of files are hidden like that."
"The others on your team?" Jack asked softly and Ianto nodded. He blinked and his eyes were clear again.
"All of us living in the sub-levels had our files hidden."
"I saw a hell of a lot of security measures in the Tower. Hartman was one paranoid bitch." There was no question in Owen's tone but Ianto responded as if there had been one there.
"Yes she was. Always worried that someone would interfere with her work. One is… was her empire and she did everything she could to protect it."
"They must be very well hidden. I haven't been able to find them," Tosh said with reluctant admiration. "She certainly had good programmers there."
"A lot of alien technology was used in the system," Ianto said. One shoulder lifted and fell in a half-shrug and soft rustle of feathers. "And she wanted no traces left for anyone to find. We all knew our records would disappear as well."
"As well as what?" Tosh asked.
"As well as us," Ianto said matter-of-factly.
There was a heavy silence and Ianto was startled at the wide-eyed stares he was getting. He had thought they had all understood what being detained by Torchwood One had meant but Tosh and Suzie appeared frozen and Owen's jaw had dropped. And the barely suppressed anger on the Captain's face had him taking a few steps back, tray raised in front of him as if for protection.
"But…" Tosh tried to voice a protest. "You… they… they wouldn't have." Her voice fell flat as Ianto met her horrified eyes.
"Yes, they would. They did," he said gently. "We were dead to the outside world from the moment we were placed in the sub-levels."
"You can't have just accepted that?" Tosh struggled against Ianto's apparent calm manner.
"It's not as if we had a choice," Ianto told her as if that would make it easier for her to understand. "What happened to us wasn't something they could allow many people to know about. When… when the others died everything was already done because we were already listed as being dead."
Tosh shook her head. "It's wrong!" she said in a strained tone. "I… its wrong."
Jack wrapped his arms around her and looked meaningfully at the others. Suzie placed a hand on Ianto's arm and nodded at Jack. She pulled Ianto away and Owen followed them. Suzie led them down to the autopsy bay before she let go.
"Not quite the homecoming I'd planned on," Owen said as he moved through his domain. Suzie sat on the steps and Ianto just looked from one to the other still confused.
"Less alcohol and sex than you expected?" Suzie asked with a knowing grin.
"Much less," Owen agreed. "I did get coffee although I was banking on some food too." He saluted lazily at Ianto. "Good coffee too, birdman. Didn't think we had anything like that here."
"You didn't," Ianto replied with a quick look up the stairs. He could hear the Captain murmuring but couldn't make out the words. Tosh's reaction puzzled him. While she had always seemed more tentative than Suzie whenever his detainment at One came up he hadn't thought she'd been this affected by it.
"He got that old machine to work," Suzie added. "We had to get special beans for it."
"Really?" Owen looked at them. "Well it's worth it. None of us would get anything done without coffee." He looked pointedly at Ianto. "Make sure it stays this good." Ianto rolled his eyes in response.
"When Jack's finished up there, we'll order in some dinner and you can tell us all about London," Suzie remarked.
"Not much to tell," Owen said immediately and Suzie gave him a look of disbelief.
"You and Jack were both very tight-lipped while you were gone, Owen." Her eyes narrowed. "Just how bad was it?"
Owen looked away for a moment before meeting their eyes. "It was bad. Very bad," he told them sombrely before looking away. Ianto chewed at his bottom lip and saw Suzie flick a glance at him. He took a breath.
"How many survived?" he asked slowly.
"Twenty-seven are still alive." Owen saw the colour leave Ianto's face and moved quickly to seat him on a stool.
"Twenty-seven?" Ianto repeated sounding as if he would faint at any moment. Owen placed a hand around the Welshman's wrist and felt the racing pulse.
"That's not many," Suzie said in a hushed voice.
"There's still about a hundred unaccounted for that could suddenly turn up," Owen said.
"But you don't expect that, do you?" Suzie asked.
Owen shook his head. "No." He studied Ianto for a moment. "You okay birdman?"
Ianto moved his head in an unsure movement somewhere between a nod and a shake. "I knew it was bad, but twenty-seven? There were over eight hundred of us. That can't be right." He almost pleaded with Owen.
"It is right." Owen let his breath out. "And I don't know how many of those twenty-seven will still be alive a month from now."
"Why?" Suzie asked.
"Post-traumatic stress. Survivors often suffer from depression or suicide. They'll be given counselling and I won't be surprised if they all ask for retcon as well." Owen shook Ianto's wrist and stared hard at the pale man. "Don't think you get to miss out either. I'll be keeping an eye on you."
"I don't need counselling," Ianto protested. "And you and I both know you can't offer me retcon. I can't be relocated."
"I am aware of that, and I'm not a counsellor," Owen told him. "I am however, as I keep telling you, a doctor, so if I see any signs of PTSD in you we'll figure out how best to treat it then. Did you have counselling after you got your wings?"
"Yes. One has… had comprehensive procedures in place for anyone caught in a tech incident," Ianto said calmly.
Owen narrowed his eyes. "But was it proper counselling or did they just ask lots of questions and do nothing afterwards?"
"There really wasn't much they could do with me afterwards," Ianto replied without actually answering the question and Owen shook his head.
"Wrong answer," Owen said. "There is always something that can be done." He frowned at Ianto suddenly struck by a thought. "You don't need to keep protecting them you know."
Ianto blinked, leaning away from the doctor with a startled rustle of feathers as his wings shifted closer to his back. "I'm not," he denied with only a small hitch to his breathing.
"Yes you are," Owen contradicted him. "I won't call you on it yet, but you need to realise that you're part of Torchwood Three now, not One. And we do things very differently here."
"I think he knows that Owen, "Suzie said. "At least where it concerns the Archives." She grinned as Ianto gave a small groan in response. Several times he had only just stopped himself from ranting madly about the deplorable state of the Archives, but enough had slipped out that Tosh and Suzie often good-naturedly baited him into saying more than he meant to.
"They're a mess," Ianto stated, refusing to be drawn this time.
"I didn't even know we had any," Owen reminded him with a shrug. "Anyway, you start feeling twitchy or your feathers start falling out, you come see me," he ordered.
"What?" Ianto asked in complete confusion.
"Stress can cause birds to moult," Owen explained with a smug look. "We'll just watch your feathers."
"I'll volunteer for that," Jack called as he appeared at the top of the stairs.
"Any excuse," Owen replied.
"I don't need an excuse," Jack replied as he almost bounded down the stairs. "And I'm always willing to make one up if I have to." He paused in front of Ianto. "But it's good to know I don't have to do that this time," he leered while his sharp eyes took in the younger man's pallor. "You okay?"
"I'm fine," Ianto replied at the same time as Owen spoke. "He's had a bit of a shock, but he'll be fine."
"Shock?" Jack looked from Ianto to Owen who gave a tiny shake of his head.
"Nothing serious," he said.
"We need to get some dinner ordered then you and Owen can tell us about London," Suzie told him in a manner which had Jack realising that something had been said and more needed saying.
"Ah." Jack caught Owen's slight nod. "Actually Tosh is ordering for us now," he said without looking at her. He turned back to Ianto. "Perhaps, if you don't mind we could have some more of that wonderful coffee of yours as well."
"Of course," Ianto said as he stood up. He appeared steady on his feet.
"Bring it to the boardroom. We'll eat there too," Jack added as he moved to watch Ianto and Suzie climb the stairs and return to the main Hub. He waited a few moments and then looked at Owen with a querying expression.
"He asked how many had survived. He was just a bit upset over the numbers," Owen replied and Jack sighed.
"Not the best set of numbers I've ever heard either," Jack commented.
"He might want to see a list of the survivors later," Owen said thoughtfully.
"Do you think that's wise? There's a chance that he may know some of them."
"And an equal chance he won't. Either way would be traumatic for him but I think he'll need for it some closure."
Jack nodded. "Only if he asks. If he doesn't ask, we don't offer."
"He could find out from the database on his own," Owen pointed out.
"I'll get Tosh to put a monitoring program on his computer usage. If he starts looking then we can be ready to deal with his reaction."
"You're not going to stop him?" Owen asked.
"No." Jack gave a small shake of his head and headed towards the stairs. "Besides I think he'll ask and it won't be necessary."
Owen rolled his eyes at the Captain's confident manner and followed.
Tosh had ordered Thai and it sat in various containers and trays on the boardroom table. Owen filled a large plate as did the Captain while the others were more modest with their servings. Owen started on his hungrily and Jack wasn't far behind him. Suzie ate with more decorum while Tosh and Ianto only picked at their food. Owen stared as Ianto tucked a napkin under his neck but decided now was not the time to tease him about it.
"You said you'd tell us about London, Jack," Suzie broke the silence after a few mouthfuls.
"I know and I will," Jack replied with a swallow. "First thing is that what happened will never happen again. Torchwood London will never reopen and there's every probability that the building will be razed to the ground."
"It didn't look that damaged," Suzie remarked.
"Not on the outside but the internal structure seems to have been compromised. Blast and fire damage was rather extensive. And even if the engineers say the building is viable and repairable I don't think anyone would ever want to work there again." He could see Ianto's shudder out of the corner of his eye.
"The story of hallucinogenics in the water might explain away the ghost shifts but while the Tower still stands people are going to find it hard to completely believe that. And that's without the conspiracists. We'll need to keep a close eye on them for the next year or so. Tosh, can you expand the monitoring systems for that?"
Tosh nodded. "Of course."
"UNIT and the other agencies are going to do the same so you can link to them but make sure they can't access anything else of ours." Jack smirked. "But don't let that stop you from looking through their systems," he added and Tosh smiled.
"I already have ways into their systems but I'll make sure this comes nowhere near them."
"Good girl," Jack approved. "Okay, most of the artifacts from London have been removed now. What's left will be going to UNIT. I've sent some to Torchwood Two and there's a warehouse full of the larger stuff that we'll have to sort out at a later date. All the data has been sent to our Mainframe and London's mainframe has been destroyed. No-one except us can access what was there."
"None of London's hardware could be salvaged?" Tosh asked looking almost pained.
"Not much of it, Tosh," Jack said. "And there was no way of moving the mainframe out of there."
"It was never meant to be moved," Ianto said softly. "Torchwood One was meant to stand forever." He blinked and continued in a more normal manner. "The whole building was wired into the computer systems. And everything else, artifacts, equipment, personnel, information, everything was linked through it as well."
Tosh looked at Ianto. "Everything?"
"Yes." Ianto nodded.
"One was rather paranoid," Jack said. "Along with their greed and their delusions of grandeur."
"Not all of One was like that, surely?" Tosh asked with a quick glance to Ianto.
"Most of the upper echelons were," Jack replied with a shrug. "One had an active indoctrination regime in place to make sure people followed the company line as well."
"We were always told how much more important than UNIT or the other Torchwood branches we were," Ianto offered as he picked at some chicken. "We had rules and procedures for everything. No-one really questioned because they didn't leave anything for anyone to question."
"But you're not like them," Tosh said with a frown.
"Not so much anymore, no. But I've had two years to see them from a different side," Ianto pointed out.
"And it's still ingrained enough that Ianto doesn't question his imprisonment as much as someone else would," Jack told her before he turned to Ianto. "Do you blame One for what happened?"
Ianto looked puzzled. "For my wings or for… two weeks ago?"
"I can't really blame them for my wings. That wasn't anyone's fault." He paused in thought. "But I do blame them for two weeks ago. They should have been more careful and cautious." He wondered if he should feel any discomfort or shame with the way the conversation was going but he mentally shrugged the concern away. He'd been through enough to outgrow any embarrassment his situation might bring him.
"They shouldn't have been playing with things they didn't understand in the first place," Jack said with rough abruptness.
"But what about your imprisonment?" Tosh asked Ianto with several rapid blinks. "Don't you blame them for locking you up?"
"No," Ianto shook his head and met her gaze calmly. There had been the faintest edge to her voice, almost as if she was pleading with him to be upset by it. "They could have killed me when the others died. They didn't have to keep me alive and it wasn't as if I could ever return to the outside world. It might not have been much of a life they let me have, but it was still a life of sorts."
He saw her unhappy grimace at his reply and several things seemed to coalesce in his mind. He suddenly wondered if someone – someone close to her - had been imprisoned, or if she had been the one caught. It would explain much of her attitude towards him he realised. The relief she'd shown when his tracker band had been removed. The extra care she took not to mention the Tower or his circumstances there unless someone else did first. And she was always hesitant whenever the subject did arise he recalled. Ianto glanced at the Captain. Those bright blue eyes were watching Tosh a bit too intently to be casual and Ianto knew he was right or very close to it. Ianto blinked startled as the Captain suddenly looked straight at him and winked with a wide grin.
"Torchwood has always been single-minded in its approach to aliens and their tech, Tosh," Jack said after a brief second to appreciate the abrupt pinkness that washed over Ianto's face. "And we all know the danger that working here carries."
"I was with One for two years before this happened, Toshiko," Ianto remarked. "I was always aware of what could and would happen if ever there was an incident. I can't say that I was ever really surprised with what they did to us or to me afterwards."
"And that is why I run Three the way I do," Jack added. "I've never agreed with much of Torchwood's policies and Charter so Cardiff is as independent as I can make it."
"But now you'd be the Director of all Torchwood branches, wouldn't you?" Suzie queried.
"Yes," Jack said with a small grimace. "But I don't intend to rebuild London and Two will manage just as well as it always does and unless Four reappears any time soon, we will be staying just as we are here."
"What about the other survivors?" Ianto asked. "Will they come here or to Two?"
"They won't be coming here," Jack stated firmly. "I don't want anyone from One getting in here." Owen's rough bark of laughter interrupted him and he frowned. Owen pointed at a bemused Ianto.
"Bit late there, Jack. One's already here." He laughed again and Jack waved his hand dismissively.
"Not what I meant, Owen and you know it," he almost growled. "Ianto's not some brown-nosing, mindless minion with visions of rebuilding the Empire and laying his life down for Queen and country along the way if needed."
"I could be," Ianto said in a dry manner without thinking and then froze as everyone looked at him. Owen and Suzie fell about laughing and Tosh dissolved into giggles. Jack did his best to look offended before pointing at the young man.
"You, Mr Jones, are a tease," he proclaimed before grinning at the blushing Welshman.
Ianto ducked his head to avoid the twinkling blue eyes. He hadn't meant to say anything and if he had been in the Tower he certainly wouldn't have. He had developed a strong set of 'brain-brakes' early on in his detainment. The black humour he had shared with his team had been lost under the strict and stern gazes of a procession of humourless and pedantic scientists and doctors. Two weeks of being alone with just Tosh and Suzie had relaxed him slightly and he had come to see that Cardiff was rather different to London. The return of the Captain and Dr Harper had worried him, but barely an hour after they'd arrived and he was seeing a whole new side to Torchwood Three. A side that was as unsettling as it was reassuring.
"No-one teases more than you do, Jack," Suzie admonished the Captain around a laugh.
"Well, I am rather good at it," Jack leered at them all and Owen groaned.
"Spare us Harkness," he said before waving a pork-laden fork at Ianto. "Don't worry birdman, we'll make sure you don't pick up any of his bad habits," Owen told him around his mouthful.
"So I shouldn't copy you either," Ianto queried before he could stop himself and the others burst into laughter as Owen choked on the pork.
It took them several moments to control themselves with the girls, Suzie especially, taking every opportunity to reveal quite a few of Owen's habits – bad and otherwise. Jack watched with complete amusement and Ianto was struck by the ease between them. It was almost like watching a family banter around the dinner table, like watching a team at play and that thought had Ianto feeling a dull ache in his chest.
"Okay kids," Jack announced as they calmed down again. "Time you lot were at home. Call it an eight o'clock start tomorrow."
"It's only half-five," Suzie protested.
"I know," Jack replied. "But Owen needs to catch up on his sleep and you and Tosh need a break after being here continuously for the last two weeks."
"We took it in turns to cover the nights," Tosh pointed out. "We haven't been here all the time."
"Doesn't matter," Jack told her. "You were still on call. Tonight you're not."
"And what if anything happens tonight?" Suzie asked pointedly.
"Ianto and I will cover it," Jack said casually and everyone stared at him. Ianto was completely startled and the rest of the team was equally surprised.
"You can't!" Owen exclaimed. "Birdman's not cleared medically for starters."
"How do you feel, Ianto?" Jack asked and Ianto barely had "fine" out of his mouth before Jack rounded back to Owen with a "See, he's fine. Nothing to worry about."
"No way, Jack!" Owen protested.
"Be serious Jack," Suzie ordered him firmly and Jack held up his hand to stop them from continuing.
"I am being serious. Ianto knows how to co-ordinate from the Hub. You did tell me that he'd been your back up several times. He can do the same for me if, and I repeat if, anything happens." Jack looked at them all. "If there turns out to be a pack of weevils or if the world tries to end I will call you in, but otherwise I think Ianto and I can manage just fine for one night." Jack spoke calmly and simply and the others frowned in thought. Ianto kept silent his thoughts whirling madly.
"You promise to call us in if anything serious occurs?" Tosh questioned.
"I promise," Jack replied.
"And the birdman will stay here and co-ordinate," Owen stated bluntly.
"Yes," Jack nodded.
"Okay," Suzie said slightly begrudgingly. "You do realise that one of us will check the logs tomorrow to make sure of it, don't you?"
Jack laughed. "I wouldn't expect anything less."
"And you will finish telling us about Canary Wharf too," Suzie added. "We'll let you get away with the distraction tonight but that's all."
"You're too sharp, my Suzie," Jack smiled as he acknowledged her hit.
Suzie huffed good-naturedly. "You can be too obvious sometimes, Jack."
"Like most of the time," Owen retorted as he stood up and stretched. "Okay then, I'm off. Medical at eight-thirty birdman. Make sure you're there."
"You said nine earlier," Ianto said.
"That was before I knew I was going to be here at eight," Owen replied haughtily with a frown at Jack.
"Owen does like his sleep-ins," Tosh said to Ianto in a quasi-whisper loud enough for Owen to hear.
"Usually alcohol induced," Suzie added with a knowing nod and unrepentant grin.
Owen bit off a curse and stomped out of the room, his hand flung behind him in a one-fingered salute.
"Likewise, Owen," Suzie called after him. She looked at Jack. "He'll probably hit the bars, you know that, right?"
Jack nodded. "I know. But he really needs the night off. The last couple of weeks have been hard on him. If things go belly-up tonight I'll be calling you in for support."
"Good," Suzie nodded back. She looked at Ianto. "You'll be fine," she told him.
"Thank you," he replied at a loss to say anything else.
Tosh patted his arm. "Of course he'll be fine. We taught him well," she said with a reassuring smile.
Ianto wanted to tell her he didn't need reassuring but as they began to pack up to leave he realised he was going be left here alone with the Captain and he suddenly wanted all the reassurance he could get. He busied himself with clearing the dinner remains and washing the cups, saying good night to the women as they left and wondering what would happen now.
"Suzie says you're doing well with the Archives," the Captain said from somewhere behind him.
"As well as I can, Sir," Ianto replied. "They do need a fair bit of work," he added just managing not to sound too critical.
Jack laughed. "They need a lot of work. No need to be polite to me. I know how bad they are."
"Then I don't need to say it," Ianto retorted and suddenly turned with a rustle of feathers and wet hands. "I'm sorry, that was…"
"It was nothing but the truth." Jack sauntered closer to the kitchenette and leant against the wall. "This isn't London, Ianto, you're quite free to voice your opinion just like the others do. We're a small team and you're one of us now."
Ianto stared at the Captain.
"It's been two years since I was with a team," he said abruptly. "I don't know if… if I know how anymore."
Jack smiled and Ianto was struck by how incredibly gentle it appeared as was Jack's reply. "You already are part of the team, Ianto."