Title: Hitting the Ground Running
Rating: At this point, probably only PG-13
Pairing: Primarily Jack/Ianto, with other secondary pairings
Word Count: 3532
Summary: AU. Majorly AU. Ianto Jones first encountered Torchwood as a teenager trying to leave his old life behind. However, when Torchwood Three gets rather violently restructured at the start of the millennium, he's got a new assignment in Cardiff. The only thing he wasn't prepared for was his new boss.
A/N: Hi, there! I'm not new to the Torchwood fandom, but I've never written fic for it before, and, as all fandoms where I'm untested, I'm always a tad worried about posting, especially when there are so many amazing authors and works of fiction already in this fandom. However, I do value comments, and if I've made a glaring error please let me know so I can correct it. I currently have six and a bit chapters of this written, so barring any sudden decrease in inspiration, updates should remain fairly regular. That being said, I hope everyone enjoys!
Hitting the Ground Running
Chapter One: In Which a Job is Assigned, Introductions are Made, and Ianto Jones Wonders if he Isn't in Over His Head
Ianto Jones stood outside of the Office and straightened his tie, fingers smoothing down the material almost convulsively as he resisted the urge to shift from foot to foot. He had been waiting almost a quarter hour by that point and was, quite frankly, getting a little nervous.
You weren't summoned to the Office without a reason, and usually it wasn't a good one. And yes, everyone at Torchwood London put special emphasis on the word 'office' when they meant the 'Office,' because it was easier than saying 'Ms. Hartman's Office.'
"Come in," came the authoritative voice of Yvonne Hartman after another five minutes or so, and Ianto straightened his tie one final time before pushing the door open and entering. "Ah, Jones. Good."
"You called for me, Ms. Hartman?" Ianto asked cordially, and she beckoned him to sit in the chair facing her desk.
"Yes, yes," she was soon distracted by a pile of paper on her desk, and after another ten minutes of her ignoring him Ianto cleared his throat, attempting to be unobtrusive.
"Am I in trouble?"
"Trouble?" she blinked, her sharp eyes studying him. "Oh, no trouble. I have a special assignment for you."
"What sort?" he asked quickly, before she could go back to forgetting he existed.
"You're from Cardiff, right?"
"Newport, actually, but I know the city well," Ianto replied.
"Good, good. You know we have an outpost there? To monitor the Rift?" she finally looked straight at him.
"Well, there was a murder-suicide there last week."
"Last week? Who…"
"The head of Torchwood Three was a man named Alex, and according to UNIT reports he killed his team and shot himself through the head on New Year's Eve," she stated this with no emotion, although Ianto flinched.
"So currently their only operative…I guess you could call him the head, now…is a man by the name of Captain Jack Harkness. Heard of him?"
"Vaguely," Ianto nodded.
"Well, Captain Harkness has insisted that he needs no help; that he'll find operatives on his own and doesn't want any of my 'hopped-up London robots snooping around his base'. The audacity! His base, as if he owns it," she frowned and crossed her arms. "But I've never listened to that man, and I'm not about to start."
"So where do I come in?" Ianto asked casually.
"Harkness will need somebody no matter what he says. While Cardiff may just be an outpost, I'm not going to let it fall into disrepair just because he's incapable of creating a proper filing system. Now you…you're young enough that he won't try to sleep with you, plus you're horribly organized and fine enough with computers to make do," she shrugged.
"You want me to…"
"To go to Cardiff and make sure he doesn't blow the place up, yes," she nodded. "Is that a problem?"
"No! No, Ms. Hartman," Ianto was, quite frankly, relieved. He was honestly worried that he was in trouble for something.
"There's another reason as well…"
"You're a smart lad, Jones," Hartman smiled at him, and Ianto immediately knew that this was some sort of test, so he decided to go with his first instinct and say what came to mind.
"You're not entirely convinced that Harkness didn't kill them all himself and frame this Alex for the crime," he surmised, preening a tad at the look of praise in Hartman's eyes.
"Well done, Jones. You just may succeed in your task," she stood and held out her hand, which he firmly shook. "Now, I'm not going to tell him you're going, so anytime in the next day you wish to leave is acceptable. Keep in touch, tell me what's going on, and don't let Harkness see your reports. Is that clear?"
"Crystal, Ms. Hartman," he nodded stiffly.
"Excellent. Off you go, then. And…good luck, Jones," she nodded formally in return as Ianto inclined his head respectfully and walked out of the Office.
Ianto walked up to the decrepit door of the Tourist Office, wondering if he was in the right place…but no, there was nowhere else on the Plass it could possibly be, he figured, wondering if they were ever going to break ground on the tentatively-titled 'Millennium Center.' Now was the time to do it, being the start of the Millennium and all.
He pushed open the door and almost sneezed at the amount of dust such a simple action produced. There were old postcards for Cardiff Castle and the like, and something for a drama festival that had taken place in…1995. Lovely. Ianto glanced around the small office, wondering where on Earth Torchwood Three's Headquarters were. There had to be something…a secret door, a hallway, a…
Rounding the desk, he spotted a large red button that looked considerably more high-tech than the rest of the office, and deciding that no real harm could come of it, pressed it. Sure enough, a section of the wall revealed itself to be a secret door, and Ianto walked through.
Eventually the rather sewer-like tunnels and mechanical lifts had him standing in front of a half-opened cog door, and he slipped through the opening and into what he assumed was Torchwood Three's Headquarters. It was…massive, he supposed was the best word for it, spanning up several stories (and he'd bet on even more underground) with computer terminals and a giant water tower, as well as a half-dead Christmas tree and rather measly tinsel spattered throughout the main floor.
"Hello?" he called, his voice echoing in the near silence. The water at the base of the tower burbled as it flowed underfoot, and a slight draft stirred a few papers on a nearby desk, but the place looked deserted. "H-hello? Anybody here?"
Maybe he'd just have to go back to London, tell Ms. Hartman that he'd tried, but that Harkness wasn't around. Maybe if he left now, nobody would…he paused, glancing up at a CCTV camera that was rather suspiciously not moving. He cocked his head to the side and moved a couple of paces to the left, completely unsurprised when the camera followed his jerky movements.
"I know you're watching me," he said, his voice low, and the camera immediately zipped back to its original position. "I'm from Torchwood London," he continued in even tones. "Ms. Hartman sent me to help you with the administrative duties. My name is…"
"Go. Away," came a stern voice from somewhere above his head, but a glance upward revealed nothing.
He squared himself and cleared his throat, saying, "Ms. Hartman sent me to ensure Torchwood Three is kept in impeccable shape. I'm not a field operative, and she promises she won't undermine your authority as a leader. You're free to choose your own team so long as I can stay as your assistant," he drawled out the practiced speech before he heard the clanking of heavy-soled shoes on the metal catwalk above him, and he looked up.
"I thought I told you…" the man, apparently American if Ianto were to judge his accent, sounded irritated before he stopped, his hands clenched on the rail. He muttered something that was too low for Ianto to hear before heaving an obviously resigned sigh and making his way down the spiral stairs. "Yvonne knows me too well. I could never turn a kid away."
Ianto bristled at being termed a 'kid,' although he knew it was probably true. He had to be about twenty years younger than this man, at the least, but it didn't stop his breath from catching when the older man walked into the glowing light from the tower.
He was…and mind you, Ianto had never looked at men this way before, but this man was…he was just…Ianto shook his head and cleared those thoughts away before they got any more foolish and just stood up straight, hands flying up to adjust his tie before he truly realized they were moving.
"Captain Harkness, I presume?" he held out a hand.
"Yeah," the man crossed his arms and regarded Ianto carefully. "And…you are?"
"Ah…Jones, sir. Ianto Jones."
"Pleased to meet you 'Jones-Ianto-Jones,'" Harkness smirked before reaching to shake his hand, his grip warm and firm. "And I see you know who I am."
"Indeed, sir," Ianto nodded.
"Ooh, 'sir,' I like that," Harkness grinned at him. "Seriously, though, call me 'Jack.'"
"Oh, have it your way," Harkness rolled his eyes. "Now, you're going to help me clean up, is that it? Well, first we can start with…"
Ianto was a little stunned. For a man who just lost all of his team at the same time, Harkness didn't seem to be suffering from any form of PTSD, which Ianto was sure he would have to deal with. True, his happiness and exuberance seemed a tad forced, but it was hard to tell unless you looked deep enough.
"Ianto? You listening?" Harkness turned back, a knowing smile on his face. "I know this is all a little overwhelming, but stay with me, okay?"
"Yes, sir," Ianto nodded smartly and trailed after him.
"Alright. I'll give you the guided tour and then you can get to work," Harkness smiled warmly at him, but Ianto couldn't help but notice that it didn't reach his eyes. "You have anywhere to stay?"
"No, sir. Just got in from London," Ianto replied, remembering that he'd left his suitcase and everything he could scavenge from his dingy flat upstairs. "My things are in the Tourist Office."
"We'll grab 'em later. Nobody's going to come in," Harkness shrugged. "Right. I don't sleep much, but I've got a small room beneath my office you can bunk in for now. Sound good?"
"You're Welsh, right?" Harkness turned to examine him more closely.
"I am, sir."
"Got any family you could stay with?"
Ianto paused, unsure of how to answer that, and Harkness waved it off.
"That pretty much answers my question. We'll talk over dinner…if you want to talk," he shrugged. "By the way, how old are you?"
"They're starting them younger and younger," Harkness sighed as a series of loud beeps filled the Hub. "Rift Activity. Duty calls," he grinned. "Make yourself at home, Ianto. I'll be back soon."
And he was gone, just like that. Ianto stared after him for a time, wondering at the force of nature that was Captain Jack Harkness, before deciding to get a head start on the tidying up.
Jack breezed in about three hours later with Ianto's suitcase and two boxes of pizza in tow. He plopped the boxes down on the sofa and put the suitcase beside before sitting down and opening one up, the smell of grease and cheese permeating through the place.
"Ianto! Come eat!" Jack waved, slipping off his rather hefty looking coat.
"Military?" Ianto guessed, picking the warm woolen garment off the couch and folding it neatly over the arm.
Jack shook his head. "RAF. Hence the 'Captain,'" he winked.
"Ah." Ianto wasn't about to press. "I love the coat."
"Most people do," Jack turned an appraising eye on him before starting to apparently inhale his pizza. Quite frankly, it was off-putting, but Ianto decided to ignore it.
Although, Ianto thought, with his mouth full it was more like, "Eth, 'anno?"
"How did you know I was local?"
"Oh, Ianto," Harkness swallowed and almost leered at him. "It doesn't take much for me to recognize those beautiful Welsh vowels. I could listen to you people talk all day."
"Right, sir," Ianto hid his blush by ducking his head.
"Now, talk," Harkness suddenly turned serious, his blue eyes boring into Ianto's own as he shifted sideways on the couch, one arm slung casually over the back and a piece of pizza in the other. "What really brought you to Torchwood, Ianto Jones? And…Ianto Jones? Really? That's like…"
"Yes, it's the equivalent of John Smith, I'm aware," Ianto rolled his eyes, although secretly he was pleased that this man knew enough of the Welsh language to figure out what 'Ianto' was derived from.
"Anyway, talk. Life story. It's just me, and I'm not telling anybody," Harkness winked at him.
"My father died shortly after my sixteenth birthday," Ianto began hesitantly. "We…he was a nice enough man, but rather strict, and we…we've never had much, you see. This suit's his…it doesn't fit all that well, but I needed one in London, and…I have no money, sir, you see, so…"
"Hey; hey," Harkness dropped the pizza and beckoned Ianto closer, and after a moment's hesitation he moved. The older man didn't make any move to touch him other than placing a firm hand on his knee, and Ianto appreciated the gestures. "Now, then," he picked up the pizza and resumed eating. "And eat. You're too skinny."
"Yes, sir." Ianto grabbed his own slice. "Anyway, I'd always wanted out…I knew I could do better, but school never interested me as such, and coming from a bad part of Newport I…fell in with the wrong crowd. My sister…she's older…she has a boyfriend and she's content to stay in Newport, but me…anyway, soon after Da died, a few of the boys told me of an…an initiation of sorts, to get into the cool group, you know? So I…I stole a video from a store.
"The police…they knew these kids were bad news, and they knew I was bullied, but I was scared, so I ran. To London. Where I met a…some sort of fish-like alien. Well, Torchwood showed up and commended me on my ability to remain rational in the face of danger…" he laughed in a self-deprecating way. "Really, it wasn't like that at all: I just realized I was in a strange city with nowhere to go and the police looking for me, and if it was all to end at the hands of a fish-person, than maybe that was karma's way of getting me back. Anyway, once they realized I had nowhere to go, Ms. Hartman decided to employ me. And…a few months later, here I am with you, sir," Ianto finished, taking a deep breath.
"Good lad," Harkness patted his leg and leaned back again. "Well, I think you'll do fine. Better off here than in that stuffy London, anyway. I'm much more fun than anybody there," he leaned in and whispered, his hot breath caressing Ianto's ear, "and much better looking."
"I…ah…sir?" Ianto sputtered.
"Just teasing. That's practically pedophilia. But…sixteen's legal, right?"
"Is…it?" Ianto started to move backward, knowing that this man could overpower him in an instant if he chose.
"Oh, God. Ianto…come back. Please," Harkness held out a hand and Ianto ignored it, but he did move closer and resisted the urge to flinch when the older man pulled him in tight so that his head was resting on the Captain's chest. It was…warm, he reflected, and Jack smelled amazing. Not something he'd normally notice, but under the circumstances… "I swear to you, right now, Ianto Jones, that I will never do anything of that nature to you without your express permission…and certainly not until you're a little older. I mean, I'm old enough to be your father…oh, bad choice of words, huh? Sorry. I'm no good with this…this empathy stuff."
"Mm," Ianto wasn't sure what that meant, but he snuggled closer to Jack…and when on Earth did he become 'Jack?'…hearing the older man chuckle. "Thank you."
"Of course. I take it you're not the biggest fan of physical contact?"
"Well, it sounds like your father wasn't the hugging and kissing type, and we all know what older sisters can be like," he winked.
"Nah, just a little brother. Long story," he cleared his throat when Ianto blinked up at him. "And since you didn't mention your mother…I just kind of assumed. Plus I know that Yvonne's about as cuddly as a sea urchin, so I doubt that you've been getting cozy with her," Jack made a face.
"My mother…" Ianto cleared his throat. "My mother's still alive, but for the last five years or so she's been out in Providence Park…the psychiatric hospital. She…she's gone mad, Ma has…I don't know why, but she…she hardly knows who I am, so I stay away. It scares me, Ja-sir," he corrected himself.
"Say it," Jack urged him.
"I'm scared, Jack. Scared one day I'll wake up and not remember who I am, who anybody is. I'm scared," he said in a small voice, and Jack kissed the top of his head in a rather fatherly gesture.
"Not gonna happen, Ianto. At least, not while I'm around. Now, come on; we can have another heart-to-heart tomorrow. Pizza'll get cold," he commented. Ianto nodded and made to move back, but Jack's arm around him tightened and it was a fairly clear indication that Jack didn't want him going anywhere. So he stayed.
"Right down here," Jack prompted as Ianto climbed down the ladder. "Just a camp bed, but it'll do until we find you a place. Good?"
"Yes, sir," Ianto said meekly. Quite frankly, he thought he would be sleeping on the streets for a few nights.
"Bathroom through there, take a shower," Jack clapped him on the back. "Oh, and Ianto?"
"You're too young to wear suits. I'm forbidding them until you turn twenty-one. Is that clear?" he mock-glared at Ianto, who smiled in return.
"Good. Sleep well, Ianto."
The brilliant smile on Jack's face at the words made him feel warm inside, and he sighed and flopped back on the bed, the sheets smelling faintly of Jack. He was almost asleep in his clothes when the phone rang, and he fumbled to pick it up. "Hello?"
"Lisa!" Ianto exclaimed.
"How are you? Settled in?"
"I'm…well, I'm in my boss' bed, actually," Ianto said coyly, chuckling at Lisa's scandalized gasp.
"It's a single bed and he's not in it," Ianto chuckled as Lisa scoffed, and he knew that if she'd have been there she would have swatted his arm.
"So? We've all heard about the enigmatic Captain Harkness, Ianto. What's he like?"
"Gorgeous," Ianto sighed, putting as much emphasis behind it as he could in order to make Lisa jealous. She was too fun to rile up.
And yes, Ianto had a major crush on her, but she'd point-blank told him that the three year age difference was too great at this time. He was sick of hearing 'maybe when you're older,' but at least the two of them were great friends for the time being. Maybe one day, in the future. "But Ianto, he's gotta be forty!"
"He's gorgeous, Li," Ianto repeated. "Maybe you could come down here one weekend? We could go for lunch?"
"Sounds good. When I get the time. Keep in touch, alright?"
"I will. G'night, Lisa."
"Night, Ianto. Pleasant dreams," she sing-songed before hanging up.
Ianto sighed and clapped his mobile shut, deciding to get on with that shower.
He woke up feeling warm and comfortable the next morning, yawning and snuggling into the pillow. Right. New job. New boss. Jack…
"Morning," a soft voice near his ear spoke, and Ianto did his best not to jump. Apparently Jack was taking his aversion to touching rather seriously and was attempting to break him of it. Not…that he minded. Not really.
"Jack," he murmured sleepily. "Why are you so close?"
"Hey, you're in my bed," Jack chuckled and pulled back.
Ianto opened one eye and glanced at Jack, who was seated on the bed, one hand running lazily through Ianto's dark hair. "Mm, feels good."
"You're just a child. You don't deserve this life," Jack said, almost under his breath.
"Jack," Ianto was still half-asleep or he knew he wouldn't be this open with the man. "I chose this. I wouldn't want it any other way…I'd never want a normal life, it's not for me," he said honestly, cracking his other eye open and smiling up at Jack, who stilled his hand.
"You're not good for my sanity," he finally said before standing, but Ianto caught his wrist.
"You don't have to leave. I don't…I don't mind," he admitted shyly, but Jack's grin made it worth it as he sat back on the bed.
"Ianto, does this…the fact that I'm quite possibly attracted to you…does it bother you?"
"No," Ianto said truthfully. "It doesn't, sir." He was more awake now, evidently. "I trust you not to do anything without my permission."
"Good. I'm glad," Jack just let his hand rest on Ianto's head before he patted the younger man's shoulder. "Well, up and at 'em, I say. Oh, you wouldn't know how to work a coffee machine, would you?"
"Dunno. Something. I swear there's something alien about it," Jack shrugged apologetically. "I can't make hide nor hair of it."
"I'll see what I can do, sir," Ianto said, sitting up and stretching.
"Right, then. See you topside," Jack dipped down to kiss his forehead before shimmying up the ladder, and Ianto gazed after him with a fond smile. Maybe this job wasn't going to be so bad after all.