The sun was beating down rather uncomfortably, which was fantastic news for Ianto. Jack had taken his shirt off half an hour ago as they lay in the grass outside, and it was almost too difficult not to stare. He supposed he was fortunate that they were now lying down on their backs near the perimeter fence, unable to see each other as they watched the clouds go by.
At first they'd been cloud spotting, but then Owen had joined them and had a huff about Jack and Ianto's synchronised menstrual cycles, which served only to make them laugh. The huff had then turned into 'couples and their in-jokes', which was met by rather alarmed straight faces. Obtaining a reaction he was satisfied with, Owen had left feeling rather pleased with himself.
Jack and Ianto had been quiet since, watching the clouds moving by but keeping the shapes they saw to themselves.
"Jack?" Ianto asked eventually.
"Jack … Do you think I'm prison bent?"
Jack turned his head to frown at him before dropping his head back to stare at the sky. "I think only you know that," he settled on saying. "Does it matter?"
Sitting up, Ianto folded his legs into a cross-legged position and tried not to admire Jack's shirtless-ness too much. "I don't know if it matters," he admitted, "I just feel a bit … confused."
Jack heaved himself up to sit, too, drawing one knee up and throwing an arm around it. "What's to be confused about?" he asked, "At the end of the day people are still people; thinking on it too hard is just counter-productive. You like who you like, you love who you love: simple as. Anything else is just irrelevance – and possibly genitals."
"It's just … I've never liked a guy before," Ianto mumbled.
"So?" Jack shrugged, "You've liked a person before, so I honestly don't really see much difference. Now, if you suddenly decided a poodle looked shagalicious – then we could have conversations about how confused and out-of-sorts you were feeling."
Ianto chuckled. "Yeah. I suppose you have a point." He figured it was better to say that than to press the subject with a 'well I don't have the benefit of being old enough to know who I am yet, so can I please be excused for being a little bit surprised?'
Obviously, thoughts about Jack's life experience and where he drew his philosophies from led Ianto to thinking about how old Jack might be, which led him to thinking of the time he had drunkenly asked – which then led him to thinking about the sex they'd had a few minutes later, which then usually and ultimately led to a rather precarious trouser situation.
To make things worse, it started raining.
Jack tugged his shirt back on as they hurried inside, complaining about the paradoxical British weather as he did so. They found themselves pretty much at the back of the crowd trying to fight its way back inside the double doors of the wing, and the rain was picking up. By the time they were back to their cell, they were soaking and cold.
"I can't believe it," Jack grumbled, peering out of his window as rain fell down from the grey sky in sheets. "Twenty minutes ago it was blue skies and yellow sun – now look at it."
Ianto failed to be quite so surprised. He supposed he was just used to the unpredictability of the weather.
"It's practically a flash flood," Jack continued, "Look at it!"
Ianto glanced at the almost-shut cell door, then stood himself behind Jack, peeling a little sodden white cotton t-shirt up to trace fingers of over the wet, chilly skin. "Cold?" he asked.
Turning and taking Ianto's hands in his, Jack chuckled. "Don't get any ideas, Princess. Screws will be 'round with dry clothes far too soon."
Ianto poked his bottom lip out, and Jack relented slightly and pressed a kiss to his mouth. He sat down heavily on his mattress, and Ianto tried not to sulk at the finality of 'a peck is all you're getting'. He sat down, too.
"I spy with my little eye," Jack began, "Something beginning with … 'I'."
Ianto swept his eyes over the cell. "Institutionalisation?" he guessed.
"Eh? No. It was 'Ianto'."
"Oh. Ha! My turn now? I spy with my little eye … something beginning with 'C'."
"Erm … cock?"
"Yesss. Your turn."
"I spy with my little eye something beginning with … 'J'."
They chuckled, and Jack announced that he was bored. "When we get the dry clothes, we should go down to the gym."
"Yeah … Go fuck yourself."
"Oh, come on – you loved it."
"Even you're not that bad at reading people," Ianto huffed. They waited quietly for a bit, lost in their own thoughts, before Jack remembered something.
"We've still got some of Owen's hooch left," he grinned suggestively. "We could have some more tonight."
"Only if you don't force me into the gym," Ianto reasoned.
"Fine, fine. You can just do my counting for me, then."
They waited another half an hour, shivering into their cold clothes before deciding to take them off and put on their pyjamas as they waited. Finally, Andy Davidson arrived with dry things, taking their wet clothes and dumping them into a large bin on wheels being pushed by a very unhappy young Torchwood lad.
Changed, Jack marched Ianto down the empty gymnasium and started warm up stretches before making Ianto hold his feet for sit-ups.
"We could have done this in the cell," Ianto pointed out, counting the number of times Jack's head bobbed up near his. "That's twenty," he added, letting Jack know he was halfway done. They didn't speak for the rest of the exercise, and when Jack had finished Ianto had to make a great conscious effort not to squeal.
"Jack! What if someone comes in?" he demanded from where he was currently lying: underneath a hot, sweaty and panting Jack Harkness. Jack's mischievous grin remained in place as he rolled himself off, then trapped Ianto's feet with his hands.
"Do ten," he ordered, and Ianto tried to kick him off.
"Ten," Jack repeated.
Ianto sighed and put his hands behind his head. With a great deal of struggling, he managed to pull himself up to do one.
"That was pitiful," Jack grimaced, "Do stomach crunches instead. We'll work up to sit-ups."
"Yes, yes – I'm massively unfit. I get it. Now let go of my feet."
Jack added more weight down onto Ianto's trainers, and Ianto couldn't help but think he looked slightly predatory.
"What are you planning?" Ianto asked with narrowed eyes. Jack glanced around the gym, then crawled closer to kiss Ianto's mouth.
"No," Ianto chastised firmly, pushing him away. Jack laughed, backing off and returning to Ianto's feet.
"Relax," he coaxed, "... and do ten stomach crunches."
Ianto narrowed his eyes. "Give me an incentive," he said, raising his chin a little, defiant.
Jack hummed in thought, then glanced around them again to check they were definitely alone still. He leaned down and whispered something into Ianto's ear, and Ianto listened intently as his eyes drifted shut. "So …" he breathlessly replied, "... all I have to do is ten stomach crunches?"
With a glint in his eye, Jack innocently nodded.
Owen gave him an odd look as he wandered past with as much dignity as possible. Ianto just scowled at him, and Jack dawdled on behind looking thoroughly pleased with himself. Stopping him with a hand on his shoulder, Owen pulled Jack aside a little.
"Remember when you and John started having playtime together, and we had that long, long discussion about discretion?"
Jack beamed at him. "We went to the gym, Doctor Harper," he explained with relish.
Ianto had hung back to join them. "Fuck you," he growled at Jack. "I hate the fucking gym. I'm not doing it again."
With a laugh, Jack reached out to ruffle his hair, then thought better of it when he caught the look Ianto was shooting him. He masked the movement by pretending to bat a fly off Ianto's shoulder, instead.
Owen didn't keep them much longer, and as Jack and Ianto began the climb up the metal stairs to their cell, Ianto couldn't help but feel a burning sensation prickling on the back of his neck. He glanced up, wondering if maybe Owen was watching them with a suspicious gaze, but found only the back of his head.
The sensation was still there, and with a slight frown Ianto scanned the crowd as he climbed. It didn't take long to find who was watching him.
"Jack," he muttered as they reached the top of the stairs. "Jack … Sherman's watching us."
Jack turned, leaned on the railing and began searching for Evan Sherman. He found his eyes across the large room, and their gazes met. Jack's eyes narrowed slightly.
"Back in the cell, Ianto," he said quietly. "We'll just ignore him."
"I wish I could have a bath," Ianto grumbled, rubbing his aching arms.
"Showers tomorrow," Jack reminded him.
"I hate showers," scowled Ianto, "Especially here. I don't know what I'd do without you there with me."
"You'd probably be less worried someone's gonna fuck you under the spray," Jack grinned. Ianto punched his arm with all the strength he could muster – which wasn't really that much.
"Ten stomach crunches, you promised," he sighed, "Why, oh why, did I believe you?" He sank down onto his mattress. "Do you think I'm too weedy or too fat or something?"
"Don't be stupid," Jack sighed, rolling his eyes in a gesture he'd probably learned from Ianto, "Exercise is fun, Ianto. It releases all sorts of happy hormones and endorphins."
"So does chocolate," Ianto pointed out, "And that doesn't leave me with sore limbs." He keeled over onto his side, curled up and folded his arms.
Jack put a hand on his head, stroking his hair soothingly in small circular motions. "What about sex?" he asked, "That's exercise you can be bothered with later, I hope?"
Ianto 'hmph'd in reply, batting away Jack's hand. "I'll fall asleep if you do that."
"Like a puppy?"
"Shut it, you."
Jack grinned down at him.
They were companionably quiet for a few minutes, thinking to themselves, when Jack's watch starting beeping. He tutted and switched it off, climbing to his feet. "I have an appointment," he told Ianto, "Go and play cards with Owen for a bit. I shan't be long."
"What appointment?" asked Ianto, "Who're you seeing?"
"What are you – my wife?" Jack asked jovially, though Ianto could tell he was deflecting. With a sigh Ianto dropped his head back onto the mattress again before forcing his over-cooked spaghetti limbs to co-operate with getting up and following Jack out and down to the main area to find Owen.
He caught up with Jack, accepting a friendly slap on the back of the shoulder when they parted ways. Surreptitiously, Ianto watched Jack walk toward Officer Gwen Cooper, have a hushed conversation then be cuffed and led out through the metal gates down the corridors to the visiting areas.
Ianto ignored it for now, bringing his attention back to Owen and the chess board he'd just produced. It was clearly home-made from whatever the good doctor had been able to get his hands on. The pawns were made from bottle caps, the castles were cut out from the base of plastic disposable juice cups and the kings were three smoked Silk Cut Superking cigarette butts.
Ianto beat Owen in three moves.
Owen stared at the board. "Huh?" he asked, confused.
"I moved this pawn, and you tried to mirror me, yeah? So I moved my bishop there, and checkmate."
"I know how you did it," Owen scowled, "I just can't believe I fell for it."
Ianto grinned. "Another game?"
"Sure," Owen shrugged.
It took Ianto thirty-seven moves this time, and he sat back a little smug. Owen narrowed his eyes. "How many moves ahead are you thinking?" he asked.
Ianto shrugged. "However many are necessary. How many are you thinking?"
"Thinking ahead? I don't do thinking ahead. I just hope you don't take anything, then think of one move."
"You're not gonna win anything playing like that," Ianto chuckled.
"Ahh – but Ianto, that's how pretty much everyone here plays."
"Well … We could maybe … Have a tournament?" Owen suggested.
"If you win, you get cigarettes, right? Cigs are money, money is power. Split the winnings with me fifty fifty and we can rub Jack's face in it. He couldn't play chess to save his life."
"I dunno, Owen. I don't generally like being the centre of attention."
Their conversation clammed up when they felt another presence approaching them.
"All right here, boys?"
They both raised their eyes to Evan Sherman, and Ianto swallowed. Owen looked unperturbed, but was probably bricking it as much as Ianto.
"We're fine," Owen assured him, "So you can be on your way."
"Actually, I was hoping for a game," Evan pressed, indicating the chess board.
Ianto felt his nails digging into his palms. Owen kicked him under the table.
"We're not finished," Owen lied, "You can have it later."
"Looks like you're in checkmate to me, Dr. Harper," Sherman observed silkily, "How about I challenge your Little Fish here, since you seem completely inept. Thirty-six moves was it?"
Owen glared. "Thirty-seven."
Sherman shrugged, smirking and reaching for a chair to pull up on the same side as Ianto. "How about a nationals match?" he suggested, "Wales versus this prick."
His seat was far too close for Ianto's liking. Sherman's arm was draping over the back of Ianto's chair possessively, and Ianto could sense the eyes of others on them. He cleared his throat and tried to edge away, only to find a hand placed firmly on his thigh. "Running away are you?" asked Sherman.
Ianto had had enough. "I have to," he replied curtly, "I'm allergic to ugly."
He shoved Evan Sherman's hand from his leg and got up, resolutely heading for the other side of the main area with Owen hot on his heals cursing in cockney.
"You are going to get yourself killed," he hissed as they approached the TV area, "What the Hell were you thinking? I mean … seriously, Ianto – What. The. Fuck?"
Ianto put a hand on his forehead, only to have it batted away by Owen snapping, "Don't show weakness!"
"I couldn't help it," Ianto sighed, sitting on a seat in the corner, "Sometimes stuff just comes out of my mouth. I don't even think it – it just happens."
Owen breathed out heavily through his nose. "Well, it's out in the world now. You're going to have Hell to pay."
"Jack'll look out for me."
Owen laughed. "Is that the 'stuff comes out of my mouth that I don't think' rubbish again?"
Ianto shook his head, and Owen all but gaped at him. He snapped his mouth shut before Ianto turned to look at him and plastered a blank look over his face.
"What?" asked Ianto.
Owen shrugged. "Nothing."
Ianto groaned. "This isn't a really clichéd moment where you'll warn me off Jack and say it's not what I think it is, while I sit here adamant that I know what's best before you tell me it's fine, and I can do whatever I want, it's me that gets burnt, is it?"
"You missed off 'don't come crying to Owen'," Owen sighed, scrubbing a hand through his hair. "You pretty much summed it up, though."
"He's different when we're alone," Ianto murmured, and Owen 'mmm'd. "He is," Ianto huffed.
"I agreed with you."
"You said 'mm', like … I dunno. Just stop it and leave me to my own self-destruction."
"Fine, fine," said Owen. He leaned back in his seat and scratched his forehead, surveying the room. "Well, at least nobody's coming over for the moment. That's not a particularly good sign, but we can wait it out."
"I'm so tired," Ianto complained weakly, "I just want to curl up in a ball and sleep."
A bell rang twice, and both Owen and Ianto raised their heads.
"Finally," Owen grumbled, "They've sorted this week's post. Coming?"
Ianto got up and followed him to the queue before it got too big. Finally at the front, he gave his name and the number of his cell and collected his and Jack's letters. He was also pleased to discover Rhiannon had sent a small parcel as well as a letter, and took everything up to his cell to read in peace.
The parcel contained some alcohol truffle chocolates and a pasta bracelet made by Mica, as well as one lone Ferrero Rocher. Ianto ate it while he opened his other letters – one from his lawyer assuring him that as soon as they were doing everything they could to arrange an appeal, one from Rhiannon, one from Mica and David and one from Lisa.
Ianto stared at the writing on the envelope. He'd recognise it anywhere in an instant.
He hadn't spoken to Lisa since he'd been arrested, and it was because of her he was in this mess. He bit his lip, tearing the purple envelope open and reading the neatly handwritten letter inside over a few times. Ianto felt elation bubbling up in his chest, colour most likely raising in his cheeks as his heart couldn't help but beat faster.
Lisa was coming to visit him.
She still cared.
Guiltily, he toyed with the wooden beads around his neck that Jack had given him.
It took him a moment to realise it, but the guilt centred more around what Jack would feel if he knew Ianto still liked Lisa and wanted to see her rather than how Lisa would feel knowing he was in the honeymoon period of a hopefully lengthy and sex-fuelled affair with his older male cell mate.
Checking his watch, Ianto saw that Jack had been gone for nearly two and a half hours. He tutted to himself, wondering what the hell was taking so long. He decided to go and see Owen in his cell. He'd gotten only one letter, so he was probably done by now.
Ianto found him sat on the lower bunk in his cell, staring at the floor with his hands tightly clasped and elbows resting on his knees.
"Knock, knock," Ianto called to alert him to his presence.
"Oh. Hi," Owen greeted him distractedly. He cleared his throat and dragged himself from wherever he'd been back to the present. "I got my grief counselling schedule," he told him quietly.
"I'm too big a job for the on-site psychiatrist so they're dragging in someone from the outside. Doctor Sato, whoever he is."
"'Whomever'," Ianto corrected.
"Whatever. I'm not telling him my life story, or how my childhood went. He can go fuck himself."
"Yeah," Ianto agreed. He sat down next to Owen on the bunk and suggested they play cards. They started up a few games of Queenie and played until the signal for dinner went.
Ianto pressed his lips together. "Where's Jack?"
Owen shrugged, but Ianto noticed he was avoiding looking at Ianto as he did so.
"Owen … ?"
Owen shrugged again and then ignored the question. "I'm getting in the queue."
He started off, not caring whether or not Ianto was following him. They emerged onto the walkway, both peering over in interest when they realised something was going on downstairs. The stairs themselves were clogged with people avoiding the fighting in the middle of the floor that Owen and Ianto could only lean over the side of the walkway railing to see.
"Oh – for fuck's sake," grumbled Owen, the mass of people standing between him and his dinner causing him great irritation. Ianto squinted to try and see who was fighting, sighing and losing interest when he recognised neither to be particularly notable inmates. A Torchwood lad and a middle-aged Saxon. Boring.
Guppy and Holroyd finally made an appearance, and after a swift dressing down the fighters were led off to isolation. The crowd began to migrate toward the serving hatches, and half way there Ianto just about managed to contain a jump of surprise when a hand landed heavily on his shoulder and made him hesitate a second. Jack appeared at his side, looking even more scruffy than usual and with a little bit of sweat still glistening on his skin.
"Where've you been?" asked Ianto, "And why are you stinking?"
"I went to the gym," Jack shrugged, his hand still on Ianto's shoulder.
"Again? You went this morning."
"I like the gym. I needed to think – and I knew it was the one place I wouldn't find you," Jack winked, squeezing his upper arm before finally letting his hand fall.
"Oh," Ianto replied, dejectedly.
"Don't be like that. It was meant as a compliment." Jack leaned in close. "You distract me from thinking," he muttered.
Ianto elbowed his ribs playfully. "You shouldn't say such things about Saxons, Jack" he said loudly with a smirk, and a few near them turned and gave Jack dirty looks. Jack grinned at them and began to veer himself and Ianto toward the front of the queue. Ianto managed to grab Owen's sleeve to get him to follow along, too.
They sat down at their table with their trays, and Ianto stared into his broth with a slightly green-tinged complexion. He pushed it around a little in his bowl, trying to muster up the courage to actually put it in his mouth.
As usual, flavour mattered not to the Captain, who had already swallowed about three quarters of his bowl. Owen seemed to be repeating the words 'you need nutrition to live' under his breath in between gulping down whatever was on his spoon as fast as he could.
Ianto took a deep breath, scooped some up with his spoon and began to move it toward his mouth.
"Stop eating the broth!"
Ianto gratefully dropped his spoon back into his bowl with a clatter as the shout rang out, and Owen did the same. Jack looked around, confused, his bowl pretty much clean.
Holroyd had Adam by the scruff of his neck, and he looked thoroughly pleased with himself. Guppy and Officer Williams were getting him cuffed so that they could drag him off to isolation while Holroyed glared on angrily.
Ianto leaned forward. "He must have tampered with the food," he murmured as everyone else was coming to the same conclusion. Ianto was thanking whatever might be up there that he hadn't touched a drop, then remembered that Jack had eaten his entire portion already.
Holroyd cleared her throat once Adam had been taken away. "There's laxatives in the first batch of broth," she informed them, "If you return your bowls to the kitchen, you can get some more – Unless you've eaten more than about half of it already, in which case I wouldn't suggest eating anything for a while."
Jack's lips were pressed together in a thin line. Ianto switched their bowls around in the commotion so that it looked like he'd eaten all the laxatives rather than Jack, and took the empty bowl back to the kitchen sheepishly. He could hear people chuckling and laughing at him as he did so and felt his face burn as he left the clearly empty bowl by the hatch.
Carefully not looking in Jack's direction, he dashed back up the stairs and into the cell. A few minutes later, Jack returned too.
"Why did you do that?" Jack asked, a slight frown creasing his brow.
Ianto shrugged. "You need to save face."
"They're all laughing at you."
"No different from when I was at school. I can live with it."
"You didn't have to, though."
"Better me than you," Ianto assured him.
"Thank you," Jack smiled softly, "Though … I have a feeling I'm in for a rough night."
"Would you rather I stayed at Owen's?" Ianto asked.
Jack stared at the floor, folding his arms over his chest. He nodded.
"I don't care, y'know?" Ianto told him, "I'd just want to look after you."
"Oh … Well … Okay."
Jack tensed a little further, then visibly forced himself to relax. He went to sit on his own mattress, picking up his pillow to hold it onto his stomach in an almost hug-like fashion. Ianto sat next to him, close enough for their bodies to touch and be comforting, but not overbearing or overtly obvious.
Jack cleared his throat as he stared at the opposite wall. "It'll probably take about an hour to come into effect," he said, "So if you could maybe think about being at Owen's before then …"
"Yeah," Ianto agreed, pulling his knees up to his chest and hugging them. He considered telling Jack about Lisa's letter, but decided against it for now. He fidgeted, and the silence yawned out between them and grew awkward as the seconds ticked on.
Ianto's eyes flicked over to the door to make sure it was pretty much shut, then leaned in and pressed a kiss to Jack's cheek. Jack chuckled, gently pushing him away. "Don't," he said, "Not now."
Ianto pouted and made a rather childish sound through his throat. He dipped his head and looked up at Jack through his eyelashes. Jack pushed his face away. "Don't you give me that look," he laughed, "It's the middle of the day."
"We could just make out," Ianto suggested, stretching to lie over Jack's knees like a cat.
"Mmmmm," Jack hummed as he put his hand through Ianto's hair and thought about it. "Maybe …" he smiled, leaning forward and pressing their lips together, kissing slowly. Ianto pulled back.
"Eugh – that broth was rank. I'm getting you some water."
He returned and straddled Jack's waist, holding out the glass and watching him drink it. Once it was emptied and set aside, he pressed their mouths together again. Jack's tongue was cold and made Ianto internally grimace a little, but in moments they were both becoming fevered and lustful, beginning to scrabble at the buttons on Ianto's boiler suit and push hands under each others' t-shirts.
They froze when someone behind them cleared their throat.
They turned their heads, finding Owen and a rather unsurprised looking Alex stood behind him, both with folded arms.
Jack cleared his throat as Ianto climbed off him. "Surprise?" he offered with a grin.
"We shouted you for the meeting," Owen told them amusedly, "But at least this explains your absence."
"Get your arses to my cell, lads," Alex tossed over his shoulder as he turned to head back himself.
"Oops," said Jack, "At least it was only you and Alex."
Owen tapped his foot. "Just get a move on. You're not the only one waiting for the laxatives to take effect, y'know," he said pointedly, then turned and left also.
Jack and Ianto pulled each other to their feet.
"What will Alex say?" asked Ianto quietly.
"I don't think he'll broadcast it," Jack assured him, "He probably already had an idea anyway. I think."
Ianto's eyes widened. "But … if he already had an idea, then who else did?"
Jack shrugged. "C'mon," he sighed, pulling Ianto along by the sleeve of his boiler suit.
"Am I invited again?"
"I don't see any reason why you wouldn't be."
They arrived in Alex's cell, and nobody seemed to be looking at them differently, so they assumed the positions they'd taken before. Jack was stood behind Alex's chair and Ianto was sat on the top bunk, remembering not to swing his legs in case he kicked somebody in the face.
Most of it was pretty boring 'administration' stuff – then Alex dropped the bomb shell.
The entire room seemed to take a simultaneous breath.
"What?" the prisoner sat below Ianto demanded.
"This year, they want us to put on a pantomime," Alex repeated, "The official announcement hasn't been made yet, but they're definitely going ahead with it. I want you lot to all make sure you're involved – reorganisation, remember? We need to be in the good books."
"How do you mean, 'involved'?" asked somebody else.
"They'll want a cast, obviously," Alex informed them, "And somebody to write it, a director, lighting and sets and costumes and the such. It's obviously running in December, which only gives us five months to rehearse – but I'll be damned if the Saxons grab the brownie points first."
A large, burly man at the back reared his head. "I am not dressing up in stupid costumes and prancing around the stage like a gayboy," he snapped.
Jack raised an eyebrow, and was about to say something when a murmur of agreement through the other prisoners made him think better of it. Ianto saw his hands clench behind his back though, and tried not to let his eyes linger on him too long.
Alex simply flicked his eyes over them all in frustration. "You can all work behind the scenes, then," he sighed, "Just bear in mind that Suzie Costello will most likely be playing the heroine, and whomever gets the lead gets to snog her."
There was a hush in the room, and Alex looked rather proud of himself. He sat back in his chair. "Just something for you to think about," he smiled, then moved on.
They spoke a little about Adam's stunt at dinner, and a few people threw some pitying looks in Ianto's direction. Colour rose in his cheeks and he tried to make himself as small as possible, wishing he could sink through the wall into the cell next door and make a run for it.
The conversation couldn't move on fast enough, and finally Alex was drawing to a close. Dismissed, they all filed out.
"Fucking pantomime," Owen grumbled as they left the cell, "I bet that was Cooper's idea. Cooper and Williams. I bet they brainstormed over wine trying to figure out the worst possible thing they could make us do to gain brownie points while they pissed themselves into incontinence."
Jack rolled his eyes. "Never know – could be a laugh."
"Ohh yeah," Owen said, rolling his eyes, "I bet you're angling after the lead."
Jack said nothing, smirking to himself as they continued on. He entered the cell, then realised that Ianto was still behind him when he heard his voice.
"Who's Suzie Costello?" Ianto asked.
"Officer on B Wing," Jack explained. "Aren't you supposed to be at Owen's?"
"Oh – Yeah. Forgot about that."
"I didn't," Jack muttered, "So? Go on then." He pointed to the door.
Ianto followed his finger with his eyes. "Well … Okay … See you tomorrow, then?"
Ianto shuffled nervously on his feet a second. "Are you sure you'll be okay?"
"It's just a laxative, Ianto," Jack practically snapped, annoyed at him.
Ianto swallowed. He shifted his weight from foot to foot, then settled on squeezing Jack's upper arm comfortingly before hastily darting out.
Jack breathed a sigh of relief.
He shut the door, and dropped his pants.
That felt much better.
"Heya, Owen," Ianto greeted jovially, "Listen … Jack says I have to sleep here tonight."
"You can fuck right off," Owen told him with disdain, "I might have only had half the amount of broth, but I'm still gonna be on the crapper. You can go and share the experience with your boyfriend – no fucking way are you staying here."
"Out, SilverFish," he pointed.
Ianto's mouth snapped shut at the name. He glared at Owen. "Don't call me that."
"What would you prefer? 'Eye-Candy'? 'Princess'? … 'Bitch'?"
"Fuck off, Owen."
"You fuck off," Owen snapped, and pointed to the door. "Go on – off you fuck."
Ianto glared at him and left, wondering where the Hell he was supposed to go now.
He supposed he might try and find some Torchwood lads who were about his age, but none of them seemed to be willing to let him into their cliques. He tried to catch a few eyes, but he just got a glance up and down and a turned back. He hung around near the television area, trying to make it look like he was waiting for someone, before sinking down to rest on his haunches.
How could he possibly feel so alone in a room full of people?
Ianto tried to remind himself that he wasn't a fifteen year old teenager with lots of angst, but fifteen for him wasn't really that long ago and he could remember how it felt – pretty similar to what he was feeling now, actually, just with less angry poetry.
He glanced around himself, trying to see if there was anyone else on their own and was unable to spot anyone. He sighed, and resigned to staring at the floor. What the Hell was he going to do?
He'd just made the decision to go and see Alex when a Saxon guy crouched down next to him.
"I'm Ross," he said without preamble, holding out his hand.
"Ianto," Ianto replied, warily shaking it.
"How're you feeling?"
It took a moment for it to register he was probably talking about spiked broth. "Erm … Didn't affect me," he shrugged, "Some people just … don't get affected by it."
Ross nodded. "So … What you on your own for?"
"I needed some space."
"Ah. Shall I leave you to your thoughts, then?"
Ianto knew he should probably say 'yes', but he couldn't help but be tempted by the offer of conversation and social interaction with someone that didn't see him as his best friend's nuisance who he had to put up with (Owen), or as simply an apparent convenience (Jack).
He swallowed. "You're all right. Maybe fresh company will do me good."
"A bit, yeah."
"Yeah – I'm not supposed to talk to anyone other than people I know, either," Ross muttered conspiratorially, "But the same people just get so … repetitive, y'know? And everyone talks like they're above you."
Ianto chuckled. "Yeah," he agreed, "And when you do manage a normal conversation, you say something they don't like and pull rank."
"They send you out of the cell like an angry wife," joked Ross.
Ianto sniggered. "That I can't argue with."
"Wait 'til you've been here a year. You'll be insane if you're still at the bottom. Widening our circles, that's what we need to do. Though I suppose that must be harder for you, with Harper and Harkness breathing down your neck twenty-four-seven and watching your every move like they're desperate for you to slip up."
Ianto shrugged. "They look out for me."
"Like over-bearing big brothers – over-bearing and interfering. Why should they be allowed to control every moment of your life? Why shouldn't you talk to others if you don't want to?"
"It's dangerous here," Ianto said, "They're making sure I'm safe."
"It's not that dangerous. How long have you been on your own for now? How many body parts have you got left? Same as what you started with? Oh, so very, very dangerous this experience must have been," Ross chuckled. "It's as dangerous as you think it is. I learned that."
"I still feel safer with them around."
"Of course you do," replied Ross nonchalantly, "They've conditioned you to feel that way so that they can control you and you won't question it. Typical abusive relationship."
Ianto stared at Ross a second. "I shouldn't be talking to you," he said, and climbed to his feet.
"Wait," Ross called after him, "Look – I didn't mean it like that. It was a joke."
Ianto raised an accusatory eyebrow.
"Seriously. It was a joke. Maybe you just don't get my humour?" Ross tried.
Shaking his head, Ianto carried on.
"Look – Ianto." Ross made another attempt, grabbing his arm this time. "Can I give you just one bit of advice?"
Ianto inclined his head, if only to get it over and done with so he could carry on on his way to … wherever.
"There's a job opening in the cafeteria," Ross explained, "You should take it."
"Get you out more?" Ross shrugged, "It's only making tea and coffee and stuff, but it's something. Just … gives you a bit of space, yeah?"
Ianto considered it a moment. Having something to structure his time between meals and lock-in would be … refreshing. And familiar. And organised.
"I suppose I could think about it," he said, "Thanks, Ross. Nice talking to you."
He headed instinctively to the stairs, but was then cornered by a group of Torchwood men – not lads, men.
"What were you talking to him for?" one of them asked suspiciously.
"He came over and spoke to me."
"You spoke back," another pointed out.
"I shook him off," Ianto retorted.
"We should take him Alex," another suggested.
Ianto gaped at them. "I just spoke to the guy. And he came up to me first. I'm not a fucking child – back off."
He tried to push through them to get to the stairs.
"Watch your fucking mouth, boy," one of them growled by his ear, "We gave you a chance – you don't know what happens to those who betray us, do you?"
"I didn't betray a fucking thing," snapped Ianto, beginning to think Ross had spoken to him because he knew this would happen. He fought the urge to call for Jack or Owen or even Alex, before finally catching Officer Holroyd's eye pleadingly.
The sour-faced bitch didn't move.
"Fine," he grumbled, and offered out his wrists as though his inmates were going to cuff him, "Take me to your leader."
He was pretty much shoved up the stairs, and he gritted his teeth in annoyance. Eventually he had to remind them that he was pretty well aware where Alex's cell was – unlike them, he was invited to the meetings. He smirked to himself as one of them shoved him harder until he was outside Alex's door. With a big, meaty arm, a big one knocked on the door. Ianto folded his arms and raised his chin defiantly.
Alex pulled open his door, and his eyes flickered over Ianto and the men behind him. "Eh?"
"I was sat on my own," Ianto began before anyone else could, "And a Saxon offered me conversation. I was polite, but disengaged myself as quickly as possible. This lot seem to think I've committed a heinous crime. I fail to see how I'm to blame."
Alex thought for a moment. "Why were you on your own?" Alex asked, his eyes narrowing, "Where's Jack? And what about Owen?"
Ianto glanced over his shoulder at the gang of men around him and cleared his throat pointedly. He decided to steal Owen's line. "Go on then," he pointed, "Off you fuck."
Alex nodded his agreement with Ianto, and the men cracked their knuckles and migrated off, and Ianto entered Alex's cell. His cell mate was there, Tommy, sat on the lower bunk and reading a plain-covered hardback.
"Don't worry," Alex assured him, "Tommy won't hear anything you don't want him to." He pushed the metal door closed. "So – why were you on your own, Ianto?"
"The contamination in today's broth has affected both Jack and Owen," he explained, "Neither were too keen on my company."
"That's no excuse," scowled Alex, "Jack can grin at bear it. I'm sure you've seen him do much more embarrassing things than take a shit. You go back to your cell, tell him Alex says you're not allowed to leave. You take care of your Captain, and you make sure he takes care of you. Do not wander about alone. Not yet."
Ianto took that as his dismissal, and returned to the corridor. He hung about a moment outside Alex's door to see if he could hear any snatched conversation and find out what Alex really thought.
"Well?" Tommy had said.
"Shagging like rabbits," Alex replied. "You don't breathe a word to a soul about it."
"Wouldn't dream of it," Tommy insisted, "Is Ianto happy with it?" he asked, almost edgily.
"Judging from what I saw earlier."
"Good," Tommy nodded, then paused. "Alex … Would it be okay if I could talk to Ianto a bit more? He's only down the hall, and it'd be nice to speak to someone my own age … just … whenever, y'know. And I sort of know him."
Alex made an affirmative sound. "Just don't start shagging him. Jack will kill you," he joked.
Ianto felt a bubble well up inside. At least he might have one new friend. He wondered at what Ross had meant by 'abusive' as he walked the short distance back to his and Jack's cell. He decided Ross was chatting bullshit – he was just kept under a wing until he was savvy enough to get out there without being jumped on by anyone spoiling for a conflict.
Taking a deep breath, he knocked on the cell door. The buzzer sounded for the fifteen minute warning to be back in the cells as he did so, so knocked again just in case. No answer.
"I'm coming in, Jack," Ianto called, then counted down from three. He pushed the door open, instantly spotting Jack curled up in the corner of Ianto's mattress, hugging Ianto's pillow. His eyes were shut, and he was apparently asleep already.
Ianto gently shut the door, ignoring the faint smell hanging around the room. The half-pane was already open as far as it could go, and it wasn't that bad, so Ianto was used to it before his first minute in the room was up.
Jack was breathing deep and even, his face creaseless aside from the slight dimples in his cheeks as he smiled to himself. He was slightly flushed, and there was a little cold sweat on his brow, but his temperature seemed normal. Regretfully, Ianto shook Jack awake.
"Hmmmmph," he moaned, and prised an eye open. "Hello, Princess," he smiled.
"Stop calling me that," Ianto chastised with a pat on Jack's arm. "Quick wash and change: then you can go back to sleep," he promised.
Jack squinted at him. "What're you doing here? You're supposed to be with Owen."
"Owen wouldn't have me, I was in the main area on my own, I got talked at by the enemy, ganged up on by a pile of talking meat and taken up to Alex like a naughty child. He says I have to stay here. I want to stay here. Your pride can grin and bear it."
Jack blinked. "Talked at by whom?"
"Ross," shrugged Ianto, "My age, dark hair. Pale."
"I know who you mean," Jack nodded, "They call him Greyhound. He's one of Saxon's favourites, but he should've been ours. What did he say?"
"Stuff," shrugged Ianto.
"And who made up this 'talking pile of meat'?"
"Bother about it tomorrow," Ianto insisted, "You need to get washed, pyjama'd and rested."
"Who was it, Ianto?"
"They were form Torchwood – I'll tell you more tomorrow."
Jack groaned. "Go away, Ianto," he whimpered, holding his stomach through the pillow he was hugging.
Ianto shook his head.
"Seriously – go away."
"Just give me a few minutes."
Ianto checked Jack's temperature with the back of his hand as best he could whilst Jack was trying to push it away. He'd gotten a fraction warmer. Ianto wondered if that was a normal side effect. "Are you all right?" Ianto asked, "Aside from the obvious."
"Sore throat," Jack complained, "and I was sick earlier. Maybe I'm allergic to whatever that bastard put in it."
"Do you vomit when you're allergic?" pondered Ianto, "I suppose if you've eaten something you're allergic to, it could act as an emetic. We could ask Owen."
"Leave Owen the fuck out of this," grizzled Jack, breathing deeply and uncurling himself to stand up.
"He's a doctor," Ianto reminded him, "He might have an idea why it's affecting you like this."
"I think it might be the laxative, Doctor Jones."
"Laxatives make you need the loo, not vomit, tire and give you a sore throat."
"Allergic to the stuff, vomit, sore throat as a result of vomiting."
"You're croaking, though."
"I'm going to talk to Owen," Ianto told him decisively, "And when I get back, you need to be washed and changed. I'll even let you pretend I'm wearing a nurse's outfit. How's that?"
Jack was conflicted.
In the end he agreed.
Ianto hurried to Owen's cell, hearing the sounds of the officers working their way up the cells to lock them all in. He knocked loudly, and Owen called a very, very pissed off 'come in'.
"What do you want? You've pissed me off enough today."
Still on the low swing, Ianto thought, and ignored him. "Jack's … experiencing odd symptoms. I think. He's vomiting, and he says he has a sore throat. And he's warm, and tired. Though he could be tired from two trips to the gym today."
Owen frowned at him for a long moment in silence. "I need to see him," he said, standing up and following Ianto out.
"Ohhhhh," Jack moaned, "What did you bring him here for?"
"He said he had to see you."
Jack sat patiently while Owen looked into his eyes and checked his pulse. "Too fast," he tutted. "How does your throat feel?"
"What sort of sore? I tickle, a dry sore, a burning sore, a barbed wire sore?"
"Quite a bit."
"Vomiting and diarrhoea are a given, I suppose," he tutted. "Fuck. If this is what I think it is … That fucking bastard."
"Harper!" snapped Guppy behind them, "Back to your cell."
"Harkness needs medical attention," he informed her, paying no attention to her ordering him about, "I'm guessing that whomever ate the first batch of broth this evening will need it too."
"It's just laxative," Jack murmured from his corner, hugging Ianto's pillow.
"Oh?" asked Guppy, eye brow clearly not believing Owen.
"Oh indeed," replied Owen grimly, "Mainly guesswork, but I'm guessing from both Jack's progressed symptoms due to greater consumption and my own … that it wasn't laxative that Adam spiked the broth with."
"What was it then?"
Owen grimaced, lowering his voice so that Jack wouldn't hear.
"I think he's poisoned us," he murmured, "and I can tell you how, too."
Ianto stared at Jack a second, flicked his eyes back to Owen, and felt himself go rigid.