Word Count: 2,983
Inspiration: Del Amitri's Roll to Me
Notes: This story stems from a one-shot in 'A Little Inspiration' entitled 'Breakdown.' Reading that is by no means required, as all the important parts are mentioned in this chapter. It obviously also stems from the song 'Roll to Me' which I think fits Jack rather nicely in regards to Ianto. This is set Pre-Gwen, and I'm not sure how far it will go. I know there are a ton of brilliant stories that chart how Jack and Ianto began their relationship, but I couldn't resist writing my own. Hopefully it's good.
So let me know what works and what doesn't. Constructive critism is a must have for authors, and the more you tell me, the more I can fix!
Look around your world, pretty baby,
Is it everything you hoped it be?
Two weeks, four days, one hour, twenty-three minutes and fourty-seven seconds since Ianto Jones had started working for Torchwood Three. And seven hours ago, Jack had kissed him. Jack had kissed him, and Ianto had kissed back. As talented a liar as he was, Ianto couldn't say he'd done solely out of fear, out of self-preservation when Jack had caught him staying later than he should have.
Ianto steeled himself and began pouring drinks. He'd work, ignore the guilt clawing at him and just do what was expected of him. Serve the beverages and clean, stay out of everyone's way while still providing them with everything they needed.
He tailored the coffee to the team's preferences, carefully measuring out sugar and milk and blending them evenly before setting the four drinks on a tray and balancing the salver on the tips of his fingers. During his university days he'd worked as a server, now he was doing the same on a much better pay scale. Lisa would find it amusing… or she would have before Canary Wharf.
Lisa was so different now, and maybe it was the painkillers and maybe it was something far more insidious, but the knowledge that she just wasn't the same made him ache.
Carefully, he set Suzie's coffee on her work station. He didn't wait for a thank you that wouldn't come, and it wasn't that Suzie was particularly cruel, it was that Ianto simply didn't matter to her. He was background at best, he was white noise, he blended in. Which was good. It was best he went by unnoticed and unobserved.
Ianto moved swiftly to Tosh's workstation and placed her cup down far enough from both her computers and the edge of her desk. He'd startled her once, and she'd spilled her coffee. But she'd apologized, and tried to help him clean, until Owen had snorted derisively and told her to let the 'teaboy' do his job. They had more important matters. Tosh had hesitated, but it was clear to Ianto she would give in and do as the doctor suggested, so he gave her an out. He'd joked that he had been bored, and insisted he didn't mind.
Tosh hadn't spoken to him since, but she did smile her gratitude. Ianto was almost certain if he reached out, if he tried to talk to her, she would listen. But he didn't, and today was no different. Tosh smiled her thanks and he tilted his head, and then he moved on.
"About time," Owen snarked. Funny that the man who bore a distaste for him gave him the most acknowledgement.
In a twisted way, Ianto was grateful. Owen gave him something trivial to focus on, a chance to put his sharp tongue to use and lash out. An escape, a catharsis. "I was following your lead on punctuality."
Owen scowled at him as he plucked his mug off the serving dish, "Watch it teaboy."
Ianto took that as a victory, and he smoothly exited the area leaving Owen to his work and his plans for revenge. His gaze flickered up to Jack's office and he very nearly balked at the idea of seeing him so soon. Jack had promised they could act as though it had never happen, but Ianto would know. Every time he looked into those eyes the knife would twist in his gut.
He was good a pretending though, and so he climbed the stairs and politely knocked on the door. Ianto entered when Jack expressed his welcome and set the last mug down.
"Ah, just what I needed, Jones," Jack effused and picked it up for a long drink. Ianto inclined his head, tucked the tray under his arm and proceeded to leave. Jack remained true to his word and didn't call Ianto to come back and discuss last night. The Welshman ignored the soft sting that he shouldn't have felt.
It wasn't that he particularly wanted to discuss the… incident, but Ianto found himself longing for something. Some closeness to the team. But they didn't try, and he didn't press. He adjusted his tie and made his way to the archives, which Jack had given him permission to sift through and organize. There was so much backlog that no one found it unreasonable Ianto spent most of the day in the lower levels.
He feared the day they realized he could have finished by now. Torchwood Three actually had a decent filing system, it was only a matter of placing files where they belonged instead of on top of cabinets and piles on the floor. Ianto hadn't been given access to the artifacts yet, but he imagined they were in similar disarray and it wouldn't take long to sort out. He was on a month long probationary period, despite Jack's claims last night- or early this morning depending on semantics—about him being a member of the team.
"Weevil sighting in Butetown, another park," Tosh announced.
Jack emerged from his office, "How many?"
"Three, medium height. Might be adolescents," Owen observed as he peered at the grainy CCTV feed on Tosh's screen.
"Okay people, Suzie, Owen with me. Tosh, monitor them and give us the clear. Warn me if we've got civilians. Ianto, you're driving, Owen grab the spray." Jack ordered smoothly.
Ianto cleared his throat, "Already in the SUV, sir, along with a tranquilizer and four stun guns, fully charged."
"Now that's what I like to hear," Jack beamed at him and bounded down the steps as he donned his RAF coat, "Move out."
"Suck up," Owen grumbled and Ianto ignored him as he brushed past on the way to the cog door. The alarm blared as the four exited, Jack tossed Ianto the keys and wordlessly they headed towards the vehicle. He'd driven the team often enough he no longer felt it strange about being in the field without actively participating. He unlocked the doors and everyone clambered inside.
"Gas pedal's on the right, we are in a hurry," Owen commented snidely, before Ianto had managed to put the key in the ignition.
He revved the engine, "There's only enough room in the budget for one totaled vehicle."
Jack snickered, and Suzie smirked, both of them having no trouble recalling the incident barely a week and a half ago. Owen had taken too sharp a turn during the pursuit of a Blowfish, and the SUV hadn't been totaled, but it had flipped over and the air bag deployed leaving Owen with some nasty cuts and bruises that he had to treat himself.
"Wanker," Owen scoffed under his breath as Ianto took off. Speeding, but only by roughly ten miles.
Suzie began passing out spray canisters, and if she appreciated the ease with which she found them she didn't comment. Before Ianto had taken over, it was rare the boot was in any semblance of order, but Ianto made sure after every trip out the back was sorted out and everything kept in top condition.
The communicator crackled to life and Tosh's voice rang out clear, "We've got a civilian heading in towards the Weevils."
"Have the Weevils been spotted?" Jack asked.
"Not yet." Tosh answered, and Ianto hit the accelerator a bit harder, tearing through the main road at above seventy.
"Do we have identification?" Jack questioned.
"Not yet, he's not looking into the camera." Tosh responded as Ianto pulled over. The others hopped out of the car and started running for the coordinates Tosh had given them.
It was out of his hands now, all he could do was wait. He left the car running, the Crown covered their petrol needs, and with some borrowed and modified technology the engine was an incredibly efficient machine. Time ticked on endlessly as he listened to Jack spout of various tactics to corner the Weevils, which were met with varying degrees of failure.
Adolescences were some of the more difficult Weevils to contend with. They didn't follow pack rules, or typical behavior, so it was twice as difficult to predict their movements. Or so Owen explained in his field reports. The doctor had a bizarre interest in them, come to think of it.
There was shouting over the com-unit and Ianto couldn't make out what was being said as the voices overlapped each other, but a soft gasp from Tosh was all he needed to figure out their civilian had wandered too close. A few moments later and a breathless Jack was heard, "We've got three Weevils and a body."
"Clean up or cover up?" Ianto asked. Everything was covered up, but a clean-up meant he only needed to clean the body and remove any traces of the Weevils. They had a chemical for that, the removal of alien DNA. Owen had explained what it was in overly technical terms, but Ianto just called it Alien Decontaminate.
"Cover up," Jack answered, grimly.
Ianto set the car in park and turned the car off, pocketing the keys as he stepped out into the early morning rays. The skies were only slightly overcast, which kept it on the cooler side, but sunlight trickled through. He crossed the grass and was with the rest of the Torchwood team within minutes. He spared a glance towards the corpse, and it was a gory sight.
He knelt down and checked the pockets, pulling out a billfold, "Ethan Mardukas, twenty-eight years old."
"Great, now give us a hand," Owen snarled as he hefted one of the Weevils onto his shoulder. He half carried, half dragged the creature towards the SUV and Jack did the same with less of a struggle. Ianto hauled Suzie's and shoved it in as best he could. Three was a bit much. He grabbed his cleaning kit from the boot and passed the keys to Jack.
The Captain made his way towards the driver's side, "Call us when you've finished."
The doors shut in a syncopated rhythm before Jack peeled out of there, leaving Ianto to take care of the mess. Corpses didn't faze him anymore, the first cadaver he had handled had been brutal, but after just two weeks his stomach had toughened. He still had trouble with burn victims, but Torchwood rarely saw that.
Firstly, Ianto donned a pair of gloves and slipped the body into a black bag. The man was of average height and build, heart-shaped face, and hazel eyes. John Doe number six would do nicely after Ianto dyed the hair a darker shade of brown, and after a few days in the bay. Ianto would have to find a track suit like the one Mardukas was wearing, that one was shredded to pieces and soaked through with blood.
Those Weevils had torn him apart, Ianto counted three distinct bite marks. Entire chunks of flesh missing.
Ianto turned his attention to the pools of blood on the grass and wished Owen had come up with a chemical that dissolved human blood. All he had was some micro-encapsulated cloths and diluted bleach. He used the cloths the remove most of the blood, and carefully sealed them in bags to dispose of later. Then he poured the bleach solution over the area.
Always waiting it seemed. Waiting for the others. Waiting for Lisa. Waiting for his life to finally turn around.
And now the Mardukas family would be waiting on news about Ethan. He wondered how long before the missing persons report was filed, and how long before the police would search. How long before the constabulary gave up and how long would the family wait after that?
How much of life was spent waiting?
Fifteen minutes and Ianto was pouring water over the bleach, rinsing it into the Earth, letting the ground soak up the evidence. The people of Cardiff couldn't know that just beneath their feet an entire species dwelled. An entire network of creatures that were capable of tearing out their throats in seconds. Mardukas would just be another of those murdered and dumped.
"I'm finished," Ianto said.
"Be there in a few," Jack responded.
Ianto sighed and zipped the body bag. He stuffed his gloves into another biohazard bag, all of them would be incinerated by tonight. He dreaded the day Jack left him with that task. It wasn't that he was now phobic of fire, it was the memories. And the smell of burning flesh. He derailed those thoughts, he couldn't handle thoughts of Canary Wharf.
One day he'd come to terms with it, but not today. Or maybe he wouldn't. Maybe he'd always be haunted by that battle, by those Cybermen reaching out for him in the dark.
A hand clapped him on the shoulder and he bristled. It was just Jack.
"Weevil attacks are never a pretty sight," his employer stated, and knelt down to hoist up the body bag, grunting with the effort.
Ianto took up the biohazard bag, triple checking the seal, "I hope he died quickly." It was all he could hope for.
Jack nodded, "He did. Cover story all worked out?"
"The usual. I just need to dye John Doe's hair, and find a matching tracksuit. Between that and planting the ID the police won't look closely. A well placed suicide note might do best." Ianto spouted off.
Jack chuckled, "I wonder if people ever really leave suicide notes, or if was something Torchwood created."
Ianto frowned in contemplation as he opened the back of the SUV. Jack shoved the body in and climbed into the driver seat as Ianto closed the boot and entered in the passenger side.
"I would." Ianto said, quietly.
It was Jack's turn to frown, "What?"
"Provides closure, stops the constables wasting time. It's efficient." And it was. Writing everything down, making sure family and friends knew it wasn't their fault. Telling them all the things that should have been said, but had been to emotionally crippling. Listing all the regrets, all the things that should have been handled differently.
"You, ah, think about what you would do often?" Jack asked, it was accusing and concern all at once. Only Jack. And the man hadn't started the car which meant Ianto wasn't going to get out of this as easily as he would have. He wondered if last night hadn't happened would Jack be responding like this, or would he have chimed in with why he would or wouldn't leave a note.
Ianto masked the annoyance he felt, "Only the last five minutes."
Jack wasn't soothed so easily. Clearly he'd seen how rattled Ianto had been last night. Clearly he now felt the need to save Ianto. Ianto didn't need saving, he needed to save Lisa. How could he save her if he was drowning too?
The silence stretched on, and if Ianto let it, he'd be overwhelmed. Indignation, anger, guilt, agony all warred for dominance, but all he displayed for Jack was impassiveness.
"You've read my psych evaluation." Ianto pointed out.
Jack stared at him hard and finally started the SUV, "I did. I needed to know you're not a threat. To yourself or my team."
Ianto smiled blandly. There it was, the separation. The distance. He was part of the team, but he wasn't. It was little moments like this, all day, every day, constant reminders he was Torchwood, but not Jack's Torchwood.
"Look, Yan, last night…" Jack started again as they approached a red light.
"No. We agreed to pretend nothing happened." Ianto cut him off, a little abruptly. Jack seemed shocked, and Ianto couldn't say his surprise was entirely unjustified. Ianto made sarcastic quips, he didn't snap.
"Right." Jack said, feigning nonchalance.
The rest of the journey was silent, Jack suspiciously so where Ianto had expected some anger or lecture on how Jack was his superior. But then, this had been a personal matter, and Jack was keeping to his word on the issue. In the turmoil Ianto called his emotions, guilt became the frontrunner.
"I… I just can't…" Ianto fumbled awkwardly. And didn't that sum everything up? He couldn't talk to Jack, he couldn't become friends with any of them, he couldn't cope with everything that happened that day, he couldn't handle what he'd almost done with Jack, and worst he couldn't save the woman he loved…
He composed himself and focused on the passing scenery. Homes and business blending together until they reached the Plass, with Jack expertly parking the car and popping the lid of the boot.
"It's fine, I'll still be here when you can." Jack said, before switching to business, "Take care of our dearly departed, and I'll park the SUV."
Ianto nodded, grateful to leave the car and think about anything other than how miserably he'd screwed up.