Ianto brought round the second coffees of the day. As he handed a mug to Gwen, she was humming to herself. He found himself nodding along. The tune, quick and light as smoke, and familiar as a dream, carried over to their new hire's workstation. Ianto couldn't make out what Raj sang under his breath, but when he carried Martha's double-skim latte down to Autopsy, he had it in his head as well.
"Thanks, Ianto," she said. Her hands were covered in alien goo, and she nodded for him to set the mug down. "How's things?"
He meant to say, "Fine." This came out instead:
"Feeding Weevils and ancient birds,
Forging memories, lying words."
Raj picked up the song:
"See if I can pass this test,
While there's a target on my chest."
Gwen sang next, looking horrified as she did:
"Shoot and duck and learn to lie,
Wondering who's the next to die."
Ianto fought with the urge to sing again, and lost. Martha's contralto joined in, blending with Gwen's and Raj's voices:
"Working here isn't easy,
We see more bad than good,
Here in Alien Central Casting
Here in Torchwood!"
Ianto stared agape as the echoes faded.
Martha asked, "Did that ...?"
He nodded. The four of them had harmonised rather charmingly, which only added to his confusion.
Jack shot out of his office. "What just happened?"
Jack read over the preliminary tox screens Martha had run on the entire team. Nothing. No drugs were in their bloodstreams to blame, no contaminants had been found in the air. This was just another crazy phenomenon he'd have to write up in a dull report for Whitehall.
"Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork, paperwork.
Once this was a job worth doing,
Once I just went out and fought.
Now I'm all tied up in red tape,
Being the boss ain't what I thought.
Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork, paperwork.
I could survive on stress and coffee,
I could chase a Weevil all night,
All I needed was a purpose,
A line to hold, a war to fight.
Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork, paperwork.
Now I'm chasing lines in budgets,
The stress and coffee I'll gladly take.
How do I keep them all from dying?
How do I tell them I'm a fake?"
Gwen came into his office, and something about her manner made him uncomfortable. Jack kept his gaze on his papers, mouthing "Paperwork, paperwork."
"I shouldn't be in love with you." Her sweet tone shivered down his spine.
"I should love Rhys, and him only.
And yet I know this to be true:
Before we met, I was so lonely.
And now that you're here, I need to tell ..."
Jack glanced up at her. "Sorry, Gwen, I was distracted. Did you say something?"
Her face coloured. "No. Nothing." She reached up, scratched the back of her head. "Did Martha's tests show anything?"
"All right." She turned and walked out, still blushing. Jack turned back to his mounds of paperwork with a sigh.
Ianto said, "I may have something. Not sure if it's helpful." So far, he hadn't broken into song again, although Gwen had belted out an aria at her desk before going off somewhere to hide.
"Show me," said Raj. Ianto handed him the specifications for the old artefact in the database. "This was deactivated."
"Maybe there's a new one."
From below them, Martha's voice floated up:
"Every day another ailment,
Every hour another pain.
Once I walked to save this planet,
Now I wonder if it was in vain."
Ianto and Raj exchanged glances. "Get me the old one," said Raj. "I'll see what I can do."
Ianto headed towards the archives, but not before he saw Jack pop out of his office again. Before he could stop himself, Ianto began to sing:
"I shouldn't be in love with you.
You stole away my brightest morning.
I swore to her I'd see us through,
You shot her down without a warning.
But now your smile wakes me each day,
I sleep at night to your endless heartbeat.
Now that you're here, I need to say,
I've never ..."
He stopped himself by grasping his own mouth shut until the singing compulsion faded. His face burned in horror. "Oh my God." Before Jack could call him back, he fled.
Half an hour passed before the nausea subsided. Thankfully, by the time he'd fetched the artefact, Jack was nowhere to be seen and the others politely did not comment on his embarrassing theatrics.
Raj cracked it shortly after lunch. "We must have a second device somewhere nearby." He tapped the artefact. "This sends out a psychic signal. We can track the matching signal and deactivate it. Piece of cake." He looked relieved, and Ianto didn't blame him. Midway through his examination of the artefact, he'd paused for another song about death. Eerily, so had Janet.
"Do it," Jack said from out of nowhere. Ianto glanced up, saw him paused on the catwalk. "Gwen, go with him."
Gwen nodded, clearly grateful to be getting away from their improvisational musical workplace. Jack let Martha leave early as well. She pecked him on the cheek, told him to behave, and bid them good night.
"I'll just clean up here," Ianto said, shame still burning his throat.
"I shouldn't be in love with you." Ianto's head snapped up to meet Jack's eyes, to hear Jack's perfect voice:
"You deserve a life without me
But it's been so long since I knew
Someone could care so much about me.
I searched for years."
"I searched for years," Ianto sang with him, walking slowly towards Jack as their voices joined:
"I searched for you,
Through loves and dreams lost on my way.
I shouldn't be in love with you.
But here I am. Please say you'll stay."
Their lips met, pressing together as sweetly as a melody.
"Hey," Jack said, resting his forehead against Ianto's. "What rhymes with 'heartbeat,' anyway?"
"Shut up," said Ianto, and kissed him again.
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