alex51324 (alex51324) wrote,
alex51324
alex51324

Torchwood Fic: Comfortable Horrors 1/3

Title: Comfortable Horrors

Rating: Hard R.

Length: About 30,000 words.

Warnings: Dubious consent in part 2.

Spoilers: Cyberwoman, character backstory stuff from Fragments and elsewhere.

Summary: After the events of "Cyberwoman," Jack keeps Ianto prisoner in the Hub. This is not a full-on dark!Jack AU, but he isn't Uncle Fluffy in this one, either.

A/N: Huge thanks to rexluscus for services including but not limited to cheerleading, plotting help, and proofreading. Thanks for everything, dude.



Ianto sits with his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands. He doesn’t know how long he’s been sitting like that. Hours. Days. Years. Every now and then, Jack comes down and looks at him through the plexiglass. He doesn’t speak, although sometimes he sighs as though he’d been about to do something and has changed his mind. Ianto thinks Jack’s waiting for him to say something—apologize, make excuses, scream defiance, he doesn’t know what. He doesn’t speak, either.

Now, out of the corner of his eye, Ianto can see that Jack’s standing with his arms folded across his chest, leaning one shoulder against the rough stone wall. Abruptly, he straightens up and pushes the button to open the cell. “You might as well clean up, since you’re still here.”

Ianto’s on his feet so suddenly he doesn’t think his brain had anything to do with it. Jack speaks, and he obeys; it’s that simple. He follows Jack upstairs, where his hands find a bin liner and start methodically filling it with takeaway cartons and drinks cans.

No one says a word to him. It’s almost like before, except that now someone’s always watching him. Tosh watches him for a bit, then Gwen notices her doing it and takes over, then Owen, Tosh again. It’s almost like they’re trading off, like a herd of prey animals taking it in turns to keep an eye out for predators. Jack disappears back into his office, but Ianto doesn’t think for a minute that the alpha male isn’t watching him too.

After cleaning up the main floor, he goes on to the locker room. Wipes down the mirrors and the toilets, starts a load of towels in the washing machine. His own locker, with his spare suit and his razor and toothbrush, looks like an artifact from another time. Strange and a little mysterious. Methodically, he shaves, cleans his teeth, changes out of his blood stained clothes. In the dry-cleaning bin, he finds the clothes they all had on That Night, under another layer of things crusted with some kind of slime. He pre-treats everything and calls the cleaners to have them come get it.

“Your last order is ready to be picked up—did you want us to deliver it?”

“Please,” he says. “Sorry, I didn’t have a chance to come get it.”

“That’s all right. Busy week-end? Did you do something nice?”

“No, uh, just stuck in work.” It’s shocking to realize he’s talking to someone who has no idea what happened That Night, someone for whom the world hasn’t changed.

“Oh, that’s a shame. We’ll be around before five.”

“Thank you.”

He bundles up the dry cleaning and is on his way to the tourist office with it when Jack appears in front of him. “I’ll take that,” he says, and does. Over his shoulder, he says, “No phone calls.”

More work. He makes a pot of coffee, scrubs out the refrigerator. He’s doing some filing when Tosh shows up, a paper-wrapped sandwich in her hand. “I brought you some lunch. It’s turkey with mayonnaise, I hope that’s--”

“Leave him alone, Tosh,” Jack says. She leaves the sandwich and scarpers. He ignores it until Jack comes down and orders him to eat it.

When the others start leaving—going home for the day—Ianto can’t imagine what’s going to happen to him next, and doesn’t try. If he had tried, though, he’d be surprised. Jack marches him down to the locker room and stands by the door while he cleans his teeth and changes into one of the jumpsuits they keep on hand for the Weevils, and locks him back in the cell.

There’s a shelf along the back wall of the cell—either a deep bench or a narrow bunk. He lies down on it and shuts his eyes. Doesn’t move until Jack comes back.

When the door hisses open, he sits up, and looks in Jack’s direction without meeting his eyes. Jack’s in different clothes—a French blue shirt with a white collar and cuffs. Such a classic, old-fashioned look. Jack’s the only person Ianto’s ever known who wears them.

“I don’t have all day,” Jack says.

“What do you want?”

Maybe Jack finds that question as impossible to answer as he would. “Upstairs, ready to start the day, ten minutes,” he says instead, and leaves.

Ianto supposes he ought to be glad that Jack’s not making him go to work in the Weevil suit.

Shaving, he wishes he’d gotten into the habit of using a straight razor. Even if Jack’s watching him on CCTV, if he could slit his throat he’d probably bleed out before the Captain could do anything about it.

Then again, if he really wanted to die, he’d find a way, so he must not, and should really stop being so dramatic.

He makes it to Jack’s office in nine and a half minutes. Jack hands him a sheet of paper. “Coffee, then start on that.”

The tasks on the list will keep him in the lower levels of the Hub all day. There’s some archival work, routine maintenance. Ianto finds himself mildly surprised by what’s not on there: dismantle cyber conversion unit. Scrub bloodstains from floor. Dispose of bodies.

The others aren’t in yet. Ianto sets out a row of mugs and the sugar, milk, the raspberry syrup Gwen likes. When the coffee’s done, he pours Jack’s cup and adds milk and sugar, but he knows better than to carry it up to him.

Once, that first day, Tosh contacts him through the building comm system to ask him for a file. Jack’s voice interrupts, cutting over hers. “I said, leave him--” The comm cuts out. An hour or so later, Jack brings him a list of the files the others have requested, and watches while he gathers them.

The next few days are largely the same. He works in the lower levels, never sees or speaks to anyone but Jack, who turns up only to add to his list, shove food at him and order him to eat it, or put him back in his cell.

It’s astonishing how productive he is, without the others interrupting him every few minutes to ask him to make them coffee or run errands or help locate things that are invariably either exactly where they’re supposed to be or in the same place the requester left them. By the end of the week, he’s quite confident that the archives have never looked better.

On a day that he later decides must have been Saturday, he’s allowed onto the main floor to clean up and look after Myfanwy. Sunday, he’s left in his cell, which he decides must mean it’s either a very busy day or a very slow one.

Monday afternoon, Jack tells him to open the tourist office.

Taking the sign—Closed for Renovations—out of the door, he wonders for a moment what’s wrong with his eyes, until he realizes it’s just that he hasn’t seen natural light for more than a week. After he’s reorganized the leaflets display and called round to some of the better hotels to see who has vacancies, some French backpackers want directions to the cheapest clean lodgings nearby (he directs them to the cleanest cheap ones instead), and then it’s some Americans looking for King Arthur, and a motor coach full of senior citizens who can’t find Cardiff Castle. Normal people with normal needs, but somehow it’s harder to keep his mind off what happened in the bowels of the Hub now that he’s not in them.

Now that Lisa’s really gone, he realizes that he never really expected her to recover. If anyone had asked him, before, he’d have said that of course he did. The only reason he was doing any of it, the only reason he’d risked everything was that he knew she could get better.

But that was never it at all. The only reason he’d really done it was that he had no idea how to let go. No idea who he was without her. He’d let her become a monster, a monster in a dungeon, because losing her was more than he could cope with.

Now, he supposes, that’s what he is.

There’s no one in the office at the moment. He circles round the desk and steps outside. Taking a breath or two of the fresh air, he rubs at his eyes, still not used to the sun. Leaning up against the wall, he wonders idly how far he’d get if he tried to walk away. Probably no farther than the other side of the Plass. Any farther and it would only be because Jack was toying with him, and Jack doesn’t do that.

He’s actually turned to go back inside when the door slams open. Jack grabs him by the collar and drags him back in. When he lets go, Ianto’s not expecting it and stumbles, crashing into a rack of leaflets and bringing it down on top of him.

Jack looks down at him, breathing hard. “Don’t,” he says, “go outside.”

Apologies, protests, explanations that he hadn’t been doing whatever Jack thought he was doing spring to his lips. He swallows them and gets to his feet, straightening his tie, and says, “Yes. Sir.”

Jack leaves him in the tourist office for the rest of the day, but in the morning, he’s in the archives again. There’s little enough to do there; Ianto’s almost surprised Jack doesn’t have him scrubbing the floors with a toothbrush. When Jack puts him in a room with the oldest files Torchwood has, cotton gloves, and a scanner, he figures it’s the next closest thing.

He loses track of time—of outside time, the time that’s passing upstairs. Now he’s on Torchwood time. The 1880’s. The 1890’s. The turn of the century. Torchwood was computerized early, in the 1970’s, but it still takes him an endless chain of days to get there.

It’s March, 1969 when Jack comes into his little room. He’s checking the clip in a gun, and for a second, Ianto thinks maybe he was wrong, Jack was toying with him after all. But Jack tucks the gun in his belt and says, “Upstairs. You’ll coordinate from Tosh’s station.”

It’s more than Jack’s had to say to him since starting him on computerizing the old files, and there’s more. As they hurry upstairs, Jack fills him in on what’s happened—a small alien ship came through the Rift. It had landed far enough outside the city to go undetected for half a day, which had given the occupants time to scatter. “They’re obligate carnivores and an insular species. They regard other intelligent life forms as prey to be hunted. They may not know where they’ve ended up, but they won’t let that stop them from doing what they do best.” They’re on the main floor now, where everyone else is checking weapons or packing equipment. “Let’s move.”

It only takes him a few moments to re-orient himself to the displays at Tosh’s station. The aliens are vaguely human-looking—enough that they can pass in the dark and at a distance, as long as they keep their heads covered—but there are differences in body chemistry that make them show up differently on Torchwood’s life signs detectors. “We have five individuals,” he reports. “Two are together, moving south toward the Bay, on or near Lloyd George Avenue….”

The operation ends up taking all night. The first two aliens are taken out easily—the profile on their species suggests that mature individuals rarely hunt in pairs or groups, but juveniles sometimes do. Owen and Gwen drop the bodies off at the Hub, leaving Ianto to stow them in the morgue before heading back out to a department store where one of the aliens has been spotted by police, trying to break in. Tosh and Jack locate the fourth, menacing an old woman in her council flat. The two teams join up again to pursue the final alien, who leads them a merry chase across half the city before ending up in the Taff, heading for the Bay. It turns out that the things can swim fast; Ianto updates the file to reflect this information and arranges the team’s use of a Coastguard boat.

The final capture involves everyone except Jack falling overboard. Once assured that the alien is dead, the boat returned, and the team in the SUV heading back to the Hub, Ianto sets about seeing that dry clothes and hot soup will be ready upon their return.

When the team pulls into the underground garage, Ianto meets them with a trolley for the bodies. Tosh and Gwen are in the back seat of the SUV, sharing a blanket and a flask. It looks like Gwen has had more than her share from the flask—when she sees him, she says, “Ianto! Here’s Owen falling out of the boat!” and waves her arms in a manner reminiscent of someone having a seizure, and says in a falsetto, “Oh bugger!”

“Gwen, that’s enough,” Jack says. “Go get changed,” he adds, to all of them. As the soaking-wet portion of Torchwood heads off to the locker room, he jerks his head toward the SUV’s back hatch. Wordlessly, Ianto helps him unload the bodies onto the trolley, noting that the SUV will need to be tidied and the supplies restocked.

Side-by-side, but still not speaking, he and Jack strip the bodies of their weapons and gear, and stow them in morgue drawers next to the first two. Finally, Jack says, “That’ll need to be archived,” gesturing at the pile of tech on the autopsy table.

He nods and reaches for a box to put it all in.

“It’ll keep till morning.”

Ianto glances at his wrist—he’s not sure where his watch has gone, isn’t sure that he’d noticed before now that it has gone.

Still, Jack catches his meaning—it is morning. “Or afternoon.”

“Right, then. I’ll just….”

“Go to bed. I’ll be down and tuck you in later,” Jack says. Or shut him in. He isn’t sure which, and doesn’t ask.

#

“Jack,” Gwen says. She’s sobered up considerably—her general hilarity may have been more stress and borderline hypothermia than brandy; she spent longer in the water than either of the other two—but Jack is still wondering whether to have one of the others drive her home. “What are we going to do with Ianto?”

The day after they had discovered the Cyberwoman, he had shut down the team’s questions on the subject with an outburst of rage that had kept any of them from asking again. Now, he doesn’t say anything. Gwen has a point; it’s time—past time—to make a decision, but now that his anger has cooled, he still doesn’t know what he’s going to do.

The others evidently take his silence as indicating that the topic is open to discussion. “Shoot him,” Owen suggests.

“You can’t mean to keep him locked up forever,” Tosh puts in tentatively.

“What about Retcon?” Gwen asks, before Jack can ask Tosh why the hell not.

“Retcon can only be used to erase short periods,” Owen tells her. “A strong enough dose to wipe out four years would leave him needing a drool cup. Which is why we should shoot him.”

The truth is, Jack hasn’t left himself with a lot of choices. As far as the outside world is concerned, Ianto is already dead. He died that same night—after disposing of the cyber conversion unit and cleaning up the mess that Lisa and Myfanwy made of the Hub, and staging the disappearances of Dr. Tanizaki and Annie the pizza girl, Jack had located a suitable unidentified body and replaced Ianto’s fingerprints with the John Doe’s in the national database. Ianto’s next of kin have been notified, and his personal effects are stored along with those of the rest of Torchwood’s dead.

The only thing Jack hadn’t done was actually kill him. That night, he told himself there had been enough death for one day; he’d question Ianto the next day, and execute him after. But he never got around to interrogating him—he couldn’t really think of anything to ask—and hoped that if he waited, Ianto would say or do something to make it easier. If he had made excuses, tried to defend his actions, Jack is sure he could have killed him.

Gwen looks back and forth between him and Owen. “If we can’t trust him, he’s no business running loose in the Hub,” she points out.

Another good point. Jack could have put Ianto back in his cell, and left Tosh behind to coordinate the operation. It would have taken longer that way—with only three of them in the field, they wouldn’t have been able to split up. But if he didn’t trust Ianto, that was what he would have done. And he hadn’t.

“He’ll be resuming his normal duties in a few days,” Jack says.

“Oh, come on,” Owen protests.

“If you’re done eating, go home,” Jack says. “All of you. Come in around noon—we still have to retrieve the ship.”

Gwen and Owen leave. Tosh lags behind, gathering up the coffee cups and soup mugs, taking longer about it than she really has to.

Jack knows why. “That was different,” he tells her. “You hadn’t done—” He can’t honestly say that Tosh’s actions—building the sonic modulator, putting it in enemy hands—couldn’t have had serious consequences. Nothing to what giving the Cybermen another foothold on Earth would have been like, but serious. “It was different,” he repeats. Tosh starts taking the crockery to the kitchenette. He trails behind her. “If I’m not going to kill him, this is how it has to be.”

She puts the crockery down in the sink with more force than necessary. “For now,” she says.

It’s not a question, or a negotiation, but Jack agrees. “For now.”

After Tosh leaves, he goes down to the cells. Ianto is curled up on the bunk, one arm over his eyes, either asleep or pretending to be. Jack locks the door and leaves.

After doing the washing up, he takes a few of the more interesting artifacts from the night’s work up to his office to examine them. Several are completely absent from Torchwood’s files. He notes down everything he remembers about them. The CCTV feed from the cells area runs in a background window, as usual when he’s alone in the Hub. Every now and then he glances at it, not expecting to see anything other than the Weevil at one end pacing, and Ianto at the other, sleeping.

This time, though, something is different. Ianto is sitting up, face buried in his hands, shoulders shaking. Crying. As Jack watches he sits up, leaning against the wall, and rakes a hand through his hair before blowing his nose on the sleeve of the jumpsuit he’s wearing. His face is red and blotchy, contorted with grief.

For a fraction of a second, Jack thinks about going down there. Then he realizes that if anything could comfort Ianto, it certainly wouldn’t be him.

#

“Looks like you’re almost done here.”

Ianto looks up. Jack is sifting through the box on top of the to-be-scanned pile. He’s in June of 1971 now. Torchwood had gone on computer in February of 1972, but it took another three years or so to make the transition to keeping only electronic records.

What Jack said doesn’t demand a response, so he doesn’t make one. Instead, he carefully positions the next document—an expenses report covering replacement of a polyester leisure suit—on the scanner and presses the button.

“What do you think, another two days?”

Since it’s a direct question, he figures he had better answer. “Maybe a little less.” And then what? For a second, the idea—hope?—crosses his mind that maybe this has been a sentence, as opposed to how his life is now, and maybe it’s almost over. Then he realizes that even if it is, Lisa is still dead, and still killed Dr. Tanizaki and the pizza girl, and it doesn’t matter.

“Right.” Jack nods. “You might as well finish. This has needed doing for decades.”

“Sir,” he says. It isn’t as though he has a choice.

“We’re doing Indian for lunch. What do you want?”

Jack’s never asked him that—not since That Night, definitely, and probably not before, either, since he nearly always did the lunch orders. He can’t summon up the energy to wonder why. Condemned man’s last meal, maybe, except that he still has two days’ work left on the scanning project, so even if Jack means to execute him once he’s done, it’s not time yet. “I’m not hungry.”

“I’ll put you down for Tandoori chicken and pilaf.”

“Fine.”

As Jack turns to go, he carefully re-files the expenses report and takes out the next document.

“Ianto.”

His head snaps up. Jack’s looking back at him, meeting his eyes for the first time since That Night. “Sir?”

Jack drops his eyes. “Nothing. Never mind. Go back to work.”

A little while later—December, 1971—Jack comes back with the takeaway. As usual, he stays to watch that Ianto eats it—he learned early on in this experience that he’s not allowed to starve himself to death. This time, though, Jack leans against the doorjamb and digs into his own carton of food.

It’s more than a little unsettling. From the way Jack’s been treating him—not letting the others so much as speak to him, speaking to him himself only long enough to give him his orders—he might as well be radioactive.

Perhaps it’s wearing off. Except he doesn’t know what the half-life is on hiding a being bent on taking over the Earth in the basement of your place of work, but it seems like it would be longer.

Two days later, Ianto scans the last of the old files. Jack was right when he said it needed to be done—the next person to have his job will be able to transfer the electronic version of any necessary file to any workstation in the base, instead of hand-carrying files up from the archives and back again. It’s a bit of a legacy, he supposes. He hopes the next person will appreciate it.

Finished with his task, he sits quietly. Having nothing to occupy himself makes it difficult to keep his mind off wondering what will happen to him next. Even though Jack’s been—well, almost kind—for the last few days, he can’t imagine it’ll be anything good. He doesn’t really understand why Jack didn’t kill him That Night—but he does know that he’s alive now only at Jack’s sufferance.

He tries to convince himself that it will really be just as well if Jack does kill him now. With Lisa gone, he’s got nothing left to live for.

Not for the first time, he wonders where, exactly, he went wrong. Not when he rescued Lisa from the wreckage of Torchwood One. He can’t regret that. But should he have told Jack what happened, and asked for help? He’d been convinced at the time that Jack would have hunted Lisa down and killed her if he had even a glimmer that one of the partially converted people was still alive. He’d probably been right—Jack had nearly said as much That Night.

But maybe he had said something to Lisa that gave her the idea that Dr. Tanizaki wanted to be upgraded. Or what about her transplanting her brain into Annie’s body—what had he said, or done, that had given her the idea he’d ever want that? Surely there was something he could have said or done, some medication or adjustment to the cybernetic implants that would have brought back his Lisa, the real Lisa.

He shakes off that thought with an effort. He did the best he could; second-guessing himself at this point will change nothing. Dying will at least put an end to all the wondering, and the guilt, and the pain, which would be a welcome relief.

He wishes he could believe that he’ll be with Lisa again once he’s dead, but he can’t. He’ll just be dead, a frozen corpse in a drawer. He shivers a little. Even though he can’t imagine he’ll ever be happy again, he doesn’t want to die.

Pathetic, the way he’s clinging to life. He read something about that once, in school. One of the Russian novelists, going on about how once he’d been condemned to die, he’d jump at the chance to live out his life on a tiny ledge, so small he couldn’t even sit or lie down, if it meant he could avoid his execution. And it’s true. Even if Jack wants to keep him in a cell next to the Weevils for the rest of his natural life, he’ll take that, if it means he doesn’t have to die.

With a groan, he folds his arms on the table and rests his head on them.

“Ianto? Are you all right?”

Jack. He jerks upright. “Sir. I’m finished with the files.”

“I see.” Jack comes into the room and takes a look in one of the file boxes. “You can put these back in storage, then.”

“Sir.”

“You’ll resume your normal duties tomorrow morning,” Jack continues.

“Sir?!” So that’s it? Back to normal, as if nothing has happened?

Jack raises his eyebrows. “Unless you have a problem with that, of course.”

“Er. No. Sir. No problem.”

“Good. You’ll be restricted to the Hub until further notice. You’re legally dead, so--”

What?”

Jack folds his arms across his chest. “I established the paper trail for your death while I was doing all of the others. So now, you don’t have a legal identity. We’ll see about faking up a new one at some point, but since you’re not going anywhere for a while, you won’t need one.”

“Of course.” The Joneses hadn’t raised any stupid children; Ianto realizes right away that there’s only one reason Jack would have faked his death—he’d been planning to kill him.

But, perhaps of more immediate personal relevance, he’s changed his mind. Not quite believing it, Ianto says, trying to sound as if he really couldn’t care less one way or the other, “So you’re not going to kill me, then?”

Jack hesitates a beat. “Not unless I have to.”

Good to know.

#

By the time Ianto has been back at work for a day and a half, Tosh is ready to explode from the sheer, screaming normality of it.

That first morning, Jack had called them into the meeting room to explain that Ianto would be coming back upstairs and resuming his normal duties. They are free to ask him to do things for them, as usual, but he is “restricted to the base,” so they aren’t to send him on outside errands.

At that point, Ianto had come around with coffee. He was pale, with dark circles under his eyes that looked almost—but not quite—as though someone had punched him.

“So it’s all right if he runs mad and kills all of us, but you’re protecting the public,” Owen observed. “Good to know where we stand.” He peered distrustfully at the coffee Ianto had just set in front of him. “Not sure if I want to drink that.”

Ianto was in the act of handing Tosh her own drink. She took it from his hand and sipped pointedly.

“I’ll be monitoring the situation,” Jack had said.

“Shall I set up surveillance on his flat, then?” Tosh asked. She’d had surveillance on her own flat, at first—Jack had been careful to show her that there was video on the entrances, and audio in the lounge and kitchen. He’d also monitored her mother’s mail and telephone. All in all, it wasn’t as intrusive and humiliating as it could have been, and she knew that while the surveillance had other purposes, it would also help to protect her if anyone else had tried to force her to use her technical expertise for unsavory ends.

“That won’t be necessary,” Jack said, as Ianto left the room. “He’ll be staying in the Hub. That’s what ‘restricted to the base’ means.”

Jack didn’t usually do sarcasm; it had been a bit like missing a step at the bottom of a flight of stairs and putting your foot into empty air instead of solid ground. It left her wrong-footed and embarrassed enough that she had swallowed her protests. The meeting ended, and they’d gone about their business.

It doesn’t seem to matter to any of the others—even Ianto is carrying on as usual, only a little quieter than normal. But knowing that the man who even now is sitting at the next workstation, helping her scan through reams of code in search of an elusive coding error is being held prisoner without charge or due process, has been sentenced to a kind of living death by the very same secret government organization that once rescued her from a similar fate—it gives her the creeping horrors. Not to mention a sour feeling in her stomach.

Abruptly, she gets up and goes to the kitchenette. There used to be some ginger tea at the back of the cabinet—that would be just the thing to settle her stomach.

As she looks in the cabinet, she realizes that she hasn’t had cause to look there since Ianto started, and it has changed quite a bit. The dozen or so boxes of PG Tips, each with about two spoonfuls of crumbs left in the bottom, have gone, as have the numerous bottles and packets of flavored chemical cream substitutes. It doesn’t seem likely that the ginger tea will still be there, either.

She’s having a look for it anyway when there’s a small cough behind her. She turns to look. Ianto, of course. “Is there something I can get for you?”

“Ginger tea, or something,” she explains. “Bit of a stomachache.”

“No ginger. There’s some peppermint, I think,” he says, taking over the search.

She watches him for a moment. “Ianto, are you…all right?” It’s the wrong question—by no conceivable definition can he possibly be anything close to “all right”—but she can’t formulate the right one.

Earlier that day, she’d overheard him calling in the lunch order. He’d spoken to the person on the other end of the phone as if everything was completely ordinary—it was a busy day so could they please deliver, and don’t forget the extra napkins. She realizes now she’d half-expected him at any moment to scream, “For the love of God please help me!” before Jack came down and stopped him.

“I don’t think you’re meant to be talking to me, are you?” Ianto asks instead of answering, as he runs water into the electric kettle.

“I think it’s all right, now,” she says, glancing toward Jack’s office. She has a feeling that if asked, Jack would specify that they are allowed to talk to Ianto about work, but that’s why she hasn’t asked.

Ianto picks up her mug. “I’ll bring this to you, when it’s ready.”

It’s obvious he doesn’t want to talk, and there’s no possible way that hounding him will help. She nods. “Thank you. If there’s anything--”

“There isn’t,” he snaps, then turns back to the kettle, seeming flustered by his vehemence. “I’m sorry. No, thank you for asking.”

She goes back to her desk, and a few moments later, Ianto brings her a cup of mint tea. She’s not sure that it helps, exactly, but it doesn’t worsen her nausea, as coffee would.

By the end of the day, they’ve found three mistakes, but the program still won’t compile. “We’ll have to go through it again tomorrow,” she says. “Fresh eyes.”

Ianto sits back from the computer, resting his hands in his lap. “Right. I’ll—I should clean up.”

She feels guilty, knowing that she’s going home, to her own comfortable flat with all of her own things, while Ianto’s going to be locked in a cell until morning. At least it’s a clean cell—Ianto’s in charge of cleaning them, so it would be—but that’s not much comfort. “I’m going to Tesco on my way home,” she says, even though she hadn’t planned to. “Is there anything I can get for you?”

“Ah—we’re out of chocolate digestives. Jack and Owen like them. The McVities orange chocolate ones. I usually get about a half-dozen packets.”

That isn’t exactly what Tosh had in mind—as far as she’s concerned, Jack and Owen can get their own biscuits, or do without—but she jots it down anyway. “All right. Anything else?”

He shakes his head. “I think everything else can wait until I can arrange a delivery.”

She decides then that she’ll get him something anyway—something small, just to lift his spirits a bit—but when she’s pushing the trolley around Tesco, she can’t imagine what she could bring him that would be of much help. When in the UNIT cell, a toothbrush, comb, and tampons would have topped her wish list, but Ianto looks as well-groomed as ever, so he must have access to basic toiletries. Finally, she chooses some oranges. Silly—Ianto isn’t exactly ill, is he? She knows she’s likely to be too embarrassed to give them to him.

Entering her flat, she glances up at where the camera used to be. Looking at it whenever she went in or out had been a habit, for a long time. Jack had been careful to point out where all of the bugs were, and had shown her the feeds, apologizing for the “inconvenience,” and assuring her that her bathroom and bedroom weren’t monitored. Somehow, that had turned what could have driven a wedge between them into a shared secret. Sometimes, coming into the flat, she had waved to him—home safe, thanks!

Now, she stares up at where the camera used to be and mouths, “Fuck you, Jack-bloody-Harkness.”

#

Ianto wakes with the words, “There’s a whole day for horrible things to happen in,” echoing round his brain.

Lisa had used to wake him on weekends saying, “There’s a whole day for jolly things to happen in!” It was from one of those mystery stories she liked—the ones with Lord Peter Wimsey. Here in the Hub, he’d promised her that once she was free from the cybernetic implants, like Peter had freed Harriet from prison and the murder charge hanging over her head, they’d have their whole lives for jolly things to happen in, away from Torchwood and aliens and death.

He hadn’t meant for it to be a lie.

With a groan, he shifts onto his back. The cell’s bunk isn’t long enough for him to stretch out his legs. He draws one up underneath him, and puts the other foot flat on the floor. Yesterday, he’d noticed the date on one of the computers, and it had struck him as somehow important. A birthday, or an anniversary, maybe—but it wasn’t, and even if it was, things like that no longer have any relevance for him. He’s dead, after all. An unperson.

Now, it hits him, what it was. Yesterday had been exactly one month since That Night. One month since Lisa died. One month since he died, if Jack had laid the electronic trail that same night. He hasn’t cried, much—too numb at times, and trying to hold on to what’s left of his dignity at others—but he does now. He tries to be quiet at first—Jack could be listening, and if he upsets the Weevils, he definitely will be, but he’s sobbing brokenly, bent over his knees and rocking like an autistic child.

Suddenly, he finds himself on the floor, kneeling over the drain at the center of the cell, retching. He’s got nothing in his stomach, and he almost wishes he had—if he could bring something up, maybe he could stop heaving. Instead, he gags on bile, tears and snot dripping down his face.

Distantly, he’s glad he managed to hit the drain. He’s no idea what time it is, and he’ll be stuck in with whatever mess he makes until Jack lets him out and he can hose the place out. The heaving stops for a moment, and he shuffles to one side, lowering himself to his elbows and resting his forehead on the cool stone.

“God,” he groans. “Oh, god. Shit.” Down the cell block, a Weevil moans, as if in answer.

Which just goes to show there’s no situation in the world that can’t be made worse by a Weevil.

He’s not sure how long he lies there, alternately heaving, swearing, and shaking, before the cell door hisses open and Jack says, voice full of concern, “Hey, you sick?”

“No.” He sniffles and wipes at his face with his sleeve. Very clever of him—now Jack’s sure to think he’s a compulsive liar.

He spits into the drain and sits up on his knees, raking his hair back with the less mucky of his hands. “I’m all right, sir,” he says. “What do you need?”

Jack makes a small, impatient sound. He takes a step into the cell; Ianto notices that his boots are unlaced. “Come on.” He grabs Ianto by the arm and hauls him to his feet.

Somehow, they end up in the locker room. Ianto staggers to one of the sinks and, after leaning on it long enough to catch his breath, rinses out his mouth and splashes water on his face. Catches sight of himself in the mirror and notices he looks like shit.

Remembering that brushing his teeth always helps him to feel human again after he’s been sick, he lurches over to his locker. Another wave of nausea hits him on the way back, but he clutches the sink and tells himself that he is not going to be sick in front of his boss-cum-jailer, and it passes.

Scouring the taste of vomit out of his mouth leaves him feeling much better, but also acutely aware that he has snot and vomit all down his sleeves. “Is it all right if I take a shower?”

“Yeah. Go ahead. If you think you can stand up—I don’t want to have to go in there and catch you.”

Ianto doesn’t point out that a month ago, Jack would have jumped at the chance to join him in a shower. He’s uncomfortably aware of Jack’s eyes on him as he showers. Cheerfully lecherous he could handle, but the way Jack is watching him, as if he’s some new and disgusting form of Weevil, is distinctly awkward.

After scrubbing himself down, he turns off the hot water and lets the cold spray chase away the worst of the nausea. When he steps out of the shower and wraps a towel around his hips, he feels no worse than after a night out—crippling grief and shame always excepted, of course.

As he starts to get dressed, Jack says, “Maybe you should stay in today. If you’re not feeling well.”

Ianto freezes. He’d thought he was feeling better, but the thought of a whole day trapped underground, alone with himself, makes his stomach churn again. “No—no, I’m feeling better, really.” There’s a pleading note in his voice that he hates himself for, but he really doesn’t know how he’ll stand it if Jack makes him stay in the cell all day. “I was just—upset,” he says.

Jack folds his arms across his chest and looks at him. “All right,” he finally says. “If that’s what you want.”

“Thank you, sir,” he says, vastly relieved.

As it turns out, it’s a few hours before the others are due to come in. After making himself a cup of mint tea—he’s not sure about the effect of coffee on his already-jittery stomach—he sits down to keep working on Tosh’s program. As a distraction, the task is only partially effective—he keeps noticing that his mind has wandered, and then has to back up to the last point where he can be sure he was really paying attention. Still, by the time Tosh arrives, he’s found another error.

“Morning, Ianto,” she says, putting down her handbag and taking off her coat. “I’ll just put the digestives in the kitchen—I got some oranges, too. I don’t think any of us eat enough fruit, do you? We’ll all come down with scurvy, next. Don’t you think?”

“Scurvy, yes,” he agrees absently. Tosh doesn’t babble, as a rule. And Owen’s not here yet, so it can’t be that. “Is something wrong?”

“No, nothing.” She peers over his shoulder. “You’ve started on that already? You didn’t have to.”

“I was up.” Thankfully, she doesn’t ask for details.

It’s a quiet morning, until the Rift alarm goes off. Everyone gathers around Tosh’s station as she reports, “It looks like an artifact—came through just outside Splott. Metallic, about one point five meters long and half a meter wide. No life signs or energy readings.”

“We’d better go pick it up,” Jack says. “Tosh, you’re with me.”

“Oi!” Owen says as Tosh gathers up her gear and they head for the door. “Aren’t you going to put him back in his cage?”

“Wasn’t planning to,” Jack says over his shoulder.

“I will then.” Owen, Ianto thinks, must have been the kind of child who, instead of sneaking behind his mother’s back, loudly and repeatedly announced his plans to disobey, in the secret hope that someone would stop him.

Ianto, of course, had been the other kind.

Jack pauses, turning partway back. “No, you won’t.”

Owen falters. “I’m checking out a weapon, then,” he says, his tone defiant even though he isn’t, actually, defying Jack.

“Do that.” The others leave, and Owen gives him a hard stare before heading off to the armory.

Ianto finds Owen about as convincingly aggressive as a small terrier, but takes care to stay in plain sight, doing nothing even remotely threatening, until Owen returns with a gun. He checks the clip, saying, “Right. I’ve got my eye on you, mate.”

“Of course.”

#

“We’ve just passed it,” Toshiko reports from the passenger seat. “Somewhere in that field.”

Jack makes a u-turn and pulls into the gravel by the side of the road. “Hope you wore your walking shoes,” he says, flashing a grin at her.

She glances down at her feet, and Jack follows her gaze. Her shoes look like sensible flats—not exactly ideal for rambling across a field, but it could be worse. “I’ll be all right,” she says.

They spread out on foot, until Tosh pinpoints the location of the artifact and calls Jack over to her. “It should be at the top of that little hill,” she says, pointing.

They tramp on for a few moments. “Nice day for a walk. We don’t get out of the city enough,” Jack says. It’s not a perfect day for a walk—a bit overcast—but it’s not actively raining, and it’s nice to be outside.

Abruptly, Tosh says, “About Ianto.”

His good mood comes crashing down. “What about him?” He thinks he made the right decision, not killing Ianto, but keeping him alive has certainly left him with a problem.

“How long do you plan to keep him in that horrible little cell?”

“As long as I have to.”

“I wouldn’t have believed you’d do something like that. After the way you--”

Tosh stops short, but Jack has no trouble understanding what she’s alluding to. She’s a very private person, and her time as a prisoner of UNIT is something they don’t talk about. But it still stretches between them, creating both a distance and a strange sort of intimacy. None of the others know—not even Suzie had known—that Tosh was once his prisoner. “It’s necessary.”

“It’s cruel,” Tosh says flatly.

“I’m not beating him, torturing him, starving him. It’s not even solitary confinement—he gets out every day. He’s fine. Uncomfortable, maybe, but fine.”

Tosh looks away from him. “It should be just a few more meters.”

She’s clearly still troubled, but Jack is just as happy to let the subject drop. When they reach the artifact, he falls to his knees beside it. “I haven’t seen one of these in years!”

“What is it?”

“A footlocker. Artaxian, 31st century.” He runs his fingers over the latches. “It has a digital code lock—we’ll have to take it back to the Hub and crack it before we can find out what’s inside.” It’ll be the usual footlocker things, of course—uniforms, weapons, mementos—but the specifics are a mystery. “It’ll be like Christmas.”

“If the Rift is always popping out its idea of presents for good boys and girls, maybe I’ll try for coal next time,” Tosh says, kneeling by the artifact and scanning it.

“No shaking the packages—you’ll ruin the surprise.”

“We don’t want to take it back to the Hub without precautions if it’s emitting radiation, or poisonous gas, or…anything else dangerous.”

“It’s a footlocker!”

“And soldiers never accidentally pick up dangerous war souvenirs in the 31st century?”

Jack isn’t sure—he’d only visited that particular war briefly, and a long time ago--but remembering a few 20th-century soldiers he had seen killed by their souvenirs, he says, “Carry on.”

Eventually, Tosh clears the footlocker for transport. “Which end do you want to take? Are there handles on this thing?” she asks, looking at the short ends.

He grins. “First, let’s see if--” he finds a button on the top “—this works.” He presses it, and after a moment, the locker shakes and floats off the ground. “Antigravity! Now you just tow it behind you, like a suitcase in an airport.”

After they navigate the hill, Jack says, “Do you want to steer it for a while? It’s kind of fun.”

Tosh looks as if she’s about to accept, then remembers that she’s cross with him. “No, thank you.” And she speeds up to walk a little bit ahead of him, giving him plenty of opportunity to think about exactly why she’s cross with him.

Ah, 20th century women. He’d lost two lovers and a fiancée before he’d figured out that silence means figure out why I’m not speaking to you and fix it, you bastard.

Ianto’s not complaining about his treatment, but Jack can understand why the subject would be a sensitive one for Tosh. “You know you’re, ah, you don’t have anything to worry about. Right?” Tosh’s five-year probation is over; her record’s clear. Unless she has a Cyberman in the basement too, she isn’t going to be locked up again.

“Yes.”

That’s not it, then. “I can’t just let him go.”

“I don’t expect you to.”

They load the footlocker into the back of the SUV, and Jack gets back behind the wheel.

Tosh has a point—while the cells are perfectly adequate, they aren’t exactly meant for long-term occupation. Ianto’s not sleeping well, and while that’s probably mostly grief and emotional turmoil, more comfortable surroundings couldn’t hurt. Their cells are lit 24 hours a day, and that’s hard on a person.

“Since we’ll be keeping Ianto for quite some time, we’ll have to arrange something more suitable,” he finally agrees. “Would you mind taking charge of that? Find a suitable space, something that can be secured, and set up surveillance and security.” It would be understandable if Tosh didn’t want to be drawn into the situation any farther than she had to be—but on the other hand, given her concerns, she might welcome the chance to do something to improve things.

Tosh hesitates, then nods. “Yes, I can do that.”

When they return to the Hub, Jack is relieved to find that Owen and Ianto haven’t come to blows. Gwen, out for the morning at the dentist, had gotten in while they were out, which probably helped.

He finds Ianto in the kitchen, washing some mugs. “Are you all right?”

“Yes, sir,” he answers. He holds a mug up to the light, scrubbing at a stain with the corner of a sponge. “I didn’t give Owen any trouble,” he adds.

“I know. I meant—this morning. Maybe you should have Owen check you out, make sure you’re all right.”

“I’m fine, sir, and Owen is busy.”

He decides not to insist. “Okay. Try to eat something, all right? If you don’t, it’ll just make it worse.”

“Yes, sir.”

#

By close of business, Ianto is almost glad to go back to his cell. Fortunately, he’d found the time to hose it out earlier, so after changing out of his work clothes, he’s free to collapse onto the bunk and shut his eyes.

It’s hard, trying to work with the others as if nothing has changed. It’s enough to make him nostalgic for his little room with the scanner and boxes of old files. Out of everything, Owen’s open contempt is probably the easiest to take.

Not that any of it ought to be easy to take. He’s being punished; it’s not meant to be nice. God knows he deserves worse—if what he’d done didn’t have to be kept secret, he’d have to go through the ritual humiliation of a trial, and then prison, where the company would be much, much worse. As it is, it’s a choice between this and death, and Jack is being incredibly merciful. And he’s allowed to be useful, which helps a bit.

He hears footsteps in the corridor, and realizes Jack hasn’t come to seal him in yet. Feigning sleep seems the best option; he puts his arm across his eyes and tries to breathe steadily.

“Hey,” Jack says softly. Ianto peeks out from under his arm. “It’s all right, go back to sleep. I just brought you--” Jack tosses a blanket over him, and puts something else on the floor. “Get some rest—I’ll keep an eye on you.”

Of course he will. After he leaves, Ianto sits up to spread the blanket out over himself—the first time he’s been given one since all this started. On the floor, there’s a bottle of water and a face flannel. Being sick is good for something, it appears.

The cell isn’t exactly cold, and he’s not feverish, but he does feel better with the blanket tucked around himself. Less uncomfortably exposed. He finds the most comfortable position he can on the narrow bunk.

It’s early to be trying to sleep. Between Torchwood and Lisa, he’d gotten used to getting by on only a few hours a night, but now he has 12 hours with nothing to do but sleep. He wishes he had a book, or a crossword. Anything.

He’s uncomfortably reminded of being sent to bed right after tea, while it was still light out and he could hear the other kids playing outside. Not supposed to be nice, he reminds himself. He ought to be ashamed of himself—moaning about being bored after what he’s done. Lisa had never complained when she was alone and in pain and—

If he’s going to think about Lisa, he ought to think about the good times. Their first date. They’d been having lunches together and emailing during the day for weeks, but he’d known if he wanted to get beyond being “work friends,” he’d have to invite her to something in the evening. He’d looked for an opportunity, finally settling on a film based on a book she’d mentioned she enjoyed.

He’d agonized over what to wear—she’d only seen him in suits—and settled on jeans and a pullover just before she arrived to pick him up. He didn’t have a car, was why they were taking hers, but he wondered if he should have picked her up in a taxi. What if she didn’t realize it was a date? Maybe he was old-fashioned, but he thought the man should do the picking-up on a date.

Seeing her—obviously happy to see him—had calmed his fears, until they got to the cinema and found that the film had sold out. He’d babbled about how he should have booked the tickets online, until she kissed him and said she didn’t care what they did, silly boy.

Still, after that he’d always taken care to plan ahead for their dates, make sure nothing went wrong if he could help it. When it was Lisa’s turn to choose, on the other hand, she decided at the last moment what they’d do. “A walk,” she’d said, on one of those occasions. “We’ll find one of those neighborhoods with funny old houses and hidden gardens, and have beer and chips in a pub we’ve never been to before.”

“It’s raining,” he pointed out.

“Drizzling! And you have an umbrella.”

“Do I?”

“You always have an umbrella,” she’d laughed. “And I always don’t. That’s why we’re perfect together.”

So they’d walked, arms round each other’s waists, under one umbrella, and when the pub they’d never been to before turned out not to have chips, they had sandwiches and crisps instead.

He sucks in a deep breath, pressing his thumb and forefinger against his eyelids. That’s not helping, either. Maybe, he decides, he’ll just do multiplication tables in his head until he falls asleep.

He’s gotten all the way to the twelves table at least half a dozen times before he falls asleep, but eventually he does, and he sleeps well. At some point, he tugs the blanket over his head, blocking out most of the light.

When Jack wakes him, he has a moment of muddled confusion—why’s he sleeping in work?—before he remembers exactly why. That’s never happened before—usually he sleeps lightly and wakes instantly.

“Feeling okay?” Jack asks.

He shakes his head to clear it. “Yes. Yes, sir, I’m fine.” He gets quickly to his feet, but Jack’s already started walking away.

Maybe Jack really was concerned over him yesterday—or else, more likely, he’d wondered if Ianto was feigning illness as part of some scheme. Perhaps a bit of both—it would be nice to be able to believe that. He neatly folds the blanket and puts it at one end of the bunk, then goes for a hot, unsupervised shower, hoping it’ll help him wake up.

It doesn’t. After showering, he’s still logy. He cuts himself shaving and is mildly surprised that the smell of blood doesn’t upset him any more than it ever had. Worse, though, is that he drops one of his cufflinks as he’s getting dressed. “Shit!” he says, watching it bounce along the floor (not as clean as he’d like) then “Shit!” as it tumbles into a drain.

Crouching by the drain, he peers down it. No sign of it, and the holes in the drain cover, while just large enough to admit a cufflink, are to small too put in even a finger. “Fuck.”

He has to get it back—they weren’t ever his favorite pair, just some cheap ones he got when he started at Torchwood One, but he only has one set now, and two of his three shirts have French cuffs. He takes off his shirt and pries up the drain cover.

He’s shoulder deep in the drain—where there’s really a shocking amount of soap scum—when Jack comes in. “What are you doing?”

Belatedly, Ianto remembers that he’s only supposed to have ten minutes to get washed and dressed. “Sorry, sir. I, ah, lost a cufflink.”

“Huh.” Jack disappears for a moment; Ianto quickly washes off his arm and puts his shirt on. He’s buttoning it up when Jack comes back, carrying a torch. Shining it down the drain, he says, “I think it’s gone for good—the drains in here go straight down to the sewer.”

Ianto is horrified to feel his nose prickling, as it does when he’s about to cry. It’s just a cufflink, for Christ’s sake—probably no one will even notice, once he has his jacket on, but he’ll notice, and he hates things like that. He presses his fingers against the bridge of his nose, his loose sleeve flapping down around his elbow. Fuck.

#

“I think I’ve found a space to set up for Ianto,” Tosh tells Jack a few days later. She still can’t decide how she feels about the assignment—it’s clear that she hadn’t managed to explain to Jack exactly why she objects to Ianto’s imprisonment. Even if they make up a part of the Hub so it could be mistaken for a suite at the Ritz, being held captive, legally dead, entirely subject to Jack’s (admittedly benevolent) whims is dehumanizing. She wonders if Jack truly doesn’t understand that, or just doesn’t want to.

“Great! Let’s see what you’ve got.”

She brings the plans up on Jack’s computer. “Here. It’s on the archives level—I think it was the archivist’s office at one point, but of course it’s unused now. There’s only a desk and a few other things we’ll have to move out. There’s no CCTV in the room now, but we can easily run one in from the wires in the corridor.”

The room is fairly large—before computerization, the archivist had probably needed plenty of space to keep active files at hand, as well as for items waiting to be catalogued. Most importantly, the office has a private washroom. A shower would have been nice, but Tosh has grim memories of the humiliation of being forced to use a bucket in her UNIT cell, and their cells don’t even have that, just a drain in the floor. While she supposes it’s not quite as bad for a man, if she has anything to say about it, Ianto’s new cell would have a toilet even if they had to plumb it in specially.

Jack nods. “Good. I want night vision on the cameras. Audio in and out, and set up the locks to function remotely, if you can.”

She frowned. “It’s an ordinary swing door. But I’ll see what I can do.”

Fortunately, the technical challenge allows her not to really think about what she’s doing. It takes a couple of days, but she manages everything Jack has asked for. “Good work,” he says. “I’ll get Ianto to help me shift the furniture. We might as well use the things out of his apartment—that’ll be nicer, won’t it? Having some of his own things.”

Nice, or obscene, Tosh isn’t sure which.

#

A few busy days in a row prevent Jack from getting Ianto’s new room fixed up right away, but when they finally have a slow day, he sends the others home early and calls Ianto down to the archives level with him.

“We’ll start by clearing out in here,” he explains. “There should be room for everything in the storage room at the end of the hall, if we start with the desk.”

Ianto nods. “Sir.” He takes off his jacket and hangs it on the doorknob. One sleeve flaps free; Ianto bites off a curse and rolls it up above his elbow. He takes off the other cufflink and puts it safely in his trouser pocket before rolling up the other sleeve and taking one end of the desk.

It’s an old desk, solid wood instead of particleboard and veneer, and more than once as they wrestle it down the corridor Jack wonders if they should have just pushed it to the side and left it in the room. Once they have it stowed, clearing out the rest of the junk doesn’t take long. He leaves Ianto sweeping the floor and goes to the room where they stored Ianto’s things.

They’ll need to take the bed, of course, and the dresser and nightstand. If the armchair and floor lamp will fit in the room, they’ll take those too. After a moment’s thought, he pokes through a box of knickknacks and adds it to the pile.

He’s wondering what he’s forgotten when Ianto coughs gently behind him. “Sir?”

“Finished? Right, let’s start with the bed frame.”

Ianto hesitates for a moment before going to take one end of the headboard. “I didn’t realize all this was in here.”

“We had to close up your flat when you died,” Jack points out.

“Yes, of course. I just didn’t—I didn’t realize.”

They work well together, putting the bed frame back together, Ianto holding the parts in place, and handing Jack the screws and screwdriver just at the moment he would have asked for them. He’d had a batman like that in the Great War—not as cute as Ianto, but you couldn’t have everything. Where he’d managed to find dry socks in a trench Jack had no idea, but at the time, he’d have much rather had those than all the cute boys in Britain.

Once they have everything set up, the room still looks stark. There’s nothing to be done about the walls—they’re stone, so there’s no way to hang pictures, and to repaint they’d have to move everything out again, which Jack isn’t about to do. “What else do we need?”

Ianto rubs the back of his neck. “I used to have a rug by the bed. Red. I don’t know if….”

Perfect. “If it was in your place, it’s in there somewhere.”

As they search for it, he comes across the bed linens. Owen and Gwen had put them in bin bags when they packed up, but they’re still a little musty. “You’ll probably want to wash these,” Jack says, throwing the bags into the doorway.

“Yes, sir,” Ianto says absently. “Here it is.”

The rug is, naturally, under several boxes and part of a table, but once they have it unrolled by the bed, Jack is sure it was worth it—exactly what the room needed. He puts the box of knickknacks on the bed—Ianto can unpack those himself, make the place his own. He puts his hands on his hips and surveys the room. “Looks good,” he decides.

“Yes, sir,” Ianto answers wearily. “Shall I get started on that laundry?”

“Sure.”

“Do you want the bed made up, then?”

Jack blinks. “Do you?”

“Sir?”

“It’s your room,” Jack points out.

Ianto glances at him, then looks down at his feet. “Oh—that’s…that’s really quite kind of you, sir.”

“You’re welcome—why, who did you think it was for?”

“Guests?” Ianto shrugs slightly.

“Not a bad idea, but this is for you. It’s time we had you out of that cell, if you’re going to be living here.”

Ianto huffs and rubs the back of his neck. “Thought you said I was dead, sir.”

A joke, really? Ianto must be feeling better. Jack grins. “I’ve been dead before, too—you’re in good company.” He’s lived through the official deaths of at least half a dozen cover identities, not to mention approaching two thousand literal, although temporary, deaths. He claps Ianto on the shoulder. “Get settled—I’ll be upstairs if you need anything.”

Tags: comfortable horrors, torchwood
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  • 24 comments

  • Torchwood Fic: The Road Back Home Again 1/1

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