Do I disappoint you in just being human
And not one of the elements that you can light your cigar on?
- Rufus Wainwright
Jack’s fallen out of the habit of answering his email, as he reasons that anything important will either explode or just ring him up and yell, and that’ll be all the warning he needs. Suzie still checks his email from time to time, mostly just to see if there’s anything Jack has missed that could prove helpful and relevant in the future. Jack may claim to be omniscient – he even has a coffee mug somewhere with words to that effect on it – but it’s Suzie’s job, as his second in command, to know the things that he doesn’t. And then pretend that he knew them all along.
Torchwood One went up barely a week ago; Suzie is mainly sad about the slaughter and destruction of the people, though on the whole it’s a good thing Yvonne Hartman won’t keep coming down and doing inspections because she found Torchwood Three unbearably unprofessional and kept threatening to take drastic measures. None of them were entirely sure what drastic measures constituted; Tosh had ten pounds on them being taken out and executed in the night, while Owen had twenty quid on them all being fed to the Ghosts. Jack just rolled his eyes and looked smug and knowing a lot, which is annoying and Suzie really will have a word with him about that sometime soon.
Amongst the various spam messages that have managed to get through even Tosh’s super-filter (mostly for penis enlargements; and Jack really doesn’t need the encouragement), Suzie finds an interesting little email from a man called Ianto Jones. He seems somewhat desperate for a job, since he used to work for Torchwood One and his workplace is now basically rubble and therefore not really handing out salaries any more. Jack is being very firm about the whole Torchwood One were cruel bastards and while we kind of are at least we’re not playing with the fabric of reality on our lunch breaks. Ok, well, apart from Tosh, anyway. Therefore we are not going to hire any of the survivors thing.
Suzie, on the other hand, is slightly more compassionate than her boss, and is also intrigued. Most of the other applicants just rang up sounding pathetic and crumbled at Jack’s first no. But Ianto Jones has written a logical and carefully-worded email that obviously took lots of effort, and Suzie sort of feels that that should be rewarded, somehow. She forwards Jones’ email into her own inbox, and then erases all evidence that the email ever existed from Jack’s, just to be on the safe side. Just over a year at Torchwood has taught her the best way to go about hiding things from Jack, if nothing else.
She’s reading through Ianto’s message again, sipping a mug of crap and half cold coffee, when Jack finally appears from wherever he’s been hiding himself this morning. He looks perky and gorgeous as ever, that sparkling white grin lighting up the room. Suzie kind of hates him for that, but watches him sweep through without pointing this out. Jack has a smile for Tosh, a glare for Owen (who is stumbling in late, drunk and wearing someone else’s shirt – again), and a come-hither look for Suzie. She shrugs him off with a glare that she hopes says something like it’s not even eleven o’clock in the morning, I am not awake enough for shagging in the shooting range. Jack just winks at her, and heads off to hide in his office doing whatever it is that he does in there.
“Do I want to know where you spent last night?” Suzie asks Owen, because she knows Tosh won’t. “Whose clothes are you wearing?”
Owen stares hopelessly down at the dark blue shirt he’s wearing. He’s a skinny bastard and the shirt is far too large for him, like he’s a little boy trying to make do with his dad’s clothes. On anyone else it would be kind of adorable; on Owen, who has bloodshot eyes and unattractive stubble, it just looks pathetic.
“Is this an intervention?” he demands. “Is this the boss trying to fix me?”
“We had an intervention last week,” Tosh pipes up helpfully. “There were leaflets and things, and Suzie called you a cross between Don Giovanni and a cockroach. And then you punched the autopsy room wall and cracked three tiles. And then went out and got drunk again.”
Suzie smiles slightly. Owen’s going through a bad patch and he really has no sense of self-preservation at all. They’re all doing their best to keep him from completely self-destructing; for one thing, they really need a doctor at Torchwood.
“I’m just curious about the shirt,” Suzie shrugs. “It’s a good look on you. Makes you look even more like you have some kind of eating disorder. Was that what you were going for?”
“Seriously,” Owen mumbles, head dropping onto his desk. “Fuck you.”
Tosh and Suzie raise their eyebrows at each other in a faintly judgemental way for a moment, and then turn back to their computers. Suzie decides to reply to Jones’ email, but clever arrangements of words don’t seem to want to pop into her head today. Instead, as she half-listens to Jack beginning what sounds suspiciously like phone sex with a UNIT official, Tosh typing so fast it’s a wonder her keyboard hasn’t disintegrated, and Owen making occasional groaning noises in the vain hope someone might take pity on him and bring him painkillers. No one does.
In the end, Suzie settles for: You’d have to be bloody mad to want to work here. Are you?
Lisa’s eyelids flutter and Ianto’s fingers clench in automatic panic. He can hear his heart beating too loudly in his ears and he’s been on edge for over a week, waking up from uneasy dozes hearing metallic footsteps, barely able to eat, and struggling to leave Lisa’s side. He still loves her, and he’ll always love her because she’s Lisa; crap camping holidays and French toast on Sundays and buying him cleaning products as spur-of-the-moment gifts. Now she’s covered in metal that’s part of her body, and Ianto has her hooked up to a machine that he can barely work that’s running most of her internal organs because they’re trying to give up the ghost, and he’s just so… tired.
Torchwood is all he knows, much as he wishes it wasn’t the case, and it’s really the only chance he has to try and save Lisa. He’s got her this far; he will not fail now. He cannot fail now. He spent over an hour putting together an email to send to Jack Harkness, listening to Lisa’s heart monitor all the while. He hasn’t had a reply yet, but he’s not giving up hope. Ianto is on the point of collapse, but he keeps promising himself that if he holds it all together for another day things might just get better.
An email arrives from someone called Suzie Costello: You’d have to be bloody mad to want to work here. Are you?
Ianto glances around his flat; at the metal structure taking up most of the living room with his semi-cyber girlfriend attached to it, the telephone unplugged in the corner because he can’t face talking, and, through the open door, the kitchen arranged neatly with all the utensils and cups arranged in size and colour order.
Very possibly, he types back.
Well, that’s a good start. There might be hope for you yet.
Ianto smirks wryly; it feels more like a grimace. Who are you exactly? I was trying to contact Captain Jack Harkness.
He waits four minutes for a reply; Lisa’s breathing hitches twice and his nails dig hard enough into his knees to leave marks on his jeans.
Jack is not going to hire you from an email. He doesn’t want people from Torchwood One. For once he’s being emphatic about it. I’m his second in command, but my power is only theoretical, so I can’t help you. Which is a shame, because you sound nice. If a little psychotic.
Ianto wants to be very, very sick. He draws in a breath between his teeth, trying to keep himself calm so he can work out what to do. For Lisa’s sake, he’s got to keep pushing.
I want this job, he writes, though it doesn’t seem to adequately express how much he really needs this all to work out. Is there anything I can do?
Well, Suzie responds, Can you make decent coffee? Oh, and my colleague wants to know if you can make a working hangover cure. Well, he would, if he wasn’t currently unconscious on his desk.
Torchwood Three does not sound all that much like Torchwood One, but Ianto doesn’t have a choice.
I can make coffee. I can make hangover cures. Will that help with Captain Harkness?
No, Suzie tells him. But it would help us. And really, it’s possible to get around Jack as long as you don’t treat any of this like a job interview. Are you willing to compromise your dignity?
Ianto looks around him and sniggers softly. I don’t think I’ve got any dignity left.
Suzie’s reply is quick in coming. Perfect. Meet me for a coffee tonight.
She supplies him with an address and times, and Ianto agrees. He’s not sure exactly what this is going to involve, but it can’t hurt. And for the first time in days, he actually feels interested in something. It makes a nice change.
In her pocket, Suzie carries a scrambler she’s stolen from the archives. It should damage any CCTV cameras that will record her meeting with Jones, so there’ll be nothing incriminating. Tosh cobbled it together out of some miscellaneous alien tech a few months ago; they’ve all learned about the importance of hiding certain things from Jack. Sometimes, it’s just easier for him not to know.
Ianto Jones is pretty, Suzie decides, picking him out easily in the crowded coffee shop because he’s the one who looks like he hasn’t slept in about a month and shivers occasionally for no reason at all. Still, he doesn’t appear to have a load of weird ticks and no visible horrible disfiguring from the Canary Wharf collapse, so he’s already doing well. Jack will like that.
“I’m Suzie,” she informs Jones without preamble, slipping into the chair opposite him. “And you look a lot less insane than you led me to believe.”
Jones smiles; it’s a nice smile, though Suzie thinks she can detect a hint of fear behind it. He shrugs minutely, staring down into his latte, and Suzie frowns.
“You really want this job,” she says, since Jones doesn’t seem all that forthcoming, “Which is, quite frankly, weird. People just end up falling into working for Torchwood Three, or else they’re pushed. We’ve never had someone turning up with a CV and a desperate work drive before. It’s worrying.”
“I don’t know what else to do,” Jones murmurs, in a lovely musical Welsh accent that Suzie likes immediately. She reckons that Jack will like it too; and really, that’s the point of this whole exercise anyway. Suzie is bored and Ianto Jones wants a job to a concerning degree, and therefore this has become another game of Don’t Tell Jack! Owen’s particularly good at Don’t Tell Jack! and Tosh has improved with time; it’s amazing the amount of stuff they’ve managed to get away with because they know how to get around their captain’s ultimatums.
“Well, to begin with, you need to be less self-pitying,” Suzie informs him frankly. “Because Jack will just see you as pathetic and he’ll write you off immediately.”
Jones considers this. “Does this mean I get an interview?” he asks cautiously.
Suzie startles him by laughing. “God, no!” Seeing that her giggling is making him more nervous than ever, she calms down. “Jack doesn’t want to hire you. He won’t let you in the Hub. He’ll just let you stand outside while he places bets with Owen on how long it’ll be until you go away.”
“Oh.” Jones bites his lip. “So why…”
“If you want into Torchwood then you can’t just walk up to Captain Jack Harkness and go: ‘I’d like a job please, I can type and make coffee and am rather pretty’. You need to get him interested in you. Intrigue him.”
“But I’m not intriguing,” Jones replies. “I’m boring, me. What you see is what you get.”
He’s lying; but well, and it’s so subtle Suzie nearly misses it. Her curiosity is definitely peaked now, but Jack isn’t going to go for the kid just because he’s hiding something. They’re all hiding something; it’s not exactly anything new.
“Jack doesn’t need to know that you’re dull,” Suzie points out. She notes a trace of relief in Jones’ eyes, as though pleased he’s got away with something. Yep, definitely a shifty one here. Suzie likes him even more. “Just act interesting and mysterious and the rest will fall into place.”
Jones nods, taking this on board, and Suzie wonders how well he’ll take her next piece of advice. Still, it can’t be helped; there’s really only one other sure-fire way of getting Jack interested in you.
“Also,” she says, “It might be better if you act like you want to date him, rather than just wanting a job.”
“Sorry, what?” Jones looks faintly scandalised. “I have a girlfriend!”
That won’t last. Torchwood isn’t good for loved ones. Still, it’s not Suzie’s place to point this out, so she doesn’t.
“I’m not saying you have to sleep with him or anything, I’m just saying. Be flirty. Coy. Touchy-feely. Compliment him a lot. That kind of thing.”
Jones is quiet for so long that Suzie thinks she might have gone too far and he’ll pull out now. Which is sad, if only because she’ll have to find something else to entertain herself with.
“…So all the files on him were true, then?” Jones asks carefully, eventually breaking the silence.
“If the files said things along the lines of utterly indiscriminate; will shag anything that has orifices, then yes.”
Jones laughs, finally.
“Oh, and one more thing,” Suzie adds, getting up to go. “Have you got any tight jeans?”
People who work for Torchwood all have that same hollow look in their eyes, the same vaguely manic edge to their smiles. Ianto’s seen it all before and even suspects that he may be developing that same insanity; it’s a less terrifying prospect now he’s lived through Hell and dragged his girlfriend out of the machinery into the bargain.
In spite of all that, he kind of likes Suzie Costello. She has that worrying edginess and Ianto isn’t sure exactly how far she saw through him, but he suspects that she is trying to help him, for whatever reason she’s decided on. Her motives are as unclear to Ianto as his appear to be to her, and really, that’s fine with him.
His phone rings. “What do you know about Weevils?” Suzie asks brightly.
Ianto stares at Lisa sleeping, eyelids twitching a little, the only clue that she’s actually still alive. He turns away, metallic light catching the edges of his vision.
“They’re ugly buggers,” he suggests, trying to recall the files that passed through his hands before the world fell apart.
“Got it in one.” Suzie laughs. “There’s one loose. You wanna go help Jack bring it in?”
“Er…” Ianto swallows. “Isn’t that the job of people who are actually on Torchwood’s payroll?”
“People who are on Torchwood’s payroll are saying ‘no bloody way’,” Suzie responds. “And really, if you’re trying to be intriguing, then knowing what classified aliens are is probably a good start.”
“And what if Captain Harkness just decides I’m a liability and doses me with retcon?” Ianto demands. Yvonne Hartman wouldn’t use retcon, but Ianto has heard about it, and he thinks it would be pretty inconvenient for him to have his memories wiped right now.
Suzie sighs, loudly, making the phoneline crackle. “If you’re not willing to take risks then you obviously don’t want this job as much as you said you did.”
Ianto bites his lip, glancing over to where Lisa is asleep on the sofabed, wires trailing out of her. She was always so beautiful, and now she just looks… so lost. He swallows hard.
“Tell me where to go.”
It’s all very well for Suzie to be so confident, but Ianto finds himself slightly afraid in the darkness. He can hear the Weevil somewhere in the trees, making soft snarling noises, and Ianto is unarmed because they wouldn’t give the research assistants guns at Torchwood One. His jeans feel too tight, and he can’t help feeling that all of this is a game that Suzie Costello has made up because she’s bored, and wants to see just how far she can push Ianto before he discovers it’s all a joke.
He finds out that Suzie wasn’t lying fast enough, as he finds the Weevil attempting to tear out the throat of a man in a long, grey coat. From Suzie’s vague and largely unhelpful descriptions, he gathers that this man is probably Jack Harkness, and it’s the work of a moment to find a large branch and knock the Weevil away with it. This only serves to make the Weevil decide it wants to eat him, but between them he and Harkness manage to subdue it. Maybe they make a pretty good team, or maybe Ianto’s just sick on adrenalin.
Even in the half-light, it’s easy to see that Jack Harkness looks like a film star. It suddenly becomes blindingly obvious why Yvonne spent hours making her hair just so before Harkness came up for random conferences. He feels obscurely pleased about the tight jeans, and then feels embarrassed. Still, he remains calm, aloof, and mysterious as he can. Suzie went to a degree of effort to get him this far, Ianto feels he ought to at least try and take her advice.
He mentions Weevils, which definitely throws Harkness a little, doesn’t break down in tears and demand a job, and does his best to be touchy-feely. Harkness flinches away too quickly, but Ianto likes to think that that means he’s got somewhere. Or getting somewhere. Or just not failing miserably. He feels so desperate that it’s amazing that he can keep his slight smirk pinned to his face. Harkness gives him no openings at all, picking up the Weevil and striding off, but Ianto can’t resist calling:
“By the way; love the coat.”
He thinks Suzie would be proud of him.
Jack is in an amusingly bad mood when he returns, Weevil slung over his shoulders. It’s just starting to regain consciousness, making irritated groaning noises, and Owen looks less than pleased because he’s the one who’s going to have to drag the creature down to the cells and hope it doesn’t want to bite his fingers off. Actually, Owen is doing all these really sinister experiments with the Weevils that Suzie doesn’t want to know about, so maybe he’ll take the Weevil downstairs and then sit about sticking needles in it or shag it or whatever it is he does.
“Ianto Jones.” Jack spits the name at Suzie like it’s an obscenity, and Suzie assumes an appropriately confused expression. “Just get me all the information you can on him, ok?”
Tosh has her coat on and looks completely tired and ready to go home, but Suzie tells her to go home, she’ll handle it. Of course, she put together the file on Ianto Jones a couple of days ago, but Jack doesn’t need to know that. She’s certainly not going to tell him, and instead spends the time playing minesweeper and eating Hob Nobs, while Jack tramps about being annoyed and kicking things, and Owen remains down in the cells being creepy with the Weevils. Suzie can’t help thinking she’d just prefer it if they both just went out and slutted about in Cardiff; it is at least quieter.
The file she’s compiled for Jack has been carefully arranged to make Ianto look as appealing as possible. It’s partially a continuation of this game, but Suzie is also getting curious as to how far she can manipulate Jack. If she finds out his limits then she can push them.
“Are we trying to shag him or shut him up?” she asks, leaning over Jack’s shoulder. It worries her slightly how easily she can lie to Jack, and how easily he believes her, but it’s not something she’s going to dwell on. Especially not with Jack resting his head back against her, her chin brushing against his hair. It seems more intimate than it is, but nonetheless Suzie can’t help smiling.
“Maybe both,” Jack shrugs. “I think I’ll keep my options open.”
“You are such a whore,” Suzie whispers, with a trace of a giggle.
Jack laughs softly, a warm rumble of sound. Suzie knows she’s going to lose him, and she’ll let him go easily because, well, she doesn’t love him and really, sleeping with Jack just adds another edge to the madness Torchwood forces on you. She’s not quite certain whether Jack slept with Tosh, but she knows he shagged Owen, and she’s fully aware that if she can get Ianto hired Jack will turn his attentions to the new guy, and he’ll have no more time for Suzie. And it’s fine, because this isn’t anything.
But God, it’s fun while it lingers.
“How about you finish reading that in the morning?” she asks quietly, fingers stroking through the back of his hair. One last gasp, she reflects flatly.
“He’s a security liability,” Jack points out, though he sounds persuadable. He and Suzie have been contentedly being unprofessional here for the last two years, and while she doesn’t know any more about Jack than what she’s managed to glean from his classified files, and Jack knows nothing about her either, and it doesn’t matter. “He knows what Weevils are.”
“Most of Cardiff knows what Weevils are,” Suzie points out. “We just pretend they don’t because Owen vetoed our idea of putting retcon in the water supply.”
Jack sighs. “That was annoying,” he murmurs, and she knows she has him now.
Suzie reaches over him to flip the cardboard file of printouts closed.
Ianto has mud stuck to his jeans, and he’s taken about three showers just to get the smell of Weevil off him. They didn’t have Weevils in London, and life as a researcher was far quieter. Of course, they did occasionally have aliens who forced themselves through wormholes created by artefacts stored on the lower levels, or aliens who’d written themselves into computer programmes and who then amused themselves by creating powercuts or writing insults at the Torchwood staff in binary code. Still, that was tolerable, and there was a distinct lack of vicious teeth.
“I’m doing every thing I can, Lee,” he tells his silent girlfriend. The only response he gets is the slightly irregular beeping of the heart monitor, and he swallows against a sudden ache in his throat. “They’re so strange here,” he adds. Lisa is his best friend, as well as his girlfriend, and he slowly begins to talk it out. “It’s dangerous here,” he murmurs. “Which is stupid, ‘cause it turns out Torchwood One wasn’t that safe, but… there’s no safety nets. No back-up. And these Weevil things… uglier than they looked on a computer screen, bloody hell they’re ugly.”
He laughs, though it sounds a little like a choke. Lisa’s eyelids flicker, but nothing happens. Ianto wasn’t expecting anything to happen.
“I’m in over my head here,” he whispers. “And I don’t even have the bloody job yet.”
The phone rings; it’s nearly midnight. There’s no one else it could be.
“You’re on Jack’s radar,” Suzie informs him cheerfully. “Isn’t he pretty?”
Ianto honestly isn’t sure how to reply. “Does he dress like that all the time?” he asks.
“Yep.” Suzie laughs slightly, and Ianto realises something.
“You’re sleeping with him, aren’t you?” he says.
“Me and half of Cardiff,” Suzie replies easily. “And that’s really not at all relevant to getting you employed, so we’re not going to carry on with this line of conversation, ok?”
There’s an edge in her voice that Ianto can’t place, but he obediently doesn’t continue questioning her.
“Where do I go from here?”
“Jack’s going to look you out in the morning,” Suzie replies. “He had me researching you when he got back this evening. So why don’t you be here, save him the trouble?”
Ianto thinks about this. It seems to make sense. “What do I say? ‘Please hire me, I hit a Weevil with a branch last night’?”
“Don’t be desperate,” Suzie advises. “And bring coffee. Oh, and dress better.”
“You were the one who said I should wear tight jeans,” Ianto protests mildly.
“And they did the trick. Jack’s noticed you now. Be tidy.”
Ianto is suddenly very tired, anxiety and adrenalin making his body feel clogged and heavy.
“Is this actually going to work or are you just enjoying bossing me about?” he asks.
Suzie laughs. “Bit of both. See you tomorrow.”
“What are you doing?” Owen asks, walking over to where Suzie and Tosh are sharing microwave popcorn and watching CCTV footage on the computer screens. “Is Jack shagging someone on the invisible lift again?”
“No.” Tosh flushes, becoming intently interested in their popcorn.
“You are such a pervert,” Suzie mutters. “It’s disgusting, really.”
“You’re the one shagging Jack,” Owen whispers in her ear. Suzie ignores him, staring at the screen as though her life depends on it. Ianto hasn’t listened to her; he’s getting all impassioned, face crumpling, and this wasn’t what he was supposed to do at all.
“Do you think Jack will just push him in the Bay?” Tosh asks.
“He only did that the one time,” Suzie replies.
“Who is he?” Owen enquires, pulling his chair over and reaching for some popcorn.
“Pretty, isn’t he?” Suzie raises an eyebrow at Owen, who just shrugs.
“He’s ok. Is he auditioning to be Jack’s new gigolo?”
“Pretty much,” Tosh tells him. “He wants a job here. Jack’s not having any of it, of course.”
“I don’t know why he’s so picky about applicants,” Owen says through a mouthful of popcorn. “I mean, he let us in, so he’s not exactly after the cream of the crop or anything.”
“I feel insulted,” Tosh murmurs.
“Not everyone’s a borderline alcoholic with an anger management disorder and terrible taste in clothes,” Suzie adds, glaring at Owen. “Some of us are good at our jobs.”
Owen snorts with slight amusement, and Suzie has to admit that he sort of has a point, reluctant as she is to admit it. Torchwood makes you apathetic to a fault; sooner or later you don’t even care about the job itself, let alone the outside world.
“Bad move,” Tosh observes, as Ianto reaches out, hand on Jack’s chest, trying to stop him sweeping past him.
“If Jack breaks his fingers I’m not patching him up,” Owen adds. “Pity it’s not going to work out, he’s not bad looking at all.”
“Yes,” Suzie says, turning to look at him, “He’ll be so much fun in those team orgies that take place nowhere but in your imagination.”
Owen rolls his eyes at her, but doesn’t retaliate. They both go back to watching Ianto spectacularly cock up his discussion with Jack, and while Tosh and Owen snigger and commentate on every false move, Suzie tries to work out why Ianto is so desperate that he falls to pieces when directly trying to get Jack to hire him. He needs this job, and not just for the rather excellent paycheck. It’s not necessarily a good thing, that sort of fervent need, but Suzie’s got this far and she’s not going to back down now.
“Poor boy,” Tosh sighs, while Owen makes a sound rather like a plane crashing. Jack has successfully managed to evade Ianto, and is striding off with his coat swirling behind him. Ianto is looking dejected, sighing into the mug of coffee.
“Show’s over,” Owen remarks, getting up and dusting popcorn off his fingers. “Call me back if Jack decides to seduce anything.”
Tosh waits until Owen’s gone before turning to Suzie with the flames of a plan in her eyes. “Do you think we should help him get hired?”
Well, Suzie reflects, at least she’s not the only one bored enough to want to toy with Ianto Jones.
“You are a very pathetic failure,” Suzie informs him flatly.
“I know.” Ianto stares down at his coffee, unable to look at her. He knows that he’s blown it; but face to face with Jack Harkness, who is somehow more intimidating in daylight than he was in shadow, he couldn’t find a way to be logical and helpful. Instead, all his panic welled up inside him and poured out.
“Begging is not dignified,” Suzie adds. “And there’s a big difference between ‘being touchy-feely’ and ‘shoving’.”
“I know.” Ianto sighs, feeling like the World’s Biggest Fuck-Up. He can’t even think about what’s going to happen to Lee now; how long he can keep her sustained in his flat. Already, the electricity bill is beyond what he can pay, and sooner or later the neighbours are going to start asking questions. “I’m never going to get a job now, am I?”
“I didn’t say that,” Suzie replies, with a hint of amusement in her voice. Ianto finally raises his head, barely daring to hope. “You’ve mucked up big time, but it’s not beyond fixing. And Tosh has decided she wants to help you too.”
“Tosh?” Ianto has no idea what Tosh is but he’s perfectly willing to accept anything that’s offered.
“Toshiko Sato,” Suzie clarifies. “She’s our resident techie. She pities you.”
Ianto doesn’t have a good feeling about this. “Why does she pity me?”
“We watched you talking to Jack on our CCTV. Tosh was practically flinching by the time Jack finally got past you. She wants to help you out now.”
Ianto likes that more members of Torchwood Three are on his side, but on the other hand he can’t help feeling that he’s only being used for entertainment purposes.
“Am I just a game that you’re all enjoying playing?” he asks, trying not to sound too angry.
Suzie shrugs. “Well, yes. But you’re benefiting anyway, so I wouldn’t bitch too much.”
Ianto drinks some of his coffee, which is getting cold, and wonders exactly how he’s going to get into Torchwood now, seeing as how he is no longer enigmatic and instead now seems somewhat psychotic and unstable. And he really doesn’t know how to feel about Jack Harkness, who is scary and fascinating and cold and hard and unlike anyone Ianto has ever met before.
“You’re going to need a Rift Activity Monitor,” Suzie informs him, draining the last of her cappuccino. “That way you can be there every time Jack goes to face an alien.”
“So your plan is that I stalk Harkness until he either hires me or kills me to get me to leave him alone?” Ianto enquires dryly.
Suzie nods. “Pretty much. Have you got a better idea, or did you just want to snivel desperately at him some more?”
Ianto feels his jaw tense, but Suzie kind of has a point. “I have a Rift Activity Monitor that I took from Torchwood One,” he admits. “But it’s broken.”
Suzie grins. “Not going to be a problem. Tosh and I can get it back to you in full working order in about an hour.”
Ianto wanted joining Torchwood Three to be less complicated than this, less degrading than this. But the option of choice was taken away from him too long ago, and the thought of not being able to use the Hub’s facilities to help Lisa makes him feel physically sick.
He tries not to think too hard about Jack Harkness, and how intrigued he is, because that simply is not an option.
“Did we do the right thing?” Tosh frets. Jack has been gone over an hour now, and the last thing they managed to hear through the comms channel was Jack informing Ianto that he’d run him over if he didn’t get out of Cardiff.
“Look at it this way,” Suzie sighs, “There aren’t that many outcomes. First outcome is that Jack has murdered Ianto and has hidden him somewhere, which is psychopathic even by Jack’s standards. Or he and Jack have gone to get the pterodactyl together, it’s worked out ok, and Jack has hired Ianto. Or, other worse case scenario, the pterodactyl has eaten Ianto, and so we get a new pet with a taste for human flesh. Which I’m sure Owen will have hours of fun with.”
“I’m telling you,” Owen says, walking up the steps from the autopsy room, “That pterodactyl is your bloody responsibility, Suzie. There aren’t giant flying things in my job description.”
“You don’t have a job description,” Tosh reminds him.
“If I did, pterodactyls wouldn’t be in it,” Owen replies firmly.
“Pteradons,” Tosh corrects mildly.
They are actually going to drive themselves mad down here one day, though Suzie doesn’t bother pointing this out. Instead, she focuses on helping Tosh build an intranet section for Ianto; he’ll need his own sign-on for the system.
“Getting a bit ahead of yourself, aren’t you?” Owen asks.
“Ianto will get hired,” Tosh responds, with more certainty than Suzie feels. Still, Tosh is the considerably more stable one, so Suzie feels more inclined to trust her than trust herself.
“Yeah, ‘cause he made such a good impression this morning,” Owen mutters.
Suzie sighs. “If you’re not going to be helpful, you can fuck off,” she snaps. “Shouldn’t you be off shagging drunk and indiscriminate women by now?”
Tosh flushes a little. “I’m going to make some coffee,” she says quickly. “Does anyone want some?”
Tosh makes bloody awful coffee; they all do, actually. It’s possibly part of the reason Suzie’s been trying so hard to get Ianto hired; someone has to be able to make something drinkable around here.
“I’ll take some,” she says anyway.
Once Tosh is safely out of earshot, Owen leans down a little. “Would you like to be drunk and indiscriminate sometime?” he asks.
Suzie bites her tongue. “Are you asking me out on a date, Owen?” she enquires, tone scathing.
“I’m inviting you out for a drink,” he continues smoothly. “How about it?”
“Not tonight.” Suzie doesn’t turn around, closing her eyes.
“That’s not a ‘no’,” Owen observes quietly.
“No.” Tosh will kill her, but Suzie is ultimately selfish. “It’s not a ‘no’.”
Jack crackles through on Suzie’s earpiece, and she elbows Owen away. “What’s up?” she asks.
“I seem to have hired this Ianto Jones guy,” Jack tells her, sounding cocky and amused. “He’ll need a computer sign-on and everything. And make sure Owen’s around and sober; we’ve got one super unconscious pterodactyl coming in.”
“Pteradon,” Suzie mutters, and tells herself that her heart isn’t breaking in her chest.
Ianto doesn’t sleep all night, and meets Suzie by the Bay early the next morning. She’s holding the small black box Ianto recognises as her signal scrambler; there will be no CCTV evidence of this meeting. She looks as tired as he feels, face pale, eyes dark.
Things are all a little complicated, and Ianto is reasonably certain that he wouldn’t have been hired if he hadn’t led Jack on, just a little. The problem is that it didn’t feel like he was leading him on; for a few minutes, the adrenalin flowing sharp in his veins and a fucking pterodactyl trying to attack him – he’s going to have to subtly tell Tosh that the chocolate idea is wrong wrong wrong at some point – it didn’t feel like he was leading Jack on. It just felt normal and crazy and he forgot Lisa there, for a moment, lying on the floor with Jack’s warm, heavy weight on top of him.
Jack Harkness is dangerous, and things are starting to make a little more sense to Ianto.
“Thank you,” he murmurs.
“Don’t bloody thank me,” Suzie replies, the words falling between her teeth. “You won’t feel so grateful in a few days’ time when you realise just what you’ve let yourself in for.”
“I suppose not.” Ianto scrapes up a smile. He’s in another suit, fresh and crisply neat as Torchwood One always insisted. “Still, if there’s anything I can do-”
“Just one thing.” Suzie’s smile is tight, a little anxious at the edges. “Jack doesn’t ever find out about this, ok?”
“Ok,” Ianto says.
“I mean it.” Suzie turns to stare at him, refusing to let him drop her gaze. “Jack doesn’t ever know. Not even if I die and you’re left around afterwards to bitch about me. Not even if you fall madly in love with him and decide there’ll be no secrets between you two. This has to stay a secret. Jack doesn’t ever know that I helped you, all right?”
“I promise,” Ianto responds. And then: “I won’t fall madly in love with him.”
“Of course not.” Suzie laughs loosely.
They begin to walk towards the Hub; Ianto is due to report in a couple of minutes, and then he’ll have to find out just what his future holds now.
“Am I going to regret this?” Suzie asks conversationally.
“Regret what?” Ianto responds, though of course he knows exactly what.
“Am I going to regret helping you get hired?” Suzie must know that he’s hiding something; she knows but maybe she doesn’t actually care.
“Probably.” Ianto smiles slightly.
“Ok.” Suzie touches his shoulder briefly. “Just so I know.”