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She's already mentally calling him "New Boy" before she even sees how young he is. No doubt he thinks that the suit ages him—makes him look dour and imposing, perhaps, especially with that morose expression—but really, it makes him look more like a kid playing dress-up. Especially as there's a miniature smear of shaving cream cropped behind his earlobe.

Jack's spotted it as well. She can tell because his eyes go all soft and lusty when he sees it, and she knows that look. She can't help the scorn she conveys to Jack with narrowed eyes even as she and New Boy are shaping each other up for the first time, and the kid's eyes move between her and Jack and back again. She can practically see the cogs turning behind that high forehead.

Cogs are nothing if not her speciality. She lets her awareness of his thought processes show frankly on her face, looking right back at him, and he looks away again. Back to Jack. Of course.

Because she knows Jack's cogs as well—his stupid, lusty ones especially—enough for her to label New Boy before she even met him. That designation had been made the moment Jack had bounded into her bed and kept up a constant excited chatter about dinosaur hunting, until she held his head between her legs to shut him up. Not the most tactful of people, is Jack, but she's always known that, and if nothing else, this should be fun to watch.

*

Jack's not like this every time. Sometimes Suzie wonders what it would have been like if he'd recruited her, instead of them being thrown together. Maybe the Jack she would have been introduced to then would have been the awe-inspiring figure exposing his underground world with a mixture of intimidation and charm. If that were the case, though, Suzie suspects she would have just fucked right off instead of being a part of that paternalistic shite. It's probably moot; she suspects that if they hadn't collided with enough force to knock Jack out of his violent, hedonistic solo streak, he wouldn't have sought anyone else out of his own accord.

She doesn't really like that other Jack—not the Jack that was rolling around before she came along, but the one that Toshiko and Owen get to see. The one who puts on airs of authority, the one who cinches his armour to present a fearsome and reliable face to those who adore him.

Because the first time she saw him he was practically inside out. She knows what his insides look like, knows the smell of his blood, knows the sound of his bones knitting back together and the abrasive sound of his first savage gasp of life.

New Boy must know too. If Jack was fucking dinosaur hunting then she wouldn't put it past him to have been killed in action. For Toshiko and Owen, it's still a secret; and their introductions to alien species and underground base were grand and sweeping. Jones gets no such initiation, and watching him with Jack, Suzie can't tell if Jack's decided to throw him in the deep end, or if it's more that he's welcomed Jones into his house and is now waiting for his approval.

*

Jack tells her New Boy hunted him down. Suzie wonders how much truth there is in that; Jack has a tendency to bullshit the most mundane of facts, and speak truthfully about the most unbelievable. She wonders what tale he'd tell about her; of who followed who.

Well, in the first it had been less pursuit and more mere discovery. She hadn't called an ambulance. It had been pretty obviously too late by the time she came across his body, and with the ordered stasis of his internal organs, she'd felt swept away on a profound sense of calm. It was always exteriors that riled her, internal workings she knew; all predictable systems and structures. Seeing it all reconnect and close back together then had only heightened her fascination.

Once he'd walked away she'd crept forward again to examine the bloodstains, still wet and tacky when she brushed her fingers against the asphalt, dark and red against her fingertips. Then she'd run out of the narrow street and around the corner, in time to see the sweep of his coat billow out as he turned another.

She'd followed him into a pub, watched him tuck the coat around the stained ruins of his shirt, and watched him slam back a double of whiskey. Then she'd sat on the stool next to him and told him he had a very pretty liver.

He'd told her the most fantastical bullshit while all she'd wanted was to wriggle her hands under the coat, feel the clammy warmth of the bloodstained fabric, feel the state of the skin she'd seen forming over the glorious mess. At least, that had been all she wanted until he'd ineptly dropped something into her drink, clearly thinking she hadn't noticed. She played along, soothing her rising rage with plans to wait until they were alone before she'd use the stun gun she had in her purse to fry his fucking balls.

He'd stumbled out before she had a chance, though—maybe he'd caught on to her ruse, because he didn't even try to get her to go with him—and she followed him back to the Bay, a righteous kind of revenge burning in her belly, mixing with the lust-like excitement that had kindled when she'd first come across him.

It took a third blow of her fist to his face to knock him down, his footing unsteady on the tilting ground of Roald Dahl Plass. The toe of her boot impacted with his soft belly as if to prove to herself that she wasn't afraid of it, of him; the strength of the blow half-fuelled by the conviction that he wasn't going to break open again, and half by the thought that if he was, she could watch it repair all over again.

Every time she thinks back to that night a new crux becomes illuminated under her scrutiny. A fight turned into a fuck when she twisted her hands in the stained-red fabric of his shirt. Or when he'd watched her mouth, in the bar, as she'd murmured to him about the colour of his lungs. Or from the start, when the sound of his hoarse gasp had set her heart pounding, and heat growing between her legs.

*

She likes to make an entrance as much as Jack does; she feels her own fierce territorialism over the Hub, a vast amount moreso than she feels over Jack. Perhaps because, in a way, she won this space from him, with determination and a fierce conviction that here is where she wants to be, therefore here is where she's going to be. That she deserved it, more than his self-pitying squatting did.

She can empathise with Jack's desire to wield power through mystery—one of the many things that makes them so alike—but they differ in that whereas Jack likes to hint at the vast scope of his secrecy, she prefers a more insidious form of nondisclosure.

She never waits around to be introduced, isn't going to be on display as Jack's to be presented to any newbies. Instead she's been in a hazmat suit as she sinks her arms up to her elbows into the gelatinous viscera of a pachydandroid corpse (the square lens of the panel in the headpiece framing Toshiko's nervous gaze as Suzie stares impassively out). She's been masked by her welding gear, only shutting off the torch when Jack's shouted a third time to get her attention (Owen's mouth a thin, blade-like line as he keeps his gaze lowered to her equipment).

And she's gloved and goggled in the armoury as she methodically dismantles and cleans their weapons. When Jack sweeps in it's not to introduce her—aside from perfunctorily, "Ianto Jones, Suzie Costello; my second in command,"—it's to select guns. Jones shakes her hand despite its coating of grease, his expression politely bland, and Jack shoots her a pleased glance before sweeping him out again with a skip in his step and pair of pistols.

To the shooting range, then. Suzie wipes her hand off on a rag and flicks on the armoury's ancient-looking CCTV monitor.

*

It's later, much later, when Jack finds her at the range herself. She doesn't turn around as he saunters right into her personal space, and that's part of the game, too. He knows how much she hates it; but she's not willing to give into the rage of it just yet. It's so typical of him—so typically them—for him to walk up carelessly, without warning, when she's got a live weapon in her hands.

Suzie wonders if their gloss has worn off. Once upon a time he might have startled her into slamming the butt of the gun into his nose; now she's used to his provocation, she's relaxed into knowing it couldn't be anyone else.

She's still got her arms outstretched, gun clasped in front of her when Jack lifts off her earmuffs and presses himself against her back. His arms come around, hands cupping her breasts firmly. He rubs his prickly jaw against the side of her neck, looking forward. "Bullseye."

She squeezes off another shot just to feel him jolt against her in surprise at the bang; it's worth the shock to her unprotected hearing. An amused puff of his breath dampens the skin below her ear, but she's holding herself tight enough to keep the instinctual shiver to a tremble in the core of her chest.

She smirks; on the tip of her tongue to share that that had been her own comment on observing the CCTV earlier. It's no wonder Jack's plastered against her now, hands squeezing her tits and hard-on pressing against her arse. New Boy had stood here and delicately unwrapped Jack's self-assured calm without Jack even noticing; and without more than the most professional of contact. Bullseye. Jack loves it, even though she's sure he's not entirely aware of what's going on. That's why he loves it, even.

"Thought you'd be all worn out from playing with your new toy," she observes dryly, as if she hadn't been watching. She's certain Jack doesn't know any better; after all, she's told him more than once that she doesn't give a shit what (or who) else he gets up to.

Jack chuckles, then draws her earlobe between his teeth and bites down lightly. His tightening grip gathers the flesh of her breasts to a delicious ache, and he scratches his thumbnails over the layers of fabric covering her nipples. Then he loosens his hold, pressing the heels of his palms against the hardened peaks, and continues to drag his touch downwards. One of his arms settles around her waist, his other hand sliding, palm-flat, underneath the high waist of her skirt. She steps her legs a little wider apart as his hand pushes into her knickers, the snug waistband of the skirt cutting into her lower back as his forearm strains against the stiff fabric.

His fingertip rubs a dry circle around her clit. "When I became a man," he murmurs against the side of her neck, "I put away childish things."

The smug tickle of words against her skin makes the hair on her neck rise, her hackles, a roil of irritation in her belly even as her cunt warms and wets. Her fingers twitch around the weapon. She wants to shove it in his mouth, stopper his talking, but the urge isn't all about the immediacy of shutting him up; she should shove it up his arse instead, see how much of a man he'd be then.

He'd let her, too. That's half the reason he's quoted scripture at her in the first place, she's sure of it. Because this is their game, verbal as well as physical; he riles her up, he takes whatever she dishes out. Not healthy, maybe, but Suzie doesn't give a fuck because it works.

Jack fingers her cunt and murmurs to her about working his stiff prick up into it, and she lets the familiar fumes of arousal poison her senses.

*

It's not Jack's infatuation that's rubbing her the wrong way about New Boy, that much she's sure about. It's the Torchwood One connection.

At least, that's the only thing that really makes sense about her unease. Owen had been with her and Jack on their expedition to Canary Wharf in the aftermath, and though he's a total prick most of the time, it's more like all of the time where Jones is concerned. So it's not necessarily just her.

Ianto Jones is an impossible thing. He shouldn't have survived it. Suzie is no stranger to trauma, but she still can't quite make the connection. Not between the ruin of concrete dust and pulverised glass stuck to the wet ends of dismembered limbs; and this bland mannequin in a suit.

Toy indeed; like a child, Jack is more interested in playing with the packaging than what comes inside, that much she can predict without much effort.

And it's not as if Jones' immediate presence makes that clusterfucked bloodbath more personal to her. That has not a fucking thing to do with him. When she came to work at the Hub, Jack's interactions with One were little more than pissing contests, but once she found out the amount of resources they had—including the massive volume of staff, in comparison to their duo at Three—she couldn't just leave him to it.

It had started calculatingly, insinuating herself into the engineering department, requesting files, then information, and then, of course, gossip. Which was less about gathering sensitive intel and more about having someone to talk to. Not that she and Jack didn't communicate; but fucking and fighting are a little more wearying than camaraderie through email.

She struck up enough of a rapport with her technical counterpart at One that the chime of a new email always gave her a little buoyant surge of anticipation. It always seemed to ease the saturation of the Hub around her, then—knowing that the entirety of the world wasn't this mess of fucked-up-ness tangled about the Hub, knotting her and Jack together. That somewhere, miles away in a glass tower, someone else was shagging a colleague in a highly inappropriate manner. And regaling Suzie with it, all the gory details sodden with sarcasm and an entirely genuine tone of filthy glee. Which Suzie was always more than happy to return, with her own stories.

She might even have been a little in love. It was certainly a reflection of just how fucked-up it was in the Hub with Jack; that she'd develop a fixation on a woman she'd never met. She'd fantasize it was mutual, that it was physical, would rub her clit frantically with her eyes squeezed shut while she imagined a visit to London. Her cohort's sarcastic tone would be just as droll and fucking hot in person, and she'd give Suzie a running commentary as she led her into the copier room where she already had her man trussed up. Suzie knew more about his cock than his face, so details were limited, but sometimes instead the man was Jack. Sometimes it was just Suzie and her.

Hallett and Costello. The combination of their names made Suzie laugh every fucking time, until she was kicking through the debris of the tower and wondering if this was it, this was the moment she'd get to see the inside of that woman's body. What a fucking joke the universe was.

So she folded it up, put it away, wiped her email, left Owen to help UNIT gather the body parts and scavenged for technology with Jack instead. Then fucked Jack to death in his hotel room, riding him as he brought her hands to his throat; his cock still stiff in her cunt as she fucked him back to life again.

So, fuck the New Boy and his past. If he has one. Maybe—and she only ever thinks about this sideways, her thoughts skittering away from it again instantly—he's unnerving because he's too like her. And Jack is more discerning than she assumes; behind Jones' firmly buttoned front is a roiling mess of bitterness, and that's what Jack likes about him. What Jack likes about her.

It's more plausible to think that he's creepy because he's so bland, though. Her thoughts come back to it again and again, an almost physical unease: she can't reconcile the sight of his blank face—or how he wears the suits with all the life of a coat hanger—and the violence that destroyed One. More likely that he's some kind of robot himself, or maybe an escaped cipher, born from the cells of Torchwood Tower and imprinted on the first mess he opened his eyes upon.

*

She makes him uncomfortable. Not deliberately, but she's certainly not going to try and stop now that she knows she does. He probably thinks it's because she had him pinned from the start, same way he had her—Jack, fucking Jack, least subtle man in the known (and probably unknown) universe—or maybe she and New Boy just operate on the same wavelength.

His attempts at keeping Jack wrapped around his little finger are so blatantly obvious to her; and for that alone he deserves to feel awkward. And if he thinks it's because he's in competition with her? Not that it doesn't rub her the wrong way, but she's not about to correct him if the assumption makes him tense and sweat whenever she so much as looks critically in his direction.

Seeing the twitch of nervousness flit across his face at least gives her a little hope that they haven't been infiltrated by some kind of soulless, butler-shaped android. It even endears him to her a bit, though she scoffs to even think about it. It's almost a shame; they might have been friends, if he hadn't been so fucking rigidly blinkered in his pursuit of Jack.

Never mind. It's more fun to make him squirm, anyway. The metaphor of an insect pinned by a killing beam of sunlight under a magnifying glass would be suitable here, she supposes; but that's probably more Owen's savage childhood than her own. Suzie had always much preferred torturing her primitive machines.

She hears him come into the archives and doesn't bother turning around, though the sound of his stumble when he must catch sight of her is something she would have liked to see. Especially as CCTV doesn't cover this area of the Hub. Still, best to let it play out; it'll throw him off track if she's unconcerned by his presence. As if she's perfectly comfortable. As if this is her domain.

"Can I help you with something?"

He hasn't approached her like she'd hoped he would (in her wildest fantasies for this moment he'd snatch the paperwork off her as if they were the deeds for Jack's arse; she'd laugh in his face and maybe that would even give him an expression). When she glances over her shoulder, peering over the rims of her specs, he's still standing by the doorway, his back at the lintel as if he's braced there, or as if seeing her had sent him reeling and that's where he landed.

Suzie turns back to peer down through her lenses again. It's fucking dark and miserable in this bit of the Hub. Well, darker and miserabler. She wonders if he just comes down here and turns off as soon as he's not in sight of the rest of them, arms slack and head tilted down at an odd, limp angle. Lifeless in the dark.

"Just looking for something," she murmurs distractedly, not turning around. She turns a leaf of the file resting on the table in front of her, then drums her fingernails arrhythmically against the scratched, wooden surface.

His shoes make scraping sounds against the concrete as he approaches. He stands a pace or so away from the side of the desk, not coming within reach and not touching her papers. She cuts her gaze across; can't see his face without lifting her head, but she sees his fists clenching and unclenching next to his thighs.

"Can I help you with something?" he repeats stiffly, and a little impolite. Oooh.

"You know," she says, still not looking up. "I really think I can manage."

"If there's something you're looking for—"

"After all," she continues, speaking over him. She doesn't lift her voice, doesn't change her unfriendly drawl, but it's enough to cut him off. "I know this place." She looks up at him, feels a thrill at the sight of his tight jaw, the wideness of his eyes. She pins him with her gaze. "Inside out."

He doesn't respond but he doesn't look away either, and she hadn't meant her words to come through as more of a threat than pure dismissiveness, but she can't take it back now, and besides, doesn't want to. He's squirming, all right, skin colourless and clay-sheened in the dim, fluorescent lighting, his body a block of tension. When she scrapes another sheet of paper against the table, he jolts at the sound.

New Boy, something inside of her trills in vicious victory; he's just a fucking child, trying to play games he's not anywhere near fucking capable of. Or, she'd had it right the first time around, he's a toy, solely to be played with.

Robot indeed. She wonders if Jack's fucked him yet. It might void his warranty. Then again, not if that's what he's for.

"I know what you're up to," she says, glancing down at the papers again to reinforce the fact that she really doesn't give a damn. When she looks up again, though, he looks like someone has just turned him off, expression frozen on the lip of panic. "You're not exactly subtle, Ianto," she continues, her tone teetering the sharp edge of scorn; exasperated that he couldn't play along any more, that he's so shocked at the thought that he was indiscreet. That his hamfisted—albeit effective—tactics at seducing Jack were so transparent.

"Never seen someone put so much effort into getting into Jack's pants, though," she continues, gathering her papers and tapping them into a neat stack. Disappointed, definitely, that he's just another kid with a hard-on for Harkness and a truly mundane exterior. "Ordinarily it's no work at all to get him to give it up."

He's dropped his head, so she can't see his expression when she looks at him. His shoulders are rounded and hands curled loosely. In his suit he looks like no more than a public schoolboy, chastened by his headmistress.

I put away childish things, her mind parrots infuriatingly, recalling the prickle of Jack's smug tone close against her neck. She sniffs her disdain at him and walks out, not looking back.

*

A fight is almost as good as a fuck, some days; the savagery of firing a gun outside of the firing range, or using the solid, steel toes of her safety boots to crunch bone and bruise flesh. She's definitely floating on the afterglow when they all get back to the Hub, Toshiko straight to her machine and Owen to autopsy to work on the body. Jack bounces around between the three of them, as if he feels as high on the savage thrill of it as Suzie does.

She tosses her soiled coat onto the back of her chair, shoves the mess of things on her work table around looking for her kit; she can smell Jack every time he wheels around past her on his circuit. She's already anticipating a shower, to get rid of the gore, and to work off some of the energy that is no doubt fuelling Jack's restlessness, too.

There's something on the desk that she hasn't put there, ruining the ordered clutter. It's an artefact containment unit, and she scrutinises the label plate before even touching the folded piece of paper resting on top of it. Recovery date ('98), risk status (low), origins/purpose (??). The call number and description are vaguely familiar, and it itches at the edge of her mind and all comes together when she picks up the accompanying piece of paper and unfolds it.

It's not signed, but it doesn't need to be. Neatly printed in black ink on Torchwood letterhead; YOU'RE RIGHT ABOUT JACK. THOUGHT YOU COULD USE A HAND, THOUGH. It's the artefact associated with the files she was flicking through yesterday, she doesn't even have to open the box to know, though she does anyway. Fairly certain that Ianto's bitchy note is evidence that he's not about to engineer her violent death, she reaches into the box without hesitating, and withdraws a dull, metal gauntlet.

It's cold and heavy in her hands, pointed; she's sort of surprised he hadn't arranged it so the middle finger was sticking up as she opened it.

She can't help but laugh, low but audible; and that's all right because Ianto's nowhere to be seen, but the sound draws Jack in like a tightened leash. He frowns at the glove, at her, expression half-glazed already. His body lists in the general direction of the employee bathrooms, or at least in the direction of the stairs leading down from near cold storage. His hands are shoved in his pockets, tenting his trousers out.

She wants to throw him down, wants to bite him, wants to drag the sharp edges of the gauntlet's articulated knuckles against his carotid artery. Her heart slams against her ribcage, so fucking alive, with the recent fight and impending fuck, and the thrill of a challenge. It pounds to the beat of her footsteps as she follows Jack down.