Series: Shades of Ianto
Spoilers: TW Series 1
Fluffers/Betas: lilithilien, fivealive. I am forever in their debt. Cause the odds of this being decent or complete otherwise would be slim to none. Plus, lilith has MS Word. *g*
1) I do not own these characters nor am I intending to use them for money (unless I'm being bribed, see #4).
2) SoI is based on some far-ranging theories and backstory that I am aware will most likely be jossed. But until 2008 or I hear from the man himself, anything is possible.
3) This series will cover pre-S1 as well as all episodes in S1. Initial 4-5 chapters will be preS1.
4) Series will be updated weekly on Sunday. Bribes of chocolate, alcohol, money, or my own personal pocket-sized Ianto will be accepted, however, those will not hasten the delivery dates. In fact, my own personal pocket-sized Ianto could distract me. So if you're going to bribe, please stick to chocolate, alcohol or money.
5) The Secretary of State for Research and Resource Acquisition does not exist. However, neither does Torchwood. Both make an appearance in my story.
Summary: Ianto is much more than just a teaboy.
Chapter Title: White Noise (SoI 1)
Spoilers: TW S1
Fluffers/Betas: lilithilien, fivealive
Summary: Ianto is much more than just a teaboy.
"Mr. Jones, Ms. White will see you now."
Ianto Jones turned from the window with a casual smile. He recognized her from before. Simone. Simone Archer. Office gossip, trendsetter, married to Dennis Archer from Accounting, fucking Collin Phillips from Archives every Tuesday and Thursday between 10:00 and 10:15 on their breaks and every Friday at noon.
That was before. Now Simone was a widow with last season's shoes, highlights months overdue, tailored espresso twill suit coat shiny with wear at the elbows and hanging awkwardly off her frame. She'd lost weight, the glasses were new and Ianto was fairly certain her eyes weren't red from crying. Not that he'd blame her if she still was, but her skin was perfumed by alcohol, 80 proof, bouquet of Glenlivet. He'd feel pity but they'd all lost someone … someones.
But some were luckier than others.
He paused on his way to the ornate double oak doors shielding the Secretary of State's office from view, resting his hand on her shoulder with a light squeeze. Typically, he didn't touch; he never was quite comfortable with demonstration in any public sense of the word. But her hand joined his, matching his sympathy with commiseration he didn't deserve but felt better for it. Maybe he did feel pity. Or maybe it was guilt that their bond, whatever horrors forever linked them as 'one of them', wasn't as complete as it should be. Ianto could swear she sensed it, her carefully lined red eyes piercing the sorrow in his own and seeing him for what he was, for seeing his hope and determination.
He meant his 'thank you' as he fled the reception area, even if it sounded artificial to his ears.
"Mr. Jones. Come, sit down."
Ianto closed the office doors behind him, taken aback as always by the rich beauty of the room -- so contrary to how one would imagine the offices governing any and all alien technology and the unexplained. Bookshelves lined the walls, artifacts from around the globe dotting every available surface. Deep-stained oak, dark leather, a smell of timelessness and appreciation for mankind.
He hated this room.
He had cataloged the office long ago; the texts foreign, mystical and alien memorized. He'd read most, his curiosity bringing him here in the late hours when all had gone home and after he'd seduced the security system guarding against unwanted guests. Textbooks, guides and fables filled the room with tales and study of the unexplained. Original manuscripts, copies, lithographs and encoded alien lightbooks told grand stories of space travel and conquest, love and victory, defeat and war, human insight and foreign observance. The presentation of open acceptance of cultures vast and timeless; the presentation of hypocrisy knotted his stomach and made him ill. He knew a first edition of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, three volumes, rested at eye level on the main bookshelf, the pride and joy of the collection. Frankenstein set the tone of the room - a dark portrayal of the arrogance of men. Nothing suited the office better.
"Ms. White." The name slipped easily off his tongue. Ianto wasted no time, handing the carefully typed letter to the Secretary of State before appropriating one of the chairs and sitting stiffly in the antique straight-back while she read. He kept his eyes trained on her, refusing to look anxiously about the room as he wished to do, alerting security to the fact that he was aware of the various cameras and deeper security measures protecting the office. It wouldn't do to intrigue them, to make them question his intent or purpose. This was a quick visit; no need to rouse suspicion.
"You're requesting a transfer to Cardiff?"
He didn't miss the surprised reaction, the slight paper shake as his letter was set on the massive oak desk stretching more than arm's length across the room. She wore her hair back these days, a severe look which Ianto theorized was supposed to intone a more serious professional look. It had been a mass of deep brown, almost black, waves back in the day. Of late, encouraged by stress and a testament to the false name, it had faded past salt and pepper to white. He wouldn't want her job right now, not even if it came with a nice retirement package, especially if one began to look the title.
"You are needed in London, Mr. Jones. Torchwood must be rebuilt."
How to explain to the one who controlled all that if he ever set foot in the London Torchwood, he would set the place ablaze himself? For all it contained, for all its knowledge and valuable tools, it was only a matter of time before it was again tainted by arrogance and the zealous quest to use the incomprehensible for personal gain. It would destroy them all. Again.
"With respect, Ms. White, I have no desire to remain in London. Everything that kept me here has been lost."
Her response was slow; quietly he prided himself in causing her pain. "Everything?"
Inside, Ianto's mind shook with fire, the foundations trembling as the structure threatened collapse around him. Rage and pain shattered glass, imploding shards capturing his heart in the crossfire but he remained standing, screaming his fury when little was left to cling to. Outwardly, he remained impassive, casual, knowing his reply would either guarantee his position or destroy his single chance. "Everything," he reaffirmed, voice level and certain. She was the first to look away, having searched his eyes for whatever she believed ought to be found and failed. He didn't smile at the victory, didn't move, elbows still rested on the curved arm and his hand clasped loosely in front of him. He would get his transfer; he simply had to wait. Ms. White stood, running a hand over the leather-bound books behind her, fingering a title here and there which may have held an answer or may have prophetically signaled an end of days. Ianto wasn't sure and he did not care.
"Request granted. You will transfer immediately to Cardiff." She resumed her place behind the desk, stretching as a queen dictating orders to her subjects from her throne. Ianto wasn't impressed or awed; nor was he struck dumb by intimidation. He knew the act for what it was and knew she held no power over him, no matter how much she wished the contrary.
"You will be my eyes and ears at Cardiff." Ianto was surprised by this, he hadn't planned that request and he blinked before he could stop himself. Cursing the tell-tale sign, he listened to understand her purpose, wary of contradictions to his own plans and in general of anything for her favor. "Torchwood Three is led by a maverick who has rebelled against this office's governance. You will watch him, discover his purpose and report back to me."
His first reaction was to protest -- he was no spy, he was no traitor to leadership. Hundreds of excuses, of reasons why he would do no such thing paced his tongue and he quickly sought one which would be the most logical and unarguable debate. She cut him off, however, her voice sharp and more like the Ms. White of old, when minions cowered and obeyed -- before she lost one Torchwood and destroyed another. "You work for Torchwood. Therefore, you work for me. Remember where your loyalties and duty lie, Mr. Jones. Do not force me to remind you."
"Yes, Ms. White." He rose from his chair. The conversation was over as far as she was concerned and no response other than blind agreement would be accepted. Ianto had no choice, as much as it sickened him. His plans included Cardiff; he would do as was ordered.
He turned slowly, nearly halfway to escape, the doors beckoning him to disobey, to flee and begin packing his belongings. Their belongings. He had a flat to box and ship to Cardiff, along with other items of far more importance. He also knew of another means of escape, a hidden door of which most were unaware. Jean-Luc, a grade 1 TKE, stood as sentinel behind the false pane to his left. They had been friends when he had been younger, when he'd needed escape. After discovering they shared an intense dislike for the woman in charge, Jean-Luc had permitted Ianto free reign about the building and the office, allowing him to sneak in to curl up on a leather couch to read by the light of a torch without reporting his entry (or killing him, which Ianto considered a most extreme penalty for study, no matter how unpermitted). The panel looked real, solid bookshelf and row upon row of books, and it was, technically. If your mind believed it there without doubt, then it existed, even if in reality it was no more than a protection of a powerful telepathic mind. Behind the panel was the door to one of the great secrets of the office, Torchwood being the other. For while there existed aliens and alien tech, there also existed the unexplained among humanity. And, Ianto darkly amused himself with the thought, they were to be exploited for the good of Britain as well.
Refocusing on the woman behind the desk, knowing he couldn't run away as he had done in his youth, Ms. White looked as weary as Ianto felt, old and weary, her hands folded as though in prayer against her lips. The battle had been hard on her; new lines etched her face and Ianto had heard rumors of problems with blood pressure, but truthfully, Ianto felt only betrayal. She was the reason for the loss and the grief; she was the reason he was fleeing to Cardiff. She was the reason, ultimately, for all things.
"For what it's worth, I am sorry about Lisa. We liked her, though I only knew her CV. Your father said it was the only time he heard you laugh, such a serious boy you were. I should have liked to hear you laugh."
Ianto closed his eyes, counted to ten and back again, fingers curling into his palms. He felt the slight brush of cool tranquility from the ever-governing Jean-Luc across the public corner of his mind, the one spot Ianto allowed access. He wished to destroy everything in this room, everything this office stood for and claimed, but he couldn't. Not yet. He still needed it, needed Ms. White as much as she, apparently, needed him. Ms. White. What irony, for there was nothing pure or innocent about her.
"You should have liked many things, mother," Ianto managed to spit out, collecting a professional temper long lost once she delved into the personal, "but family was never one of them. Elaine has twin boys, did you know? Bryce and Gareth. They're two now. Gavin Evans, R&D. He was a kind man, good to Elaine. She's moved back with dad. He did a good job raising us, after all."
Silence stretched between them, echoing off the shadowed corners of the office and speaking of years of indifference and abandonment. She'd never cared when they were children; Ianto wasn't surprised when it continued to her grandkids. Her own flesh and blood were never more important than the children of the Center; they were never special enough to warrant the time. Ianto had accepted it, even if Elaine hadn't. Bryce and Garreth actually believed their grandmum dead, and neither Elaine nor Gavin had ever had the heart to say that she wasn't.
"Well played, son, well played." His mother whispered after a moment as she stared out the one set of windows in the room, huge stained glass panels, an old Gothic depiction of St. George and the dragon that allowed just enough natural light in the room to taint the walls and floor blood red. She didn't look at Ianto again, merely waved his dismissal after throwing a file in front of Ianto and straightening papers on her desk already perfectly aligned. "I expect your first report on my desk Monday morning, Mr. Jones."
"Yes, Ms. White." Ianto didn't hesitate, eagerly accepting the shift back to formalities as his cue to leave. The air had become too stifling and his collar too tight to breathe, threatening his calm. He feared leaking something about Lisa to Jean-Luc he didn't intend, something damning, something not mourning. He didn't think he would lose his barriers so quickly. After all, Torchwood had taught him well and Ianto was always the top of his class, but he was admittedly rattled by the encounter. A fast escape meant security for the plan. He grabbed the file without a thought and strode out of the office, strode quickly, the devil on his heels. Simone at reception called a farewell but he didn't respond, his voice threatened by his previous conversation. After all those years, she had the audacity to pretend to care, to act like they had meant anything at all. She had left for the job, and the job had taken her. He refused to let it take him, or to take the one whose love meant more than whatever scraps his mother might dangle before him. She couldn't have that. And now, with things progressing according to plan, she wouldn't.
He did permit himself to smile once he'd left the building, out of Jean-Luc's range, and caught the tube back to his flat. Breathing the free air, he embraced his ultimate victory.
It was time to pack their things.