Warnings: Some bad language
Spoilers: Season Two thru A Day in the Death (2x08)
Disclaimer: Torchwood, Doctor Who and all their wonderfulness belong to the Mighty Beeb and He Who Must Not Be Named. No infringement, only worship intended!
Summary: In which everything gets even worse at the Hub...
Notes: Oy. These boys just break my heart! You can find all the previous chapters of The Sea After a Storm here. This is a sequel to Vizzini’s Rule and To The Pain. Thanks again and forever to my amazing beta and wonderful friend thraceadams for all the help and support and beta work; any mistakes are mine!
The Sea After a Storm: Chapter Ninety
Previously on The Sea After a Storm: Ianto and Jack's disagreement began to affect the whole team...
Ianto took a sip of his coffee and made a moue of distaste before setting down the cup. The annoying little voice inside his head scolded him for putting up with bad take-away beverages when he could be enjoying his own coffee if only he'd just stop being such a baby, but Ianto squashed the voice as he'd been doing for over two weeks now.
Almost a month, actually, the voice noted snidely.
Ianto sighed, took another drink from his coffee, and prayed something – anything – would happen today to break the monotony that his job had become. For the past few weeks, ever since his fight with Jack had escalated to the point that they were no longer speaking, Ianto had dragged himself out of bed, stopped at the café near his flat for coffee, grabbed a Danish for breakfast and a sandwich for his lunch, and then holed up in the Tourist Office and prayed for the day to be over. Occasionally, Tosh would still try to draw him out, but even she'd given up over the last few days. Ianto knew the stalemate between Jack and himself couldn't last, but so far nothing had happened to force them to work together which was the only way either of them would bend.
As if he'd jinxed it by thinking about his situation, Ianto's printer lit up and started churning out pages. He sighed again and pushed away from his desk, rolling across the room to pull the paper from the print tray. Rift Activity Report, he noted as he idly sifted through the pages. Normal, normal, norm– shit. Ianto rubbed his eyes and looked at the last page of the report more carefully.
"Shit." He said it aloud this time.
Along the edge of the line of the rift spike was a cluster of feathery edges indicating that whatever had fallen through the rift had passed through it before.
"Shit, shit, shit," Ianto muttered as he quickly rolled back to his computer and pulled up the Rift Monitor program, jotting down the coordinates of this latest spike.
Looks like we'll have to figure out how work together right bloody now, Ianto thought.
He gathered up the papers and made his way down to the Hub. The cog door rolled back to almost total silence. Myfanwy gave Ianto a little shriek of greeting as he crossed the empty room and then shuffled back into her cave high above. He made a mental note to let her out for a quick flight as soon as the temperatures warmed up and then he was at Jack's office door. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. He straightened his tie and, since he knew the information he held was more important than any qualms he had about talking to Jack, he knocked.
"What?" Jack yelled from inside.
Ianto opened the door and stepped inside. Jack didn't look up from his desk. That doesn't bode well, Ianto thought. He cleared his throat.
"Rift activity, Captain. It appears to be a return. I've noted the coordinates on the report." He set the papers on Jack's desk.
Jack reached out and slid the report on top of whatever he'd been reading without lifting his head. He flipped through the pages silently. When he reached the last page, he ran his finger over the feathery edge just as Ianto had done upstairs. Then he sighed and stood.
Ianto moved to grab Jack's coat out of habit and they ran into each other as Jack did the same.
"Sorry, I –" Ianto broke off at Jack's look.
He cleared his throat as he watched Jack pull his coat from the rack, waiting for instructions. None appeared to be forthcoming. Jack shrugged into his coat and deliberately stepped around Ianto without a word.
"Wait, don't you want some backup?" Ianto called as Jack walked across the Hub.
"Not from you," Jack said coldly.
Ianto just stood in the doorway and watched Jack walk away... again.
Several hours passed before Jack came back to the Hub. By that time both Tosh and Owen had rung to say they wouldn't be in unless an emergency required their presence. Ianto hadn't heard from Gwen at all.
He was sitting at his workstation for the first time in days when the alarms sounded and the cog door rolled back to reveal the Captain. Jack looked devastated, the expression in his eyes cutting through all of Ianto's anger and resentment.
"Jack..." he said, reaching out to touch Jack's shoulder as he passed.
Jack's reaction was immediate and negative. He flinched and captured Ianto's hand, twisting it as he pushed Ianto away. "Leave. Me. Alone." The overpowering smell of brandy accompanied every curt word.
Ianto cradled his wrist and watched as Jack lurched into his office and slammed the door.
Ianto sighed and ran a hand through his hair. A thought occurred to him and he slid his mobile out of his pocket and stared at it for a long minute. He didn't want to go behind Jack's back but he needed to know what had happened. It was possible the rift hadn't brought back a person at all... it was highly likely that everything was fine and Jack had stopped for a drink on his way back to the Hub to celebrate... Ianto grimaced and dialled the number for Flat Holm, glancing over his shoulder like Jack might be sneaking up behind him.
"Hello?" The voice was unfamiliar and wholly too cheerful. For a moment Ianto wondered if he had the wrong number.
"Hello, this is Ianto Jones, is Helen in today, please?"
"Half a mo, I just saw her!"
The phone clattered as the girl on the other end of the call opted to drop the receiver on the desk rather than place him on hold. He heard muffled voices in the background, one voice finally growing clearer as it neared the phone.
"...show you again. It's a privacy issue, Kimmy, you can't just – oh, never mind. This is Helen, how can I help you?"
Ianto sighed. "Helen, it's Ianto Jones."
"Ianto, luv. How's our Captain coping?"
"Damn. So he was there today?"
"Mmmhmm, left about... oh, two hours ago. It was a bad one."
"How... what happened?"
"Nothing different than the usual, really," Helen said sadly. "It's just always harder when it's a child."
"A child?" Ianto felt ill.
"Yes, luv, I'll spare you the details but the little girl died just after Jack reached us. I swear he was keeping her alive long enough to get to us through sheer force of will but we just couldn't save her. He always blames himself when that happens. I've been worried about him since I opened to door to see him holding that tiny body in his arms."
"God's got nothing to do with it," Helen said crisply. "This is the Devil's work, sure as anything. How people can –" Helen broke off and Ianto heard her take a deep breath. "Is the Captain all right?" she asked in a calmer voice.
"I – I don't really know. He won't talk to me."
Helen scoffed dismissively. "That man is as stubborn as an ox. Don't you let him put you off, luv. He'll be needing you more than ever right now, I'd say."
Ianto wasn't sure about that, but he thanked Helen for the information and ended the call. He stood there for several long minutes, glancing occasionally at Jack's closed door and pondering his options. Finally he decided to take Helen's advice, pausing only to make a fresh pot of coffee, massaging his twisted wrist idly as the brewer worked. He poured a cup in Jack's favourite blue striped mug and rapped gently on the door.
There was no response.
Ianto frowned and knocked again, a little more firmly this time.
Jack swung the door open so hard that it bounced against the wall.
"I – I made you some coffee," Ianto said quietly, holding out the mug as a peace offering. "I thought maybe you needed to talk after... after Flat Holm."
Jack stared at him for a moment and then reached for the coffee. Instead of taking a sip, as Ianto expected, Jack turned and flung the mug, shattering it against the brick wall.
"What's it going to take to get through that thick skull of yours?" Jack ground out between clenched teeth. "I don't want coffee. I don't want to talk to you. I don't want to see you. Just FUCKING GO AWAY, IANTO!"
Jack's words seem to hang in the air as Ianto stared into cold blue eyes that looked back at him without a spark of warmth or affection. Ianto felt something click off inside him and he did the only thing he could think of.
"Yes, sir," he said, and turned and walked away.
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