Characters/Pairings: Jack/Ianto, Gwen/Rhys, Capt John Hart, OCs
Warnings: Character Death (not permanent), Suicide, Swearing
A/N: Set in my Footprints in the Sand Universe. The rest of the series doesn’t need to be read for this story to make sense. All is explained in the body of the text. Thank you to my cheerleaders (those with and without pom-poms). Also a special thanks to my flatmate who reminded me to write this when I forgot. And of course, thank you to pinkfairy727 for the beta and wrenriddle for the amazing fanmix.
Summary: Slight AU. Ianto, as a rule, wasn’t accustomed to hating any particular day of the week. Granted, some days were worse than others, but this particular morning he had developed a newfound dislike for Mondays. Especially when this Monday didn’t seem to want to end.
Monday 2nd February, 7:13
It was just after seven on Monday morning when Ianto Jones finished his working day and lay his head down on his pillow. He’d managed to divest himself of one shoe and his jacket before he’d given up on the notion of going to bed in pyjamas and just lay down. If he was honest, he was amazed he’d made it upstairs.
Ianto, as a rule, wasn’t accustomed to hating any particular day of the week. Granted, some days were worse than others, but this particular morning he had developed a newfound dislike for Mondays. It would have been fine if the one thing to go wrong that morning was his sister slamming open his bedroom door, but it was to only be the alarm call of the definition of That Monday Feeling.
His sister was already moving towards the curtains to pull them back before she realised Ianto had yet to close them, the rain hammering out a doomed anthem on the window.
‘I need you to take the kids to school this morning,’ Rhiannon told him as she stood framed in the doorway. Ianto could already hear his niece running up and down the hallway while his nephew grumbled about how early it was.
‘The movers will be here in an hour and I need to go over to Ryan’s and give him the spare set of keys before that.’
Ianto blinked a couple of times. He’d forgotten that it was the day his sister moved out of his house and into her own place. She and the kids had been living with him for nearly five years now, something that had only ever been a temporary arrangement when she and her husband had split up. But temporary had quickly turned into free babysitting from his sister’s point of view and a live in cook cum cleaner from Ianto’s. Now she was moving in with another man and Ianto would have his house to himself again, something he wasn’t sure he was entirely looking forward to. But on this particular morning he couldn’t wait.
‘I need you to get them dressed and make them lunch. They both had a bath last night, so they shouldn’t need one this morning. Also, don’t let Finlay forget his homework. It’s on your desk.’
Ianto made a grunting noise in the back of his throat, struggling to open his eyes and look at his sister.
‘I’m getting up,’ said Ianto as he dragged himself to his feet. He took one glimpse of himself in the mirror before heading towards the bathroom. He’d need a cold shower if he was going to stay awake long enough to drive the kids to school.
Rhiannon was gone when he emerged into the hallway fifteen minutes later, dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. Work wasn’t something he had to think about today - unless the world decided to end - so he’d resorted to the scruffy look of someone who hadn’t slept properly in a week. He hadn’t even shaved.
Finlay had made it as far as the living room where he was happily watching cartoons, while his sister, Rona, had yet to leave her bedroom. Ianto assembled Rona’s school uniform from the suitcase at the end of the bed and left her trying to dress Barbie with it. He did the same with Finn’s clothes before he went to go and chivvy his nephew.
‘Finlay, go and get dressed,’ said Ianto as he switched the television off.
‘Can I have chocolate spread sandwiches for lunch?’
This was how Ianto’s relationship with his nephew worked nowadays. Ianto demanded he do something and Finlay would set up an ultimatum that Ianto would certainly bow to. It made him glad that he wasn’t going to be sharing living space with Finlay through his teenage years.
‘If you go and get dressed.’ He watched Finlay streaking off up the stairs before heading towards the kitchen. The fridge was practically devoid of food. The only milk in the house was banana in flavour so Ianto had his coffee black and then had a five-minute argument with Rona about why she couldn’t have Coco Pops for breakfast. There was no bread but for the mouldy remainder of crusts that even he wouldn’t eat in his ravenous state. He fed the kids Poptarts and watched them hungrily as his black coffee burnt the taste buds from his tongue.
‘We’ll pop in to Tesco Express on the way to school,’ Ianto told the kids as he dropped the mouldy bread in the bin. He collected Finlay’s homework from the study, only to find Rona had decided to use this month’s credit card statement that he had yet to pay as drawing paper last night. He sighed, rubbing a hand down his face before helping Rona on with her shoes.
‘Why isn’t Mummy taking us to school?’ Rona asked as Ianto went from room to room searching for his car keys, Barbie dragged behind them by her hair.
‘Because Mummy has to go and sort out things at the new house for you,’ Ianto told her as he rifled through yesterday’s trouser pockets. He found the keys for the Hub, one pound fifteen in change and a post-it note from Jack that wasn’t really meant for public consumption, but no car keys.
‘That’s why we had to pack all our toys away,’ Finn told her as he came out of the bathroom, toothpaste smeared down the front of his school sweater. Ianto sighed.
‘Finn, go change your jumper.’
‘Mam packed them.’
‘Well go and find the box they’re packed in and get a clean one out. You can’t go to school like that.’
Finlay stomped off to the bedroom at the end of the hall.
‘How come all your stuff isn’t packed up, Uncle Ianto?’ Rona asked as she brushed Barbie’s hair with her fingers.
‘Because it’s just you, Finn and Mummy that are moving.’
‘Can’t we leave Finn here, and you can come and live with me and Mummy instead?’ Rona asked. ‘And Uncle Jack too, if you want.’
Ianto had to try hard not to laugh as he started pulling clothes out of the washing hamper in search of his car keys. All he found was the change Jack had forgotten to take out of his trousers before putting them in the wash the day before.
‘I need to stay here because you, Mummy and Finn are moving in with Ryan. You like Ryan, don’t you?’
‘He doesn’t do the voices right when he reads me Harry Potter,’ Rona complained.
‘Well, maybe I’ll still come over and read you Harry Potter,’ said Ianto, moving past Rona to go and check the fridge because he was that tired he was willing to believe he’d been stupid enough to put the keys in the fridge when he’d gone in search of sustenance.
‘Finn, have you found a jumper yet?’ Ianto called as he ran down the stairs.
‘Mam’s labelled the boxes all wrong!’ Finn called back. Ianto didn’t think his sister was capable of labelling things wrongly; it was more likely his nephew’s inability to read things properly that had him looking through a box full of crockery for his school uniform.
‘Try in the suitcase on your mum’s bed!’ Ianto yelled back, checking the hook by the front door in case for once he’d been smart enough to hang the keys up on his way in the door. No such luck. His eye caught the clock on the wall that proclaimed it was already twenty past eight. They should have left ten minutes ago, and he still hadn’t got any lunch for the kids.
Five minutes later and Ianto was pushing the kids between the raindrops to his car, Finn now with a clean jumper on. Rona had found his keys when she’d gone to feed Fred and George – her goldfish. Ianto didn’t even want to think about how the car keys had got in the tank. Amazingly, though, the key fob still worked.
He parked on a double yellow line and told the kids to stay in the car while he nipped into Tesco Express to get them lunch. The delivery truck hadn’t been yet so he had to get them both questionable cheese and spring onion sandwiches, which Finn immediately turned his nose up at.
‘That’s not chocolate spread,’ he informed Ianto. Ianto was more interested in the yellow bit of paper flapping in the wind and rain under the windscreen wiper.
‘A nice lady with a black and yellow jacket on left you a note,’ Rona told Ianto from the backseat. It was a parking ticket to the sum of £60. Ianto stuffed it in the glove compartment to deal with later. The kids, as he predicted, were late for school. He didn’t so much as get a thank you as the kids bolted from the car and ran across the playground before disappearing out of sight.
Ianto decided that since he was already up he might as well replenish his fridge before heading back to the chaos that moving day would bestow upon his house. On his way to the supermarket, though, the car shuddered to a halt in the middle of the flyover, jammed with early morning traffic. (The mechanic would later tell him at the extortionately overpriced garage that his engine had overheated from all the stopping and starting because his thermostat was gone. He would then inform Ianto that he couldn’t fix it until tomorrow.)
Once Ianto had finished swearing bloody murder, he pulled his jacket tight about him and emerged from his car into the rain, thankful that he had managed to pull far enough into the hard shoulder that the HGV currently passing didn’t flatten him, but only managed to drench him further. After careful contemplation while staring at the engine through the steam and rain his novice opinion was that it was fucked, and he called for the AA. Almost as soon as he’d hung up with the promise that there’d be someone with him in the next half an hour his phone rang.
‘Hey, Ianto, sorry to wake you up, but we’ve got a situation.’ Jack, who sounded only slightly more awake than Ianto felt.
‘I was already awake.’
‘Good, we’ve got a bit of a Weevil problem over in Penarth. They’re growing up and starting to run in gangs now. Care to lend a hand?’
‘Great, meet me at The Old Custom House.’ Jack hung up before Ianto had a chance to reply, and by the time he’d thought about calling Jack back the battery on his phone died. Ianto was left to stand at the side of the road waiting for the 4th emergency service. When they did turn up Ianto was seriously considering writing to head office to ask them if they knew the meaning of the word emergency, and threatening to sue for false advertising.
It took him almost an hour to walk from the garage he and his car had been abandoned at to fend for themselves to Penarth. He would have forked out for a taxi had he any cash on him but after purchasing questionable sandwiches from Tesco Express that morning all he had to his name was twenty-eight pence in coppers. By the time he got there his hair was plastered to his forehead, he had a serious case of rising damp, and he was quite sure that even under his coat, his t-shirt, and his jeans, his underwear was wet as well.
He found the SUV in the car park of The Old Custom House - half abandoned, half parked - but Jack was nowhere in sight. Ianto sighed, turning in a half circle, trying to take a stab in the dark as to where Jack might be before he took a chance and tried the door to the SUV. Predictably, it was open. Jack had no sense of security when it came to the SUV, and it was a wonder that it hadn’t been stolen before now – unless you counted that time that Owen had left the keys in when they’d been out in the Brecon’s. Ianto shuddered, whether from the rain or the memory he wasn’t sure.
Ianto shut the passenger door behind him, shaking his head slightly and spraying the upholstery in water. He didn’t care. He’d be the one to clean it out later on anyway. He fiddled with a few buttons on the dashboard, trying to get the heater working and switch on the tracker for Jack’s phone at the same time when the driver’s door burst open and a soaking wet Jack jumped in.
‘Thought you’d ditched me?’ Jack asked, shaking his own head like a dog to try and get the water out his eyes. Jack looked like he’d taken a running jump off the barrage.
‘Car broke down. Battery died. Had to walk,’ said Ianto as he continued to try and adjust the heating vents, hoping that the feeling came back into his fingers sometime soon.
‘Sounds like a fun morning. Pretty sure I can top it, though.’ Ianto raised his eyebrows in question. ‘I finally discovered for certain that Weevils can’t swim,’ Jack said, and as if to prove his point started wringing out the bottom of his trousers into the foot well. Ianto frowned.
‘So you don’t need me after all then?’
Jack didn’t look up. ‘Only one of them can’t swim. There’s still another four playing tag in the trees behind the pub.’
Ianto sighed. ‘Right.’ It took a moment before he was able to move, lethargic limbs heavier than usual, encased in sodden fabric. He blinked a couple of times out the front windscreen at the rain lashing down onto the tarmac of the empty car park. He tried to relish the little bubble of warmth inside the car before he pushed the door open and hurried round to the boot, rummaging for Weevil spray and handcuffs as Jack came to join him.
‘I could have called Gwen,’ Jack said as Ianto slammed the boot shut, feet in sync as they moved round the back of the building and into the waiting trees where larger drops of rain plummeted from trees and shuddered down the back of Ianto’s collar.
‘You could. But you didn’t,’ said Ianto. Ianto didn’t look at Jack as he started moving stealthily through the trees, but Jack wasn’t interested in Weevils anymore, he was following Ianto.
‘No, Jack, you didn’t think. You never bloody think,’ said Ianto. It took him a moment to realise that what he had meant to say in his head he had said out loud. He sighed.
‘Look, let’s just catch these Weevils and then you can make it up to me,’ said Ianto, trying to apologise without actually apologising.
‘Fine,’ said Jack before he moved off to the right, disappearing into the trees through the curtain of rain. Ianto huffed out a lungful of air and disappeared off into the trees on the left.
It didn’t take long before Ianto was mud wrestling, and not in the way that Jack talked so fondly of. He could taste the foul breath of sewage and raw animals and it made him gag as the Weevil’s teeth grazed his neck.
‘Jack!’ Ianto yelled for the second or third time. He’d lost count. He had mud in his left ear and his funny bone was tingling where he’d banged it off a rock that was now dangerously close to his head. If he had a free hand, he would be braining the Weevil on it, but both his hands were currently occupied with keeping the Weevil away from his jugular. Just when he thought the end was nigh he finally found enough strength in him to flip the Weevil over, bashing it’s head into the rock a couple of times, which at first only angered it further. It was the third one that produced a dull crack and a mournful moan before the Weevil slumped in the mud.
Ianto didn’t even get out a sigh of relief before he was thrown from his victory by the Weevil’s angry mate. He collided with a tree, shaking his head to cling onto consciousness before he was back to fighting for his life. Thankfully, this time Jack heard his cries and between the two of them they managed to subdue the second Weevil. Ianto lay in the mud unmoving, trying to catch his breath for a long time after as the rain washed over him.
‘Please tell me you’ve already dealt with the other two?’ Ianto asked between hitched breaths.
‘Both of them decided they’d take their chances in the water rather than wrestle with me,’ Jack said, his hand appearing in Ianto’s line of vision, offering up help. Ianto’s muddy hand reached out to grasp it and with much slipping and grunting on Ianto’s part Jack finally got him back on two feet.
‘You okay?’ Jack asked as Ianto looked down at himself. He looked like his nephew after he’d played football.
‘I’ll live,’ said Ianto as he titled his neck left and right. It made a popping sound that even Jack winced at before Ianto was grabbing the dead Weevil under the arms and dragging it back through the trees towards the SUV. Jack pulled the now subdued and cuffed one to its feet and pushed it in the direction of the SUV.
Ianto was trying to wash his hands in a large puddle in the middle of the car park when Jack finally caught up, having already hoisted the dead Weevil into the boot. Jack chucked its mate in beside it where it started to bray mournfully. Jack slammed the boot on it. He had no patience or sympathy at the moment.
‘A shower would be better,’ said Jack, watching Ianto who was now scuffing his boots in the puddle to try and rid them of mud too, not that it would help much considering Ianto was caked head to foot in the stuff. Jack’s phone was ringing in his pocket now.
‘Am I going to get one?’ Ianto asked as he crossed back over to the SUV, more to himself than Jack, because Jack was now trying to talk to the head of UNIT about a meeting he’d supposedly missed.
‘Why don’t you just stay here for the rest of today?’
‘And do what? File? Tidy up? Not really much of a day off, is it?’ Ianto said. He was busy trying to towel dry his hair and pawing through Jack’s wardrobe for dry clothes. He’d managed to find a pair of jeans he thought he’d lost, but was apparently fresh out of clean shirts. He’d have to steal one of Jack’s and hope that his jacket had dried enough for him to brush some of the mud off of it.
‘I wasn’t suggesting you work,’ said Jack, coming out of the shower with a towel wrapped round his waist, shaking his head like a dog so that water splattered the clean shirt of Jack’s that Ianto was trying to do up. The distant sound of beeping permeated the bunker of Jack’s room.
‘Were you suggesting I stay and watch you work then?’ Ianto asked even as he started climbing barefoot up the ladder into Jack’s office. He pulled up the alert on Gwen’s terminal to find a body had been pulled out of the Taff near the hostel Nos Da, only it wasn’t exactly human in nature. Cardiff’s constabulary were scratching their heads, and as loath as Kathy Swanson was to admit it, she needed Torchwood’s help.
Jack wasn’t far behind, trousers and t-shirt on, but equally barefooted as he tried to hop from one foot to the other, looking over Ianto’s shoulder at the screen. Jack’s phone was ringing and Ianto was already heading back towards Jack’s office to see if his shoes had dried out any.
‘Backlog at the dry cleaners?’ Swanson asked as she eyed Ianto up and down dressed in a mismatch of his and Jack’s clothes. Jack had disappeared off down the riverbank with a couple of coppers both with angular features that made Ianto think of Ratty and Moley from Wind In The Willows. That had left Ianto to tow the line with Kathy Swanson.
‘Something like that,’ Ianto commented as he watched a couple of the SOCO lads going by with cups of coffee. Ianto made do with turning the collar of his coat up against the horizontal rain and tried to step further under Kathy’s umbrella without looking too suspicious.
‘Where’s Cooper?’ Swanson asked, accepting her own coffee form a passing constable.
‘Oh, so you lot do function like normal human beings then,’ Kathy said. Ianto wanted to make some sarcastic comment about recharging batteries, but Jack was already scrambling back up the bank towards them.
‘We’ll take it,’ he said, like the dead body was some kind of rare antique he and Ianto were taking home to put on the mantelpiece. Ianto stepped out from the shelter of Kathy’s umbrella to go and fetch a body bag from the SUV while Jack argued with Swanson over the custody of the alien body.
‘Here,’ Ianto said as he got back in the car, chucking a greasy paper bag into Jack’s lap. Ianto stuck his own bacon sandwich between his teeth while he did up his seatbelt.
Ianto glared and Jack threw his butty on the dashboard while he started up the SUV again and pulled out into the late lunchtime flow of traffic. The news on the radio was talking about a bomb scare at the Sorting Office off Hadfield Road causing major congestion on Penarth and Corporation Road.
It irked Ianto somewhat that Jack drove straight back to the Hub, not even bothering to offer to drop Ianto off at home where he was supposed to be having a mundane day off, cleaning out his fridge and being pestered by his sister to help them move. Instead he had to help Jack carry a waterlogged body back into the Hub and then sit and watch on the autopsy stairs with a mug of coffee warming his hands while Jack tried to figure out the humorous from the gluteus maxims.
He could walk home, in the pissing rain that didn’t show any sign of letting up soon but the Hub was dry-ish and warmer than it was outside, so he stayed. Until, that was, Jack poked something in the body he wasn’t supposed to poke and Ianto found himself in the shower for the third time that day, picking bits out of his hair that he didn’t really want to think about.
‘I’m going home,’ said Ianto when he’d re-dressed in another of Jack’s shirts, grateful somewhat that his jeans hadn’t been lost in the attack.
‘Is the world ending?’
Jack seemed to consider this question thoroughly before answering. ‘Not yet.’
‘Well then you don’t need me, do you?’ Ianto asked rhetorically, already turning his back on Jack to head home. He’d had enough of Monday already. He didn’t particularly want to go home to face the hell that was moving day, but he didn’t want to spend the rest of his day off moping around the cold hub in damp underwear while Jack made lewd suggestions.
‘I’m tired too, you know,’ Jack yelled after him. The cog door rolled open at that point, admitting a damp looking Gwen who was shaking water from her feeble looking umbrella.
‘Bloody awful out there,’ Gwen said by way of greeting. Ianto didn’t acknowledge her, was already taking the stairs two at a time back up to the Tourist Office because the lift would not take him away fast enough. He heard Gwen’s voice echoing softly up to him as the cog door rolled shut.
‘Everything all right?’
No, Ianto thought, it’s not sodding all right.
His phone chirruped at him as he lingered on the threshold of the Tourist Office having borrowed Gwen’s phone charger to restore some life into his ailing phone. He looked out at the grey day, the few tourists that were waiting on the waterbus wrapped in cagoules when they should have been wearing sowesters and galoshes. Cawallders, the ice cream shop on the boardwalk above, was devoid of life. He wanted to postpone the moment he had to go back to being cold and wet for as long as possible.
One text message, surprisingly not from Jack.
2nd Feb 14:38:37
Having problems. Cld you get kids 4rm skool? Ta. R x
Ianto had learned many years ago to see past Rhiannon’s punctuation. For all it looked like a question mark at the end of the sentence, it was in actual fact an exclamation mark that suggested at the brevity of the situation if Ianto did not pick the kids up from school. He sighed and texted back. A minute later as he was walking up the Plass, the rain soaking the back of his jeans, his sister replied.
2nd Feb 14:41:18
Will get them later. Xx
Later in Rhiannon’s vocabulary could mean anytime between now and next Monday, while two kisses meant she was grateful, but she was too harassed to thank him properly. He wiped the moisture from the screen of his phone before shoving it back in his jacket pocket. He spent the next twenty minutes listening to the squelch of his shoes as he walked aimlessly through puddles on autopilot towards the kids’ school. His phone beeped at him again as he was passing his road end, considering going to retrieve an umbrella, but he realised it wouldn’t make much difference now anyway, and he’d sent the kids to school that morning in waterproofs, thankfully.
2nd Feb 15:05:33
You okay, pet? Xx
Ianto pocketed his phone without replying. He didn’t have the energy to lie to Gwen, so he thought ignoring her would be easier. He knew she’d text back soon enough, more words, guesses about what Jack had done now, and suggestions of revenge to try and coax him into talking and when he didn’t reply to that text she’d call. Gwen was like your mother; there was only so long you could ignore her before she turned up on your doorstep, a sort of worried relief in her demeanour while she yelled at you for not calling back.
He lingered by the school gates with the rest of the parents, smiling politely at anyone who looked his way. Most of them were probably cataloguing his description to give to the police if he was to take off with any kids that weren’t his own.
‘Where’s Mam?’ Finn was looking up at him from under the hood of his jacket, a muddy football under one arm.
‘Still moving everything to the new house, where’s your sister?’
Finn shrugged, spotted some of his mates further up the road and took off at a run, punting the football before him. Ianto rolled his eyes, turning back to look over the heads of children for his niece. She emerged out of the scourge of children a moment later, a look on her face that said she was after something. Ianto’s phone was vibrating in his pocket again.
‘Where’s Mam?’ she asked, looking up and down the street for Rhiannon. There was a brief moment where Ianto felt unloved, but Rona was already ploughing into her plan of action, clearly thinking her Uncle was more of a pushover than her mother. Ianto hated to admit it, but at that moment in time she was probably right.
‘Is it alright if I go over to Jessica’s for tea?’
‘I suppose so, if it’s alright with Jessica’s Mam,’ said Ianto. Rona was already tugging on Ianto’s arm, leading him to the other side of the school gates where a woman roughly the same age as he was, lurked underneath a spotted umbrella. Ianto stood there awkwardly for a moment while Rona talked to her friend Jessica about pink and glittery things that were really beyond Ianto’s ken.
‘Hello,’ the woman said, smiling awkwardly.
‘Hi, I’m Ianto. I’m Rona’s Uncle.’ said Ianto, unsure if this kind of meeting warranted a handshake, so he made do with taking his hands out his pockets to try and present a more amenable front.
‘Lyndsey,’ the woman said, smiling again.
‘Is it all right if Rona comes round tonight, then?’ Lyndsey added after a moment.
‘Yeah, it’s fine. What time do you want me to pick her up?’ In my non-existent car, Ianto added as an after-thought.
‘Oh, don’t worry. I’ll drop her back. At the old address, yeah, they staying with you the night? Or do you want me to drop her off at Rhiannon’s new place?’
Ianto was thrown for a moment, a little unnerved that this woman clearly knew more about him than he did about her.
‘Eh, I’m not sure. If you give Rhiannon a call maybe before you drop her off,’ said Ianto.
‘Will do,’ Lyndsey said, smiling again. ‘Nice to meet you finally.’ And with that Lyndsey was ushering the girls away down the street towards the car. Rona didn’t even throw him a backward glance or say goodbye as she skipped away with her friend Jessica. Finlay was already dodging back through the dispersing crowd of parents and children to him.
‘Can I go play football?’
‘In this weather?’ Ianto asked, looking skyward and getting a face full of rain as if to prove his point.
‘Yeah,’ Finn said, a tone to his voice questioning what was wrong with the weather. Ah, to be young and full of enthusiasm again, Ianto contemplated.
‘Not in your school uniform,’ Ianto said, watching as Finn bounced his football impatiently.
‘Aw, but Uncle Ianto, everyone’s going now, and then I’ll have to walk to the park on my own, and I don’t know where my stuff is ‘cause mam packed it, and-‘ It was clear this list of complaints was going to go on for a while if Ianto didn’t stop it, and his phone was vibrating in his pocket again.
‘The house is on the way to the park, you can all walk via ours,’ said Ianto, fishing his phone out his pocket as Finn huffed and rolled his eyes in a scary imitation of Ianto before he turned back towards his friends, Ianto following as he answered his phone.
‘World’s ending,’ said Jack. No greeting, not that that was unusual for Jack.
‘Is it?’ Ianto asked with bored resignation, glancing about for any signs of Armageddon as he followed his nephew and his friends down the street towards his house. The only indication that the world might be ending was the constant downpour that had begun later the previous evening. Ianto considered suggesting Jack get started on his ark, but held his tongue.
‘Maybe not quite yet, but it’s certainly heading that way.’
‘Well you’ll have to deal with it on your own because I’ve got the kids to look after,’ said Ianto. There was a pause as Ianto looked left and right with the rest of the kids before they dashed across the road between the traffic, leaving Ianto abandoned on the other side.
‘Right, well, I’ll see you later, then,’ said Jack before he hung up. When Ianto got to the other side of the road, he checked his messages.
2nd Feb 15:31:04
Don’t let Rona go to Jessica’s & Finn’s grounded.
Ianto looked up to find Finlay already halfway down Clive Street, playing keepy-up with his mates. Shit.
When Rhiannon had finished yelling at Finlay, she predictably turned her wrath on Ianto. Thankfully it was slightly more bearable since Ianto was now wearing dry underwear that was no longer chaffing him in uncomfortable places and Ryan kept shooting him sympathetic looks every time he passed by the living room door with boxes to go in the car.
‘You never told me,’ said Ianto. He knew as defences went it was weak, but it was all he had.
‘Well if you were here a little more often then I wouldn’t have to tell you.’
‘Well it doesn’t matter if I’m here or not does it because you don’t live here anymore,’ Ianto replied.
‘Is that was this is about? You’re bitter about the fact I’m moving out?’ Rhiannon asked. Ianto hated that his sister had an uncanny ability to manipulate arguments into ones that had been left unsaid for so long.
‘No, this is about the fact that Finlay was grounded and I didn’t know because you didn’t tell me,’ said Ianto, trying to steer the argument back on track, but he already knew it was too late.
‘No, this is about the fact that you don’t want me moving in with Ryan.’
‘I’ve got nothing against Ryan! I like Ryan! He’s not a raving lunatic!’
‘That was one guy, Ianto! And look who’s talking, Mr. I’m-dating-Captain-America!’
‘Oh, so you’re racist towards American’s now are you?’
‘No, just pointing out the fact that my brother lives with a stranger man than I do!’
‘He doesn’t live here!’
‘Well you could have fooled me!’
There was a pause in the argument while they both restocked their ammunition and Ryan crept past the entrance to the living room again with another box while Finlay, quite wisely, waited in the car.
‘Then what is it? You don’t want me to be happy?’ Rhiannon asked.
‘Rhi, don’t be daft, of course I want you to be happy.’
‘Then what the hell is your problem?’ Rhiannon barked. She reminded him of Mam when she got this angry, all temper and bravado that quickly failed when Ianto opened his mouth to confess his feelings.
‘I’m going to miss you! That’s what my problem is.’ He was right of course, Rhiannon stood in the middle of the living room, nothing but hot air between them now.
‘There was never enough room when you lived here, but it was nice to have something akin to normal to come home to at the end of the day and see the kids growing up, and I’m going to miss it.’
Rhiannon managed a disbelieving laugh, which grated against Ianto somewhat before she was answering her phone and her anger was directed towards incompetent movers who’d got lost. Five minutes later and Ianto was alone in his house for the first time in what felt like forever.
‘World still ending?’ Ianto asked when the phone was answered. Sleeping had never been an option for today.
‘Not quite ending, but certainly in dire peril,’ said Jack. There was moment of silence as Ianto stared out his rain flecked kitchen window at the washed out landscape of his back garden, listening to Jack’s uncertain breathing down the phone line.
‘If you come pick me up I’ll give you a hand to stop it,’ said Ianto. It was the closest either of them would ever come to apologising to each other, both too proud to admit they were wrong.
‘I’ll come get you.’
It was Gwen who rang his doorbell, trying to squash all of her body onto his front doorstep, underneath the lintel and out of the rain.
‘Hello,’ he said by way of greeting, slightly confused as to where Jack was, but then he heard the SUV’s horn beeping in the street.
‘You ready?’ Gwen asked, huddling inside her coat. Her hair was already beginning to curl in the rain, fringe a damp mess. Ianto grabbed his jacket – a different one from the mud caked one - from the coat stand and pulled it on even as he stepped back out into the rain. Gwen ran ahead to the car and reclaimed the passenger seat before Ianto climbed in the back.
As soon as Jack had set off again Gwen was talking at him, filling Ianto in on the situation.
‘There’s a distress beacon going off in Trefforrest Estate, Pontypridd. We think that the body ended up in the river by there and was carried downstream to Nos Da. We don’t know if our exploding friend,’ Gwen giggled slightly at this and Jack shot her a warning look from the driver’s seat. ‘Yeah, we don’t know if he was the one who sent out the distress beacon and someone else picked it up before we did, ending the distress, or if it’s someone else from his species or something else that I can’t think of right now.’
Ianto didn’t bother replying. He was too tired to come up with his own theories now. The water running in rivulets down the window as they headed out of Cardiff towards Pontypridd more readily captivated his attention. He looked forward to Tuesday; already decided that he was taking another day off and actually spending it as a day off. Gwen was busy lamenting the fact that Rhys had a day off tomorrow and she would most likely be forced to work.
They split up when they got to the Industrial Estate, narrowing down the location to one of the disused buildings out the back of an electronic component warehouse. Gwen went to run interference at the tradesman’s entrance while Jack and Ianto snuck past security to check out the location. The building wasn’t the open plan warehouse like Jack and Ianto had hoped for. It was a maze of machines and crates and bits of electronics that had one point been destined for a purposeful life but now lay in ruin.
‘Looks like the archives before you gave me the job,’ Ianto commented, hands on hips as he surveyed the landscape before him.
‘It’s somewhere in the far corner,’ Jack said, waving vaguely with the scanner before heading off in that direction, Ianto following.
They found what they were looking for sitting rather innocuously on a workbench scattered with burned out capacitors and copper wire. Ianto moved closer to get a better look while Jack fiddled with the scanner in his hands to see if it was harmful in any way. They were a few steps away from it when it started emitting a high pitched shriek before exploding quite suddenly, scattering debris and dust in all directions. Most of it hit Ianto as he turned away too late, leaving him coughing as he waved his hands in front of his face to try and clear the air slightly.
‘Ianto, you okay?’
‘Yeah, fine,’ Ianto said. He reached out a hand for support as his feet moved independently of the rest of him, like he was drunk.
‘You sure?’ Jack asked as he grabbed a hold of Ianto’s out stretched hand, tugging under his armpit to right him again.
‘Yeah, just got...Something...In my...‘ Ianto was having trouble forming sentences now as Jack moved him over to sit on an upturned crate.
‘You get a face full when that thing went off?’ Jack asked. Ianto managed to nod, his head rolling slightly on his neck.
‘Ok, sit tight, I’ll call Gwen and get the bits. We’ll take them back to the Hub and analyse them. See if we can reverse what’s happening,’ Jack said. He gave Ianto a reassuring smile before he started to move away. The minute Jack let go of Ianto he started to topple to the floor. Jack caught him at the last minute, lowering him the rest of the way. His breath was coming in short sharp gasps now.
‘Can’t. Breathe,’ Ianto managed to struggle out between lips that were already turning blue.
‘Okay, lets forget the device and get you back to the Hub,’ Jack said, touching his earpiece as he did so to call for Gwen. He was already pulling Ianto back into a sitting position to throw him over his shoulder in a fireman’s lift. Ianto was flopping about like a rag doll now, unable to help Jack as he struggled to pull Ianto’s dead weight into his arms.
‘Ianto?’ There was no reply. Not even the harsh rasp of Ianto’s breathing anymore. Jack cradled him with one arm, feeling for a pulse with his other hand.
Jack lowered Ianto back to the floor and fruitlessly refreshed his CPR training. He kept going until his shoulders ached and only chocked sobs came from him. It took Jack a moment to realise the water falling onto Ianto’s face was not from the leaking roof above, but was coming from his own eyes. The harsh clack of Gwen’s heels against concrete barely penetrated his awareness.
‘Ianto.’ Jack pulled the man up into his arms again, head cradled against Jack’s shoulder, not a sound escaped his parted lips.
Ianto Jones was dead.