Summary: Daleks vaporized his arm. Cybermen gave him a new one. Somehow, Ianto Jones survives.
*looks at bare wrist* Well look at the time!
(semi-personal note at bottom, but otherwise, enjoy!)
Chapter 9—The Coffee machine Gets Fixed
The night is awkward—mostly because for all the sex they'd had so far, the only reason Ianto knew Jack's bunk so well was because he had to take out his dry cleaning.
They'd fucked pretty much everywhere else, though.
Ianto had hesitated, going for the buttons of his waistcoat and stopping—
"Mind if I borrow a shirt?"
He kept two spare suits, here, not anything that'd be comfortable to sleep in.
Jack tosses him a vest.
Wordlessly, Ianto puts it on, feels very naked standing in front of Jack in his suit trousers and a vest. He goes for his fly, wishes for a long-sleeved anything…
"You're very careful not to look, did you know that?"
"Your arm," Jack clarifies, "you look up and to the left when your arms aren't covered. Like you don't want to see it even in your peripherals."
Ianto gives him a thin smile and lets his trousers drop.
"That'd be because I don't want to see it."
He folds them along the right creases and drapes them over the same chair that held up his suit jacket and vest, dress shirt folded on the seat.
"If I had the choice," he adds, "I'd rather not have this thing attached to me. If I had the choice…" he takes a deep breath, lets it out slowly. "If the only way to remove this thing was to remove my one remaining arm with it… then I'd learn to live without arms. You see this?" He twists his left arm to show the mottled shiny skin just above his inner elbow, "I don't know if you noticed, but I have a lot of scars like this. They're from dragging Lisa out of the wreckage of Torchwood One. And yet this thing," he wiggles the fingers of his right not-arm, "doesn't have a scratch." He doesn't know what else to say about that, so he gives Jack another thin, thin smile. Tries to remember that at least he isn't in one of the cells. Tried to keep in mind that he might be feeling vulnerable, might be translating that into viciousness.
"I broke my arm when I was a kid, you know," he says, absently now. "Fell off a swing set. Had a scar as long as my pinky. Not anymore…" He remembers being frustrated not being able to move his arm, remembers the itchiness of healing, of how he'd resorted to using one of his Tad's tools to itch under the cast—
The scar had been from when he'd gotten startled, already paranoid for using his precious work tools, when his mum had gotten home and he'd jerked in surprise. It had needed four stitches.
It meant having a cast on for nearly a whole extra week.
The stitches had itched worse than the cast, he remembered.
He clenched his hands, longing for his gloves when the sound of metal on metal rang loud in Jack's bunker. His palm felt like it was extra clammy without the fabric.
Jack didn't say anything, and there was something terrible in his eyes, something horribly like understanding, and nodded to his bed.
Ianto climbed in.
He'd almost say he was glad for the vest with how unreasonably warm it got in Jacks bunker, except he at once felt horribly exposed and chilled.
Despite being skin-warm at the shoulder, the metal of his arm was never actually body temperature and kept a chill point of contact throughout the night.
Jack was a furnace at his back—perhaps the source of this unreasonable heat? — and for a moment Ianto allowed himself to think on what a real morning-after with Jack would be like. Ianto's feet hardly ever got noticeably cold, but there wasn't much he could do about a metal arm.
His internal clock told him that it was morning, close enough to the early hours he kept with his alarm, but inside the bunker there was only darkness and so Ianto imagined. Imagined cuddling, imagined awkward elbows and knees making contact in their sleep, imagined laughing at morning breath—wondered if Jack even had morning breath? Was he that far removed from normalcy? — Ianto imagined morning sex…
Then stopped, because he'd had enough of mentally torturing himself, he didn't need to add morning wood to the equation.
Coffee—he needed coffee. He'd get a pot started and change into one of the suits he kept at the Hub in case of a mess, and…
The Coffee Machine was still only halfway put together.
Jack found him in the kitchen, his button-down from the previous night over the vest Jack had lent him and working on getting the coffee machine back together. Ianto didn't fool himself into thinking it was really much 'finding'… Though he hadn't said anything, Ianto was mostly certain Jack had been awake before Ianto had been, and was also mostly certain that Jack would have made a show of waking up if Ianto hadn't grabbed up his shirt and foregone the trousers for a speedy exit.
"I suppose so."
The silence that stretched was…. Well.
A screw slipped from his fingers again, the metal of his fingers not terribly conductive to grip, not really. Not on small things. He didn't have this problem with his gloves on.
He switched the screwdriver to his right hand, retrieving the loose screw with his left, feeling the silence like a physical weight.
"… I think I can get this running again soon," Ianto says to fill it. "Coffee should be ready in less than an hour. Should be more than enough time to have coffee ready for everyone, assuming they don't all rush in early because of…" he shrugs and waves his right hand weakly. Out of the corner of his eye he sees the shine of metal.
You're very careful not to look, did you know that?
That reminded him.
"Have you… seen my gloves? It seems like my spares are missing from the locker room."
Jack shrugged, swiping up one of the pieces of buttered toast Ianto had made up. He'd made a note for himself earlier that they'd needed more jam, unsure if he'd need the reminder at all. "Nope, haven't seen 'em."
Ianto didn't know how he'd done it, but despite having followed Ianto around for the entire evening, Jack must have at some point escaped to steal his spare gloves some time in the night. Ianto wasn't sure what sort of game Jack was playing, and really wasn't interested in playing along blind.
Ianto didn't nod, didn't say anything, and went back to putting together the cover for the coffee machines directional circuitry.
Tosh ended up being the first to arrive—a half hour earlier than when she usually came in—then Owen, a full hour early, and then Gwen a half-hour early and looking sheepish that she was still last to arrive to work.
He had indeed managed to repair the Coffee Machine, and was on his second cup of coffee, having gotten Tosh and Owen their own mugs.
Second, because his first spilled across the flooring when Jack startled him and he'd broken the handle off his regular mug. It was a plain white mug with an emoticon smiley face on it, one of several themed mugs he'd found at a thrift shop when Suzie'd accidentally blasted the cupboards (and all of their mugs inside) a year and a half ago, now.
It was just one more thing to add to his morning.
Ianto brought Gwen her constabulary-themed mug, and went back to his own.
The silence stretched on.
Then Gwen choked.
"Oh, um, sorry," she waved them off, blushing. "It's just your, um…" she gestured, and at first Ianto thought she was saying that the sight of his metal hand had startled her—then Owen snorted.
"I take it things haven't been going smoothly since we left last night?"
Ianto frowned, and then caught Tosh smiling, too, before—ah.
His replacement mug had a picture of a sad bulldog on it; with the caption I've had a RUFF morning ( ruff_morning_mug-rba1fc632118b442ba6a21f66d034130d_x7jg5_8byvr_ ) framing it.
The laughter that followed was a bit of a relief, eased some of the tension that had mounted between his shoulders—it made him not necessarily forget, but worry less over the shit show his life was going to be for the next while.
Made it so he could put aside the fact that his metal fingers kept clicking against his metal palm like a poor mans castanets. Let him ignore the perpetual shine he could see just out the corner of his eye.
He wanted his gloves.
He also wanted Jack to say something, have something for them to do rather than letting them get back to what projects they'd been working on before the Three Stooges and their parents interrupted them.
As it was, Jack never reappeared from his office, and after a bit of an awkward pause where Ianto collected up and replaced empty coffee mugs, they got back to work. Ianto and Tosh got to work removing the door to the Archives so she could reprogram a new locking mechanism for the new door (whenever that came in). It was only a little awkward when Ianto looked around for something to pry a bit of dented metal free, and Tosh asked if he couldn't just do it himself because… well. He could. Did, after only a moments awkwardness.
He didn't know how he should be responding to this reaction to him having a sturdy cybernetic arm.
He really wanted his gloves.
Ianto is scrolling through various forums while waiting for the police reports to finish uploading to Torchwood's servers. He dismisses the usual conspiracy theorists, checks in with the people to claim to see mysterious lights over the Plass, but, in this instance, is focusing on one criteria this time around. A knock at where the archives door used to be brought his attention away from his scrolling to see Gwen at the door.
"Ianto?" Gwen leaned her hip against his desk, hair falling over her shoulder as she leaned in close. "Have there been sightings of something new? Or more Blowfish?"
Gwen usually helped when Ianto scoured the Internet for people who'd seen actual extraterrestrial activity—she was actually very good at figuring out reasons for strangeness that the public would accept and understand; drugs in the water, a flash mob, an art installation, an online Troll group… it had actually been her joking suggestion that had sparked the worry over the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide… while it was true you could find it in your house, added to your pipes, and easily accessed by your children… it was water. H2O.
They had a shared folder for police reports, now, and she'd probably noticed that it was being added to.
"Not in particular, this time, except maybe some ghost music in a dance hall," he shrugged. "I'm checking that our purple friends didn't make a scene before making their way into the Hub…" he raised an eyebrow at her. "They did make their way through the Tourist Office. So far, though, I've only seen one or two mentions of college students and an initiation prank gone wrong and one user convinced she'd seen some variation of the Blue Man Group."
"Poor girl," Gwen leaned in closer, tsking over the thread, "doesn't look like anyone's believing her. No pictures, though, so that's good."
Ianto hummed agreement, and continued scrolling—paused so they could appreciate a .gif set someone had posted of kittens falling asleep on their feet.
"You know, Ianto…" Gwen stopped. Tried again. "You and, uh, you and Jack…"
"I don't particularly want to talk about Jack and myself, Gwen."
Especially since the attraction Gwen herself felt for Jack was more than obvious. The only difference between her obvious attraction for the man and Ianto's was that she, at least, hadn't had sex with the man. She did have sex with Owen, though Ianto wasn't sure what he was trying to prove to himself by thinking on that. Maybe that if she didn't drop the subject that even her cheating on her long-term boyfriend was actually better than Ianto omitting his cybernetic arm to Jack? He hadn't ever met her boyfriend but he felt safe in assuming that Rhys didn't have as strong a trust issue as Jack did.
"It's just, ah… If you don't want to talk about it, or—"
"I do, though," Ianto lies, interrupting her. "It's just… hard. To. Hard to talk. About it, I mean."
"You're a talented man, Ianto Jones, is all," Gwen says, nonsensical and smiling. "If you can't find a way to talk about it, I'm sure you'll figure out some other way to communicate."
Ianto hummed, clicking on a link to a different kitten .gif. Glanced at her.
Her laughter didn't exactly ease the tightness in his chest, but it did cast his mind in a different direction.
Ianto continued searching for possible alien-events, keeping a screen open to the ghost music just in case, and thought about charades.
To: Torchwood Three Living Members
From: Ianto Jones
SUBJECT: Metal Arm
The unexpected breach in security earlier this week has also brought attention to a previously undisclosed detail regarding myself. As there is some difficulty discussing this matter on a one-on-one basis, or in a group setting, this document is geared toward expanding on the situation at hand. Should anyone have additional questions they may find me for further clarification.
On XX of XXX, 2006 the events of what is now called the battle of Canary Wharf took place, and it's during this time that myself and my then-partner Lisa Hallet caught the unfortunate attention of the Cybermen…
[expand full e-mail]
Ianto woke up, rolled out of bed careful not to touch his arm to Jack's, got changed into one of his remaining spare suits, and sent out an e-mail to his… coworkers.
It felt strange thinking of them like that, with how much they'd all been through regardless of how technically true it was.
Then he went to the kitchen, did another check over the coffee machine, and put an immense amount of thought into timing when he could put out coffee at each of their desks so that it would still be hot when they got in, but he wouldn't have to actually encounter anyone—
Now then, some people may say that he was putting this amount of concentration simply for that goal, to avoid his coworkers, but in the back of his mind Ianto could also accept that he was focusing so hard on this simply so he could also avoid thinking about the memo he'd mechanically written out and just sent.
He'd barelychecked it over beore sending it out.
What if he'd written something down wrong, or could have phrased something better—what if he'd made a spelling mistake. What if he'd been grammatically incorrect.
And what if, instead of thinking about this, he speed through setting down coffees, each doctored to each recipient properly, and then went and did what he was supposed to be focusing on the prevous day in the archives?
Yes, good, good plan.
The door to the archives was damaged, but not nearly as badly as Ianto had worried.
A two-pronged defense, the outer door had taken damage, but the inner door, the part that merged with the outer door during emergencies and held most of the tech that went into securing everything; that part was completely fine.
The troublesome and finicky part of the door he'd been worried about was not a problem—what was a problem were the numerous dents in the outer door.
There were pros and cons to either door getting damaged; both required time and attention, but the inner door would have required more attention.
The outer door was more simplistic, but time consuming to repair, as it required removing the damaged metal, breaking it down into smaller pieces, and fitting those smaller pieces into the Raw Unusable Material Processor—a name Owen had immediately leapt upon—and waiting for the Processor to turn those scraps into something that could be put back into use as a door.
Normally, this would require more personnel to do, and plenty of machinery.
In Torchwood One Ianto had been dragged into doing something similar for a smaller storage locker and had been grateful for Lisa's kneading hands on his aching muscles afterwards. That was only at the beginning of his training with the archives, and it was mandatory that trainees had breaks to do something physical—
Of course, things in Torchwood Three were different.
Torchwood One wouldn't ever consider using alien tech to make hard labor easier—they may adapt their own tech to use aspects of it, but the alien tech itself was to be studied and then put into storage.
Torchwood One wouldn't have let Ianto use an alien laser cutter to fix a door, wouldn't have let just anyone use what was, if Ianto had to simplify it down, essentially a three dimensional printer with alien origins that one of the techs had tinkered with.
Torchwood One wouldn't have let a tech tinker with that alien tech in the first place, not the way Tosh tinkered.
He'd been amazed last year when she'd shown him how to print himself more storage for the archives—didn't care that she said earth technology was maybe a decade away from having something similar.
Any time he used it, he was reminded again and again that Tosh was an actual genius.
The laser cutter could be adjusted to how thick of any material it had to cut, so Ianto fiddled with the settings until it would only cut the 2inch thick metal of the door, and went at it.
Ianto found dismantling the door soothing.
He wore welding goggles and a mask over his nose and mouth that wasn't entirely comfortable with, and it was discomfiting to always have the gleaming metal of his hand keeping the metal he was cutting from falling on himself, but…
It was mindless work.
He'd stripped down to his trousers and Jack's vest, and it was a repetitive process of cutting off a good-sized piece of metal, bringing it to the R.U.M.P to take in the material, make sure it still had the schematics for the door entered, and get more metal.
The only thing breaking up the flow was occasionally taking away one piece of the door that the R.U.M.P had finished remaking and setting it aside in the proper order on the floor he'd cleared for this purpose.
Given that the Processor all in all was about the size of a suitcase, the whole door would be broken up into 16 pieces, the edges made weird and fluid-y by some aspect of the alien tech that would have the steel melding with a similarly fluid-y edge.
Alien tech, y'know.
If there were anyone around to witness it, Ianto would deny that he'd made a ta-da and jazz hands when he managed to remove a particularly large bit of metal, picking it up after with his metal hand to be careful of the sharp edges.
His shoulders and left arm was a bit sore from the work, but nowhere near where he remembered being at Torchwood One.
He raised two mental fingers up to the higher ups and manager-types that saw logic in finding out what use alien tech had and then not using it.
Footsteps thundered on the stairs leading down to the Archives—something Ianto had thought about bringing up to Jack, maybe not carpet but something could fix the noise—and he could hear yelling upstairs.
"IANTO," Jack appeared at the stairs, his coat billowing around him, "don't!"
So it's been a while, huh?
It has certainly been a hot minute.*cough* four years *cough*
So, if you just read me for this fandom, I can't say much, you know people move in and out of fandoms.
If you read me for anything else, you'll know that it's been still a hot minute since I've posted much.
Short explanation is that I made my own expectations for myself too high, got anxious about my own perceived expectations from other people, felt like I was disappointing everyone so why bother, and then got very anxious any time I got a review from anyone about anything that I've written, so I read it and then turned into a rock at the bottom of a very deep lake who can't respond to anyone or anything and really what did it matter anyway.
Feeling better now. If you have not gotten a reply from me after posting a review, I'm sorry, but I have read and really, really appreciate you taking the time to review. I cannot guarantee I will be able to get back to future reviews, but know this rock has evolved into a… um… a snapping turtle? At the bottom of that lake? Still there, but sometimes can get to the surface to poke a nose into the air.
Thank you so much for the support.