sam_storyteller: (Torchwood)
sam_storyteller ([personal profile] sam_storyteller) wrote2005-07-18 11:35 am
Entry tags:

Sleeping My Way To The Top; Torchwood, PG

Title: Sleeping My Way To The Top
Rating: PG
Summary: "I quit. You be leader." "Nice coat. Want a job?"
Warnings: Discussion of suicide.

Originally posted 5.31.08

Also available at AO3.

***

The bay outside the Plass was cold and almost grey, this early in the morning; the paving-stone Jack was sitting on was cold and grey too, but really Jack knew how to pick a backdrop for his brooding and Ianto indulged him, these days. He had reason to brood, after all; all three of them were grieving, but for Jack the deaths at Torchwood must be a reminder -- of his own immortality, of all the others he'd seen die.

And perhaps Jack had begun to forget the early days and those who died then, but that wasn't exactly a comfort, forgetting, was it?

Ianto, who had been hurrying across the Plass to the Hub to open the Tourist Centre, slowed and stopped as he approached, giving Jack time to speak if he wanted. After all, he had coffee and Jack, and had discovered that more was rarely required. He stood just a little behind him and waited, not bothering with good morning. Jack knew he was there.

"I'm faking it," Jack said, after a few minutes.

Ianto lifted an eyebrow. "All the magazines say you should never do that. Gives your partner the wrong impression. Much better to talk these things out."

Jack's gaze, fixed on the bay, swung sidelong and up. Ianto smiled at him.

"I'm not sure I like the bad influence I'm being on you," Jack said.

Ianto shoved his free hand in his pocket against the early-spring chill, sipping from his travel mug. "Do you want me to ask what you're faking?"

"I'm not sure yet."

There were duties to attend to in the Hub, there always were, but Jack was Torchwood, and some things were more important than whether or not the general chaos of the Hub looked...less chaotic.

He'd given up on "tidy" when it came to anything in life.

"Okay," Jack said.

"Okay?"

"Ask me."

"What are you faking?"

Jack gave him a look that told him he should, in the future, pretend to be serious when asking these things. Ianto stepped closer, still standing, unwilling to get pavement-dirt on his trousers unless he was certain it was required.

"Leadership," Jack said. "You know how long I've been head of Torchwood Three?"

"Yup."

Jack turned, surprised. "You do?"

"It's in the archive. You took over leadership of Torchwood Cardiff after a slaughter on New Year's Eve, nineteen-ninety-nine. The report's sealed, but the history's there if you know where to look."

"I torched my paper file," Jack said. "And even To -- " he cut off abruptly. "Nobody can hack my digital file. Not without me knowing about it."

"You're not the most efficient cleaner in the world, you know," Ianto replied. "And I was trained in research. There are records in the Torchwood financial files going back thirty-two years, cash transactions for independent-agent services rendered. Before that point the books are sketchy, but the budget imbalance appears in decreasing increments for another few decades. The cash transactions cease at the same time your name appears on Torchwood's official pay records in early two thousand. Your file on the server might be sealed, but the rosters aren't -- the file for every active Torchwood Cardiff agent ceases on New Year's Eve, with their deaths. Between the cash payout amounts prior to that date and your new direct-deposit payments which begin two weeks later, there is an increase concordant with adjustment from field agent to managing head."

Jack looked up at him, bare shock in his eyes.

"You will continue to underestimate me," Ianto sighed. "You've been with Torchwood as a freelance agent since at least the late fifties, possibly the early twenties. That threw me for a little while. I assumed Torchwood had always had at least one floating agent, for whatever reason, and you just inherited your pay from the last one. And of course as a floater you would not necessarily have been in the Hub when the rest were killed. I only wonder why you took so long to take over, now."

Jack rubbed the back of his head. "I didn't want to be leader. I didn't want to have to -- "

"Abandon your team?" Ianto suggested. Jack winced.

"I was marking time. That was all it was supposed to be."

"Waiting for your Doctor."

"Yeah."

"What changed?"

Jack shrugged. "Everyone died. Someone had to lead. Alex said to me...we're not ready. I wanted us to be ready. I had an obligation to him." He ducked his head. "They were dead when I got there, all but him. He blew his head off three feet from where I was standing."

Ianto touched his hair gently, rubbing fingers across the crown of his scalp. Jack leaned against his leg.

"So while we all think your command is as old as Torchwood, you've only been the head for -- eight years? Give or take."

"I led men in battle. Two wars here, another two in other...times and places," Jack said. "But those are people who are supposed to obey orders. And you could beat them if they didn't," he added with a slight smile. "I don't know how to lead the uppity ones. Especially on the uncertain moral ground we're on in the twenty-first century."

"You've done all right with it, though. Gwen's good for you in that sense at least. She teaches you when to let something go."

"Oh, is that what she was doing." Jack looked up again. "And you?"

"What about me?"

"What are you teaching me?"

"More than you know," Ianto said, letting a hint of exasperated affection into his voice.

"I quit. You be leader."

Ianto stepped down from the paving stone, crouching and settling next to Jack.

"Okay," he said. "I know all the passwords anyway."

Jack chuckled. Ianto nudged him with his shoulder.

"Nice coat. Want a job?"

Jack's outright laugh echoed back to them off the concrete -- the first time he'd laughed since Owen and Tosh had died. Good to hear. "What would it entail?"

"Well, I lead a secret underground cabal of mild social maladjusts who, armed with alien equipment they've taught themselves how to use, occasionally save the world from total destruction," he said. "We're definitely all that stands between Cardiff and annihilation, which doesn't bode particularly well for Cardiff. Oh, and we have a pet pterodactyl." He glanced at Jack, who was still smiling. He hesitated, then continued.

"I have to make decisions every day that don't slot neatly into this century's morals, or any other's for that matter, but still have to be made," he said, and the smile faded from Jack's face. "I have to let other people judge me on my decisions when they can't possibly understand why I made them. Sometimes I have to lie to people to protect the rest of the universe. Or maybe time. They can't really tell, because, well, I'm lying, aren't I."

"Ianto -- "

"And somehow I have to get them to forgive me when I screw up. They screw up too, mind, but they're allowed to, because they're not leading us all blind into whatever's waiting out there in the dark." Ianto gave Jack a sharp, studying look. "But the cop's hung about for a while and I think my secretary fancies my arse."

Jack just sat there, looking at him.

"They know when to blame me," Ianto added. "And they know how much I carry on my shoulders. And they're still here. So that must mean something, don't you think?"

"I lie a lot less than you think I do," Jack said.

"It would be nearly impossible for you to lie more than we think you do, sometimes," Ianto replied. "Doesn't really matter, though."

"No?"

"You're not a sociopath, Jack, you don't lie for the sheer joy of lying." Ianto adjusted his jacket as he stood again. Jack stood too, dusting his hands on his coat. "So, want to join up? You can make me coffee and look pretty."

"Once in a while," Jack said, "I get the distinctly unnerving sensation that you really are bucking for my job."

"I'm sleeping my way to the top," Ianto answered, cuffs brushing against Jack's fingers as they walked back towards the Information Centre. "In the meantime, though, the scenery's all right."

Jack paused in front of the passageway door. "Do you know why you and Gwen stay? Really?"

"I can't speak for Gwen, though I could guess that it's a variant on my own reasons."

"And?" Jack prompted.

"Well, we love you, don't we?" Ianto said. "Someone's got to do the heavy lifting around here, and we're not slaves, so something must keep us here despite..." he gestured broadly, indicating the Hub and all the scars they carried and Owen and Tosh too. "It isn't the pay and it certainly isn't the fringe benefits, which are distinctly lacking. So...probably love."

"Huh," Jack said.

"Hasn't anyone bothered to tell you that before?"

"Not really, no."

Ianto nodded thoughtfully. "Well, don't let it go to your head. Shall I make coffee?"

"Please," Jack said, and smiled again.

END
ext_47327: (Default)

Nice story!

[identity profile] darkentwisted.livejournal.com 2008-06-01 12:29 am (UTC)(link)
Love the way you rationalized Ianto and Gwen staying with Jack.

[identity profile] tintop-lizzy.livejournal.com 2008-06-01 12:40 am (UTC)(link)
Ah, the family of choice that also contains the chosen other. Gee, they need some amazing new people in the third series or it'll be weird...

See what your fic did, it made me think!
lilyleia78: Close up of a lily in black and white (Jack and Ianto)

[personal profile] lilyleia78 2008-06-01 01:06 am (UTC)(link)
I ♥ Ianto's job description!

Horray for angsty fluff...or fluffy angst?

[identity profile] humantales.livejournal.com 2008-06-01 03:01 am (UTC)(link)
Yep, Ianto's much more than a pretty face (and arse), Jack my boy!

Nice.

[identity profile] lil-1337.livejournal.com 2008-06-01 03:05 am (UTC)(link)
This is why I ship Jack/Ianto. Not just because they're pretty or I'm a slash fangirl. The relationship works. The chemistry is there and the two of them really understand each other.

[identity profile] happi-feet.livejournal.com 2008-06-01 03:26 am (UTC)(link)
Your days as an office-jockey are telling, Sam.

Loves it, as usual! ('bout damn time, too!)

[identity profile] darthhellokitty.livejournal.com 2008-06-01 04:02 am (UTC)(link)
Wow, you're really dropping some nice stuff today! Excellent!

I love Ianto's recruitment lines. And, yeah, no other explanation for it.

[identity profile] rm.livejournal.com 2008-06-01 05:31 am (UTC)(link)
Yes yes yes yes. Lovely.
such_heights: amy and rory looking at a pile of post (tw: jack blue)

[personal profile] such_heights 2008-06-01 10:44 am (UTC)(link)
That just made so exceptionally happy it's probably a little embarrassing.
jo02: scared-kitty (Default)

[personal profile] jo02 2008-06-01 10:46 am (UTC)(link)
This was wonderful - it stirred up a whole range of emotions, both happy and unsettling.

Thank you.

[identity profile] thaddeusfavour.livejournal.com 2008-06-01 12:52 pm (UTC)(link)
Absolutely wonderful, and just the way I view Jack. I do think he's uncomfortable with the position of leader. Getting there, but still feeling like a lone wolf somedays. Great story. :P

[identity profile] ishouldntreally.livejournal.com 2008-06-01 02:41 pm (UTC)(link)
oh god you're good
ext_2496: (Default)

[identity profile] aelfgyfu-mead.livejournal.com 2008-06-01 03:41 pm (UTC)(link)
Another lovely story--how can you do so many at once?

Yes, Jack will always underestimate Ianto; I too figured as soon as Ianto realized Jack doesn't die, he'd take a fresh look at Torchwood records, and there will always be traces outside of Jack's sealed/destroyed/whatever personnel records. Ianto knows where to look; Jack's not so much of a details man and wouldn't think to try to purge all those records.

I love Ianto's talk to Jack and Jack's shock at what he hears. Jack really does take everything on himself, good and bad, and he doesn't have enough faith in his people; he spent a century and more working for Torchwood, being used and not trusted much of the time and watching deaths, betrayals, and even psychosis as they happened.

Ianto and Gwen both love Jack, in different ways, and Jack has a hard time accepting that. I know that, but you've put it so beautifully!

[identity profile] ladyoflisquill.livejournal.com 2008-06-01 03:44 pm (UTC)(link)
I love the way you write Ianto. He really is the glue that keeps Jack together.
marginaliana: Buddy the dog carries Bobo the toy (TW - Bitchy Lesbians)

[personal profile] marginaliana 2008-06-01 04:19 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh, I love that Ianto knows just how to put Jack's leadership into perspective. The best part is how he's so casual about the way they all love Jack, the way Jack inspires love. I think that's spot on. Lovely.

[identity profile] lunamazes.livejournal.com 2008-06-01 04:37 pm (UTC)(link)
I love you!!!
ext_13504: Kara Thrace, Starbuck, BSG (Default)

[identity profile] unicornvamp3z.livejournal.com 2008-06-01 05:02 pm (UTC)(link)
So bittersweet - Ianto and Gwen staying, but I hate that Tosh and Owen are gone :(
poor Jack

[identity profile] thefannishwaldo.livejournal.com 2008-06-01 05:14 pm (UTC)(link)
This is brilliant. I love Ianto putting himself in the leadership role to point out how he sees Jack and his real leadership role. Brilliant all the way around.

[identity profile] shayasar.livejournal.com 2008-06-01 05:48 pm (UTC)(link)
wow, this was REALLY good!! liked it a lot :)

[identity profile] christine-twfan.livejournal.com 2008-06-01 05:52 pm (UTC)(link)
This was wonderful! Loved it. :)

[identity profile] thirstyrobot.livejournal.com 2008-06-01 05:53 pm (UTC)(link)
Perfect. Um, yeah, that's all I got. :D
rhianona: (nap time)

[personal profile] rhianona 2008-06-01 05:54 pm (UTC)(link)
I really like how you've taken what we learned in Fragments and put it into this really nice post-Exit Wounds fic. I like how confident Ianto is, of himself and what Jack thinks. Very nice.

[identity profile] marvola.livejournal.com 2008-06-01 06:29 pm (UTC)(link)
Absolutely wonderful. And I loved the matter of fact tone they both had at the end. It's very them.

[identity profile] cherry-soup888.livejournal.com 2008-06-01 06:39 pm (UTC)(link)
Wow this was absolutely brilliant!
I loved it a lot, thank you so much :)

[identity profile] shara50.livejournal.com 2008-06-01 06:41 pm (UTC)(link)
This was just excellent, thanks for the fantastic read!!

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