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sam_storyteller ([personal profile] sam_storyteller) wrote2005-07-18 12:15 pm
Entry tags:

The Quiet Room

Title: The Quiet Room
Rating: R
Couplings: (please to note that not all of these are ships) Gwen/Owen, Ianto/Tosh, Ianto/Jack, Ianto/Gwen/Jack
Summary: "Inside this room, no one talks," Ianto said, his voice carefully neutral. "It isn't allowed. What goes on here stays here and, outside of it, never happened. Other than that there are no rules, in a manner of speaking."
Author's Notes: This was written in response to [livejournal.com profile] exuberantself, who said here: Personally, I "believe" that there is a reasonably large room in the back end of the Hub where there is nothing but a lamp and a very nice bed. Inside the room, no one speaks and there are no consequences. At the end of a particularly trying day, the members of Torchwood Cardiff, in whole or part, go to it. This does not follow the details of the rest precisely, but does chase the spirit of the thing.
Warnings: Infidelity; quasi-public sex.

Now a podfic by [livejournal.com profile] filthgoblin! Also this fic inspired an Avengers fic, The Room Of Requirement.

Also available at AO3.

Originally posted 10.7.08

***

"Jack said I ought to do this part," Ianto Jones said to Gwen, as they walked down a dim, slightly damp cement hallway off the main Hub.

His voice sounded strange, tagged by an echo. Until now he hadn't really pinged Gwen's radar much. He was a shadow in the background, an odd aberration -- butler to the alien-hunters -- but nothing she had to pay much mind to. When Captain Jack was in the room he took up a lot of attention, and what was left over she'd spent on studying Suzie (second in command, after all, and after that, well, suicidal) and Owen (dangerously sarcastic) and Toshiko (terrifyingly intellectual). Now that she'd had the first-day tour of the upper levels, however, Jack had passed her to Ianto and Ianto had processed her paperwork briskly before telling her there were one or two things left to explain.

"He says I'm tactful," Ianto continued, considering it. "I'm not certain where he drew that illusion, but I suppose in comparison everyone is. Ah. Shower room," he added, stepping through an open doorway. Rusty lockers stood along one wall. Four of them bore initials: JH, TS, OH (with "mama" scrawled crudely underneath), IJ. If Suzie had a locker it had already been cleared out, she guessed. Probably by the efficient Ianto Jones.

"We don't fuss overmuch about modesty. Especially if one's clothes are being eaten by corrosive excretion, or on fire," Ianto said.

"On fire? Does that happen often?"

"Owen, once," Ianto replied, looking as if he were savouring the memory. "In the general course of things, barring chemicals or pyrotechnics, we simply turn our heads. Women shower down there, men down here," he continued, pointing to two separate cubicles, six showerheads each, divided by a cement wall. Various soaps and shampoos adorned shelves nearby. "This way..."

She followed him out of the locker-room again, continuing deeper, further away from the atrium of the Hub. The hallway widened and then abruptly ended in a doorway. Ianto leaned in the frame and reached inside briefly, flicking on a light.

"This is the Quiet Room," he said, his body blocking the entry just enough to keep her from walking inside. She could see it clearly, though: a long sofa, two elderly wing-back chairs, a floor lamp...and a large bed, neatly made, with a nightstand next to it.

"For kipping overnight?" she asked.

"Among other things. It's a sort of...safety valve, I suppose one would call it. Inside this room, no one talks," Ianto said, his voice carefully neutral. "It isn't allowed. What goes on here stays here and, outside of it, never happened. Other than that there are no rules, in a manner of speaking."

Gwen looked up at him, confused.

"Sleeping, reading, a meal away from the atrium...sex," he said with a shrug. "No one is ever barred from the room. While it's an informal unwritten arrangement, the Captain is always available here."

"What?"

"Surely that's not what startles you?" he asked. "You've met Jack."

"No, the whole -- sex?"

"No-one else knows what you do. No-one else will ever understand as fully as Torchwood does -- "

"I have a boyfriend!"

"Not in this room," Ianto said quietly. "Not if you don't want to."

"That's mad."

"Welcome to Torchwood."

"Was this Jack's invention then? Is that the sort of place -- "

"No. Shocking, I know," he said drily. "It was instituted sometime in the forties, I believe; the decor's been updated since." He turned to her. "You'll understand, PC Cooper. If you don't care to come here, nobody will force you. Owen and Suzie do -- did, I suppose -- sometimes. Tosh sleeps here perhaps two nights a week. No one bothers her when she does. I think sometimes Jack comes and sits with her, nothing more."

"But..." Gwen gestured at it.

"There must be a place to go when there isn't anyplace to go," Ianto said firmly. Gwen stared into the homey little room, with the handful of paperback novels strewn over the nightstand and the blanket on the back of the sofa. Chairs, bed, lamp...

"Do you ever come here?" Gwen asked curiously.

"No. I don't have the same requirements you do," Ianto replied. He pushed away from the entrance and shoved his hands in his pockets. "I don't go into the field. On the rare occasions the field comes to us, I'm generally shoved behind something heavy and told to sit still."

He gave her a small smile.

"Don't let it bother you. All you need to know is that it's there," he said, and began walking back down the corridor.

***

A month and a half later, Lisa Hallett's steel-encrusted body was being incinerated by Owen while Ianto slept, heavily sedated, in the Quiet Room. Gwen came down to see and found Jack sitting in one of the chairs, watching over him. She opened her mouth and Jack shook his head sharply.

There were footsteps in the hall and Tosh brushed past her into the room without a second thought. She shot a glance at Jack and took off her shoes neatly before lying down on the bed, curling herself around Ianto protectively.

When Gwen checked again in the morning, they were gone.

***

Three months later, maybe four, Gwen found herself in the Quiet Room, clean and warm for what felt like the first time in days, with fresh bandages on the bird-shot wounds in her hip. She had her head on Jack's shoulder and his arm was cradling her; Owen was pressed up against her other side, looking sullen and exhausted. Ianto was lying on the bed again, the white bandage on his face luminous under the lamp, a bruise still darkening on his forehead. His eyes, wide and hugely dilated, flicked slowly back and forth from Jack to her to Owen. Tosh, this time, was in his arms, face pressed tightly against his collarbone.

Sometime before she went home to Rhys, sometime before she left Rhys again and found Owen in a place they could talk and shout and make noise, Tosh's shivering stilled and Ianto's hands began to move. There was a soft moan -- she thought Ianto.

She turned her head and buried it in Jack's coat. He laughed softly and gently turned her back, a silent command to look.

It was clumsy, fumbling, incautious but slow, and Gwen thought she would be embarrassed to see it but she wasn't. Ianto was holding desperately tight, Tosh squirming against him, their hips moving in time, most of their clothing still on. It was oddly -- vital, some kind of desperate act to prove to the world they were still alive. Owen touched her hand and then gripped it tightly, but otherwise he didn't move. When she looked at Jack's face he was watching with impassive gravity. Witnessing it.

None of them spoke, not even Ianto when he arched and gasped, not even Tosh when she shuddered against him. And when it was done Jack stood and stroked Tosh's hair once and kissed Ianto on the forehead and left.

***

Gwen and Owen never went there during the brief few weeks of the affair. There was no way they would have been able to separate the sex they had from the life they led, and that was a hard and fast rule she had already learned well.

***

When Jack left them for the Doctor, Owen and Ianto disappeared soon after. Eventually Tosh came running to get Gwen and dragged her down to the Quiet Room and they stood in the doorway and watched.

Ianto and Owen were fighting -- dirty, bloody fighting, neither of them saying a word or even making a noise. Owen was much better at it but Ianto had a blind fury on his side that was evening the odds, plus he had height and reach on Owen and Owen had recently been shot. Neither woman was particularly surprised when Ianto finally wrestled him onto the bed, a hand on each wrist to keep them still, and simply held him there.

During the fight Gwen thought Ianto might have been compelled to expend all that energy. Looking at Owen, struggling and crying at the same time, she realised it wasn't Ianto who needed it that day at all.

***

The Toclafane got Gwen last. They found her in the Quiet Room, and as she fired round after round of useless bullets they taunted her. It was the first time she'd ever heard anyone speak in that room.

***

The morning after Jack came back, when they were finally safe to come into the Hub again, Gwen went down to the locker room to fetch a compact mirror from her locker. She hadn't even opened it when she heard a soft noise echoing down the hall.

Ianto and Jack were in the bed in the Quiet Room, tangled together, naked, the blankets twisted and half-discarded. Jack opened his eyes when he saw her and raised his eyebrows with a grin, an invitation. Gwen laughed and shook her head.

Jack tipped his shoulders in a shrug -- too bad, could have been fun -- and kissed Ianto's jaw as he slept.

***

Gwen once found Jack sitting crosslegged on the bed, a rare drink in one hand, sifting through old photographs. He couldn't tell her the stories, but he was in each of them -- here with an arm around a young soldier's waist, there in a suit with a bride standing behind him.

She did laugh at one that showed him and two lithe, acrobatic-looking men in leotards.

***

The day after Tosh and Owen died, she found Ianto asleep on the couch in the Quiet Room at the same time Jack came looking for him. Jack bent and woke him gently, silently, and kissed him. This time, when he looked over his shoulder at Gwen, she nodded and stepped inside the room.

She didn't regret it for a moment. When the sting of death had faded a little, she even had fond memories of being warmed by their bodies, cradled protectively between the two men.

***

"Did..." said the new medic, on his second day at Torchwood, looking at her seriously and a little fearfully when she asked him if he had any questions. "Did Ianto show you the...room down there?"

"The Quiet Room?" she asked.

"Is it a joke? It seems like the kind of joke he'd pull."

She gave him a reassuring smile. "You'll understand when you need to."

END

[identity profile] only-sound.livejournal.com 2008-10-08 01:42 am (UTC)(link)
I _loves_ you.

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2008-10-08 02:08 pm (UTC)(link)
It's good to be loved! :)

[identity profile] beathen.livejournal.com 2008-10-08 01:48 am (UTC)(link)
This is a fantastic idea and wonderful story! I love the passion and comfort that you're able to show without having to use dialogue while the characters are in the quiet room. Just beautiful.

*mems*

[identity profile] demotu.livejournal.com 2008-10-08 01:51 am (UTC)(link)
the Captain is always available here

When I read that, I stopped, laughed, looked around to make sure I was alone, and said it in a dramatic, whispering, faux-english-butler accent.

And then laughed some more. It was a pretty awesome moment.

As for the rest of it - oh yes please. The Ianto/Tosh scene was particularly poignant, and the Owen/Ianto fight makes me wonder why there aren't more fics that have that aspect to them.

[identity profile] beathen.livejournal.com 2008-10-08 02:01 am (UTC)(link)
When I read that, I stopped, laughed, looked around to make sure I was alone, and said it in a dramatic, whispering, faux-english-butler accent.

You totally made me go back and recite Ianto's entire speech in a faux english accent. :D

(What I wouldn't give to really hear him say all of this!!! Too awesome.)

[identity profile] onyxtwilight.livejournal.com 2008-10-08 02:00 am (UTC)(link)
Win! Brilliant execution of a somewhat bizarre concept. :-)

[identity profile] songspinner9.livejournal.com 2008-10-08 02:11 am (UTC)(link)
Huh. Wasn't sure where this was going, but it got me all quiet. :)
And thinking. There's a nice symmetry to it, and it makes sense. I loved the dueling images of peace and warfare in the room in several forms...
pocketmouse: Owen Harper (Torchwood) (owen)

[personal profile] pocketmouse 2008-10-08 02:16 am (UTC)(link)

[identity profile] the-afterlight.livejournal.com 2008-10-08 02:25 am (UTC)(link)
I have to say, the image that struck me the most here was the Toclafane; I'm not even sure why. Possibly the idea that Gwen was last, or that she would take refuge in that room; possibly the idea of that being the first time she heard speech there.

That said, the entire thing is... fantastic isn't the right word, exactly. I'm not sure what is. It's... finely crafted, and well executed, but it's not like I expect anything else of you. ... Perhaps that's the measure of an excellent story: that it inspires unvoiceable emotion in the reader.

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2008-10-08 02:04 pm (UTC)(link)
I would imagine that if the Toclafane took Torchwood while everyone was in it, Owen and Ianto would be first to die, because obviously Tosh's knowledge and skills in this situation are the most important to preserve. They'd send Gwen with her to protect her, but Tosh would try something technological that wouldn't work but would get her killed. Leaving Gwen....

[identity profile] obfuscate3.livejournal.com 2008-10-08 02:27 am (UTC)(link)
Sam, your stories are like the Morgan Freeman of fanfiction. I always get this overwhelming sense of polish and gravitasse when reading. Except for the YAAANTOE fic. That one was perhaps not so much Morgan's style.

[identity profile] only-sound.livejournal.com 2008-10-08 02:31 am (UTC)(link)
I think this is the best description of Sam's fic I have ever read.

(no subject)

[identity profile] hanuueshe.livejournal.com - 2008-10-08 03:11 (UTC) - Expand
ext_13504: Kara Thrace, Starbuck, BSG (Default)

[identity profile] unicornvamp3z.livejournal.com 2008-10-08 02:29 am (UTC)(link)
I love the idea of a quiet room :) though, it would really only work with a close knit group like torchwood... conclusion:I WANNA WORK AT TORCHWOOD.
that was an awesomely cathartic fic
ext_22618: (Default)

[identity profile] bewarethespork.livejournal.com 2008-10-08 02:32 am (UTC)(link)
Wow. *Goes to re-read*
rhianona: (ambition)

[personal profile] rhianona 2008-10-08 02:50 am (UTC)(link)
great idea, great execution. I really wish the show would deal with the psychological aftermath of some of the episodes. A room like this, would be perfect, especially since they have to leave everything in the room while being silent. very nicely done.

[identity profile] page-r.livejournal.com 2008-10-08 02:52 am (UTC)(link)
*flails*

That sums up the feeling of torchwood so very super much.

*hugs fic and puts it in her box of treasures*

[identity profile] adina-atl.livejournal.com 2008-10-08 02:59 am (UTC)(link)
Just a little thing, but I love how Ianto has changed from the beginning of this to the end. The new medic has figured out on his second day that Ianto has a wicked, dry sense of humor, which the pre-Cyberwoman (really, all series one) Ianto hardly ever showed.

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2008-10-08 01:45 pm (UTC)(link)
Thanks! I was wondering if anyone would notice that, should have known you would :D Ianto does show a dry sense of humour in that first scene, but it's so tightly wrapped up in him playing his role that Gwen doesn't really notice.

[identity profile] fuzzyboo03.livejournal.com 2008-10-08 03:01 am (UTC)(link)
Beautiful.

[identity profile] tiger-flame.livejournal.com 2008-10-08 03:19 am (UTC)(link)
Oh I liked this so much!! I really liked the bit about after Owen and Tosh died (still in shock about that).

*hugs* thanks for the great fic!

[identity profile] gypsylady.livejournal.com 2008-10-08 03:23 am (UTC)(link)
When I first read about the idea I couldn't figure out where you were going to go with it. Now I know and I'm happy with it. This is really good and I love that the new medic thinks it's Ianto's kind of joke.

[identity profile] quinn222.livejournal.com 2008-10-08 03:31 am (UTC)(link)
This same idea in less skilled hands would just have been tawdry. You made it emotional and touching with a very moody and solemn tone and not the slightest hint of vulgarity. Well done!

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2008-10-08 01:40 pm (UTC)(link)
Mind you, the vulgar version might be fun too :D I'm always on the lookout for plausible ways to write Gwen/Ianto/Jack without getting Rhys all upset...

[identity profile] kinkerbelle13.livejournal.com 2008-10-08 03:33 am (UTC)(link)
I loved this. Even if I don't think that it's something that would necessarily happen, the idea was executed so well and the reactions to it were so in character, that it made for a really excellent Torchwood fic all the same.

Also, I think I've just developed a serious soft spot for Ianto/Tosh...

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2008-10-08 01:40 pm (UTC)(link)
I have to admit I ship Ianto with both Tosh and Gwen whenever I can find a plausible way to do it :D Ianto/Tosh because I think they would have a really good time, Ianto/Gwen because I think Gwen probably makes a lot of wrong assumptions about Ianto and it would be hilarious to see him surprise her :D

[identity profile] alibi-factory.livejournal.com 2008-10-08 03:57 am (UTC)(link)
I don't watch Torchwood but I would if it were like this. I feel better for having read it. Ditto on the Morgan Freeman comparison, also.

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2008-10-08 01:34 pm (UTC)(link)
I feel like, on some level, the show is like this in that it associates sex with alien hunting and really really messed up people. It just doesn't quite...link it up the same way.

Glad you enjoyed it, anyhow.

I fear that I may end up hearing my inner writing voice as Morgan Freeman forever, now.

[identity profile] lorraine-gayley.livejournal.com 2008-10-08 04:28 am (UTC)(link)
(de-lurking for a moment) I've read and loved many of your stories in several fandoms, so I wanted to first say how much I've enjoyed reading and re-reading your work, and reading your journal. I was quite sorry to see what happened to your journal(s) last week, and thought you handled it with grace and aplomb-certainly more than I would have. I saw this today and thought you might appreciate it--I love the Green Man myth, as well as liking some steampunk things, so this fills both categories. Enjoy. :)

Lorraine

http://bioephemera.com/2007/12/09/a-steampunk-green-man/

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2008-10-08 01:33 pm (UTC)(link)
OH MY GOODNESS YES. Thank you for that link!

Glad you've been enjoying the fics :)

[identity profile] lil-1337.livejournal.com 2008-10-08 04:32 am (UTC)(link)
That was touching and humorous at the same time. I can see Torchwood having something like that.

[identity profile] angely78.livejournal.com 2008-10-08 04:33 am (UTC)(link)
lovely. Truly lovely. I feel richer for having read this. I always do whenever you post something. Thank you.

[identity profile] observer3.livejournal.com 2008-10-08 04:36 am (UTC)(link)
Only in the world of Torchwood would such a room exist and be accepted. Lovely story

[identity profile] starlingthefool.livejournal.com 2008-10-08 04:42 am (UTC)(link)
This was a beautiful idea, and wonderfully executed.
contrarywise: Glowing green trees along a road (jack & ianto)

[personal profile] contrarywise 2008-10-08 04:44 am (UTC)(link)
This is wonderful. Yes. Absolutely, yes.

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