Pairings/Characters: Tony/Ianto, Natasha/Pepper, Jack, Rhys/Gwen, Rhys/Suzie, Owen/Diane, Nick Fury, Coulson/Clint, Maria Hill, Jasper Sitwell/Tosh and Jack/AU!Ianto
Summary: After the events of Countrycide Ianto comes to the realisation that Torchwood was no longer the place for him. As he struggles to find a new life for himself Ianto is approached by Nick Fury and unexpectedly finds himself working for SHIELD. Given his past experience in working with ‘difficult’ alpha-males, he is assigned as Tony Stark's new handler; does Tony have the compassion and willingness to help heal someone whose as broken as him?
Disclaimer: I do not own Torchwood or The Avengers
Art by: hollymarchosias
It was a long, tense, silent ride back to the Hub. No one was in the mood to speak about their experiences, and for once Jack didn’t try to fill the silence with inane anecdotes about tentacle sex. They were all lost in their own thoughts, each replaying the horror of the nights events over and over in their minds and wondering how any soul could be that twisted to take enjoyment of another’s terror.
By the time they’d returned to Cardiff and Jack had pulled into Torchwood’s underground parking Ianto’s anger had begun to fade beneath an onslaught of practical reasoning – his grand-tad always said that a man was responsible for his own lot in life. ‘If I want things to change, then I have to make the…'
Ianto was yanked out of the light contemplative doze he’d managed to achieve when Owen, who was seated behind Gwen and the front passenger’s seat, reached across Tosh and punched him in the left shoulder. The blow sent searing pain shooting through Ianto’s arm and across his chest and he bit his lip until he tasted blood to stop himself from crying out. Like a freight train, Ianto’s anger came roaring back to life as Owen reminded him for his only function with the team.
“Why don’t you get off your lazy arse and go make the rest of us some coffee before you start cleaning out the SUV?” Owen remained totally oblivious to the agony Ianto was suffering as he focused solely on helping Gwen out of the SUV.
For a few moments, all Ianto could think about was the pain screaming its way through his body as he started to climb out of the SUV but when Owen’s words finally registered with him something inside of Ianto snapped. He really could not believe that it really had escaped the doctor’s attention that he too had been badly hurt. “Go fuck yourself, Owen!” Ianto’s words were low but vehement, each one bitten off through clenched teeth. He didn’t wait to see the effect of his pronouncement; instead he turned his back on them all and began to stagger towards the door – dear God, it was so very far away!
Everyone stopped what they were doing and stared at Ianto in varies degrees of shock, well everyone but Tosh, that is. Only she remembered – only she’d noticed – only she cared – that Ianto was injured.
Halfway to the door, Ianto had to stop and catch his breath; he blinked rapidly, trying to chase away the black dots that were dancing in front of his eyes.
“Was that really necessary, Ianto?” Jack admonished as he wrapped his arm around Gwen’s waist and held her close.
Turning around slowly, Ianto’s eyes narrowed as he glared at the members of Torchwood Three. “In case it escaped your notice, Doctor Harper and Captain Jack Harkness, Gwen is not the only one injured. I have been fucking tenderized! My body is covered with bruises and I have broken ribs among other things. But since I’m not a true member of your precious team or the one you so desperate to shag, I’m not worthy of being noticed, much less remembered!”
As the heart of Torchwood, Gwen felt obligated to speak up. “You’re not really hurt, Ianto, you’re just overly tired. A cup of cof… Her voice trailed off uncertainly as Ianto fixed her with a deadly withering glare.
“You want coffee, you go make it! And while you’re at it you can clean out the bloody SUV yourself!” Ianto snarled out in a vicious tone as he spun on his heel and moved gingerly away from the door and out of the parking garage. He knew he only had a short time left in which he could hail a taxi and head to the nearby hospital to get himself checked out before he collapsed.
Completely disgusted by the callous attitudes of her team-mates, Tosh shook her head at the others before running after Ianto. Her heart lurched as she thought about the man who’d so courageously sacrificed himself in order to save her life only to be so cruelly ignored all because he’d taken actions to help the woman he loved. ‘It so easy for us to pass judgement on him yet if any of us had been in Ianto’s shoes and been faced with the death of someone we love we would have done the same damn thing!’
Tosh sighed deeply as she hurried along. ‘Maybe we have lost touch with our humanity but given how easily and quickly jaded Gwen is becoming I don’t think she’s the right person to help us find it again.’
As she reached the street Tosh easily spotted the hunched form of Ianto waiting on the kerb to flag down a taxi and her heart went out to her broken teammate. ‘If anyone is going to remind us what it’s like to be human and to truly love someone, then that person is Ianto and now we’ve broken him.’
With caution Tosh slowly approached Ianto; given his angry outburst back in the car park, she wasn’t quite sure what her reception would be. “Would you like me to give you a ride to the hospital?” she asked softly and as she stood next to him she could clearly see the enormous amount of pain lacing his face and causing a gray pallor to his skin. Her fingers itched to reach out and sooth away the tight lines that surrounded his eyes and pinched his lips into a thin slash where his mouth should be.
Reluctantly, Ianto turned and glanced at the woman who, if circumstances had been different, would have been a wonderful friend. The last thing he wanted to do was accept help from anyone connected with Torchwood, but at the moment, he had no choice; he was just moment from total collapse and wouldn’t that just make Owen’s day. He could just hear the medic’s nasty comments, ‘You’re not fit for anything but making coffee and taking out the bins, Tea-Boy,’ and the mocking sneer in his voice made Ianto’s skin crawl with revulsion.
Ianto looked up and down the street, but for once, there wasn’t a taxi to be seen, which left him with no choice;“If it wouldn't be too much trouble for you, I would really like that.” Ianto winced as he took a breath and his ribs screamed in pain at the action and once again, dark spots danced in front of his eyes. ‘Oh dear God, please don’t let me pass out here!’ he begged.
Tosh smiled as she wrapped her arm around Ianto’s waist, taking great care not to put too much pressure on his injured ribs and together they slowly made their way towards her car. ‘We did this; we broke this gentle, caring and loving man with our cruelness.’ Tosh couldn’t help but hate herself and especially the others for their careless and cruel treatment of Ianto; in the fall-out of Lisa’s death they had all forgotten that he was only human and that he had the same feelings as the rest of them.
Toshiko gently helped Ianto into her car, fastened his seat belt and hurried around to get into the driver’s seat. As she merged into traffic and drove towards nearby St. David’s hospital, neither she nor Ianto ever noticed that Cardiff’s extensive CCTV network was following their every move.
Up in his office Jack watched with a heavy and shameful heart as he watched his two quiet teammates slowly make their way over to Tosh’s car and it was then that he realised just how injured Ianto was. His normally graceful sometimes even stealthy movements had been replaced by short, jerky stumbling steps. The moment Ianto had stormed out and Tosh had chased after him Jack had left Gwen in the capable hands of Owen – ‘actually, I sort of abandoned them,’ he admitted ruefully – and headed straight up to his office. He had to make sure they were okay – that Ianto was okay.
‘How could I have missed the fact that Ianto was injured? I saw with my own eyes that they had him bound and gagged. I could see his eye was swollen almost shut and that he was obviously in pain! What is it about Gwen Cooper that makes me forgot about everyone else, even the Welshman I care more about than I should.’ Jack’s shoulders slumped as hung his head in his hands; he was so ashamed of the way he been treating Ianto since Gwen arrived. ‘How could I be so blind?’
He knew full well that everyone thought the only reason he’d hired Gwen was to sleep with her but only he knew that that couldn’t be further from the truth. The moment he’d met Gwen she had reminded him of Rose Tyler. She had Rose’s tenacity to solve a riddle and seek out the truth; they both had a zest for life that overcame obstacles in their path, and when they smiled, both Rose and Gwen’s eyes lit up. It was true that the idea of having someone like Rose in joining him at Torchwood had blinded Jack to Gwen’s faults. It was also true that it was a key factor in why Jack treated Gwen like she was something precious; he wanted to protect Gwen since he wasn’t able to protect Rose.
Reaching out, Jack switched the CCTV view to St. David’s car park and watched as Tosh carefully helped Ianto out of the vehicle and towards the hospital’s A&E. If anything, Ianto looked even worse now; he couldn’t straighten up and he merely shuffled his feet along, unable to pick them up any longer. At one point, they stopped walking so that Ianto could catch his breath and then, just a few feet from the entrance, Ianto stumbled and fell to one knee; even with Tosh’s help, it was obvious that he wasn’t going to get back up again. Jack was on his feet in an instant, ready to run to his aid until he realised he was in his office and they were several miles away. He slumped back into his chair with a feeling of useless despair; ‘once again, Ianto needs help and I’m nowhere around.’
Out of nowhere, a man a man dashed over to Tosh, talked to her for a second and then disappeared again just as quickly. Moments later, he was back with a wheelchair and between them, he and Tosh managed to lift the stricken man up and into the chair and then while Tosh held Ianto’s hand, he pushed Ianto inside and out of Jack’s sight.
After staring at the view of A&E’s from door for several minutes, Jack looked up and caught his reflection in his office window; he couldn’t bear to look himself in the eye. His shame was clearly written on his face. In his mind he couldn’t bring Rose back and deep in his heart he knew that trying to replace her with Gwen was dishonouring her memory but that didn’t stop him from trying.
‘But at what cost? I deliberately put one person above the rest of the team and stupidly let another slip completely into nothing. I can only hope that Ianto will give me a chance to make this right.’
Yes, Ianto still needed to earn their trust back but on the other hand, they also needed to earn Ianto’s trust back and Jack knew that wouldn’t happen if this disaster cost them Ianto. Jack finally met his gaze in the window and acknowledged his shame. ‘Yeah and let’s not forget your own less-than-stellar treatment of Ianto or that it started long before that you killed that thing in the basement. Face it, Harkness, you have a lot of work ahead of you if you’re going to make Ianto see that he’s important to not only the team but also to yourself.’ Jack knew that this was not going to be easy; there was a lot of hurt feelings and misunderstandings between them all. it may be too late to repair the damage already done.
As it turned out, Jack Harkness wasn’t the only one watching as Tosh and Ianto drove away. Agent Phil Coulson of SHIELD, carefully hidden in the shadows, watched as Toshiko Sato aided the obviously badly injured Ianto Jones, and he wondered why Harkness wasn’t the one helping the young man. Coulson smiled grimly; he knew that Fury would be very interested in this unusual development, as SHIELD had had their eye on both Torchwood agents for quite a while.
It was painfully obvious that the team was returning from a field mission that had gone very badly wrong and as disturbing as that fact was, it could be just the opening that SHIELD was waiting for to step forward and offer them a job. Phil couldn’t help but think it was still a long shot to convince Tosh to leave Torchwood behind; her loyalty was to Harkness and Phil had never seen any indication that that had ever wavered. But it was Ianto that Phil was watching most closely; it was quite curious that Harkness was nowhere to be seen and while he hadn’t heard all the words, Phil had heard the shouting inside the car park. It was clear from the look on Ianto’s face when he’d emerged from the building that the injured man was tired of all the death and blood that seemed to walk hand-in-hand with Torchwood. Phil knew he could use that to his advantage later on.
As he climbed into his hired vehicle, Phil thumbed open his mobile, pressed speed-dial 1 and when the line was answered, he switched the call to his Bluetooth. “Director Fury, I think it’s time we approach Ianto Jones about a job…” He listened closely to his boss as he slipped into traffic and began following Tosh’s car. “Yes, sir, I do; in fact, I’m on my way to the hospital right now… No, not me, sir; it’s Jones, he appears to have been badly injured while in the field and Sato is taking him there now.”
Phil pulled into a parking space a few spots away from Tosh’s and watched from his car as the Japanese tech manoeuvred Ianto out of the front seat and to his feet. “No, I don’t; I’m not sure we can convince Sato to leave Torchwood, but after seeing and hearing the outcome of Jones’ latest interaction with Harkness, I… Oh shit!” Coulson was out of his car in an instant and running towards the hospital’s entrance. “Hold on, sir…!”
Tosh looked up as Phil suddenly appeared beside her. “How can I help?” he asked her as he frowned with concern as Ianto. It was obvious that the only reason he hadn’t simply collapsed to the ground was sheer force of will. “Let me get you a chair,” and before Tosh could reply, Phil was gone again, running inside the hospital only to reappear a few moments later. “Okay, together now,” he waited until Tosh had a hold of Ianto’s arm while he wrapped his arm around Ianto’s waist and then he nodded, “One, two, three…” Together Phil and Tosh carefully lifted Ianto up from the ground and gently seated him. Without being asked, Phil took hold of the chair’s handles and as Tosh maintained a tight grip on Ianto’s hand, he pushed Ianto through the sliding doors and into St. David’s A&E.
Even though he could hear Nick Fury shouting in to his ear, Phil ignored the voice until he’d deposited Ianto at the Nurse’s Station and returned to the privacy of his car. “Sorry about that, sir; Jones collapsed outside the hospital and I helped Sato get him inside…” He listened for a moment and then responded, “No, I don’t think so, not at all. She was too concerned about Jones, and Jones was just in much pain to pay much attention to anything.” Phil listened again; “It was hard to tell, sir, but from what I could see, it appeared he has a lot of soft tissue damage, cracked or broken ribs, a damaged knee and perhaps a concussion. Oh, and one hell of a fancy shiner; someone got in a good punch to his left eye.” He chuckled softly, “I’d hate to see the other guy!”
Silence reigned for a moment inside Phil’s car. “No, sir, I didn’t but I did hear Jones muttering to himself and I caught the words ‘…never again…’ and ‘… I’m done…’ If I were a betting man, I’d say that he’s finished with Torchwood,” Coulson confidently told his boss as he spoke into his Bluetooth; “I’ll keep you apprised of the situation, sir.” His eyes never left the hospital’s front door as he waited to see if Harkness would ever show up to support the two people the SHIELD agent was sent to talk to.
A few hours later found Tosh curled up in an uncomfortable hospital chair, holding Ianto’s hand and watching the heavily sedated man sleep. Despite Ianto’s protestations to the contrary, the doctors had insisted on keeping Ianto overnight and Tosh had immediately declared that there was no way that she was leaving her friend. She couldn’t tell the medical staff that Ianto had sacrificed himself and had allowed himself to be brutally tenderized just to give her the chance to get away.
Tosh stood up, stretched out her stiff muscles and then looked down at Ianto’s still body, then she adjusted his blanket and brushed his fringe from his forehead. Against the stark white of the pillow beneath his head, the mottled and swollen flesh of his black eye was an ugly reminder of everything he’d been through. “I’m going to look after you, Ianto; I’ll do my best to show you the same kindness you showed us, even though I’m one of the people who took for granted,” she promised as she reached out and squeezed Ianto’s hand. ‘And if that includes letting you leave Torchwood behind then I will do my best to watch over you still and help you find the life you so richly deserve.’