Title: Broken Soul Is Bleeding
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
Ianto sat on his bench for a while and watched the tide come in, the tour boats pick up and drop off passengers, and mothers passing by pushing baby strollers. Then he’d spent the rest of the day wandering around Cardiff stopping to rest every once in a while when his ribs started aching too badly and finally it was time to go home. Along the way, just like the rain and clouds, Ianto let his troubles drift away until his mind was clear and his soul was at peace. Dusk had set in by the time he returned to his car and then made his way back to his small flat.
In truth Ianto had wanted to stay as far away from his home as he could in case someone, most likely Tosh, came looking for him. He wasn’t ready to see or talk with anyone just yet; actually, other than Tosh, there wasn’t anyone from Torchwood that he did want to see. He needed time to finish processing recent events and sorting through the vast array of emotions he was currently feeling regarding his former colleagues. “Colleagues,” he snorted sarcastically. “Yeah, right!”
Balancing a medium Meat Lover’s pizza and a six-pack of beer in one hand, Ianto managed to key open his door without dropping anything. He was really looking forward to vegging out in front of the telly for a few hours, getting a nice buzz from his beer and just relaxing without the worry of a Rift alert or a Weevil call-out. As far as he was concerned, it sounded like absolute heaven and he couldn’t wait to get started. Of course his plans were all shot to hell the moment he opened his door and spotted the imposing man standing in his living room.
“Mister Jones, I’m Nick Fury with SHIELD and I would like to offer you a job as my personal assistant.” Fury wasted no time in revealing why he’d broken into Ianto’s flat to wait for him.
All plans forgotten, Ianto could only stare slack-jawed at the leader of SHIELD. “I’m sorry, sir, but I think I misheard you. You want me to work for you?” Ianto began to wonder if this was a dream he had fallen into or that maybe his concussion had been much worse than diagnosed and he was hallucinating.
“You heard me right, Mr Jones; I want you to come work for me.” Fury crossed his arms over his chest and stared at Ianto with his eyebrow raised. “Interested?”
Ianto continued to stare at Fury in shock as his pizza box tipped dangerously. “Me? In SHIELD? Are you sure that you have the right man?” Ianto couldn’t imagine what he could possibly offer to SHIELD’ which was regarded as a top of the line organisation.
The barest hint of a smile graced the corners of Fury’s lips. “Humility, I like that in an agent, Mr Jones. I’ve been keeping my eye on you for some time. The loyalty you’ve given to Torchwood One and Three is something very rare. You were being wasted…”
Even in his state of quiet shock, Ianto didn’t miss Fury’s use of the past tense. ‘It’s only been eight hours and he already knows. Interesting.
“…at Torchwood Three; I bet they don’t even know that you were a former field agent at One?” Fury knew he had made his point when Ianto remained silent.
“I need someone like you, with your attention to detail, your ability to organise and especially your talent for controlling things – and people – from behind the scenes, to keep two of my best field agents in line. They have a habit of… shall we say… doing things on their own and in their own way. I want you as my personal assistant and Tony Stark’s handler.” Having heard his operative’s reports on the young Welshman, Nick Fury was quite sure that Ianto could keep Iron Man under proper control. In fact, from what he'd already seen of Ianto, Fury was reminded quite a lot of Pepper Potts and she'd done a great job in keeping the headstrong agent in line.
Fury wasn’t saying It wasn’t that Agent Phil Coulson hadn’t been doing a good job in handling Tony because he had. But Coulson was a field agent, first and foremost, with a gift for spotting talented individuals who showed great potential. Fury needed him on the front line searching for those who would fit in with the Avengers’ Initiative and all of Phil’s time after that was devoted to keeping his right eye on Agents Barton and Romanov. Suffice it to say that watching over those two meant he had his hands full to the brim right now.
At first Fury had considered assigning Ianto as Clint and Natasha's handler, which would allow Coulson to continue handling Stark but that idea dead a quick and fiery death when reality set in. There was only a handful of people Barton and Romanov trusted and in place of honour at the top of that list is sat SHIELD Agent Phil Coulson. Plus, everyone with half a brain on their head knew that Phil and Clint had a thing going on – a very passionate thing, if rumours were to be believed. Fury shook his head with exasperated amusement; ‘just who do those two think they’re fooling anyway?’ Fury tried to keep out of his agents’ love lives, but even he knew about them, the signs were so very obvious.
Suddenly mindful that he was standing there in front of Director Nick Fury holding pizza and beer, Ianto quickly ducked into the kitchen and set both items down on the counter before returning to the living room. His mind was roiling about in his head like an excited pinball; he had questions, answers, more questions, and surrounding it all was a growing sense of wonder and excitement. Never in his life did Ianto think that SHIELD would want him, and then a sobering thought struck: maybe they didn’t realise that he’d so damaged – both mentally and now physically – from his time with Torchwood. He didn’t want to bring it up but he had to know.
“Are you sure, sir? I am damaged goods, after all,” Ianto reminded Fury softly, and he found that he couldn’t meet the man’s eyes so he focused on an invisible piece of lint on his sleeve.
Fury felt a rising sense of rage building inside him as he looked at Ianto Jones; the young Welshman wasn’t cowed so much as he was ashamed. ‘I cannot believe that Torchwood Three has reduced this once great man to nothing but a shell of his former self!’ When Fury spoke next it was with impassioned conviction. “Mr Jones, you are not damaged. You may be a little dented…”
Ianto gave a wincing grin at Fury’s terminology and his hand went unconsciously to hold his ribcage.
“…at the moment,” and Fury indicated the bandage on Ianto’s head and then waved his hand at Ianto’s torso, “but it’s nothing that won’t heal with time. And you are far more human than some of your former teammates. SHIELD needs someone like you to remind us what we are fighting for. So, will you come work for me?” Fury stared at Ianto; he could the emotions battling behind Ianto’s eyes and he had a feeling he knew what Ianto’s answer was going to be.
‘A new start! This is just what I need.’ Unbidden, Ianto heard his grand-tad’s voice; “You make your own lot in life, bachgen bach, and this is a golden opportunity.” Ianto smiled involuntarily; his grand-tad had called him ‘little boy’ long after he was past puberty and stood a foot taller than the older man. He wasn’t sure what he’d done to deserve being offered such a wonderful gift but he wasn’t foolish enough to let it slip through his fingers. If he did, he knew that his grand-tad would find a way to come back and royally kick his arse.
The tiniest hint of a smile graced Fury’s face. “I had a feeling you we’re going to stay that, Mr Jones. Welcome to SHIELD.” He held out his hand and Ianto met it with a firm shake. “I’ll expect you at work first thing Monday morning.”
With his heart beating wildly in his chest Ianto watched as Fury quickly and quietly exited his flat and then he landed on his couch with a plop. His growing sense of wonder and elation were tinged with a degree of nerves. ‘This is really happening!’ He had a new life waiting him, a fresh start that would enable him to build new memories. He could leave behind him the ghosts of Lisa, Annie and so many others he’d been unable to save. ‘This time I am not going to let it slip through my fingers.’
His mind began racing through the myriad possibilities ahead of him, New York City had hundreds of top-notch restaurants; Broadway and non-stop musical theatre; Ellis Island – Ianto was really looking forward to visiting the place where his great Uncle Geraint first stepped foot in America. He was just starting to decide which museum he’d visit first when one single word completely derailed his train of thought: Monday.
'Monday?' Ianto's eyes widened in alarm; 'I need to get packing!’ Jumping to his feet, he rushed into the kitchen and pulled a pen and a pad of paper from a drawer. “Lists! I need to make a list!” Grabbing the beer and the pizza box, he returned to the living room and set himself up on the coffee table. “Okay, number one, I have to make arrangements to ship the things I want to take with me. Then, I need to contact an estate agent and put my flat up and then… oh crap…!” Ianto gulped down half his beer in one go. “And then I have to inform my sister.”
With eyes the size of saucers, he let his gaze flicker nervously to his phone; he wasn't sure just how Rhiannon was going to handle him leaving and moving so far away. He didn’t know how he’d break the news that he was joining SHIELD of all places. Picking up his mobile, he started dialling and then stopped, shut the phone and put it back down. Picking up a slice of now-cold pizza he nibbled nervously on the point for a moment, and then he put that back down too. “Hello, Rhiannon, it’s your brother, Ianto,” he practiced. “No, that sounds stupid, she knows who I am.”
Snatching up his beer, Ianto began pacing the floor. “Hello, Rhiannon, this is Ianto; how is your family doing?” He took a swig of beer. “No, that’s too formal.” Realising his drink was gone he put the empty in the bin and took another bottle. “Hey, Sis! How’s things?” He grimaced and traded in his untouched beer for pizza. Polishing off the slice, he sighed deeply and picked up the mobile again. No matter what he said to her, it was going to be difficult for her to hear and it was something he couldn't put off forever.
“Hi, Rhi, it’s me; I’ve got some news…”
Ianto had stormed out hours ago and yet heavy tension hung over the Hub like a thick fog. Tosh had barricaded herself at her desk, refusing to speak to or even look at Gwen or Owen. Icy disdain poured off of her in waves and it filled the Hub with a distinct chill, and Jack was very, very thankful that her rage wasn’t directed at him.
Tosh wanted to be mad at Jack, she really did, but she just couldn’t find it within her. No matter what he did, he was still her hero, the man who’d saved her from a fate worse than death; he’d given her a new start and fulfilled her every dream about what the future might bring. From the guilty and forlorn looks that Jack kept casting at the coffee maker and then up at Myfanwy he was missing Ianto just as much or probably even more than she was and her heart went out to him. But no matter how much she missed him, at the same time Tosh couldn’t be more proud of Ianto for standing up for himself the way he did. She could still see the fire in his eyes and the passion in his voice as he told them all exactly what he thought of them and the way they’d taken him for granted.
Tosh had accepted that Ianto’s angry truth had included her; she too had pushed him away. None of them could be bothered getting to know him and now it was too late; they had shunned him when he need them the most instead of reaching out to him and now he was gone forever. ‘I really am sorry, Ianto. We have no one to blame but ourselves; I hope with all my heart that you find some happiness. No one deserves it more.’
Sadly it became clear that not everyone felt the same way she did; with a scowl on her face Gwen suddenly shot to her feet and stomped over to the foot of the staircase. “Someone needs to talk to Jack; he’s been sulking in his office all day. He has to realise that it wasn’t his or our fault, Ianto had no right to speak to me…” Gwen realised she’d made a telling mistake and quickly corrected herself, “…us like that, not after what he’s done.”
Her previous determination not to speak to Gwen flew out the window as Tosh found herself pushed beyond the limits of tolerance. “Oh, will you please get off your high horse! Ianto has the blood of three people on his hands; tell me, Gwen, just how many people did you let die during the sex alien debacle? How many people’s blood is now on your hands because you were screwing around out in the field? There’s the man in the club, Carys’ old boyfriend, and how many little piles of dust did we find at the fertility clinic? Two, three, five; I seem to recall a dozen.”
“Carys killed all those men!” Gwen protested weakly. “You can’t blame me for that!”
“Really?” Tosh cocked an eyebrow and looked at Gwen in silence until she flushed an ugly red and dropped her head. “And I seem to remember – quite clearly, in fact – that we were all quite solicitous of your feelings, including Ianto. Didn’t he make you a cup of his special hot cocoa just to make you feel better? We could have treated you the way we treated Ianto but we didn’t, even though you both caused the deaths of innocent people. So tell me how what he did is worse than your crime?” Tosh demanded. She was so tired of Gwen’s holier-than-thou attitude towards Ianto.
Tapping her foot impatiently, Tosh waited for an answer and when none was forthcoming, she continued. “Where was your punishment, Gwen? At least Ianto has learned from his mistake; and he’s tried his best to make amends. Did you know that he asked if he could go and inform the families of your victims? And do you know why he did that? Because you, the precious heart of Torchwood, obviously weren’t going to.”
Gwen backed up like she’d been physically slapped and Owen, who’d come up from autopsy when Tosh had started talking, looked at tech genius with something close to awe shining in his eyes. Choosing to ignore the fact that it had never occurred to her to take on the death notification duties, Gwen fell back on her previous defence, weak though it was. “None of that my fault, Tosh! Tell her, Owen; tell her it was just an honest mistake! Tell her she’s not being fair!” Gwen couldn’t believe that Tosh was placing all the blame onto her!
Much to Gwen’s chagrin and annoyance, Owen just shrugged his shoulders at her. “Only an idiot throws tools at people, Cooper; that was a really stupid move. If you hadn’t been trying to show off for Jack you wouldn’t have released the alien and all those men would still be alive today.” That said, he turned his back to her and focused solely on Toshiko.
Gwen glowered at Owen’s back through narrowed eyes. ‘Watch it, Owen, I know like getting even, you know.’ Returning her attention to the matter at hand she suddenly came with the perfect retort. “Besides, they are two completely different things,” she informed Tosh in a condescending albeit huffy tone, confident that she had the winning argument.
Tosh nodded her head regally and acknowledged, “You’re right, they are two completely different things.” Gwen smiled rather smugly ready to enjoy her victory, but it the look was wiped right off her face as Tosh continued to speak. “Ianto did what he did out of love which is something you talk about ad nauseum and which you constantly flaunt in our faces. However, I wonder if you really know what it’s like to be in love.”
“How dare you!” Gwen’s face flushed and she stepped forward belligerently. “I know plenty about being in love, I mean really in love! It’s not my fault you cling to your pathetic feelings for Owen. Face it, sweetheart, he’s never going to be interested in you.” Gwen snapped back. “Cold fish like you just aren’t his type!”
Tosh flushed darkly and at her sides, her hands clenched into fists. She knew full well that Owen would never see her as anything but a work college and maybe one day a friend; ‘I don’t need Gwen Cooper to point that out to me, thank you very much!’ Tosh tried to find the courage to glance at Owen but found she didn’t want to see the look of pity in his eyes. Instead, she fought back; "I would rather be a pathetic romantic than a lying cheater like you. Tell me, Miss I’m-so-devoted-to-my-boyfriend Cooper, how can you be so in love with Rhys when you're always trying to seduce Jack with your ridiculous cow eyes and overly tight clothes one minute and then the next you’re lying to Rhys about working late so you can sleep with Owen? Did you by chance tell him about the way you slept your way through half the Constable’s Department?"
Owen blinked; he wasn’t use to Tosh being so fierce and he found himself wondering for the first time how he’d never noticed this side of her before. He was honestly surprised to find that it was actually a bit of a turn on.
‘How the hell does she know about that?!’ Gwen stepped closer to Tosh with a dangerous glint in her eyes. "Are you calling me a whore?" she demanded.
If Tosh noticed that she was really getting to Gwen, she didn’t show it but instead she raised lifted her chin defiantly and looked Gwen straight in the eye. "No, I'm calling you an unfaithful witch who happily flaunts her relationship when she wants to rub our noses in the fact that she has something that we don't, which is someone on the outside. You’re a conniving cow who has no compunction about using Rhys to make whoever you want to sleep with next jealous. Finally, you're a cheating liar who conveniently forgets about the man who actually loves her whenever the opportunity to sleep with someone else comes along.”
Neither Tosh nor Owen were prepared for what Gwen did next: with an enraged scream the former PC launched herself at Tosh. Despite the surprise attack on the seasoned Torchwood veteran, Gwen's still healing gunshot wound hindered her movements. Tosh easily got the upper hand and she managed to land a swift punch on Gwen’s chin.
"As much as I enjoy a good catfight this is not the time for it! Harkness, get your pathetic ass down here!" Owen shouted up to Jack's office as he tried to separate the two warring females.
Once Toshiko had calmed down, Jack wanted her to go home, but she’d refused, saying that she was fine and needed to work. Completely ignoring Gwen’s overly-dramatic and clingy attempts to have him comfort her, he’d stalked back upstairs and locked himself in his office. He’d taken the bottle of Scotch that Ianto had given him for Christmas from his desk drawer, poured a full glass and then he’d called up the cameras he had installed in Ianto’s flat when he went on suspension.
Initially they had been his way of keeping an eye on the Welshman during those thirty days; Ianto had been so lost in his grief that Jack had truly feared he might do something as foolish as take his own life. He sat at his desk for hours, sipping his whisky and remembering Ianto Jones. Roughly an hour before his former archivist came home, he wasn’t at all surprised to see a dignified man – Jack recognised him immediately – let himself into Ianto’s flat and take a seat to wait patiently for him. When Ianto arrived, Jack sat forward in his seat, anxious to see what would happen, praying that Ianto would come to his senses although in the back of his mind he already knew.
Even without the sound it easy for Jack to read their lips and he knew that Fury had offered Ianto a job and his… no, not his… ‘could have been mine if things had been different, if I had been better at saying…’ Jack shook his head; it was too late for the ‘what-if’s’ and the ‘might-have-been’s’; the young Welshman had accepted and they were shaking hands. 'I've lost him.’ Jack’s heart sank. ‘You better take care of him, Fury,' Jack raised his glass in salute and drained its contents in a single draught.
He spent the next half-hour watching Ianto pace around his flat and talk to himself when he was broken out of his thoughts of what could have been by Gwen's enraged scream and Owen's shouts for help. Slamming his glass down on his desk, Jack stalked across his office, unlocked the door and yanked it open so hard that it bounced on the wall and closed behind him as he stepped out onto the landing. “What the hell is going on out here?” he roared as he looked down to see Tosh and Gwen engaged in a cat fight in the middle of the Hub’s floor while Owen tried desperately to separate them.
"A difference of opinions has gotten a little out of hand… Hey!” Owen ducked a flying fist. ‘Now would you bloody well get down here and grab Tosh before Gwen ends up ripping open her wound!" Owen demanded breathlessly; he had his hands full trying to restrain Gwen which wasn't easy when the Welshwoman was fired up and wanted nothing more than a piece of her teammate.
Descending the stairs quickly Jack wrapped his arms around Tosh’s waist and easily carried the struggling female over to the sofa. He winced in pain as Tosh nailed him in the thigh with her heeled boots and then grabbed hold of her ankle as she unwittingly aimed a kick at his groin. When Tosh surged back up, still fueled by anger, he pushed her back down and said sternly, “Hey, Tosh, it’s me! Give it a rest, okay!”
Her chest heaving as she caught her breath, Tosh looked up at Jack with clear surprise; she hadn’t noticed him at all until that moment. Seeing his look of obvious disapproval, she felt herself begin to colour with a guilty flush.
Convinced that Tosh wasn’t going anywhere, Jack turned back to look at Gwen and Owen; she was still on the floor while Owen was kneeling beside her examining her bandages. He wasn’t at all surprised that Gwen and Tosh had actually come to blows; despite Tosh’s sweet nature she was ferociously protective over those she considered family and it was clear that Ianto fell into that category. Jack shook his head sadly; his hand-selected team was falling apart. It was a shame that it took Ianto’s quitting for them to realise just what a calming and soothing presence Ianto had been on them.
With a heavy heart, Jack knew that while he couldn’t do anything about Ianto leaving him, it was better that Ianto go now before they slowly killed him with their callous treatment. Jack did not want to see such another bright star be snuffed out because of Torchwood; Rose was enough. No, it was better that he lose Ianto now before the young man could dig himself deeper into his heart rather than lose him later when the pain would be so much greater.
It was too late now to make Ianto a part of the team, something he should have done from the beginning and Jack knew he’d have to live with guilt of that for a long time to come, but it was time for Jack to help those he still had before they fractured completely.
He waited for Owen to give him the all-clear on Gwen before he acknowledged the fact that, “I know you’re hurting about Ianto leaving us but we can’t go around fighting with one another! This kind of animosity will cause discord in the field and that’s the one place where we all have to be united or chances are you’ll be leaving in body bags.” ‘Please listen to me!’ Jack pleaded silently; he wasn’t ready to bury another team.
Gwen glared over at Tosh from her spot in Owen’s arms; the fight may have gone out of her due mainly to her aching ribs but her anger remained unabated. “She started it, Jack! It’s not my fault that she can’t handle the truth.”
Behind Gwen Owen rolled his eyes with utter exasperation; ‘I should have noticed earlier how good Gwen is at twisting the truth to suit her own needs.’ When Jack’s questioning eyes landed on him Owen shook his head and nodded at Gwen, thereby confirming their leader’s suspicions that Gwen wasn’t telling the whole truth. ‘If anyone can’t handle the truth it’s Gwen.’
A sudden sob from Tosh had Jack whirling around, panicking that Tosh been had hurt in some way. “Tosh, what’s wrong? Are you hurt?” Jack asked scooping Tosh up in his arms as if she were a mere child so he could look her over.
The anguish in Tosh’s grief-stricken brown eyes brought a lump to Jack’s throat. “We’re all at fault, Jack, don’t you see? Not one of us made the effort to offer any type of friendship to Ianto. We all failed him; while Gwen may have the nerve to act all high and mighty saying that he deserved our treatment of him the truth is that we’re just as guilty as she is. If we’d made the effort to reach out to him then maybe he might have trusted us enough to tell us about Lisa,” Tosh sobbed out clinging to Jack. It was clear that her sense of guilt was crushing her soul.
Sinking down on to the sofa, Jack tightened his grip on Tosh and pressed a kiss into her hair. “I know, sweetheart, and that’s why it’s better for us to let Ianto go now so he has a chance at finding a place where he truly belongs and where he can find a piece of the happiness that we denied him.” It pained Jack to say these words but Ianto more than earned the right to a clean break from Torchwood. He decided right then and there that he wasn’t going to tell any of them where Ianto had gone; he knew that Tosh would eventually break down and contact him and as far as Gwen and Owen were concerned, Jack selfishly didn’t want them to know.
For the second time that day, the only sounds to be heard were Tosh's heart-wrenching sobs echoing around the silent Hub.