A Good Man – Chapter 9

The big run down house on Kipling Lane was the stuff of legends.  Some people said it was haunted; some said terrible things had happened there; some said it should be condemned and pulled down.  And just about every set of parents had banned their kids from ever going there, worried about the dangers of going into such a damaged building.

That of course meant every kid wanted to go there, and many a schoolyard bet had been placed on who was brave enough to actually go there.  Or in the utmost of all braveries, to actually spend an entire night there.  The Jones kids were no exception.  Rhiannon and Ethan were old enough to go to school and they had heard all the rumours about what had happened in the past when other kids had supposedly gone to the house.  The two of them took great delight in scaring their younger brother with their greatly exaggerated tales of the house.  Ianto had always had a vivid imagination and it didn’t take much to scare him.

One boring Saturday afternoon Ethan decided he was going to take the challenge and enter the house on his own.  He was a couple of blocks away from the house when he heard soft footsteps behind him; stopping suddenly, he grimaced in annoyance.

“Go away Ianto!”  He didn’t even need to turn around to know his annoying little brother was following him.  Again.  “You know you’re not allowed to leave the house.”

Ianto pouted.  “How’d you know it was me?”

“Of course it’s you.  It’s always bloody you!  Just go away and leave me alone!”  And with that, Ethan took off running and disappeared around the corner.

Ianto ran after him, as fast as his little legs would take him.  His brother easily pulled ahead of him though and soon all Ianto could hear was the thud, thud, thud of his feet on the footpath as he ran.

When Ianto got to the run down house he stopped.  Ethan hadn’t said where he was going, but surely, this was it.  He’d talked about going often enough.  Ianto pushed his way through a gap in the fencing and made his way to the house.  The front door was locked so he walked around the house and found an open window he could squeeze through.

Looking for Ethan distracted him for the first couple of rooms, but then when he heard a noise coming from upstairs, he suddenly remembered exactly where he was.  All the scary stories from Rhiannon and Ethan came flooding back and he froze in fear, suddenly aware of being on his own.  The noise came again, this time followed by a groan.  Ethan!  Running blindly up the stairs, he stopped dead at the sight of some multicoloured lights hovering behind a pale looking Ethan.

“Ianto, get out of here,” Ethan practically screamed at Ianto.

As Ianto stared up, entranced by the pretty lights swirling around, he didn’t see that Ethan had already been partially swallowed up by the lights and was unable to move.

“Go Ianto!  Run!  Get out of here!”  Ethan screamed out again, desperate for his brother to get away before whatever was happening to him happened to Ianto as well.  He had seen terrible things on the other side of the light and he was petrified.

But Ianto was only four years old and he was unable to distinguish between when his brother simply trying to get rid of a pesky younger sibling, as Ethan so often was, and the fact that for this one particular time, he really did need to just… run.  And when those pretty lights looked so inviting, he really didn’t want to leave.

He reached a tentative hand up towards the lights, but with one final terrified scream from Ethan, both his brother and the lights disappeared forever.

Ianto woke up with a loud gasp and scrabbled madly to switch a light on, trying to free himself from the darkness. This was the second night in a row he had dreamt of the day Ethan disappeared – ever since Jack had told him of Flat Holm Island.

No one had ever discovered what had happened to Ethan, not the police, or the other detectives that had come poking around.  When he first started working for Torchwood, Ianto searched through the police files on his brother himself, but couldn’t find any faults or gaps in their investigations.  Living in Newport as a child, he had never even considered the rift as a possible answer, considering it to be a Cardiff-only issue.  But after having seen some of the footage Jack had shown him, he began to wonder.

Ianto raised a hand to his cheek and rubbed it absently.

When Ianto had returned home and tried to explain what happened to Ethan, their father had slapped Ianto so hard on the cheek that Ianto lost his balance and fell over.  Picking himself up off the floor, it occurred to him then, for the first time, that his punishments were always more harsher and painful than either of Rhiannon’s or Ethan’s.  He wondered why.

Ethan’s disappearance had marked a clear turning point in Ianto’s relationship with his parents.  His father had always been distant with Ianto, preferring the more outgoing and gregarious Rhiannon and Ethan.  Ianto was far too dreamy and insipid for Maddoc Jones’ liking.  Maddoc firmly blamed Ianto for whatever had happened to his older son, and distance started turning into all out rage. 

His mother, Evangelina, was understandably devastated at the loss of her oldest son.  As she had spent all of her married life quite firmly in the thrall of Maddoc, she believed him unequivocally about Ianto’s guilt in the matter.  Always an insecure and volatile person to begin with, the loss of Ethan escalated her downswing into what Ianto would later come to call madness.

Ianto rolled over and instinctively started reaching out an arm to wrap around Lisa, as he so often did after a nightmare, only to find the other side of the bed empty.  He was still alone.  He rolled back onto his back and sighed wearily; six months later and he still woke up expecting Lisa to be there.  He stared blankly at the ceiling for a few minutes before deciding to get up.

Wandering into the kitchen he saw the Torchwood folder Jack had given him on the way to Flat Holm Island.  It outlined the measures Jack had put into place to get the facility up and running.  Ianto had read through the folder when he got home from the island, and had then decided to log on to the Torchwood remote servers to do some checking of his own.

Ianto had looked through all the financial records and had found something unusual when looking through the personnel records.  He couldn’t follow it up further from home; the security encryption layers were too deep to access the files remotely.  After sitting in the kitchen for a while Ianto decided he would go back to the Hub.  He knew himself well enough – he wasn’t likely to go back to sleep after that nightmare, so he figured he may as well do something useful.

Ianto entered the Hub through the garage entrance, not wanting the cogwheel door alarms to wake up Jack.  He sat down quietly at his desk and turned only the table lamp on, hoping that it wouldn’t send too much light down into the bunker.  Logging onto his computer he was soon working his way through the files he had been looking at earlier in the night.

A while later Jack found himself lying awake in his bed.  As he lay there he had just realised a light was on up in Ianto’s office when he heard the muttering sound that had apparently woken him up in the first place.  He frowned, not expecting anyone to be in the office this early.  He looked at his watch and found it was 4:00 in the morning.  He was surprised: Ianto had been quite firm about going home after they got back from Flat Holm Island, and not coming back in until the morning.

Climbing up the ladder, he saw Ianto at his desk slumped over some files.  He had obviously come back to the office and fallen asleep while working.  Jack stood there watching him for a moment, trying to decide whether to wake him or not.

The muttering began again and Jack soon realised it was Ianto dreaming that had woken him.  As he listened though, Ianto’s voice became more and more distressed.  It became apparent that this wasn’t just a dream, but was in fact a nightmare.  Shaking Ianto’s shoulder gently and trying not to scare him, Jack attempted to wake him up.

“Ethan?”  Ianto mumbled sleepily.

“No, it’s Jack.  You’re at work, you must’ve dozed off for a bit.”

Ianto sat up and looked blearily around the office.  He looked at the clock on the wall and yawned.  “Sorry, did I wake you?”

Jack shook his head.  “Don’t worry about it.  Why are you even here?  It’s the middle of the night.”

“I woke up and then I couldn’t get back to sleep.  Guess looking at all these files did the trick though.”  Ianto gestured at the files on the desk and then stood up.  “I should go.”

Jack shook his head, “No, you’re not walking home like that, half asleep like you are.  Let me give you a lift.”

“No, it’s OK.  You don’t need to do that.  I shouldn’t be keeping you up.”  Jack was responsible for monitoring the rift alerts overnight, so he should really be sleeping while he had the chance.

Jack shook his head again.  “It’s not a problem.  I don’t sleep much anyway.”

Ianto hesitated, clearly not wanting to go.

“Why don’t you come down and sleep in the bunker instead then?  It is technically your room anyway.”

Ianto remembered reading through that part of the Torchwood files.  The bunker area Jack was using as his private quarters was actually designed for the personal use of the current director.  It was intended to give them somewhere they could relax when going home was out of the question.  The ‘alien’ was only supposed to use the area when the director had no need for it.  Or if the director was making use of the “You are to serve the Director’s every need” clause of Jack’s contract.

Ianto looked towards the hatchway in the floor.  He hadn’t been in that part of the Hub yet, and curiosity was getting the better of him.  “Where would you sleep though?”

Jack grinned.  “There’s enough room for two, if we get close enough.”  Jack’s grin widened even more at the look on Ianto’s face.  “No?  Pity!  Seriously though, you have the bed.  I’ll stay up here – there’s plenty of things I could be doing.”

Ianto hesitated a bit longer.  When he had come back into the Hub he truly thought he wouldn’t get back to sleep again that night, but then he had fallen asleep at his desk.  Stifling another yawn, he decided he would stay after all.  Jack climbed back down into the bunker, motioning to Ianto to follow him down.  He offered Ianto a clean pair of pyjamas, thinking they would be more comfortable than the jeans Ianto was wearing and then disappeared back up to the Hub to give Ianto some privacy as he got changed.

Ianto looked around the bunker curiously, and then, hearing Jack moving around upstairs, he lay down in the bed not wanting to look like he was snooping.  The bed was quite comfortable for its size.  As he curled up under the covers, the distinctive smell of Jack’s aftershave surrounded him.  He found it surprisingly comforting and he soon fell asleep.

Ianto woke up a few hours later, feeling remarkably refreshed, to the smell of a hot, freshly cooked breakfast.  He looked over to see Jack sitting at a small table eating noisily.  Noticing Ianto was awake, Jack pointed to the extra serving sitting there.

“Help yourself,” he said in between mouthfuls.

Ianto reluctantly dragged himself away from the warmth of the bed and sat beside Jack.

“Sleep well?”  Jack asked him.

“Not too bad,” Ianto nodded.  He picked at the food in front of him.  He didn’t usually eat much in the mornings, normally just a coffee and some toast if he had time, but he didn’t want to seem rude.  He knew Jack was still waiting for an answer from him about Flat Holm Island, and he didn’t want to keep him waiting too much longer.

“Excuse me,” he mumbled and headed up the ladder, leaving Jack staring after him.  Reappearing a few minutes later, he had a laptop with him and the files from last night, including the one supplied by Jack.

“So,” Ianto began.  “When’s the last time you had a pay rise?”

Jack looked at him, puzzled.  He shook his head in confusion.  “Don’t think I ever have.  Other than on Decimal Day, I think I may have got some extra then.”

Ianto nodded knowingly.  “I thought that might be the case.”  Ianto turned the laptop around to show Jack what he had discovered the previous night.  Jack’s eyes widened when he realised what he was looking at.

“How did you find that?” he asked in surprise.

“It’s amazing what a having a higher access level will let you find!”

What Ianto had found was that Jack actually had received a number of pay rises, dating back as far as Emily Holroyd’s time.  However, Holroyd had kept this secret from him, despite still claiming the extra wages from head office.  Instead of handing the money over to Jack, it had been placed in a separate bank account for the use of the director.

Subsequent directors had clearly kept adding to the account, judging by the regular deposits in the account.  While there had also been money withdrawn from the account from time to time, there was still a substantial balance in the account.  Over one hundred years worth of back pay with compounded interest added up to a quite nice sum.

“So, unless you want the money for yourself, I think we may have a new use for this account.  What do you think?”  Ianto asked.

Jack was speechless.  He hadn’t seriously believed that Ianto would pull the plug on Flat Holm Island, but the fact that he had also managed to solve the current financial issues of the facility so thoroughly and so quickly was simply astonishing.  He felt a sense of relief wash over him for the first time since he had first told Ianto about the island.

Jack stood up and impulsively drew Ianto into a hug.  Ianto froze slightly, taken aback by the sudden physical contact, but he slowly managed to relax into the hug.  The last time anyone had held him this closely was at Lisa’s funeral.  To his surprise, he found he quite enjoyed the feel of Jack’s arms around him and he cautiously returned the embrace.

When Jack stepped away, Ianto spoke again.  “I need you to trust me Jack.  I’m here to do what’s right for Torchwood. And, if you let me, what’s right for you.  I’ve never really been a company man, or as the case may be around here, a committee man.  If there’s anything else I need to know about what’s happening here, you need to tell me.”  He stopped and looked at Jack meaningfully.  “I need to be able to trust you as well.”

Jack nodded, a lump forming in his throat.  He wanted to tell Ianto everything, he really did.  He was slowly beginning to realise that Ianto was not a threat to him – his handling of both Suzie and Flat Holm Island showed Jack he wasn’t afraid to do the right thing.  But no matter how much Jack wanted to, there were still things he simply couldn’t tell him.

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