Notes: This is basically a long attempt to put my three favorite characters together in a (hopefully) realistic way. Set late in S2, after "Something Borrowed". Thanks to
Rating: NC-17 (het and slash sexual situations)
Disclaimer: Torchwood and its characters are the property of the BBC and Russell T. Davies. I make no profit from this fanfic.
I didn't hear you leave
The first time it happens, Tosh doesn't quite realise what's going on until she's literally in the middle of things.
It's a slow Saturday afternoon when Jack emerges from his office, trotting across the decking to stand behind her chair. Tosh doesn't bother glancing at him; she doesn't need to acknowledge his presence before he starts talking.
"See the alerts from UNIT?" he asks, and she nods, smiling a little wryly. She'd been the one to intercept them, after all.
"Spaceship crash north of Snowdonia. Lovely time of year for it," she adds, thinking of the freezing rain she'd walked through to come into work this morning.
"We need to check it out," Jack says. "Find us a hotel up there?"
"All of us?" Now Tosh does glance up at Jack, tugging her glasses off at the same time. Gwen's gone for the weekend: off somewhere exotic with Rhys, having given strict orders to call her under circumstances no less crucial than the end of the world; meanwhile, Owen's on one of his rare sabbaticals to London. (Tosh thinks she knows why, but she never mentions it aloud to him.)
"Sure. Why not?" Jack glances at Ianto, only the slightest hint of a smile giving her an unexpected jolt, and then at her again. "Two rooms, yeah? You said yourself the Rift predictor wasn't showing anything until Monday evening at the earliest."
"Still, someone should be here," she protests, but Jack shakes his head and ends the discussion. As Tosh slides her glasses on and turns back to the computer to find a hotel near the site of the crash, she wonders why she's feeling reluctant. She usually loves field work.
Three hours later, she's reminded of exactly why she didn't want to go. They'd stopped off at the hotel long enough to check in, then driven straight to the impact site. Not surprisingly, UNIT has already blocked the crater off from the public, but their Torchwood credentials get them past the roadblocks and the serious-looking young men in red berets. And now, here she is, shivering in the frosty air as she takes samples of the soil for contamination. I could be at home with warm feet, she thinks briefly, giving an internal sigh, and then lets it go.
If Jack recognises the craft, he doesn't say so; he's oddly quiet as Ianto takes pictures and Tosh moves on to the broken hull of the thing. It's a sleek, small vehicle, no larger than a pleasure boat, narrow at the front and back, rounded in the middle. "Probably only fit one person," she says, her fingers drifting over the smooth shape of what must be a nacelle, an energy outlet almost delicately fitted at its end.
"Two if they're friendly," Jack says, his voice distant. Ianto says nothing; Tosh's cheeks redden, and she tells herself it's from the cold as she takes careful, close scans of the nacelle. It's reminding her of something they've recovered at the Hub, but she needs to look at that one to see if they're the same. She waves Ianto over to get some closer pictures of the unit.
By the time Jack's pried open the hatch to climb into the spacecraft, Tosh is beginning to feel the cold through to her skin. The rain that was freezing in Cardiff is snow here, and though it only drifts in lazy flakes, her coat isn't up to protecting her from it. She hardly notices when Ianto puts his arm around her shoulders, but as warmth begins to seep into her again, she gives him a grateful glance. He smiles absently at her, and both of them focus on the ship again, where they can hear Jack clambering about.
It's nice, standing pressed to Ianto like this, no expectations or awkwardness. She envies Ianto, of course, in that kind way that people do for the fact that he's got Jack. Sometimes she envies Jack a little, too, because Ianto is a good man and it goes unnoticed most of the time (even though that's probably his intent). Jack may be gorgeous and dashing, free with his smiles and his praise, but Ianto is there, whether it's with a coffee or a clever word, a component when she needs it, a gentle compliment at the moment when she's ready to give up on something.
Mostly, though, it's what they have together. Even if it's mostly unspoken, the glances between them are unmistakable, let alone the flirting comments that Tosh knows lead to more later. And there was the time she found Jack with Ianto in the autopsy bay one evening. She'd been looking for Jack to let him know she was on her way out, but her tongue froze to the roof of her mouth when she saw him in the bay, standing in front of Ianto, who was still sat on the table. His shirt hung open from when he'd been bandaged up -- the two had subdued a Weevil earlier, but not without some blood shed on Ianto's part -- and Jack simply held Ianto to him, a hand cupped around his nape, the other one gently stroking down Ianto's spine. She couldn't tell, but Ianto's hands were in his lap and it looked like he was shaking.
Tosh had tiptoed back from the railing, though she'd a feeling Jack had known she was there, and left him a note on the system before sneaking quietly out through the armoury to her car. Remembering it now, she realises she's got an arm around Ianto's waist and steps back from him, a blush rising to her cheeks.
Ianto glances down at her, eyebrows narrowed in concern. "Are you all right? You're still cold."
"I'm fine," she assures him, though the wind hits her harder now.
A few minutes later, Jack climbs back out of the wrecked craft with a small piece of computer equipment tucked under one arm. "Got it," he says as he comes up to them. "Black box, more or less. No occupant, this thing was set on a course to crash. You've got everything you need?"
Tosh nods, and so does Ianto, holding up his PDA prosaically.
"All right, let's get out of here and let the vultures descend. Tosh, you look like you're freezing," Jack comments as he starts for the road where they parked the SUV.
"I'm f-fine," she says again. They climb up over the lip of the impact crater and a harsh gust of wind goes straight through her. Tosh teeters on the edge; Ianto, behind her, puts out his hands barely in time. She wonders why she can't feel her feet.
"Shit," Jack curses, scrambling back to get an arm around her so that Ianto can climb out of the crater on her other side. "Ianto, go get the SUV started." Nodding, Ianto darts off, and Jack carefully straightens Tosh up. "Can you walk?"
"I'm fine," Tosh says for the third time, but her voice is weaker this time. Why didn't she wear gloves? "Why is it so bloody freezing?"
Jack shakes his head, sucking in a worried breath, and in the next moment he's lifting her up in his arms, ignoring her protests. "Your lips are blue. Do you even have a winter coat?" he asks rhetorically. She bounces in his arms as he jogs to the SUV, her weight apparently negligible.
"Wasn't... that c-cold... when we got here," she tries to say. Her teeth chatter so hard she nearly bites her tongue.
Thankfully, the SUV is warmed up when they arrive, and Jack carefully settles Tosh in the back seat. He gives Ianto a worried glance; Ianto nods, in response to whatever signal Jack gives him (Tosh absently wonders if they've started to communicate psychically these days), and Jack climbs in next to Tosh, opening his coat up and wrapping her in it, against his body. He's so warm that she can't help but press herself to him. As soon as they're in, Ianto backs the SUV up until he can turn around, and then they're on the way to the hotel.
"She's still shivering," she hears Jack say to Ianto, over her head.
"I don't understand," Ianto replies, and she's a little grateful that the psychic thing isn't true after all. "My coat's not much heavier than hers, and we were all exposed to the cold."
"I'm as lost as you are here," Jack says. It's either the most comforting thing she's ever heard, or the most frightening. She opts for comfort right now, scared by the fact that her fingers are still shaking, even buried as they are in Jack's shirt. The man usually gives off enough heat to light a furnace, but she can't seem to feel it. She leans her head on his shoulder anyway, listening to him place a call to UNIT on his Bluetooth; he warns the commander heading the cleanup operation not to let his men touch the outer hull of the ship. "Use tools, use a JCB if you have to, but consider the skin of it irradiated," he tells them in sharp tones. Thinking of the young men in red berets, Tosh hopes they listen to him.
They're nearly to the hotel when she hears a sound from the driver's seat, a strange chattering sound. "Jack," Ianto says, and the source is clear all of a sudden. "I-- It's getting me too."
"Fuck," Jack swears. He's been rubbing Tosh's back vigorously, to no effect; she thinks she can see her breath, but she must be imagining it. "Can you make it to the hotel?"
"Yeah." Ianto's voice shakes, but underneath the tremor she hears steel. "We're nearly there."
Jack swallows and activates his Bluetooth again, voice-dialling the hotel. He has to promise a hefty tip, but he somehow persuades the desk clerk to have a warm bath waiting for them in their rooms. By the time he's ended the call, Ianto's pulling the SUV into a space in the carpark; it's not his best parking job, but there are hardly any other vehicles in the lot and Tosh is just glad they've arrived in one piece. Jack carefully ushers her out of the back seat, leaning her against the door for the moment while he goes around to the driver's side to help Ianto out. Tosh waits, shivering and watching snowflakes float down around her, until Jack returns with Ianto -- with an arm wrapped around him, but Ianto's moving under his own power, if a bit stiff-legged. Together, the three of them stumble into the hotel lobby.
Tosh wonders if the cold is slowing down her thoughts, because when she sees the tub full of steaming water in her room, all she can think is finally. Jack's tugging her out of her coat, one eye on Ianto, who's leaning on the counter with his arms clutched tight around himself. Tosh tries to push Jack away.
"Go t-take care o-of Ianto," she manages to stammer. Jack ignores her, dropping her heavy coat to the floor and positioning her to sit on the edge of the tub to start removing her boots. "Jack," she says again, attempting to push at his shoulders. It's like trying to move stone. Her hands feel numb. She's pretty sure that's not supposed to happen.
Suddenly, Ianto slumps to the floor, making Jack look up with sudden panic in his eyes. Tosh swallows hard. Ianto's curled into himself, arms around his knees. "Ianto," Jack whispers, and reaches across the narrow washroom floor for him, getting a hand under one of Ianto's. Ianto shakes his head, but lets Jack pull him closer.
"No time to be shy," Jack says, his voice shaking just a little. "You both need to get into the water right now. Tosh, can you manage by yourself?"
Tosh's cheeks flare and she looks down hastily, fumbling her nerveless fingers at the buttons of her blouse. It's awkward, slow going, making her curse under her breath as a button slips stubbornly out of her fingers. When she looks up again, Ianto's coat is off, and Jack's undone Ianto's tie, unbuttoned his waistcoat. Compared to her, Jack's moving at the speed of light. Tosh tears her gaze away and keeps working at her buttons. She thinks she's warming up; she can feel the blush in her cheeks, and her feet don't feel so cold anymore. She tries wiggling her toes.
"Jack, I can't feel my feet," she says, disturbed by how her voice shakes.
Jack looks up at her, and she sees the genuine panic in his eyes. "All right," he says, "forget the clothes." He presses a kiss to Ianto's forehead and takes his hands, pulling him carefully upright. Ianto's shivering bodily, slumping against Jack, and her breath catches. Not Ianto, she thinks for no apparent reason. His shoes are off, and Jack urges him to step into the bathtub. As Ianto sinks down, still visibly trembling, Jack turns to Tosh and reaches for her feet.
She can't stop him; she's past the point of shaking, and the fact that she can't feel his hands on her feet scares her enough that she gives in to him, lets him move her like a toy doll into the tub. Thankfully, it's of a good size; Jack gets her settled in, but he's still frowning as he watches them. After another moment, he sheds his greatcoat, tossing it to the counter, and starts undoing his boots.
"Jack--" Ianto starts to protest, but Jack shakes his head.
"Not enough," he says cryptically, and begins to strip, utterly unselfconscious. Ianto may be familiar with the view (even so, she hears him swallow hard); Tosh, however, is first startled and then transfixed as Jack sheds his trousers, undoes his shirt and drops it, steps casually out of old-fashioned boxer shorts. He's tall and solid and strangely graceful, and Tosh can't stop looking at him while Jack steps into the tub, between the two of them.
Water slops out over the sides of the tub, but Jack just sits himself back against Ianto, who leans forward, wrapping his arms around Jack with a low moan of relief. When Jack reaches for Tosh's hands, she tries to resist. But even with the sensation gradually creeping back into her toes, she can't stop Jack. She needs his heat too badly. Giving in, she lets him turn her around so that her back rests against his chest. She can feel Ianto's hands; one touches her shoulder, curls around it. It sends an unexpected shiver through her. Jack's arms come around her, heat and contained strength covering her, and she swallows hard.
"Th-this is not-not exactly how I expected today to go," she tries to quip. It makes Jack laugh aloud. His arms tighten around her; the heat of him penetrates her sodden clothing, and she's suddenly, intensely grateful that he didn't let her finish undressing.
"Any better?" he asks. His voice is soft, but still tense with concern. Tosh attempts to move her toes again. She's grateful to see them respond, little fish wriggling in the water.
"I think the feeling's starting to come back," she says. "Jack, what do you think--"
"I don't know." Behind her, Ianto makes a quiet sound. Jack's voice is suddenly a little thicker as he continues, "Maybe some kind of energy emission from the skin of the craft."
"I wasn't picking anything up on my PDA," she says.
Jack shifts, just a little, his arm hooked around her shoulders, the other hand drifting lower to cover her belly. He's hot as a furnace behind her; she sighs a little, lets herself sink back against him, absorbing his heat into her. The water laps around her and she hears Ianto shift. His legs are spread around Jack's hips, his bare feet at her thighs. He has elegant feet, she notes with absurd clarity. The heat is beginning to make her head spin.
"Status reports," Jack says. Maybe it's easier for him to talk that way, Tosh muses, than to say caring words like 'how are you' or 'are you all right'. Or perhaps he's just too used to it.
"Better," Ianto murmurs, sounding just a little muffled. "But I think I'm still shaking."
"You are," Jack confirms quietly. His hand covers Ianto's on her shoulder and holds there. Tosh bites her lip; with both of them touching her, she feels surrounded by them, wrapped in them. Not the sort of thoughts she usually entertains regarding her co-workers or her boss. "So is Tosh. I can tell."
"I can feel my toes," she says, trying to make it sound hopeful, and Jack laughs, squeezing her for a moment. He turns, quietly instructing Ianto to add a bit more warm water to the tub. Tosh knows the protocols for warming a hypothermia victim; she supposes they apply to their situation as well. She's starting to feel as if she's thinking more clearly, as new waves of warmth wash around her; her mind goes back to the shape of the spaceship. She's sure there are blueprints of a similar design in the archives.
"Tosh," Jack says, and she startles, twisting to look at him over her shoulder. He chuckles and rubs his hands down her arms. "Sorry, I wanted to make sure you weren't falling asleep."
"Thinking," she replies. "The ship looked so familiar. I swear I've seen something like it in the Hub."
"You'll have time to look later," he assures her, as Ianto adds a little more water to the bath, warmer this time, adjusting the stopper so that the tub doesn't overflow.
Despite herself, Tosh smiles. "Excuse me for trying to solve the problem," she says, and Jack raises his hands in mock-surrender. She brings her wet hands up out of the water, runs them through her hair; the tail of it drags in the bath, and she might as well wet it all down. It only hits her after she's done so that her hands aren't trembling, and she lifts them to look again.
"Warming up?" Ianto asks from behind her. His hand has slipped away from her shoulder, and while she feels the slightest bit cooler on her skin there, where he'd touched her, it's not the blinding freeze of earlier.
"Just because you're not feeling quite so chilled doesn't mean the threat's passed," Jack says. He gives Tosh's shoulder a quick squeeze and then drops that hand to Ianto's knee. "I can't believe I'm actually saying this without any sort of innuendo, but I think we should sleep in the same bed tonight."
Tosh turns to make a sound of protest, sees the same look on Ianto's face that must be on her own, and finds herself laughing. Jack's got his hands up again, his face a mask of innocence. "Seriously!" he protests. "For the body heat! You people always assume I'm suggesting the worst sort of--"
He's the one who jumps this time, and Tosh grins when she sees Ianto's satisfied smirk. "Because you are, Jack," he says, the drawl in his voice clear that he knows whereof he speaks.
"Fine! You two can just freeze to death, see if I care." Jack's tone may be offended on top, but there's laughter underneath. He pushes himself upright and steps out of the tub, water sheeting down from glistening skin. As he turns to reach for Tosh's hands, Ianto coughs, and Jack hastily turns to the towel rack to bring the whole stack closer; he drapes one around his shoulders carelessly before turning back to the tub again. She doesn't look, but she's pretty sure Ianto's rolling his eyes.
She very carefully averts her own as she steps out of the bath, using Jack's hands for balance. Even so, she can almost feel his amused smile on her.
In short order, they're all dry and wrapped up in plush, soft complimentary robes. Ianto had to coax Jack into one, at the same time giving Tosh a long-suffering look that made her smother laughter into the towel she'd been using to dry her hair. Ianto leads the way into the main room, finding the menu to order room service, while Jack takes Tosh's hand to bring her to the bed.
"I can do this myself," Tosh says, with a tolerant smile. "Not a child, you know."
"Believe me, I know." Jack's voice is rich and appreciative, and she feels colour rise to her cheeks. "But I'm worried about you, so let me take care of you."
It makes her swallow and nod, and she lets Jack pull the sheets back and tuck her into the middle of the big bed. She's had to be independent for so long that she's forgotten that it's not a surrender to allow someone to care.
Toshiko wakes unexpectedly early the next morning. The warmth around her confuses her until she remembers -- all at once -- the events of last night. Feeling herself blush brightly, she looks from Jack, on one side of her, to Ianto, on the other. Both of them are naked. So is she.
So it really happened, she thinks, astonished. She slept with Jack and Ianto last night. No, not 'slept', she adds, feeling rueful. Screwed.
That's a poor word, too, though. She hasn't exactly slept around, but she's had her share of boyfriends -- from fumbling boys in school to a suave one at university who taught her how to have an orgasm -- to say nothing of Mary, or Tommy. But this, last night, it wasn't just sex, either.
Jack's already stirring next to her; Tosh pulls the sheet up to her breasts as his eyes come open, and he smiles lazily up at her.
"Morning," he murmurs.
"Morning." She bites her lip. She's never done a threesome before, and she's not sure of the protocols. Jack makes it easy, though; he sits up, gives her shoulder a quick kiss, and pushes out of bed, hurrying off to the loo. Tosh lets out a breath she didn't know she'd been holding and turns to wake Ianto.
An hour later, they're back on the road to Cardiff. Jack drives, Ianto's in the passenger seat, and Tosh is more than glad to sit in the back and look up records to try and match them to the images of the crashed spacecraft. Though she tries not to think about the previous evening, she can't seem to stop her traitorous brain from bombarding her with images of it.
It had started off innocently enough, once they'd eaten; she remembered thinking about wanting to change into pyjamas, but Jack had dropped his robe and climbed into bed next to her, and then Ianto had followed (though he'd kept his robe on). At some point, with Jack's arm around her, she'd heard the unmistakable sound of kissing, and a murmur from Ianto to stop, that they couldn't, not with Tosh there. She hadn't known whether to be upset or offended, and then Jack had turned to bring her closer, with a quiet question: "Is it all right?" just before he kissed her.
Of course it was all right, she thinks now, cheeks blazing. She could have said no, and she's sure that he would have stopped. But it's Jack. Wanting him was a constant, something she'd got used to a month into the job, the way she'd got used to wanting Owen and knowing she'd never have him.
After that, her memory of the night splinters a little. She remembers Jack drawing her between them. Ianto's quiet smile, almost wry, telling her nothing would happen if she didn't want it to. She'd put her hand in his hair and drawn him down to her while Jack undid her robe. She remembers -- oh, God. Jack kissing his way down between her legs, his mouth on her. Her fingers tracing down Ianto's chest, pulling open the knot on his robe, finding the heated silkiness of his erection. The taste of their kisses, different and yet strangely similar. Ianto -- Ianto in her, from behind, while Jack held her and kissed her and then leaned over her to kiss Ianto. And then Jack in Ianto, so carefully preparing him, taking his time with every finger before moving over him and fitting himself. There was a dance there, a choreography that spoke to long nights of practise and knowledge. Resting beside them, she thought nothing could come between them, not the way Ianto gazed up at Jack, enrapt, while Jack snapped his hips and moaned. And then Ianto had reached for her, and she'd kissed both of them, let Jack guide her hand to Ianto's cock to stroke him to completion with Jack still inside him.
She's thoroughly lost in the memory when Jack says her name. Blinking, she looks up at him in the rearview mirror.
"I've called your name three times," he says, and she feels herself blush again. "Do you want to stop for breakfast?"
"Uh. Yes," she says, a little too brightly. "Breakfast. That'd be good."
Back in Cardiff, Jack stops the SUV in front of her block of flats. "Do you need help with anything?" he asks, turning in the seat to look back at her.
"I'm fine," she says. She folds up the keyboard, out of the way again (not much closer to finding her objective, but she will), lifts her bag from the floor by her feet, and slips out of the SUV. Jack's put it in park so that he can get out, despite her words; but he doesn't try to take her bag from her. Instead he just helps her from the vehicle, closes the door for her, and then rests a hand on her shoulder.
"If you feel anything," he says, "anything at all like the hypothermia, you call. Got it? Even the slightest chill. I don't want it coming back."
Tosh nods dutifully. "Of course, Jack." She gives him her everything's-fine smile, and he smiles in return, a tender, soft quirk of lips. Both hands gently resting on her shoulders, he leans in and places a kiss on her forehead, then one more, soft, on her mouth. Tosh blinks up at him afterward. He brushes a hand over her hair and steps away, giving her the ability to move again. She goes for her keys, turning to go up the steps and unlock the front door; she lets herself glance once at the SUV before going inside.
Climbing the stairs, she hears it drive off. Tells herself that this is the way it ought to be.
She finds herself surprisingly reluctant to go to work the next morning. Only the knowledge that Gwen and Owen will be there, like a buffer, eventually convinces her to get out of bed. In the shower, she remembers again how warm Jack's hands were on her bare skin, and resigns herself to making the most of memory.
Ianto's already there when she gets in, as is, of course, Jack. Gwen's there, too, sipping coffee and sorting through the morning papers for any unusual reports. She gives Tosh a warm smile in greeting, and Tosh sits at her desk and logs into the system. Everything normal, as it should be. When Owen comes up from the vaults -- monitoring a new Weevil inmate -- she makes sure to greet him as she usually does.
Soon, she's lost in her research. It doesn't take long for her to hunt down the report she remembered, and when the images fill one of her monitors, she gives a triumphant shout.
"What is it?" Gwen asks in startlement, sitting up to see what she's doing.
"It's the same design," Tosh says. Jack comes out of his office to stand behind her, his hands in his pockets. "See?" she says, bringing up the photos from Ianto's camera.
"It is, isn't it?" Jack's voice is thoughtful. "Shoot that to my computer, Tosh, if you would."
"I thought you just investigated a crash site," Gwen says, as Tosh types. "Are you both all right?"
"We are. And we did," Tosh says absently. "But then Ianto and I both--" She pauses, trying to figure out how to phrase it. "It was almost as if we came down with some accelerated form of hypothermia just from being near it."
"And yet we all touched the hull," Jack adds. "Right, I still have that black box to investigate. Tosh, see if you can find anything else that correlates?"
Grateful for his brusque manner, Tosh nods. Gwen hovers over her shoulder for a few minutes as she searches for other cases meeting similar criteria; Tosh can almost feel her wanting to ask what happened. In the end, all she says is, "So you both recovered safely?"
Tosh nods. "We were close enough to the hotel that we were able to get back and warm up. It sort of lifted almost as quickly as it set in."
"Good." Gwen's voice is warm, as is her hand on Tosh's shoulder. Tosh looks up at her, surprised into a smile. "You know I want you -- I just want you to be all right."
Tosh nods at the unexpected kindness. "Thank you," she says, because she doesn't know what else to say. Gwen smiles again and goes back to her desk, and Toshiko loses herself in her research again.
Three days later, after Gwen and Owen have gone home for the day, she pushes open the door to Jack's office to ask him about the black box from the crashed ship. She freezes when she hears the low sound of a ragged gasp. Jack's sitting on the desk, arms behind him to brace himself; Ianto stands between his legs, hands low on Jack's hips, his lips glossy and red. Both of them are watching her, pinning her with their matched dark gaze.
"I--Sorry," she says, swallowing. "Sorry, I'll come back."
She's actually taken a step back, out of the office, when Jack clears his throat and sits up, Ianto stepping back to give him room. "No," Jack says, reaching a hand out to her. "Stay."
Tosh's glance darts from Jack to Ianto, who's always so quiet. She'd never have dreamed the depths of him if she hadn't heard the things he said in bed to Jack, the hurt in him when she wore Mary's pendant. "Is. Is it all right?" she asks.
Ianto nods, and rather than holding his hand out, he comes around the desk to her, taking her hand in his, closing the door at the same time. Tosh feels a thrill of heat and excitement go through her as he brings her back to the desk, kissing her the whole time.
After that, Tosh starts counting. That was the second time, a second time she honestly hadn't thought would occur. The third time, Ianto stops by her desk and asks quietly if she'd like to come back to his flat. It's a week after the second time, and Tosh nods before even really thinking about it, while Ianto's still saying, "I'm making chicken."
Once he walks away, Tosh's mind starts to race. He's cooking. That implies more than just sex. Is this -- a date?
Although Ianto cooks, there's little else that's date-like about the evening. Tosh had begun having wild and worrying visions of lit candles and glasses of wine with elegant music playing in the background. Instead, Ianto's sautéed chicken breasts with some sort of wine sauce, and while his kitchen radio plays songs from the 80s, Jack narrates the latest story from Martha, who's been suffering under the command of a senior surgeon at UNIT who insists on telling her outrageous and unlikely tales about the Doctor.
"But I know it's not true," Jack finishes up, "because he told me about the time he worked for UNIT, and there was no one by that name the whole time, I checked!"
"So he's blatantly lying to her?" Tosh asks, trying not to laugh.
"Maybe he thinks it'll impress her." Ianto's smile is wry as he sits back, sipping at his beer.
"Takes a hell of a lot more than lies about the Doctor to impress Martha Jones," Jack grins. He glances at Ianto, pats his knee. "Dinner was amazing, Ianto. Thank you."
Ianto ducks his head in acknowledgment of the compliment, and Tosh reaches for her plate. "Here," she says. "You cooked, I'll clean up."
"No, Tosh," he starts to protest, but she shakes her head firmly.
"It's the rule," she says firmly, gathering his empty plate and Jack's into a stack under hers. There's not much left on the table, a mostly-empty platter from the chicken and some salad bowls. She decides she'll come back for them and takes the plates to the sink.
Ianto's flat is small, but tidy; there aren't many personal touches, but that doesn't surprise her. She doesn't spend large amounts of time decorating, either. There's barely any room in the kitchen, and she can hear the conversation continuing just beyond the doorway, though the music drowns out the actual words of it. She runs some hot water and folds up the sleeves of her blouse, finding a scrub pad and dish soap and starting in on the pans already in the sink. It doesn't take long for her to find a rhythm, cleaning things off and adding them to the drying rack, humming along to the Depeche Mode song she remembers from her youth.
"Really, you can just let them soak," says Ianto from close behind her. With a little gasp, she drops the plate she'd been cleaning; it clatters into the sink and she breathes out a relieved sigh that it doesn't break.
"We always had a household rule," she says, trying not to think about the fact that Ianto is standing right behind her, nearly close enough that she can feel him. She knows what his bare skin feels like against hers, and how his breath in her ear makes her shiver. She knows that he knows that, too. Swallowing, she makes herself continue her line of reasoning. "If one person cooks, the other cleans."
"We have a different rule here." Ianto's voice is low and soft. He steps just a little closer and Tosh is reminded all over again of the heat of him through his dress shirt. She inhales, smells him. It's intoxicating. "It's my flat," he continues, "and I say when the dishes get done." His hands come around her waist, meeting at her belly; his fingers tug and the hem of her blouse slips out of her skirt.
"Oh," Tosh whispers. The water's still running; a few lazy swirls of soap cling to her fingers. But Ianto turns her in his arms and she clings to him, her hands in his hair, and neither of them care when he hikes her up to the narrow counter. There's just enough room for her to perch, made easier when she brings her legs around his thighs.
"Getting started without me?" asks Jack from the doorway, with a lazy grin. Tosh pulls back from Ianto's kiss, licking her lips, and smiles hopefully at him.
Falling asleep between the two men, Tosh has a moment to wonder what her life has become before honest exhaustion claims her.
When she wakes the following morning, Ianto's still asleep beside her, his arm curled lazily around her middle and his mouth on her shoulder. He makes charming little snuffling sounds. Jack's not there, but that doesn't surprise Tosh; Jack has often made mention of how little sleep he needs.
She sits up a little, naked and oddly unbothered by it, to look at Ianto. He's so young in sleep, the lines around his open mouth erased; she feels the urge to smooth his tousled hair and gives in to it, smiling to herself as he mumbles something incoherent. Leaning down, she presses a kiss to his forehead and gets up. There's a robe hanging on the back of the door, just her size, and as she wraps it around herself, she wonders absently how much of this was planned. In the washroom, she finds a new toothbrush, and she can't help but smile.
The smell of coffee draws her to the kitchen. Jack is pushing water through a french press, clad in nothing but a pair of trousers; he smiles when he sees her and gestures to the table. "Sit," he says, and she does, waiting for him to bring the coffees.
"Ianto will be up in a bit," he tells her as he sets a mug before her and sits across the table from her with his own cup. "I like to let him sleep."
Tosh curves her hands around her mug, nodding. "He needs it," she agrees absently. The coffee is still too hot to drink, but it smells lovely, and she's content to inhale. She's trying not to think too hard about the fact that she's sitting across from her boss, wearing nothing but a silk robe, while he's half-dressed and barefoot. Tangled even more in her thought processes are the memories of what he did to her last night in bed -- what they all did to and with each other. She'll never be able to think of him as just her boss again.
"Jack," she says quietly, "what is this?"
"It's some Somalian blend, I think," he says, in deliberate misunderstanding. "Ianto gets it from this little place--"
She lets out a frustrated breath, and Jack chuckles ruefully. "Not helpful?"
"No," she says. "Please, Jack. This is strange enough for me as it is."
Jack inhales, squaring his shoulders a little, looking down into his mug and then up at her again. "To be honest," he replies, "I'm not really any clearer than you are about what this is."
Tosh carefully refrains from the desire to curl her arms around herself. She sips from the mug instead, her eyes trained on the dark liquid.
"If it's bothering you that much," Jack says softly, "it doesn't have to continue. I don't want you to feel pressured or obligated in any way--"
"Obligated!" She huffs a laugh into her cup; the surface of the coffee quivers in response. "I don't know what I feel, but I certainly wouldn't call it obligation."
"Good," he says. "I--. The thing is, Ianto and I don't talk much about -- about us. I'm sort of rusty at this kind of thing."
Tosh isn't surprised, but it makes her smile anyway. "Maybe it's time to get back into practise."
Jack nods, his gaze absent for a moment. "Maybe," he muses. Tosh shakes her head, feeling her smile turn wry.
"So tell me," she says, her voice quiet but firm. "It's been three times now. Once, I could understand, especially given the circumstances. The second, that -- that was me interrupting you. But three times, and it turns into a pattern. Especially with dinner and wine beforehand."
"It wasn't supposed to be a date," Jack says, sounding almost guilty, and she wonders how much discussion went on between him and Ianto before last night; wonders which of them came up with the idea in the first place.
"And I didn't think it was," she replies. "But it was--" She inhales. "It was planned. Ianto invited me here. We're all adults, any of us could have backed out at any time."
Jack nods, his eyes shuttered even as he looks at her. "All good points," he acknowledges, and goes still again.
His silence unexpectedly infuriates her. "Damn it, Jack," she says, and gets up, walking away into the lounge. She clutches her arms tight around herself. Sometimes when she's particularly upset, she catches herself pacing six steps forward, six back: the dimensions of her cell in UNIT's custody. This time, she stops herself before it goes that far, making herself look out the window instead. It's a rainy Saturday morning; the street below is painted in grey, with only the faintest hints of colour highlighting cars or the occasional bright umbrella.
After a minute or so, she hears Jack come in behind her. His hands rest on her shoulders and she feels more than hears him breathe out; then he presses a kiss to her hair. "I'm sorry," he murmurs. "I told you I wasn't very good at this."
"If this is going to be a relationship," she says in a voice that's only slightly choked, "you're going to have to improve."
She lets him draw her back to him, lets herself rest against him with his arms wrapped around her shoulders, his chin atop her head. She feels so small next to him. When he speaks again, his voice is quiet. "It scares me enough being with Ianto, sometimes," he says, and her heart contracts. "I don't know if I can do this with two people."
"I think you've proven pretty effectively that you can," she says, to try to alleviate the deep sadness in his voice. It works, a little: he laughs quietly and squeezes her close.
"It's one reason Ianto and I don't talk about it," he says. "It makes it real."
"He shouldn't have to live like that." Tosh knows she's a little too defensive of Ianto, but she can't seem to help it. "And I won't. I need more, Jack. If this -- if this is more than just occasional amazing sex, I mean."
"Would you be all right with that?" he asks. "I mean, if we all just occasionally had amazing sex?"
She knows he knows the answer to that, but she's grateful to him for asking. "I couldn't," she admits. "Once, maybe. Twice, perhaps."
"But three times is the charm," he says softly. She nods. "We have to talk to Ianto about it," he adds, and Tosh swallows hard.
"Of course," she says. "It's not fair unless we all agree."
She accepts Ianto's offer of a lift back to her flat, in no small part because she wants to talk to him, too, separate from Jack. It's easy enough to invite him up, and though he looks a bit reluctant at first, he agrees. She waits at the door while he finds a place to park his car.
Ianto has always been something of an enigma to her. He was a cipher when Jack hired him, carefully concealing himself and fading into the background so that she hardly ever noticed him. After the Cyberwoman, he stopped deliberately hiding, even going so far as to willfully make the rest of them uncomfortable for ignoring him; but she still doesn't know much about him. He worked for Torchwood in London; he grew up in Newport; he can do things with the coffee machine that none of them can. And he's in some sort of thing with Jack, she belatedly adds to her list, watching him carefully back his car into a parking space half a block down. He's as precise in this as he is in everything else.
That's something else about him: he has a neatness and grace about him, an efficient air that seems to extend to everything he does. She's seen the order he made out of the mess of filing; his handwriting is so neat it could be used for charts in schools. She's rarely seen him untidy. Except in bed. There it changes; while he still has an amazing focus (it makes her blush to remember), he forgets to be cautious, forgets the facade of clean polished behaviour. It's the one place so far she's seen him allow himself to be messy. In a way, she feels privileged to have been allowed to see that side of him.
Upstairs, she absently fixes tea. "I can't stay long," Ianto says, even as he takes a cup from her. "I've got shopping to do."
"It's all right, I won't keep you." Tosh takes his hand, though, tugging him gently into the lounge, and they settle together on the sofa, with a good half-cushion's space between them.
Ianto sips his tea quietly, keeping the cup held carefully in his hands as he looks up at her again. He's smiling in his gentle way, but Tosh's stomach tightens in spite of it. "Is this the part where you tell me it's been lovely, but..?" he asks.
"Oh," Tosh says. "No, Ianto, not at all." She bites her lip and reaches over to touch his knee. "No, it's just that I -- I need to talk about this. What we've been doing."
Ianto nods, lets his fingers brush hers. "I know," he says. "It's all been. Well. Pretty unexpected."
"You can say that again," Tosh murmurs, amused. He gives a faint chuckle, and she takes a breath before going on. "I, I had a little time to talk about it with Jack this morning, before you woke up."
She can almost feel him going tense, even without touching him. But, "Oh?" is all he says, sipping at his tea again.
She nods. "As you can imagine, it wasn't exactly easy. But it helped, I think. The thing is," she goes on, tucking one of her legs under herself, "I've never done something like this before. In any sense of the word."
"Neither have I," says Ianto, quietly. "Jack -- Jack's talked about group marriages. Apparently they weren't uncommon where he came from. He says he was in one, once, but I don't know for how long or... or anything like that."
Tosh finds herself nodding. She knows by now that Jack's stories usually have some seed of truth. Reaching over again, she covers Ianto's hand with her own. "Ianto," she says quietly, "is this something you want?"
He looks up at her, and for the first time she really sees him, the youth of him but the strength, too, the quiet steel. The uncertainty, too, the worry and self-doubt. "You've been through a lot," she goes on, "in a pretty short period of time. And I know things with you and Jack are... not really something either of you likes to talk about much."
Ianto's lips tighten and his head bobs. "He doesn't talk. Not about things like that, anyway," and for a moment his voice is so dry that Tosh can't help but laugh. That's Jack: he'll babble a mile a minute about the most unimportant things, but when it comes down to what truly matters, he can't utter a word. "But I, I wouldn't have done any of it if I hadn't wanted to," Ianto says. "Not with him or with you."
It's gratifying; Tosh feels the faintest blush stain her cheeks. "Thank you," she says, with a little chuckle. "I'd rather hoped Jack wouldn't force you into anything."
"Nothing I wasn't willing to do in the first place," he replies, his own smile teasing the corners of his mouth. Tosh shifts a little closer, setting her tea down so that she can keep holding his hand.
"The sex is one thing," she says. "But I don't -- I don't want to push myself on the two of you when you don't even know what it is you've got with him."
Ianto's hand squeezes hers. "You're not," he assures her. "I invited you over, remember? And Jack was completely behind the idea, or it wouldn't have happened."
Tosh smiles at that. She turns to face him a little more directly. "I want this, too," she says, feeling her hand tremble just a little in his. "Being with both of you, it's scary, but. I like it. I want it."
"Then we'll make it work," Ianto says, quiet but sure. He brings her hand to his mouth, pressing a kiss to her curled fingers. "I want it, too."
When Ianto leaves an hour later, Tosh wraps herself in a dressing gown to see him to the door, then stands at the window and watches him make his way down the pavement to where he's parked. She feels giddy and light, pressing her fingers to the cool glass and smiling when he looks up at her window.
Predictably, Gwen and Owen find out far sooner than she'd like.
Jack's nearly unravelled the code locking the black box of the spacecraft a week later, but he's frustrated and growling when Ianto serves a fresh round of coffees. At Ianto's quiet suggestion, Jack brings the black box out to Tosh. She's still compiling information on the similarities between the spacecraft and the old reports, sure that the key to the instant hypothermia lies somewhere in dusty files; but when Jack asks her to look over the code and see if she can hack it, she nods and sets aside her research.
As he steps away from her desk, his hand brushes her nape, lingering for a moment. A shiver skims over Tosh and her nipples go suddenly hard as she remembers his mouth there just last night, his teeth just grazing her skin. She swallows and carefully doesn't look up at him, focusing all her attention on the box, grateful that she's wearing layers today.
The moment Jack's returned to his office, however, Tosh becomes aware that Gwen is staring at her. She can feel it even if she can't see it, boring into the side of her face. Her cheeks go hot. After what feels like an hour but is in reality probably only thirty seconds, she looks up at Gwen.
"Oh my God," Gwen says, hand to her mouth, her voice rather louder than Tosh would wish.
"Gwen," Tosh says in a low, pleading tone. "Please don't--"
Gwen's face is a puzzle: her skin's gone white, but her eyes are dark and confused. "Gwen," Tosh tries again, quiet, worried. "Can we please not do this here."
After a long moment in which Tosh's heartbeat pulses hard in her ears, Gwen gulps and nods. Tosh sees the glimmer of tears, unexpected and unwelcome, and then Gwen goes off, a bit stiffly, to the loo.
"What's her problem?" asks Owen in an acerbic voice. Tosh's breath stops altogether. She hadn't heard him come out of the autopsy bay. He's been distressingly light on his feet ever since being brought back to life.
"I'm not sure," Tosh fibs, and runs off to follow Gwen.
Gwen's sitting on one of the chairs they dragged into the little room to make it more cosy. She isn't crying, for which Tosh thanks God, but she looks desolate. "Should I go?" Tosh asks.
"No," Gwen whispers, and Tosh sits down next to her. "I just. I don't understand. I thought Jack and Ianto -- I mean, not that they talk about it very much, but I thought--"
"I know," Tosh says. She presses her lips together, tucks her skirt in under her thighs. "They're not -- I mean, they didn't break up or anything."
"Then what?" Gwen raises her eyes to Tosh, and Tosh recognises the look of betrayal. She remembers it well from seeing it in her own mirror when she found out Gwen was carrying on with Owen.
"It's sort of. We're all sort of dating," Tosh says, fumbling for words. She feels Gwen draw back from her a little and swallows, hating this. "It started when we went to Snowdonia."
"Oh," Gwen says quietly. Her hands work at each other in her lap; she draws in a breath, just slightly watery, and wipes at her eyes. Her smile is slightly forced. "I'm sorry," she says. "I didn't mean to overreact."
"No, no." Tosh tries to smile, too. "It's still pretty new. We're -- we're still sort of figuring it out. I didn't want you to find out this way."
Gwen nods, combing back her hair. She's quiet now, but it's not a hostile silence, and Tosh just watches her, letting her process.
"I've wanted Jack for a long time now," Gwen says at last, her voice low. "But I'd finally started to accept it, I think. That it was never going to happen. I thought for a while that he was interested in me, too. The way he talks, the way he'd look at me sometime. I thought, all he had to do was touch me, kiss me, and I'd -- I'd do anything he wanted. Anything, you understand?" Her eyes remain focused on her lap, but Tosh nods in sympathy. "I love Rhys. I love him so much. He's -- he's my home. And yet."
"And yet," Tosh echoes, sympathetic. She dares to touch Gwen's hand; Gwen takes it in a fierce grip.
"So I thought, fine, if he's with Ianto, then I can be gracious. I realised after a while that he -- that he respected my relationship with Rhys. Maybe even more than I did." Gwen's gulp is wet this time, and Tosh reaches for the box of tissues on the sink, holding them out for Gwen to take. "So I tried to be happy for him and Ianto, I tried so hard. But I never thought I'd -- oh God, Tosh," Gwen says, and she looks so distressed for a moment that Tosh reels her in for a hug. "I'm so sorry, this is so terrible of me."
"It's all right, Gwen," Tosh whispers, patting Gwen's back.
"I never thought I'd be jealous of you, too," Gwen says into her hair. "I'm such an awful person, I know, I am."
"No, Gwen. No," Tosh says, even though the words go through her like a knife. "You're human. You're -- you wouldn't be human if you didn't have feelings like that."
Gwen pulls back to sniffle hard, wiping her eyes with the tissue and then blowing her nose. "I'm so sorry," she says again, and Tosh squeezes her shoulder.
"I'll let you be alone," she says.
Nodding, Gwen gives her a weak smile. Tosh stands, leaving the tissues within Gwen's reach, and steps quietly out of the room. Her heart is still racing; she has the strongest impulse to go into Jack's office, close the door, and lean hard on him. Instead, she returns to her desk. She doesn't want to indulge during work hours, and doing so would only tip Owen off.
Owen's claimed the other desk in Gwen's absence, the monitor occupied primarily by a game of Solitaire. "So what's going on with Cooper?" he asks as Tosh sits down again.
"Nothing," she says firmly. Owen's silent; she glances over and sees him still looking at her.
"An outburst like that and you say it's nothing?"
"Just some stuff going on with her personal life," she says, feeling guiltier than ever. "Nothing she wants gossiped about here, I'm sure."
"Touchy," Owen mutters, but he goes back to his game.
From his office, Jack shouts, "OWEN! Getting somewhere on that autopsy yet?" Owen rolls his eyes and gets up, and Tosh lets out the breath she'd been holding once he's slouched back down into the autopsy bay. Glancing across to the office, Tosh sees Jack watching her, his eyes concerned. She gives him a nod -- I'm fine -- and he smiles briefly at her, then goes back to his paperwork.
There's a big Rift alert the next morning, and for a good forty-eight hours after, they're kept moving, dealing with the Reznoid gamblers who got dumped through the Rift and are trying to make the best of it by getting a head start on fixing local sports events. They manage to get the lot back through the Rift, but it's messy, exhausting work; by the end of the whole affair, no one has the willpower to do more than drag themselves home and collapse.
Tosh doesn't even think about it when Jack drives her back with Ianto and himself to Ianto's flat. She has just enough energy left to shower, sloughing the Reznoid's goopy excretions from her hair, and then falls into bed. Ianto crawls in next to her a little while later, Jack behind him, but she barely registers their presence except to curl herself back into Ianto's arms and relax completely into sleep.
The following morning, Owen sits down rather abruptly next to her.
"So, it took two men to get over me, is that it? I knew you were heartbroken, but there's no denying the strength of the Harper charm."
"Gwen told you, I suppose," Tosh says warily.
"Pretty much." Owen brings his chair in closer, and while his smile is self-deprecating, there's something gentle in it. "Are you all right, Tosh?"
"Of course," she says automatically. She stops typing, looks at him again. He'll never look at her the way she always wanted him to, not now, but his eyes are concerned and warm, and she's glad she still has his friendship. "It's the truth," she adds, quieter.
"I only ask because I'm worried," he says, covering her hand with his cool one, and she essays a smile. "Gwen was... a bit upset, and I want to be sure you're being treated well."
"It's all really recent," she tells him, wondering just what Gwen said, then deciding just as quickly that she doesn't want to know. "We're just figuring things out, right now. But they're both, they're wonderful. Truly."
Owen nods. "Good," he says. "You be happy, all right? That's the most important thing."
"I will," she promises, and he smiles. Tosh feels ridiculously grateful as he gets up to go back to work.
Aside from feeling slightly wary around Gwen, Tosh finds work to be, by and large, the same as it was before she and Jack and Ianto began doing, well, whatever it is they're doing. For the most part, they keep the work separate from anything personal (with a few notable exceptions), and Tosh can focus on Jack as her boss during work hours without too much difficulty. It's a familiar dynamic, after all. If anything, she still feels a little shy around him the rest of the time.
She still works late most nights, but more and more, those nights end in entertaining ways. She becomes intimately familiar with the little room under Jack's office, and things of Jack and Ianto's begin to appear in her flat, as if absently left behind -- a tie here, a pair of cufflinks there. She likes it; she likes it a lot. She'd forgotten just how exciting it can be, this exploratory phase, discovering a new lover's preferences and dislikes: the things that make them whimper, or pant, or beg. Or scream. And of course, since she's learning both of them, the experience is doubled. Tripled, really. Jack is so skilled, so subtly knowledgeable, he practically counts for two by himself.
He has a habit of sneaking up on her. He's found her in the firing range, working on her target practise; he pretended to offer suggestions while wrapping himself around her, insinuating himself into her senses until her hand trembled from need. She'd fumbled the gun to a table, let him push her up against the wall, and while he kissed her senseless, his hand pushed into her jeans to find her slippery with want. Or she's wandered through her flat late at night, Ianto asleep in her bed, to find Jack with a book, sipping a cool coffee; she can curl herself under his arm and simply rest, neither of them needing to speak.
Ianto is quieter than Jack, but she's learning quickly that his cool facade is merely a front for a truly inventive imagination. Tosh finds herself drifting at her desk, sometimes, remembering things they've done. One of the rare occasions work and sex crossed over was when she and Ianto went Weevil hunting; she lured the alien into a narrow alley, and he attacked it from behind with a stungun, jumping on it and holding it down so that she could inject it with the sedative and wrestle a hood over the horror-mask head. After, still shaking with adrenalin, she pulled Ianto into the SUV with her, sprawling back on the wide rear seat, and let him push her skirt up and tug her knickers down. He'd knelt before her and worshiped her with his mouth, and Tosh screamed when she came.
It's strange and fun and a little too much for her, sometimes. Tosh almost prefers the times when she's with just one or the other of them; though it's not to say it's not amazing when they're all together, she feels overwhelmed and lost in the middle of it, not knowing where to turn or what to look at. But she relishes the time after, when they're lax and easy and tangled and she's surrounded by these two gorgeous men. She doesn't deserve this; it's too much for her, and surely it won't be long before she unconsciously sabotages it somehow. Or they get tired of the arrangement -- or of her. It always happens.
She knows it can't end well. For one thing, there's no way she can tell her family that she's in this unconventional situation. Her father barely speaks to her as it is, unless necessity or civility forces him to; she knows he'll never be able to stop blaming her for what happened to her mother. If he were to learn that she's involved with two men at once -- two men who are also involved with each other... No. It can't happen.
Besides, she works at Torchwood. No one gets a happy ending.
Between crises (one involving bizarre circus performers coming to life from old film reels, another in which a local supplier of electronic toys is revealed to be, not from Guildford, but from a planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse), Tosh applies herself to cracking the code on the black box. It takes some time and several algorithm programs, but she finally succeeds -- only to find that the log is in a language she hasn't translated. A mixture of numbers, hieroglyphs, and incomprehensible symbols spills across her screen, and Tosh sits back to look at the display in annoyance. If anything, it's less helpful than it was before. She sighs, frustrated, and then pulls up the translation program she worked out last year. It might give her something, even if it's just bits and pieces.
When Gwen comes to her to ask for her help with some curious Rift readings, Tosh feels almost grateful. There's no reference to Jack and Ianto, just the problem to be dealt with. And Tosh is intrigued by it, too, as she delves into the logs to find past occurrences of the negative Rift spikes. She's quickly surprised at how many she discovers.
Jack asks her what she and Gwen were working on, later, and she hums absently. Gwen had asked her to keep it quiet.
"Nothing much," she says. She's making dinner for them; Ianto's showering, and Jack is still damp from his own turn (which had, naturally, overlapped with Ianto's). He leans a hip on the counter, arms folded, watching her.
"Nothing at all?" he asks.
Tosh glances at him. It's hard to lie to Jack anytime, but more than ever these days. She remembers asking him for information when Mary was manipulating her, and ducks her head. She doesn't like this.
"It might be nothing, it might be something," she says, which is true enough, and finds a spatula to carefully flip the salmon filets. "She has more work to do before she wants to present it to you."
Jack nods, straightening up and leaning over to kiss the top of her head. "Fair enough. You want me to do a veg to go with that?"
"There's asparagus in the fridge," she says, trying not to sigh out loud in relief. "If you could just cut it up a little?"
The shower goes off as Jack starts in on the asparagus, and Tosh relaxes in anticipation of a quiet evening. They generally don't talk Torchwood too much when they're at her flat or Ianto's, an unspoken rule for which she's grateful.
The next day, Gwen begins making corroborations of disappearances and negative Rift spikes, and Tosh knows it won't be long before Jack finds out. She wonders why she has such a bad feeling about it.
After the meeting, she finds out why.
Ianto's unusually quiet, even for him, and Tosh has to go looking for him, worried; she'd seen him arguing with Jack outside the conference room before Jack had walked away, stiff and angry. After a hurried search through the filing room and then the Archives, she finally finds him in the tourist centre. He's fiddling with a simple GPS unit, but he puts it down to smile at her when she comes in.
"Everything all right?" she asks, approaching the counter.
"Sure," he says. "Why wouldn't it be?"
"You were arguing with Jack. I was worried." She watches him, eyes narrowed just a bit.
Ianto shakes his head, but he reaches to cover her hand where it rests on the counter. His throat works a moment, thumb stroking the soft skin at the crook of her thumb and forefinger; it's a distracted motion.
"It's not that I don't want to talk about it," he says, finally, his deep voice soft. "I can't. I promised Jack I wouldn't."
"But it's to do with what Gwen found out?" Tosh asks. She's concerned for him, more than she is curious about the subject of the meeting.
Ianto hesitates, though, then nods. "I can't -- I can't say," he starts, and Tosh swallows, shaking her head.
"You don't have to," she says. She squeezes his hand as tight as she can. "I'm not trying to pry, or -- or get you to break your promise. I just want you to be all right, Ianto.""I will be," he says, though his tone is far from assuring. Tosh gives in to the impulse to hug him, coming around the counter to go up on her toes and put her arms around his neck. Puzzlingly, Ianto trembles ever so slightly against her, and when he pulls back, his smile is weak.
"Jack is going to be very angry tonight," he says in an apparent non sequitur. Tosh blinks up at him, and he shakes his head. "Just take my word for it. I'm going to do something that he really won't like."
"Ianto," Tosh says, warningly.
"It's all right," he says. "It's not anything bad or life-threatening. And he'll get over it. But you might want to go home tonight," he adds, his smile wry. "Avoid the fallout."
She takes Ianto's advice, though she's still worried. She's sure, now, that it has to do with Gwen's investigations; the disappearances are disturbing, it's true, but she agrees with Jack: knowing the source of the kidnappings won't give the victims' families any comfort, and even if it would, there are too many missing and only the five of them. Tosh appreciates -- admires, even -- Gwen's somewhat naive desire to help those in pain. But she knows that things are rarely that simple.
Her flat is quiet and strangely empty without either Jack or Ianto there with her. Tosh puts on some quiet music, pours herself a glass of wine and curls up with a book, a soft blanket tucked around her legs; but she can't concentrate. She keeps wondering what Ianto planned to do that would get Jack so angry. When she tries to picture Jack and Ianto in a truly spectacular row, it only makes her giggle, it's so unlike either of them. Jack gets mad, sure, but Ianto's anger is much slower to simmer that she's only witnessed it perhaps twice in the whole time she's known him. More likely, she thinks, Ianto's distracting Jack with one of his classic fetishes, workplace sex, to ease the impact of whatever he's done.
She finds herself tempted to dig into the system from her laptop, to see if she can find the source of the conflict. Gwen's investigations have struck a nerve in Jack; that much was obvious from the manner in which he told her to drop the project. Tosh is a hacker by trade, but she dislikes the idea of prying into her lover's secrets, especially if it's something that hurts him to discuss. The temptation, brief as it is, passes; she won't even entertain the notion of asking Ianto if he knows what it is. If it's for her to know, Jack will tell her. She trusts him. Probably more than she should.
The next morning, Gwen doesn't turn up to work. As Tosh settles herself to the latest revision of the translation program for the black box, she notices that Jack isn't in his office: he's usually there, this time of day, to deal with morning calls from whichever agency is pissed off at them today.
Ianto sets her coffee down on her desk, and she smiles up at him as she curls her hands around it, murmuring her thanks. "Where's Jack?" she asks, taking a sip of the coffee.
"Not here," Ianto says, and his smile is just slightly unhappy.
Tosh draws in a breath. "Dare I ask?"
Ianto turns himself a little, resting his arse against her desk, his hands in his trouser pockets. "Let's just say Gwen found what she's looking for," he says succinctly. "And Jack is out there dealing with it."
"Dealing with it?" Tosh tilts her head, feeling a bit concerned now.
"It's a long story," Ianto says. "I still can't share much about it, but Jack will probably tell you later. I only found out by accident, and obviously I'm still around. It's just a bit of a sensitive subject for him."
"And you... told her about it," she guesses.
"More or less," he says. "Jack probably knows by now, so I'm expecting a bit of fireworks when he gets back."
"We could go hide somewhere," Tosh suggests, feeling surprisingly warmed by the idea. "Take off to London for a couple of days."
"He'd just track us down." Ianto's smiling, though, even as he delivers the quiet quip. "That's the real reason he keeps all our DNA on file."
Tosh grins. "You think I can't get around that?" She glances slyly up at Ianto. "Give me ten minutes. Five, once I've had some coffee."
"So tempting," Ianto chuckles, and straightens again as the cogwheel door opens to admit Owen. Still smiling, Tosh turns back to her work.
Jack returns to the Hub later that afternoon, without Gwen. When Tosh asks where she is, he says that he sent her home, that she'll be back tomorrow. Then he sweeps into his office. Pausing at the door, he glances at Tosh and Owen, both at their desks, and adds, "Why don't you all take off, too? Make it an early day."
The door closes behind him, and Tosh gives Owen a surprised glance. Owen shakes his head, his mouth wry. "Go on, talk to him," he says. "See if you can get him out of here. I'll give you some space."
"Thanks," Tosh says, standing and giving him a grateful smile. Before she actually starts toward Jack's office, she rings the tourist centre on her mobile. Ianto's up there, as she'd hoped; she asks him to come down.
"Jack's back, is he?" Ianto observes, and when Tosh confirms it, he makes a quiet sound sort of like a sigh. "This won't be easy. I'll be right there."
Ianto's the one to knock on Jack's office door, though Tosh stands next to him when he does. It's not as if Jack could have missed them approaching; he hasn't bothered to close the blinds or anything. Still, there's a long pause before he calls, "Come in."
Jack sits at his desk, still in his coat. Though he leans back in his chair, his attitude isn't relaxed; his eyes are focused somewhere far beyond his cluttered desktop. Quietly, Tosh closes the door behind them, watching as Ianto steps up next to Jack's desk and takes one of his hands. Jack closes his eyes, but he lets Ianto draw him close. His arms come up around Ianto's thighs, and she can see him shaking.
It's not until later, the three of them curled up together in Ianto's bed, that Jack tells Tosh why he's so upset. And Tosh weeps, too, for him, and for the stolen lives of those heartlessly spat back out by the Rift.
Gwen files away the documents she's put together on the kidnap victims, and Tosh grimly resumes her research on the spaceship. She's convinced, now, that the craft is of the same design as one that was discovered around sixty years ago, and she's pulled every file she can on that one to compare the two. It's not until a few days later, however, that she manages to get down into the Archives to find an artefact that was recovered from the craft -- an artefact that confirms her theories.
She tells herself firmly that if it leads to the end of her relationship with Jack and Ianto, she won't be upset. It's as it should be.
"Jack, do you have a moment?" she asks later that day, knocking on his open office door. He glances up at her with a tight smile, the phone to his ear; Tosh gives him a sympathetic smile and comes in to sit down, her folder full of findings in one hand. He winks at her even as he makes attempts at disengaging from the conversation. Whoever's on the other end must not want to stop talking to him, and while Tosh can't blame them as such, she's eager -- and a bit nervous -- to share what she's learned with Jack.
Finally, he manages to end the call and puts down the phone, rolling his eyes in such an Ianto-like way that she can't help but smile. "All yours," he says. "What is it?"
Tosh smiles, hoping it's not as weak as it feels. "I wanted to bring you what I found out about the ship that reminded me of the one at Snowdonia." Jack's eyebrow goes up, interested, and she lays the folder out on his desk, spreading the reports and pictures; on top is a photo Ianto took of the crash site in Snowdonia. The next, she touches with just a finger; it's an original from the Archives. "I'm pretty sure the one we saw is a direct descendant of this. It crashed in the Bay in 1940," she says. "The designs are practically identical. It wasn't until I compared this, though--"
The next picture is of the artefact recovered from the craft. "They didn't know what it was for, but it's the same as the black box of the ship that crashed in Snowdonia. So I pulled it from the Archives."
"And?" Jack prompts.
"It was already translated," she finishes, with a wry smile. "I don't know who did it. There was no record on the report." That file is next in her folder, a printout of documents that had been scanned to microfiche some time back. He goes quiet as he looks over it, eyes drifting down the first page.
"That was me," he murmurs.
Tosh can't help the sharp look she gives him. She knows he's been with Torchwood for a long time, but he'd seemed puzzled by the language, and he hadn't recognised the design of the ship. Jack glances up at her then, and as if he's reading her mind, he shrugs and grins. "Hey! Live a couple hundred years and see how great your memory is."
It makes her chuckle, and she leans forward a little, the better to see as he reads through the transcription of the log from the 1940 ship. "Of course," he says quietly. "I never saw the ship that crashed into the Bay; I was -- on assignment. I didn't even get to the translation until -- God, '45 or so. Maybe even later. We were all on our toes with the War."
"Did you ever run into yourself?" she asks curiously.
Jack laughs out loud. "No, no. It's something you learn as a Time Agent. One of the first lessons is how to avoid yourself if you're sent into the same time more than once. And I've been to January, 1941... three times now, that I can remember."
Recalling the most recent visit, Tosh smiles a little. It seems so far away, the young men and women dancing to swing tunes at the Ritz. "So I don't need to tell you what this means," she says.
Jack leans back in his chair now, his eyebrow raised. "No, I'm all ears. Go ahead."
Picking up the report of the 1940 crash, Tosh straightens up in her chair. It's strange, she thinks to herself briefly, how they're both so careful to compartmentalize their working relationship from their personal one; even in this moment, Tosh is focused on the job at hand, and so is Jack. She's grateful for his professionalism.
"It seems that the -- the hypothermia, for lack of a better word, is essentially caused as an after-effect of the ship's entry into the atmosphere," she says. "It cools the air around it as part of the crash protocols, so that the ship doesn't burn the land or vegetation when it crashes."
"The one in the Bay was solid ice," Jack says absently, and Tosh nods.
"So was the one in Snowdonia, but being in the open air, it melted rather quickly. But the cold after-effect can last for an indeterminate period of time. The ship in Snowdonia was down for a few days..."
"And the one in the Bay couldn't be recovered for nearly a year, what with the circumstances," Jack finishes.
"By which time," she adds, "it was quite safe to the touch. We'll have to keep an eye on UNIT's reports and see if they measure it."
"I'll tell them to," Jack says decisively. "So, we don't know for sure that what happened to you and Ianto will reoccur."
"It doesn't seem likely," she says. "Neither of us has experienced a relapse. Owen's been monitoring us, just to be sure."
"And I think I'd have noticed," Jack adds, with a flash of a grin. Tosh feels herself blush, which earns another smile from him.
"There's something else," she says carefully. "I couldn't figure out why it affected Ianto and me, but not you." Jack goes still, and she inhales, hoping he won't be upset. "It wasn't until I ran scans on the three of us that I got it."
"Yeah?" Jack asks, his tone deceptively casual.
"You're not one hundred percent human," she says. "I didn't mean to pry, honestly, it's just that--"
"It's all right," Jack says gently. "I'm not mad. And it's true. I'm not."
"But -- but how--"
Jack's voice is soft, now, tinged with what might be nostalgia. "I come from a little colony planet, way out in the middle of nowhere. Colonists who volunteered to go -- either to there, or to places like it -- were given certain biological upgrades, so that they could survive extreme weather or climactic conditions, or to withstand terraforming processes."
"What sort of upgrades?" Despite herself, she's curious.
"Oh, the usual," he says offhandedly. "Increased resistance to cold or heat. The ability to breathe certain poisonous gases, and to eat a wider range of foodstuffs." He starts to smile, then, before dropping the next bombshell. "The ability to carry and bear children was extended to both genders, to ensure that the colony's birthrates would be high."
Tosh remembers a statement casually made -- 'At least I won't get pregnant. Never doing that again.' -- and swallows a laugh. She'd thought he was joking. She really ought to know Jack better by now. "So you... you did feel the cold?" she asks instead, trying to get back on topic.
"I do," he nods. "But it doesn't bother me. So," and he reaches for the folder to slide everything into a neat pile, "is that everything?"
Nodding, Tosh gets to her feet. "I'll compile it into a full report for you," she says.
"Good. Good work, Tosh, I mean that." He smiles up at her as he hands her the folder, and she tucks the report into it. She wonders why, having found the solution, she feels no more understanding than she did before. "Hey," he adds, before she turns to go, "eight tonight, Ianto's place?"
"Sure," she says quickly, and takes a hurried step toward the door.
"Tosh, is something wrong?" he says from behind her. His voice is quiet, nothing but a gentle curious note in it.
"Fine. I'm fine." She turns back to give him a brief and hopefully reassuring smile. "Eight, right?"
"Tosh," Jack says again, his hands cupped loosely on the desk. "Seriously, what is it?"
Tosh bites her lip. She'd been so close to making her escape. "Honestly, Jack, it's -- it's nothing. It's silly."
"Indulge me." Jack gestures to the chair by his desk again, and though Tosh wishes she could dismiss him and go, she finds herself sinking back into the seat again. She hugs the folder to her chest like a flimsy shield. Jack tilts his head, his eyes gentle. "Why is this bothering you so much?" he asks. "You figured it out. I figured you'd be glad."
"I suppose," she says, and she can't keep the regret out of her voice. "But it still doesn't make sense."
"In what way?"
Tosh finds herself looking down, unwilling or unable to meet his eyes. Her throat works for a moment before she can assemble the words in coherent order. "Why you and Ianto wanted to be with me," she says.
Jack's quiet for a long moment; she hears his inhalation, the careful breath he lets out. "I thought we talked about this," he says, his voice worried. "Didn't we? Back when it all started?"
She nods, her eyes still on her fingers. Her nails are short and a little ragged; she needs to get them done. "I guess I sort of. It seemed to make sense to me that it was linked somehow to when we investigated the crash in Snowdonia, when Ianto and I were suffering from the hypothermia." She inhales, feeling a tremor. She doesn't want this to end. A footstep sounds in the doorway and she looks up to see Ianto standing there, a stack of reports in his hands. "I should, I should go," she says, and pushes to her feet.
"What's wrong?" Ianto asks, looking from her to Jack, his eyes bewildered.
"I'm fine," she says again. "Really, I am."
"Tosh," Jack says, but she makes her move this time, slipping out of the office before he can ask her to stop.
She nearly doesn't go to Ianto's at all that night. For a good two hours she vacillates between not wanting to talk to them at all (ironic, she thinks, when she's the one who was pushing them to talk in the first place) and knowing that she has to do this in person. The sticky point is that she doesn't want to end it. She's falling for both of them and that's exactly why it has to stop.
Better to end it while it's still good, she tells herself firmly as she dresses. She wants to remember everything in the best light, unsullied by arguments or soured feelings.
Arriving at Ianto's at eight on the dot, she rings the bell. Though Ianto gave her a key a month ago, she doesn't plan to keep it; she can't, not in good conscience. He looks puzzled when he opens the door, reaching for her hand to draw her inside. "Didn't lose your key, did you?" he asks.
Tosh shakes her head. "No, nothing like that." As she surrenders her coat to him, she can feel his worry, but when he asks her if she's all right, she just nods. She leans up for the kiss he bends to offer, closing her eyes. It's sweet and brief, like a summary of this time they've had together.
Jack clears his throat as she steps back, and she turns to see him leaning in the open doorway to the lounge. "I'm glad you came," he says softly, and Tosh's heart thumps. "Want to come in?"
The only sign of the fact that Jack has been there a little while already is the pair of half-empty beer bottles on the coffee table. Tosh stays standing, lingering by the narrow tall shelving unit that houses Ianto's book and DVD collection. Not long ago, she'd picked a book out at random and read about the history of Wales while he dozed on the sofa, her curled into the crook of his arm. She closes her eyes for a moment.
"You seem like you have something you wanted to say," Jack prompts quietly. He's resumed his seat on the sofa; Ianto's next to him, not too close, nestled into the corner of it.
"Yes," she says, decisive. "I kept thinking about it, and I decided it was only fair to say this in person." Her eyes flicker from Jack's face (wary, but expectant, as if he knows what she's going to say) to Ianto's (eyebrows narrowed in confusion), and she takes in a deep breath. "This has been -- beyond amazing," she goes on. "Being with the two of you. It's more than I ever could have dreamed. But I. I can't continue."
Jack had known; he looks unhappy but not surprised. Ianto, on the other hand, sits up, looking from Jack to Tosh and back again. "What?" he says after a moment.
"I can't," Tosh says again, and now she has to sit down, her legs going out from under her. She has to swallow before she can speak again. "I can't do this. It's too much, and I, I don't. I'm too scared," she says, finally, in a whisper.
She's waiting for one of them to move toward her; it's Ianto, and somehow she can accept it when he slides off the sofa and seats himself on the coffee table before her. "But -- but why?" he asks. His voice is just barely hoarse. "Why -- I don't understand."
"I'm sorry," she says. "I really, I truly am."
"Do you mind if I take a stab at guessing why?" Jack says, his tone mild. Tosh's gaze flies to him and she feels something stick in her throat. He goes on, his eyes fixed on hers. "You thought the only reason we all slept together in the first place was because of some sort of influence from the ship. Like an instinctive counteraction to battle the hypothermia." Now Ianto's looking at Jack, too, his eyebrows raised. Jack smiles a little -- not quite the expression Tosh expected to see -- and continues, "But that's not why. That had nothing to do with the cold. The ship made you two feel cold, but you and Ianto were already warmed up pretty much back to normal temperatures by the time we all went to bed."
Ianto's jaw drops and then he barks a stilted laugh before wrenching it shut. "You bastard," he says. "You did say that just to get us all naked."
"It wasn't my primary goal." A grin starts to tug at the corners of Jack's mouth, but it fades when he looks at Tosh again. She realises that she's blushing and covers her cheeks with her hands. "But," Jack adds, his eyes intent on her, "it was one I'd wanted for a long time. And so had Ianto."
She glances guiltily at Ianto, whose smile is slightly apologetic. He shrugs. "It's true. Jack and I talked about it... more than once." When he draws a breath, she recognises all too clearly the color staining his neck, the flush of arousal.
"So when the moment presented itself," Jack finishes, "I wasn't about to let it go to waste."
"You wanted me," she finds herself repeating dumbly. Her hands drop to her lap, fingers knotting.
"Yes," Ianto says, voice gentle and low. "And not just once, Tosh. Seeing you like that once, it was... it was like a teaser. It just made me want you more." He reaches for her hands, covering them; she's startled at how warm his hands are on hers, and belatedly realises that it's because her own are chilled.
"You're not just a bit on the side for us, Tosh," Jack says. "Not for Ianto, not for me."
Feeling very stupid, Tosh says, "Oh," in her smallest voice. She feels the shift in air and then Jack's there, too, his hands cupping Ianto's. She looks up at him. Jack's eyes are dark, pained and scared; in a rare moment of clarity, she sees so deep into him that it makes her heart hurt. "Me," she says, as if she still can't quite grasp the concept.
"No," Ianto whispers. "Us."
When Tosh stands, Jack's arm drags around her and he inhales hard, a ragged sound. She kisses him, his face cupped in her hands, and then turns to Ianto to meet him in the same sealing, urgent kiss.
"There's enough room in my flat for both of your things," she says later, drowsily, into Jack's shoulder. Behind her, Ianto chuckles and tightens his arm around her belly.
"I've been trying to pry him out of there for ages," he mumbles. "Good luck with that."
Jack's smiling quietly, though, as he shifts to tug the covers up over the three of them, and Tosh thinks that maybe he just needed the right incentive.
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this page last updated on 17 february 2010