It's still sometime vaguely between night and dawn when Suzie finally crawls through the door of their apartment, dead-tired and too exhausted to be pissy, but more than willing to put in a good effort nevertheless. She kicks off her shoes, drops her coat on the floor, and staggers over the sofa. Her favorite blanket is laying over the arm, butter-soft from so many washings and so much use, and she flops onto the cushions and drags herself under it with a noise that the unkind might term a whimper.
Ianto, seated on the loveseat across from her, arches an eyebrow over the top of his paper. "Long day?" he asks dryly.
Suzie groans, flipping back a corner of the blanket just enough to glare at him. "New girl," she says flatly. "Jack poached her from the police, wanted an in with them, and she managed to shake her first dose of Retcon. She started today. My first day was spent chasing a slime monster through two-thirds of Cardiff's sewers. What does she get? An orgasm alien. The world isn't fair."
Ianto makes sympathetic noises, but he's already gone back to his paper, apparently assuming that she didn't see the restrained roll of his eyes. Suzie skulks back under her blanket to plot her revenge.
Clearly, Ianto does not understand the true horror that is Gwen Cooper.
He won't stay so innocent for long, though—not if Suzie has anything to say about it. But, as far as that goes, there are others far more deserving of her wrath.
She grins, just a little, and hears the paper cease rustling across from her. There's a suspicious look fixed somewhere in the vicinity of the top of her head, and she has to applaud Ianto for his well-honed instincts. It might even save him this time, if he makes himself useful enough.
"Suzie…" the man drawls slowly, cautiously.
Suzie tugs back the blanket again to give him her biggest, most pathetic eyes. Admittedly, she's not great at it, and soon drops the pleading expression in favor of a wicked grin. "Say," she murmurs innocently, although she's not so great at that, either. Ianto certainly doesn't look impressed. "Do you think you could break into the Hub?"
At that, Ianto snorts and drops his paper entirely, giving her his full attention. There's a spark of something interested and faintly wicked in his eyes. "Easily, so long as it's not locked down at the time," he answers. "In through the maintenance panel in the elevator shaft, down three levels to the sub-basement, out through the sewer access in the containment cell room, and then straight through the door into the Hub proper."
It's faintly terrifying that he can be so casual about circumventing Torchwood Three's security, which has lasted them—literally—through several alien invasions and one minor zombie incursion. However…
"That," Suzie says with open admiration, "is ridiculously hot."
It surprises Ianto into an honest laugh, something that lights up his pale eyes and makes the air around them feel ten times brighter than before. He grins at her, just a little crooked. "You really think so? I assure you, that sewer hasn't been cleaned in decades, and despite what action movies would have you believe, it's certainly not spacious enough to stand up in. But for you, milady, I will endure." The grin deepens a touch. "Besides, there are showers on that level. If I'm there anyway, I might as well avail myself."
Part of Ianto's charm is the paradox of him. He's a thief, able to slip in anywhere and take anything, but he speaks and dresses—when not on the job or in private—like someone's middle-aged butler. He likes to read the stock prices every morning before breakfast, but he knows how to rappel down elevator shafts and frequently crawls around in sewers. Healthy as a horse and very conscious of his body's fitness, and yet won't as much as look at a vegetable unless Suzie forces him to.
Suzie loves him like the family she's never really had, adores him in a way that is entirely too codependent to be entirely rational, and yet she knows that she will never, ever have to doubt or even question that he feels the same.
Jack comes out of sleep slowly, feeling wonderfully drowsy and relaxed, even if he is currently face down on a pile of budgeting reports. He sighs and stretches, sitting up in his chair and twisting his head to get the kinks out of his neck.
But as he does, a flicker of black in the polished metal shade of his desk lamp distracts him.
He leans forward with a frown, trying to get a better look, and the frown only deepens when he realizes that the streak of black is attachedto him, smeared across his reflection in the mirror-bright surface. Another moment of study, a careful squint, and the smear resolves into words.
"Oh, come on," Jack groans, sinking back in his seat in disbelief, but there's no change. Someone's gone and scrawled, "Can't sleep, paperwork will eat me" across his face in black marker and big, bold words.
Rolling his eyes so hard it hurts—because sometimes he can't tell if he's defending the world or corralling toddlers—he lifts a hand to see if the marking will rub off, and promptly smacks himself in the head with the pen that his fingers entirely fail to drop.
Superglue, Jack determines darkly, observing how the implement has been positioned exactly the way he holds it to sign his name. Someone's gone and super-glued the blasted thing to his hand.
No remorse. No pity. Someone is going to pay for this.
Jack stalks down the stairs with all the (admittedly tattered) dignity he can muster. It helps nothing at all that Suzie takes one look at him and gives what in a less restrained person would probably be a whoop of laughter.
"Is it very scary paperwork, Jack?" she asks, grinning fiendishly.
Jack narrows his eyes at her, and her face immediately rearranges itself into an expression of absolute innocence—which, on her, might as well be a confession of guilt, because Suzie and innocence are completely unable to exist in the same place. It would cause some sort of singularity, should it ever happen. That or a black hole.
"You," he growls, going to level a finger at her and only realizing when it's already up that the pen is still attached. There's another muffled round of snickers.
"Me?" Suzie asks sweetly. "Oh, but Captain, I was sitting here the whole time. Ask anyone."
"She's right, Jack," Gwen says almost apologetically, despite her grin, from her new desk off to the side. "We've all been here."
The others Jack might doubt, but they haven't had a chance to corrupt Gwen and turn her against him yet. Still, he sweeps a narrow-eyed look around the room, carefully not lingering on Owen's maliciously delighted grin or Tosh's carefully hidden giggles, before alighting on Suzie once more.
His eyes narrow even further.
Suzie, whose best friend is a thief with infiltration skills to make Tosh swoon.
So that's the answer, then.
He blows out a long, slow breath, pinching the bridge of his nose, and then levels a flat look at his second in command. "Really?" he asks. "Really? You hired your pet thief to break into the Hub and draw on me?"
Suzie grins, even as she shakes her head and raises one hand to her chest as though to ask who, me? "I don't know what you're talking about, Captain," she says, despite the gleeful cheer in her voice. "Though, even if I did, Ianto would never take payment from a friend in dire need. It would be a favor between flatmates. Not, mind you, that I asked for any favors, or plan to. I'm just saying." Another bright smile, and she turns back to her budgeting, humming under her breath.
Jack hates her. He really, truly does. He hates all of them. Hartman's mindless minions would never have dreamed of doing anything like this.
(And he didn't even get to catch a glimpse of Ianto in his sneaking outfit of tight black jeans and a black turtleneck, either, which might as well be a grave crime against humanity. That body requires appreciation, it's a law of the universe.)
Gwen meets Ianto for the time during the ghost machine case. They're in the middle of hunting down Bernie and have just staggered back to the Hub for dinner, and it's fairly miserable. Even Jack looks run-down, and Gwen's never seen that before. They all but fall through the cog door and towards the main area, and then Jack comes to a stop so sudden that Gwen runs right into his back. When she manages to peel her face out of his coat—and what aftershave does he even use, to still smell this good after the day they've had?—and lean around his broad shoulders, she blinks.
There's a man perched on the corner of Suzie's desk, lean and pale and dark-haired, dressed entirely in black. He's tossing something from hand to hand, faintly smug, and watching them with amusement.
Suzie makes a sound nearly akin to a happy yelp and shoves past Owen, Gwen, and Jack, nearly tipping Gwen into Tosh's station as she darts by and then up the stairs to her area. "Ianto!" she say, and there's a true grin on her face.
Gwen is confused. She's had Suzie pegged as a cold, calculating woman with a heart of iron, and not…someone who hugs in public, as she's doing now.
"Suzie," the man—apparently Ianto—returns, and the smugness is gone from his expression, replaced by something soft and kind and very, very fond. "Did you have a good day, then?"
Suzie pulls back and snorts. Gwen feels Jack stiffen, and has to bite back a grin when she remembers that the only reason the Captain was even out looking with them was because, when he'd ordered them to search Splott for the missing thief, Suzie had settled herself in front of him like a boxer preparing to go a few rounds, and ordered him to lead the way.
"Glorious," the second-in-command answers dryly. "Why do you ask?"
With a quick flash of a grin—something bright and sweet which makes him look years younger—Ianto twists his wrist, flips whatever he's holding to the other hand, and offers it up to Suzie like a sacrifice. "Milady," he purrs, dipping his head in what should look like a parody of a bow, but somehow manages to be elegant and humble.
Suzie crows. There's no other term for it. She crows and throws her arms around the man, then pulls back, grabs the device, and whacks him in the shoulder. "You couldn't have called me?" she demands. "Before we had to spend an entire day dragging around Splott?"
"I believe real estate agents pronounce it Splo," Ianto answers, blandly pleasant, which isn't an answer at all.
Finally, Jack seems to shake off his surprise—though whether that surprise is at Suzie acting like this or at the man's appearance, Gwen can't tell—and steps forward, calling, "Suzie? Got something?"
The woman turns, as though she's forgotten they were even there, and then nods, holding up the thing she was given. "Ianto got the other piece of the device," she offers.
"And the other alien things the boy was hoarding," Ianto puts in, sliding off the desk to stand at Suzie's shoulder. He's tall, and sounds fully Welsh and entirely competent. "I also had a few friends speak with him about ill-thought-out robberies and muscling in on previously claimed territory. He won't do it again, I'm sure."
Suzie twists to look at him, one elegant brow arching imperiously. "Ianto. Friends?"
"Friends," Ianto echoes, promptly and firmly, with a countering eyebrow arch and a flicker of an obscure hand gesture that clearly means something only to the two of them.
Suzie gives him a weary and long-suffering look that implies she is most certainly judging his life choices, but rolls her eyes and lets it drop. Then she notices Gwen's wide-eyed look and smiles, just a bit. "Gwen," she says, and while it's not quite kind it could definitely be more malicious. Gwen had heard Suzie's protests to having another person—and a constable—on their team, and she tries not to let it twinge. From what she's seen, Suzie is entirely dedicated to Torchwood and her job, and that makes it…more all right.
"Yes?" Gwen asks, a bit warily, as she steps around Jack.
Suzie snorts at her a little, as though she's amusing, and then grabs Ianto and drags him down the stairs to the rest of them. Ianto bears it with dignity and what is quite obviously lots of practice. When Suzie stops, she kicks Ianto gently in the ankle and says, "Gwen Cooper, Ianto Jones. Ianto, Gwen's the policewoman I was telling you about. Gwen, Ianto is a contract thief Torchwood hires sometimes."
Torchwood has a contract thief. Of course they do.
"Charmed," Ianto say, but not like he means it. His eyes are still straying towards Suzie, and Gwen wonders what's between them, how they fit together, because it's obvious that they do, just not how. Like puzzle pieces that mesh so perfectly that she can't see the edges.
"Likewise," she answers, trying to smile, but she's just so bloody confused and she has been since the first time she caught sight of Captain Jack Harkness sweeping into a crime scene. It's been much harder than she thought it would, back when she had noble ideas of helping people and defending the world against aliens.
Torchwood's not much like she'd thought it would be, and neither is Jack.
But clearly she's about the only one who cares, because Ianto is half-turning to look at the Captain with a small smile on his lips, and he's bloody gorgeous too in a mysterious, nearly sinister kind of way. He raises an eyebrow at Jack and says slyly, "You know, for a bit of a consulting fee I'd be more than happy to tell you where you need to cover your arses, security-wise."
Jack's grin is sudden and brilliant, like sheet lightning, and he offers the other man his arm with a bit of a flourish. "Oh?" he purrs. "And what about non-security-wise?"
Ianto rolls his eyes, even as he accepts the proffered elbow. "In that regard, your arse is your own business, Captain," he returns dryly, but the tips of his ears are crimson. "I'm afraid I've no say in it."
"But would you like to?" Jack presses shamelessly, leading him away up the stairs.
The Torchwood team watches them go. Tosh, for one, looks faintly concerned. "Should we…chaperone?" she asks after a moment, sounding as though she can't believe she's even suggesting it. "Jack…"
"Harkness looks like he's going to eat sneak-boy alive," Owen finishes bluntly, rolling his own eyes a bit. Gwen can't help but agree, despite the faint waves of jealousy twisting through her.
Suzie laughs at all of them, scoffing and amused. "Ianto's more than capable of looking out for himself," she reminds them. "If anything, I'd worry about Jack getting in over his head." Owen levels a flatly incredulous look at her, and she snorts. "Not just Ianto. I'm here, too. If Jack thinks he can lead him on, or something like that, we'll be having words."
The threat is clear, and Suzie manages to look both intimidating and entirely settled in her menace as she turns and heads back up to her desk.
Gwen can't help but wonder, just a little, what she's really gotten herself in to.