Disclaimers:  I do not own Torchwood or any of its characters.  I am making no money from this and am doing this purely for
entertainment purposes only.

Notes:  Just a idea that's been poking around in the back of my mind for a while now.


Ianto's hands shook as he tightened the knot of his tie.  A turbulent mixture of nerves and nausea left him trembling.  He had
every right to be nervous though.  This was his last chance, his only chance at making things right.

Lisa was gone.  Dead.  Ianto had nothing left.  He couldn't lose Torchwood as well.

He didn't want to be retconned.  Torchwood was all that he had.  He only wanted to make up for what he had done, to try and
atone for the errors he had made.

They would never trust him again, he was certain of that.  Jack was allowing him back, but only on a temporary basis.  If the
team couldn't work with him then he was a liability, useless.  If he didn't find a way to earn their forgiveness he wouldn't be
there for much longer.  Perhaps he could convince Jack to keep him on in the archives alone.  He could stay down there, hidden
away and forgotten.  None of the others would ever need see him again.  They'd never really seen him before anyway.

The team's reactions to his return were unsurprising given the reason for his suspension.  Tosh was wary of him.  She made a
point not to be alone with him and would find something else to do if it looked as if he might attempt to talk with her.  Owen
was his usual snarky self, throwing out harsh comments and demands for more coffee.  Gwen, well she plain ignored his
existence.  And Jack ... well, Ianto didn't have much to go by with Jack.  The man rarely seemed to be in the Hub when Ianto
was.  Even when he was there, his office door was almost always closed and Ianto knew better than to enter when he clearly
wasn't wanted.

The days passed and Ianto immersed himself in work.  He was only grateful that he was being allowed to stay.  He worked
harder than ever, keeping the archives organized and cleaning up after the others.  He made coffee when needed and ordered in
food.  He never ate with them though.  Ianto knew that he wasn't welcome.  He was the outsider again, worse than when he'd
first started because now he was the traitor as well.  Conversations stopped whenever he stepped into a room.  Smiles and
laughter slipped away.  He ignored the pain in his own chest at the subtle dismissals and stayed away, lingering on the fringes
and doing what he was best at, being the invisible butler.

Ianto came in early and went home late.  He never complained, doing everything that he could to make amends.  The Weevils
and other residents in the cells were fed before six every morning.  The cells themselves were cleaned on alternating days.  After
that, he took care of Myfanwy.  She always greeted him with a nudge to his chest.  A glutton for attention, she was.  At least
someone was happy he was around.

The first round of coffee followed inmate care.  Generally, it was only Jack and Tosh in at that hour of the day.  He left their
beverages on the edges of their desks and slipped away without a word.  He never noticed the lingering looks each of them
passed his way as he slunk back to his dusty archives.

When Owen and Gwen arrived, not at the same time, of course, it was time for another round of coffee.  He skulked at the back
of the conference room for the daily morning meeting, pretending to tidy up.  On some days he would sit though and stare
resolutely at the pristine table he took painstaking care to keep well-shined.  As soon as the meeting was called to a close, he was
off to the next thing that needed his attention.

He didn't have the time to stop.  If he stopped, he'd have to think, to consider how empty and meaningless his life had become.

His days passed this way, one melding into another.  His life stretched on, his heart broken and empty even while it continued to
beat.  He didn't understand why his body wouldn't wither away faster.  His soul had already long since crumbled and turned to

He was wiping the kitchen counter clean when a coughing fit brought him to a stop.  Ianto wrapped his arms around his
stomach, then raised one trembling hand to his mouth in an attempt to stifle himself.  Painful spasms swept up across his
stomach and chest and as he was finally able to draw in a breath, he heard a frankly disturbing crackling sound high in his
chest.  He ignored it as he had every other time it happened.  Whatever it was, it didn't matter.  No one would care if he dropped
dead now.  Well, maybe his sister would care.  He wondered what Jack would tell her, then cast the thought away as
immaterial.  It wasn't like he'd even get a funeral.  No, he'd be put into storage alongside the other former Torchwood
employees.  The drawer next to Suzie was empty, maybe Jack would file him away in there.

Sweeping his eyes around, he wasn't surprised to find that the Hub was devoid of life.  He often found himself alone in the Hub.  
He stayed late into the night and arrived before dawn every day.  No one noticed or cared whether he was there or not.  He
didn't think they'd notice if he disappeared altogether.  Hell, he'd been sick for several days now and not one of them had
inquired into his well-being.  They'd notice a lack of coffee, that would be the only thing to alert them of his absence.

He was shaking as he carried out the remainder of his early morning duties.  The Weevils were fed and the Hub given a good
tidy.  All that was left was cleaning out Myfanwy's nest and feeding her, followed by the first round of coffee for himself and
whoever arrived.

He rubbed the back of his hand across his forehead, feeling faintly lightheaded.  He closed his eyes against it, rallying together
the dregs of his remaining stamina.  Feeling marginally more composed, he tucked a bar of dark chocolate into a suit pocket and
headed over to a ladder that would take him up into the scaffolding and to Myfanwy's nest.  The cleaning supplies he needed
were in a bucket beneath the nest, waiting for him to pull them up using the pulley he'd set up for just this purpose.  It was too
difficult and dangerous to scale the ladder and carry everything up in his arms.

Myfanwy greeted him as she always did.  She nudged her head against his chest.  Moving cautiously, always wary of startling
her, he stroked his hand down her head and along her beak, feeling a modicum of pride in knowing that he was the only one
who could get close to her like this.  Not even Jack was daring enough to pet her.  Perhaps because she still remembered that
Jack had been the one to jab her with that needle when they'd caught her.  She would always snap her beak at him and fly away
before he could get within reach.

"Good morning to you, too," Ianto greeted with a croaking voice.

He retrieved his supplies and set about tidying up the nest.  There really wasn't much to do; removing the remains of animal
carcasses, disposing of soiled nesting materials.  He replaced what he took, dumping a bag loaded with twigs and straw and one
of his old shirts.  Myfanwy would take care of placing each piece where she wanted them.  As it was, she was already tearing
the ruined shirt into more manageable strips.

Ianto snapped off the disposable gloves he had worn and tossed them in with the rest of the trash.  A cough tickled at the back
of his throat.  He tried to ignore it, but it burst forth despite his best efforts.  Covering his mouth with one hand, he bent
forward, his free arm going around his middle in a futile attempt to lessen the pain left behind by each jarring hack.  Sweat
beaded on his face and shivers wracked his hurting frame, but no matter how hard he tried he couldn't stifle the coughs this
time.  Each time he tried to draw in air, it only wheezed out of him again.

He collapsed to his knees in Myfanwy's nest, deaf to her screeches.  He couldn't breathe.  His heart rate picked up, threatening
to burst out of his chest.  Was this how he was going to die?  Asphyxiation in a pterodactyl's nest?  He briefly wondered if she
would eat him.  And then finally, blissful oblivion claimed him.


Jack climbed out of his bunker with a weary yawn.  Another long night of Weevil hunting.  Two of them had taken roost in a
mall.  He'd found them ravaging the food court.  He didn't even remember how he'd gotten them both back to the Hub.  They
were now occupying a pair of cells next to Janet's.  He'd have Owen check them out and see about releasing them back to the
sewers.  But right now, he could do with a coffee.

He looked around the vacant Hub.  It was quiet.  Well, as quiet as the Hub ever got.  There were the ever-present noises of the
computers, the trickling of the water down the tower from the fountain above, the sound of Myfanwy up in her nest.  Actually,
Myfanwy was making more noise than usual.  How strange.  He wondered what had gotten into her.

He had the vague sensation that something was wrong.  It took him another look around for him to realize what it was.  There
was no sign of Ianto.

Ever since his return from suspension, Ianto had become quiet and withdrawn.  He interacted with the other members of the
team, only so much as he had to in order to perform his job.  Jack knew all the blame for this disassociation couldn't be placed
on Ianto's shoulders alone.  Owen was angry, so he lashed out in the easiest way, with his cruel mouth.  Tosh was nervous.  
She wanted to help, to reach out to Ianto, but she didn't know how, so she did nothing.  Gwen just wasn't sure what to do, but
she took her cues from the others and that in turn led to her shunning Ianto as well.  Jack was at a loss as to what to do.  It was
true that he felt hurt by Ianto's betrayal, but he couldn't truly blame the man for what he'd done.  All he'd wanted to do was save
someone he'd loved.  Jack could understand that.  He didn't like that Ianto had hidden things from him, that he'd lied and
endangered the lives of billions, but he could understand his reasons.  And because of that, Jack just couldn't bring himself to
hate the young man.  Ianto had acted like a blinded fool and he'd have to live with the consequences of his actions for the rest of
his life.

He felt awkward around Ianto now.  It was easier to shut himself away in his office, to look away when his coffee was
unerringly delivered on time, to find something, anything, to do whenever he found himself in a room with Ianto.  He couldn't
look at Ianto and not remember the flirtations, the sidelong glances he'd hoped had meant something.  Jack had mistaken Ianto's
attitude for nervous attraction, when he'd only been trying to conceal his half-converted girlfriend in the basement, worried more
for hiding his lies than trying to ignore a blossoming romance.  That had hurt as well.  Jack had been hoping all of that witty
banter would lead to more, quite possibly involving a bed and tangled sheets and sweaty bodies.  Instead, he'd found himself
facing the barrel of a gun and staring into terrified eyes.  The calm demeanor had been gone, all masks shattered in the light of
the truth.

Jack knew now that he should have done more.  He shouldn't have threatened Ianto.  He should have offered help instead of
condemnation.  He should have consoled the suffering man who'd crumbled to the ground amidst the remnants of his girlfriend
and some poor delivery girl who'd been in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Instead, he'd ordered Ianto to clean up and then
banned him from the Hub for a month.  It was a miracle Ianto hadn't killed himself.

Jack checked his watch.  Almost seven.  Ianto was nothing if not punctual.  He should be making coffee by now, after having
taken care of the Weevils and Myfanwy.  But he wasn't here.  Had he not come in?  No, that couldn't be right.  He could see
signs that Ianto had tidied up already.  The mess Jack had made of one of the kitchen counters when he'd fixed a hurried meal in
the middle of the night had been washed away.  The dishes were washed, the counters practically sparkling.  No, Ianto had been
here.  Then where was he now?

Myfanwy's screeching seemed to grow louder.  Jack looked up and it was like a light switch had been flipped in his head.  He
could just barely see the bucket Ianto used for his cleaning supplies up there in the scaffolding.  So Ianto had gone up there.  If
the way Myfanwy was acting was any indication, then something had gone wrong.

Jack didn't stop to think about it.  Instead, he ran for the ladder and hastily climbed the rungs.  He was hoping he was wrong,
that maybe Ianto had just gotten an early start in the archives and had lost track of time.  But those hopes were dashed as he
approached Myfanwy's nest and saw the crumbled form of the archivist.

Jack restrained himself from running to Ianto's side, not sure what Myfanwy would do if he made such sudden movements.  
She was standing over the fallen man, nudging at his unresponsive body with her long beak and squawking loudly when he didn't
so much as make a move or a sound.  Jack's mind was whirling with a variety of scenarios.  Had Myfanwy somehow hurt
Ianto?  Or was there something else wrong with the young man?

"Easy, girl," Jack said soothingly, raising his hands as he took cautious steps forward.

Myfanwy screeched and snapped her beak at him.  Jack jerked back and grimaced.  He had a feeling this wasn't going to be
easy.  It almost seemed as if Myfanwy was actually trying to protect Ianto, which meant that Jack had to be very careful in how
he approached the young man.

Jack slowly dropped into a crouch, then went down on his hands and knees.  He hoped that Myfanwy wouldn't see him as a
threat this way, that she'd let him get close enough to be of some help to the collapsed man.  He inched his way forward,
splitting his attention between Ianto and his prehistoric protector.  As he inched his way into the nest, he became aware of a
harsh rasping sound.  But it wasn't until he managed to grasp one boney shoulder and roll the unconscious man onto his back
that he realized it was the sound of Ianto's wheezing, strained breaths.

"Well, that doesn't sound good," Jack murmured to himself.

Ianto didn't look so good either.  His pallor was waxy and pale.  His lips, dry and cracked, were colorless.  If not for the rise and
fall of his chest and the grating sound of his breath, Jack might have thought him dead.  Pressing his fingers to the Welshman's
throat, he was relieved to note a steady pulse.

"Ianto?" Jack asked as he shook the man's shoulder.  Myfanwy squawked again and Jack flinched away from her.  However, he
was gratified by the fact that Ianto did moan.  "Ianto," Jack called again.  "Come on, Ianto.  I need you to wake up."  He
refrained from touching the other man, worried that Myfanwy would attack him if he did.

The young Welshman groaned again and began to cough.  The coughs sounded wet and harsh.  Ianto rolled onto his side,
curling in on himself.  "J-Jack?" he wheezed weakly.

Jack backed up a bit, putting some distance between himself and Myfanwy.  "Ianto, I need you to get up and come to me.  
Myfanwy won't let me near you."

Shaking and obviously sick, Ianto pushed himself onto his hands and knees.  He tried to get up, only to crumble again.  "I'm
sorry, Sir.  I-I don't think I can," Ianto said, raising a trembling hand to his forehead.  "I feel dizzy."  He dropped his hand and
lay still.

Jack scrubbed a hand down over his face.  "Then crawl to me.  Can you do that, Ianto?"

Ianto was silent for a worrying amount of time, so long that Jack thought he had slipped into unconsciousness.  Then, slowly
and carefully, Ianto got onto his hands and knees again.  It was slow going.  Ianto was weak and disoriented.  He had a difficult
time, his body shaking and head hanging low, the wheezing rasp of his breaths worrying Jack.  He practically collapsed once he
reached Jack.

Still wary of upsetting Myfanwy, Jack cautiously aided Ianto to his feet.  Up close, Ianto looked far worse than Jack had initially
thought.  When Jack pulled him up, he swayed alarmingly.  "I still have to feed her, Sir," Ianto murmured, then began to turn
back toward the prehistoric beast who was making quite the ruckus.

At that moment, his knees buckled and he would have dropped if Jack hadn't caught him around the waist.  "I think she can wait
a little longer," Jack said.  

Then he thought of something and began to gently pat at Ianto's jacket.  He would have smiled when he found the one he
wanted, but the situation was too serious even for him.  Ianto was ill.  Jack needed to get him down from this scaffolding before
the Welshman's strength completely fled him.

Sliding the chocolate bar from Ianto's pocket, he made quick work of unwrapping it and tossed it in the air toward the agitated
pterodactyl.  She caught it with the ease of long-practice.  Jack had seen Ianto toss chocolate bars to her in much the same way
on several occasions.  It was the last thing he always did with her, so if Jack was right and she had learned her behavior through
strict routines, then she would let Ianto get on with the rest of his day.  If he wasn't lucky, then she'd be quite miffed about not
getting fed anything other than that bar of dark chocolate.

Finishing her treat, Myfanwy gave a loud screech.  Then she pressed the length of her beak to Ianto's chest and seemed to
almost delicately nuzzle him.  In reality, the force of the action nearly toppled Ianto.  Jack's hands at his waist were the only
things keeping him steady.  He watched as Ianto carefully stroked his long fingers down along Myfanwy's beak.  It amazed him
that Ianto could get so close to her, that she would let him pet her like this when Jack himself couldn't get within arm's length of

"Come on, let's get you down from here," Jack said, guiding the quaking Welshman out of the nest and across the scaffolding to
the ladder.

Ianto curled his hand around one bar and pressed his forehead to the cool metal.  He closed his eyes.  "I can't," he wheezed, then
coughed harshly, one hand clinging to the metal support and the other curled around his middle.  When he regained the ability to
breathe, his face was flushed red and his voice was a weak croak.  "I'll fall."

Jack brushed his hand across sweat-damp dark curls.  "No you won't," he assured.  "I won't let you."

He swung himself out onto the ladder.  Holding himself steady with one hand, he curled his other around Ianto's back and drew
him closer.  Ianto was slow and cautious.  His foot missed the ladder's rung the first time he tried to step out onto it, but Jack
was there to keep him from falling, just as he'd promised.  He helped Ianto, sliding his arm around Ianto's waist and keeping it
there even after Ianto was firmly on the ladder and holding on tight.

"We'll take this slowly," Jack said, tightening his arm a fraction in a gesture of reassurance.  "One rung at a time."

"I'm so tired," Ianto whispered, forehead resting against one of the rungs.

"We'll be down soon.  Just stay with me a little longer."

Ianto said nothing.

With gentle urging, Jack coaxed Ianto into shifting his weight down to the next rung.  Step by step, they descended the ladder.  
They moved with deliberate slowness; Jack, because he didn't want to rush it and risk Ianto slipping, and Ianto because he
simply could not move any faster.

They were nearly to the bottom when Jack heard the sirens blare as the cog wheel door rolled open.  Ianto started, his foot
slipping, but Jack was there to catch him and make sure he didn't fall.  "It's all right.  I've got you," Jack soothed as Ianto was
enveloped by another coughing fit.  He'd already had a few of those and each one was causing Jack more worry.

"Jack?  What's going on?" Toshiko called out, approaching the bottom of the ladder in a hurry.  "Ianto?"

"Be right down, Tosh," Jack said.  He was waiting for the Welshman's coughing to subside before resuming their descent.

Tosh stayed right where she was.  She even reached out to help steady Ianto once they had moved far enough down to be
within reach of her hands.  "What happened?" she asked, pressing the inside of her wrist to the Welshman's forehead.

Ianto flinched away from her touch, then tried to hide the involuntary action by lowering his head.  Neither Tosh nor Jack were
fooled by his attempted cover.  Tosh met Jack's eyes, shooting him a look filled with confusion and concern, even as Ianto
grumbled, "Sick."

"I think that's an understatement," Jack declared.  He kept his arm around Ianto's waist while Tosh took hold of his arm.  
Together, they escorted Ianto down into Owen's domain.

"I'll be fine," Ianto argued, weakly trying to break out of their grasps.  "You don't need to go to any trouble over me."

"Nonsense," Tosh said.  She looked to Jack after they helped Ianto up onto the metal table.  "Should I call Owen?"

Jack checked his watch.  It was still early and Owen would more than likely bitch and moan about it.  But one look at Ianto
steadied his resolve.  "Yeah," he said, laying a palm against one far-too-pale cheek.  The skin was damp and hot.  Ianto was
sitting before him shivering, the rasping of his breaths broken only by harsh coughing.  He barely noticed as Tosh disappeared to
make the call.

Within fifteen minutes Owen was entering the Hub.  Jack had managed to get Ianto laying down, although the younger man had
protested despite his exhaustion.  He had fallen into a light doze twice now, both times only to be cruelly awoken by the
coughing that plagued him.

Jack stood by Ianto's side while Owen examined him.  Tosh hovered at the railing above them, looking down.  She was soon
joined by Gwen who arrived halfway through the examination.  All were waiting in tense expectation of Owen's prognosis.

Owen casually draped his stethoscope over his shoulders.  "He's got the flu," he stated.  "And just for laughs, a smashing case of
bronchitis as well."

"Will he be okay?" Gwen asked anxiously, gripping the railing with bone-white fingers.

Owen snorted.  "Kid's a bloody idiot.  He's not been eating right.  Look."  He spread open Ianto's shirt, exposing his chest and
abdomen.  Everyone got a glimpse of milk-white skin and a ribcage that shouldn't be quite so visible.

Ianto's trembling fingers swept the shirt shut again and he fumbled to fasten the buttons.  "I'm fine," he uttered in a pained
whisper, managing only two buttons before the shaking of his hands became too much.  Jack took over, gently brushing aside
Ianto's fingers and deftly slipping each button through their appropriate holes.

"Like hell you are!" Owen spat.  "You're sick!  You're skin and bones!  Fuck, you're anemic!"

"Owen!" Jack snapped.  He dropped a hand on the doctor's shoulder and pushed him a step back away from Ianto, moving
himself in-between them at the same time.

Dropping his head, Owen snagged a hand through his hair.  He let out an annoyed breath.  "Right, yeah.  It's just, I should have
seen this, you know?"  He looked up at Jack, clearly frustrated.  "I'm his bloody doctor, I should have seen this.  This illness
didn't just jump him out of nowhere.  He's been sick a while."

Jack squeezed Owen's shoulder.  He knew exactly how the man felt.  "You're not the only one who missed this."  He looked
around at the others, meeting eyes that all reflected guilt and regret.  Then he looked at Ianto, who was sitting there, barely
awake or aware of his surroundings.  "We won't let it happen again," he assured his team.  "We'll take care of him."

"Of course we will," Gwen added enthusiastically.

"What do we need to do?" Tosh asked.

Ianto listed to one side and Jack was barely in time to catch him before he dropped.  He gently lowered the Welshman onto his
side, and pulled a thin blanket over him.  "I think he needs a proper bed," Jack commented.

"Better get him home then," Owen put in.

Gwen came down the stairs, followed by Tosh.  "Shouldn't he stay here?" Gwen asked, looking between the three men.  "We
can keep a better eye on him if he's here."

Owen shook his head.  "This is no place to recover.  What he needs first and foremost is bed rest.  If he's here he's likely to get
up and start cleaning or something, stubborn bastard that he is."  He grabbed a bag and started filling it with supplies.  "I want
him home, in bed with an IV line.  Then I want him fed and properly medicated.  He'll be miserable for a while, but he should be

Jack rubbed his hand along Ianto's arm.  The Welshman moaned, then began to cough again.  He curled inward, wrapping his
arms around himself.  Jack moved his hand up and down Ianto's back, trying to offer what little comfort he could.

"Can't you give him something for that?" Tosh asked.

"Afraid not.  He needs to cough to clear out the mucus," Owen said.  "I can give him some antivirals, that might help him, but
cough suppressants are right out.  If anything I'll give him an expectorant, make his coughs more productive.  Aside from that,
the best I can do is treat the symptoms - the fever and the muscle aches he's bound to have - with paracetamol.  The IV he'll be
on will help with the dehydration.  And I want him to eat as soon as possible, or I might have to do it intravenously.  I'd rather
not be forced to do that."

Ianto's coughing slowly eased.  He stayed curled in a ball, his red-rimmed eyes glassy and wet.  He looked to be the perfect
picture of misery.  After a moment, he twisted his fingers in the blanket that had been thrown over him and pulled it higher,
tighter around his body.  He was shivering badly.

Jack clapped his hands, then regretted it as Ianto jumped at the sharp unexpected sound.  He patted the Welshman on the
shoulder.  "Gwen, I want you and Tosh to do some shopping.  Tissues, soup and other such necessities.  You know, the usual.  
Owen and I will escort Ianto back to his place and get him comfy.  Meet us there."  He looked down at his wrist strap and
pressed a few buttons.  "Don't worry about the Rift.  Any alerts will come directly to me."

Gwen and Tosh headed off.  Jack helped Ianto to sit up.  He brought the blanket up around Ianto's shoulders, then gently
cupped his cheek.  "Don't worry, we'll have you home and in bed soon."

"You shouldn't go to all the trouble, Sir," Ianto said weakly.  He ducked his head and wiped at his teary eyes.  "I can take care of

Owen let out a laugh.  "Right.  Because you've done such a brilliant job so far!"

"Lay off of him, Owen."  Jack helped him up and wrapped a steadying arm around his waist.

With a derisive huff, Owen returned his attention to packing his supplies.  He shut the bag more roughly than was strictly
necessary.  "Come on, let's get going."


Ianto slept off and on for the entire trip to his flat.  Not that it was a long trip.  Ianto lived within ten minutes of the Hub.  Owen
sat in the back of the SUV with him, keeping an eye on their ill co-worker while Jack drove.

Jack had never been to Ianto's flat before, although he did know the address.  He counted that as an oversight on his part.  He
should have taken more interest, put some effort into looking in on Ianto during his suspension.  Maybe they could have avoided
this if Ianto had thought he could trust Jack or any of the others, that he could come to one of them when he'd first gotten ill.  
Maybe he wouldn't have been so bad off now.  He might not be sick at all if he'd been able to turn to them.  Surely his poor diet
had weakened his immunity and aided the virus infecting him.

Jack gripped the steering wheel and cursed his own stupidity.  He should have done more, especially after that whole
Cyberwoman incident.  He'd make it right now.  Ianto wouldn't be ignored or cast aside as unimportant any longer.

He parked the SUV, then got out to help Ianto.  Owen sneered at the buildings around them.  "This place is a slum," he spat.  He
grabbed his bag of supplies and dragged an IV hanger out as well.  "Better lock up the SUV.  Might not be enough though.  Bet
the tyres will be gone by the time we come out."  He gave Ianto a look.  "Why would you want to live here, Tea-boy?"

Ianto shrugged a little.  "It's close to work.  And cheap.  I wasn't looking for anything more."  He looked down at his shoes.  "I
had other things on my mind."

Jack understood the unspoken meaning.  Ianto had had plenty of things to think of.  At the top of that very short list had been
Lisa.  Jack knew better than to bring her up now.

"Come on, let's get you inside," Jack urged, helping Ianto inside.

"I'll be fine on my own," Ianto said, trying to draw away.  "I can manage on my own from here."

"Nonsense," Jack replied, tightening his hold a fraction.  He didn't know why Ianto was pulling away now.  But then, he hadn't
been so eager for help in the Hub either.  Was he hiding something?  Well, they'd find out soon enough.

Once inside the Welshman's home, Owen seemed to be having trouble voicing his mind.  His mouth kept opening and closing,
but no sound seemed to be coming out.  Jack himself was having difficulty wrapping his mind around the sight of Ianto's flat.

"There's nothing here!" Owen finally shouted.

There was no denying that Owen was right.  The flat was small, and if not for one thing, Jack might have considered it quite
nice.  The problem was, that there was no furniture.  There was nothing, no chairs or tables, not even a rug on the bare wood
floor.  Nor were there any decorations.  There were no paintings or pictures, no knickknacks or anything to make this place feel
like a home.  There was simply nothing here.  It was like no one lived here.

"This is where you live?" Jack asked softly.  Even his bunker under the Hub was more homey than this place.

Ianto's voice was just as quiet.  "Yes, Sir."

"Please don't tell me you stayed here during your suspension."  Jack didn't know whether he was begging for his own sake, or
for Ianto's.  This place was just tragic.  Why hadn't he checked up on Ianto before?  How could he have been so blind?

"I did."

"Christ," Owen muttered.  

The medic stalked into the small kitchen area and yanked open the fridge.  He slammed it shut a second later, then turned his
attention to the cupboards.  Every slamming door spoke volumes.  When Owen yanked out his mobile and called Tosh, it was
hardly surprising.

"Yeah, Tosh, make sure you buy some food while you're out.  Tea-Boy doesn't seem to know how to keep his pantry stocked."

Jack left Owen to his conversation.  "Is your bedroom through there?" he asked, nodding toward a door at the end of a short
hallway.  There was a second door, but it was partly open and Jack could see tiling on the floor and judged it to be a bathroom.

"Yes, Sir," Ianto murmured.

He helped Ianto shamble his way to the bedroom.  This room was only a slight bit better.  At the very least there was a bed in
the room.  But it was a tiny thing, a standard single and it was just a metal frame with a mattress on it.  Again there was no
decoration, nothing to liven it up.  It was a cold empty room, little better than a cell.

The wardrobe door was open a bit, exposing a row of suits and shirts on hangers.  On the floor there were boxes.  Against
another wall, there was a pile of more boxes, most of them labeled, 'Lisa'.

"Do you have pyjamas?" Jack asked.

"The boxes in the wardrobe."  Ianto sat on the very edge of the bed, staring down at his feet.

Jack went to wardrobe.  He rummaged through the neatly packed boxes until he came up with a pair of blue plaid flannel sleep
pants and a plain gray t-shirt.  He dropped them on the bed.

"Can you change on your own?"

Ianto nodded.  He covered his mouth with one hand and coughed.

Jack reluctantly left the room.  He found Owen in the kitchen, staring into a freezer that only contained a bottle of vodka and an
empty ice cube tray.

"Jesus, Jack," Owen hissed, closing the door and showing Jack the equally empty fridge.  All he saw inside was a jar of jam and
an expired container of milk.  "I've known university students with more stuff."

"We'll help him," Jack stated.

Owen ran a hand through his hair.  "How could we miss this?  Why didn't we see?"

"He was right about us," Jack admitted.  "We didn't care about anything but ourselves.  Didn't notice him until it was almost too

"And then we persecuted him, punished him by sending him here to this."  Owen waved around with an expansive gesture.  "For
a month.  And when he comes back, we ostracized him, turned our backs on him again."

Jack dropped his head and covered his face with one hand.  He was ashamed of his own behavior.  "He betrayed us.  But we
betrayed him right back.  We have to fix this, Owen.  All of us.  We have to fix this."

Owen was nodding.  "First off, let's get him put to bed so he can get some proper rest."

Jack winced.  "Yeah, about that."

"Please, tell me he does have a bed."

"If that's what you want to call it, then yes, it is a bed."  He gestured for Owen to proceed him into the room.

Owen gave him a narrowed glare, picked up his bag and entered the bedroom.  He froze in the doorway, his back stiff.  Then he
seemed to shake himself out of it and walked inside.  Jack was surprised by his restraint.

"Okay, Tea-Boy, let's get you settled."


Jack stood back and watched as Owen handled Ianto's medical care.  He helped whenever he was needed, but he more or less
just had to stand back and keep out of the medic's way.

Ianto was asleep long before Owen was finished.  They left the room together.  Owen waited until he'd closed the door before
speaking.  "We'll let him sleep until we have something for him to eat.  I want him to get as much rest as possible."

After that, all they could do was wait.  Soon enough, there was a knock on the door and Owen let in Tosh and Gwen.  They
took one look around at the empty flat and couldn't have had more differing responses.  Tosh looked as if she were about to cry
at the sight of it and Gwen cursed as colorfully as a sailor.

They stocked the fridge and the cupboards with the groceries they'd purchased.  Tosh began heating up some soup.  The others
stood nearby, close enough to include her in the conversation, as they discussed the problem at hand.

"We'll just have to show him that we won't ignore him anymore," Tosh said, stirring the soup in the slightly dented pot she had

No one could think of any reason to disagree.  Ianto Jones wouldn't just be the Torchwood butler anymore.  He was a member
of their team, a part of their family, and none of them would ever let him forget it.

The End

Author's Note:  I know it seems like an abrupt place to end the story, but I only intended them to realize their mistake.  I am
considering a sequel, but I don't have any concrete ideas as of yet.  For now, I'll mark this as complete, but if I do write the
sequel I'll add it on.