Torchwood Tower was huge, fifty floors above ground and he didn’t know how many basements and sub-basements below. Each floor was packed with offices, labs, utility rooms, and what seemed like miles of corridors. Ianto knew without a doubt that if he didn’t have such a good memory he would have been hopelessly lost within the first five minutes, just trying to find his department. That wouldn’t have made a very good impression on his first day.
Thankfully, the personnel department had also seen fit to issue all the new hires with a helpful handbook, complete with a map of the tower for reference. Which was why he wasn’t paying enough attention to where he was going.
He’d been checking his handbook in the lift, making sure he knew which way to go when he reached his floor, so when the doors opened, he just started forward without even glancing up. Next thing he knew, he was in a heap on the floor, on top of a very attractive dark-skinned woman. Horrified, he scrambled to his feet, blushing and stammering.
“Oh God, I’m so sorry, I’m new here, I should’ve been looking at you. I mean looking for you… um, looking out for people.” Her skirt had ridden up, exposing far more of her legs than she probably wanted to have on view and the sight was more than a little distracting. He held out one hand, realised it was the one with the handbook in and tried again with the other hand. “Please, let me help you up. Did you hurt your skirt? Er, yourself? I mean did I hurt you?” He was so flustered he didn’t even notice the way she smiled at him.
“Thank you.” She took his hand, graceful fingers curving around his, which suddenly seemed big and clumsy in comparison, and let him help her to her feet. “And no, you didn’t hurt me. To be honest, you’re not the only one who should have been paying better attention.” She straightened her skirt one-handed and Ianto felt a twinge of regret, quickly squashed. He was still holding on to her other hand and she wasn’t pulling away.
“Jones. Ianto. Um, that’s me. Data analysis. I’m new here.”
“I guessed that. Lisa Hallett, I’m in research, next floor up. Just came down to drop off some papers to your department. I wasn’t expecting to get bowled over in the process.”
“I’m so sorry, Ms Hallett, I can’t apologise enough.”
“It’s Lisa. And you can make it up to me by buying me lunch in the canteen. Meet me here at one thirty?”
“Okay, yes, I can do that. Thank you.”
Lisa laughed. “You’re cute when you’re flustered. See you later, Mr Jones.” She winked, the lift door closed, and she was gone.
Ianto reached up to run one hand through his hair and hit himself over the head with the handbook. He winced, hoping no one had seen that. What a disastrous start! On the other hand, he had a lunch date with a beautiful woman. Maybe his first day wouldn’t be so bad after all.
Lunch with Lisa was terrific. She was smart, funny, and knew a lot of the people in the tower. Their lunch hour passed in the blink of an eye as she regaled him with anecdotes about his new colleagues. Before he knew it, it was time to get back to work.
His job inputting data was proving to be interesting enough to prevent the routine tasks from becoming boring, and his attention to detail got him the approval of the department head, even if it didn’t really endear him to his new colleagues. He kept his head down, trying not to draw too much attention to himself, and the rest of the day flew past, but that was okay. Tomorrow he was having lunch with Lisa again.
Over the next couple of days, Ianto gradually became more familiar with the tower’s layout and better at finding his way around. It helped that the more senior members of his department were sending him on a lot of errands. He knew it was probably their way of paying him back for what they no doubt saw as him showing off on his first day, but they were inadvertently doing him a favour.
Lunch with Lisa was becoming a regular thing, and the highlight of his day. Now he just needed to get up the nerve to ask her out on a proper date. He hoped she wouldn’t say that she just wanted them to be friends.
On his fourth day, Ianto saw his first alien and it blew his mind. He’d been sent up to research to return some paperwork, hopeful that he might catch sight of Lisa, and instead he’d been directed to one of the labs. Stepping inside, he stopped dead staring at the creature lying on a table in the middle of the room. It was like nothing he’s ever seen before.
“The Cardiff branch calls them Weevils,” a voice said, off to his left. “Don’t worry, it’s dead. If it had been alive, it would have ripped your throat out by now. Vicious creatures, Weevils. No redeeming qualities whatsoever. You see those teeth? Sharp as razors. You wouldn’t want to stumble across one of these in a dark alley.”
“Wouldn’t want to run into one anywhere,” Ianto admitted as he handed over the files he’d brought with him. “Here’s the paperwork you sent down to the data department. I should get back to work.”
“You do that. You don’t want to get in trouble.”
That night, Ianto dreamed he was being chased by a Weevil, and woke with his heart pounding in terror. Monsters were real; now he knew some of what was out there, he wondered if he’d ever truly feel safe again.
Friday morning, Ianto found a note on his desk when he arrived for work, telling him to report to the firing range.
“I don’t understand. I’m a data analyst, not a field agent.”
“Doesn’t matter,” his friend Paul told him. “Everyone who works here is expected to be proficient with a gun, that means you have to take the firearms training class. Lasts six weeks, then if you pass you’ll be issued a handgun, which you’ll keep locked in your desk drawer and take down to the firing range once a month for target practice. Don’t worry about it, you’ll never have to actually use it on anyone.”
“That’s reassuring,” Ianto replied dryly, but he made his way down to the range with the other new hires as ordered and spent the morning learning more than he’d ever wanted to know about guns, and shooting paper targets that looked like a wide variety of aliens. Some aspects of his new job were seriously weird.
“Do you have a gun?” he asked Lisa over lunch.
“Of course, practically everyone here does, even the janitors.”
“Great, this must be the only place you could get shot for not disposing of rubbish properly.”
Lisa laughed. “I don’t think you’re in any danger,” she commented. “You’re the neatest person I’ve ever met. It’s one of the things I like about you.”
“Well,” emboldened by surviving his firearms lesson, Ianto decided to take the plunge. “Since you like me, how about going on a date with me? Maybe tonight?”
“Finally! I was beginning to think I’d have to ask you out. I’d love to, and tonight would be perfect. Pick me up at eight? I know this little club you’re gonna love.”
Ianto just smiled; things were definitely looking up. All things considered, it had ended up being a pretty successful first week. He just knew he was going to like it here.