“Look, we all know Harkness is gone and never comin’ back.” Owen sat on the edge of the table in the wreckage of the boardroom, swinging his feet. They’d gathered there instead of in Jack’s office because… Well, because it was Jack’s office and Jack wasn’t there. Using it would’ve seemed wrong somehow.
Ianto served coffee, handing each person their preferred mug. “Do we know that?” he asked mildly. “Because last I heard, Jack didn’t leave a message, so we don’t know anything for sure. Could be he didn’t expect to be away for long.”
“Or that he was taken,” Gwen interrupted. “If he’d known he was leaving he would have told me. Or one of us,” she added quickly on seeing the looks on the others’ faces. “He wouldn’t just leave of his own free will without saying anything to anyone. Jack’s not like that.”
“Who’re you tryin’ to kid, Gwen?” Owen sneered. “After what we did to him, why would he want to stay?”
“He forgave us.” Gwen crossed her arms over her ample chest, making it stick out further, as if that would somehow add authority to her statement.
“Forgiving is one thing; forgetting is another matter entirely,” Ianto reminded her. “We hurt him. He trusted us and we betrayed him. That’s not something anyone’s going to just shrug off, least of all Jack.”
“Whatever. He’s been gone four days already, no note, no phone call, not so much as a postcard. He’s not comin’ back,” Owen insisted stubbornly.
“We still don’t know that for certain, Owen.” Tosh set her mug down, removing her glasses and absently rubbing her eyes. They were all tired. “He could come back tomorrow, or next week!”
“Or never.” Owen wasn’t about to let go of his opinion. “Look, all I’m sayin’ is, he’s gone and left us, so even if by some slim chance he does come back at some point in the future, right now we have to act like he’s gone for good and get on with the job.”
“I’ll take charge,” Gwen volunteered. “I’m second in command.”
“Actually, Owen is second,” Ianto told her. “Seniority; he took over after Suzie.”
“But hasn’t Tosh been here longer than Owen?”
“Yes, but I’m not good at giving orders,” Tosh admitted. “Especially not in the field. I think Ianto should be in charge.”
“I’m not experienced enough at fieldwork. I don’t mind running things around the Hub, I do that already, but Owen’s the best choice to take charge in the field. He’s the most experienced field agent we have right now.”
“Right, so Tosh and Ianto can keep doing what they’ve been doing, I’ll take over Jack’s job, Owen and I can give orders in the field.” Gwen sounded like she thought that settled matters.
“That’s not a good idea. In the field one person needs to be in charge, and I’m with Ianto; it should be Owen,” Tosh said.
Owen shrugged. “I can do that. Gwen can do any liasing with members of the public and the authorities. I suck at that crap.”
Gwen didn’t look too happy about that, but she’d been out-voted three to one, so she accepted it for now. “Alright, so now that’s been decided, we should get on with our jobs. I’ll move my stuff into Jack’s office.”
“No.” It was one single word, spoken quietly, but it brooked no argument. Everyone turned to look at Ianto, who stared back steadily and calmly. “Jack is gone, that’s undeniable, but until we know for certain that he won’t be back, his office remains his. He has a lot of personal stuff in there and if he does come back tomorrow,” he nodded at Tosh, “or next week, how will he feel if he finds someone else has moved into his office and we’ve put all his stuff in storage? It’ll be like another betrayal, and he doesn’t deserve that. Besides, with only four of us it makes no sense for one of us to isolate themselves from the rest, and we’ve got enough still to do, what with repairing the damage caused by opening the Rift and doing our regular jobs, without adding another pile of unnecessary work.”
“Ianto’s got a point,” Tosh agreed.
“Several points, all good ones. The last thing we need is even more work when we’re barely coping with what we’ve got.” Even Owen was taking Ianto’s side.
Gwen backed down. “I suppose you’re right. Owen’s got the autopsy of that thing from last night; Tosh has computer stuff to do. Ianto? Are you busy?”
“You mean aside from feeding the residents, cleaning up after you lot, and getting on with essential repairs?”
“You’d better carry on with that then.” Gwen stood, picking up a few papers and leaving the boardroom, which still needed a lot of work.
“That’s us told,” Owen smirked. He looked at Ianto. “You’re not really goin’ to let her do Jack’s job, are you?”
“I’ll leave her to do what she believes is Jack’s job; I can handle the rest.”
“Are you sure?” Tosh seemed worried.
“I’ll be fine, Tosh. I know Jack’s job better than anyone, since I spent half my time making sure he remembered to do everything,” he said with a wry smile.
“Good enough for me.” Owen slid off the table. “Better do that autopsy before the new boss starts badgering me about it.”
“I’ll go do my computer stuff,” Tosh grinned. “Good thing we all know our own jobs.”
Ianto smiled sadly as his friends left. It would be hard without Jack, but with a bit of luck there might still be a Torchwood for him to return to if he ever decided to come home. Ianto had to believe that some day he would.