Ianto Jones, pariah; it was his second day back at work following his suspension, and while it hurt to be ignored, it didn’t surprise him at all that as he entered the Hub, everybody resolutely avoided looking at him. Not that he could blame his co-workers (not colleagues, no, never that), for the way they were treating him now. After the months he’d spent lying to them while harbouring a monster practically under their noses in their own base, they had every right to hate him. Blind to the danger, he’d risked their lives, and the lives of everyone in the entire world, in the vain hope of saving a woman who was already dead, all because he hadn’t wanted to believe that she was gone.
He’d been the traitor in their midst, and these four people had come perilously close to paying the ultimate price for trusting him. He knew he deserved to have them treat him with suspicion and even, in Owen’s case, outright hostility. Even though he’d been motivated by the desperate desire to save someone he loved more than life itself, what he’d done was unforgivable.
If this had been Torchwood One, he would have been executed immediately; One had no mercy for traitors. Then again, a quick death would have been the easy way out; maybe that was considered a better fate than he deserved. Maybe his punishment was in having to live with what he’d done, remembering every detail, including the two people whose lives his stupidity had cost. Ianto flinched at the thought. Annie, poor, innocent Annie, always smiling, always willing to make time for a quick chat; now she was dead, her family grieving, and it was his fault. How could he hope for forgiveness from anyone else when he knew he’d never be able forgive himself? All that was left to him now was to try to atone for his crime, make amends in whatever ways he could.
Straightening his shoulders, Ianto drew a deep breath, gathering the shreds of his courage; he knew what he had to do. He’d work hard and without complaint, carry out every task he was given as quickly and as efficiently as he could, and he’d ensure that the team always had whatever they needed in order to do their job, where possible before they even knew what it was they needed. With that in mind, and keeping his eyes lowered as befitted a penitent, Ianto made for the coffee machine to make the day’s first round of drinks.
From up in his glass-walled office, Jack surreptitiously watched as Ianto entered the Hub, pausing just inside the cog door and looking quickly around at the rest of the team, who all kept their eyes focused on their work, before lowering his gaze submissively to the floor. He seemed to brace himself, taking a couple of deep breaths before striding purposefully across the Hub to the coffee machine and getting to work, not once so much as glancing in Jack’s direction.
Jack let his breath out in a resigned sigh. Now what was he going to do? How could he fix this? Was it even fixable? Yes, Ianto had behaved foolishly, but it hadn’t been entirely his fault. Whatever Torchwood One knew about Cybermen, if they’d known anything at all before they’d let them through into this universe, would have been classified far above a lowly junior researcher’s security clearance. All Ianto had wanted was to save the woman he loved; he couldn’t have known it was hopeless.
Through his own fear of the Cybermen, knowing only too well that even one of the robotic intelligences was capable of converting an entire planet given the time and resources, Jack had allowed panic to rule him, threatening to execute Ianto. That was Torchwood One’s way, not his, and he was disgusted with himself. Yes, he’d been scared, and he’d also been hurt by the betrayal, hurt at being used by Ianto for his own ends, but that was no excuse. He’d done far worse himself, both with the Time Agency and after, for motives that were far less noble than love. He had no right to take the moral high ground.
He could learn to trust Ianto again, the whole team would in time, but could Ianto ever forgive them for the way they’d treated him and learn to trust them? That was the real question. They’d done what they had to, eliminated a threat, and Jack wouldn’t change that if he could, but Ianto was right; from the moment he’d joined the team, none of them had made an effort to get to know their new colleague, not even Jack, despite having been sleeping with him.
One thing was for sure, Jack would need to have a word with the others about their attitude towards Ianto as soon as possible. He was grieving and they should at least try to be sympathetic, he didn’t deserve to be treated like an outcast. In Ianto’s place, Jack was certain both Owen and Tosh would have tried anything they could to save their loved ones. He didn’t know Gwen all that well yet, but he was pretty sure she’d stop at nothing to protect her boyfriend. Maybe if he pointed that out to them it would make a difference.
Ianto wasn’t the only one who’d done something wrong; they all had a lot to atone for.