It had been easier than Ianto had expected to slide into the background and become just part of the furniture as far as most of Torchwood Three were concerned. All he’d had to do was be efficient, anticipate the needs of his new colleagues, whether it be coffee, snacks, or office supplies, and clean up around them as if he was no more than the janitor and therefore beneath their notice.
His suits helped with that, smart and businesslike but bland, shades of grey teamed with a white shirt and a plain tie. He wore as little colour as possible in order to avoid catching someone’s eye.
He quickly settled into a routine, carrying out the same tasks at more or less the same times every day. Coffee at semi-regular intervals, lunch between one and one-thirty, evening meal around seven whenever anyone was working late for whatever reason. Emptying rubbish bins and cleaning around the sofa and the workstations would commence sometime between six and seven, if the rest of the team were able to leave at a reasonable time. Usually they weren’t so a lot of the time he had to wait to tidy the workstations until the people using them stepped away for a few minutes, being careful not to disturb whatever they happened to be working on.
When he wasn’t performing his various duties in the main Hub, he slipped away to work in the archives, getting everyone accustomed to him vanishing into the lower levels for hours at a time. It was a maze down there so if he was needed for anything he was contacted via his Bluetooth earpiece, which he kept in place at all times. It made more sense than someone making their way downstairs to try and locate him, and meant that when he reappeared in the main Hub no one would know which direction he’d come from. Once Lisa was installed in the room he’d found for her, tucked away in an area that wasn’t currently in use for anything, he’d be able to care for her without anyone being any the wiser. They’d all just assume he was downstairs somewhere, continuing the task of trying to sort out the mess that constituted the Torchwood Three Archives.
Ianto liked it down in the warren of tunnels and rooms where banks of filing cabinets lived, and all the many and varied items dropped off by the Rift were stored. He’d already found several useful gadgets that might help with Lisa, and working down there painstakingly sorting files and artefacts provided a welcome distraction, giving him something other than Lisa’s situation to focus his thoughts on.
The only fly in the ointment was Captain Jack Harkness himself, and Ianto rather thought he should have been expecting that. He had the oddest feeling that no matter how hard he tried to blend into the background as he moved around the main Hub, the Captain could always just turn and look right at him, somehow knowing exactly where he was at any given moment. The others he could sneak up on, setting their coffees and snacks right by their elbows without causing them to so much as pause in whatever they were doing, never mind look at him. Harkness, however…
“Ah, coffee; excellent. Thank you, Ianto,” the Captain said the moment Ianto entered his office via the back stairs. He looked up and flashed that bright, white smile. “I could practically set my watch by you.”
“Yes, Sir.” Ianto set the tray down, unloading the familiar blue and white striped mug along with a plate of Jaffa Cakes; Captain Harkness always liked a sweet snack mid-afternoon. He tried to ignore the man’s piercing blue eyes, focused unblinkingly on him.
“How are you settling in?”
“Do you have everything you need? Cleaning supplies, tools, stationery, and so forth?”
“I’ve noticed there are a few things in short supply, Sir.”
“Well, let me have a list and I’ll see what I can do, or better yet, why don’t you just get whatever you need, give me the receipts, and I’ll reimburse you.”
Ianto inclined his head. “Very good, Sir. Will that be all?”
“For the moment, yes. Unless you had something else in mind.”
“I’ll leave you to your work then.” Ianto picked up his tray and started towards the door, feeling Harkness’s eyes on him all the way.
It was unsettling. Even if he somehow became completely invisible to everyone else, Ianto was positive Jack Harkness would still see him and be able to look right at him, like a compass whose needle always pointed true north, or in this case, directly at Ianto himself. It was as though Harkness had some kind of internal radar, which when he thought about it wouldn’t surprise him that much. Some of the rumours about Torchwood Three’s leader that had made the rounds at Torchwood Tower during his time there had been far more outlandish, and the people telling the stories had always sworn every word was true. From some of the reports Ianto had already come across in the archives he wasn’t about to discount the possibility.
All of that was likely to make avoiding the captain’s attention next to impossible, meaning Ianto would have to come up with a different strategy to deal with his boss, distract him in some way. From the interested looks Jack kept giving him, and the flirtatious comments, winks, and outright leers directed his way, that might not prove too difficult to do. The hardest part would be to keep a clear head while being distracting, without giving in to the undeniable temptation the captain presented. If he failed at that he might really be in trouble.