Ianto Jones was a very careful man, always alert for hidden dangers. He had to be, because even on a good day, with no Rift alerts, rogue Weevils, or alien invasions, Torchwood could be a dangerous place. Health and Safety would have a fit if they saw the Hub, with all its dirty, uneven concrete, rusting metal, and abundant tripping hazards.
The archives could be just as bad, especially those areas he hadn’t yet had a chance to sort out, so when he came across a rack of shelves down in the depths that was starting to lean a bit precariously, he immediately took steps to prevent a potential disaster.
Installing temporary props to keep the shelves upright was a relatively simple task and took him less than half an hour. Once he’d made sure the props were wedged firmly in place he carried on with his other jobs, knowing everything was now as safe as he could make it until he could find enough time in his busy schedule to empty the shelves of their contents and either repair or rebuild them. He estimated the task would take him several hours.
Unfortunately, the next couple of weeks turned out to be more than usually busy, the whole team practically run off their feet, so aside from checking the props every couple of days to ensure they were still holding firm, Ianto left everything as it was. That should have been perfectly fine, but of course he’d reckoned without Jack.
Ianto was down in the archives locating some parts needed to repair a small shuttlecraft that had been dragged through the Rift when Jack decided to join him and lend a hand. After all, he knew as well as Ianto what was required so surely two sets of eyes would be better than one, and an extra pair of hands would come in useful for carting everything back upstairs.
The first Ianto knew about Jack’s presence was when he heard a startled yelp, followed by an almighty crash. Abandoning his search, he rushed towards the source of the sound to find out what happened. There was Jack, sprawled face down on the floor, the rack of shelving Ianto had propped up so carefully now listing perilously sideways and more than half of its contents scattered across the floor, cardboard boxes split open and several items visibly broken.
“Jack Harkness, what the Hell did you do this time? Look at this mess; how could you be so careless?”
“Sorry, it was an accident! I didn’t mean to pull the shelves down, honest!”
Striding along, scanning the labels on the storage boxes and crates as he went, looking everywhere except where he was going, Jack’s foot had caught on something and he’d tripped, grabbing for the shelves to keep from falling. Not that it had saved him. One little tug and next thing he knew he was on the floor, being bombarded with heavy objects. It was fortunate he healed so fast because he was reasonably certain he’d felt several bones break.
“You never mean to do things like this, but somehow you still manage to. I had these shelves securely propped to keep this from happening until I could make repairs, and now…” Ianto trailed off, unable to find the words to express exactly how annoyed and exasperated he felt.
Jack staggered to his feet, dusting himself off. “Relax, I’ve got this. I’ll have it all cleared up before you know it.” With those famous last words, he picked up the nearest intact box and before Ianto could do more than open his mouth to shout “No”, he hefted it onto the nearest shelf.
There was an ominous creaking sound and Ianto barely had time to grab Jack and get both of them clear before the entire rack of shelves collapsed, kicking up clouds of dust. Another box burst open on impact, sending ninety-two fluorescent orange ping-pong balls scattering into the shadows.
Ianto was torn between strangling the living daylights out of his lover and bursting into tears; he’d been so careful, ensuring not only his own safety but that of the many and varied items housed in this section of the archives, and in less than five minutes Jack had managed to turn a simple task he could have finished in a few hours at most into a massive job that would take him at least a week. There’d be no repairing the shelves now, they’d have to be completely replaced and every item stored on them would have to be rounded up, identified, evaluated, and packed away in new boxes. He fixed Jack with a stony glare.
“Don’t touch anything, just go.”
“But I can help!”
“Because you’ve done such a great job of that so far, haven’t you? Just get out of here before you break anything else.” Ianto’s voice dripped venom and if Jack hadn’t knocked all the sense out of himself in his fall, he might have realised he should quit before he dug himself in any deeper.
“But what about the parts for the shuttlecraft? I was going to help you find them, figured we’d be done in half the time that way.”
“I’ll leave it to you to explain to our visitor why he’ll have to wait for the repairs to his craft.”
“No need for that; I can get them while you tidy up here.”
“Tidy up?!” Ianto bellowed. “It’ll take a lot more than a bit of tidying to fix this! I’ll have to source and buy all the materials for new shelves, build them from scratch, anchor them to make them more stable than the last lot, and that’s on top of collecting every single item that was stored here and thoroughly checking them all for damage. As for the broken ones, I very much doubt even Tosh can fix them! You’d just better hope none of them are dangerous!”
“I said I’m sorry. It’s not like I did this on purpose.”
“Fat lot of good that does me. Just get out of my sight,” Ianto said tiredly, running one hand distractedly through his hair.
Finally getting the message, Jack slunk away in disgrace, realising that decaf was likely to be the least of his worries. He’d only wanted to help and now Ianto was beyond angry with him. He was going to have to do something pretty spectacular that definitely didn’t involve the archives in order to get himself out of this one, and even then there was no guarantee Ianto would ever forgive him.
What he really needed was for the Doctor to take him back in time so he could prevent the disaster by leaving himself a warning not to go help Ianto find the spare parts. Why was there never a Time Lord with a TARDIS around when he needed one? Well, there was nothing for him to do right now except confess to their visitor that repairs might take quite a lot longer than previously estimated due to unforeseen circumstances.
Getting back into Ianto’s good graces wasn’t going to be easy.