Characters: Ianto, mentions Jack.
Spoilers: Not really.
Summary: Of all his duties, Ianto enjoys his role as Torchwood’s archivist the most.
Word Count: 1240
Written For: prisca’s prompt ‘any fandom - any character - The keeper of lost things,’ at fic_promptly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
Wandering through the seemingly endless succession of cavernous rooms that make up the Torchwood Three archives, Ianto finds himself thinking whimsical thoughts about his role as Archivist. He sorts, catalogues, labels, and files away articles both strange and familiar, assigning each one a space where it will rest probably for as long as the archives, and Torchwood itself, exist.
Thousands upon thousands of oddities have been collected since Torchwood began. Some are everyday earth objects, others were at one time unknown but have since been identified, and many remain as mysterious as the day they fell through the Rift, but all are treated the same. There are things from hundreds of worlds, dating anywhere from pre-history to the far distant future. Ianto suspects that some of the most incomprehensible could even be from other dimensions, although he has no way of proving that.
With the exception of living, or dead, creatures, and the occasional perishable item, all Rift debris winds up somewhere down here, on shelves, or in boxes stacked in the smaller side rooms, each according to its type. Weapons go in one place, explosives are stored in a reinforced bunker lined with stasis cabinets, and books reside in a series of rooms that make up the most bizarre library ever to exist on earth… There are areas that contain nothing but pieces of spaceships torn apart by the Rift, others where the shelves house puzzles from who knows how many worlds, or toys, or kitchen appliances, or musical instruments.
Ianto finds them all fascinating in their own unique ways. So much can be learned about other worlds and cultures from the tools and artefacts they create and use. Perhaps even more could be learned from the books, if only he could read them, but most are in languages that even Jack claims not to know. Someday, perhaps Tosh’s translation programmes might be put to work on them, but Ianto isn’t in any rush; they’re not going anywhere, and in some ways it’s more fun to speculate on what they might contain than to find out for sure. Are they romance novels, scientific textbooks, children’s stories, histories of worlds that no longer exist or those that have yet to be? Do they hold recipes handed down through generations, the collected poems of an extinct culture, the secrets of the universe? Anything is possible.
There are Rifts throughout the universe, and most of them, like the Cardiff Rift, are only anchored at one end. The other end moves constantly, aimlessly, sweeping through time as easily as through space, plucking objects, animals, and people indiscriminately, from houses and parks, from washing lines and locked rooms, from shops and museums, shelves and drawers… It can show surprisingly delicacy one moment, taking a single petal from a flower, or astounding brutality, ripping metal bulkheads from spacecraft, twisting and warping them almost beyond recognition. There’s no intelligence behind the Rifts, they can’t be reasoned with; they’re simply tears in the fabric of space/time, a force of nature, like lightning, against which there’s little defence.
Ianto moves among the shelves, putting the latest batch or newly catalogued items in the places assigned to them, lingering over some more than others, perhaps because of their appealing shape, or the sound they make, or their pleasing texture. Whatever they are, were, or might be, each of these items stored in the vastness of the archives once belonged to someone, on another world, or in a different time, and sometimes both. Somewhere out in the immensity of time and space, whether it’s an odd sock or a priceless piece of sculpture, their previous owners are probably wondering where their possessions went, whether they were lost, stolen, or somehow strayed. What would they think if they could see this place, this warehouse of lost property, presided over by one ordinary twenty-first century human?
He smiles; of all the many aspects of his job, he thinks this is his favourite. He’s Ianto Jones, Torchwood’s General Support Officer, Archivist, and the Keeper of Lost Things, and he considers the task a privilege.