Characters: Ianto, Rhiannon, Jack, Tosh, Owen, Gwen.
Summary: Getting a tour of the Hub wasn’t enough for Ianto’s sister; now Rhiannon wants to meet the rest of the people he works with.
Word Count: 4433
Written For: Challenge 129 – Conniving at beattheblackdog.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
A/N: Also for milady_dragon, who wanted a sequel to ‘Hub Tour’ where Rhiannon meets the rest of the team. How could I possibly say no?
“You are a conniving wench, Rhiannon Davies! You know that, right?” Ianto folded his arms across his chest and glared down at his older sister.
Rhi didn’t look impressed; she simply graced her baby brother with her most innocent look. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, Ianto! All I said was that it’s a shame everyone else went home early that time you showed me around your base so I didn’t get to meet the rest of the people you work with.”
“I heard, and I know what that means. You’re fishing for another invite, aren’t you?”
“Well can you blame me? They’re a big part of your life, you see them more than you see me and the kids, and I don’t even know their names yet. I’ve met your boss who doubles as your boyfriend, or should that be the other way around? And I’ve met your pet Pterodactyl…”
“Pteranodon. And you hid behind Jack the entire time!”
“Well excuse me for feeling a bit freaked out at being confronted by a giant prehistoric flying reptile! At least I didn’t faint when you introduced me to Janet the Weevil.”
Ianto had to give her that; she’d actually taken it pretty well…
Jack had accompanied them on the rest of the Hub tour, first on a flying visit to the autopsy bay, thankfully clean and free of dead bodies, then the morgue, and then the firing range, where Rhi had been given the opportunity to try her hand at shooting the Weevil-shaped targets. She’d never even seen a gun in real life, much less held or fired one, but she was game for anything and did manage, with some instruction, to score several shots not too far outside the inner circle, and one just on the edge of the bullseye. Ianto had smiled proudly as he’d congratulated her, and smirked at Jack. He’d vetoed Jack’s hands-on approach to firearms training, saying he didn’t want his lover groping his married sister, and chosen to instruct her himself while Jack stood there pouting. Personally, Ianto thought he’d done a pretty good job of it. Rhi was a natural; shooting must be in the Jones genes.
Having seen the Weevil targets, Rhi already had some idea of what she’d be meeting next, so her first sight of Janet hadn’t been quite as big a shock as it otherwise might have been.
“So it’s an alien from another planet?” she’d asked, staring at Janet, who just stared right back, head moving slightly from side to side as she studied the stranger. It made her look even more menacing than usual but her behaviour had nothing to do with aggression, and everything to do with plain old curiosity.
“Yep. To be honest, that’s about all we know for sure, and we have no idea which planet, but she’s still a very long way from wherever her kind call home.” Ianto stood beside his sister, hands in his trouser pockets, watching Janet, a thoughtful expression on his face. There was so much they’d probably never know about Weevils. Despite Torchwood having studied them for decades, they weren’t giving up their secrets easily; they remained an unfathomable enigma.
“We believe all Weevils are connected by a sort of telepathic bond, and we assume that’s how they communicate with each other since they don’t appear to have a spoken language, but aside from that they’re still a mystery waiting to be unravelled,” Jack said, echoing Ianto’s thoughts. “There’s quite a large population of them in Cardiff, but they mostly keep to the sewers. They’re not fond of sunlight; it’s too bright for their eyes, which are better adapted for seeing in the dark, so they prefer living underground. In spite of their looks, most of the time they’re no trouble, they keep to themselves, but once in a while one will go rogue, come to the surface, in some cases attack people, and then we have to take action. We have most of them tagged by now, so we can keep track of their movements and deal with any that are causing problems, preferably before anyone gets hurt. Their teeth are as sharp as they look.”
“So are their claws,” Ianto added, remembering the last time he’d been on the wrong end of a Weevil slash. He’d liked that suit.
“Are they like us?” Rhi asked. “I mean, are they intelligent? Do they have families?”
“As far as we’ve been able to discover they mostly live in groups or packs of anywhere between four and twenty individuals. They tend to be territorial so there’s a lot of fighting between packs if they encroach on each other’s territory. But are they intelligent?” Jack gave a half shrug. “Good question; I suppose it depends on how you measure intelligence. The general opinion is that they’re smarter than most animals, but considerably less than humans, perhaps at a slightly higher level than chimps. It’s a bit hard to judge; they’re aliens, they don’t think the way we do, their brains work differently. It’s never a good idea to judge aliens by human criteria; they rarely fit. Ianto thinks Weevils might have been bred to be workers or slaves for a more advanced alien race; it’s an interesting theory, but unless we can find a way of communicating with them we’ll probably never know for sure.”
“They don’t make their boiler suits themselves,” Ianto added, “but every Weevil that’s ever been dumped here by the Rift has been wearing one, and they’re all identical, like a uniform of some kind.”
“Why do you keep this one locked away? Is it one of the dangerous ones?”
“They all have the potential to be dangerous given the right set of circumstances. We brought Janet here to take care of her after she was injured in a fight with another Weevil. Once her wounds were healed we tried letting her loose a few times, but she just kept coming back. She seems to like it here. Maybe she thinks we’re her pack now. It probably wouldn’t be safe to let her wander loose around the base, but she’s about as tame as a Weevil can be.” Ianto smiled at his sister. “She’s not the prettiest creature I’ve ever seen, but looks aren’t everything. Caring for the inmates is one of my duties and I’ve grown to like Janet. She’s not very chatty, but then neither am I.”
“I’ve always had a thing for the strong, silent type,” Jack agreed, flashing his trademark smile.
Ianto just rolled his eyes. “Seen enough?” he asked his sister.
“That depends. What else is there?”
“Locker rooms, decontamination shower, furnace…”
Rhi gave her brother The Look.
“No? Then that just leaves the archives, where we store all the junk that falls through the Rift. I’m still sorting out the mess down there that Jack laughingly called his filing system, replacing it with something that makes it possible to actually find things again if we need them.”
“Ianto spends all his free time in the archives,” Jack said. “Sometimes I have go and find him and drag him out of there or he’d keep working all night and never go home.”
“He’s exaggerating. Occasionally I do lose track of time, there are a lot of fascinating things down there, but I have never been tempted to work through the night.”
“I wouldn’t let him anyway,” Jack assured Rhi.
“I should hope not; you wouldn’t be much of a boss, never mind a boyfriend, if you did. From what you told me, Torchwood’s working hours are long enough already.”
“We’re permanently on call,” Ianto said. “In a job like this, there’s no other choice. We rest when the Rift does, and we take a lot of catnaps when it’s busy, but we’re used to it.”
“Hm.” Rhi didn’t sound convinced. “So, are you going to show me these archives of yours?”
“If you like, but I can tell you right now all you’ll see are a lot of badly lit tunnels connecting a warren of rooms and natural caves full of shelves laden with largely unidentified junk.”
“If it’s so dull why do you spend so much time down there?”
“It’s part of my job, and I like creating order out of chaos.”
“You always were tidy minded, even when you were little,” Rhi said with a fond smile. “Always putting your toys away when you were done with them. Sometimes I wish my two took after their uncle instead of their dad. Johnny’s a good man but a terrible influence.”
“I noticed,” Ianto agreed. “Never puts anything away, just leaves it to you.”
“Ianto Jones! That’s my husband you’re criticising!”
“I wasn’t criticising, just stating a fact. Anyway, you started it!”
“I’m entitled; I have to live with him,” Rhi said with a sniff.
There were several things Ianto could have said to that, but he’d wisely decided to keep quiet, simply gesturing towards the exit from the cells. “Right, archives are this way if you really want to see them.”
Puling himself back to the present, Ianto sighed in resignation and shook his head, knowing that he couldn’t refuse his sister this time any more than he could have when she’d asked to see the Hub. “You don’t play fair.”
“Of course I don’t, that’s half the fun of being a big sister; I get to make my own rules and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
“What’s the other half?”
“It’s an even split between bossing you around and getting to say ‘I told you so’ when you screw up because you didn’t follow my wise, big sisterly advice.”
Ianto nodded slowly. “Sounds about right. I should probably just accept that I can’t win against you.”
“If you’ve got any sense you will. So, does this mean I get to meet the rest of your team?”
“I suppose it does,” Ianto agreed, a touch reluctantly. He knew his sister, and conniving was definitely the right term to describe her. She had a way of bulldozing right over any objections or excuses he might have, which was the main reason he’d spent so much time avoiding having to see or phone her before Jack gave him permission to tell her about Torchwood. She couldn’t winkle any secrets out of him that way, or coerce him into doing something he didn’t want to do.
Rhi drank the last of her coffee and threw the empty cup in a nearby bin. “Well come on then, what are you waiting for? Christmas?”
“You want to meet them now?” That was something Ianto hadn’t expected. He’d thought Rhi would want to set up some sort of informal get together, maybe coffee or lunch at one of the cafés near the Plas, but no, she wanted him to take her to the Hub and introduce her to them at work! “But it’s my afternoon off! I only left just over an hour ago; if I go back now they’ll be demanding coffee, or files from the archives, or God knows what else, and I’ll never get away again! I shouldn’t have to go back there until this…” He trailed off, scarcely able to believe how whiny he sounded. Rhi had strange powers over him, causing him to revert to the small boy he’d once been.
“This what? This evening?” Rhi prompted.
Ianto deflated. “Someone has to feed the inmates and tidy the place up,” he said, suddenly feeling defensive. “I get on with that while Jack finishes up whatever he’s doing, so we can leave together. Rift permitting.” It didn’t always work out; sometimes they ended up staying at the Hub all night, or at least those parts of the night when they weren’t out of a retrieval or hunting Weevils. He scowled at his sister. “You know I don’t get a lot of time off, and now you want to drag me back to the Hub just so you can meet the rest of my colleagues? I already agreed to introduce you; why does it have to be today?”
“Because I’m here and so are you, and I know you’ll just keep putting it off. Look at it this way; if we go today, I won’t be badgering you about it every time I talk to you on the phone or we meet up for a coffee.”
She would too; Rhi had the same stubborn streak that Ianto did, only she’d had hers longer and wielded it with devastating effect. “Fine, if it’ll get you off my back we’ll go, but I’m doing this under protest and if Jack objects I’m blaming you.”
The smug expression on Rhi’s face showed she didn’t believe him. Well, she’d see. In this case Ianto wouldn’t hesitate to throw his sister to the wolves. This was her idea so she’d be the one to suffer any consequences.
Oh, who was he kidding?
“Come on then, but we’re walking there. I spend enough time underground as it is; when I have time off and the weather’s nice I’d rather be outside, getting some fresh air.”
“Alright, if you insist, and on the way you can tell me a bit about each of your friends.” Falling into step beside him Rhi looped her arm through Ianto’s.
“Friends?” Ianto raised an eyebrow. “I’m not sure that term is entirely accurate. Well, aside from Tosh.”
“Toshiko Sato, our tech genius, and I do mean genius; she’s the most brilliant person I’ve ever met. What she doesn’t know about computers isn’t worth knowing and she can figure out pretty much any kind of technology, what it is, what it does, how it works, and how to fix it. She’s also my best friend. She’s saved me from more than a few tricky situations.”
“She sounds nice; I’m glad you’ve got such a good friend. What about the others? How many are there?”
“Two others. Owen Harper’s our medic and science expert. He patches us up when we’re injured, cures whatever ails us, carries out the autopsies on dead aliens and heals the injured. He doubles as our forensics expert. He’s a Londoner and a self-proclaimed twat. He drinks too much, he’s rude, lazy, grumpy, sarcastic, and a pain in the arse, but he’s damned good at what he does. We get along okay, by which I mean we bicker, snark at each other, trade insults, and get on each other’s nerves, but we’ve always got each other’s backs.”
Ianto smirked. “Just don’t expect anything resembling good manners from him, and don’t take anything he says personally. He enjoys pushing people’s buttons.”
“I’ll keep that in mind. Anything else?”
“Just that he thinks he’s God’s gift to women. Take it from me; he’s not.”
“What about the last one?”
“Gwen Cooper, rookie of the team. She’s been with us almost three years. Welsh, from Swansea, ex-PC, newly married; calls everyone ‘Pet’. She’s nosy, pushy, opinionated, loves gossip, pries into everyone’s personal life, and thinks she knows better than the rest of us. Argues with Jack constantly, only follows orders she likes, and claims the rest of us have forgotten how to be human. She means well, she just goes about things the wrong way and she’s even more stubborn than you are, which is saying something.”
“If she’s so difficult, why did Jack hire her?”
“Honestly? I’m not sure even he knows. We’d just lost a team member; Gwen was there, snooping, Retconning her failed, and I guess between that and her persistence in tracking us down in the first place, it led him to think she had qualities that might be useful to the team. He’d also just been shot so his judgement might have been impaired… She was pretty, determined, and right there; maybe he fancied her, I never asked. It was back before he and I got together; I’d only been working there six months or so myself when she was recruited.” Ianto looked sidelong at his sister. “Still want to meet the gang?”
“Are you kidding? You’re not sliding out of this,” Rhi said sternly. “I’m stubborn, remember?”
“As if I could ever forget.”
Reaching Mermaid Quay, as they had on Rhiannon’s previous visit to the Hub they entered through the Tourist Office, following the secret passage and taking the lift down to Torchwood Three’s underground base. The strident cog door alarms made Rhi flinch but she forced herself not to cover her ears the way she had last time as she followed her brother into the huge cavern. The alarms went silent and almost before the door had closed behind them, a woman of around Rhi’s age appeared. She was pretty, dark haired, and had a big gap between her front teeth.
“Ianto! I thought you had the afternoon off, pet!” She looked past Ianto and frowned. “Who’s this?
“Gwen, this is my sister, Rhiannon.” Ianto introduced her.
“You told your sister about Torchwood? Ianto, this place is supposed to be secret! Just because you’re sleeping with Jack doesn’t mean you can ignore the rules!”
Before Ianto could say anything in reply, Jack appeared. “Rhiannon! Good to see you again!” He shouldered his way past a scowling Gwen and gave Ianto’s sister a hug. “If I’d known you were coming today I’d have put on a clean shirt.”
“He dripped egg on his collar again this morning,” Ianto explained with a roll of his eyes. “He’s a messier eater than Mica when she was a baby.”
Jack pouted. “It’s not my fault eggs drip!” Turning back to Rhiannon, he flashed that smile. “Come to try your hand on the shooting range again?”
Rhi laughed at that. “I think I’ll leave the shooting to the experts; my shoulders ached for days and I had to tell Johnny it was from carrying the shopping. I’ve just been badgering my brother to invite me back and introduce me to the rest of the team. Thought I should get to know the people he works with.”
“Wait a minute,” Gwen butted in indignantly. “She’s been here before? Why wasn’t I told?”
“Because it was nothing to do with you,” Jack said smoothly.
“But nobody outside the team is supposed to know…”
Ianto cut her off. “Rhys does.”
Gwen pulled herself up to her full height. “That’s different!”
“Why, because he’s your husband?” Jack asked mildly.
“He was helping on a case. He risked his life!”
“And then I ordered you to Retcon him to maintain security and you refused,” Jack reminded her. “Since your husband knows, I thought it only fair that Ianto should be able to tell someone too. Rhiannon has signed the Official Secrets Act just as Rhys had to.”
“But what if she slips up and tells someone?”
“She won’t,” Ianto said firmly. “Rhiannon understands the importance of secrecy; she’s known about Torchwood for almost six months and she hasn’t told a soul.”
Gwen still didn’t look happy, but she forced a smile and offered her hand. “I’m Gwen Cooper-Williams. It’s nice to meet you, Ms Jones.”
“It’s Mrs Davies,” Rhiannon said coolly, clasping Gwen’s hand briefly.
“Come and meet the others.” Jack ushered Rhiannon past Gwen, and Ianto followed, leaving his colleague standing there with her mouth open. “Gwen,” Jack called over his shoulder, “don’t you have work to do?”
“Right one you’ve got there,” Rhi muttered to Jack under her breath, too quietly for Gwen to hear. “Thinks she’s better than everyone else, does she?”
“She has her uses,” Jack replied, just as quietly. “I just can’t think what they are right now.”
Rhiannon gave a very unladylike snort of barely suppressed laughter. “Oh, now I know I like you.”
“You weren’t sure before?” Jack’s hurt pout made Rhi giggle. “I thought I’ve been very charming!”
“I was raised to be wary of charmers like you.”
“There isn’t anyone else like Jack,” Ianto pointed out. “He’s one of a kind.”
Jack beamed at his lover. “Thank you!”
“I didn’t say that was a good thing.” The twinkle in Ianto’s eyes told Jack he was being teased. He responded with a grin and a wink as he ushered Rhi over to the workstations.
“Rhiannon, meet Toshiko Sato, our resident genius. We’d be completely lost without her.”
The pretty Asian woman blushed slightly and offered Rhi her hand to shake. “It’s lovely to meet you; Ianto’s told me so much about you.”
“I wish I could say the same, but all my brother’s told me is that you’re his best friend and you’re brilliant.”
Tosh’s blush deepened. “I just have a knack for computers,” she said modestly. “Jack needed someone with a background in computers and technology, and it was my good fortune that he picked me.”
“You were my first and only choice; I picked the best. No one else ever came close to your level of talent.” Jack smiled warmly at Tosh before turning to Rhi. “There might be others with more degrees, but Tosh has an intuitive grasp when it comes to unfamiliar technology and that can’t be taught,” he explained proudly. “She can fix devices that no one on earth has ever seen or even imagined before.”
“Alien tech isn’t all that different from earth tech,” Tosh insisted. “It’s just a bit more advanced.”
“What’s that you’re working on at the moment?” Rhiannon looked curiously at the strange object sitting on Tosh’s workstation, surrounded by various tools and scanners.
“Oh, nothing all that exciting. It’s one of Owen’s medical scanners; he dropped it and jarred some of the circuits loose so now its body temperature gauge isn’t working properly.”
“According to that, we’re all either already dead of suffering from fatal hypothermia,” another voice cut in. “And I didn’t drop it; that Zenabrian I was examining a couple of days ago knocked it out of my hand.”
Rhiannon studied the man; he was a little shorter than Ianto, probably in his early thirties, and a bit on the skinny side, with a too wide mouth and a slightly pinched face. There was only one person he could be. “You must be Owen.”
“Doctor Owen Harper,” the man confirmed, shaking hands. “And you’re Teaboy’s sister.”
Ianto rolled his eyes. “How many times do I have to tell you not to call me that?”
“I do it to annoy you,” Harper said with a cocky smirk.
“Like to live dangerously, don’t you?” Ianto shoved his hands casually into his trouser pockets and smirked back. “You must really love instant decaf, judging by how often you persuade me to make it just for you.”
“And you should lighten up; the stick up your arse is showing,” Owen snapped back.
“See what I mean?” Ianto said to his sister.
“What’ve you been sayin’ about me?” Owen glared at Ianto.
“Only the truth.”
“That you’re an arrogant, lazy twat with no manners who enjoys giving people a hard time.”
Owen nodded. “Sounds right,” he said with a smug grin. “How much longer with that scanner, Tosh?”
“Half an hour maybe. If you want it properly calibrated, that is. Or do you want to fix it yourself?”
“Not my job.” Owen held up his hands. “Surgeon, remember?”
“More like medical examiner,” Ianto quipped.
“Not my fault most of my patients are dead. Anyway, I prefer ‘em that way; they complain less and they don’t fidget.”
Rhi raised an eyebrow in a very Ianto fashion. “A doctor who doesn’t like living patients?”
“Apart from having no bedside manner whatsoever, he’s very good at his job,” Ianto said with a casual shrug. “Appalling handwriting of course, but what can you expect from someone in the medical profession?”
“Up yours, Teaboy.”
“You could try, but I think Jack might object.” Ianto was so used to trading insults with Owen that the words were out of his mouth before he remembered his sister was standing right there. He studiously resisted looking at her, instead keeping his eyes focused on Owen.
“You’re getting as bad as Captain Innuendo!” Owen sounded disgusted.
“You started it.”
“See what I ‘ave to put up with?” Owen asked the Hub in general. He stalked off in the direction of the autopsy bay, muttering to himself.
“Quite the ray of sunshine, isn’t he?” Jack said cheerfully.
“Always brightens my day,” Ianto agreed.
“Are they always like this?” Rhiannon asked Tosh, who in her opinion seemed to be the only sane member of the team, her brother included.
“Oh no,” Tosh assured her. “This is a good day. They’re usually much worse.”
“How d’you put up with it?”
“If I’ve got work to do I just ignore them. The rest of the time… the show can be quite entertaining, especially when they’re playing practical jokes on each other.” Tosh smiled at Rhi. “Ianto is ahead on points; he put alien entrails in Owen’s lab coat pockets. The look on Owen’s face when he found them… It was hilarious!”
“Entrails?” Rhi pulled a disgusted face. “My brother? The man who’s so fastidious he won’t even leave the dinner dishes until the following morning?”
“Owen swanned off one night and left the remains of an autopsy for me to clean up,” Ianto defended himself. “I might have left the whole lot for him to deal with but it was starting to smell so I just left him the best bits as a… souvenir.”
Rhii shuddered dramatically. “I’m not at all sure I wanted to know that.”
“So, now you’ve met everyone, what do you think?” Ianto raised one eyebrow at his sister.
“I think the whole lot of you, except for Toshiko, are certifiable. And you’re the ones supposed to be protecting everyone from aliens and other weird stuff! Quite frankly, it’s a terrifying thought.”
“Dealing with the kinds of things we do, it helps to have a few screws loose,” Tosh said. “If we didn’t I doubt any of us would have lasted as long as we have. Everything about our job is insane, and we’re all cracked just enough that nothing the universe or the Rift throws at us is beyond what our minds can handle without shattering. Being a touch crazy makes us more flexible.”
“It’s the old adage,” Ianto agreed. “You don’t have to be crazy to work here, but it helps.”
Jack nodded. “I have a good team. We might be a little out there, but that’s our greatest strength. Complete sanity is overrated.”
Looking at the small team, Rhiannon decided there and then that she’d just have to take Jack’s word for it.