Title: Ianto’s Little Helper - Part 1/2
Characters/Pairing: Jack/Ianto, Tosh, Owen & Gwen
Warnings: Ummm, I wrote it?
Word Count: 2529
Summary: Torchwood gains a new employee.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood or any of the characters. Which is sad.
Jack knew things were getting a bit weird when he got up one morning and found Ianto's spare suit making coffee.
He approached it cautiously, not sure if he should draw his Webley, but it simply turned and offered him his usual blue and white striped mug without saying a word. Which was probably less strange than if it had spoken. After all, suits were not noted for their conversational skills. Still, Ianto had managed to teach Jack manners – up to a point, anyway – so he took the offered coffee.
“Thank you, um, suit,” he said politely.
The suit didn’t reply, it just bowed slightly from the…. waist.
Jack pulled his attention back to his coffee and took a cautious sip. It was very good, almost as good as Ianto’s own. He said as much to the suit, which seemed pleased.
Just then, Ianto appeared from the showers, a towel wrapped around his waist and another being used to vigorously dry his hair. It was a very distracting sight.
“Jack, have you seen my spare suit? It’s not in my locker. If you moved it just so I had to come all the way up here in a towel I will kill you!”
“I had nothing to do with it, it’s in the kitchen making coffee.”
“Oh,” said Ianto. Then, “It’s what?”
“Making coffee. Don’t ask me why. Or how. It makes coffee almost as well as you do though.”
Ianto lowered the towel from his hair, leaving it standing on end, and stared at Jack. Then he turned, very slowly, and looked towards the kitchen. There was his spare suit, pouring coffee into Ianto’s usual mug. It somehow managed to carry the mug across to Ianto and offered it to him, handle first. Ianto couldn’t see how it could possibly be holding anything, but the mug appeared to be hovering at the end of the sleeve.
He took it. “Er, thanks.”
Again, the suit bowed graciously, then wandered over to the workstations and started tidying up.
“Jack,” Ianto started, unable to take his eyes off his suit, “have you noticed anything a bit… weird today?”
“Hmmm?” Jack tore his gaze away from the enticing sight of Ianto, naked but for a towel. “You mean apart from the fact that your spare suit seems to be taking over your job? No, nothing odd other than that.”
“Don’t you think we should perhaps investigate why one of my suits has taken on a life of its own?”
Jack shrugged, “We will. Later. It seems perfectly happy cleaning up and while it’s doing your job, you’re free to do other things.” Jack gave Ianto his very best leer.
Ianto rolled his eyes. “Jack, it’s my suit!” he sighed in exasperation. “Suits don’t randomly decide to make coffee and tidy up, not in my experience anyway. We have no idea what’s causing it. It could be a hostile alien trying to lull us into a false sense of security!”
Jack shook his head. “What do you take me for? I already thought of that. It’s fine. It’s in the Hub, which means it’s being scanned continuously. If it was hostile or alien there would be alarms blaring out, Tosh’s security measures can pick up the faintest trace of alien activity anywhere in the Hub. It’s just a suit.”
The suit was currently ‘carrying’ a tray of empty mugs to the kitchen for washing.
“How can it even do that?” Ianto asked, shoving one hand through his drying hair and making it stick up even more. “It doesn’t even have hands!”
“I’m sure Tosh will figure it out when she gets in.”
“Oh, God! What time is it?” Ianto grabbed Jack’s wrist and checked his watch. “The rest of the team will be arriving soon!”
“Don’t worry about it, your suit seems to have everything in hand. So to speak.”
“Jack, that’s my suit!”
“I know that.”
“I don’t have any other clean clothes here! My suit from yesterday is still soaking wet from that tech retrieval in last night’s storm. That,” and he pointed towards the kitchen, where the suit was washing up, “is obviously not wearable and I am not greeting the team wearing a towel!”
“Okay, okay, calm down. You can borrow some of my clothes until you can get home and change.”
Grumbling under his breath, Ianto headed down Jack’s manhole to find something of Jack’s to wear.
When Ianto returned to the Hub ten minutes later, dressed in borrowed jeans, shirt and sneakers (because his spare suit was currently wearing his spare shoes), the suit had disappeared. Jack was sitting at Tosh’s workstation, watching CCTV.
“Where is it?”
“It’s taken that pile of files down to the archives.”
“Oh.” Ianto leaned over Jack’s shoulder to watch. “At least it’s filing them properly.”
“It seems to know your job as well as you do.”
Ianto nodded absently and reached to pull Owen’s chair across, sitting down next to Jack, his eyes never leaving the screen.
Tosh arrived a few minutes later, and called out a cheery “Good morning!”
Ianto waved vaguely in her direction but didn’t look away from the screen in front of him. She noticed he wasn’t wearing his usual suit.
“Everything alright?” she asked.
“Yes, fine,” said Jack with a bright smile, jumping to his feet.
Ianto tore his gaze from the screen to glare at Jack.
“Not really,” he replied more slowly. “Tosh, take a look at this. Something weird is going on.”
Tosh peered over Ianto’s shoulder.
“Is that your suit?”
“What’s it doing?”
“I suppose because that’s what I would be doing.”
They watched in silence for a minute.
“How does it pick things up?”
“I have no idea, I was hoping you could explain it.”
Still staring at the screen in fascination, Tosh pulled her chair closer then nudged Ianto out of the way so she could sit down. Immediately, she started tapping at her keyboard, bringing up scans and various other data on one of her other screens.
“Interesting. Well, there haven’t been any rift spikes in or near the Hub, and the internal scans aren’t showing anything dangerous, but I am getting a faint energy reading from it.” She looked at the screen showing the CCTV footage. “It seems to have finished the filing. When it gets back up here, I’ll run a scan on it, see if I can figure out what the energy is and where it’s coming from.”
“Suit?” Jack called as the suit stepped out of the stairwell a few minutes later. It turned towards him. “Could you spare a minute? Tosh needs to run a scan on you.”
The suit obediently stepped over to Tosh’s workstation and stood patiently while she scanned it.
“Okay, thanks, that’s all I need for now.”
The suit bowed then went to the kitchen to fetch Tosh a cup of coffee.
Tosh busied herself with the results of her scans for a while, then…
“Ianto, isn’t that the suit you were wearing a week ago when we brought in that unidentified alien tech?”
Ianto nodded, “Yes, I think so. Why?”
“The energy it’s giving off is the same that was – and still is – coming from that piece of tech. It’s completely harmless, like faint life-energy readings. Did you touch the tech at all?”
“No, of course not. I used the tongs to pick it up.”
Jack was deep in thought. “Didn’t you catch it against your sleeve when you were putting it in the containment box?”
“Just brushed against it slightly, it didn’t seem to do any harm.”
Tosh frowned, “I think the piece of tech might be sort of alive, or organic, anyway. What’s that suit made of?”
“It’s a wool and silk blend.”
“So it’s made of organic materials, that makes sense.” Ianto was about to say something, but Tosh held up her hand. “The tech is organic; I had a theory that it was possibly powered by thought, perhaps designed to carry out simple, routine tasks guided by the thought waves of its operator, but now I think it may have basic sentience. The tech was badly damaged though, not usable anymore, so maybe some of the energy transferred to the first organic material it came into contact with, and then spread throughout the entire suit. Is everything organic?”
“Yes, the shirt’s cotton, the tie’s silk and the shoes are leather.”
“Your suit’s alive.”
“Huh. I have a living suit.” Ianto considered that thought. “So, when will it stop being alive?”
“I have no idea. Could be in five minutes or a hundred years. It’s alive, it has basic sentience, and it seems to ‘know’ what the person who usually wears it does.”
“Does it pose a danger?” asked Jack.
“I wouldn’t think so.” Tosh continued to study the data unfurling on her screens. “I think it can only do things it ‘remembers’ Ianto doing while wearing it, and it’s drawing power from the tech itself – miniscule amounts, but enough to animate it. The suit won’t be able to leave the Hub, it’s restricted by the range of the tech’s emissions. Because the tech is stored in the archives, the suit can work down there or in the main Hub, but the surface, the garage and the Tourist Centre are all well out of range.”
Jack seemed satisfied with Tosh’s explanation. “So it has to stay in the Hub. Well, at least there won’t be problems with it scaring Cardiff’s residents with its Invisible Man routine.”
“But it’s my suit!”
Jack put his arm around Ianto. “I’ll buy you a new suit. Look on the bright side; if it’s stuck this way for a while, at least you have an assistant who already knows how to do everything! Granted, it’s not very good company, but it is efficient.”
Ianto thought about that. “I suppose it would be useful. There’s still a lot of work to do in the archives. I could get on with that while my suit does the routine work, filing and cleaning up.”
“There you go,” beamed Jack, “I’m sure you and your suit can come to an agreement on which of you does what. It might even mean you have a bit more free time.”
Ianto brightened at that. “That would be nice.”
“I’ll set up a programme to monitor the energy readings from both the suit and the tech,” said Tosh, “but I don’t think we need to worry about it running down any time soon. The readings seem to be holding steady and there’s no reason to assume they won’t stay that way for the foreseeable future.”
“Well then,” said Ianto, “I’d better have a quick chat with my new assistant about his duties, then if no one minds, I’ll pop home and change into something more suitable to the workplace. Just one other thing, Tosh. If the suit brushes against anything else organic, will that become animated too?”
Tosh ran a few quick simulations on her computer and checked her data from the suit. “No, I don’t think so. The original transfer seems to have been the tech’s way of ensuring its survival and usefulness, it latched onto the first organic substance it found that it could use to fulfil its purpose. Now it’s operating properly again, the ability to spread seems to have become dormant. If the suit were to become damaged in a way that prevented it from doing its job, it would seek out something else organic but inanimate, so it could continue, but otherwise it will simply continue to be as helpful as it can.”
Ianto sighed with relief. “Good. I don’t want my entire wardrobe taking on a life of its own!”
“No fear of that,” Tosh assured him.