Characters: Ianto, Janet, Jack.
Summary: Ianto is overworked; he really needs a helper, but isn’t sure he can convince Jack to hire someone else. Maybe he won’t have to.
Word Count: 1519
Written For: Challenge # 54: Inspiration at beattheblackdog.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
Some days, no matter how hard you try, nothing goes according to plan. Actually, when Ianto thought about it, ever since he’d joined Torchwood Three most days had been like that. Routines and schedules were great, they ensured that whatever work needed doing got done in a timely fashion. Unfortunately, while they had been the foundation of his workday at Torchwood One, they were completely useless at Three, where dealing with random and unpredictable events was the order of the day. Trying to stick to any kind of set routine was an exercise in futility; it was practically guaranteed that no matter how much effort he put into his organising, something would happen to mess everything up.
That said, Ianto did make an effort to feed and clean out the residents in the cells on something approaching a fixed schedule. They got a bit disruptive if they were left without food for too long. Come to think of it, so did the members of the team when coffee and food weren’t delivered at the expected intervals.
The problem was, feeding everyone constituted only a small part of Ianto’s job. He was also responsible for cleanup, both within the Hub clearing away the assorted trash the team generated, and in the field, dealing with bodies, bloodstains, and other evidence of the existence of aliens. Then there was the task of ensuring all of Torchwood’s equipment was in good working order, and all the other time consuming jobs like keeping the SUV stocked, checking and filing reports, organising and cataloguing the extensive and very messy archives… These days, he was also expected to go on field missions with the rest of the team. Most days it felt like his work was never done, and things like sleep got pushed to the bottom of his To Do list. If he didn’t manage to fit in a few short naps during the day, he wouldn’t have the energy to entertain Jack at night. Even so, on a few occasions during or after very busy periods, he’d fallen asleep right in the middle of things, much to Jack’s disappointment.
What Ianto needed was someone to help him out, take on some of the more repetitive chores so he could use the time he would normally spend doing them for catching up on his sleep. Jack was always reluctant to hire new personnel though; he liked to keep the team small and unobtrusive, as if that were even possible with Torchwood being the worst kept secret in town. Besides, he wouldn’t be willing to hire someone just to carry out menial jobs; everyone working for Torchwood Three had to be capable of turning their hand to most tasks; in theory anyway. There were at least two jobs, making coffee and taking care of the archives, which were Ianto’s alone. Nobody messed with the coffee machine, or ventured into the archives, without his permission, on pain of death.
He was still trying to come up with a way of broaching the subject to Jack of hiring extra help when inspiration hit. Maybe hiring another person wouldn’t be necessary after all.
Teaching Janet sign language had been one of Ianto’s better ideas; it made explaining things to his Weevil friend a lot easier. When he approached her about taking over the task of caring for the other residents, Janet proved surprisingly eager to help out. She found being shut in a cell all the time, usually without company, rather boring, and she was proud to be offered the chance to do something meaningful with all her free time. She didn’t even need much in the way of instruction, having watched Ianto tending to the needs of the various other residents twice a day for months.
In return for her assistance, she would gain the freedom of the cells, and the small kitchenette Ianto had set up for storing and preparing the residents’ food. She would also have her own cleaning equipment: an apron to keep her clothes from getting dirty, a mop and bucket, broom, brush and dustpan, and a plentiful supply of rags. It was one very proud weevil who set to work on her first day in her new job as keeper of the cells, mucking out, wiping down, polishing the Perspex windows, and feeding and watering the wide assortment of temporary and permanent residents who lived there.
Within a couple of days, Ianto was completely comfortable with letting Janet get on with things down in the vaults while he snoozed for an hour or so on the bench in one of the empty cells, confident that the Weevil would wake him if there was anything she couldn’t deal with. Before long, he took to getting on with jobs elsewhere, or napping on the sofa in his office, merely visiting the cells once a day to ensure all the residents looked healthy and to check if Janet needed anything.
Ianto even provided the industrious Weevil with a small wind-up radio so she could listen to music or talk shows while she worked. He soon learned that she liked to bop around to rap music during cleaning, but preferred classical or show tunes when relaxing in her cell, which she had made more homey with blankets, brightly coloured rugs, and an old bean bag chair Ianto had found in the archives.
After a month, Janet approached Ianto and asked him if there were any other tasks she could do. She told him that she was enjoying the exercise and the variety involved in her job very much so far, but it still left her with a lot of spare time. Outside the Hub, her life had revolved around hunting for food, which had been a full-time endeavour since there were a lot of Weevils vying for whatever was available, and getting her fair share often involved fighting others of her kind. But in her new life, food was plentiful; everything she required was provided for her, and since she’d been given a job, she’d come to realise how empty her life had been. Now she felt ready to take on more duties.
Once again, inspiration hit; if Janet could keep the cells clean, then surely tidying the Hub would be well within her capabilities.
Ianto was relaxing on the sofa, reading through reports, when Jack returned from a late meeting with the Mayor. The rest of the team had gone home a couple of hours earlier, taking advantage of the Rift being in a relatively quiet phase, and Jack was hoping for some alone time with his lover; he’d even picked up Chinese on his way back. What he wasn’t expecting was to find a Weevil wandering around the main Hub, putting rubbish in a black bag, and dusting the workstations. That Ianto was right there getting on with paperwork and looking completely at ease just baffled him further.
“Ianto? Why is…?” Jack waved a hand vaguely in the Weevil’s direction. For her part, the Weevil simply glanced his way, bared its teeth at him, and continued with what it was doing.
Looking up from the file in his hands, Ianto smiled at Jack. “Ah, you’re back. How did the meeting go?”
“Fine. It went fine. You didn’t answer my question.”
“It wasn’t much of a question, but for your information, Janet is my new assistant.”
Jack blinked. “Assistant?”
“Yes. She’s been taking care of the alien inmates for the past month, and she enjoys doing that so much she asked if there was anything else she could do.”
Janet put down her bag for a moment and signed at the humans. ‘I happy to help. Bored before. Not bored now. Much to do.’ She bared her teeth again before continuing to clean and tidy.
“See? A busy Weevil is a happy Weevil. Since I’ve had Janet helping me, I have more time for my other jobs, and I’ve even been able to catch up on sleep so I’m less likely to fall asleep on you. Everybody wins! It’s made me think though; we have quite a few alien species lurking in the cells, and I’m sure their quality of life could be improved if they had something productive to do to occupy their time. With your approval, of course.”
“Of course.” The whole thing was just too bizarre for Jack to wrap his head around, but he had to admit that Janet seemed to be thriving. He shrugged. “Well, the residents fall under your jurisdiction, so whatever you think best. I trust your judgement. Janet?”
The Weevil turned towards him, cocking her head to one side enquiringly.
“Excellent job you’re doing, keep it up!”
‘Thank you,’ Janet signed, looking pleased.
“Ianto, care to join me for dinner?” Jack held up the bag of takeaway.
“Don’t mind if I do.” Setting aside his stack of files, Ianto smiled contentedly as he got to his feet and followed Jack up to his office. Yes, making Janet his assistant had been an inspired idea. Now he just had to come up with suitable occupations for their other guests.