“Good of you to join us,” Jack commented when Ianto and Peter finally made their way into the boardroom.
They’d spent at least another half-hour after their initial talk closeted away together in the backroom of the Information Centre, two mugs of hot coffee between them as they’d taken the time to simply sit and evaluate their current situation. Nothing definitive or world changing had come about, but it had been nice to clear the air between them before it had a chance to overwhelm them both.
Not that either of them expected to be around each other long enough for things to get complicated, of course. There had been, hanging over them, a sense of expectation. As if at any moments notice they’d have to turn away from each other, wishing their farewells as they parted ways for the second time that day. It hurt to think about. It shouldn’t have. They both knew it shouldn’t, not when they had so much yet to learn about each other, but that didn’t make it any less painful to contemplate. And yet still it made them smile, small lingering grins as they laughed away their nervousness of this newness, as they took their cues to embrace the moment and take from it what they could.
“Apologies for the delay, sir,” Ianto offered in reply to Jack’s comment as he entered the room in front of Peter. He made no move to explain himself however as he chose a seat at the opposite end of the table from the Captain, forgoing a seat beside Peter but highlighting that there was a situation brewing between himself and the Captain.
Peter pretended not to notice the gesture as he slipped himself into the seat left between Nathan and the doctor. Though he could feel Ianto’s initial aggravation towards the Captain, Peter was pleased to feel a greater sense of contentedness, as if their recent conversations had helped ease him for this moment. Opposite him, Peter smiled his greetings towards the two female employees of Torchwood- Gwen and Toshiko, he recalled Ianto saying their names. Both women smiled back at him.
Peter looked to his left and Nathan gave him a shuttered look before turning to look at the head of the table where Jack sat, flicking his eyes between Peter and Ianto both before they settled intently on the latter.
“What have we missed?” Ianto asked when it appeared that no one was willing to restart whatever conversation had been going on before their arrival. He looked at everyone but Jack.
It was easy enough- after filtering though the disarray of emotions seeping from each individual sat around the table- for Peter to deduce that the topic previously up for discussion hadn’t been anything more sinister than that of the Sylar situation. He waited expectantly for someone to speak. The minutes trickled by.
“I don’t think Sylar is going to hold off in his killing spree whilst we sit here twiddling our thumbs,” Peter griped after almost five minutes of awkward silence.
“And you’d know all about that, would you?” The doctor- Owen, he recalled- sneered at him. Peter raised his eyebrows.
“Out of everyone here in this room?” He asked, as if to clarify the question. “Then yes, I would know all about it. So let’s not beat around the bush and get to the reason why my brother and I are here.”
Beside him, Nathan shot him an amused look. Though his face never for one moment changed from its stony outward expression, Peter could tell his brother was applauding his boldness.
“We’ve just been setting up a profile,” Gwen began, smiling awkwardly when everyone’s attention shifted to her. “So far all we’ve learnt is that Sylar- real name, Gabriel Gray- was a second-generation watchmaker from Queens, New York. And that he- according to your brother- has special abilities.”
“You missed out the part about him being a murdering psychopath.” Owen added helpfully once she’d finished. Gwen shot him a disgusted look which he shrugged off with a grin.
“Yes, thank you, Owen,” Gwen muttered. “We’ve been told that his powers-,” she said the word with a scrunch of her nose, as if she couldn’t quite believe she was using it, “-enable him in these murders, and that he only targets other’s with powers so that he can… take them?” She drifted off as if unsure of her own line of enquiry.
By the tone of her words no one was left in any doubt as to what Gwen thought of the idea of their being humans with ‘powers’ out there. Peter shot her a quizzical look, feeling a vague sense of amusement issuing from at least three other people sat around the table.
“You needn’t look so surprised,” Peter told her, “you’re the ones catching aliens for a living!”
Gwen’s eyes widened comically and she shot Jack a shocked look. Peter was aware of the fact that he shouldn’t know about Torchwood’s status as the British version of the X-Files, but if they were going to be working together to help catch Sylar, Peter didn’t think that keeping quiet about this newly attained knowledge would do either of them any good. From what Ianto had been telling him, Torchwood had a large archive full of alien artefacts, many of which could likely be used in the safe capture (and- if it came to it- destruction of the creature Gabriel Gray had become). Ianto had also promised him that there was something down there that would keep Cardiff safe from him should he go nuclear again- it was just a matter of clearing things with the boss.
Peter followed Gwen’s line of sight, expecting to see Jack’s face clouded over with anger or suspicion, but instead he found the other man with a surprisingly expressionless look upon his face.
“Let us agree that Syler both has and can acquire powers,” Jack began, dismissing the revelations. “Do we know, firstly, what powers he has and secondly, how exactly he goes about acquiring powers? Aside from the obviousness of his victims having their brains removed, of course.”
“We’re not entirely sure how he goes about the transfer of power.” Nathan spoke this time. “There’s no knowledge on what he does with the brains once he’s removed them, but it’s been speculated by a professor of genetics over in New York that Sylar’s original ability was an instinctive knowledge on how things worked. It’s been said he can tell how something is supposed to work just by examining it. Or, perhaps in the case of the removed brains, by studying them and seeing how the victim’s power has altered their genetic makeup.”
“Do we know what powers he’s managed to attain so far?” Toshiko piped in, looking at Nathan from over the rim of her glasses. She too looked a little put out at having to talk about ‘powers’. Peter supposed there wasn’t all that thin a line between believing in aliens and believing in an everyday version of the X-Men. He, himself, wasn’t entirely sure he was ready to believe that E.T. was actually out there.
“The professor of genetics I mentioned, his name is Mohinder Suresh,” Nathan answered, “I took the liberty of calling him once we’d arrived to apprise him of the situation here. He’s in the process of compiling a list as we speak. We should have a rather comprehensive record by the end of this meeting. Captain Harkness has already supplied him with your email address.”
Toshiko smiled her thanks, nodding her head as she turned her immediate attention towards the laptop in front of her.
“What powers does he have that you’re already aware of?” Jack pressed, eyeing both Nathan and Peter.
“From what I've personally witnessed,” Nathan began, shooting his brother a quick look, “he's a telekinetic. And he can manipulate radiation.”
All eyes turned towards Peter.
“Your brother can manipulate radiation.” Jack stated. Nathan waited for the question.
“In fact, we’ve witnessed multiple displays of superhuman abilities from him,” Jack shot Peter a suspicious look. “How have you acquired your powers, Peter?”
Peter returned Jack’s look calmly.
“I don’t eat brains if that’s what you’re asking?” He replied with a humourless smile.
“You haven’t answered my question.” Jack said, watching him expectantly.
Peter looked to his brother before answering Nathan. “I'm not sure entirely sure,” he answered. “When I'm around someone with an ability I’m able to absorb it. But it’s not a conscious process; I might not even know I’ve picked up a new power until I use it for the first time.”
He shrugged a little self-consciously, “I can’t always control the powers I pick up either, which is why I’ve not managed to control the radiation yet.”
“May we have a list of all the powers you’re aware you have?” Jack asked.
Peter took a moment to consider the question before nodding his head.
“I’ll see what I can do.” He agreed.
“How long are we expected to stay here?” Nathan asked, directing his question to Jack.
“Only as long as it takes to find out all you know about Sylar. A day or two at the most, then you’re free to return to America.”
“You don’t want us to stay and help?” Peter frowned.
“No. I ask only should anything unforeseen happen between now and your leaving, knowing what abilities both you and Sylar possess will aid us in protecting this country from the both of you.”
“Jack-,” Ianto sat forward, speaking for the first time since entering the room. Jack shook his head, stilling the Welshman’s words for the moment. Peter watched as they exchanged guarded looks, feeling a wash of negative emotion coming off of Ianto. He tried to make eye contact but Ianto was staring resolutely at Jack.
“Your lack of control is worrying,” Jack continued, forcing Peter to drag his attention back towards the Captain. “If you lose control again, we need to know what we’re up against from you. There won’t always be someone around to shoot you, if that’s what it takes, and to be honest I’d rather not have to test your ability to recover every time.”
“Jack,” Ianto tried again, “there may be a way to ensure our safety, if anything were to happen-,”
“If you’re about to suggest what I think you are-,” Jack interrupted, warningly.
“I think under the circumstances-,”
“You know the rules, Ianto.”
“And how is knowing what else Peter is capable of going to help us if something happens?” Ianto scowled, “What if he does go nuclear again?”
“It’s not up for discussion.” Jack’s tone was one of finality.
“It should be!” Ianto stood abruptly, narrowing his eyes as he shared a heated look with the Captain. It was as if everyone else in the room suddenly ceased to exist as they stared at one another. Jack’s jaw was tensely set, his face impassive though his eyes were dark and angry. Ianto swallowed heavily, acutely aware that he’d overstepped a boundary with his outburst, and though he regretted making a public display he did not for one moment regret challenging Jack’s authority. Not with this.
“Tosh, let me know when you receive Doctor Suresh’s list,” Jack said, his eyes still intent upon Ianto’s as he pushed himself to his feet. Toshiko nodded her head but neither Ianto nor Jack saw the gesture.
“Ianto, if you’d be so kind as to follow me.” He pushed away from the table, gesturing for Ianto to step out of the room with him. The Welshman hesitated long enough to share a look with Peter before he exited the room.
“We’ll continue this discussion in a moment,” Jack addressed the rest of them before following Ianto out.
“That went well.” Owen coughed, slumping in his seat. They all looked at each other, none of them really knowing what else to say to that.
Peter slanted a look towards his brother who was frowning rather openly at him, as if in the agreement that this was somehow his own fault. Peter slumped in his seat and prayed that Ianto would keep his head during the grilling he was sure to be receiving.
- - -
To Be Continued…?