Lorne can tell within five minutes of entering the Hub, and it boggles his mind a little that no one else seems to have noticed that Jack is fucking Ianto. It's obvious in the way that Ianto looks at Jack when he thinks no one is watching (and sometimes even when they clearly are) and in the way that Jack's smile for Ianto is just a little more affectionate than his smile for everyone else.
Lorne's on security/light switch detail down here. Torchwood is working with UNIT who are working with the IOA who asked for a scientist with experience with Ancient technology. McKay refused to leave Atlantis (citing his indispensability and his propensity for pneumonia in damp climates), which left Zelenka, who besides needing a military escort because Sheppard still isn't sure he trusts Torchwood, doesn't have the ATA gene.
So Lorne's landed himself an all expense paid vacation to Cardiff, and all he has to do is sit around in the Bat Cave making sure no one tries to off Zelenka, and periodically touch some bit of tech and think, "On."
Not his ideal holiday, but it'll work for now.
He spends most of his time in the Hub wandering around peeking into boxes and over walls and around corners. It's labyrinthine, really. And more exciting than poking around Atlantis, only because every once in a while, he'll reach for something and be scared shitless by a voice behind him saying, "Don't touch that, we don't know what it does!" or "You very nearly blew up the city, I hope you know." And every time he turns around to ask about the device in question, all he sees is Ianto's back retreating hastily to whatever it is he does when no one's around to watch.
He suspects Ianto doesn't like him. He also suspects this has something to do with the way Jack's eyes slide over Lorne's body every time he walks into a room with the man, and he wishes he knew how to tell Ianto that he didn't ask for this attention. He doesn't even want it, really. He's shut himself off from those feelings, but five seconds in a room with Jack were enough to bring them all back.
And Jack keeps touching him, a hand on his shoulder or the small of his back, holding Lorne's elbow to steer him around corners. (Jack loves to walk while having conversations. Lorne suspects it's because he has that heroic stride down pat.)
Jack's hands are warm, solid, masculine, and Lorne often has to fight the urge to lean into his touch. He smells amazing, and Lorne suspects Jack is fully aware of this. He tends to stand a little too close, lean into Lorne's personal space, stand just behind him when Lorne is working on something so that Lorne gets distracted by his scent, and finds himself needing to concentrate extra hard to turn on whatever device Zelenka has handed him.
And of course, there's the flirting, which Lorne returns as naturally as breathing because this is what he does—he knows how to give people what they want, what will make them comfortable and amenable to any treaties he might need to broker.
So when Jack, leaning against a tiled wall in the makeshift lab they've given Zelenka, says, "You're very good at that. Turning things on," and smiles the smile Lorne thought Sheppard had patented, he can't help responding, "I've had a lot of practice."
Or when he catches the life signs detector that Zelenka bumps off the table, and Jack grins at him and says, "You've got great hands," Lorne naturally smiles back, almost winking and says, "I've never had any complaints."
Which is inevitably when Ianto comes by with a steaming mug of coffee for Jack and a barely concealed glare for Lorne, telling Jack he's needed elsewhere.
Lorne wonders if they sneak off somewhere private to fuck then, Jack reassuring Ianto in the only way he can, a way Lorne thinks is probably only half-effective.
About a week into his stay, there's an emergency that calls the whole team away from the Hub. It's not the first emergency to crop up since he's been here, but it's the first time Jack's trusted Lorne enough (or been desperate enough) to leave him alone in the Hub. Lorne rewards his trust by immediately sending Zelenka back to the hotel with strict instructions not to leave his room until he hears from Lorne or one of the Torchwood team that it's safe to come back, and finding a cozy corner to wait in until they get back.
Only, when the klaxons sound and the lights flash and the door rolls back, it isn't any of the team that come through first, it's a young man Lorne's never seen before. He's carrying a gun that looks suspiciously like Jack's old-fashioned revolver, and Lorne gets the idea that this young man is definitely not supposed to be here. He takes up a hidden, defensible position and waits.
Soon enough, Jack comes barreling through the door after him, dried blood all along one side of his face.
"You...you can't be...it isn't," the young man starts, sounding terrified and a little desperate.
"I know," Jack quips, still his cheerful self. "I'm impossible. Tell me something I don't know."
"But I..." the young man falters. He's backing slowly away from Jack, slowly towards Lorne.
"Yes, you did. I got better. I do that."
Lorne doesn't know where the rest of the team is or what on earth has possessed Jack to take this guy on unarmed, but years of working in Atlantis have taught him who will pull the trigger and who won't, and this guy definitely will, and Jack seems blissfully unaware of this fact, or maybe he just doesn't care so long as it will save his team. Either way, Lorne can't let him die, not like this, gunned down by a madman.
He steps quietly out of his hiding place behind the young man. Jack does an admirable job of not indicating that he sees Lorne, but a quick flick of the eyes is all Lorne needs. In no time at all, he's got his stunner unholstered and pressed to the back of the man's head.
If he were Sheppard (or Jack, probably), he'd have a witty quip of some sort. Something clever.
But he's not. He's just Lorne, so he pulls the trigger and the guy goes down in a ripple of blue light just as the rest of the team comes through the door.
Jack is grinning at him, and Lorne is shaking, just a little. It's not from the adrenaline, and it's not from pulling the trigger. He's done that too many times for it to affect him like this anymore. It's because of Jack. It's because Jack's grin in the face of danger makes Sheppard look like a trembling coward, and Lorne has never seen anyone (or anything) so reckless before.
Jack steps over the body on the floor as Ianto comes racing up the stairs. He rests his hand on Lorne's shoulder. "Thanks," he says simply, still grinning that impossible, reckless grin.
Lorne wants to punch him. Beat some sense into him.
He also wants to hug him, wants to cling to him, wants to shove him up against the nearest wall and fuck him. Jack's hand moving from Lorne's shoulder, up his neck, and into his hair isn't helping that any. Nor is the fact that, for once, Lorne can't help leaning into the touch, can't stop the little shiver of pleasure that runs down his spine. Jack has awakened something in Lorne that Lorne had thought long buried, and now that it's back, he doesn't want to fight it.
Lorne glances at Ianto, expecting another dark glare. But Ianto is just standing there, face a perfect, stony mask. Emotionless.
"I'll take our friend down to the vaults, shall I?"
Jack nods, his eyes never leaving Lorne's. "Lorne will give you a hand."
"I've got it, thanks." But the guy's pretty big, and his body slips out of Ianto's hands, and it would be ridiculous for Ianto to refuse help at this point, so Lorne bends to help him, and they each sling one of his arms over a shoulder as they carry him down the stairs.
Ianto doesn't speak the entire way down, and Lorne stays silent as well, figuring it's better that way. Once the man is settled in a cell and they've stepped out into the hall, the clear door whooshing shut behind them, Ianto says, "Thanks," and starts to beat a hasty retreat.
Lorne catches up to him at the door, hand on his elbow. "Ianto...listen...I," he begins, but Ianto shakes off his hand.
"Thank you," he says again. "For...for Jack."
"I couldn't let him die," Lorne whispers.
Ianto gives him a wry smile, but says nothing.
"I don't...I wouldn't do anything, you know. I'm not that guy," Lorne tries, putting his hand back on Ianto's shoulder
Ianto doesn't so much relax as deflate under Lorne's hand. "I know," he says, and that's when Lorne understands. It's also when he begins to wish just for a moment, that Ianto were jealous of Jack rather than of Lorne. That he didn't want Lorne doing anything with Jack rather than the other way around.
And he has no way of expressing that that could at all end well, so he just squeezes Ianto's shoulder lightly and walks wordlessly through the door.
"You were jealous," Jack says much later that night, fingers trailing softly down Ianto's spine through the fine sheen of sweat on his back.
Ianto can hear the grin in Jack's voice, though he keeps his face turned away from Jack's, head resting on Jack's shoulder. He frowns. "Of whom?"
"Of Lorne." The grin is still there.
Ianto sighs, running his fingers down along Jack's ribs. "He's a very attractive man, and you flirt with him."
"I flirt with everyone," Jack counters.
Ianto bites his tongue to keep from mentioning that he gets jealous of everyone. He sits up and gets off Jack's camp bed, rummaging through the pile of clothes on the floor to find his shorts and pulling them on.
"You're upset," Jack says, turning onto his side to watch Ianto.
"I'm not upset." Ianto finds his shirt next, tugging it on and beginning to button it.
"Then why are you leaving?"
"I haven't been home in days. I need to do laundry and water my plants." He gets to the top of the shirt, realizes his buttons are mismatched and has to undo them and start again.
"You don't have plants."
Ianto stops himself from sighing as he buttons his cuffs.
"You can't tell me you haven't thought about him that way," Jack teases. "With all that...military gruffness and those shoulders." His eyes get a faraway sort of look in them. "He could order me around any day."
Ianto tries to come up with a good comeback, but the truth is, as soon as Jack's eyes glaze over like that, he begins to have the same thoughts, begins to imagine what Lorne would look like naked, how he'd be different from Jack.
"He has...lovely eyes," he says eventually, pulling on his trousers.
"And?" Jack's leaning his head on his hand, smiling.
"And...a very nice bum."
"Almost as good as mine," Jack agrees.
"Well, now," Ianto says, smiling indulgently. "Let's not get carried away."
"I said 'almost'." Jack rolls onto his stomach, kicking his feet up behind him like a teenage girl. "You'd like to fuck him, wouldn't you?"
Ianto pauses in buckling his belt. "I...I don't know." He hasn't thought of it before. He's never been with a man other than Jack, and Jack...is different. He's a force. Ianto couldn't help wanting him.
"You would," Jack says softly, getting up and moving to stand behind Ianto, hands on Ianto's hips. "You'd like to see him naked and sweating. Like to watch him spread out on your bed, hard, aching for you."
Ianto leans back against Jack, shivering a little, closing his eyes as Jack's words wash over him.
Jack kisses the back of Ianto's neck, his hands sliding over Ianto's stomach. "Maybe you'd like to take orders from him? He's so damn hot in that uniform. He'd make you stand up straight and salute."
"I always stand up straight," Ianto says, breathless.
Jack's chuckle ruffles his hair. "And I'd be watching everything. You two would be so beautiful together." He pauses. "Or maybe you'd like to watch? Maybe he'd have me tied up, at his mercy, and you'd be watching the two of us."
Ianto stiffens and pulls away, the thought of Jack with another man producing the same pang it always does, even when it's just a fantasy, even when Ianto knows it would never happen, even if Ianto were there with them. He picks up his tie and his jacket and turns to Jack. "I should really be going, sir," he says quietly, the 'sir' slipping out almost without him noticing.
Jack nods and frowns, and Ianto sighs, frustrated with himself. He steps closer and kisses Jack softly. "I'll see you tomorrow, Jack," he whispers, pulling away from Jack's reach and climbing the ladder out of Jack's room.
Lorne can feel the tension when he and Zelenka arrive the next day. Ianto hands him a cup of coffee as soon as he steps through the door, barely glancing at him before blushing and hurrying away.
Jack just watches him.
Every time he glances up at Jack's office, Jack is standing there, arms folded, looking down on Lorne. And when Lorne's eyes shift away from Jack, he inevitably finds himself faced with Ianto, looking curiously at Lorne and frowning. He can't for the life of him figure out what is going on, so he just throws himself into his work with Zelenka, lending a hand whenever he can and hovering when he's got nothing else to do. Eventually, Zelenka tosses him out of the lab, swearing at him in Czech.
Jack is still watching him, so he figures he'll head down to the vaults to check on their visitor.
He finds Ianto there, bringing the prisoner his lunch. When Ianto sees him, he excuses himself quickly and all but runs for the door.
Lorne catches up to him in the corridor. "Hey," he says softly, catching Ianto's elbow. "Look, if I did something yesterday..."
Ianto interrupts him. "It's nothing. Don't even think about it. Really."
Lorne frowns as Ianto once again shakes off his hand and hurries away.
"Gorgeous from behind, isn't he?" says a voice from behind Lorne.
He turns to see Jack leaning against a wall. "What?"
"Ianto. He's got a great ass. Gorgeous from behind."
"I...hadn't noticed," Lorne lies. He's been catching glimpses of Ianto's ass practically since he got there, and it is, in fact, gorgeous.
"Yes, you had," Jack says, stepping closer. "And that's not all you've noticed."
"Oh?" Lorne wishes Jack didn't make it so easy to do this. So easy to lean towards him, smiling flirtatiously. "And what else have I noticed?"
Jack is well into his personal space now, close enough that Lorne could kiss him if he wanted, if he dared. "You've noticed that sweet mouth, soft, full lips. Bet you've even thought about what they'd look like wrapped around a cock."
Lorne swallows. He hadn't had that particular thought until this moment. "Whose cock?"
"Yours," Jack whispers. "Mine. Anybody's really. It's the aesthetic you're interested in, not the details."
Lorne turns away, mostly in an attempt to hide the bulge in his BDUs. This turns out to have been a mistake, as Jack immediately closes the distance between them, and he's left staring down the corridor where Ianto disappeared.
"Have you sketched him yet?" Jack whispers, breath ghosting over Lorne's ear.
It's far too late for lies at this point, so Lorne nods. He's sketched all of them. Jack more than Ianto if he's honest.
"Sketch him tonight," Jack breathes. "Sketch him sucking your cock. Or better yet, mine."
Lorne swallows hard and squeezes his eyes shut, trying to think of anything but Ianto's full lips stretched tight around him. When he opens them again, Jack is gone, and he feels cold, lost, empty, and so very far from home.
Things are slow for several days after they put Geoff in the vaults. Ianto goes to see him every day. It's not just to feed him or bring him a change of clothes. Ianto wants to find out what makes him tick. He's seen so much since coming to Torchwood. Aliens of all sorts, most of them not friendly, most of them looking down on humanity at large. But Geoff...
He's just a man.
He's just a man like so many others, like so many Ianto has known his whole life. Grew up in Cardiff, worked the docks when he was old enough. Ianto has no idea what would make a man like this decide to turn against his people, against his planet. Ianto supposes it's his own form of ambition. He doesn't want to live a life like so many others. He wants to make something of himself, and the only opportunity he thinks he's had is this plot to harness the energy of the Rift.
When he talks to Geoff, he tries to figure out what's different about him, but there's nothing. He talks about normal things. Asks about rugby scores, the weather, Coronation Street of all things.
And Ianto keeps coming back. He knows he'll never figure out what's really going on in Geoff's mind, never quite figure out what makes him different. It's not his fascination with Geoff that keeps him returning to the vaults. It's his desire to be alone.
Ever since Jack painted those ridiculous, vivid pictures for him, he can't look at Lorne without picturing him naked, can't look at Jack without wondering what the two of them would look like together. He's annoyed, frustrated, and horny, and there's nothing he can do about it.
He'd been excited when he found out Lorne and Radek were coming to the Hub—not just because he hoped Radek would figure out the device that had been emitting such a strange energy reading, but because he wanted to talk to someone who was out there.
And now he couldn't. Radek was wrapped up in his work, and Ianto didn't want to disturb him, and Lorne...well, that was out of the question now.
All he could hope for at this point was that Radek figured it out quickly and they both went home so he could get back to his usual routine. Meantime, he'd try to keep himself as busy as possible.
Which, at Torchwood, is rather a given.
At around nine, Tosh picks up a reading consistent with Rift activity in a warehouse on the eastside of Cardiff. It's also giving off energy signatures that indicate it could be a nuclear-class device. Lorne offers to stay behind and monitor the activity while they go to check it out.
It is, of course, a trick.
Ianto gets separated from the rest of the team, and while he's trying to figure out a way to get to where he knows they're being held, he comes across Geoff.
His pistol is immediately drawn and he's aiming it at Geoff from across the room. "How did you get out?"
"I had a little help," Geoff says, perfectly casual.
"Your little friend'll be just fine in a few days. Might have a pretty nasty headache, though."
Ianto steps closer. There's nowhere for Geoff to run. He knows that, but he still wants to get Geoff closer, find a way of taking him out without killing him.
Geoff stands in the middle of the room, smiling calmly at Ianto as Ianto advances until he's standing right in front of Geoff.
Ianto's hand shakes as he holds the gun to Geoff's forehead, and Geoff laughs.
"You've never actually killed a human being before, have you?" His lips curl into a sneer and he steps forward, causing Ianto to take a step back. "It's one thing to exterminate aliens, snuff out the life of untold numbers of creatures from outer space. They're not human. You can't imagine them growing up down the street from you."
With every word, Ianto's hand shakes more. Geoff is right. He's never had to kill another human. And though he's threatened to before, though he's hurt other humans, hurt them badly, he's not sure even now that he could pull the trigger.
But he has to.
He has to, because Geoff won't let him go until he does, and if he doesn't get out of here, Jack will die. Gwen will die. The whole team...he's their last hope.
He cocks his pistol, and Geoff's smile fades just a little. Ianto's finger twitches on the trigger, and it's now or never, but he can't.
And that second of hesitation is all it takes for Geoff to wrest the pistol from his hand, and before Ianto can think of what to do next, Geoff has him on his knees with his hands behind his head, his own gun pressed to his temple.
"You think you're so hard, Ianto Jones. Jack's loyal soldier, ready to do anything for the Captain. But you've never been able to pull the trigger on another human being."
Ianto squeezes his eyes shut, and he can feel the cold steel of his gun against his skin. The warehouse is silent except for his breathing.
Until another pistol cocks, too far away to be the one at his head, and a low voice says, "No. But I have."
His eyes open, and he sees Lorne, blood still running down his cheek from a nasty cut on his temple, standing behind Geoff, gun to the back of his head. "Alien, human," Lorne says, voice cold and hard, "makes no difference to me. I've shot them all. Want to be next?"
"You wouldn't." His voice is steady, but Ianto can see the doubt in Geoff's eyes.
"Try me. You've got until three. One." Geoff's hand doesn't move. "Two." Lorne's count is slow, but steady, and still Geoff shows no sign of dropping his weapon. Ianto closes his eyes again, and when the beat he's counting in his head reaches three, there's only the ringing in his ears from the gunshot, warm blood splattering his face and the sound of Geoff's body as it hits the floor.
Lorne's at his side immediately, crouching next to him, hand on Ianto's shoulder. "You okay?"
For a moment, all Ianto can do is stare at him, fingers gripping the fabric of Lorne's jacket as he studiously averts his eyes from Geoff's body, from the blood pooling around him.
"Jack," he says eventually, voice rough and soft.
"We'll find him," Lorne says, and Ianto believes him because he has no other choice.
It isn't until much later that Ianto realizes Lorne had his stunner with him the entire time.
Once everything is cleared up, aliens killed or sent back to their planet with a warning, Lorne finds himself sitting on a table in the infirmary as Owen stitches up the cut above his eye.
"Is it always like this?" he asks, trying not to swing his legs like a kid.
"Constantly running for our lives from the slimy bad guys?" Owen says, smirking. "Yeah, pretty much."
Lorne grins. "Just like home."
Jack watches from the doorway, and for once it doesn't make Lorne uncomfortable. He turns his grin on Jack and gets a matching one in response.
"Oi! Quit moving or I'll have your eye out."
"Sorry," Lorne says, chastised, but still grinning.
"There," Owen says, satisfied, as he finishes off the last stitch and clips the thread short. "Good as new, mate. Just don't go swimming for a bit, yeah?"
"Not my first stitches." Lorne slides off the table, smiling. "Thanks, doc."
He follows Jack out of the infirmary and into his office as Owen calls after them, "No booze for the Yank, boss. He's got a concussion."
Jack laughs and claps a hand on Lorne's shoulder. "Sorry, Lorne," he says. "No celebratory drink for you."
Lorne shrugs, careful not to dislodge Jack's hand. "I'm used to it. Not my first concussion either."
Ianto is waiting in Jack's office, straightening a stack of papers on Jack's desk. Owen waves to them as he leaves the Hub.
And then they're alone.
Jack's hand is still warm and heavy on Lorne's shoulder, and Ianto is looking at him like he really, really wants to say something.
When he does, what comes out is, "Thank you. Again."
"For what?" Lorne asks, not fighting it anymore as he leans into Jack's hand, now moving over the back of his neck and up into his hair.
"For the team," Ianto whispers. "For Jack. For...for me."
Lorne nods. "I couldn't let you die," he says softly.
Ianto steps closer, hesitating for just a moment before pulling Lorne into a tight embrace. Jack's hand is still in his hair, and before long, Jack's arms snake around both their waists.
They just stand there for a long, long moment. Lorne loses track of time. It could be hours, or only seconds. It's comforting, right, exactly what Lorne has been needing.
And when Jack pulls away and heads for the manhole, climbing down the ladder, Lorne follows, knowing Ianto will be right behind.
And when Jack sits on his bed to pull off his boots then holds a hand out to each of them, that's right too.
When Lorne and Zelenka leave a few weeks later, Ianto tries to feel disappointed, but he can't. He'd known from the beginning that this would happen. He cares for Lorne, and will miss him, but he has Jack, and that's all he really needs.
That night, Jack is spooned up behind him, gently licking the sweat from his hairline, and Ianto buries his face in the pillow, trying to pick out Lorne's scent.
"Do you miss him?" Jack asks.
"No," Ianto says. "It was time for him to go."
After a few minutes, Ianto says, "Why did you do it?"
"Do what?" Jack's fingers tease along his ribcage.
"Bring us together like that. You never have before."
"You needed it," Jack says. "He needed it."
Ianto nods. He'd seen the change Lorne had undergone since being with them. He was more relaxed, better equipped to face whatever it was he faced out there.
"I needed it?"
Jack is quiet for a long moment. "You cared for him, yeah? Still do."
"Yes," Ianto says, shifting so that he's facing Jack.
"And you had sex with him."
"You should know," Ianto says, a little annoyed. "You were there."
"But he's gone now," Jack continues. "And there's still this." He brushes hairs back from Ianto's forehead gently. "There's still us."
Ianto nods, thinking he has an idea of where Jack's going with this.
"I'm always going to flirt," he says quietly. "And sometimes there will be sex. And I'll care about other people. I can't help it." He kisses Ianto very softly, leaning their foreheads together. "But there will still be us."
Ianto nods again, kissing Jack slowly before turning away again, settling back against Jack's chest.
"Jack?" Ianto asks.
"Next time Lorne comes to Cardiff, we should do this in my flat. Your bed's much too small."
He can feel Jack smiling against his neck. "Yes, dear."
Summary: Lorne joins the Torchwood team on temporary assignment. Lorne/Jack/Ianto