[personal profile] wanda1969
Title: "Back Stage: Enter Stage Left, Act I"
Rating: Varies between chapters- all warnings posted with each chapter.
Spoilers/Disclaimers : Torchwood, belongs to the BBC and RTD, I’m just borrowing the characters- I own nothing here, nor do I make any money! So please don't prosecute! It’s an AU story, so I’m pretty sure that it shouldn’t spoil anyone’s enjoyment of Torchwood itself.
Summary: Torchwood characters in a story set in the contemporary world of UK theatre/entertainment.
A/N: Another AU, I’m afraid! Fun, friendship, romance and behind the scenes shenanigens… focussing on Ianto Jones (a lighting engineer) and Jack Harkness (a jobbing actor/’turn’). Apologies, again, for lj/dw’s expected font changes.
Chapter 4

***

The sets were unwieldy; the stage crew had spent the Monday afternoon trying to block their positions on stage, only to find that they had had to re-jig where they would be placed. There just wasn’t time during the scene changes and blackout to set them. The team had had its work cut out, moving cloths and backdrops and altering the flatage and sets.

The work on stage wasn’t necessarily down to Ianto and Toshiko, as Lighting and Sound Techs, but at times like this they all pulled together whenever possible- after all the two engineers would be lighting and mic-ing up the finished show. It was in their best interest to make sure that their equipment would work.

Ianto had been frustrated with the entire process- but that was nothing new. Every time an outside crew and cast came in, the Grand’s Team had to show them how to work with the backstage layout and its idiosyncrasies. The theatre’s crew knew every nook and cranny of the old building, knew the sight lines and Wing space- what would work and what wouldn’t. Every show had its own challenges, and not every show would work on the aged, non standard stage.

***

At five in the afternoon the Grand’s full time staff let the extra crew go to get ready for an early start the next day, while the rest of them stayed for a few more hours finishing off the day’s work, but not before they’d ordered in some Chinese takeaway to keep them going.

***

Sitting round the table in the staff room, the crew chatted about their day before thoughts turned to their new colleagues for the next month or so.

“So,” Owen said with a pause to stuff a whole mini spring roll into his mouth,
before he continued, just about audibly as he chewed away. “What do you think about them?” 

Gwen, who was in charge of locking up the auditorium when they’d all finished, looked at him, all wide-eyed and questioning.

Owen caught the unasked question. “The cast,” he clarified.

“They seem nice enough,” Gwen trailed off.

“Well, I think that Rose is a bit of alright,” Owen stated and reached for the last spring roll.

“Owen,” Ianto chastised, with a roll of his eyes. He made sure that the paper napkin that he’d tucked into his shirt was still safely in place.

“OK, OK… what about Harkness then?”

Toshiko reached for her noodles expertly with the disposable chopsticks. “What about him?”

“Well, he’s obviously gay…” Owen replied.

“No, he’s not. Really… do you think?” Gwen said and looked around at her colleagues. She might be engaged, but she’d been unable to stop herself from eyeing up the actor.

“No, I don’t- that’s just Owen. He likes to think that every male is gay. Gives him a better chance, or so he likes to believe…” said Toshiko drily, taking in a mouthful of stir fried vegetables and tofu.

“Tosh… period military is not the dress code of a straight man,” Owen tried to make his point.

Ianto rolled his eyes again.

Gwen had a dreamy look. “I think it suits him. It’s sort of classic…”

“Well, what do you think, Teaboy?” Owen asked using his nickname for Ianto, due to the Welshman’s obsession with the staffroom coffee machine and accompanying beverage- despite the fact that tea itself never really gave the needed caffeine filled kick that an espresso did. “You and him seemed to be getting all pally the other night.”

“The coat’s a prop from his new TV series… and I really don’t care whether he’s gay or not, Owen.”

Tosh quickly interjected. “I’ve heard on the grapevine that he’ll shag anyone if they’re gorgeous enough…”

“My point exactly!” Owen said triumphantly. “Not straight. Or, at least, not totally straight...”

“Does it matter?” Ianto was getting bored with the conversation.

“It does if he’s going to do Rose Tyler!”

“Do you really have to be so crude?” Gwen said. She had a fantasy, which she didn’t want to reveal to the others, that the American would sweep her off her feet. “And you’re only hoping he’s gay so you can try it on with her.”

“A man’s gotta work these things out, Gwen,” was all that Owen replied.

Luckily Toshiko interrupted the train of the conversation. “Shouldn’t we be getting on with planning the next couple of hours? I’d really like to get home before I’m due to get up and get in here for tomorrow’s rehearsals…”

Gwen and Ianto quickly agreed and forced the conversation towards more directly work related matters.

***

Tuesday’s Tech rehearsals went well, but showed up the shortfalls of the placement of some of Ianto’s lanterns now that the positioning of some of the sets had been modified. Add to that, some of the lights simply weren’t working.

He picked up the Lighting board’s remote control and wearily rolled out the scaff tower from the Stage Right wings where it was kept during Production week, and placed it under the Specials- lights designed to highlight certain actors, scenes or sets- before climbing to the top. The lanterns just weren’t accessible via the gantries and walkways above, and they needed moving, re-focussing and simply sorting out.

The Engineer was alone in the darkened auditorium. Strictly speaking, Health and Safety rules dictated that he shouldn’t be working alone at heights, but the rest of the crew were exhausted and Ianto had ushered them out of the theatre, assuring them all that he would be careful (after all, in his job, working at heights- and in the dark- was more or less an everyday occurrence which didn’t bother the man at all), and lock up the Hall when he’d done.

It was tiring work, every time he’d finished work on one set of lights he had to climb down and then drag the tower over to the next set of lights to be worked on, before climbing back up to start on another group. At least the remote controller didn’t force him to have to leave the stage and switch the lights on and off at the lighting desk- and a good thing, too; some of the bigger ones were two Kilowatts, and if they were switched on for any length of time they quickly became too hot to handle.

Ianto had reached Centre Stage when he heard the Back Stage entrance door creak open, and footsteps making their way onto stage. The theatre security guard, Andy, he assumed. He looked down from the platform and was surprised to see that the footsteps belonged to Jack Harkness, who quickly spotted the tower in the middle of the stage and looked up.

“Hi… anyone there?” he called out as he peered upwards.

“Just me,” Ianto called down, leaning over and catching Jack’s eye. “I thought you lot had gone home too?”

“Well, yeah… there’s only me left. I was on my way out, and thought I’d see if I could have a quick half hour practising  that Act One finale song- it sounds different in here.”

Ianto smiled. Each auditorium had its own acoustics; it was no wonder that a singer as good as Jack wanted to check them out.

“Anyway, what are you doing still here?” Jack shouted up. The shouting wasn’t really that necessary- Cardiff Grand had excellent, if a little unusual, acoustics. Even Deustsche Grammophon, the Welsh Symphony Orchestra and the Welsh National Opera had used the building for recordings- with Toshiko Sato giving valuable advice in the background.

“Just doing a bit of refocussing. Y’know, getting things ready for you and your precious lot’s rehearsals tomorrow.” Ianto’s tone was playful and friendly and it garnered a laugh from the so-called American.

“Can I come up?” he asked.

“I’m not sure that’s wise Jack. I won’t be popular if I allow Hartmann’s leading man up here and he falls off.”

“Hey, I’m good at heights! And I’ll have you know that I actually know quite a bit about lighting- I even did a bit at college in the States. And two pairs of hands are quicker than one.”

The actor threw his coat onto a nearby flight case and already had his foot on the first rung of the tower’s ladder. Ianto shook his head. The other man appeared to be determined and wasn’t to be dissuaded. “OK.”

Jack made his way to the top swiftly and soon he was climbing through the small trap door and onto the top platform; Ianto was impressed and wished his own crew treated heights with such ease and confidence.

“So, what can I do?” Jack grinned enthusiastically.

“Well, I’ve just finished refocusing and gelling a couple of lights but somewhere in that mess,” Ianto pointed disgustedly to a large tangle of wires taped to the lighting bar- that was definitely the last time he was allowing Owen to help with the rigging, however behind time he was. “Are some faulty cables.”

“I’m onto it. So… untangle and test the cables? You got a multimeter, or are we gonna do this manually?”

Ianto was surprised, and that surprise was clearly etched on his face if Jack’s reaction was anything to go by.

“Hey, it wasn’t all greasepaint and pretending to be a tree at college! And I did my fair share of back stage work in the early days.”

The Lighting Engineer laughed and reached into a waistcoat pocket and produced his multimeter. His liking for waistcoats wasn’t a fashion statement as such, much as he liked them; he’d long ago found that the numerous pockets provided ample storage for all manner of things: PVC tape, bolts, spanners… and the meter he was currently holding.

“Right, then. Let’s get moving. Sooner we get this lot sorted out, the sooner we can both get out of here. Where’s the problem?”

Ianto pointed to the offending lanterns and watched as the actor methodically began tracing his hands along the wires, strong but slim fingers seeking out the connecting cables amongst the knots. If all the crew were this enthusiastic, Ianto was sure that he could cut rigging time in half. He briefly thought about asking if Jack had ever thought of giving up acting for life as a Technician here in Cardiff.

***

The work was done quickly and, true to Jack’s word, he had turned out to know a lot more about technical matters than the average ‘turn’. The two men finished up and Ianto produced his trusty roll of PVC tape (from another waistcoat pocket) and neatly taped up the now fixed cables.

Ianto climbed down the ladders first, holding a handful of now defunct extension leads. Jack followed, perhaps a little too hastily; the Welshman saw the accident before it had even happened, but it all occured too quickly for him to stop it. As Jack descended, his foot slipped off the dusty second-to-last rung, and the actor stumbled and lost his footing.

The next thing he knew, Ianto had an armful of ‘American’ leading man, the surprise causing him to stagger backwards. Seconds later, he had tumbled to the floor, Jack on top of him, chuckling heartily.

Winded by the fall, all Ianto could do was lie there, underneath the warm, heavy weight of the other man, the smell of Jack’s cologne filling his nostrils. What was that? If he hadn’t been so shocked by the intimate- and possibly inappropriate- position he found himself in, he would have asked him what it was. Their faces were mere inches apart and the Welshman was momentarily entranced by smiling dark blue pupils the colour of lapis, and laughter lines which played at the corners of Jack’s eyes. Ianto hadn’t thought much about the actor’s age, but now, close to, he estimated him to be in his mid-thirties or so; still, he wore his age well…

As Ianto’s breathing evened out, he started to come to his senses and rolled the pair of them over, pushing himself to his knees before standing up. He reached out a hand, which was quickly grasped and he helped Jack to his feet.

The hand was quickly withdrawn as soon as they were both upright.

“Sorry,” Jack apologised. “Looks like I’m more out of practice with this than I thought. Are you OK?”

“Sure… Thanks for the help. I owe you a drink.” He checked his wristwatch, feeling oddly discomfited. It was just past half seven. By the time they’d pushed the scaff tower into the wings and he’d locked up and clocked off it would easily be eight o’clock.

“I’ll hold you to that at the First Night party.” Jack seemed to sense that the young man was ill at ease and eager to get home, but nevertheless, smiled.

“Again, it’s a deal. Come on then, let’s get this thing out of the way and lock up.”

***

To Be Continued…
Scaff- short for scaffold.
Glossary: http://www.britishtheatreguide.info/otherresources/glossary/glossac.htm
And another versions of the world according to Techies:
http://spazchica1313.tripod.com/id49.html
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wanda1969

September 2012

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