Pairing: Jack / Ianto
Spoilers: Torchwood, episode 4
A Break in the Tension
The tension was palpable for days afterwards. Ianto going quietly about his business of clearing up after the rest of them, a silent apology perhaps, perhaps not. Perhaps he didn't think he owed them one. Perhaps he didn't. Gwen, Owen and Toshiko definitely thought that he did.
Jack, for the most part, sulked in his office or in the boardroom, looking over the results of the scans he had running over as much of their galaxy as he could reach, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, every week since he'd arrived at Torchwood.
During those long, difficult days there was one alien sighting. Jack went alone, took his anger and frustration out on the poor innocent Gyglyte in a dark back alley after shooting the bulb out in the closest sodium street light. After that, the alien had turned around, crawled back into its pod and gone straight back to wherever it had come from. No one said a word. Gwen especially kept quiet for once, keeping her moral speech to herself, wondering who it was who Jack Harkness had loved so much that just alluding to them sent him into a downwards spiral worse than the one Ianto seemed to be descending.
It couldn't last, and the break finally came one afternoon. Gwen and Owen were out talking to a couple of witnesses who'd spotted the UFO above Cardigan Bay days before, minutes before all hell had broken loose in the hub. Toshiko was working away at her desk, busy with something or other. Ianto made coffee - Blue Mountain, the very best - and took two mugs up to the boardroom where Jack was busy studying his readouts.
He tapped his knuckles on the glass and waited for Jack to look up before pushing open the door and closing it behind him, putting one mug down in front of his boss, taking the seat directly opposite.
"I'm sorry." It was a good start in his opinion.
He watched Jack fold up the printed papers and push them to one side, watched him wrap his hands around the mug and breathe in the strong aroma, a hint of pleasure on his face.
"For which part?" Ianto slid his eyes onto Jack's, then away. "Hiding a cyberwoman in the basement? Bringing a stranger into our secret base of operations? Holding a gun on me, threatening to shoot me? Punching me so hard my face didn't heal for three days? Putting all of us in danger? Or letting loose a killer who tried to delete me twice?" To his relief there was no malice, no anger in Jack's tone. It was all fact, he was simply asking a question.
"For putting you all in danger. For that, I'm sorry."
Jack nodded. "For that, you're forgiven."
For a long time, Ianto sat, sipping his coffee, watching Jack sitting and drinking his own. And when he finished, he smiled once at Jack, stood up and left.
Another alien. Another long night. The team returned battered and bruised, dropped off their weapons and went to their respective homes to clean up and rest. Jack went into his office, waited for his wounds to heal. The cyberwoman's double attack had drained him. He was exhausted but he couldn't sleep. All he could do was sit down, close his eyes and let his mind wander.
Slowly he became aware of Ianto moving quietly around the hub, cleaning up, making coffee. He let the sounds filter into his daydreams and in his head a picture of the hub drew itself around a neatly dressed Welshman picking up their rubbish and dropping it into a black bin bag.
He drifted, and sometime later he started to realise that the sound being carried up through the cylinder of the underground base was no longer that of domestic solitude. Slowly he swung his legs off the desk, stretched his bunched, knotted muscles and popped his spine back into alignment as he rose. He could hear sobbing, the sound of soul-deep grief.
Jack moved silently out onto the mezzanine and looked across. He was sitting on the couch, head in his hands, shoulders rising and falling with the destructive strength of his emotions, his whole body shaking. Jack went to him, putting aside his residual anger, wrapping his arms around the man he desperately wanted to call his friend and trapping him, fighting resistance for the couple of seconds that it took for Ianto to give in to what he needed the most.
Jack didn't say a word, didn't flinch when short fingernails bit into his arms. He rested his face against short dark hair and made the right white noise so that Ianto quieted quickly, sobs muted to weeping, crying himself out. "I'm sorry," he managed eventually in a voice as broken as the rest of him.
Jack loosened his arms, still keeping his ward against him, the dark head rested in the crook of his shoulder. "What are you sorry for?" he asked gently.
"For holding a gun in your face. For hitting you. For calling you a monster."
Shaking his head, Jack rubbed his cheek against Ianto's hair. "Apology accepted holding a gun to my face and you're forgiven for that powerful right hook. But you don't need to apologise for calling me a monster. I am a monster."
"I am. There's so much you don't know about me, almost as much as I don't know about you. For example, I didn't know you were in London during the invasion. And you didn't know that the cyberwoman killed me - deleted me - twice." He let it sink in, knew the moment it did because Ianto pulled away from him enough to be able to look into his face and see that he wasn't exaggerating. Leaving one around the narrow shoulders, Jack let the other one fall and sat back into the couch, taking Ianto with him.
"But you're… you're here."
"I can't die. Something happened a while back and ever since then I've been immortal. Something kills me and I just… get up, I heal and I go on living. The second time around I knew how much it hurt, and I felt so… dead already I honestly thought it would be enough. All my limbs went numb, my heart was dancin' random beats, and the pain was more than I'd felt in a very long time. When I woke, realised I wasn't dead, and saw you lying there, I thought I'd better do something about you, because no way were you getting away without another damn good yellin' at."
Ianto nodded slowly. "I remember," he sniffed once, "you were… kissing me." The other thing was too much to take in, Jack knew from previous experience, and what was he supposed to say anyway, to a man who was telling him he couldn't die?
"You weren't dead. You were breathing. You just needed a bit of a boost. You'd have opened your eyes eventually but by then we might all have been dead. Didn't want us dying without you there to witness it. Seeing as it was your fault and all." The man under his arm tensed, and Jack squeezed him. "Hey, come on. I forgive you for that too. No point in holding a grudge, life's too short." The irony wasn't lost on him. "At least, it's supposed to be."
"Do you understand why I did it?"
"Yeah. But you need to understand why I was so angry." He paused, not sure if what he was about to divulge was too much information, decided it was, but he was going to say it anyway. "I've come across them before, the Cybermen, before the invasion in London. I was almost upgraded." He stared down at the base of the water tower, letting the ever-moving flow hypnotise him just a little. "I was in a conversion unit, trapped, that torturous cradle holding me in place while the knives and the blades and the needles started to tear me up. I felt it, every slice, every jab as it started to drain the blood…. And then it all stopped, everything but the agony of it. And someone got me out, pulled blades from my face, a rotary blade from my leg and two fucking great syringes from my arms. He saved me, just before they could do any real damage. But I don't mind admitting I was scared to death. Not of dying, but of becoming one of those things; mindless, featureless, without an inch of humanity. That's what they do, and once you've been converted it's the end." He dragged his focus back to Ianto, aching when he saw the wet, red-rimmed eyes; the enormity of what he was saying at the edge of the other's comprehension, knowing in Ianto's mind he was seeing the London conversion facility Lisa had been dragged from. Best to leave him thinking that way. Jack ghosted his fingers over the short hairs at his temple. "Lisa died a long time ago. All you did was set her soul free."
More tears blossomed. "I know. It was just so hard… I loved her. I really loved her and for so long I'd believed I could save her, make her whole again."
"I know. And I'm sorry."
Jack welcomed the silence that settled over them, broken only by Ianto sniffing now and again. It was a while before either of them spoke and it was Ianto who did eventually. "Who was she?"
Running his fingernail over his trousers, Jack glanced up. "Who was who?"
"When I talked about loving Lisa… I thought you might actually cry. There was someone, someone you'd have done the same for, someone you'd die for."
If I could. Again, Jack thought about it, but if he wanted Ianto to start opening up to him, he needed to open up a little himself. "He. It's a he. Sad thing is I never knew how much I loved him until I'd lost him."
"Is he… dead?"
"No. At least, I don't think so. He's out there, somewhere."
A tiny smile touched Ianto's lips. "So Owen's right then? You are gay."
Jack couldn't help his own smile. "If everyone stopped using labels, this world would be a much more peaceful place. I'm adaptable. It just so happens that the one I fell in love with has a penis. Or at least, I'm making that assumption." He met Ianto's quizzical stare. "It's a very long story and I'm not going to tell it to you, at least, not tonight. You can tell me something though. When you were in London, in Torchwood, did you see anything… odd? I mean, apart from the cybermen and the daleks and the chaos…." Jack trailed off, thinking he was on to a losing thing with the question. But Ianto shifted under his arm.
"There was something. When I was… taking Lisa out of the facility, the whole place was coming down on us. There was a man in a brown suit, didn't look like he belonged there somehow, and he'd been crying. I almost ran into him and he looked at me with such sadness in his eyes… then he ran down the steps into the equipment storage area and I shouted to him that there was no way out but he… he walked into this big blue box - like one of the old 1960s police boxes - and it… it vanished." Jack closed his eyes. He'd seen that sight himself and he could still feel the stab of abandonment and betrayal. "I didn't stop to think about it, I got us both out of there, got Lisa to safety. And afterwards I was so busy salvaging any of the conversion equipment that I could I didn't think about it again."
It was a missed opportunity. And Jack couldn't help but wonder if Rose's absence from Ianto's tale had anything to do with the Doctor's tears. "I should have been there." Ianto sat forward and Jack followed him, tightening his hand on the slim, suited shoulder, turning to face him. "We're here for you," he blurted out, "okay? Don't think that we're not. I don't want you to ever feel like you're alone, like you have to keep something like this from us again. I know what it's like to be alone, believe me, and I know how hard it is."
Frozen in place, large blue eyes stared up at him. "But you're alone, aren't you? I mean, you play with the others - games and stuff - you interact with them and go out with them. But you separate yourself from them in such subtle ways they don't see it. Only ever drinking water when you're in bars, sleeping - living - here at the hub, not revealing anything important about yourself."
Jack responded gently, "I thought I just had." His other hand strayed to Ianto's face.
"Why did you kiss me?"
"I told you, I needed you conscious. I couldn't leave you there, she would have hurt you."
"Then why didn't it feel functional? Why did it feel… sexual?"
Holding the watery gaze, Jack apologised. "I'm sorry about that. It got out of hand. Everything did. I was angry, you were pushing all the right buttons and…" he shrugged, "I can't explain it. I can promise you that it won't happen again." He leaned closer. "If you don't want it to."
Ianto made no move to get away, but neither did he move towards Jack. "I don’t… I don't know about that…"
"No pressure, Ianto," but he knew his very presence was pressure. He flirted with everyone and everything and got away with it. It was just who and what he was that made him irresistible. Before the Doctor had strolled into his life, Jack had been used to getting what and who he wanted. Now… now he was more cautious about who he approached, as cautious as he was with setting his heart on something. Because his heart had been ripped from him at the same time as he'd been stabbed in the back.
It was a confident voice that replied, "No pressure needed, Sir."
"It's Jack." He kissed Ianto with his own name on his lips, pressing his tongue into the wet warmth of the other man's mouth. What happened next was a blur, and it was some time later when he worked out what he'd tasted in the kiss.
Fingers were at his shirt buttons, tugging them through the holes with more urgency than he would have believed possible from the quiet Welshman who made the coffee. Hot skin touched his flesh, possessive, almost fevered. Getting Ianto's tie undone, he worked the buttons of the white shirt like a pro and once he'd pulled the tails from loose, soft trousers, Jack lay back on the couch and pulled his companion over him, hands at either side of his head, melding their mouths back together.
He could feel a wrist pressing into the side of his neck and a hand working his own fly, insinuating itself inside his trousers, then inside his underwear, grasping his cock in a tight grip that tore a howl from his throat, forced him to yank his face from Ianto's just to draw breath. "Gods… where'd you learn this?"
Jack didn't get an answer. Instead, Ianto knelt up, straddling one of Jack's legs in order to work his clothing down over his hips, over his knees and off, dropped to the floor in an untidy heap he'd clear up later. Jack pushed his hands into the waistband of Ianto's trousers and helped him undress, shirt and tie too even though Jack's shirt was still framing his torso.
He had a moment to admire Ianto's length and girth - neither quite up to his own proportions he he'd never been one for comparisons. Quality, over quantity when it came to the actual tool, and the one before him was perfect. His head felt light, like he'd been starved of air for too long, and when he was covered again and his mouth claimed, he felt a blackout at the edges of his consciousness, held at bay only by the incredible sensation of turgid flesh pressing against his own begging erection.
Fingers in Ianto's hair, much like he'd done before, Jack yanked his head up and stared into a mask of passion. "Is this who you really are? Have you been keeping this from me?" A shake of the head - he didn't know. "Fuck me. You said… one day you'd leave me to suffer and die the way I left her. Get your revenge another way. Take me. I know you want to so do it."
Uncertainty breezed over the wonderfully hot expression, not something Jack wanted to see. "What about… lubrication?"
"Use spit. I don't care. Just do it, please."
It was painful at first, hard and almost brutal, a side of Ianto Jack would never have guessed even existed before he'd felt the force of the man's fist connect with his jaw. But it was so good. Jack lay back, let it happen, let the pain of being breached wash over him, and revelled in the duel stimulation of hot skin and sweat over his cock and the pounding to his prostate. He felt as if the earth was melting from under him and Ianto was the only thing keeping him from drowning in it.
He felt his lover's climax moments before his own, felt a mouth over his, hands on his body, weight pressing down on him. Just before the sickening darkness covered his mind and he blacked out.
When he came to, he was alone. There was a blanket covering him where he still lay on the couch, and a cooling mug of coffee on the floor next to him. Ianto was nowhere to be seen or heard. He could only hope he hadn't fucked things up any worse than they already were. He'd been fucked, that was for sure. His ass hurt in a way he hadn't felt in a long while and he felt like he might be stuck to the cushion. Whisky. He'd tasted whisky in Ianto's mouth when they'd first kissed and it had gone straight to his head, literally. For some reason, since he'd returned from the dead on Satellite Five, alcohol had had a bad, bad effect on him. Even just the hint of it in a lover's mouth was enough to send his brain fuzzy.
He needed to find Ianto before morning. He needed to explain. Unsticking himself from the seat, he leaned down and picked up his mug. First and foremost, he needed coffee.