At Website: www.sundive.co.uk
Spoilers: for Torchwood, Episode 6, Countrycide
Summary: immediate episode reaction
There was no one left to shoot. He looked about in bloodthirsty desperation but the only people without bullet wounds were his own team and the kid from the pub. He let his arm drop. And in the terrible silence that followed all he could hear was quiet, broken sobbing from behind the slaughter table. All the rage drained from him. He stumbled, shoulder bumping a pipe as he took a step to the side and fell against the flesh-caked table.
In a second Jack was on his knees, working the filthy gag from Ianto's mouth, using a small device he shouldn't have been carrying to snap open the cuffs around bloodied wrists while he roughly manhandled the dirty, bruised face, searching for worse wounds. Ianto was sobbing, beyond terrified, sanity lost somewhere in the horror, and Jack wrapped one arm around his shoulders and pressed his hand to the wound at the side of his throat, where the wicked blade of the meat-cleaver had left its mark.
"God, I'm sorry, I'm sorry…." Because in a way it was his fault, and he knew he was to blame. Ianto rocked on his knees, was pulled into Jack's embrace, going as if it was no comfort at all; sobs wracking him, driving shudders through him as he bled into Jack's palm.
Blue eyes in the blue light. Jack smiled and tried not to make it sadly, smoothing his hand over Ianto's hair. "You're gonna be fine."
"I don't know if I believe that."
"They were about to…." His voice hitched and tears filled his eyes and Jack nodded.
"I know. But it's over." And it was. Jack had made sure of it. The villagers were dead, a suicide pact executed with vigour as they awaited trial. The village itself had been razed to the ground. If anyone had seen the black SUV parked up, its dark haired driver watching the buildings burn until only shells remained, no one had reported it.
He watched as Ianto sat up, looked around the low, sparse space that was Jack's bedroom, and moved until his back was against the wall, his knees up under his chin; the picture of misery. Jack hopped up to sit beside him, copying his pose.
"First time out and I get caught by a couple of cannibals, beaten and almost eaten."
Jack bumped their shoulders. "Not bad for a field virgin."
For a few seconds, Ianto just sat in silence and Jack didn't want to guess which was he was going to jump. Then he said, "I was scared to death, Jack. So bloody scared…."
"A man beat you unconscious, put a meat knife to your throat and was about to slice it open and let you bleed to death." A raw sound broke from Ianto's mouth - part sob, part groan - and he dropped his head to his knees, arms wrapping tighter around his legs. "You had the right to be scared then, and you have the right now."
He turned his head, looked up at Jack in the eerie light. "Would you have been scared?"
"Yeah. I was, actually. Scared of crashing into that garage and finding one or all of you dead."
"If you'd been in my position?" What could Jack say? "No, you wouldn't have been scared. Probably would have bitten his ankle or something." He could only hope the joking in Ianto's tone was healing humour rather than insanity creeping in around the edges. He dropped his arm from around Ianto's shoulders to hook it around his waist, squeezing him just slightly.
"I'm not you. Fear comes from experience. The next time some mad cannibal tries to butcher you, you'll react differently."
Ianto moved his head, left to right, across his knees. "I don't want there to be a next time, Jack. I don’t know… how I'm ever going to go out there again." His little laugh was definitely bordering on the hysterical.
"Come with us next time we go out, wherever it is, whatever it is. You know what they say, if you fall off your tripedalous…"
"…get straight back on it? And on this world we say 'horse'."
Leaning his head against Ianto's, Jack chuckled. "On this world?"
"When we were out there, before it all went to hell, you said to Owen 'you're the only species who camps', not 'we're the only species'. You're not from Earth, never mind America."
"One slip of the tongue, trust you to notice it."
"I do pay attention, Sir."
"Jack. Here and now at least, it's Jack." He pressed dry lips to Ianto's hair, breathing in the apple scent from his shampoo. "I made a decision out there, decided that you and Tosh could look after yourselves."
"We should have been able to…."
"That's not the point. We should have stayed together. See, in the past I've worked alone and the last time I did become part of a team… I was let down. So I still work alone, even though I'm a part of this just as much as Gwen or Owen or Tosh… just as much as you. But I made that decision because there is something I'm scared of; being responsible for you all, having what happens to any of you on my conscience. Bad enough that we lost Suzie, losing anyone else…."
Ianto was looking at him now. "Is it being responsible for us? Or is it caring for us? Is that what frightens you?" Jack blinked tears from his eyes, hating himself for this weakness. "When we were yelling at one another over a gun barrel, when I asked you if you'd never been in love…. I know you were with Estelle…."
"It wasn't Estelle."
"I kind of figured that out for myself. You were right, Jack, we can look after ourselves. You've taught us to. There's enough guilt on those broad shoulders already…."
Jack grinned. "You think I have broad shoulders?"
"I was just making a point…."
"No, you deliberately said I had broad shoulders."
There was the barest hint of a smile in his voice when he clarified, "It was just a throw-away comment."
"I don't think so."
"You think everything everyone says to you is a come-on."
"I do not!"
"Yes, you do…."
Toshiko stopped in the doorway of Jack's office and listened to the increasingly teasing conversation with a growing feeling of unease and a germinating seed of jealousy in her heart. She wondered if Gwen had really gone home, and why Owen wasn't answering his mobile. If Jack was going after Ianto now, who was left for her?