Pairing: Jack/Ianto, references to Gwen/Owen
Rating: R (language)
Summary: Six days in the relationship of Jack and Ianto; Jack lets it get to him for the first time.
Disclaimer: Don’t own ‘em, never met ‘em, don’t make money off ‘em.
Notes: Thanks to fatchickengirl for the beta. Spoilers for “Cyberwoman”. This was inspired (somewhat bizarrely) by the Lou Reed song “Perfect Day”. Comments appreciated!
On Monday, there was a single kiss.
One of Torchwood’s aliens lurking in the cells had mysteriously vanished. It’d apparently been carrying a teleportation device in an unseemly part of its body that Owen had not managed, and been too disgusted, to scan when it was admitted. The escapee had managed to go on a rampage and crash a WI meeting; spewing hot green slime in every direction and causing considerable damage with its five-inch claws. Fortunately, the team had arrived just in time and managed to subdue it before it killed anyone.
Ianto, whose job it was now to fill out all the paperwork for this fandango, still shuddered at the memory. Capturing an eight-foot, slightly pissed off Flemontapia, spraying everything in the vicinity green was nothing, nothing, compared to calming down a room full of screaming middle-aged women running around in terror, throwing biscuits at the ‘visitor’ to scare it off. Then, refusing to be ret-conned unless they consulted their lawyers. Plus, Ianto had taken a fair few hits from those Bourbon Creams himself; who knew that something coated in chocolate could be so painful?
Jack was sharing a table with Ianto as the two scribbled away on sheets that were spilling onto the floor; Ianto had forced a calculator and a huge stack of balance sheets onto Jack and, with a rather defensive, “Well, I’m busy!” set him to work.
The base was almost silent; there was nothing but the sound of pencils scratching, paper rustling, and the Captain occasionally swearing under his breath at the calculator. Even Myfanwy was quiet; sleeping with her head between her wings. It was eerily tranquil for Torchwood and both men felt quite unnerved; they weren’t used to a lack of beeping, or screeching, or Owen dropping something and yelling “OH, FUCK!” as a result. Something had to break the silence sooner or later.
Ianto half-rose from his chair to reach for a paper across the table. Before he could sit back down he found Jack’s hand on the back of his neck, and within seconds Jack’s lips were pressed against his. Ianto felt Jack’s fingers running through the hair at the back of his head and started to lose himself in it, waiting for Jack to really get to work with his tongue, as he always did.
But no such thing happened. Jack broke the kiss after a few seconds and settled back down again to his calculator.
Just one kiss. No more, no less. Ianto touched his lips, surprised.
“What was that for?”
Jack looked up and gave him a little smile. “The next time you get in trouble, you’ll have something to think about, to keep your mind off things.”
Ianto opened his mouth as if to speak, then closed it again and nodded. It probably wasn’t worth telling Jack that he didn’t really need kissing for that to happen.
On Tuesday, Ianto’s friend from college, Chris, dragged him out against his will to a bar, where he proceeded to regale Ianto with stories of his life since their studying days, whilst getting slowly and steadily more drunk by the hour.
On his sixth beer, Chris suddenly piped up, “So, Ianto; you getting any?”
Ianto nearly choked on his second pint; he wasn’t expecting the question at all. “I’m sorry…getting any?”
“You know what I mean.” Nevertheless, Chris performed an obscene mime to illustrate his query.
Ianto knew there was no sense in avoiding the question. Chris was relentless when it came to this subject. “I…well, yes.” He didn’t look Chris in the eye, fearing he could somehow tell what Ianto had been up to simply by looking at him.
“Ha!” yelled Chris, far too loudly. He sipped at his drink. “Of course; I could tell as soon as I met up with you, you were acting differently. So, who’s the lucky lady? How’s it all working out?”
Oh, what a question…thought Ianto, as he took a long sip of his beer, praying that by the time he put the glass down, he would have thought of something to say; some kind of lie that would veer Chris off in another direction. No solution came; instead he put his drink down and told his friend the truth.
“I don’t know.”
Chris’ eyes narrowed. “What d’you mean, you ‘don’t know’? How can you not know how it’s going?”
Ianto looked his friend in the eye. “It’s the truth, Chris. I don’t know; I don’t know anything. I honestly don’t know what I’m getting.”
On Wednesday, they were almost caught, locked in a tight embrace in Jack’s office. They only just heard Owen’s footsteps clanging up the steps in time; Jack pulling away urgently and, with no other alternative, pushing the semi-dressed Ianto underneath his desk and chucking his clothes in after him.
Ianto barely had time to register his new surroundings before he saw Owen sauntering in, holding a piece of bright blue machinery covered in buttons and dials. Ianto kept as still as he could, and tried not to breathe. He and Jack had been kissing in the one blind spot of the office that couldn’t be seen from the outside, so Owen couldn’t have seen anything. Still, if he caught him now…
“Here’s the equipment you wanted, Boss.” Owen said, handing over the blue contraption to Jack.
“Thanks, this should help a lot.” Ianto heard Jack reply, and despite only being able to see the back of his head, he could tell that the Captain sounded totally calm and unruffled, as always. Not for the first time, Ianto marvelled at Jack’s ability to fluently lie; to stay completely unconcerned and care-free. Even when there was a half-naked Welsh tea-boy hidden underneath his desk, with his hand over his mouth should he accidentally cough. God knows what Jack had done in his past life to perfect that little art!
Jack had turned to his safe to lock the blue object away; Owen was idly tapping the doorframe with his fingers, not sure what to say in the silence. Finally he came out with what Ianto had been dreading; “Have you seen Ianto? Wouldn’t mind a coffee.”
“Um…I think he went down to the archives to do some filing.” Jack replied absently, slamming the door of the safe and entering the combination.
Owen nodded slowly and left without comment, but Ianto, from his vantage point, could see him frowning as he closed the door. His heart gave an unwelcome lurch; if Owen suspected something he’d be watching Ianto like a hawk for weeks, following his every move. Put Owen on a scent and he never, ever gave up.
Jack surreptitiously watched Owen descend the stairs; both men listening to his footsteps clang against the metal floor getting quieter and quieter, until they had faded into nothingness.
“Has he…ow!” Ianto’s head made painful contact with the desk as he tried to scramble up.
“Yes, he’s gone. You’ve got three minutes, maximum. Go, go, go!”
Spurred on by the sudden urgency in Jack’s voice, Ianto awkwardly crawled out of the tiny space, dashed past Jack without looking at him, flung open the door and fled down the stairs, his footsteps echoing throughout the Hub.
Ianto turned and found his blazer, tie and shirt being thrown down to him. He caught them, nearly overbalancing, and made his way to the bottom of the steps, bewildered at how a simple tryst with Jack had somehow turned into an assault course. He patted the pockets of his blazer, and looked up Jack.
“Where’s the stopwatch?”
The look of mixed exasperation and disdain Jack pointed in his direction could have felled a tree.
“Ianto, do you honestly think you’re gonna need that anytime soon?”
Ianto nodded and took off, taking the remaining steps two at a time and disappearing into a dark corner of the Hub to get dressed; not realising that Jack had been watching him every step of the way, and that he was staring at the spot Ianto had stood long after he had left.
On Thursday, when Tosh, Owen and Ianto had gone out to examine some abandoned alien artefacts found near Cardiff bay, Jack was distracted from his work by Gwen entering the Hub half an hour late, shouting into her mobile.
“Look, Rhys, I…just listen to me; none of this is my fault! If I refuse to do work just because we have an engagement I could lose my job. Of course that bloody matters! Will you just…don’t FUCKING speak to me like that!”
With a scream of frustration, Gwen threw her mobile away from her as hard as she could. It hit the metal banister of the stairs with a dull thunk, bounced off and landed on the floor, breaking into pieces instantly.
Instantly Jack’s office door was open.
“Gwen!” he yelled down the stairs, “My office. Now!”
Fuming but compliant, Gwen stomped up the stairs and entered Jack’s office, collapsing into the chair opposite him and scowling like a child.
Jack looked her straight in the eye.
“What the hell was that all about?”
Gwen sighed, bad-tempered. “I had to cancel on a party Rhys and I were going to and he exploded on me. Told me I was being a selfish bitch, wasn’t thinking about him at all, the usual.”
“The usual?” Jack leaned forward, resting on his elbows. “If this sort of thing is becoming usual to you, then you two have some serious problems.”
“Well done!” Gwen congratulated him in a voice dripping with sarcasm. “I couldn’t quite work that out for myself, thanks.”
“Gwen. On your first day here, I told you that you needed to go home and live a normal life. Don’t fall too deep into…”
Before Jack could finish his sentence, Gwen’s interrupted with a release of words that seemed to have been bottled up inside her for months.
“HOW? How the hell can I not fall in too deep? I love this job, Jack, I bloody love it; it’s the weirdest, most amazing thing I’ve ever done in my life. And yet, nearly every day I have to deal with the same shit I dealt with when I was police officer; all that…all that death, and pain, and betrayal. But this time it’s far worse, because I can’t talk about it! He’s the man I love, and I can’t just let rip and tell him about all this incredible stuff that I…that I have to keep bottled up inside me. Do you have any idea what that’s like? It’s hell, absolute hell.”
She stopped, waiting for Jack to say something, anything. But he stared down at his folded elbows on the desk, not looking at her.
Gwen sighed and put her head in her hands.
“I can’t talk to him, so I come here and do more work to put off going to a silent home, he yells at me because of it, so I come back here and do more work. It’s a stupid cycle.”
Still Jack didn’t look at her, still he said nothing. She glanced up at him wearily.
“I love him.” she said, simply.
Jack looked up for the first time.
“And what about Owen?” he asked.
He had hit a sore spot. Gwen groaned and dropped her head into her hands again, failing to answer him.
“Don’t love him too, I suppose?”
Gwen couldn’t meet his eyes, she just couldn’t. Jack spoke again.
“Gwen, any problem you have with Rhys, even if it does involve Torchwood, can be solved if you love him enough. If you love him as much as you say you do, you can wade through the crap you’ve got yourself into and come out clean and dry on the other side. But getting involved with Owen like that, just for your own benefit, it’s…it’s hardly going to make things better.”
Jack could feel his voice falter as the utter hypocrisy of what he was saying hit him.
How the hell can you tell her that? He felt an unbidden part of his mind, the one he spent most of his time trying to quash, speak out. How can you say all that, when every day, you…
Jack willed his brain to stop thinking about it. About him, and the wave of confusion and guilt that kept cropping up whenever he thought about him too long.
Gwen looked at him with eyes filled with desperation; “All I want is someone to confide in about my life, Jack. Someone I don’t need to keep secrets from. Owen’s my…he’s my sanctuary, Jack. He’s my escape. Haven’t you ever wanted someone like that?
All the time, Gwen, all the time.
Gwen shook her head, her eyes shut. “Oh God, I don’t know what to do. I really don’t.”
The sound of a door slamming echoed from below, and Jack and Gwen heard the distant voices of Ianto, Tosh and Owen, having returned from their trip. He could hear Owen dragging along a cart of equipment, and Tosh making Ianto laugh with some joke or other.
He turned to Gwen.
“Gwen, I’m not really the right person to ask about this. But for now, go home. Go home to Rhys and go to your party. I know it’s hard, but try and forget the madness, just for a while. And when you come back, try and…I don’t know. Try and work on some kind of balance. Can you do that, for me?”
Gwen nodded meekly and stood up. She made as if to go, then looked back at Jack.
“What about Owen?”
Jack sighed. “That’s up to you. Do what you think is right.”
Gwen gave Jack a tiny smile, then turned the handle of the office door and left.
Jack slumped in his chair and rubbed his eyes wearily. Not for the first time, he wondered what on earth that woman’s power was. Gwen Cooper; even now still Torchwood’s hapless newcomer, had managed to bring home to him everything he’d been trying to suppress the past few weeks. Jack and Gwen; two of the most different people there could be, yet they were caught in the same turmoil of emotions inside their heads.
But she’s the better person out of both of us, Jack thought. At least she’s admitting it. At least she’s letting it get to her.
There was a sudden tapping on the open office door.
“Not now, Ianto.” Jack said, not looking up, before Ianto had even opened his mouth.
It was more than Jack could do to try and face Ianto now, after what he had said to Gwen.
Ianto nodded confusedly and left without saying a word. Jack half looked up and wanted to call him back, but for the life of him he couldn’t find the right words.
Nothing had been said. And yet it felt that, in Jack’s head, everything was suddenly different.
On Friday, Ianto had the nightmare that he desperately thought had stopped plaguing him. He was kissing Lisa on an unknown bed, arms wrapped around her, pulling her to him and hugging her close, feeling that familiar irrepressible burst of happiness inside him whenever he touched her. Then he pulled away, and saw that the bed had gone and in its place was a huge, ugly contraption made of cold steel. He caught sight of his hands, suddenly sticky with scarlet blood. Then he looked down again and…oh Jesus. Lisa, his Lisa, suddenly bathed in a harsh red light, covered in blood and coated in metal, eyes staring blankly into the distance, unmoving, unfeeling. He kissed her again and again, as if somehow by doing so she would suddenly gasp for air and return to him, brand new. She stayed cold and motionless, and although his mouth opened and shut, no words came out of it; yet he could hear the same word reverberating round and round his head like a siren: Lisa Lisa Lisa Lisa Lisa Lisa Lisa Lisa Lisa…
He woke up with a gasp, trembling and sobbing in the pitch black. It was a while before he realised that he was at home, in his own bed for the first time in days and no matter how fresh and raw the pain suddenly was, how much he rocked back and forth on the blankets remembering, remembering; no one was going to come this time. He was alone.
At about the same time, Jack staggered into the Hub in the early hours, hideously drunk and barely able to stand. A vivid bruise lingered above his eye as the trophy of an intoxicated bar fight with some random party-goer. He stumbled through the Hub to his quarters, swearing and muttering incoherently and thought, very dimly, as he hit the floor, missing the bed; that no matter how many people you surrounded yourself with, it wasn’t impossible to still feel so fucking alone.
On Saturday, Jack awoke at seven in the morning to a bruised arse, a splitting headache, and an empty Hub, only remembering after a while that he’d given the team the day off.
He got up with difficulty, wincing, and made his way into the main base in search of coffee. He was thankfully sober now, but with his head throbbing and his eyes bleary, tripping over steps that he could have sworn weren’t there yesterday, it didn’t make much difference.
After ten fruitless minutes of cursing and hitting the espresso machine, Jack decided he needed a walk to clear his head. He could hardly remember the last time he’d enjoyed fresh air. Donning his coat, he made his way out of the base and emerged into the cool, crisp, Cardiff morning.
He had barely made two steps when he spotted someone sitting on the pavement outside Torchwood; a man with his chin in one hand, gazing over the already busy roads, lost in his own world.
Jack went and sat down beside him. “Hello, Ianto.”
Ianto jumped and looked round guiltily, as if he had been caught doing something illicit.
“Captain! What are you…why…?”
“I think I could ask the same thing to you.” Jack replied. “What are you doing out here?”
Ianto averted his gaze, looking back at the road. “I just needed to do some thinking.”
Jack looked at their surroundings. “Out here?”
“Yes, out here!” Ianto snapped, unexpectedly, at him. “Because if I try and think in that place I’ll be interrupted by some bloody corpse of an alien making its way through, or Gwen and Owen sneaking off to fuck somewhere, or someone dying, someone crying, or everyone just wanting fucking COFFEE!”
He yelled out this last word with everything he had, face red. Jack put a hand on his arm. “Hey, hey. Calm down.”
Ianto looked at him, imploringly, pleadingly. “I’m not prepared to go in there, sir. Not today, anyway.”
Jack didn’t need to ask why. The look Ianto had on his face; that mixed expression of weariness and deeply suppressed pain, was the exact one he’d had for weeks after Lisa’s death. Even now Jack saw flashes of it; he’d pass the Reception and see Ianto, work abandoned on his desk, staring into the distance, at something nobody but him could see.
It was no wonder Ianto didn’t want to be surrounded by those walls.
“It doesn’t matter.” Jack told him. “You don’t have to. I’ve given everyone the day off.”
Ianto nodded briefly, not looking at Jack. Jack slowly brought his hand up and caressed his cheek, before turning his face towards him.
Jack kissed him, feeling some of the fatigue pass out of himself as he put an arm around Ianto’s neck and pulled him closer, tongue darting through his lips and running around his mouth.
Jack could feel himself, as he kissed Ianto deeper and deeper, drifting off, losing himself as his tongue foraged further, and his arms tightened, and tightened…
…and he could hear Gwen’s words, unbidden, echoing through his head.
He’s my sanctuary. He’s my escape.
But they were his words now. Jack pulled away abruptly, letting go of Ianto, guilt coursing through him immediately; Ianto blinked as if suddenly waking up. He looked across at Jack, who was determinedly not looking Ianto in the face.
“I’m sorry.” Jack muttered, haltingly. “I shouldn’t…I shouldn’t be…”
Ianto shook his head. “It doesn’t matter.”
“Of course it does.” Jack insisted softly. “It’s not…”
“Jack,” Ianto interrupted, and Jack noted Ianto’s abandoned use of ‘sir’, “It doesn’t matter. Honestly.” But Jack still didn’t look at him. What was it about Ianto’s eyes, those caring, honest, compassionate eyes that he just couldn’t face?
“Listen to me, will you?” Ianto said firmly, and he tilted Jack’s chin with his finger so that they were face to face, eye to eye. “Neither of us is blameless. Not by a long shot; we’ve done some shit to each other that neither one of us is proud of. But I’m not giving you up, and I’m not letting you give up on me. What we’ve got…it gets me through, day to day. And I know it’s completely the same for you.”
Jack looked at him, unable to find anything to say in response. Ianto took advantage of the silence. “It’ll all matter eventually. But I need you too much for you to start bailing out on me. And vice versa. OK?”
Jack, a little stunned, nodded. He was completely taken aback by the depth of Ianto’s honesty; he had dared to say what Jack hadn’t even admitted to himself. At the same time, Jack was immensely relieved; he wasn’t hurting Ianto, not at all. Ianto needed him to be there; that was all. Ianto needed him, and Jack needed Ianto. It was as simple as that.
“Kiss me again, you idiot.” he told Jack, giving him a little smile; and Jack did, eagerly and gladly. He felt the guilt and shame he had carrying fly out of him as Ianto wrapped his arms around Jack’s back and held on for dear life as they kissed. They ignored the increasing traffic and early-morning walkers around them.
Like Ianto said, it was all going to matter eventually. But they were both here, they were both now, and in each others’ arms they could escape and forget the constant anarchy around them, if only for a little while.
Just a perfect day.
You made me forget myself;
I thought I was someone else,
Lou Reed – “Perfect Day”.