Spoilers: All of Children of Earth and scattered references to series one and two
Summary: Set three years after Children of Earth. Strange events force Jack to reconsider his opinion on the existence of ghosts along with his definition of impossible. Yep, you guessed it, more Children of Earth fix it fic.
Jack had missed the first time Ianto Jones opened his eyes. He had also been quite upset about that fact until he’d watched the footage.
After he’d lost consciousness nothing had happened straight away. Gwen had knelt down and retrieved the syringe from his hand and kept it with her. She’d tried to lift Jack up off the floor but Harry had told her to leave him, that he needed her help more than Jack did. Then Jack’s hand had slipped easily out of the body’s grasp and then Ianto Jones had come back to life howling.
Jack had heard Ianto scream a fair few times, this job was less than gentle on one’s physical, mental, or emotional condition, but he’d never heard this type of cry before. It was full of pain, shock, horror, and just in the background there was a hint of triumph. It didn’t take away from the horror for the sound though.
Adding to the terror was that the howl was impeded by the fact that Ianto was having trouble breathing. Despite this difficulty he still kept trying to continue screaming. Jack tried to block that sound out even though he was sure he’d be hearing the echoes of it in his nightmares for years to come. Harry then chose that moment to stab him with his syringe, causing a renewed effort in screaming. He then took the two syringes out of Gwen’s hands and gave them to Mel. “Do something with him,” he shouted. “He knows you!”
At that point Ianto caught sight of her and Jack wasn’t sure whether he knew her or not. He grabbed her though. Grabbed her arms and held them tight and looked at her with such agony, such sadness, and such fury that Jack was shocked that Gwen hadn’t just melted on the spot. She was trying to coax him to lie back down but he was far from lucid or reasonable. Jack knew that feeling.
Upon returning to life there was always a period where he didn’t know who he was, where he was, what had happened and everything was simply a maelstrom of noise and activity that made no sense whatsoever. Jack had never told Ianto before but he was thankful for every time Ianto had the luxury of being there with him when he came to. He may have gotten slightly better at coming back but having Ianto there always grounded him.
Gwen finally seemed to realise exactly what was going on, registering the exact reason for the madness in her friend’s eyes, and worked to address that. She shifted Ianto’s slackening grip so that she was holding his arms instead of him holding hers. He shifted in discomfort but Jack marked that up to Mel’s less than gentle injections. “It’s me,” Gwen told Ianto, waiting until he was looking at her and not screaming. “It’s Gwen Cooper.” It was a completely calm voice. The same voice she used on traumatized bystanders just before she retconned them. “You’re at Torchwood and you’re safe.” You’d have thought that Ianto had just woken up from an injury and not from death itself by the way she was speaking. There was a beat where Ianto resisted and then seemed to understand the words being said to him and began to relax, a process probably aided by the mild sedative that Harry was injecting into him.
Once Ianto was lying back down and Harry was putting the oxygen mask over his face, Mel had decided to pick Jack up off the ground. Ianto had caught sight of this and tried to raise his head up off the pillow. The confusion on his face could have been either because he had no idea what was going on or because he was legitimately concerned about Jack, there was no real way to tell. “Don’t worry about him, love,” Gwen continued. “He’ll be just fine. You remember? He always comes back.” Ianto had shifted some more as if he contested that statement and it was that point that Gwen had decided to try and sing to him. It had worked and the rest Jack knew.
The awakening had been four days ago, the viewing had been three days ago, and once again Torchwood found itself in a flurry of activity. Andy and Rhys were almost exclusively on general detail while Martha and the rest of the team worked to deal with Ianto. Martha Jones had literally walked off the job at UNIT and hadn’t told them where she’d gone once she’d been told that Ianto was back. They’d rang Torchwood twice but Jack hadn’t said anything. He’d deal with that later. Gwen had snuck away and phoned Martha’s husband to explain to him why his wife hadn’t been home in a night or two. He considered himself fortunate to have been informed at all.
Ianto was recovering beautifully. He hadn’t cracked an eye open or done really anything to indicate that he was alive at all except continue to draw breath. There was nothing wrong with him at all except for the fact that he wasn’t waking up. Readings said that he was only sleeping but nothing was waking him up. Mel had switched the amplifier back on and they’d tried to get in contact with Tosh and Owen but to no avail. While sitting by Ianto he often called out for them, hoping that he hadn’t received Ianto at the cost of their existences.
On day two he tried asking for Stephen. He wasn’t sure whether he’d drawn the right conclusions from what Owen had said but he had to hope. There was only one person who ever thought him as ‘Uncle Jack.’
He wished he could ask Ianto. Ianto had been the one to bring him out of the black so Ianto could explain whether or not his brain had finally fucked off for Bermuda or something. Way too much had gone on the past month and a bit. Way too much.
He was still waiting for Ianto to vanish every time he turned his back. Every time he looked back, though, Ianto was still lying on that stolen hospital bed sleeping soundly. He wanted to take him home. He’d been on Harry and Martha to get him back home when it was decreed that there was nothing really wrong with him aside from malnutrition. That was ignored. “Good lord what were you lot eating?” Harry had wanted to know instead.
“Coffee and beans,” Gwen had replied through a mouthful of whatever she had been eating at the time.
Jack wondered if Ianto remembered that and if he had any intention of forgiving Rhys for it. That being said he refused to put up with Harry’s constant ranting about the state of whatever Ianto had been eating before he’d died. Gwen had even bristled at that. Jack had no wish for Harry to experience anything like the 456 but he rather thought that they could get away with coffee and beans considering the circumstances. They were lucky they’d gotten even that much. The image of Ianto spooning beans out of a can and slurping them down like it was the best meal he’d had in his entire life flashed through his mind and he had to smile slightly at that.
Today, on day four since the awakening, Mel had dragged him by the shirt collar and thrown him into the showers clothes and all. She claimed that his stench was enough to make a rodent sick. After he was out of the shower and in some fresh clothes, she’d thrown him out of the Hub for a walk and told him to come back in an hour. While he resented being away from Ianto, he wanted to be there when he woke up this time and he wanted him home. Maybe that’s what they were deciding, he’d thought as he’d wandered. Whether or not to let Ianto go back home with him?
When he returned he was forcefully directed by Gwen and Martha into the kitchenette and left with a stack of paperwork and some left over Chinese. This was getting ridiculous. “I want to see him,” he demanded.
Martha led him to the doorway where he could just make out Ianto’s feet. “There. You saw him. Now sit down and do that paperwork until someone comes in to talk to you.” Gwen gave him a pitying look as she followed Martha out. He knew that look and he was getting really sick of seeing it. Yes, he half suspected Ianto to vanish. Yes, he wanted to be the one to welcome him back first but the thing that drove his desire to be near the younger man was the worry that this wouldn’t last. He didn’t want to miss a single moment with him if Ianto dropped dead two minutes after waking up properly. He still wasn’t sure what he would prefer in that eventuality: that Ianto never wake up or that Ianto wake up just long enough to say good bye.
Jack looked up from his egg noodles to see Mel. He knew they’d send her. A logical choice; she’d probably volunteered herself too. “You’re allowed to take him home under two conditions,” she pronounced. “One: that you have to allow Harry and/or Martha in for house calls whenever they want.”
Whatever, he thought. That was a small price to pay.
“Two,” Mel continued. “You have to call Harry AND Martha the second he wakes up, not after you’ve shagged him right back into oblivion. Oh, and you’re not allowed to do that until you’ve been granted medical leave to do so.”
He grunted in assent and shook Mel’s hand but he was firmly of the opinion that once Ianto opened his eyes he was not responsible for his actions. Mel had to have known that as well but she said nothing on the subject as she led him back to the medbay, where Gwen and Rhys where Ianto was upright and supported by Harry and Gwen, who were bickering about who had to go on call tonight.
“Give Lois a ring,” Rhys was arguing. “When’s the last time she went on patrol.”
“She’s not trained for field work,” Harry explained.
“Train her then! Andy and I are about ready to fall over.”
Gwen rolled her eyes. “I’ll buy you bottles of wine later, alright?” She shifted under Ianto’s weight, slowly transferring it to Rhys. “Harry and Mel can join rotation now and Lachlan said he’d help. Give him a ring tonight and one of you can take the night off.”
He felt Mel stiffen at his side and knew that she’d be volunteering to do the exact opposite rotation as Lachlan. To say that the siblings did not get on was putting it lightly. Rhys softened at his wife’s words and moved to take over her job of supporting Ianto. “Bloody hell,” Rhys breathed with reverence as he regarded his burden. “This is one for the record books isn’t it?”
“That it is,” Jack agreed, matching Rhys’s tone. He gestured for Harry to move aside. Harry very carefully stepped back and Jack supported Ianto’s other side.
“I’ll drive you there,” Harry said. “Got a few things to deal with when we get there.”
The retort that Jack didn’t want the flat turning into a hospital never made it out. It was a time to play nice. He nodded graciously and together, he and Rhys made their way to the invisible lift.
“Got him?” Jack asked Rhys after they got the call from Harry and activated the lift.
“Yes,” Rhys nearly snapped. “I haven’t dropped him have I? Stop asking me!”
Jack didn’t even remember asking Rhys anything and he was a little livid at having Rhys helping him. If he had his way he’d just carry Ianto off himself, it wasn’t like he needed the help.
Ianto’s head was sagging onto his chest, Jack was afraid he’d pull something so he shifted until Ianto’s head was braced on his shoulder. It was still a wonder, no matter how many times he felt it, to feel Ianto’s breath on his skin. Eighth wonder of the world. Right in here in Cardiff.
“Jack?” That was Harry’s voice. They were up on the Plass now and Harry was waiting with his car. It seemed he needed help after all. He slid into the backseat and shuffled back to the other side of the car as Rhys and him led Ianto in. Normally Ianto would have woken up and voiced his displeasure at being manhandled in such a fashion but there was no noise of objection. Not even a mutter. It was only that feeling of breath on his neck that told him he was alive at all.
He looked up to find Rhys studying him. “He fought his way to you,” Gwen’s husband said in a voice made of iron. “We all saw the footage and it wasn’t bloody easy for him. You of all people can appreciate that. Do you really think he’s just going to bugger off now?” Rhys smirked and shook his head. “Don’t think so, mate. He’s not leaving you now. Not like this and not like before.”
“I believe in you, Ianto Jones.” That’s what he’d said – prayed – when it had all started.
“I’ll be alright. I won’t let you down.” Ianto’s reply. It would do well to remember that, some voice in his head that did not sound like Ianto told him.
Jack nodded. He wanted to thank Rhys but he couldn’t do it. He hoped the nod was enough. He gathered it was when Rhys smiled a touch of that smile that he reserved for Gwen and returned the nod. He shut the door and then joined Harry up at the front.
Away home they went.
- - -
Rhys was out the door as soon as Ianto was in bed and Jack had assured him that he didn’t need anything. Harry had hung around a bit longer, giving Ianto yet another examination. Eventually he’d decreed Ianto in more or less perfect health and did not recommend setting up any IVs. He promised to call him if the world was ending, and even then only to keep him informed and not request assistance.
“Much obliged,” Jack said. “Really,” he added after a moment as he reflected how much of a pain he’d been over the past while. “Thank you.”
Harry ducked his head, muttered a quick ‘you’re welcome,’ and was gone. Jack chuckled to himself. “He’s worse than you,” he informed the man in the bed. “At least you can make a gracious exit when you flee in embarrassment.”
No response. Jack sighed. “You’re the one who hates sleeping in,” he complained. He leaned over by Ianto’s ear. “You’ve been asleep for four days!” he said loudly and forcefully. Usually, announcing that he’d over slept had Ianto out of bed so fast that Jack ended up standing there dizzy until he heard the swearing and cursing in the bathroom. No reaction here. He sighed. “I’m sorry,” he said as he settled onto the bed on Ianto’s other side. He lay down next to him. “I’ll wait as long as I have to.”
- - -
The silence in the flat had been devastating when he’d moved back in. It had been nearly a year since Ianto had died and he’d refused to set foot in the place until Gwen had shown him the will again. Everything had been left as it had that final morning before the children had stopped. Discarded coffee cups, bits of toast that Ianto had never finished, clothing lying on the bed, sheets that had been pulled off the night previous along with a frantic note in Ianto’s precise handwriting declaring that he needed to remind everyone to stop messing up the archives or he was going to go mental. Jack vaguely wondered who had paid the rent and gotten rid of all the food but tacked that up to Ianto’s efficiency and Gwen’s compassion. Aside from those omissions everything else was dusty and stale, like it was a historical site instead of a living, breathing, home where two people had lived and loved.
Ianto had never been a particularly loud person to live with but the silence marked his absence with the perfect cadence of a metronome. Something was missing, something wasn’t right, and it had taken Jack months to get used to it and to find a home in it. He though he sort of understood why the Doctor and the TARDIS fled at the sight of him. He shouldn’t be. Just like this apartment shouldn’t be.
However, like the Doctor, Jack had gotten used to the wrongness of the thing. Now, with Ianto back, everything felt off kilter again. He wasn’t alone but it wasn’t the old days. It was still too quiet for that. If he listened hard enough he could hear Ianto breathing in the bedroom but that was the extent. Jack badly wanted to put on a CD or a movie or bang some pots around. He wanted to do something, anything, to bring a little life back into the place, to bring back that normalcy. He couldn’t disturb the silence though. It was a form of sacrilege somehow and Jack was far from a religious man.
What did he do, he tried to remember, when Ianto had wanted to sleep and wanted some silence while he did so? The first ideas that entered his head were going out for a walk or reading. Second option it was then. He was already on the bed with Ianto anyway.
The book on the bedside table was some pulp detective novel that he’d found at a bus terminal while out weevil hunting a while back, sometime between the last conversation with Owen and Tosh and the resurrection. The synopsis promised awful contrived plots to come and Jack could never resist a good train wreck of a book; much to Ianto’s chagrin.
“It’s not a romance novel at least,” Jack said in response to an imagined eye roll and disgusted snort. “If you want to stop me reading this insanity you’re just going to have to wake up now aren’t you?”
Happy holidays everyone!! :D