Pairing: Jack/Ianto [Ianto/Lisa]
Challenge/Prompt: fanfic100 086. Choices
Word Count: 2175
Summary: “Remember the part where I took a chance on you?”
Author’s Notes: The aftermath of Cyberwoman through a Fragments-coloured prism. And ‘cause I haven’t written Jack/Ianto in a while and this idea sort of appealed to me. Still, Owen/Ianto FTW and all that. It’s just that, in this S1 timeline, Owen hasn’t noticed Ianto yet due to the whole Gwen thing. Yes. Ooh, and see if you can spot the teeny KKBB spoiler ;)
My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains my sense.
“Remember the part where I took a chance on you?” Jack asks conversationally.
Ianto says nothing. He is knelt on the cold basement floor with his once-girlfriend’s blood soaking into his suit trousers. His breath catches hard in his chest, but he remains silent, staring ahead of him.
“Remember the part where I trusted you?” Jack continues, voice a little sharper.
Careful not to move too quickly or too suddenly, Ianto brings his hands behind his head, interlocking the fingers. When he swallows, he can still hear the click of Jack’s Webley against his temple in that red-lit corridor. His eyes are blurring but he’s cried his tears.
“What are you doing?” Jack sounds genuinely puzzled.
Ianto clears his throat. “Waiting for you to execute me, sir,” he explains tonelessly.
“Oh.” Jack is silent for a long moment. “Was that something Torchwood One did?”
Ianto shrugs minutely. “Sometimes.”
“Ah.” Jack walks across the dark room, coming back into Ianto’s line of vision. “That’s interesting.”
“Is it, sir?”
Jack runs a hand back through his hair. “Would you put your hands down?” He sounds exasperated. “I’m not going to execute you.”
“Right, sir. Thank you, sir.” Ianto’s elbows creak as he lowers his arms, though he doesn’t make a move to get up. He breaks the silence a moment later. “You threatened to kill me earlier.”
“I was angry. I was under pressure. Your girlfriend was a cyberman.”
“Right, sir. So you issue death threats when stressed, sir.”
Jack looks angry again. “Could you maybe cool it with the robot act, Ianto?” Ianto flinches at the word ‘robot’, though he honestly doesn’t mean to. “I’m trying to have a conversation with you here.”
“Oh.” Ianto clears his throat again. “Right. Sorry, I didn’t realise.”
Jack glares at him, but Ianto has pretty much dug his grave so he might as well lie down in it and get comfy.
“We haven’t had a conversation before that hasn’t involved coffee or some thinly-veiled innuendo,” he explains.
“Don’t be stupid,” Jack tells him. “We had that discussion last Tuesday about…”
“Industrial strength cleaning products,” Ianto finishes for him. “We need stronger bleach to clean up after the team, remember? There are still Hrothite intestines stuck to the shower walls on level minus four.” His voice wavers, though he tries to sound slightly practical.
“…Right.” Jack looks momentarily uncomfortable, and then the anger comes back. “You’re the one who’s kept us all at arms’ length. Guess now we know why, huh?”
Ianto sucks his lower lip into his mouth and attempts to ignore the way his entire body is shaking shaking shaking. The joints of his fingers feel numb, and he presses his hands against the wet concrete floor. He’s already spattered with all kinds of dark blood from women who shouldn’t be dead but are. Oh, and the doctor who got embroiled in this ‘cause once you’ve got one dead body you might as well just keep going; you can’t sink any lower.
“That wasn’t a rhetorical question,” Jack adds. “Feel free to jump in at any point.”
“I don’t really feel like talking, sir,” Ianto says, keeping his tone mild. He does manage not to say you shot the only person I’ve ever loved and I’m not really in the mood to get right up again and entertain you, though, so it’s a good start.
“I don’t care,” Jack tells him shortly. “You’re still my employee and if I want you to talk then you will damn well talk.”
“Right, sir.” Ianto looks up but still can’t gaze directly at Jack. Not yet. “What would you like me to talk about?”
Jack is quiet for a moment, which is fine with Ianto. He looks back down at the blood on the floor and the bad lighting reflected in it and listens to Jack pacing the floor three times.
“What were you trying to achieve, keeping a homicidal Cyberman in our basement?” Jack demands suddenly, the trace of frustration that slips through reminding Ianto that Jack is angry. So very, very angry.
“She wasn’t always like that,” he murmurs, a little weakly, curling his fingers at his sides.
“Domestic violence victims say that too,” Jack tells him sharply.
“No,” Ianto sighs. “I mean, she really wasn’t like that until Dr Tanizaki started trying to get her to breathe on her own.”
Jack stops pacing abruptly. “See, that’s where you slipped up,” he explains. “Nobody’s perfect, Ianto. Maybe they’re chained to life support in a basement and seventy percent metal-”
“Sixty percent,” Ianto whispers. Jack ignores him.
“-Or they’re practically immortal and they leave you to die. Or they’re a psychopath with a gun fetish…”
“Sir?” asks Ianto carefully. Jack seems to gather himself back together again.
“The point is that you don’t lose them until you start trying to fix them. That’s everybody’s downfall,” he explains.
There’s a guilty hush for a while. Finally, Ianto clears his throat slightly.
“Gun fetish, sir?” he asks. He knows he shouldn’t, but in spite of the leaden space in his chest where things like his heart and his lungs were once upon a time before this happened, he’s still curious.
A quick glance up shows Ianto that Jack is smirking slightly. He looks down again almost immediately, and stares at his ruined trousers.
“Maybe I’ll tell you that story when I hate you less,” Jack suggests.
Ianto feels a bitter, rueful smile tug the corner of his mouth. “You won’t, sir.”
“Hate you less or tell you the story?” Jack asks.
“You tell me,” Ianto replies, risking a longer glance up. “Sir.”
Jack’s eyes meet his, and somehow the momentary camaraderie they’ve managed to create fades instantly.
“So,” Jack begins, turning away and pacing again, walking up and down on the only part of the floor not slick with blood. “All the flirting, the little looks – that was just you keeping me distracted.” He laughs quietly, and Ianto can’t work out what kind of laugh it is. “Good move; finding your boss’ slutty weakness and then exploiting it.”
“It’s not like that,” Ianto murmurs, not expecting Jack to answer him.
“Why not?” Jack demands.
“I really do like that coat,” Ianto tells him. His voice cracks halfway through the sentence, and it catches him by surprise when his eyes flood with tears. He looks down again, swallowing.
“Oh no you don’t,” Jack replies, either not noticing or ignoring the fact that Ianto is falling apart in front of him. “We’ve been down this road before.”
For a horrible second Ianto thinks that he is actually going to throw up. He grimaces and waits for his throat to stop trying to close up, before saying: “No, we haven’t, sir. I love Lisa, and I may have flirted a little but I have never lead you on.”
He risks a peek upwards, and sees that Jack is looking thoughtful. Thoughtful in a faintly angry sort of way, and it’s pure instinct when Ianto brings his hands up behind his head again. Really, he’s spent too much of tonight on his knees hoping for a bullet not to hit him, although now that Lisa’s dead in two different bodies that Owen and Gwen dragged away to the morgue a couple hours ago, he’s in that weird slippy place where if Jack killed him he probably wouldn’t mind.
“Put your hands down,” Jack sighs. “I’m not going to shoot you.”
After a moment’s consideration, Ianto does so.
“You believe me?” Jack asks. He’s not asking in a mocking way; he just sounds plain curious.
“You always keep your promises, sir,” Ianto tells him, addressing the smear of blood nearest him.
“…No I don’t.”
Ianto risks raising his head again. “I was trying to forget that,” he says, and his voice has gone all sharp and sarcastic, which wasn’t his intention at all. After all, he wants Jack not to want to kill him.
Jack smiles, a genuine smile which spreads right across his face. He strides across the room, apparently not caring about the blood that’s absolutely everywhere, and leans down. Ianto flinches before he can stop himself, but all Jack does is hook strong hands under his armpits and haul him to his feet. Ianto’s dirty suit is sticking to him in places and he feels as though he’s been marinated in blood. The tendons in the backs of his knees are screaming from where he’s been kneeling for so long, and all the adrenalin has abandoned him too, leaving Ianto feeling weak and unreal.
Ianto sways, falling against Jack, and hates himself for it.
“I’m not going to apologise,” he mumbles thickly, and for a second pictures himself puking right down Jack’s shirt. “I’m not going to apologise and you can execute me for it if you want-”
“I’m really not going to kill you,” Jack tells him, bracing his hands around Ianto’s upper arms to help keep him upright. “No matter how many times you ask me to.”
Ianto wonders if that really is what he’s been pleading for all night. He’s not sure he can finally say goodbye to Lisa. He’s not sure that that’s possible.
“I’m tired, sir,” he admits. He doesn’t say you killed the only person I’ve ever loved and I hurt so much that I can hardly breathe, although that could also be the bruises from where everyone felt the need to throw me around and the way you look at me terrifies me. Sir. He doesn’t give Jack that much because he doesn’t want Jack to have it.
“It’s been a long night,” Jack tells him. “I’ll call you a cab.”
“I’m not fit to be seen by -” Ianto begins.
“It doesn’t matter,” Jack replies. “You need to go home and you need to sleep.”
“Right.” Go home. Sleep. Instructions he can follow. It’s a lot easier than go inside. Kill your lover.
“Am I getting retconned?” Ianto asks, as he begins the long walk back to the main Hub, trying his hardest not to lean on Jack.
“No,” Jack tells him. “But don’t think that means I’ve forgiven you.”
“Will you ever?” Ianto asks quietly, honestly, and then hates that he couldn’t resist the question.
“You’re not the first person to betray me,” Jack replies. His expression is inscrutable and Ianto does not ask. He doesn’t have room for anyone else in his head right now. There are bloody footprints and wet red streaks on the floor.
“It would make me feel better if you’d at least hit me,” he mumbles.
“I think you’ve been punished enough for one night,” Jack responds. There’s no give in his voice at all, it’s still hard, but Ianto still swallows the wrong way and chokes on his dry mouth.
“Don’t come in tomorrow,” Jack orders, pushing Ianto towards one of the chairs as he reaches for the phone.
“Am I fired?” Ianto asks. “Can I hand in my resignation?” He doesn’t know where he’ll go, if he doesn’t have Torchwood. He thinks that he hates it here, but there is nowhere else.
“You took the job,” Jack replies, glaring at him. “You think after all this I’m letting you leave on your own terms?”
Ianto nods, and sits in weary, miserable silence under the harsh electric lights as Jack orders him a cab. He studies the drying blood stuck in the creases of his knuckles, and bites his tongue so hard that it stings.
“I am impressed, Ianto Jones,” Jack tells him after a while. He’s lounging against Tosh’s workstation and he looks both dangerous and beautiful, like he always does. “No one’s managed to fuck me over quite this competently in a while.”
“Not even Suzie?”
“Not even Suzie.”
“Is there some kind of special employee award?” Ianto asks tiredly, forcing himself to keep talking because otherwise he’ll just fold into himself and he doesn’t know what will happen if he lets himself crumble.
“We could make one,” Jack offers. “It could be shiny.”
Ianto pitches forward on his chair, making a sound that’s halfway through a sob and a laugh and he has read every Torchwood pamphlet printed ever and there was nothing to prepare for this.
He’s still hyperventilating when Jack drags him up to the surface and bundles him into a waiting cab.
“I really do like you in a suit,” Jack admits quietly. It’s either a threat or a promise; Ianto can’t tell.
Jack is so angry that it would frighten Ianto if it weren’t for the fact fear has been burned away from him. Everything’s been burned away, he’s so empty now. He stares at the swelling split lip he gave Jack earlier in order to prevent himself from either attacking Jack again or otherwise bursting into tears.
“Goodnight,” Jack says, though it’s really the early hours of the morning, and closes the car door. Ianto puts on his seatbelt on autopilot, then leans back in the seat and listens to the crackle of the car radio. They’re playing Lisa’s favourite song.