|Truth Like Glass
Author: analine PM
Takes place directly following the end of the radio play The House of the Dead, so major spoilers for that. Jack; mentions of Jack/Ianto.Rated: Fiction T - English - Angst/Tragedy - Jack H. - Words: 1,154 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 4 - Published: 07-14-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7181158
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Title: Truth Like Glass
Pairing/Characters: Jack; mentions of Jack/Ianto
Warnings/Spoilers: major spoilers for the radio play The House of the Dead
Word Count: ~1,020
Summary: Jack had never really meant to bring him back.
Notes: My reaction fic. *nods* Takes place directly after the end of The House of the Dead. For some reason the whole porridge bit really got to me, and I couldn't stop thinking about it. ;_; So that's where this came from. Sort of. It's also possible that this needs a tissue warning?
The spoon is heavy like lead when he brings it to his mouth - the weight presses sharp against his tongue, his lips, his fingers.
The thick concoction is bland and chalky, a bit like ash, but sticky. It clings to his teeth, determined. He forces himself to swallow anyway, gag-reflex be damned, until he's scraping the bottom of the bowl with his spoon, metal on porcelain, or clay, or plastic, or whatever this is. It hardly matters.
Everything feels out of focus, sped up, slowed down, swinging back and forth in front of him and shifting. Colliding like the earth's plates, a tectonic shift, right under his feet.
His stomach is full and warm though, and he stands quickly, the chair sliding out behind him on the carpeted floor of the hotel bar, where surprisingly, they'd still been serving breakfast when he'd driven up through the rain, and the wind battering all around him.
It had all been a bit of a surprise, really.
He'd never known Ianto to eat porridge for breakfast. They'd hardly had time for that, though, he supposed, hardly had time for breakfast at all, really, and when they did, it was pastries or bread and jam from the bakery on the corner, never anything that required actual cooking, an actual fire below an actual pot.
It burns, white hot, behind his eyes and Jack has to concentrate on not being overtaken with the wave of nausea that rushes over him.
There'd been a stove at the hub, back when there'd been a hub - he was sure of it. It couldn't have taken more than five minutes to bring the water to a boil, to stir in the oats, to watch them fluff and take shape around the wooden spoon, and then congeal into a great lumpy thing inside the pot. He wondered if Ianto would have added milk, or cream, imagines the liquid filling in the lumps and seeping into the crevices, pooling around the blob of oats in the middle, rising to the top, and threatening to spill onto the countertop, over the edge and onto the floor.
In his next life, maybe. He'd have time for porridge.
Jack stares up at the clouds looming up in the sky above him – the rain had stopped for the moment, but the air was still thick and threatening – and laughs, a quick burst of hysteria that leaps from his throat before he has a chance to stop it.
His stomach churns. It feels as if he's swallowed a five-pound rock.
He brings the flat of his hand against his lips as he swallows back the bile that rises from his stomach again. He closes his eyes and after a moment the feeling passes, settles.
He moves his hand away. His coat sways in the wind, brushing against his ankles. It's wet, soaked through, and heavy, but he can't bring himself to take it off. Hoursminutessecondsyears ago, Ianto's fingers had held him close, had brushed against the wool, had wrapped around his forearm and had stayed there, clinging to his arm, and Jack just didn't have it in him to let go of that just yet.
He lacked the courage.
It always came down to that at the end, maybe. In the end, someone else always won that contest.
Jack fights the urge to rail at the wind, at the clouds, at the cars in the car park, at the gravel beneath his feet, at the rolling hills in his line of sight, stretching off into nowhere.
He knows it doesn't matter.
It doesn't matter how much he wonders how those lips would have tasted, pressed up against his own, desperately, hungrily… It doesn't matter if they'd have been the same texture he remembered, the same familiar mix of soft and rough patches, because Ianto had always had some sort of strange aversion to lip balm, or if they'd been cold and blank like death, like the endless landscape in front of him.
The moment had passed.
Jack's not sure which option he would have preferred, anyway, which one it was that scared him more. He'd never meant to bring him back.
And he'd have given up everything he'd ever fought to protect just for five more minutes, for five more seconds.
The thought terrifies him. And it makes his heart thump wildly in his chest all over again.
He'd held back then, because it'd been too strange, because he hadn't been sure, hadn't known which of his instincts to trust, and before he'd realized it really was actually him, all of him, Ianto's voice had risen with panic, and he'd told Jack not to touch him, and Jack had listened. He shouldn't have. He wouldn't, now. He would pull Ianto against his chest, and his lips… He'd press his lips to Ianto's skin, and he'd never, ever let go.
He just needed one more chance to make it right.
Laughter bubbles up inside of him again, like an infection blistering up against the surface of a wound.
He stands like that for what feels like forever - the sounds of his laughter echo against the hills and rocks jutting up on all sides around him, and then, suddenly, he realizes that his pockets are full - they're bulging, pulling against the lining of his greatcoat, and spilling over the edges of his pockets, pebbles and dirt falling around his feet, littering the ground around him.
His fingers are rubbed raw and bloody, stained with blood and soot, even with the rain streaming down around him again now. He shoves his hands deep in his pockets, and feels the sharp edges of the rocks and earth as they grind against his knuckles, tearing holes into flesh that would mend too quickly.
In these stones, he thinks, but his brain won't supply the rest, so he just says those three words out loud, just releases them into the atmosphere with a huff and they mix with the clouds rising up towards the sky like leaves on the wind, and disappear.