This is a piece that I put up on Livejournal a while back, and am now in the process of completing. I realised I never had got around to putting it on ffnet and decided I might as well.
Disclaimer - I don't own Torchwood, Doctor Who or any characters therein. The BBC giveth and the BBC taketh away. Blessed be the name of Russell T Davies.
Ianto was almost certain that it wasn't actually a date. It was more a friendly drink after work, except with flirting. But then, where Jack was involved, there was always flirting. And if he was flirting back, well, that was just to keep Jack amused, stop him from brooding too much. He was just watching out for his boss. It was almost part of his job, if he thought about it. He did think about it, and downed his drink quickly.
Setting the glass back down on the table, he caught Jack frowning at him. "What?" he asked, surprised and defensive.
"Nothing, just…let me get you another." He had heard the hesitation in the older man's voice, and wondered what Jack had been about to say.
He started a little, as Jack clasped his hand for a second, before taking his empty glass and heading for the bar. The shiver that he felt was just a result of the alcohol, and the fact that he hadn't been touched by anyone for so long now. And it wasn't like how it had been with Lisa, it really wasn't.
Lisa had been perfect. Ianto didn't believe in love at first sight, but from the first time he had seen her he had known that she was amazing. The first time they had gone out together, just a drink after work to help block out the ghosts of a particularly bad day, he had known that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. He hadn't said so of course. Last thing a smart successful woman like Lisa should want is an obsessive Welshman hanging round her. But she had. She had and he'd gotten to experience what he knew now would be the best time of his life, with her. She had been perfect. She'd been brilliant, but not arrogant, not convinced that she always knew what was best. And she'd never kept secrets from him.
He watched Jack, come back from the bar, carrying two pints, and collapse into the couch next to him. Privately Ianto wondered how he could do that without spilling a single drop. Not a talent he'd ever known any other human to have. He took the proffered glass silently.
"Why does nothing good ever come through the rift." Jack complained into his drink. "We get Weevils all the time, but I've never caught even one, solitary glimpse of a bottle of Neoterran Bourbon."
Ianto took a long swig of his beer and avoided asking exactly what Jack was talking about. The only known way to shut Jack Harkness up, was to ask a direct, personal question. And Ianto wasn't in the mood to sit in silence for the rest of the night.
Settling his glass back on the table, he turned to offer some teasing remark, only to be completely distracted by the feeling of Jack's fingers stroking against his lips. He jerked back, and watched Jack lick each of his fingertips in turn.
"You had a little foam on your mouth. I was just getting it off for you." the Captain said, in what could be considered an attempt at innocence.
Ianto felt his face burn, horribly aware of the stares of the people around them. He wondered if Jack was aware of the glares. He wondered if the crowd of raucous yobs behind them had seen anything. He wondered if Jack even knew that not all attention was good. And he wondered if Jack would, please god, touch him again, cos no-one else ever did, not for months, not since London, and even if it was just Jack, and so by definition didn't mean anything, it felt like heaven fallen to earth.
He cleared his throat and looked away. "So," he began, too brightly, "How are Cardiff City getting on?"
As if Jack had sensed his discomfort, he began a long, and slightly rambling explanation of the team's latest victories and setbacks, encompassing a switch to 4-3-3, the dropping of the useless Belgian, and, slightly incomprehensibly, the theory that Weevils might be influencing the away score. Ianto let his mind wander, nodding and interjecting what he hoped were pertinent comments whenever Jack stopped for breath. Ianto had no idea why Jack supported Cardiff City. It seemed more than a little odd, especially as during a fairly routine encounter with a rogue CIA agent, it had emerged that, despite the accent, Jack knew nothing about American sports. At all. Not even the stuff that everyone knew from watching TV. After some discussion – normally described as long, alcohol-fuelled arguments – the rest of Torchwood Three had added the whole business to the list of things that no-one knew about the Captain, and resolved to ask him if they could buy a new sofa for the Hub, if the team ever managed to win something important.
Even as he smiled enthusiastically at what Jack was saying "….so he tackled him. And I'm standing right next to the ref, holding a pot plant, and a Geiger counter, and I hear this tearing noise, and suddenly I'm looking right up his…" Ianto found himself closing his eyes, leaning back in the sofa, and letting the noise of the pub, and Jack's voice, wash right over him. It had been a hell of a day. From the moment he had arrived and discovered that while carrying out what he described as 'maintenance', Jack had somehow managed to set off the sprinkler system, filling the Hub with an inch or so of dirty water, he had known that it was going to be a bad day even by Torchwood standards. Might you, the sight of Jack, drenched and woebegone, unsuccessfully wielding a mop, was amusing. Would have been more so, if it hadn't been the third time this month. Apparently he was trying to integrate a piece of Byerean technology into the defence network. Ianto couldn't help wondering why the sprinklers had to be involved at all. Then Tosh came in, and, after half an hour of painstaking research, had told him that there was no way that she was going to be able to get the microwave working again, and that he would have to get Jack to authorise the purchase of a new one. By the time Owen and Gwen came in, dishevelled and five minutes apart, as though that was going to fool anyone, and proceeded to studiously ignore each other for the rest of the morning, Ianto was almost considering going home sick. The news that aliens were invading Splott was something of a relief.
Well, invasion was something of an overstatement. It appeared that four aliens, who looked like something Hieronymous Bosch might have dreamed up on a bad day, had taken over a block of flats. Ianto had no idea why. So they'd all piled into the SUV and driven off to save the day. Jack had made Ianto go too. He didn't know that 'why' either. They'd burst in, guns ready, like something out of a Hollywood blockbuster and the aliens had looked up in astonishment, then legged it. There had followed a Scooby-Doo-esque chase around the building. Who was chasing whom at any moment, seemed almost to be decided at random. Ianto had almost been enjoying himself. Until he saw Jack die, of course.
Except Jack hadn't really died. Ianto had been mistaken. The light had been poor, and he'd been a fair distance away. He'd seen Jack attempting to placate the aliens, yes, but he'd just imagined that he'd seen the alien leader lash out with his talons. He'd only dreamt that he saw Jack clutch his throat, and slump to his knees. Certainly by the time he'd got there, running faster than he'd known he could, Jack had been standing, not a mark on him, talking quietly and earnestly to the aliens. Ianto didn't know what had been said, but they seemed anxious to get away from the earth. Gwen had remarked, after they'd watched the ship fly away, and Tosh had tracked it leaving the solar system, that they'd been frightened. As if they'd seen something they didn't want to mess with. Mind you, as Owen had pointed out, they had been in Splott.
Ianto hadn't mentioned what he'd seen - what he'd thought he'd seen - to anyone. He also hadn't mentioned the bloodstain on the ground where Jack hadn't fallen, which, after all, must have been there for ages, or the way that Jack had kept his coat buttoned up to the neck, even in the heat of the car, and had vanished as soon as they'd reached the hub, re-emerging in a different shirt. He had invited him out for a drink though. Just a drink. Nothing more. Just because he thought Jack had probably had a worse day than he had. And when Jack had smiled at him, really smiled, not just the usual way he smiled at everyone, suddenly the day had seemed perfect.
Ianto was brought back to the present when someone kissed him. Unsurprisingly it was Jack, though the small part of Ianto's mind that wasn't reeling, was surprised to note that it was a quick, and chaste kiss, not at all like the last time. "And that hadn't really happened either." he told himself firmly. He turned to stare wide-eyed at his boss.
"I've been trying to attract your attention for five minutes, and you weren't responding, so I thought I'd give you the kiss of life." Jack's face was entirely serious. He didn't look like he found anything unusual in the fact that he'd just kissed his receptionist.
"The kiss of life doesn't involve actually kissing someone, sir." Ianto found himself saying.
"Really." Jack paused. Ianto tried, and failed, to think of something to say. Jack turned away from him, apparently to stare at the half-empty glass of water in front of him. For the first time that Ianto could remember, he looked . . . vulnerable. Human. "If you ask me not to do it again, you'll never hear anything more about it."
Ianto knew that Jack was telling the truth. And he knew what he was going to say. "I'm flattered, but I'm not gay." He wasn't. And just because he liked Jack flirting with him, and touching him, just because he'd thought his world was ending when Jack had died, hadn't died, had seemed to die; well, none of that meant that he wanted Jack to kiss him, right? He opened his mouth, and was astonished, and mildly perplexed, when what he actually said was "I don't know."
Jack didn't appear to be expecting that as a response. Probably he was used to people knowing what they wanted, or at least knowing that they wanted him. "Right." He waited, apparently for Ianto to elaborate. Unfortunately, Ianto couldn't think of anything else to say.
After a few moments of silence – and it did seem like silence, for a moment Ianto thought that even the yobs at the next table are holding their breath, until he realised that they'd left some time ago – after a few moments of silence, Jack drained his glass and stood up.
"Right." he said again. "I need to be getting back. There's work to do, and a pterodactyl to feed. You want a ride home?"
Ianto stared at him, feeling like an idiot. He had no idea what Jack was thinking, not that that was unusual, but he couldn't help feeling a little hurt at the abrupt end to their conversation. "That would be good, sir." he said, stiffly.
He followed Jack out of the pub and down the street, towards the alley where Jack had parked the SUV. Neither of them spoke. Ianto tried hard not to look at Jack. This hadn't been the way he'd wanted the evening to go.
When they stepped into the alley, things moved almost too fast for Ianto to follow. He saw a flash of movement out of the corner of his eye, but even as he turned his head, he felt Jack barrelling him out of the way, shoving him to safety. He half fell against the wall, frozen in shock. He hadn't seen the attacker on the other side. He did see the baseball bat cracking into the back of Jack's skull. He did see Jack fall. Ianto vaguely recognised the man standing in front of him, the one with the baseball bat, as one of the men from the pub earlier. He slowly realised that the rest of them were there too. They were surrounded, and it wasn't even aliens this time.
"You scared, poof-boy?" the voice was gravely, with a local accent. "You and your boyfriend gonna get it. We don't like faggots here." Suddenly, Ianto remembered how to move, and threw himself at the man who had hurt Jack. He got in a couple of good punches against the larger man, but another couple of them jumped him and he found himself wrestled to the ground, arms pinned. Twisting, he somehow managed to bite one of them on the arm. The response was quick, and for a moment, Ianto's vision blurred and he closed his eyes.
When he opened them again, he could see three of the thugs laying into Jack, kicking him in the ribs again and again. The two holding him were laughing. The gravely voice spoke in his ear. Ianto could feel the hot, disgusting breath against his skin.
"You're gonna watch us mark pretty boy there, then you're going to get the same."
Ianto resumed his struggles to free himself "Stop it, you bastards," he snarled, and yelped as his arm was twisted up behind his back. He hated that he was weak. He hated that he couldn't help Jack. Most of all, he hated the fact that he was hoping that Jack was going to get up and save him. Then Jack did, and Ianto almost wished he hadn't
Ianto had always known that Jack was almost inhumanly good at fighting, but he was used to seeing him against aliens, often trained and bloodthirsty aliens. This was different. This was a massacre. He watched Jack's leg snap up and winced as he saw the thug scream and fall to the ground, clutching his kneecap. By that time, Jack was on his feet, and after almost casually chopping the screamer across the back of the neck, he lunged for the nearer of his other two attackers. Ianto couldn't see exactly what happened – Jack was facing away from him- but when Jack moved away, Ianto realised that the man wasn't going to be moving for a long time, if he ever did.
The third man was clutching a lead pipe, or something, like it was a lifeline. He looked terrified. Ianto heard the snap of his wrist as Jack reached forward and took it from him. The man bolted. Ianto wished he had that option.
Jack turned and looked over Ianto's head at the men still holding him. "Let him go and walk away." Ianto hadn't heard Jack's voice sound so cold for a while. It brought back unpleasant memories. A lot of them.
"Or what?" Gravel-voice sounded terrified, but belligerent.
"Or I'll kill you." Ianto could hear that Jack wasn't bluffing. He prayed that the thugs could hear it too.
Apparently they could, because a few seconds later they let go of him, and he heard them run away. He let Jack help him up, and lead him to the car and sat shaking in the passenger seat, as Jack leaned over him and asked him again and again if he was injured. He didn't respond. He didn't look at Jack. He couldn't.
When Jack had apparently discovered that there was nothing physically wrong with him other than a few bruises he moved back, and gave Ianto breathing space at last.
"We need to call an ambulance." Ianto said, breathlessly.
"I'm fine.." Jack began
Ianto hardly heard him. "Those men out there, they need help."
"They attacked us. They could have killed you."
"And you slaughtered them, Jack. Like they weren't human. You just…" Ianto shook his head. There were tears in his eyes, and he was so angry, and he didn't even know why. "You don't even hesitate do you? You just carry on your merry way through life, leaving the dead and the maimed in your wake. It's all your fault. They'd never have come near us if it hadn't been for you flirting with me. It's all your fault. Everything." Ianto knew he was being unreasonable, couldn't believe the things he was saying, but he couldn't seem to stop. "I'd never let a thing like you touch me. The others were right. You let that child go. You, you killed Lisa. You're nothing but a coward and a slut and a killer."
There was silence for a few minutes. Ianto tried desperately to think of a way to apologise, to take everything back.
"You missed out monster." Jack said. His voice was dead. Ianto looked at him, saw the bruises on his face, saw the dark, sticky patch in his hair and the way he was slumped, as though he couldn't sit up straight. He had forgotten. When he saw Jack fighting, he'd forgotten that he could be hurt, let alone that he had been. He'd been sitting here, yelling at Jack for saving their lives, while Jack was hurting.
"Oh, god." he whispered. Jack didn't seem to hear. He tossed Ianto his mobile.
"Call the ambulance. Don't mention Torchwood. I'm driving you home."
Mechanically, Ianto did as he was told. He didn't live that far away. Not the way Jack drove anyway. By the time he snapped the phone shut, they were halfway there. By the time he had thought up, and rejected a dozen ways to say sorry, they were parked outside his flat. Standing on the kerb, Ianto looked back at Jack.
"Jack, I . . . "
"Don't worry about it. I'll see you tomorrow." Jack had slammed the door shut, and drove off in a screech of brakes before Ianto had managed to apologise.
He wondered why he hadn't taken Jack to A&E, or called Owen, or even just insisted he accompany Jack back to the Hub. He wondered why he'd just let him drive off.
He was still wondering as he sat on the couch in his empty flat and cried himself to sleep.