Title: Battles and Wars, Scars and Loss
Author: Vera Steine
Disclaimer: Don't own 'em, never will. Wish I did, though, but that's a different story. RTD and the BBC own them, alas. Dido owns the lyrics that inspired the title, which can be found on her album, "Life For Rent". Anyone notice this was a recent purchase for me? :)
Rating: T (PG-13), for angst.
Pairing: Jack/Ianto
Spoilers: Army of Ghosts (Doctor Who)
Author's notes: I differ only eleven days with Ianto, according to his date of birth mentioned in 'Fragments'. Now I'm an insomniac with an anxiety disorder and only one surviving parent, so I think I've seen my fair share of life. Still, I can't imagine going through what Ianto went through, as young as he is. That inspired me to write a story in which Ianto suffers from nightmares, which is this. The title of each chapter is the particular episode behind the dream, which, because they are dreams, may otherwise not always be clear.
A thank you to Loki, my faithful beta and sounding board. Babe, I knew we're destined to disagree, when I got you to watch TW, and you didn't rate Janto as a pairing. Still, your advice and friendship are gratefully appreciated.
All reviews and criticism are welcome. It's only a moment of your time, but you'll make my day! There's more of this to come, probably six chapters in all, so expect lots of Ianto angst! Each chapter will be a nightmare, followed by Ianto waking up, the end should tie it all together. Enjoy!

--

after all the battles and wars, the scars and loss
I am still the queen of my domain
and feeling stronger now
the walls are down a little more each day, since you came
finally, finally things are changing
From: "This Land Is Mine", by Dido

--

"Army of Ghosts"

--

He hit the ground running at the familiar sound of stomping boots, running through the bowels of the hub without even looking over his shoulder, because he knew what that sound meant. He knew what it meant because he heard it still, in his nightmares, in the times between waking and sleeping when he wasn't sure where he was, and in his memories, whenever he let his guard down in a thoughtless moment. He was ducking around corners, trying to find a place to hide, and nothing seemed to be the way he remembered it. He tried to remember who else was in the hub, but failed, and then he tried to remember where Jack was. Jack couldn't die, normally there would be no threat, but this was different, this could kill anyone. He'd seen it with his own eyes.

He couldn't remember where Jack was, and for the moment it wasn't relevant, because he needed to save himself first. The sound of boots stomping on the concrete of the hub floor became increasingly louder and he knew there were close, he knew they were going to find him.

They came around the corner, light gleaning off them, advancing in a row of three, so many he couldn't count. They were heading straight for him, he had to keep running, but there was nowhere to go. He could keep running forever and ever, and there would be still nowhere to go. He heard them advance, watched them advance, and slid down the wall, curling into a ball on the floor, until they stood in front of him, and the stomping of their boots ceased. As if one, they looked down on him.

"Jones."

--

"Jones," Owen said, shaking him awake.

Ianto started, gasping for breath, fending off the hand on his shoulder with an uncharacteristically aggressive swipe. He felt the familiar nausea rise up in his throat, the pounding of his head that always followed this particular dream, and automatically sat up, putting his head between his knees. Owen's hand landed in his neck, keeping his head pushed down, the professional in him taking over.

"You okay?" he said, no trace of mockery in his voice.

"Give me a minute," Ianto replied, meaning it.

Owen's hand disappeared. "Okay," he said, adding, "if you're sure."

Ianto carefully lifted his head and looked back at the doctor. "I'm fine, Owen."

"Yeah," Owen replied, sounding exasperated, and got up and moved off.

"What was that all about?"

Jack's voice startled Ianto, unawares until that moment that Jack was even in the room. He looked around and located Jack at the foot of the stairs, moving toward him.

"It's nothing," he replied, getting up off the sofa and promptly belying his own confidence by wavering slightly.

Jack quickened his pace and reached him, taking hold of his arm to steady him and settling him back on the sofa. "You don't look fine to me."

"I am fine," Ianto said with a little more insistence. "I just got up too quickly."

"Yeah, right," Jack shot back. "Say that again and you might make me believe it."

Ianto shrugged, not caring to continue this discussion. "I'll be fine in a minute"

"What did you dream about?"

Ianto looked away on purpose, not wanting to burden Jack with what had been in his head. "It's nothing."

"Say that again and I'll make you regret it," Jack retorted.

For once, Ianto took a leaf from Jack's book, and said, with a hint of suggestion, "What did you have in mind?"

Jack looked startled, almost confused, for a moment. Then he replied smoothly, "Wouldn't you like to know. But you're not getting off that easily."

"It's --"

"Nothing, yeah, I know," Jack said sarcastically.

Ianto smiled, slightly abashed. "Okay, not nothing, but not important."

"So how come you don't wake up like that in my bed?" Jack said, all hints of sarcasm gone from his voice.

Ianto looked at the floor, this time with some embarrassment. "It's different."

"Different how?"

"It's different when I'm with you," he said in a low voice., not really wanting to have this conversation. "You --"

"I what?" Jack pressed, putting a hand on his shoulder.

Ianto looked at him sideways. "I don't know," he replied, "I just don't have as many nightmares when I'm with you."

Jack smiled, a brief, smug smile, and said, all serious again, "I'm glad."

Ianto shrugged. "Yes, me too."

Jack suddenly grinned, relieved now the mystery was over and they could get back to where they'd been before. "You know if it helps you that much to be with me, you should stay here more often."

Ianto shook his head, mystified at how quickly Jack had made the leap from serious to innuendo. He really should know better, knowing the captain as he did. "Only you," he said, "only you could take a nightmare and turn it around like that."

tbc.