Disclaimer: 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".
Spoilers: Fragments, Army of Ghosts (Doctor Who), Doomsday (Doctor Who)
Author's notes: first of all, an apology to all of you who have been waiting for this chapter. I contracted a repetitive strain injury on both arms, and the doctors banned me from working behind a computer. Thanks to the miracle of modern technology, and speech to text software, I can work a little, but it takes a long time. Thank you for sticking with me!
I struggled with Ianto's choice of films in scene three, so bear with me here… I went with what we learned in FOOTR, but you never know… My knowledge of old films isn't that good… This is the last piece, alas, but hey, I've lots of other things planned... so stay tuned.
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
It was the sound he heard between waking and sleeping, the sound he heard in his dreams, when his focus slipped, or simply when he turned around too quickly.
It was that sound, and it was here.
He was sure he was not asleep this time. It was here, coming towards them, and there was nothing Owen and Gwen, who were with him, could do to stop them. He froze in place, unable to believe the sound he was hearing, but hearing it nonetheless.
He turned to Gwen and then to Owen, looking frantically at both. Gwen put her hand on her gun when she saw his eyes; Owen still looked fairly relaxed. Ianto couldn't believe either of them were so calm. "They're here," he said, unable to keep the emotion from his voice. "We have to run."
"Ianto, mate, what're you talking about?" Owen said, looking at him like he'd just gone mad.
"Ianto?" Gwen added, a frown of concern on her face.
Ianto started backing up, not pulling his gun because he knew not to make any threatening moves, trying to remember who had the car keys. "We have to go," he insisted, trying not to lose his calm. "Now."
Gwen gave him a small, reassuring smile. "It's all right, Ianto, everything is okay." She spoke slowly, as if trying to placate him.
None of that made sense, they were in danger, they had to run, and he was the only one with the experience to try and save all of them. Owen took a step towards him, reaching out to take his wrist. Ianto jerked away, saying, "I haven't gone mad."
Gwen frowned, holding up her hands as if in defence, and Ianto could only think that the footsteps were coming closer, that sound, that sound that he would always hear. It came closer, while his two colleagues were still staring at him like he'd just announced they were going to die, which in theory he had. It came closer, and around the corner came a battalion of soldiers.
British soldiers, from the British Army, in uniform, their regimental flags proudly displayed on their sleeves. Ianto stared, blinked, and let out a breath he hadn't known he was holding. He wavered slightly in place, and Gwen said tentatively, "Maybe you should sit down."
He concurred, feeling his knees buckle, and was grateful for Owen's support, because at that moment it wasn't embarrassing to have to be held upright by Owen. Between the two of them, they led him to the SUV, and he sat down in the backseat, dangling his legs out the side, and gratefully drinking from the bottle of water Gwen retrieved from the boot.
"I'm sorry," he managed.
Owen reached for his wrist again, taking his pulse, and this time Ianto didn't stop him. He still felt weak from the shock, and the sound hadn't stopped ringing in his ears. Gwen said quietly, "What happened, Ianto?"
He shook his head, not wanting to burden any of his colleagues with what he'd seen and heard. Owen was giving him a look, and abruptly Ianto realised Owen had figured out what had just happened. He remembered then, the first time he'd seen Owen, just after Canary Wharf, one of the two people from Torchwood Three who'd come to retrieve the technology that, as Jack put it, couldn't fall into the wrong hands. Owen let go of his wrist, and said, "You'll live, but take it easy, okay?" There was some concern in his voice, the only sign that he cared, but with Owen it meant he was taking something seriously.
Ianto nodded, saying, "I'll be all right."
"I better drive," Gwen said, and held out her hand.
Ianto realised he had the keys to the SUV, and dug in his pocket, handing them to her. She went around to the driver's side, and Owen hopped in on the passenger side. Ianto closed the door and buckled his seatbelt, leaning his head back against the seat and willing the sound to stop replaying in his ears.
That night, after they'd had sex, as Jack was kissing his neck and Ianto was trying to recover from what had just happened, Jack said lightly, somewhere near his ear, "Good?"
The tone of his voice was smug, as if he knew what the answer was, and if Ianto could catch his breath, he would've told him. After a moment, he nodded, and gulped in some more air to finally answer, "You know it was."
"Good," Jack said again, sounding thoroughly satisfied, licking a spot on Ianto's neck where he'd gotten carried away earlier, and Ianto knew a bruise would form overnight. For now, he rested his head on Jack's shoulder, trying to recover his equilibrium, and his breathing. Jack's arms were still holding him tightly, making sure he wouldn't slide onto the floor, which had happened once in the past. Jack laughed softly, Ianto feeling it where their bodies were touching, and hearing it near his ear. Nothing was better than this.
After a full five minutes, he finally felt able to stand on his own, and moved back slightly to be able to kiss Jack's mouth. Jack responded with his usual eagerness, and Ianto lost himself in that kiss blissfully for a moment, before remembering what he had to do. They came apart slowly, naturally, and Jack smiled lazily.
Ianto looked around, locating his clothes strewn around Jack's office, and reached for his boxers, pulling them on. Jack raised an eyebrow, saying, "You're not normally a prude, Ianto."
Ianto pulled on his pants, and reached for his shirt, replying, "I'm not. I'm going home."
The surprise showed clearly on Jack's face, and he said, "You know, you don't have to. "
"I know," Ianto said quickly. He sent Jack a reassuring smile, adding, "There are things I have to do at my flat."
"Okay," Jack said slowly, looking slightly hurt, or maybe that was Ianto's imagination. Maybe he just wanted to think Jack wanted him around that much.
"I'll see you in the morning," he told Jack, giving him another smile. He tied his shoelaces, and picked up his jacket.
"Okay," Jack said again.
Ianto looked at him one more time, before leaving the office, going down the stairs and exiting the hub.
When he got home, he changed into comfortable sweats, and prepared to settle in for the night. He brewed a large pot of coffee, extra strength, and retrieved the comforter from where he'd put it back in the closet after the last time he'd used it. He sorted through his stack of DVDs and pulled out 'Rear Window' and 'Lawrence of Arabia', adding reluctantly the 'Die Hard: Quadrilogy' box that Owen had lent him a while ago, insisting the films were really good. The most Ianto could imagine using them for was comic relief, but it would do tonight, he needed the distraction. He needed to stay awake. After the events of the day, a nightmare was an inevitability, and he hadn't wanted to have it in Jack's bed. While some nightmares were soothed by Jack's presence, this was one he knew wouldn't be, and this was also one that he did not want to have to talk about with Jack, ever. What had happened at Canary Wharf not only stood between them because of what had happened afterward with Lisa, but also because he never wanted to discuss it again. He wanted to forget it ever happened. Too much death, too much violence, too many things that he didn't want to remember, images he no longer wanted to have in his mind, though they were seared in there anyway.
The coffee was finished, and he took the pot and a mug to the sofa, wrapped himself in the comforter, pressed the play button on the DVD remote and put his hands around the mug. 'Rear Window' started up, and he settled in for a long vigil.
It was past one in the morning, when his doorbell rang. Ianto started, pausing the DVD player and setting his mug of coffee down on the table. He got up and went to answer. Jack was on the other side, leaning casually against the door frame as if it was perfectly normal for him to show up at this hour of the night. Ianto raised a quizzical eyebrow at him.
"I saw your light was on," Jack said casually.
Ianto wondered if this was a booty call, and if it was, what to do with it. Jack had never been to his flat in the past, and it made no sense for him to suddenly be here now. He stepped aside automatically to let Jack in, then replied, "Yes."
Jack looked from him and his sweats, to the sofa, the comforter, the pot of coffee and the film frozen on the TV screen. "What are you doing, Ianto?"
Ianto looked into Jack's eyes and for some reason couldn't lie. He held Jack's gaze as he answered. "I'm staying up."
"So when you said you had things to do...?" Jack left the words hanging in the air.
"I lied," Ianto admitted, blushing slightly. "I'm sorry."
Jack frowned, saying, his voice soft with concern, "What's going on, Ianto?"
Ianto didn't want to answer, didn't want to go where that conversation would lead, and instead went on the offensive. "What are you doing here, Jack?"
"I was working," Jack replied, his voice tinged with irritation. "I was reading Owen and Gwen's reports about when you went to retrieve that artefact this afternoon. They both noted that something happened."
"It's not important," Ianto replied. "It doesn't interfere with my duties."
"It did then," Jack shot back.
Ianto clenched and unclenched his fists, struggling not to raise his voice. "It won't happen again, Jack. Now is that all you wanted to know?"
It was as if Jack saw right through him, when he softly said, "What's going on with you, Ianto?"
Right at that moment, Ianto didn't want Jack's concern. He couldn't handle it, couldn't deal with the rush of emotions that would overwhelm him if he allowed himself to feel them. The way to deal with Canary Wharf was to ignore it, to go on, and only if he was reminded of it, to then work at suppressing the emotions that came with it. "I'm fine," he insisted, looking away from Jack's eyes because he couldn't bear the compassion in them.
Jack grabbed his arms, shaking him slightly. "Damn it, Ianto. Stop doing this."
Abruptly, Ianto kissed him hard, and Jack responded automatically. They struggled for dominance, no gentleness or softness in the kiss. It was Ianto who pulled away, stepping back from Jack, who let him go. "I think you should leave," he said in a shaking voice.
"Ianto," Jack started, hands dropping to his sides, "I'll go, but tell me you'll be okay."
Ianto thought of the struggle to stay awake that would follow in the next six hours, the thought of falling asleep and dreaming too overwhelming, but he looked from the comforter and the coffee mug to Jack, and said, "Don't worry about me, Jack."
Jack seemed to fight to stay still in place; his whole body tense, he said, "Let me help you."
They were both silent, looking at each other, neither looking away until Ianto finally confessed, "It's Canary Wharf."
Jack blinked. "You're having nightmares?"
Ianto shook his head. "Not always. But this afternoon, when I froze up, it was because -- something reminded me."
"So you're staying up to avoid a nightmare?"
"Yep." Ianto shrugged, trying to convey he wasn't new to this, he could handle this. "It usually doesn't take more than one night."
"You should have told me," Jack said reproachfully. "You could have stayed at the hub, I would have stayed up with you."
Ianto looked at Jack and realised Jack knew a thing or two about nightmares, and wouldn't criticise him for his ways of dealing with them. "I know," he said softly. "But I wanted to forget."
"Let me stay," Jack insisted.
It sounded too good to be true -- it probably was -- but Ianto didn't have the heart to refuse. The offer of company was too tempting, especially the present company. He trusted Jack implicitly.
He went to the sofa, settling back into the comforter, and Jack joined him without saying another word. Ianto pressed the play button on the TV remote, as Jack said, "So what are we watching?"
"Nothing you'd like," Ianto replied.
Jack glanced at the screen. "Laurence of Arabia," he said knowledgeably. "Seen that in the theatre when it came out."
Ianto snorted. "Of course you did."
Jack grinned. "What else have you got?"
Without a word, Ianto pointed at the Die Hard box. Jack laughed. "Owen's?"
Ianto nodded. "Can't imagine they're any good. Unless you've see those when they came out too?"
Jack shook his head, showing a measure of distaste on his face. "No. But they might be funnier at two in the morning."
Ianto smiled, turned off Lawrence of Arabia, and opened the box to start the first Die Hard film. Jack stretched out on the sofa, kicking off his boots, and patted the space in front of him. "Care to get comfortable?"
Ianto smiled slightly, returning with the DVD remote in hand. He settled down in front of Jack, resting his head on Jack's chest, and feeling Jack's arm come around his waist. If you had to stay up all night, this was surely the most comfortable way to do it.