Notes: sort-of sequel to Being Okay, though you don't really need to read that one too. Set directly after Countryside and, obviously, spoilers for that episode, and for Cyberwoman.
Disclaimer: I don't own Torchwood and I am not making any profit from this work.
Healing the Breach
Jack reflected, moodily, that hospital coffee was quite possibly the most appalling beverage that he'd ever drunk in his entire, century-spanning life. And it wasn't just twenty-first century hospital coffee either - he was pretty sure every hospital he'd ever been in, in any time, that had given out free coffee, had given out disgusting free coffee.
Still, they'd been waiting for two hours already and it couldn't really take that much longer. Owen was talking quietly to Tosh in the corner - probably finding out what had happened in the filthy cottage that they'd finally ended the entire, disastrous outing in. She was pale and shaky and had needed a lot of little plastic cups full of water, but she only had scratched and bruising.
Not like Gwen and Ianto.
They were at Hereford, it being closer than Cardiff, though not by a lot. Jack, Owen and Tosh had followed two ambulances to Hereford County Hospital, screaming along the roads at a stupidly fast pace. Jack was pretty sure that couldn't have been good for either patient - neither gunshot wounds nor broken ribs liked being thrown around in a vehicle moving at seventy miles an hour along roads that weren't especially straight.
Jack glanced up to watch Owen move a little way away with a white-coated, greying man. He wasn't surprised. He had dealt with the police and Owen had dealt with the paramedics. A doctor was probably more likely to be able to bend the rules to their satisfaction anyway, and Jack had been willing to let Owen deal with it, with two team members seriously injured.
When Owen returned, and the doctor waited impatiently, he bent to Jack's level.
"They're holding Gwen for a few days," he said, and neither were surprised. "They're going to let us take Ianto back to Cardiff, though. They're recommending we check him in at the Royal Infirmary for more x-rays to confirm what they think. They're going to give me the reference notes we'll need to get that done."
"What do they think?" Jack asked.
"Three fractured ribs, one with what looks to be a hairline crack, and a good ten ribs severely bruised," Owen grimaced. "Broken wrist - they've set and strapped that - a sprained knee that could have torn ligaments, and a hell of a lot of bruising. He's lucky though. Tosh says they went for him with a baseball bat and a crowbar. He could have lost his leg if they'd hit him properly with a crowbar."
Jack knew, and his grimace matched Owen's.
"Right," he muttered. "We're taking him, then? No patient transport?"
Owen snorted: "It's the NHS."
"Has someone called Rhys?"
"I did it earlier. Should be here in about half an hour. Gwen can manage, Jack, she's not going anywhere and she'll be knocked out by now. But I think we need to get Ianto over to Cardiff as soon as we can. With a ribcage in that state, he'd better be doped to high heaven," Owen muttered.
Jack nodded, drew a ragged breath, and pulled himself together.
When Jack returned from fetching the SUV and stowing away the workstations to make the back seat as spacious as possible, he found Ianto (in one of those plastic hospital wheelchairs that always looked a bit too rickety for a job), Tosh and Owen standing (sitting) in an awkward, silent cluster. Owen took over pushing Ianto out of the doors and towards the car, but not a word had apparently been exchanged.
So much for Jack's aim of getting the team to bond a bit during their trip.
As they worked out how to get Ianto into the SUV and settled comfortably, Jack noted that Ianto didn't even try contributing to his and Owen's conversation, nor was he talking to Tosh. Tosh, though, had settled her hand on Ianto's shoulder gingerly, and looked like she wanted nothing more than to get down to his level and hug him.
"I'll go in the back with him," Owen said decisively. "I'll be best equipped to help if something goes wrong or he needs doping up on the drive home. If we lean one of the seats back, we should get him comfortable enough to sleep upright."
"Upright?" Jack asked doubtfully.
"Broken ribs, Jack. Upright is more comfortable than flat on your back any day, especially when moving around in a car on Welsh roads," Owen pointed out.
They wrestled with the seat behind the front passenger one, where Tosh would be. And Tosh sitting there, being small enough to comfortable and safely curl up fully on one of the seats, meant that they could push it right forward to give Ianto as much space as possible. The manoeuvring to get Ianto into the SUV and settled comfortably was nigh-on impossible - he was tense, in a hell of a lot of pain, and barely able to move. Even standing was painful, and bending to sit in the car and resettle resulted in his having to bite back a scream at one point. Owen was fairly sure that the Welshman had bitten through his lip twice in the whole process.
"I'll take that back," Owen said, seizing the wheelchair as he eased out of the SUV again. "Tosh, get yourself comfortable in the front."
As he dashed off, and Jack made to get in the driver's seat, Tosh quickly grasped one of Ianto's shaking hands.
"Thank you," she murmured, and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek before closing the car door and getting into the front, toeing off her shoes and curling up on the seat. She caught Ianto's surprised and slightly confused eyes in the rearview mirror before Owen returned and the car dipped slightly, making Ianto wince and close his eyes.
Tosh had a feeling that this was going to be a long drive home.
They were passing signs for, ironically, St. Owen's Cross, when Owen yelled for Jack to stop the car. At the same moment as Jack slammed on the brakes, Owen tore a sick bag from his medical kit and got it before Ianto's face just in time as he threw up violently and probably painfully.
"Shit!" Jack swore. "What the hell?!"
"Medication, pain, travel sickness, whatever," Owen said grimly as Ianto slumped back again with a deep groan and a few Welsh words that were probably not for children's ears. He leaned over and tossed the used bag out onto the verge, before turning to Ianto. "Any particular reason for that, mate? You want some more painkillers."
"No," Ianto rasped out, and a look of faint irritation crossed Jack's features.
"Ianto, for God's sake, just take the meds," he snapped. "You're just going to hurt worse and probably damage yourself if you don't."
Ianto's eyes flashed, and he opened his mouth for a biting retort, but Tosh didn't give him the chance, throwing open her door and marching around determinedly to Owen's side of the car.
"Out," she snapped, opening his door, and he stared at her. "Out! I can handle giving him pills and passing him a sick bag, Owen! Just let me sit with him; it'll be better for all of us."
Owen didn't argue with this assertive side of Tosh, and they swapped. After a few minute of readjusting the front seat for Owen's larger frame, Jack eased the car forward again, and kept the motion as smooth as possible.
Glancing in the rearview mirror some time later, he noticed that Ianto seemed to have dozed off, and had Tosh's head resting on his shoulder.
Maybe the trip hadn't been a complete disaster after all.
The rest of the drive, for Ianto, was a hazy mixture of pain, drug-induced dozing, and flashes of vague conversation around him. Occasionally, he heard himself moan when the SUV jolted his ribs, but it was a very detached existence.
"Surely that's a faster route?"
"It is, but it's a rural one. It'll jolt him about like a sack of potatoes."
He fuzzily wondered where Gwen was. He hadn't seen her since the paramedics had got their hands on him at the village. He hadn't heard her either, which was probably a more accurate way of judging things right now. After a little while, though, the train of thought got too much to keep track of, and his mind wandered.
"How's he doing?"
"Asleep, I think."
He was never, ever going out to the Beacons again. Ever. In a million years. He hadn't liked his first trip there, when he was about eight and his older brother had pushed him in a river and it was cold and filthy and he'd had to spent a night in a tent and it was pissing it down with rain. He hadn't liked his second trip up there with his first girlfriend, and he'd dumped her shortly afterwards. And he really, really hadn't liked this trip - his third and last.
He wasn't even going to go out to the country anymore. His father had been right - the countryside was full of freaks, weirdos and psychopaths. And dirty ones too.
"Newport. That's close, right?"
"Yes, Harkness, that's close. Jesus Christ."
He felt dirty. He felt sticky and grimy, like there was soil on his clothes and in his hair, and the sticky, itchy pull of bloody scabs on his hands and face. His skin felt thick and greasy and all he really, really wanted was a long, hot shower. And then a bed, and the ability to sleep for a month until he felt fine again.
He tore his eyes open and found himself staring blearily at Tosh, who was squeezing his hand in an attempt to wake him up a bit.
"We're back at the Hub," she said. "Owen wants to know if you'd like to go to the hospital, or if you'd prefer him to treat you here."
"No hospital," Ianto ground out. He wasn't particularly happy about Owen having to treat him instead, but he really didn't want the hospital. He hadn't liked hospitals ever since witnessing his father dying in one. Not something a thirteen-year-old kid appreciated. He'd never gotten over the fear of going into a hospital only to wind up dead himself.
"Alright," he heard Owen's voice from somewhere. "But if those ribs are actually broken, Jones, you're going to a damn hospital. Understood?"
"I'm going to sedate you, though. You'll go nuts if we try and move you in that state too much. Ready?"
Ianto didn't respond. He didn't even feel the prick of the needle going in, just heard a funny sigh from Tosh and then the sound of the car doors opening before he faded away entirely.