TITLE: Tomorrow Will Be Better
AUTHOR: Erin Giles
DISCLAIMER: Torchwood is property of the BBC.
CHARACTERS/PAIRINGS: Jack/Ianto hinted at, Tosh/Ianto friendship, Ianto/Owen friendship, Gwen
SUMMARY: She wished she could just say the words 'Don't fall in love with him.' and make it that simple.
AUTHORS NOTES: Yes, ANOTHER Post-Countrycide fic. But this one has very little angst, ample amounts of Tosh/Ianto friendship and Ianto/Owen friendship and the inklings of something between Jack and Ianto.
Tosh crossed back over to the SUV from where she'd been talking to the police, limping slightly as her knee started to ache, reminding her rather vividly of the horror she had just lived through. Her gaze passed over Ianto perched on the boot of the SUV, hands on his knees as he squinted into the dawn of a new day. She could see his arms shaking, a residual effect of having his hands tied behind his back and no doubt partially due to shock.
"Here," Owen said gently as he handed Ianto a bottle of water, which he took in shaking hands as Tosh perched on the boot beside him. The first swig he took he didn't swallow, instead swirling it round his mouth a couple of times before spiting it onto the gravel at his feet. Tosh noticed the water was stained pink with blood.
"You alright, Tosh?" Owen asked, looking intently at her as she rubbed absentmindedly at her rope burned wrists. She knew he was asking if she needed medical attention so she just nodded in reply. It would wait until they got back to the Hub. She wanted out of here as soon as possible.
"We're going." Jack's voice boomed from the front of the SUV where he was manipulating Gwen into the passenger seat. Apparently, Jack had the same idea as everyone else. They just wanted out of here as fast as possible now that the police had everything under control. This wasn't Torchwood territory anymore.
Tosh rose slowly to her feet, shuffling away from the boot. She glanced back when Ianto didn't move. His eyes were glazed and he seemed to be a million miles away. Owen was looking at him as well, a look of concern on his face.
"Come on, mate," Owen encouraged softly, a hand going under Ianto's armpit and lifting him up off the boot before walking him round to the passenger side, opening the back door for Ianto to get in. Tosh took the opportunity to slide into the back of the SUV, into the middle seat. She heard the boot slam followed by Owen and Jack jumping into the SUV. Jack started the engine, manoeuvring his way through the emergency services' vehicles as Tosh's hand moved to rest gently over Ianto's larger one that was resting lazily in his lap. She gave it a slight squeeze, heartened by the fact his thumb came round to curl over the ends of her fingers.
They didn't let go of each other until they reached the Hub. Jack was quickly out his door and round to Gwen's side, helping her out of the SUV and guiding her towards the Hub. Tosh didn't miss the glare Owen shot in Jack's direction as he was climbing out the car. She waited for Ianto to get himself out the SUV and watched nervously as he continued to lean on the door long after he'd gotten his feet under him, as if he was unsure they could hold his own weight. She was grateful when she realised Owen was still there watching him as well.
There were no sarcastic remarks about how weak Ianto was, no teasing or hurtful words as Owen crossed back over to the car and slung an arm round Ianto's waist, effectively holding him upright as he tentatively let go of the car. There was only scared concern as Owen led Ianto from the car park back into the Hub, Tosh following in close proximity as she watched Ianto's bloody hands clutching at the leather of Owen's jacket, trying to walk on his own but grateful for the support.
She helped Owen sit him down on the tatty sofa under the Torchwood logo, Owen revving up into Doctor Mode before Jack was calling out to him.
"Owen. I want you to take a look at everyone then I'm driving you all home." Jack barked, emerging from the autopsy room, his eyes flickering from the almost ever-present rage as he caught sight of Tosh and Ianto sat on the sofa together, both looking so small and vulnerable before he was marching to his office and slamming the door so forcefully that the glass rattled in the frame.
"Aye Aye, Captain," Owen mumbled under his breath before he was pulling himself to his feet and disappearing into the autopsy room to see to Gwen first.
Owen wiped gently at Ianto's forehead, removing the dried blood and dirt to reveal the wound below that was still oozing blood. It wouldn't need suturing, just regular butterfly stitches would do.
"Tosh says you went all Rambo on us," Owen commented, trying to get a rise out of Ianto, but he didn't say anything, just continued to stare straight ahead at the white walls of the autopsy bay. Owen's gaze flicked down to Ianto's for a moment before he started putting a white square of gauze over the wound, taping it down carefully trying to avoid the bruises that peppered Ianto's face. When he'd done that he started pressing firmly on Ianto's cheekbone that was currently turning a vivid purple, trying to assess whether it was fractured or not. Ianto flinched at the contact but didn't appear to be in agony so Owen surmised that it was just badly bruised. Ianto hadn't been forthcoming with any information of his treatment at the hands of his captors, but Owen could probably guess that it hadn't all been lollipops and puppies if the meat cleaver held to his throat was anything to go by.
Poor Bastard. Owen thought as he rolled himself back across the room towards the small fridge there. He knew Ianto had been through some serious shit in his time but what had he ever done to the world to allow it to pile all kinds of crap on his shoulders. Keeping a Cyberman in the basement and almost getting the whole team killed, Owen's vindictive voice of reason piped up from the back of his brain. Still, Owen knew deep down that Ianto's actions hadn't been that of a reasonable man. He knew that love made you do the wacky.
"Here." Owen offered an ice pack to Ianto, watching as the Welshman hesitated slightly as if he was unsure where to put it, making Owen wonder where else Ianto was hurting that he hadn't told him about. There was a dullness about his eyes as he lifted the ice pack to his head, gingerly placing it against his cheek. Owen saw the flinch as he stretched his right side too much, causing Owen to pull his shirt and t-shirt up before Ianto had a chance to protest.
Owen pressed firmly but as gently as he could on Ianto's abused ribs, stopping when Ianto let out a pained hiss, his stomach muscles contracting as they tensed.
"You've fractured your rib," Owen stated matter-of-factly, his eyes tracing the outline of boot marks on Ianto's chest as he reached blindly for his stethoscope.
"Take as deep a breath as you can," Owen instructed, listening to Ianto's lungs.
"Hurts," Ianto gasped after two breaths, clutching at his side. It was the first thing he had said since Gwen had untied him almost three hours ago now. His voice sounded hoarse and full of pain.
"I know mate," Owen said soothingly, letting Ianto's t-shirt drop back into place.
"I can give you some painkillers but I don't want you going home on your own concussed. Someone needs to keep an eye on you."
"I'll go," Tosh piped up from behind Owen. Both Ianto and Owen looked up to find her leaning on the railings, looking down at them, concern etched on her features.
"I don't really feel like being on my own for the rest of the day anyway," Tosh voiced, pandering to Ianto's ego, making it seem like she was the one in need of someone.
"Ok." Owen nodded, turning back to Ianto who seemed to nod his agreement as well.
"Right, we'll get you doused up with painkillers then I've got a date with Jeremy Kyle," Owen joked, getting up and crossing to one of the cabinets on the wall and shuffling through bottles of pills.
Tosh was the unlucky one who ended up going to ask Jack to drive them home while Owen manoeuvred Ianto and Gwen out to the car. Owen had suggested he would drive them all and leave Jack quietly to his rage, but Tosh had been quick to point out that Jack probably needed to feel useful right now. Jack was sat at his desk fuming quietly.
"Jack?" Tosh asked quietly, her knuckles rapping on the doorframe. He looked up at her and she could see that his eyes were bloodshot.
"Ready to go?" Jack asked, trying, and failing, to put a grin on his face as he pulled himself to his feet.
Tosh nodded. "Will you swing by my place first so I can pick up some stuff? I'm going to stay with Ianto," Tosh asked as Jack moved over to her, putting a hand on her shoulder in reassurance and concern.
"Is he okay?"
"Owen says he's concussed," Tosh answered simply, leading the way to the garage where Owen was shutting the back door on Ianto whose head was already resting lazily against the headrest.
It was almost lunchtime by the time Jack pulled the SUV up to the curb outside Ianto's house. Tosh was sat in the front seat now, after they'd dropped both Gwen and Owen off and she slide as gracefully as she could onto the pavement. She watched for a moment as Ianto struggled with the back door before he was hesitantly sliding down from the seat, clutching painfully at his side. He stumbled slightly, seeming dopey as Jack got out the car as well.
"I don't want either of you coming in 'til tomorrow at the earliest. I'll take care of any weevil sightings or anything else. I'm hoping the world won't end in the next twenty-four hours." Jack sounded hopeful as he grasped Ianto's forearm securely when he wobbled precariously on his feet. Tosh had Ianto's house keys in her hand after retrieving them from the tourist office where he'd left them the other day, shoving them in the front door and turning as Jack led Ianto into the house, sitting him down on the sofa. Ianto didn't protest, just sunk back into the cushions, his eyes closed. Tosh watched as Jack stared at him for a long moment, almost longingly, before he was turning back towards her.
"Call me if you need anything. Either of you," Jack said softly, putting a hand on Tosh's shoulder and leaning in to kiss her on the forehead before he was retreating out the house, shutting the front door behind him.
Tosh stood in the door of the lounge for a long moment, just watching Ianto and the shallow breaths he was taking, his breath hitching every time he tried to breathe a little deeper.
"I need to have a shower," Ianto mumbled eventually, making no move to do so. Tosh waited to see if he would animate himself before she offered to help.
"Do you want a hand up the stairs?" Tosh asked, almost self-consciously.
"I could do with a hand off the sofa first, it might be a hose down in the back garden at this rate," Ianto replied, finally opening his eyes to look at her. Tosh smiled at Ianto's attempt to lighten the situation, finally dumping her bag she had retrieved from her place on the armchair in the living room and crossing to help Ianto to his feet. Ianto's sofa was low, and not amenable to people that had been beaten by cannibalistic villagers, but with a little tugging on Tosh's part, and a lot of cursing on Ianto's, they managed to get him into an upright position. She waited until he got his breath back before she let go of him.
"Stairs?" she questioned meekly, one of her hands resting on his forearm that was clutching painfully at his side. Ianto nodded, starting to make his own way over to the stairs on wobbly feet. They were halfway up the flight when Ianto stopped, letting out a shaky breath.
"Owen's a liar," Ianto mumbled before he started climbing again.
"Why do you say that?" Tosh asked, no longer holding Ianto up but stood on the step behind him, just in case. She could think of several reasons why Owen was a liar, but not what had prompted Ianto to think so at this moment in time.
"He said the painkillers would kick in about ten minutes ago. I'm still waiting." Ianto grunted as he reached the landing at the top of the stairs and took a sharp right, stumbling into his bedroom. Tosh smiled as she hesitated on the threshold as Ianto turned back to her. He seemed reluctant to voice his next sentence. Tosh pre-empted him though.
"Want a hand with your boots?"
Ianto nodded, smiling gratefully at her.
"Also, just so we're clear, I'm not Jack so I draw the line at showering with you," Tosh joked, trying to ease the tension as Ianto sat down slowly on the edge of his bed.
"Me and Jack have never slept together," Ianto replied as Tosh started undoing his first bootlace.
"Ianto I know, I didn't mean it like that," Tosh back peddled, looking up at Ianto as she pulled the first boot off his foot.
"I lied though," Ianto said after another moment's pause. "Gwen's game," Ianto clarified when Tosh looked up at him, confusion on her face.
"Lisa wasn't the last person I snogged. It was Jack."
Tosh didn't know what to say. A snog was just a snog wasn't it? Like hers had been with Owen, although she doubted with Jack and Ianto mistletoe had been involved. Tosh didn't have to say anything though, as it was clear Ianto felt he had to explain his actions.
"It was when I was on suspension. You know that night you came round with Chinese and a DVD and Jack was already here?" Ianto asked, not really expecting a reply from Tosh. But it all suddenly clicked into place for her then. She understood why Ianto had been twitchy for the rest of the night, why Jack himself had seemed flustered as he'd left Ianto's house, self-consciously pulling his shirt straight as he'd given Ianto a meaningful look. The words 'Think about it,' coming from his mouth before he was heading down the garden path and Tosh was letting herself in, already starting her rant on how one of Owen's rats had escaped that day and chewed through one of the power leads for the computers, frying itself.
"Do you regret it?" Tosh asked, unbuttoning Ianto's shirt now and pulling the stained fabric from his shoulders.
"No." There was no hesitation in Ianto's reply, but Tosh could sense an overwhelming guilt about the fact Lisa had not been his last kiss. He felt that after betraying Jack he was now conversely betraying Lisa. She also knew the word rebound hung in the air like a bad smell.
"Just be careful Ianto if you do get involved with him," Tosh warned. "I know he plays the hero very well but you can't take the hero home at the end of the day to meet your Mum." Her words were laced with a deeper warning, an attempt to protect Ianto's already battered heart and she wished she could just say the words 'Don't fall in love with him.' and make it that simple.
Ianto chuckled. "I know, but does that really matter in our line of work?"
Tosh didn't answer Ianto's question, just started tugging on his t-shirt to lift it up over his head. He gave an involuntary hiss as he stretched his right arm up too high and Tosh gave a tiny gasp as she finally saw the full extent of what Ianto had endured. Her fingers ghosted over his right side, tracing the indents of caterpillar boots that had kicked him repeatedly. Ianto caught Tosh's wrist in his hand. Gently but firmly moving it away from his ribs.
"I'm fine Tosh," Ianto voiced, trying to sound convincing. Tosh gave him an incredulous look, causing him to amend his sentence.
"I'll be fine."
Tosh didn't look convinced but helped Ianto to his feet again, watching him disappear into the bathroom on unsteady feet.
"Call if you need me."
They ended up watching a James Bond film, drinking tea and eating toast, getting crumbs all over Ianto's floor and sofa. Ianto was too tired to care though. Ianto was now dressed in a pair of pyjama bottoms and a t-shirt, curled up on his injured side at one end of the sofa. Tosh was at the other end, a pair of sweats on, wrapped up in one of the blankets she had pulled from the end of Ianto's bed, her feet encased in a pair of Ianto's hiking socks.
"Do you know, I think you'd make a good James Bond," Tosh piped up as she watched Bond charming his way to a clean bill of health.
"Does that make you Q then?" Ianto asked dopily, his head half buried in a pillow Tosh had also retrieved from his bed.
Tosh giggled. "No, I just meant you'd be a very good James Bond. You've already got the suits, the intellectual capacity and can charm your way out of any situation."
"I think you've got me confused with Jack," Ianto voiced, frowning slightly as he twisted to look at her.
"You can be charming when you want to be, plus unlike Jack you have tact. The ladies would be swooning for you," Tosh argued. "All we need to do is get rid of that Audi you drive and replace it with a BMW or an Aston Martin." Ianto snorted into the pillow.
"I don't think MI5 would have me considering I already work for Torchwood and I don't think 567 has quite the same ring to it as 007," Ianto mused, shifting slightly so he could sip his tea. Tosh giggled again stretching her legs slightly so that they curled under one of Ianto's legs, resting against his calf.
Tosh woke with a start as she heard Ianto's letterbox rattle. She glanced down at the other end of the sofa where Ianto was curled up. He was still dead to the world, even as someone knocked on his front door again. Tosh swallowed nervously, scared to go and answer it herself. She toyed with the idea of waking Ianto so he could come with her but the letterbox rattled again, a familiar voice drifting through.
"Jack," Tosh breathed, lifting Ianto's feet from her lap and pulling herself painfully to her feet. Ianto didn't so much as stir as she shuffled out the living room to the front door. She double-checked it was definitely Jack through the peephole before unlocking the door, pulling off the chain and twisting the Yale lock to admit their Captain. He swept in the front door, bringing the wind, rain and the smell of pizza with him. Tosh noticed it was only just getting dark.
"I didn't wake you did I?" Jack asked as he took in Tosh's appearance.
"It's fine," Tosh replied with a shy smile, muffling a yawn as she shut Ianto's front door behind him, locking it all back up again.
"How're things?" Jack asked almost conversationally as he hung his coat up on the bottom of the banister, his eyes roaming through the open living room door to the young Welshman draped over the sofa.
"I suspect Owen prescribed Ianto with more than just painkillers. He's been out for the count since about lunchtime," Tosh mused, wrapping her arms round her middle as she moved almost unconsciously closer to Jack.
"It wouldn't surprise me. For all they snipe at each other they do care," Jack voiced, both of them watching Ianto now, and the steady rise and fall of his chest.
"What about you, Tosh?" Jack asked, turning to regard her.
"Grateful for the company," Tosh answered almost immediately. Tosh's stomach rumbled as she got another whiff of the pizza Jack still had in his hands.
"And grateful for the food by the sounds of it. See if you can wake him and I'll make a pot of tea," Jack encouraged, disappearing down the hall without even having to ask where the kitchen was. It surprised Tosh somewhat that Jack seemed to know his way round Ianto's house. He'd probably like to know the way round Ianto's bedroom more, thought Tosh slyly.
"Ianto," Tosh called softly, placing a hand on his shoulder as she sat down on the coffee table. She shook his shoulder slightly when he didn't respond. He blinked blearily up at her for a moment, mumbling something that Tosh didn't quite catch, dismissing the notion that she'd heard the name Lisa.
"Jack's here," she said quietly as she watched him yawning. "He brought us some food," Tosh continued when Ianto looked momentarily confused. She regarded him as he stretched, flinching slightly as he belatedly remembered his injures, before yawning again. She smiled almost fondly at him as he pulled himself into a sitting position, hair ruffled from sleep, wiping drool from his cheek, trying to be subtle before he looked at her hopefully.
"Couldn't get a hand up could I?" Ianto asked, almost hesitantly. Tosh however didn't hesitate, sliding her arm round his back and pulling him to his feet. There was a brief moment where he lurched into her, and caught unawares Tosh wobbled ominously close to the coffee table again, but Jack was beside Ianto, steadying him, allowing Tosh to regain her balance. She hadn't even heard Jack come in.
"You two been drinking in my absence?" Jack joked, trying to lighten the situation as Ianto struggled to regain his footing. Tosh watched him twitching slightly at Jack's close proximity, Jack's arms firmly round Ianto's waist like he was embracing a lover.
"That explains the pounding headache and the nauseous feeling then," Ianto deadpanned, making Jack laugh loudly and a little too falsely. Ianto looked at him, and for a moment Toshiko felt like she wasn't in the room, or at least she shouldn't be as the pair stared into each other's eyes, carrying on a whole conversation without her. Tosh's stomach chose that moment to make its presence known again and she flushed crimson as both men turned to look at her.
It was hours later when Ianto was lying underneath his duvet, Tosh on top of it wrapped up in the comforter from the end of the bed, that she realised Ianto and Jack were somewhat similar.
They were both so stoic, so secretive, annoyingly so.
They were both gentlemen – Ianto had insisted that she take the bed and he'd sleep on the sofa, although she couldn't be sure if that was entirely out of chivalry or if the thought of hauling himself up the stairs again was too much.
They'd both made mistakes – which is maybe why Jack had given Ianto a second chance. Toshiko knew Jack was all about second chances – she would still be in solitary confinement if that were not the case.
"Ianto?" she called out, not turning over in the bed to face him, instead staring straight ahead at the digital display on the bedside clock and the picture of Ianto and Lisa at the park together, laughing.
"Tosh?" Ianto's sleepy reply came back to her in the half-light of the room.
The start of a thousand sentences ran through her brain, granted at a slightly slower speed than usual, but she didn't say any of them.
"Tosh?" Ianto asked again, sounding more awake this time. She opened her mouth to say 'nothing', before deciding to let whatever was there come out, not wanting to sound stupid by dismissively waking Ianto up at three in the morning.
"You were right about what you said earlier on," Tosh said in a rush.
"You might have to remind me; I'm a little concussed at the moment," Ianto replied, the last vestiges of sleep clinging to his voice.
"That it doesn't really matter who you're with when you do what we do for a job, all that matters is you've got someone to share that with."
Ianto didn't say anything, and Tosh suspected he'd fallen asleep again. She started slightly when she felt his arm come round her middle, pulling her close into his body so they were spooning. She tensed at first, hoping he hadn't misunderstood her meaning.
"Thank you," he whispered next to her ear, placing a comforting kiss on the side of her neck, just below her ear. She relaxed almost immediately at his words, sinking into his comforting and friendly embrace.
It didn't surprise her when a week later she turned down a corridor in the Hub, her thoughts interrupted by the sound of grunting and lips smacking together. She didn't say anything, just turned 180 degrees and made a mental note to erase the CCTV.