Notes: The full oneshot for #27 and #29 out of 'Snapshots of Smiles'. I combined the two themes into a single shot. Requested by Paraxenos and toobeauty.
Disclaimer: I do not own Torchwood and I am not making any profit from this work.
Human Like You
"For fuck's sake, Jack, we're not all superhuman like you!"
Gwen stood in the middle of the Hub, chewing on her nails and flicking her gaze worriedly between Jack and Ianto. Jack was standing on the steps outside his office, staring down at Ianto by the water fountain in a way that reminded Gwen very much of the day Ianto came back after his suspension. Only this time, she was over by her workstation, and she didn't want to intervene.
She knew she should, but she couldn't. This wasn't a Torchwood matter, or even an authority matter - it was a Jack-and-Ianto matter, really, underneath, and Gwen knew she'd hate someone butting in on one of her arguments with Rhys.
But if they started making up again, she was going home.
Gwen also didn't know who to go to, if she had to intervene. Jack was the volatile one - Ianto could keep himself under control, most of the time - but if it came to blows, she would have to tackle Ianto, because he, really, was stronger than Jack when he was riled up enough.
"You're here to do a damn job!" Jack bellowed.
"And what exactly is that, Jack?!" Ianto retorted, his eyes flashing and his jaw set. "As I seem to remember, there was no job here for me! Was I hired because I looked good in a suit?!"
Ianto didn't look so good now. He looked worn and run down; like Gwen felt, like Jack probably felt, but worse. Ianto hadn't been eating or sleeping to sort out the mess that that spaceship crashing in Swansea had caused. He'd been up twelve hours before it happened, and forty eight since. He was ready to drop and needed - needed - to go home.
Only there was still work to be done. And for some reason that neither Gwen nor Ianto could figure out, Jack's mood was unbelievably sour. Maybe because all the crisis had reminded them of was that it was just them now. Just the three of them, all alone, and struggling to keep it going.
"Don't be ridiculous," Jack snarled.
"I'm not being ridiculous," Ianto snapped. "I'm a cheap lay to you, and that's all it seems to be, these days. You just want a quick fuck when you're feeling tense, and God forbid that I feel anything but unwavering fucking loyalty!"
Gwen wanted to disappear into a hole in the ground, wanted to vanish, wanted Rhys to call her with an emergency so she could legitimately flee the horrible atmosphere in here. She didn't know about Jack and Ianto's private lives, and she didn't really want to, not like this.
"I am your leader, first and foremost, and...!" Jack roared, working himself up into a screaming match, when Ianto's cold, quiet voice cut through him like a knife and shattered the building tension.
"So that says where I stand. As your employee, then, Captain, I'm taking a sick day."
With that, he turned on his heel and did what Gwen never thought she'd see Ianto do: he walked straight out of work, and disappeared up to the tourist office.
And for a long, long moment, there was silence.
Then Gwen exploded.
"You complete and utter ARSE, Jack!" she shrieked, clenching her fists and raw rage surging up her nerves to every extremity. "You stupid, egocentric arse!"
Jack turned his glower on to her, but it was a little more shaken up that before. Maybe, even in a rage, he realised that something really bad had just happened.
"Fuck the organisation, Jack!" Gwen yelled. "The threat's over, the aliens are taken care of! It's just paperwork, and Ianto's dead on his feet!"
"He's had worse."
Gwen swore, and marched up to him until they were nose-to-nose, two pairs of blue eyes vying for dominance in a staring match.
"He loves you," she said, slowly and deliberately, "but to you, he's just a bit of stress relief, isn't he?"
"I can't love someone. I can't lo-"
"Bullshit. It doesn't mean you have to threat them like shit either!" she fumed. "For God's sake, Jack! If Rhys ever said to me what you just said to Ianto, I'd sock him one and leave him! And that's what Ianto's done, Jack! He's left you! Can you understand that?!"
"He'll come back," Jack spat, and retreated to his office.
With a final, furious curse, Gwen spun around and fled up the passage after Ianto. If she couldn't knock some sense into Jack, she could at least look after Ianto.
Gwen was relieved to find Ianto's car apparently undamaged in the driveway of his house, and rapped on the door determined not to take 'no' for an answer.
"Ianto! It's Gwen!" she called through the door. "I haven't brought Jack, don't worry."
That seemed to get a response, and a lock clicked before the door opened and Gwen was wordlessly let into the little house. She'd spent the night once, when Rhys was away and her nightmares about the cannibals got pretty bad, but she hadn't been there in a while.
Still, it was obvious immediately that Ianto wasn't taking this lightly.
"Oh Ianto," she said, and hugged him.
She'd never hugged Ianto before. His returning embrace was a little awkward and a little unsure, but not really hesitant. For a moment, they just stood there in the hallway of Ianto's tiny house, before she pulled back and gave his red eyes a sympathetic smile.
"How you doing?" she asked, which felt kind of stupid seeing as she hadn't been apart from him for twenty minutes.
Ianto shrugged, shook his head, sighed and retreated to the living room, returning to the sofa and the cup of coffee sat on the coffee table.
"It'll keep you awake," she warned, and he sighed.
"Don't think I'm going to be sleeping much anyway," he said.
"He's a prick," she said decidedly, and Ianto chuckled.
"He can be a bit..." he trailed off, and Gwen took over.
"He's an egocentric twat. It's like he's forgotten what being human is," she growled.
"I think he has."
Ianto paused, then said: "He always thinks...I have the time to get over these fights of ours. That I have as much as he does to forget about it and let the hurt go away, but I don't. And I'm tired of it, and I think...maybe it's time I just threw in the towel."
"On Jack, or...completely?"
"You know he's got ideas of who to bring in," Ianto said. "And...I don't know if you know, but they've been rebuilding Torchwood: London. It's almost done, and I still know people living in London who can put me up for a while..."
"You're leaving?" Gwen whispered.
But it didn't hurt like she thought it would. Seeing him sat there looking tired and defeated and old, even though he was only in his mid-twenties, made London seem like a good idea. He'd always talked about his job in London happily - apart from maybe the top brass, but they were all gone now. And he wouldn't be dead - they had the phone and email and the train was only a few hours. She could visit him, and he could come and stay with them when the rugby league was back on.
"I think so," Ianto murmured.
Gwen squeezed his hand, then said decidedly: "When?"
"Take me a couple of days. I rent this out, so I'll just pay the severence fine and go."
"He'll try to get you back."
"I know. And I don't want him to," Ianto said. "I'm not doing this any more, Gwen, it's killing me. I deserve a lot of things, but...not that."
Gwen made a noise of agreement, and said:
"Tell you what. You come and crash on the sofa at our place, and I'll help you pack and shift your stuff. You won't even have to come back into work if Jack can't get to you at home."
"He can get to me at yours."
Gwen laughed and shook her head, "He can't. Rhys has the next two weeks off work because they're having all their vehicles taken in for their annual safety check. And you know Rhys and Jack..."
"Clash?" Ianto suggested.
"Yes. Jack won't be getting into our flat any time soon."
"He won't mind?"
"He won't. Promise."
The letter was crisp and perfect, and detailed everything down the last formal syllable. It was a resignation letter, Jack realised, but disguised as a transfer approval, and he was gone.
Honestly, Jack didn't know if Ianto was already gone, or going soon, but he couldn't get hold of him and Gwen was avoiding him with the studious sulking of a woman. She was upset on Ianto's behalf, and doing all the angry snubbing Ianto would have been doing had he been here.
Ianto's house had been empty and most of his things gone. Jack knew that Gwen knew where Ianto was, but she refused to tell him anything apart from 'he wants to go back to London. He liked it there'.
But Jack knew it was his fault.
He wasn't a stupid man. He'd known, the moment Gwen had stormed out of the Hub, that he'd screwed up. He'd gone out that evening and done all the errands for the Hub's upkeep for Ianto, so when he came back, everything would be done. He'd given him a bonus on the payroll system, put a vase of flowers on the desk of the tourist office, tidied up the place a bit...
But Ianto hadn't come back.
And now the letter had come - by fax, actually, from Torchwood Two - detailing the transfer. Effective immediately.
But it was okay...Ianto was Welsh, he was from Newport, he would come back eventually, even on visits and trips. He would come back.
And then Jack would see him again, and apologise, and it would work out.