Notes: The full oneshot for #53 from 'Snapshots of Smiles'. Requested by JANTO-FOREVER. Please note that this shot follows on directly from the snapshot, so you will need to have read that first.
Disclaimer: I do not own Torchwood and I am not making any profit from this work.
A Matter of Perspective
Jack was still mulling it over two weeks later. It was a quiet night, with a relatively peaceful Rift, and he and Ianto were curled together in Jack's sleep space. Ianto was stretched out on his front next to Jack, his head twisted the older man's way, his breathing slow and deep, his back exposed to the air, pale and glowing in the gloomy space, his skin warm and the inflate and deflate of his lungs firm under Jack's arm.
But what Gary had said still tugged at Jack's mind, and made him see things differently.
At the edge of the sheets, peeking out from under the linen, darkening bruises lined Ianto's hips where Jack's fingers had dug in too fair, and it had to have been painful. The bite-mark on his left shoulder was red and raw and angry-looking. Jack could see the fierce indentations of fingerprints in Ianto's sides and back, and the sight of them made him bit his lip and fight his stomach to calm down.
"I'm sorry," he mumbled, shuffling closer until they were almost nose-to-nose. The arm Jack had slung around Ianto's waist crept higher in an awkward little hug, and Ianto shifted closer with a sleepy murmur.
Jack thought back over their months of 'dabbling' and dating. They didn't have a conventional relationship by any means, but he'd always liked to think that it was loving. But what Gary had thought made him doubt. Had he been hurting Ianto; had Ianto put up with something he had hated? Did he feel he had to stay?
Jack knew he could be rough, especially during sex. He tended to grab Ianto and throw him up against the nearest hard surface. That had to hurt sometimes...the shower wall, his desk, the ladder - certainly the ladder would hurt, it dug into your back very painfully if you were pressed against it...
Warm fingers brushed clumsily over Jack's face, and he blinked to find Ianto's sleepy smile inches from his face.
"Never thought I'd say it," Ianto mumbled, "but you're thinkin' too hard. Stop't. Sleep."
Jack smiled and nipped at the questing fingers. He was given a small chuckle, but the hand was hastily withdrawn and he flushed, realising that he'd done it again.
"Sorry," he whispered, tightening the arm around Ianto's back in apology.
"No," Jack said, needing to make Ianto understand. "I'm sorry. For hurting you."
"Didn't hurt," Ianto grumbled, trying to avoid conversation and get more sleep. Or more play, he hadn't decided yet. Honestly, he wasn't awake enough for conversations in the middle of the night, even if Jack was. "Just a nip..."
"Not that," Jack insisted. "For hurting you. I always hurt you. I give you bruises, and I bite you, and..."
"It's wild, insane, crazy sex and I really don't care?" Ianto finished, cuddling up to bury his nose in the skin of Jack's neck. "Big deal. Sleep now."
"I knock you around," Jack whispered, his voice almost cracking in the middle of the sentence.
Ianto blinked, hard, and the sleepy haze disappeared. They simply stared at each other for a second before he pushed himself up on his arms and stared down at Jack incredulously.
"I..." Jack began, but Ianto cut him off.
"Is this about Gary?" he asked suspiciously.
"What he saw...it made me think..."
"The wrong things?" Ianto suggested sarcastically, and he repositioned himself to drape his warm body over Jack's like a blanket. "Don't be stupid, Jack, you do no such thing as knocking me around."
Jack's fingers traced one of the bruises on Ianto's hip, and Ianto snorted.
"That? Christ, Jack, holding a little too firmly in the throes of amazing sex don't count."
"I always do it."
"Yes. You've been gripping my hips almost every night for several months," Ianto said drily. "And yet I haven't complained once."
"Jack, sex itself hurts. I'm not exactly designed for this, you know? You going to stop that too? Is that knocking me around?"
"Well, no, but..."
"No buts. I'm right. You're not. Gary's not. Done. End of. Sleep," Ianto commanded, dropping his head back into the crook of Jack's shoulder and squirming to get comfortable.
"How is it okay that I leave those?" Jack whispered, his fingers still stroking the bruises softly.
"Yan," Jack said firmly. "Please. I hurt you. That's not okay!"
"You feel like clocking me one next time I bring your coffee the tiniest bit late?"
"That's knocking around, Jack. And trust me, I know. I've been there. You and me? Nothing even close to that."
Jack filed that information away, the gnawing pain inside transferring from his gut to his heart with the knowledge that somebody else had once dared to hit Ianto. He wondered what had happened to end it, and hoped that whoever it was had suffered for that.
"It's still not okay that I leave those, though," he mumbled, rubbing the bruises as though rubbing in lotion.
Ianto snorted and said, "Because you don't mean to leave them, and you don't notice you're doing it, and it doesn't really hurt. It's a tiny bit sore, Jack. Nothing more."
"You swear?" Jack breathed into Ianto's still-damp hair.
"Promise," Ianto affirmed, beginning to adopt his 'sleeping position' whenever he dozed off on Jack's chest in that matter. "Now go to sleep. Or at least let me. If you really want to hash this out, we'll do it in the morning. Not now."
Jack didn't anything more, but left the bruises alone and pressed idle kisses into Ianto's hair until he felt the consciousness leave the younger man's mind and he slumped, asleep.
Then Jack's hand returned to trace the bruises softly, but without the anxious knot in his stomach that there had been before.