Author's Note: OK, here we go again, Jack and Ianto angstiness. Hope you enjoy, I will be asking questions at the end, I hope you're making notes. ;D
I own nada
Jack's head pounded, everything ached and he felt like he was about to throw up. The light was too bright, whatever he was lying on was too hard and everything was too loud. Clattering footsteps and Owen's voice didn't help, not even to tell him where he was, as he couldn't understand a word the medic was saying. He tolerated the flashlight checking his eyes and fingers checking his pulse, and waited for sense to return to his world. It came gradually, occasional words in an incensed rant aimed at him, and the now recognisable texture of the Hub sofa. Finally, he held up his hand and Owen stopped, staring at him with anger smouldering in his eyes and with his arms folded tightly across his chest. Jack collected his thoughts and nodded for Owen to go again.
"Care to explain why you were dead on your office floor first thing this morning?"
He frowned, studied his hands, looked up at Owen again. "I don't know."
"If you want my expert medical opinion, I'd say that it's because you tried to off yourself, again."
He frowned again, concentrated as much as his headache would let him. "No." He swallowed, "I didn't try to kill myself."
Owen scoffed, "Well you succeeded, you died twice since I got in. Your body was fighting against whatever it was you took last night."
He knew what he'd taken. The memories were depressingly clear, and his voice was unusually small when he spoke. "Retcon."
"Retcon?" Owen unfolded his arms, folded them again, unfolded one and waved vaguely, "Why did you try to Retcon yourself?"
Jack turned away. "Medically, Owen, you need to know that I am, apparently, violently allergic to Retcon. Personally, you don't need to know what I wanted to forget that much."
With a glare, Owen turned away and tossed him a bottle of water, which he caught clumsily. "Ianto says he needs a couple of weeks off, he's explained in a letter. It's on your desk." He added, sloping off to the Autopsy Bay again.
Jack was filled with sudden dread, and he hurried as casually as he could up to his office, then sat and stared at the blank envelope for ten minutes. Ianto hadn't even put his name on it, just left it on his desk. Was that a good sign or a bad one? It was a letter; it couldn't be a good sign. He closed his eyes, pinched the bridge of his nose, then opened them and opened the letter. He read it twice, then found that he couldn't read any more and scrubbed at his face with his hands, unsurprised when they came away wet. The bottom had just fallen out of his world, and he had no idea what he was should or could do next.
Owen leant in the doorway and watched his boss with slight concern. Jack had been staring at Ianto's letter for ages now, just staring at it as if that would change the contents, which was a pretty good indication of what the contents were. Bored of waiting, he knocked loudly, startling Jack from his fixedly absent contemplation and nodded at the letter. "He's not coming back, is he?" Jack sighed and shook his head. "You fucked up?"
Amazingly, Jack managed a bitter, self-deprecating smile, "Royally. Surprised?"
"Nope." He shrugged, "We all knew you would one day."
Jack hadn't thought he could hurt any more than he already did but, somehow, the casual acceptance of his failings wrenched it up a notch. "Oh. Right. Could you send Tosh up when she gets here please?"
"Are you going to Retcon him?"
He blinked in surprise, surely Owen knew? "No, I can't. The dose required to remove all his memories of Torchwood would more than likely kill him."
Owen's stance grew angrier, "So that's it?"
He shrugged, glancing at the letter, "Wouldn't Retcon him if I could."
"Fuck, Jack. You're not even going to take the chance that he might survive?"
The fury in Owen's voice shocked Jack. "No, why would I? I trust him not to tell anyone. Who would..." When Owen's expression turned to slightly ashamed surprise, he felt nausea rise. "You thought I would, what, execute him?"
The medic's feet appeared to become extremely interesting, "It is standard policy."
Jack just sighed a tired smile, feeling old, and disappointed at himself, and a bit lost, and everything hurt so much. "I'm not a standard procedure guy, Owen. I thought you all knew that. For future reference," he added, "Any one of you can walk out that door and never return any time you like. All I would ask is an update every so often so I know that you're still..." He broke off. Part of him expected Owen to walk there and then; part of him never expected any of them to leave, even though Ianto just had.
Owen just smiled wryly. "You're not getting rid of me that easily, Jack. I'll tell Tosh to come up when she gets here."
He was deep in a pile of reports when she knocked at his door, her slightly questioning but friendly morning smile indicating that Owen hadn't yet told her the news. It slipped straight into icy disappointment when he told her that Ianto was leaving.
"You two are finished then?" She asked, bitterness sharpening her tone.
He sighed and nodded, steepling his fingers, "Looks that way."
She studied him for a moment, then her eyes widened slightly and she took a sharp breath, sitting down opposite him slowly. "What do you want me to do, Jack?"
Jack closed his eyes to seal the tears in. "You're closest to him, he probably needs a friend right about now. I... I don't want him to be alone, and I'm the last person he'll want to see. Do whatever needs doing; new identity if he needs it, whatever. I'll give him a glowing reference if he wants one, he can use one of the cover companies to carry it."
She looked utterly perplexed, "You... what?"
Bitterness and hurt rose in him as he realised that she'd reached the same conclusion as Owen, but he just sighed heavily. "Tosh, whatever you think of me, I care about him enough to be happy that he's going to be somewhere safer. I would feel the same and do the same if any of you chose to leave."
She reached over and touched his arm, "I know that, Jack. I just... we've learned to assume the worst of everything, I suppose. I'm sorry..."
He waved her apology aside and shrugged, "I don't blame you." He looked down at the pile of reports and sighed, "It's a quiet day, Tosh. Could you go over to Ianto's now? I really don't want him to be alone today. I don't ever want him to be alone." He surely looked as lost as he felt, "But keep your phone on just in case, if something comes up he can come if he wants to, but he doesn't have to."
"Sure, of course." She stood up and hurried out, eager to get either to Ianto or away from him.
Gwen perched herself on the edge of the desk and watched him with that motherly air that made him squirm. "I understand that Ianto's leaving."
"Yep." He pretended to concentrate hard on his paperwork, in the futile hope that she'd leave it at that.
"Why? He always seemed to fit here better than any of us."
"I think that's why, he wanted a change from Torchwood before it became everything."
She folded her arms, "You mean you two have split up?" Jack didn't look up at her, just nodded silently and turned over the next page of the report. "Why?"
He finally looked up at her, straightening the report as he did so. "Gwen, just leave it. It didn't work out, and I'm still dealing with the fallout; I really don't want to talk about it. Now don't you have work to do?"
She hesitated before leaving, as if she had something more to say, and he was extremely grateful that she hadn't said whatever it was. He couldn't cope with any more condemnation.
Gwen had a plan of the archives out on the autopsy table and was making notes on it, cross referencing Ianto's meticulous explanation of the archiving system with his detailed plan. He'd perfected his system, got everything in order, and left his plan and notes so that whoever succeeded him as archivist could learn the system before they ventured down there. It was all set up, just in case he died in the field – or split up with the boss. Gwen wondered, as she noted the location of the Torchwood Employees files, if he'd seen it coming, and set this up more in case of the latter eventuality.
No, she was being unkind really. Apart from the initial brush-off in his office, and then a terse instruction for her to familiarise herself with the archives 'for the moment', he'd not spoken all day, sitting in his office and brooding. He'd clearly been hit harder than they'd given him credit for by the break-up, and probably the only thing stopping him from going straight to Ianto and trying to patch things up was the knowledge that if Ianto left him and Torchwood, he was less likely to die young, and could use the life ahead of him. And the fact that Ianto wasn't an idiot and if whatever Jack had done was enough to make him leave, he probably wouldn't take their boss back anyway. Which didn't mean that Jack deserved any sympathy, really, but he deserved more credit that they were giving him. Maybe.
Her phone buzzed and she read the brief text from Tosh: 'Dinner, mine, 7. Owen 2.' She nodded pointlessly at the phone and put it away. Jack would let them go, Jack would let them do anything if it allowed him some quiet to brood, she just had to make a pest of herself from about half-five onwards.
Author's Note: Question time: 1) What do you think has happened, 2) What do you want to happen next, 3) Do you want a happy ending, 4) How long do you want me to make them miserable for, 5) Does my bum look big in this, 6) Did you think I was asking the last question seriously?
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