Notes: The full oneshot for #66 from 'Snapshots of Smiles'. Requested by JantoGirl, LittleMissTake, WickedWitchoftheSE and Paraxenos.
Disclaimer: I do not own Torchwood and I am not making any profit from this work.
He wished he'd never thought to check.
It had just seemed like a bit of an odd thing for Ianto, of all people, to request the day off for. He never spoke about his family much, and Jack hadn't even known he had any living relatives, so to suddenly ask for next Wednesday off because it was his parents' thirtieth wedding anniversary and they were throwing a big family reunion...it seemed out of place.
And Jack had never quite, despite forgiving Ianto for the crime, forgotten why something seeming out of place with Ianto was so dangerous.
So he'd checked.
It was some of the random information that Torchwood liked to pick up about their employees. The factual information on every employee was pretty incredible, and Torchwood One had been meticulous about it. If they couldn't get the information, they likely wouldn't hire you. And Jack knew that there hadn't been a single hesitation about hiring Ianto.
If he wanted to, Jack could have opened that thick brown file and found Ianto's dental history, his average body temperature, the name of any doctor who had had any contact with Ianto since the day of his birth, how much he had weighed at birth, his mother's mother's middle name, which hand he wrote with, what grade he'd gotten at GCSE Chemistry when he was sixteen, the names and telephone numbers of all his university friends, and the full name and criminal record of the boy he'd shared a room with in his residence hall at university.
Torchwood was just that weird.
And, because Ianto was Welsh, Jack could find exactly the same information, in the same folder, duplicated, in Welsh.
So he'd checked.
Ianto's excuse was true. His parents (and Jack groaned at his father's first name, which was so Welsh it was stupid) really were married for thirty years on Wednesday, although obviously the file couldn't tell him if they were throwing a reunion. Although it did inform him that while Ianto only had one sister, he had over twenty cousins, and most of them had children. So it was fairly likely.
But Jack was one of those people who, once they were reading something, kept going.
So he did.
And at first, it was nice. The fact sheet on top was rather revealing, but in a nice way. Jack didn't know the little things about Ianto, like where he'd lived in London, or that he was a serial cat owner (although, obviously, he knew about the ginger bastard that Ianto owned now), or that Ianto was severely allergic to peaches, of all things.
But then he moved onto the medical page.
Jack, technically, should have read Ianto's medical file before. He should have the key details - like allergies - memorised, as should Owen. Though Jack suspected that Owen did know that - he was an arse, but a doctor, and a very competent doctor at that. But Jack knew that Owen wasn't so much of an arse to deliberately put someone in danger by ignoring their medical file, and so he had ignored it.
Plus, with the work Ianto had already done with them, he would have noticed something massive like haemophilia or penicillin allergies by now.
He read it that day, in the 'employee data' room that was technically part of Ianto's archival domain, and he didn't like what he'd found.
Medical files were horrific, to Jack, at spelling out things that he didn't necessarily want to know. Most of the time it was something disgusting, like when Owen had had a serious gut infection and had been on what was essentially a super-laxative. Only the medical file had gone into details about what that particular medication did.
Jack hadn't eaten for a week after reading that.
But this time...
Ianto's medical file went into detail of the frightening kind.
Jack didn't know that Ianto had been on antidepressants for most of his time at Torchwood One. He didn't know that Ianto had taken four months of sick leave, long before Canary Wharf had ever happened, after trying to hang himself in his flat and seriously damaging his throat and neck. He didn't know that Ianto had been in a mental hospital for two of those months under an intense suicide watch. He didn't know that Ianto was still supposed to be seeing a counsellor.
And it got worse.
Because some of the medical file came forward into Ianto's time at Torchwood Three - which meant that Owen had been the one to update it.
Since arriving, Ianto had been put on two different types of antidepressant, then sleeping pills. During his suspension, Jack was horrified to realise, Ianto had ended up in the hospital after overdosing on the sleeping pills, and could no longer take aspirins due to the damage to his stomach lining.
In Owen's spidery writing, the recent addition made a shiver run up Jack's spine:
Abandonment issues. Suspected PTSD. Long-term manic depression. History of self-mutilation, suicide attempts. Family history of manic depression, schizophrenia. Avoid medicating due to high level of suicide risk. Do not permit access to codeine.
Jack was shaking by the time he forced himself to stop reading. Fingers trembling, he replaced the file in the drawer and slammed it, before running his hands over his face and returning to the main area of the Hub.
Checking that Ianto was still out getting lunch, he slipped down into the autopsy bay and caught Owen's arm.
"Why didn't you tell me about Ianto's...medical problems?" he hissed, face white and eyes wide, the picture of desperate worry.
Owen paused and stared at him for a long moment, before saying: "You always had access to the files, Jack. And Ianto specifically asked me not to tell you. Doctor-patient confidentiality stands even here. I won't tell you anything that isn't in his medical reports."
"You're supposed to tell me if it's endangering his life!" Jack whispered.
"I'm supposed to tell you nothing," Owen said. "I may only break that code if it's a legal investigation, his life is in danger, or another doctor requires the information. Jack, I never felt that his life was actively in danger."
"He's attempted while he was here!"
"And he failed for a good reason," Owen said cryptically. "I took precautions with him. For God's sake, Jack, ask Ianto, not me. If he doesn't want to tell you, I won't tell you either. All you need to be aware of is in his records. Otherwise, it's his call."
The thing was, Jack didn't want to breach the subject with Ianto. He didn't want to bring up something so volatile and painful when, as far as he could tell, Ianto wasn't in that...place, any more.
But his new perspective let him see the little things that he'd missed.
Ianto didn't drink as much coffee any more, substituting it for tea or hot chocolate. He didn't eat curries either, and stuck to blander pizza flavours - no doubt the overdose had damaged his stomach fairly badly. He had two packets of painkillers in the kitchen's medicine box - one for everybody else, and one that was so weak as to almost be a placebo. He went down into the autopsy bay to visit Owen every morning and came back up with a glass of fizzing water.
And Jack had never really noticed, because they were normal things that didn't catch attention, like Gwen turning to her hayfever tablets every summer, and Tosh's frequent physicals after a nasty lung infection last year. He just hadn't really thought about why Ianto was doing those things. He just had.
Eventually, Jack slipped up, in a way. What he'd learned in the files had frightened him, and he'd tried to make things better and easier for Ianto, but without letting him know that Jack knew.
They had been small things - more physical affection, more smiles, more thanks for the coffee or the paperwork vanishing off his desk, more insistence that Ianto ate lunch with the rest of the team, more trips down into the archives to find and talk to (okay, okay, seduce and snog senseless) him, more evenings at his flat watching shit twenty-first century telly with him.
But Ianto both knew and noticed everything. Noticing everything was how he knew everything, after all, and he knew there was always reason to Jack's rhyme.
At first, he'd seemed patiently amused. He accepted the extra attention with a teasing grace, but when Jack actually started spending the night at his flat, Ianto called him on it.
And Jack realised that Ianto knew something was going on.
It was the third morning that Ianto had woken up to find Jack still in his bed - which was usually something that happened once a month at the most - and frankly, it was a little too strange to be ignored at that point.
"Why are you here?" Ianto demanded, the moment Jack opened his eyes.
"Because you're here," Jack said.
"No, really," Ianto said, narrowing his eyes. "Why the sudden extra attention? It's almost like you've found out something about me and you're trying to make up for it."
Jack stiffened, and Ianto groaned.
"Alright," he said slowly. "What did you see? Do? Discover?"
"I...read your medical files."
There was a long silence.
"Ah," Ianto said eventually. "I see."
Jack stared at him worriedly.
"So this is the reason for all the...extra attention?" Ianto said carefully.
Jack reached out for his hand, rubbing their fingers together tightly, and said: "It scared me. You mean everything to me, and to see all of that...it was horrible."
"It was also a long time ago."
"Not some of it!" Jack protested.
"Yes, but..." Ianto ran a hand through his hair and said: "That's what manic depression does to you, Jack. Mine is a sort of...stretched out version, I suppose. I can go for months and months in a bad patch, and then have a year-long good patch. I don't...veer up and down like some people."
"But you're..." Jack squirmed closer in the bed and rubbed gentle fingers over Ianto's temple. "You're ill. In here. And I can't do anything about that."
"Neither can anybody else," Ianto said. "You've just got to learn to deal with it, Jack. I know what I need when I need it. Right now, I'm fine. I'm not going to...hurt myself, or...kill myself, or anything like that. I've been fine for months."
"But you won't always be fine," Jack whispered.
"No," Ianto admitted. "But they don't hit like a ton of bricks. And I don't when it'll change. It could be tomorrow, it could be next year. For now, Jack, I'm safe, and there's no need to worry."
"After reading that, I think I'll always worry," Jack mumbled.
"Yeah, okay," Ianto said.
"Owen said...Owen said then when you tried to...to kill yourself...last time...you failed for a reason."
"Yeah: Owen was in my flat," Ianto said. "I knew I was approaching a real bad stage, and...honestly, Jack, I didn't want to kill myself. It's a brief point when your life suddenly seems so hopelessly pathetic. It's not a long-standing feeling, and when it comes, you want to off yourself. But before and after, you don't. That's what it is for me. I knew I was approaching a bad patch and I asked Owen to stay over. He's an arsehole, but he does his job - and he did that night."
"You still tried with him in the flat?"
"Yeah. That's how...weird it is. Kind of out of sync with the rest of your life," Ianto shrugged. "I did a lot of damage, but he was there and he stopped me from dying. And I would have done."
Jack shivered and pressed himself closer.
"I promise I'll come to you when the next time comes," Ianto breathed into his hair. "I promise, Jack."
Jack nodded, but he wasn't really paying attention.
Because after reading that medical file, he was going to make sure he knew the signs well enough to know when 'the next time' came as much as Ianto did.