Notes: The full oneshot for #98 from 'Snapshots of Smiles'. Requested by toobeauty.
Disclaimer: I do not own Torchwood and I am not making any profit from this work.
The Chosen Insomnia
Jack didn't need to hear the shot, the explosion of chambered gunpowder and the hiss of a bullet in the boiler room. He didn't need to see the curve of the smile, or the snicker from the guards. He didn't need any of that, because he could see the neat hole in Ianto's forehead, and the way the back of his head had coated the wall in pink and grey, and the endless, bottomless, empty chasms of dead blue eyes...
Jack woke up screaming. In a moment, warm arms were around him and a body feverish from the heat of the shared bed was pressed up against his side, soothing in its very presence. He gulped down a ragged breath and returned the embrace gingerly, strong ribs flexing a little under his fingers as he clutched.
"M'real," a voice thick with an accent Jack still didn't completely understand murmured. "M'here."
Jack squeezed a little tighter, squirming his other arm right under Ianto to clutch him to his chest like a security blanket. Ianto seemed to realise that he wasn't going to be able to simply offer a hug and fall asleep on Jack's shoulder again, and started to wake himself up properly, shifting to pillow his head on Jack's chest and return the hug lightly.
"M'here," he repeated tiredly, his breath ghosting over Jack's collarbone, his hair tickling Jack's neck. Ianto always got spectacular bedhair, and Jack liked trying to smooth it down with kisses in the mornings.
Now, though, he ignored the spiky hair and pressed a kiss to the warm scalp. He could almost feel the blood swirling beneath the delicate, soft skin there, and he cupped the back of Ianto's head for a moment to reassure himself that it was still there and all into one piece.
"M'real..." Ianto mumbled sleepily. The intense heat of Jack and the bed were trying to lull him back to sleep, but he needed to stay awake for a bit. He kissed Jack's chest idly, then eventually forced his muscles to work and tried to move.
Jack's arms were immediately around his back again, clamping him down, and Ianto huffed.
"Don't go," Jack begged.
"M'not going," Ianto said. "Let me up a bit, come on."
He tugged and squirmed until Jack's iron grip loosened enough to let Ianto haul himself on top of Jack and settle there, elbows either side of Jack's head and resting his chin on his hands so that they were staring at each other.
"Which one was it?" Ianto asked as Jack's hands settled around his waist and back again.
"That year," Jack murmured, and the word 'year' could have been capitalised for the meaning it conveyed. "When he finally shot you."
Jack had told Ianto about the year that never was, and Ianto had probed, after two weeks of Jack waking and screaming Ianto's name in the middle of the night, on how he'd died. Interestingly, Jack had more nightmares about that single gunshot than he did about the torture he was forced to watch and, on one instance, administer.
"You know what I was dreaming about?" Ianto asked conversationally, as if it wasn't four in the morning and as if Jack hadn't woken from a bout of screaming that Myfanwy had probably heard. "I was dreaming about this holiday I had in Spain when I was eight. Mam and Tad and Rhia and me - just before Bronnie was born. Only my family weren't there, and I wasn't eight."
Jack shifted, listening. Ianto's voice could be very soothing when he wanted it to be.
"I was my age, now, and you were there," Ianto continued. "I knew it was a dream because you were wearing jeans and a t-shirt, and that coat was nowhere to be found. And we were barefoot on the sand and it was dawn and you were kissing me like you wanted to crawl inside my skin. And it was all quiet and romantic, just the two of us...until you threw me down on the sand - below the tide line, you git - and tried to remove all my clothes with your teeth."
"Did I manage it?" Jack whispered, his heartbeat calming as Ianto talked.
"Don't know," Ianto said. "You woke me up before you'd finished. You got my shirt off though."
Jack managed a weak chuckle, smoothing his hands over the bare planes of Ianto's back. Ianto had a powerful back, strong and supple and even, and Jack often stroked his hands down the pale length of it when they lay like this. If he took Ianto from behind, he would kiss all the way up that back in the afterglow and feel Ianto's breathing resettle.
"You haven't gone on holiday since you came here," Jack noted quietly.
Ianto's answer was a kiss to Jack's cheek and the Welshman shifting to resettle for some more sleep.
"You should," Jack murmured.
"I should be asleep," Ianto pointed out. "But I'm not, because you need me. Same theory applies."
The answer somehow managed to make Jack feel warm and loved, and lance a pain through his heart, at the same time. He tightened his arms in a hug and pushed another kiss into Ianto's pillow-spiked hair. Ianto had the amazing ability to make him want to cry and want to laugh at the same time.
"Love is being willing to burst an eardrum every night and choose insomnia over wet dreams for someone," Ianto had told him once, ages ago, when Jack's nightmares had not been about Ianto, but had still woken him up every now and again.
Jack had almost cried then, and if Ianto repeated it now, he probably would.
"You shouldn't have to wake up to keep me company," Jack said.
"You'll only hug me awake anyway," Ianto pointed out, fairly reasonably. Jack didn't much response to that. "Jack, this is much better than when you first came back. Every hour on the hour was a tad ridiculous. This is no problem. You'll get through this, and so will I."
"You don't have nightmares."
"No, I don't thrash around and scream," Ianto corrected. "I do have nightmares, Jack, they're just, apparently, not very noticeable. And I know if I woke up, I'd want you, so I'm only returning the imaginary favour."
Jack chuckled properly then, and Ianto jammed his head between Jack's jaw and his shoulder, sighing deeply.
"Better?" he mumbled.
"Yeah," Jack whispered. "Thanks, Yan."
"No problem," Ianto murmured, sleep colouring his voice again. "But I expect to be left alone for an extra half hour in bed in the morning."
He dozed off before Jack could respond, and he would later be angry with Jack and yell at him for not going to sleep himself, but Jack didn't care as he lay there and listened to Ianto breathe.
He had died, in another time, but that was gone, and Jack's cure for the nightmares lay oblivious, breathing deeply and thinking of Spanish beaches and tidelines.