TITLE: The Switch
AUTHOR: Erin Giles
DISCLAIMER: Torchwood is property of the BBC.
CHARACTERS/PAIRINGS: Jack/Ianto, Rhiannon/Johnny, Mr & Mrs Jones
WARNINGS: Character Death
WORDS: 3500
SPOILERS: There were no spoilers in this until CoE aired. I am apparently psychic. So now there are spoilers for the 1st, 2nd & 5th episode, but only very minor ones.
SUMMARY: "Man looks at the outward appearance, the Lord looks at the heart." (1 Sam 16:7) Ianto has a suit at the back of his wardrobe, a label sewn into the inside, Made for Ianto E. Jones by Jones & Son.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Most of this was written before CoE aired. Also as if this story wasn't depressing enough I just wanted to say I wrote this in memory of my Granddad who died 7 yrs ago and was like a father to me. I still miss him. Also I'm not religious in any way, shape or form so I apologise now if I've misquoted the Bible.

"How did he die?"

As non-sequiturs went it was one of Jack's better ones. Only it wasn't a non-sequitur. Jack had his head in Ianto's wardrobe as Ianto emerged from the shower, a towel wrapped around his waist. Jack had the suit jacket Ianto had been wearing that day in one hand while his other hand lingered on another one that had been hanging at the back of the wardrobe, out of sight for too many years. The black fabric was as immaculate as the first day it had been laid out on the cutting table.

"Who?" Ianto asked, turning away from Jack and moving to the chest of drawers to find a clean pair of pyjama bottoms.

"Your father, Ianto," Jack clarified. Ianto caught sight of Jack hanging up the suit jacket in his hand before pulling the one he had been fondling fully from the wardrobe. Ianto wanted to shout and scream, ask him what right he had to be going through his wardrobe, touching his suits, touching that suit. But he didn't. He pulled the towel from round his waist instead, rubbing absentmindedly at his hair before disappearing back into the bathroom.

"He had cancer," Ianto called over his shoulder, no details, no warmth or fondness in his clinical diagnosis.

"I know that," Jack replied, voice distant from the bedroom. "I read that in your file. I want to know how," Jack pressed. Ianto took his time folding up the bath towel, placing it back over the towel rail and pulling the corners of it straight so they matched up. He breathed slowly out through his nose as he stared at his reflection through the fogged up glass of the bathroom mirror. Jack had drawn lurid stick figures in the condensation.

"Ianto?" Jack was stood in the doorway of the bathroom now. Ianto was grateful to see he didn't have the suit jacket in his hand anymore. Why? he wanted to ask. Why today of all days did Jack Harkness, boss, possible boyfriend – Ianto didn't want to go there, that was a whole other headache – and lover want to know, today of all days, how his father had died? Wasn't it bad enough that they'd been up for over forty-eight hours now, had been chased by flesh eating aliens half way round Cardiff, and to top it all off the coffee machine had given up the will to live this morning? Jack must have known what day it was. Manipulative bastard.

Jack's hand was on Ianto's shoulder now, but Ianto didn't want to share and Jack didn't have any bloody right asking.

"I'm going to bed." Ianto tried to sound final on the matter, but there was just weary defeat in his voice as he shrugged out from under Jack's grip and went back into the bedroom.

He couldn't smell the disinfectant anymore. He couldn't taste the coffee; not that he'd been able to taste it to start with. He'd never really liked coffee to be honest, it just gave his hands something to do. He couldn't hear the machines anymore; not the hiss of the respirator, not the bleep of the heart monitor or the drip of the IV. Not even the soft mumble of Radio Cymru in the background that his mother had insisted on piping into the room for the last month permeated his awareness.

"You staying tonight, Ianto pet?"

Ianto looked up, his eyes glazed, trying to refocus them so he could see Tegan, his Dad's night nurse, bustling around and looking at the machines. She was pretty, older than him, maybe twenty-five, twenty-six, fiery red hair and a cheery disposition that didn't really seem to sit right in the ICU. Ianto gave a slight incline of his head. Tegan watched him for a long moment as she pretended to write something on the chart in her hands. She'd just read the words 'switch off' and the date at the bottom of the chart.

"Want me to bring a pillow, love?" Tegan asked softly, her usual cheer mellowing slightly as she watched the young man before her. She'd seen him age beyond his youth since Mr. Jones had been brought in just over a month ago now. Ianto shook his head once, his eyes moving back down to the form of his father on the bed, the chair he was in seeming to swallow him whole. Tegan's brow furrowed as she put the chart back in place, a hand going to the young man's shoulder, squeezing slightly.

"You just give me a shout if you need anything, sweetheart," Tegan said softly before she left the room, shutting the door behind her. Ianto tried to croak out the word thanks, but he was too late.

The curtains in the room rustled in time with the ventilator as Ianto continued to watch the mechanical rise and fall of his father's chest. He felt a sob rise up in his own chest and he let it spill over like a tidal wave of emotion that seemed to hang heavy in the air with the muggy summer night. He threw up in the small sink in the room. Nothing but liquid swirled down the drain. He made it to the window as he tried to get his breathing under control, his head resting against the cool surface as he looked out at the sky that was threatening rain, before his gaze fell over the city. The crane still hung over the Welsh Millennium Stadium - like its protector even though most of the scaffolding had gone from the area. They were due to open it at the end of this month. Ianto's father had bought tickets to go and see Wales play South Africa.

"I remember when you took me to see my first match." Ianto's voice was barely above a hoarse whisper as he watched the streetlights flickering on across the city. "When it were still Cardiff Arms Park and the Five Nations. Wales played Scotland and Ieuan Evans did what you and half of Cardiff claimed to be the best jinking run in rugby union history. You always said if it hadn't been for his try we would have drew with Scotland and lost the season."

Ianto's nose felt cold as he pressed it against the window, reminding him of that cold day in February when his dad had wrapped him up in his red scarf and they'd stood beside a pair of drunken Scots who kept singing 'O Flower of Scotland' over and over as if that was going to spur their team onto victory.

"We never missed a match after that," Ianto continued to reminisce. "You'd always try and blag tickets from Johnny's Dad, called in sick to work if you were supposed to be working. Rugby's a game for hooligans played by gentlemen. That's what you used to tell Mam anyway." Ianto let out a hollow chuckle before he pushed away from the window to take in his father lying on the hospital bed, unchanged from the way he had been for the last month.

Ianto had been with him in the shop when he had collapsed. It had been the last day of college and Ianto had stopped in at Debenhams on his way to the end of term party Gethin Davies was holding at his Dad's in Cathays. He'd only popped in to tell him Mam was making sausage and mash for tea.

They'd said he was better, said it was all fixed and there was nothing to worry about. He'd since found out his parents and sister had been lying to him, like he couldn't take the truth. He'd broken three of his mam's best crystal glasses that night, as well as his thumb when he'd punched the washing pole in the back garden.

He spent the best part of ten minutes trying to light his lighter with one shaking hand in the car park of St. Helen's A&E, his thumb in a brace, before an old woman in a hospital gown, who sounded like she smoked thirty a day, had taken pity on him.

"I know you always knew that I smoked," Ianto said as he sunk back down into the visiting chair, placing a half empty packet of Marlboro and a plain silver lighter his first girlfriend had bought for him down on the arm of the chair. "You had that look in your eye when you came in from work, like you wanted to say something but didn't, because it would have been hypocritical. I know you used to have a crafty one down the end of the garden when you got in from work. I found the packet underneath a flower pot on the back step."

Ianto's hands curled over the packet and lighter, craving the nicotine fix that was itching beneath his skin. He could still taste the nicotine at the back of his tongue from the last cigarette he'd had before lunchtime – not that he'd eaten lunch. He ran his teeth over his furry tongue, trying to satisfy his cravings. It didn't work, but Ianto didn't leave. If he left now he wouldn't come back.

"We've lived in the same house since I was born, me and Rhiannon both went to the same school, and you were always there," Ianto reminded his father, his eyes downcast to the floor as his shoes squeaked on the linoleum.

"I don't want to live in the same house without you there. I don't want to see you getting dressed on a morning in your suits, pretending you work in something more glamorous than menswear, eating breakfast with the racing post spread over the table, watching the telly at two in the morning when I'm sneaking in after curfew and you're pretending not to notice," Ianto confessed to his father.

"You'd tell me not to run away from my problems, but I can't, Dad, I'm not as strong as you." Ianto's voice was barely above a whisper now in the hospital room, tears making silent tracks down his face as he sniffed, wiping them away in anger.

"You always pushed me so hard too," Ianto bemoaned, sudden anger flaring up inside him. "God Dad, I'm only bloody human not the prodigal son. Rhiannon could never do anything wrong, not in your eyes, but it didn't flaming well matter what I did. I can't be as good as you want me to be, you expect so much, and I can't do it. I just can't do it. Not anymore." Angry tears were forcing their way down Ianto's face now.

"I'm sorry, Dad," Ianto said, voice full of conflicting emotion as he pulled himself swiftly to his feet. He grasped his father's hand briefly, bending down to kiss his forehead, pausing just inches from his father's face instead.

"I'm so sorry."

Ianto half ran, half walked down the corridor away from the death that permeated every room on the ward. He took the stairs, running down them as fast as his shaking legs would carry him and not stopping until he was outside in the car park, leaning against the disabled parking sign as he tried to gulp in fresh air, suppressed sobs constricting him. He paused for only moments before he ran all the way back to his mam's house. It wasn't his now. Not anymore.

Tegan had watched him run from the nurses' station. There was nothing she could say to comfort him now, to tell him it was going to be alright, because she'd worked long enough in the ICU to know that there wasn't an awful lot you could say. When she went to check on Mr. Jones later on she found the cigarettes still on the arm of the chair, the lighter there too. She binned the cigarettes but added the lighter to Mr. Jones personal effects.

Ianto pulled the strap of his holdall up over his shoulder as it threatened to slide down his arm. He watched tears streaming down his mother's weary face, cheeks pale and eyes sunken due to nights spent lying awake in worry and fear. His sister's hair was scraped back in a ponytail, her eyes framed with black mascara rings, t-shirt stretched over her newly pregnant belly. He watched them standing beside his father's bed, holding onto each other, scared to let go in case they crumbled and fell as the steady rhythm of the heart monitor lapsed into a monotonous tone before the monitor was switched off, and just like that Ianto's father was gone.

Ianto didn't cry. He'd shed all his tears now. Instead, he turned from the viewing window and the half closed blinds and headed down the hospital corridor, passing Johnny whom was swearing and cursing at the vending machine. One of the nurses at the nurses' station gave him a hesitant smile, which he returned half-heartedly before he was waiting on the lift.

"Where are you going?"

Ianto turned towards his sister as the doors of the lift pinged open and a group of doctor's with a stretcher came out. He didn't say anything so she followed him into the lift.

"Ianto, where are you going?" Rhiannon asked again, still dabbing at her eyes, trying to get rid of her smudged mascara as Ianto pressed the button for the ground floor, realising he couldn't ride down all fifteen floors in silence.

"There's a letter on the sideboard," Ianto said quietly, not looking at his sister, but staring at an advert encouraging people to give blood on the lift wall.

"So you're just running away then? What about me and Mam?" Rhiannon asked, disbelief in her voice, pushing her brother's arm in anger as the doors opened on the seventh floor to admit a barrage of visitors and doctors. Ianto didn't say anything, moving over to the opposite side of the lift from his sister so that they couldn't continue the conversation without causing a scene. When the lift doors opened again Ianto was the first one out the door.

"Ianto!" Rhiannon called after him, pushing past doctors and visitors, running to keep up with her brother. She caught his arm just as he reached the hospital entrance.

"Ianto, please don't do this, not now," Rhiannon begged as she tugged Ianto back towards the door. He didn't shrug her off, but as he turned to look at her his face was set in a look of determination.

"I'm sorry," he whispered, squeezing her hand before extracting himself from her grip and starting out across the car park. He expected her to follow him, to call out again, but she didn't and Ianto didn't dare turn back.

Jack had hung the jacket back up on the hanger, but it was hanging over the wardrobe door, like it was waiting to be worn. Ianto approached the jacket cautiously, reaching out to it tentatively. Ianto fingered the label woven with care into the inside of his jacket.

Made for Ianto E. Jones by Jones & Son.

He started when Jack reached round him, pulling it from the hanger and holding it out for Ianto to slip his arms through. He hesitated, like he didn't want to ruin the mint condition the suit was in. He'd only worn it twice, once at his sister's wedding and once at his job interview for Torchwood One. He hadn't worn it to his father's funeral, he hadn't gone. He'd already said his goodbyes.

Jack shook the jacket once so the silk lining rippled in the light from the bedside lamp. "It was made to be worn, Ianto," Jack told him placidly.

Ianto didn't hesitate a second time, letting Jack slide the jacket on over his bare skin so he shuddered at the feeling of cold silk on his arms and chest. Jack's hands lingered on his shoulders, brushing off invisible lint as Ianto pulled the jacket closed and turned to regard himself in the mirror on the wardrobe door.

The sleeves of the jacket were too short now and wrinkles were forming where the button held the jacket closed. He'd apparently filled out in the last few years.

"Very handsome," Jack commented, his eyes sliding up the length of Ianto's body before they settled on the reflection of his eyes in the mirror. His hands were still resting on Ianto's shoulder as Ianto's fingers fiddled nervously with the buttons on the sleeves of the suit jacket.

"He would have been proud," Jack whispered next to Ianto's ear, before a ghost of a kiss was pressed against Ianto's cheek and Jack was gone, the bathroom door pulled over behind him. Ianto remained where he was in front of the mirror, trying to see his seventeen year old self, young and carefree before he found out he was about to lose his father, wondering if Jack was right, if he would be proud. Finally.

He was still stood there wondering what his father would say if he could see him now when Jack emerged back out the bathroom. He wondered what his father would have thought of Jack, would have thought of Ianto falling for… He would probably have liked Jack and his sense of humour, would have made a comment about Jack being the old-fashioned gentleman and wearing both braces and a belt. Would have noted how much Jack had achieved, how he pushed himself to be the best he could be. Pushed himself too far and got himself killed too often.

"You okay there?" Jack asked, sitting down on the edge of the bed, running a towel over his drying hair as Ianto turned to regard him.

"Do you think," Ianto started, and then paused as he undid the button on the front of the jacket and pulled it off. "Do you think we would have been different men if our father's hadn't died when we were young?" Ianto asked quietly, not looking at Jack as he hung his suit jacket back up over the tailored pair of trousers. He glanced at Jack's face and the thoughtful look on it in the wardrobe mirror as he hung the suit back up in its final resting place.

Jack took a long time answering as Ianto came over and sat down beside him on the bed, knees not quite touching. There were circumstances surrounding his father's death that had long overshadowed it. He'd told Ianto about it as they'd lain in bed together late one night after they'd finished putting Cardiff back together, trying to put each other back together.

"Lots of things would be different if we hadn't lost our father's. Maybe I'd have found Grey with my Dad's help long before now, maybe I'd never have found the Doctor, maybe I wouldn't still be alive," Jack said softly before he turned to look at Ianto. "You definitely wouldn't be here."

"I didn't mean circumstances and cause and effect, Jack. I mean us, as people," Ianto pressed.

"But the things that happen to us make us the people we are, Ianto," Jack argued. "So no, we wouldn't be the same if we hadn't lost our Dad's. You would probably be making suits and I don't even want to imagine what trouble I'd be getting into." Jack let out a slight chuckle.

"He worked in Debenhams," Ianto said quickly and quietly, looking down at his hands in his lap rather than at Jack.

"I know," Jack replied just as quietly, that all-knowing tone in his voice. Ianto looked up at him abruptly. Of course Jack bloody well knew. Ianto wanted to tell him that the suit hadn't even been made for him. His Dad had found it in a charity shop in Newport a couple of weeks before his sister's wedding and it had seemed too ironic not to buy it for him.

"I don't think," Ianto hesitated, not because he didn't want to share his thoughts with Jack, but because he was unsure of his thoughts. "Losing him, it made me a stronger person. Sounds stupid since I ran away after he died, but-" Ianto broke off, looking down at his hands that were fiddling with the drawstrings of his pyjama bottoms.

"When he died, you realised that life wasn't fair, that you had to look out for yourself because your parents weren't always going to be there to protect you from the world and you couldn't protect them either," Jack finished for him. Ianto gave a slight nod of his head but didn't say anything. Jack pulled himself up off the bed, folding the towel he had in his hands.

"He's the man who's had the most influence on my life," Ianto said quietly to Jack's retreating back, watching as he disappeared back into the bathroom. "Apart from you."

When Jack re-emerged Ianto had curled up underneath the covers on his side of the bed. Jack crawled in beside him, switching off the bedside lamp and faffing about with the pillows for a moment before lying down on his back, one arm behind his head. After a moment Ianto shifted in the bed so he was lying on Jack's side, his head on Jack's arm, a hand on his chest.

"You okay?" Jack asked, his hand coming from its position behind his head to rest on top of Ianto's head.

"Yeah." Ianto let out a lengthy sigh, which spoke volumes. Jack responded by kissing the top of Ianto's head before settling his own head back into the pillow and closing his eyes against the lights filtering through the curtains and dancing on Ianto's bedroom ceiling.