Author note: This can stand by itself, but it also draws from one of my earlier pieces Crack in the Facade. A follow on, of sorts, if you like.

Which I hope you do.

Also hope everyone's enjoying the last dregs of their holidays... :)

Alive Enough for Two

A clock ticks somewhere away to Ianto's left. The soft sound of breathing to his right. Warmth and comfort with that strange hint of safety Ianto hasn't felt in far too long.

He blinks, and the patina of warmth drains away, leaving him wide eyed and startlingly awake for such an early hour. Ianto looks to his left and winces at the pain shooting down his neck. The red lit clock tells him it's been four hours since he fell into sleep.

Only four hours, and yet one of the best night's sleep he's ever had.

He turns his head back, looking up at Jack's bunker ceiling, and then to the right, careful not to move any other part of his bruised body. A sharp intake of breath at the sight confronting him.

I want to know how you're still you, after everything you've been through.

Jack doesn't stir.

Ianto tries to think back, to work out if he's ever seen this expression on his captain's face before.

Never. Not like this.

Ianto longs to somehow bring his hand up from where it lies dead at his side. Longs to trace those flickering lavender lids. Find out if this is real or if his subconscious deserves a raise.

Jack snuffles in his sleep. Wriggles closer into Ianto's side.

You can't bury this, Ianto, Jack had said. You have to face it and accept it...

The warmth rushes back, and Ianto fights off tears. How long had he dreamt of this? After Lisa, the idea of comfort free from lies and facades seemed a bitter hope. How many nights had Ianto fallen asleep alone, pining for the lost? Jack's presence beside him, next to him and around him: almost too much.

...and move on.

It's bittersweet now. The hope is bittersweet as Jack wakes with a few sluggish blinks. He's almost too alive. Ianto's used to cold shoulders and chilled bed sheets. This is almost too much.

Jack's eyes flicker as he attempts to focus. "Hey," he says, voice soft.

Ianto says nothing, still staring.

Jack tries again, lifting his head a little. "Hey?"

The concern in Jack's voice drags Ianto back to himself. He blinks. Feels like his head's been scrubbed with wire wool and then feather lined. Imploding in on itself until there's nothing left but his soul.

"You okay?"

I'm still me. You're still you.

His soul smiles.

"I'm fine."

Jack pulls a face. "Are you," he says, putting delicate pressure on each word, "okay?"

But now we're Us.

Softly as he can, Ianto replies, "I'm more than okay."

A twinkle in those blue eyes, caught and contrasted by the red glow of Jack's alarm clock. "Good."

Ianto says nothing. Closes his eyes. When he hears Jack's breathing drop into a slow, sleep sated rhythm again, that's when Ianto dares to look again.

He takes it all in.

Commits the sight to memory.

Ticking of the clock behind him. Gentle warmth of Jack's breath across his face. Comfort of a sort Ianto has craved for too long.

Show me how to survive and live and love again, Jack.

He commits the moment to memory.

Show me.

Takes it all in.


Commits to it.