Notes: The full oneshot for #92 of 'Snapshots of Smiles.'


The gunshot stopped echoing when Jack's eyes flew open and he found himself staring at the ceiling of his sleep space. He was sweat-soaked and shivering, his hands still grasping desperately, and he let them drop to the bed.

He was alone.

He wasn't sure where the dream came from. It wasn't a re-enactment of a mission with the ending twisted. It wasn't even something from the year that never was. For once, his mind had made it up, and it was just as terrifying to witness as a warped memory.

Because the result was the same.

Ianto died.

Hurriedly, he tumbled out of the bed and tore on a shirt and trousers, almost running up the ladder on shaky legs and staggering through the office and down the steps like a drunken man. He ignored Gwen's slightly shocked greeting, and headed straight for Ianto, getting his arms around him tightly. He didn't care if Ianto yelled at him for crumpling his suit, or got embarrassed about being affectionate 'at work', or didn't particularly want a hug right now. Jack needed the hug, and for once, he really didn't care if Ianto didn't.

But Ianto wasn't a stupid man, and relaxed into the embrace quickly enough, bringing up his hands to smooth over Jack's shoulders and begin that soft crooning noise in the back of his throat that embarrassed Jack, but always calmed him down anyway.

"That dream again?" he asked.

Jack didn't know how Ianto knew it was the same dream - he'd never told him about it - but he woke the Welshman up in the night frequently enough that Ianto would know it had been a dream.

"Yeah," he admitted, his voice still a long way from normal, and Ianto put down the folders he'd been carrying.

"Come on," he said, gently prying Jack away - and Jack had to fight the instinct to cling to let him do it at all - and steering him back up the steps. "Gwen," he called down, "can you take care of any Rift calls for a bit? Take Owen and tell him I'll do the special coffee if he doesn't bitch too much."

"Sure," Gwen said, still looking worried. "Will Jack be okay?"

"Yeah," Ianto said it so casually that Jack wasn't sure whether to feel bad or not. Not because Ianto seemed fine with having to yield to these things; bad because it made it obvious that it wasn't exactly a rare thing.

Ianto took them down into the sleep space, Jack once again descending the ladder unnaturally fast and latching on again the moment that he could. The crooning was back, faint and probably not in English, and the broad hands rubbing over his back and shoulders, and eventually the need to try and leech Ianto's body heat away from him faded a little.

"Sorry," he muttered. "I just...I needed..."

"Well, if you needed it, then you shouldn't be sorry," Ianto murmured.

Jack slid a hand up from Ianto's waist to cradle the back of his head, moulding his fingers through the dark hair to press against the flush-warmth of his scalp. Whole. Complete. Not broken in any way.

"Let me guess," Ianto said blithely. "I sustained some kind of head injury?"

"You were shot," Jack said.

"Just a dream, or...?"

"For once, just a dream," Jack admitted, and a wry chuckle escaped him. "Still...wasn't nice."

"Can't imagine it was," Ianto agreed. "Getting shot in the head must be rather messy."

It shouldn't have done, but it struck Jack as a funny thing to say under the circumstances, and he laughed. Listening to himself, perhaps he did sound a little hysterical, but Ianto simply held on and let him get on with it.

"Don't get shot," he told him eventually, and Ianto chuckled.

"I'll do my best," he promised, and drew back to examine Jack's face. He was examined in return, and Jack raised a hand to rub a thumb over his left temple - intact and bloodless and the shape it should be.

"Just a dream," he murmured.

"Can't say I've noticed my head being blown off," Ianto agreed, and squeezed Jack's bicep lightly. "You alright now?"

Jack nodded, and felt his psyche calm from the gibbering wreck it had been on waking and finding Ianto not there. Morning dreams were unusual: usually, he woke to find Ianto right there with him, half-asleep and moody at being woken, and he had panicked to find himself alone.

"I could always use a kiss," he said finally, and Ianto snorted.

"Now you're just being greedy," he said. "That's not grounding, that's just you."

Notably, the protest did not extend to the point where Jack didn't get what he wanted.