You Can't Save Me If I'm Dying
Disclaimer: All names and trademarks recognised as "Torchwood" do not belong to me; I've just borrowed the characters for my own purposes.
Genre: Angst, Hurt/Comfort
Summary: Jack and Ianto have – words – over Jack's immortality and Ianto's mortality. [post-season two]
The door was thrown open as Ianto Jones stormed into his flat. Leaving it open, Ianto headed towards his bedroom. He stopped, changed his mind and chucked his ruined jacket haphazardly across his couch. Ianto paused, frowning at the waterlogged jacket. It had cost him a small fortune and the alterations he'd had made hadn't been cheap either. And that, as Jack Harkness stormed in after him, was how he found Ianto, glaring petulantly at it.
"What the hell do you want me to say, Jack?" Ianto turned his petulant glare from the jacket to his lover. "That next time there's even the slightest whiff of danger that I'll throw myself behind the SUV, sing Kumbaya and wait to be fucking rescued?"
Jack wore a guarded expression, trying his best not to unleash the hail of fury he knew wasn't directed at Ianto but would nonetheless sweep him up in it. He took a deep breath. "Can't we at least talk about it?"
Ianto gave a short bark of laughter. "You want to talk about it? That's rich, coming from you. Getting you to say something that's not related to work or sex is like pulling a goddamned tooth."
"Ianto." Jack looked pained.
He avoided looking at Jack, instead focusing on a chip in the wall's plaster. I really need to get that fixed, Ianto thought.
"Oh, you don't get to ignore me. Not this time." Jack's fury seeped into his words, making him cold and hard.
Ianto snorted and shrugged flippantly, muttering, "Works perfectly well for you."
"Jesus Christ, Ianto." Jack was nearly shouting. "You died!"
And there it was, Ianto thought wearily. He glanced down at his watch; Jack had managed a full hour of gritted teeth and fury before finally bringing it up. Ianto was so not in the mood for one of Jack's "speeches" tonight. He was tired, sore and all he wanted was a hot bath and an early bed, an empty bed (or so he told himself).
"Get used to it, Jack," Ianto snapped, looking back up at the Captain. "It won't be long and you'll be scouring the street for another nameless body to keep you warm at night. Torchwood may be useless at times, but there is definitely something we're all good at: dying."
Ianto breathed heavily and went for the kill. "Just count the number of bodies in storage, Jack. Do you really think one more is going to make an ounce of difference?"
Ianto knew he was being cruel, knew he was toying with Jack's emotions which were frankly fragile at the best of times, but Jack had said it; he had very nearly died (again) and Jack of all people should have known what that was like. Couldn't he leave well enough alone?
"You died!" Jack repeated, shouting this time. "For three whole minutes you were dead! Do you know how that made me feel?"
"I would expect," Ianto said slowly, saying each word as though he was choosing them carefully, "that you could answer that yourself."
Ianto kept his face void of emotion. "I do recall once, while we were all slightly inebriated, that Toshiko calculated on average that you die once every six point eight missions. That, if we ignore the Weevil callouts and the hoaxes, roughly averages once per week. You do the maths."
Jack sighed and ran a hand through his already tussled hair. "That, unfortunately, is a side effect of the job."
Ianto laughed again. "Try telling that to Tosh and Owen."
Now that was a low blow and Ianto knew it, as Jack's face sagged and his eyes dulled to a sickly shade of blue. His entire demeanour changed and Jack suddenly looked so very old and so very young.
And now Ianto felt guilty, and not for the first time did Ianto wonder just how this brilliant, wonderful man had managed to nestle himself perfectly into Ianto's, if he was honest, bleak life. Ianto sighed and took a step towards Jack, though resisted the urge to reach out to him; he was still mad, after all.
"That was uncalled for," Ianto finally admitted, knowing full well exactly how hard Jack had taken Owen and Tosh's deaths. "But you can't keep me – or Gwen – wrapped in cotton wool for the rest of our lives. You may be larger than life, Jack, but you cannot do a five man job on your own; we can barely do it with three."
"But you died." There were those words again. "For three whole minutes you had drowned to death. You died."
"Clearly not, as you can plainly see." Ianto knew he probably shouldn't be so flippant about his whole near death drowning experience thing, but he reckoned it was the shock that was talking so you could hardly blame him for what was coming out of his mouth.
"For three minutes I'd thought you'd gone, that . . . we had lost you."
("For three minutes I'd thought you'd gone, that . . . I had lost you.")
"I didn't like that feeling," Jack finally confessed quietly, shoulders hunched, eyes downcast.
"And I didn't much like drowning either." Ianto shuddered, remembering the pressing weight of the water as it slowly suffocated him. Who knew water could be so heavy? "But I didn't die, Jack. I'm still here."
"But you will," Jack murmured, "one day. And so will Gwen. I've lived so very long, Ianto. I live and I die, and I die and I live. But you all die."
"Yes," Ianto replied plainly, "we do." He crossed the room and closed the gap between him and Jack. "But not today."
Jack nodded, but his gaze remained firmly on the ground.
Ianto sighed, cupped the back of Jack's neck and raised his head so that they were cheek to cheek. Leaning close, he whispered in Jack's ear, "Not today." And he drew Jack into a delicate kiss, ghosting his fingers across the hairs at the very base of Jack's neck.
"But Tosh and Owen . . ." Jack pulled back from the kiss.
"Really wasn't your fault," Ianto said, just as he and Gwen had said many times over. "And we're not going there again, not today. Not when I nearly drowned in a fucking stream."
This managed a half-hearted laugh from Jack. "We-ll, it could have been a small river?"
"A fucking stream," Ianto corrected, breaking out into a slightly, if not fully, hysterical grin.
"Yeah," Jack conceded. "It was a fucking stream."
Ianto laughed and leaned into Jack, trembling slightly. Jack put an arm around Ianto's shoulder and pulled him against his chest, so that Ianto's ear was pressed against the thrumming of Jack's heart.
"I nearly died today," Ianto said quietly and closed his eyes, trying to forget he was sore, damp and downright mucky.
"Yeah," Jack agreed, pressing a chaste kiss on Ianto's temple. "But you didn't. Not today."
"Yeah," Ianto echoed as Jack's fingers stroked his arm, "not today."