Title: The Inescapable
Summary: Jack and Ianto's relationship is moving in a strange and dark direction, but they have little time to adjust to this development before new problems arise. Hope of a cure for Gwen's illness arrives in a familiar form, but can anything ever be that easy for Torchwood...?
Series: Third in The Undeniable Series - reading the first two might not be necessary as I've included short re-caps here to get everyone up to speed!
Warnings: Language and smut!
A/N: Okay, here we go at last. This was going to be called 'The Undeniable: Part Two', but there's so much going on in this half of the story that I thought it needed it's own title. In terms of the timeline, this starts a few weeks after the final chapter of Undeniable.
The story so far:
An alien with psychic powers and a grudge against Jack attempts to take revenge for a crime the Captain doesn't remember committing. Made aware of Jack's immortality through a chance encounter with John Hart, the alien, (self-named Lurrelia) has decided that, if she can't kill Jack, she will make him suffer as much as possible instead...by destroying everything he cares for on Earth.
Using her mental abilities, she takes command of Ianto's mind, twisting his senses until he can no longer be sure that his emotions or thoughts are his own. As well as making Ianto betray his friends and colleagues, she – in a particularly petty turn of events – distorts his pain receptors, meaning that every time Jack touches him, the Welshman feels physical agony.
This situation is naturally troublesome for the overly-tactile Captain and, as a result, Ianto is frequently exposed to unintentional pain at Jack's hands. But whilst Lurrelia anticipates Jack to be overwhelmed with guilt at the distress he's causing, Ianto is strong enough to move past the pain, accepting and acknowledging it so that he can endure and enjoy Jack's touches once again.
Ianto's willpower in dealing with this pain serves as a great asset when the team finally tracks down Lurrelia and confronts her in an explosive showdown...
Having dealt with the threat of Lurrelia, things seem to have returned to normal, and yet Ianto remains quietly troubled by the fact that he lost control of his body and mind to an alien being. Accustomed to being highly disciplined, he feels he now lacks the strength to regain the calm self-control that had made him so useful in the past to both Torchwood and his Captain.
Ianto seeks to retake command of his life by creating situations where he has no control at all, thereby making his normal day-to-day problems far less challenging. To achieve this, he employs the services of a professional sadist called Alex, and for a while he's able to disguise his failing restraint.
Then Gwen is infected with a deadly virus to which there seems no cure. With her life slipping rapidly away, Ianto can see the torment in Jack's heart, as it becomes clear he will soon lose her. Knowing that Jack cares deeply for Gwen, that he loves her despite never acting upon it, Ianto is overwhelmed by both jealousy and sorrow as he realises that Jack will never feel that strongly for him.
Alarmed by these destructive emotions, Ianto's carefully arranged mask slips and Jack notices that something is amiss. He confronts the young man, and although Ianto refuses to admit anything is wrong, Jack now picks up on all the clues that suggest he is greatly troubled. Ianto continues to shun Jack's attempts to help, forcing him to take another approach: he follows Ianto to Alex's home, where the dark truth is finally exposed.
Jack is furious that Ianto has allowed an outsider to have so much influence over him and risked the security of Torchwood, but, more than that, he's confused that Ianto didn't come to him with this problem. He cannot understand why Ianto would not trust him, as his friend and lover, with such a secret.
Fearful that Ianto will go off and do himself more harm, Jack confines him to the Hub and proceeds to wear down his patience and defences until eventually, pushed to the edge, Jack can see the other man's breaking point rapidly approaching. This is when he acts and, unbeknownst to the immortal Captain, this is when he forever binds Ianto's heart to himself.
For it turns out Ianto has been resisting sharing such an experience with Jack out of fear that it would cause him to fall completely and utterly in love with someone who can never love him in the same way. He has tried, and failed, to avoid it, and now two new problems have emerged: accepting that he loves Jack, and making sure that Jack never finds out.
And now, The Inescapable...
"What are you thinking about?"
Jack had appeared behind him without a sound, without even a displacement of air, but Ianto gave no indication at all of being surprised by the Captain's sudden arrival.
"Life," he replied absently, eyes fixed on Owen and Tosh below, who were openly bickering over something on Owen's computer screen.
He'd come up to the metal gallery above the Hub, drawn to the quiet darkness where he could look down at his world without being seen himself. Since waking that morning, Ianto had been beset by a feeling of dejection the likes of which he hadn't felt for a long time – not since the days Lisa had been hidden in the lower levels, in fact – and had spent the next few hours entirely detached from everything about him.
"You might be here a while then."
Ianto gave a bland smile, though he needn't have bothered, considering Jack's position meant he was unable to see, and thus appreciate, the effort. "About how life goes on," he qualified. "It always goes on."
A soft snort of laughter brushed over the nape of Ianto's neck. "Well, that's kind of the point. If life didn't go on, there wouldn't be life."
"Yeah, but..." The young man sighed. "It's just...Gwen's not dead, and we've not given up on her, but it's like we've accepted that she's not here anymore. It doesn't feel right."
"We're doing all we can," Jack said quietly. "But it isn't healthy to dwell in grief when other people need us."
"I know. I do know that, and I agree, but...it still makes me feel guilty."
Jack was silent for a moment. "We can go through the archives again if you want?"
"No, I know we've found all there is to find in there," Ianto replied with a shake of his head.
"So what do you want to do?"
"I don't know." He sighed again. "There's nothing we can do that we aren't already doing, but I feel like I should be trying harder somehow."
Ianto said nothing, and yet provided Jack with a clear answer. He fancied he could feel the Captain scowling at the back of his head. "So now you think you're to blame for this?"
"No. No, I'm not that egotistical. But I made you waste so much time on me, on my...problems. That time should have been spent looking for a way to help Gwen."
"I didlook for help. You even came with me one night," Jack reminded him. He stepped forward and Ianto tensed, just a little, not from fear but from the intense awareness he had of the other man's body so close to his own. "But there was nothing to find, so why chase our tails when we have other obligations in the meantime?"
Again Ianto gave no reply, hesitant to admit that Jack was right.
"You know Gwen would hate to think people were suffering because we only on her and not the Rift."
The logic was sound and Ianto couldn't dispute it, yet still the guilt remained. Arms slipped around his waist and Jack leaned his chin on the younger man's shoulder, following his gaze down into the chamber below.
The sensation of Jack's body against his own was by no means a mystery to Ianto, but the subsequent emotions that now arose within his mind were definitely a new development. The thoughts and vivid memories of what the hands splayed over his chest could do sent chills along Ianto's spine, a blend of fear and exhilaration...and desire.
Ianto turned his head away, so he couldn't see Jack even from the corner of his eye. That was the main source of the guilt, he realised; the fact that, despite the severity of Gwen's condition, he had gained something so devastatingly wonderful in the past few weeks. Something he had no right to possess, something that he had, in fact, wanted to avoid possessing, and which he had failed terribly at evading.
"You going to come back down?" Jack murmured into Ianto's ear, one finger slipping between the buttons of his shirt to reach the warm skin beneath. "Or do you want me to keep you company for a while?"
The question, so innocently phrased, was far from innocent in meaning, and the delicate touch sent a shiver of expectation through the young man. What Jack offered was not something to even be considered whilst they were out in the open, only partially hidden from Tosh and Owen's sight. But whilst Ianto knew he couldn't allow it, it was still incredibly hard to resist with Jack's arms wrapped so tightly around his morose body.
It had been getting easier and easier to submit to the Captain recently; easier to ignore the prudent voice in his head that warned against giving Jack so much power. And yet despite that disturbing fact, doing anything up on the balcony in the middle of the day was just one step too far for Ianto. He slapped the hand questing further into his shirt and stepped smoothly away, casting a dark look over his shoulder that made it clear he wasn't going to just roll over and do everything Jack wanted.