Title: The Smallest Touches
Characters: Ianto Jones, Jack Harkness
Rating/Warnings: T – some sexual references.
Summary: Sometimes, the smallest touches carry the deepest meaning; but they can also be the most terrifying.
A/N: Written for the A Day In Hand Project. This marvellous campaign encourages same-sex couples to openly hold hands on the streets; on the last Saturday of every month, they urge people to photograph themselves holding the hands of someone of the same sex and to send it in to add to their website. To find out more, please visit their website: http:/www(dot)adayinhand(dot)com/
The Smallest Touches
Sometimes it's the little things that are the most frightening.
Those little brushes; ghosting of skin on skin; that feel of electric charge jumping from one being to another. Those tiny moments of connection that speak with a volume that belies their size – sometimes, it's these that can send terror shooting through the veins of even the strongest man.
To say that Ianto was intimate with Jack would have been an understatement. He'd felt every inch of Jack's body against his own, sought out every dark crevice, every nuance, each one of the unique elements that drew together to create this impossible man. He had pressed the pads of his fingers against each pulse-point, feeling the thrumming of Jack's heartbeat against his own persistent rhythm; felt it build to a frenetic pace beneath his tongue and then slow with a languid serenity.
He'd held onto Jack's heavy torso as the life had drained from it, felt his muscles cold and clammy and hanging from his arms like a dead weight. He'd held Jack in that moment when energy shot through him again, feeling that burst of life that Ianto could only find an equal to in those very first pages of a Holy Book.
Intimacy – it was the only language they ever spoke.
And yet, each time Jack had leant in to lace their fingers together…Ianto couldn't help but pull away.
His fingers curled inwards impulsively, forming a tight portcullis on the entrance to his hand. For the first few times, Jack had sought stoically for a way through, pushing the pads of each digit against the ridges of Ianto's knuckles. The fight never lasted long – Jack always gave into defeat, his hand inching backwards from the battlefield to rest once again in a place of safety.
Ianto didn't quite know what was stopping him, but whatever it was bubbled fiercely in his chest like hot lava; threatening to break free from its core unless he could find some way to ease the tension.
"Ianto," Jack had said that first time, hand resting tiredly against the bridge of his nose. "What does it matter what they think?"
Ianto had told himself many times that the elusive they, who Jack spoke of so often, was of no concern to him. That whoever they were, he had no time for their opinions, no time to let their concerns or worries interfere with the intricacies of his life.
After all, he told himself, it wasn't as though he wasn't intimate with Jack in public. He'd let Jack's arms snake around his waist in the middle of a pub, let him pull him as close as possible and sway to the hypnotic beat of the music. That very first time that Jack had taken him to a gay club, he'd felt the insistent pressure of Jack against his back, arms weaving they're way around his torso until he wasn't sure when one began and the other begin.
He'd lost track of the amount of times that they'd fallen, breathless and high on adrenaline, against a tree or whatever object happened to be to hand at the time. Forgotten the number of times he'd felt rain lashing at his naked skin as Jack's tongue sought out every last inch of his body, curling and twisting and connecting in a way which was, he told himself, so much more intimate than the simple action Jack tried to initiate so often.
That wasn't what they needed. It wasn't what they were about. He allowed Jack his indulgences, his whims, but there were some compromises that Ianto would have made for himself as well. Hand-holding was something he had done with Lisa, twisting their fingers together into a lattice weave as they strolled along the streets of London; sliding their fingers together in a neat, rhythmic pattern to pull one another closer.
There had to be boundaries, he told himself. Jack wasn't Lisa. What he had with Jack was no less special, no less meaningful, and certainly no less important to him than what he had had with Lisa. But there were limits to be had; hand holding was Lisa's domain, the domain of the girlfriend-boyfriend ideal that had been so fulfilled by that one, beautiful woman.
No, Ianto reassured himself.
It wasn't down to them at all.
It was down to them. Jack and Ianto; Ianto and Jack.
So he told himself.
Eventually, Jack stopped trying to initiate it the touch; instead moving to grip his wrist or to rest his hand lightly atop of Ianto's knuckles. Not quite what he sought, but nonetheless a reasonable compromise. There was still that slight flash of disappointment in Jack's eyes as he checked himself, moving his fingers to sidestep whatever action his natural instinct had told him to take, but that was what relationships were about.
Give and take.
Even non-conventional, non-defined, not-really-relationship relationships were based on that principle.
But sometimes, something will happen to bring a fear to light; to unbury whatever terror lurks beneath the surface and to force us to confront whatever it is that we fear.
It was raining that day; heavy droplets falling like missiles on their already shivering frames as they hurried for shelter. Eventually, they settled on their favourite coffee shop, the only establishment that Ianto could bear to offer his patronage to; walking through the door and shaking water from their sodden clothes. Mud clung to their skin, the remnant of the latest successful Weevil hunt, grains of the wet soil embedded into the very pores of their skin.
There was a hint of deeper brown swimming through the dirt on Jack's body, the crusted blood from the attack which had torn open his throat; blood that had wept onto the ground, each droplet taking him ever closer to death.
Ianto had held him as he died. Held him as he was dead. And held as he came back again. Cradled him tightly against his chest as his limbs flung outwards wildly, seeking and grasping for who-knew-what; giving him the only thing he could give and hoping against hope that it would be enough.
It had taken him longer than usual to come back – nearly ten minutes by Ianto's watch, probably due to the slow nature of that particular death. Long enough for Ianto's heart to begin to beat frantically in his chest. Long enough for Ianto to send up a tiny prayer to whoever was out there to make sure that he came back safe.
Ianto scraped a hand through his hair, leaning against Jack's chest for some semblance of warmth as they shivered in the queue. One hand came up to rest around his waist, splaying out against his sternum to pull him as close as possible into that shared warmth. Ianto gratefully sank back into it, feeling the heartbeat beneath the ripped material of Jack's shirt and revelling in the tiny vibrations that ran down his spine.
His eyelids drooped slightly as warmth spread through his veins, eyes rolling along the length of the queue to lazily examine their competition. His gaze rested on a middle aged a couple a few feet away from them; they, too, stood together for warmth, the fingers of their hands laced together as they leant towards one another. Ianto blinked at the sight of their hands, interlinked and intertwined in that way that seemed so natural, like vines creeping along the brickwork of an old building.
And then he heard the tsk.
He turned swiftly, eyes focused to pinpoint the source of the noise. Sitting at a table by the window there sat a woman, barely ten years his senior and looking very close to Jack's own age (well, what appeared to be his age, that is). Ianto licked his lips nervously as Jack's arm tightened, oblivious to the disapproving glare that was being shot their way like a laser beam. As Jack's grip grew more intimate around Ianto's torso, the woman's eyes narrowed to sharp lines, like the blade of a serrated knife cutting through something in Ianto's stomach.
He felt the bottom plummet out of him, his heart thumping against his ribcage as something tingling shot through his synapses.
And, suddenly, Ianto understood just who they were.
He licked his lips again, steely determination clouding his vision as he reached up to Jack's hand, resting the palm softly against the back and pressing down so that they lay flat against one another. Jack's chin shifted on his shoulder, looking down at their hands curiously. Shooting him a tiny smile, Ianto wriggled free from his grasp and used his fingers to bring Jack's hand in between them.
With one swift movement he clasped them together, entwining with one another, palms flat and fingers interlinked until it was hard to know where one ended and another began.
Jack's eyebrow rose, a question on his lips as his gaze flicked from Ianto's face to the hands now held together by their sides. The younger man just smiled, a tiny raising of one side of his mouth, and nodded his head minutely in the direction of the barister waiting impatiently for their order.
It may possibly have been the best coffee they'd ever shared, on that cold, wet day in the not-particularly-spectacular location.
They never spoke about just why.
They didn't need to.
Because, sometimes, the smallest touches carry the deepest meaning.
Thank you for reading!
Finally, some good old fashioned fluff! *is pleased*