Title: in the palm of your hand
Character(s)/Pairing(s): Jack, Ianto; Jack/Ianto
Summary: Dying has more ramifications than both Jack and Ianto foresee. Written for rounds_of_kink on LJ.
Warnings: Death, detailed descriptions of miscarriage
Notes: Takes place during early season two.
Jack's hearing is always the last thing to go when he dies, and so it is also the first thing to return when he comes back to life. As he gasps his first breath back into his body, beyond the pain and confusion of resurrection he can hear the steady thudthud of a heartbeat and so he latches on to that and allows it to draw him back to the land of the living. Ianto's heartbeat, anchoring him, and he can't stand to think of what he'll do when it one day stops.
Next there's smell, and today, like almost always, there's the coppery tang of blood, but faintly underneath it he can smell Ianto's scent of sweaty, healthy male and faint whispers of cologne.
Then he becomes aware of Ianto's arms around him, tight around his chest and holding him close. His arms are pinned to his side and he can't move, but he doesn't want to, is content to lie within the secure circle of Ianto's arms and if he could, he'd remain there forever. But then the embrace loosens and Ianto's warm large hands slide under his armpits while another pair of hands, smaller, probably Owen's, circle the back of his knees then he's being lifted off the ground and carried away from the scene of his death. Swinging between the two of them like a corpse should feel uncomfortable, but it isn't. It feels strangely comforting, the tight grip on his limbs that would never let him go, the soothing rocking motion of his body.
The agonizing pain of resurrection has faded so when bolt of pain rips through his abdomen he can't bite back the cry of pain, or the full body spasm that follows. The grip on his legs slip and he's further jolted to painful consciousness as his heels impact with the ground.
"Shit, Owen!" Ianto voice rings too loudly in his ears.
"Sorry, sorry," Owen mutters, and Jack can feel hands circle his heels once again, but being carried is no longer soothing, not with white hot pain twisting through his gut and his returning senses magnifying everything movement, sound and touch.
He twists and struggles enough that Ianto and Owen have to stop and lower him to the ground. Jack curls around the pain coiling in his lower abdomen, exhales the pain away, then sits up and opens his eyes. Ianto is crouched beside him and his hand automatically reaches out but Jack bats it away, pushes himself to his feet on his own.
"Owen is getting the SUV," Ianto says, his voice low, like he's talking to a wounded animal, or a patient.
But that's what he is, isn't he?
"Fuck waiting," Jack growls. It takes him a while to reorient himself, to judge his distance from where he recalls having parked the SUV, and he's just reached the end of the street when the bright headlights of the SUV appear. He hears Ianto cursing under his breath behind him and when he turns around in time to see him dump the mangled body of the creature that killed him unceremoniously onto the ground.
Owen climbs out of the SUV and barks "Get in!" at Jack before he walks around the SUV to help Ianto load the alien into the back. Jack doesn't argue and climbs into the driver's seat, where he rests his head against the steering wheel and listens to Ianto and Owen huff and puff and swear.
It feels like only second have passed before Ianto is tapping him on the shoulder. "Get in the back," he says, no, orders. "You're in no condition to drive."
Jack's about to protest, but that's exactly when his body betrays him, sending a wave of pain crashing through his lower abdomen and by the time the world comes into focus again he's been hauled out of the driver's seat and being helped into the back. At this point he doesn't really care anymore.
Ianto sits at his station. He's jiggling his leg and making the whole table rattle but Jack had disappeared into his bunker over an hour ago and hasn't come out yet. From where he's sitting he can see Jack's coffee still waiting on his desk for him. It'll be cold and stale by now.
It's as good an excuse as any.
The second cup is tea, chamomile and sweetened with honey, because coffee isn't the kind of beverage he wants Jack to be drinking right now, not with his face as white as a sheet and the strange abdominal cramps that had him doubling over in pain all the way back to the hub. He puts it in a travel mug, because he's learned some time ago the inconvenience of carrying hot beverages down a ladder. For someone who loves sex, Jack does make it rather inconvenient to get to his bed. Then again, sex with Jack does not always end up in bed.
Jack isn't curled in his narrow camp bed, so he sets the mug down on the battered chest of drawers and knocks on the door that leads to the tiny bathroom. It's unlocked and swings open from the force of his raps. Something stops it from fully opening, and it's just wide enough for Ianto to squeeze in and crowd next to the sink.
That's because Jack's lying curled up right behind the door and there's blood all over the floor, thin and pink and watery. The floor is wet and the copper tang muted. Jack's hands are cupped around something, a something that seems to be the source of all the blood, because the blood under his hands is still dark and undiluted. He's naked from the waist down and looking around, Ianto finds trousers and underwear heaped in a corner, stained with bloody water.
Ianto's first thought is to call Owen, but then Jack looks up and there's something in his gaze that makes Ianto stop. The he says, "Come here," and his voice is cracked and hoarse. Ianto cautiously shuffles over and crouches down next to his. He watches with morbid fascination as Jack slowly, very slowly and with minute spasmodical twitches, uncurls his hand from around whatever it is he's holding.
At first sight it looks like a lump of flesh. A heart pops to Ianto's mind, but it's pale pink instead of dark red, and smaller.
"A baby," Jack whispers, and oh shit, it's enough to make Ianto fall back on his butt against the toilet. Cold water soaks the seat of his pants, but he doesn't care. Oh fuck, it's so obviously a baby. A baby, a fetus. He looks up from the tiny being curled in Jack's large palm to Jack but the question he wants to ask sticks in his throat. Jack's clear blue gaze meets his and he nods. "Ours."
Oh shitshitshit. He's only vaguely aware of his hands running over his face then fisting his hair, while Jack curls his hand back over the thing- the fetus- oh god, their child, the look on his face carefully blank. But Ianto can see the red rims around his eyes. Slowly he lowers himself onto the floor so that he's lying opposite Jack, water seeping rapidly into his clothes, chilling him. With his face close to the ground, the smell of blood is stronger. He carefully extends a hand. "May I?"
Once again Jack unfurls his hands. Their child gleams in the cusp of his hand like a morbid perversion of a pearl. It has fingers. Teeny tiny fingers curled into fists. It has face. Eyes, nose, miniature mouth. A tiny human, a tiny Jack and Ianto, curled in the palm of Jack's large, warm hand.
He tentatively reaches out with a finger and when Jack doesn't pull back, or cover up their child, he slips a finger under a thin, tiny arm. It's cold and wet, and the fist barely covers his fingernail. He lays its arm back down and runs his fingers over the large, bulbous head, then down the curve of its spine. When he looks back at Jack, a small, sad smile curls the corner of Jack's mouth. "It's a girl. You can tell. No teeny tiny penis." He makes a choked laugh that trails off into a gurgling sob. She trembles along with shivers that wrack his body, like pink jelly.
"May I hold her?" Ianto asks, and the words feel dry in his mouth, unused.
Jack nods, and very, very slowly tips his palm so that she slides into Ianto's outstretched hand.
She's cold. Like a piece of meat from the fridge, lying in his hand. He expects to feel the tiny thudthud of a heartbeat then mentally kicks himself. She's dead. There's no way she could have survived being out of the womb so very, very early, and she is dead, his little girl is dead and that's why they're curled up on the wet floor of the bathroom, being too quiet.
Jack has closed his eyes. His hands are fisted and curled tight to his chest. He breathes deeply through his nose, like one trying to stave off shock, or panic.
Ianto looks at his child. She is cold and wet and smooth and slippery and so very, very alien in the palm of his hand. She has fingers, and tiny toe nubs, a head with facial features, and a sex so that they can name her but she looks nothing like a human except in the knowledge that she is.
He is, no, was, a father. And this tiny being in his hand is his child, except that she is dead, and maybe that's a good thing because he would have made a lousy father, he's sure. He's Torchwood. Children and Torchwood would never mix, and he's already got a another life, tucked away in the Archives, waiting for Gwen and the day she has a tiny thing like this growing inside her.
He reaches out with his other hand, empty and fills it with Jack's wet, warm palm and pulls them closer together, until they're lying brow to brow, with their child cradled between them. "Hello," he says to her.
A sliver of blue gleams as Jack cracks his eyes open. He looks at Ianto, then to the fetus. "Hello," he whispers too. Then he turns his gaze back to Ianto. "I like Maya. As a name."
"Maya." Ianto rolls the name in his mouth. Maya. Maya Jones. Maya Harkness. Maya Harkness-Jones. A simple, short but beautiful name. It fits. "Maya."
Jack sighs. It's a gusty breath that travels the whole of his body and stirs Ianto's hair and Maya's tiny frail limbs. "My fault," he heaves. "When I died…" His limp gesture encompasses everything, the room, the blood, the baby in Ianto's hands.
Ianto tightens his grip around Jack's hand. "You didn't know."
"I didn't, but…"
"Not your fault." Ianto's tone is firm and final. Jack falls silent, then starts stroking a finger down Maya's smooth, curved back.
"I'm sorry," he whispers, and Ianto feels that the apology is as much for him as it is for Maya. He just squeezes Jack's hand and starts rubbing his thumb across Jack's callused knuckles, then lifts the hand and presses it to his lips, before holding it to his chest, against his heart.
"Not your fault," he says again, because it really isn't, but he also understands Jack's need to take the blame. In a way, it makes things easier. And he doesn't know what else to say.
Definitely not "I love you", because those words have yet to mean anything to any of them.