Ianto wasn't sure how long he'd been in the Archives. He'd only surfaced three times since he got there for work that morning, to make the others coffee and order their lunch. He hadn't helped himself to either, retreating immediately back to the voluminous shelves that made up Torchwood records. It wasn't like he was avoiding his teammates or anything…
Actually, it was. He had no idea why, though. Ever since he'd woken up the yesterday afternoon at the table, missing two days of his memory to boot, he hadn't felt much like being around them. It was more than that, even. He didn't feel…he didn't feel like he deserved to be around them. It felt almost like he felt when he was still hiding Lisa from them: like he had something to hide, something to be ashamed of.
He just didn't know what it was. He got the feeling it had something to do with the two days he was missing, and he had fully intended last night to check the records, but Jack had been there. If something had happened, and Jack didn't know, he'd at least like to get a chance to find out for himself before someone else did. Give him a chance to figure it out or something. He would tell him, really; he wasn't keeping secrets anymore.
Or, at least, he didn't think he was. Was it technically a secret if even you yourself didn't know what it was? Because it felt like he had done something wrong, like he was filthy and wrong and he felt it all so strongly, but he didn't know why. It didn't make sense.
So he'd stayed in the Archives. If there was something wrong with him, he didn't want to risk the others finding out until he did. He didn't want to risk endangering them.
Why would I endanger them?
The thought occurred to him suddenly, and he discovered he had no idea where it had come from. Was he a danger to his team? Was something wrong with him?
Running his hands irately through his short hair, he let out a frustrated sigh. He was Ianto Jones; he didn't like not knowing, especially when it had to do with him.
He hadn't realized he was pacing until his toe slammed into something very solid. "Fuck!" he cursed, slamming his fist into the wall. The act caught him off guard. He wasn't normally aggressive, and that wasn't like him at all.
Maybe it's something to do with what you don't remember…, supplied a niggling voice in his head, and he felt his stomach drop. Maybe it was something to do with it. Maybe he had done something, hurt someone. Maybe he had—
"I hate it when that happens," said a voice from behind him, and Ianto froze. There was no mistaking that voice, nor, now that he thought about it, that smell. Even the booted footsteps were familiar to him, as they came towards him. Before he had time to even process anything, arms were wrapped around his waist, and he was pulled back into a very solid chest. "Shall I kiss it better?"
Ianto gulped. There was something in Jack's voice; it was flirtatious and smooth as always, but there was something more to it. Concern, maybe? It seemed he didn't think lashing out at inanimate objects was typical Ianto behavior either.
"Sorry," Ianto muttered, unable to help the blush that heated his face. "Guess I'm just a little wound up."
"Worn out's more like it," Jack said, his breath blowing across Ianto's ear from his proximity. His hands on his hips hugged him tighter, and the older man pressed a kiss to Ianto's neck. "It's nearly eleven, baby boy, you got here at six this morning. You need sleep."
Ianto nodded. He wasn't tired, he knew that well enough, but if Jack was kind enough to offer him an excuse for his weirdness, then he would be a fool not to capitalize. As much as he would've liked to tell Jack what was wrong, to let Jack put his mind at ease as he always seemed to manage to do, he was scared. He didn't know what he was scared of, no, but if anything, that just made it worse.
"Are you alright? You're awfully tense," Jack said, loosening his hold on Ianto just enough to turn him around. Ianto would have preferred to stay as he was; it was so much harder to pretend when Jack was looking him in the eyes.
"Just had a long day's all," he lied. Well, it wasn't really a lie. He had had a long day – a very long one, actually, given his lack of sleep the night before. He just couldn't get his mind to shut off. There were too many questions, too many worries. He couldn't sleep, and he'd worked himself into quite a tizzy. His head ached fiercely, as it had ever since he'd woken up in that God-awful position in the chair, and for some reason, that ache seemed to extend to nearly every bone in his body.
Jack accepted the response, thankfully. Ianto didn't know if he had it in him to give any better a response. "C'mon, then. Time to leave your cave, Yan." He started to steer him towards the door, but Ianto slipped loose.
"I actually just have a few more things to finish up here," he said, turning to the stack of files he'd amassed on one of the many tables around the Archives.
Behind him, he heard Jack sigh. "Alright. Just...make sure you're out of here by twelve. And if you're too tired to drive, you're welcome to stay here."
"Thank you," Ianto replied, dipping his head lightly. He wouldn't be staying there; he imagined they both knew that, but all the same, the gesture was appreciated. Under any other circumstance, he probably would have accepted. He just didn't want to…he didn't want to be around him.
"I know you didn't mean to kill her. You just couldn't stop yourself." Flashes of a girl, a face, scared tears, and screams roared through his head. "Remember it." Agony ripped through him, but there was a smile on his face as the life drained from her eyes. "Remember it. Remember it. Remember it!"
Ianto jumped as a hand settled on his shoulder, and he let out a startled yelp involuntarily. Jack was looking at him strangely, his hand still resting on Ianto's shoulder.
"Ianto, are you okay?" he asked.
He nodded quickly – too quickly, in Jack's tastes – and subtly wiped his sweaty palms on the legs of his trousers. He had no idea what that was just then, the noises, the sights, the emotions: it had all felt so real, so vivid. And yet, he had no idea where it came from. He could see himself, could hear that voice, could feel those things, but he didn't know where it came from. All he knew was that now, he felt sick. His head ached more fiercely than ever, and he wanted nothing more than to just curl into a ball and fade into oblivion.
But of course, that might raise some questions. Curling into the fetal position mid-conversation was hardly normal behavior, and Jack already looked plenty concerned about him. "I'm fine, sorry. Just spaced a little bit," he assured, forcing a smile on his face that he could only hope looked more convincing than it felt. "Just let me finish up here, and I'll be on my way."
Jack didn't look terribly satisfied this time, but he didn't want to press. He was trying to get Ianto to come to him when something was wrong; he knew he'd lost a lot of trust, running off with the Doctor, and he had to get it back somehow. He'd give Ianto his space, and hopefully he would come to him.
Then again, that didn't work so well after the Beacons… He tried not to let himself think about that, not to let himself imagine the picture of Ianto, barely conscious and crying on the floor of his office. He'd been down for weeks after that, with all those injuries.
No, he wouldn't be letting that happen again. But he'd give Ianto space. Not too much, but just enough. Just for tonight, at the very least. If he hadn't gotten himself sorted in the morning, he'd deal with it then.
"All right, then," he said. "Night, Ianto." Slipping his hand into Ianto's hair, he pulled him in for a quick kiss before turning and heading back out of the Archives. Just before he left, though, he turned. "Remember, I want you out by twelve, and my manhole's always open." Pun fully intended, he gave Ianto a wink and a smile before disappearing up the stairs.
"I bet that's what you say to all the blokes!" Ianto called after him, relieved to have just a bit of a distraction. Leave it to Jack to get his mind off hearing voices by telling a dirty joke.
…And, he was back to the voices in his head again. Damn.
What had that been, though, honestly? He'd heard it, clear as he'd heard Jack, and it terrified him. Was he going insane? What if that was why he'd lost two days of his life – what if he was losing his mind.
But no, all the others had forgotten as well, and everything had been cleared when they'd looked, from the CCTV's to the files. Aside from that mysterious bag, the one labeled "Adam's Property," there was nothing.
"Why can't I remember?" he seethed, fisting his fingers in his hair. He didn't stop pacing until…well, he did, falling back against the wall and sliding down it. He hated this so much. He hated not knowing, hated how it made him feel. There was something wrong with him!
"But we know the rot in your heart. You crave flesh…. Remember it! Remember it!"
A whimper broke from Ianto's throat. What was he supposed to remember? What else could he remember, and how much worse would it be? Something was wrong with him. Something was wrong with him, and he didn't know what, and the others didn't either, and they couldn't know. Because what he'd seen, what he couldn't stop seeing, was bad, and something told him that it got worse.
"Remember it! Remember it!"
What was the voice in his head? Who was it? It wasn't Jack or Owen or Tosh or Gwen. It was snide and sneering. It delighted in his misery and wanted to cause him more.
But how did he know that? How did he know that any of this was what he thought it was? He couldn't remember anything, and all he got were nonsensical flashes.
His head ached. No, it throbbed, pounding agonizingly in his ears until it was all he could hear. His body ached in time, his joints stiff and muscles cramping and tensing until it felt like he was having a seizure.
With nothing left to do, he did the one thing he wanted: he curled into a ball, tucking his knees to his chest and wrapping his arms around them. He was shaking now, and every individual tremor wracked his form painfully.
"Remember it! Remember it!"
It was getting worse; he was getting worse, and he didn't even know why. He was alone in this, alone and confused, and the only comfort he had was that no one knew. He didn't know, but neither did anyone else.
I'm a monster…
For some reason, those words struck him hard. It wasn't the strange voice saying them, but his own, and once he'd thought them, they wouldn't stop. Over and over, they repeated in his head until finally, they were silenced by the dark abyss of unconsciousness.
Jack didn't wait until twelve. He hadn't heard anything from the Archives in a while, and when he switched on the CCTV, he found Ianto sitting curled up against the wall. He wasn't moving, save the barely visible rise and fall of his shoulders as he breathed.
Pushing himself up from his chair, Jack started down the stairs from his office. He tried to be as quiet as he could descending the steps to the Archives, and it paid off. When he got there, sure enough, there Ianto sat, huddled up in a corner between the wall and a shelf, his arms wrapped around himself looking for all the world like a lost kid.
That said, he was freaking adorable, but Jack had to wake him up. The Archives were no place to sleep, and if the dark circles under Ianto's eyes were any indication, the guy needed to catch some serious z's.
Dropping down on his knees in front of his young lover, he placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. "Yan," he whispered, giving him a light shake. That was all it took, and Ianto woke with a start, kicking his legs out and just barely avoiding nailing Jack in the groin. "Hey, hey, easy." He held out his hands peacefully while Ianto blinked, obviously still fighting off the grip of sleep. He was breathing awfully fast, Jack noticed, and he wondered if he'd had a nightmare. Wouldn't surprise him, really; Ianto had nightmares more than he liked to think, and they were worse than anyone his age's had any right to be.
Finally, recognition started to catch in those bleary blue eyes. "Jack?" he whispered, his voice raspy and slurred, which, combined with his standard accent, made him sound both sexy and incredibly adorable.
He smiled, stroking his thumb across Ianto's cheek. "In the flesh," he said. "Don't suppose you're ready to call it a night now, are you?"
Ianto opened his mouth to answer, but was silenced by a yawn, and he rubbed at his eyes with the heels of his palms. He was so tired, but every time he closed his eyes, he saw them. He saw those women, saw their terrified faces, heard that voice.
"Yan? Earth to Yan?"
Ianto shook his head, and finally his eyes focused on Jack's. In all honesty, he was still having a hard time keeping them open.
Jack seemed to notice, and chuckled a little. "Come on, let's get you into bed," he said, and stood, sticking out a hand to help Ianto up. Ianto accepted, and he pulled him up. "There you go." He wrapped his arms around Ianto's hips and gave him a quick kiss before starting to steer him towards the stairs of the archives with a hand around his waist.
They made it up to the centre of the Hub, and Ianto was started to turn from him to head out, but Jack held him steady. "It's too late to start home now. You've still got some spare suits here, right?"
Ianto nodded. "But I—"
"I said out by twelve, and it's past twelve. Which means now you listen to me," he said shortly, and that was that. He walked Ianto up the stairs to his office, and waited until Ianto was down in his room before he went down as well.
With his back to Jack, tucked in the far corner of the room, Ianto started to undress. It was almost like he was…guarding himself. Hiding. Jack knew the behavior; he'd seen it after the Beacons, seen it after he returned from his time with the Doctor. Something was wrong with his boy.
When Ianto finally made it to bed, dressed in a pair of sleep trousers that he'd borrowed from Jack, Jack pointedly pulled him back against his chest. "Something's wrong," he whispered in Ianto's ear, kissing his neck. He felt Ianto freeze against him, felt his breath stop. "I'm not going to push, Yan. I just want you to know you can talk to me. I'm here, all right?"
He couldn't even begin to fathom why, but with those words, Ianto turned on his side, buried his face in Jack's chest, and started to cry.
For a moment, he was surprised, but then he pushed it aside. Even if he didn't know what was wrong, even if Ianto wasn't ready to tell him what it was, he could at least try to make it better. "Shh," he soothed, rubbing Ianto's back and stroking his fingers through his hair. "I'm here, it's okay."
And it was going to be. He didn't know how, but somehow, he was going to make it okay.