This is a continuation of sorts from my story Maelstrom. It is from alternating POV's again, starting with Ianto.


'It was Lisa.'

Good lord, what the hell was he thinking? Of all the stupid, irrational, impulsive things to say. Rub it in their faces, why didn't he? Just call them a bunch of murdering fucks and be done with it. Honestly. For a man who didn't say a whole lot, he truly managed to plant his foot firmly in his mouth when it was open.

The look on Jack's face. It was furious. No, not furious. More like disappointment. Yeah. Well, he couldn't really blame him. He was disappointed in himself. For saying what he did - and lying, to boot.

"Ianto. We're back." Jack. He didn't sound upset, not anymore. Not about the words, anyway. He knew Jack was still more than a little pissed about the villagers. He was too, for slightly different reasons. Jack wasn't the one with the bloody great meat cleaver to his neck.

He looked around the SUV. It was empty. He didn't remember stopping. Must have been asleep.

"The others?"

"Home. You were out cold when we stopped."

"What about the gear?"

"Trust you to be worried about that. I'll take care of it when I get back to the Hub. I just want to get you inside, settled."

He groaned as he tried to slide out of the back seat. Jesus, he hurt. Physical pain the likes of which he'd never felt before. Canary Wharf hadn't left him this battered, and even when he played rugby in school, he never came out of a game this bruised and bloody. Sore, yes, but he could still move somewhat easily. Not now, though. He imagined it was how a piece of steak would feel after being tenderized. Imagine that.

According to both Owen and the local paramedics, nothing was broken. His ribs might be on fire, but it was severe bruising only. His head hurt too, but Owen ruled out concussion. Rest, relaxation and pain meds would see him right. In a week. Definitely not tomorrow. Owen's orders, overriding anything Jack might say, meant that he would at least have the chance to sleep in. Recover slowly. No work for a week, light duty for at least one more. Good. Let the others - well, not Gwen, she had a gut shot to heal. Owen and Tosh, then. Let them do a little of the heavy work. Feed Myfanwy, the Weevils. Clear up the rubbish. To be fair, Tosh did her part to keep the Hub proper tidy. It was Owen who was the biggest mess-maker. Bastard did it on purpose. Couldn't fault his medical skills, however. Just his cleanliness. Which was somewhat disturbing for a doctor.

Jack's hand reached in and grabbed his arm. He didn't tug, just provided support so that he could turn his body and carefully stand. It probably wasn't even that necessary, but he wasn't one to turn down help. Well, he was. But not this time. Even he was able to recognise that his body needed a helping hand.

He grunted his thanks, then straightened slowly. The muscles in his back and legs slowly stretched out, having tightened considerably during the return trip. He took a tentative step, staggered, and reached out blindly to grab hold of anything. His fingers found Jack's coat, convulsing around the material tightly. Jack quickly moved closer, wrapping an arm with care around his waist. He allowed himself the luxury of leaning close, breathing deep the intoxicating smell that Jack exuded. It was the closest they'd been since Lisa. He didn't realise just how much he missed the contact.

"Come on. I'll help you get settled. You need a hot bath, something to eat."

"'M not an invalid, Jack. I can manage that."

"Humour me, okay? You look like shit. Let me take care of you."

He snorted. Jack was such a smooth talker. But the thought was nice. Having somebody take care of him for once was a novel feeling.

Jack led him up the path to the flat, reaching into his own pocket for keys. He raised an eyebrow at that; he'd forgotten that Jack still possessed the damn things. After Lisa - and the subsequent mess - Jack was often in and out of his little flat. At first to brow-beat him into moving, then to talk quietly. One memorable, and brutally painful occasion swam into his mind. The afternoon where Jack found him wrapped around his toilet, after realising that his desire for the other man was greater than any he'd felt for Lisa. The shock of it had thrown him into a tailspin of nausea and self-recriminations. When Jack found him, he'd pounced, desperate to feel something. Jack pushed him away, shooting down any chance of rekindling their previous activities. Even now, the words burned. 'I don't want you, Jones. Not anymore.'

He shook off the memory. It didn't do to dwell on the past. And he and Jack were slowly rebuilding their relationship. Not to any physical levels - that might never happen. But at least to a point where he knew that Jack trusted him. The fact that he dragged him out with the team was testament to that. Or it could have been that he didn't trust him at all, and wasn't keen on leaving him alone in the Hub. He decided he'd rather not know for certain. The truth was just possibly too awful to contemplate.

Jack carefully steered him into the small flat. He leaned on the wall while Jack shucked his coat, even snorting quietly as he watched him hang it carefully on a hook. His amusement grew as Jack bent over and quickly removed his boots. Jack looked up at him as he handled the laces.

"What? They're dirty!"

"Since when have you cared about that? I seem to remember you traipsing in and out of here with no regard to the state of my floors in the past."

Jack flushed. "I had other things on my mind. Like making sure you were still alive."

He winced, acknowledging the truth of that statement.

"Now, about that bath - because we could just stand here and rehash the good old days, but I think you're about to fall over. I wasn't joking before, you really do look like shit."

"You have such a sweet tongue, Jack. Surprised they aren't lining up around the corner for you."

"And how do you know they aren't?" Jack's grin was positively lecherous. It felt good to have some of their old banter back, yet a part of him felt empty. The innuendos and flirting between them really didn't exist anymore and he missed it. He missed Jack.

"Well, as long as you aren't planning on parading them in here, they can line up wherever the hell they want." He pushed off the wall and staggered down the short hall to the bathroom, leaving his hand out to keep himself upright. He could feel Jack right behind him, ready to catch him if he should fall. Despite everything, the thought that Jack would be there for him left a warm glow.

The bathroom was too small for them both, yet somehow they managed. Jack pushed him down onto the toilet seat, then leaned over him and set up the bath. Once again, he took the opportunity to breath in Jack's scent. Intoxicating. Just as well he was beaten to a pulp, otherwise he might find himself repeating his disastrous attempt to attack Jack. Jack either didn't remember, or was doing a bloody good impression of not remembering or caring.

"Okay. While the water is running, why don't you get your kit off." Jack stood and looked down at him. He looked nothing but concerned. The possibility of a naked Ianto in front of him didn't appear to affect him at all.

He thought for a moment of asking Jack to leave, then shrugged mentally and started to take off his jacket. Well, he tried. As soon as he pushed it back off his shoulders, his arms protested and his ribs screamed.

"Ow, ow, fuck, ow." He struggled to free himself without making it hurt more, then Jack was there, holding him still and pulling one arm at a time out. He felt like an infant being undressed. Although it did make it easier to think of it like that, as opposed to the best looking man he'd ever seen undressing him in front of the bath, fantasies of taking him running hot through his mind.

Jack slowly pulled him up, sliding the shirt off his shoulders and dropping it to the floor. He lifted the t-shirt he was wearing underneath carefully, manoeuvring each arm individually over his head so he could slide them through the material, then putting them back down at his side. He supposed he looked bloody ridiculous, with a bunched up t-shirt around his neck, but then Jack simply lifted it up and tossed it behind him. He was thinking of wrapping his arms around his body, some deep-seated desire to cover himself making its way to the fore, when Jack hissed quietly. A gentle hand pressed against his ribs, fingers spread over half his chest. He sucked in a deep breath. Fuck, that really hurt. And felt nice.

"Jesus, Ianto. Owen - and Tosh - said you were beaten pretty badly, but this is-"

"Not as bad as it looks. They're not broken, just severely bruised. According to Owen."

"You sure?"

He snorted. Seemed to be the sound of the day for him. "No, I'm not sure. He is. And so were the local paramedics. That's why they're the medical practitioners, not me."

"Still. I could take you to the local A&E if you want? X-rays?"

"What, now? Half naked? No, Jack, just help me get into the bath, yeah? The hot water is calling."

Jack huffed out a sigh, then dropped his hands from his chest to his belt. Until that moment, he wasn't even aware that Jack was still touching him. On his chest. His bare skin. For the first time in months. Hell. He could feel himself flushing, but hoped that if Jack looked up, he'd put it down to the hot water and steam.

Jack made short work of his belt and jeans. Well, stood to reason; the man had more than enough practice in divesting others from their clothing. He knew this from personal experience. He noticed that Jack's colour was a little high on his cheeks as he bent down to lift his feet. It could have been because he was tipped over, or the steam in the small bathroom, but Ianto rather fancied it was because he was face to groin, his nose almost pressed against his cock. Part of him wanted to push forward, to be forward, and make Jack notice what he was up against. Or could be up against. A larger, more rational - and hurt - part of him knew that this simply wasn't the time. Even if Jack did make a move, which wasn't at all likely, despite the colour in his face, he was just not capable of reciprocating. Not at that moment. Sure, Jack could push him back down and suck him off - and wouldn't that be fantastic - but the thought of his muscles tightening in orgasm actually sent a wave of pain coursing through his body, killing any fledgling erection before it could even manifest.

He groaned. He was truly fucked up, both physically and mentally. Not even three months ago, his life was turned upside down - again. The girl he thought he was saving - his life, his love, his everything - turned out to be nothing more than a murdering, rampaging robot, intent on converting the world to more of the same. He both hated Jack and, dare he even think it, loved him, for doing what he couldn't. For killing her before anybody else was hurt. Other than the two she'd already murdered. That he'd let her murder. Even unknowingly, it was still his fault. He'd let them in, led them right to her. Hell, she'd even killed Jack.

Jack still didn't know that he knew. He'd told them all that it was just a jolt - that it looked worse than it actually was - but he knew better. He knew for a fact that he himself died, when she threw him across the Hub. He knew that Jack brought him back - how, was the only thing he didn't know. What was it he said to Carys, all those months ago? Excess of life? Something like that.

His thoughts still whirling - when didn't they if Jack was anywhere close - he lifted his feet and stepped out of his shoes, socks and jeans, obeying Jack's wordless instructions. As soon as he was completely naked, he grabbed Jack on one arm, and put the other out against the wall. This was the tricky part - stepping over the lip of the tub and into the hot water. It would be very easy to slip and crack his skull properly, to finish the job the bastards in the Beacons started.

The heat on his feet was almost too much. He could see his pale skin slowly turn red, yet there was no way he'd be adding any cold. He knew that his back and chest would love every minute soaking in the warmth. He slowly lowered his body with Jack's help, then winced as his arse broke the surface. His back might like this, but his cock wasn't too keen. It was a good thing he'd never be a father - he was cooking his little soldiers. Still, he knew he'd appreciate it, as soon as his bits stopped screaming.

Jack helped him lean back against the sloping edge of the tub, wincing along with him as he moaned. He let go as soon as he sighed and relaxed.

"Good? Need anything else?"

"Yeah, I'm good. Jesus, this feels bloody fantastic."

"Not too hot?"

"Bit late to ask, now that I'm all the way in. No, Jack, it's fine. I'll never have kids, but hey, with my job that's not a bad thing."

His eyes were closed, so he missed Jack's pained face at this. "I'll leave you to it, then."

"What? You're leaving me to get out of here by myself?" His eyes flew open in shock. Definitely just shock, not dismay or anything like it.

"Christ, no! I was just going to make coffee - or tea if you want? I thought you'd like the privacy, and, ah… You can call me when you need help getting out. I'll just be in the lounge."

He relaxed again. Jack wasn't leaving, not yet. This was good. He thought quickly - what would he rather drink? Coffee would be his usual choice, but he drank it straight black and the heat, along with the hot bath, would likely make him pass out. He tended to avoid tea, as it was Lisa's favourite drink, and anything that reminded him of her hurt too damn much, but he'd been trying, and just then, milky tea sounded absolutely marvellous.

"Tea, thanks. Lots of milk, no sugar." He opened his eyes one more time, looking up at Jack. The man did not look at all comfortable staring down at him. He was starting to reach a point where he really didn't care; he was warm, fairly relaxed and in danger of falling asleep in the bath.

Jack stepped out of the bathroom, looking extremely relieved to be moving away. "Great. I'll be back in a few with the drink and some pain meds. Just call if you need anything before then." And he was gone. Just like that, just like before. Gone before he had a chance to really read him, or to say anything. Not that he would. It wasn't his place. The betrayal was all him, so the rebuilding of trust was his burden, leaving Jack to make the call as to whether he'd completed the job.

He sighed. He needed Jack, both now and always. But his failure during Gwen's game, and then when held at knifepoint - well, he was fully aware it wasn't good. There was a very real chance he'd wiped out any trust they'd regained, hurt Jack in the process and ruined his chances of getting back any sort of relationship with Jack.

He was just too hurt right now to do anything about it.