This is the last chapter of this story, but not the last story in this 'verse. Which I called Torch-ured, btw. Did I mention that yet? Might be a bit before the next story goes up, as I have to write a couple more chapters. Don't hurt me! And thanks to all for the lovely reviews. If I've not answered, it's because I couldn't, but I loved each and every one. Ta!
He woke slowly, as if his body was reluctant to claw its way out of whatever depths it currently inhabited. At the same time, he knew it was only a matter of minutes – certainly less than an hour – since he last woke. His fucking ribs… he hurt, so much. But he knew it could be worse. Could have been dead, after all. Served up on some sick fuck's dinner plate as the steak of the day. Maybe soup du jour, as well.
Christ, if the thought didn't make him want to run a sharp point into his brain, he'd puke. Lean over the bed and hurl like it was his god-given right. Hell, he should be sick, heaving his guts as often and as messily as he could. He was almost somebody's meal, for fuck's sake. Bled, carved and arranged artistically on a plate. Or maybe not; for all he knew, those bastards could just have sat around the floor and gnawed on his body like the dogs they were.
And he needed to stop this train of thought before it consumed him. Because he could feel the panic closing in and it fucking hurt. It was eating him from the inside out – and the irony didn't escape him, that his own body was doing the job the fucking cannibals started. But the only other thought in his mind wasn't making him feel any better.
Jesus fuck, he knew he'd done it this time. Spilling his guts to Jack. That had to be the reason why the man was no longer in the room. They'd spent many long minutes – could have been hours, but probably wasn't – staring each other down when he woke the first time. Finally, he'd closed his eyes and pretended to sleep, only to watch under his lids when Jack finally moved. And it took all his willpower not to call out when Jack walked out of the room. He was leaving – and he couldn't blame him at all. He'd be leaving himself, shame coating his every surface, if he could fucking move. He'd be out the door – even though it was his flat – and long gone. Anything to avoid facing the fucking great elephant he'd dragged in.
He could hear Jack talking. It was only a few steps from his bedroom to the living room, so it wasn't an odd thing, not really. Only, he could hear another voice. Why? Audio hallucinations shouldn't be an issue; he didn't have a concussion, although it might truly explain his lapse in judgement. He didn't ever remember having a case of loose lips in his past. No, wrong. He did spill something fairly embarrassing to Lisa not long after they started dating. He groaned; he should just move to a monastery, one with a vow of silence. That should prevent any further verbal explosions.
A sound at his door – Jack. He stood there, looking all concerned. Something else too, but he wouldn't allow himself to focus on it. He knew it had to be a by-product of his fevered imagination and gut-spilling. Wishful thinking, at best.
"Harkness, move your arse. Else you want me to examine him long distance? I could have done that from the comfort of my bed, you know."
He groaned again. Owen. Fucking lovely. Injured, embarrassed and now irritated. His day couldn't really get any better.
Jack didn't say anything. Odd. He just moved out of the way and let Owen into his room. He noted that Owen also gave Jack a weird look. The lack of response was seriously out of character. Still, the less said at the moment, probably better. It was bad enough he couldn't keep his own mouth shut. He certainly didn't need Jack to start spilling deep, dark secrets now. Not that he would. Jack and secrets – two words synonymous with each other. A picture of Jack was next to the word in the dictionary. He knew this for a fact; he'd placed it there himself. His mental dictionary, sure, but it was still true.
And clearly the drugs were still screwing with his head, even if they weren't doing anything for the pain. Because that shouldn't even have occurred to him. Well, it had, in the past, but only in passing. It shouldn't be stuck at the front of his brain now, threatening to spill out the second he opened his mouth. Seriously, no more drugs. Except he needed them. He couldn't just dismiss this pain, it was too intense.
"Teaboy. You look like shit."
He cracked an eye. He put all the disdain he possessed into his expression. Talking would be a waste of time. It always was, with Owen. But the medic had to know he'd store it all for his return to work. Decaf wasn't that difficult to make, but it sure as hell sucked for a caffeine addict.
"Don't look at me like that. It's not my idea to be here. I'd much rather be chatting up some bird, or sleeping – preferably with said bird."
He rolled his eyes. Whatever. It wasn't his idea to have Owen here, either. Must be Jack's fault. Never mind, he could take it out on him, too. Withhold… no. Shit. He couldn't withhold sex. They didn't do that, not anymore. Hadn't for more than three months. And probably wouldn't ever again, despite his little emotional breakdown from earlier – and after Lisa, too.
"Don't be an ass, Owen. Just check him out. I'm not convinced the hospital did a good job. And the medication isn't working, either. He should be out cold."
"He is lying here, you know. Not deaf – or dead."
"Yeah, well you're a lucky son-of-a-bitch, Ianto Jones. I saw how hard those fuckers hit you. You must have some serious luck. Your history isn't exactly spectacular."
"I have a big target on me, yeah yeah. Whatever." Jesus, it hurt to put out even that little bit of snark.
"Not up to your usual standards, Jones. Surely you can do better than that?"
"I'm focusing on not launching from the bed to wring your scrawny neck. That better?"
"Much. Misplaced, but closer to your usual level. Now, what the fuck hurts?"
Seriously? He had to ask? Didn't the man just say he'd been there when it all happened? It wasn't even worth answering. Besides, Jack beat him to it.
"I told you, Owen. His ribs. They were x-rayed at the hospital, and they wrapped him tight, but I'm not convinced. I want you to check."
"So you said on the phone. But I asked Teaboy what hurts, not you."
"Christ. My ribs, Owen. Jesus, do I need to draw you a fucking map?"
"Now that is more like it. If you—"
"If you say one word about me—"
"You'll what? Beat me over the head? Run me out of the flat? Right now, Jones, you couldn't chase a wet sock."
"A wet sock? Really? And you say I'm not up to my usual standard." Because honestly, when would he ever chase a wet sock? Although he did work for Torchwood, so perhaps the idea shouldn't be dismissed completely out of hand.
He watched warily, now with two eyes, as Owen moved up to stand beside him, looking all business. Much preferable to the heavy-handed sarcasm.
"Can you sit up on your own? I want to check the binding."
He tried, honestly, he did. But the grunt of pain must have been louder than he thought, because Jack was across the room like all the Weevils of Cardiff were hot on his arse, and his arm was wrapped around his lower torso tight enough to take his mind off his ribs. It still hurt like a bitch to sit up, but not nearly as much as doing it himself. He smiled thinly at Jack; it was the best he could do, between the shortness of breath from the pain, and the residual embarrassment from before.
Owen wasted no time in pushing Jack out of the way, and swiftly unwrapping his ribs. Weirdly, the first breath was pain-free, as if his ribs celebrated their sudden freedom. Then the reality of the loosened binding settled, and his breathing turned shallow. He wondered if it was possible to stop completely – and not die. Because this shit hurt and he was so over it already. The thought that it would be this way for weeks… well, it didn't bear thinking about.
Owen's sure and steady touch across his ribs, and around his back was almost reassuring. At least it didn't threaten to send all his blood flow to pool in his groin, which was always a worry if Jack was close. But without the threat of a sudden and noticeable erection to take his mind off things, he noticed it all the more when probing fingers found the breaks. He'd have yelled, but his voice was frozen. He wasn't at all sure he would ever speak again. Something that would no doubt please Owen, if he could only get the fucking words out past the pain to tell him.
"I told you, Owen. The x-rays—"
"Did you see these x-rays for yourself, Jack? Yes? Well, I didn't. I don't trust the NHS. It's why I…" Owen didn't bother finishing. Interesting. If he ever recovered, and after serving him a lifetime's supply of decaf, he would poke his nose where it didn't belong and find out… Oh, who was he kidding. Of course he wouldn't do that. It was an invasion of privacy, and he would never betray the trust of the team like that. Well, not now. Before didn't count.
"Like I said. Broken. The wrapping wasn't bad, but I can do better." He grabbed the bandages and reached around behind him, then looked him in the eye. "This will probably hurt like hell, but in the end, you'll thank me. They weren't tight enough before. So breathing is still not going to be fun, but it shouldn't hurt quite as much, as you won't be putting as much pressure on the breaks. Well, that's the plan, anyway. Not much else we can do for ribs." And then he moved, and wrapped, and pulled, and Jesus fuck! It hurt like he was being slammed in the ribs again with a sledgehammer, but only for a few seconds, before it stopped. Well, abated.
"Now, Jones. Obviously, you made the right call with that other med, the OxyContin, what with the possibility of your head being even more fucked up than usual, although I still don't think you are concussed. Better to be safe, though." He rummaged behind him, pulling up his bag. "Now, obviously, between the wrapping not being tight enough, and you being you, the medication prescribed wasn't doing the job. I could give you morphine right now, but I know you have the allergy to it. So you, Teaboy, are in luck. I have a fantastic little concoction here," and he waved a blue-capped syringe under his nose, "that is guaranteed to work a fuck load better and not leave you loopy. Or dead."
Not being loopy – and wasn't that a fantastic medical interpretation of a drug's effect – or dead was top of his list at that moment. Pain relief came in a distant third.
But of course, the bastard couldn't just jab him in the arm. The fucker acted all solicitous and helped him back down into the bed, then carefully rolled him over and stuck him in the arse – the arse that Jack hadn't bothered to cover, and was currently staring at like a dry man in the desert. Even if he couldn't see him properly, he could feel the stare. His arse burned, and not from the needle. And fuck, what size needle was Owen using? Large gauge knitting needles? Because it sure as fuck felt like a bloody great stick was jabbed in his flesh. And it wasn't the stick he wanted jabbed in… Hell, didn't Owen say this wouldn't make him loopy? He could feel himself falling under, and his mind was a little too open for his comfort.
He opened his mouth to bitch, but even though his mind was flailing about like a fish out of water, nothing actually came out. So maybe Owen was right. He hoped to Christ he was. He really didn't feel like spilling his secrets again, especially in front of Owen. The bastard would use them to torment him mercilessly, more so than usual.
He wondered if Jack would stay, now that Owen had checked him fully and dosed him. He didn't want the man to go. Even if he couldn't have him near without it causing his body to react dangerously, and his mind was always in turmoil, he still wanted him close. Just knowing he would be in the flat calmed him, at the same time as it made him nervous. The soft hand in his hair, however, was the last thing he focused on, as blackness finally settled.
Jack was there, and that was all that mattered. Now and in the future.