Trust in Dreams
A/N: Beta Credit to Veritas6_5, who improved the rhythm greatly. The story was inspired by Jack White's new single, "Love Interruption" (though this is not a songfic). I hope you all enjoy it!
Jack hadn't intended this. He didn't want it. He didn't go looking for it.
He knew after Lucia, Estelle, and too many others that this sort of thing was a bad idea that could only end in someone's world crashing down around them, and most likely his own, too. He could predict this much. He could predict the anger, the fear, the utter devastation and he could predict the pain. He remembered the anguish that turned Ianto's face into a twisted caricature of his love for Lisa and knew that anguish was waiting for one or both of them at the end of their run together.
But, goddammit, he could also predict the joy.
He remembered Lucia's face as she told him she was pregnant, his own stupid grin reflected in her sparkling eyes. He remembered Lucia's soft smile as he held Melissa (Alice, so hard to remember sometimes) in his arms and felt the overwhelming rush of pride and love and thrilling fear as he looked down into his daughter's eyes for the first time.
He remembered Estelle's joyous smile whenever she talked about Jack's 'father.' He remembered his own joy in finding Estelle again in Cardiff, looking into her lined face and still seeing her youthful eyes shining and laughing and knowing he'd found her again and he could at least be near her sometimes.
The joy. The fear. Tonight they were battling and Jack was the one getting ravaged.
Tonight he watched Ianto's placid face as he slept beside Jack, one arm thrown over Jack's chest and the other tucked under his pillow, his body crammed next to Jack's, even though there was plenty of room in the bed. The light from the street cast an eerie glow in the bedroom, washing over Ianto's body and leaving him in shadow. Jack reached down and traced the line of Ianto's chin, closing his own eyes and feeling the stubble on his cheek and wondering if he would ever grow a beard, smiling at the thought. What would his lover look like in ten or fifteen years as grey began to fleck his hair? Would he live that long?
Or would Ianto die tomorrow, leaving Jack with fewer nights to forget?
Or maybe Ianto would wake up tomorrow and go out to the shops and meet a girl or boy who would steal his heart and take him far and away from Jack. Maybe Jack would like them, thank them, and make Ianto's departure as easy as possible, retreating gratefully into the shadows to watch him build a happy life apart from the inevitable heartbreak that was the only promise Jack could make.
Or would Jack run?
He knew it was possible. He knew he'd done it before. He'd run from Estelle, and after Lucia left him he ran from anyone who came close, running away from even the potential of joy. He wasn't going to get stung again, and besides, it was in him to run. If he were being really honest he'd tell anyone that he was completely unreliable. He'd share with them the oldest run of his life, and anyone listening would understand. They'd see that he started his adult life by running, and that spoke to a pretty good chance of running again.
But the joy.
Jack lifted his head and looked up at the window, staring at the watery glow of a rainy Cardiff street. He loved Cardiff. He knew that Cardiff had given him a lot of happiness in his very long stay on Earth. But it also harbored pain, and he could run from it. He might, still.
He looked back down at Ianto, who shifted his body, pulling his arm back from Jack's chest and rolling over and away. Ianto should be the one running away. He should be running to University - he wasn't too old for it – and he should be running to a quiet, normal life. He'd be good at whatever he tried, whether it was a different, normal job or a different, normal relationship. He'd be good at it. Jack knew it was true.
But it was also true that Ianto belonged here, with Torchwood. It was true that Ianto had seen too much to actually view any life as normal. He could fight for Torchwood. He already had, and Jack knew he was good at it. He was good at fighting for Jack, too, and Jack knew that.
Jack knew so much tonight. But he was left with nothing but hollow fear as he gazed down at his lover. He brushed his hand down Ianto's arm, leaning in and burrowing against the warm skin of Ianto's back. He leaned his forehead against Ianto's shoulder blade, rubbing his arm again, needing to feel the muscles underneath the skin, the sinewy muscles of a scrawny kid who'd learned to fight out of sheer desperation. Jack was desperate himself, tonight.
After a moment, Ianto rolled back toward Jack with a sleepy grin tugging at his mouth. "Your thinking is keeping me awake," he mumbled.
"Sorry," Jack replied softly, pulling his hand back from Ianto's arm.
Ianto looked pointedly at Jack's hand as it retreated, forced Jack's eyes to meet his gaze, and asked, "What're you thinking about so hard?"
Jack could feel the lies surface in his chest, easing their way out as they so often did. He clamped down on them, though. Tonight wasn't for lying. "Cutting and running," he stated flatly.
He could feel the sleep slipping off Ianto, his eyes sharpening in the misty light from the street.
"Oh," he replied, and, after a beat, "Are you going to cut and run?"
So simple. So easy. Say yes and do it.
Relief pushed its way into Ianto's tired eyes. "Okay. Get some sleep." And he rolled back over and was asleep again in under a minute.
Jack just watched.
Watching someone else fall into sleep paints trust in vivid colors, makes it undeniable. He watched as Ianto's face relaxed, as his mouth fell slightly open, and his breath became even, rhythmic, calm. Ianto knew Jack wouldn't leave. Not tonight. That was, apparently, enough for him and he fell asleep under Jack's gaze.
The battle was over for Jack as soon as Ianto was sleeping, his sleep becoming a quiet commitment to trust Jack, relying on that trust to keep him safe in the night.
Jack wouldn't betray that trust. Not tonight.
The next morning as Ianto made coffee for Jack, he leaned into Jack's shoulder and quietly asked, "Are you still thinking about cutting and running?"
Jack put his hands on the counter in front of him, palms down, fingers splayed. He leaned forward, took a deep breath, and replied, "No."
Ianto turned to him, placing his own hands on top of Jack's. "Why not?" he asked, gazing into Jack's eyes.
"Because you trust me not to," Jack replied, holding Ianto's gaze, "And I wasn't looking for that."