Disclaimer: I don't own Torchwood or any of its characters
AN: This is based on what we see of the bottom of an email Ianto sent to Rhiannon in GDL's comic book "Shrouded." However, there is absolutely no need to have read it to understand the fic. I've added a beginning onto the email since it seemed too short. The only thing you really need to know is that there was a woman named Mairwyn who had a device called the "Shroud" that showed Ianto the events of COE.
Rhiannon sat by the glow of her laptop screen reading and rereading the text. She had just put the kids to bed and was ready to have retired to sleep herself. But she had been anticipating an email from a potential boss all day, leading her to go back to the computer. She had been shocked to see a new message from her brother. He never contacted her... but there it was.
I know it's been a long time but you've been on my mind lately. I can't go into detail, but my boss was missing for a while. He's back now, but during that time I began to think of the possibility that he wouldn't, and naturally I started to think about myself. I've told you that I work in civil service. It's a bit more complicated than that. I truly regret that I haven't been around for you and the kids. I'm really a bit shit, aren't I? If anything were to happen to me, I want you to know that there are so many things I'd do over and you all are at the top of the list.
So, though I'm rubbish at showing it, I will always love you and you're always in my thoughts.
Your brother Ianto
Ianto finished typing. He fiddled with the Retcon in his hand.
"Ianto, I need you." Jack called from another corner of the Hub. Ianto thought back to what the Shroud had shown him. Seeing his death, knowing what was to come, he had thought of Rhiannon. He didn't know how soon it would be before he died and Torchwood came crashing down. If he never got the chance to see her again, she had to know that he regretted his choices. He was going to die. And from what he saw, Jack wasn't going to care.
"We'll see." He muttered. He slipped the pills into his mouth just as Jack called again.
"I thought we had some compound B67 pills around here."
Ianto smiled at how utterly convenient Jack's comment was as he ingested the Retcon. He pulled up a chair and lay his head on the desk as his drowsiness began to set in. His face softened as his mind was wiped clear of Mairwyn, the Shroud, and all of his own future.
When he awoke, his mobile was ringing. He groggily looked up at his screen. He seemed to have written himself a message, stuck to the side of his computer.
Don't get confused. You've Retconned yourself.
Ianto noted a small sideways line protruding from the fullstop. It was a symbol he used at the end of messages to ensure that he was truly the one who wrote them. He looked down at his phone. Rhiannon.
"Hello?" Ianto answered.
"Christ, I'm worried sick. When can you come over?" Rhiannon sounded truly terrified.
"Is everything alright?" Ianto skimmed his eyes around the Hub. It seemed to be mostly empty excluding the ever-present light from Jack's office, always a beacon of hope that he wasn't alone.
"Is everything alright?" She mocked him in an impression of his more subtle accent. "I've just gotten your email, that's all!" Her sarcasm was almost tangible. Ianto quickly scrolled through his sent mail and read through his message as she continued to babble. "I sat there thnking about it a long while but I figured, "No, I need to call the sod and find out what's the matter." Honestly, Ianto, you've scared me that something could happen to you." Ianto finished reading.
"Well, it could." He simply responded. For a rare moment, his sister was silent. "Do you want me to come over?" He sighed. Rhiannon spoke with exaggerated bravado.
"Well, Ianto wants to visit! Do you need reminding of my address?" Ianto rolled his eyes.
"Piss off, I've not been away that much. And on top of it; photographic memory. You recall?" He balanced his phone on his shoulder as he hurried to get his jacket on. What had happened to him when he was out to make him feel the need to email her? More importantly, to email her about his death?
"Yeah, yeah. I still don't believe it." Ianto grabbed his bag and readjusted his phone into his hand.
"Your sixteen birthday, you had everyone go out to a rugby match and there was writing on the seat in front of us that said "God Save the Chavs." It's real, Rhi." He exited the Hub quietly, not wanting Jack to hear him leave and ask him where he was going. For some one who was so on top of Gwen maintaining her relationship with Rhys, he paid little attention to Ianto's family except for when the latter mentioned them.
"I forgot that. Had I good laugh at it, I did." She chuckled at the memory. Ianto looked up at the sky. Pitch black. He check his wrist watch. It was close to midnight.
"You sure that Jonny won't mind my coming over so late?" He spit out her husband's name a bit. He had always had a bit of a distaste for Johnny, but he also saw that there was some good in him.
"Forget Johnny, he shouldn't get fired up about me seeing my own brother, should he?" She said with resolution.
'See you soon, then." Ianto slipped into his car and turned the key. The damn thing had been a wreck for a long time since John had smashed it nearly half a year before. Even with all the Torchwood money to pay for repairs, no mechanic could work the magic that the car needed.
"I'd better." She hung up.
Ianto took a deep breath as he entered his sister's neighborhood. It always made him uncomfortable to drive in places like this. Too many suspicious people worried about mysterious cars driving about in the middle of the night, too many teenagers left unattended running around in the streets, too many dogs barking loudly outside of poorly constructed flats. But most of all, it made him remember where he grew up. Life outside Torchwood. It was an impossibility now, and given what his life had been before it, he had no intention of being reminded.
He emptied his car before locking it. He didn't keep anything in there now except for what he was immediately traveling with. He didn't trust anyone not to steal from his car. He saw a light on in the kitchen, illuminating the windows. He knocked on the door and Rhiannon swiftly answered. She gestured him inside the house before deadbolting the door. No sooner had Ianto put down his bag, she caught him in a vice grip of a hug. It was unusual for her, she'd never been the huggy type. But Ianto returned the gesture. She sat at her kitchen table and he followed. He was hit with a rotten smell.
"What was dinner?" He removed his jacket and slung it over the back of his chair.
"Meat pies from the grocery. Real shit ones though. But better than mine; you know I can't cook." She smiled. There was a pause. "Look, I'm not going to make small talk with you. You aren't well, are you?" Her face faded into a look of concern.
"No, I'm fine, actually. Not a scratch." Ianto tried to keep her calm. The truth was that he was still a bit beaten up from a few of their recent missions. But under the suit, no one would ever know.
"You're a bad liar. Always have been." Rhiannon sipped from a cup of tea. She gestured to it as if to offer Ianto some. He shook his head.
"Well, I am a bit bruised, just from my work. But I've not got a disease or anything." He assured her.
"Well that was at least true, I can tell. So what's all this "If anything happens to me" stuff? I've a right to know if you're going to go about getting people worried like that." She leaned forward to close the space between them. Ianto instinctively leaned back a bit.
"It's just my job. It's dangerous." He looked anywhere but at her. It killed him that he couldn't tell her about Torchwood. The only person he could talk to about work was Jack and he was, quite frankly, terrified of insulting the work Jack did in one way or another because he knew how hard he was trying to do the right thing. Still he always wondered if Jack would, should the situation present it, take his life if it saved others.
"Then tell me about it. Let me help you." She was being brutally sincere. This Rhiannon was one that Ianto wasn't used to. It made him almost tell her everything.
He wanted to tell her about all the amazing creatures he saw every day, about the hope of other worlds and knew life, about Lisa and the people he'd lost, the missions they'd failed, the faces of every person they encountered who lost something dear to them to a means they couldn't control. He wanted to tell her about the people he worked with. Tosh; so sweet and willing to put herself aside again and again to protect people, the first person who had accepted and helped him join the team. Gwen; passionate, powerful, human. One removed and yet more understanding of situations then all of them at some times. Owen, hard on the outside, but fragile, someone he knew he could be true kindred spirits with if only Owen would let him be, if only he saw past who Ianto chose to bed. Jack, what could he honestly say about Jack? What couldn't he say? What would he say when given the chance to talk about him to someone, to speak to someone other than the man himself for once? He took in the loneliness of that thought. There was so much he never got to say and needed to say.
But he clenched his lips a little tighter.
"Can't tell me, then?" Rhiannon shook her head.
"Rhi, it's complicated." He shook his head.
"Complicated? Every time. Complicated. I'm so dull that I can't understand complicated, aren't I? I'm simple in this little chav town with my rubbish family. And there's you. So posh in your suits and your briefcase and cuff links that cost more than what I make in a week! All this lush stuff for what? A job that too complicated to tell your own sister." Her tone changed rapidly. "What's happened to you, Ianto? Where's my brother, the boy who wore bad jeans every day with that stupid chain necklace? The boy who stole to help us stay alive? Have you forgotten where you've come from?" She stopped herself, a bit shocked at her outburst.
Ianto knew that every word she said was true. He'd left Ianto back somewhere in that warehouse with Myfanwy. The moment he put on that suit, that's who he was. Butler, vent for Jack's feelings and his urges, the least important member of an imploding team. He stuck a hand in his pocket instinctively out of shame. He felt something brush his fingers. Pulling it out slightly, he found two B67 pills. This was his chance. He had to tell her. He couldn't keep everything to himself anymore.
"Rhi, there's something I have to tell you."
"It's mad." She was sitting opposite him on her couch. Ianto was sobbing across from her, letting the full weight of his life and his choices grasp his mind. He'd told her everything. Canary Wharf, joining the team, losing Lisa, Jack, every single noteworthy mission he'd been on, the encounter with the cannibals that may have scared him permanently, the time that Jack went missing, the reasons why he couldn't speak to her. "Aliens." She said simply.
"Aliens." Ianto was now straightening himself up, trying with some success to stop his emotions. It was a practice he knew well. Flip the persona. Become the butler.
"I always knew they were here. I did. You'd have be a right tosser not to believe it nowadays with everything that's happened. I just never thought about the people who have to clean it up." She was still shocked and yet she believed everything he said.
"That's us." He swallowed hard. Rhiannon nodded and began to open her mouth. "Don't. Don't ask what you're about to ask. Please don't."
"I wasn't going to." She said defensively.
"I wouldn't know what I meant if you weren't going to." Ianto lay back against the couch. "I don't know, Rhi. I really don't have an answer and I probably never will." He got up from the couch. "I'm going to make some coffee."
"Yes please." She rested her hand on her head. Ianto returned soon, one cup full of Retconned coffee and one without. They drank for a few minutes in silence. "I love you, I really do. I always will even if no one else does or will."
"I know." Ianto had given up on feeling loved a long time ago, back when he was a child. Maybe that's why Lisa was so special. But now, he knew exactly how to handle losing that feeling again. He was going to have to. Sooner or later Rhi was going to fall asleep and forget that email and everything he'd said. He would go back to being the brother that never calls.
Once Rhi was out, he carefully exited the house and returned to the Hub.
"Long night?" Jack was standing at the door of his office as Ianto entered, seeing Ianto's splotchy face he suspected that something had happened.
"Yeah. Long night." Ianto put down his briefcase and made his way up the stairs. "Why are you still up?"
"Couldn't sleep, team member missing and all. It got... lonely." Jack said not suggestively, but with an air of fragility.
"One of your bad nights?" Ianto nodded. He knew well now that Jack was a haunted man, probably better than anyone else on the team.
"Yeah." Jack said soberly.
"Tell me. 2000 again?" Ianto stood close next to him looking out over the Hub.
"No. Worse." Jack turned towards Ianto, who remained locked on the Hub. "But honestly, Ianto. It looks like you're the one who needs to vent right now. What's wrong?" It was so simple, what Jack said, but it was a change. Ianto thought long and hard about what to say and Jack waited for him, patiently.
"Jack." He turned to address him properly. He stared into those eyes that were freakishly like his own. "Understand this. I would never ask you to love me. I understand you enough to respect that you really can't. In truth, I don't think I'd want you to either. We're adults, not school children. But I just ask that you listen. There's so much that I don't say because I know that you need someone to tell about your life. All those memories, you can't hold them. I know that. But I don't have anyone else, I really don't. I need to be able to trust you to listen. I can't hold my memories either. Do you understand that?"
Jack raised his hands to grasp the sides of Ianto's upper arms.
"Completely." His hands slid around to Ianto's back as they held each other, lingering for a long while, before pulling away and returning to Jack's room. It was only a few hours before the Hub would buzz with activity again and business as usual would continue. The two of them slept more soundly than they'd sleot in a very, very long time.
I wasn't expecting to like this as much as I did when I was writing it and hopefully you liked it too. Please let me know what I can improve on and I will edit it. Thanks so much!