Ianto awoke in the med bay bed, wrapped in a pile of warm blankets and wearing a wool cap. He was physically alive, but emotionally dead. His chest contracted as the pain of losing Lisa washed over him, but no tears surfaced with his sobs. His lips were dry, his tongue parched, and his head throbbing. He tested his warm fingers and elbows, moving the stiff joints, vaguely feeling his limbs brushing skin to skin. He wasn't wearing a shirt.
The smell of Chinese food wafted through the bay, and Ianto's stomach growled. Pushing up to his elbows, he waited for the black spots to disappear from his vision and the nausea to pass. His headache magnified, and he squinted as the dim light in the bay became almost unbearable. There was an IV next to his bed, but it wasn't attached to him. His suit was draped over a chair, freshly cleaned and pressed.
Gingerly, he dressed himself, cringing at how unclean his body felt in the clean clothes. It didn't make sense, though, because his body was clean. It was his soul that felt dirty. He left his feet bare since every time he moved his knee, he thought he'd pass out. Shirt and pants were enough. Taking one of the blankets from the bed, he wrapped it around his shoulders like a cape and padded barefoot up the stairs, gripping the railing so he wouldn't fall, following the smell of food and the sound of laughter. He felt like his presence was tainting the place.
"Did you order any for me?" he asked, leaning against the wall for support. The conversation and laughter came to a screeching halt. There were so many exploding lights in Ianto's vision that he could barely make everyone out, but even blurry, he knew them by their respective postures. For a moment, they stared at him, stunned, and Ianto started to feel as welcome as a resurrected corpse. He clutched his growling stomach, and tried to stand tall on his one good leg.
"Always," Jack said, snapping out of the shock. He scooted his chair over and pulled up an empty one, patting the seat. Ianto didn't particularly want to sit by Jack. He didn't want to sit anywhere in the group, really. He was so used to being left out of conversations and pub crawls. His part in a conversation was never more than a witticism. He'd been prepared for a barb, not an invitation.
Taking a few tentative steps away from the wall, Ianto limped to the empty chair and sat awkwardly between Jack and Gwen. No one was saying anything. They all just stared at him. Ianto smoothed his shirt self-consciously, then looked at his hands. He probably needed to wash his hands. His throat got tight as he watched Gwen prepare a plate for him. There were five entrees on the table, and she was only serving him his favorite two. She knew-she knew something of him.
Ianto tried to keep his breathing steady, and failed to the point where Owen stood up to check his vitals. Owen's fingers were hot against Ianto's neck, and Ianto dropped the blanket, closing his eyes.
Gwen put the plate in front of him, offered him chopsticks, then slid a fork discreetly next to the plate. His fingers weren't working that well, but pride dictated he muddle through with chopsticks.
"How are you feeling?" Owen asked.
"Hungry," Ianto answered, fumbling with his chopsticks.
"You've been asleep nearly thirty hours," Owen said. "How long had you been awake?"
"Can we save the doctoring until after he's had a bite?" Jack interrupted, putting a hand on Ianto's shoulder.
Ianto leaned into the touch so that he wouldn't pitch forward. He ducked his head, not wanting to answer any questions. Chinese food was his favorite, and he was hungry. Giving up on the chopsticks, he clenched his fist around the fork and poked clumsily at a piece of kung pao chicken. Gwen slid a cup of tea next to his plate, and he couldn't muster a thank you. He'd killed the laughter in the room.
Owen plopped broodingly in his chair, stabbing at his food. Then Tosh made a comment about a case they'd started that afternoon, and they all started laughing about getting mooned by a bunch of weevils. Gwen and Tosh kept saying Ianto's name, like they were talking to him-sharing the story directly with him. He tried to smile, but he was weak, and he didn't want their pity. He managed to get some of the food down, and then he went quietly to the couch and laid down. The food felt like a lead weight in his stomach, and his head ached.
"Ianto," Gwen called after him.
"Shh," Jack hissed. He lifted Ianto's head and tucked a pillow under, then added a fresh blanket, making sure it covered Ianto's bare feet. It was confusing, taking comfort from the people that had killed Lisa, but then, it wasn't their fault. Lisa had died in Torchwood 1, Ianto just didn't want to see it. Because of him, two innocent people had died. He felt Jack's fingers brushing his cheek again, and he shuddered, feeling unworthy. Jack gave Ianto's shoulder a squeeze and returned to the table.
"Save the doctoring for later? Brilliant," Owen grumbled.
The witticisms continued, and Ianto listened to the familiar sounds of their voices. There was nothing in him that didn't hurt, but if he concentrated on the memory of Jack's hand on his cheek, and the look of compassion in Jack's eyes, he could find enough peace to rest.