Word Count: ~ 800
Summary: Jack's breathing seemed loud in the room. Strange, how you sometimes didn't notice something until you did.
Characters: Ianto Jones, Jack Harkness
Setting: after Reset
Warnings: character death (kind of)
Author's Note: This story was originally intended for a fest, until I realized that it didn't fit the prompt at all. There was another inspiration, but I don't quite know where it comes from, unfortunately. Somwewhere, though, I read that, originally, Ianto was supposed to die and come back to life instead of Owen. So, this is how I think Jack reacted.
Beta: larsinger29 did the English version and pechfeder the German one: Thank you!
Disclaimer: I'm not making money with this fanfic. The tv-show Torchwood and the characters appearing within it belong to their producers and creators. Any similarities to living or dead persons are purely coincidental and not intended.
It was after, when everything had calmed again and they were alone – Ianto leaning against the desk in Jack's office and Jack sitting in his chair, staring up at him.
The silence was unbearable, the situation beyond discussion. There was nothing to say, really, and still, Ianto felt that he was the one who had to break the silence. "I'm sorry," he whispered.
Jack's eyes narrowed, taking on the stormy blue that signalled he was annoyed. "What for?"
"I messed up. This is my fault."
Jack's breathing seemed loud in the room. Strange, how you sometimes didn't notice something until you did. Ianto had never felt so lonely with Jack so close. He tightened his arms around his chest, hugging himself harder, trying to feel his own breathing, trying to ...
"It's not your fault." Jack's voice shattered the silence. "You did what you had to." It was obvious that he didn't agree, that he was trying to mend fences because there was nothing they could do to change it now. He reached out a hand and Ianto saw how hesitant he was, as if he was afraid to touch him. But he stopped himself half-way, faltering ... pulling his hand back.
Ianto closed his eyes. "This will change everything." He looked at the ceiling for a moment, avoiding Jack's sad eyes. "This will change us." He looked down at Jack and wished, with all his being, to be able to shed a tear now. Just one. But everything felt cold and dry and numb and ...
"You can't even touch me," Ianto whispered. He grabbed Jack's hand and saw him jump at the coldness of his skin. "You can't touch me, Jack, and we can't have sex and we can't even kiss properly or lie in bed together or ..."
Jack's lips cut off his words and he was pressed back against the desk in a way that might have been painful once but wasn't anymore. Would never be again. He uttered a sad little sound that was too close to a sob for comfort. Jack's lips were firm against his, his arms around him, his forehead and nose bumping Ianto's, his tongue sliding against Ianto's. But the warmth of his body didn't register with Ianto, nor did the pain from where his hips kept bumping against the desk or the feeling of Jack's tongue against his. What he felt was like phantom pains, he reckoned. As if his mind hadn't realized yet that something with his body was wrong … that something was missing.
He couldn't bear it.
Ianto pushed Jack back a bit, looking at him with earnest eyes and whispered, "Stop this."
Seeing Jack move in again, Ianto pushed him back anew. "This is going nowhere. I'm dead, Jack. You brought me back but I'm still dead. I can't feel your warmth or your kiss or anything at all. This is the point where we have to put a hold on this."
Jack stared at him.
"I'm dead," Ianto repeated.
Jack's hand lifted, resting on Ianto's chest where the bullet had hit him. It had been headed for Martha and Owen had tried to catch it but Ianto had been closer and faster ...
Jack gave a tight nod. "You're dead … but you're still here and that's my responsibility. And I was serious."
'I love you', whispered against Ianto's lips when Jack thought he would have to say goodbye forever this afternoon, before they'd realized what was going on ...
… before Ianto had become this.
Ianto's fingers hooked into Jack's braces, pulling him closer. "You don't have to."
"I want to."
"I don't want to be just a responsibility or a habit you keep. Our relationship will change."
"So we can't have sex," Jack replied.
"And sex is important to you."
"I'll adjust." Jack smiled tentatively. "I've done that all my life. Adjusted to places and people."
Ianto shook his head. "You shouldn't have to. Not with something you love so much."
Jack looked at him for a long moment. "I love you."
Ianto wished he was able to cry. He wished he was able to shed tears of joy and of sadness. Instead he just fisted Jack's braces and whispered, "It's never been easy anyway."
Jack tilted his head to the side and his eyes twinkled mischievously, hiding sadness and grief. Feelings he didn't want Ianto to see, feelings Ianto pretended he didn't notice. Jack's hand cupped Ianto's cheek when he answered, "Where would be the fun in that?"