Title: Return to the new world
Characters: Jack, Esther, Ianto
Length: 721 words
Content notes: Spoilers for Miracle Day
Author notes: Written for Challenge 60 - Unseen at beattheblackdog
Summary: Jack's back, but he's brought help with him.
'Nice to meet you, Esther,' Jack said, as she crumpled into his arms, knocked out by the retcon he'd slipped into the bottle of water.
'You always had a way with the ladies, didn't you?' came through familiar voice. Jack didn't even look up to know who was standing there, freshly pressed suit, a hint of cologne, confident little smirk, hands tucked in his pockets, whilst Jack was sat there sodden and haggard.
'Should've known you'd turn up,' Jack said.
The man quirked his head to the side. 'She said they were all dead, and you corrected her. Not all dead, just me. Guilt is a bitch, isn't it Jack?'
Jack forced himself to gaze up, seeing his former lover standing there, but knowing he wasn't real.
'Right,' Ianto said, removing his hands from his pockets and clapping them together, 'another happy customer in need of a ride home then, is it?' he said, studying the blonde woman draped across Jack's lap. Jack just sat there.
'Come on, Jack. Check her pockets for ID. You'll find the address in there,' he lectured.
'I've done this before, you know,' Jack sniped back, disliking being treated like a child. 'The real you was never this snippy and arrogant.'
'I'm a figment of your imagination. Any attitude issues of mine are yours. I just thought you seemed a little rusty. It's been a while since you've done this. I was only trying to help.'
Jack heaved the young woman up into his arms, carrying her slight frame easily to the hire car parked a few blocks away, Ianto walking quietly by his side. He was grateful for the lack of conversation. Bad enough that he was back here at all. Company was the last thing he expected.
'Probably should've gotten rid of those Torchwood records before you left,' Ianto started up again, once Jack had Esther tucked in the back seat of the car.
'Thought I'd done enough. Didn't expect someone to start outing us.'
'Us,' Ianto let out a small mirth filled chuckle. 'There is no us, anymore. Only Gwen. You'd do anything for Gwen now, wouldn't you? Time to start making up for the rest of us.'
Jack flashed an angry look at him from over the top of the car. 'Stop reminding me. If you're here to make me feel guilty then you can just go. I feel guilty enough as it is.'
'Sorry,' he apologised. Even a construct of his own mind knew when it had overstepped the mark. 'There's something else, isn't there?' he asked, catching an unusual look of worry on Jack's face.
'I grazed my arm when we jumped through that window,' he said, holding up the sleeve to show him the bloodied wound.
'Mmm,' Ianto hummed in agreement. 'That coat will take a good two days to dry properly, and I can't speak for the shirt, eying the slight tear.'
'It's not healing,' Jack stated, catching the frown on Ianto's face.
'What do you mean it's not healing? In case you hadn't noticed, no one is dying around here anymore. Ironic, don't you think? All a bit too little, too late.' He shrugged. 'For me, anyway.'
Jack paused midway through opening the car door, considering his fictitious companion. 'Kinda makes you curious, doesn't it? The one person who can't die, suddenly can't heal himself?'
Just because Ianto wasn't real wasn't about to stop him having the closest thing he'd had to a real conversation with another person in months. Grief and madness had intertwined themselves irrevocably, thus the resultant hallucinations which were altogether as realistic as anything else.
Ianto's frown deepened, and Jack spotted a genuine concern in his features.
'Curious or worried?' Ianto replied, hopping in the passenger side of the car without invitation. 'You don't mind if I stick around for a while, do you? Just to keep an eye on you,' he qualified.
'Suit yourself,' Jack replied nonchalantly, his face masking the relief he felt.
For once, Jack's guilt ridden mind had no qualms about him being there. Earth had become unfamiliar territory for him, and it was nice to have someone else there who knew the ropes. He'd imagined him for a reason, but there were currently bigger mysteries that needed solving. Ianto was right, this Miracle Day business had him worried.