Title: Dark is the night
Characters: Ianto, Jack, Torchwood team
Length: 2,693 words
Content notes: none
Author notes: Written for lexigent's prompt "Any, any, for some must watch while some must sleep, so runs the world away" at fic_promptly
Summary: Ianto comes face to face with the harsh reality that some who should die live, and some who should live die
As the last police car disappeared down the grassy knoll, taking with it the last of the cannibal villagers, the rest of the team finally gathered around the SUV, looking weary and beaten. And they very much were, though not all of the injuries presented themselves on the outside. Gwen's green parka still displayed a large rust coloured patch where the pellets had struck her in the stomach, very nearly killing her, and Tosh had an ice pack resting on her shoulder, pressed up against her neck where they'd attempted to strangle her. It had been a gift from the paramedics on site, since she was the only one who could be bothered not to fight off their attentions. Owen looked haggard, and Ianto could only assume he wasn't exactly a picture of perfection either. Only Jack appeared to be physically unaffected, though there was a darkness in his eyes that spoke of other horrors.
Certain of the fact that there was nothing more to be done here for the present time, knowing that the police would take over from here on in, they bundled into the SUV. There was every chance that they'd have to face the cannibals again some day, when the time came to prosecute them, and their testimony would be critical in ensuring that they all received very long prison sentences. For now though, they could seemingly put it all behind them.
Somehow Owen had snared the middle seat, with Tosh and Ianto on either side of him in the back. Perhaps he thought he'd prefer the view of the road ahead rather than the countryside rolling by their side windows. All things considered, maybe he'd been right to openly dislike the countryside. Ianto certainly wouldn't be able to look at it quite the same way ever again.
He let it all roll by without really taking it in, leaning his head against the cool glass. Everything was a bit blurry, including his thoughts, and he was quite happy to let them stay that way. This was one occasion when he hoped his eidetic memory might fail him, leaving the defining details of the last twenty four hours to be forgotten.
He opened his eyes when Owen started shaking his shoulder.
'What?' he mumbled, not caring that he sounded grumpy. 'Can't I close my eyes for five seconds?'
'Try half an hour,' Owen said, using that brusque tone he adopted when he was in official doctor mode. 'Follow my finger.'
Ianto did as he was told, for all the good it would have done to argue with him. Owen suspected a concussion, which probably wasn't surprising given the belting he'd received that had knocked him out cold - twice. That was why Owen had woken him. Satisfied that he was okay for the moment, he left him in peace. They were still a long way from home, but the car was silent, everyone lost in their own thoughts.
The second time he felt himself being shaken awake, he was going to grumble a complaint, medical opinions be damned, but it was Jack hovering over him, not Owen.
'Hey,' Jack greeted him.
Ianto frowned, confused. Wasn't Jack supposed to be driving? Out of the window he saw the familiar sight of the front of his apartment block. That's when he also noticed that the car was empty, except for him.
'Where are the others?' he slurred.
'I took Tosh home. Owen and Gwen are back at the hub. Owen was insistent that he patch up Gwen's injuries properly, which just leaves us.'
'Right,' he said, undoing the seatbelt, feeling a cramp in his neck from being leant against the door frame for the past hour and a bit. Outside the day had sprung, with people bustling down the road in their cars, headed to work and school and important meetings. Their today had just begun as Ianto's was only now finally ending.
'Thank you, sir,' he said, staggering slowly toward the main door.
'Ianto,' Jack called out, jogging up behind him. 'You'll need these,' he said proferring his house keys, wallet and phone.
'Oh, thanks,' he said, realising they'd been taken when he'd been captured, but that Jack must have retrieved them for him. He hadn't even given them a second thought.
'I'll see you tomorrow,' he said, waving Jack off.
'I'm coming with you,' Jack replied. 'Owen's worried about concussion, so he said for someone to stay with you and check on you every few hours. Guess that's me.'
Great, Ianto thought, remembering the last hurtful thing he'd said to Jack, back at their camp site, about Lisa being the last person he'd kissed, completely denying everything that had happened between them. Jack was the last person who'd want to be lumped with babysitting him after that.
Ianto didn't say anything in reply, simply letting Jack tow behind him. If he was determined to stay, there wasn't much Ianto could do about it.
The apartment was on the third floor. High enough up to avoid the sound of the road traffic, but not high enough to be a nuisance with the stairs, nor to have any sort of view. It was practical, Jack thought, like its owner. He'd only been here once or twice, the last time being to debrief Ianto after the cyberwoman incident. He'd thought it might be best to conduct it here, rather than at the hub, where Ianto was likely to shut him out and say nothing.
Ianto pleased himself by managing to get the key in the door on the first attempt, twisting it and letting them in. Inside the place was just the same as Jack had remembered; spartan in its furnishings and other personal effects, but not unwelcoming.
'Make yourself at home,' Ianto said, knowing that Jack didn't require such invitations. 'I'm going to have a shower.'
'Good idea,' Jack replied.
Ianto ambled into the bathroom, mindlessly tugging off the clothes that were covered in sweat and grime and blood. He'd bin them later, leaving them in a pile on the floor for now. He wasn't sure how long he stood there, just letting the scalding hot water run over his head and down his body, trying to rinse away the stains, some of which were indelibly imagined, rather than real. It felt so good. When finally he turned the water off, rubbing his body dry with the fluffy towel, he caught the first glimpse of himself in the mirror.
His torso was covered in large purple bruises, and a few more dotted his arms and legs. His wrists were red and raw from the bindings, and the sharp welt along his forehead and hairline was much more pronounced. He looked like he'd been in the worst kind of bar brawl, or the victim of a hate crime. Everything that wasn't sore already was going to hurt like hell in a few hours.
He left the bathroom, headed for the bedroom where he could change into track pants and a long-sleeved top, to hide the worst of it. Unexpectedly, he nearly collided into Jack in the hall, managing to keep his feet, just barely, and the towel gripped firmly around his waist. It wasn't as if Jack hadn't seen it all before, but those had been different times.
'Sorry,' Jack apologised. 'I was just thinking a shower wouldn't be so bad either, assuming you don't mind.'
'Er, no, be my guest,' Ianto replied. 'I'll fetch you a spare towel.'
Jack stopped him as he returned from the hall cupboard, handing over the towel, seeing the dark purple mottle that covered Ianto from hip to shoulder. He couldn't help but reach out a hand to run his fingers over the tender skin. Ianto felt himself stop breathing at the feeling of Jack's warm touch.
'It's fine,' he managed to squeeze out, trying the gauge the expression on Jack's face.
'They'll pay for what they did,' Jack mumbled, seeming angry.
Ianto dressed whilst Jack was showering, and he pulled a spare blanket out of the same cupboard that he'd fetched the towel from. He needed sleep, but he didn't feel like sharing his bedroom with Jack, even if all he was going to do was check on him every so often. The bedroom seemed far too personal. The couch in the living room would be a much better option, and at this point, Ianto felt like he could sleep just about anywhere. If he'd laid down on the kitchen floor, he didn't think he'd even notice the cold, hard tiles.
Jack returned to find him laying out the pillow on the couch, dressed back in his old clothes, which were far less grimey than Ianto's had been. The cannibals hadn't put him through the wringer like the rest of them. No one was really sure what Jack had been doing in the hours they'd been split up, but the shadows on his face suggested he hadn't been idle.
'You don't have to sleep on the couch,' Jack said. 'It's your flat.'
'It's fine,' Ianto repeated, unfolding the blanket.
'I found these in the bathroom cabinet,' Jack said, holding out a blister pack of painkillers.
'Ta,' Ianto replied, taking them into the kitchen and swallowing them down with a glass of water, before returning.
He lay on the couch, spreading the blanket over his lower half, and snuggling down into the pillow. Jack or no, he was exhausted.
'TV remote is on the bookshelf when you get bored,' he said without opening his eyes, 'and you're welcome to whatever food you can find in the kitchen.'
'I'll be fine,' Jack replied, settling in the armchair opposite, even though Ianto didn't hear him.
He let Ianto sleep for an hour, before going over the wake him, as per Owen's instructions, and asking him a series of questions.
Ianto was bleary-eyed when he woke.
'What's your name?'
'Jack?' he said, ignoring the question, not remembering that Jack was in his apartment or why.
'Try again. Your name.' Then it came back to Ianto what had happened.
'Date of birth?'
'Twenty eight, eighteen Wickenby Road.'
'Name of you first pet dinosaur?'
Ianto manged a small smile. 'Myfanwy.'
'Good,' Jack said.
Ianto returned to sleep quickly and Jack sat across from him, just watching him. It was peaceful for a while, but then Ianto started to struggle and squirm. It was clear that he was having some kind of nightmare, and Jack found it unsurprising considering everything that had happened. He went over and knelt next to the couch, making gentle shushing sounds and stroking his face and hair, trying to chase away the demons. Eventually Ianto settled again, and Jack gave it a good twenty minutes before trying to wake him again to check his faculties. He didn't want to wake him directly from the dream and have him remember any of it. Better those things stayed buried deep in his subconscious.
As Ianto sunk back into a deeper sleep, Jack felt bad at having to wake him again. He asked the same questions again, plus a few more, satisfied Ianto was not having any adverse effects from the concussion, and let him sleep again, this time until he was ready to wake up on his own, pulling the blanket up and covering him properly in the meantime.
When Ianto did finally wake, he felt sore. The bruises had changed colour and the flesh underneath was tender and painful, but at least he felt a bit more human thanks to a few hours sleep. He checked the clock, seeing that it was just after five pm. Jack must be starving by now, he thought, feeling the first pangs of hunger himself. Perhaps Jack had already raided his cupboards for food, though probably not finding much besides cereal and some rice crackers.
Instead he sat up, pulling the blanket off him to find Jack snoozing in armchair. So the man did sleep after all, he thought. His head was lolled to one side, though his body was curled inwards slightly, as if he'd deliberately tried to make himself comfortable. Ianto decided it was a little bit adorable, and that he would let Jack sleep as long as he needed. He took his own blanket and gently covered Jack with it.
He downed a handful more painkillers and padded quietly to the kitchen. If he was lucky, he might find a tin of condensed soup in the pantry. Some toast with melted cheese on top would be about the best fare he could manage. Despite having had a few weeks off work since Lisa had died to get his things in order, the house was still bereft of proper stores and furniture. The only household chores that were done with diligent application were the laundry and the cleaning. He just couldn't find time for the rest, nor the inclination. He never stayed here much anyway.
Jack was surprised to find himself covered when he woke. He hadn't even really intended on sleeping, just closing his eyes for a few minutes, enjoying the relative peace of the apartment. His nose caught the scent of something wafting from the kitchen, so he got up to find out what it was, his stomach growling in agreement.
Ianto looked awful, stood over the stove, gently warming the soup, his face a bright patchwork of colour. A UNIT prison cell would be too good for those cannibals. He wanted to kill them with his bare hands, but he knew that would make him no better than them. He needed to show his team that he could be more than just a cold heartless killer, especially Ianto.
'Hey,' Jack greeted him.
'Hey. I didn't expect you to still be here when I woke up. I expected you to be asleep even less.'
'For some must watch while some must sleep, so runs the world away,' Jack mused, quoting Shakespeare. Ianto got the feeling that after today's events, the words could carry any number of meanings. He'd leave that particular puzzle for later.
'How are you feeling?' Ianto added.
'Me? I'm not the one who looks like he picked a fight with Rambo. I should be asking you that.'
'Painkillers are good,' he replied.
'Just don't take too many.'
'What smells so good?'
Ianto shrugged and regretted it, as new muscles cried out their pain. 'It's just chicken soup and cheese toasties. Not exactly fine dining. Perhaps I should've called out for pizza.'
'A hot shower, a few hours sleep and cheese toasties. All I need now is a whiskey and we'll call it a good day's reward.'
'Hardly a reward for saving all our lives,' Ianto replied, slowly filling two bowls.
'Speaking of,' Jack said. 'Tosh mentioned what happened back at the house. She says you sacrificed yourself so that she could escape.'
Ianto scoffed. 'Didn't work out very well though, did it?'
'Does it matter? Not many people would do that. Tosh owes you her life, and I owe you my gratitude.'
Ianto snorted softly. 'If you insist.' He felt lucky Jack had bothered to save his arse at all.
Jack grabbed his hand as he went to reach for the plates of toast, stepping forward to pull him into a hug.
'I do. Thank you.'
At first Ianto didn't move, but then Jack felt him slowly reciprocate, and he remembered not to squeeze too tightly.
'Sorry about what I said earlier, about Lisa,' Ianto mumbled. 'I wasn't trying to hurt you.'
'Sorry you had to play Gwen's stupid game. She deserved the answer she got. She has an unfortunate habit of opening her mouth before she thinks. That's just her, though.'
'Even though it wasn't true?'
'You just caught me off guard is all. I have feelings too, you know.'
Ianto was about to say something when Jack's stomach growled loud enough for them to both hear and feel it. He pulled back, though it was with a slight reluctance. Having Jack so close again had felt good.
'Two guesses what you're feeling now, then,' Ianto said.
Jack laughed. 'Starving and famished. Let's eat.'