Warnings: Angst, canonical character death, post-CoE (which deserves its own warning).
Disclaimer: All recognizable characters are the property of their respective owners. I am in no way associated with the creators, and no copyright infringement is intended.
Summary: There's something wrong about that, Ianto thinks, but it’s a distant thought, vague and unfocused and gone before it really even registers.
A/N: Aaaannnggggsssst. (But really, I'm in an awesome mood today. This just...came out? Oops?)
For In That Sleep of Death What Dreams May Come
The Hub is absolutely silent.
There's something wrong about that, Ianto thinks, but it’s a distant thought, vague and unfocused and gone before it really even registers. So he ignores the silence, and wanders through the ever-present chaotic mess that is Torchwood Three’s base of operations. For once, his fingers don't itch to straighten up the mess and clear away the debris, content to leave it where it is.
That, too, is strange, because Ianto is a tidy person right down to the core of his being. Messes offend him on a personal level, and always, always before looking around the Hub has made something whimper deep in his soul. But that little voice has vanished now, replaced by the same silence that fills the Hub.
The sub-etheric resonator gives a soft ping and hums for a moment, but Ianto loses his train of thought and the noise fades away.
The silence remains unbroken.
There is no one else in the Hub, and none of the computers are on except for the unusually silent Rift monitor. Tosh will take care of that, Ianto thinks, and then stops, because for some reason he can't quite remember he has the feeling that won't work. But he doesn't know why.
Water starts to drip into the pool, a soft, repeating plink that echoes eerily.
Tosh is with Owen, Ianto rationalizes. Jack must have given everyone the day off. It’s not uncommon, actually, after a hard case. Jack's a good boss when circumstances allow. And Ianto knows Tosh finally took a chance on Owen, that day before…before what?
Regardless, it’s not important. They're probably together somewhere, and Gwen is home with Rhys, and that means Ianto has both the Hub and Jack to himself.
He smiles at that.
I adore him.
The thought is surprisingly sappy, startlingly soft when Ianto is careful to always keep his mental distance from the feelings he has for the Captain. But right now it doesn't seem to matter. There's no need for distance anymore, although Ianto can't recall what’s changed. He starts up the stairs to Jack's office, even as he casts his thoughts back and tries to remember.
Somewhere far above, Myfanwy screeches, shockingly loud. The Hub trembles with the force of it, just a little.
The cover to Jack's bunker is off, and Ianto peers over the edge. The Captain is below, on his bed, sprawled out naked on his red sheets like every fantasy Ianto’s ever had come to life. One arm is bent over his face, hiding his eyes, but there’s a set to his mouth that speaks of tearing, rending grief.
Must have been a bad case, Ianto thinks, and then realizes it’s a little odd that he can't recall anything about it.
One of the computers in the main area begins to beep and hum, starting up, and then another. Ianto doesn't pay them any mind.
With the ease of much practice, Ianto slides down the ladder and lands with cat feet. He strips off his suit jacket, vest, and shirt, draping his tie over one of the rungs. He’s already barefoot, which is a little startling—
(In the autopsy bay, one of Owen’s diagnostic machines starts up with a whirr.)
—but easily enough dismissed. Ianto shucks off his pants, folds them carefully, and then pads over to Jack's bed.
“Are you going to sleep all day, Jack?” he asks in amusement, because Jack hasn't so much as stirred yet.
A long, almost painful pause, and then the arm slides away from Jack's eyes. Ianto looks down into the Captain’s face and feels his heart catch in his throat, throbbing sharply.
Crying. Jack is crying.
“Jack, what's wrong?” Ianto asks in concern, settling on the edge of the mattress with a frown. “What happened?”
“I'm sorry,” Jack tells him. “I'm so, so sorry. This is all my fault.”
“What are you talking about?” Ianto demands, torn between worry and bemusement. Jack has a habit of taking on sins even when he shouldn't, and Ianto can't imagine how awful he must think whatever sin it is that’s effecting him at the moment.
One broad, calloused hand comes up to cup his cheek, and Jack says hoarsely, “I got you killed. We should have had a better plan, any plan, but I was so caught up thinking we were invincible—”
But Ianto only hears the echo of I got you killed.
The sounds of the Hub come rushing back, cacophonous and deafening, even this distant. They're pulling Ianto back, drawing him away, but he fights them.
It’s easy enough, once he sets his mind to it.
He cards his fingers gently through Jack's hair, offering him a small, sad smile. “Not your fault,” he says softly. “Torchwood doesn't have a great pension plan, anyway. Might as well—”
“No!” Jack cuts him off, surging upright in the bed. He’s still crying, a little, but Ianto’s almost never seen him so fierce. “No, don't joke about that. I-I can't.”
“Oh, Jack.” Ianto’s heart is breaking, breaking for this beautiful, broken, unbreakable man who is doomed to lose those he loves over and over until the end of time. Can there be anything crueler, he wants to ask the creature that did this, than consigning a man who loves as wholly and easily as Jack to such a fate?
There's no greater torture in this universe, of that Ianto is certain.
Carefully, as though he will break, Ianto draws Jack into his arms and pulls him close. Jack wraps his arms around him and buries his face in Ianto’s chest, shoulders heaving as he fights off sobs, and Ianto is crying, too.
But the pull is gone, the noise of the Hub is gone, and Ianto knows what he has to do.
What is an eternity waiting, compared to what Jack faces every time he gives out a piece of his heart?
“I’ll wait,” he whispers into Jack's hair, curling his mouth around the vowels Jack so loves. “Every time you die, I’ll wake you up, and you can stay here until you have to go back. I’ll wait right here for you, Jack, until we can go on together.”
What’s an eternity of waiting, compared to what is in Ianto’s heart right now?