Translation: Lady Charena
Pairing: Ianto Jones, Jack Harkness
Notes: Episodes 1.4 Cyberwoman / 1.5 small worlds
Summary: Ianto is still grieving for Lisa and finds understanding where he didn’t expect it
Many Thanks to my dear friend Lady Charena, who did the translation
Disclaimer: This story’s mine, but I do not intend to touch the rights of the owner of the characters I’ve used. No moneymaking, no offence meant. English is not my native language, so please be patient with my mistakes. Thanks to Lady Charena for the beta. For all remaining errors, blame me.
He wiped away some invisible dust. Pushed stacks of files around until they lined up perfectly – for the third or fourth time already. Adjusted the computer screen first to one, than to another side – which meant it ended up just the way it was before.
He had been like this for hours, stopping at every single work station – cleaning, dusting, putting files in order: anything, everything to keep him busy, to keep his focus solely on the way his hands moved, to prevent him from thinking, and even more so from feeling.
But he couldn’t get rid of the empty space inside his chest.
It pervaded every fibre of his body. He was freezing to death inside. Every day turned a little more of him to ice, until nothing would be left – a gigantic iceberg, ready to sink him.
Lisa, Lisa, Lisa – his thoughts circled around a single name.
Why hadn’t he been able to help her? He messed up. Even worse – he disappointed her – and himself. People said that time will heal all wounds. But he considered this a lie. And whoever came up with: it’s better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved… a cynical bunch of crap in his eyes, made up by someone who never experienced love or loss firsthand.
Ianto jumped when suddenly a hand gripped his shoulder. He couldn’t pretend not to know whose hand it was. Jack. Everybody else left hours ago. Except for Jack. Sometimes Ianto wondered if Jack actually did have any other home than the Torchwood Hub. When he came in early at mornings, Jack was already there. When he left in the evenings, Jack would still be staying.
Usually he would have sensed Jack’s nearness, but this time it surprised him. Showing just how preoccupied he really was.
Ianto tried in vain to prepare himself. He expected – and dreaded - this moment to come for days. No doubt he deserved to a tongue-lashing. He betrayed the team, he lied and he deceived them by hiding Lisa at the base cellar. He caused the death of two blameless people: one of them a gentleman only attempting to help Lisa; the other an innocent girl, Annie, only trying to do her job - which resulted in being at the wrong place at the wrong time. He risked the lives of his colleagues – possibly of all mankind. And the worst of all: he abused Jack’s trust. No doubt such a thing wouldn’t go unpunished. He deserved to be punished.
In the course of the last days he wondered more than once about Jack. Why wouldn’t he simply get it over with and fire him? Perhaps he had to find an adequate replacement first. Or perhaps he didn’t have the time because the new mission took up all his attention. Least after the old lady named Estelle died. The whole case obviously got to Jack – more than he would ever want to disclose. Even if Jack tried to hide it, Ianto couldn’t help himself but notice. Jack seemed to be too committed, even concerned above and beyond duty. He seemed to be more invested into every detail than at other times.
But this chapter had been closed, filed away to keep an unsuspecting world oblivious of things it wasn’t ready to accept yet – of things exceeding the borders of imagination.
Now it seemed the time had arrived for him to receive his well-deserved punishment. Who knew if it would only end with being fired and his memories carefully ret-conned? Torchwood wasn’t your average organization; they probably dealt in other ways with people who betrayed them. Perhaps some of the bodies, so carefully stashed away down there, had been traitors.
At this moment, he couldn’t care less.
Jack’s hand still kept his shoulder in a light grip. “You should be at home by now. Go, it is late,” he said, his voice surprisingly gentle.
Ianto shook his head – no. Anything but that. Back to his empty flat? For another night of restlessness, for he was unable to find sleep – and if exhaustion pulled him finally into fitful slumber, he dreamt. Lisa’s screams, echoing through his memories, would wake him up, his heartbeat in overdrive, his body drenched in sweat.
“I have to clean up… this… and…,” he stammered, pushing the stack of paper around for the umpteenth time. “…and there’s more dusting to be done…”
“But I…” Ianto felt close to panicking. He couldn’t leave to go home. Not home. Here at least there would be Jack and his “pet” the pterodactyl, cawing softly somewhere distant – and the Weevil in its jail cell. Live. Even the bodies at the cellar seemed somehow comforting. But he couldn’t find the words to justify his prolonged stay – and before he could try again, Jack interrupted him.
“It is the silence that is unbearable, isn’t it?” Jack said gently, causing Ianto to look up in surprise. “You come home and there is nobody waiting for you; nobody’s glad you are finally back. Only silence to welcome you and it frightens you. You crank the radio up until your neighbours start to pound the walls, yelling at you to keep the volume down. You turn on the TV just to hear human voices. But it is not enough to drown out the silence. The silence stays. It seizes you, nags at you, until you can’t stand it anymore, until you think it’s driving you crazy.”
“How can you possibly know…?” Ianto whispered. Jack’s hand still touched his shoulder – the only part of his body that didn’t feel like ice.
“I have been there, more than once – more times than I’ll ever care to know.”
“Will it ever stop? The pain?” Ianto hoped for any other answer but a simple „no”. He hoped for Jack to say something, to do something that would wipe his soul clean of pain, grief and desperation. He couldn’t hope for anything else.
Jack hesitated. “No,” he answered finally. „You will learn to accept – because there is no other way around it. You will learn to live with the pain, probably even succeed in burying it deep inside you. But it will stay there and threaten to break free – to swallow you. Time isn’t able to heal wounds, even if humans like to think so. Time covers wounds only with a thin layer, ready to burst open at any moment your attention lessens.”
“It’s my fault. All of it.” Tears coloured Ianto’s words.
“No, it isn’t,” Jack answered back. “No means you could have possibly saved her. She when the Cybermen turned her into one of their kind. There was no way back. You need to accept what’s unchangeable. It’s the only possibility of surviving. I need you to you believe me.”
Ianto wondered if Jack’s words were entirely directed at him – or if he was rather talking to himself, about himself. “I wish I had died with her.” He finally managed to find words for the feeling that had been nagging at him for days. Tears started to run down his cheeks.
Jack’s second hand also took hold of Ianto’s shoulder, forcing him to turn around, to look at him. “No,” he said – and for the first time during their conversation, his voice took on the familiar sharpness of authority. “I will never again hear you say something like that!” he ordered. “You will live. Because she wanted you to. Because it is what you really want deep inside. Because for you – and for every common human – life is the most precious good. And because the team needs you.“ His voice turned gentle again. „Because I need you.“
Jack’s right hand relinquished his shoulder in favour for Ianto’s face, fingers affectionately wiping the tears away. He then cupped Ianto’s cheek. For a long moment their eyes met, before Jack hurriedly removed his hand. “If you can’t stay in your flat, go get a room in a hotel,” he said, maybe more harshly than intended. “Or ask Owen if he lets you stay with him for a few days. You could also ask Tosh or Gwen, if you’re more comfortable with one of them, I don’t care. Get sleeping pills from Owen. I can’t afford to have even one team member sleep-deprived and with its mind elsewhere.”
Without another word Jack turned on his heels, walked to the stairwell and climbed down to the lower areas of the Hub.
Ianto watched his retreating back; stood there gawking for a long time after Jack was out of sight.
His thoughts still went a million miles a second, but for the first time in days, they didn't tumble around Lisa - they focused solely on Jack.