Pairing: Jack/Ianto, Lisa/Ianto
Rating: PG-13 for slightly disturbing imagery
Word Count: 1,002 (!)
Spoilers: Up to Adam
Notes: Written for the flying_leap Challenge. My first piece of angsty Jack/Ianto – it had to happen sometime, really, didn’t it? :)
Summary: As Ianto waits in the dark, there’s only one person he can trust to save him.
"The reason birds can fly and we can't is simply that they have perfect faith, for to have faith is to have wings." -- Sir James Matthew Barrie, 'The Little White Bird'
He sat in the dark, but it didn’t really matter. He could see what he had done. He could always see it, it was before him, in his mind’s eye, all the time.
When Ianto made coffee, if he stared long enough at the richness of the brown liquid, he could see the colour of her eyes – the first one, the One that Fought. When he smelled the glorious aroma from the freshly ground beans, he drew it deep into his lungs, holding on to it there, privately, in his alcove behind the greenhouse, before exhaling quietly and carrying on with his well worn routine. The scent of coffee reminded him of the scent of her hair, heavy and exotic. He held it to him like a talisman, as he went to each member of the team and delivered their drinks. It wasn’t much, but it was what he clung to, it was the thing that made him different, made him alive.
There was nothing else that did.
When Ianto carried his silver tray, for delivering letters, for holding weaponry, the gleam of it carried such promise. It shone in the light, like the rain had shone on her skin, glittering like diamonds, like tears. Perhaps some of them had been tears, Ianto liked to think so. When Ianto picked up the tray, his fingers often tightened around the cold rim, like his fingers had tightened around her neck – the second one, the One that Ran. He looked at Gwen sometimes, as she worked on her files, and wondered if she would gasp and sob as satisfactorily, looked at the delicate nape of Tosh’s neck and wondered if it would snap as easily, or if Tosh would fight back. He hoped she would. He hoped she’d cause him to bruise, to hurt, to feel.
When Ianto remembered Lisa, he remembered all he had sacrificed for her. He remembered the blood, and the screaming. He remembered the stench of fear, the heaviness of metal. But he could barely recall the weeks and months and years before that day. Sharing lunch in the canteen, their first kiss, in the car at such an awkward angle, moving in, doing the laundry, dancing together out on a Friday night. All the ordinary things were swallowed up in the bad memories, like a dream seen through murky glass.
Now, when he remembered love, all he thought about was death.
He had loved them all, though, and it consoled him. He had loved them, even as the life was draining out of their eyes, even when it faded out of Lisa’s unfamiliar eyes in the face of the pizza girl. He had loved them. That was something, wasn’t it? ‘Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all. Tennyson. Although Ianto was not quite quoting it correctly – it was a sentiment originally expressing the death of a dear friend. Although, perhaps it was not so inappropriate. Lisa had been his friend, his best friend, his lover, his partner, and the others… Well, in time they would have been more.
Sometimes Ianto wondered that he didn’t call Adam his best friend. He trusted him, he confided in him, but yet, despite all that, there was still a barrier. It was probably Toshiko, he decided. Ianto thought about it sometimes, in the endless minutes, hours, days of meaningless life he had left to fill. He thought perhaps he had always loved his best friends with something more than mere friendship, even when he remembered the rosy days of childhood – there had been Emlyn, in primary school, hadn’t there? And they had done everything together, and they had held hands, even when they had been told to stop because real little boys didn’t do such things. It hadn’t mattered. And Ianto had kissed Emlyn, hadn’t he? He’d forgotten that. Kissed his cheek one sticky summer’s day, and they’d both giggled and run home. Together.
That was something that he and Adam didn’t share, and probably they never would – because of Tosh. And so Adam wasn’t Ianto’s best friend.
In the dark, he could hear the Hub make noises, as he sat there, quiet and still. The trickling of water, always, running down the water tower, dripping from the walls. His own breaths hurt his chest as he lingered, because they were so warm. Heavy with moisture, full of heat and life. He exhaled into the cool dark, that carried only the promise of eternity – buried under the ground. He was waiting, but he was content to wait, like the dead, like the forgotten.
Because when Ianto remembered love, all he thought about was death. He thought of beloved eyes growing dim and cold, the film of death coating them like scum on a pond. But he also remembered when they came back, when the sudden surprising shock of life came flooding back, a painful rebirth, a bloody miracle.
Apparently, it happened a lot.
And that was the other thing that Ianto clung to, that there was someone he could hold, someone he could love, who would be strong for him – someone who would die, but who would always come back. Someone Ianto could kill, could strangle and squeeze and feel the life trickle out from under his hands, and know that he could do it all again tomorrow. It was incredible. It was liberating. It might stop another girl from walking down their last street one night. It might... It might mean Ianto could be saved.
So he sat, in the dark, and he waited. He listened to the water that dripped the seconds of his life away, and he held on. He didn’t make his way up to the nearest, highest roof and keep walking. Because there was someone in his life who would know what to do.
The sound of boots on metal, the clang of footsteps on the stair. Thank god. At last.
He could relax.
“Jack...” said Ianto. To his best friend.