Summary: (Post “Cyberwoman”) In the aftermath of Lisa’s death, Ianto can think of only one way to stay with Torchwood. Jack is willing to help, no matter what the cost.
Rating: R to NC-17 for sexual situations
Spoilers and/or Warnings: Set specifically after 1x04 “Cyberwoman,” spoilers through 2x12 “Fragments.” Includes slash, dark themes, major angst
Title, Author and URL of original story: Memories and Desire by ishafel.
No one came to Torchwood on purpose. You were recruited into it because of talent, fell into it because of what you’d seen, or were forced into it because of what you were. Jack knew why he was there, and it wasn’t because of his inexplicable inability to die. Torchwood was perhaps the only place on Earth where he might find answers to the inexplicable mess his life had become. And by now, Torchwood was his life.
And for Ianto Jones, hands scrubbed clean of Lisa’s blood, impeccably neat and correct in his suit, with nothing to show for the horror he’d just experienced but a tightness around his eyes, Torchwood was not just his life, but his whole purpose and existence. Torchwood was the only place where he might find the smallest amount of understanding for what he’d done, the only place where could remember Lisa.
Jack caught Ianto’s eyes from where he stood in the doorway of his office and kept his face in a mask of calm neutrality. The hard-repressed strain in Ianto’s face showed he was holding onto control by the thinnest of margins. He expected death, to have his body stretched out beside Lisa’s in the morgue, or to be Retconned, every memory of Lisa erased. Either of those options was unacceptable, but to beg for kindness or forgiveness would destroy him. Ianto didn’t want sympathy.
He didn’t know he already had it. Jack had watched this happen to Torchwood team members again and again. There was a reason Torchwood operatives didn’t exactly have lengthy careers. There was always a monster that was too tough, or a seductively powerful piece of alien technology, or just the sheer strain of having to hold together through things no one should have to witness… Everyone broke at one time or another. Everyone. It had been Ianto’s turn to break.
And how could Jack destroy him for that? Ianto had broken for love and desire. He’d given his all to help a fellow human being in pain. He’d literally thrown himself in Jack’s path, despite the reputation of Torchwood Three, despite Jack’s own formidable reputation, in order to try to save Lisa. He’d laid his life and sanity on the line to save the woman he loved from the grip of extra-dimensional tech.
Torchwood needed more people like Ianto, and Jack couldn't bring himself to let one more good man slip away.
All Jack wanted to do was help get Ianto through this. He wanted to apologize for being so blind that he hadn’t noticed Ianto’s desperation. He wanted to say he was sorry for Lisa’s death. He wanted Ianto to have the strength he needed. But Ianto would not accept any of that as a gift. He’d screwed up royally and he knew it. Ianto didn’t just want to avoid death or prevent his memory from being lost; he wanted and needed to earn his place back.
Jack knew Ianto had come here with a plan. He damn sure hadn’t managed to keep Lisa hidden all this time without a plan. All Jack needed was to hear it. Whatever Ianto required to keep his face, hold himself together, Jack would do.
Jack heard himself speak, voice even and level as he murmured something inane about Ianto having the courage to come to his office instead of being hunted down by his own team. The casual, cruel reality of Torchwood didn’t phase any of them anymore.
“What’s your choice?” Retcon, or the gun. They didn’t need to be said, but Jack had to raise the question, give Ianto the opening.
“Is there something else I could do?” Ianto asked hesitantly, voice slightly rough from the screaming he’d done earlier today. “To stay?”
Jack’s heart began to sink as he nodded, waved Ianto in, leaving everything as wide open to interpretation as possible. What Ianto did next would show Jack exactly how much payment he felt he needed to give.
Ianto stepped inside, towards Jack’s desk, and Jack suddenly wanted to leave. Oh, he knew this game of old, all the moves, all the sordid (by this century’s standards) details. He understood what this was costing Ianto, even if he didn’t find the act particularly shameful. He knew, as Ianto dropped to his knees between Jack’s thighs, that Ianto meant this to be degrading, that Ianto needed to pay his price for today's death with the coin of his own humiliation.
Jack didn’t want this, not from Ianto, not like this. He thought there had been something between them, back when they’d first met, falling on top of each other trying to capture Myfanwy in that warehouse. That there might have been fitful sparks there in between Weevil hunts and cups of tea and coffee, a tiny hint of something more. Sex wouldn’t have been a problem; Jack was confident he could show Ianto realms of pleasure he’d never dreamed. Jack would have been satisfied with a casual post-hunt fling or ten, and delighted with anything more.
But not this. Not Ianto getting Jack just bare enough to gain access to his flesh, not a clumsy and inexperienced mouth around his shaft, a connection not from any kind of mutual desire, but a desperate emotional payment.
Jack wanted to lift Ianto off of him, kiss him, hold him, let him cry, tell him that eventually life would go on. Like any “normal” member of Torchwood, Ianto didn’t have anyone at home to do that for him. No one to commiserate with him, no one to pour him a beer, let him get drunk, or haul him into bed. Jack wanted to be that person, but didn’t dare. Ianto desperately needed a tiny crumb of control back. And gagging around Jack’s thickness in his mouth, swallowing the bitter seed from an almost reflexive flash of pleasure, that gave him what he needed. As long as Jack was the neutral and intimidating boss, not a friend, not a lover, Ianto could use this sacrifice to push himself through today. To heal a gaping hole in himself by knowing at least one person would let him close, even if it was only for selfish pleasure.
All Jack needed to do was remain silent and accept Ianto’s payment, to hold himself still as he mouthed the words Ianto needed to hear, that he could stay, that he could remember, because of what he’d done. Because Ianto’d willingly given up another slice of his identity in order to retain the memories he’d made at Torchwood. It was all Jack could do not to reach out to him, to want to make this less of a sacrifice and more of an apology. Jack should have noticed Ianto’s secret before now, but he’d been so caught up in everything else, too much else, that he’d let the only silent cog in his team keep turning until it had cracked in half.
If he’d seen it before now, he could have helped Ianto. Helped Lisa, or at least let her die with her human mind intact, have given Ianto some kind of closure that wouldn’t have left him with a new layer of scars. Jack could have done something that wouldn’t have pushed Ianto to this extreme.
Breaking, bleeding inside at Ianto’s pain, Jack managed a businesslike nod as Ianto dusted himself off.
“See you tomorrow, then?” Ianto’s voice was smoother now, his grip on sanity firmer now that he’d felt he’d punished himself enough.
Broken, Jack bowed his head in acquiescence.