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“Taking the Bullet” Pt 2/4

By marzipan77

Jack/Ianto, some Jack/Gwen UST, Team, Rhys

Angst/Drama

Rating: Let’s say R, shall we?

Missing scenes and epilogue to “Meat”, Series 2

Summary: Some wounds are shallow, some deep; Ianto’s grown used to taking the bullets. But when a psychic connection with a tortured creature leaves him empty, Ianto realizes he has nothing to lose.

Jack was leaning back in his chair, his shoulders slumped, stormy eyes glued to the CCTV monitor on the shelf behind his desk. Watching Rhys and Gwen. Ianto clenched his teeth and set the bottles of water down silently. He saw the tensing of the captain’s shoulders as the couple sat in the sun, heads bent together, the breeze off the bay flinging Gwen’s dark hair across their faces. He watched Jack swipe the fingers of one hand across his lips, brow creasing. He wanted to turn and leave, storm off as if he were that romance-heroine faced with her lover’s betrayal, flouncing petticoats and heaving bosom – but dramatic scenes were more Jack’s style than his.

 

“You’re watching them.”

The captain spun to face him, caught, guilty. Then, in an instant, he turned cold, suspicious, his mercurial emotions immediately aggressive. “And you’re watching me,” he accused sharply.

Ianto nodded slowly. He didn’t deny his part in this … fiasco. He’d watched. He’d waited. He’d trusted that Jack would look at him and finally see – see Ianto. He gestured wryly towards the bottles in explanation. “Thought you might be thirsty – want to wash away the taste of ashes.” Ashes of death – of rejection.

Jack’s gaze fell to the desk, to Ianto’s gesturing hand. He frowned and rose, moving towards him. Ianto felt his brows rise but managed to hold himself still as Jack reached out and gently took his arm.

“What happened to your hand?”

The black and purple bruise crept from his wrist to swallow his thumb and strike out along the back of his hand, colors stark beneath the bright white of his rolled cuffs, the slim red lines left by the twine crisscrossing like bangle bracelets.

“Dislocated it undoing the ropes.”

Jack’s thumb traced soothing circles just above his wrist as he shifted closer, his other hand stroking along Ianto’s cheek, turning his face towards him. “You should let Owen take a look at that.”

He wanted to breathe in Jack’s scent; to put himself in the captain’s arms and find solace, to ease the emptiness the creature had left within him with the feel of warm lips, hands touching, weight pressing him down to earth – grounding him. It was easier, wasn’t it? Just to feel, to take the comfort Jack offered and leave the rest, deny the bite of his indifference, accept the frequent dismissals in order to bask in his sometimes affection? A layer of ice began to form within him, growing up layer by layer to cover over the hurt, to close off the emotions that fought for release.

Eyes locked with his, Jack slowly lifted Ianto’s wrist to his mouth, an amused grin lighting his face, and teased gentle kisses on his skin, raising gooseflesh all over Ianto’s body at the fleeting touches. He swayed, leaning closer, desperate for more. And then those bright blue eyes flicked towards the monitor, and Jack’s grip tightened just that much.

Memories burst through Ianto, searing through the ice that had frozen his will, blazing along his nerves until each cell within him was vibrating with the force of his denial, pulsing his anger out in waves.

Gwen, angry and raging after the fairies stole away their chosen one. Jack, storming the archives that night and pressing Ianto against the wall, kissing him senseless.

Jack leaving Ianto, bruised and bleeding, in the SUV out on the freezing moors so that Gwen could seek her answers from the cannibal king.

The scene in the sub-level when Jack returned to them – Jack fingering her engagement ring and then hurrying to ask Ianto out on a ‘date.’

“Being here, I've seen things I never dreamt I'd see. Loved people I never would have known if I'd just stayed where I was. And I wouldn't change that for the world.”

Those words. That kiss. It wasn’t about Ianto at all.

“Ah,” Ianto began, muscles now rigid with tension, “I see we’re at the point in this cycle where you turn to me again. Let’s see if I’ve got this right,” he continued quietly, clamping his uninjured hand hard over Jack’s to hold him in place. “Gwen smiles, you smile. She moves closer, you move away. You throw yourself at her, she turns to Rhys.” Jack gritted his teeth and tried to yank his hand away, but Ianto only held on tighter. “And then you pursue me.” He leaned in closer, eyes burning, “and I let you,” he whispered.

“Stop it,” Jack growled, finally tearing his hand away, fists clenched, red-faced with anger.

But Ianto wasn’t finished. “I let you, let you kiss me, let you lie to me that it’s me you’re seeing, me you’re wanting.” With every word he moved closer, crowding Jack backwards until the captain seethed and panted his denial, shoulders against the wall. “And we sweat and fuck until you catch a glimpse of her again, and we’re right back to the beginning.” Ianto pressed against him, groin to groin, their hot breath tangling – but they both knew this wasn’t about arousal, or sex, or want. This was rage; red, bloody rage fueled by desperation and truth and hopelessness.

Jack erupted, shoving hard, hands splayed against Ianto’s chest, catching every bruise left by the muzzle of Dale’s gun. Ianto stumbled backwards, out of reach.

“You have no right,” Jack choked out, arm extended and finger pointed like a weapon. “No right to judge me. I gave you everything I could, everything I had to give you.” He shook his head. “You sure seemed to like it at the time.”

“You … lying … bastard.” No. Not this time. “You give me nothing – you’re saving it all up for a woman who you’ll never have! And the bloody truth is that you know it!”

They stared, shaking with anger, their words tearing great bleeding gashes in each other. A moment later Jack laughed, an ugly sound, arms flung out wide. “You think I have time for your tiny-minded, pedestrian, 21st century pride, Ianto Jones? Your petty jealousies?” He shoved his face forward, lips curled thin to reveal a shark’s smile. “Get over yourself.”

“Who do you think you’re fooling, Jack?” Ianto kept his voice low, controlled, but he heard the edge of bitter resentment creep in as darkness danced along the edges of his vision. “You’re sitting here, eyes glued to them, jealousy eating away at you and you pretend you’re above it all. It’s fucking pathetic.” He turned his back, too empty to fight, too exhausted to flee, and found himself staring at two startled pairs of eyes. Dizziness swept through him and he caught himself against the edge of the bookcase, chuckling silently, eyes closing in humiliation. A lovers’ spat in the workplace. Who was pathetic now?

A steady grip on his arm was all that kept him from falling down the stairs; strength and concern seemed to surround him.

“Take it easy, mate.”

Owen?

Ianto opened his eyes, frowning. Owen was braced against him on one side, holding him up, and Tosh’s slim arm wrapped around his waist on the other. He blinked, trying to clear the persistent greyness from his sight as they led him through the hub, towards the steps to the medical bay.

“No - I should –” he tried to ease away from them towards the cog door, his back itching where he felt Jack’s stare pierce him through from behind.

“Yes, yes, I’m sure you have fascinating and horribly important jobs ahead,” Owen overrode Ianto’s muttering and nudged him forward. “Sweeping up, feeding the pets, making doe eyes-”

Ianto jerked his arm from Owen’s grasp before he could finish, turning to face the smaller man, his eyes narrowed dangerously. “I’m not the one-” he growled out between clenched teeth.

“Owen!” Tosh’s voice was stern.

The doctor’s hands flew up as if in surrender. “Sorry, sorry! You’re right.” He ducked his head to one side as if in apology. “It’s not your pretty eyes that are the problem, mate. Sorry.”

“What the hell is going on around here?”

The air rustled with Jack’s arrival, stirring hurried glances and awkward movements among the three of them where they stood clustered just above the medical bay. Ianto felt his spine stiffen, unwilling to turn to see the expression on Jack’s face, watching, instead, its reflection in Owen’s, in the slight twitch of the doctor’s brows and his careful, diffident, half-lidded expression as if he hadn’t heard a word of the shouting match that had ended in Ianto’s near collapse.

“Just checking him out, nothing to worry about, I’m sure, since sudden public tantrums are quite in character for our little drama queen.”

The sarcasm rolled over Ianto, warming him, tasting of normalcy, and he followed the doctor down the steps, hearing the heavy tread behind him as Jack took his usual place along the rail. He could easily paint in the features of his captain: Distant. Aloof. Pale face empty of emotion. Standing just out of range, as if the roiling emotions couldn’t reach him up there.

Tosh stayed at Ianto’s side, her small hand touching one shoulder as if to transfer strength or sympathy. He wished he could bathe in her support the way he’d been swamped by the alien creature’s sorrow and pain earlier.

He leaned his hips against the autopsy table and then pulled away as if it burned, suddenly alert. No. He would not lie down in the spot Rhys’ had just vacated He refused to let the team make those kinds of comparisons, to draw the obvious parallels between himself and the other man. Poor, Rhys – wounded, foolish, desperately in love. No – he would not be the object of their pity.

Owen’s cold fingers pressed into the flesh at the base of his thumb and Ianto flinched, focusing.

“Damn. What’d you do here?” the doctor muttered. He twisted the hand back and forth. “Should really have a scan to make sure it’s all back in the right place.”

“It’s fine. Just leave it.” He flexed it back and forth against the swelling, showing Owen the range of movement.

The doctor thrust out his lips and then shrugged. “Right, then. The wrists don’t look too bad. Just some brush burns by the look of it.” Owen stepped back, hands on his hips, eyes staring wryly into Ianto’s. “Let’s have the rest, then.”

Ianto didn’t let himself glance upwards. “That’s it. Just a little tired.” He started to move away when Owen thrust a hand against his right shoulder, hitting the spot where Dale had pressed the gun against his collarbone and Jack’s angry hand had been planted moments before. Ianto’s gaze never wavered, his bland, unaffected mask securely in place.

Owen held him there, obvious disbelief creasing his brow.

“Honestly,” Ianto insisted. “These butchers didn’t seem to have the access the others did to proper sports equipment.” Dark amusement swirled through him as he saw the moment Owen understood.

But still the stubborn doctor didn’t let him go – he just crossed his arms over his thin chest and planted his feet.

“Fine, so why don’t you tell me why you looked six shades paler than Rhys when we got out of there, and why you were shaking all the way back to the hub. Thought we were going to end up in the bloody bay,” he added under his breath. “You’re still looking pretty shitty to me.”

Ianto’s lips tightened. There was still time to take it all back, to feign confusion and let his outburst be forgotten, dismissed. He could blame it on the strange psychic connection, he could tell them how he’d felt its pain, had seen through its eyes, and was brought to his knees by its death. It – the alien – had reached inside Ianto and found a kindred spirit, found a loneliness and yearning that nearly matched its own. The loss of that connection had drained all of his defenses, had shut off his self-control and released all the impermeable barriers that Ianto had erected around his heart. He could do that.

He couldn’t keep himself from looking up, from seeing the curious tilt of Jack’s head and the white of his knuckles against the steel railing.

Tosh moved closer. “You should tell them, Ianto.”

“Yes, Ianto, perhaps you should ‘tell them.’” Jack echoed, his voice soft insistence laced with steel.

End Pt 2

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