Title: It Ends Tonight
Spoilers: Small Worlds and HUGE ones for Adrift (and, no, I don't mean THAT scene!)
Summary: After the events of 'Adrift', Ianto considers Jack's decisions and comes to a decision of his own. Inspired by the line 'After Gwen had gone home, I just held on to Ianto for a couple of hours, as tightly as I could.' from the BBCA Captains Blog for 'Adrift'.
It Ends Tonight
It wasn’t that he had given Gwen the GPS that had seemed to annoy Jack. He knew only too well how determined the woman could be when she set her mind to something, and so the idea of her letting it go, even when Jack had explicitly told her to, was laughable.
Actually, Jack had been more upset by the fact that Ianto had done it by going behind his back. And yes, upset was the only word to describe his lover at the time. He hadn’t said a word after returning from Flat Holm; he had simply stood and watched as Gwen filed away the information on the people taken by the Rift (Ianto had watched on the CCTV). Then, Jack had come back upstairs – but he had walked straight past Ianto, only pausing to turn in his general direction the second before he stepped into his office. He didn’t slam the door behind him, but the soft closing sound was almost like the sealing of a tomb, especially in the silence of the deserted Hub. Jack hadn’t appeared since then.
Ianto almost wished Jack had yelled at him, or even hit him. He knew that the older man would never resort to violence with him – and certainly not since they had been together – but at least he would have acknowledged him. Anything was better than the look that Jack had sent in his direction, not even towards him; his face was expressionless, but the hurt and anguish in his eyes was immense. Even anger would have been better than seeing that, especially when Ianto knew that he was the cause of it.
It wasn’t the first time he’d done it either. After all, hadn’t he betrayed Jack before when he had hidden his half-converted girlfriend in the basement, even flirting with him to get her into Torchwood? Jack might have forgiven him for that, but he couldn’t forgive another betrayal, even – or especially – coming from someone he trusted; his lover.
Ianto shivered a little as he found himself drawing the coat closer to him. It helped a little; at least, by having Jack’s coat covering him, he could tell himself that he hadn’t completely lost him yet, even though Jack had just thrown it onto the sofa, totally ignoring him, even though he was sitting right there. Now, he was curled up under it as he tried to calm his ragged breathing.
The worst part of all this was that Ianto knew that what he had done was wrong. But he also knew that, given the chance, he would do it all again. It was for Jack’s sake as much as anything else. Gwen wasn’t like Owen or Tosh; she wouldn’t have stopped, even after being directly ordered to. That was something that, while it could be an admirable quality, Ianto truly loathed sometimes, especially when he saw what it would do to Jack if he did something he would later regret. Ianto would do anything to prevent that – he didn’t want Jack to have regrets – but it didn’t make it any easier to disobey him like that.
But that was the choice they all faced; doing what was right, or what was easy. It would have been easy for Ianto not to have left the GPS, but it wouldn’t have been right.
Jack had faced that same dilemma himself several times; in fact, he faced it every day. Ianto had lost count of the number of events, but there was one particular one that always stayed in his mind. It was the aftermath of the incident with the faeries and what had happened later that night in the Hub.
It was late and Owen, Gwen and Tosh had gone home, all of them tired and angry after the day’s events. Ianto had stayed behind to tidy up and arrange the archives, but he found himself standing in the middle of the Hub as he mulled over what had happened.
He had heard from Gwen, as she spoke in a storm of tears, about how Jack had let the creatures take Jasmine, the little girl, with them, leaving her mother stricken with grief. Owen had occasionally chipped in with a few coarse comments, while Tosh had stayed silent, but the look on her face and the tears in her eyes spoke volumes. Ianto had tried to respond several times, only to realise that he had no idea what to say.
Tosh and Owen had left without any more words, but Gwen had stopped just before opening the door and said three words, three simple words:
“You were right.”
Ianto wasn’t stupid. He knew perfectly well what she meant. But gradually, he had also realised that, just as he had been that night, she was wrong. The pain of losing Lisa was still raw, but, after time, he had begun to understand that Jack had been right. He’d had no other choice. It was the same now – he could have not let the faeries take Jasmine and risked certain destruction, or he could have made the choice he did make – the right one. Ianto knew it was right – but that didn’t make it easy. Either way, Jack would have gotten the blame; for sacrificing the world or, as was the case now, for sacrificing Jasmine.
Eventually, fed up of thinking, he started up the stairs, intending to feed Myfanwy, but he was stopped by the sight that met his eyes. The light was dim, but there was no mistake.
Jack was sitting at his desk, his shoulders bent and his hands clasped underneath his chin. It would have merely appeared to be a sign of deep thought, were it not for the anguish in his eyes and the tears spilling over his face. Ianto couldn’t recall seeing him cry before and realised, with a pang of guilt, that he wasn’t just upset with the others.
The elderly woman who had died, Estelle – he had known that she and Jack had been close, but exactly how close had only become clear after he had found out about what had happened from Gwen, who had been with Jack at the time. He had been too stunned by everything to else at first, but now it suddenly hit him. He had to walk away quickly as he remembered what he had said to Jack on that night.
As he went to leave, he caught sight of a glowing light in the boardroom. He saw the image of the faeries…and the face of the young girl who was in focus; the girl who was clearly Jasmine, smiling happily. She was where she belonged; she had wanted to go.
Almost before he knew what he was doing, Ianto had switched on a computer and typed out a brief email. His brow furrowed slightly as he read through it; it was a little harsh, but it was certainly to the point.
“How can someone forgive a colleague who nearly killed them, but not another colleague who made a sacrifice to save them?”
He hesitated for a moment before sending the message, first to Gwen and then, after even more hesitation – and several throbs of unease – to Tosh. He didn’t even consider Owen, though; he knew the doctor had not forgiven him, and probably never would.
“Where does it end?” he muttered to himself.
“It never ends,” said a voice and Ianto found Jack watching him. “I thought you’d left.”
“I was just cleaning up,” he muttered. It seemed that Jack had no idea that he’d seen him in tears and Ianto was keen to keep it that way. “Was there something –?”
Jack shook his head. “No,” he said, “I’m okay. I just heard something down here and I came to investigate, that’s all. I didn’t realise it was just you.
Ianto bit his lip. He had to say it now, before it was too late. “You did the right thing. No, really,” he added as Jack snorted, “what else could you have done? It was her or the world. You did what you had to do, as you always do.”
Jack looked surprised. “Out of the entire team, you’re the last person I would have expected to say that,” he said wryly.
Ianto chuckled weakly. “I guess I am. But, and I know this may not mean much to you right now – for what it’s worth, I’m sorry.”
A shadow of a smile passed over Jack’s tired face. “Come on; I’ll take you home.”
Ianto let out another ragged breath and blinked hard, only to start in shock as he noted that his cheeks were damp and his chest was tight. He raised his palm to wipe his eyes – he hadn’t even realised that he was crying – but he stopped again when a familiar white handkerchief was pressed into his hand. He looked up and gasped when he saw Jack next to him, gently stroking his hair. His face was pale and his eyes were extremely red.
“Where does it end?” he croaked. He was looking at Ianto, almost begging him not to give the answer that he himself had always given to that question.
But Ianto couldn’t lie. “It never ends,” he said quietly. “It never ends, but we have to get through it, just as you always say we can. We just keep doing what we do.”
Jack stared at him for a moment before he suddenly pulled him upright and held him in a rib-cracking embrace. “I’m sorry,” he whispered into his dark hair. “I’m so sorry.”
“I’m sorry too. I shouldn’t have gone behind your back.”
Jack sighed. “Okay, I won’t lie to you. That was wrong and, if I’m honest, it did hurt a lot. However,” he added quickly as Ianto looked upset, “while you were wrong to do that, you were right in the end. She did need to know the truth.”
Ianto bit his lip. “She wouldn’t have stopped until she found out.”
“I know.” Jack’s voice was shaking. “I know; I just wish…”
“Shh,” interrupted Ianto as he wrapped his arms around him. “It’s okay, Jack; you don’t have to be strong, not now, not here.” He stroked Jack’s hair and kissed his forehead. “I’m not going anywhere; just hold onto me and let it out. I’ll be right by your side.”
“It’s just hard sometimes,” Jack sobbed.
“Shh, I know. I know it’s not easy for you to make these decisions. But I know you never make them lightly and you do what you’re certain is right in the long term. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t.”
He moved back and wiped Jack’s damp cheeks with his thumb. “But that doesn’t make you a bad person. I can see how much these choices you’re faced with can hurt you and how much you wonder about them. Not everyone sees that, but I do. The others…I think they see the Captain and the boss. But I can see the man beneath, because you let me in.”
Jack sighed. “Am I doing the wrong thing?” he asked. “I mean, am I wrong to keep those people there?”
“What else could you do? You’re helping to keep them safe, Jack; you’re doing everything you can for them and you have done from the start. And as for their families – and yes, I know you’re thinking about them, especially after today – would you really want them faced with this, knowing that there was nothing they could do to help?”
Jack shook his head. “No,” he croaked. “But it doesn’t make this any easier.”
“I know, I know.” Ianto’s heart was breaking. “I – oh, hey, come on,” he whispered, kissing Jack gently, “let’s go home and you can hold onto me for as long as you need to.”
Several hours later, when Jack had finally fallen asleep, Ianto gazed out of the window at the stars in front of him.
“It never ends,” he murmured. “But it doesn’t have to be faced alone. There’s always something, or someone, there to help everyone through this – a loyal soldier.”
And that was what he would be to Jack; a loyal soldier. The turmoil that the older man faced would never end, but the loneliness he was feeling…
Ianto’s eyes hardened in determination as he whispered in Jack’s ear:
“It ends tonight.”
And, even in the darkness of his thoughts, Jack smiled.