Rating: PG-17 (just in case)
Warnings: Knifeplay (in the probably least sexual way you could imagine)
Summary: After being given some of the details about Jack's absence, Ianto tries to help in the best way he knows.
Author's Notes: This is somewhat short and I know I’ve got a multi-chapter fic to update, but I just really wanted to write it. It’s got loads of angst, a teeny tiny bit of fluff and it’s set at the beginning of series 2. Enjoy and feel free to let me know what you think!
Also posted on FF.net and AO3.
It hadn’t been too difficult at first. They’d gone on a date, it had gone exceptionally well and Ianto had eagerly thrown himself into their old routine, which tended to involve sex – a lot. Jack had been all too enthusiastic to comply, even if some of his lover’s more adventurous ideas clicked a bit wrong after the year he’d passed in chains. He’d bit his tongue and kept quiet all the while – there was no reason to let Ianto know just how damaged he was after his return – and so it went on. He tried to breathe and keep his eyes open and remember that it was Ianto touching him, not a Time Lord gone mad.
And yet, the horror remained. Which meant that some things had to change and, damn it all to hell, it would require quite a bit of talking.
He didn’t want to cut off things he would have otherwise loved. He wanted to erase the memory of everything else that had happened in the meantime.
Take now, for instance. It was the after hours, which meant that it was their time together and that Ianto could do whatever he pleased. They’d set up rules, of course – safe words and everything else – but Jack knew that he had to go further.
“Ianto–” Jack panted out as his lover’s lips left a trail of light, playful kisses down his collarbones and chest. Ianto didn’t react in any way whatsoever and his hands scrambled to push the young man away. “Ianto, wait!”
“What is it?” Ianto asked, pulling back with a smile playing on his lips and for a moment, the Captain contemplated just dropping the entire thing. One hand was tracing Jack’s cheek and he leant into it, trying to comfort himself with the familiar touch as he found the courage to speak.
“We haven’t really– You know, we haven’t decided if there are things that are off-limits.”
“Oh.” If Ianto was surprised, he didn’t show it, even though he looked intrigued. “Okay. What’s bothering you?”
“A lot of things are,” Jack admitted after a heavy pause of several seconds. “And I don’t want it to be like that anymore. I want to be how I was before, you know?” Ianto nodded. “And so I want you to do exactly what I’ve asked you not to in the past few weeks.”
“Jack, this isn’t healthy,” Ianto protested immediately, just as Jack had known that he would. “Give yourself time to heal.”
Jack gripped his arm and forced him to meet his eye. “Help me heal,” he whispered fervently and saw Ianto’s expression soften. “Do you think you can do that?”
“Yes, I– Yes,” Ianto said with a nod, not looking that sure at all. “What do you want me to do?”
“Could you maybe write on me?” he asked and Ianto raised an eyebrow. “You know, with a knife or something like that? “
“Okay.” Another hesitant nod, even though Jack could see his eyes lighting up with excitement. Weapons really tended to be Ianto’s weakness in the bedroom. But then, his eyes were filled with unbearable sadness and he murmured, “What did he do to you, Jack?”
He knew very little of what had happened during Jack’s absence, and it was as good a time as any to tell him more.
“He kept me chained,” Jack said, voice barely audible. “And he carved things into my chest sometimes. Words, different words. Things he thought of me, and I can’t–”
“Hush,” Ianto said and Jack obeyed at once. “Close your eyes.”
He did, even as apprehension ran through him, and felt Ianto move around the small room Jack used as bedroom. The air was tense and still with anticipation and all of a sudden, there was the cold edge of a knife against his chest.
The first cut was horizontal and rather light, followed by a longer vertical one under it an ending in a horizontal like again. Jack was pretty sure what was going to be written and wasn’t really surprised when the next letter was quite clearly a capital A.
Jack took in quick, shuddering breaths and tried to repeat to himself that he was in safe hands. He resisted the urge to open his eyes – that was the reason for this entire idea after all – and braced himself for what was coming next.
He’d expected N to follow, but it actually seemed to be a half circle. Jack frowned and made to speak.
“Ianto, what–” His voice broke and he hated himself for it, but his lover cut him off.
“Quiet.” Ianto’s voice was infinitely gentle, as was his touch. “Just focus on me, Jack. It’s going to be okay.”
Jack gave a curt nod, taking a deep breath and trying to relax back down on the bed. This was just an exercise to see if he could get through this.
“Go on, then.”
Three more superficial cuts – one vertical, two diagonal – and then he heard Ianto leave the knife on the nightstand and settle back on the bed, straddling Jack’s hips. It was reassuring, somehow, to have him so close; to feel the warmth of his skin and know that he could take as long as he wanted to compose himself.
Jack’s skin was burning and he could feel thin streaks of blood tickling down the sides of his body. He was doing his best to keep as still as possible and not like the knife would sink into his flesh again as soon as he let his guard down and dared to move. Logically, he knew that it was Ianto there with him – Ianto who would help him, support him and let him take his time – but the bigger part of him was stiff with terror and he was nearly going insane with it.
“You can open your eyes, Jack,” Ianto murmured and Jack obeyed tentatively, looking down at himself. The words seemed distorted at first because of the odd angle, but he soon managed to get them into focus. He stifled a small gasp as he took in the carvings onto his chest, not deep but formed in certain, brash lines.
It was written in all capital letters in Ianto’s unruly scrawl, which made it all the better, because he’d done this. This incredible human from this small, ancient planet had come up with something quite so simple and yet so deeply comforting.
“I–” His voice choked in a near-sob as he fought to keep breathing. “God, Ianto, I thought–”
“Never,” Ianto cut in, tone hard and firm and promising all at the same time. “Never.”
Jack allowed himself to be dragged into a hug when Ianto offered it, all thoughts of the sex they’d actually been intending on having forgotten, and felt his eyes almost hurt from the unshed tears. It was Ianto’s gentle strokes over his hair that did him in, eventually, and he collapsed completely in Ianto’s arms, sobs wretched from his body without his control.
“It’s all right,” Ianto whispered, voice quiet and soothing. “It’ll all be okay, Jack.”
Jack pulled back to look at him, face stained with tears and shame. “How?” Ianto seemed to be at loss for words and the Captain went on. “Because I can’t deal with this much longer.”
“Yes, you can. You have no choice.” Ianto’s long fingers brushed the tears away as soon as they started falling again. “You’re Captain Jack Harkness, after all.”
“And what does that mean to you?” Jack asked, genuine curiosity seeping through the words. “Do you think that I’m unbeatable?”
Ianto gave him a small smile. “No, not at all. But I do think that you can always get up, shake the dust off, and keep going.”
It really wasn’t fair, Jack thought, that someone so ridiculously young could say so much with so little words. It wasn’t fair that he had had to become so wise after so little time. It wasn’t fair that someone so blindingly fierce and human had happened to be sacrificed into Torchwood’s greedy clutches when he had barely even lived.
It wasn’t fair that Jack’s heart had somehow chosen to love this devastatingly alive and incredibly scarred boy and delighted in every smile and sigh and stolen kiss he received from him.
“What is it?” Ianto asked with a small laugh and Jack realised that he’d been staring at him for quite some time. There was some kind of worry in his lover’s eyes that made him uneasy as well.
“Nothing,” he said, shaking his head and wrapping his arms around Ianto’s body once again, as tight as he could. Ianto returned the embrace, burying his head in Jack’s shoulder with the air of someone who had just been spared from an imminent death and all of a sudden, Jack realised that he could never, ever tell him about everything he felt for him. Not if he wanted to keep him by his side. “Nothing at all.”