Pairing/Characters: Jack/Ianto, Rhiannon
Rating: PG-15 (just in case)
Summary: Jack talks about Ianto with a stranger in a bar. As it turns out, things are not as simple as they seem.
Author's Notes: Well. First time to ever write Rhiannon, so I hope I got her well. This couldn't decide whether it wanted to be fluffy, hut/comfort-y or angsty, so it's a bit of all that. Enjoy!
Also posted on FF.net and AO3.
The silence in the SUV was denser than ever before as the team made their way back to the Hub. The utter clusterfuck of the mission wasn’t lost on anyone and despite the fact that it had been nobody’s fault, the situation was clear. Everyone had at least a minor injury and no one was brave enough to speak of it, and there was only one reason for that.
Jack was usually the person who brought the most light into the team. He was the one who told them jokes and made them feel just slightly saner even in the worst days of Torchwood Three, but not today. Today, he was facing resolutely forwards as he drove them to the Hub, resembling more a robot than he did a man, and he was perfectly aware of it. He couldn’t bring himself to do anything about the state of things, so he didn’t. Once the car was parked, however, he turned to the passenger’s seat where Ianto was looking down at his lap and hadn’t uttered a word for the entire trip.
“If you pull that trick or anything like it one more time,” Jack said, voice low and deceptively calm as Ianto finally looked up, “I’m relieving you from field duty.”
And with that, as impossible as it seemed, the day only went downhill.
Ianto had been shot in the shoulder. It wasn’t that bad, really – or that was what Ianto said after Owen had cleaned and bandaged the wound – but it had been too close. Dangerously close, and Jack couldn’t allow that, not ever again. Because from where he’d been, all he had been able to see was the alien shoot at him and Ianto falling down with a cry, and for a moment everything else had just stopped.
“I’m fine,” Ianto waved him off, clearly irritated as Jack approached him once more. “Stop worrying.”
“You know what sounds like a better idea?” Jack started and didn’t wait for a response. “You taking better care of yourself. You can’t just throw yourself into any danger you feel like just for kicks and then expect me to swipe it under the carpet. I don’t care how fast this is going to heal or how little damage the bullet has done. I didn’t let you become a field agent so you could fulfil your death wish.”
“You didn’t make me a field agent at all,” Ianto pointed out sardonically. “Gwen did.”
“Really? Who died and made Gwen the boss?”
“You did,” Ianto shot back immediately and Jack would have laughed if he wasn’t as angry as he was. “Things like this happen, Jack. We’re Torchwood. They’ve happened before, and they will happen again. So learn to live with it.”
“Learn to live with it?” Jack’s voice was a shaky whisper. “Do you have any idea how long I’ve had to learn to live with it? Because if you go and kill yourself, then you know what will behind? Me. Living with it because I have no other choice.”
“Jack, I’m sorry.” Ianto’s eyes were wide, as if he’d just realised what he’d said. “I didn’t mean–”
“You never do.” Jack picked up his coat from the chair near the examination table and stood up. “Go home, Ianto.” He felt tired all of a sudden. “Don’t come tomorrow if you’re not feeling up to it.”
Some borders had to remain uncrossed. It really was about time Ianto learnt that.
It hadn’t been the best day; Rhiannon was the first to admit that. There had been an accident at work and her boss had blamed her, and then the fight with Johnny and pretty much everything else, and she really just needed an outlet. It was just when she opened her mouth to order another drink when someone plopped on the chair next to hers, his elbow dangerously close to her face.
“Oi! Watch it!” She napped and he turned around to face her, a smile curling his lips immediately. He was the ruggedly handsome type that her friends were all about and she found herself smiling back soon enough.
“Sorry,” he drawled and she raised an eyebrow at the accent, but didn’t say anything. “Didn’t mean to disturb you.”
“It’s fine,” she waved him off. “I just didn’t feel like getting my nose broken. Been a bad enough day.”
The man groaned. “Tell me about it.”
He looked tired, but it was specific sort of tiredness – as if he was feeling somewhere between guilty and desperate and unsure about what he was even doing here, and she knew that expression all too well. “Had an argument with her indoors?”
“Him,” he corrected. “And... yes. I guess I did.” His smile grew a bit more sincere at her surprise and he offered her a hand. “I’m Jack.”
“Rhiannon,” she introduced herself and then went on, “So, what’s he like?”
It wasn’t that she really cared that much, to be honest, but it was still a nice distraction to listen to somebody else’s problems instead of thinking about her own. And this guy did seem in desperate need of dumping his emotional baggage.
Jack sighed. “Oh, he’s amazing, but he’s so stubborn.” He stared down at his glass hesitantly, then shrugged and drank the entire thing in one gulp. “I’m just trying to protect him and he doesn’t understand.”
“Protect him from what?” Rhiannon asked, confused, and he suddenly looked uncomfortable. He looked torn; as if he wanted to speak but didn’t want to give away too much, but then he seemed to settle for something safe.
“Our job is a bit– risky, and he just doesn’t care. He throws himself in danger all the time and he doesn’t understand what the consequences could be.”
He seemed genuinely upset and Rhiannon tapped him awkwardly on the shoulder. “Maybe he’ll come around eventually.”
Jack laughed mirthlessly. “I don’t think so. It’s just how he is, and the most frustrating thing is that I actually love him all the more for it. No matter how scared I am, I still can’t help but love it.”
“He must be quite the person, then,” she said, wondering what that would feel like – to have a life full of risks and dangerous loves and near-death experiences instead of the (admittedly wonderful) existence she led.
“He is,” he said and the smile turned slightly dreamy. “Gorgeous, too. We helped each other through the roughest moments and I don’t think I can afford to lose him.” He laughed again. “Hell, if he decides to do the breaking up or whatever it would be for us, I don’t think I can even stand my bed without him.” He threw her a devilish smile. “You know. Pretty inventive, my Ianto.”
Rhiannon gave a hasty nod. She wasn’t sure she could listen about the bedroom escapades of someone with her little brother’s name, but decided not to mention it.
“Just last week,” Jack said, leaning in conspirationally, “he came home with this whip thingy, you know? Only it wasn’t a regular one and it left behind a long-lasting sensation, as if he was constantly–”
“I get it,” she assured him quickly, trying not to giggle in embarrassment. Maybe the guy was drunker than he thought he was. “Well, I’m sure you two are going to sort it–” Rhiannon started over his shoulder as a very familiar figure sat down on the chair left from Jack. He hadn’t noticed her yet. “–out.”
“What is it?” Jack twisted around and she saw his expression shift, apparently unable to decide between looking stern and lighting up with a pleased grin. “Ianto!”
“I’m sorry,” Ianto said quietly, eyes locked on Jack’s face as Rhiannon tried desperately to look away and probably bleach her brain at the first opportunity. “I shouldn’t have said what I did. I didn’t think, and I’m sorry. You had every right to be angry.”
“It’s okay,” Jack assured him. “I told you to go home! You shouldn’t walk around with that wound!”
Ianto rolled his eyes. “Are we going to start this again? I’m fine.” Rhiannon knew him well enough to see him wince as Jack reached for a hug and her eyes widened as she saw that his pink shirt was soaked with something that looked suspiciously like blood. He’d tried to hide it with the suit jacket, but it hadn’t worked entirely. At that, all sorts of inhibitions left her.
“What the hell has happened to you?”
Ianto pulled back and went white as a sheet. “Rhi?”
Jack looked between them. “You know her?” He seemed to think about it for a second. “Oh! Rhiannon Davies?” She nodded grimly and his face fell. “Oh.”
“I apologise for anything you’ve heard coming from his mouth,” Ianto said, the blush starting from his cheeks and spreading all the way to his ears as he turned back to his...
Oh God. Ianto had a boyfriend.
“Jack, meet Rhiannon, my sister. Rhi, this is Jack, my... boss?” He tried and she shook her head. “How much did you hear?”
“More than I would have liked in a thousand years. However, that still doesn’t explain what happened to you.” She glanced up at Jack. “Wait a minute. What was it that you said? Risky job? I thought he worked in civil service!”
If she hadn’t been so worried, she might have disapproved of Ianto swearing inventively not a foot away from her. As it was, she watched Jack shift uncomfortably. “Well, on the bright side, he’s getting paid much more than he’s probably told you,” he quipped. “After all, his pay check arrives from Buckingham Palace every month.”
“We’ll talk later, I promise. I promise,” Ianto repeated pointedly when she tried to express her doubt. “It’s just that, Jack is right. I’m not fully functional at the moment.”
There were so many things Rhiannon wanted to ask, but none of them could surpass the fact that her brother so clearly needed rest. “Okay,” she conceded eventually. “But we are going to talk about all of this, all right?”
“Yes,” Ianto assured her. “We will.”
She was ready to make another objection, but after she saw the way Jack readily took off his coat and draped it over Ianto’s shoulders, crowding him in towards the door, though against it. He was in safe hands for now.
“I swear I didn’t know,” Jack said, eyes wide and slightly terrified as they left the pub. “How could I guess that the Rhiannon I’ve been spilling my heart to is the same Rhiannon in your records?”
“It’s okay,” Ianto assured him. “She was going to find out about it at some point and hey, it’s better sooner than later.” He turned around to face Jack and gave him a faint smile. “You know what? I changed my mind. You’re adorable when you’re fussing.”
“Dashing leaders are not adorable,” Jack pointed out indignantly. “I think ‘charming’ or ‘handsome’ might be the word you’re looking for.”
“No, I don’t think so,” Ianto said after a few moments of consideration. “’Adorable’ just about sums it up.”
Jack leant in for a kiss and took one of Ianto’s hands in his, his thumb sliding over his fingers.
“I thought I’d lose you today. I have the right to fuss as much as I want to,” he murmured. “How did you come all the way here, actually?”
“Might’ve walked,” he admitted, licking his lower lip nervously as Jack’s eyes narrowed in anger. “Sorry, sorry! We can call for a cab, if you’d like to.”
“I’ve already called,” Jack grumbled good-naturedly and tucked Ianto against his side. The gesture wasn’t lost on the younger man, who leant his head on the Captain’s shoulder.
“You’re not going to lose me,” he said quietly. “I’ll stay right here, okay? For as long as I can.”
“I know,” Jack said and Ianto felt him nodding minutely. “I’ll try to remember that.”
“Do try,” Ianto echoed and leant on Jack just a bit more as the night fell over Cardiff.