Pairings/Characters: Jack Harkness, Ianto Jones
Spoilers/Warnings: Warning for violence.
Summary: Jack wonders belatedly if maybe he should have come later, when the pain isn't so raw.
Author's Note: This was written for that-thing-from-that-place on Tumblr after a conversation about Ianto punching Jack in Cyberwoman, and for the "hurt" square in my alphabetasoup table, because it fulfills multiple kinds of hurt. The lovely awabubbles has drawn a companion fanart piece here.
Jack hasn’t ever been to Ianto’s flat before. Hell, he hadn’t even known where Ianto lived until tonight. When he finally gets to the neighbourhood and drives around, looking for Ianto’s flat, he lets out a few curses. The area is absolute shit, falling apart. Half the buildings look gutted, windows gaping like wide black mouths, voracious and sucking. Ianto’s building is a large brick fortress with metal-framed windows and graffitied walls. He knows Ianto won’t let him in if he calls up, so he’s brought an alien lockpick with him. It’s easier that way, and Jack is sociopathic enough not to care.
He actually manages to get into Ianto’s flat. The walls are concrete, grey and bare. He closes the door softly, turns—and stops. Ianto is standing in the centre of the living room, pointing a gun at him with steady hands. His face is full of cold hatred.
“What are you doing here?” His voice is as icy and flat as his expression.
Jack holds his hands up in defence. “Checking up on you.” He wonders belatedly if maybe he should have come later, when the pain isn’t so raw.
He expects the blame, the hatred, but not the blow to the jaw with the butt of the gun that lays him out flat on Ianto’s floor. Ianto’s eyes are burning now, his face screwed up with pure vitriol. He kicks Jack’s stomach, and Jack hears something snap. He bites back a cry of pain.
Jack remembers this. He remembers the overpowering need to save, to rescue, to heal. He remembers the crushing, pounding revulsion and worthlessness when it failed. He remembers the overwhelming need to hurt something, anything. Remembers clearer than anything, taking it out on himself. So he stays there, says nothing.
Ianto growls at Jack’s lack of response and kicks him again. “You could have saved her, you heartless bastard!”
“I couldn’t,” Jack is breathless. His belly hurts. Another kick and his kneecap feels like it’s exploded.
“You wanted me to kill her. You wanted me to murder her. I love her!” His voice is rasping. Jack’s hand is crushed under a precise heel. “You wanted me to destroy the last thing I have left. Had.”
Jack pushes himself upright. He stands, wobbling a bit, reaches toward the dark-faced Welshman. “Ianto—”
Ianto’s eyes are feral, angry and wild. “Don’t tell me I couldn’t have done anything. Don’t tell me she couldn’t have been saved.”
“She was already gone, Ianto.” If he’s going to do this, he’s going to go all the way. He barely flinches as Ianto’s fist catches him in the cheekbone and snaps his head to the side. Ianto fists the front of his coat and slams him against the rough brick of the wall. His head hits the brick with a hollow sound, but Ianto doesn’t seem to notice. He pummels against Jack, his face a blind mask of anger and hatred. Spots dance in Jack’s sight. He thinks a few teeth might be loose.
Jack can feel blood dripping down his face. His right eye is swollen, and he’s pretty sure a lot of his face is broken, along with a few ribs and his crushed hand and knee. For a moment, his own anger swells.
“You sacrificed the safety of the team for your robot girlfriend who was already dead. She tried to kill me. She tried to kill you. Why shouldn’t I have destroyed her?”
Ianto punches him squarely in the solar plexus and Jack nearly vomits, his breath disappearing. He gasps helplessly and Ianto drops him on the floor. He lands with all his weight unsupported on his right shoulder and feels his collarbone crunch. His head hits the floor and he watches black spots dance more strongly across his vision.
Ianto walks away. Jack heaves himself into a standing position despite his ruined knee and limps to find the Welshman. He’s sitting at a bare wooden kitchen table that looks like it was made from plywood, staring at the blood on his hands, his split open knuckles. He looks deflated, empty. His body is sagged in the chair; he looks small and ill. Jack leans limply against the square concrete doorframe. There’s no door. Ianto looks up at him, at his broken face.
“She was already gone.” It’s so dull that Jack’s not sure if it’s a question.
“Yes,” He answers anyway.
“Fuck you.” But there’s no energy in it. Jack remembers this part. The so close to acceptance, the not wanting to admit, the sharpness of the pain because it’s too close to being dulled.
Jack drags himself into the opposite chair. He reaches up to wipe his mouth, remembers the split lips and broken nose, the blood he can taste between his teeth, and thinks better of it.
“Ianto…” But Ianto shakes his head.
“I’m tired, Jack.” He stares at the countertop, the pale grain seemingly hypnotizing. “So tired. I don’t want any more of this.”
“Any more of what?”
“All this shit inside my head, in my life. Everything that’s happened. It’s my fault. I hate it so much, I feel like should I hate her but I can’t. I can’t decide whether I should hate you or not, but I do anyway. I just want it all rid of.”
“You know I can’t do that.”
“I won’t,” Jack amends. “It’ll get better. I promise.”
Ianto scoffs. After a moment, his fingers twitch nervously and he jumps up. “I want tea. You want some?”
Jack is baffled by the sudden change, but he nods anyway. He watches Ianto through one eye, a blurred echo of a double-image plastered on top from his swollen and watering right eye. The young man’s movements are slow and stiff. He fills the kettle without bothering to wash the blood off his hands. He leans against the counter, his back to Jack, until the machine beeps. Only when he puts their mugs of tea on the table does he seem to notice the blood drying on his fingers. He chokes on a breath and staggers away to wash it off in the sink.
Jack reaches into a pocket off his coat and opens the bottle of Retcon under the table. He removes a tablet and palms it into Ianto’s tea, bobbing the satchet up and down to dissolve it.
“It’ll get better,” Jack repeats when Ianto's sat down again, his hands cupped round the mug, clean of blood like Lady Macbeth. “Really.”
“Don’t say that. Not right now.”
Jack nods. He wouldn’t believe it either, if he were Ianto. The young man has nearly finished his tea. The dark circles under his eyes look like bruises in the white kitchen light. His eyes are distant and weary. He blinks a few times.
Ianto shakes his head. “No. Not right now. I’m—I’m tired. I’m going to bed. You can let yourself out.” Or kill me in my sleep, if you’d like; I’d almost prefer it goes unsaid, but heard by both of them.
Jack nods. “Get some sleep.” He watches Ianto walk across the living room and drift through the other cut out doorway to his bedroom. For a moment, he’s silent, listening to the rustle of Ianto dressing for bed, brushing his teeth, washing his hands for several long, long minutes. Then he stands with a grimace and limps to the door. He turns for a moment to survey the damage.
He’ll go a little ways away and get rid of all of his evidence of this night, reset his body so there’s nothing to tell. Then he’ll go back while Ianto is still asleep and clean up the flat. Ianto doesn’t need to know.