Title: Ichigoichie (One Time Only)
Pairings/Characters: Jack, Ianto
Summary: Four first times for Jack and Ianto
Author's Note: Yojijukugo are Japanese four-kanji compounds that have a particular idiomatic meaning that cannot be inferred from the meanings of the words that make them up. 一期一会 (ichigoichie) literally means "one time, one meeting," but is often translated as "one time only" or "for this time only," or "never again."
Jack pauses on the gantry to wait for Ianto to catch up. “So it’s your job to pick up after us and to feed the pterodactyl. Oh, and the archives, but I’m sure you knew that already.”
Jack twitches. He hasn’t been called ‘sir’ since his military days. It’s strange to hear it in this base, in this Torchwood where he’s gotten so little respect for so many years.
He grins and raises an eyebrow. “You know you can call me Jack.”
“Yes, I know, sir.”
“So why are you calling me sir?”
Ianto looks back at him blankly, a mask of blandness newly plastered to his face. It looks worn, but like it has only recently been taken out again. The Welshman gives what might pass as a smile, were it a little less stiff. “Because you’re my superior.”
“You really are very different from the first time we met.”
“This is the workplace, sir. I try to be proper.”
Jack looks around at the grimy stone around him. “This isn’t exactly the sterile quarters of London. You don’t have to hold on to their values. In fact, I’d prefer if you didn’t.”
“It’s not their values I’m holding on to, sir. It’s mine.”
“Thank you, sir."
“You do know how much that turns me on, though, don’t you?”
“I’m sure you’ll tire of it eventually.”
It’s too early in the morning for an emergency call. But Ianto has been in the Hub for two hours, Jack’s been awake for one, and Tosh only got in a few minutes ago. Ianto has just come in to his office with coffee and a stack of inventory papers to sign off on. They never did proper inventory before Ianto got here.
Jack groans. “I guess we’d better go check that out.”
“Yes sir, you should."
Jack stands and goes to the door, leaning out so he can see down into the central part of the Hub. “Tosh! Does it look big? Do I need to call the others?”
“Mid-sized, Jack. You may want to tell them to meet us there. The readings say it’s still alive.”
“Will do. Let me get my—”
He turns, but Ianto is pulling his coat off the little stand, spreading it out from the shoulders and walking around to stand at Jack’s back, waiting, expectant. Jack, surprised, hesitates a moment before putting his arms back. Ianto slides the coat expertly onto his shoulders, fingers smoothing the fabric, tugging minutely to get everything straight. It settles on Jack’s shoulders and it feels, this time, like a warm reassurance. He looks back. Ianto’s lips crick in a small smile and his chin dips and lifts slowly, a silent acknowledgement. Jack nods once, sharply, spins round and marches out of his office.
Jack stands at the window of his office, staring out at the rest of the hub. It’s a slow day, a boring day. Owen has his feet kicked up on his desk; he’s not even being discreet about playing his video games anymore, occasionally punctuating the air with a “Hah! Gotcha!” Tosh seems to be working on a translating program or something, though he sees out of the corner of his eye when she opens up some shopping website on her other monitor to look for shoes or handbags or computer chips or whatever it is Tosh likes to buy. Suzie is diligently studying a little flat box, a new bit of technology that has just come through the Rift. Or at least, it looks like she is; Jack knows that she’s reading some poetry or some Greek tragedy from the textbook beside her. He grins and turns back to settle at his desk.
Jack has zoned out trying to read through a report from the minister of defence—he’s that bored to try and read that. He’s thinking about the TARDIS, about Alpha Centaurii, about Boeshane.
“Woah! Jesus!” Jack jumps three feet in the air. He feels his heart racing in his chest. Ianto. He’d forgotten about Ianto. Forgotten that his new recruit had been down in the Archives doing clean up and inventory. Forgotten that the new recruit was also recruited to make the coffee. “Hi, Ianto.”
“I’ve been standing here for a while, sir. You were off in another world.”
“Yeah,” Jack sighs, “Yeah, I was.”
“Your coffee then, sir.” Ianto holds out a cup. Jack takes it from him and takes a sip of the warm dark liquid.
“Wow.” He stays there for a moment, pausing to breathe in the thick scent. Then he sets the mug down on the blotter. “I didn’t expect you to be passing out the coffee.”
“Well, how else is it going to get to you, sir?”
“We could go and get it ourselves.”
“I like passing it out. Gives me something new to do. Gets me out of the archives for a moment.”
“Fine. Your coffee, your choice. Thank you, by the way.”
Ianto pauses at the door. “For what?”
Jack shrugs. “The coffee’s brilliant.”
Ianto nods and goes back out to the main Hub.
Pain. Pain, and blood, and grey at the edges of his vision, blurred street and shaking world. Pain, and he can feel warm blood soaking around him. With a groan, he tenses his body to make the blood flow faster. Dying slowly isn’t fun.
There’s nothing. He’s standing in nothing, like he usually is. The first few times, he’d paced about the blackness, trying to find edges. He’d felt for walls, felt for the floor. He’d felt nothing. He’d run his hands across his feet and then under them without ever moving. He’d screamed then, screamed in the darkness at the nothing, at the emptiness, at the inexistence of anything. That had been a long time. Now he sat and waited.
There is the tug. He fights it automatically. The pain of coming back always makes him fight it, even if he wants to come back. The pain is a reason to stay in the dark. The tug is stronger now, and he gives up the struggle, giving into the tearing, twisting fire as he is dragged back to life, the knives in his veins and the fire in his lungs and the scream stuck slicing at his throat just before he gasps back into existence. Back into existence and into someone’s soft embrace, into a hand cradling his head, another on chest. Back to an entirely new sensation. Back to being clutched against a warm body. Not cold. Not alone.
Jack automatically clings to the touch, gripping hard onto bicep and hand, pushing his face into belly and curling around hip, revelling in the fingers carding through his hair, smoothing and brushing the pain away.
“Shh, Jack. Shh, it’s okay.” He listens to the Welsh lilt, low and soft, until his breathing returns to normal and his heart rate is slowed and his blood feels like blood instead of lightning.
“Ianto?” Jack croaks. No one has ever held him like this before.
“You died.” The sadness is thick in Ianto’s voice. “I couldn’t leave you. They always just leave you and I couldn’t.”
Jack squeezes Ianto’s hand and doesn’t move from the warm comfort of his lap and his steady breathing. “Thank you.”