Warning: Vague spoilers for series 1.
Word Count: 4500
Rating: Adult Content: sex, language, sensitive subject matter
Summary: “You can heal. I’m not saying it’s something that’s going to happen in a day, but it has to start, Ianto. It has to start somewhere.”
Thanks: to and for beta.
Notes: This is a sequel to Captivity.
Ianto walks down Dover beach barefoot. His shirt is open, his trousers rolled up, and he stops now and again to throw a rock into the ocean. From up the grassy dunes, sitting on his overcoat, his own shoes cast aside, Jack watches him and thinks of old songs, old lyrics–There’ll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover–and he remembers a woman and a lone oboe, singing and playing in a basement as bombs rained down.
This is how we defy death, he thinks. We sing in the dark, we walk on the beach. We go on living in the face of mortality.
Far down the beach Ianto turns and waves. Jack raises a hand in response and continues waiting as Ianto makes his slow way back up the beach. When Ianto rejoins him on the dune he stops in front of Jack, bare toes to bare toes, and looks down at their shoes. Jack had placed his boots on either side of Ianto’s wingtips, their laces intertwined.
“Bored, sir?” Ianto says.
“Maybe a little,” Jack confesses. He hastily unties the loose knots and gives Ianto his shoes and socks, and Ianto pulls them on without further comment. Jack pulls on his boots as well and shakes out his coat, and they walk up the path to where their rented caravan is parked.
“Perhaps I should have brought clothing suitable for the beach,” Ianto says.
“There’s plenty of time, if you want to buy some,” says Jack, and puts his arm around the younger man as a sudden stiff wind from the ocean blows over them. Ianto hunches under his arm a moment, then straightens and turns to face the wind, his eyes closed.
Jack steps back and watches, and when Ianto opens his eyes again they exchange smiles–Jack’s understanding, Ianto self-conscious. He puts his arm back around Ianto’s shoulders and they make their way to the caravan.
Jack is accustomed to having to pry information out of Ianto. He does not volunteer his emotions and thoughts easily, though he is more inclined to confide in Jack if it is an exchange rather than an interrogation. Since Jack’s return from his journey with the Doctor, he has a lot less to hide, and is slowly growing better at telling Ianto the truth about himself and his life. Of course, it’s easier in the dark, in each other’s arms, when they are skin-to-skin and breath-to-breath.
Still, Ianto doesn’t give up his secrets easily, and since his imprisonment by a spoiled and vindictive alien girl he seems to have more secrets than ever. Jack understands trauma, he even understands the psychological pain that being deprived of freedom could cause, even for just a few days–but there is something more under Ianto’s surface now.
The suggestion to take a few days and drive back to Cardiff along the coast rather than take the train was met with a simple nod and “All right. Let’s drive.” Ianto needs time before returning to Torchwood Three, and Jack is determined to give him some, even if it was just a few days.
And, Jack thinks, there’s something healing about the sea.
The caravan’s radio fades in and out and they can’t agree on a station anyway, even trying the “driver picks the music” method because then Jack wants to drive all the way. Instead of arguing any more Ianto takes out one of the novels he’d packed and begins reading, and it’s a pleasure as always to listen: his voice, the rhythms of his speech, the sweet homey tones of his accent after weeks of London voices. Jack hardly pays attention to the story: Ianto’s voice is enough to keep him awake and focused.
They stop for the evening in a campground, where there’s only two or three other caravans parked some ways away: it’s early in the season yet. In a few weeks these campgrounds will be dotted with white vehicles and the abuzz with the sounds of families. There’s a water spigot and a fire pit, so while Ianto fills the kettle Jack sets up two lawn chairs and starts a fire. It’s crackling away comfortingly by the time Ianto puts the kettle on the grill.
There wasn’t enough time to shop and pack properly for a camping trip, and Jack senses Ianto, the more experienced camper, is exasperated at the lack of supplies though he says nothing about it. “It’s a little primitive,” he says apologetically as Ianto twists the strings of several tea bags together and hangs them over the side of the kettle.
“It’s spontaneous,” Ianto replies. “One might even say improvised.” He stays crouching by the fire, warming his hands, and says, “I know what you’re doing, Jack.”
Ianto’s face lit is by crackling flames, rendering his eyes unreadable. “You’re trying to ease me back into normality.”
“Road trips are very normal for us,” Jack says with a nod, and then laughs and reaches out his hand to Ianto. “Come sit with me.”
Instead of taking the other chair, Ianto sits on the grass at his feet and stretches out his legs. After the stop at Dover, they decided to be a little more practical than originally planned and got them both jeans and t-shirts, and Ianto rubber-soled sandals more suited to walking on the beach than his wingtips. Jack strokes Ianto’s hair and watches his pale slender feet, and when it becomes clear Ianto has said all he has to say for the time being Jack leans back in his chair and closes his eyes. He keeps his fingers moving in Ianto’s hair until Ianto moves away and says, “The tea should be ready now.”
One thing they have always had in common was a craving to be touched; Ianto, because he has gone too long without it, Jack because he has always needed it, all of his life, almost more than air and water. Ianto is often perfectly content to lie tangled with him like kittens in a basket, heartbeat to heartbeat, whether sex has occurred or they have things to talk about or it’s just time to be quiet together. It took Jack a few months to realize that sometimes Ianto wanted to be close for the sake of being close, no nudity required; but it’s wonderfully rewarding, he’s learned, just to hold and be held. It makes Ianto much more inclined to kiss him, at the very least, and often leads to a slow, lazy kind of lovemaking that is as satisfying as a meal made up solely of comfort food.
Since the kidnapping, Ianto has not been so inclined to touch. He let Jack hold him that first night as he shivered and whimpered, but on the second lay tensely beside him before finally saying, in a defeated voice, “I can’t, Jack,” and going to the other bedroom in the suite.
Jack has tried to be persistent but not overbearing. He holds Ianto loosely on the beach, takes his hand in the shop, slides a palm across his lower back as they squeeze past each other in the caravan. Ianto says nothing, only gives him patient, puzzled looks and tries not to flinch away.
Jack worries about bedtime. The caravan has a single sleeping unit that fold out over the kitchen table: there is room enough for two, if they’re cozy. He hopes Ianto wants to be cozy.
He misses his Ianto.
“Counting stars?” Jack says after they’ve eaten supper and moved on from tea to cans of lager. Ianto is laid out on the grass, his hands behind his head, and he watches Jack hunker down beside him with thoughtful eyes.
“How many have you been to?”
“A lot.” He nudges Ianto with his elbow. “And yes, that’s a mathematical term.”
Ianto chuckles and wraps a hand around Jack’s booted ankle. “Tomorrow it’s your turn to read.”
Jack folds his arms around his knees to hold himself steady. He’s almost afraid to move again, in case Ianto takes breaking contact as a rebuff. “I could sing to you,” he offers.
“Best to save your voice, sir.”
“Reading will also use my voice, Ianto.” He catches the half-smile on Ianto’s lips and huffs. “Just come out and say it: you don’t like my voice.”
“I like your voice just fine. I’d just rather you read to me than attempted to entertain me with Benny Goodman’s greatest hits.” He squeezes Jack’s ankle and lets it go.
Teasing is good. Teasing is like the Ianto he’s used to. He says softly, but probably too eagerly still, “Are you ready for bed?”
Ianto is quiet, prone on the grass. “Is it time for that?”
“If you’re tired.” He watches Ianto close his eyes, watches him breathe.
“I’m tired,” he decides at last. “Let’s go to bed.”
Since the Lisa incident, Jack has tried to assume nothing about Ianto, small or large. The wisdom of this plan was reinforced the day they opened the Rift, when he had assumed Ianto understood the importance of stopping Owen and Ianto helped Owen instead. Ianto would fight for him, perhaps even die for him, but on his own terms.
It extends to the bedroom. Their relationship has more wrinkles and hitches than any other Jack has experienced, but happy Ianto is so worth the effort, satisfied Ianto is so willing to return the favor; when Ianto feels loved the whole world is brighter.
Jack is waiting for Ianto when he finally comes out of the tiny, cupboard-sized lavatory. Ianto is in his pajamas–cotton boxer shorts and an old t-shirt– which is not unusual, and Jack is wearing nothing, which is not unusual either. Ianto pauses at the sight of the bed and Jack lounging in it.
“It’s okay, isn’t it?” Jack says quietly, and Ianto gives himself a small shake and nods as he climbs in. They have to sleep diagonally across it: they’re both too tall to lie lengthwise.
The mattress is a crinkly sort of foam, and it protests as Ianto sets about getting comfortable. Jack opens the small window at his head to let in the night air and closes his eyes–opening them again as once more Ianto tries to get into a comfortable position. Jack waits, counts the seconds–wishing for the stopwatch–and isn’t surprised that it’s less than a minute before Ianto once again fidgets under the sheets.
“Perhaps I should find a sleeping bag.”
“Ianto,” Jack says gently and finds Ianto’s shoulder in the dark. He tugs until Ianto relents and allows his back to be pulled against Jack’s chest. Jack lays an arm over his side so he can flatten a palm over Ianto’s heart–which is racing, far too fast for sleep. Somehow this hurts more than all the silence and flinches, and Jack closes his eyes and swallows against a sudden sting in his throat. “Ianto,” he whispers again and brushes his nose against the back of Ianto’s neck.
Ianto’s voice breaks as he says, “I’m trying, sir.”
“I know you are. I know.” He rubs his palm over Ianto’s chest, trying to soothe him.
Ianto wraps his hand around Jack’s and holds it still, pressed against his heart. “Just–please–like this–”
“Just breathe, Ianto, it’s only me.” Ianto takes a slow, long, deep breath, and Jack takes it with him. In. Out. In. Out. In, out. Ianto holds himself stiffly until the rhythm of their breathing soothes him and finally allows himself to relax in Jack’s arms. “Go to sleep, Ianto,” Jack whispers and tucks his head against Ianto’s neck. “I’ve got you.”
“I know, sir,” is Ianto’s whispered reply.
In the morning Ianto is not in the bed, nor is he outside, making breakfast. Jack suppresses an itch of irritation–Ianto isn’t here to look after him this time around–and sets about doing it himself. He knows how to brew coffee and fry eggs, rumors to the contrary.
When he finally sees Ianto at a curve in the campground’s main path, Jack exhales and shakes tension from his shoulders. He raises a hand and Ianto waves in return, and joins him a few minutes later. He pulls over one of the lawn chairs and flops into it.
“I went for a walk.” In a tone that says he knows it’s unnecessary and he doesn’t care.
“I made breakfast,” Jack answers, and forks up a mouthful of eggs and holds it to Ianto’s lips. Ianto opens his mouth obediently and eats it, gaze fixed on Jack’s. He wipes butter from his mouth with his thumb.
“What do you have planned for today?”
“More beach,” Jack says with a firm nod and eats some eggs himself, not bothering to get a clean fork. “We’re doing pretty okay with the beach.”
“Yes.” He leans forward to pour himself coffee and drinks it, black and still kettle-hot.
“Good. The beach is a good plan. As is reading. I like reading. I should get some audio books, don’t you think?” He catches Ianto’s look and says, “What?”
“Sir,” Ianto says in a measured tone, “you’re quite mad and I fear for my life.” And then he leans over and kisses Jack, lips hot from the coffee, and Jack smiles and kisses him back.
They only drive an hour or so to the next beach. Again Ianto abandons his shoes and rolls up his trousers, and walks at the water’s edge to let the waves wash over his feet. Jack leaves his greatcoat in the caravan and joins him until Ianto says, “Mind if I’m alone for a while?” and Jack kisses him and turns back.
He tries not to worry. Ianto is dealing as best he can, and Jack is patient. He picks up a stick and draws in the smooth sand until the waves wash it away, and then digs in his toes, watching the waves.
When Ianto comes back, a smile starting on his face and his hands in his back pockets, Jack says, “You know I don’t think of you as a possession, don’t you?”
Ianto tilts his head, looking down at him. “What?”
“You know, because of the servant thing.”
“They thought I was your slave,” Ianto says, frowning. “I remember. And no, I’ve never thought of myself as your possession. Though you did make it clear I’m your precious thing, which is an entirely different issue, I’d say.”
“Well, precious thing, important person–different names for the same thing.” Ianto is still looking at him, puzzled, and Jack says, “That didn’t help at all, did it.”
“No, I understand what you’re saying. I think.” He holds out a hand to help Jack up. “Come on.”
Jack puts his hand in Ianto’s and stands, and kisses Ianto gently once he’s upright. Ianto’s lips taste of ocean salt and sunlight, and Jack clasps their hands to his chest and kisses him over and over, until Ianto pulls their mouths apart and whispers, “Jack,” against his lips.
“If you’re mine it’s on a purely voluntary basis,” Jack whispers. “No compulsion required.”
“I know, sir,” Ianto murmurs and kisses his mouth lightly. They stand, hands still pressed to Jack’s chest and foreheads resting against each other, and the sun is warm and the wind is cool and Jack wonders if he’s made everything better yet.
They eat lunch at a roadside café, where Jack’s stories get Ianto to laugh, and laughing gets him to relax, and Jack can’t help the speculative look that he gives Ianto on his way back from the café’s men’s room. Is anybody as lovely as his Ianto, slim-hipped and long-legged, unshaven and sun-kissed?
Jack sighs with longing and when Ianto sits again Jack tucks a foot between both of his and says, “What do you say we find a place to park for the afternoon?”
“Shouldn’t we be getting back to Cardiff?”
“We can still make it by tonight, easy, if we want to. We could take another day, too, if we need it.”
Ianto thinks it over as he finishes his coffee, and finally murmurs, “That’s very generous,” and squeezes Jack’s foot between his.
They park at the nearest campground, in a space far away from the other caravans. Jack turns off the engine and makes sure the door is locked, and glances back at the rear of the caravan where Ianto is setting up the bed. Ianto’s face has a thoughtful, determined expression and Jack’s heart aches for him–his sweet boy, dealing with this strange trauma.
He goes to Ianto and takes hold of his shoulders, and kisses him carefully. Ianto inhales and holds Jack’s waist, and his hands move up under Jack’s shirt. They kiss slow and urgent and sweet, and when they part Ianto says, “I think it’s going to be like having sex in a bunk bed,” and Jack chuckles.
“You’re going to have to tell me that story someday.” He lifts Ianto’s t-shirt of his head and Ianto raises his arms to help him take it off.
“It’s a very short story.” He wraps his hands around Jack’s arms and kisses him. “Just a girl I knew growing up and a holiday and a spare bedroom in her parents’ house.”
“Stud,” Jack teases.
“Hush,” Ianto whispers and kisses him again. Jack slides his hands up Ianto’s back and presses him back against the corridor wall. He uses the wall for leverage to lift Ianto up and set him on the crinkly bed, and kisses down Ianto’s chest. Ianto’s body is tense under his hands–Jack can feel how much he’s struggling to keep his breathing even, and his hands grip the coverlet until he’s white-knuckled. He lets his head fall back as Jack’s tongue teases his nipples and tastes his navel.
When Jack unzips his jeans and pulls them and his boxers down, Ianto gasps and twists his hands into the coverlet, and then pushes Jack’s head away. “Jack, I–stop, please. Please.”
Jack tries not to sigh. He leans back and crosses his arms over his chest as Ianto picks up his shirt and pulls it back on. “Tell me what’s going on.”
“I’m just not ready.” He slides off the bed. “Where are my shoes?”
Jack stoops and picks them up, and folds his arms over them. “I’ve got them. I’m holding them hostage until you talk to me.”
“Sir, this is juvenile.”
“Can’t go walking without your shoes.”
“I really don’t want to talk about it, sir.”
“Jack,” says Jack. “I’m not your boss right now. Okay? Let me look after you. Please,” he adds when Ianto’s expression doesn’t change. “Tell me what’s wrong so I can help you.”
“Jack,” Ianto says, exasperated, “there are things even you can’t fix.”
“Let me try,” Jack pleads.
“A fuck is not going to make everything better!”
“I know that! But it’s not going to make anything worse.” He hopes.
Ianto rubs the bridge of his nose. “Jack.” Patient.
Jack puts his hands on Ianto’s knees. “Please talk to me. Please. Talk to me, Ianto. Talk to me.”
Ianto’s eyes meet his. He puts his hands on top of Jack’s. “All right. This is what’s going on with me. While the princess had me . . . ” He swallows and his gaze skitters away from Jack’s. Jack waits, holding Ianto’s knees in a light grip. For a moment Ianto seems boneless and heavy, like his own body is too much for him to carry. “She drugged me,” he says and his hands clutch at Jack’s. “She drugged me and–and–fucked me–Jack–she violated me–she–she–”
Jack puts his arms around Ianto and kisses his temple. “Sh,” he soothes him. “Sh, Ianto.” He feels a cold sort of rage go through him: she’d touched his Ianto, she’d forced him, she’d hurt him.
Later, though. He’ll deal with it later. The important thing right now is seeing to Ianto.
“I didn’t want to.”
“I know, I know. It’ll be okay.”
“How, Jack?” Ianto looks at him, thick-voiced and teary-eyed. “How is it going to be okay? I was violated by a girl–a little girl that I could have tossed away with one hand.”
“But you were drugged, Ianto. You weren’t yourself.” He kisses Ianto’s mouth and cups the back of his neck in both hands. “It’s going to be okay, Ianto. I promise it’s going to be okay.”
“How would you know?” Ianto says harshly, and Jack sighs. “How would you know anything about being–being forced–about being –God–”
“Ianto.” He keeps his voice quiet. “I’ve been forced to do things against my will. When I was young I . . . I saw some terrible things. I did some terrible things.” Ianto’s eyes meet his again. “There are parts of my past I’m not proud of–but I will always, always take care of you.” He presses his lips to Ianto’s forehead. “My precious thing.”
Ianto sighs, and then exhales more deeply and wraps his arms around Jack and tugs on him. “Come up here,” he says quietly. Jack climbs up without question, and they lie on the sheets, tucked against each other. “You’re not angry?” Ianto says at last.
“Not at you, no. Though you should have told me. We let Mikuhuit off too easily. If I’d known–”
“I didn’t want to say it in front of all those people.”
Jack pauses and tamps down his own anger. The important thing now is Ianto. He kisses Ianto’s forehead and says, “I’m not angry at you at all.”
“Good. Because . . . I know we’ve never really said, you know, anything about being exclusive, but when I’m with you I’m . . . with you.”
“I know,” says Jack and kisses his forehead again.
Ianto is quiet, breathing slowly, and says, “You know there have been others.”
“Yes. I know. There have been others for me, too.”
“But you’re the important one,” Ianto says and looks at Jack seriously.
Jack smiles and strokes his cheek. “You’re the important one for me, too.”
Ianto presses Jack’s hand to his mouth a moment. “I don’t know how I’m going to handle this, Jack. I really don’t. ”
Jack goes on caressing him as he thinks. He says slowly, “When I was a young man–not much more than a teenager–we were at war. I convinced my best friend to join up with me. We thought it would be an adventure.”
Ianto watches Jack with solemn eyes, listening as he slowly breathes.
“It wasn’t.” Jack takes a breath. “We were captured, and because my friend wasn’t strong they tortured him . . . and they made me watch.”
“Jack,” Ianto says softly and kisses his palm again.
“When we were rescued he was sent home–he didn’t live for very long afterwards.” Jack pauses and tries to find the best way to put this. “My people kept me in the military. They decided they needed what I’d learned.”
Ianto is silent for a few moments. “Why are you telling me this?”
“Because,” Jack says softly, “I know things are never going to be the same for you.” Ianto looks away, frowning, and Jack goes on, “And I think unless you make the conscious choice to not let it change you, it’s going to change you forever.”
“I can’t pretend it didn’t happen.”
“No, of course not, but you can heal. I’m not saying it’s something that’s going to happen in a day, but it has to start, Ianto. It has to start somewhere.”
Ianto studies him, his brows furrowed, and then slowly–even hesitantly–pushes Jack onto his back and climbs onto him. “It has started.” He kisses Jack carefully. “It has.”
There are many reasons why Jack and Ianto have had sex: to comfort each other, to ease stress, because one or both of them needed more than talk could provide, because it was the only way to find some peace. They have been rough, playful, tender, careful, passionate, hesitant, eager. Their friendship has always had a physical side, even if it was as simple as a hand offered and accepted on a dark night.
This night, Jack is gentle. He kisses Ianto, kisses and kisses him, touches him slowly, asks permission at every step even if it’s just in the way their eyes meet. He reminds Ianto’s body of his touch, that these hands have never meant him harm, that this mouth cherishes him. He coaxes out soft sounds of pleasure, careful and slow until Ianto is pliant and open, and he’s about to ask, “Ready?” when Ianto pushes Jack onto his back and climbs on top of him, kisses his mouth and whispers, “Don’t hold back.”
It makes Jack groan out loud, and even though Ianto has to curl his body to keep from hitting his head against the roof of the caravan he’s still a wonder to watch, graceful, strong, beautiful.
Sex, Jack knows, has never solved every problem. But it has made them easier to bear.
Jack hovers in a contented doze for a while, and when he finally wakes up enough to notice more than how good he feels he realizes Ianto is not with him. He curses quietly and sits up: the caravan is magic-hour dark, and he can see a fire burning in the fire pit.
All right. Not abandoned. He gets up and dresses, and goes out to join Ianto, who’s sitting on the grass tossing wood chips into the fire. Jack lowers himself onto the grass beside him and steeples his fingers, thinking. “Okay,” he says finally. “I know a fuck doesn’t fix everything.”
“No,” Ianto says.
“So . . . what about beaches? Should we just stick to the beaches plan?”
“I like beaches.” He tosses another chip into the fire. “You’re right, you know.”
“I often am,” Jack begins and closes his mouth when Ianto gives him a patient look.
“What I’m trying to say is,” Ianto says, wrapping his arms around his knees, “is that I know things are never going to quite be the same for me. I know. But I also know I’m going to be all right. So . . .” He looks at Jack and exhales. “Thank you for looking after me.”
“That’s what friends do,” Jack says simply.
“Yes. Force them to ride in rickety caravans and look at innumerable beaches and hint around about how much they’d like to have sex again.”
Jack takes a moment to find a response. “But it was very good sex,” he says at last.
“Oh, yes.” He looks at Jack again, faintly smiling, and Jack smiles too and starts laughing. He lies back on the grass and folds his hands under his head.
“I try, Ianto. You have to give me points for that.”
“I know you do, sir.” Ianto lies back on the grass beside him, and Jack takes Ianto’s hand and holds it to his chest.
He says, “If we leave now we can be in Cardiff by midnight.”
Jack squeezes his hand. “So we should stay here overnight, shouldn’t we.”
“Yes,” Ianto says and laughs.