Title: Somewhere Only We Know
Series: Lovers in a Dangerous Time
Characters: Jack, the Master, Ianto
Word Count: 1150
Warning: Spoilers for The Last of the Time Lords
Summary: Jack finds a way to keep sane.
The Master didn’t need a reason to kill Jack. He was in a bad mood; he was feeling restless; Jack looked at him wrong; it was Tuesday.
The Master preferred to kill Jack slowly. Sure, he enjoyed releasing the day’s stress by walking up to Jack and shooting him in the head, but he got visible pleasure from pounding Jack to a pulp or cutting him until he bled.
Jack knew a few things about torture, though, and while he knew as much about inflicting pain as the Master he knew even more on how to endure it. He created a place within himself that was safe and quiet, a mental retreat that the Master couldn’t touch. It was a kind of meditation: a few deep breaths and he was away from the pain and the madness and the suffering, and instead was deep in memory.
Family, friends, lovers. Days with the Doctor and Rose; Algy in London, during those heady days when he was still an outlaw; the acrobat twins; his best friend, back before the wars began; sweet Estelle; his parents; his one night with Jack Harkness; his many nights with Ianto.
At first Jack lost himself in memories of sex: Ianto’s skin under his lips, Ianto’s cock in his mouth, Ianto’s body under his as Ianto’s fingers dug into his back. But he could hone those memories only so fine, and after a time Jack allowed himself to wander away from sex to different memories: of Ianto coming into his office to refresh his coffee and drop a quick kiss on his lips before he went back to work; of waking up to feel Ianto’s fingers combing slowly through his hair; of slow-dancing with Ianto under the stars.
Even when the memories were not so sweet–Ianto looking at him with tears in his eyes and an expression of utter heartbreak, saying I don’t think we should see each other anymore–they were still necessary, worthy of remembrance. He had to remember, had to lose himself somewhere without pain.
The Master figured it out, of course. He knew Jack had a refuge of some kind–he just didn’t understand how or where. He grabbed Jack’s face and said, “Where are you? Where do you go when you’re not here? I know you’re going somewhere–where is it?”
Jack looked up at him and smiled, knowing that the smile had an edge of madness. “Some place you’ll never know, Master.”
So of course the Master killed him.
* * *
“They’re dead, you know,” the Master said. “Your little band of misfits. Dead, all of them.”
Jack didn’t lift his head. He gazed at the point of the Master’s shoe and let his eyes lose focus. It was just easier that way.
“Including that pretty tea boy, of course.” The Master knelt down to look into Jack’s eyes and idly ran a finger along Jack’s face. “Amazing what people will believe if they want to badly enough. I told him I knew where you were and he followed me, trusting as a puppy.” He grabbed Jack’s face again, forcing Jack to look into his eyes. “He died last. He died begging–begging me, ‘Where’s Jack, I want Jack, let me see Jack.'” He let Jack’s face go.
No, Jack thought and closed his eyes. He rasped out–the Master had decided to starve him to death this time, and he was so dehydrated he couldn’t even sweat–“You’re lying.”
“I’m not,” the Master said with a pout. “I thought about what fun it would be to make you watch him die, but in the end I was just too soft-hearted. Besides, it was so–” He sucked in a breath of air through his teeth, “–nice to hear him die with your name on his lips. Almost poetic.”
“I’d know if he died. I’d know.”
The Master looked shocked. “Why, Captain! There is romance in that lecherous old heart, is there? Amazing! Now I wish I had killed him in front of you, just to see the expression on your face.” He sighed heavily, and then got to his feet. “As much I’d love to stay and watch you croak, I have to go rule the world for a bit. Ta!” He waved and ambled off, and Jack closed his eyes.
He tried to remember, tried to bring himself to one of the more beautiful memories about Ianto, but he couldn’t do it. There was nothing to do but mourn.
* * *
Eventually the Master grew bored of killing him, even after escape attempts and defiance, and left him alone for days and weeks. Jack’s mind wandered–back to his little team, how Owen had made him laugh and Tosh had made him think and Gwen had made him feel.
He hoped their deaths had been quick.
He missed them so much it hurt.
He was dozing and humming–they will see us waving from such great heights, come down now, but we’ll stay–and remembering Ianto’s warm body in his arms when Tish came with his daily meal. She whispered to him, “You look so happy.”
“I was,” he whispered back and quietly ate as she fed him.
* * *
He thought he was hallucinating. Or dreaming. It was hard to tell.
But it was a very lucid dream, if it was a dream, and his subconscious had picked up every detail about Ianto perfectly, from his neatly-trimmed hair to his perfectly-knotted tie. He smiled at Jack, Ianto’s slightly self-conscious smile. “Hello, sir.”
“He told me you were dead.”
Ianto nodded and shrugged. “Yes.”
“Then how are you here?”
“I’m not sure, really.” He looked around the boiler room. “Final goodbyes, I suppose. And you’re rather on the threshold at the moment; it’s hard for the dead to hide from the dying, it would seem.”
“Ianto,” Jack whispered and Ianto smiled at him gently.
“I know,” he said. “I loved you too. I’ve accepted that you are how you are, and I love you because of it.”
Jack swallowed. “Ianto,” he said again, and stopped when he felt–yes, felt, and he knew it was impossible but he didn’t care–Ianto’s hand on his cheek. He rubbed his face against Ianto’s fingers, remembering how they had touched him and soothed him and loved him. “Ianto,” he whispered, and the ghost, or memory, or hallucination, smiled and kissed his cheek.
“It’s all right, sir,” Ianto said. “It was a good love. Not many know its equal.”
When Jack woke again, gasping, he thought he could still feel gentle fingers on his face, but there was no one in the boiler room but himself.
* * *
“Where do you go?” the Master screamed at him, face right in Jack’s.
Jack raised his chin and smiled, knowing he had one place the Master could never go, one thing the Master could never touch.
I was loved. And you’ll never understand.
2 thoughts on “Somewhere Only We Know”
Oh, honey. Probably the single best Master vs. Jack. Ever. This whole series is so beautiful. Thank you.
Thank you so much!