Written for: visionshadows
Pairing: Jack/Ianto (Doctor, Martha)
Warning: AU but minor spoilers through Journey's End.
Note: Beta'd by maverick0324
Lisa's gone, a twisted pile of metal and burning flesh somewhere three floors beneath, and Ianto's running, running, running for his life. He won't make it, can't possibly make it, because these Cybermen are going to kill them all and he's running so fast and so hard but it's useless. He stumbles, bangs his knee hard into the ground, and he can hardly see for the sweat and tears and acrid smoke in his eyes. He hears screaming, a distant whine of machinery, and clanking footsteps behind him. He gets up and starts to run again, swings around a corner and comes to a hurtling stop in front of a big blue box.
There are no other corners of the room to hide in and He can hear the Cyberman behind him so he bangs at the door with closed fists. It doesn't give so he turns and takes a few steps away, sucks in a burning breath and waits to face his death.
Behind him, the door swings open.
He drops to his knees inside the console room. He stays there for barely a minute, listens to the sounds of the Cyberman just outside the door. He expects at any moments for it to bust through but nothing happens.
After five minutes of utter stillness, Ianto climbs to his feet. His knee is throbbing from where he fell and he can hardly breathe for the tears. He is trembling violently and wonders if there's any point in going back for Lisa. She's dead now, surely. She was probably dead before they began to turn before - when she burned, and screamed, and begged for mercy.
He stumbles forward and looks at all of the controls. He touches nothing, keeps walking forward until he's at a hallway and then begins to walk down it.
"What are you doing here?" The Doctor says, twenty four hours and twenty seven minutes later. His eyes are comically wide and confused. "Where did you come from? How did you get in here?"
"There were... the... Cybermen..." Ianto's hands tug at the shirt he's wearing, ends long-since untucked from his trousers and jacket lost somewhere along the way.
He can understand that his words aren't making much sense but his head feels like it's in a fog and he can't do anything about it. He starts to cry again and hates himself for it.
The Doctor sighs, one hand on a glowing panel of the ship. He says quietly, under his breath, "What are you up to, old girl?"
Ianto is cleaned up and changed into new clothes and fed only just in time for a new adventure to begin. He won't step foot outside the doors of the big blue box, though, so the Doctor hides him away in a little room on the ship and tells him not to go anywhere and not to touch anything. Ianto lies down on the bed and sleeps for hours and hours, sleeps away the ache and doesn't want to ever wake up.
But he does, eventually, to a banging that makes him think of Cybermen foot falls and he jerks up in bed.
"Just me, just me," The Doctor says, poking his head in. "You humans sleep so much, how can you sleep so much?"
"H-how long?" Ianto asks. His voice is rough and scratchy. He distantly remembers waking and stumbling to the wall, a doorknob almost appearing underneath his fingers that led to a loo, and then going back to bed.
"Bout three days, give or take. Come on, up and at 'em, we need to get you sorted."
"I can take you back home," The Doctor says. "You're safe now. The Cybermen are gone. They're... they're all. Gone."
Ianto sits on the jump seat, his hands covering his face. "I don't have a home anymore."
"Oh. Right. Well, then," the Doctor clears his throat. "Best come with me then, eh?"
Ianto looks up. "Where are we going?"
"Anywhere. Anywhere in space." The Doctor says. Then clarifies, "Or time. It's a time machine, too."
"It travels... in time? And in space?" Ianto looks around. This is much stranger than any purgatory he ever read about in bible stories.
Martha Jones is quite nice. Ianto meets her on the moon, where the Doctor is barefoot, and he holds her hand while the gaps for breath. It's better with three, he finds. He's not so alone in those times when the Doctor is off by himself. He's got someone to eat meals with at the same time every day and someone to laugh with when things are so insane that laughing is all they can really do.
She is his best friend, he realizes after a time. He loves her like a sister and would go to any length to keep her from being harmed. He watches her fall in love, watches her get her heart broken, and wishes that he knew the right thing to say to make it better. He knows that eventually she will decide that she can have more out of life and she'll leave, and he'll be sorry to see her go but he won't be joining her.
He has found a new lease on life. He's discovered that you can lose everything and still keep going, but he has no desire to ever set foot on planet Earth again. When Martha goes home to visit her family, Ianto stays in the TARDIS. He'll hear later about the adventures with Lazarus and he won't be sorry that he missed it.
"And who is this?" Jack says, circling Ianto like a bird eyeing its prey. A very charming, very handsome bird eyeing suitably intrigued prey.
"Jaaaaack," The Doctor says, warning and scolding at the same time. Ianto is thrown by the familiarity there and again reminded of how much there is that he, probably never will, knows about this man that he is with day in and day out. He watches the Doctor watching Jack and is surprised to find that Jack is watching him instead.
"Ianto Jones," Ianto says, standing beside the Doctor. Jack offers a hand and Ianto takes it. The grasp is warm and Ianto's hand tingles.
"Ianto Jones," Jack repeats. "It's very nice to meet you."
If anything can rival the high that comes with traveling with the Doctor, it is Jack Harkness. Ianto is drawn to him like a moth to a flame. Like a giddy schoolgirl, he wants to be around Jack every second that he can.
Those two days on Utopia are like a crash course in infatuation for Ianto, and then the Master is reborn and it all goes to hell.
Jack works for Torchwood.
Ianto feels like he's going to be sick. The Doctor comes to stand by him and watches him carefully, protectively.
Torchwood is something they never speak of. Torchwood is loss - unbearable, aching loss.
Ianto can't look Jack in the eye for hours.
A year of daily torture and starvation make for intense bonding. Ianto is the one that brings Jack his meals every day and he's allowed to sit with him for hours, sometimes. He watches Jack's broken bones heal in hours and wipes the sweat and blood from his flesh once it knits together again.
When the Master shows Jack the pictures of the broken bodies of his team, Ianto holds him and lets him cry. When Jack kisses him, it's messy and desperate. Ianto thinks of Lisa dead and gone, and of Martha out there somewhere alone, and the Doctor trapped in a shell of a body. Jack clings to Ianto, babbles pleases and prayers and promises and Ianto does his best to hold them both together.
Jack's bluster and bravado is back within a week. His eyes are haunted but he never stops cracking jokes, forcing Ianto to smile when it seems like there's nothing in his life left to have hope about.
There are precious few moments in which they are allowed to be alone in that year. They steal privacy when and where they can, but convey more through brief kisses and possessive touches than Ianto ever thought possible.
Jack confesses once that he is terrified of the Master finding out, because he knows the Master would take such pleasure in ripping them apart.
Martha Jones saves the world while the Doctor loses another link to his past. The last of the Time Lords, the Doctor always says, but Ianto thinks that the universe is too full of impossible things for it really to be the end of them. There will always be another last chance for the Doctor, and one of these days there'll be someone that he won't have to give up.
Jack's team is alive again and he is ready to return to them. Ianto feels the loss already, a strange twist of regret in the middle of what should be a brilliant celebration of lift.
"I'm going," Martha says to him quietly. "I have to be with my family right now. They need me."
He needs you to, Ianto wants to say but her family is the most important thing to her and that's probably how it should be. She's just had a year to get used to life without the Doctor, after all.
"I can't leave him," Ianto says. "He'll be lonely. He saved me. I - I owe him."
"I know exactly what you're feeling." Jack's smile is kind, though his kiss aims to coerce. "The Doctor saved me, too."
"But he left you. You didn't leave him." Ianto says.
"And one day, he'll leave you. It's just what happens. But trust me, he won't blame you if you choose to leave on your own. He wants you to have a good life."
"I do have a good life," Ianto says. "I get to travel the stars and save worlds. I'm not ready to give this up."
"Look," Jack says, taking one of Ianto's hands in both of his. "Come with me. We can't save every world but we can save our world."
A year ago - or maybe it was just yesterday - Ianto had sworn that he would never return to that place. Canary Wharf is a million tragedies ago, though, and his memories of Lisa have become hollowed out with time. He's capable now of seeing more than a cybernetic figure, of hearing more than echoing screams, when he thinks of her.
But the TARDIS is like home to him and he isn't ready to leave just yet.
"You could go with him," The Doctor says as they walk back to the TARDIS.
Ianto just shakes his head.
"Really," the Doctor says. "I don't - I mean - I'll be okay. Fine. I'll be fine. If you go."
"Doctor," Ianto says, smiling a bit. "I'm going to stay with you."
"For how long?" The Doctor says, and then looks as if he's not sure where the words came from.
Ianto shrugs. It's on the tip of his tongue to say forever but he's more pragmatic than that. Still, all in all, they've had a good run... the Doctor and Ianto Jones.
The Doctor has fixed his mobile so that he can ring anywhere. The first time he calls Jack, neither of them are quite sure what to say but after a few minutes the words start to spill out and they don't stop for hours.
Jack is brimming with pride for his team and for the first time Ianto begins to really believe him when he says that his Torchwood is different. He thinks of all the brilliant minds slaughtered at Canary Wharf and wonders if Jack might not have been able to save them all, too, if he'd been given the chance.
Jack begins to ring him more often. Sometimes he pretends like he's looking for advice. It's a flimsy excuse because Jack has more experience that Ianto ever will but he looks forward to every conversation.
"Which suit are you wearing today?" Jack asks in a voice that almost makes Ianto blush. He hardly waits for an answer before continuing, "You know, I think this is the longest I've ever dated someone without having sex."
"Dating?" Ianto says, incredulous. "Oh, is that what we're doing, then?"
"Yeah, why not?" Jack says.Ianto can feel his smile across a dozen solar systems. "Come on, that was a year of pretty heavy foreplay - all of the whips and chains."
Ianto is amazed that not only can Jack joke about it without turning his stomach, but that it actually makes him laugh.
After they finish with the Titanic, the Doctor takes them to a pleasure planet for a celebration. In the process they manage to liberate a princess from a ritual sacrifice ceremony and instigate a rebellion of the people, which seems to cheer the Doctor up quite a bit.
It's with less of a heavy heart than he imagines that Ianto says to him, "I think I want to go visit Jack."
The Doctor raises an eyebrow at him. They haven't talked much about him and Jack, but he's always found it best to just work under the assumption that the Doctor knows everything.
He takes a sip of his purple sparkling drink and then says, "Just a visit?"
Ianto shrugs. "Maybe a long visit."
"Right," The Doctor says, and smiles because he knows. "Right, that's good. Good for you, then."
The next time he sees the Doctor, they're facing a Dalek fleet and he's surrounded the only people in the universe left that know what it feels like to hold the hand of a man who holds all of time inside of him.
Donna Noble is amazing, and a Time Lord, and Ianto has never been happier than he is when he thinks that the Doctor is finally going to have someone to hold his hand for the rest of his lives. Rose Tyler is there and beautiful and clever just like the Doctor said she was. They're all there; Sarah Jane and Mickey and Martha, beautiful brilliant Martha whom Ianto has missed so much, and Jack, on the TARDIS, there holding his hand.