Characters/Pairings: Ianto, Jack, Gwen
Word Count: 537
Spoilers: Takes place post-Exit Wounds, but no actual spoilers.
Warnings: AU; Character Death; Angst; Kinda Emo; Un-Beta'd.
Disclaimer: I don't own them. Not one bit.
Author's Note: I'm feeling melancholy again, I guess. Misery loves company. I need to stop thinking things before going to bed. Title is Latin for "To the stars through difficulty." Or something like that, if I'm remembering my lessons correctly. Comments, criticisms, feedback, and general banter are appreciated.
He knelt down on the small plot of earth and sighed. Gwen leaned against the SUV over a thousand meters away, watching him through a thin film of tears. He was grateful that she hadn’t asked to accompany him this far as he didn’t think he had the presence of mind to deny her.
“I’m driving,” she had said simply when he made his intentions known. “You’re in no shape.”
He couldn’t remember if he had thanked her yet.
Tracing the rough-hewn edges of the stone with his gloved fingertips, he closed his eyes and read the etchings by feel and memory alone, his mouth silently forming the words.
He was grateful for the appropriateness of the frostbitten air and cloud-heavy sky. The muted color of the browning grass, the black of the dying trees, the grey of the stone all collided into the morbid monochrome of his mind. He stood, feet testing the solid earth that had been hardened with the cold. He pulled the greatcoat tighter around him, appreciative of its thick woolen warmth.
Vowing the whole ride that he wouldn’t cry didn’t do much good. Still, he restrained himself to silent, soft waves of tears, biting back the pained sobs that threatened to break over him. He wanted to claw at the ground, pull back the veil of death, whisper life into the still being beneath his feet. The need to rage, to kick the pretentious piece of marble until it crumbled down around him, was bubbling up inside. Gwen’s watchful eye was the only thing that held him back.
This was all too familiar to him, despite the circumstances. He was no stranger to mourning; he had lost love to the dark-cloaked figure of Death before. He was almost able to anticipate the urge to tell Gwen to leave so that he could spend the night sleeping atop the freshly turned dirt. He was not able, however, to anticipate the force with which the urge descended.
Kneeling on the ground, he bowed his head as if in prayer.
“Why? Why now?” he whispered brokenly. The wind moaned through creaking trees in response. He searched for other words, anything to demand a clarifying answer from his surroundings. A sign, a portent, a promise. His mind went fuzzy, the harsh mantrum of whywhywhywhywhy echoing in his ears.
He let the minutes pass and slowly crumpled into himself as though he were trying to sink back into the ground, back home. The minutes stretched endlessly into an hour; his fingers and toes were numb and his face burned. A glance back indicated that Gwen had retreated into the protective heat of the SUV. He felt a twinge of guilt and rose stiffly, promising himself that he would return tomorrow.
Before leaving, he bent and kissed the top of the stone, hoping it would somehow transfer the press of lips into the body laying cold underneath.
“I love you,” he murmured, breath puffing white in the chill. “And I’m trying to be glad that you finally got what you wanted. I really am.”
He lifted the collar of the greatcoat and reverently breathed in the fading scent. With that, Ianto walked back to the SUV, sluggish steps burdened with grief..