Word Count: ~1000
Spoilers: Everything ever. Or not. Occurs after "Out of Time."
Warning: Post-sex things. Still unbeta'd because, well, whatever.
Disclaimer: I do not own Torchwood. I do not make money off of Torchwood. In fact, it seems as though Torchwood owns and makes money off of ME. This is for entertainment purposes only.
Author’s Note: Written for jack_ianto_las . The prompt was "Terrible Gift." Ironically, this round sucked out my soul or something.
“I – can’t – die,” Jack pants. A final tremor shudders belatedly through his body.
Ianto collapses heavily, almost on top of him. The camp bed creaks a loud protest at the blatant misuse. His sweat-slicked skin is tinged pink with exertion; it looks odd, mottled, in contrast with Jack’s tan.
Ianto buries his face in the pillow as he catches his breath and lets the words settle around him like wind-tossed leaves. Depleted, he leisurely raises half of his face from the cool, soft cotton and graces Jack with as piercing a look as he can manage.
The lights in the bunker are on; they color everything with a mellow warmth that seems to contradict the tense set of Jack’s muscles. In retrospect, it had been an unusual demand to leave them lit, but Jack had been so unshakably insistent that Ianto didn’t dare question the instruction.
“I can’t stay dead,” Jack clarifies levelly.
Ianto grunts but doesn’t move, lazily content with his current half-gaze. “Gathered as much, sir.”
Their skin glows in the subdued beams of amber light. Jack clears his throat pointedly.
“Jack,” Ianto automatically amends.
Jack turns to face him with sharp features that are as hard and cold as marble. His eyes, though, are compassionate, bright, and just a little mournful.
An hour ago, Ianto would’ve jumped at the chance to tenderly press Jack for more information. Now, however, he fervently wishes to avoid this conversation, as the room is so temperate and his brain is so hazy with post-coital anesthesia. His body feels warm and deliciously numb and he just wants, more than anything, to fall asleep. He reaches out a hand and fumbles until he finds one of Jack’s. He gives a reassuring squeeze, hoping that it will forestall any further discussion on the matter.
“How?” Jack whispers.
“Can we talk about –”
Ianto grumbles his surrender and reluctantly rolls over onto his back to stare at the ceiling. He allows the silence to drag in a last-ditch effort, mentally imploring Jack to fall asleep. He feels Jack’s foot nudge his calf and grudgingly gives in.
“Right,” Ianto sighs. “How do I know?”
“CCTV footage. For a man with so many secrets, you’re a bit careless.”
Jack doesn’t say anything to that, doesn’t even comment on the teasing tone, and Ianto turns his head to see if he’s still awake. He is, unfortunately.
“And then the other day,” Ianto continues, gradually becoming more alert.
The cooled, drying sweat sends a chill through his body. Jack must notice, because he throws the coarse wool blanket over them both. It irritates his skin without the accompanying sheet.
“What about it?” Jack murmurs close to his ear.
The word is barely more than an exhalation of air, but Ianto can hear the apology behind it; he’d tuned his ears to Jack’s frequency months ago.
“He wanted to die. I tried to stop him, but –” Jack’s voice hitches. “I’m sorry. About your car.”
Ianto turns fully, his lethargic muscles resenting the movement, and presses his lips to Jack’s temple. He swears he can still smell a faint trace of exhaust on Jack’s skin. It makes him cringe.
“Just a car,” Ianto dismisses, hushed. “It’s been properly cleaned.”
They shift closer until they become a pile of tangled limbs and rough cloth. Ianto rests his head on Jack’s shoulder and is surprised to find it comfortable.
“There were Daleks,” Jack offers after a bout of contemplative peace. “And I died.”
Ianto nudges Jack’s neck with his forehead; it serves as both recognition and encouragement.
“It was dark. I told John – it’s all darkness. That’s all it ever is. But then, this first time, a golden light appeared. And there was this voice. ‘I bring life.’ That’s what it said. Like it was a gift.”
“But it’s not,” Ianto states cautiously, a hint of inquiry in his tone. “It’s a curse.”
Jack closes his eyes and nods. “I followed the voice, the light, and then I was alive again. Alone, but alive. I’ve been waiting ever since.”
“For?” Ianto prompts.
The metallic buzz of electricity combines with the whir of computers that are scouring the internet for pertinent leads. Myfanwy’s muffled staccato cry crescendos distantly.
“For death to stick. To be fixed.”
Ianto wants to say something reassuring, but the words get stuck in his throat. Instead, he hums noncommittally and burrows further into the blanket.
“Almost Christmas,” Jack says softly and Ianto lifts his head to glance blearily at the clock on the wall.
“Just about,” he mumbles through a yawn.
“I didn’t get you anything.” Jack’s voice is slightly penitent and as airy as gauze. “They don’t exactly make a card for this sort of thing. ‘Merry Christmas! Sorry I died in your car!’”
Ianto huffs a caustic, bitter laugh. “It’s all right. I’ve gotten worse presents.”
“Worse than nothing?” Jack asks and, when Ianto nods, he sighs. “Yeah. Me, too.”
Neither of them says anything else as they each ultimately succumb to the lulling pull of sleep. The lights remain on all night.