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Illusions Of The Sunlight

Word Count: ~ 2.400
Summary: Ianto and Tosh shared many special moments – knowing that each could be their last.
Characters: Ianto Jones, Toshiko Sato, Jack Harkness, Gwen Cooper
Pairing: Jack/Ianto
Rating: PG-13
Spoiler: Ghost Machine, Cyberwoman, End Of Days, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Reset, Something Borrowed, Exit Wounds
Setting: after Cyberwoman, after Exit Wounds
Warnings: Canon character deaths
Author's Note: This is for the redisourcolor challenge #22 with a picture as a theme. I chose to incorporate the words vade mecum, footman and cake as well as the sentence Fear kept him/her/it running despite the agonizing pain. The title comes from Trading Yesterday's song Shattered. I invented the Cardiff Museum Of Natural History. As far as I know, it doesn't exist.
Beta: Eleanor Harkness-Jones, thanks!
Disclaimer: I’m not making money with this fanfic. The tv-show Torchwood and the characters appearing within it belong to their producers and creators. Any similarities to living or dead persons are purely coincidental and not intended.

***
***


There was blood and it hurt, it hurt so much to move, but he had to keep going. Ianto gasped and curled up on the floor of the Hub, taking a moment to strengthen his resolve. Then he crawled towards the med bay. Fear kept him running despite the agonizing pain. Fear…

He heard a shocked shout, then Gwen's voice calling frantically for Jack and her hands touching him, trying to cradle him to her. "What's wrong?" she asked. Her voice sounded strangely distorted. "My God, Ianto!" Her eyes were large and worried, but they kept swimming in and out of sight. She seemed to be so far away. Just here in his imagination, because he was alone. All alone. And he was scared.

He whimpered and freed himself from her grip, crawling on towards the med bay. He had to reach it.

Gwen helplessly said, "Ianto… tell me where it hurts. I can't see anything." Her hands pulled at him, tears choking her words.

Then there was the sound of heavy boots coming towards them. "What's going on?" Jack asked, sounding just as far away, just as unreal.

Nobody was here, Ianto reminded himself. He was imagining them, because he was all alone.

"I don't know," Gwen answered.

Jack grabbed Ianto and pulled him around, pressing his face into his coat. His scent seemed so real… his warm lips pressed kisses to Ianto's forehead and his fingers curled around Ianto's fist, trying to pry it open. "What's this?" Jack whispered.

Ianto yanked his hand away. They couldn't take it away from him. "You're not here," he sobbed. "Leave me alone. You can't be here." He gasped in pain when Jack touched his stomach. Blood everywhere…

"Ianto?" Jack asked.

"There's blood," Ianto answered. "There's blood everywhere."

He lost consciousness.

***

She looked so peaceful, sitting right beside him and looking at the people walking by – the families, the friends, the lovers. Toshiko was the eye in this storm of activity. Everybody here just hurried past her, on the way to see the newest exhibition in the Cardiff Museum Of Natural History. The building was a piece of art with marble adorning the walls, sunlight streaming through big windows by day and chandeliers giving off a tenderly bright glow when the sun went down or was hidden behind clouds.

Tosh sighed and Ianto looked at her when she turned her head towards him. "Do you feel better now?" she asked.

He gave a small nod.

She smiled. "Can you see why I like it here? All these people… they know nothing about the Rift or Weevils or Torchwood. Sometimes I wonder if I could be just as happy as them if I didn't either."

Ianto looked down at his hands, folded in his lap, clenched around the very reason for his panic attack a few hours ago. Jack would be furious when he found out that Ianto had taken alien technology with him outside of the Hub, but he was willing to risk his anger. "Yeah," he said quietly. "Sometimes I wonder the same."

Tosh continued as if he hadn't spoken, "But then again, I'm glad that I do." She turned to look at the people again and Ianto felt her calm wash over him. He sank back against the backrest of the hard wooden bench adorning the entrance hall, closing his eyes. She breathed in and Ianto did the same, feeling the calm deepen and his muscles relax.

"Why did you want to come here?" Tosh asked suddenly.

Ianto could smell her perfume – a subtle, sweet scent that reminded him of the lemon cake his mum used to make – and he smiled. "This is our place."

***

The first time they came here, it had been Tosh's idea just after his suspension more than a year ago.

It was a sunny day and the rays streamed through the big windows into the room, gleaming off the marble and chandeliers. Ianto felt out of place, sitting here next to Tosh who wasn't looking at him, but seemed all too aware of his mood. All the people passing by ignored them, too wrapped up in their own lives and families to care about two people sitting on a bench in the entrance hall of a museum.

Ianto shifted uncomfortably and checked his watch. Their lunch break would be over soon. Jack expected them back in half an hour. He didn't even know why he'd agreed to come with Tosh. The sandwiches sitting between them seemed like such a feeble excuse all of a sudden.

"Sometimes," Tosh said softly, just loud enough for Ianto to hear, "I come here when I think everybody's watching me. Sometimes it helps to see that I can be invisible."

Ianto bit his lip, fighting down the scathing remark trying to pass his lips. "I feel like that all the time."

Tosh seemed to hear it either way. She sighed and looked at him. "I'm sorry."

"What for?" he asked.

"The things you said when…" She avoided his eyes. "… when Lisa was found. You must think that we don't… that we don't see you at all, but that's not true. We just didn't look closely enough."

Another excuse. Ianto couldn't bear to hear them anymore. Gwen had given him plenty of them since he'd started working again, accompanied by shy smiles and offers of going for a pint. Even Owen had granted him a gruff apology… and then demanded some coffee.

"It doesn't matter," he said.

"It does," Tosh answered. "Sometimes we treated you like… a vade mecum or a footman, but… you were hurt… and we just didn't see that. Or maybe we did and ignored it."

"I made mistakes," Ianto said.

Jack had made sure that Ianto knew that. Angry words thrown at him during visits in Ianto's flat. "You betrayed us. You should have said something. How could you dare bring one of them into my base?" And Ianto had accepted that guilt, nodded and waited for the Retcon or the bullet, but neither had come.

Tosh surprised him by taking his hand between her smaller ones. "Let us take at least half of the blame."

Ianto looked at her and she smiled. He knew already that he would give her a second chance – all of them – because they were doing the same for him. That didn't mean that all the wounds had healed. He doubted they ever would. They would smart for quite a while to come.

For a while, they sat there, not talking, then Ianto spoke. "I like it here."

Tosh let go of his hand and leaned back on the bench, unpacking one of the sandwiches. "I thought you would."

He added, "Not because I can be invisible, though." Tosh gave him a curious look. Ianto sighed deeply and unpacked the other sandwich, trying to put his thoughts into words while fussing with a napkin. "Sitting here… I feel… ordinary."

"Do you wish for a normal life?" Tosh asked.

Ianto thought of Myfanwy, the team, the Hub… Jack…

"No," he answered and watched a family walking past, the parents laughing about the antics of their little girl, "but getting glimpses of it is nice."

They'd come back to this place several times since then: after Mary, after Suzie, when Jack had left them, when he came back, after Tommy, when Ianto had been plagued by nightmares about being a murderer, after Owen's life had been ended, after Gwen's wedding… and so many times in-between, just to soak up a bit of normalcy and quiet, just to be together and to bury the most recent trauma or pain under friendship and laughter.

This place meant so much to Ianto. It became a safe haven away from Jack's arms and kisses and away from the team because it was just his and Tosh's… but all good things came to an end.

***

"Ianto."

He jumped, the memories and calm broken into pieces, and felt large hands fold around his. Blue eyes looked at him with understanding, sadness and worry.

"I've been looking all over for you. I was so worried when I got back and you weren't there anymore," Jack said. Ianto noticed immediately that some people were turning their heads towards them. Jack's relieved words had been spoken loud enough for others to hear them. He ducked his head, hiding from their curiosity that was trying to burst the protective bubble he'd formed around himself. His eyes found Jack's fingers gently unfolding his hands. Jack's voice was soothing, soft, as if Ianto would break. "You have to stop this. Especially after what happened this morning. Give it to me," he said gently, prying the ghost machine from Ianto's grip.

Ianto didn't fight him. He just looked at Tosh's ghost. She vanished as if she had never been there as soon as his fingers lost their grip on the device.

Jack sighed deeply. "You can't keep doing this," he said, slipping the device into his coat pocket. "I know you want her back, but it's not possible. And I know you feel guilty for what happened, but re-living it won't make it any better. I know it hurts. Believe me, I do, but you'll get lost in the machine. It's like a drug." Jack sat down next to him and put an arm around his shoulders. His next words were spoken softly into Ianto's ear, tickling his short hair, "I can't lose you to it. I need you, Ianto. I need you so much right now."

It was unfair to call upon Ianto's instinct to care for others, but Ianto found that he didn't mind so much. He leaned into Jack's hold and muffled a sob against his shoulder. "I just wanted to see her again. Times like these… we used to come here. Just to sit and let the world pass us by."

Jack's hand settled on Ianto's hip, turning the hug into a lover's embrace right in front of everyone. A few weeks ago, Ianto would have blushed and shuffled away a few inches, embarrassed by the public display of affection. But a lot had happened since then. The comfort of the Hub had been ripped apart by intruders and his friends had been killed and the only people left on this planet who cared about him were Gwen – too distraught herself – and Jack – hitting Ianto across his soul the last few days by venting all his emotions in angry tears, cold detachment and snappy moods.

As if reading his thoughts, Jack said, "I haven't been there for you. I'm sorry." He kissed Ianto's temple.

"It's alright."

"It's not if it has driven you to do this," Jack answered.

The ghost machine in his coat pocket dug into Ianto's thigh. More people were looking at them, nodding towards them, laughing about them – or maybe he was just imagining it, because Ianto felt raw and sore and tired.

Jack made a soothing noise. "You haven't slept since it happened, have you?"

"There was so much to do."

"There always will be, but I want you to sleep. C'mon." He got up and tugged Ianto to his feet, keeping an arm around him.

"Where are we going?" Ianto asked, not resisting but scared that Jack would lead him back to the Hub where Tosh and Owen's ghosts still felt so at home.

"We're going home," Jack said. "You need sleep. Gwen's offered to watch the Hub and she's got Rhys there to keep her company, so I can stay with you."

"I'd like that," Ianto whispered and he tried on a smile. It hurt a bit, like he was out of practice, but it seemed to be enough for Jack, because he smiled back.

***

"I just wanted to feel better," Ianto said into the quiet of his bedroom, remembering the way the ghost machine had transferred Tosh's emotions onto him – calm, happiness at being in that museum with him, friendship. He raised his head from Jack's naked chest to look at him. "After I… I wanted to know what her last minutes were like, because…" He shook his head. "I needed to know. And after, I just wanted to be okay, so I took the machine to the museum."

Jack sighed and pulled the duvet higher to tuck it around Ianto's shoulders. Then his arms closed around him, tugging him closer, moulding him to his frame as if he wanted them to become one. Or as if he was trying to soak up Ianto's negative emotions. The sleeping pill was making Ianto drowsy, but he was still awake enough to think.

Jack muttered, "The ghost machine can't make you okay, Ianto. You have to do that by yourself."

Ianto rested his head on Jack's shoulder, breathing him in and relishing in his warmth. Their legs tangled and their groins brushed against each other, but Ianto was far too tired and Jack seemed to know that and avoided anything sexual. Ianto closed his eyes. "I need her so much right now."

"I know," Jack whispered.

"And I need Owen, too," Ianto added and a small smile stole his lips for a second, before they settled back into the constant frown that he couldn't get rid off – it seemed to be edged into his face these days. "Never thought I'd say that."

Jack didn't answer, but his thumb stroked soothing circles on Ianto's skin.

"I'm so tired," Ianto muttered, not really knowing why.

Jack's answer was barely loud enough to be heard. "Sleep."

"Not just… exhaustion," Ianto tried to explain. "I'm… really, really… tired."

Jack's lips planted several kisses in his hair and he began to hum softly. It sounded a bit like Moonlight Serenade, but it could have been a lullaby.

Between one breath and another, Ianto fell asleep.


END
09/11

If you want to have this (or some other) story as a PDF, I'd be happy to send it to you. Just PM me with the title of the story, the language you wanna have it in and your e-mail address and I'll deliver. :)


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Comments

( 28 comments — Leave a comment )
cb_eaglemaniac
Sep. 28th, 2011 05:59 pm (UTC)
This is lovely and very painful; poor Ianto. This hits home as it reminds me of how I tend to cope with losing loved ones...even though that sort of 'coping' makes me feel sadder and more bitter, rather than better. =/

Anyway, I always love seeing what writers do with the ghost machine in fic, but I think this is the first time I've read one where Ianto is the one using it. Thanks for sharing this!
jolinarjackson
Sep. 29th, 2011 05:37 am (UTC)
Thank you for reading. :)
remuslives23
Sep. 28th, 2011 06:08 pm (UTC)
Well, now I'm a mess. *wipes away tears* This was raw and painful and so beautifully done.
jolinarjackson
Sep. 29th, 2011 05:37 am (UTC)
Thank you. :) *hands out tissues*
nancybrown
Sep. 28th, 2011 06:20 pm (UTC)
Absolutely beautiful! I love the range of emotions you show in this.
jolinarjackson
Sep. 29th, 2011 05:38 am (UTC)
Thank you. :)
chironsgirl
Sep. 28th, 2011 08:21 pm (UTC)
Who heals the survivors? Ianto has to be Superman, but he has no super powers. Well, just the coffee. But he has to keep bouncing back from obliteration as if nothing happened. Until SNAP!
XOXOXOXO
jolinarjackson
Sep. 29th, 2011 05:39 am (UTC)
That's right. He's someone who suppresses emotion very easily and with every traumatic experience, it just gets worse.
lone_star_woman
Sep. 29th, 2011 03:19 am (UTC)
Ianto + Tosh friendship fic. Yay.

It is painful, but it reflects how much Tosh meant to Ianto. I love how they had a special place and how they came together when things got bad. Such a lovely friendship.
jolinarjackson
Sep. 29th, 2011 05:39 am (UTC)
Thank you. :)
mcparrot
Sep. 29th, 2011 03:29 am (UTC)
Awwww. So sad. Nice Ianto/Tosh friendship too.
jolinarjackson
Sep. 29th, 2011 05:39 am (UTC)
Thanks. :)
jo02
Sep. 29th, 2011 05:42 am (UTC)

This was such a moving idea, and handled so tenderly that it had me crying.
jolinarjackson
Sep. 29th, 2011 06:19 am (UTC)
Aw ... thank you. :)
reddevilpoes
Sep. 29th, 2011 06:01 am (UTC)
Poor Ianto, having to cope with death of loved ones...so hard, so painful at unexpected moments..
I hope Jack can really get through and be there for him.
jolinarjackson
Sep. 29th, 2011 06:19 am (UTC)
He made a good start anyway. :)
trix011
Sep. 29th, 2011 10:10 am (UTC)
Is beautiful, painful but beautiful!!
jolinarjackson
Sep. 29th, 2011 12:52 pm (UTC)
Thanks. :)
badly_knitted
Sep. 29th, 2011 06:35 pm (UTC)
*sniff* I miss Tosh too. And Owen.

I love the close friendship between Tosh and Ianto that you've shown here, they way they found comfort after all the difficult times in their lives just by sitting together at a museum and watching the people go by. A little bit of ordinariness in their extraordinary lives.

Lovely ending too.
jolinarjackson
Sep. 30th, 2011 05:15 am (UTC)
Thank you. :)
sandysan2013
Sep. 30th, 2011 05:23 pm (UTC)
Just when i think its all been done you go and do this most amazing thing! Thanks.
jolinarjackson
Oct. 1st, 2011 04:16 am (UTC)
Thank you. :)
vsee
Sep. 30th, 2011 07:11 pm (UTC)
This is really amazing and a scene I wish had been done on film.
jolinarjackson
Oct. 1st, 2011 04:17 am (UTC)
Thanks. :)
runzu
Oct. 1st, 2011 01:10 am (UTC)
You are among my favorite TW fic authors! I love this. My eyes welled with tears when I realized what Ianto had been doing. :'(
jolinarjackson
Oct. 1st, 2011 04:17 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! :) I'm glad you liked it.
jedi_harkness
Oct. 12th, 2011 02:42 am (UTC)
*choked up* Beautiful and heartbreaking.
jolinarjackson
Oct. 12th, 2011 01:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you. :)
( 28 comments — Leave a comment )