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Degrees Of Violence

Word Count: ~ 1.500
Summary: They were fine and they had promised each other that it wouldn't make a difference. And yet, it did.
Characters: Ianto Jones, Jack Harkness
Pairing: Jack/Ianto
Rating: PG-13
Setting: Series 2
Warnings: Mention of gay bashing (happening off screen), mention of homophobia
Author's Note: Written for queer_fest and the prompt: Sometimes, Ianto forgets that things aren't always as easy outside Torchwood. I hope you like it.
Beta: larsinger29, thank you!
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.


They were fine and they had promised each other that it wouldn't make a difference.

It was just one of those things that happened and it shouldn't take over their lives. They'd covered the whole thing up so the team wouldn't know anything different: they made up a story about Ianto spending the week with his sister to help her out while Johnny was earning some extra money in Glasgow (in truth, Ianto spent the days at home, watching the bruises on his face fade away), they had the dry-cleaners take care of the blood on Jack's coat (paying them generously to never speak of it again) and they erased CCTV footage (looking for a chance to identify the ones responsible and not finding one – the footage was too grainy, the alley too dark and no other camera had caught them).

The team never suspected a thing, the visible bruises faded while the remaining ones were covered by Ianto's suits and Jack pretended that he couldn't remember what his coat had looked like just a few days ago.

They were fine and they had promised each other it wouldn't make a difference.

And yet, they weren't.

And it did.


Ianto smiled at Jack while he locked up the tourist office. ”I'm in the mood for sushi.”

”Sushi?” Jack echoed. Even in the meager light of the lamps lining the walkway around the Bay, Ianto could see a grimace pass over Jack's features.

”What's your problem with sushi?” He folded up the collar of his coat against the icy winter wind, pulling up his shoulders.

”Once you've eaten the Tiowes' version of sushi, you'll understand.”

”Do I even want to know?”

”No, you don't,” Jack answered. He looked towards the dark sea as if remembering – a tiny spark of sentimentality lighting up his handsome face – and then turned back to Ianto. ”Let's have Chinese.”

Ianto shrugged, figuring he could just ask Tosh out for sushi tomorrow. ”Fine.”

Jack reached out a hand, like he did every evening they managed to leave the Hub for a proper dinner, and Ianto automatically entwined their fingers. But when laughter was carried through the crisp night air, coming from one the boats fastened to the pier, Ianto pulled away and Jack tensed.

And they realized that they were far from fine.


They had Chinese but instead of eating out like they'd planned to, they had take-away in Ianto's flat. After that, they had sex: nice and unhurried and careful because even over a week later, Ianto was still healing. In a way, they both were.

When they were lying tangled up and exhausted – Jack's hand covering one of the almost-healed bruises on Ianto's hip and Ianto's fingers idly tracing the point on Jack's stomach where the knife had stabbed him – Jack suddenly asked, ”Should we talk about it?”

Ianto swallowed, unsure how to answer. His eyes found the curtains where the streetlamps painted orange splotches on the white cloth. ”I don't know.”

”We're fine, right?” Jack sounded as unsure as Ianto felt. He sounded tense … afraid that Ianto might say 'no'.

There really was only one answer. ”Yes.” Ianto kissed Jack's chest. ”Yes, we are.”


It took them four more take-away dinners in Ianto's flat, safely tucked away from the world, before Ianto said, ”We're not fine.”

Jack looked at him from across the kitchen table. For a second, it was silent enough to hear the clock on the wall ticking away, then Jack replied, ”I know.”

”Then why are we pretending?”

”Because it's easier,” Jack answered, making it sound like a question.

Ianto looked at the take-away cartons, the used plates, their bottles of beer. He sighed. They shouldn't be here, in his bare, tiny kitchen, selecting food from cartons and drinking from the bottle. They should be in a restaurant, taking food from serving trays and drinking wine. ”We're Torchwood,” Ianto said, ”we track down aliens who could intend to harm us. We hunt Weevils who would tear our throats out if we would turn our backs to them. We survived so many horrible things. Why is this so different?” He got up and piled their plates, setting them down in the sink.

”We survived this as well,” Jack pointed out.

Ianto added washing up liquid. ”Yes, because you revived and because they were interrupted before they could use the knife on me.” He opened the tap. ”Let's face it. We can't even call it by its name.”

He heard Jack's chair scrape back on the wood and then Jack's body warmed his back when he added their cutlery to the dishes and lingered, his hands on Ianto's arms. They stared into the sink, watching the suds form and the steam rise.

Finally, Jack said softly, ”Homophobia.”

”Gay bashing,” Ianto corrected him.

”Same difference.”


”There are no degrees of homophobia here, Ianto. Just degrees of violence.” Jack's lips brushed his nape.

Ianto's shoulders sagged. ”The worst is that … I was surprised. Shocked.”

”You had every reason to be. They came out of nowhere.” Jack's hands rubbed Ianto's arms briskly as if he was trying to warm him.

”No, I mean … I was surprised,” Ianto repeated and shook his head. ”As if homophobia isn't common.” He started doing the dishes. ”Even though it is. Degrees of violence.” He turned around to Jack, drying his hands on a dishtowel. ”It must be worse for you. Coming from a time where it's not a problem anymore.”

Jack swallowed visibly and his eyes flitted to the side. ”It's hard. It always is. I … learned to live with it.” He gave a small smile. ”It's not as bad as it used to be.”

Ianto framed Jack's face with his hands, his thumbs caressing Jack's cheeks. ”This happened to you before.”

”I've been here for over a century and I traveled into Earth's past before that so, yes, it happened.”

Ianto's hands wrapped around Jack's braces, pulling him in gently. ”I've been ignorant. Torchwood – it's so safe, it has always been progressive, employing women from early on and giving them important positions, looking out for diversity … I stopped ...” He took a deep breath. ”I forgot how the world outside can be. Weevils, aliens … cannibals … it has never been personal.” He ducked his head, still finding it hard to meet Jack's eyes when he talked about his betrayal over a year ago. ”Even Lisa … the only one who that was personal for was me. In the end, you dealt with an alien invasion and you stopped it. Because that's your job.”

”I doubt that it's that simple.”

Ianto shook his head and looked up at him. ”For the purpose of this discussion, it is.” Jack sighed and leaned his forehead against Ianto's, giving comfort. Ianto met his eyes, so close to his. ”You've been through this before.”

Jack nodded.

”And yet you wouldn't hide.”

”Not for long.”


”Because I've got no other choice. This is me. If I'd hide away, I'd be unhappy. If I'd hidden away ...” He pulled Ianto closer and folded his hands on Ianto's back. ”... I wouldn't be standing here right now with you. I could never regret this, Ianto Jones ... regret us.” He kissed him softly. ”I don't have time for regrets.”

Ianto nodded solemnly and straightened his shoulders. ”We both don't. So let's have dinner in a restaurant tomorrow … do you want to dare sushi? Get out of your Chinese safety zone?” His stomach protested the very idea of going out there again with Jack, to be close, for everyone to see, but he ignored it. After all, they really didn't have time for regrets.

”Let's,” Jack answered, entwining their fingers, ”and sushi sounds like a dare worth taking.”


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( 40 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jun. 15th, 2012 01:19 pm (UTC)
Oh lord, that was painful. Wow.
I so hate that the world is still like this. I can't fix it. All I can do is make sure I bring my kids up to be inclusive and understanding and ... and I don't quite know what, but better than the last generation.

And well done you for taking these issues and making fic. It works so well.

And yes, in answer to your answer to another comment of mine, congratulations on finishing your pilot. It is so neat to finish original fic. We know we can write good fanfiction but original work brings so much higher expectations of ourselves that it makes it really really hard to achieve. Well done.
Jun. 15th, 2012 02:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you. :)

I think that bringing up your kids that way is the best you can do, since they will create the future society.
Jun. 15th, 2012 02:00 pm (UTC)
Oh, that was so painfully beautiful. To see their struggle and how they realized that they neededto talk, needed each other to get over something so awful. It was just an amazing way to disuss those issues. I never thought of it all as degrees of violence before but that line stood out to me in particular, it is the best way to describe homophobia. Thank you!
Jun. 15th, 2012 02:55 pm (UTC)
Thank you. :)
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 15th, 2012 02:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you. :)
Jun. 15th, 2012 02:40 pm (UTC)
Have you ever seen that footage of the cross dressing cage fighters in Cardiff? A bloke tried to harrass these men in dresses walking along, and they turn around and deck him. He had just thought he was having a go at some cross dressers and they turned out to be professional fighters (for some reason cage fighters are into cross dressing. ) It was all over youtube etc. . Anyhow for some reason I thought of that reading this, as in the attackers wouldn't have known what they were letting themselves in for.

I really like how you've written this, and dealt with the aftermath.
Jun. 15th, 2012 02:59 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I have never seen that footage but it sounds like justice won in that situation. :)
Jun. 15th, 2012 02:51 pm (UTC)
Feels so sadly real.
I have no doubt many have the same kind of conversations & behavior after being confronted by hate.

-"do you want to dare sushi? Get out of your Chinese safety zone?
-"Let's, and sushi sounds like a dare worth taking"

Domestic words so meaningful.

After Chasing Aliens, Weevils...I can see Ianto being shocked by something so...human.
& with few words, you can feel all the Jack's past/present pain/hurt.

Great little ficlet.

Jun. 15th, 2012 03:00 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much. :)
Jun. 15th, 2012 03:38 pm (UTC)
"Degrees of violence" is the perfect way to put it, on a continuum from verbal slurs to murder. And your (Ianto's) realization that this incident was especially shattering because it was personal, unlike their all-in-the-day's-work risks from Weevils or alien artifacts. I really admire the way you made this so powerful without exaggerating the physical and emotional damage.

And I gather that English is not your first language, which makes your accomplishment even greater - your command of English far exceeds a lot of native speakers.
Jun. 16th, 2012 10:02 am (UTC)
Thank you. And I really think that homophobia (or any kind of hate for that matter) is just that - hate. Either you are homophobic or you're not. The only thing that varies is how you show it.

My native language is German. Thank you. :)
Jun. 15th, 2012 04:39 pm (UTC)
Wasn't sure where you were going with this at first. A really lovely treatment of a horrible subject. I can identify with Ianto in that I sometimes forget how much homophobia there still is in society and how terribly hateful people can be. As a Christian, I find it particularly abhorrent when it's my fellow Christians who are doing it. I'm trying my best to educate as many of them as I can.
Jun. 16th, 2012 10:04 am (UTC)
Thank you. :)
Jun. 15th, 2012 04:54 pm (UTC)
This was painful and beautiful. I like that, rather than show the attack, you showed the aftermath, not in the standard fanfic ptsd crying-in-the-shower way, but calm and brittle, clearly not okay, but having to work through what happened anyway. Excellently done.
Jun. 16th, 2012 10:06 am (UTC)
Thanks. :) The crying in the shower bit is exactly what I wanted to avoid because it is quite common. It might have happened, who knows, but I wanted to delve into the long-term effects.
Jun. 15th, 2012 04:57 pm (UTC)
Really powerful. So true how it affects them because it was a personal attack. I wish they hadn't hidden it from the team, though I can see why they did it.
Jun. 16th, 2012 10:08 am (UTC)
Thank you. :) My reasons for letting them hide it is that their relationship in front of the team remains so professional. I just don't think they'd want this to intrude, especially since they tried to erase it from their own private lives.

Edited at 2012-06-16 10:08 am (UTC)
Jun. 15th, 2012 06:18 pm (UTC)
You take on tough issues with a subtle sensitivity that still gets me choked up. You make it personal. These short stories have so much impact.

Love this one a lot!
Jun. 15th, 2012 09:29 pm (UTC)
Yeah, what Kfirah said!
(no subject) - jolinarjackson - Jun. 16th, 2012 10:12 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jolinarjackson - Jun. 16th, 2012 10:09 am (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 15th, 2012 09:30 pm (UTC)
I never thought of gay bashing as degrees of homophobic violence, but it's accurate. It's terrable that such hateful acts happen still. Really well written fic.
Jun. 16th, 2012 10:10 am (UTC)
Thank you. :) I think gay bashing is the highest degree of homophobia. It's the most destructive one for sure.
Jun. 16th, 2012 01:54 am (UTC)
That was...heavy. Very well done but definately heavy. I'm glad you wrote this. It drives home problems that still exist that have sort of lost focus. The big thing in the States at the moment is gay marriage (more precisely the lack of). I'm stopping right there. Political discussions tend to piss me off and it's been a long week. I don't want to get on my soap box and preach:) Let's leave it at I loved your story but now I'm off to find some meaningless fluff (hopefully involving a lot of sex) to read.
Jun. 16th, 2012 10:11 am (UTC)
Thank you. :)
Jun. 16th, 2012 01:57 am (UTC)
*swallows lump*

What a great portrayal of something so dark and evil.
Jun. 16th, 2012 10:11 am (UTC)
Thank you. :)
Jun. 16th, 2012 06:00 pm (UTC)
The worst part of this is that it still happens, there are people out there who will cheerfully beat up and even kill complete strangers just because of their sexual orientation and it makes me so angry and disappointed in humanity.

I don't know how gay couples manage to cope with going out together when there is the ever present possibility of homophobic people ruining their evenings out with anything from verbal attacks and insults to an all out, violent physical assault.
Jun. 17th, 2012 09:38 am (UTC)
I guess it's a matter of the gay couples deciding just how they want to handle going out together. They might decide against holding hands in public or kissing to avoid drawing attention to themselves. It's sad but true.
(no subject) - badly_knitted - Jun. 17th, 2012 11:25 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jolinarjackson - Jun. 18th, 2012 07:59 am (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 17th, 2012 08:57 am (UTC)
An excellent piece. I really do like your writing.
This is small, but with a big impact!

My son is gay. He and his partner are living with me (temporarily) at the moment, which gives me a chance to see more of their relationship close up.
Both have been brought up in totally loving, accepting and relatively trouble free environments. My son never 'came out' to me. It never occurred to us that there was a reason to - he brought boys home instead of girls!
We/they are 'lucky' - though I hate having to think like that...

Reading TW has me asking him direct questions sometimes that I probably wouldn't have done otherwise. One was about holding hands in public. My son is very loving, open, but is also very bright and politically aware. Gay rights and issues are a big thing for him. But he said no, he does not hold hands in public - why give people an opportunity to get at them? Why 'shove it in their faces' I think he said. (They are in the US at the moment so can't ask - it was a while ago.) I remember thinking that he had thought about it... Sad, but still true.

The campaign for equal rights, equal marriage, zero tolerance must go on. It is vital for all of us and our future. This is th 21st Century!
Jun. 17th, 2012 09:35 am (UTC)
Thank you. :)
They really were lucky. I was brought up by a mom who knew that I was gay before I did and she always accepted it. I know that not everybody has got such an accepting parent, even though it shouldn't be a problem. It's sad that hiding by not holding hands in public for example is necessary. You certainly think several about it before you really do it. In the end, it makes life easier, as sad as that sounds.
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( 40 comments — Leave a comment )