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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.”

”Sometimes.”

”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.”

”Why?”

”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.”


END
05/12

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Comments

jolinarjackson
Jun. 17th, 2012 05:38 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.
badly_knitted
Jun. 17th, 2012 07:25 am (UTC)
I hate that many gay couples are forced to behave differently in public than they would in private or among friends. No one reacts if a heterosexual couple hold hands or kiss in public and the very thought that gay couples might feel the need to keep a distance from each other in public because of the threat of homophobia... It's just so wrong I don't even have words to express it. They shouldn't need to be wary of the people around them, never knowing who might assault them verbally or even physically. *sigh* I just get so angry.
jolinarjackson
Jun. 18th, 2012 03:59 am (UTC)
Dito. Very much. :)