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Torchwood: Coping Mechanism (Fanfiction)

Coping Mechanism


Word Count: 998
Summary: ”It's after hours, it's just you and me. You're not my leader, you're my lover. You're allowed to unburden yourself.”
Characters: Jack Harkness, Ianto Jones
Pairing: Jack/Ianto
Rating: PG
Spoiler: Out Of Time
Setting: after Out Of Time
Warnings: Mention of suicide
Author's Note: Written for torchwood_las and the prompt Celebrations. The additional word to use was A time piece. This came in third in the finale. I have to admit that I was a bit sloppy with this. There was so much going on and the prompt didn't really fit for me and I was done with this pretty late and didn't have time for a beta. So, not my best work. :)
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.


“He couldn't cope,” Jack said, looking down at John Ellis's body, lying pale and dead before him. It was cold in the room holding the cryo chambers but Jack welcomed the temperature. He didn't want to feel warm and alive – not with John lying there dead and cold.

Ianto raised his eyes from the clipboard. ”I already suspected as much.” He jotted down a few more letters – Death by suicide maybe – then he looked at Jack sadly. ”I'm sorry. I know that he meant a lot to you.”

Jack crossed his arms and stared at John's features, seemingly more relaxed and happier in death. ”Yes, he did.” He looked at John for a moment longer, then he sighed and turned away. He left without another word, knowing that Ianto wouldn't stop him, and he was grateful for that. It was painful enough that he wasn't alone right now, the rage at his inadequacy slowly rearing its ugly head. Why hadn't he seen this coming? Or had he and just ignored the signs? Because he sometimes wished he could do what John had done, without being dragged back to life?

The short way to his office seemed long, his limbs felt heavy and uncoordinated. For the first time in a very long time, Jack felt absolutely shattered. He sank into the chair behind his desk and put his head in his hands, pulling at his hair until it hurt. Maybe he felt so tired because he'd died so often tonight. Or maybe because John's death hit a bit too close to home.

His eyes strayed and found one of the monitors hooked to the wall. The news were showing decorated streets and smiling people milling about in the shops – somewhere up there, it was Christmas. Ianto entered the office and, slightly irritated, Jack asked, ”Why are you still here?”

Ianto paused for only a second, then he continued to the little table that held the liquor and poured a glass of Scotch. ”Work to do, sir.”

”You should be with your family right now.” Not here, all alone with Jack, his anger and the slowly mounting need to kill himself again. Because it had felt good in the car with John. Forgetting everything for just a few minutes. Not caring about anything but himself.

”Not tonight, no. We've made arrangements for New Year's Eve.” Ianto set the glass down in front of Jack. ”I don't feel like celebrating Christmas this year.”

Jack wrapped the fingers of one hand around the glass. ”Lisa?”

”It's not just because of Lisa. Gwen and Tosh have taken the day off to be with their families and you need somebody here who keeps you and Owen from killing each other.” He paused. “Even though I don't need to worry about you, isn't that right, sir?”

Jack froze, the glass half-way to his lips. Jack was a bit surprised that he wasn't more worried about Ianto knowing that he was immortal. Maybe because there was no doubt in his mind that Ianto would keep this to himself. ”How did you find out?”

”There were rumours at Torchwood One, clues have been piling up lately and the way you smelled of exhaust fumes when you came back with John's body … nobody smells that strongly when they haven't been sitting in that car for a while. So I looked for CCTV footage in the area. You were in that garage for over an hour.” Ianto's voice was calm, as were his eyes.

Jack looked at him for a long time, the only sound being the clock on the nearby wall ticking away the seconds. Then he said, ”I died eight times while in that car with John. Looking at him was like looking into a mirror.”

Ianto stepped around the desk and leaned against it. “You're not from this time”, he deduced. ”But you're coping. I see you coping every single day, you get on with your life.”

Jack slammed the glass on the desk. ”Because I have to!” he yelled, the anger at himself, at Ianto, at the Doctor and at John bubbling over. “I can't begin to count the times I was where John was tonight. Perched on the edge of a roof, holding my gun to my head, provoking a Weevil … I died so many times because I just couldn't cope. Don't you dare stand there and telling me that I've got a grip, like you know me! You have no idea about me! I'm not coping. Maybe I never will.”

Silence entered the office. Jack was staring at Ianto, breathing heavily. Ianto answered the stare calmly.

Then, catching Jack by surprise, he cupped Jack's face and pressed a gentle kiss to his lips. ”Felt good, didn't it?”

Jack deflated, exhaustion getting the better of him. ”I'm sorry.”

”You didn't hurt me.”

”I overstepped a line. I'm your leader, I shouldn't ...”

”It's after hours, it's just you and me. You're not my leader, you're my lover. You're allowed to unburden yourself.” He leaned back and gave a wry smile. ”Besides, it's Christmas. It's kind of a tradition to yell at others. You can ask any family having relatives over during the holidays.”

Jack chuckled and sighed deeply, rubbing his tired eyes.

Ianto pulled him into his arms. ”Believe it or not, you are coping. John gave up on life, he didn't see any way for himself to live in this time, he didn't have a place here ... but you … you have a place. Right here. With us. Whenever you're ready to accept it.”

Jack put his arms around Ianto, thinking of the Doctor. “I don't know when that might be.”

Ianto pressed a kiss to his neck. “That's okay. You just let me know when you do.”


Torchwood Masterlist

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( 35 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 1st, 2012 11:05 am (UTC)
Ooh, that's a cool notion, that Jack wasn't able to accept his immortality until he knew he was stuck with it. And it ties nicely with his improving attitude in series two.

Even if it's not your utter best, I still adored it :)
Aug. 2nd, 2012 04:31 am (UTC)
Thank you. :)
Aug. 1st, 2012 11:08 am (UTC)
Great Fic.
Aug. 2nd, 2012 04:31 am (UTC)
Thanks. :)
Aug. 1st, 2012 11:08 am (UTC)
I feel like I should comment but I'm having a hard time finding words. I think I'm stunned. You NAILED their voices.

I can say what it's not: It's not whiney, needy, sexy Jack. It's not subby, sexy, or intelligent Ianto. Instead it's so much better. It's human. It's comfort. It's layered.

I love it.
Aug. 2nd, 2012 04:32 am (UTC)
Thank you. :)
Aug. 1st, 2012 11:28 am (UTC)
That was really great. Love when Jack doesn't always have to be so strong.
Aug. 2nd, 2012 04:32 am (UTC)
Thank you. :)
Aug. 1st, 2012 11:51 am (UTC)
You're among the best even when you're not at your best. This lovely piece needs no apology. I'd be ever so happy to be able to produce anything so profound.
Aug. 2nd, 2012 04:33 am (UTC)
Thank you. :) But you should really go and read the other submissions for the finale. The winner, especially, is just awesome.
(no subject) - sandysan2013 - Aug. 2nd, 2012 10:54 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jolinarjackson - Aug. 3rd, 2012 04:55 am (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 1st, 2012 12:31 pm (UTC)
I totally agree with mystmoon1. You really did nail them with this. Great job!
Aug. 2nd, 2012 04:33 am (UTC)
Thank you. :)
Aug. 1st, 2012 01:02 pm (UTC)
This is utterly beautiful and breathtakingly poignant. I was choked up after reading it. Never would have guessed you had "issues" with it. So glad you posted it anyway! :)
Aug. 2nd, 2012 04:34 am (UTC)
Thanks. :) I generally don't work well with prompts like "celebration". I don't know why. I just get stuck.
Aug. 1st, 2012 01:48 pm (UTC)
Deep underneath the arrogance and aloofness Jack's just as human as the rest of us, and Ianto's the one who would see behind the mask to the real man with the real, raw, human emotions.

Aug. 2nd, 2012 04:35 am (UTC)
Thank you. :)
Aug. 1st, 2012 02:54 pm (UTC)
This is great. I always think John Ellis is a terribly tragic character and you really bring that sadness and despair to the fore. The voices are excellent.

Well done for making the final, I think the standard was so high, I reckon when they are all this good it almost becomes random why one story wins over the others.
Aug. 2nd, 2012 04:35 am (UTC)
Thank you. :) There were some really amazing stories in the LAS. I definitely think, though, that the winner deserved it. The story was breathtaking.
(no subject) - fide_et_spe - Aug. 3rd, 2012 05:52 am (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 1st, 2012 03:16 pm (UTC)

Ianto's calm, matter of fact attitude was just what Jack needed, it allowed him to give in to his rage and helplessness without having any consequences to worry about. I think Ianto understands Jack better than Jack realises, he certainly knows more about his lover than Jack imagined. But that's akay too, because Ianto will keep what he knows to himself.
Aug. 2nd, 2012 04:36 am (UTC)
Thank you. :) And that's exactly how I see their relationship.
Aug. 1st, 2012 04:03 pm (UTC)
While you might think this wasn't your best, I have to say I'm quite impressed by this. It was a wonderful take on Jack and his complicated relationship with his immortality, on the dynamics between Jack and Ianto at this point, and on Ianto finding out about Jack's immortality.

I especially liked how supportive Ianto was in this. Most interpretations I've seen of Ianto finding out about Jack's immortality via a suicide (particularly associated with this episode) have Ianto reacting hurt or upset. This really was a different and refreshing portrayal, and showed just how adult and understanding Ianto is. When he just allowed Jack to rant out the injustice of his situation, and then reacted with calm and understading; well, that moment was just perfect to me.

You really captured both their voices and personalities so well here. I'm definitely mem'ing this, since it was beautiful. Well done on this piece, and congrats in the LAS! Third place is quite fantastic, I think!
Aug. 1st, 2012 06:15 pm (UTC)
I prefer this subtle, more human take. Well done.
(no subject) - jolinarjackson - Aug. 2nd, 2012 04:39 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jolinarjackson - Aug. 2nd, 2012 04:37 am (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 1st, 2012 08:18 pm (UTC)
I have to echo what others have said; this is an exceptionally human piece that captures the characters of Jack and Ianto in a truthful and honest way - and that I love to see!

I have been reading TW Fic for over a year almost non-stop - being new to fan fic though not new (!) to DW or TW and now have a grip more or less on who and what I like - and what I don't ;)
I love your writing more and more, so I'm very glad this one made it. It also reinforces what we all know - that there are far superior writers in this fandom than those employed in that particular boys club...

Congratulations on your place - from one reader who looks on in awe :)
Aug. 2nd, 2012 04:38 am (UTC)
Thank you so much. :)
Yeah, it takes a while to figure out what to read and what not to read. I've been into fanfic for over ten years now and sometimes, I still find things I didn't know existed.
Aug. 2nd, 2012 09:16 am (UTC)
Aug. 3rd, 2012 04:54 am (UTC)
Thanks. :)
Aug. 5th, 2012 06:53 pm (UTC)
Don't sell yourself short, this was really well-done. Like the other readers said, it's a good, if hard, view of Jack's humanity, and I loved the line about how Christmas is for yelling at people.
Aug. 6th, 2012 03:21 am (UTC)
Thank you. :) And the Christmas line is kinda personal experience and what I heard from friends with a lot of relatives ...
Aug. 7th, 2012 07:49 pm (UTC)
Such a sad episode. :( You captured Jack's frustration so well.
Aug. 8th, 2012 03:27 am (UTC)
Thank you. :)
( 35 comments — Leave a comment )