Characters/Pairing: Jack; past Jack/Ianto
Word Count: 595
Warnings/Spoilers: canon character death
Summary: Jack has lost many people, but none of them have haunted him quite like this.
Notes: Written for torchwood_las. Prompts were "journey" and "book".
“Would we have grown old together?”
Ianto’s voice is low and steady in the darkness, and Jack squeezes his eyes shut tight to it.
“I don’t know,” he answers honestly. His chest feels as empty as the room, as the entire planet.
The planet is very, very empty. He’s come a long way, after all.
“One of us would have, maybe,” he finishes.
“No, you would have grown old, too.”
Ianto sounds so sure of himself, of them; Jack wants to believe him.
Instead, he searches for a memory – closes his eyes again, and calls to mind the solidness of Ianto’s frame. He remembers how Ianto had smelled (earthy, fresh), and how that frame had felt in his arms the moment he yielded, the moment he’d given in to Jack’s embrace for the first, second, hundredth time.
It’s indulgent, but Jack doesn’t care. It makes him feel powerful to allow his memories to take shape like this.
(Jack has lost many people, but none of them have haunted him quite like this.)
This is a kind of magic, he thinks, as he pulls Ianto close, breathes him in.
It’s also a lie.
He’d felt magic before - taking bullets, and worse, and coming back gasping. Saving the world, time and time again. He’d started to feel as if he’d been able to control things - events, people. Most people are so easily manipulated, after all.
But Ianto Jones is not most people. This is probably what had done Jack in. If it had been easy, he’s sure it wouldn’t have ended up like this.
“You gave me meaning,” Ianto had said.
Jack had known then that he’d gone too far. People got close (closer, closest) and then they died, that was how this worked. It was the only way it worked.
And then he’d gone even further.
“Don’t forget me,” Ianto had said, and Jack hadn’t.
He’d traveled to the ends of this galaxy, and then another, not necessarily with the express purpose of forgetting anything at all, but figuring that hey, if it happened, he’d take it.
He’s not sure if he should be angry or grateful that so far nothing has changed.
“He’ll move on,” Ianto had written, and back then, this was all Jack had been willing to read.
The neat scrawl of letters had stared up at him accusingly. On the page, it had sounded so final.
“He’ll forget me.”
“He’ll forget all of us.”
Jack wonders where that journal is now. Ianto had hidden it for so long, and then one day he’d just left it sitting there in the hub on the table next to the couch, as if he’d wanted someone to read it.
Jack wonders if it had been destroyed with the hub, or if maybe it’d been tossed into a box with the rest of what had been left in Ianto’s flat. He has no idea which is the more likely scenario; he’d been long gone by then.
He thinks of writing Ianto’s words down again and then tossing the pages out into the ether of space, right into the sun, maybe. But instead he just repeats them to himself.
It feels a little like reciting a poem, sometimes.
“He’ll forget me,” Jack says, and stares into the mirror, into the eyes of a stranger who is growing old very slowly. He wonders now if those words didn’t contain just a tiny bit of mercy, of forgiveness.
“He’ll forget me,” Jack says again, this time with just a hint of resolve. “He’ll move on.”