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Torchwood Fic: "Geode 1, 2, 3"
star trek xi; finally gold
cirrocumulus wrote in cirro_media
Title: Geode 1, 2, 3
Fandom/Pairing: Torchwood, Jack/Ianto
Rating: PG
Words: 2,713
Summary: An approximation of how Jack and Ianto went from 0 to 60 between "Cyberwoman" and "They Keep Killing Suzie." Inspired by this line from the Captain's Log for "Greeks Bearing Gifts": Ianto is still suffering, but putting on a brave face. Will try talking to him over dinner, outside the Hub, see if there's anything more I can do for him. Made sense to me.




Jack appeared suddenly in Ianto's field of vision—bounded boisterously into it, more like—and announced with confidence:

"Come on, we're going out."

Ianto's immediate subconscious jolt was, of course, that this was some clever (or not so clever, if Ianto could foresee it) setup to lure Ianto into a false sense of security (which would never, ever happen) so that Jack could wipe his memory and/or execute him in some undignified alleyway (no worse than he deserves) for Crimes Against Torchwood Three—

But it was just an impulse.

Enough time had elapsed between Then and now that those thoughts had become just shameful little aberrations in his thought processes that he could hide behind his back without much fanfare. In their place Ianto was left to wonder why in God's name Jack would voluntarily want to spend any time with him outside of their sweetly awkward mandatory work time.

Ianto could only imagine, with some fear, that Jack had good intentions at heart.

"Er, I have a lot of case studies to write-up," Ianto attempted, punctuating the sentence with some typewriting for good measure. "Maybe some other time, sir?"

"Except that if I keep letting you make excuses there won't ever be another time, will there?" Jack smirked in his trademark all-knowing fashion and made Ianto very, very nervous. "Come on. Just dinner somewhere." He paused for the proper emotional affect: "I just want to make sure you're okay."

Ianto didn't know if it would have been more infuriating if Jack were simply pretending to care or if he actually did care. In any case Ianto was much too busy pretending to work as he actually had been before Jack interrupted him with—whatever.

"Really, sir, I don't have the time tonight." Ianto was inspecting the keys now. Lots of dust. Abominable.

"You're only busy because you make work for yourself," Jack said with, perhaps, fondness, and strode conversationally over to where Ianto was sitting at his desk.

"I think it's the persistent alien invasions that do that for me, actually," Ianto mumbled, only really half listening to what he was saying. And, apparently, only half looking at what he was typing, because he'd suddenly forgotten how to spell "conscious" and the word had collapsed in a sad little train-wreck of vowels and consonants on his computer screen.

"You said that I never ask you about your life," Jack said quietly. "So this is me, trying to do that."

At first Ianto just froze, paralyzed; it was absolutely the worst, most embarrassing thing Jack could have said. Ianto risked a glance up at Jack, who was being very welcoming and sincere in a way that made Ianto feel like some form of repulsive invertebrate.

Ianto finally nodded and got up, following Jack to the door mostly because he felt ashamed for the both of them.


--------


Ianto appreciated the change of scenery, at least: the presence of an actual outside world lent some normalcy to the veneer of his and Jack's presence there, but made Ianto feel by contrast so much more alien than everyone around him that he couldn't imagine opening up to Jack now.

"I appreciate you sticking with the team, Ianto," Jack said, projecting sincerity over a basket of chips. Ianto meanwhile was practically hiding behind a pint that he'd wrapped both hands around as if it might prove to be an effective weapon should he need it.

"It's just my job, sir. I don't really have anything else."

"That's your problem, you know. You undermine yourself too much." Jack said it all with a playful smirk, apparently unaware that one can't jovially analyze a person's tragic personality faults during casual dinner conversation.

Ianto wasn't hungry, and his stomach felt like it was full of cotton balls, which was strange because he couldn't recall eating any of those lately.

Could be some bizarre alien parasite from that thing Owen dragged in the other day, he mused, mind immediately jumping to the worst-case scenario. Or love.

Which was, of course, a perfectly strange little thought to have slip into his mind like that; but mulling it over (whilst decidedly ignoring Jack) he realized that that was practically his default setting lately. After Lisa died (she did, didn't she? Ianto couldn't imagine ever getting over it) his love for her was some broken, damaged thing that he had to nurse carefully to keep from getting infected; but now that it had cooled off somewhat ("it" being everything—his life), that love was just an awkward object he carried around, not knowing what to do with, trying to foist off on other people. Love? Here, take it. I don't really need it right now.

"...I'm proud of how you dealt with the situation today, though." Jack had apparently been talking.

Ianto regarded Jack sadly and wished, not for the first time, that he were somewhere else; not because he didn't want to be near Jack but because he didn't want to pay the price of being so confused by his presence.

"See, this is why I wanted to talk to you," Jack said, suddenly back to earth, startling Ianto with the accuracy with which he'd seized onto Ianto's own train of thought. "I know something's bothering you."

Ianto smiled, dismayed, because Jack's simple "something" was so far, far away from detecting the source of the occlusion to Ianto's happiness that for a second Ianto lost hope of Jack actually being able to understand his poor depravity.

"Of course something's bothering me, sir," Ianto said, without malice, but actually a surprising amount of honesty. "I doubt 'something' will ever stop bothering me."

Jack's gaze wandered away for a moment, and Ianto felt almost angry with how badly he wanted Jack to understand. If he could have melded their minds together so Jack would know everything he was living with the past few months so at least it would be something, he would; and he knew even before a specific question formed in his mind that he was going to do something pathetically honest.

"I was just wondering if there was anything else you needed," Jack said. Ianto felt immediately uncomfortable. "I know that there probably isn't anything I can do, but if you need anything—more time off, maybe—"

"No," Ianto intoned abruptly, some unexpected part of him insulted by the notion. "I just..."

Sure enough, Ianto felt it forming in his head: the question that had been incubating inconspicuously in his mind, the one he desperately wanted to ask but didn't want an answer to; and Jack seemed privy to Ianto's pensive silence, calmly allowing Ianto's mutinous need for forgiveness to do the hard work for him.

Ianto sighed.

"Do you blame me? Still?" Ianto managed at least to wrap the question in some dignity that might even have passed for brashness.

"...I don't know," Jack said; as he leaned back in his seat his boot just minutely touched the sole of Ianto's shoe and Ianto instinctively retracted his foot, hooking it behind his other leg for good measure.

"I don't think I have any right to blame you," Jack continued after a little thought. Ianto blinked reflexively.

"I don't think you need any, sir," Ianto said. "It seems pretty obvious to me that you should."

"Why did you ask, then?" Jack seemed keenly interested and Ianto folded further over the table.

"I just wanted a definite answer," Ianto said bravely. "Yes or no. So that we can at least stop avoiding it all of the time."

"Oh, Ianto," Jack sighed. Ianto held his breath hopefully. "No. No, I don't."


--------


Jack felt terrible.

Which was unfair, because he shouldn't have had to feel terrible, and he knew Ianto felt worse. They'd both reached a sort of equilibrium of terribleness and Jack knew what follows once that's happened, but he wasn't sure he had the heart to do that to Ianto either.

Jack followed Ianto up the starkly-lit stairs up to his flat— probably the first time Ianto had actually gone "home" in days—up to the door in a total yet not entirely uncomfortable silence. Their footsteps echoed arhythmically off the hallway walls and Jack wondered precisely how long it was going to take for this entire disaster of a night (and it's not even over yet, he thought with uneasiness) to come back and bite him in the ass.

"Well," Ianto said as they reached the door, mouth flattened tersely and hands stuffed securely into pockets. "Have a good night, sir."

"You too, Ianto." Jack smiled and waited for Ianto to open the door to his flat and go in.

Which he didn't. Instead Ianto simply stood there awkwardly, watching Jack, who was watching back, and then a quizzical eyebrow was raised.

"Yes?" Jack asked.

"I—oh. Nothing. Well, goodbye."

"Bye," Jack said, and this time took the initiative of leaving.

He didn't make it three steps.

"Wait. Sir." Jack had been about expecting this, but apparently not enough to think of anything practical to say.

When Jack turned around Ianto was standing next to the door to his flat, not expectantly but not pleadingly, either, and Jack could only imagine that it was an urge to escape the cold and the stark lighting of the hallway that made him follow Ianto inside.


Ianto's flat wasn't exactly the way Jack had expected it to look, but not in any remarkable way. It was sensibly and sparsely decorated and, frustratingly, didn't tell Jack anything about Ianto that he hadn't already known. The flat was excessively neat save for one empty coke can that Jack imagined Ianto had allowed himself to leave on his coffee table in a bout of living-on-the-edge dare-devilry.

"Is there anything you want, sir? Coffee? Tea?" Ianto had already retreated behind the safety of his kitchen counter and had set about his (unfortunately endearing) compulsion of feeding and hydrating people.

"No, I'm fine, thanks, Ianto." Ianto had several cheerfully-colored cereal boxes packed into a cupboard shelf and Jack wondered if Ianto was one of those people who eats cereal for dinner.

"So, er," Ianto started, standing in the middle of the kitchen holding a cup he'd apparently forgotten what he was planning to do with. "I just wanted—" –more rummaging through cupboards—and then Ianto stopped, turned around to actually look at Jack, hands on his hips and his mind evidently trying to procure something coherent.

"Yes?"

"It's that... today, when Tosh brought in that alien into the hub—" and ah, here was the conversation Jack had been dreading all day— "you didn't seem mad at her."

Jack stared at a piece of lamination that was chipping off the side of the kitchen counter. Jack had, of course, been trying all day to come up with a reason why Ianto had driven him nearly insane when Tosh in much the same situation hadn't—and Jack had come to the much enlightening conclusion that he really didn't want to think about it.

"What Tosh did was... different."

"That alien was her girlfriend, wasn't she?"

"She was less dangerous, Ianto. Come on..." Jack floundered briefly for something that sounded like a good explanation and seized onto the first one he thought of: "Having a homicidal Cyberman loose in the hub is a little different from having a more or less powerless alien attempt a hostage situation."

"Powerless? She had a knife to Tosh's throat, how was she powerless? Not to mention that for a hundred years she'd been tearing out people's hearts and eating them--"

"What do you want me to say?" Jack yelled, as always veering too quickly to the defensive. Ianto's face was arranged into a very minimalist expression and Jack wondered how close Ianto was to either hurting Jack or crying.

"I just want you to know," Ianto said, voice quiet yet revealing nothing.

Jack glared for a bit, but he knew he was defeated.

"Well, I don't, okay?" Jack said. Ianto seemed unimpressed. "I don't know—and why are you still holding that?"

Ianto glanced down and placed the mug he'd been aimlessly holding the whole time onto the counter, which necessitated Ianto actually moving towards the counter near where Jack was standing, and into some very flattering lighting.

Probably the worst part of uncomfortable feelings, Jack thought, is that contrasting ones only maximize the effects of the other. For instance, Jack really kind of hated Ianto— hated what he did, how he betrayed them all, et cetera (the details were old by now, the feelings weren't). But flying in the face of all of that hate was a bizarre little affection for Ianto's nose, and how his bottom eyelids are always kind of puffy, and the way he carries things and reprimands people for not putting their cups on coasters like it's really the most crucial detail in the fight for humanity versus malicious alien life. It was a combination that was a bit like mixing orange juice and milk together and tastes about the same.

Maybe it'll go away someday, Jack thought. The affection.

But not, unfortunately, at the moment, because Ianto's bright kitchen lights made his eyes look slightly paler than usual, the irises of mostly uniform color save for a slight darkening of tone around the edges—Jack wondered how long he must have been staring to notice.

Of course Ianto had been staring back at him, round mouth down-turned in a subtle indication that Ianto's mind was caught in an introspective feedback loop somewhere between his and Jack's current situation and some ever-present personal dilemma. (Jack has often marveled at how Ianto must have to balance his crippling introspective tendencies with his equally prominent compulsion to care for others, and has decided that was likely how Ianto's impressive intellect sprang up: as a necessary compensation for the duality of Ianto's disorders that must make his mind work double-time to express them all).

"I think there's only one way that this is likely to end," Ianto finally said, now with a wry smile, "but it's rather sordid."

Jack laughed tensely. "Well, I think I've had my fare share of experience in those matters."

Somebody was undoubtedly about to do something stupid.

Ianto walked around the counter and leaned against it, perhaps expectantly, pulling off casualness but still retaining a trace of awkwardness in his shoulders and step. But his smirk was gone now, in its place a somber expression as if he had resigned himself to some unfortunate fate.

"Are you trying to make me feel bad?" Jack asked, honesty mixed with comic incredulity. "Because if you are—"

"No," Ianto said with a hint of a smile again, taking a step towards Jack. Jack waited.

"It's just that... it's always going to be like this," Ianto said, eyes averted towards some non-entity to his left; Jack followed the curve of his bottom lip as he spoke. "If we don't do anything about it."

"I don't want you to do this as some sort of... obligation, if that's what you're talking about—"

"It isn't," Ianto said firmly, "and in fact if you don't mind me saying, sir, it's probably best if you really don't talk at all because if you do this won't end up the way it's supposed to at all."

Ianto finally looked up into Jack's eyes, gaze flickering slightly. "Okay?"

Jack forgot to breathe; then remembered. "Okay."

Ianto smiled and nodded, a small gesture, and finalized the space between them: Ianto toyed with the lapels of Jack's military jacket with coy interest, eventually flicking his eyes up to look at Jack's face. Ianto was already just inside the near point of Jack's vision, so that Ianto's features were blurred somewhat; but Jack could still see how young Ianto was, skin colored by blood that still cared enough to flow with some enthusiasm. Jack carefully traced Ianto's jaw line with his thumb, admiring the ever-present thrill inherent in touching another living, warm person: the thrill of the unexpected and unknown.

With little hesitation, Ianto placed a cold hand (only fingertips) on the back of Jack's neck and kissed him experimentally; a soft, decisive pressure transmitting the message that, at least for the moment, they were bound together.

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Oh this is WONDERFUL!! Both of them fighting their own feelings so much, but ending up there anyway. Simply fantastic.

Sigh.

I like this. It's very good!!

(Jack has often marveled at how Ianto must have to balance his crippling introspective tendencies with his equally prominent compulsion to care for others, and has decided that was likely how Ianto's impressive intellect sprang up: as a necessary compensation for the duality of Ianto's disorders that must make his mind work double-time to express them all).

I got a kick out of this. I've a person or two that this could describe!



Good thinking... and I don't often say that about TW fic.

Oh I really liked this. The tension between them is remarkable, and they are both fighting so hard against it and then it just overwhelms them until they give in. Bravo!

love this so much
will there be more?

Haha, I don't know about a continuation of this particular fic, but I do have two other TW fics in the works. Thanks. :)

Oh so lovely, just wonderful :)

Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous. *Mems*

Aww, this was so bitter-sweet; I loved it!

Wow, wonderful. And so many witty lines. This one is my favorite: he'd suddenly forgotten how to spell "conscious" and the word had collapsed in a sad little train-wreck of vowels and consonants on his computer screen.

Wow; I really loved this. An excellant take on how they started :)

That was a really refreshing perspective on how it all started, well done.

Loved this line - because he'd suddenly forgotten how to spell "conscious" and the word had collapsed in a sad little train-wreck of vowels and consonants on his computer screen. - I've done that, and it's an excellent illustration of the manner in which he was distracted.

I very much enoyed this thoughtful piece, especially the way your tone manages to capture Ianto's misery while avoiding the pitfalls of out-and-out tragedy and melodrama. Your decision to acknowledge the long-running attraction between them, introduced in Fragments, but to leave it unrealized helps accomplish that tone.

The paragraph about Ianto's love for Lisa is marvelously insightful, and allows the reader to really reconcile the fact of his utter devotion to her with his feelings for Jack.

And, I adored the paragraph about Jack's conflicting emotions; the bit about Ianto's nose is wonderful.

Again, I agree with your characterizations and motivations between them; I hope it's not too egocentric to say I have a couple of pieces myself that match this one in tone and approach, so I'm quite drawn to this.

Thanks for the thoughtful comment! :) Treading the line between character insight and mystery was actually at the forefront of my mind as I was writing this so I'm very glad you thought I pulled it off!

I'm also friending you, if you don't mind, because I read one of your fics and you are not only a great writer yourself but also make reference to quantum mechanics for which you earn massive cool points. (I was actually thinking about naming this fic with something related to particle physics but decided to save it for another time, ha.)

Well, thank you! I friended you back, so yay.

I also recced you in post this morning, before you friended me, so Mutual-Admiration-Society Five!

If you're interested, I also mod the very entertaining (and semi wank-free) Torchwood Writers' Union forum; you can find the link in my LJ. You should check it out if you're interested in semi-serious discussion that primarily yields pretty funny crack fic and huge lists of what not to do in fic writing.

(Deleted comment)
Oh, I love the tension in this. I could really feel the build up over the course of the story. Nicely done.

This is really awesome. There's a lot of great lines about, well, how they feel and all that -- I like your macro-lens eye -- but my favorite is the bit about the word "conscious" descending into "a sad little train wreck of vowels and consonants", because: been there. Anyway. There's a lot of grace in this. I hope you write more.

Excellent, with a great use of humor.

Though there's one bit I'm unclear about...

It was a combination that was a bit like mixing orange juice and milk together and tastes about the same.

From the context it sounds like orange juice and milk are an unappetizing combination...except I've mixed them before. And I think the product tastes really good :)

I think this is one of the best pieces I've ever read dealing with this transitional part of their relationship. Very well done.

ok, read this AFTER the sequel - and still want more!

You convey such a playful but not mocking sense of how embarrassing and awkward the whole thing is. The coy but sincere emotionalism here is phenomenal. I love your technique.

That was beautiful! I love the tension you were able to show between Jack and Ianto and how them getting into a relationship was inevitable. Well done!

Oh, this was so good! It feels very genuine, and I love that. ^^

Great job!

Hoping to get involved

(Anonymous)
Hi - I am definitely happy to discover this. cool job!

I love this interpretation of that line from the blog. :D

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