Three

Oct. 23rd, 2011 09:39 pm
sariagray: (TW: Jack Ianto TTLM)
[personal profile] sariagray
Title: Three
Author: [livejournal.com profile] sariagray
Characters/Pairings: Jack/Ianto, Ianto/Lisa, mentions of Suzie and Rhiannon
Word Count: ~1700
Rating: PG
Spoilers: Cyberwoman, Countrycide, Greeks Bearing Gifts, They Keep Killing Suzie, Fragments
Warnings: NA
Disclaimer: I do not own Torchwood, its characters, or its environs, nor do I receive any monetary gain.
Beta: [livejournal.com profile] analineblue <3
Summary: The number three is really powerful. The beginnings of a relationship.
Author's Note: I was in the mood for fairy tales and h/c. So that’s what this is. I think, anyway. Who knows?

Three


When Ianto and Rhiannon were still small enough to sit with rapt attention, their mam would settle them at her knee and read them stories from the large, brightly colored book of fairy tales. They would snuggle against her breast as she spoke quietly of sweeping glass palaces and talking animals and strange demonic monsters.

“In the old ways,” she once told them, “three was a very important number. If you do something three times, you mean it.” And then she kissed them each on the forehead three times and tucked them into their beds.

It wasn’t until his stint in university that the number three began to crop up everywhere, outside of the realm of fairy stories and the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Amen). There were the three photoreceptors in the human eye, Earth was the third planet in the solar system, and DNA was encoded using a triplet codon combination. A Haiku was divided into three lines. Three was also the third Heegner Number, the noblest of all digits according to Pythagoras, and in the First World War, soldiers thought a sniper might see the first light of a match, take aim on the second, and fire on the third.

Ianto began to adopt it as his own, almost totemic, device, mentally breaking up tasks into groups of three, and words, too. In Chinese culture, three was considered lucky because it sounds like the word for “alive,” and that was exactly how Ianto Jones wanted to feel.




When he returned back to Cardiff, the prodigal son with no intention of making amends, he had a dying, metal-encased lover to save and only one plan. His research on Torchwood Three and its leader was far from extensive; it had been compiled in bouts of curiosity while blithely working at Torchwood One with no aim to actually use the information. After the fall, there hadn’t been the time or the means to find out anything more.

He kissed Lisa on the forehead and watched the pained creases smooth out. “I’ll be back in a couple of hours,” he murmured and she tried to smile. “Soon. I promise.”

“You look like you’re going out,” she said, her voice raspy with disuse. “You can, you know. I don’t mind.”

Ianto felt sick and rested his hand on her cheek. “Never. I’m going to try to get work in the Cardiff base, and then I can take care of you properly. We can fix this.” He kissed her. “I won’t be long.”

He wasn’t expecting the weevil when he left that night, but it worked into the first phase of his plan rather well. He followed Jack and picked up the branch and whacked the creature over its head. And then, after proper introductions were made, he went back home to Lisa.

The following morning, he brewed a full thermos of coffee and kissed Lisa again, while she drifted in her chemical sleep. It was bright out and chilly with wind. He waited.

When he finally appeared, Jack reacted as cautiously and warily as expected, but he drank the coffee anyway and Ianto knew he had him.

“Trial period,” Ianto tried. “Three months.”

“No.”

“Three weeks. Three days. Let me prove myself to you. I'll work for nothing.”

And Jack refused, just as Ianto figured he would. So Ianto went back home.

Lisa was awake when he arrived, and she watched him as he changed into his suit.

“Final interview?” Her voice was quiet and light.

He nodded. “Pterodactyl.”

Lisa attempted a laugh that turned quickly into a cough. “You amaze me, Ianto Jones.”

“All for you.” He walked to her side and kissed her. “We’ll be there soon, I promise. And I’ll take care of you.”

He wasn’t expecting to have to walk away from Jack, from the hope of a job, but he did. He was almost relieved, the choice to betray taken out of his hands and the responsibility for failure fallen onto someone else’s shoulders for once. He’d shown up three times, and demonstrated his willingness to protect, to care for, and to support, and he could do no more. He felt lighter and heavier all at once as different burdens shifted within him to occupy new-formed spaces.

“Hey!” Jack called out. “Report for work first thing tomorrow.”

Ianto felt his body tense, and he almost looked back at Jack in acknowledgement before walking away.

“Like the suit, by the way.”

The burdens shifted again.




Ianto went to open the door, more to stop the incessant knocking than to welcome the person whose knuckles were likely bloodied at this point. Person. He shook his head, knowing full well who would be on the other side.

“Captain,” he said and stepped back. There was no point in trying to fight it.

It’d been just over a week since his suspension began, since someone had searched his flat and installed whatever monitoring equipment had been necessary. Ianto hadn’t bothered to check; it wasn’t worth it. He had his life and his memories, so horrible a punishment that a lack of dignity felt like a mere pinprick of hurt.

He had managed to shave that morning, but didn’t bother with a mirror, relying instead on the feel of his fingers against his face. He hadn’t looked into a mirror since that night, actually, afraid of what he’d see beyond red-rimmed eyes, dark circles, and sallow skin.

Jack’s eyes were on him. He could feel it, the distant familiarity of being observed. It felt like he’d been away from humans for months instead of days, and Jack’s presence set him on edge, turned him into one raw nerve.

“I like what you’ve done with the place,” Jack remarked.

Ianto looked around at the whitewashed emptiness. A beat-up leather couch facing a plain white wall, and nothing else. His cell. He laughed, a bit hysterically, until it felt more like he was crying.

“Hey,” Jack said, softly, as he led Ianto to the couch. He squeezed Ianto’s arm. “Have you eaten?”

Ianto shook his head and then rested it in his hands. It was too heavy lately, filled with all of the failures he’d been ordered to keep. “No point,” he said. He glanced up and, for just an instant, Jack looked as broken as Ianto felt.




Jack settled Ianto onto his bed and trailed a finger over the blossoming bruises on his face. Ianto closed his eyes.

“I’ll get you some water. Don’t go anywhere.” Jack’s voice sounded like it was coming from underneath the pond down the street. Ianto didn’t want pond water, and he didn’t want Jack to drown, either. The cool rim of a glass was pressed against his lips, and it made him dizzy. “Drink a little bit of this, okay?”

Ianto did as told, and sighed, then spluttered a bit. Jack’s hand rubbed circles over his back. It was nice. Warm.

“Owen says you don’t have a concussion. You can sleep, if you want. The painkillers he gave you should knock you out.”

Ianto fell back on the bed like a puppet whose strings had been cut. He felt Jack chuckle a little brokenly, and then he felt his shoes slip off his feet and the duvet creep up over his shoulders. His head was heavy and full of cotton wool. There was an uneasiness in his stomach and twinges of anxiety in his muscles, too; he was pretty sure he should remember the reason why they were there, but he couldn’t. Jack was humming, and the door snicked shut.

Ianto’s eyes flew open and his hands patted frantically at his throat. “Jack?”

“Shh, right here.”

“Don’t leave.” He closed his eyes again.

“Wasn’t planning on it.”




Ianto was still in the Hub, long past ten, trying to find an accurate way to catalog the broken shards of the alien telepathy pendant that Jack had handed to him. His head hurt, but if he had coffee now, he wouldn’t be able to fall asleep later. And lack of sleep was probably the reason why his brain was throbbing so painfully in his skull to begin with.

He jumped as Jack’s hands pressed upon his shoulders and rubbed absently. It felt nice and Ianto allowed himself a handful of seconds to enjoy it before tensing up. Jack’s hands fell away.

“Did you need something, sir?”

“Toshiko’s worried about you.”

“Is she?” Ianto turned and leaned against the workstation, his arms folded.

“Yeah. She…well, you know what the pendant does.” Jack shrugged. “She –”

“And you’re here because she’s worried about me.”

“Yes. No, I mean. I’m here because I’m worried about you.”

Ianto sighed and dropped his arms to hang loosely by his sides. He looked down at his shoes and wondered what Jack would be able to hear of his underlying thoughts; he wasn’t even sure he knew what he was thinking half the time.

“You’re hurting,” Jack continued. “That’s to be expected. I’d be concerned if you weren’t. But you cover it up so well, and that terrifies me.”

“I would never put the team in danger, if that’s what you mean,” Ianto scoffed and then sighed. “Not intentionally, anyway.”

“I’m not worried about the team. I’m worried about you.” One of Jack’s hands rose, almost tentatively, to frame Ianto’s cheek. “Because you’re perfectly capable of sacrificing yourself right now, aren’t you? And I’m not willing to lose you yet.”

Looking Jack directly in the eyes, Ianto offered a slight nod. Jack dragged the pad of his thumb over Ianto’s cheekbone.

“Good,” Jack said, smiling gently. “Now, I think that Thai place you like delivers until midnight, right?”




Ianto ducked his head to hide his smile as he caught Jack entering cold storage. It felt a little wrong to be smiling over the corpse of his former colleague and friend, but her actions after her resurrection had convinced him that she was not the same person whose company he had once enjoyed. Suzie Costello had died weeks ago. And anyway, he finally had something to smile about. He was pretty sure that the Suzie he knew wouldn’t be offended.

He watched Jack settle against the wall of compartments.

They were both ready.

After all, if you do something three times, you mean it.

The End
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