Characters: Ianto, Jack.
Spoilers: Fragments, Cyberwoman.
Summary: Ianto is still suffering after-effects from the Battle of Canary Wharf.
Word Count: 750
Written For: My own prompt ‘Torchwood, Ianto Jones, Fear of fire,’ at fic_promptly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
Everything changed for Ianto Jones with the fall of Torchwood One. He lost not only his job, but also most of his friends, and though he didn’t realise it at the time, he even lost the woman he loved. He clung on to the shell of her for as long as he could, but eventually even that was gone. Somewhere along the way, he suspects he may have lost his mind too. That might explain why it took him so long to accept the truth about ‘Lisa’.
As if all of that weren’t enough, the events of that day, when his whole world was turned upside down and inside out, have left him scarred. Not all of the scars are physical, although he has his share of those. There are marks on his body left behind from where the cyberwoman’s metal exoskeleton, heated like a branding iron in the flames, brushed against his skin as he half-carried what he thought was his girlfriend from the burning tower. The majority of his scars though are psychological, burned into his mind even deeper than the hot metal seared into his flesh.
The physical injuries have healed, but the memories haven’t; they still haunt him in his dreams. Nightmares plague him, images flashing through his mind in vivid Technicolor, accompanied by the soundtrack from Hell; blood and death, screams and the metallic voices of the cybermen, blaring alarms, and over it all, the heat and smoke and crackling flames as everything around him burned. In his dreams he can smell the acrid stench of burning even over the coppery tang of blood, and it seems to linger in the back of his nose even after he wakes, screaming and thrashing, trying to escape a threat that seems so much more real than the bedroom of his small flat.
Fire never used to bother him, but after the Battle he couldn’t even bring himself to light a match. He’d never imagined giving up smoking could be so easy, but ever since that day, the very thought of lighting up makes him break out in a cold sweat. Candles, fireworks, the braziers the workmen up on the Plas light to keep themselves warm as they repair water pipes; he gives them all a wide berth.
His flat is all electric, even the cooker and the central heating. Finding a place without a gas supply hadn’t been easy, but he’d known putting a match to the pilot light would be beyond him. He hadn’t been lying when he told the estate agent he had a fire phobia, and that had been an easy confession to make compared with explaining to the Captain on his first day of work exactly why he couldn’t take care of the furnace as part of his general support duties.
He’d been surprised by how sympathetic Jack had been, telling him it was only natural after everything he’d been through at Canary Wharf. He’d expected to be laughed at, even ridiculed for being such a wimp, but the kindness and understanding in Jack’s eyes had only served to make him feel worse than he already did. He knew he didn’t deserve such compassion from someone he would sooner or later have to betray.
Now Lisa is gone and Ianto is trying to rebuild his life. Once again, Jack is there, offering to help in any way he can. How he could ever have thought Jack a heartless monster is a mystery to Ianto. Jack is Torchwood’s leader for a reason; he cares so deeply, not just about his team but about everyone in Cardiff, both human and alien, that it shatters his heart every time he fails to save a life. Ianto feels humbled to have such kindness directed at him; he’s sure he doesn’t deserve it, but he’s just as sure that he needs it if he’s going to survive. After all, he can’t make up for the harm he’s caused if he’s dead.
Jack has promised to help Ianto overcome his fear of fire; he says all Ianto needs to do is trust him, and the funny thing is, Ianto does. He just doesn’t know if he can trust himself. But the healing process has to start somewhere, and Ianto’s willing to try just about anything, so much so that he’s made a promise to himself, one he’ll do his very best to keep; he’ll do his utmost to never let Jack down again. It’s the least he can do.