Characters: Ianto, Jack.
Summary: Once again Ianto is trying to get blood out of Jack’s clothes. He’s not happy about it.
Word Count: 1086
Content Notes: None necessary.
Written For: Prompt 35: Clot at anythingdrabble.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
It was always the same whenever Jack died violently, either by stabbing or through being shot by any of the various kinds of projectile weapons, both human and alien, the team encountered. Ianto would be left with the task of cleaning up not just the resulting pools of clotting blood, but Jack’s clothes too, if they were at all salvageable, which they often weren’t. Beheading and the lopping off of one limb or another led to the same results, although in the latter cases there was little Ianto could do for sleeveless shirts or legless trousers other than sling them in the furnace. At least that way they didn’t go completely to waste, supplying a small amount of power for the Hub.
It was bad enough for Ianto having to live through his lover’s frequent deaths, there was always the nagging worry that this might the one he couldn’t come back from, but being left with the cleanup added insult to injury. Never mind that it was one of his official duties; nobody should have to mop up their loved one’s blood. It always felt like some bizarre form of punishment, perhaps for not being in a position to prevent Jack dying in the first place.
Holding Jack’s shirt under the cold water, watching little clots of partially dried blood break loose from the fabric to be washed away down the drain, Ianto reflected that at least this time Jack hadn’t been killed. The head wound, which he’d received when the alien they’d been attempting to capture had tried to scalp him with one swipe of a huge, razor-clawed paw, had bled profusely, leaving Jack slumped against a wall, semi-conscious but still mercifully alive. At least it was merciful from Ianto’s point of view; he wasn’t entirely sure Jack would agree.
Left without their near-indestructible leader, the rest of the team had given up trying to tranquillise the alien and reluctantly resorted to lethal force. They couldn’t risk such a dangerous animal reaching the nearby housing estate; that would have likely resulted in carnage. They tried their best to save the creatures unfortunate enough to be snatched up by the Rift and brought to Cardiff against their will, but the safety of earth’s native inhabitants always had to come first.
He didn’t turn around at Jack’s voice, just kept on trying to get the blood out of the pale blue cotton. “You could’ve been killed. Again.”
“I know; I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for that to happen, I thought I’d be able to stick it with the tranquilliser before it could turn around. I almost made it.”
“Almost? You almost got your head torn off! What kind of stupid clot tries to dart something that size by hand instead of using the dart gun?”
“I didn’t have much choice; it jammed! The darts Owen filled were the wrong size for the gun we had with us. I had to do something and that was the only thing that came to mind.”
“So you’re blaming Owen?”
“No, I’m saying that accidents happen and sometimes there isn’t time to come up with an alternative plan; you just have to do the best you can with what you’ve got, and hope you get lucky.”
Ianto sighed; he hated when Jack was right. Nevertheless…
“So you just cross your fingers and dive in?”
“If one of us has to put themselves at risk to protect the people of Cardiff, better it should be the one who doesn’t stay dead.”
Ianto spun around to face Jack at last, abandoning the shirt; he’d almost got all the blood out of it anyway. “You’re right, I know, logically it’s the only sensible option, the least risk to the smallest number of people, but if you expect me to be okay with it…”
“I don’t. If you were the immortal and I was the one having to…” Jack trailed off, shaking his head. “I don’t like putting you through all this. I don’t like putting myself through it either. Dying hurts, and so does coming back; sometimes not dying hurts even more because it takes longer to heal. But a large part of our job involves dealing with the things and creatures that come through the Rift, and not all of them are going to be friendly. Sometimes, no matter how careful we are and how well we plan, someone is going to get hurt, and I’d rather that someone be me than an innocent bystander, or a member of my team. You know that.”
“Yes, I do.” There was no point being angry at Jack for doing his job. “It’s just… I get so tired of washing your blood out of your clothes. It’s not exactly a fun way of spending the evening.”
“So why do it?”
“Why? Because somebody has to, and I don’t see anyone else volunteering.”
“You could just throw shirts and pants away.”
“I do if they’re beyond repair, but it’s wasteful to throw out things that are perfectly fine aside from a bit of blood.” Ianto never could abide waste, not in a world where so many people had to make do and mend. “What I wouldn’t give for the Rift to drop off some kind of miracle blood-remover.”
“Maybe someday it will; you never know your luck. You about done here?”
“Almost. Why? Something else you need me to clean?”
“No, nothing like that. Just thought perhaps I could whisk you away from all this. We could pick up something for dinner and go back to your place, have a relaxing evening in front of the TV.”
“Sounds good. Give me five minutes?”
“I’ll wait for you upstairs.” Jack turned away, but turned back at the door to the locker room. “Ianto?”
Ianto turned to ask what for, but Jack was already gone. Giving Jack’s shirt and t-shirt one last rinse under the tap, he bundled them together, squeezed out as much water as he could, and headed upstairs to toss them into the washing machine, glad to have the unpleasant task out of the way. In a week or two he’d probably have to do it all over again, but for now he just wanted to put that part of his job out of his mind and spend the rest of the evening with Jack, being as close to normal as they ever got. It wouldn’t completely make up for what he’d had to deal with today, but it was a start.