Characters: Jack, Ianto, OC.
Spoilers: Nada. Set in my ‘Ghost of a Chance’ ‘Verse.
Summary: Jack and Ianto have only been travelling around the universe together for a few short months when tragedy strikes, and in a matter of moments Jack’s world is torn apart.
Word Count: 1300
Content Notes: Contains blood and violence, and a heaping helping of angst.
Written For: Challenge 109: Hate at beattheblackdog.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
One minute they’d been on their way back to the Happy Wanderer after stretching their legs with a stroll around town, and the next they were being accosted by an ugly, mean-looking alien with an equally ugly gun. Jack recognised the species; it was a Gah’kn’ss’uk, creatures of indeterminate gender who gravitated towards petty thievery. It was about as much as they were capable of, not being among the most intelligent or civilised races in the galaxy.
“Whatever you’re after, you’re out of luck,” Jack told it. “You’ll get nothing from us.”
“Tha’ss wha’ you tink,” the Gah’kn’ss’uk spat back at him. “I takesss you ssship!”
“No way in Hell!” Beside Jack, Ianto squared his shoulders and took a half step forwards, and before Jack could so much as blink, the Gah’kn’ss’uk had turned its weapon on Ianto and fired.
From such close range it could hardly miss, and the projectile shot from the weapon ripped through Ianto’s chest, just above his heart, in a spray of blood so startlingly red it didn’t look real. Ianto dropped without a sound to lie still and pale on the dusty ground, blood pooling around him. Even as Jack started towards his lover, he saw the light of life fade from Ianto’s eyes, replaced by the glassy emptiness of death.
Pain ripped through him and for an instant Jack believed the Gah’kn’ss’uk had shot him too, but it was only his heart splintering into razor sharp fragments inside his chest, tearing him apart from the inside out. Death would have been preferable, to follow where Ianto had gone, never to return. After all the years he’d spent searching for a way to restore his lost love to life…
He’d had his precious Welshman back for such a short time, not even six months. They’d been supposed to have a lifetime together, short as that would be, every second a precious gift. To have Ianto ripped away again so suddenly, so brutally, so senselessly, was more than Jack could bear, and a red rage engulfed him, filling him with hatred the likes of which he’d never experienced in all his unnaturally long life.
He launched himself at Ianto’s murderer with a roar, equal parts blind fury and agonising grief. The Gah’kn’ss’uk fired at him but Jack was moving too fast, and it was clear this wasn’t the reaction the alien had been expecting. The shot went wild, ricocheting off a nearby pillar and whining away into the darkness, and before the Gah’kn’ss’uk could bring its weapon to bear again, Jack was on it, grasping it by its oversized ears and slamming its head against the wall behind it with all the force he could muster, likely cracking the alien’s skull in the process.
It tried to fight back, to defend itself against the onslaught of blows being rained down on it, but Jack was a man possessed, his grief increasing his strength to seemingly superhuman levels. The Gah’kn’ss’uk should have been more than a match for him, being six inches taller and a good eighty pounds heavier, not to mention having arms like a gorilla’s and the powerfully muscled body of a creature accustomed to lifting heavy weights, but it appeared unable to handle Jack’s speed or the sheer ferocity of his attack.
Jack had no idea how long he continued his assault, he just kept pounding and clawing at the creature that had torn his world apart, bound and determined to tear it apart in return. That goal became a lot easier once he got his hands on the Gah’kn’ss’uk’s ceremonial blade, hanging in a sheath from its belt. The viciously toothed weapon was honed to perfection and sliced easily through both its owner’s leather tunic and the flesh and bone beneath. By the time Jack was done a matter of minutes later, the alien didn’t resemble much of anything, and would never again have the opportunity to steal from, or otherwise prey upon, another living soul, although that thought failed to give Jack even the smallest shred of comfort.
As the killing fury drained out of him, he dropped the Gah’kn’ss’uk’s blade on top of the body. Someone would no doubt happen along in the near future and scavenge whatever was usable; these frontier worlds were lawless places, and it wasn’t as if the Gah’kn’ss’uk had any more use for its belongings, but Jack wanted none of it. He wished he could turn back time, tell Ianto no, that it was too dangerous, when he wanted to leave the ship and take a look around after they’d unloaded their cargo and received payment. Ianto would probably have sulked, but he would have forgiven Jack eventually, and at least he would still be alive.
Stumbling back to where his lover lay, Jack dropped to his knees beside him, too numb inside even to cry. This was his fault, just like before; he’d taken Ianto somewhere he had no business being. He should have learned his lesson the first time, but no, he’d been too busy showing off, and now he was alone again. Maybe that was fitting; he didn’t deserve to be happy after everything he’d done. As much as he hated the alien who’d snatched Ianto’s life away, he hated himself more.
“Ianto.” Jack wanted to apologise, to scream that it wasn’t fair, to plead with the universe to give him another chance, promise that he’d do better in future if only he could have the man he loved back one more time. He’d keep him safe then, protect him the way he should have done back on earth… But what good would it do? The universe was a cruel, uncaring place that took and took and just kept on taking.
Gently, carefully, as if afraid he might cause more harm, Jack gathered Ianto into his arms and simply held him as time ticked slowly past. He wanted to take Ianto’s body to the ship, get him away from this dreadful place, and yet for some reason he couldn’t bring himself to move, frozen in place by shock and grief.
He didn’t know how long he’d been sitting there, or how long it had been since the fatal shot had been fired; even the concept of time seemed meaningless to him. He might have remained there forever, unseeing, never moving and never speaking, a living statue of a broken man, if he hadn’t heard that impossible gasp and felt a hand clutch desperately at his arm.
“Ianto!” It was impossible, unbelievable, and yet undeniable. Stormy blue eyes looked up at him, filled with confusion, and when Jack looked at where the gaping wound in Ianto’s chest had been, it was gone, leaving no sign, other than a few streaks of drying blood on the pale, flawless skin, that it had ever existed. “You’re alive!”
“Why wouldn’t I be?”
Crushing Ianto fiercely to him, Jack’s tears finally fell, only now they weren’t tears of grief but of joy. “I thought I’d lost you,” he whispered. “Please don’t ever leave me again. I couldn’t bear it!”
“I’ll do my best not to,” Ianto promised, still a bit confused, “but would you mind telling me what just happened?”
It was a perfectly natural question, spoken with utter seriousness, but in the state he was in it struck Jack as the most ridiculous thing he’d ever heard and he started to laugh uncontrollably. Somewhere in the back of his mind he wondered if he’d finally gone completely insane; maybe none on this was real and he was just clinging to a desperate fantasy, and yet Ianto certainly felt real enough, solid and warm in his arms. It was quite a while before he managed to stop laughing and get his breath back enough to answer.
TBC in ‘How Forever Feels’