Title: Through Time And Space: Chapter 14 – Memories & Plans
Characters: Ianto, Jack, OCs.
Word Count: 1500
Spoilers: CoE, House of the Dead
Summary: They’re far apart, but still Ianto and Jack think about each other.
Written For: Challenge #117: Amnesty at fan_flashworks, using Challenge # 86: Health & Fitness.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
A few days had passed since Ianto, his TARDIS, and their travelling companions had left the planet of the Denghi. Their rescue mission had been a great success, distributing supplies to small bands of the natives on the four other inhabited islands. It had felt good to be doing something useful instead of just drifting aimlessly; the Denghi had been deeply grateful for their kindness and generosity. Ianto and the Tallans had grown fond of the charming, friendly little beings and would no doubt miss them a great deal.
Carrying the plan through to completion had left Ianto fired up and full of enthusiasm, but it was a feeling that didn’t last very long after they headed back out into the vastness of space. It was all very well to make the decision to help others as he and the Tallans continued with their own quests, but finding people who needed their help was proving harder than it had initially sounded.
It crossed Ianto’s mind to wonder just how the Doctor managed it. Did he and his TARDIS just have some kind of innate sense that allowed them to show up where help was needed, some sort of trouble detector? If Jack’s stories about the Time Lord were to be believed, it seemed possible. Either that or trouble had developed a habit of finding him. Come to think of it, that sounded like a more plausible theory.
For Ianto and his TARDIS, the search for those in need of help was somewhat different. Out of necessity, they were following a very specific search pattern, checking out planets and space stations as they worked their way outwards from their starting point in an ever-widening sphere. It required a lot of jumping about, but the TARDIS was better equipped for that than any other spaceship in existence, so it wasn’t a problem.
Of course, in practical terms, it meant they could only stumble across people in trouble by chance rather than by design. Even then, they probably missed a lot just by failing to be in the right place at exactly the right time to be of any assistance. They were going to have to work on that.
At a loose end as they headed for their next port of call, Ianto made his way to the gym to work out.
He’d been in pretty good shape when he’d… died. Ianto shook his head; that was never not going to sound weird in his head. Nor was the idea that Syriath had recreated his body perfectly, right down to his scars. Still, it meant that his ‘factory setting’ as it were, was a healthy, fit body with good teeth and pretty good eyesight; apparently even beings of pure evil like Syriath had standards.
Despite the fact that dying would return him to peak condition, he had no intention of relying on the death and revival cycle to help him stay that way; death was always going to be his last resort. He’d seen Jack die and come back often enough to know how unpleasant it was and he wasn’t in any hurry to experience it firsthand. Besides, he’d discovered over the last few months that he enjoyed having the opportunity to work out using top-of-the-line gym equipment. The TARDIS had helped by becoming his personal trainer and developing tailor-made workout routines to suit his needs. Strength, speed, flexibility and fast reflexes were the key to survival in the kinds of places he tended to frequent in his search for Jack; he needed to be ready for anything.
Changed into suitable workout attire, which he now kept in the gym’s small locker room, he stepped out into the gym itself and started his warm-up exercises, bending and stretching to get his muscles loosened up in preparation for the rigours of a full workout.
As he started doing chin-ups on the bar, he let his mind wander, wondering where Jack was and what he was doing.
Aboard the Fiori Winnik, Jack sat in the Captain’s office, talking with Lukek.
“I’m deeply grateful for all you’ve done for me, Lukek, your kindness and hospitality have been a blessing.”
“Your presence aboard my ship has been a great honour, esteemed Jack. You are as family; I only wish there were some way I could ease the burden that weighs down your heart.”
“Thank you, old friend, but my grief is something I deserve to be burdened with. I will not set it aside until I have redeemed myself for failing the people who meant the most to me, and I’m not at all sure redemption is even possible. Still, I must try; it’s the very least that I owe my daughter and grandson, and Ianto would expect no less of me.”
“To have earned such devotion from you, they must indeed have been special people.”
“They were the best. Now Ianto and Stephen are gone, and Alice has good reason to curse my existence. I can’t blame her for hating me; I took her child from her and destroyed her world. There’s no way I can make amends for what I cost her; the only thing I can do is to help others whenever possible. The time for wallowing in my grief is coming to an end; I will carry their memory and the pain of their loss wherever I travel, but I can no longer allow myself the luxury of remaining idle. Redemption cannot be earned by doing nothing.”
“This is truth,” Lukek agreed. “Your absence will leave an empty room in our hearts, but if it is time for you to leave, then leave you must. We will dock at Paramian in five days to unload cargo. It is a busy port; you will have no difficulty finding passage to wherever you wish to go.”
Jack nodded. “We shall part ways in five days then.” Rising to his feet, he clasped his hands beneath his chin and bowed slightly. “Now I must return to my cabin and make preparations for my departure.”
Lukek stood too, bowing in turn and tugging his ears, the Macassian way of expressing regret. Jack didn’t know what Lukek could possibly have to regret, and to be honest, he couldn’t bring himself to care; he had more than enough regrets of his own. Leaving the cluttered little office, he made his way back to the Spartan cabin that had been his home for the last few months and for the first time since he’d boarded, he uncovered the mirror in the tiny bathroom and studied his appearance.
Ianto would have been appalled. Jack knew he’d been letting himself go to seed, but he looked far worse than he’d been expecting. Lack of sleep combined with drinking too much and eating far too little had left him gaunt and stooped, with bloodshot eyes and blotchy skin; in short, he was a wreck. Even so, his outward appearance wasn’t an accurate representation of the wasteland that existed within. Grief, despair, depression, self-loathing, hopelessness; his inner landscape was uglier by far than his outer shell.
Getting back into shape would be simple; all he’d have to do was kill himself and he’d be in perfect health in next to no time. But no, he wouldn’t take the easy way out. He got this way through punishing himself with self-neglect; now if he were to have any chance of redeeming himself for his failures, he’d first have to rebuild himself the hard way. For a start, there’d be no more alcohol, no more escaping from reality. Drunk, he’d be no use to anyone.
Stepping into the sonic shower, he adjusted it to its strongest setting and let it scour his body thoroughly; it wasn’t a painful process, but it wasn’t exactly pleasant either. By the time he considered himself sufficiently cleansed, his skin was tingling and hypersensitive.
For the moment, he didn’t bother with fresh clothes, instead choosing to remain naked while he exercised. He pushed himself to his limits, finally sinking, exhausted, onto his bunk. Time to sleep; when he woke he would eat, exercise, and shower again. He had five days to get himself back into good enough condition to sign on as crew with another ship. Lukek would supply him with the necessary papers, but even so, whichever ship hired him on, he’d probably only be considered for unskilled jobs such as loading cargo. That suited him just fine; the heavy manual labour would go a long way towards rebuilding his strength and stamina.
How many souls, he wondered, would he have to save to make up for all those whose lives had been lost prematurely because they’d trusted him?
“You deserved so much better, Ianto, but I’ll keep trying until I’m worthy of the faith you had in me, and I’ll never forget you. I’ll keep my promise, count on it.”
As Jack closed his eyes to sleep, he prayed this night he would see his Ianto in his dreams.