Everything is silent, except for the wind and the occasional distant sounds of traffic. Ianto left the curtains open when they went to bed and the light from the street lamps, shining through the moving branches of the trees outside the window, makes strange orange shapes on the walls and ceiling, like blobby, amorphous aliens.
Jack lies on his back, eyes wide open and sleepless in the dark of night, listening to the rising wind and watching the shapes on the ceiling merge and separate, over and over. It’s hypnotic, but somehow not relaxing, too reminiscent of some of the weird creatures Torchwood has faced over the years. He can’t get back to sleep.
Nightmares are nothing new; they’ve been a fact of life since the raid on the Boeshane Peninsula when Gray was taken. Jack’s been through countless nightmare-inducing experiences since then, but memories of that awful day are still among the worst. His father died that day too, and his mother was never the same, having lost her husband and youngest son so tragically. Jack was never the same afterwards either, he’s never stopped blaming himself. His father had trusted him to protect Gray, but he’d failed. Despite searching for countless years, he’d never been able to find out where his little brother had been taken. He’d still be searching now if he hadn’t become stuck in the past, three thousand years before even his parents would be born.
Closing his eyes again, Jack tries to steady his breathing and shut out the memories stirred up by John Hart’s parting comment two nights before. He lies as still as he can, not wanting to wake Ianto, who’s slumbering beside him. His eyes snap open again as the windows rattle from the force of a sudden strong gust; branches tap against the glass as the trees are tossed by the strengthening wind and the orange blotches on the ceiling writhe and squirm like souls in torment, the lurid colour making Jack think of boiling lava in the pits of Hell. It’s not a comforting thought.
Beside him, Ianto stirs, rolling over and throwing a sleep-warm arm over Jack’s chilled body.
“You okay?” a drowsy voice enquires.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” His voice sounds brittle even to his own ears.
“For an ex-conman, you’re a terrible liar. Have a nightmare?”
“No thanks, I already had one.” Just the fact that Ianto’s awake now too is comforting; Jack feels less alone.
Ianto huffs a laugh against Jack’s bare shoulder, making his skin tingle with the brief warmth and moisture of breath. “Idiot. Why didn’t you wake me?”
“You were asleep.”
“Well duh! Otherwise you wouldn’t need to wake me.”
“True. I just… You looked tired last night, I didn’t want to disturb you; you need your rest.”
“So do you.”
“Not as much as you.”
“Maybe. I’m awake now though; wanna talk about it?”
“Okay, wanna fool around?” The question is so unexpected Jack bursts out laughing. Ianto props himself up on an elbow and leers down at him. “Well, I’m awake now, might as well make good use of the time.” The orange light behind his head looks like a halo, gilding Ianto in a warm glow. Jack wonders why he’d ever found it disturbing.
“Well, if you’re sure…”
“I am. I wouldn’t offer otherwise; I’m not that selfless.”
Jack doesn’t believe that last statement for a moment; Ianto is one of the most selfless people he’s ever met.
Before long, the last shreds of Jack’s nightmare are being swept away on a tide of sensation and pleasure, and for the rest of the night, he knows only the peace and contentment of being loved and cherished by the extraordinary man in his arms.
He knows he hasn’t always been a good man, or done the right things for the right motives, but for whatever reason, Ianto seems to think he’s worth something. Jack only hopes he can live up to faith this man has in him. One thing’s for sure: he’ll never stop trying.