“Love is the Selfless Promotion of the Growth of the Other” - Milton Mayeroff
Jack wakes up- not with a gasp, like always, not with a fight. He has made it a habit to come back to life kicking and screaming and gasping.
Not this time.
This time, Jack clings to the darkness, he doesn’t fight to return.
He almost (almost) wishes he had discovered the secret years ago- waking up hurt a lot less if you didn’t fight.
But Jack had always had a reason to fight- torchwood, the Doctor,
So Jack wakes up with a small breath, and a sense of disappointment.
He woke up. That’s what’s disappointing.
He hears a choked sob to his left, and sees Gwen sitting over-
Jack sits up slowly. He doesn’t want to look to his left. He doesn’t want to face what he’ll see.
He swallows, and hears a little welsh voice in his head tell him to be brave. He turns his head and sees
Ianto’s the body cold and pale and stiff and blue-
He sees Gwen. He focuses on Gwen. Wrapping an arm around her and pressing his forehead to her hair.
He doesn’t look down. He doesn’t want to see the lips that will never smile or laugh again and he doesn’t want to see the eyes that will never open.
He never thought he wouldn’t want to look at
Ianto since he’s easily the most beautiful person Jack has ever seen.
The universe likes to prove him wrong like that.
Jack surrenders, and goes to prison.
He doesn’t mind. There’s no point without
Jack is removed from us prison cell, taken to his daughter and Steven.
Later, he’ll find out that Gwen and Ianto’s his sister got a small army of children mobilized and saved
Later, he’ll find out the role Lois Hadid and Rhys Williams played in what can only be described as revlotution.
Later, he’ll feel proud, horrified, sickened, scared, angry, sad-
But when given the opportunity to make sure
Ianto didn’t die for nothing, Jack can only nod.
No matter the cost.
The worst day of Jack’s very long life has to have meaning. All of this has to have meaning.
Later, he’ll tell himself that if he wasn’t immortal, he’d never have had Alice or Steven there and millions would have died.
Later, while drunk off his arse he’ll justify himself.
But at the moment, as Alice looks at him with the pure vitriol of a grieving mother, Jack thinks I need to get off this planet.
He had something he needed to do
It took him six months to find the name, the location, the everything.
The planet burns.
The children victims of the 456 weep when he frees them, only to die soon after.
But they weeped in thanks. Because their suffering had ended.
(It all has to have meaning, somehow, all of it.)
Ianto has to have a reason.)
Jack shot himself every night while he was gone. Somewhere between revenge and drunken anger and the all consuming grief he recognizes that each time he doesn’t want to wake up.
He comes back with the soft gasp every time.
He goes back to earth, he meets with Gwen.
His plan isn’t to stay.
He refuses to look too long at Gwen Cooper, the woman who
Iantohad always been unnecessarily jealous over.
(Jack’s entire heart belonged to Ianto and Jack said don’t and that’s just another regret)
Gwen hands him his vortex manipulator, and says, with no preamble, “if it’s a boy, I’m naming him Ianto.”
(The baby is a girl named Anawen, she’s born almost 4 months after Jack’s return and her eyes are somehow the same shade of blue as)
Jack shoots himself again that night.
He comes back with a soft gasp.
Jack and Gwen set to work.
The rubble has been cleared out of the hub, but there’s almost nothing salvageable there.
Ianto’s carefully maintained archives burnt to a crisp, centuries of history and information gone gone gone)
So they go back to the wearhouse. HUB2 gets painted over again, brighter and more permenant. They repair the roof. They set up desks. They patch holes.
They are two hands instead of three, Gwen is pregnant and
They have other members, Lois, Agent Johnson, but they refuse to let them help with the patching.
Gwen and Jack feel like they have to do it themselves. An honor to the dead if there ever was one.
Tosh, Owen, Suzie, Steven,
Ianto , Alex, Clem,
all their dead pile up. They just don’t have a morgue for the bodies anymore.
On that note, Gwen fought the British government to get
Ianto’s body and bring him back to Whales.
Rhiannon had a copy of
Ianto’s will, leftover from that space between Canary Warf and his stalkerish attempts to get a job at Torchwood Three, when it wasn’t certain that his body would go to the government. Ianto had told him about it before, said he’d written it one night when Lisa was mad and he was suicidal.
Jack had kissed him sharply upon hearing it because he’s lost people to suicide before and it was the worst possible and he couldn’t lose
Ianto that way he couldn’t lose Ianto Ianto Ianto Promise me you’ll never do that to yourself
Ianto asked to be buried in his best suit. He asked to be buried near a tree. He asked for a small funeral. He asked for his sister to get the entirety of his surprising wealth so she could get her kids out of that shoddy neighborhood.
Jack hadn’t known this, but He wanted Jack to be at the funeral. Later, once they’ve gotten back into the torchwood system, he’ll find this out from a note
Ianto made about editing his will.
Jack had missed the funeral.
Jack shot himself again that night.
He comes back with a soft gasp.
They get up and running again. Gwen has the baby. Jack becomes the leader again.
Everything is the same, but not the same. They’re above ground. There’s a baby who sleeps on the couch sometimes. The hub is being rebuilt because a little too late they realized they weren’t getting any rift alerts because they were too far away from the rift and they didn’t have an indicator (incomplete kits
Ianto would laugh)
The coffee doesn’t taste right when Lois makes it because
Ianto’s coffee machine, his baby, had been destroyed by the bomb in Jack’s stomach.
He vocalizes this realization. Agent Johnson looks guilty, Gwen starts to cry.
Jack doesn’t shoot himself that night, but it’s a near thing.
Jack receives a package from Rhiannon Davies.
He doesn’t open it.
He uses it as a paper weight.
10 months have passed since the 456, and Jack feels the anniversary creeping up on him like a ghost.
He schedules his time off two months in advance, and realizes he doesn’t really have higher ups to clear it with anymore, so he hands it to Gwen, who nods silently and files it.
The filing system is straightforward and makes sense to everyone, even Anawen could understand it.
Jack longs for the days when there was one person who could understand the filing system, so that thieves would have a hard time finding what they were looking for, but wouldn’t that mean Jack wouldn’t find what he was looking for? Well if Jack is in his archives alone then it’s his own fault because he should know better than to mess with
Ianto’s archives without permission.
(Jack still can’t find a reason)
Torchwood doesn’t have a man in the government anymore.
They don’t really have any government oversight. Jack’s talked with the queen, she promises they’ll get their government links back once things have settled a bit more.
Jack feels a savage sort of pride that they unsettled things so badly in the first place.
Jack pays pays employees out of his own bank accounts.
They hire Mickey Smith and Martha, Andy Davison.
Andy, upon finding out how much wealth Jack has, jokes that he could have bought his boyfriend quite the diamond.
Gwen slaps him.
Jack doesn’t tell them that he still had his mother’s ring, nor does he tell them it had already been resized.
Jack never realized how much he talked until he didn’t have anyone to talk to.
Gwen says he can talk to her, but at the end of the day he’s still only known her for maybe 2 years. She doesn’t know the jokes or understand the references or smile like
So Jack just keeps silent.
Christmas comes without the yearly invasion, which means there’s no doctor either.
Good. They don’t need him.
Word of Jack’s campaign against the 456 has spread across the universe, a loud announcement saying there’s a new sheriff in town on earth, because clearly the doctor wasn’t doing his job if he let
Ianto everyone die
Besides. When Jack sees the doctor he’s gonna kick his ass for that crap he pulled with Alonzo.
Alonzo was a mistake, a drunken mistake during his six months of black. Jack woke up the morning after, buried his nose in Alonzo’s shoulder, and whispered
“Ianto, I love you.”
And then Jack realized he didn’t smell like coffee he smelled like salt, and then Jack realized that wasn’t
Ianto and then Jack realized he’d just told someone else he loved Ianto but he couldn’t tell Ianto the same thing.
Jack doesn’t just shoot himself that night, he throws himself off buildings and sets himself on fire and each time he comes back sobbing because he doesn’t want to wake up.
Jack calls that “a bad night”
The police who take him in call him insane.
Jack runs into Alice on the street one day.
She walks past him. Then pauses, comes back, and slaps him across the face.
Then she walks away.
Jack appreciates the slap.
He feels like Steven’s name should be right up there with
Ianto’son his inability to think about list.
Steven had a reason. He saved the world.
Ianto died because Jack took him to the Thames house and an alien farted.
Jack shoots himself in the head that night.
He comes back with a soft gasp.
(He’d been doing so good at not killing himself too)
The anniversary of the 456 arrives. Schools close for the week.
They move back to the hub, choosing to do it this week for the pure poetic justice of it all.
Jack takes the box Rhiannon sent him, and the coat
Ianto went to five different stores to find, and locks himself away in his new office.
Later, Lois will tell him they all marveled at the agonized screaming coming from the office, but Gwen told them it was just a movie of some sort.
The day that
Ianto has been dead for a year, Jack opens the box.
He gets as far as the note Rhiannon sent- he would have wanted you to have these- and the first picture-
Ianto , smiling as he hoists a diploma- and shoots himself.
He comes back with a soft gasp.
He tries again.
The box is filled with things from
Ianto’s flat. What really weighs it down is the bond movie box set- Jones, Ianto Jones, Nice to meet you Jones, Ianto Jones- and the journals. Other than that are the pictures- Lisa Hallet and Owen and Tosh stare up at him.
The most terrifying thing in the box are the old medical records
Ianto kept incase he needed them. He never knew how often his dad sent him to the hospital until today.
Jack shoots the records instead of himself, instead of going into the past and shooting
Ianto’s father, and feels proud for it.
Jack finally cracks open one of the journals.
He doesn’t shoot himself
He just cries.
He didn’t know how much
Ianto loved him.
Ianto didn’t know how much he was loved.
Everything he does is wrapped up in
He can’t even think the name, but he knows it’s true.
Every wheevil, every alien, every rift incident, every moment he spends staying and bettering the world, he does it for him.
He used to call
Ianto an angel.
Jack was certain he must have been. No one could be that beautiful and good and not be.
He’s loved people before, desperately. He realizes a month and a year after the 456 that he really has never loved anyone the way he loved- loves
He wanted to spend a lifetime with him. Not like he did with Estelle or Lucia, leaving and returning as a son or brother- an actual life with him, being his lover even when
Ianto had replaced both his knees and was beating up weevils with his walker.
Jack wants to shoot himself, but he realizes, a year and a month after the 465, that if
Ianto found out how often he took a gun to his head, Ianto would shoot him himself.
He’ll never be like he was when
Ianto was alive.
He has no one to harass, no one to tease, no one to play naked hide and seek with, and honestly the idea of having sex makes him queasy ever since alonzo.
Jack’s even started drinking tea.
Ianto would be disgusted with him.
But he’s getting his wish. Jack can’t forget him.
He goes weevil hunting alone.
He’s tried going with the others, or as one big group, but if it’s just one weevil, he prefers to go alone.
It’s stupid, and dangerous, probably the stupidest, most dangerous bit of it all.
What is it about hunting big smelly beasts that gets you so rowdy?
Oh trust me, it’s not the big smelly beast.
Oh really? So I’m not a beast?
Well, in the mornings you are a bit smelly- hey!
That was rhetorical and I am going to end you-
Laughter, rolling around in bed.
Ianto wrestling with Jack and asking how he smelled now, Jack trying to steal kisses.
He finally sees Rhiannon again, a year after his return, a year and 6 months after the 456.
She slaps him, screams at him, beats him up until her husband pulls her off. She has
Ianto’s fury, screaming he loved you you daft sod and you won’t even go see him!
Then she breaks down into desperate sobs and jesus she sounds like him so Jack hugs her, willing to let her take her vengance. But the fight is gone, and she cries, why, why my baby brother.
Jack can’t answer her.
Later, he asks a rock the same question.
It’s a pretty rock. White marble. Plain, with no epitath. Just a name, and two years with a small line between them meant to represent an entire life.
After 6 months clean, Jack shoots himself in the head that night.
He comes back with a sharp cry because there’s something in the darkness.
Despite what he’s heard, Jack has never noticed anything in the darkness when he dies. But this time, there wasn’t darkness, there wasn’t light either. Just… something.
Gwen and Martha are scared, and when Jack offers to shoot himself again to see what it was, they panic, and when Jack offhandedly mentions that it’s fine, he shoots himself all the time, they get angry.
He then realizes he’s never actually mentioned that habit to anyone. Whoops.
Two crying jags, multiple slaps, and a lot of shouting later and Gwen has composed herself and Martha has done a brain scan.
There’s something in his head, and the moment they realize it’s there it explodes out of the back of Jack’s skull and he dies.
He comes back with a soft gasp, and they tell him the alien got away.
From the CCTV, Jack identifies the alien as an opaxian- a species that feeds off emotions. It finds a home in it’s host’s head and just lets the host feel until someone realizes it’s there.
Then it escapes, and then it comes back and eat’s the host.
But first it torments the host, making the host angry and sad and hurt and oh god, Jack knows what it’s gonna do.
They get there too late.
Ianto’s grave is empty.
The next forty eight hours are a special kind of hell, because the alien makes
Ianto look alive.
As they track it, Jack has to watch this stupid fucking thing control
Ianto’s corpse .
It eats, it steals, it breaks things. It tarnishes
Ianto’s good name, and Jack gets angry.
They finally corner it when it heads towards Rhiannon’s house.
Of course, they got Rhiannon and Johnny to get the kids out for the day, so when Jack kicks the door in, he sees it-
It just lounging on the couch, looking up at him with black eyes and a cold smirk and its not
Ianto it’s not Ianto It’s not Ianto
“Get out.” Jack snarls, and it smirks. “Oh I don’t know,” it says, and Jack chokes on a sob because that beautiful welsh accent is twisted into a hiss and it’s not
Ianto no matter how much it looks like him that’s Ianto’s corpse.
“I kinda like this. The way you feel. I can smell it.” It hisses, and Jack feels sick, it’s not
“So what, you’re just gonna stay in there? Jack taunts, “You’re gonna starve. Dead men don’t feel anything.”
It hurts to say it, but Jack manages without his voice cracking. The opaxian laughs.
“Ah humans, fooled by things like death,” it hisses, “you don’t think I brought him back to make him suffer just as much as you?”
And then jack doesn’t have the time to talk anymore because Gwen bursts in with the sonic weapon that would kill it and Ianto- it collapses, sludge leaking out of his ears, and just like that,
Ianto’s dead again.
Jack would shoot himself in the head, but he respects Rhiannon too much to get brain matter all over her carpet.
He turns to gwen, “We-”
Ianto comes back to life with a scream.
Jones, Ianto Jones.
Jack falls to his knees to grab Ianto close and hold him through the aftershocks. He remembers his first death, how messy and painful it was, and honestly he’s too convinced this is just a fluke.
Ianto stops screaming, breathes.
“Jack?” he whispers, and Jack’s resolve snaps.
He pulls back, sobs at Ianto’s eyes alone, says “I love you too,” and kisses him more passionately than he’s ever kissed anyone.
Over the next few days, it is decided that this is not a fluke, Ianto is really back, still mortal, and Ianto and Jack are gonna get married next spring.
Ianto gets reinstated as a torchwood agent, reviews everything they have about Myfanwy’s wearabouts, has sex with Jack, and eventually declares “you’ve changed.”
Jack almost panics. Almost. But then, Ianto says “You didn’t run. You told me before, you ran from stuff like this, like me.”
Jack frowns, and Ianto continues, “it’s not bad, and it’s not major. The core you is still there. But you’ve grown.”
Jack just mumbles “you were dead.”
And Ianto sighs “yeah, that must’ve been the reason why. The universe needed me gone so you could grow.”
Ianto is probably right, he usually is. He swallows.
“Just because they justified it doesn’t mean I’m accepting it.” Jack grumbled, pressing his nose into Ianto’s hair.
Ianto should get at least 80 more years.
Jack could deal with that.
Jack could definitely deal with that.