The first breath was like ice. Sharp needling pain tore through his lungs as Ianto bolted upright and fought for air. Senses temporarily overwhelmed he struggled to focus as everything bombarded him at once. The hard ground, the bright lights, the pain wracking through his body as his arms failed in search for something to ground him.
Eventually his hand collided with something and he managed to anchor himself to a reality that was fast escaping his grasp. Latching on, Ianto slowly managed to come back to himself and eventually realised that not only was he clinging desperately to Jack, but the other man was doing the exact same to him.
“Jack,” blinking against the lights, Ianto tried to remember where they were, “where… what happened?”
Shaking his head, Jack winced, “I don’t…” Ianto could see the second Jack started to remember as a cloud passed over his features, “we need to find the Doctor.”
“Yeah, alright,” Ianto accepted the hand Jack offered to help him up but stalled him as he tried to walk away, “we should be careful. The Dalek’s could still be hanging around.”
Glancing down at the piles of dust in front of them that hadn’t been there before, Jack got the impression the Doctor had already dealt with the threat using the Delta wave, “You’re right, come on,” that didn’t explain how they were still alive though.
The two men shook off the effects of… whatever it was that had happened to them, fairly quickly. Managing an accelerated jog upstairs to where Ianto had seen the Doctor last, only they weren’t quite fast enough, “Hang on, can you hear that?” Ianto asked, breathless as the sound of the Tardis in flight reached his ears, “No, no, no!”
Skidding around the corner, Ianto and Jack were just in time to see the Tardis dematerialise right in front of them, “Shit,” Ianto panted as he collapsed against the wall, fighting for every breath, “what do we do now?”
Ankle deep in Dalek dust, abandoned by the Doctor with no idea how the hell either of them were still alive, Jack gave Ianto the only answer he could think of, “Do you reckon this place has a bar?”
Satellite Five did in fact have a bar, albeit a very poorly stocked one hidden in what appeared to be the managers office on floor 5. The man had apparently been a connoisseur of cheap hypervodka and not much else but Jack wasn’t complaining as long as it took the edge of, “How are we not dead?” He asked after his third glass, feeling all the better for it, “We were dead right?”
“I dunno,” Ianto frowned into his own glass, slouched in his seat. He didn’t want to think about it, the sting of being left behind was still fresh and adding alcohol to the mix probably hadn’t been the best idea, “went so fast.”
Jack looked up from his drink, an unreadable expression on his face as he broached the topic that had been plaguing him since he woke up, “You died for me,” Of that he was certain. The memory had come back to him a little while after regaining consciousness and he knew it would stay with him for as long as he lived. He might not know how they were alive but he was certain Ianto had been dead.
“Yeah, so what?” Ianto couldn’t hold his gaze for long, eyes darting away, “You were going to die for me too. Besides,” he chanced a look up and saw that Jack’s face wasn’t so unreadable anymore, “neither of us are actually dead so you can stop giving me that smug smile.”
“What smile,” Jack teased, grinning wider as he decided they could talk about it later. Or never, never worked too, “this one?”
“You love me really,” Jack sang, battering his eyelashes, “you came back for me!”
“I said shut up!” Ianto snapped, slamming his drink down as he got to his feet and started to pace, clearly agitated and not at all amused as Jack had been going for. The truth was he didn’t remember what happened, he knew he had gone back for Jack, he remembered running towards him, towards the Dalek’s but that’s all. Did he really die? If he did how come he was still alive? And why had The Doctor abandoned them?
Why did it hurt so much?
“Hey,” Jack set his need to get blindly drunk to one side and focused on the man in front of him. It was all well and good drinking to try and numb the pain but he couldn’t stand to see Ianto upset, “I’m sorry, Ianto? Listen, I-”
“It’s fine,” Ianto shook his head, “whatever.”
“Oh yeah, because that sounded so convincing,” Jack rolled his eyes. They needed to start using their heads, without people manning the station they were going to be in trouble sooner rather than later and Jack didn’t want to be hanging about when the authorities turned up. It wasn’t just his decision what to do next, they were in this together, it was only fair Ianto had a say, “What do you want to do now?”
“I want answers,” Ianto decided, “I want to get off this bloody space station and I want to find the Doctor. You can search for him using your wrist strap,” he asked hopefully, “can’t you?”
“I suppose we could,” Jack agreed, glancing down at his vortex manipulator, “yeah, we can go running after him or…”
“Or?” Ianto pressed
“I could take you on that date?” Jack suggested, “Alpha Centauri is still out there, waiting for us.” He raised an eyebrow, “If you still want to that is?” It was entirely possible that Ianto hadn’t meant anything he’d said earlier, it could have been the adrenaline talking or the fact they’d been facing certain death.
Ianto gave it a moment of thought, did he still want to? He didn’t know if he’d be able to relax with all these questions buzzing around his head, “It’s not that I don’t want to but don’t you want to figure out what happened?”
“I know what happened, the Doctor left us behind,” Jack sighed. He’d take Ianto on a while goose chase if that’s what he wanted but he could offer him so much more, “All that matters is that we’re alive though, right? Why don’t we take the scenic route to find him? I’ll make it worth your while,” he hadn’t had to try so hard to convince someone to go on a date with him in a long time, if ever, “why don’t we celebrate not being dead by living a little?”
“Alright then,” Ianto couldn’t help but crack a smile as Jack grinned at him, “show me the stars Captain.” The Doctor wasn’t going anywhere they couldn’t follow eventually, why not have a little fun first?