The sound of their gunshots resounded around the basement room long after Jack and his team had ceased firing; the smell of death clenching at their bellies and sickening them to the core as they took in the scene of destruction before them with disbelief.
Then came the silence.
It was absolute and deafening for one peaking moment before the low wail of a man with nothing more to lose rose up into the air and they were forced to watch as Ianto stumbled and collapsed brokenly to his knees beside the body of what was once his girlfriend.
“Get out,” Jack hissed, not taking his eyes off Ianto as the younger man broke down into sobs, his arms hanging limply at his sides- too shell shocked to do anything more than cry his heart out and though Jack could not see Ianto’s face, he swore he felt the exact moment Ianto broke, something deep inside him shattering into a million pieces with no want of redemption as he knelt so wretchedly beside what remained of his lover’s body.
It hurt to watch.
“Get out!” Jack said, his voice louder and harsher as he turned fevered eyes upon his team, watching as they hesitated to follow his orders even as they refused to look at Ianto, casting their glances anywhere but at the scene laid out before them.
“Now.” The bite in his voice commanded attention, curbing their disobedience and forcing them- reluctant and resenting- to leave, shooting furtive looks over their shoulders till they could look back no more.
Jack took a faltering step forward, watching as Ianto reached out to the body, gathering metal and flesh to him as he cradled Lisa against his chest, blood and tears and pain so palpable in the room that Jack could taste the grief upon his lips; tongue swiping over dry lips as he watched in hesitation, knowing that for his part he was just as much to blame for this destruction as Ianto himself was.
Hunching his shoulders, Jack moved over towards Ianto, dropping down to his knees beside him and reaching out with a hand that shook to touch at the other man’s shoulder, feeling the flinch of flesh beneath his palm and squeezing his fingers tighter as Ianto grit his teeth against his cries and tried to pull away, murmuring pained nothings as he rocked over Lisa’s body.
“Ianto,” Jack’s grip was firm, insistent and tugging even as Ianto screamed for him to let go. Jack ignored him, reaching out with his other hand to pull Ianto from Lisa, taking the screams and the beating of feeble fists against his chest as he wrenched Ianto from his hold and pulled him close, gathering Ianto to his breast and clasping him as tight as he was able, rocking them both as Ianto cried and cried and the tears soaked through his shirt and stained his skin with its burn of truth and Jack clenched his eyes closed tight against the pitiful murmurings of one man’s broken heart.
“I’m sorry,” Jack breathed, “I’m sorry, Ianto.” He whispered, over and over into the younger man’s hair, ignoring the scent of blood and sweat and he buried his face in Ianto curls and tried to ignore the way he repeated Lisa’s name over and over like a mantra that would somehow- but never ever- bring her back…
Lisa! Lisa…! Oh god, oh please… Lisa!
There were tears in Jack’s eyes, never seen as they fell unbidden upon Ianto’s crown.
- - -
‘In a way I realised that she was already dead,’ his voice was soft, childlike as Jack held him close and tight and safe, ‘ I just couldn’t accept it.’
‘Love is like that.’ Jack replied with equal softness, pressing a kiss to his brow.
‘What would you know about love, Jack?’ And for all the railing and screaming and hating he’d done, Ianto managed the question with seriousness, lifting his head to fix red-rimmed eyes upon Jack.
‘I’m not the monster you make me out to be, Ianto.’
‘No?’ Ianto asked, lifting a finger to touch a tracing line across the pout of Jack’s bottom lip.
‘No,’ Jack said, his eyes turning sad, ‘I’m just not as human as I’d like to be.’
- - -
Ianto’s crying faded to the silence of sniffles and hiccups, his hands flexing in their hold of Jack’s shirt as he was cradled close, all but settled in Jack’s lap now as the violence of his grief died down to a more manageable level. Jack’s hand moved over his back, rubbing and soothing and just being there for him- knowing that despite the comfort he offered now, Ianto would hate him just as much once the numbness faded.
Shifting his weight, Jack kept his expression purposefully blank as Ianto looked up, daring to meet this man’s gaze with puffy eyes and a sickly pallor, his cheeks a subtle blush and shining with the wetness of fallen tears as he parted his mouth for another shuddering breath and Jack’s hand touched so softly at his cheek, catching the silent tears that slipped from the corners of Ianto’s eyes without comment.
He wasn’t sure who made the first move as mouth was pressed to mouth, but he did not pull away despite knowing how very wrong this was and took Ianto’s lips with his own and soothes what he could of grief with kisses deep with depth and unspoken emotion. There is salt to their kiss, and a desperation that Jack can taste with the meeting of tongues and the grip of long fingers against his collar.
Slowly, Jack pulled away from Ianto, ignoring the breath of a whimper as he moved to cradle Ianto’s head against his shoulder once more. Just to hold him. Just to hold.
- - -
‘I’m sorry it had to end like this.’ Jack says, running a hand down Ianto’s back.
‘I’m sorry too,’ Ianto smiles, rolling over to see him.
‘But not for what you did?’
‘Love makes people do crazy things, Jack. I’m only sorry I caused so much pain.’
‘Will you ever forgive me?’ Ianto caught the hand that brushed up his chest, raising it to cup his cheek.
‘You are what you are, Jack.’ Ianto looks seriously at him, ‘ My forgiveness won’t change that.’
‘No, I don’t suppose it would.’ Jack breathes, the sound heavy, weighed down.
‘I do forgive you.’ Ianto whispers into their kiss.
- - -
Ianto’s eyes found Jack almost immediately as he stepped back into the hub, his appearance as immaculate as ever, no sign of untoward emotion to be seen upon his face as Jack looked back at him. He bowed his head in acknowledgement and waited breathlessly for the gesture to be returned- is this all right, Jack? Please, tell me this is okay now.
And Jack nodded his head back, bowing down in a silent reply and Ianto’s knees felt weak, - for now, Ianto. For now- his hands trembling as he looked away and around for something to busy himself with and feeling the burn of his cheeks as a ghost of a memory washed over him, bringing with it the imaginings of things that were and things that were yet to be.
Ianto didn’t remember much of the immediate aftermath of Lisa’s death, but he knew that he should. Knew that so much more had happened between watching Lisa’s body hit the ground and then looking up from a steaming mug of coffee to meet Jack’s impenetrable stare. So, so much more and yet, maybe there was mercy in it all.
- - -