“Oh!” Ianto couldn’t help the breathless exclamation that slipped from his lips. He felt his face drain of all colour, a loud ringing sound starting in his ears as he stared ahead, shock gripping him and rooting him to the spot.
He barely noticed as the coffee tray hit the floor with a clang and a smash; coffee mugs shattering and splattering his trousers with their flavour. He hardly saw as Jack and Toshiko both whipped their heads round to see him, their faces paling just as dramatically as his own had done just seconds before.
“Ianto-!” Jack seemed to reach out towards him even as Toshiko cursed and hit at her keyboard, trying to escape the video feed but succeeding in only speeding it up.
If Ianto could think clearly, he may have noted that she at least had seen this before, observing that she had carefully cut what was no doubt the best part of the Millennium Centre footage and set it to play on a loop. A never ending, morbidly fascinating loop that showed Ianto’s bid at suicide in a fast forward motion.
And Ianto couldn’t stop watching.
Even as he felt the slow build of panic growing within him, he could not stop watching. The panic crept through his statuesque form, numbing him and disassociating him from the moment even as a distant part of him recoiled in horror at the realisation that they knew! Oh god oh god oh-
“Oh my God!”
Ianto felt a hand grab at his arm, the shrill cry of Gwen’s voice finally tearing his eyes from the screen, from the image Toshiko had finally managed to freeze- his suited form standing poised and ready to dive to his death- before deleting the image from the projection screen completely. A snowy grain began dancing where once the feed had played.
Gwen turned large, shocked eyes upon him and he found himself having to look away, unable to hold her gaze. He in turn looked from Toshiko- fresh tears and apology in her eyes- to Jack…
Ianto found himself suddenly unable to breathe as he met Jack’s eyes, his face flushing with mortification as he pulled himself from Gwen’s grasp. The slow choke of building panic finally striking and Ianto stumbled backwards, needing to get out of the room… out of the hub… just away. Away from the here and now, where they knew and oh god oh no- no- oh no…
“Excuse me,” Ianto said softly. And somehow the words weren’t his. They were spoken with his lips and in his voice but they were someone else’s entirely; someone more able to manage those two simple words, speaking them with eerie calm whilst he watched from a distance.
“Ianto?” Jack called for him just as he turned towards the staircase. Ianto ignored him, his body on autopilot for flight, that desperate need to get away driving him to run, to run and hide and be the coward he knew he was.
“Ianto!” The echo of Jack’s voice chased him down the staircase and across the hub floor. He was shaking. He could feel the tremors wracking his body, his vision blurring with his shock as he forced himself on by sheer panic alone.
“Whoa there, tea-boy!” Owen seemed to appear from nowhere, reaching out to grab at him as he rushed past. Ianto tensed; his distress evident as he forcefully tried to pull himself away.
“What the fuck did you do to him?” Ianto froze at Owen’s sudden shout, the blur of his vision clearing enough to see the glare the doctor was directing behind him. Too many voices rang up in explanation, too many voices trying to answer and apologise and-
Owen’s hands fell away from him and he hurried to step back, to turn and rush for the rotating door and get away… just away…
Jack grabbed him as he turned. Strong hands gripping him at the shoulders and holding fast as Ianto whimpered almost pitifully, unable to fight him.
“Don’t,” he whispered, pressing his hands to Jack’s chest and pushing feebly at his unmoving bulk. Jack stepped forward unheeding of the gesture as he tugged Ianto closer.
“Please don’t…” Ianto breathed, shaking his head even as he curled his fingers into Jack’s shirt, grasping and pulling at the blue cotton. Jack pulled him closer still, wrapping one arm about Ianto’s shoulders and forcing him near enough to whisper softly against the shell of his ear.
“Don’t fight me, Ianto.” Jack implored and Ianto shook his head.
“You weren’t supposed to… it’s not-,” He broke off, unable to form the words he needed, the denial he wanted to express.
“Oh Ianto,” Jack murmured, tightening his grip further still and Ianto found himself slumping into the other man’s arms, his head falling to Jack’s shoulder just as hot tears spilt unbidden from his eyes.
- - -
Ianto stared forlornly into the mug of sweet tea Toshiko had brought him a few minutes ago, her knock hesitant upon the door to Jack’s office where the Captain had walked them moments after the embarrassment of Ianto’s slight breakdown.
Ianto had been unable to look at her, even as she’d stuttered over her apology to him, telling him she hadn’t meant for him- for anyone else really- to see the footage. Ianto’s stomach rolled sourly at her words and he couldn’t help but feel that he should be the one apologising.
Jack touched lightly at his shoulder and Ianto started, spilling the warm tea over his hands. He sighed heavily, forcing a wry smile to his lips as he realised what a state he must look with his suit crumpled and tear streaked face, coffee staining his trousers and now, Toshiko’s tea turning the cuffs of his once pristine white shirt a distasteful brown.
“If you’re thinking about the dry cleaning, you must be feeling better.” The joke was weak and Jack’s smile wavered as Ianto raised reddened eyes to look at him.
“Are you going to ask me why?” Ianto asked, clearing his throat. Jack leant forward and took the tea from him, wrapping his hands over the tremble of Ianto’s fingers.
“Would you tell me if I asked?” Jack eyed him seriously and Ianto blinked his eyes against the prickle of fresh tears. He didn’t reply and Jack straightened, rubbing almost awkwardly at his own eyes.
“Is this my fault?” Jack dropped his hand to look at Ianto once more, his expression tense, as if he was afraid of hearing the answer.
Ianto opened his mouth to reply but the words he wanted stuck awkwardly in his throat. The perceived hesitation pulled a stiff nod from Jack who turned away from him, hands busying themselves with the various knick-knacks littering his desk as if they were suddenly important to him.
“Jack,” Ianto pushed to his feet, reaching out to take the other man’s hand. He held tight but did not try to turn the Captain to face him. This was… it was hard enough without Jack turning damning eyes upon him.
“It’s not you,” Ianto said softly. “I promise it’s not you, Jack. But, it’s not something I can explain. I don’t know-,” Ianto closed his eyes, stepping forward and laying his forehead against Jack’s back, just below the nape of the older man’s neck.
“Please, Jack?” He could not suitably explain his emotions to even himself, how could he expect to elucidate them to Jack and have them make any kind of sense?
He felt the moment Jack relaxed, lifting his head away as the Captain turned to face him, his expression tight- almost pained- as he took Ianto into his arms and held him close, pressing them cheek-to-cheek and just pausing for the moment.
Jack didn’t have words either. There was so much he wanted to say- to ask- Ianto but none of seemed appropriate right now. Not when he was holding Ianto. Not when Ianto was alive. He felt an overwhelming desire to phone up Peter Petrelli and thank the man to the heavens for his intervention. If Peter hadn’t been around, hadn’t been standing out on the plaza, if he hadn’t happened to look up just when he did--
Well, Jack really didn’t want to think about the answer to that.
He felt the flicker of Ianto’s eyelashes against his cheek as the younger man blinked slowly, turning his face into Jack’s and breathing deeply, his arms tight as they held him almost desperately close.
“God, Ianto.” Jack groaned, his words a hoarse testament to his confusion. Ianto found that he understood him perfectly.
- - -