brightdreamer: (jack/ianto - sultry)
[personal profile] brightdreamer
Title: Just One More Thing to Hide
Rating: PG
Fandom: Torchwood
Pairing: Jack/Ianto
Disclaimer: I own nothing, so you can take nothing from me.
Prompt: Round one, challenge five for [livejournal.com profile] jantoseasonal. Theme: Brown. Prompts: Tea, Leather, Rain. “Ianto is sick, and he doesn't tell Jack. Once Jack finds out, Ianto reluctantly allows Jack to take care of him, their relationship deepening in the process.”
Summary: Ianto Jones is very good at hiding pain, but when he can't any longer, there's only one person who can care for him. Set between “Greeks Bearing Gifts” and “They Keep Killing Suzie.”

Ianto Jones was very good at hiding pain. He prided himself on it; he could go to work every day, go through the motions of making coffee, picking up trash, tidying up the Hub, and no one ever knew the anguish he dealt with every waking minute. Sure, Tosh might have had an idea... he knew that pendant had allowed her to read thoughts for a time, but she'd never brought it up, and he certainly wasn't going to, though her pitying looks were starting to concern him. He'd started to make an extra effort to paste on a smile when he was around her, just to show that he was fine.

Hiding mental pain was one thing, physical was another. He knew he hadn't been eating well after Lisa's death, and he could barely stomach the thought of much food at all after the events in Brecon Beacons, especially not meat, and he'd started having to cinch his belt tighter in the morning. Again, nothing to worry about, no one would notice, it was just one more thing to hide as he blended into the background of Torchwood.

However, when he awoke one morning with a pounding headache, chills, and nausea, he wasn't sure if this was something he could cover up. Pushing himself upright in bed with a groan, he rubbed his forehead and contemplated the possibility of calling off ill to work. If he did that, though, someone would be certain to come round to check on him, if nothing else to make sure he hadn't been infected with some strange alien virus. Once they found that it wasn't (probably... Ianto was pretty sure this was just a regular human flu), they'd make him stay home until he was better, which would leave him here alone with nothing but his thoughts and memories....

That alone was enough to get Ianto moving. Forcing himself out of bed, he stumbled to the bathroom, where he swallowed two aspirin with a quick gulp of water. He stood under the shower for a long time, letting the hot water rain down on him, stealing away the chills even as he had to lean dizzily against the wall a few times.

Getting dressed was no easy task, as the chills returned as soon as he stepped out of the warm bathroom. Taking a deep breath, he forced his trembling hands to move methodically, pulling on each piece of his suit, fastening the buttons on his shirt, tying the tie, each part calming him, making him feel more like himself, each layer another wall matching the ones he'd built around his pain. When he finally slipped the jacket on, he could convince himself that he was feeling almost normal.

His shoulders slumped a bit as he walked outside, noting that it was raining... again. Nothing unusual for Cardiff, but the weather matched exactly how he was feeling. Gray skies poured cold and chilly into brown muddy water that swirled dizzily down drains and off gutters. Ianto swayed slightly in his door, hesitating, again wondering if he should stay home, but the moment passed and he stood up straight and walked out to his car.

Once in the Hub, Ianto went through the usual motions, picking up the trash from the night before, straightening up the mess before moving off to the kitchenette to start everyone's coffee. The others would be arriving soon, and he'd seen the light on in Jack's office, though he hadn't seen the Captain yet. As he heard the cog door open, his hands worked automatically and methodically, making each individual cup of coffee just the way the others liked it. He started to make one for himself, then changed his mind and opted for peppermint herbal tea instead, hoping to settle his stomach.

As he stirred cream into Tosh's cup, he felt dizzy again, watching the brown and white liquids swirl together, and had to drop the spoon and hold onto the edge of the counter until the feeling passed. Shakily, he reached for his own tea and took a sip, then instantly regretted it as his stomach rolled and protested the intrusion. Setting the cup down with a grimace, he took several slow breaths, head down, eyes closed, holding onto the counter top again. After a long moment, he straightened his back and tugged his suit jacket back into place, pulling the facade around himself like a cloak. He could do this. He was fine.

Making his rounds with the coffee was business as usual. Tosh thanked him quietly, and he managed to force a small smile for her. Owen took the cup with barely a nod, apparently he'd had a long night previously and wasn't quite awake yet. Gwen wasn't in yet, so Ianto left her coffee on her desk and steered his steps up to Jack's office and set the mug on the boss's desk. He was going to have to go sit down after this, his stomach was churning, his head was throbbing, and why were the lights so bright in here?

“Oh, Ianto, wait...” Jack called him back as he was turning to leave the room.

Ianto paused, turning back slowly as to not make the room start spinning again. “Something else, sir?” It was no use. Even that small unplanned movement triggered a wave of dizziness and nausea, making the world tilt dangerously under Ianto's feet. Jack was saying something about the archives and needing some files today and Ianto was nodding in all the right places though he couldn't hear a word Jack was saying through the roaring in his ears and everything was going brown around the edges and oh God, he was going to be sick all over the floor of Jack's office....

The next thing Ianto knew, he was on his hands and knees on the floor, throwing up what little he'd eaten the night before into a plastic rubbish bin that had miraculously found its way into place. A strong, warm hand rested on his back, rubbing in firm, comforting circles. Ianto retched a few more times, then slumped to the side, pushing himself away from Jack to lean against the side of his desk. “S-sorry, sir,” he croaked, his entire body trembling. “I'll get that cleaned up in a moment.” He had to get himself back under control, had to get the facade back in place, couldn't let Jack or anyone else see the pain, not now, not ever.

A glass of water was held to his lips, and Ianto cautiously took a sip. “Are you kidding?” There was a note of laughter in Jack's voice, though his face showed concern. “Ianto, in case you missed it, you just puked your guts up in my trash.” He smelled the leather of Jack's wristband just before Jack's hand rested on his forehead, feeling cool there where it had felt warm on his back, and Ianto flinched away despite the way it made his headache pound even more. “You're burning up, too. Hang on...” Ianto closed his eyes in resignation, hearing Jack move to the door to yell for Owen.

The next few minutes passed in a blur for Ianto, though he vaguely had the thought that it was worse than staying home would have been. He was sitting on the examining table, shivering until someone draped a brown wool blanket around his shoulders. (Tosh, he remembered later, he'd have to thank her.) Owen took a few readings, looked in his eyes and mouth and finally pronounced that he had not, in fact, contracted any strange alien viruses. Ianto could have told him that, but he was too busy being sick again to do any talking. Another flurry of activity swirled around him, and Ianto groaned and rested his head on his hand. Why had he thought coming in to work was a good idea?

“I'm taking you home,” Jack announced, resting his hand on Ianto's shoulder. Ianto immediately shook his head, though he regretted it as the motion set off the jackhammering elves behind his eyes again.

“I can drive myself,” he said softly. That was the last thing he wanted, for someone to have to take him home. He could take care of himself, he always had, and he'd be back in the Hub again tomorrow looking fine and everyone would forget about all of this.

“Consider it an order,” Jack replied, his hand sliding down to support Ianto around the waist. “Come on, let's get you to bed... and no, that's not a pick-up line. This time.” Jack grinned cheekily, and Ianto was amazed at the man's ability to flirt under any circumstances.

“As you wish, sir,” he murmured, allowing himself to lean slightly against Jack as he carefully slid off the table. It was only so he wouldn't collapse and have to be carried out (even more humiliating), he told himself, but Jack was warm and strong beside him, and he found himself leaning more and more heavily on the other man as they made their way to the car. Once there, he made to start toward the driver's side, but Jack steered him toward the passenger door.

“Keys,” the captain demanded, and Ianto could find no reason not to obey. Jack seemed determined to drive him home, and he was just too tired and sick to argue. With a sigh, he climbed into the passenger seat and buckled in. As Jack started the car and pulled onto the road, Ianto leaned his forehead against the blessedly cool window, watching the rainy gray-and-brown landscape roll by. He stayed silent, closing his eyes after a time, feeling Jack's hand come to rest on his thigh, a comforting touch.

Before long, Ianto felt the car come to a stop, but he couldn't seem to find the strength to open his eyes and get out of the car. The heat had stopped running and cold damp air was seeping in, chilling his feet, and he shivered, pulling away from the cool window. He felt another blast of cold air, then strong, warm arms were embracing him, unbuckling his seatbelt and easing him out of the car. Not wanting to be humiliated further by being carried, Ianto managed to open his eyes and get his feet under himself, leaning on Jack again. He raised his head and met Jack's eyes, shaking his head slightly.

Jack searched his gaze for a moment, then nodded in understanding. The trip back up the stairs and into Ianto's apartment seemed to take an eternity, but Ianto set his jaw firmly and told himself he was not going to collapse until he was safely away from prying neighbor eyes. Finally, his bed was within reach, and he fell onto the mattress, curling onto his side. He felt Jack's hands working to pull his shoes off, then loosening his tie, then everything faded to a blissful, painless black.

Ianto wasn't sure how much time had passed before he awoke with a groan. Awareness came slowly... he knew he was warm, but he could feel the material of the duvet cover against the bare skin of his chest and legs... he'd been stripped down to his underwear. A damp cloth rested on his aching head, slightly cool, but warming rapidly from the fever. Cracking his eyes open, he looked blearily around the room, finding it empty. So, Jack left. Just as well, he doesn't need to see me like this. I don't need him to... oh I don't feel good... His stomach twisted and rolled, and Ianto curled on his side, breathing shallowly in an attempt to get the nausea to pass. A soft moan escaped his lips as he clutched at the duvet cover, squeezing his eyes shut again. He couldn't remember the last time he'd been this ill, and now he was all alone...

“Whoa, hey, didn't know you woke up.” Jack's voice drifted in past the fever-haze, and Ianto wondered for a moment if he was hallucinating. The bed dipped slightly and Jack's hand came to rest on his shoulder. “Feeling sick again? Here, it's okay...” Ianto allowed himself to be guided to lean over the side of the bed, a plastic bin was held up under his chin, and he promptly lost what little he had left in his stomach. After it was over, he rolled back onto the bed, shivering, covered in cold sweat, but feeling slightly better. He sipped at a glass of water that was held to his lips, then looked away from Jack.

“You don't have to stay, sir,” he said quietly, pushing himself up to lean back on the pillows, then picking at a flaw on the duvet, not meeting the other's eyes. “I'll be fine if you need to get back to the Hub.”

Jack laid a fresh cold cloth on the back of Ianto's neck. “I want to stay,” he replied, touching Ianto's hand where it rested on top of the blanket.

“I don't... want you to...” Ianto choked out, pulling his hand away. I don't want you to see me like this. Just let me get over this, then I'll be back at work and everything will be back to the way it was.

Jack was silent for a moment, and Ianto could feel his intense gaze on his face. His cheeks burned, and he tried to hold out as long as he could, but finally chanced a glance at the other man. His breath caught at the look there, the care, concern, and... anger?

“Don't be an idiot, Ianto Jones,” Jack finally burst out, reaching out to grasp Ianto's hand and hold it tightly. “Everyone needs help sometimes. You don't have to do it all on your own, and you don't have to hide, especially not from me. Do you think I can't tell when you're hurting? I know, Ianto. I could tell you were sick from the moment you stepped into my office today, but I wanted to see if you would tell me.” Jack's gaze softened, and he reached out with his other hand to brush lightly against Ianto's cheek. “I know,” he repeated, his voice more gentle, and Ianto realized that he wasn't just talking about his illness today.

Ianto's breath caught in his throat, and he found himself leaning forward, tilting his face into the soft touch. How long had it been since he let someone else see? “I... don't know if I can,” he murmured, unaware that he was speaking aloud.

“You can,” Jack replied, shifting closer on the bed, enfolding Ianto in a warm embrace.

Ianto stiffened, resisting, but Jack's touch was warm and he was shivering with fever-chills, and God, it had just been too long. Shuddering with repressed emotion, he brought his arms up to wrap around Jack, clinging to him like a lifeline. Jack's hands moved slowly up and down his back, comforting, inviting Ianto to finally let go. He didn't make a sound, but his shoulders shook, and Jack's shirt became damp where Ianto's face rested.

“I've got you. Let go.” Jack's voice washed over him like a balm, soothing, healing the wounds in his heart.

Ianto wasn't aware of drifting off to sleep, but when he awoke later, he was curled up to something warm. Stirring slightly, he opened his eyes to see Jack's broad chest, where he was resting on the other's undershirt. Jack shifted, and Ianto lifted his head to meet the captain's blue eyes.

“Feel better?” Jack asked, his fingertips moving in light patterns on Ianto's back.

Ianto was silent a moment. His head still pounded, nausea still clenched his stomach, and he was still burning up with fever. He felt like complete and utter shit. But aside from that, he felt... like a lead weight had been lifted off his back.

“Yes. I do.” A small smile curled at the corners of his mouth. “I really do.”

Jack smiled back, then tilted his head forward to kiss Ianto's forehead. “Go back to sleep. I'll be here.”

Curling closer, Ianto nestled his head back on Jack's shoulder, his hand resting on Jack's chest, feeling his heartbeat. Maybe just this once, letting someone see his pain wasn't so bad after all.



A/N: Came out more fluffy than intended, but what can you expect from a hurt/comfort fic? Enjoy! Reviews are love, as it's my first time writing these two and I need the feedback.
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