The Memory of Rain

The glass of the wall was cool beneath his forehead as he pressed against it, fighting the urge to turn and shout. He swallowed rage, a burning desire to whip out his Smith & Wesson and bury a metal slug into the head of the man standing behind him. To end the uncertainty of future betrayal. To close the wounds of the past few days and bury his hurt in an unmarked grave with the remnants of the cyberwoman's victims.

Seventy two hours ago the world was a much simpler place. The demarcations of command laid out in a linear path: no ambiguities, no fatal secrets waiting to burst out of the cellar. Everything he said and did was obeyed, maybe not unquestioningly but obeyed nevertheless. Now procedures were muddied, team loyalties divided. All due to one man's too human failings.

"That's not a choice. Sir. That's a punishment."

Jack turned slowly. A muscle in his jaw twitched but his voice was measured. Coiled steel. "I'm giving you that option, Ianto Jones. You either stay — and mark my words I will be watching every move you make. Every word you utter — or you take the alternative. Retcon and a new life."

"Stay and work for the man who killed my fiancé? To be reminded every day of what you did to her." Bitterness spat the words out. "Or have my memories ripped away. To forget how I met her at Torchwood Tower? To forget her entirely?"

"You lost Lisa a long while ago. I stopped the machine. The person inside it was already gone."

Ianto blinked back tears unsure if they were due to self pity or anger. "What's here for me if I stay? Memories and a lifetime of making coffee and filing? I've been down in the archives so long I've forgotten what rain looks like. The feel of the sun on my skin. You may as well shoot me and store my body beside her's in the mortuary."

"What do you want Ianto Jones, a piece of the action? A chance to lead the team? Do you really think they'd follow you now?"

The man made a half-hearted attempt to shrug. "I… I… I don't know what I want. I just know I don't want to feel like this." A strange look of longing came into his eyes. "I thought you and me—"

Ah. There was the crunch. The axis of a conversation he really didn't want to pursue at this juncture. "My responsibility is to Torchwood first, the team second. Individuals third. At the moment you're a liability. An emotional wreck. What ever feelings I may have had for you…" He swallowed. "You betrayed us. You betrayed ME." It was supremely difficult not to reach out and channel his fury into something more intimate. "You're going to have to earn my trust again."

Numb fingers fought with buttons on his shirt. "Don't you… Please. Sir. Captain. Jack—"

"No, Ianto. No" He pushed the Welshman's quivering mouth away.

"I'm frightened to be alone again." Tears fell like rain on Ianto's cheeks, running down his pale skin. "You did something to me. I can't stop thinking about it."

"I brought you back." Such simple words to describe the few seconds of absolute closeness Ianto had felt. "That was all."

There was more to it than that, Ianto knew, remembering the electric tingle on his lips as Jack's breath rushed into him; the strength of Jack's palm on the back of his neck; the strange heat in his groin and the sudden sweet ache of release. Two life forces intertwined, conjunctio. A pleasure so intense it was akin to agony. It was gone, and he was left with what? Phantom limb pain? If he closed his eyes he could hear Lisa, still enclosed in her chrome girdle, exhorting him to grow a backbone. Now when he dreamt of her touch on his body it was Jack's cologne his subconscious smelled. "Why?" he asked softly trying to look Jack in the eye. "Why bring me back at all?"

Jack hesitated, and in the chasm between words Ianto seized on the ghost of a hope. "So there is still something?"

"Redemption, perhaps," Jack said, chest rising and falling heavily. "But trust? We'll see."