How Strange the Change

Notes: This started out as serious, veered into crackfic territory and ended up smut. I've been debating for days now whether to post it; but here it is, submitted for your approval. Many thanks to lemniskate for some plot help and suggestions. Set after "Exit Wounds" but no specific S2 spoilers.

Rating: NC-17

Pairing: Jack/Ianto

Disclaimer: Torchwood and its characters are the property of the BBC and Russell T. Davies. I make no profit from this fanfic.

The worst part of watching Jack die is knowing it's going to happen and being unable to prevent it.

It's not as if Ianto enjoys seeing any of Jack's deaths -- or even hearing about them, come to that. He knows how painful it is every time Jack drags himself back to life; has held Jack through the waking process more than once, reassured him in whatever way was possible at the time that he's alive and everyone's all right.

In truth, it's an effective decoy, though Ianto hates to think of Jack's inability to die in such a manner. For example, as is happening right now, when a group of alien mobsters have come through the Rift in search of an object they're convinced was stolen and hidden here in Cardiff and won't take 'no' for an answer. When Jack steps in front of Gwen (who's trying to reason with one of the short, violet-skinned, six-limbed creatures) and snaps, "Now, why don't we all just calm down--" he gets shot with some sort of laser pistol for his pains.

Jack's body slumps to the ground in a lifeless heap. Gwen lets out a little gasp. Ianto grasps at her before she inadvertantly says something to give Jack away. "Tell us what you're looking for," Ianto says, swallowing hard, "and we'll try to find it."

He doesn't let himself look down at Jack. Even knowing that Jack's not dead -- well, that he'll come back -- there's never been a guarantee that one day, one of these deaths won't be the last one. He can't afford emotion right now.

Gwen holds up the PDA she'd brought along to the site of reported Rift activity (said Rift activity being, of course, this gang of aliens in Thirties-style pinstriped suits and fedoras). "I've got a catalogue," she says, "of every artefact we've located. If we don't have it in here, we don't have it at all."

The trigger-happy leader seems reluctant, but after some hasty discussion in their own language between him and his second-in-command, he agrees to let her search for whatever it is he's after. Gwen sits down next to him, drawing their attention away from Jack's body, and begins to search based on the alien's description. While she does, Ianto kneels by Jack. He's still out; Ianto checks his pulse, knowing he'll get nothing. Jack's skin is cool. Ianto's gut feels like stone, like it always does in these moments.

The head alien suddenly swings, aiming the laser pistol thing at Ianto again. Ianto drops Jack's hand and holds his own above his head. "I'm not doing anything!" he protests. "Is it all right if I-- if I transport the body to our vehicle?"

"It's dead," the leader hisses. "Useless to you."

Ianto's throat thickens. He fights it down. "We honour our dead," he says.

To his surprise, the alien lowers his pistol. "We also." He waves at Ianto with a spare hand. "Go on. But you return!" He chatters something in his language to a subordinate, who then scuttles over to Ianto.

So he's not to be allowed a moment in private. Ianto sighs and gets an arm under Jack's body. The subordinate alien assists him, to his surprise and relief; Jack's body is solid, dense muscle packed onto his frame, and while he'd rather do this alone, the help is good to have. Together, they get the body to the SUV. Ianto props Jack in one of the back seats and buckles him in.

"Why do you this?" asks the alien.

Ianto sighs. He really doesn't want to leave Jack to wake up alone, but he doesn't have much choice; the alien mobsters want both of them under supervision at all times, it seems. "So it won't look strange if anyone sees him. They'll just think he's asleep." Ianto rests a hand on Jack's chest for a moment, wishing Jack wasn't so terribly cold under his hand, and then closes the door to let the alien escort him back to the alley.

By the time they return, Gwen has located the object in the database, and Ianto feels a wash of relief that he finally -- after only three and a half years -- managed to get the Archives up to date. He kneels next to Gwen to see what it is that they're after and laughs despite himself.

"Is not amusing!" snaps the alien leader, training his pistol on Ianto again. Ianto's hands go up once more, even as he's rolling his eyes.

"No, no, of course it's not," soothes Gwen. "I'll tell you what. Let Ianto go back to the Hub and get it--"

"No," Ianto says, shaking his head. "You go, Gwen."


He shakes his head, giving her a firm look. "Go. Take the SUV."

"We will go to this place with you. No, how you say, funky business," declares the head alien, and since he's waving the pistol around in a threatening way, Ianto decides not to argue the point.

Fortunately, the alley in which they discovered the alien gang is only a few minutes from the Hub. They all pile out of the SUV (Ianto's grateful it's early yet on a Tuesday, so the tourist traffic is minimal); the alien leader immediately pokes Gwen in the back with the laser pistol, ordering her to take him to his prize. Gwen obediently raises her hands and leads them in via the tourist centre, which leaves Ianto on his own with Jack's body, still buckled into the back seat of the SUV. (This close to their greedy goal, the aliens have apparently relaxed the guard on him, for which he's most grateful.)

Ianto's in the middle of unbuckling Jack from the seat when Jack gives a great gasp and lurches against Ianto. Not braced for it, Ianto pitches back against the open SUV door, Jack in his arms. "Shit!" he swears, carefully pushing Jack back into the seat. Jack clings to him like a limpet.

"What happened?" Jack demands in a hoarse voice. "Where'd the bastard go--"

"Jack!" Ianto hisses. "Keep quiet. They think you're dead."

"They killed me, I'd say they've got every right to think that." Jack relaxes against the seat, though, eyeing Ianto. His hands are limp at his sides; the shot must have hit him hard. "You and Gwen all right?"

Ianto nods briefly. "She found out what they're after. It's that thing looks like a spanner, dropped through last month? We thought it might be some sort of -- plumber's helper or something." He busies himself making sure Jack is all right, even though Jack is clearly just fine. It gives him something to do with his hands, at least until Jack clumsily catches them and pulls Ianto against him.

"So we can't go back down there until Gwen's cleared them out." Jack begins to smile that lazy, knowing smile of his.

Ianto shakes his head. "No, we can't, and no, we are not having sex in the SUV," he says. "Not again. You can barely move as it is."

"We don't have to make a mess," Jack says silkily. His fingers stroke Ianto's wrist.

Ianto swallows his instinctive reaction and snorts. "And we mightn't, but I'd rather not have to have the upholstering cleaned professionally again, if it's all the same to you. We're starting to be on a first-name basis with every cleaning business in town. Frankly," he adds, arching an eyebrow, as Jack starts making a fumbling attempt at undoing his tie, "I don't think we can possibly call ourselves a secret organisation anymore. Not when--"

Jack cuts him off with a searching kiss. This happens a lot when Jack's just come back from dying, too: he's imbued with a need to prove to himself that he's alive. Most of the time, Ianto's more than eager to take him up on it. Right now, though, they're still in danger of being seen. "Time and a place, Jack," he murmurs, and tightens his tie. Jack pouts at him.

It's a chance reflection in the black side panel of the SUV that alerts Ianto. "Play dead," he hisses, and spins around as Jack slumps over in the seat again.

The aliens are trooping toward them once more, the spanner-plumber's-helper thing held triumphantly aloft in one of the leader's hands. Gwen follows him, the other aliens gathered around her like ducklings following their mother.

"Sorted?" Ianto asks, hoping he doesn't look like he's just been snogging Jack.

Gwen manages a wry laugh. "Sorted," she replies. "I'm afraid they cleaned us out of all the table salt and chocolate biscuits, though. Apparently all that's quite the delicacy on their homeworld." Behind him, Jack makes a little whining sound. Ianto reaches behind himself and gives Jack's knee a thump. He feels Jack's hand catch his, fingers tangling. Bastard. He tries to yank his hand free and fails.

"So, then, will you gentlemen be on your way?" he asks.

"Apologies for the misunderstanding," the alien leader says, tucking the object of desire into an inner pocket of his jacket-jumpsuit-clothing. "We would compensate you for the comrade's death."

"Not--necessary," Ianto grits, tugging at his hand again. He's going to kill Jack himself this time, and he won't feel a bit sorry about it, either.

"We insist." The leader approaches, raising another hand. Helplessly, Ianto holds his free hand and finds several small, square, sparkling items being placed into it. They make his skin tingle a little, but it's not an unpleasant sensation. He folds his hand closed and nods appreciation of the gift.

"Thank you," he says gravely.

"May I ask--" The leader hesitates, then continues. "Why are you holding the hand of your dead friend?"

Ianto squeezes Jack's hand very hard. "It's another -- ritual. Among our people," he lies. "Transference of memories and history. So the lineage goes on."

The leader nods wisely. "Understood. We thank you again. Debt paid now in full. Apologies for inconvenience." He signals to the others, who gather around him, and as Gwen steps away to join Ianto by the SUV, a bright light flashes around the group of alien mobsters. When Gwen and Ianto open their eyes again, the aliens are gone.

"Oh, God," Gwen moans, sagging against the SUV. "I thought for sure they were going to kill me when Myfanwy came out of nowhere--"

Ianto gives Gwen a tight smile, then turns, finally succeeding in pulling his hand from Jack's. Jack, predictably, is snickering. He undoes the seatbelt at last and climbs out of the SUV, only slightly unsteady on his feet as he slams the door.

"Nice work, you two," he says, slinging an arm around Gwen's shoulder and the other around Ianto's. "Those guys are a lot tougher-skinned than us. Their pistols only stun each other. They had to know how much harm they could do us--"

"So that they wouldn't?" Ianto raises an eyebrow. It's not the most unlikely explanation ever, but as long as the aliens are gone, he's not going to argue the point. Jack shrugs and grins at him as they start walking across the Plass to the lift.

"What did he give you, Ianto?" Gwen asks, glancing across Jack to Ianto.

Ianto shrugs and holds out his hand. "Didn't even look." Uncurling his fingers, he rubs a thumb over one of the stones. "Sapphires? Do you know what these are, Jack?"

Gwen takes one; Jack picks another from Ianto's palm, and Ianto slides the rest into his shirt pocket. Jack holds his stone up to the light, squinting at it. "Whatever it is," he says, "it's not from Earth."

"Which means I get to categorise it." Ianto rolls his eyes to make Gwen laugh. Jack presses a gentle kiss behind Ianto's ear, and Ianto smiles as they step onto the lift together. Jack's arm slips around his waist while it descends.

On the other side of Jack, Gwen, still admiring the gem, gives an unexpected gasp and giggle. Ianto cranes to look at her, confused; but before the lift even touches bottom, she's pushing the stone back into Ianto's hand, her cheeks suddenly full of hectic colour.

Puzzled, Ianto watches as she jumps off the paving-stone and practically runs across the Hub to her desk. "I'm -- going home to check on Rhys," she announces abruptly, lifting her purse from her desk and giving Jack some sort of significant look. Her eyes are dark--oh, Ianto realises abruptly. It hits him about the same time as he becomes aware that his cock has gone hard as marble in his pants and Jack's hand is on his arse, fingers finding the seam of his trousers that runs down between his buttocks.

"Jack," Ianto says, his voice unusually throaty. "What are these stones?"

Jack practically drags Ianto toward his office as the cogwheel door opens and alarms go off to announce Gwen's abrupt departure. "Aphrodisiacs," he says. "Drop them now, or you're going to have a erection for the next twelve hours."

Ianto groans and immediately removes the handful of gems from his shirt pocket to spill them into a cup on Jack's desk. Jack drops his coat on a chair and starts undressing. Ianto doesn't even have to look at Jack to know just how turned on he is; he can tell from the harsh tone of Jack's breathing, the deepening scent of lust in the air. He kicks his shoes off and starts peeling off clothes.

Though they don't sleep in the bedroom below Jack's office much anymore, Ianto keeps it clean and stocked just in case -- now being a perfect example, as they stumble down the ladder half-dressed, Jack's mouth so urgent and fierce on Ianto's that he can barely pull away to finish shedding his own trousers. Ianto shoves his briefs off and pushes Jack back against the ladder, dropping to his knees so that he can drag Jack's boxers down and take Jack's heavy, hard cock into his mouth. Jack lets out a shout that echoes in the small room.

It's almost painful being so turned on. Ianto's aroused by Jack easily enough as it is, especially as long as they've been physical with each other. They've learned each other's bodies; Jack knows exactly where he can put his mouth to make Ianto scream. Need is often for them heightened by the lack of time they get to spend together (Ianto can think of maybe a handful of days they've had to relax in each other's company for more than three hours at a stretch), not to mention the way everything Torchwood-related has become foreplay for them: Weevil-hunting turns into groping and frenzied kissing in the SUV, the thrill of unspooling mysteries and saving the world often results in equally fervent sessions in bed or on a kitchen counter or up against a door (once, in the autopsy bay after Jack came back from a death, with Gwen yelling at them to keep it in their pants). This is a step up from even their usual levels of need, though; Jack pushes Ianto back to the mattress and jerks him off with a speed that's almost painful, then spares only the barest interval to prepare Ianto before fucking him, barely remembering the condom that he's usually so careful to grab for. Ianto screams when he comes a second time, barely minutes after the first, but then Jack's in not much better a state; Ianto'd brought him off with his mouth, but Jack's erection stayed firm and hard.

They're both hard, even after that, gasping and shaking in the aftermath of a pair of intense climaxes for each, but Ianto just clings to Jack, pressing his face into Jack's neck. Jack murmurs something soothing and strokes Ianto's hair. Ianto feels sticky, sweaty, disheveled and exhausted; at the same time he burns for Jack as if they hadn't even touched yet. His hand skates down over Jack's chest and finds his cock, peels off the condom and tosses it aside, begins to move on him in a slower, steady pace. Jack makes a keening sound but doesn't stop him.

"This is insane," Ianto mutters.

Jack nods, gasps. His hips twitch a little, pushing up restlessly. Ianto agreeably speeds his pace. "Side effect of... the gems," he gasps.

"You've seen those before, then?" Ianto asks. It's more idle conversation than anything, an attempt to pull their focus from the overwhelming need, but he is a little curious.

"Something very similar," Jack says, and groans. "Oh, God, yeah, that's nice. Anyway, there was this orgy..."

"Say no more," Ianto laughs, in the dryest tone he can manage under the circumstances.

Jack's fingers twine in the short hair at the back of Ianto's head and he lifts up to kiss him, long and searching and hot. Ianto moans into Jack's mouth and his hand speeds, blurs on Jack's cock. Jack mewls and comes with a hitching cry, then subsides against the mattress once more. Ianto reaches for tissues to clean up the semen spilled over Jack's chest and belly. He's still hard -- as is Ianto -- and Ianto thinks a little despairingly that the twelve hour thing might not be so far-fetched. They'll both be raw and he'll still want Jack. (Well, that's not so different from normal, he has to admit.)

"Come on," Jack groans, and Ianto's attention snaps back to the present. "Fuck me already, Ianto, don't keep me waiting." Jack's eyes are black with pure want; the sight is a hit to Ianto's system. Ianto groans and slicks his fingers with his own spit, pushes one without preamble into Jack's body. Jack's so open for him. It's some kind of trick he must have learned or an ability they must have in the 51st century or something-- He has a moment of wondering why he's thinking about future sex techniques when he could be fucking Jack, and then, with a rumbling laugh, he slicks the condom on, props Jack's legs up against his body, and pushes in.

His need is every bit as frantic as it was when they first climbed down here, but Ianto manages somehow to temper his thrusts a little. He feels sore, just the slightest bit raw, even though they're both slick with lube; tomorrow, he has a feeling they'll both be walking stiffly, not moving much. "Hot bath," he gasps, and Jack lifts up to give him a confused look. Then Ianto pushes in again and Jack drops his head back, shouting.

"That's what-- I want," Ianto gasps. "After this. A long soak."

Jack laughs, then, hands clutching at Ianto's shoulders. "We'll go get a hotel room," he says, the words punctuated with gasps as Ianto twists and thrusts, each motion calculated, precise. "Somewhere with a -- fuck! -- with a jacuzzi tub."

Ianto grins and puts his head down, letting the rhythm take over his conscious thoughts. It's so easy to let go with Jack. Too easy, he'd have said once, but now he's just glad for what he has and doesn't overanalyse too much. Jack moves eagerly with him, takes him, welcomes him in. Encourages him to move faster, thrust harder, take him deeper. Ianto wants to climb into Jack's skin and never leave. He'll settle for this, though, for grinding deep into Jack in mindless thrusts until sensation overwhelms and he comes, spending himself in desperate rocking pushes; until Jack gathers him close and lets him settle, shaking, on his chest.

Jack's voice is raspy and quiet, but Ianto hears him clearly. "Never leave me," he whispers.

"Never," Ianto promises. He listens to Jack's heart beating under his ear. A few hours earlier, that heartbeat was nonexistent. Sometime soon it probably will be again, knowing the lives they live and the duties they fulfill; but for now, Ianto will savour that living pulse. He'll take every moment he can get.

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this page last updated on 4 may 2009