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Title: Fish have no word for water
Author: etharei
Rating: PG
Timeline: directly after "Greeks Giving Gifts" (107)
Spoilers: "Cyberwoman" (104), "Greeks Giving Gifts" (107)
Summary: Ianto develops a new pastime.
Author's Notes: Title taken from a quote in the book Small Gods by Terry Pratchett (a Discworld novel).
Disclaimer: Torchwood and all the characters and situations featured therein are the property of Russell T. Davies, the BBC and their affiliates. I’m only borrowing them for purely non-profit, recreational purposes.

Written for: horizonssing, Day #4.

- written by Otis Redding and Steve Cropper

Sittin' in the mornin' sun
I'll be sittin' when the evenin' come
Watching the ships roll in
And then I watch 'em roll away again, yeah

I'm sittin' on the dock of the bay
Watching the tide roll away
Ooo, I'm just sittin' on the dock of the bay
Wastin' time

I left my home in Georgia
Headed for the 'Frisco bay
'Cause I've had nothing to live for
And look like nothin's gonna come my way

So I'm just gonna sit on the dock of the bay
Watching the tide roll away
Ooo, I'm sittin' on the dock of the bay
Wastin' time

Look like nothing's gonna change
Everything still remains the same
I can't do what ten people tell me to do
So I guess I'll remain the same, yes

Sittin' here resting my bones
And this loneliness won't leave me alone
It's two thousand miles I roamed
Just to make this dock my home

Now, I'm just gonna sit at the dock of the bay
Watching the tide roll away
Oooo-wee, sittin' on the dock of the bay
Wastin' time

fish have no word for water
by etharei

After Lisa, after the fall, after the destruction of everything he’d staked his life on, Ianto develops a new pastime. Natural, he thinks, after months (a lifetime) of dedicating his body and soul to one project; his efficiency honed to near-perfection by it and ingrained in him, so that no matter how much work he takes on, he stills finds himself with free time. The pastime doesn’t have a proper name – simpler than people-watching, more complex than just taking the air.

He immerses himself in people, in public life, in the vital parade of human society. He would sit (or stand, or stroll) where there are lots of people, entirely the outsider, and soak up the chatter, the interactions, the glimpses of journeys in progress. It settles him, comforts, counters the roiling uneasiness in his gut and the numbness everywhere else. There’s no schedule he can follow, but simply indulges whenever he can; taking slightly longer to return from an errand, popping out of the Tourist Information Center to stretch his legs, snatching minutes when some miracle has his colleagues all sitting down to paperwork at the same time.

Jack makes no pretence about not noticing, but neither does he draw attention to it nor interferes with Ianto’s excursions in any way. Ianto greatly appreciates this, even though he thinks that Jack must follow him on the CCTV network. He’s lost the right to ask for privacy and trust; he feels touched to be granted the dignity of an illusion of both.

Mary and the transporter and a tearful Tosh drives him out of the Hub earlier than usual. He wanders in the falling dusk, gazing out into the Bay, trying to absorb the people around him. A mother admonishing her young daughter for dripping ice-cream, three students with bags and books and beer bottles, an unshaven man clutching an empty whiskey bottle.

Night comes, and still he walks. The surroundings don’t empty so much as change their dressings, like switching clothing. He wonders what Tosh might have heard, with her pendant. Doesn’t worry about what she might have heard from him – nothing they don’t already know, if anything at all. The pain is still there, still deep, still large enough to take up the world… but even he is starting to find it old.

“She destroyed it,” says a voice from behind him. Ianto starts, tenses up, but is sufficiently accustomed to Jack’s habit of sneaking up on people and doesn’t turn around immediately. Jack continues, admiration in his voice, “Crushed it with her heel.”

“That’s good,” responds Ianto, a bit lamely. “Did you talk her into it?”

“She didn’t need to be. She just needed... assurance. Comfort. That’s really what she wanted, all along.”

Now Ianto turns to face Jack. He opens his mouth, and promptly forgets what he was going to say.

Jack grins, looking too innocent to be so. “What? Never seen a man in a t-shirt and jeans before?”

“I didn’t know if you even knew what those were, sir,” says Ianto, finding his voice. He can’t stop staring at Jack, though, and the Captain doesn’t mask his pleasure at being the recipient of Ianto’s dumbfounded attention. “If I may ask, why-?”

“Same reason you are,” Jack answers easily, nodding at Ianto’s own makeshift ensemble of loose jeans, shirt and hoodie.

Ianto forces himself to stop staring. “It’s just... you look so... normal.”

Some of the shine on Jack’s grin fades, and Ianto finds that he’s sorry for being the cause of it. “Believe it or not, I do know that sometimes it’s best not to... advertise. In this, I bet I can walk past Gwen and Owen and they wouldn’t recognize me.”

Ianto can well believe that; he wonders if he’d done so, himself, on one of his walks. He clears his throat. “Tosh will be all right?”

“I’m sure she will.” Jack starts walking again, at a leisurely pace; it never occurs to Ianto not to follow. “She’s tougher than you think.”

“I know, sir,” says Ianto, remembering a dark cellar in the countryside.

They walk in comfortable silence for a while, eventually ending up outside a bar and café that had a lovely view of the Bay. There seemed to be some sort of party going on inside, if the loud music and tacky decorations and raucous laughter were anything to go by. It doesn’t escape Ianto’s notice that the rest of the crowd look to be his age; and yet, he feels a world and a half removed from them.

Someone bumps into him from behind, Jack instinctively catches hold of his arms to steady him. Too close; he sees Jack’s eyelashes, the curve of his upper lip. Remembers the events of the day, and realizes that maybe Mary would not have had a hold on Tosh, if not for Tosh hiding everything inside herself.

Jack is already putting distance between them again, glaring at the half-drunk young man who’d not been looking where he was going. He appears to take Ianto’s intent gaze as persisting astonishment over his outfit. “There is a time when I take the coat off, you know,” he says, for once without a trace of innuendo, smiling gently.

Funny, that it’s the lack of sexuality that does it; before he can think, Ianto surges against Jack, presses their lips together. He feels Jack’s startled intake on his skin, Jack’s fingers on his arms, and a couple of catcalls in the distance. Then Jack is kissing him back, drawing more whistles, and moisture, and heat, and oh God the heady taste of Jack on his tongue. Lips part wider, noses bumping, Jack’s teeth grazing the edges of his mouth.

Ianto is breathless when he finally breaks away, even though it can’t have lasted more than a twenty seconds. His skin is tingling in odd places, his body aware and warm with rushing blood, and his hands seem disinclined to part company with Jack’s sides. He’s already leaning in again when a particularly lurid suggestion from a gawking partygoer makes him blush and look around.

Jack seems unconcerned about the attention they’re now getting, his eyes never leaving Ianto. “Hey,” he says quietly, waiting for Ianto’s gaze to meet his. “We’re just another two people enjoying the warm night out.” Jack nods his head towards the city at night, the sleepy Bay, and the half-moon over all. A distant, dusty part of Ianto’s mind remarks that the scene is quite romantic, actually. “And you don’t always have watch on the outside. If you want this.”

He does. He’s confused, and still hurting, and very likely broken in places, but there are Jack’s arms around him and strangers living their lives surrounding them and a whole city and space and time stretching out beyond that. Not far away, a pterodactyl is waiting for him to feed her, an SUV to stock with nets and bullets and extra wiring, files on aliens waiting for the archive. Yet he’s human, human human human. And maybe he can convince himself that Jack is, too.

Ianto gestures toward the bar, smiles. “Fancy a drink?”


( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 4th, 2008 08:59 pm (UTC)
See icon.
Jul. 11th, 2008 03:00 pm (UTC)
*snogs back to life*
Jul. 4th, 2008 10:55 pm (UTC)
Oh god. You're so damn good!!


Gotta read this again.



(how come I always end up using caps when commenting to you??)

Edited at 2008-07-04 10:55 pm (UTC)
Jul. 11th, 2008 03:02 pm (UTC)

(I always want to use caps when commenting to you, since I'm always so EXCITED to see you :D)

Thank you so much ♥ Glad you like it. The main idea sounded a bit strange in my head, but luckily it seemed to work after I put in a couple of paragraphs.
Jul. 5th, 2008 12:45 am (UTC)
you did this really well, nice call backs to other episodes, and a good lanto voice, which is rough seeing as he doesn't, you know, talk a whole lot.

Jul. 11th, 2008 03:05 pm (UTC)

(Erm, I didn't know you watched TW. SO OMGYAY!)

Yes, Ianto doesn't really talk much compared to the other characters (except for "Sleeper', when I'm convinced he must have been high). I'm very flattered that you liked my Ianto voice; I'm still quite new to writing for TW, and not entirely confident in the characters yet.

Thank you very much!
Jul. 11th, 2008 10:03 pm (UTC)
i have in fact seen every ep of the new Dr. Who, and torchwood at least twice...

i'm not a "shipper" but i like the show and your writing so i thought i'd give it a read. as i said, nicely done.
Jul. 5th, 2008 02:17 am (UTC)

OMG, you let him take off The Coat! ;)
Jul. 11th, 2008 03:07 pm (UTC)
I DID XD. Figured the poor thing needed a night off.

Thanks so much ♥ *SQUISH*
Jul. 5th, 2008 03:11 am (UTC)
Jack owns a t-shirt and jeans??? I loved Ianto's reaction to seeing him dressed like that. ;)

That kiss.... OMG! *iz ded*
Jul. 11th, 2008 03:08 pm (UTC)
LOL, I know, right?

I think I'd react the same way, if I hadn't seen Jack in S1 Doctor Who and John Barrowman in casual outfits. Because Jack = Coat.

We like Jack and Ianto kissing, we does. Torchwood should have them doing that for, like, 30 minutes of the episode, and toss in a few random aliens for the other 10.

Thank you so much!
Jul. 11th, 2008 06:27 pm (UTC)
We like Jack and Ianto kissing, we does. Torchwood should have them doing that for, like, 30 minutes of the episode, and toss in a few random aliens for the other 10.

Ooooo! I definitely would NOT complain about that. ;D
Jul. 5th, 2008 10:41 am (UTC)
-ish dead-

oh my you've killed us all...this does not bode well
Jul. 11th, 2008 03:09 pm (UTC)
*giggles and gives Jack's kiss of life*

Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it :D
Jul. 5th, 2008 04:06 pm (UTC)
YAY!!! I love when Ianto can't keep his hands off Jack! I also like your characterization of Ianto needing to get out into the public. And of course Jack would invade that space just a little, but it's so worth it!

Jul. 11th, 2008 03:11 pm (UTC)
I love exploring the dynamics between Jack and Ianto after Cyberwoman, as there's so much potential there for character development and introspection. I imagine it as a bit of push-and-pull, and both Ianto and Jack kind of at a loss about what to do with the other.

Jack is asking what this personal space thing is that everyone's talking about XD

Thank you so much ♥
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 11th, 2008 03:12 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank you very much!
Jul. 16th, 2008 12:29 am (UTC)
This is really quite lovely. I like Ianto as a walker and observer; I love the way you bring Ianto together with Jack; the dialogue is spot on. Thanks for sharing!
Jul. 22nd, 2008 01:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! (And sorry for the late reply, life's been a bit hectic of late.) I'm glad that you enjoyed it, especially the dialogue as I tend to find that the trickiest part.
Jul. 16th, 2008 01:27 am (UTC)
Jul. 22nd, 2008 01:37 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Jul. 16th, 2008 02:58 pm (UTC)
This is really good. Love Ianto snogging Jack in public like that.
Jul. 22nd, 2008 01:39 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! Usually I think Ianto is wary of public displays of affection, but I'd like to think that he occasionally gives in :D
Aug. 3rd, 2008 09:10 am (UTC)
Just wanted to say
Thanks !
Sep. 23rd, 2008 11:00 pm (UTC)
well done
omg.. good work, brother
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )

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