In Sickness and in Health (51/52)
Title: In Sickness and in Health
Summary: Ianto looks after everyone, but who looks after him?
Chapter Summary: The fall out from the outcome
Warning: Occasional language, references to child abuse,
Jack wasn't surprised. Perhaps it made him less of a person, less of a partner, but he himself had come to terms with the verdict long before it had been made. Ever since Russell had testified, he’d been beginning to sense that the outcome would be less than favourable – Carys’ testimony had just put the nail in the coffin. He didn't like it, and he didn’t need it but there was nothing he could do beyond ensure that Ianto had the love and support that he needed following such a public condemnation of his circumstances. All around them, the Court was active; those who weren't in the process of leaving were preparing to do so, and those who were leaving paid neither Ianto nor anyone else any heed. For this, Jack was grateful – the last thing they needed right now was for some random stranger to pass judgement. Glancing down at the Courtroom, Jack saw Clark and Strutt talking amicably together, before the Prosecution gathered his things and left through a far door. Lloyd, Jack couldn’t help noticing, had already left.
Turning his attention back to the man beside him, Jack gently nudged him and indicated towards the door. “Come on. Let’s get out of here,” he said quietly as he stood and ushered him out the double doors; Owen and Tosh following behind in mute shock. They didn’t speak. None of them did. There was nothing really to say after what had just happened. That did not make the silence any more comfortable or bearable.
After several minutes, Owen exhaled loudly. “Well, I suppose we can always set the Weevils on him,” he said in resignation as he shoved his hands into his pockets.
Ianto shook his head wearily and to the surprise of everyone replied. “No; we said we’d do this the legal way and accept whatever happened.” He shrugged. “We just weren’t good enough, that’s all,” he said, giving them a sad smile.
Owen hummed non-committally as his attention wandered across the hallway and landed on Strutt who was heading in their direction. His gaze darkened somewhat.
“What do you think Strutt wants now?”
“God knows,” muttered Tosh as she glanced over at the approaching barrister.
Strutt, for his part, paid them no heed; instead coming to a stop in front of Ianto. He inclined his head and held out his hand which Ianto took in bemusement. “My condolences,” he said quietly, shaking his hand once before letting go. He then surveyed all of them before nodding once more and walking off.
“What was all that about?” asked Tosh in amazement as her gaze followed him.
Jack smiled to himself. “He’s a lawyer, Tosh. I don’t think he’s as bad as he’s paid to pretend to be.”
“Fat lot of good that does us now though,” muttered Owen sullenly.
Jack inclined his head in acknowledgement before returning his attention back to Ianto. “You ready to make a move?” he asked quietly as his hand trailed idly up and down the other man’s arm.
Ianto nodded distractedly. “Yeah.”
Jack couldn’t have been more glad when they finally entered the flat; it seemed like days since they’d last been here. Glancing over at Ianto who was currently taking his shoes and jacket off, Jack couldn’t help hoping that returning home might settle him a bit. Whilst he hadn’t shown any overt signs of distress on the way home, his closed body language and distant gaze made it obvious that the verdict was troubling him deeply.
Not that he could really blame him; they’d devoted six months of their lives to this shit and for what? Nothing. His father had gone free as if nothing had ever happened, his mother had returned and destroyed any semblance of family he’d ever had, and his sister had been alienated by her own guilt over what had happened.
Jack withdrew himself from the mire of his tired mind and focused his attention on Ianto who had finished putting his things away and was just standing there; looking isolated and alone as he stared off into the middle distance. His whole body was tense, as though he was trying to deal with everything that he’d been through in the last few days, weeks, years in too short a space of time. Knowing that words would be useless right now, Jack simply closed his eyes and drew the younger man to him. Ianto exhaled and buried his face in Jack’s shoulder as his hands trailed up the Immortal’s back and tightened their hold. Jack for his part, just kissed the side of his head and stroked his hair soothingly as he gazed unseeingly at the wall opposite.
The paint had yellowed and was peeling slightly in the join between the wall and the doorframe. If looked at from a distance, it was barely perceptible, but up close, each tiny imperfection could be seen in all its cracked glory. Maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing; after all, it added interest and a unique quality to the wall. But then, on the other hand, they weren’t needed – no one would ever look that closely at the wall anyway. Jack smiled sadly to himself and turned his attention back to the man in his arms who had shifted slightly – the hitch in breathing and almost undetectable dampness on his shirt the only signs that anything was amiss.
“Hey.” Jack’s tone was feather-light as he attempted to lighten the mood. “Stupid question, but did you want anything to eat?”
Ianto just shook his head.
“Okay...”Jack nuzzled his hair thoughtfully. “Why don’t we go to bed then, hmm? It’s been a pretty rough day and I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted.” The Immortal was gladdened when he felt Ianto nod wearily against his shoulder and, tentatively, he lifted the younger man’s chin to face him. There was some tell-tale redness, but he did look a lot more alert around the eyes – the isolated, lost look had diminished somewhat and the desolation, whilst not completely erradicated, had lessened.
Jack smiled. “You’re back, then.”
Ianto inclined his head. “I just...” He exhaled and looked around them.
Jack nodded in understanding. “I know. Me too. Let’s go to bed okay?”
Ianto nodded gratefully and followed him into the bedroom.
Ten minutes later, both men lay under the duvet facing each other, having not spoken since. Jack’s hand was lightly trailing up and down Ianto’s arm, and Ianto was tracing random shapes on Jack’s chest, deep in thought.
“It’s not...”He exhaled and started again. “I don’t...I don’t think it was ever about the guilty verdict...not really...” he murmured as he kept his eye line fixed on what he was doing. Jack made no comment, unwilling to break the other man’s train of thought. “I think...it was more about him acknowledging what had happened, what he did and that it was real and that I didn’t make it up. If there had been a guilty verdict, then people would believe it was true –Rhiannon would believe it was true and then...”Ianto shrugged. “I don’t know. It’s stupid.”
Jack pulled him close and kissed his hair. “It’s not.”
“But then...the not guilty verdict is like saying that it never happened, that I lied and made it up. It’s like they believe that I am a whore and that Lloyd is a wonderful, hard-done by dad whose wife walked out on him and who raised another man’s child. I mean, how could I ever compete with that?”
“You couldn’t,” murmured Jack soothingly as he stroked his back. Ianto hummed non-committally and was quiet for some time as he mulled over the events of the day. Finally, he simply sighed in frustration and shifted position so that he was staring up at the ceiling.
“What do you think Lloyd will do now?” he asked as he glanced over at Jack.
Jack shrugged. “I don’t think he’ll come after you again,” he murmured calmly as he too shifted position so that he was tucked into Ianto’s side with his arm draped securely across his waist. “Lloyd may be many things, but he’s not stupid.” He nuzzled the crook of Ianto’s neck. “He knows he wouldn’t get off a second time.”
“Mmm,” Ianto murmured as he idly trailed his hand up and down Jack’s arm. "I guess it makes more sense now though... Why he hated me... Why he needed to hurt me..."
“Yeah...”murmured Jack quietly as his breathing started to even out and his body relaxed.
Ianto glanced down to see that Jack had fallen asleep. He idly stroked his hair. It wasn’t surprising really considering the amount of effort Jack had put into supporting him over the last few weeks. He knew it couldn’t have been easy having to contend with this on top of his regular duties but he had done it. Because he cared. Because he understood. Ianto smiled sadly and kissed his lover’s hair. He’d wanted them to succeed. Not that it had done much good in the end; they’d lost and Lloyd had gone free – blameless and no doubt guiltless, and in his place remained Carys’ bombshell and Rhiannon’s confusion. Ianto just didn’t know what to do, let alone what to feel about them.
He shifted position slightly. On one level, he understood that they were victims just as much as he was. Carys had simply made one catastrophically disastrous cock up, and Rhiannon had been forced to trade the image of a loving and doting father she’d always adored for the violent thug he really was and her resulting guilt was something that would need addressing. But the way he was feeling right now, Ianto really didn’t think he could bring himself to care - his own sense of exhaustion, weariness and general exasperation at the situation was overwhelming any sense of empathy he may otherwise have had. Maybe in a few days or weeks, he’d have a clearer view on it all, but right now he just needed to sleep.
Exhaling yet again, he shifted restlessly until his head was cushioned by Jack’s chest and forced himself to focus only on the steady thump-thump of the Immortal’s heart and the reassuring warmth of the arms that had instinctively encircled him in order to drown out the downward spiral of his thoughts. It took a while, but eventually he could feel the tension in his shoulders lessen and the steady stream of consciousness began to break off into small, incoherent chunks.
Almost unconsciously, he grabbed one of Jack’s hands in his own and kissed it lightly in silent gratitude before his breathing deepened and his whole body finally fell into a deep slumber; too tired to process any more.