Warnings: Mild spoilers for 1.04
Notes: 2000 words in response to the Lost in the Hub challenge. With thanks to astolat and terrio for beta!
Ianto wakes slowly, his head throbbing. There's a solid weight across his legs, and when he opens his eyes it's just as dark as when he had them closed. There are hands fumbling at his wrists, fingers wrapping around them, pressing lightly. Checking for a pulse, he thinks, and closes his eyes again.
"Did we outrun it, sir?"
The fumbling hands pause, and the weight on his legs resettles itself. "Define 'outrun'."
Ianto sighs, silently. "Did we blow up too large a section of the Hub?"
Jack's hands slide up, fingers twining with Ianto's and squeezing. "Define 'too large'?"
"Ianto," Jack says, and he sounds entirely too cheerful for someone who spent a morning trudging deeper and deeper into the vaults of the Hub, finding a tentacled, fire-breathing beast that had been Rifted in, trying to outrun it for hours through endless corridors, laying a plan to blow it up, and nearly blowing himself up in the process.
Too cheerful for Ianto, then.
He fights to get up, but Jack holds him down with those hands light on his and his weight settled heavily across Ianto's thighs. "No, don't," Jack says. "Everything's all right--it's just that something hit you right on the temple, and I want to make sure you're all there before we attempt anything strenuous, like digging our way through piles of exploded Jigoslaun. Good work with that, by the way."
"Thank you," Ianto says, and lies still. "And making sure I'm all right involves sitting in my lap, does it?"
Jack shifts. "No, that's just fun for me. How are you feeling?"
Ianto takes stock. Really, the headache isn't so bad. Nothing else hurts particularly. There's only one area of concern. "Have I gone blind, sir, or is it dark?"
"Oh Ianto," Jack says, and squeezes his hands again. "It's dark. I was hoping you might have one of those big, beautiful torches of yours stashed away somewhere."
Ianto opens his eyes and raises an eyebrow, though Jack certainly can't see it. It's a very peculiar feeling to open his eyes and see nothing; Ianto blinks a few times but still can't make out even the shape of Jack above him, perhaps a darker shade of black than the rest of the corridor. There's no difference at all. "And you didn't have a feel around while you were waiting?"
Jack laughs. "Would I do such a thing? Or, nevermind, don't answer that. No, I didn't have a feel around. I was a bit too anxious, truth be told." His tone is light, but the fingers twined through Ianto's squeeze again, then one of his hands is released and Jack is touching his cheek. Jack's thumb brushes the corner of his mouth.
Ianto holds very still for a moment, and Jack's hand falls away. He wants to turn his head towards it, to ask Jack to touch him again--his hands are very warm. But Ianto doesn't. He says, "Lift up, please," and Jack's weight is gone from above him, another source of warmth to miss. Ianto digs in his pocket with his free hand and yes, there it is. A click, and the corridor is illuminated. The torch is small and weak but any light would seem bright as the sun, considering the utter darkness around it. A little knot of anxiety eases in Ianto's stomach.
"I knew there were good reasons to keep you," Jack says, and when Ianto shines the light so that he can see Jack's face, he's smiling a little. His eyes are gleaming and dark in a way that has nothing to do with the pale light of the torch. Then Jack is rising, smooth and graceful, pulling Ianto up with him. "Are you ready? Good. Let's go."
"Is it possible, sir, that we're lost?" Ianto says, and Jack looks over his shoulder, surprised.
"Lost? In my own house? Could never happen, Ianto."
"It's just that we've been walking for quite some time, and don't seem to have made any progress."
Jack waves his hand, the light bouncing madly across the dark, damp walls of the corridor. There are times when the Hub seems almost organic, places where it is warm and humming and wetly alive. At first it had made Ianto want to hire the biggest spraygun he could find and paint everything with an antibacterial cleanser, but he'd grown accustomed to it. Long nights spent tending Lisa, the cool skin and metal of her, had left him grateful for that sense of life.
But if the Hub is alive, she is sloughing off these corridors, cold and miserable as they are.
"We're making fine progress," Jack says, hearty as any salesman. "We'll just keep going up and soon enough we'll be fawned over by the girls and making Owen fetch us coffee for our brave work."
Ianto stares at the back of Jack's head. "A fine plan, except that it wasn't all down to get here."
Jack waves his hand again, and doesn't say a word.
They stop for a rest, and Jack turns off the light.
"That battery should hold for quite some time," Ianto says.
Jack reaches out in the darkness and takes his hand. "Just in case," he says, and waits for Ianto to catch his breath.
"I like the light," Jack says, conversationally. They're going up another flight of stairs. Jack seems quite convinced that one more level, maybe two, and they'll hit the lift again. Ianto has long since stopped seeing signs of their passage, or the Jigoslaun's existence.
"I got it at the pizza takeaway place," Ianto says. "It has their name and telephone numbers on it. I could get you one."
Jack huffs a laugh. "No, I mean, I don't like the darkness. It reminds me--"
They take a few more stairs, and then step out onto the next level. Ianto is fit, but his head aches some. He's tired. He's slow to make the last step, and Jack is waiting for him. He holds out a hand and Ianto takes it, and Jack turns the light out again. He stands very close, close enough for Ianto to smell the linen and soap and sweat smell of him, to feel his warmth. Part of him wants to put his head down on Jack's shoulder. Part of him wants to punch Jack right in the stomach for getting them lost, for smelling so good, for being so warm.
"What does it remind you of?" he asks, and Jack's hand tightens on his.
"Don't ever die," Jack says. "It'll remind you of this, but you'll be alone."
There isn't a lift on the next level, or the one after that.
Or the one after that.
"Don't worry," Jack says. The light is on, but he has Ianto's hand in his. "It's the Hub. How much of it could there be?"
The next time they turn the light off, Jack wraps an arm around Ianto's shoulders. Ianto can feel him breathing, every exhale hot against his temple, the broad chest rising against his. They're the same height, almost, but Jack is broad in ways that Ianto knows he might never be, solid where Ianto is lean. He hesitates, but eventually lets himself relax into Jack's loose embrace.
"A few more levels," Jack whispers. "I'll make sure you get out of here in time for supper, Ianto."
They're lost, it's obvious. Somehow, somewhere, they turned when they shouldn't have, or didn't turn when they were meant to. Hard to keep track of these things with a tentacled fire-breather on your tail. Ianto rests a hand against Jack's waist. "It's Chinese tonight, sir," he says. "We can't be late for that."
Jack laughs silently. Ianto feels a kiss against his temple, Jack smiling. They rest like that a moment longer, and Ianto feels himself begin to breathe in time with Jack, to let go of some tension in his shoulders, to lean against him more heavily, and feels Jack doing the same. It's a surprise, to feel so comfortable with him. Ianto hasn't been held like this in so long and neither, he thinks, has Jack.
He turns his head. It's so dark and he's not sure what he's doing, and his mouth doesn't catch Jack's right the first time, hits stubble and the cleft of Jack's chin. Jack breathes in sharply and his arm tightens over Ianto's shoulders; the second time, he catches the corner of Jack's mouth and Jack's lips part.
Ianto kisses him deeply, wondering at Jack's easy acceptance. At Jack's desire. At Jack's need, which roars through the kiss like a fire sparked by Ianto's own. He wraps his arms around Jack and holds on, and Jack pushes him back, against the wall, and rests heavily against him. His hips are lean and Ianto can feel the weight of his cock, thick and hot even through all their layers; Ianto spreads his legs wider and Jack comes closer, breaking the kiss with a gasp.
"You couldn't have picked a time when we were warm and our surroundings dry, Ianto?" he asks, and Ianto shakes his head, knots his fingers in Jack's shirt. "Well, I suppose I don't care when you did it--sooner's better than later." Jack is smiling, again, still. "Just don't tell me you did it because you thought it was your last kiss. I'm getting you out of here, I swear."
"That's not why," Ianto says. "And if you have any sense at all, you'll kiss me again."
Jack kisses him again, nipping his bottom lip, and again. It's easy to get lost in the sensation, sink lower, get all turned around about which way is up until it seems inevitable that this be the last kiss; how could he ever find himself again after this, without Jack's hands and mouth to guide him?
Eventually though, Jack gentles, ending the kiss slowly. "No one ever did say I was lacking sense," he whispers against Ianto's cheek. "So come on." He straightens up, and clicks on the light. He takes Ianto's hand. "Onward and upward." Ianto follows him, and they brave the darkness yet again.
He collides with Jack three levels later, lost in watching his feet and not paying attention. Jack braces him, then turns out the light.
"Shhh," Jack says. "Give your eyes a moment. Then tell me--do you see it?"
Ianto closes his eyes. Cautiously, he leans against Jack's shoulder, and Jack stands steady. When Ianto opens his eyes again, their little torch is still off, but there's a new quality to the darkness. A shadowy kind of dark at the end of the corridor. Light, from somewhere--not this level, but perhaps the one above.
"I told you I wasn't lost," Jack says, and tugs him forward again. "I can't believe you doubted me, Ianto."
"Quite silly of me," Ianto says. "Of course you knew right where we were all along."
"Well, there might've been a moment a couple levels ago where I worried." Jack is grinning, Ianto can hear it in his voice, and he's almost bouncing down the corridor. "But I knew, Ianto. A man's home is his castle, and he knows every last squeaking floorboard of it."
"Except that one," he says, and Ianto laughs.
The sound of Owen, Gwen and Tosh arguing about whether or not it's time to mount a rescue is the sweetest thing Ianto has ever heard.
"We should've gone an hour ago," Owen says. "Fuck, we should've gone when we lost contact with them! Whose bloody idea was it to wait?"
"Yours," Toshiko says dryly.
"Let's jump out from somewhere," Jack says. "Give 'em a good one for not coming down sooner."
"Very mature," Ianto says. "Perhaps we should say 'Boo!'"
"I think we should just try to sound like an exploding Jigoslaun." Jack starts forward, clearly intent on giving the rest of the team a collective coronary, but he still has Ianto's hand, and Ianto digs his heels in. Jack swings back around, eyebrows raised.
Ianto looks at him for a long moment. Then he reaches out. "Keep this." He closes Jack's other hand around the torch. Jack looks at their hands, then up at Ianto, who smiles a little. "For when it's dark," he says, and squeezes Jack's hand in his.