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March 2008

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Utena - Revolution

thebirdwoman in a_tangled_bank

Faith and Hope

OK (drum roll) here it is: my first fanfic (assuming stories written about roleplaying games don't count).

Title: Faith and Hope
Author: thebirdwoman
Pairing: Jack/Ianto
Rating: 15
Word Count: Just over 4,000
Spoilers: Up to and including 2.05, "Adam"
Disclaimer: Everything Torchwood related belongs to the Beeb
Author's Note: Thanks very muchly indeed to the wonderful white_hart and emptyheaven for the beta. Any mistakes that are left are all mine.
Summary: An alternative ending to "Adam"


Faith and Hope

Part One

“Listen, I could murder a coffee.”

Jack’s eyes narrowed a fraction as Adam flung himself into his desk chair, unaware of the impact of his apparently innocent comment. He was already tapping away at his keyboard, oblivious. Ianto turned away, taking a deep, unsteady breath, and headed towards the kitchen. Jack winced in sympathy as he caught his hip on the corner of Tosh’s desk in his hurry to get away, his usual grace and economy of movement forgotten. She watched him go with some surprise over the tops of her glasses. Jack followed at a more nonchalant pace.

He found Ianto in the kitchen with his back to the door, gripping the edges of the butler’s sink so hard that his knuckles were nearly the same white as the porcelain. He was leaning over the sink, his breathing ragged. He started slightly as he heard Jack’s footfalls on the tiled floor, but did not look round.

Jack gently closed the door behind him and leaned against it, arms folded. “Ianto. Look at me.”

Ianto lifted his bowed head and looked round with a wild expression on his face that Jack had become uncomfortably familiar with in the last hour. Jack didn’t need any kind of psychic ability to tell what he was thinking; the desperate shadow cast across his features was the same as that Jack had seen when the lie-detector’s flashing green light had failed to waver. Desperate, and – despite himself, Jack couldn’t help thinking – dangerous.

Slowly, Ianto turned to face him, switching his hands over so he could still grip the edges of the sink. He looked as if he’d fall over without its cold, steady weight behind him.

“I can’t do this, Jack.” He met Jack’s eyes briefly and looked away. Speaking to the spotless floor tiles, he continued quietly, “I can’t be around them. I’m not the person they think I am. I’m not…safe.”

“Listen to me, Ianto,” Jack kept his voice even, putting every ounce of confidence he could muster at that moment into his words and hoping that he had succeeded in burying his own confusion. “Something is wrong. Why have you suddenly remembered all this? And why is the CCTV blank for as far back as we had time to check?”

Ianto raised his eyes to meet Jack’s steady gaze and the intensity of his expression – there was something there that Jack had never seen before, almost as if Ianto truly was a different person – nearly made Jack forget what he was going to say next. But he couldn’t afford to waste this opportunity. Ianto was listening. Jack continued, his words coming out more rushed than he intended, taking on a cast that was more savage than reassuring. “There’s something weird going on here and we are going to find out exactly what it is. Tonight we’ll check the archives for the backups of the CCTV discs.”

Ianto didn’t say anything, but to Jack (who had spent enough time watching Ianto – and more - to be intimately familiar with his mannerisms) it seemed as if a fraction of the tension radiating out of him dissipated. His pale hands loosened some of their grip on the edge of the sink, his knuckles regaining a healthier colour. Jack pressed his advantage and took the few steps to where Ianto stood, reached out a hand and pressed it gently against his cheek. Ianto didn’t recoil, as he had from Adam, but closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Gently, Jack embraced him, drawing him upright. He let go of the sink and hugged Jack so hard that some of the breath was forced out of him.

The clean scent of Ianto’s hair made Jack smile despite the severity of the situation. He inhaled it gratefully, an anchor of normality in a world that seemed to have gone mad over the last day or so. He stroked Ianto’s back, with broad, confident strokes of his palm, felt the taught muscles beneath the red silk waistcoat loosen somewhat. Eventually, Jack pulled back slightly, taking Ianto’s face between his hands. He studied him for a moment, as Ianto met his eyes and then tried half-heartedly to pull away. Jack didn’t let him. With infinite tenderness, he kissed him chastely on the lips. “Come on. Let’s make that coffee.”

By unspoken agreement both of them tried to maintain a façade of normality around the others. Jack considered asking Adam for advice, or getting Owen to check Ianto over, but he harboured a strong suspicion that involving any of the others would drive Ianto further into the cold shell that was all that seemed to be keeping him together. He completed his tasks with his customary efficiency, but with none of the relaxed, dry wit that characterised his normal demeanour, making excuses if anyone tried to draw him into conversation. No-one except Jack noticed that he didn’t eat anything all day, existing solely on hot caffeinated drinks that surely couldn’t be helping his to-say-the-least twitchy state of mind.

Ianto was aware of Jack’s keen observation, and it settled him somewhat. As long as Jack was watching him, he knew that nobody was going to get hurt. He’d never imagined that he’d draw strength from the memory of Jack pointing a gun at his head, but the cold anger in Jack’s eyes when he found out about Lisa gave him a measure of comfort. If Ianto tried to hurt any of the team, then Jack would stop him.

All the same, when Gwen laid a hand on his arm he dropped all the papers he was carrying and took a swift step back, apologising. As they crouched together on the floor, gathering up the files, Gwen asked, “You all right today, Ianto? You look a bit peaky, if you don’t mind me saying.” She flashed a smile at him.

He grabbed the remaining files and stood, backing away. “Um, yes, thank you. Rough night.”

Before Gwen could reply, he turned sharply and walked away.

Adam, unobserved, watched the whole exchange with a small half-smile on his face.

It felt like midnight when Owen – the last to leave – finally mumbled his goodbyes and went home, but in reality it was barely seven. As soon as the door shut behind him, Jack strode out of his office over to where Ianto was trying to read over some files (but each paragraph was slipping out of his head as soon as his eyes left it). He looked up as Jack reached across him and closed the file. Shadows of exhaustion and fear blurred the skin around his eyes like bruises. Anger at the whole situation made Jack’s voice harsher than it probably should have been. “Come on.” When Ianto flinched slightly, he mentally cursed himself and, with careful gentleness, took his hand. “Let’s go check the archives.”

Ianto didn’t speak as they made their way down to the lower levels, but he gripped Jack’s hand like a lifeline. He let go as they arrived at the white-painted room where locked, fireproof filing cabinets held all the backup discs from Torchwood’s plethora of computerised systems. Jack flicked a switch, illuminating the room with harsh fluorescent light. “Which one holds the CCTV discs?” he asked.

“This one,” Ianto replied, moving over to the secure cabinet and keying in the pass code from memory with familiar, instinctive efficiency. Jack sat down at the desk and booted up the old computer they kept in the file room.

“Here’s the last year’s worth of CCTV records.” Jack took the slim box that Ianto handed him and inserted the first disc, drumming his fingertips on the table and frowning as the CD-ROM drive hummed. Impatiently, Ianto leaned over him, placing his left hand on Jack’s shoulder for balance, and wrapped his slender fingers around the mouse, bringing up the explorer window for the CD.

It was empty.

Part Two

The pizza box dropped into Ianto’s lap, and he looked up at Jack, who was standing over him, fists on hips.

“Eat.”

As Jack flopped down onto the worn sofa next to him, Ianto lifted the lid of the box. “You don’t like ham and pineapple.”

Jack made a noncommittal noise. “But I’ll eat it.”

Ianto ate slowly, and Jack had to force himself not to rush his own meal.

“You know,” he said, swallowing a mouthful of pizza, “You’re not the only one having weird memory issues. One,” he tapped the index finger of his left hand with that of his right, ticking off the number, “Gwen forgot about Rhys. And her memory’s coming back, so that’s a good sign.

“Two,” he continued, tapping his middle finger, “I’ve been remembering things from…well, a very long time ago. Things that I’d rather not deal with just now, but…” he hurried on, as Ianto stopped chewing and gave him an urgent look, “…nothing like these flashbacks you’ve had. They are in a whole different league.”

“What did you remember?” Ianto’s voice was soft, uncertain.

“Eat your pizza,” Jack told him, finishing off his own last slice and stretching out with a satisfied sigh. He laid his arm along the back of the sofa behind Ianto’s back, his fingertips just touching Ianto’s shoulder. “Maybe I’ll tell you when all this is over.”

Neither of them spoke for a while, the silence of the Hub broken only by the low hum of the computer systems and the occasional swish of Myfanwy’s wings. Eventually Ianto finished eating, and leaned back on the sofa. Gently, Jack walked his fingers down Ianto’s arm and drew him closer. Ianto sighed and leant his head on Jack’s shoulder.

“There’s one more thing.”

Jack deliberately kept his body relaxed, continued the soft play of his fingertips on Ianto’s bicep. “What’s that?”

“Adam.”

“Hmm? What about him?”

There was a long pause, and Jack felt tension seep back into Ianto’s muscles. When the reply came, it was husky, almost inaudible.

“He helped me get rid of the bodies.”

Jack’s fingers ceased their dance. The silence that followed Ianto’s statement lengthened, neither of them wanting to shatter the fragile equilibrium. Eventually, Jack asked slowly, “Why would he do that?”

“What do you mean?” Ianto sat up, drawing reluctantly away from Jack’s embrace.

Jack jumped to his feet and began to pace. “Adam is a member of the team. If one of the team goes bad, like Suzie, it’s his job to report it to me. In your memory, why did he help you? Was he protecting you? Did he get a kick out of it? Why?”

Ianto frowned, unexpectedly at a loss. “I don’t know.”

Jack stopped pacing and folded his arms, pinning Ianto in his seat with a steady gaze. “Where did you put the bodies?”

Ianto stood abruptly and turned away, the shadow falling across his features again.

“Why are you asking me this?”

Jack’s voice held a new steel as he repeated the question. “Where did you put the bodies?”

“In an alley,”

Where?”

The reply snapped out like a lash. “I don’t remember.”

Jack strode forwards and gripped Ianto’s upper arm, propelling him into movement. “Come on.”

Startled, Ianto stumbled momentarily and then fell into step. “What are you doing?”

They went up the stairs and into the office area. Releasing Ianto’s arm, Jack moved over to Adam’s desk and switched on the computer, started pulling open drawers. As Ianto watched, confused, Jack started to explain as he rifled through Adam’s work.

“Last night you suddenly acquired extraordinarily vivid memories of being a serial killer…” Crouched down beside Adam’s desk, he didn’t see Ianto step backwards as if Jack had physically slapped him, steadying himself with a hand on Tosh’s chair. “…You remember that Adam helped you dump the bodies, but you can’t remember where. Believe me, Ianto; you’d remember something like that. These memories are false.”

On the last word, false, he yanked open the bottom drawer of Adam’s desk. “What’s this?”

He stood and turned back to the ashen-faced Ianto, a standard-issue Torchwood polythene bag in his hands. It contained a leather-bound book, which Jack took out. Slowly, he began to flick through the pages.

“It’s a diary.”

“Adam keeps a diary?” Even in Ianto’s current preoccupied state, it occurred to him that this seemed unlikely.

Jack didn’t reply, but opened the book on the first page. Placing a finger on a particular word, he looked up, animated. “Ianto, it’s your diary.”

“I don’t keep a diary.” But Ianto sounded shaken, not entirely convinced.

Jack began to flick through the pages more systematically, skimming each page quickly then moving on. Once he burst out laughing, but didn’t explain, continuing to read. By the time he was halfway through, he was nodding to himself as if something was making sense at last.

“You’ve written here about Owen, Tosh, Gwen – and me,” Jack looked up from the book with a short-lived but mischievous smile, “But there’s no mention of Adam. Look.”

He shut the book sharply and tossed it to Ianto, who caught it by reflex. He sat down slowly in Tosh’s desk chair and started to read, frowning. “This is my handwriting. It looks familiar. But I don’t think I remember writing it.” He didn’t sound at all certain.

“What’s that called? Cognitive something. Dissonance, that’s it. Your real memories have been tampered with. And I think we have our chief suspect.”

Ianto looked up from the diary, met Jack’s gaze with his head high for the first time since Jack had found him in the Hub last night.

“Adam.”

Part Three

After that it was a matter of joining the dots. Adam had no blood sample, precious few files, and his personnel file was only twenty-four hours old.

“Damn it! I should have seen it when Gwen forgot Rhys.”

Jack was pacing again. Ianto watched him appear and disappear on either side of the monitor as he meticulously checked the team’s time logs. Adam’s went back two days.

“Remember what she said when she got back from Paris? ‘Who the hell are you?’ And he said…”

“'Just because that’s what I said to you on your first day,’” Ianto finished for him.

“He grabbed her shoulder – and said…” Jack trailed off and his pacing faltered.

Very softly, “Remember.”

They both paused, each doing just that, mentally reviewing their experiences with Adam. Finally, Ianto observed, “He does do that a lot.”

“I’m supposed to be the touchy-feely one around here,” Jack growled.

And Ianto laughed. It was a brief laugh, gone almost as quickly as it burst forth, but it brought a corresponding grin to Jack’s face.

“So,” Ianto asked, his face grim once more, but with determination this time, not loss, “What can we do about it?”

Jack’s smile faded as he considered the options. “Retcon might work. If he’s a memory parasite he needs to plant fake memories to survive. If we get the whole team to forget the last forty-eight hours it should kill him. Put everything back to normal. Or…”

Ianto cocked an eyebrow, waited for the second option.

“…we could just kill him. If he’s feeding off the false memories, killing him should break the link. Without him to reinforce them they’ll die. We’ll remember him, but only the real memories of the last two days. And…” (with a kind of grim satisfaction) “…he’ll still be dead.”

Jack came to a snap decision. “Let’s get him in here. Put him in the vault, ask him some questions. We can decide which course to take when we have the facts.” He touched his comm to activate it. “Adam. Hi. Sorry to disturb you – I need some help.” He let some of the strain of the last day seep into his voice. “Yeah, it’s Ianto. He’s acting kinda strange. Can you come in and help me to sort this out? Now? Thanks. I owe you.”

“Thanks,” Ianto said wryly as Jack cut the link.

Jack strode over to where he sat and smiled down at him. “He knows exactly why you’ve been jumpy all day. He doesn’t want to raise anyone else’s suspicions so he won’t bring Toshiko with him. We get to deal with him on his own.” He glanced at his wristband. “He’ll be here soon. Can you look worried?”

“I think I can just about manage that.”

Part Four

Jack leaned back in his chair, booted feet on his desk. Ianto was sure he was doing it just because it usually irritated him, but tonight he had bigger things to think about. He leaned uneasily against the wall, arms folded instead of his usual casual hands-in-pockets pose.

Adam bounded through the door to Jack’s office. “What’s up, kids?”

“You tell us, Adam,” Jack replied.

He faltered, looked around from Jack’s heavy stare to meet Ianto’s furious gaze. “What’s the matter? You said…”

Jack put his feet back on the floor and leaned forwards, hands steepled in front of him. “Ianto seems to have acquired some extremely unpleasant memories. Maybe you know something about that?”

Adam took a step backward. Ianto pushed himself off the wall and sidestepped to cut off his route to the door.

“I don’t know what you mean,” Adam spoke quickly, an edge of pleading in his voice, “What kind of memories?”

Jack stood and drew his gun in one fluid movement, levelling it unswervingly at Adam’s head. “Cut the crap. What are you?”

Faster than Jack could anticipate Adam spun round, seizing Ianto roughly and pressing a pistol to his temple. Ianto, belatedly, tried to wriggle away, but the cool metal against his skin quickly persuaded him of the error of his ways. “I know usually you’d shoot without thinking in a situation like this, Jack,” Adam said, smoothly, “But I’m holding a gun to the head of your precious Ianto. Do you trust yourself that much? Do you think you can shoot me before I put a bullet – or something worse – into that pretty head of his?”

For a long moment nobody moved, the standoff seemingly complete.

Then Ianto moved. He was made reckless by exhaustion and the memories that, however false he intellectually knew them to be, still made his stomach twist and his vision blur every time they bubbled to the surface. Snaking one hand between himself and Adam to grab the hand holding the gun, he swung a sharp kick into the back of Adam’s knee. He didn’t have enough momentum to get much force, but it made Adam stumble, and the gun swung forwards. There was an ear-splitting crack, and Jack toppled backwards, blood blossoming across the front of his blue shirt. He crumbled behind the desk, his head bouncing off the edge as he fell.

Adam rounded on Ianto, a smile twisting his face as he pointed the gun at him. “Think you’ve had a bad day today?” he spat, “That’s nothing. I thought I’d done enough last night, but clearly you’re made of sterner stuff than I imagined. Still, just imagine how you’ll feel when you remember killing your Captain. A lovers’ tiff that went too far, perhaps…?”

He trailed off as Ianto started to laugh. A little unsteadily, but with genuine delight.

“What’s so funny?”

Ianto got his amusement under control, but a broad smile still lit up his face. “You’ve just proved that you’re really not one of us.”

“What do you mean?” Adam was getting impatient now.

“Jack can’t die, you idiot.” Ianto considered what he’d said, and amended it. “Well, he can, but he gets better.”

“He gets better…?” Adam repeated, incredulous. Then he smiled, and lowered the gun slightly. “You really have lost it, haven’t you? Still,” he reached out a hand and took a step towards Ianto, “As I say, that’s nothing to what I’m about to show you.”

With a wild cry, Ianto knocked aside Adam’s hand and flung his whole weight at him. They sprawled on the floor in a tangle of limbs. Ianto heard the gun skitter across the floor, out of reach. Beneath him, Adam writhed desperately, trying to shake him off. For a moment they wrestled, struggling to gain the upper hand. But Ianto had the advantage of position and size, and eventually managed to pin him down. Both were gasping for breath from the exertion.

Through gritted teeth, Adam snarled, “Still…touching…you!”

And recall flooded into Ianto: Jack’s rejection of him upon his confession, his desperate, tearful pleading, Jack pushing his reaching hand away, disgust etched across his face. Ianto snatching the gun from Jack’s desk, holding it with shaking hands, pulling the trigger…

With a wordless cry of denial, Ianto’s hands closed around Adam’s throat.

Another memory, another girl: crossing the road, footsteps quickening with the sense of the predator and the hunt…

His hands tightened, his breathing ragged, bile rising in his throat at the familiarity of the wildly-beating pulse beneath his fingers.

Mere flashes of memory, now, nothing coherent: her screaming – the rush of pleasure as her struggling weakens – quickening his stride – his gloved hand closing on her shoulder –

Adam flailed weakly now beneath him, his eyes blazing hatred and a growing awareness of the futility of his situation. The onslaught of recall slowed as did his movements, and Ianto was no longer sure whether this was real or just another memory. As Adam fell still, he became aware of the tears streaking his face, and the low animal growl in his throat.

Slowly, he unlocked his hands from Adam’s neck. As soon as he did so they began to shake uncontrollably. Unable to stand, he rolled to one side and lay beside Adam’s body, staring at the ceiling as everything jumbled in his head began to unravel.

His eyes closed.

Part Five

Ianto woke up in Jack’s bed, stripped down to his boxers, and alone. He felt strangely rested, like on the rare weekends when he managed both an early night and a lie-in. He fumbled in the pitch-darkness of the subterranean room for the light switch, and squinted at the clock. 12.30. Whether AM or PM, he had no idea. Slowly, he sat up, and then got to his feet, wincing. Most of his upper body hurt, with strange aches deep in the muscles of his arms, shoulders and chest. It even hurt to flex his fingers. And he had a bruise the size of a fifty-pence piece on his left hip.

A clean pair of underwear lay on the floor next to the bed. Moving rather delicately, he bent to pick them up, and found his diary hidden beneath them. Curiouser and curiouser.

In an unprecedented fit of thoughtfulness, Jack (he assumed) had left a clean suit and shirt hanging on the back of the door. All the members of the team kept a couple of changes of clothes in the Hub, and, not for the first time, Ianto was grateful for the policy. You never knew when your clothing would end up covered with alien goo.

But the purple shirt and the suit he’d been wearing yesterday lay in a crumpled heap on the floor at the foot of the bed. No sign of alien goo.

He dressed carefully, wishing he had a toothbrush handy. The back of his throat tasted like he’d had at least a bottle of cabernet sauvignon the night before, but he didn’t remember drinking and he felt refreshed, not in the least hung-over. There was nothing for it but to venture out and find out what was going on.

As he climbed the steps up into the main part of the Hub he could hear voices and the general bustle of day-to-day Torchwood. PM, then. That must be the first time he’d slept so late since university. The voices went quiet as he sauntered into the office area, trying to appear nonchalant. Four pairs of eyes turned an identical piercing look on him.

“What?”

Jack was leaning against the edge of Owen’s desk. “Ianto, can you remember anything about the last two days?”

He frowned. “It’s a bit…fuzzy, now you come to mention it.”

“So you have no idea who shot me with Tosh’s gun in my office last night and left you unconscious on the floor?”

“Um, no. Sorry.”

“I reckon it was that work-experience kid, what was his name?” Owen volunteered.

“Adam,” Gwen replied, rolling her eyes.

“Looked like a rodent. A weasel or something.”

“Weasels aren’t rodents,” Ianto corrected him; “They’re mustelids. Like badgers.”

Owen glared at him. “Weasels aren’t anything like bloody badgers.”

Tosh chipped in. “Same family, different genera.”

“Whatever,” Owen reluctantly had to concede defeat. “Bet it was him.”

“Work experience?” Gwen asked, a note of incredulity in her voice. “At Torchwood?”

“Must have been,” Tosh shrugged. “Anyway, I thought he was cute.”

“It was him, though,” Owen refused to abandon his chief suspect. “The CCTV shows him going into Jack’s office at about 10pm last night, and not coming out again.”

“So where did he go?” Jack asked, rhetorically.

Nobody had an answer.

“I have a feeling,” Ianto suggested, a little diffidently, “That this is one of those situations where it’s best just to move on.”

There was a general chorus of nods and small sounds of agreement.

The consensus seemed to be that it was time to forget about the whole thing. Gwen and Tosh turned their chairs round and went back to work. Owen shrugged on his lab coat and wandered off. As he sat down with the pile of records he vaguely remembered wrestling with yesterday, Ianto caught Jack looking at him with a strange expression – relief? – in his eyes. He returned the look with a quizzical one of his own.

Jack didn’t reply, but left his perch on the edge of Owen’s desk. As he passed Ianto, he paused and placed a hand on his shoulder. Ianto looked up with a smile, and was rewarded with a very unexpected, and surprisingly gentle, kiss on his forehead. Then Jack patted his shoulder, and headed back to his office.

Ianto shook his head, smiling and just a little flustered, and spontaneously decided to go to find a toothbrush.

Comments

Oh, I enjoyed this very much. :) You have a very fluid and clear writing style, and I loved how neatly this story fits into the events of the episode. And *sigh* you included the lovely forehead kiss!

Very, very nice! :)
What an amazing retelling :D I really enjoyed reading it!
I was prepared to do a really nice comment really detailed and the like but then you added the forehead kiss in, so I'm reduced to a pile of 'ahhhing' squee.

Well done
This fic made me dream last night, so I blame you're writing on my weird dreams...

No the head!kiss was wonderfully sweet!
Nor am I!!!
Aw, this was much better than the real ending. :)
I enjoyed this very much too - thank you
I really liked this! :-)
That was a wonderful read - intense and detailed without being cloying or slow. You handled the emotional temperature like a pro. Well done, I look forward to much more from you. :-)
I love Adam fics and this is one of the best I have read!
ooo, very well done.
An interestingly different look at 'Adam' and how things might have gone. I'm so glad Ianto remembers nothing in the end - having to kill Adam in the same manner Adam tried to make him believe he'd murdered those girls might have haunted poor Ianto for eternity!