tacit: (ianto sulky)
[personal profile] tacit
Title: Revitalised
Fandom: Torchwood
Author: [livejournal.com profile] tacittype
Characters: Ianto, Jack/Ianto
Spoilers: Children of Earth, up to Day Four
Length: 1200 words
Warnings (Highlight to view): References to death and suffocation.
Beta by [livejournal.com profile] deltacephei, who patiently indulged my obsession all weekend.
Notes: This is the scene that follows 'By Chance', and will make more sense if you read that one first.

He hurt too much to be dead. Muzzily, he had the impression he should be appreciating his various aches and pains.

Relief ushered Ianto back into full consciousness, and he lay blinking at a ceiling through a grubby face plate. But as soon as his neurons began firing in earnest he started remembering; and as soon as he started to remember, the mask covering his face felt oppressive and imprisoning. His tie was still tight around his head, leaving only his nose free. Soggy silk pulled at the corners of his mouth, and he suspected this was one area of bedroom fun he would be refraining from for a while.

He lay still, taking calming breaths of stale air from the mask, listening to his breath whistling through his nose. His chest ached when he breathed, and there was a sharp pull when he tried to take enough air to satisfy him, but he still closed his eyes for a second to savour it.

Jack's weight was heavy on his legs, which were numb from the knees down. He had a stabbing headache, and his mouth tasted of copper and something acrid, something he couldn't place. The toxin, he suspected, uneasily.

He couldn't abide lying down any longer. He sat up clumsily, clutching the mask to his face. It wasn't well buckled, and it was heavy in his shaky grasp. He couldn't breathe deeply with the tie still binding him, and his nose was stuffy enough to remind him of the feel of suffocation. It was like breathing through a straw.

Steadying himself against fear, he took a breath, held it, and slipped the mask up and off his face. He determinedly didn't think of any parallels to earlier experiences and focussed on the task at hand. He forced his movements to be fluid and controlled, rather than the violent jerks that would have come automatically. A glance at the mask showed him that it was a welder's mask, with a rubber seal and an air supply that protected against dangerous concentrations of argon, or helium, or alien toxins. Black rubber tubing stretched from it to the welding bench he had woken up beside. He turned it over in his tremoring hands.

He could have died.

His fingers felt fat and clumsy, and damp silk was difficult to untie, but in seconds he was throwing it to the ground and clamping the mask back over his face. He took deep, painful breaths and tightened the straps until they almost hurt.

A phone was ringing, but now wasn't the time.


He rolled Jack carefully off his own legs, settling him on his back. He straightened Jack's limbs, pulled his shirt down where it had ridden up, and then looked at him for a moment. Usually, he revived quickly enough for pallor not to set in. This time, his lips had a blue tinge, and his skin was dull and pale. Ianto allowed himself one touch, stroking a thumb over the spot on Jack's cool forehead that he wanted to kiss.

Ianto didn't know whether the air had cleared or not, wasn't certain that Jack hadn't revived and died and revived and died while he was unconscious. How long had Ianto been out? It could be morning by now. Jack's next revival was at least within Ianto's power to fix.

He stood. It appalled him how much effort it took to get himself upright, and his head swam once he did. But there was nothing to be done about it, here and now, and dwelling on his apparent infirmity was unpleasant. He paused to wait for his blood pressure to catch up with his new altitude, and then started experimenting, seeing how far the tubing would stretch from the welding bench. He walked the circumference of his range, so far as he was able in the confines of the storage area. He could step out into the corridor but no further, not without risking the connection of tubing to his mask. He spotted a CCTV camera in the hallway and cursed under his breath. People could be watching, but not the people he wanted. Gwen would have no idea what had happened to them; their feed was only set up for the room with the 456's tank.

He lurched back into the storage room, one hand on the wall. It was not a large room, and it looked to have been hastily packed with equipment; everything the construction force had needed to build the tank. He started opening containers, beginning with the bench and proceeding outward until he found another welding mask, like his own with the transparent plastic plate and the rubber seal.

Later, there would be time for a small fit at the age of their own equipment. Later, Ianto suspected he would be feverishly updating every piece of safety equipment Torchwood still owned. If Thames House had skimped on their crew's gear Ianto would have suffocated. It would have been an ugly death, painful and frightening and worst of all, pointless.

Ianto was going to have to find something to occupy his mind, if he was to be trapped here by his air supply. He didn't think he wanted to know how long the air would last, but he mustered the nerve to check. If he was about to imminently run out, perhaps he could go on short scouting trips to the nearby rooms. Maybe there would be a medical kit with an oxygen cylinder he could use to supplement his supply.

The gauge read three hours. He slumped in relief, and wobbled the few steps back to Jack's side. He sank down the wall and pulled Jack's head onto his own lap.

He felt exhausted and shaky. His lungs still hurt and his head was still pounding. He hoped it was from the near-suffocation and the last few days of sleep deprivation and not from anything... sinister.

A distraction. Right. He shifted to reach his phone, which was still in his pocket. He pulled it out and saw that he had twelve missed calls from Gwen and three from Rhiannon. He stared at it for a second, realising that the mask would muffle his hearing and speech too effectively for him to reassure either of them. There were answerphone messages and he was relieved to have the excuse not to listen to them. He doubted they would do much for his hard-fought calm.

He pointed the phone's camera at himself and Jack and took a photo. Gwen would find it more reassuring than whatever stilted message he came up with, would know it was less likely to be a trap. He sent it with the text, 'Is the air clear? Would appreciate a lift.'

Then he sent a text to Jack's phone, hearing it vibrate in Jack's coat a metre from his own. 'Thanks. :)' Once Jack gasped to life, they probably wouldn't talk. They would be up and running and saving the world, again. Ianto liked to think that Jack would find it later, maybe in a quiet moment. His lips wouldn't be blue, then, and maybe he'd smile.

And then he sent a third message, to Rhys. 'Fuck them. It's a Go.'
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