sam_storyteller: (Torchwood)
sam_storyteller ([personal profile] sam_storyteller) wrote2011-01-17 03:31 pm
Entry tags:

Symmetry

Title: Symmetry
Rating: PG
Warning: Discussion of canon minor-character deaths.
Summary: Ianto buys Tosh a drink. It's just symmetry.
Notes: For my <1000 project. Clocks in around 1200 words.

Also available at AO3.

***

"Tosh! Tosh, hey, wait a minute."

Tosh turns around in time to see Ianto crossing the Plass at a trot; she also is just in time to see him brush past Jack, going back down to the TIC, and to see Jack turn to glance at Ianto in confusion. Ianto, in response, glances back at Jack, though she can't see his expression; whatever it is, Jack shrugs and turns to go, and Ianto is already running up to her, tie flapping a bit in the chill wind sweeping across the plane of the basin.

"Ianto," she says, putting on a blank face for what feels like the thousandth time already. It has been the longest of long days, and she just had what amounted to therapy with the man who killed her girlfriend. "More paperwork?"

"Jesus, no," he replies, stopping in front of her. "Sorry about that. Listen, are you going?"

She shrugs. "Did the debriefing, did the heart-to-heart with Jack."

"Hm," he says skeptically, glancing back again, but Jack's already gone. His next glance is at the CCTV camera pointed at them, and is not quite as blank as before. A little malice, not much; more knowing than anything. "Come out with me, I'll buy you a drink."

God, she's so tired. Mary betrayed her, and Mary is dead, and she's not sure how to process those, and there's still half a pack of cigarettes sitting on her kitchen table.

"I think I just want to go home," she says, hoping he'll forgive the sharpness in her voice.

"So, pick up a bottle on the way, we'll go home," he says with a smile.

"Ianto -- "

"Look, all right, it's not pity," he tells her, which is almost a lie, until he says, "If you don't want pity -- "

"I don't," she snaps, turning to leave.

"Fine, well, think of it as symmetry," he answers blandly.

That stops her; she's intrigued, a little, and she likes sometimes to define human interaction by mathematics, and she's never heard someone else do it.

"I've not forgotten," he says quietly, into the expectant silence. "The coffee."

"...coffee?" she asks, bewildered.

"You brought me one. Day I came back. After Lisa," he clarifies, and oh, yes, she remembers. Like she remembers the very vivid pain she heard from him earlier, rats-in-the-belly. A whole compressed world of pain he still walks through all the time.

Is that going to be her life, then?

"Symmetry," he repeats. "Let me buy you a drink."

Well, there have been worse reasons.

Ianto has a dark sense of humour. He pops out of her car on the way to hers and returns with a bottle; when they get to her flat she finds it's Bailey's, and he sets about making irish coffees for them. It's shit instant coffee, all she has, but he doesn't even sniff at it, just mixes it like it's art and adds the alcohol -- quite a lot of alcohol -- and presents it to her across the bar-counter. Neither of them are looking at the dented cigarette box an arm's reach away.

He drinks in silence, but he doesn't seem to expect anything more; she sips the sweet-bitter coffee and watches him seem to enjoy it, eyes closed, rolling the taste through his mouth. Really, she knows nothing about him and he knows less about her. Maybe Ianto is a sensualist. Maybe he enjoys instant coffee, and the show he puts on about it in the Hub is just to throw them all off the scent. That would be like him -- or would it? She doesn't know.

She tots up anything he could possibly know about her, and most of it is supposition. That she's so pathetically lonely she'd go for an alien, maybe. That she's good with maths, that she likes equations, he'll know that, or he wouldn't have suggested the symmetry of this. Maybe he thinks she's kind, because she brought him that coffee that once.

He sets the coffee down and opens his eyes. She looks away, embarrassed to be caught studying him, but when she glances back he doesn't seem to care. And why should either of them? If anything, she's seen him stripped down much further than he's seen her.

"I think," he says slowly, measuring out each word, pouring a bit more alcohol into both their glasses, "that there are evil things. I didn't used to. Seems a bit mumbo-jumbo, yeah?"

"I suppose," she allows.

"But now I do. And I think sometimes they come for us because -- well, because we're basically targets," he continues. "And everything they touch ends up broken. And some things end up just a bit evil too."

"You mean me," she said.

"I was speaking of Jack, actually; you and me, Tosh, it broke us. Jack doesn't break, so..." he turns a hand over in the air, like he's balancing something on it. "Evil."

"You think Jack's evil?" she asks, startled.

"I think the bad things make him bad too. Not forever. Just for a bit. Long enough to shoot a woman in the stomach. Or send one to the heart of the sun," he adds.

"He was kind to me. After."

"So it fades. Anyway, it was necessary, what he did. Both times. Sometimes necessary is evil." He shrugs. "Maybe it's just he's willing to do what we aren't. Something made him cold at the core, long before he found us. Dunno. Theology. Anyway. I think evil is, and I think you touched it, and I know I did once, so."

"I heard you," she blurts suddenly, because she's not evil, and keeping secrets seems to be a symptom of it, at Torchwood. "In the conference room. Cleaning up the cups. I heard you. The necklace."

His eyebrows raise. "Yes?"

"I don't want to hurt forever," she says wretchedly.

His smile is gentle. "You won't. I don't."

"But you -- "

"Used to go down to the basement around three every day. Nobody misses anyone at three in the afternoon. Round about two-thirty my day really turns to shit for about an hour and a half. Then I'm all right. No use moaning about it, it passes away." He levels a look at her. "It does pass away, Tosh."

She nods, staring at her half-empty cup.

"Did you love her?" Ianto asks quietly.

"No," Tosh answers, because no, she didn't, and that's the worst part of all. Her throat tightens.

"It'll be better," Ianto says. He reaches out and picks up the cigarette box, putting it in his pocket calmly. "I loved Lisa, and it's better than it was. It'll be better for you, too."

He comes around the bar to the living room, bends and kisses her cheek. "I'll be off. Try and sleep."

She goes to the window once he's gone, and can see him step out of her building; as she watches, he lights one of the cigarettes from the pack he took and wanders down the pavement, hailing a cab at the corner. He turns and tosses the cigarette, gracefully; the ember flies through the air and dies quickly in a wet gutter.

Tosh finishes her coffee and lies down; sleep takes some time, but when she does sleep, it's deep and dreamless.

(Anonymous) 2011-02-14 03:20 pm (UTC)(link)
You tended bar? YOU tended bar?
Sam my-god-don't-make-me-go-outside-and-deal-with-people tended bar.
Sam would-manage-to-injure-himself-in-a-padded-cell tended bar.
Does. Not. Compute.

..... how often did you hurt yourself during that job?