Sunday, October 21, 2012

Memories in the Kitchen

He picks up the cup and places it in the saucer where it belongs. He places both cup and saucer on top of the stack he’s already carrying. He may be a teaboy but Ianto refuses to use a tray. That just seems to be too much ammunition for the likes of Owen. Instead he stacks them neatly, carries his tower of china to the kitchen, and proceeds to wash the used cups out.

And standing there in the kitchen it hits him again. This was the place. This was where he and Lisa had come after his first mission with the team. They had come and taken a celebratory cup of tea in the privacy of the kitchen. It had been the first time Lisa had talked to him. He had loved the sound of her voice from the start.

He starts scrubbing the cups, washing away every single speck of anything that had ever been on them. He tries to forget but it keeps happening. Everytime he’d come into the kitchen he’d think of her. He places the cups down to dry and remembers all the times she’d sneak away from her desk to come talk to him. She’d always pick up the rags and start drying his cups, even though she was using the dirty rags and he would have to end up washing the cups again when she left. He had never told her. He had never minded.

He puts the cups down and leans against the sink and breathes hard. He will make it through this. Even if everything reminds him of Lisa. Even if everything brings the pain back fresh and sharp, twisting in his gut until he feels like he is going to throw up. He will make it through this. This is his life now and he’d just have to accept it. No more richness in colors. Everything tasting bland. Nothing left but death everywhere. Lisa’s death everywhere.

He has to get out of the kitchen. He walks back up and grabs the black plastic bag on his way out. Time for another trash run. He gathers up all of the discarded pizza boxes, the empty soda pop cans, discarded tissues. He leaves Owen’s desk for last. Lately Owen’s been getting into a bad habit of leaving his discarded condoms on his keyboard. No doubt thinking its funny that Ianto has to toss them. It’s bad enough having Owen and Gwen sneak off every few hours to “go check on the servers in the basement” but this has gone too far. He uses on of the tissues to pick up the used condom and throws it with the trash where it belongs.

And then it’s back to the kitchen to toss the whole bag. He stops in the doorway. And again it triggers another memory of him and Lisa. The first time they’d kissed. He had been trying to go through the door when she was coming out of it. They’d tried going around but kept bumping into each other and he’d smiled his stupid smile and she’d smiled her beautiful smile and then she’d said that if he wasn’t careful she would end up kissing him. And so he moved purposefully in front of her this time. A pause. And then the kiss.

Ianto has to bite his lip as he steps into the kitchen, a tear escaping his eye. He grips the side of the kitchen table until his knuckles turn white. He gasps for breath as more tears trickle down his cheeks. God, he hates being weak like his. The others have all lost people but they all manage to keep it together. He feels like he is the only weak one.

“Ianto?” The voice comes from the doorway.

“Jack.” He quickly wipes his face and turns to start washing the dishes, hoping that his boss didn’t see his tears and knowing that Jack must have.

He keeps washing and he can feel Jack’s warm gaze on his neck and back. He bites his lip and sniff, and keeps scrubbing at the last cup in the sink as if he somehow can’t get the last bit of coffee off of it. As if he is lady Macbeth and the blood won’t come off. And then he feels them. Jack’s strong arms wrap around him, pressing his own arms to his sides, biceps flexing as they encircle him like two anacondas of muscle.

“Ianto.” And he can’t help to shiver as Jack’s warm breath pools in the shell of his ear.

“Y-yes?” He stammers, feeling the warmth radiating off of Jack.

“You do such a good job of keeping it all together.” And Jack’s throaty chuckle sends chills down his spine, “You almost fool me sometimes.”

“W-well, gotta keep things together f-for the job. Gotta be p-professional.” Ianto still not sure why he feels so terrified.

“You do.” No more chuckles from Jack, just the warm breath again, “You do a good job of hiding it. But you’re hurting on the inside. I can tell. And I just wanted to let you know. It’s okay. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay.”

And Ianto doesn’t know why but it’s as if ever since Lisa died he’s been trying to keep a flood back, and as if with those words Jack suddenly broke the dam. And the little bit of pain and sorrow he’s been letting himself feel each and everytime he’d think about Lisa. It all washes over him and he’s turning around and pressing his face against Jack’s strong chest as the tears spill out and he can’t stop crying and he doesn’t remember the last time he cried like this as he clings to Jack and let it all just flow out of him. And Jack just keeps on hugging him, keeps on saying that it will all be okay. And Jack is crying too. As if he feels every stab of pain Ianto feels. As if he loves Lisa just as much and he carries every memory of her too and as if he has to watch her die everytime he closes his eyes.

Somewhere in the mess of snot and tears and red faces and strong arms they’ve slid to the kitchen floor, their backs pressed against the cupboards. Jack is holding his hand, fingers interlaced. And as Ianto looks into Jack’s eyes he tells him about each and every memory in the kitchen. And after each one Jack holds his hand a bit tighter, as if giving him a bit of his own strength to keep going.

“You love her so much.” Jack whispers.

“Yeah, I did.” Ianto sniffs again.

“No.” Jack turns and takes his face in his large hands, “You still do. She may be gone but you have all those memories of you two. And they are precious. Don’t ever let them go. Don’t ever forget. Never stop loving Lisa.”

“But it hurts so much.” And another tear flows from Ianto’s eye.

“I know. I know.” Jack hugs him close and kisses the top of his head, “But that’s what makes you human. That’s what makes your love deep and strong and true. And when you love someone else. That love of Lisa will only make it stronger. Deeper. Truer. Let her go but never let your love for her go.”

And Ianto pulls away and looks up into Jack’s eyes. And Jack knows that look. It is the look that says that Ianto already has found someone to love. Someone to love stronger, deeper, and truer. Someone whose eyes he is gazing into right then and there.

“Hold on there, “ Jack whispers as he places a finger on Ianto’s lips, “You’re upset right now. Maybe now isn’t the best time to be looking at me like that.”

And Ianto shifts until he is on top of Jack, leaning over him, looking deep into his eyes because it’s vitally important to him that Jack understands that he knows what he’s doing and he knows what he wants. And he leans forward and places a soft, gentle kiss on Jack’s chapped lips.

“Easy there, Ianto.” Jack smiles up at him, “Is that a pocketwatch in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?”

Ianto struggles inside his trousers and pulls out something silver, “Actually it’s a stopwatch.”

“Hmmm, is that what they’re calling it these days?” Jack winks back at him.

“I can if you like.” Ianto smiles as he readjusts himself on Jack’s lap.

And Jack leans forward and places a kiss on Ianto’s lips in return before smiling up at him and saying, “Let’s make some new memories in this kitchen.”

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