Author: rm and kalichan
Rating/Warning: R for language. character death
Summary: A missing moment.
Spoilers: Children of Earth, Day 4
Always, when you die, time slows down.
"It was good, yeah?" he asks you, and you don't know anymore whether you are both crying or both laughing. You never did. Even through these most definite tears.
And, as if in understatement, the longest seconds of each life are its last.
You ask him not to go, not quite yet, and it's not that you're begging for seconds, it's that you're insisting on hope. Rescue will come, you'll think of something, players you did not know were engaged will arrive and Ianto just has to stay alive long enough to be a part of it, but you can't manage to think well enough to tell him how, to tell him when, to get either of you on your feet and out that door, because this is no place to die, although it seems like both of you are going to do it anyway.
You are furious and clutching on to him when he goes, and for what it is, it's gentle, a shrug as he walks out the door, just as he always has done all the times he made sure never to say that he loved you. You'd feel bad about that, but he's slipping irrevocably through your fingers, and is leaving you, as they always leave you, as you've so often left him, and are leaving him even now, because, after all, you're dying too.
Your heart stops beating, and your lungs stop breathing, and it's as if there's an elephant's weight on your chest – better that metaphor than anything about concrete, and besides, death is more mobile than that anyway.
Your heart muscle struggles and then dies from oxygen deprivation.
Pain radiates to the jaw, the throat, the belly, and the arms.
And you fight against it because you always have, because the greatest sin of you is that you're still human.
Sometimes it is this fight itself that kills you, like struggling for air when you've drowned, inhaling all that water that rips its way through the delicate tissues in your chest.
He asked you if you feel it, this, and you regret telling him yes without describing it, because facts have always calmed him, even against the most terrible of storms. You realize, briefly, that perhaps this is why he loved you. You are a fact, he is a mirror and the doctor you've needed has been right beside you all along.
The thought is a strange fizz of happiness. And grief.
You are dying, and it is ordinary.
So you'd think, considering, that this time you wouldn't fight, that this time you'd be glad to slip into that dark, rippling pool. No guilt, no regret, just no.
But you always fight.
It is your nature, even in cessation: Your heart still struggles, and you still demand air, even as your passageways shut down, and your kidneys go, and all your organs cease their sturdy vigilance.
Everyone dies alone.
And then, there you are, as you always are, or were, or will be, in that timeless place at the end of all things, dark and cold and silent enough to deafen. It is always the most confusing thing you have ever not felt -- there is a lack of proper words for being in the dead place, not that that is or was (you remain uncertain) normally the sort of thing you much care about.
No care when you're dead and no use dwelling when you're alive.
Unless you want nightmares, unless you want to be fucking terrified. That hadn't (hasn't?) changed, not in over 2,000 deaths, not in over 2,000 years and symmetry is strange; it doesn't seem like it should exist in a place of nothing and less.
There are no hands when you're dead and the things that touch you -- well, no hands for them either -- and it's not nice, not romantic, not sexy, the idea of two things in the same place at the same time, not when it's like this, all strangers and cold. Whatever's always moving in the dark, you have always wished, are wishing, it would just stop, just like you, just like you don't.
This time, when you gasp, it doesn't hurt, it is not the burning of air, more like exhalation, and you can't figure that out, still dead and not thinking, still floating as if in cold and molten lead and you wonder if it's the virus or if it's grief before you figure out that it's just Ianto, and you break all over again.
You hope he saw, knew, knows that you could shatter for him.
There's no time when you're dead, either, and for once you are grateful, so fucking grateful, because Ianto will only pass this way once, and for him, maybe it will not be this barren, lifeless, moving and hungry darkness.
Perhaps it will be you, Jack, this person who once was, the person that he had apparently (oh so ridiculously apparently) loved.
And maybe, you hope, for Ianto, this single moment can be forever. There is a lot you'd give in trade for it.
You have never wanted hands more. Or a mouth.
Something to speak with.
But you don't have them, either of you. No hands, no mouth, no skin, no words. You never did. Only there is this gentle breaking against each other, like two trails of phosphorescence, colliding and mingling in a moonless sea.
And then, of course, the current pulls you apart again, lifting you up and then away from this place that you somehow know might just last forever for Ianto, but will dissolve behind you into nothingness, leaving only that same, lonely darkness for your inevitable returns.
It's gentle, though, odd, coming back to the world, like being carried away on the ebb of a great wave that leaves you, tenderly, back on shore, almost as if with apology.
You open your eyes, and for just one moment in this place of time and tenses, it feels beautiful.