It’s been a while but I thought I would finish this one off
Chapter 27: Son of God, Love’s Pure Light
The pain burnt through Ianto’s body and yet there was something else, something in the shadows of his mind mocking and drawing pleasure from his suffering. He stifled another scream that brought him to the brink of consciousness and further ordeal. Someone brushed cool fingers through his matted hair. “Owen?” He spoke with more breath than he intended.
“Shhh, he’s sleeping,” a voice hissed softly in his ear.
Ianto peeled his eyelids back and looked into the startling face of an old woman. He backed away, not from the worn flesh and worrying folds of skin but from the draw of her small eyes whose stare seemed full of evil pleasure. She pulled his head forward with dried-out hands and placed a cup of water to his lips. It was warm and tasted of death. Ianto gagged and felt like he was drowning in the small, enamel cup as the woman insistently poured it down his throat. It burnt as he swallowed, scraping at the inflamed tissue. He tried to push her hands away but she was determined to drain the cup to the rank dregs that had sunk to the bottom. Ianto retched against the contents trying to spit out more than he actually swallowed the liquid oozing from the sides of his mouth.
“There now, that’s better.” Agroná wiped his chin with her sleeve. “Can’t have you dying on me, yet.” Her smile was cruel as she pushed him harshly back into the wooden bench.
She watched him for a moment and Ianto’s heart jumped and struggled to crawl away from her gaze. She laughed and ran a ragged nail against his cheek scratching at the skin. He felt the supple roll of blood drip silently down his face from the track her finger had made.
Agroná sighed. “Such wonderful eyes.” She pressed the hard pads of her thumbs into the soft skin of his sockets. “So expressive and soulful, so full of emotion like the clouds of a storm charging across the sky.”
She leaned forward. “The pool of your feelings are upon their membrane of colour reflecting the fullness of your heart.” Her breath ghosted his lips as she spoke. “I have a present for you, something that you believe is beyond your reach.”
Ianto’s hazy mind watched as she laid a bloody lump of flesh on the dirty table in front of him; it was beating pushing blood through the fine filaments of its fibres and pulsating against the wood.
He swallowed and looked at the old woman; she laughed and in its echo the room disappeared and Ianto was back on the battlefield. A body lay in the mud, still and pale against the monochrome landscape, its chest torn apart. Ianto fell to his knees. “Jack.”
The sky above them was silent; the only sound was the continual beat of the missing heart. Ianto cradled the other man’s head on his lap; his fingers coasting through Jack’s hair. The old woman looked down and roughly seized his shoulder drawing on the young man’s anguish. She licked the scab of her lips. “Death’s never pleasant,” she cackled, basking in Ianto’s distress.
“He cannot die.” Ianto challenged.
“Really? Even without a heart.” Agroná smiled. “You do not look so sure now, Ianto Jones. Is it because this is my time and my rules?”
She let go of him and moved back, raising the pounding heart before her. “Such fragile things, hearts.” She squeezed it firmly between her grasp, scarlet ribbons oozed through the gaps of her fingers and fell to the ground. The heart began to throb irregularly.
Ianto got to his feet. “Stop!”
He stumbled forward reaching for the bloody mass in her grasp; Agroná pulled it closer to her chest and Ianto’s clumsy efforts plunged him to the ground.
She watched him as he tried to catch his breath, as he fought against the fever which had taken hold of his tired body. She stooped down and caught his flushed face with a bloody hand smearing its imprint across his cheek. Agroná searched his face. “I am a man down, Ianto Jones, a man taken from me, a man of my blood. I could extract revenge on all those culpable, your friends, your lover, make them die a thousand deaths of torment or I could take another in payment for the crime.”
Ianto tried to follow the meaning of her words. She rubbed a calloused thumb over his lips. “Would you give yourself to me and save your colleagues from their ultimate fate? Or would you prefer to save your wretched soul again and let others die in your place.”
The battlefield dissolved into countless screams and the echo of useless gunfire as the steady advance of metal marched toward them. Flames licked the air and in its blaze tormented faces danced; faces Ianto knew. The burning light distorted their skin transforming it from flesh to metal. Their motorized voices rose from the fire emotionless and yet cutting. “You let yourself be taken?”
“Why didn’t you fight, Ianto Jones?”
“Why didn’t you die, coward?”
Their words snapped at the air around him making his head jerk to the sound of their ricochet. He covered his ears, pulling his knees to his chest. “Make it stop!”
Agroná laughed. “No, you make it stop, these are your emotions.” She laid a hand on his trembling form; Ianto baulked away from her touch.
“I am giving you the chance to make things right, to purge yourself of past mistakes. Give yourself to me Ianto Jones.” Her voice cut through the images dispelling them back into the depths of his mind.
He turned toward the body, averting his gaze from the gaping wound. “Jack, Owen?” He asked, not lifting his eyes.
“I would let them leave this place.”
Ianto rubbed his head letting her proposal sink in. “You are in the position to save two of your team members.” Agroná reinforced. “I would take my offer if I was you.”
“And if I refuse?”
Her eyes darkened and Ianto heard both Owen and Jack’s detached screams. “I will show them no mercy,” she hissed, “especially your captain, a man who could die a thousand and more deaths while you watch his suffering. Could you stand to watch someone you love suffer, Ianto Jones?” It was a loaded question. “And know you could have saved them.”
Images replayed in his mind flashing out of control in rapid succession. Canary Wharf, the flames, the glint of metal blades, Lisa, the blood, the pain, Torchwood and all its dark corners, Jack, Owen, Susie, Tosh, Gwen; his mother, her screams, the hiss of her prayers skulking around the house in hushed and urgent pleas. Ianto rocked against their onslaught pushing the heel of his hand into his temple.
“Only you can stop this,” Agroná whispered again close to his ear.
Ianto reached out and touched Jack’s glassy cheek with trembling fingers letting them trail to the lapels of his grey coat. He lovingly smoothed out the creases and arranged the wool material to cover the extent of his injury, silently fastening the buttons. Then he reached into his pocket and found his tie, he caressed the crumbled and marred silk between thumb and forefinger before rolling its length and placing it inside Jack’s coat. It was the only goodbye left to him.
He stood and looked at Agroná with empty eyes; she smiled and took a step forward but then stopped as time shifted in a shudder of a moment. Suddenly she screamed as her body began to splinter into a storm of dark cloud and fold into its own chasm until it was gone. Ianto’s heart lurched as the landscape around him began to slide in a sluggish blur of colour. He watched as Jack awoke from the dead and fought for that first breath as everything was collapsing around him pulling him away from this moment and Ianto struggled against its redress, reaching across the divide. “Jack?” His voice carried on the breeze and the other man turned to its sound.
Copyright ©RMC October 2018
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