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"She gave you a plant," Jack said.

"It's a flower," Ianto mumbled. He didn't open his eyes.

"A flower is a plant." Jack thumbed a leaf. "I think it's a pansy."

"It is."

"Is Gwen trying to send you a message?"

Ianto cracked an eye open, glaring at him. "Go away."

"Nope." Jack moved the plant aside on the bedside table. "How are you feeling?"

"You've asked me that seven times now."

"I haven't," Jack said.

"You have," Ianto assured him. "I still feel like I was hit by a bus."

"You weren't."

"No, it was just a Hoix."

Jack stroked a finger across Ianto's knuckles, mindful of the IV. Ianto closed his eyes again, relaxing back a little. Jack studied the lines on Ianto's face, still slightly crumpled, either from pain, exhaustion, or whatever thoughts danced around that mind of his. Jack couldn't begin to guess which it was. Any of them would be his fault.

After a fight with the Hoix had gone wrong, Ianto had wound up laying in the back seat of the SUV while Jack sped to the hospital. Three broken ribs on his left side and multiple lacerations on his right. He got a blood transfusion, stitches, an x-ray, and a night's stay in the hospital. The doctors refused to let him go. Jack tried to tell them they could handle this on their own, thanks (Owen's bone-knitter would work just fine), but evidently when the last visit was only eight days ago, doctors and nurses were less inclined to let Ianto go back out into the world right away. 

"Stop thinking," Ianto grumbled.

"What?"

"You're thinking too much." Ianto opened his eyes, turning his head to look at Jack. "It's very distracting."

Jack frowned at him. "What am I supposed to do instead?"

"I don't know." Ianto rested his head back on the pillow and closed his eyes once more. "Go home?"

"I'm not going anywhere," Jack said. 

"You have paperwork to do."

"I can do it tomorrow."

"You won't."

"I will."

Beneath his eyelids, Ianto rolled his eyes. With a smile, Jack slipped his hand into Ianto's, still cautious of the IV. Ianto's fingers tightened around his minutely, and Jack rubbed his thumb along Ianto's. 

"I'm sorry," Jack said.

"Don't be. It's my job."

"And it's mine to make sure you don't get hurt."

"No, it isn't." Ianto's eyes popped open yet again so he could frown at Jack. "Your job is to be the leader. That's what's most important."

Jack opened his mouth to retort, but Ianto shook his head.

"This isn't your fault," Ianto said.

He looked down at Jack's hand, holding tighter onto it. Jack looked at the hands, too, not mentioning all of the thoughts and guilt whirling around in his head and chest. Ianto wouldn't believe him if Jack said he knew it was his fault. And it had been his fault. He'd looked away at the wrong moment, yelled for Ianto to move in at the wrong time, pulled his gun out at the wrong second. The Hoix was dead, but not before it had collided with Ianto. 

"Hey," Ianto said gently.

Jack looked up at him, into those sombre and earnest blue eyes.

"No more for tonight," Ianto told him. 

Jack picked up Ianto's hand and kissed the knuckles. Then he dropped it and stood, walking over to the lights. He made sure they were the lights before flipping them off (for all he knew of hospitals, the switch could be something else), then returned to Ianto's bedside. 

"Scoot."

"Huh?" Ianto asked. 

"Move," Jack said, motioning a hand for Ianto to move over. 

Ianto scowled at him, clearly confused, but tried his best to comply. Jack had to help a little, making sure Ianto didn't pull his stitches or irritate his ribs any more. Ianto hissed at one point when Jack tried to help too much, so Jack eventually gave up and decided the small sliver of bed would have to do.

He took off his boots, because there wasn't any way he was going to bring those dirty things up into a hospital bed. He also took off his coat, but that came up onto the bed with Jack. 

"What are you—"

"Shh," Jack told him. 

He tucked the greatcoat over Ianto, then slid under the blankets and curled up on his side next to him. Ianto continued to frown at him, so Jack just tipped his head forward, lightly touching his forehead to Ianto's. 

After a few minutes, Jack got bored. He wasn't tired just yet. 

With a grin, he buried his head further into the pillow. Ianto straightened out again, turning his head back to the ceiling, possibly because he thought he was finally allowed to go to sleep. However, this was exactly what Jack wanted, and he pressed his lips to Ianto's neck.

"Jack..." Ianto muttered warningly.

Jack's hands found Ianto's thigh under the blanket, and he moved his hand. 

The heart rate monitor blipped faster and Jack grinned. 

Ianto's hand, on the other side of the blankets, slapped Jack's lightly. Jack withdrew his hand, still smirking.

Someone rapped on the door. Without waiting for an answer, one of the nurses popped her head in the room.

"Sorry, we just noticed your heart rate jumped and we—oh."

The nurse cut off with a sigh and a roll of her eyes, an almost "I should've known" reaction. Jack fought back a laugh, grinning wildly at her. She glared at the both of them, then disappeared, snapping the door shut behind her. 

"They hate you," Ianto remarked.

"Nobody could hate me. I'm irresistible."

"More like insatiable." Ianto smacked Jack's hand away again. "I'm trying to sleep."

"Sorry," Jack said, though he most definitely wasn't.

Ianto relaxed for a final time, and this time Jack let him drift off. 

The only time Ianto ever truly looked his age, Jack had determined long ago, was when he slept. The constant lines of worry, stress, agitation, and pain only ever eased away when Ianto was asleep. Jack pulled his arms free of the blankets and looped one over top of Ianto's head, curling tighter around Ianto. His other hand gently brushed against Ianto's smooth face, across the cheeks, over the brows, down the nose.

When he had mapped out Ianto's face fully, he kissed Ianto's temple and settled in, and slowly fell asleep too.


Jack got up at around two-thirty. 

The room had grown stuffy, even for Jack's tastes. He looked over to Ianto, who was frowning in his sleep. Jack recognised that face as one that stemmed from dreams, not from uncomfortable heat, so he left the greatcoat draped over Ianto. 

He shuffled over to the window and opened it just a crack. The blessed cool whipped in from the small opening, and Jack figured it would be enough to keep the room from overheating while not allowing the room to become too cold. 

Jack prepared to slip back into bed, but he found Ianto scowling at him.

"Sorry," Jack whispered. "Did I wake you up?"

Ianto scowled at him more, then looked away, at the monitors he was hooked up to. When he turned, Jack caught a better look at the lines of his face, illuminated by the faint lights of the machines. He looked less upset and more... confused. 

"Ianto?" Jack asked. Ianto looked back to him. Definitely confusion. "Hey, what is it?"

"'S goin' on?" Ianto slurred. "'S Owen?"

Then he groaned.

"Ianto?" Jack asked again, starting to worry. "Ianto, what's wrong?"

He put a hand on Ianto's shoulder, and Ianto let out a sharp cry. Jack withdrew his hand immediately.

"Where's Owen?" Ianto moaned. "Hurts."

"Where does it hurt?"

Ianto just shook his head, sobbing shortly. 

"Stay here," Jack said. He wasn't sure why. Wasn't as if Ianto was going anywhere. "I'll go get someone, okay?"

Ianto didn't even acknowledge him; his face was screwed up in pain. Jack kissed his forehead, lingering for a short second, then took off.

The halls were brightly lit, burning Jack's eyes the moment he stepped out of the room. Jack found a nurse standing down the hall, and he dashed towards her instantly. 

She looked up at him, alarmed. "What's wrong with Mister Jones?"

Jack frowned at her for a moment, baffled. The nurse looked up at him expectantly.

"He's in pain," Jack said, "and he's confused. He keeps asking for Ow—a friend of ours that... passed."

The nurse started hustling to Ianto's room instantly, and Jack followed behind, stunned. 

"Mister Jones?" the nurse asked as she flipped on the lights inside the room. "How are you feeling?"

"You're... not Owen," Ianto grunted. 

"Where does it hurt?" the nurse asked, ignoring him.

Jack brushed the hair away from Ianto's forehead as Ianto explained in halting breaths of pain that it was his chest and his shoulder, and that he wanted to know where Owen was. At one point, he picked his head up to look, but then flopped back instantly, closing his eyes tightly shut, as if to clear his head. The nurse called a doctor in at that point. The doctor shooed Jack away from Ianto, which he didn't like, but he supposed was necessary. 

"Yeah," the doctor said after checking Ianto's blood pressure. "That's not good."

"What?" Jack demanded. "What's wrong with him?"

"His spleen."

Jack grimaced. He'd died from a ruptured spleen before. He knew what it felt like.

"Jack," Ianto sobbed from the bed. "It hurts."

Jack wanted to reach out and soothe the pained lines of Ianto's face, but there wasn't anything he could do.


Most of the time when Ianto was in surgery, Jack was on the phone with Gwen. She was upset, and rightfully so, but he had to get her to keep calm, because someone needed to look after the Hub today. At least she took it better than the time Ianto had needed surgery for appendicitis. Jack, on the other hand, wasn't taking it much better, but he could fake it.

Ianto spent a good long while snoozing off the anaesthesia. Jack sat on the edge of the bed, watching him sleep. The anaesthesia left no room for dreams to worry Ianto. No hard creases could form on Ianto's gentle face. This time, Ianto could be peaceful all the way through. 

Jack smoothed a hand over Ianto's cheek. Ianto stirred a little, blinking and squinting up at Jack.

"You're not supposed to be awake yet," Jack whispered to him.

"Mmm."

"How do you feel?" Jack asked. 

"'M tired," Ianto mumbled.

"I bet," Jack said. "Are you in any pain?"

Ianto frowned at him. "What pain?"

Jack chuckled. "I guess that's a 'no,' then."

"Where am I?" Ianto asked, looking around. "This isn't my flat..."

"You're at the hospital, remember?" Jack gently raised one of his hands, showing him the heart monitor and IV. 

Ianto studied the hand for a bit.

"Oh," he said eventually. "Right. Hoix."

Jack lowered the hand, but kept holding onto it.

"You had your spleen removed," Jack told him. "Splenectomy."

"Oh no," Ianto groaned, pushing his head back into his pillow.

"'Oh no?'" Jack repeated questioningly.

When Ianto didn't respond, Jack reached up and tapped his cheek.

"Hey," he said. "What's 'oh no?'"

"They're taking all my organs! I'm gonna have no organs left!"

"What are you t—" Jack cut off with a sigh. "Oh, wonderful."

"My appendix, now my spleen," Ianto grouched. "What's next, my lungs?"

"Ianto, nobody's going to take your lungs," Jack told him.

"You don't know that," Ianto muttered darkly under his breath.

"I do know that," Jack said. He stroked his thumb across Ianto's cheek. "You're interesting after surgeries, aren't you?"

"Maybe they need to stop taking my organs," Ianto said sourly. 

"Ianto. Nobody is taking your organs."

Ianto eyed him suspiciously. "You're going to take my organs."

"No," Jack said. 

"Probably my heart."

Jack sat up straight, his hand trailing away from Ianto's cheek. He took a good long look at Ianto, who was still glaring at him with scepticism. Jack couldn't help the grin spreading across his face.

"We should put you on drugs more often," he said. 

This did not soothe Ianto's qualms. He squinted harder.

"Why?" he asked.

"Because you're absolutely ridiculous," Jack said fondly. He replaced his hand on Ianto's cheek again. "Though, for the record, I would just like to say, I would never steal your organs. I much prefer them inside you."

"Oh," Ianto said.

Jack didn't know how that mollified him so easily, but Ianto's scowl smoothed out into a placidly calm look. Jack leant forward to kiss his brow.

"I think you should sleep the rest of this off," Jack murmured against Ianto's soft skin. "Alright?"

"Where's my flower?" Ianto asked.

Jack laughed, his breath making some of Ianto's softer hairs flutter. 

"That's what you're worried about now? Gwen's plant?"

"It's a flower," Ianto insisted.

"And it's fine," Jack informed him. "It's by the window, getting some light."

"Oh." 

Ianto's fingers fiddled with Jack's greatcoat. 

"Will you stay?" Ianto asked.

"Hm?"

"If I sleep, will you stay?"

Jack silently sat back, pulling off his coat. He laid it across Ianto again, tucking it over him. Ianto looked at the coat, and then at him, eyes wide. 

"Go to sleep," Jack instructed him, leaning back over to kiss his forehead one last time.

As if on cue, Ianto yawned. He watched Jack for a while longer, studying Jack's face as Jack studied his. Then, when he couldn't maintain consciousness any longer, his eyes slipped shut and he stilled, drifting off to sleep.

Jack watched everything ease from Ianto's face until all that remained was the gentle smoothness of peaceful sleep. This time, as Jack traced the disappeared lines of Ianto's face, he swore he would do everything to keep Ianto this peaceful.