Jack waited till he knew Ianto was out cold before getting off the bed. Just to be sure that his boy wouldn't wake up too soon, and panic when he found himself alone, the captain pressed two fingers lightly to his exposed temple. Holding them there for a couple of seconds, he instilled the need to sleep in the younger man's mind.
Again, it wasn't something that was supposed to be done without express permission unless you were working with convicts, but Jack didn't want to take the chance. This way, he'd know exactly where Ianto was, and what he was doing. And for the next couple of hours, he'd be in a dead sleep.
Tucking the blankets in tightly, he quickly climbed back up into his office. Owen already leaning casually against his desk, obviously waiting for his return.
"Thanks for waiting."
The doctor grunted noncommittally, but nodded his head towards the manhole in question.
"He's sleeping. He won't be waking up any time soon."
Owen's brows knitted together.
"You give him something?"
Jack closed the entrance to his bedroom. Ianto was in deep, but sudden noises could rouse him, altered mind or not.
"No. He was exhausted. I just told him to sleep, and he went quickly and quietly."
The doctor seemed to realise a part of the truth was being omitted, but Jack was in no mood to reveal some of his extra quirks.
"No drugs involved, Owen. I'm not dosing him with anything. I swear."
Owen relented, accepting Jack's truth; for now.
"Fine. Now what happened that got him this worked up?"
Jack fell heavily into his chair, pinching the bridge of his nose.
"Something Gwen said. I didn't stick around to hear it all. I needed him off that floor and calmed down." He waved his free hand around in thought. "It had something to do with her computer."
"He touch it without permission?"
Owen sounded confused. It would be a highly unlikely action for the cowed young man to take.
"I don't think he'd_"
Face thunderous, Tosh strode into the office brandishing Gwen's laptop. No matter how pissed off, she put the technology down on Jack's desk with care.
"It was running slowly because she'd not shut it down in weeks, and it needed a couple of updates."
Owen blinked down at the computer.
"Um. Don't get me wrong here, Tosh. But everyone shuts down their computers when we leave. Gwen's no exception."
"She puts it in 'sleep mode'" Tosh made ironic looking quotation marks. "But that's not nearly the same as turning the thing off. That's just handy for when you need to be able to start up again quickly. But even computers need a real rest every day or so."
Owen looked down sheepishly, dragging his eyes away from the laptop, but unwilling to look up at Tosh. The tech nut sighed deeply.
"I'll take a look at yours when we're done here."
The doctor mumbled his thanks, and Jack snorted in amusement. The small smile dying quickly when Tosh narrowed her eyes at him. He held up his hands in self defence.
"Hey, I turn everything off. And I mean off, off. Not sleep mode. And I'm here all the time."
"Good." Tosh nodded, glancing around the room. "Where's Ianto?"
Jack thrust a thumb over his shoulder at the manhole cover.
"Sleeping. Where's Gwen?"
"She went home, looking a bit white. What did you say to her?"
Jack's mouth twisted.
"I — uh — I asked her what the hell was going on. She mumbled something about her computer and how it wasn't running right. I just told her he'd never lay a hand on her pc without her permission." Jack gestured at the solitary laptop. " And then I just just asked her what the hell she'd said to him to get him like that."
Tosh and Owen both tilted their head to the side at the same time when the captain stopped talking. Jack twisted awkwardly in his seat.
"She said she hadn't said a thing. So I just pulled him up and got him in here."
The silence stretched out for a bit, all three deep in their own thoughts. Owen was the first to break the silence.
"The fuck she didn't say anything. He's not going to work himself into that kind of state over nothing. I only saw the very end of it all, but_"
Jack held up a hand to interrupt his medic.
"He thought he was in trouble for messing with a computer. It's possible."
Both sets of eyes turned to the captain. Jack sighed, dropping his hand again.
"He messed with the servers to hide Lisa. If he thought I was going to be mad at him for something that was part of his original crime."
"But he hadn't done anything wrong!"
Tosh interjected vehemently.
"Why would he be scared for something he didn't do?"
Jack grimaced. He'd never taken the time to take Ianto's possible innocence into account before now. Anything his slave had been accused of had been taken out of his hide without question. Even things that had been entirely out of his hands.
God, he'd whipped Ianto for failing to provide honey with his pancakes when the supply had run dry. Hell, he'd set the younger man up for failure more than enough times that Ianto wouldn't question punishments for anything thrown his way.
Tosh's eyes grew wide as she realised how unfair Jack's reign over Ianto had been. Jack unconsciously shrank back just a bit. Tosh didn't even really know what he'd done to the boy and she was this pissed off. He saw righteous anger smoulder there; embers that hadn't died down from the very first day she'd seen Ianto naked and afraid. The woman took a deep breath, but stayed quiet.
Jack continued as if Tosh hadn't fazed him.
"He ended up in this position for treason. What Gwen was accusing him of was close enough. He'd be terrified."
"So he worked himself into a panic in front of Gwen over a false accusation and scared the crap out of her. Now what?"
Two heads now swivelled towards Owen.
"He scared Gwen?"
Jack sounded incredulous.
"Ok yeah, she looked a bit shocked but that was probably from me barking at her."
Owen shook his head as Tosh nodded.
"No. Ok. So here's the thing. Gwen likes the thought of him as a servant. She's been more than happy to go tattle to you." He gestured at Jack. "But Ianto's been calm enough around all of us. She's never seen him truly afraid. I don't think she actually knew he was."
Jack's eyebrows laddered up his forehead, staring at Tosh. The tech genius wasn't known to swear often.
"I know he wasn't being hurt, cause he was never bruised or anything."
Jack kept his face carefully contained as Tosh countered. If there was one thing the others never had to learn, it was just how badly he'd treated the boy sleeping below them.
"But he was so thin, and cold and scared. Anyone could see that. I mean. You locked him away for days sometimes."
This time, Jack allowed his face to pull down. They knew what he'd done on the days Ianto was noticeably absent. Just as everyone had known how little he fed the younger man.
Owen pulled the conversation back towards himself.
"See, Gwen knew he wasn't happy. But I think she though Ianto chose this."
Tosh held her hands out in an obvious 'what the hell?'. Owen was undeterred.
"You remember the first time we saw Ianto after the entire Lisa debacle?" Tosh nodded, and Jack threw his mind back to the day. "You asked Ianto if he wanted to take the bullet over whatever he had at the time."
Tosh nodded again, pulling her arms tightly to her chest. Jack remembered, but he knew Ianto wouldn't have thought the offer as a chance to escape. He'd probably taken it as the chance to evade a non-lethal bullet wound
"He begged us not to kill him."
No. He begged you not to hurt him.
"He was apparently completely fine with being nude. He didn't make a move to cover himself in any way."
Jack rolled his shoulders, trying to stretch out the feeling of guilt.
"We both knew there was more to the situation."
Tosh nodded, her expression nothing more than 'well duh'.
"Gwen was new. She was scared. And I think she just took it at face value. Ianto had traded his clothes, freedom, and body for his life. Willingly."
Jack scratched the back of his neck. Tosh turned expectantly to her boss, arms still curled tightly in front of her chest. Jack let his hand drop.
"Come on. Both of you knew he didn't sign up for it willingly. But it's not like I had that many options at the time. Ianto had committed treason. And treason means a bullet or retcon. I took it too far. I know I did. But it's not like anyone actually stopped me!"
The second he realised what he'd said, Jack curbed his anger. But the damage was done. Owen and Tosh looked away from him, cowed; guilty. Lowering his volume considerably, Jack spoke again.
"Sorry. That wasn't fair. It happened. We're here now."
Two heads nodded, but neither employee looked up.
"So Gwen thought he got into this voluntarily. Ok. She still had to see he was getting too thin."
"I'm guessing it evolved into a you did this to yourself attitude. I don't know. I'm not a shrink."
"Which is why she was never shy to tell me whenever he'd done something wrong. He'd endangered her with Lisa, and then taken the easy way out."
Owen shrugged, but nodded.
"And then just got used to it. Yet didn't think he was being treated wrongly?"
"You've been nicer to him recently."
"Well, yeah. But she didn't think he'd be scared when she accused him of messing with the pc's?"
"You've been nicer to him."
He looked up at Jack, hands waving as he searched for words.
"I'm pretty sure she's been jealous of him. Not-" he headed off their exclamations. "because she wanted to be in his situation, but cause she's been getting less attention. You're starting to favour him again. We're all starting to favour him again. People don't usually like their own power being taken away from them."
He looked up , as if the ceiling would give the answers he needed.
"I'm guessing. She was trying to rock the boat. Make him look bad, scare him a bit, and make herself look good."
"And instead, she got a full blown panic attack."
"Again. I'm not a psychologist. I can't be one hundred percent sure of this. I'm just guessing. But it looks like it."
Jack massaged his temples.
"Ok. So we're going to have to-"
He was cut off by the alarm. Alerts flashing from his computer screens and wrist strap. Cursing fluently, Jack watched Tosh pounce on his pc and click away.
"Let me guess. Splott?"
Owen's sarcastic remark cut across the desk. Tosh shot him a look.
"No. It's on Ferry Road. I think it's at the Ikea, actually."
The doctor gave hiccoughing laugh, and Jack joined in. Tosh didn't go so far as to laugh, but the stress of the conversation melted off of her face; lips twitching. It took the two men to get their mild hysterics back under control. Every time one of them managed to stifle their giggles, the other one managed to pull a particularly funny face which set him back off.
When their mutual giggles puttered out, Jack glanced at his wrist.
"It's past six. Tosh 'there any other alerts about to come in?"
"No. It was going to be an easy evening. This seems like the only blip."
"You two head out then. It's just one Weevil." He headed off Tosh's protests. Owen was already lighting up at the mentions of getting out of the hub. "If anything big happens I'll call Gwen in."
Frowning, Tosh looked between the monitors and her colleagues. Duty warring with the comforts of home.
"I'll be fine, Tosh. Just check out the cameras near the Ikea first please. I'd like to know how many civilians I'm going to have to retcon before I get to come back in."
The extra task seemed to seal the deal. Tosh worked away as Jack gathered the usual gear, shrugging into his coat.
"Ok. It looks like the store is closed for renovations, so at most there's some night crew working, but the parking lot looks deserted. I think I caught its entrance point though."
Angling the screen towards Jack — Owen had fled the office in search of his coat and keys — to show the captain a mangled door.
"I'll get in, bag the thing and call the PD about a couple of teens breaking in. Should be fairly quick."
"Just don't get lost in there. I got stuck in a loop once. Probably wandered through the entire thing three times before I found the exit."
Jack chuckled, checking his gun before holstering it.
"Never understood why they insist on making it a maze."
"Makes you buy more stuff, apparently. Plus the lighting's fixed just right to make you forget you're indoors for a long period of time."
Owen popped his head back in through the door, body staying clear of entering.
"Am I excused?"
Jack shooed him away, and Owen hurried towards the cog door before he could be called back in.
"You too, Tosh. It's just one Weevil. I've done this before, you know."
Tosh glanced back down at the manhole, jaw set. Jack caught on at once. He took a square stance, yet let his shoulders hang nonthreateningly.
"He's sleeping, Tosh. He'll be sleeping for a couple of hours. I'll be back before that. He'll be fine."
The Asian woman exhaled slowly through her nose, biting her lower lip.
"We'll talk about it again tomorrow. Let him rest."
It was carefully phrased. Tosh wasn't making the choice to leave because Jack was telling her, she was doing it to let Ianto rest. She nodded.
"I'll set up a bug to clear out the store's video feed of the day in a couple of hours. Then lock everything down while you're gone."
Jack nodded his thanks, squeezing her shoulder as he walked out.
This would be a quick job, and he might even have the time to pick up some stuff while he was in there. He rarely had the time to meander through an Ikea, might as well take the advantage he was given and snag a couple nick knacks.
Ianto woke with a start to an empty bed. The shock of returning straight into full wakefulness, was jarring, but not enough for the boy to lose track of his surroundings.
There was no comforting weight in the bed next to him, just blankets tucked tightly around his still clothed form. Straining his ears, he tried to locate his master. After minutes of listening, the boy was pretty sure he was truly alone.
Moving slowly, he rolled onto his back. The collar didn't punish him, so the change of position was allowed. He could move.
Not that he'd be able to go far. Staring up at the ceiling, Ianto saw the entrance to the bunker was closed off. He'd been locked in.
While he was not the biggest fan of being alone — the presence of his master made him calmer - it gave him the chance to calmly run back through his mind.
Closing his eyes, Ianto let his thoughts organise themselves.
The most prominent feeling was sickening relief and gratitude. God, he was pathetically grateful to his master. Though pathetic was pretty much the sum of his person, so he guessed it fit. The gratitude was closely followed by mind numbing fear.
In any other situation — one where gratitude didn't eclipse it — that kind of fear would have him shivering uncontrolably and ready to beg for mercy. That sort of fear only came from very bad mistakes. Like throwing all caution and training into the wind and attempting to crash Torchwood servers. Luckily, there was no need for him to be consumed with fear anymore; Jack knew he was innocent.
Innocent of the crime Gwen had accused him of, of course. His soul was beyond tarnished with his many crimes and failures to obey. Ianto knew he could never truly be cleared of that debt. His service was an attempt to show his remorse, and earn the start of forgiveness. The boy knew he'd never live long enough to be free of the crimes he was serving for; never be truly forgiven.
Even now, while Jack had comforted him for the terror of a false accusation — one that could have easily had him screaming no matter what the evidence — he'd also locked him away to await punishment for the ones he had committed. There were plenty of other offences .
With a sigh, Ianto pushed the blankets away from him, and got out of the bed.
His owner had gotten rid of his shoes at some point — though the boy had no real memory of Jack taking them — so it didn't take long for him to strip. Folding each item carefully, and setting the bundle down next to his owner's dresser. As he moved, he spotted his trainers, and put them where they belonged too; out of the way.
When he was finished, he took out his earpiece, placed it on the nightstand, and sank to his knees at the centre of the small room.
His eyes strayed at first, often coming to rest on the bottom drawer of Jack's dresser. He knew it was where Jack kept most of the toys that weren't stashed away in the training room.He knew it would be opened today.
The ancient rulers Jack used when he'd made mistakes concerning kneeling were in there. While they'd be the more minor part of the punishment, Ianto didn't doubt Jack would use them to bring extra focus to his mind.
When you were whipped, you could sort of shift to minimise blows. There was no way he could move to ease the hurt when he was kneeling on those rods. In fact, any movement dug them deeper into his knees.
He deserved it though. He'd knelt while he was dressed. Too panicked to remember what his rules were.
But what he'd done after falling to the ground without permission, was worse. In his panic, he'd dared to say no to his masters. Hadn't said it to their face - he'd been too busy staring at the ground — but he'd talked back to his betters. Of course, he was allowed to say the word 'no' when the answer to a question was negative; his owners weren't unreasonable. But telling them they were wrong, that was a very bad thing to do.
That crime would bear the brunt of his punishment. Ianto could pretty much imagine it. Every lash of the cat — his master favoured the cat over the bullwhip most times; it required less space — pushing him harder into the rods under his knees.
It would be a difficult punishment to take after Jack had been so kind. Ianto closed his eyes and ran through the memory again. Cradled to Jack's chest as the other man held him. Comforted. Secure. Jack had taken the time out of his life to calm him down and put him down to sleep.
He promised himself, he'd thank his master for every lash.
It would be the least he could do to show how grateful he was for his master's time.
Jack was a kind master. A generous owner. Jack deserved better. He'd need to be better.
Well accustomed to catching quick winks of sleep while strangely posed, Ianto drifted; body shifting minutely as he knelt in place. Nothing crass like stretching, but a teeny wobble that tried to unconsciously alleviate strain. Trained to expect pain when he moved too much, he stayed still. Mind calmly going over the things he'd need to confess sooner rather than later.
The boy was pretty much relaxed.
Right up until the grating of metal on metal. Ianto squinted and glanced up to the light poking through the growing hole in the ceiling. He watched till he could see Jack's feet finding the rungs. The choice to look down at the ground again was a conscious one.
You don't deserve to look up at them.
With a thump, Jack's boots landed squarely inside his view.
Ianto's eyes widened, and ran up his master's body following the speckled path of browning blood. Boots, trousers, coat, shirt. It didn't matter where the boy's eyes landed, it was all splattered with drying gore. Worse than the blood, Jack's light blue shirt had been torn to shreds around the collar. The thing had held together further down, keeping the older man decent while he looked like a murder victim. Next to the carnage of the shirt, Jack's precious coat had managed to escape all tears.
It was still covered in blood, but after some very meticulous cleaning it would be fine to wear out again. No needle and treat would save the shirt.
The sheer magnitude of gore had the boy staring; searching for wounds that might mar his master's skin. Though he found none, Ianto couldn't tear his gaze away. The thought that Jack had been injured badly enough to make him look like this made him feel ill.
Just as silently, Jack was staring back at his boy. His face stony and tired, but every time Ianto's eyes darted up to look his master in the face — keeping eye contact wasn't going to happen, there was too much to see — another, darker emotion gained ground.
It was his master who eventually broke the silence; he didn't sound happy.
"Why are you out of bed?"
Right — He'd been anticipating this. Ianto blinked owlishly, trying to gather his neat lines of thought scattered by his master's dishevelled appearance.
"And why," Jack interrupted his boy before he could even begin to confess his sins. "Are you naked?"
His master's tone told him plenty. Jack wasn't pleased with how he'd found his slave. Whatever good he'd tried to do with his actions, it had failed. Ianto cringed down, knowing he had no choice but to confess his earlier failures anyway.
"I-I," The boy's voice wavered, and he had to swallow several times to get his tongue to cooperate again. "I knelt while dressed," Chronological seemed best. "Without permission."
Ianto jumped in place as Jack moved away suddenly. He gasped for breath, knowing the next sin was the one he'd suffer for most. But the sound of his owner tugging open the bottom drawer — he didn't need to move his head to see, to know it was happening — made him skip right past it, to the newer failures.
"I undressed without permission. And- and I moved without your permission."
The drawer clicked shut. Ianto had no idea what his owner had chosen, but he knew he was running out of time. Jack would be waiting for his final failure, and failing to confess it would do nothing but bring him hours of pain, after which he would beg to be allowed the privilege of confession. The sound of steps as Jack walked back forced his indecision out of the way. He rushed out the worst of his recent crimes, just as Jack grabbed a hold of his collar.
"I-I s-said no."
Using his grip on the thick leather, Jack tugged his boy's head up. Ianto's eyes flinched shut.
It was woefully inadequate, but it was all he had. Words carried out by the bubbles of fear. God he still feared. Anticipating a punishment never became easier. He still hated pain; his fear undulled by its constant use.
Strangely, there was no onslaught of pain, just a metallic click, and Jack let go of his neck. Still waiting for a whip or cane to fall, Ianto kept his eyes scrunched shut, breathing fast though his nose. He caught the scent of drying blood clearer now, and it made his stomach clench.
The metallic tang clung to his master as he moved. The older man had barely moved away when Ianto felt the distinct tug of a leash. He followed it, keeping his body low. Eyes down, he crawled where his master pulled him.
When they reached the bed, Jack didn't bother speaking. He just dropped the leash and grabbed his slave under the armpits and pulled him high enough to toss him on the bed.
"I've angered you. Please."
Still Jack didn't speak, leaving his boy to regret his words as he was manhandled across the small bed. All he could do was try his best to predict the other man's actions so he could move accordingly. He didn't succeed very well, finally ending up facing the wall, hands curled against his chest, and knees bent just a bit. The position was reminiscent of the one he took when Jack slept besides him.
Happy with his boy's pose, the captain picked up the leash again. Ianto watched it being tugged from underneath his frozen frame. When he had the full length, Jack tied the thing off on the metal bedframe in quick rough tugs. Testing its hold, Jack threw the comforter over the bed again, and abandoned his boy for the shower.
Lower lip trembling, eyes locked on the tight knot of leather, Ianto heard the water turn on, and his master strip. He did not move an inch.
Jack had placed him on the bed before, and he'd moved away from it — he wouldn't be moving now. Not until his master released him. The leash's generic metal clip might as well have been a padlock; Ianto would never open it.
Behind his back, he could hear his master step under the spray. Jack had left the door open — steam was already rolling into the small room, heating it marginally — so it was easy to hear him walk through the steps of washing himself. It had to be a relief to get the layer of gore off of his skin.
Ianto now knew his punishment would have to wait till after his owner was comfortable again. It had been foolish to think his failures would come before his betters.
Still, his mind started considering possible futures. The options had changed now that he'd been bound to the bed. Because the bed had to play some role in whatever was coming. Jack wouldn't postpone his shower to get him tied to it only to get him back on the floor again once he was finished washing.
He could still be flogged, of course. Stretched out as he was, there would be nowhere for him to flinch away from the lashes.
But what could his master do to him on here that he couldn't do while his boy knelt on the floor?
The thought exercise came to a sliding stop at the first sound of flesh on flesh.
Ianto held his breath, and listened like his life depended on it —and in a way, it did. He had to be wrong.
After several tense moments, he knew he wasn't. He'd helped his owner achieve orgasm hundreds of times — he knew what the other man sounded like when he was trying to find his pleasure. Only usually, the sounds were much closer.
Usually, Jack was using him in one way or the other.
He'd never had to endure those perfect sounds while tied to a bed, with his master not even looking at him.
Ianto's blood ran cold as it went on. Jack was jerking off. Jack was taking his own pleasure. Jack wasn't using his boy.
And then he understood.
Ianto wanted to cry. He wanted to weep and hit the wall as he wailed.
Instead, he stayed still. Frozen exactly as his master had left him.
The thing had been whipped to shreds as it starved. The pet had been beaten. The boy — it seemed — would be punished in an entirely new way. The boy's torture would be psychological.
It was hard to breathe, as if each near silent gasp from the bathroom was sucked from the boy's own lungs.
He'd lost his purpose.
Or one of them, at least. If Jack no longer needed him for sex.
Please no ...
Vision swimming, he stared at the knot. At least he'd still be a bedwarmer, wouldn't he?
This new form of torture was unknown. He literally had no idea what Jack would do to him? There was no frame of reference. No previous tortures to connect to current failures.
The melody of Jack coming — usually a sound he craved — stabbed him right through the heart.
Useless, and worthless, and unwanted.
The water shut off.
Ianto stared at the knot.
He was still a bedwarmer. Please let him still be a bedwarmer. Please let his master still want him.
The rustle of a towel.
Why would Jack tie him up if he meant to banish his boy? How long would he be left to suffer without purpose? Would Jack ever turn to him for release again?
Through it all, Ianto realised he was hard.
Too well trained to not respond to his master's needs, even if he wasn't allowed to assist.He held back a sob, begging his eyes to contain the tears welling up in them; he had no right to them.