Title: I Can Take Care of Myself
Fandom: Torchwood
Rating: PG-13 for swearing & darkness, not sexual content
Pairing: Jack/Ianto, Ianto/other
Disclaimer: NOT my characters! No money made
Meme Prompt: A character travels back in time and happens to run into himself. Only his past self is sick. What's his reaction? "THAT'S what I look like when I sneeze?" or maybe he looks after sick!him/takes care of him or maybe he assumes past-self's identity for a day and does his job for him (or goes on a date for him or something). The possibilities are endless!

Notes: I am a little rusty writing TW fics, so please don’t be too hard on me. Also, this didn’t go at ALL how I’d planned. After ladykorana suggested Torchwood and I thought I’d give it a go, I wasn’t sure when to set it. I finally decided that, it being time travel, to do both time periods. And then… this just happened before I could pull it back.



I Can Take Care of Myself


Ianto sprinted through the nearly empty Hub; running with scissors was frowned upon, but there weren’t any rules about running with a pair of wire cutters. He came to a stop by the rift monitor and pretended to not be out of breath when he handed the cutters to Jack. Jack thanked him with a look and a squeeze to his wrist and set to work snipping wires. There were about two hundred of them in various colors and thicknesses, but Jack looked like he knew what he was doing. Ianto wasn’t so confident. “What… what will happen if this goes off?”


Jack shook his head. “Either this will cause a chain reaction and everything from every second of time will try to come out of the rift at once, causing a massive implosion that will end all time and space in our dimension as we know it or…”


Ianto watched the little digital clock race downward. It was too close to 0. Far too close. Just a few seconds remaining. And there were still so many wires to cut. “Or?” Panic rose in Ianto. “Or?”


A white flash of light surrounded them both. Ianto had the sensation that he was moving, but when the light faded only a moment later, he was still in the Hub, still sitting on the floor next to Jack, still looking down at a bomb.


He blinked, taking stake. He felt a little dizzy, a little disconcerted, but otherwise all right. “Or… nothing?” Ianto finished.


Jack shook his head and was about to reply when they heard footsteps. Thinking it must of course be Gwen, Ianto was about to call out to her when Jack slapped a hand over his mouth. Jack’s eyes told him to be silent, Jack’s touch told him to be alert. So when Jack brought his hand down and grabbed the bomb, Ianto said nothing.  And when Jack darted back behind what used to be Owen’s desk, Ianto followed right behind.


Except… he couldn’t help noticing the surge protector under Owen’s desk, green light showing it was on. And the trashcan under the desk, filled with trash. He looked over at Gwen’s desk from where he crouched and got another shock; Gwen’s things weren’t there at all.


“Another happy day in Cardiff, made safe by Torchwood!” Jack happily announced to the Hub. Except… it wasn’t Jack who’d spoken—not his Jack, at least. His Jack sat next to him, eyes wide, ears alert. He leaned close to Ianto and whispered, “It would be dangerous for me to run into myself. I wouldn’t react well… believe me.”


Ianto believed him, but he still wasn’t entirely sure what was going on. Cautiously, he looked up over the desk to see Jack walking through the Hub. And, yet, Jack was sitting right here beside him. Two Jacks. And they looked identical. But, then, they would of course. If they’d traveled through time, there was no telling when they were, just by looking at Jack.


Jack leaned over and kissed Ianto’s temple. “You’ve got it, right?”


Ianto nodded. “But when…“


“Don’t know yet. We need to get out of here before we’re discovered. Let’s make for the—“


The gears churned as the lift started up; someone was coming down. Ianto stared at the lift, waiting to see who it was. He saw shoes. Pants. A shirt. Hands. And his heart began to race with panic as he saw a face.


Jack seized Ianto’s hand. “Run!” His whisper was perhaps too loud, but Ianto didn’t anyone else had heard it. Because they were running through the Hub again, this time with a bomb in hand instead of wire cutters. They ran past Tosh’s desk, past the stairs, to the exit. The door rolled open for Jack and they ran through.


The Cardiff Visitor’s Center looked exactly as it should. Same promotional brochures on the desk, same pictures on the walls, same bus timetables pinned to the board. Same Torchwood employee posing as a Cardiff Bay tourism advisor. Because Ianto heard humming. Humming and muttering from behind the desk. He was looking for something. And any second now he would find it and stand up and see them there. Ianto knew where the weapons were hidden behind the desk.


Jack and Ianto hurried out. Ianto heard coughing and more muttering. Anxious to leave, he practically shoved Jack out the door and followed behind. The bell above the door had dinged when they had opened it, but he still didn’t think they’d been seen. They ran through the plass toward the water and didn’t stop until they were out of sight from the Hub. There was a stitch in Ianto’s side, but he didn’t care about it. “Jack,” he said, grabbing Jack’s suspenders. “That was Suzie! And me! I nearly ran into me! I’m here, but I’m also back there.” He rubbed his forehead. “Jack… when are we?”


Jack checked his vortex manipulator, tapping it. “That bomb disabled this, too. I might be able to restart it, but it’s going to take some time. Maybe between it and the technology in this bomb, I’ll be able to figure out how to get us back to our time…”


But Ianto wasn’t listening. Suzie was here. Suzie who might already be killing. Were they going to have to kill her yet again? He didn’t think he could stand that. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a newspaper stand. “One second, Jack.” He headed over and picked up a newspaper. He read the date. And then read it again. One week. He’d been working at Torchwood for just one week at this point in time. As he walked back to Jack, he tried to remember his first weeks at Torchwood. So say that hadn’t been a good time in his life was a terrible understatement. For one thing, there was Lisa. He’d been consumed by grief and desperation, believing that he had to do whatever it took to save her. And then, right after starting at Torchwood, he’d come down sick. It’d just been a cold. A bit of coughing and a scratchy throat at first. Then it had come on with full force. And he’d been scared to let anyone know, scared that he would be sent away and then he’d never be able to save Lisa.


By the time he returned to Jack, he knew what he had to do. “Go to my flat,” Ianto said, handing Jack the key from his pocket. “Anyone could see us out here, but it’ll be safe to hide out there until we figure out how to get back.”


“Ianto… what are you going to do?”


“I’m going to talk to myself.”


“I don’t know if that’s such a good idea…”


“Don’t worry, Sir,” Ianto said, sounding more confident than he felt. “I know what to say to myself. I know what I need to hear.” He leaned close and kissed Jack. Jack was hesitant for a moment, not at all the norm for the great Captain Jack Harkness, and then kissed back. For a moment, he didn’t want to leave. He just wanted to stay and keep kissing Jack. But he pulled back and found he was smiling. He’d just traveled years back in time, he was about to show himself to his past self, and he wasn’t sure he was going to be able to ever get back to when he belonged… but he had Jack and he had a plan, and those were the only two things that truly mattered.


Ianto went over and over the plan in his mind as he walked back from the Hub. He remembered his first few weeks at Torchwood vividly. He remembered his worries and his delight and his fears and…


And it all went out the window the moment he stepped back into the tourism office. He was at home here, more than almost anywhere else, more than the Hub, even. This was his place. And that was him, standing behind the desk, sneezing repeatedly into a loose fist. Ianto’s heart went out to him. He pulled out his handkerchief. “Here, take this.”


Past-Ianto took it blindly with a weak “Cheers” before cupping it to his face. “IhkTCHfffff! hufChhmmmm!” It was stranger than he’d thought it would be, seeing himself sneeze and all. That was what he looked like? The way his eyelids fluttered closed. The way his face went slack as his mouth opened. The way his nostrils twitched just before it happened, as he drew in breath. The way he swayed forward and back. The way he nuzzled into the hanky with gratitude. The way he steadied himself by gripping the counter.


“Bless you.”


With a nod, Past-Ianto straightened back up and turned. “Thanks…” He froze, eyes going wide.


Ianto raised his hands. “Don’t shoot. I know you’re thinking about reaching for that pistol under the computer terminal or hitting the emergency button two feet to your right. But don’t.”


“Give me one reason why I shouldn’t.”


Ianto closed his eyes and wished he didn’t have to say it, “Because I’m you. From the future. And I know what you’ve smuggled into Torchwood and are keeping in the storeroom down there beyond power and electrical.”


Past-Ianto looked down at the handkerchief. “This is mine. My initials. My mum—“


“Gave it to you on your eighteenth. Seemed like a rubbish birthday present, if you ask me, but it’s come in handy. Now that one’s mine, actually. Yours are all home in the hamper because you came down with a bad cold yesterday and you spent all night sneezing and trying to sleep so you wouldn’t be dead on your feet today which, I hate to break it to you, you are anyway.”


Glancing toward the door to the Hub, Past-Ianto put his hands on the counter, just as Ianto knew he would do to prove he wasn’t going to make a move. He did the same, on the other side of the counter. “But you can keep my hanky for now. You need it. And you need me.”


“Come again?”


“You don’t have anyone to take care of you, not now that Lisa… and you know how good I am at taking care of people, right? I’ll make you that tea we like and fix you a hot water bottle when you get the chills.”


Past-Ianto couldn’t take his eyes off him. “This is mad.”


“It is, yeah. But it’s Torchwood. Comes with the job, you know.”


“You can’t possibly expect me to believe you traveled back in time to take care of yourself when you had a head cold. Because there are plenty of better times you could have picked. The Battle at Canary Warf. Or when Dad…” He trailed off. “But you didn’t choose this, did you?”


“Even with your mind muddled with a cold, you’re clever. There was an accident. And we might have a way to get back, but it’s going to take some time. Until then, I thought I’d make the best of it and make you a little less miserable. What do you say?”


“I… I-ihhh… ihhh…” He cupped the hanky to his face. “ihhh-CHUFffff!” He massaged his nose with a dry bit of the hanky and focused on Ianto again. “Wait, did you just say ‘we’?”




“He’s finally asleep.” Ianto whispered, closing the bedroom door. He sat down next to Jack on the couch. “How go the modifications?”


Jack shrugged. “We’re going to need some replacement wires if I’m going to get this thing to work again. But I figured out how to link its control panel to my vortex manipulator.”


Ianto grinned. “Linking the controller to your manipulator? Go on then. Talk dirty to me some more, Sir.”


Jack laughed, leaned closer. “Oh Ianto Jones.”




They both turned toward the bedroom door to see Past-Ianto standing there, handkerchief clutched in one hand. He had on a shiny navy blue satin pajama set, buttoned as far up as it would go.


“Hey,” Ianto said, stretching his arm out on the back of the couch. “You’re supposed to be asleep.”


“I dow. I tried. But I’b just too codgested. I thidk I ought to sit ub a while.”


“Come here then. Plenty of room on the couch.”


But Past-Ianto didn’t move. He looked warily at the two of them, sitting so close on the couch. Not wanting to raise suspicious about their relationship, Ianto and Jack had tried to keep their distance from each other all evening. It hadn’t been too difficult, not with Past-Ianto in his bedroom, tossing and turning and Ianto trying to make him more comfortable the whole time. Ianto had reassured him that he’d get over the cold soon, but that was just about all he could say. He couldn’t tell his past self that everything else would work out, that he’d find something in Jack he hadn’t even known he was looking for, that trying to save Lisa had been a mistake that had led to the best time of his life so far.


Jack was the one who spoke up. “Well, this has got to be awkward for you, right? You only just started at Torchwood and now a future version of your boss is sitting on your couch. How about I go make some us tea—“


“No!” both Iantos exclaimed at once.


Jack raised his hands in surrender. “Okay, okay. I get it. I don’t touch your kettle.” He lowered his hands and smiled at Ianto. “I guess some things never change.”


ihhh…” Ianto swayed in place. “ihh-HITchhhhh!” He pressed the cuff of his sleeve to his nose. “ihhhhhschhh!


“How about you get a blanket and a fresh hanky,” Ianto suggested to Jack.


When Jack had gone, Past-Ianto walked around the couch and sat down on Ianto’s other side. “Is this what habbed the first tibe?”




“Whed you were be. Whed you were sick with this cold durig your secod week of work, did your future self show ub like this?”


“No. I struggled through on my own, scared I wasn’t going to be able to go to work and her pain would get worse without me there, scared I’d pass out in the storeroom and someone would come looking for me. So when we ended up back here I knew I had to try to make it easier on you.”


Past-Ianto nodded with understanding.


Ianto glanced in the direction Jack had gone. “I’m worried I’ve only made it harder.”


Past-Ianto’s breath caught again. “ihhhhHITChhhh!


“Fresh handkerchief coming right up,” Jack said, swooping in and handing one over. “Bless you by the way.”


Past-Ianto flushed and wiped it at his nose.


“You know,” Ianto said, “Sometimes it’s okay to accept help from others.”


With a far-away look in his eyes, Past-Ianto rested his head on Ianto’s shoulder. Jack draped the blanket he’d brought over both of them. When Jack’s face hovered a little too close to Ianto’s, Ianto was suddenly worried the man would take the opportunity to kiss him. But Jack understood the situation and didn’t make a move. And he didn’t comment, though Ianto could read in his eyes that he thought they looked adorable like this.


“Think you can get some sleep now?” Ianto asked, his voice soft and gentle. Jack settled back on the couch, his fingertips brushing the back of Ianto’s hand. It was as close as they were going to get.


“Yeah, I… ihhhKRSchhhh!” He coughed and sniffed and dabbed at his nose. “Thanks.”




Past-Ianto slept soundly through the night, which was more than could be said for Ianto. He knew perfectly well what his past self was going through right now, how much he’d hated being pushed around by the team, feeling lesser-than, cleaning up Jack’s messes… how much he’d loved Lisa and honestly thought trying to save her was the right thing to do… how many secrets he had bottled up inside, all he was hiding from the others and from himself. Ianto knew how much pain his pas self was going through, and how much more he would have to endure. He remembered the murders that were his fault. He remembered punching and threatening Jack. He remembered watching the lot of them shoot her. And he remembered how much harder it was going back to work afterward, seeing their faces and going back to cleaning up their messes.


He could spare Past-Ianto all that with just a few words now. But he knew he couldn’t. That would change everything. Ianto might not even be alive if he changed his history so significantly. So he couldn’t spare himself all that pain, but he could help the man through this cold. He could hand him hankies and put an arm around him in a hug to keep him warm. He could put a cool compress on his forehead and make him tea.


And he could put on a suit, go in to work, and pretend to be his past-self for the day. This wouldn’t be too difficult. After all, he’d done it before. And he knew more about them than they knew of him. He knew their secrets and their futures. He knew the cases they were going to work and what aliens they’d meet. All he had to do was drive them around, order some pizza, and make them some coffee.


“Are you sure this is a good idea?” Jack asked.


“It’s the least I can do,” Ianto replied. “I’ll pick up the wires while I’m out. If you need anything or if he gets worse, just call. And… stay away from the kettle, Sir.”


Jack held up a hand. “On my honor.”


Ianto thought it would be fine. He believed it as he headed to work. He believed it as he straightened his tie and walked into work. He believed it as he climbed the stairs and started up the coffee at his station. This was the Torchwood Hub. He knew every inch of it. The Doctor’s hand in its container. The pterodactyl circling overhead. The low hum of computers running. It was all exactly as he’d remembered it to be.


But then Suzie walked in. And Jack took a cup of coffee from Ianto without even looking at the man. And then there was Toshiko and Owen bantering back and forth from their side-by-side desks. And Lisa. There was Lisa. Lying on the conversion table with her implants and her cyber-breathing, staring back at him but not seeing him through the drug-induced haze.


He tried to deal. Tried to pretend he was the old Ianto, the one who didn’t know what was going to happen. The only one, apart from Jack, of all of these people he loved who would be alive in the very near future. Tried to be a stoic, put-together Welshman who couldn’t be touched by anything.


Instead he ended up curled on the bathroom floor, wrapped around a toilet, sobbing uncontrollably. He hurt all over again, the pain fresh as if he’d just betrayed them or just lost them. The pain had been so constant back then, so consuming. He’d forgotten how strong and terrible it had been. Hurt had been all he was. It had taken ages for it to back off. And now it was back, back and overwhelming and there was nothing he could do to stop it. He couldn’t hold it all in. He didn’t just sob—he keened.


Someone found him there, of course. He wasn’t sure who, because the door opened and closed so quickly and he was bawling into his tie at that very moment. But it was Jack who came in a few minutes later. “Ianto? You all right?”


Ianto couldn’t answer, couldn’t look up. This wasn’t his Jack… but it was still Jack. And Jack would know. Somehow, Jack would know. He tried to stop crying. He dragged his sleeve across his face. Swallowed back his tears. Took breaths as deep as they would go.


“Are you feeling ill today?”


All Ianto could do was nod yes. The crying had exhausted him, had turned his stomach. It wasn’t entirely a lie.


But he wasn’t prepared for Jack to squat down next to him and rub his back. “Then you should go home. Don’t worry about us. We can make our own coffee tonight.”


Ianto wanted to tell him off—for Past-Ianto’s sake. Tell him that he was worth so much more than that. Tell him that one day jack would seem him as more. But he couldn’t even bring himself to look at Jack. And all he could do was nod again.




“I’m back and brought the wires!” He tried to keep his voice cheerful, light. He didn’t want them to suspect he’d broken down. What sort of a man was he that he couldn’t even face one day living as his younger self?


“Quiet,” Jack hushed him. “The other you only just fell asleep. He’s been sneezing all morning. I’ve lived a long time, seen a lot of things. I didn’t know it was possible to see someone sneeze that much.” He looked around, making sure the bedroom door was closed and they were alone in the living room again.  Then he cupped Ianto’s face and kissed him. He didn’t mention the red, puffy eyes or the dark circles beneath them. He didn’t mention that Ianto didn’t have the necktie he’d left the flat with that morning. He just kissed deeply and fully and reassuringly.


When they pulled apart, Ianto handed over the wires. “I’d better go look in on him.” Jack nodded and got to work tinkering with the devices. For a second, Ianto thought about Tosh—how she would probably have this sorted in an instant. Then he headed to the bedroom.


Past-Ianto was not, as Jack had told him, asleep. He lay in bed with the covers up, but his eyes were open. “He seebed frustrated whed I kebt sdeh-sdeezig. Hehh-IHShhhh! I fidally breteded to be asleeb so he’d relax.”


“Clever you,” Ianto said, sitting down on the edge of the bed and rubbing Past-Ianto’s arm through the blanket. He might be cold and distant toward his coworkers at the Hub right now, but Ianto knew that deep down he needed affection. And he needed to know that Ianto hadn’t fucked up at the Hub today. “Everything went fine at work, no need to worry. But your Jack thinks you’re ill, so he won’t be surprised if you show up all sniffly-like tomorrow. Speaking of which…” Ianto took a look at the dozen balled-up handkerchiefs spread around the bed and began gathering them up. “I’d better wash these again.”


“You dod’t have to.”


“Well, I’m not asking Jack to launder them,” Ianto laughed. “So Ianto Jones will be doing it one way or another. I might as well do it now so you don’t have to bother.”


“Thanks… ihhh-HIHShhhh! HahShuhhh!


“Not a problem. I’ll bring you some tea as well. Your favorite. I mean, our favorite.”


Smiling, Past-Ianto nodded and rubbed his nose with the end of the blanket tucked under his chin.


Ianto made it to the door before turning back around. “When I was gone and Jack was looking after you, did he say anything? About the future, I mean.”


There was hesitation in his face for an instant. Anyone else might have missed it. “No.”


Ianto didn’t press. After all he’d been through today, he wasn’t sure he wanted to know.




“Thanks for letting us stay here,” Jack said, rolling down his sleeves and fastening the buttons at the cuffs.


Past-Ianto huddled, sniffling, on the couch with a blanket wrapped around his shoulders and a cup of tea in his hands. “I hobe you get back to your owd tibe safely.”


“So do we.” If he’d been around anyone else, he would have laughed at that, tried to play down his worry. But not with these two. These two knew him too well. “I guess you’ll find out either in a few seconds or in a few years if this works or not.” Walking over to the couch, he bent. He meant to kiss the top of Past-Ianto’s head. Or perhaps press a kiss to his forehead. He could imagine both sensations on himself and how good they would feel. This man needed to know that whatever was about to happen, whatever he was going to go through, there would be a time where he could love himself again.


But Past-Ianto lifted his head unexpectedly and their lips met. Frozen in place for moments, Ianto didn’t want to be the one to end it. He kissed what Jack kissed. He kissed what he’d once been. He kissed with empathy and tenderness and every emotion he’d been scared to let Past-Ianto see after meeting the man. The kiss was perfect, every movement his mouth made was mirrored exactly. Perfect pressure. Perfect touch. A perfect kiss he never wanted to end. In fact, he only stopped when he heard the man sniffle and felt Jack’s hands on his arms, pulling him back.


Then it all happened so quickly. A few buttons pushed. Another flash of whiteness and a dizzying disorientation. Then he sat on the floor of his flat with Jack next to him.


Ianto went for the remote, switched on the telly, and flipped to a news program. There was the date. It was a full day later than when they’d left, but they’d spent exactly that much time in the past, so that made a certain sense. Gwen would probably be worried about them, but Jack could take care of that bit.


“Home sweet home,” said Jack. “There’s nothing like coming home again after traveling through time, am I right?”


Ianto looked back at him, dully, not exactly sure how to respond to that. “Jack… that kiss… I didn’t mean…”


Jack quieted him with a gentle kiss. “Believe me, I understand.” He sighed gently. “I also understand that you’re going to need some time to deal with this.”


Ianto cleared his throat. “No, no I’m okay, Sir.”


“Bullshit. You just saw yourself still in love with Lisa, saw yourself before she tried to kill us and we had to kill her. You saw Tosh and Owen—“


“And Suzie.”


“And Suzie. And me, too. You’re going to need time to process.”


Slowly, Ianto nodded. “I guess I could use some time alone.” He could take care of himself.


“That’s what I thought.” Jack got up and headed for the door. His hand strayed from the doorknob, moving upward. Instead of disengaging the deadbolt, he slipped the chain on, locking them in.




Shaking his head. “Oh come on, you didn’t really think I was going to just up and abandon you after you’ve been through all that, did you? I can see it in your eyes: you’re not okay with what just happened. Not at all. And I’m not leaving you alone to work through all of that on your own.” He walked back and sat on the couch. “Besides, I can tell from the sound of your voice that you’re coming down with a cold.”


“What? No, Jack, I already caught that bug. I can’t catch it again.”


“Viruses mutate. Stranger things have happened.”


That was a laugh. “Stranger than travelling back in time and catching a cold from myself? I can’t imagine what that could possibly be. Next you’ll be telling me aliens are real.” Ianto got up and joined Jack on the couch.


“Can I get you anything? I happen to know where you keep your handkerchiefs now.”


“I’m fine for now, thanks. And, whatever you do, stay away from my teakettle.”