Thank you to everyone who commented on the previous fic. This really wouldn't have gotten writen without your support.
Betaed by subtly_modded thank you again. Also you were completly right about Ianto's eye colour. I am shame. *hangs head*
Rating: Would you say PG?
Spoilers: Torchwood season 1, trailers for Doctor Who season 3
Jack had always though that no-one did aloof like Ianto. If you wanted someone to be cool, professional, and look amazing in a suit then Ianto was your guy. Jack had been wrong, because the way Ianto was now made everything he was before look like a tropical heat wave.
Not that Jack could really blame him. He knew from experience how much being left hurt. But he’d been back over a month now and had hardly exchanged ten words with Ianto. He was a practically a prisoner in his own office because whenever Myfanwy caught sight or smell of him she’d let out an ear piercing screech. The others had more or less forgiven him. He’d been glared at and then interrogated, he’d told them enough to satisfy, and they’d accepted it. They watched him a little more closely now, asked for explanations more often, Owen had taken to calling him ‘Harkness’, but he was back, and part of the team again.
But Ianto hadn’t even asked him anything.
It was late, Ianto was down in the archives, Gwen and Tosh had gone home, but Owen was still around. That was another thing, he was never left alone with the Welshman. Ianto still worked crazy hours but now someone was always with him. Tosh or Gwen would come in with him every morning, and Owen would be there until he left. That perplexed Jack, when had Owen and Ianto become so chummy? Jack wanted to talk to Ianto but he knew that if he tried Owen would pop up. So he decided to try another tack. He found Owen in the autopsy room writing reports.
“Owen,” he said with his best ‘you are so amazing how wonderful to see you’ smile, “you’re doing your own reports? What is the world coming to?”
Owen didn’t so much as look up. “I got into the habit while you were gone, we were short staffed and Gwen nagged me if I made Ianto do them.”
Ok so maybe this was going to be a bit harder than Jack had first thought, but try, try again. “What are you still doing here Owen, isn’t it a bit late for you?”
“If I leave Ianto alone in the hub with you, Gwen and Tosh will have my bollocks.” Owen looked up at Jack “Look, it’s late, and I’m tired, what do you want, Harkness?”
“Five minutes with Ianto,” said Jack, trying the truth because hey, who knew it could work.
“Well tough,” replied Owen “cus he’s not ready to give you that yet.” Owen’s terminal beeped at them. “Aaannnndddd Ianto has left the building, I’m outta here.”
Owen jumped up and grabbed his bag on his way out of the hub. Leaving Jack watching Ianto on the CCTV heading to his car.
(One month earlier)
“Careful, that’s harassment sir.”
Jack moved his hand so quickly you’d think he’d been burned. Ianto’s eyes held nothing – not anger, or pain, or relief, just washed out blue looking back into Jack’s eyes and not flinching. Jack watched Ianto leave the office and felt almost cheated. He hadn’t expected it to be easy, but he thought he’d a least get a chance to explain.
His confusion must have shown on his face because Owen rolled his eyes and said, “You’ve been gone seven months, what did you expect?”
Jack blanched at that, “I didn’t realize…” he said softly. He looked at Tosh for conformation, she nodded, looking more than a little shell shocked herself.
“Nearly seven months,” she confirmed. She opened her mouth to say something else but obviously thought better of it. “I’ve got work to do,” she said instead and hurried out of the office. Owen followed her, throwing Jack a black look as he left. Which just left Gwen.
“You were gone,” she stated.
“I’m sorry,” replied Jack
Gwen shrugged “We were fine,” she said. “It was touch and go there for a while but we were ok.”
Jack nodded, for some reason that hurt too, he was gone, and it hadn’t mattered.
Gwen sighed and pulled him into a hug. “But it’s better when your back,” she whispered. Then she left as well, leaving Jack in an office that looked almost exactly the same as he left it. He sat at his desk and tried to make sense of the last few moments. Seven months! He groaned, and he’d stood there with a smirk, and said “miss me?”? He was lucky they hadn’t killed him. He dropped his head on the desk top. Well Jack, he thought to himself, welcome home.
You can never go home again.
That had always seemed to Jack to be a pointless saying. He had spent most of his adult life as a time traveller, you could go anywhere again, it was easy. But now Jack thought maybe he understood. He’d considered the TARDIS to be home, everything else in his life was just temporary. But then he’d gone back and… it wasn’t the same. Rose was gone, and the doctor was not himself. Beyond the regeneration even, because losing Rose had left a gaping wound. Jack found himself hating Rose for changing the doctor and hating the doctor for losing Rose. He never wanted to hate them.
And then there was Martha Jones. Jack knew that he was being unfair to her but damnit, she wasn’t Rose. She wasn’t Rose and she had no business being there. He’d forced himself to get over that, and discovered that he also disliked her for not being Ianto. She was walking round with Ianto’s surname, but she wasn’t as pretty as Ianto, didn’t make coffee as well as Ianto, her sarcasm was a shade to harsh and a hair to slow.
She didn’t make him feel safe.
He missed the hub. He missed Cardiff. He missed the giant soap opera that was Gwen and Owen. After watching the doctor bounce around shouting ‘fantastic’ all the time he missed Tosh’s quiet enthusiasm. He missed Myfanwy. He spent more than one planet wandering round cold because he’d forgotten his coat. He didn’t just miss the million tiny things that Ianto did for him every day, he missed Ianto’s presence at his shoulder, and the smell of the soap he used.
So he’d said goodbye and gotten the doctor to drop him off. To be honest Martha was probably glad to see the back of him. He’d come back to the hub, but things were different here, too. Everyone had settled into patterns he didn’t understand, had jokes he couldn’t work out. Like the other afternoon, Owen had been winding Tosh up, Tosh had turned round and told him that if he didn’t stop he would ‘wish his name was Bonkers’. Jack felt lost, because that comforting, soap smelling presence was still absent, and Jack didn’t know how to get it back.
In the end Jack had to get sneaky. He stole Ianto’s car keys out of his coat pocket, and waited. Owen and Ianto left the hub together at 2am. Jack watched on the CCTV as Ianto got to his car, and patted his coat pocket. He shouted something to Owen who shouted back, Ianto waved, and said something else, Owen shrugged and climbed into his car and drove away. Ianto came back into the hub to find his keys.
Jack waited until Ianto was in the hub proper, and triggered a lock down. He watched as Ianto spun round to see the heavy metal door closing. He glanced up at the office and saw Jack staring at him. He frowned at Jack and moved over to the closest phone, only to discover that Jack had cut the power to the phones. Jack watched Ianto’s shoulders slump as he leaned on the desk, then he seemed to make a decision. He straightened up and headed towards the stairs to Jack’s office.
When Ianto appeared at Jack’s doorway Jack was perched on the edge of the desk. Ianto stood in the doorway, professional mask firmly in place.
“Is there some kind of problem, Sir?” he asked. His voice was light, as if he was asking nothing more important than if Jack wanted another coffee.
“No problem, I just wanted a chat.”
Ianto's eyes narrowed. “If you don’t mind me saying so Sir, it’s somewhat irresponsible to lock down the hub just for a ‘chat’.” And there! Jack could hear it, Ianto was edging towards an edge in his voice.
Jack stood up, and took a few steps towards Ianto. “Well I wouldn’t have to if you weren’t avoiding me.”
Ianto stood stock still, hands gripped tightly at his sides. “I don’t think that you’ll find any dereliction of duty, Sir.”
Jack found in some perverse way he was enjoying this, it was always fun to push Ianto. “Of course not,” he replied. “You’re not the one who left.”
“No, I’m not!” snapped Ianto and bingo – there it was! Ianto was staring right into his eyes and there was fire there. Jack couldn’t help it; he broke into a huge shit-eating grin, which apparently was too much for Ianto, because the next thing Jack knew he was slammed into the wall with Ianto’s arm across his throat.
“You left!” shouted Ianto. “You left, and you didn’t even leave a note. We thought you’d been taken, it took Tosh *three days* to clean the video footage enough so we could see what had happened! Do you have the slightest idea what went thought my mind?” Then, just as quickly the anger seemed to drain out of Ianto, he let Jack go and turned away. He was trembling, but he didn’t leave.
Jack reached out for him, but Ianto shook him off.
“You were gone for over six months, Jack. You couldn’t have e-mailed? You were travelling in a *phone box* and you couldn’t call.” Ianto sounded so quiet and broken. Jack couldn’t remember ever feeling this bad before.
“I didn’t realise it had been six months for you.” He said to Ianto’s back. The worst excuse ever, but it was all Jack had.
“How long was it for you?” Ianto asked as he turned round, Jack almost wished he hadn’t because now Jack could see unshed tears in Ianto’s eyes, causing his own eyes to prickle uncomfortably.
“Probably closer to a year.” Jack admitted wishing that he could have lied. Neither of them said anything for a long time. Ianto looked like he was barely holding it together and Jack wasn’t doing any better. Finally Jack broke the deadlock. “What can I do?” he asked.
Ianto looked at him, puzzled.
“To make it up, so you can forgive me.” Jack clarified.
Ianto laughed, a short, sharp exclamation. “It’s not about that.” He said earnestly. “I forgive you. I can’t not forgive you, you’re here and you’re alive, and that’s all I ever needed. I could forgive you anything, just like Lisa, and that is the scariest…” Ianto looked at the floor, then back up at Jack. “But if I let you in again, and you leave me *again*. I can’t go though that another time. I’m just not strong enough.”
Jack closed the gap between them. He stroked his fingertips down Ianto’s cheek, could feel wetness there. He moved his hand round to cup the back of Ianto’s head, and pulled Ianto in for a kiss. Their lips met and Jack could feel Ianto press against him, arms slip round his waist. Jack wasn’t sure who did it but the kiss deepened and Jack used it to say all the things he couldn’t find the right words for. I love you, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have left, I had to leave, I can’t say I’ll never leave again, I don’t want to, I don’t want *you* to, love you, sorrysorrysorrysorrysorrysorry.
Ianto broke the kiss and rested his forehead against Jack’s, arms still round Jack’s waist. Jacks hands holding the back of Ianto’s head. “You are so bad for me,” whispered Ianto, Jack couldn’t reply past the lump in his throat.
Just then the sound of the main door opening filled the hub. Jack reluctantly pulled away from Ianto. “What?” he asked with surprise “there’s no way it’s been six hours.”
Ianto smirked. “Tosh set up an alarm system a few months ago. The computers send out an automated message if the hub goes into lockdown. She’s probably overridden it by now.”
“Nobody tells me anything.” Jack grumbled.
“Well if you will insist on sodding off six months sir.” Ianto replied. Jack risked a glance, but Ianto was still smirking and there was humour in his voice. However, he looked like someone who’d been crying, and the rest of the team were on their way up the stairs. Oh well, best to face the music. Jack stepped out onto the walkway and Ianto followed him, Jack could feel him at his shoulder.
“It’s ok, false alarm,” he said hoping to head them off before they got a good look at Ianto’s face.
“Jack was playing with the locks,” chimed in Ianto.
Owen looked at them suspiciously. “Hang on a minute, ‘Jack’?” he peered at Ianto “You’ve been crying.” He peered at Jack. “You too, bloody hell, they’ve made up!” Jack was a fully liberated ex-time agent from the 51st century and didn’t blush.
Gwen exclaimed “YEEESSS!” and punched the air, holding her hand out to accept money from Owen and Tosh, “under two months, I win. Why, thank you both!” She gave them a mock bow. Tosh coughed politely. “Why yes,” Gwen continued, “Tosh had ‘one of them locks them both in the hub’.” She made a great show of handing Tosh her money back, Owen grumbled has he forked some money over to Tosh as well.
“You had a pool going?” asked Ianto. He sounded vaguely horrified.
Gwen nodded, smirking hugely.
“Well if there’s no emergency, I’m off home,” stated Owen, starting down the stairs. “I have to catch up on some sleep, Ianto is a nutter who never leaves this place before the small hours of the morning.” He stopped at the bottom and called up to Ianto, “Get a life, tea boy!”
Gwen and Tosh said goodbye and left, Jack turned to Ianto, “Now,” he said, “where were we?”
Myfanwy chose that moment to wake up, and on spotting Jack let out one of her very best screeches. Jack ducked into his office, pulling Ianto with him.
“Trying to think of ways to get Myfanwy to forgive you?” asked Ianto, eyes sparkling.
“Maybe tomorrow,” replied Jack. And for the first time in years, Jack was home.
szm: Jack come here.
Jack: Yes, OW! *szm just booted him*
szm: that was for cs_whitewolf