Word Count: 4,644
Warning/Spoilers: Spoilers for all
A/N: Takes place after the last episode, all from Ianto's point of view
When Jack disappeared they searched, of course they did. None of them were willing to loose him again after they had just got him back. They had looked into everything they thought possible, the rift, some alien technology, everything. Ianto didn’t know how he kept going through it all. He wanted to fall apart so bad but he kept telling himself that wouldn’t help Jack.
The search continued for two weeks until Gwen happened to mention Jack’s comments about ‘the right kind of Doctor.’ She had been mentioning it to Tosh off hand, wondering if Tosh could think of what kind of doctor he might mean. Ianto’s blood went cold when he heard. Doctor? Ianto had worked at Torchwood one. He knew exactly who the Doctor was. It was impossible to work there and not know. He didn’t actually see him the day of the battle of Canary Warf but he knew he was there. Yvonne was so excited and everyone had been on alert that day. The whisper had spread like the plague through the entire infrastructure, ‘the Doctor is here.’ And now Gwen said this.
He had rushed over, grabbing her by the shoulders and nearly knocking her to the floor.
“What did you say, Gwen?”
“About what Jack said, what did he say?”
Tosh and Gwen were looking at him confused. Of course they wouldn’t know.
“The right kind of doctor he said. Actually, he used to make lots of funny comments about a doctor now and then to me. I was never quite sure what he meant, not that that was uncommon with Jack but-’
Ianto had turned away from her at this point, despondent. Jack went with the Doctor? That had to be it. Did that mean Jack already knew the Doctor? What did he want the Doctor for? Oh god… Jack was with the Doctor.
Ianto stumbled up the stairs to the conference room and collapsed in a chair. He could feel Gwen and Tosh staring at him from below but he just put his hands over his face and leaned on the table. It was not possible. It was not fair. It could not be true. They had all learned about the Doctor during training at Torchwood one. He was the number one enemy of Torchwood from it’s inception by Queen Victoria. He was a time traveling alien in a blue police box. He had companions who traveled with him and really in the end who wouldn’t want to travel through time and space to all the wonders of the universe? Who would come back from that? Who would willingly leave? Ianto knew what Jack was like. Jack was all for adventure and danger and that was just what the Doctor was all about, or so they heard. If Jack was with the Doctor he may never… Ianto felt the tears threatening his eyes. He tried to breathe normally but the thought would not go away. If Jack was with the Doctor he may never come back.
He became aware of Gwen by his shoulder now.
“Ianto what is it? Do you know what Jack meant?”
Ianto didn’t answer right away. He breathed in and out, trying to control himself.
“If Jack is where I think he is then he may never come back.”
“What!” Gwen said. “What do you mean? Where is he?”
“He must be with the Doctor.”
“The Doctor? Doctor who?”
Ianto didn’t answer, only squinted his eyes tighter to stop the tears. He was not going to fall apart. He could not. He had fallen to pieces with Lisa; he had been weak. He was not going to do this again. He was not going to fall to pieces over Jack. He wasn’t in love… but Ianto knew that wasn’t true. Oh god…
“Ianto! What are you talking about? Where is Jack? We can find him. We can.”
Finally Ianto looked up from his hands and turned to Gwen. Her face looked so determined. For a fleeting moment Ianto wished he had such a heart as Gwen.
“If the Doctor doesn’t want to be found he won’t be and then neither will Jack. There’s nothing we can do… nothing but wait.”
Looking away out over the hub Ianto tired to focus on breathing in and out. Maybe he was wrong. Maybe it wasn’t true. Gwen was right. They couldn’t give up. But what if he was right? What if Jack wasn’t taken or in trouble? What if Jack left of his own free will? What if Jack left because he wanted to? What if Jack had just abandoned them? Abandoned him…
They tried to move on. Cases came, alien junk appeared, crises arose and they dealt with it all. They kept Torchwood going without its Captain. No one went into Jack’s office unless they had to. No one ever sat in his chair. No one went in his room beneath his office, even Ianto. He wouldn’t touch Jack’s things. They talked about cleaning it up, putting it away like they did Suzie. Ianto stayed silent during these conversations. If they were going to put Jack away in a box he wouldn’t be the one to do it.
Ianto felt like the life was going out of him everyday. Everyday that they found nothing about Jack, that they searched for him a little less the more convinced Ianto was of the truth. Jack left them all by himself. Of course that was what hurt most. Jack had just come back, back from the dead and then he left. Jack had come back, held Ianto, kissed him, then left them all.
“We will find him.” Gwen said now and then.
Ianto didn’t believe anymore. All he felt was the hole. He felt like there was nothing anymore. When had he fallen this hard? He didn’t know something could feel worse than Lisa. He thought he had already gone through the worst thing that could ever happen to him. How could he have been so wrong? Had he even realized he was in love?
Months went by. Days would pass with no mention of Jack. His office remained as a veritable shrine but they all tired to become Torchwood again. The rift was still there and they could not stop their work. Someone had to protect Cardiff against it.
Ianto threw himself into work instead of mourning. He wasn’t going to do it again. He could forget; he could push it aside. If Jack had just abandoned them, been so cold then Ianto should not waste his time mourning the loss. He worked as hard as he could, doing more than he had to, staying late and coming in early. Torchwood was all he had left now and he would not cry over Jack anymore. He refused.
Of course what one tells themselves to do and what happens very often do not coincide
“Should we order pizza?” Owen asked, twirling a pen at his work station. “Nothing is going on today.”
“I’ll go.” Gwen said, standing up from her desk.
“Make sure it’s got proper toppings this time.” Owen yelled at her.
Ianto was just staring down at paper in front of him, some report about a meteor from last week. He wasn’t really reading it. He was thinking about Jack again. He heard the hub door opening vaguely in the back of his senses. Then he snapped into focus as Gwen screamed.
“Oh my God, Jack!”
They all snapped their heads up and stared over at Gwen. And there he was. It was jack who just came in the hub entrance, braces, coat, and all. Gwen ran to him and practically jumped into his arms.
“Hey.” He said with one of his dashing smiles, wrapping his arms around Gwen.
Almost as one Tosh, Owen, and Ianto all stood up from where they were.
“Jesus Christ, Jack.” Owen said, half angry and half shocked. “Where the hell have you been?”
Jack let go of Gwen as Owen walked over to him. Tosh ran over just like Gwen and hugged Jack tightly.
“Oh God, Jack, we’d given up on you.” She said.
“No reason to do that.” Jack replied. “You know I always come through.”
Tosh and Gwen laughed, both were crying a little now. The paper Ianto had been holding fell out of his hand. He wasn’t even aware if it landed on the table or the floor. All he could do was stare at Jack. He couldn’t move, couldn’t walk over. He didn’t know what to do. He was a mix of hurt, shock, surprise, anger, betrayal, and relief. None would take over and make him decide what to do.
Just move! His head said but his body would not obey.
“So, where the bloody hell were you, Jack?” Owen asked as Jack walked further into the hub. “It’s been five months!”
“Has it really?” Jack said.
Owen stopped him with a hand on his chest. “None of your cheek, Jack. Really. Where have you been?”
But Jack was not looking at Owen. He was staring past him up the stairs into Ianto eyes. It was then that Ianto knew that everything he had suspected, knew to be true but wouldn’t quite give into, the knowledge that Jack had really just left was all too horribly true. He would have fallen over right then, collapsed in his chair, if his body wasn’t so completely frozen. Jack just stared up at him and the others were confused, looking between the two.
Then Ianto’s voice worked again. “I was right.” Was all he said.
Jack’s lips were tight but he did not respond.
“Jack.” Owen finally drew his attention and he turned away from Ianto’s gaze. “You mean you were with this Doctor?”
Ianto’s body regained motion control and he stepped away from his desk down to join the others.
“Yes.” Jack said and sighed. “It’s a lot to explain. But I am back.”
Stopping behind Owen, Ianto could feel his body starting to shake. The emotions which before were so turbulent inside him were starting to decide what they wanted. The mix fixed on one feeling and it chose anger. Jack looked at Ianto and he could see that Jack was not sorry he left. Jack was not going to apologize for leaving them all like he did. And then his fist connected with Jack’s jaw, knocking him to the ground with one punch. Gwen gasped in surprise and Tosh had to jump back to keep from being knocked down too.
“Ianto!” Gwen yelled.
But he didn’t look at her, just stared at Jack on the floor, shaking in rage. There was so much he wanted to say, to yell, to scream, to pound into Jack’s head. Why? Why? Why? How could you do this? How could you be so cruel? How could you just abandon me? Why would you do that to me? Why the fuck! But he didin’t say anything. His lips wouldn’t break the tight line of rage which had formed on his face. Jack stared up at him, wiping a small trickle of blood from the corner of his mouth.
“Ianto you…” Tosh began to speak but Ianto looked up at her and all the rage in his face which had been directed at Jack struck her into silence.
Then Ianto turned away. He walked past them and out the hub door. He couldn’t do this now. He couldn’t be down there. He was too angry, too hurt, shaking too much. He could not be near Jack, not now. He just wanted to hurt him, make him bleed, make Jack feel what he had done to him.
Ianto reached the reception desk and stopped, leaning his hands heavily on its surface. His body was shaking terribly and he felt tears streaming down his face. He didn’t know when they had started. He certainly hoped it was after he had left the hub, not wanting any of them to see this.
“Fuck…” he muttered, breathing heavily.
He had tired to move on, tried to get past Jack in all this time. Did he ever believe Jack was going to come back? He had hoped, it was true. He had been telling himself to move on, forget the hole in his heart and work. Just work, work, work. Forget all about love and do what needed to be done. He didn’t need Jack. He wasn’t in horrible pain. He didn’t have nightmares. Ianto was fine, not torn apart inside, not betrayed, he was fine. Of course he knew he had just been telling himself that so he would not fall apart, not be like this.
Ianto heard the door to the hub open behind him.
God please make it not be Jack was all he could think.
“Ianto?” It was Gwen.
He did not turn around but he forced himself to stop shaking. You’re fine, fine, fine, relax.
“Ianto, will you come back down?”
He could not be falling apart like this. He wasn’t going to act like a child. He was going to control himself.
“Jack wants to talk to us.”
Us. Yes. Jack wanted to talk to all of them. Ianto stood up straight but did not turn around to look at Gwen.
“Yes, Gwen.” He said somehow with his voice completely calm. “I’ll be down in a moment.”
Ianto could hear her breath hitch, as if to say something, then he could hear the door open behind him and Gwen walking away. Ianto wiped viciously at the tears on his face. He wasn’t going to do it again. He had already lost control and punched Jack. The tears were not something he wanted seen. (Then again everyone was angry with Jack so maybe he could push it aside.) Ianto did not want Jack to see how much he broke while Jack was gone.
Checking quickly in the mirror to make sure he didn’t look too terrible Ianto walked back into the hub. Everyone was in the conference room standing around the table, Jack at the head. Ianto walked up the stairs, calm and collected. He came to the doorway and stood, waiting with everyone else. They all stared at him for a moment then looked at Jack. Jack’s eyes lingered on Ianto.
No Ianto thought I am not going to let you see what you’ve done to me, don’t even ask
Then Jack turned to face them all and spoke. He said he couldn’t tell them everything. “There’s just too much.” But he had gone with the Doctor to find out why he could not die. It all came back to that and he needed to know. Together they had searched and looked for a reason. Jack’s eyes looked so bright as he spoke, wistful and Ianto’s gut churned. The Doctor had tired to help him but Jack was still as immortal as ever.
When he finished speaking Gwen spoke up.
“Well, Jack, not that I’m not happy you’re back but if you didn’t figure out why you can’t die, why did you come back?”
Jack’s smile faded. He didn’t answer her for a moment.
“It’s different.” Jack said. “It was good but different and she was gone.” And he left it at that, leaving them all confused like Jack tended to do.
“However,” Jack said after a pause. “I’m back to Torchwood, if you’ll have me.” He grinned widely at them.
The girls laughed and Gwen hugged him tightly. “Always.” She said, as if speaking for the group.
“Just as bloody confusing.” Owen said but he was smiling.
“It’s good to have you back.” Tosh looked like she was going to cry as she smiled at him.
Jack grinned back at her with a laugh. “Can’t do it without me, eh?”
Tosh laughed in response and Gwen released Jack from her arms. Then Jack looked over at Ianto.
Say something he thought.
He had to pretend it was ok. He had to bury it, put it away. He could not look so broken. He had to go on and accept Jack back like everyone else. They had to get back to work, just work. Ianto had to be normal but he couldn’t say anything. What could he say? He didn’t even know if he was glad Jack was back. He didn’t know if he wanted that beautiful face and dashing smile anywhere near him when he could feel the betrayal so deeply. Somehow, with Jack’s gaze on him, Ianto forced out a half smile. It was ok, really, but he knew by Jack’s face that he did not believe Ianto’s lie.
However, Jack turned his eyes away and looked at the whole room.
“Let’s get to work then, Torchwood.”
It was the end of the day. The filing was almost done. He could escape without seeing Jack. He could. Gwen had already left after giving Jack a long hug, a kiss on his cheek, and some soft words. There were only five more files to put away; he could make it in time. He saw Owen walk by, yelling a good night.
Don’t leave yet, Tosh, don’t leave. He thought desperately.
Ianto wanted to escape but somehow his work ethic would not allow him to leave the filing half done, even to escape Jack. Only two more files. Mark as complete, find the J section, and Tosh walked past.
Ianto put the file away as he nodded at her. One yellow folder lay on top of the cabinet in front of Ianto but he didn’t even touch it. He knew it was too late. He could feel eyes on his back. Breathing deeply he turned around to face Jack.
“So.” Jack said.
“I only have one file left, sir.” Automatic Ianto, available at your friendly local Torchwood hub.
Jack reached around Ianto, picking up the file, and threw it across the room. Ianto looked to where it lay on the ground, papers and pictures all over the floor, one sheet floating in the water.
“I only have one file left to pick up…” Ianto said lamely with a sigh.
“Enough.” Jack said. “You can’t run from this.”
“I’m not running.” Ianto says, waving a hand through the air, as if to say ‘look at my feet, not moving.’
He could feel the anger and hurt starting to rise in him. He tried to force it back. It wasn’t going to happen. He wasn’t going to freak out, scream, or cry.
“But you want to.” Jack said, stepping closer into Ianto’s personal space.
“Stop.” Ianto said, putting up a hand in between them.
Jack wanted to talk about this, fine. They would. The shake was starting to return, feelings rising back to the surface. They would talk about this and Ianto would stay calm, he would.
“You haven’t said anything.” Jack said, unmoving, refusing to give the ground he had taken and Ianto felt like he was pinned against the filing cabinet even though Jack was not touching him. “Nothing really since this morning. So, let’s have it out. You’re angry at me.”
Ianto grit his teeth and breathed. “No.” He could lie. “Nothing’s changed here; you’re back now, everything back to normal.” Even Ianto could hear the bite in his words, the anger, the lie.
“Bull shit, Ianto.” Jack stepped closer, nearly touching Ianto. “We both know you’re lying so just give it up.”
“Fine!” Ianto yelled, shoving Jack back and stumbling away from the cabinet toward Tosh’s work station. His emotions exploded to the surface and his breath started coming in huffs. “Fine! What the fuck do you want me to say, Jack? You know exactly what you’ve done!”
He was screaming, staring at Jack, giving into the fight. Somewhere in the back of his mind he knew he had already lost.
“I know.” Jack’s voice was infuriatingly calm. “I know, Ianto. I left and now I am back. I know it’s hard to accept, hard to believe me.”
“Oh, I can believe that you left.” Ianto said cuttingly. “What I can’t believe is that you came back. Why would you make it worse? It’s bad enough that you left, just fucking left, but now you come back like you didn’t do anything. You come back with excuses, reasons, but that’s not enough. It doesn’t just fucking erase what you did. You might as well have just stayed gone!”
Ianto couldn’t believe what he said. He couldn’t believe the rush came out of him. He still didn’t know if he wanted Jack back there. Yet it came out like that, hurtful and harsh. He couldn’t breathe normally, his chest heaving. Tears were trying to fall but he forced them away. Jack was staring at him, lips set together in a straight line. At least he was taking this seriously.
“Ianto, I’m not going to lie to you. I’m not sorry I left.”
Huffing indignantly, Ianto put his hands on his hips. “I was pretty much aware of that, Jack.”
“I’m not sorry I left.” He emphasized the last word. “But I am sorry I’ve hurt you.”
Ianto stared at the floor, feeling himself shaking. He didn’t know what to do. He couldn’t look at Jack. He didn’t want to cry, didn’t want to run into Jack’s arms, didn’t want comfort.
Jack was slowly walking closer. “I know what I did. I know I abandoned you.” He didn’t even make a pretense of pretending this was about Torchwood or the others. It was about the two of them. Ianto still did not look up. “I know I did to you just what they did to me.” Ianto didn’t understand that part. “I know I’ve caused you pain while I was gone. I know you love me.” A violent shudder went through Ianto’s body and he still refused to look up, breathing hard. “And for that I’m sorry. You didn’t deserve that.”
And then he was there, hand on Ianto’s shoulder. Ianto shrugged it off harshly and backed up, finally looking at the other man.
“That doesn’t change it, Jack. You can’t erase the last five months by telling me you’re sorry. You don’t know what you’ve done to me.” The tears were in his eyes now and Ianto knew it was a failure to try and not fall apart.
“But I know how it feels, Ianto. I know exactly what you’re feeling, betrayed, hurt-”
“If you knew what you would be doing then why did you go?”
Jack didn’t respond.
“No…” Ianto spoke slowly, realization dawning. “That’s just it isn’t.” His insides churned. “You didn’t think about that when you left. You didn’t think about any of us, about me. You just thought about yourself and your Doctor. You went to get what you wanted and didn’t think about what you were doing. Rash Jack Harkness forgot about the people he left behind. Did you come back to ease your conscience when it came to us? Did you come back just so you can leave again?”
He was yelling by now, tears running down his cheeks, shaking. It was all broken through and Ianto didn’t care because all he could think about was Jack leaving again, Jack walking out, Jack not there, Jack not holding him, Jack not kissing him, Jack gone, selfish bastard Jack. It was Jack right there in front of him, slowly walking closer. Jack right there that was just going to leave him again; Jack who didn’t love him; Jack who barely cared; Jack who was slowly taking his life apart by doing nothing.
And then Jack was touching his cheek, wiping at the tears. “I figured out that what I wanted when I left, what I was looking for wasn’t there any more. The thing that I had been chasing for so long was gone. So I came back to fix what I broke.” Ianto felt himself shuddering. Jack brought up his other hand to wipe away Ianto’s tears. “You’re right that I didn’t think but I am thinking now.”
“Don’t touch me…” Ianto said quietly, trying to back away. He couldn’t do this. Jack did not move, keeping his hands on Ianto’s face. “I said don’t touch me.” Ianto managed to push Jack back a little.
“No, Ianto.” Jack stepped closer. Ianto put out his hands to stop him but Jack just grabbed his wrists. “I’m not going to let you do that.”
Ianto sniffed, fighting back the tears, bringing his chin up. “Do what?”
A smile spread across Jack’s face and Ianto realized he was caught in his own game. “That. I’m not letting you lock it up.” Ianto tried to pull his wrists free but Jack’s grip was so much stronger than Ianto remembered. “I said I came back to fix it.”
“Who says I’m going to let you?” Ianto said, still struggling in Jack’s grip.
Then Jack yanked Ianto wrists causing their bodies to collide. He let go of one of Ianto’s wrists to wrap his arm around Ianto’s back and hold Ianto tight against him. Ianto didn’t get a chance to think, a chance to flee and Jack kissed him. Then all he could think was how much he had missed Jack’s lips. Jack was pressed against him, close, tight, here, back, and Ianto kissed him back. Oh god he still loved him. He kissed him hard, tasting his lips, his mouth. So much feeling was rushing back and Ianto did not want to stop. He was angry and hurt and confused but he did not want Jack’s lips away from his. But the frenzied pace slowed. Jack’s kisses became less passionate, softer, lips only. He kissed Ianto’s forehead, his eyes, his lips again.
Then Ianto lightly pushed away, stepping back from Jack and Jack let him go. He tried to slow down his breathing, concentrate. His chest hurt.
“I don’t know if I can do this, Jack.” He admitted, hands on his hips again. “How do I know you’re not just going to leave again? Why should I risk it? Why should I just let myself be open for you to hurt me again? You don’t even love me.”
Part of him couldn’t believe he’d said the last portion while another was glad he did. Ianto didn’t really know what it was for Jack but he knew it couldn’t be love. If it was love Jack wouldn’t have left in the first place.
“What’s life worth if you don’t risk something?” Jack grinned, trying to be coy but Ianto just stared at him. Then he was serious again. “I’m asking you to let me try and fix it. I’m not guaranteeing I won’t leave again but I’m here now and that’s what we have.”
“Maybe that’s not enough.” Ianto said.
“Will you at least let me try?” Jack asked, hands at his sides.
“You’re asking a lot of me.” Ianto said, not looking at Jack. “You’re asking me to risk twice as much.”
Jack stepped closer. “I can make it worth it.”
For the first time since Jack’s return Ianto smiled. “I know you can.”
They both smiled and Jack touched Ianto’s arm. He looked up into Jack’s eyes. He knew he had lost this fight from the start. When you’re in love it’s so hard to back away, so hard to say no. It had hurt so much; the hole in his life had been almost too much to bear. Now Jack was here, asking to try again, asking him, asking for another chance. Had it ever really been possible for Ianto to say no, despite his anger and pain, could he really say no to Jack Harkness?
“Ok.” Ianto didn’t back away. “I’ll let you try.”
Jack grinned, stepped closer once more and kissed him.
Please don’t fail me this time…