Title: Unable to let go / Return
Pairings: Ianto/Jack (mention of Ianto/Lisa)
Spoilers: Cyberwoman and the final
Owen needed some notes from one of the team’s past cases, and Ianto knew where they were. They were in Jack’s office. In his filing cabinet. Tosh was busy creating new software to upgrade the hub’s computer system. Gwen was busy making important calls. Owen was busy with his report. And so, it had fallen to Ianto to retrieve the notes.
It had been two months now since Jack had disappeared, and Ianto still didn’t like having to go into his office. There wasn’t a day that went past when Ianto didn’t miss Jack. If ever he was out anywhere, and he heard someone speaking in an American accent, just for a split-second, he would think it was Jack.
It seemed to Ianto that the rest of the team had given up hoping for Jack’s return. But not Ianto. He’d wake up every morning and his first thought would be of Jack. He couldn’t bring himself to let go of Jack. He knew Jack would be around somewhere, and he knew that Jack cared far too much about his team not to return. Ianto hoped so, anyway.
It was different to when he’d lost Lisa. Then, he’d been completely helpless. It was as if he couldn’t carry on. And a week or two, he couldn’t. He’d force himself to get up and go to work, but he couldn’t face the others. The team. His team. It had been them who’d killed her, and he had hated them for it. Not that he showed it, well, not that he tried to show it. He’d always been rather good at concealing his feelings when he wanted to. But, after talking to Jack properly about Lisa, he had come to realise that Jack had been right about her. Although Ianto loved Lisa, she wasn’t the same anymore, and although he still missed her, missed the real her, he forgave his colleagues. And he’d been able to move on from Lisa. But he just couldn’t move on from Jack. Because Ianto truly believed that Jack was going to come back, and then it would all be alright again. But for now, he was stuck clinging on to the memories.
Ianto had kept Jack’s office tidy. He hadn’t got rid of Jack’s stuff, he’d just put it into neat piles, so that when Jack returned (as Ianto was sure he would) he could resume his work.
No one used Jack’s office. It was an unspoken truth amongst them that Jack’s office was going to stay as Jack’s office for the time being. It felt that if they made it anything else, they would be getting rid of the tiniest amount of hope they had left of him returning.
Ianto was at Jack’s office door now. He thought of all the times he’d been here before. Happier times, when he knew Jack would be on the other side of the door. Ianto stopped outside the door for a while. He had avoided Jack’s office for so long now that it was even worse when he had to go in there now than it had been the first time.
Ianto collected himself. He had to go in. It was only an office. And Owen needed those case notes. He was just going to have to go in and get them. He closed his eyes and opened the door. The familiar smell of Jack’s office washed over him. Stronger than last time. He opened his eyes, ready to speedily walk over to the filing cabinet. But what he saw glued him to the spot in disbelief. Jack was there. Right in front of him. Ianto had imagined this moment so many times over the last two months. He’d planned out what he was going to say. But he couldn’t for the life of him remember. And even if he could, it would be pointless, as he didn’t think he’d be able to talk at the minute anyway.
Jack looked a little taken aback, but he smiled as only Jack could. “Well,” he said, “there goes my big, surprise entrance!”
Jack hadn’t a clue what he was planning on doing now. How to explain it. Did they know where he had gone? How long had it been? He hadn’t even begun to think of a way of explaining his departure to the team. He hadn’t found the time to think of a story. But here he was; facing the music and finding it hard to dance.
Ianto looked at him, almost disbelieving that it was really Jack. “Jack? Where have you been?”
“Oh, here and there. How long has it been?”
“A month. An entire month. I thought… I, I thought you’d gone.”
“I had. But I came back. I am back.” Jack looked up at Ianto, unsure whether to expect tears or anger. Or both. But he saw neither. Instead, he saw a smile.
“I knew you’d return, sir. I just didn’t know when. But, here you are!” Ianto walked towards Jack who was now leaning on his desk. “I missed you, you know.”
“And I missed you too.” Jack was pleasantly surprised that Ianto hadn’t demanded a real explanation.
Ianto had learnt by now that demanding real explanations from Jack only lead to more, vague, half-truths. And that wasn’t what he wanted.
“Come on,” said Jack, “let’s go and the break the news to the others. Downstairs are they?”
“Yes. I was just here to pick up some notes for Owen.”
“Right.” Jack composed himself. “Here we go then.” He said, walking out of the office door, Ianto at his side. As they began descending the stairs, jack felt Ianto’s hand slip into his.
Gwen saw them first, and did a double take. “Jack? Jack!” she shouted, running over and hugging him. Tosh, who’d heard Gwen’s shout, wasn’t far behind.
“We thought you’d gone.” Tosh told him. “For good.”
“For good? You thought it was good I’d gone? Thanks a lot guys!” Jack said, it mock distress.
Owen emerged from the loos. “Ianto,” he shouted, “you wanna hurry up with those…” he stopped as he saw who was standing in front of him. “Jack?”
“Yep, that’s me!”
“But…” he looked happy and disappointed at the same time. Gwen didn’t even know that was possible.
“What?” she asked. “Were you enjoying being in charge?” she teased.
“You put Owen in charge?” Jack scoffed.
“Eh!” Owen called, disapprovingly.
“We didn’t put him in charge, no. He did. Well, he just acted like that sometimes.” Tosh explained.
“We tended to ignore him though.” Gwen carried on.
“Yeah.” Tosh agreed.
“Easier that way.” Ianto smirked.
“I need a drink!” Jack declared. Owen nodded in agreement. “Not any old drink mind.” Jack continued. “Ianto?”
“Fancy making some coffee?” asked Jack with a smile.
“Certainly sir. I thought you’d never ask!”