While I know that no apology is good enough for a two year long absence I do apologise to you. When I logged in yesterday evening for the first time in long time I was shocked to see how long it had been and started today immediately on this chapter. I've already got a clear outline in my head for the next chapter and will start writing that tomorrow and will upload it somewhere next week to make up a little bit for the long wait the past years. That chapter will also be the last chapter of the story. I don't make that decision now to rush this story to a close, this is a decision I made two years ago when I wrote the previous chapter.
Thank you all for you extraordinary patience I hope that this chapter is to your liking and as always please let me know if you see any mistakes so I can change them.
It took about a month before Ianto had everything sorted and was able to move back to Cardiff into his old house which now belonged to Jack. As soon as he was back in Cardiff he also started to work in the Hub again. The last day at the hotel had been very difficult. Even though it had never been his preferred job, his colleagues had been very friendly and he had promised to Lis that they would meet up every once in a while. She was very determent to keep him to his word because after being back in Cardiff for only a week she already called him to ask him if he wanted to go down to the pub with her and some friends. Ianto was grateful for having found a friend like Lis. He knew that in the future it would be difficult at times to explain why he would not be able to meet her or to evade some questions she would eventually have about his job, but he appreciated the fact that she didn't have a clue right now and hoped that that future was very far away.
Going back to Torchwood had been easy and challenging at the same time. He knew that Tosh would be the easiest to get used to him being back again and would accept him straight away.
Jack was easy as well if not a little insecure about where the line was cast that divided their work and their private lives. Ianto was alright with the flirting and the suggestive comments, he would have been incredibly worried if Jack stopped doing that. It was when Jack started kissing him in his office during working hours that Ianto told him to stop and to wait until they got back home. Jack had been worried that he had gone too far and had spent the rest of the day in his office in silence until Ianto found out what was going on and told him to stop worrying and that he wasn't mad at Jack. After a few weeks however, Jack was used to him being back in the hub and had learned what he could and couldn't do which made Jack more comfortable in their working relationship and in their private lives.
Owen had been a little bit more difficult. While he knew Owen was glad he was back, Owen had immediately gone back in the habit of calling him tea-boy and asked questions sometimes about different girls he had met in his time away to which he refused to answer. This however only resulted in Owen making suggestive comments about these, girlfriends, as Owen liked to call them. After about a week or so Owen was forced to stop when he had started to make those comments again and had failed to notice that Jack had come into the hub behind him. Owen had been forced to endure Jack's temper and yelling for about an hour before Ianto decided that he had his pay back and entered the office to calm Jack down and rescue Owen. Afterwards Owen had come to him with a mumbled apology and since then they had been able to work together quite pleasantly. Owen would still throw a comment at him sometimes, but Ianto figured he would miss verbally sparring with Owen too much if he were to stop completely.
Gwen was a whole different story.
Jack parked the car in their usual space and turned to Ianto. "If the rift behaves today we might be able to go back to the flat early. I've been keeping up with my paperwork and I can't imagine you being behind with anything." He paused for a moment and then started to grin. "well almost anything, there are some situations I can certainly imagine you being behind me."
Ianto merely rolled his eyes, a small smile appearing on his face, and started to get out of the car. "I believe you were actually trying to convince me to go home early and not wanting to flee to the archives to escape your company." He teased back. He saw Jack faking being hurt and his smile grew bigger. He had missed this. He might not have remembered Jack during those months but he remembered the loss he had felt without knowing why he felt that way.
They went inside the hub and Ianto started making coffee and turning on the computers while Jack checked the rift monitor. Not long after them, Tosh entered the hub with Owen coming in only a couple of minutes after her. Ianto was about to give them their coffee when the cog wheel opened again. Gwen entered the hub and went straight to her computer without looking at the rest of them. Tosh glanced at Owen and Ianto and silently started to work as well. Inside she was fuming. Why did Gwen have to ruin it. They finally had Ianto back and she had to storm in and ruin the happy moment they were having. She saw Ianto going over to Gwen with a cup of coffee in his hand and she felt her temper rising even further. Ianto placed the cup on Gwen's desk and went down to the archives without even being thanked by Gwen.
This continued for a couple of days. Gwen would come into the hub greet everyone besides Ianto and Ianto would simply place a cup of coffee on her desk without receiving any form of appreciation. On the surface it seemed like Ianto had given up again and placed himself beneath Gwen but when Jack, Tosh and even Owen had given their concerns to Ianto he explained to them he was just bidding his time and that while he helped them with their daily tasks and gave them biscuits with their coffee, Gwen was on her own and would eventually crack.
Over the course of the next few weeks it became clear what Ianto meant. With Ianto being back the rest of the team had more time on their hands. He filed their paperwork, did a lot of research when they needed to know something, maintained the hub and cared for them with drinks and food. All of them were glad he was back except for Gwen who hardly noticed Ianto being back since the only thing he would do for her since he came back was make her coffee. All the other things she had to do herself and she was failing miserably. The paperwork on her desk was stacking up because instead of working hard enough to finish them all on time, she only worked hard when the rest of the team was working hard as well. The problem with that lay with the fact that the since rest of the team had less to do now that Ianto was helping them again, Jack, Tosh, Owen and Ianto had more time to relax. Something Gwen did as well, but wasn't really able to afford to lose so much time without Ianto helping here, only it seemed that Gwen hadn't figured that part out yet.
Eventually Jack was forced to call Gwen to his office. She reluctantly entered his office. While things had been bad between her and Jack when Ianto was gone, things were even worse now that Ianto was back. Jack hardly even looked at her anymore and when he talked to her it was all about work. While in the past he used to confide in her that had stopped as soon as Ianto had disappeared and when Jack talked to her now he was short with her.
"Gwen you seriously need to catch up with your paperwork." Jack started as soon as she sat down. "I'm missing reports that should have been on my desk weeks ago. Things cannot continue at the way they are going now."
"It's not my fault." She tried to defend herself. "I'm working just as hard as the rest of the team but somehow I've got more work to do!"
"That's because the rest of the team has got Ianto who is helping them" Jack pointed out. "Ever since he came back he's been helping the rest of the team except you. That's why they've got less to do and have more time to spend on other things." Jack was getting tired of this. He had known this conversation was coming for weeks but that didn't make it any easier. He only hoped that, eventually, everything would work out and, if possible, Gwen would stop being stubborn and accept Ianto as a team member. If she did, Jack was sure Ianto would help her again. Before he could say so he was interrupted by Gwen.
"Then why is he not helping me! He is support! Which means it is his job to help the rest of the team! I'm a team member so he should be helping me as well. You are reprimanding me for not doing my job, yet you let him do whatever he wants to do. Or is it because he is sleeping with you that you cut him some slack?"
"If you stop ignoring him and accept him as part of the team like Tosh and Owen I'm sure he would treat you as he treats the rest of the team and help you with research and filing your rapports! Until then I can't order him to do so because while it is his job to support the team. It is your job to see to it that you treat all your team members with the respect which they deserve! As long as you're not doing your job concerning him I can hardly order him to do his job concerning you! As for him being my partner that has nothing to do with this topic. On the contrary if I were to show him favouritism he would be the first to talk to me about it and if I were to take it too far I'm sure there would be consequences involved."
They stared angrily at each other until Gwen turned around and marched out his office slamming the door for good measure.
Ianto heard the door slam and turned around seeing Gwen stomping at him.
"Why are you doing this?!" She screamed at him. "I really don't understand you , Ianto Jones. Do you enjoy seeing me in trouble?" Gwen was close to the point of tears and was trembling in front of Ianto. "When you left you wrote to me to care for Jack and to love him as he deserves. Yet when I do, I get punished for it. Then you decide to come back and to snatch him away from me again like nothing ever happened. On top of that you punish me even more by not doing what you are supposed to do letting me fall behind with my work. Why? You were the one to leave him and said that I could have him. Then why do you punish me for it?" She was crying by now. The rest of the team had stopped working to see what was going on and Jack was standing in the doorway to his office wanting to know how this would proceed.
Meanwhile, Ianto was standing calmly in front of Gwen. He had let her rage on in the hope that she would at least be a little bit calmer when she had it all out of her system. He had learned a long time ago that if you were patient enough you could solve a lot of problems with kindness. Hopefully this would work with Gwen as well because while Ianto didn't see her as a friend he didn't want to lose her as a colleague. She was good at what she did and was very driven and losing her would mean they were a team member down which meant more work and more stress.
He took her hands and guided her to the sofa. He sat her down and made a her a cup of thee. When he came back she had calmed down somewhat so he send the others away to get some pizza. He saw Jack hesitating and smiled at him. "If you won't hurry up you'll miss the pizza." He threatened. Jack understood that Ianto wanted to do this on his own and hurried after the rest of the team.
Gwen looked miserably at him. "What are you going to do now?" She asked.
He sighed. "Listen." He calmly told her. "We don't have to be friends, but I would like to be able to work with you without all the animosity that exists between us now. I made a mistake more than six months ago by leaving Jack while believing that he loved you and that it would work between the two of you. I never wanted to hurt you by suggesting that Jack loved you and that you should go for him. That was my mistake." He knew it was important to tell her it was his fault at well. If he laid the blame solely on her Gwen would feel cornered and get angry again. In the end it wouldn't solve anything if he only pointed out her faults. It was human nature after all to get defensive if you got too much criticism.
"However." He continued. "That doesn't excuse you from being horrible to me. From the minute you saw me back in the hub you've been ignoring me even when I was being nice to you by bringing you your coffee and turning on your computer. If you don't even appreciate those little things I could hardly see the point of troubling myself too much by helping you when I get the impression my help isn't even wanted." He heard he sniffling beside him and put an arm around her shoulder. She looked up and gave him a small smile.
"You haven't been all that nice to me either you know"
"I've been doing the same thing you've been doing. You decided to ignore me so I decided to ignore you."
Gwen could see the logic behind that and looked down at her hands again. "What's going to happen now?"
"Like I said, you don't have to be my friend, but if you are friendly to me and we're able to work like normal colleagues then it is of course my responsibility to treat you the same as I treat the rest of the team and I promise you I will."
They sat in silence for a couple of minutes. Then Gwen looked up again and looked Ianto in the eye. "Thank you for giving me another chance. I know this can't have been easy for you. I always said that I don't know what Jack sees in you but seeing you know I think I'm starting to understand. I'll try to do my best to include you in the team and to stop ignoring you."
Ianto smiled at her in relief. While he still felt a lot of anger towards Gwen he was determined not to let it show. They were making huge steps here to heal the team and he didn't want to ruin that by showing her the emotions he still felt and it would probably be a while before they had faded completely. He stood up holding out his hand towards Gwen.
"Come on, let's see if we can create some order in the paperwork you've fallen behind with."
That had been two weeks ago and now Ianto was sitting on the sofa at home with Jack. When the team had come in they had been quite shocked to see the two of them working together but eventually as the days passed they could see that the animosity Gwen had felt for Ianto was gone like he had predicted. When they had gone out to the pub a couple of days ago Gwen had even, for the first time, took an interest in Ianto outside of work and had asked him some basic questions like what his favourite food was. They weren't friends but at least they weren't enemies either.
Jack looked at his lover next to him. "What's on your mind?"
"Nothing serious. Just grateful that everything worked out with Gwen.
Jack gave Ianto a thoughtful look. "I still don't understand how you managed that. If it had gone on for a little while longer I don't know if I would have retconned her or not."
"You don't understand how I manage to create peace because you like to storm in with guns and take control of the situation." He teased. "I on the other hand am much more sophisticated."
Jack laughed "Oh you are, are you? Let's put that to the test. What would you do on the planet Hilmsal when someone threatens you after a going out with his son?"
"Tell him it wasn't me but you, as usual." Ianto answered in his driest voice.
They sat together in comfortable silence for a little while until Jack broke the silence again.
"Ianto you know that I promised I would make sure that if I ever had another chance with you I would make sure you knew how I felt about you?" Ianto gave an confirmative hum and Jack nervously continued. "Well, how would you feel about getting a civil partnership?"
Ianto was convinced that he pulled a muscle in his neck with how fast turned to look at Jack. Jack looked incredibly nervous and was having trouble not to break eye contact. "Jack, are you absolutely certain about what you're asking? I don't want you to feel pressured in showing how you feel about me. If there is something the last couple of months proven to me, it is that you definitely love me."
"Yes, Ianto I am sure and the fact that you have to ask me proves to me that while you know that I love you. You don't yet realize how much I really love you." Jack got of the sofa and knelt on the ground while holding Ianto's hands. His heart felt like it was breaking his ribs but he ignored the feeling. "Ianto Jones, would you please do me the honour of being my civil partner?"
Ianto looked at Jack's hopeful face and knew his answer when he saw Jack's eyes. "Yes Jack, I'll be your civil partner." He pulled Jack back on the sofa and kissed him softly on the lips.
Well, what did you think. Please let me know I always enjoy reading your thoughts.
I've got a question for the next chapter. A couple of chapters ago I mentioned Jack having nightmares about Ianto retconning himself and I want to work that out a bit with the song losing your memory. Whenever I listen to that song I have certain scenes in my mind while listening to it. However I never like reading songfics so I'm not sure I should put the song in but I feel like it would really fit with this nightmare. Please let me know your thoughts on it.
The solution to the Gwen problem is based on my own experience with a colleague who felt threatened by me. I was going to work with him for a couple of months and I decided to ignore some comments he made about my experience and asked him for advise sometimes, instead of reporting him to my superiors. After a little while he realized I wasn't there to beat him at his job and he felt comfortable enough to ask me for advice as well and I think he was genuinely sad when my time was up and I had to leave.
Thanks for reading and I'll update chapter 22 next week.