Spoilers: Through S02-09
DISCLAIMER: I own nothing. For fun only.
The day had been long and the night even longer as Ianto put the remains of the half… no, make that mostly-eaten man into a vault and closed the door. The corpse would be there when Owen was ready to do an autopsy, which Ianto sincerely hoped was while he was occupied elsewhere.
As he walked back into the empty Hub, Ianto automatically scanned the workstations for anything out of place, even though he hardly felt like picking up after his colleagues this late at night. It was well past time for him to be in bed and he fully intended to rectify that as soon as possible. However, a light from Jack's office beckoned him up the stairs, just in case his captain was in need of something before Ianto retired for the night.
As Ianto entered the office, Jack was sitting at his desk with a distant expression on his face and an aged photo held lightly in his hand. Ianto could only assume that the memories were bitter-sweet from the wistful smile on Jack's face.
"May I?" Ianto asked, holding out his hand as he joined Jack at the desk, leaning back against the solid wood frame next to where Jack sat.
Jack shrugged with a small, lop-sided smile and placed the photo in Ianto's hand. "Weddings always make me feel sentimental."
Ianto gazed expressionlessly at the yellowed photo. Had he not known Jack to be immortal, Ianto would have assumed the couple to be now-elderly relations of Jack's. Instead, Ianto felt his chest tighten a bit as he gazed at his lover's long-ago wedding photo. "She's lovely, sir."
Jack sighed deeply and began placing the remaining photos back into the beat-up old box he had taken them from. "She was, wasn't she? Her name was Anne and her smile could light up a room."
Ianto handed the photo back and Jack placed it with the others, a familiar expression of longing on his face.
"She must have been something special to have put up with you," Ianto said with a small smile.
Jack chuckled, his melancholy mood lightened just a bit. "That she was."
"How long were you married?" Ianto asked casually. It wasn't often that Jack would talk about his past, but Ianto sensed that this might be an exception.
"Not long enough," Jack said sadly, his gaze still far away. "It was before I knew that I couldn't die. My vortex-manipulator had burned out, so I thought 'This is it. This is where I'll spend the rest of my life.'"
Jack paused for a moment and shook his head as if amazed at his own foolishness. "I met a girl, fell in-love and got married. I thought we'd grow old together, but…"
Ianto didn't need told what had happened. Jack didn't get older, at least, not at a rate that anyone living would notice.
Jack took in a shaky breath. "There was a fire. We were trapped. I think the smoke must have gotten us in the end."
Ianto winced at the image.
"When they pulled us out, everyone just thought that I'd gotten lucky, but I knew better," Jack said with a catch in his voice. "It wasn't the first time I should have been dead, but miraculously survived."
Ianto's heart broke for his lover while he waited for Jack to compose himself and continue.
"There wasn't a mark on her," Jack finally said. "The day we buried her, she looked just as beautiful as the day we married."
As Jack closed the lid and put the box back into his desk, Ianto realized where he'd seen the longing gaze on Jack's face before. "Gwen reminds you of her."
"Sometimes so much that I ache from it," Jack said fervently. "I spend half my time chasing ghosts. I have to remind myself that she's not Anne. All I can do, here and now, is make sure Gwen has the life that Anne missed out on."
"Even if that is with another man," Ianto said sadly.
"I'll never grow old with anyone and I can't bare the thought of having children and then watching them grow old and die. She deserves better than that," Jack said. For the first time, Jack looked at Ianto, the pain naked behind his eyes. "You deserve better than that."
Ianto reached out and ran his thumb along the side of Jack's face before letting his hand come to rest of jack's shoulder. "I have what I want. I only wish it weren't so distressing for you once we're gone."
Jack managed the ghost of his usual cocky smile, "As soon as I think I've had as much as I can take, that I'm never going to let myself fall for someone else, someone manages to come along and prove me wrong." Jack stood and pulled Ianto closer, melding their bodies together in a comforting embrace. They slowly began to sway as if music were playing in the background.
"Who do you see when you look at me, Jack?" Ianto asked, his voice barely a whisper against Jack's ear. He could feel Jack's smile against the side of his neck.
"There are no ghosts when I'm with you," Jack replied. "You keep them all at bay."
Ianto brushed his lips across Jack's check until he captured Jack's mouth with his own. If he could keep the ghosts away for a few hours, then he would gladly do so.
Jack knew that one day Ianto's ghost would join all the others that made up his long-lived past, but until then, Jack would make the most of the love he'd found.
Grounded in the here and now by a lover unlike any he'd had before, Jack returned the kiss with a far different kind of longing than what had gripped him earlier.