Ianto stirred the coffee, glancing up for a moment at Jack who was currently pacing around his office. It was too quiet, far too quiet. And he was one who usually enjoyed the silence listening only to the sound of the computers and Myfanawy rustling in her nest up above. But that was late at night when it was just him and Jack alone in the hub. Now it was the middle of the day and Tosh wasn't typing away at the computer and Owen wasn't yammering on about something. After he handed Gwen her coffee, he stopped almost waiting for Owen to yell something like: 'Could the tea boy hurry up, this alien isn't going to dissect itself and I can't do that without coffee now can I?' But it was still silent, just a ghost of a memory.
"Someone needs to talk to him; god knows what he's been through." Gwen said quietly.
"I'm going up there now. You can go home… if you want," he added.
Ianto didn't mean to be rude and he hoped it didn't come off that way, but it wasn't her that was going to do that. She had made her choice, she had married Rhys. It was Ianto who would hold and comfort Jack tonight. He knew she and Jack cared about each other and Jack had feelings for her. Jack was a man with a big heart and he could love and had loved many. But right now he and Ianto were together. Jack was all he had. He didn't know what he and Jack were but he liked to think it was a relationship. He knew it was more than shagging. Jack trusted in him, there were no secrets after what they had been through. Ianto kept them, never letting on how much he really knew. And then there was the way Jack held and kissed him, he knew Jack cared. Friends and lovers, they confided and looked to each other in times of need.
She nodded. "I'm worried, Ianto. We can't lose him too."
He straightened his waistcoat; he had abandoned his jacket a while ago. "I know. It'll be okay."
"You think so?"
"I have to hope. We have to carry on like he said to honor Tosh and Owen." He blinked back tears as he saw the pain he was feeling reflected in her eyes.
"You're right, take care of him. Call if you need me." She gave him a quick hug, and he kissed her cheek. After grabbing her bag she walked out.
Sighing Ianto climbed the stairs, he felt like breaking down. He was exhausted physically and mentally but he held that at bay. He was quite good at that: being the professional, always putting others ahead of his needs. Jack had broken down that barrier though, and Ianto could let his guard down and seek comfort when the need arose. But now Jack needed him. He wasn't sure if there was a way to fix any of this, but he was going to do everything he could to ease Jack's pain like he had done for him so many times.
He stepped inside the office and Jack stopped in his tracks. "Coffee?"
Jack blinked seeming lost for a moment. Ianto held out the cup watching Jack's hands shake slightly as he took it.
"Thanks Yan," he took a slow sip, savoring it. "It's been forever since I had your coffee."
"There's plently more where that came from…" He paused and looked Jack over. "Are you okay, Jack?"
"No, Ianto. I'm not."
Ianto gazed at Jack, very worried. Jack was never one to admit that, even when he wasn't he would always say he was fine. He hated seeing Jack so vulnerable like this. He was supposed to be the strong one, the one who could carry on no matter what. Ianto knew few of the details, only that Jack had been buried alive, left to suffer for a significant amount of time by his own brother. And then their losses here only added to the pain. It was all tearing Jack apart. He worried it had changed Jack, he certainly looked different. That spark was gone from his eyes; he looked defeated, resigned to his fate. He had only seen Jack like this once before when he had returned back from his adventure with the Doctor. And one late night after their third date and Tommy had been sent back to his time, Jack had broken down and told Ianto of the Master and how he was tortured in the year that never was. Ianto silently promised then that no matter the cost he'd look after Jack. Everyone including him depended on and needed him to the hero and lead them all in protecting Cardiff. Jack despite being immortal could still feel pain and Ianto wanted to be there for him through it all.
He hesitantly put his hand on Jack's shoulder, unsure of where they stood. He loved Jack, more than anything. But would Jack want any relationship right now?
"Is there anything else you need, sir?" He asked, unsure of what to say.
"Yes." Jack set the cup down on the desk and wrapped his arms around Ianto who quickly returned the hold. Jack still wanted him, relief washed over him. He didn't want to be alone again; he could only be strong if he had support and help dealing with everything. Stroking the hairs on the back of Jack's neck, he felt Jack bury his face in his neck. His warm breath hit a sensitive patch of Ianto's skin and sent shivers down his spine.
Jack breathed in deeply and sighed. He was thankful for the comforting presence, the warmth of Ianto holding him tightly, the knowledge that he would be there, even after everything he'd gone through. "I missed you…so much," he said quietly.
If it was possible Ianto clung to him tighter. "Thought I'd lost you," he murmured his earlier thoughts.
"So did I, I was scared that I'd never make it back. And because of me you'd all suffer. And you did, Tosh and Owen paid the price…it was my fault Yan. And I barely made it back if those weevils had gotten you or Gwen…" he broke off, his voice cracking. "I wouldn't have been able to go on without you…it's going to be so hard as it is…but without you I'd be alone again."
Ianto pressed a kiss to Jack's head. "Just a weevil, you and I have taken on tons of 'em, eh? But doesn't matter, I told you I'm going to be here for you as long as I can, for as long you need me."
"I need you. I can't deal with this on my own. I feel so old now and I am."
Holding him Ianto noticed that he had lost weight, and he looked more tired and worn than he had ever seen him. He'd have to make sure Jack got a few good meals in him. Despite it though, he was just as good looking. "You're still my handsome Captain." He felt a smile trace Jack's lips.
"And you my sexy Welshman." He paused. "I do look good for my age don't I?" Jack chuckled, for a second he returned to his usual flirtatious self.
"You do and I'm betting you're still quite good with a stopwatch."
"It's been a while I might need a few reminders."
He raised his eyebrow at Jack. "The experienced Jack Harkness? I don't think so."
"You're right, I was just being modest," Jack joked as he ran his fingers across Ianto's back.
"You?" Ianto chuckled then he turned serious again, knowing if they kept going, they would end up not talking this through. "Jack, this is our burden, you don't have to go through it alone. I'll gladly ease the pain for you."
"I know, but so much has happened. So many have been hurt…it's my fault. And I paid a steep price but he still didn't forgive me. I suppose I deserve it, and will continue to pay my penance. My brother hates me…I didn't mean to let go of his hand, I would've taken his place...it's all my fault-" Ianto felt tears wet his shirt.
"Jack," Ianto lifted his face up and looked him in the eyes, knowing what to say now. "This is not your fault, y'hear me? It was an accident, a slip that anyone could've made. You were a young boy scared and running for your life. You didn't mean to let go, and I know you blame yourself but there are just some things out of our control. You couldn't save him; you just couldn't…"
"If I had just held on tighter…" Jack sighed heavily.
"Tell me did you let him go on purpose?"
Jack looked as if he had been slapped and for a second Ianto saw that spark again. "Of course not!" He said almost angrily then seemed to realize where Ianto was going.
"Of course not," Ianto repeated. "And you looked so long and never gave up hope right?"
Jack nodded. "But he didn't care. All he had was hate…all he wanted was for me to suffer. I did, but it changed nothing."
Ianto stroked Jack's cheek, brushing away tears. "He's not the same Jack; those creatures changed and destroyed him. They left him only with hate and he took it out on you. But he's not your brother anymore; he's a shell of what he once was. He's sick, just like the people who fall through the rift. We can't control that either." Ianto paused. "He's gone, just like you told me about Lisa. They were both taken from us, Jack, despite our efforts to save them. And we have to accept that no matter how much it hurts. I did because of you. You saved me, remember that. Remember how many you've saved. Don't let what happened defeat you Jack, we need you. I need you."
Jack kissed him softly; both of them pouring their emotions into the kiss. For the first time that day Ianto felt safe. He then led Ianto to the couch and they sat. Ianto rested his head on Jack's shoulder and their arms encircled each other.
"You kept me sane Yan…all of you did but most of all you. I went through so many deaths and was dragged through hell. I thought of you and kept hanging on. I kept dying for a while until there was a point where I couldn't come back I was buried under so much dirt. Then ironically enough Torchwood dug me up and brought me back."
"How long?" Ianto dared to ask, and when Jack told him his jaw dropped. "Oh Jack…I'm so sorry. You shouldn't have had to go through that. You must have been so alone." There were tears in Ianto's eyes and it was Jack's turn to brush them away.
"I was but I wasn't. I had my memories and my thoughts. I may have been a bit crazy but I could sometimes here you and others urging me to hang on. And so I did. And then for a while there was peace when I was frozen. Then I was back here and I thought it was all going to be fine…"
"It will be in time…we carry on because we have to. So the losses aren't in vain, we'll do it for Owen and Tosh."
Jack smiled, feeling better than he had all day. Ianto had that effect on him; he could give him the strength to carry on. It was one of the many things he loved about the dependable Welshman. "When did you get to be so wise Ianto Jones?"
"I suspect around the time I met you, Captain." Ianto planted a kiss on Jack's neck sending a shiver down his spine. "Y'know before I knew what was going on I nearly shot John, and then I threatened to kill him slowly if anything had happened to you."
"Always looking out for me, aren't you? And you know how much I love seeing the pissed off and in charge side of you, shame I missed it." Jack gave him that special smile and winked.
"Always. And you're not one to miss out on danger so I'm sure you'll see it again."
"I've changed you," Jack said sadly.
"Only for the better. You changed us all for the better, showed us what life is really about. You give us a chance to keep the people here safe, to protect our homes, friends, and families."
"And you've all changed me. I know now my responsibilities and why I keep living and fighting. It's for you. I won't give up as long as there are those who believe in me Ianto, I promise."
"Good because I believe in you. And you mean everything to me." Jack leaned in and kissed him in reply. And there it was: the spark back in his eyes, and Ianto felt hopeful.
"Hmm?" He replied feeling suddenly sleepy as he listened to the beat of Jack's heart.
"You'll stay with me tonight won't you?"
"Of course. There are things that need to be done retconning, cover up stories, reports and ugh so much cleaning. But I wasn't planning on leaving."
"That can wait, just stay with me."
Ianto nodded. "I'd like that. Do you want to go down to your bedroom?"
Jack shuddered involuntarily at the thought of being underground in a cramped space. "I'd rather not. I don't think I'll go down for a while."
"I didn't think Jack, I'm sorry."
"Not your fault."
"We could go to my flat?"
"Sounds good, but can we rest here for just a while? I'm tired."
Ianto nodded then pulled off his tie and waistcoat before he settled down with Jack who stretched out on the sofa resting his head on the armrest. Ianto laid next to him, his head resting on Jack's chest. His eyes closed as Jack ran his fingers through his hair.
"I'm sorry if I've ever taken you for granted. You mean so much to me, and no one has ever looked after me and cared like you have. I know I've left things unsaid and probably made you doubt how I truly feel about you but—"
"—Jack, it's okay." He actually had no doubts; not when Jack was holding him like this.
Jack shook his head. "No, it's not. I'm always afraid of losing people so I don't get too close. I build up walls and don't tell them how I feel. I try to avoid getting hurt, but it happens anyway because try as I might I can't not care. So, and I've had time to think about this I'm not going to leave things unsaid. I'm the only one who has a guaranteed tomorrow and I don't want to lose anyone else without
them knowing how I feel. We have this time together now and that's what matters. Better to have loved and lost, rather than to have never loved at all, is the old saying. That's what I'm gonna do. So, Ianto I should've said this before and I'm sorry it's taken so long but…I love you."
Ianto's eyes popped open; he was for once at a loss of words. He hadn't expected Jack to say that, he was the type to show through his kiss and touch how he felt, but never with words. A smile lit up his face and Jack returned the smile. Finally he knew where they stood, and it was where he had always wanted to be. "I love you too, Jack." He leaned up and captured Jack's lips against his, kissing him deeply.
Jack kissed him again; one hand became tangled in Ianto's hair. Ianto sought comfort molding himself against Jack. Jack's hand slipped to his shoulder and Ianto winced letting out a hiss of pain forgetting until that tender touch that he was injured.
"Aw, Yan, I'm sorry." Jack pressed a kiss to his shoulder then gently massaged the knots that had built up. Ianto let out a content sigh as Jack's fingers worked their magic. "How's that?"
"Much better, thanks." He kissed Jack. "Now let's get rest, cariad. Then we can pick up some takeout and go back to my place and finish what we started."
Jack grinned. "I like the sound of that." He intertwined their fingers together as they settled back down to sleep.
A comfortable silence filled the room; both knew despite it all it was going to be okay.
"Hmm?"He was nearly asleep and that was the only reply he could muster. And he began to wonder if Jack just wanted to say his name, and who could blame him after being silent for so long?
"I've heard you call me cariad before, but what does it mean?"
Ianto blushed. "It's welsh for beloved." Ianto snuggled closer breathing in the unmistakable scent of Jack.
Jack kissed the top of his head. "Well then sleep well, cariad."