AN: This just popped into my head when I was randomly browsing the internet, and it wouldn't go away until I wrote it. Please read and tell me what you think. Xx
Ianto balanced the tray in one hand as he made his way around the hub. The journey was much shorter than it should have been, and the hub much quieter than they were used to.
Only three mugs balanced on the tray, and only three people occupied the large expanse of underground.
He headed to Gwen's work station first. She was leafing through old reports, a perfectly normal thing Ianto had come to expect of her, but on closer inspection as he arrived at her side he noticed that her eyes were glazed over, and her usually alabaster skin was practically glowing white.
She turned to him, her eyelashes glued together with tears, and her lips badly chapped. Her eyes were bloodshot and she looked exhausted.
"Ianto. You're a saviour."
The small, grateful smile was there, but the shine was gone from her features, and the enthusiasm vanished from her voice. She took a small sip of the offered coffee, her hands wrapping around the ceramic mug, seeking solace in the hot beverage. She savoured the drink as it ran over her taste buds, and trickled down her throat.
But the bliss was short-lived, and a large yawn erupted from her mouth as soon as she had swallowed her first mouthful.
"Gwen, you need sleep. Go home, Rhys will be worried."
"No 'buts'. There's no monitored rift activity, the weevils aren't causing any trouble, the place is dead."
The last word hung in the air, weighing down on them both, as Ianto realised what he had said.
"Sorry, I didn't mean it. But honestly, go home. Go to bed. It might do you good."
Gwen nodded in agreement, her messy black hair flopping over her face as she reached to the floor, picking up her bag, and throwing it over her shoulder. She took a moment to look at Ianto. Really look. The ever professional front was there, dressed immaculately in a suit, no creases in sight. His hair was neat, more than she could say for herself, and his coffee tasted as good as it always had.
On the outside he showed no signs of grief, but Gwen knew Ianto. She had taken the time and effort to get to know him properly during Jack's absence, and thanks to that she knew all the little tell tales signs that Ianto was falling apart inside, just begging for someone to pick up the pieces and make him whole again.
She pulled him to a hug, holding on tightly burying her head in his shoulder and trying her hardest not to cry. Although she doubted she could anymore. All her tears had been used, soaking tissues, or creating puddles on Rhys' favourite shirt. She had been all cried out.
Gwen slowly released Ianto, pressing a small kiss to his cheek, before looking him straight in the eye and whispering to him, her voice almost lost in the screeches of Myfanwy flying high above, "Look after Jack for me."
And with that she left, red converse squeaking on the floor that had been cleaned one too many times, her coffee mug left forgotten at her desk as the cog door rolled back in to place announcing the departure of one of Torchwood's few employees.
Ianto picked up the tray once more, his hands slightly trembling as he approached Jack's office, lightly tapping on the door, not waiting for a response before stepping over the threshold, taking in the sight of a dishevelled Jack. Like Gwen his eyes were bloodshot, and trails of salty tears stained his cheeks, as he lifted his eyes from the document he was skimming, sending Ianto a faint smile that didn't even manage to reach his eyes, the dimples no-where to be seen, and the dazzle in his feautures hidden behind the pain.
He placed the blue and white striped mug in front of Jack, steam floating from the surface of the scalding liquid, trailing off in all different directions. His eyes never left the mug as he saw Jack's quaking hands wrap around the handle and lift the cup to his face, his mouth separating, gratefully taking a large gulp of the liquid, too numb to notice it burn his tongue.
"Jack? Are you…ok?"
He knew it was a stupid question as soon as the words had left his mouth. He had developed a habit of not thinking before he spoke the last few days. Instead of waiting for a reply, he stepped around the desk, closing the distance between himself and his immortal lover, and leaning on the edge of the polished table. He took one of Jack's hands in his, squeezing tightly, trying to assure himself as much as was trying to convince Jack.
"Everything will sort itself out, won't it Ianto?"
"I don't know. I honestly don't know Jack."
"I can't take it. I wish it could be me in their place. I'd die a lifetime of deaths, for any one of my team, but to lose two in one day. I don't think I can go on."
Ianto's heart broke when Jack gazed up at him, his face awash with anguish and despair. He lent in toward the older man, cupping his face in his hands and capturing his lips in a loving kiss. When he pulled back his thumb never stopped caressing Jack's cheek, and his forehead came to rest against that of his leader's.
Their breath mingled in the air, as Ianto spoke softly, his words barely above a whisper.
"For what it's worth, I love you."
"You've never said that before."
"Well, I'm saying it now."
And with that Ianto pressed his lips against his captains for the second time that day, revelling in the unique taste of his lips, his tongue, and finding comfort in the arms of the man he knew hardly anything about, but had somehow managed to fall for.