Title: Counting the Days

Author: Vera Steine

Disclaimer: I don't own the characters, setting, etc. They belong to RTD and the BBC.

Rating: K+

Pairing: Jack/Ianto

Spoilers: End of Days, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Sleeper (tiny), To The Last Man

Author's notes: Not my first Torchwood fic, but the first I'm putting out there. Oh, and I've only seen season 2, so any mistakes with regard to 'End of Days' are mine, and I apologise. The timeline is based on a comment made by Gwen later in season 2 about something happening 'seven months ago'. I hope my rough estimate of how long Jack's been away in Cardiff's timeline is accurate.

Please review, and I welcome all criticism. Torchwood is the reason I'm writing again for the first time in three years (wahey!), but that means I might be a little rusty :) Inspired by the all the great fics out there! And a thank you, as always, to my best mate, Loki, without whom I wouldn't be doing any of this. Love ya.

Without further ado…

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Counting the Days

The first week he couldn't go down there, into the bunker, to clean. Whatever he would do, that was just not an option. It was due, but it didn't matter. He would have defied a direct order for it, knowing that he would break down if he did.

The second week, he went, thinking it was safe, and broke down anyway. Curling up, sitting with his back against Jack's bed, he cried his eyes out for the why of it, for the feeling of rejection, and the definite knowledge that this wasn't something that would last a few weeks. The manner of Jack's departure had made it clear to him, but most of all, who he had gone with. That was not a trip someone came back from. Gwen found him, embarrassingly enough, and sat with him without saying a word, her hand on his back. When the tears stopped, she said, "I miss him, too."

The third week, he stopped having to remember not to make Jack coffee. He didn't stop being angry.

The fourth week he was worried. It might not be a trip you'd come back from, but it also wasn't a trip that wasn't fraught with danger. And if anything ever happened to Jack, he'd never know. Then he'd laughed dryly at his own assumptions. What could happen to Jack, Jack who couldn't die?

The fifth week he got drunk, and ended up having to call Toshiko to drive him home. She did so without saying a word, helped him up to his flat, and then said to him the next morning, when he discovered she'd stayed on the sofa, "You have to move on. You can't let this kill you, Ianto."

The sixth week, he nearly died. That was a shock he found hard to adjust to, but his new responsibilities meant it was a serious risk. He wanted to talk to Jack about it, then realised that Jack probably would have very little wisdom to offer when it came to facing your own mortality. He tried to talk to Gwen instead, but the horror in her eyes at his attempt made him extricate himself rather rapidly.

The seventh week, his anger left him abruptly one morning when he looked in the mirror. He stopped wanting to put his fist through it, stopped wanting Jack to return just to be able to yell at him. Instead, his suddenly shaking hands gripped the sink, and he whispered to his own reflection, "Damn it, Jack." Why did he have to go before Ianto realised he loved him?

The eighth week, he caught the flu, and not just a little either. Raging high fever meant Owen stayed the night, replaced in the morning by Toshiko, and then at night by Gwen. All of it ran together in his mind, delirious as he was. But he remembered asking for Jack, and Toshiko's tearful, pained replies, Gwen biting her lip and saying she was sorry, and Owen telling him to shut up.

The ninth week, he felt slightly hung over from his battle with the flu, but able to return to work. The hub was a mess, and he found himself wondering what Jack had done with the place before hiring him. And remembered that night, Myfanwy, and the near-kiss that never happened. And smiled.

The tenth week, a blowfish turned up in a sports car.

The eleventh week, he wondered what it was about Jack that had imperceptibly changed. He was darker some moments, sweeter some others, and more attentive to detail. Like the world was impossibly bright sometimes, like it was a blessing that he was alive. Which made no sense, because Jack couldn't die, and demonstrated that again most vividly.

The twelfth week, Ianto stopped wondering, and moved on. Walked up the stairs, spoke with Jack, listened, and kissed him. Moved back into Jack's bed, and didn't regret it. And listened some more, this time with apprehension, disgust and compassion, when Jack told him a little of where he'd been.

finis.