Title: Trying To Reconcile
Author: Vera Steine
Disclaimer: I don't own them, don't make any money of them. They belong to RTD and the BBC. The lyrics I used belong to Alison Krauss, and can be found on her album, "Forget About It".
Rating: K+ (PG)
Spoilers: End of Days, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, To The Last Man
Author's notes: Again, thank you to my beta reader, Loki, and to all of you who have reviewed, favourited or alerted! This part is from Jack's POV, which I find a lot harder to write, so please let me know what works and what doesn't. Enjoy!
Trying To Reconcile – Part Two
Forget about it
If we chance to meet somewhere
Don't think it's cause I'm trying to reconcile
From: "Forget About It", by Alison Krauss
It was over. After a year of hell, and he had lived long enough to know when something deserved that label, it was over, and it seemed suddenly anti-climactic. And then the question came, what now? It didn't take him long to know what he wanted. Simplicity, most of all, to return to that which had been his immediate life, and also that which had provided the memories that had helped him survive. That, and the cursed energy that was keeping him alive.
So it was back to Cardiff, back to the four members of his team and a reception that was uncertain. Would they have waited? Would they want him back? The clinical part of his mind that was well-honed after living for 140 years reminded him that he was too emotional, too apprehensive at the reaction to his return, a by-product of the torture he'd undergone over the last year. Just because there were no physical scars, did not mean there were no mental ones. Only time would tell how well he'd cope.
He tried to tell Ianto without giving too much away himself. It was an impulse, I came back for you, and he realised abruptly that he needed to include the others, because this wasn't all about Ianto. It was, had been, about all of them.
And then, like always, because this was Torchwood, they were running around after threats and aliens, and he got no time to settle back in. Somehow, he liked it that way, less time to think, less time for the breakdown he knew was lurking somewhere in the recesses of his brain. It would happen, but preferably in private, not like earlier, on the Tardis, in front of two people who knew why, but that hadn't made it any easier.
He found himself paired with Ianto, and got a surprisingly cold shoulder. Okay, his opening gambit about photocopiers hadn't been the best pickup line ever, but he'd wanted something more from Ianto, a reaction that there had been something between them, no matter how shallow. Because those memories had kept him going for a long time, even if Ianto would never know it. And so he had stopped and started again, asking an honest question, and still getting a standard answer. And Ianto called him sir, and this time it wasn't the turn-on it had been in the past, and he felt uncomfortable with it. You think maybe we could drop the sir now? he asked. No response, and then he blurted out what had been on his mind, for a while, on the Valiant, something that had been so normal that he'd hidden in the fantasy of it for a few weeks before it had lost its power and he'd moved on to other things. Or maybe the Master had, he couldn't recall from the days that had all run together. He suppressed a shudder and focused back on the here and now.
Are you asking me out on a date? He flirted back on instinct, not wanting to give too much away, show how much he needed things between them to be like they had been, most of all because he'd give a lot right now for Ianto's hands on him, Ianto's wicked mouth, anything that would feel normal and make him forget for a few blissful hours. Ianto was saying something about offices, and fetishes, and gave him the first flicker of hope that he might get back in the Welshman's good graces. Ianto was tricky, always had been, from the first time they'd met, and even trickier since they'd got together. Still, nothing easy was ever worth having. His concentration had lapsed again, and he noted with the same clinical distance as before that he was still on the road to recovery. Ianto was sending him up to the roof, you're good on roofs, separating them. He needed time. Regrettable, but Jack had to take what he could get. For now, he would give Ianto his needed space. Then he abruptly processed the whole conversation they'd just had, and stopped by the door. Was that a yes?
Ianto's reply sounded like he was going against his better judgment, but also like he couldn't resist. Jack liked that idea, and grinned all the way up to the roof.
He'd tried to set up the date. If only because it would stop him wondering what would happen if they'd tried to have an actual conversation that wasn't work related or took place in bed after sex. Neither of them divulged much about their lives; he'd always thought that Ianto's reticence on the subject of his own private life explained the lack of prying questions into Jack's. Still, the idea of a few uninterrupted hours spent in the company of someone he was close to, such normalcy, had got him through the first night back in the hub, and the next as well. When he'd rested enough, not slept, not that, not for a long time to come would he attempt sleep again, fearing the nightmares that would be added to his collection, he went back to work, catching up on three months' worth of reports and paperwork, and that filled the time between the team leaving and coming back in the morning. But after scheduling the date three times, and the universe interrupting three times with weevil hunts, rift activity and an unfortunate run-in with a race of sleeper aliens who blew up a whole building, Ianto told him to leave it. It's fine, Jack, it's not meant to be.
For a brief two days, he wondered if that meant they were over, reduced to being colleagues and friends from now on. He even bit back a few flirty comments and innuendo when he was given perfect opening shots, and earned an odd look from Owen for it. He was reluctant to ask Ianto, not wanting to make assumptions. But Ianto still flirted, in subtle ways, only when they were alone together, and that restored Jack's hopes.
Normalcy had definitely returned, and more easily than he'd expected, he'd found himself in the role of Torchwood Three's leader again, dealing with the day-to-day running of operations, signing paperwork, fielding calls from UNIT as if he'd never been away. And drinking endless cups of perfect coffee, a taste he hadn't been able to forget the whole year he'd been away. The anticipated breakdown that he'd feared hadn't come, although he'd been more tired for the first week he'd been back. Owen had tried to quiz him about his time away by phrasing it as a medical request, Jack dryly pointed out to him that since he healed cleanly, there was no point in updating his medical records. Owen had slunk off, and exchanged a look with Gwen that had told him they'd been in league together. Gwen tried to ask him herself, an hour later, coming up to his office, but he'd cut her off and changed the subject. None of the team was to know.
Then in the middle of a case, Ianto surprised him, coming up to his office late at night when the others had gone, asking him if he'd return to where he'd come from, if he could. Ah, how close to reality that question was, and Ianto would never know it. Did this visit mean what he thought it meant, what he hoped it meant? He played it coy, still not wanting to show his hand if he could avoid it. But Ianto, being Ianto, uncomplicated things by answering his playful question direct. Yep. I would miss you. I… know you get lonely. Jack looked at him, sitting on the edge of his desk, and reciprocated Ianto's directness with some of his own, replying that he'd been out of touch with where he was from for so long, it really didn't matter anymore. He had to, and wanted to, chart his own course now. And, he told Ianto honestly, he would never regret loving anyone he'd loved.
Ianto closed his eyes at that, just for a moment, and then looked at him with a soft, unreadable look in his blue eyes, seeming to come to a decision. Then, abruptly but blissfully, he leaned in and kissed Jack, insistently and full of conviction, and Jack reciprocated instantly, feeling like he'd finally come home.
Later, when they lay together in his bed in the bunker under his office, Ianto finally asked. Where were you? Not, why did you leave?, or, where did you go?. Jack felt the raw emotions, that would be raw for a while to come, push at the memories that had automatically come to the forefront of his mind at Ianto's question. He almost parried the question, but then answered more honestly. I can't tell you. Not yet. Maybe some day. And Ianto said, softly, when you're ready. Understanding what had gone unspoken. Jack kissed his forehead, and smoothed back his sweat-slicked hair. Ianto shifted imperceptibly closer, his eyes sliding shut, and Jack watched him drift off to sleep. Now the universe was fully restored again.