Title: Constant (1/?)
Spoilers: Set after 2.13. Spoilers for both series 1 and 2, and a bit DW: Last of the Time Lords and The Shakespeare Code
Summary: There has been one constant in Ianto's life. And Jack will just have to deal with it.
Beta: lj user"rakina"
Disclaimer: Don't own 'em – unfortunately
THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO READ LYNCHPIN, THOSE WHO REVIEWED AND PUT ME ON ALERT - YOU'RE GREAT!
A/N: This is the sequel to my story Lynchpin. I would suggest you read that first otherwise it might be a tad confusing. Those of you who asked for a sequel... I hope you're happy – it's all your fault! This is still a WIP – although fully planned out it is not yet complete – please bear with me... this story has been harder to right then I thought it would be!
Where Lynchpin was very much Jack's POV, this is overall more Ianto's show. And while Lynchpin focused more on Torchwood Four, Constant is more about Ianto's rather unique family background – and a certain relative of his.
To read Lynchpin please go to my bio page - the link to it is there under my stories :)
Ianto Jones was exhausted, beyond tired, and feeling weary had passed him by hours ago. He sat slumped over Jack's desk, his usually crisp suit wrinkled and his tie askew, feeling like he hadn't slept for days. More in hope than expectation, he picked up his coffee cup only to find it still as empty as it was ten minutes previously.
He had fielded calls from what seemed to be every government agency – secret and known alike – in the last few days, and what he really wanted was to crawl under a duvet with Jack and forget the world for a few hours. However, Ianto Jones seldom got what he actually wanted.
This time the phone call was received on his personal mobile and not the one he was manning on Jack's desk. He picked it up cautiously and stared at the screen. There was no number, not
even the words 'number withheld'. His brow wrinkled, but a numberless phone call was not exactly an unknown event for Torchwood.
"Hello?" he asked cautiously.
The line crackled and although Ianto could hear someone talking it was nearly impossible to make out what the person on the other end was saying. "Ianto… you… how…"
"I can't hear you," said Ianto loudly.
The caller tried again. "Sodding… checking up… Ianto."
"Look, you're going to have to speak up, the line is very bad."
Ianto thought he could hear banging and a high pitched whistle, but the line suddenly went dead leaving him to stare at the handset in bemusement.
"Something you said?"
Ianto wheeled around at the sound of Jack's familiar voice. "Couldn't hear them properly, perhaps not all of the communication lines are working properly yet," he mumbled, shrugging.
Jack looked at him oddly from his position of leaning against the doorframe. "You okay?"
"Of course I am, stop fussing. You keep asking me that, and it's time you remembered that I'm not a damsel in distress, Jack. If you're looking for someone to sob over you so you can comfort them, then I suggest you go and find Gwen."
Ianto saw Jack flinch at his words, but although he was too tired to care at the moment he had even less energy for an argument. "I didn't mean..."
"There's nothing wrong with being upset, Ianto. It's been a difficult couple of weeks..."
"I had noticed," snapped Ianto in return. He took a couple of deep breaths to rein in his temper. "I'm sorry; just let me deal with this in my own way."
Jack shook his head in frustration. The last few weeks had been hard. An atmosphere of relentless solemnity hung heavily over them. And there had been no respite, no time to sit quietly and ensure his two remaining team members were all right. The city had needed them to act and, no matter how devastating their losses had been, life still stubbornly went on. It didn't help that Ianto was never the most demonstrative of men when it came to his feelings, but recently he'd even quieter, almost reticent.
"I don't want you to internalise your grief, Ianto. It's not good for you – you need to let it out."
Ianto glowered at Jack. "Just because you haven't seen me cry or hit out, doesn't mean I haven't or that I won't. You're not the only one who has lived too long, to have lost people that you care about."
"I'm not saying I am," defended Jack, but realised that Ianto had not finished and was also angry at being interrupted.
"I'm not like you! I can't breeze through life with a fake smile and a lewd comment and hope that most people won't want to dig deeper or know more. Losing Tosh and Owen is a real, gut-wrenching blow, not something I can let go of easily."
"You make it sound that I can!" snarled Jack angrily.
"For god's sake, Jack. For once this is not about you! This is how I deal with things." He really didn't want to be having this conversation now. He ached down to his bones, his soul heavy and the very last person he wanted to argue with was Jack. "Despite everything I've done, the people I've been involved with, Torchwood Three has been more of a family than anything I can remember – apart from my grandfather."
"But… the circle members?" asked Jack, his features softening and his anger abating in his confusion at Ianto's confession.
Ianto rubbed at his eyes and sighed loudly. "It's different. I have no choice in that matter – they defined who I am and what I do years ago. With Torchwood Four I link six people together – I feel them, their emotions, their gifts – but I'm not really part of the circle no matter how much they would disagree. I'm an outsider, always looking in. Here at Cardiff I belong. I'd just got to the position where I felt I really was part of the team. We'd pulled together when you left with the Doctor, my past mistakes forgotten and forgiven and we became closer knit – and that continued even after you had returned."
Jack walked over to where Ianto was sitting and perched on the edge of the desk in front of him. He leaned forward and carded his fingers through his lover's hair before bringing his hand around to cup Ianto's chin. "I understand."
Ianto smiled thinly and looked up at Jack, seeing that Jack perhaps really did understand what he was going through, at least in part. "I just need a little time."
"I know. Take whatever you need. I won't try and push you – but please don't shut me out."
A strange, almost-touch, flickered across the back of his neck and down his spine. Ianto yelped, springing to his feet and whirling around, almost knocking Jack off the desk. He glanced skittishly around the room. There was no one else there.
Jack stared at him, open mouthed, obviously concerned. "Ianto..."
Ianto tentatively sat back down but didn't answer. The eerie touch was back, not threatening, but disconcerting. But as it lingered Ianto realised it was something familiar. Something reassuring. He allowed his eyes to flutter closed and forced himself just to feel. As well as the spectral touch, Jack was now at his side, the heavy weight of Jack's hand on his shoulder comforting.
"What's wrong?" Jack asked.
He felt Jack caress his hair again. The other phantom touch gently stroked his neck. "I don't know... nothing..."
Ianto smiled as he finally recognised just what he was feeling – it had been a long time, but a sensation of being part of something so electrifying washed over him, showing him that there were others out there that cared, that they wanted to make sure he was safe.
The telephone on Jack's desk rang. Ianto opened his eyes. "That'll be Philip," he said with no hesitation.
Jack picked up the phone. "Harkness," he answered. Ianto looked him expectantly, waiting to be proved right.
"Captain," said the male voice in reply. "Philip Henshaw here. I wanted to pass on my condolences and offer any help you think we could provide."
Jack was still coming to terms with Ianto's less than conventional, even for Torchwood, career path. His lover's connection to Torchwood Four, and its leader, Philip Henshaw, had been just the tip of a recent stream of revelations about Ianto Jones. There was still much to discuss, but the arrival of Captain John and the loss of both Owen and Tosh had put that conversation on hold for the time being. But now Henshaw was on the phone, and that Ianto had predicted correctly the identity of the caller, Jack thought they had put off talking for too long.
"Thanks," Jack said to Henshaw. "For now we're okay."
"I thought you'd say that. Any chance I can speak to Ianto?"
"Wanna check for yourself that your lynchpin's not damaged?"
Henshaw let out a gruff bark of a laugh. "Something like that."
Jack handed over the phone and Ianto put the handset to his ear. "Are you deliberately poking around in my head?" he asked with good humour.
"If I said yes would you be upset?" said Henshaw and Ianto knew if they were having this conversation in person then Philip would be grinning. "I'm kind of enjoying the fact I can do it again."
"Maybe next time you could give me some warning."
Henshaw chuckled softly. "Maybe. But I wanted to be sure you were all right. How are things?"
"Things are... difficult... but nothing that won't get better."
"I had to check. Siobhan would have had my bollocks on a plate if I'd left it any longer. You've always been her favourite."
Ianto huffed in amusement, Henshaw's second in command had a serious Mother Hen complex and Ianto had always stirred her protective urges. "Well, you can tell her I am fine."
"Do me a favour, Ianto, and give her a call... it'll save all our eardrums in the future."
"Text me her mobile number and I call her as soon as I can."
"Will do. Take care, Ianto, don't be a stranger."
Ianto said his goodbyes and ended the call to see Jack staring at him with interest. "How did you know it was Henshaw?" asked Jack as Ianto laid the mobile back on desk.
Ianto was relieved that Jack had not tried to pick up the conversation they had started before, and so was happy to talk about something else. "I could feel him in my mind. It took me a while to recognise it for what is was – it's been a while since he's been able to do that. And the only reason he can do it now is because I've relinked his team. It's bloody disconcerting, I can tell you."
"Perhaps now's a good time for you to take me up on my offer."
"Offer?" asked Ianto, raising an eyebrow. "I really don't think this is time to be experimenting with lemon custard."
"Not that offer!" admonished Jack, but he couldn't stop himself grinning. "I mean the shielding training."
"Oh, I thought that was just another one of your sexual innuendos."
"I'll have you know, Mr Jones, that there is more to me than sex and a great bone structure."
Ianto raised an eyebrow and smirked. "Really? I hadn't noticed."
All reviews and comments are much appreciated. I'm particularly nervous about this one... bites nails.