Spoilers: Set sometime during Season Two of Torchwood. Spoilers for "Cyberwoman" and at least one reference to "Fragments."

Disclaimer: I don't own Torchwood or any of it's characters. I just like to play with them.

This story was written for the "Happy Prompts" ficathon on LiveJournal.

Prompt: "Sandcastles."

The Sands of Time

"Time is like a handful of sand: the tighter you grasp it, the faster it runs through your fingers." -Anonymous

Ianto sat on the beach watching the waves slowly assault the walls of a child's sandcastle. He thought that the slow erosion of the sand walls could be a metaphor for his life. Sometimes he wondered if the job was worth it. It ate away at him, at everything he was, like the tide rising ate away at the sandcastle, and at times like today he didn't know if it would leave anything behind.

Today was the anniversary of Lisa's death and there were still moments when he felt empty. But he had to admit that those moments were becoming fewer and farther between. He felt guilty that there were whole days now when he never thought of her but he knew she would rather he not keep punishing himself for what happened. However, knowing that he shouldn't punish himself and not punishing himself were two different things. Even after a year Ianto could feel the blood on his hands, both Lisa's and the innocent lives she took.

Ianto sighed as the waves lapped at his bare toes. He had known today would be hard but he knew he had to face her death and honor her memory and since there wasn't a tombstone to visit he had decided to come to the beach. Lisa had loved the beach and it was here that he came to remember her.

A shadow fell across him and he didn't even have to look up to know who was there.

"What are you doing here, Jack?" Ianto asked dully.

"Looking for you. Why did you turn your mobile off?" Jack sat down next to him in the sand.

"Did you know she has been gone for a year now?" Ianto ignored Jack's question.

"She was gone longer than that." Jack said simply.

"I know that now." Ianto turned to look at Jack. He was staring intently at the ocean which gave Ianto a moment to study his profile. There were still times when he felt guilty for being with Jack, for moving on, but mostly he just felt grateful that Jack filled some of the empty places.

"We used to come to the beach nearly every chance we had to get away. After our one disastrous camping trip I insisted that we go someplace more civilized." Ianto shared with a small smile. He glanced toward the sandcastle that was now nearly half washed away. "She always loved to make sandcastles."

"I've never been very fond of sand myself." Jack said. "There was too much of it where I'm from. Although I don't think we ever made castles out of it."

"I haven't made any since I was a child but I used to watch her." Ianto took a deep breath. "I'm starting to forget her, Jack."

Jack turned to look at him. "You're not going to forget her. Not totally. She's too much a part of your life. Take it from me. I can't forget any of them. Not even the ones I want to."

Ianto looked into Jack's eyes and saw the depths of sadness there that matched his own. Jack usually hid himself behind his jokes and his flirtations so Ianto cherished this rare unguarded moment. He reached out and took Jack's hand, lacing their fingers together.

"I suppose one can't stop time from passing." Ianto commented.

"No, it usually passes much faster than we would like." Jack said distantly. "All we can do is try to live in the moment."

They fell into an easy silence, both staring out to sea. Ianto's thoughts shifted from Lisa to Jack. He thought about how horrible it must be for Jack to outlive everyone he cared about. Everyone he loved. Ianto couldn't imagine the grief he felt for Lisa being magnified to that degree. Yet Jack still kept making bonds. Ianto didn't know if he could do the same if he were in Jack's place. He knew that one day he would be another person that Jack had outlived.

Ianto pushed his grief aside. He didn't know how long his relationship with Jack would last. Half of the time he didn't even know exactly were he stood with Jack. But he did know he had to live in this moment with Jack or he would forever regret it. Jack had put him back together after Lisa died and Jack made him feel alive.

"So did I miss anything interesting this afternoon?" Ianto asked, trying to lighten the mood.

"Not really, there was a Weevil sighting this morning that called for some Retcon, but not much else. Although I would appreciate it if you wouldn't turn your phone off in the future." Jack said sternly. "Tracking your car makes me feel so stalkerish."

"Don't worry about it...I stalked you for weeks before you hired me so I think we have a quite ways to go before we're even." Ianto said feeling his humor returning.

"There is that." Jack said leaning in and pressing his lips to Ianto's.

Ianto deepened the kiss. Kissing Jack always gave him a rush. He felt as though he was on fire and got goose bumps all at once. And more than anything else kissing Jack always made him feel alive. Ianto pushed Jack back until he was lying in the sand and began to unbutton his shirt.

Jack broke the kiss and began to protest. "Here? I'll get sand in really bad places."

"Shut up." Ianto commanded before capturing Jack's lips in another searing kiss.

Some time later as they made ready to go, Ianto looked back toward the sandcastle but found it had been completely reclaimed by the sea. All that was left was a smooth expanse of sand ready to be shaped into a new castle. He no longer felt that the waves had left the spot empty but that they had cleared the way for new creations.