Author: Vera Steine
Disclaimer: Don't own 'em, never will. Will play with them, rinse them and put them back in the cupboard when I'm done. That would be the cupboard at the BBC.
Rating: K+ (PG)
Spoilers: Journey's End (Doctor Who)
Author's notes: The ending was frustrating. 'Nough said. So I added my own two cents. Continues from where 4.13 left off. I'm thinking of writing a sequel, but I'm not sure yet. Let me know if this feels finished or not.
He was tired when they arrived back at the hub. The adventure, the excitement, it had all worn off, and the bone deep exhaustion was beginning to set in. He left Martha and Mickey at a hotel in town before heading to the hub, feeling a strange kind of pride at being able to come home again to his, if somewhat small, team. As the lift descended into the hub, he heard the yells from both Gwen and Ianto as they saw it descend. Gwen was first to reach him as he stepped off the stone, throwing her arms about his neck and hugging him tightly. Ianto stayed behind, seeming a little reluctant. When Jack disengaged Gwen's arms and turned to his lover, Ianto smiled that familiar smile, but it didn't reach his eyes. Instead, Jack saw reflected in those eyes the same bone deep tiredness he was feeling himself. He stepped towards Ianto, and the young man came into his arms so naturally it was as if they'd never been any different. Jack felt the small shudder go through Ianto's body as the other man returned his embrace, turning his head briefly into Jack's shoulder as Jack kissed his hair. They came apart too soon.
He gave Ianto a reassuring grin, then turned to Gwen to answer the many questions she was firing at him. She was tugging him along to the centre of the hub, where they had started with the cleanup operation after what must have been a bumpy ride. Over her shoulder, she said, "Ianto, be a love, make us some coffee?"
Ianto nodded without saying a word, and moved off towards the coffee machine, which had apparently survived the trip. When he returned with three mugs, Jack gave them both a short explanation of what had happened, reducing events significantly to save on time. They drank their coffees, and soon Jack was feeling the exhaustion come back. Eventually, he said, "Guys, I'll tell you all about it, but not today. I need some sleep."
Gwen nodded, smiled in his direction, and said, "I better get home too." She stood up and moved off to gather her coat and bag.
Ianto shuffled his feet for a moment before getting up as well, saying, "I -- suppose I better --"
"Ianto." Jack interrupted. He looked into Ianto's tired blue eyes. "You don't have to go. I mean, I won't be up to much," he paused, "but I'd like the company."
Ianto gave him a small smile. "You don't need to make exceptions for me, Jack.."
Jack shook his head, feeling frustration push at his mind and clamping down on it. "I'm not. I'm tired, and I don't want to talk about it any more, but I don't want you to go. I want you in my bed. I don't want to sleep alone."
Ianto's reply was lost as Gwen chose that moment to call out, "Goodnight, see you in the morning!" The door rolled back and she exited the hub, sketching one last wave at them before the door closed again behind her.
Ianto watched her go. He turned back to Jack when the door had closed, fidgeting with the edge of his waistcoat. He looked hesitant, as if on the verge of saying something, but not being quite sure. Jack debated waiting him out, but his impatience won and he finally said, "I want you here."
Ianto looked straight at him, seeming to come to a decision. "Why?" he asked, his tone a little hostile.
Jack leaned back in his seat, not breaking eye contact. "Do I need to have an answer to that?"
"Yes, Jack," Ianto said, sounding angrier than Jack would have liked him to. "I'm here and I'm not planning on going anywhere, but I do need to know where this is going."
Jack struggled to keep his voice level when he answered, fatigue making him irritable. "This isn't going anywhere. I can't offer anything, and you know it. You've always known it."
Ianto seemed frozen in place. He replied, "I do know, I've always known. And you've never heard me complain."
"Then what is this about?" Jack shot back in annoyance.
Ianto hesitated, then finally shook his head. "Forget about it. I'm going home."
Jack was on his feet in a second, reaching for Ianto, grabbing his arm. "No, wait a minute. You're not walking away from this."
Ianto's eyes flashed. "What do you want me to say, Jack? Because you don't want to hear it."
"Who said I don't want to hear it?"
"You like it this way. I don't ask for anything, and you can pretend you can walk away any second. Or maybe you can, and that makes the difference." The emotions started colouring Ianto's voice the more he talked, allowing hurt and pain and anger to shimmer through.
Jack took a deep breath and suppressed his initial angry retort. He thought for a moment, and then answered, "I can't walk away from this as easily as you seem to think."
"Isn't it exactly what you just did?" Ianto shot back.
"No," Jack said emphatically. "I had to go. But I promised you, I came back."
"I'm tired of sitting around waiting for you to come back!" Ianto shouted abruptly.
Jack let go of Ianto's arm in surprise, and they stared at each other, Ianto seeming startled by his own outburst. Then Jack said slowly, "I don't offer anything because I can't promise you anything. I can't promise you that I won't need to leave at a moment's notice." His voice was low as he continued, "That doesn't mean I don't care about you."
"I know you care," Ianto replied softly, the anger seeming to have seeped away. He was silent for another moment, then added, "I love you."
Abruptly, Jack stepped forward and took Ianto's face in his hands, kissing him deeply. Ianto was unyielding at first, then sagged against him, arms coming around Jack's waist. When they came apart a minute later, still holding on to each other, Ianto said, "I'm not asking for much."
"I can't offer you anything," Jack replied, feeling the pressure of forever pounding in his head. "I'm sorry," he tried.
"I need you, Jack." Ianto held his eyes. "And it scares me how much."
"I'm here now," Jack vowed, trying to find a way to let Ianto know what he could give. "You have me."
Ianto leaned in and kissed him again, deepening the kiss until the pressure in his head receded. Slowly, he pulled away. Looking into Ianto's eyes again, he said, "I'm tired, really tired. All I want to do right now is go to bed and hold you close. I don't want to think, I don't want to do anything, I just want you with me. Can you give me that?"
Ianto nodded. "Whatever you need, Jack. I don't think that will ever change."
Jack felt a shiver down his spine at the resigned tone to Ianto's voice, but for now he would take what he was given, and hoped fervently he wasn't destroying his young lover, and what they had, in the process.