Because I don't want this to turn into The Story That Never Ends, this is the official last instalment of Family Matters… but please look to my Short Stories for Jack and Ianto's Adventures In House Hunting (which has been written and will be put up shortly… ) and Jack explaining to Ianto that if Ella doesn't hear them having sex on a regular basis, she'll think there's a serious problem in their marriage.

I hope ending this only to pick it up in Short Stories doesn't confuse or upset anybody, but I've got another piece on another board that turned into The Story That Never Ended and it stopped being fun after a while. I don't want that to happen here.

There are more stories and adventures in store for Jack, Ianto, Jason and Torchwood... and eventually Captain John Hart is coming back, too, but that plot has to be just right... ;-)

Thank you again for all the lovely reviews... I hope this doesn't disappoint... I'll admit it up front, I'm a sap, I'd always planned this because I love Jack and Ianto together...


Epilogue:

Cariad

"To Live, to Love, To Remember, To Love Again."


Three thousand years ago, a man named Ianto Jones had told him that he was going to live forever, therefore, he could, if he wanted to, show up on his mother's doorstep the day after he'd left her.

He hadn't done that. He couldn't. If he did, she would never have ended up in the twenty-first century and that had already happened, at least for him. Jack (although he didn't go by that name any more) had found out the hard way that paradox hurt. (It hadn't felt so good when the Doctor laid into him over it, either. All things considered, he'd take paradox over an irate Time Lord any century.)

Which is why he knew this was a mistake. But he owed a man something, even if it was just the apology that he never expected would be accepted.

So in the middle of the night, when he was sure no one would see him, he walked up to Roan Sanders' door and knocked. When the other didn't answer straight away, he knocked again, harder.

Finally a light flickered on in an upstairs window. Some long moments later a sleepy looking man with tussled red-blond hair opened the door wearing only his gold rimmed glasses and pyjama bottoms. Jack had only barely remembered what he looked like, but seeing him again, he felt recognition surge deep inside him and he couldn't help but smile.

Roan was lithe and pale and every bit as handsome as Jack had been sure he must be. Well... handsome in a bookish sort of way, anyway. He looked like a librarian even standing there in nothing more than pyjama bottoms and glasses.

"Bloody Hell," Roan muttered on seeing who was on the other side of his door; he stepped aside to let the other man in. "Only you would turn up at… " he glance around for the clock, "Two in the morning."

"And only you would let me in," Jack quipped back, continuing to smile.

"No arguments there. Coffee?"

"Sure." Jack followed him into the kitchen. It had been ages since he'd had good coffee… not that he could remember whether or not Roan's coffee was any good. "I ah… I can't stay long, though."

Roan just shook his head with a shy, sad smile. "You never can. Jason's with your mother for the night. Sorry you missed him."

Jack shrugged, shoving his hands into his pockets. "How old is he these days?"

"Six," he said as he started the coffee. "Would you like to see a picture?"

Jack took a breath and let it out. If Jason was six, that meant it had been three years since Roan had seen him last, but here they were, just like always, with Roan not even asking where he'd been or how long he planned to stick around. What did I ever do to deserve this guy, he wondered. Who else would let him in at two o'clock in the morning, no questions asked, and make him coffee? "I'm sorry, Roan."

His tone caused the other man to turn around; it had been a very, very long time since he'd heard that kind of sincerity out of the man standing there, looking at him with those big beautiful blue eyes… eyes filled with so much hurt… so much… so much love… more love than he'd ever seen there before… It made him forget how angry he was. How much it hurt to have him here again... and yet the last three years had been even worse. It had never been so long between unexpected visits. He'd honestly almost given up ever seeing his son's other father again.

"I ... I know I put you through Hell," Jack went on. "I can't make it up to you, but I promise, I'll make it up to Jason some day. I'll be there for him. I…" he had to stop a collect himself. He'd buried their son so long ago… "I know I made mistakes. I don't ever expect you to forgive me… but… I am sorry."

Roan studied him a moment, looking for some clue as to how long it had really been because he knew one of the things about being with a Time Agent was that they would always live on different timelines. What was a day for one might be a year for the other. "How long has it been, your timeline, since you saw us?" he asked. The unshed tears in those blue eyes were unmistakable. It wasn't a side of his partner he saw very often, even when he was around.

"Too long."

Roan crossed the distance between them and leant in, not surprised when the other man met his kiss half way. His kiss felt different though. It was hesitant. Reserved. Usually when he showed up in the middle of the night like this was for nothing more than a romp in the sheets.

Roan slid his arms around his partner's waist, coaxing him to do the same, coaxing him to return the kiss a little more. "It doesn't matter," he said softly, when their lips finally parted. "You know I'll always forgive you. Always love you. I have never minded not being your first choice, Cariad."

Jack stumbled backwards away from his grasp. "What did you just call me?"

"Cariad…?" His tone was incredulous… more than that, there was a deep hurt in his emerald eyes. "I've always called you that." Roan turned to get the coffee. He got down two mugs, "Do you still take it the same?" he asked without looking at the other man.

"Yeah. Yeah, I still take it the same." Jack steadied himself against the table while Roan fixed his cup. Cariad... Ianto... Kam... Gary... even so, it had been over five hundred years since anyone... was it possible... was Roan...?

"You really don't remember, do you?" the young librarian asked as he handed over one of the mugs. Some of his hurt eased when he realized just how rattled the other man really was.

Jack just shook his head. Roan moved back towards the living room and he followed. He stood there while Roan walked up to the bookshelf and got down a book. He handed it over, "Remember now?" he asked.

Jack frowned. "The Collected Works of... of Johan Cariad…" he read the title aloud, but it still didn't ring any bells.

Roan sighed. "I was working in the University Library." He gave the man standing in front of him another long look before continuing in a softer tone because that look of ignorance didn't seem feigned. "One day I looked up and in walked the most amazing man I'd ever seen… that would be you," he said with a smile, although the other's smirk told him that he'd figured that part out. He used to being the amazing man in the story and Roan knew it. "I'm sure you didn't notice me at all," he added. "Even though you asked me find you that."

Jack blushed. He vaguely remembered that he hadn't noticed anybody special. "I needed it for a class," he said, remembering finally. It had been so long ago...

"From that day onwards you were 'that gorgeous guy who reads Cariad'… eventually it just got shortened to Cariad. And this isn't the first time I've told you that story." He took the book from his partner's hand and set it back in the bookcase, carefully, precisely lined up with the edge of shelf. "Or don't you remember that, either?"

Jack looked down into the coffee; he took an experimental sip. It was good. Really good. "I'm sorry," was all he could say. This wasn't the first time someone had reminded him of his Welshman, but… Roan? He looked up at the ginger haired man standing across from him as if seeing him for the first time… which after over five thousand years his time wasn't entirely inaccurate. It would certainly explain a lot if it really was him… if… he reminded himself. Cariad could just be a stupid coincidence and Roan could just have rotten a taste in men to have fallen for someone like him, to have stuck it out this long.

Roan leant up against the side of the book shelf regarding him for several long moments. "So how long are you staying this time?" he finally asked, in a carefully neutral tone.

The question caught Jack off guard, but then he realized what the other man really meant. This was Roan, the constant 'fall-back' lover, the one he only came to when his other plans had fallen through. The one he shagged and left. "I… really shouldn't even be here at all," he admitted, suddenly realizing how much he wanted to stay.

"But you are here," the younger man's tone and the expression on his face made the invitation clear.

Jack set down the coffee cup and crossed the distance between them.

He shouldn't be here.

But he was. And the invitation was clear.

He found those lips again and pulled Roan close. The younger man yielded to him without hesitation. It wasn't just the way he kissed him, his whole body melted towards Jack's…his scent overwhelmed the older man... the way he felt against him... like two pieces of the same puzzle or finding something that had been lost... "Oh God, I love you so much…" he whispered into the other man's ear without thinking, without realizing he'd never said those words to Roan ever before.

Underneath him, Roan shuddered at the words, kissed him harder, pulled him closer.

Roan's touch… his scent… everything about him came back to Jack in a rush and he wanted to prove to him how much he really meant… "I am so sorry… all the times I hurt you…"

"Shhh… it doesn't matter, Cariad. You're here now and you know I'll take whatever you have to give..."

Jack yielded as strong, steady hands undressed him. It wasn't long before they were in the middle of the floor reacquainting themselves with the intimate details of each other's bodies… and it was a long time before they were done because no matter how much he wished otherwise, Jack knew he only had this one night to make up for all those other nights, this one chance to prove to Roan that he loved him… If he stayed longer, he knew he'd end up dealing with paradox or worse changing history. Again.

It was nearly dawn when he pulled Roan into his arms and held him there, his back propped up against the sofa. He kissed him again, softly, running his fingers over the younger man's face, trying to take in every detail is if he would never forget it.

He knew he would forget. In a hundred years all he'd see were green eyes… a shy smile… that amazing scent... fifty first century pheromones at their best... a hundred years after that and he'd forget Roan's scent... his eyes... his smile… but he would remember Roan's name. He would remember that he'd loved him. He would remember what was important.

Roan looked up at him and smiled because for the first time he could remember, everything felt exactly right. This was the way it was supposed to be, the way he'd always known it would be if he just held out long enough. From the very first moment he'd laid eyes on the man holding him now, he had known that this was what he wanted and he would wait...he would wait as long as it took... "I love you," he ventured. It wasn't the first time he'd said the words, but up until a few hours ago the sentiment had never been returned.

"I love you too," Jack told him without reservation. "I love you so much," he placed a soft kiss on the top of the other man's head.

"Will you stay this time?" Roan was almost afraid to ask, but… but it was like everything finally fit…"Please…? I'm not asking for anything special… just… just move back in with me… with us... we can make this work." He didn't care how undignified it was to beg. "You know I'd do anything for you..."

"I can't."

He turned away, trying to hide how much those two words hurt… he always left, why should this time be any different… ? Just because it felt different… just because he'd finally admitted… just because the thought of being apart was so wrong…

"Roan, look at me," Jack coaxed his head back up even though it killed him to see the tears in his lover's eyes. "I love you. Oh God, I love you and I have missed you so much. I will always love you."

"But you'll never stay…"

"I can't. If I did it would change everything."

"Why? What would it change?"

"Everything," he repeated. Crossed timelines, paradoxes… the chance that things might not happen the way they already had… "But… I promise… the next time it'll be different," he swore, because he knew now it wasn't a stupid coincidence. Roan might still have terrible taste in men to have stuck it out this long, but the rest of it wasn't a coincidence.

In the last three thousand years Jack had learned that there truly were more things in Heaven and Earth than he'd ever dreampt of... and it was almost ironic that his Welshman had once said how he gave him hope and now it was the other way around. "You give my life meaning," he whispered softly, pulling the other man into another kiss. "You make me whole. I will never, ever forget you and I will keep every promise I have ever made. I'll even remember that you love pineapple," he smiled despite the fact that he was losing his struggle against the tears.

"That would be a first," Roan chuckled softly through his own tears, "You've never managed to remember that until now."

Gently, he wiped the other man's cheeks. "You are the best thing that ever happened to me. It just took me a while to figure that out. And I'm sorry. I'm sorry we can't have more time this time… I'm sorry I wasted so much time with you, but next time will be better. I promise… if you give me a chance, I'll be better."

Roan studied the face of the man holding him, so familiar and so foreign and yet everything still felt right… it felt ok… it didn't even feel like goodbye, even though it sounded like it. He reached up and wiped away the tears from the other man's cheeks. He ran his fingers through the unruly dark hair… he noticed that there were more greys than he remembered… he noticed the lines around the other man's eyes that he was sure hadn't been there before. "I'm not really going to see you again, am I?" he asked at last.

"No. But we are not over." Jack leant in and kissed him fiercely. "If you come back for me… if… if you can forgive me for everything I did wrong here… I'll wait for you. You're worth waiting for. You're worth… you're worth everything."

"I'll always forgive you, Cariad. I love you too much not to." I will love you forever...


If you wait for me then I'll come for you
Although I've travelled far
I always hold a place for you in my heart
If you think of me If you miss me once in awhile
Then I'll return to you
I'll return and fill that space in your heart
Remembering
Your touch
Your kiss
Your warm embrace
I'll find my way back to you
If you'll be waiting
If you dream of me like I dream of you
In a place that's warm and dark
In a place where I can feel the beating of your heart

Remembering
Your touch
Your kiss
Your warm embrace
I'll find my way back to you
If you'll be waiting
I've longed for you and I have desired
To see your face your smile
To be with you wherever you are

Remembering
Your touch
Your kiss
Your warm embrace
I'll find my way back to you
If you'll be waiting
I've longed for you and I have desired
To see your face, your smile
To be with you wherever you are

Remembering
Your touch
Your kiss
Your warm embrace
I'll find my way back to you
Please say you'll be waiting

Together again
It would feel so good to be
In your arms
Where all my journeys end
If you can make a promise If it's one that you can keep, I vow to come for you
If you wait for me and say you'll hold
A place for me in your heart.

-- by Tracy Chapman


The first time I heard this song, I thought of Jack to Ianto… but then I realized how easily it could be turned around, as Ianto to Jack…