Ianto sat wishing he was anywhere else, that he could focus on what the doctor was trying to tell him but all he could think of was Jack. "…sorry Mr. Jones, I wish it was better news. Is there someone you want us to call?"
"No, it's fine. My partner will be back soon. Work emergency." He brushed the doctor's practiced concern aside, still in shock. He had no idea what he was going to do or how he was going to tell the man he loved. After all they had been through, aliens, and daleks, the loss of Owen and Tosh, the Earth dragged off to the far end of space, even Gwen's pregnancy, to have it end up like this. He thought they would have more time.
Mechanically he shook the other man's hand, noting absently that he had strong hands, just what one needs in a doctor. He nodded, said all the right things as rigid and formal as the Queen's garden party and then he was out just as the black SUV roared to a halt in front of the hospital.
Jack jumped out of the vehicle to greet him. "Sorry about that, got back as fast as I could. Over all ready?"
Ianto looked at his lover, dashing as ever. Even after ten years together Jack still made his heart beat faster just by looking at him. "What was it?" he asked, hoping to deflect the inevitable questions for just a little longer. Jack gave him a quick kiss as they both climbed back into the machine. "Hoix in the basement of a kebab shop off St. Mary's, the owner came down to get something out of the industrial freezer and found him gnawing his way though the his whole supply of prepared shawrma, package and all. Fortunately the owner didn't try to be a hero, just locked the freezer and called it in. That new system Gwen has worked out with Andy worked like a charm."
"I'm glad. How do you know it's a him?" Ianto asked suddenly, the irrelevant thought had struck him while trying to think of anything but what he needed to.
"Um, because I don't know many women with beards named Hassan?" Jack answered with a little smile and a wink. "Mind you, there was this one…"
"The Hoix, Jack, the Hoix. We always refer to them as 'he', so I was wondering…"
"Oh, that. Yeah, they have two genders, just haven't seen a female here, at least not in the last hundred years. There was one, back around 1900, but that's the only one I remember in Cardiff so we usually assume it is male til we see it. And trust me you would know the difference. The species has some series sexual dimorphism and if anything the females are bigger, uglier and meaner. Unfortunately they are also smarter. Trust me, if you ever meet one, go somewhere else and call for back up, fast."
"Uglier?" Ianto said with a shudder.
"Yeah, makes me wonder how they survive. That is one species whose mating rituals I don't even want to think about." As he said that, Jack pulled the car to a halt in the underground parking and brought it to a stop near the door. He could sense that Ianto didn't want to talk, at least not in the car. Now he took his lover's hand and they made their way into through to the underground base. The hub was quiet, the whole team out on different assignments still, the busy day responsible for Jack's sudden departure from the hospital while Ianto was waiting. "Why don't you get a shower and lay down. I know how much you hate sitting at the hospital. I'll get that Hoix settled in to his new accommodations and make you some coffee, maybe order us some food."
"What, he's still in the car?" Ianto started.
"Sedated, I didn't want to be gone any longer than necessary." The care in his eyes only made Ianto feel worse. Nothing about this was going to be easy.
"You secure him, I'll make the coffee and get the menus."
"Jack, go on. You have a job to do. Besides, I have your coffee, it tastes like asphalt, Sir." He pressed a kiss to Jack's lips. "Go."
"Be back in a moment," he said turning back the way he came. Ianto watched him sadly until he went through the door and then turned to the coffee machine. Some things at least were the same as ever.
By the time Jack had finished, Ianto had taken the coffee and the menus back to what had become their living space, created out of an old store room almost a decade earlier. While Jack still had his bunker, he mostly used it as a private study, a place to retreat to when he couldn't sleep or needed to think, just as Ianto had his own place down in the archives below. Ianto still had his flat, or rather their flat and they usually split their time between the two depending on their schedule.
Jack stepped into the room and looked around. Over the years it had changed from a dingy, grey store room to something more like a home. On one memorably quiet week while Ianto was at the flat recovering from a couple broken ribs, Jack, with help and encouragement from the rest of the team, not to mention Tom and Rhys, they had painted the grey walls a particularly lovely shade of blue and moved out the last two crates which had been serving as a wash stand and side table respectively, replaced by actual furnature.
Once the paint was on, it had been relatively easy to move in a proper bed, one not made from two old metal bed frames lashed together after one memorably energetic evening that involved them both on the floor between them. Then Jack had brought in a couch, much better and less lumpy than the one at the back of the hub. Soon, a comfortable wing chair that Ianto had found downstairs and had recovered made its way in, and a rug.
The screen in front of the bed came when Gwen and Martha had taken to visiting them to talk, it was always better to give Jack a screen.
Ianto was on the settee with the coffee and the menus. "Do you know what you want? I just can't decide."
"You need to eat," he said, knowing that once again the younger man was trying to avoid the subject, at least for a little while longer, and considering how worried he was, he was inclined to indulge him, for now. "Indian?"
"Sure, you order." Moments later he watched comfortably as Jack chatted and flirted away on the phone in a language he didn't understand. Ianto realized these were the moments he would miss the most, the quiet times. He didn't want to think about it, didn't want it to be true. It had taken time, time for him and Jack to find each other, time to admit their love for each other. Now Ianto was wishing it had not taken so long. There was always a measure of uncertainty with Torchwood, but that would be quick and clean, this was not. He didn't want to deteriorate in front of his lover's eyes. He knew what loss had done to him in the past, and did not want to see it.