Ianto Jones leaned on the terrace rail of the penthouse flat he had not lived in long enough to call home and watched the sun set. It had been forty-eight hours since he and Jack had returned from the hospital, pronounced tentatively cured after six weeks of excruciating treatment. It would be another four months before they could speculate but they were optimistic. At least that is what they had said as they released him. After the long drive home, they had both fallen into bed and slept for most of the last two days.
Jack was still asleep when he got up, and Ianto was reluctant to wake him. He didn't think he had ever known his lover to sleep this long or seen him this tired. On the whole, the older man slept very little, staying in bed only to keep him company or getting up and returning before morning. But that was under normal circumstances and the last six weeks had been anything but normal even by his fairly jaded standard.
Ianto had been delivered to Royal Hope by Jack, and met there by Dr. Martha Jones. He expected they would check him in, get him settled. He thought that Jack would probably stay at least the night, maybe the next day until he started treatment. Instead he was shown to a private room, on a quiet ward at the top of the hospital. The nurse was a sweet faced young thing with an eastern European accent and a mass of blond hair pinned up under her cap. It was a sign of how concerned Jack was that he didn't even notice her as he helped him get settled.
They were on a special ward devoted to people receiving the new treatment. The number of closed doors and the sound of retching coming from next door did little to calm him, but Jack just squeezed his arm reassuringly as the nurse led him down the hall for a few x-rays and more of the ubiquitous blood work. At least the week since he had been woken had given enough time to flush anything out of his system that shouldn't be seen on a standard blood panel. It wouldn't do to have questions asked.
When he returned, Jack had settled down in the side chair with his laptop and data pad on the table and his com firmly planted in his ear. There was a stack of files beside the chair and Jack was signing something with an old fashioned fountain pen. Somehow, the older man was still completely addicted to paper and pen, even though he had once told Ianto they were beyond obsolete where he came from.
"Did you bring enough work?" he asked with a smile on his face, just glad that Jack was staying with him for his first night.
"Not sure, but the rest is in the car. I didn't want to bring too much up at a time." Ianto was gobsmacked. "You didn't think I was going to leave you to face this alone did you?" he said at the look before setting aside everything and wrapping him in a tight embrace. "They will call me if the world is ending. Besides, Doc fixed my teleport, just this once. Now, lay down and rest. I will be here."
So he had stayed. Ianto wasn't sure he slept at all, dividing his time between running Torchwood by remote and taking care of him. The first couple of days were all right. By the third day he was completely miserable, by the end of the first week he was begging Jack to just take him and put him back in the box. At least he showed no signs of losing his hair, though he lost everything that he tried to put into his body. No matter how miserable, now embarrassingly ill he was though, Jack was there, pressing cold cloths to the back of his neck, helping him into and out of bed.
By the second week, he knew he was in hell and prayed for death, if only to end his misery. Solid food was a thing of the past and even the vile liquid shakes that Jack pressed on him only stayed in his stomach on rare occasions. He had shakes and sweats. As Jack helped clean him up after yet another bout of illness, he begged the older man to leave him but Jack just smiled and grabbed another cool flannel, whispering his love against his skin along with a series of deliciously wicked suggestions about exactly what he intended to do with him as soon as he was well enough to stand for it, or even stand, while Ianto wished he felt well enough to appreciate it.
The third week was nothing but pain and blurry impressions. In the few lucid moments all he remembered was Jack, sitting beside him, holding his hand while alternating between his comm, and whispered words of encouragement to him, telling him how well he was doing. Ianto wanted to say something, to tell him something, anything, but he couldn't seem to get the words out. Thoughts wouldn't stay in his head, merging with feelings and things that he couldn't express, no matter how hard he tried. Sometimes he saw others, the nurses, doctors, and other hospital personel. He was fairly sure that Martha came to visit him, and at least once he thought he saw Mickey but it could have been a dream. Certainly Tosh was a dream, as was Owen, leaning over to check one of the multitude of IV lines, telling that 'its coming along, tea-boy, you will be back to shagging the captain in no time'. But it was all dreams, or maybe he thought so, at least he wasn't feeling nauseous any more.
Sometime toward the end of the fourth week he returned to something like consciousness, or so he thought. It was all a bit vague. The first thing he noticed when he opened his eyes was the beeping of machines, and the soft click of Jack's fingers on the keyboard. When he opened his eyes, though, Jack was next to him, the computer put aside on the table which was littered with polystyrene coffee cups and odd bits of paper. His throat felt like he had been gargling with sandpaper but it didn't matter, not when he saw the way Jack looked at him. It wasn't until later that he found he had stopped breathing on his own for a bit.
The last two weeks, Ianto started to consider that he might want to live. He had never expected Jack to stay with him the entire time. In fact, he had expected him to go back to work the minute treatment had started. Instead, he found that his lover had been controlling everything from the hospital, only leaving once and returning immediately. Martha came and sat with him, along with Mickey and Trish. Even Francine and Clive had come, once he came around, though none of the children were allowed. But even as he got better he could see the shadows under Jack's eyes and he wasn't sure that his lover had slept at all.
The treatment was dialed down, and Ianto slowly began to feel like a human being again. Slowly he was able to keep food down, Jack with him every step, every bite of the way. The first wobbly steps down the hall were on his lover's arm, reminding him that each step was one more out of the hospital and that much closer to Cardiff and home. Gwen and Chris drove up to see him and the children made homemade get well cards that were taped to every available surface.
The ride back from London had all the potential for harrowing, but Patrick and Chris had taken the train up to drive them back. It had looked like Jack would rebel, he preferred to be the one driving, but Ianto had talked him out of it. By that point he was afraid of Jack's competence behind the wheel. Ianto had slept most of the way back to Cardiff, wrapped in his arms while the other man whispered nonsense into his hair.
Now they were home. The sun was going down, he was home and his lover was sleeping like he hadn't since Grey. The wind came off the bay and he pulled the dressing robe Jack had bought him tighter around him. Looking out, he thought that no place in this world or any other could be more beautiful. "You are supposed to be resting." The voice was soft and closer than he expected. For such a large man, Jack could be impossibly quiet when he wanted.
"I have been resting for weeks. Besides, I wanted to see the sun set."
"Something is definitely beautiful out here," Jack said, his low voice whispered against his throat as he nibbled his way down to Ianto's collar, pulling it aside while pressing him closer against the rail. It had been so long, since he and Jack had touched. In the hospital, all he could think about was getting well so he could go back to his life, to Jack, and the hub, and the mad world that was Torchwood. Now it was all over and suddenly he felt uncertain. He had a future now, and he didn't know how to take the next step. Ianto took a deep breath, full of the sea and that unique scent that was Jack. Turning his head, he captured his lover's mouth, even as he felt hands reaching for the tie of his robe. "Now, about that welcome home," Jack whispered.
Jack released the tie and his hands roamed underneath, bringing a soft moan, quickly swallowed up in the passionate kiss that followed. The night was velvet dark, the lights below shined off the bay and the channel out to the sea. Before him he could see everything, his whole world laid out before him. Past and future, it was all laid out before him. For the first time, Ianto Jones thought there might actually be a future. Looking up at the stars, his last coherent thought as fabric slide back from his shoulders, no matter what the rift, and anything else sent through, at least there was a future for them, if only for a little while.