An End To The Waiting
An End To The Waiting
Captain Jack Harkness does not sleep. He waits.
Waits for morning to break. Waits for time to pass. Waits for the Doctor to come back to Cardiff. (Back for him).
He waits a lot. By the time the end of the twentieth century nears, Jack has actually come to like working for Torchwood. The twenty-first century is when everything changes; Jack only hopes that it's for the better.
Those hopes are dashed on New Years' Eve. But Jack does less waiting when he has his own team to run. Leadership comes with mountains of paperwork.
Leadership also comes with the responsibility of hiring new people. Ianto Jones takes the decision out of his hands with the liquid heaven in a cup he calls coffee. The pterodactyl-catching is just icing on the proverbial cake.
Even when he discovers the Cyberwoman that was hidden in his basement, Jack does not regret hiring Ianto. He only regrets that he was he was too lost in his waiting to miss, once again, one of his team quietly falling apart next to him.
He resolves to do better. Ianto is still alive (thanks to him, thanks to what he is now), and he has a chance to make it better. In those four weeks of Ianto's suspension, Jack rediscovers what it is like to get to truly know someone.
It's a nice change, discovering something pleasant.
Camping is something else Jack hoped to rediscover an appreciation for, but his plan for that works out about as well as Suzie's plans for the glove. After (once again) discovering the depths of depravity that humans are capable of, Jack's faith is shaken in the human race. But not in his team. Owen will take care of Gwen (too well, not the right ways, he's looking for the wrong things in the wrong place; just like he did, before he met Rose and the Doctor), and Tosh is spending the night in with old movies and her cockatiel Yuki.
Ianto has an empty apartment that only has one picture of Lisa in it, to show that someone lives there. He is so hurt and vulnerable, but still so brave and not at all broken, even if his heart feels shattered.
Jack has no idea how to put him back together again, but he tries his best with soft words and softer touches to let their broken edges fit each other back to something resembling sanity.
The resemblance only gets clearer the longer they lose themselves in each other. Jack's scared he's losing himself until he temporarily loses his heart to the real Captain Jack Harkness.
Once he's back in his own time, and after he breathes a deep, heartfelt sigh of relief at the fact, it occurs to him that 1) the twenty-first century isn't his own time, and 2) he couldn't have permanently lost his heart to his namesake because 3) Ianto already had prior claim.
And Jack knew firsthand that Ianto never let go of anyone he loved with anything like ease. By the time Bilis Manger brainwashes his team into mutinying against him, Ianto has worked his way so far beneath the armor of Jack's heart that Ianto's 'betrayal' cuts as deeply as if it was true (deeper than it had when it was Lisa).
It's that cognitive dissonance that makes him not think about the consequences of rushing after the Doctor. He can't not go after the Time Lord; he's waited over a century for him, after all.
But if Jack hadn't been purposely not thinking about Ianto (because it hurts him so much, even when it shouldn't) he might have thought about how much it would hurt Ianto to be left behind like so much spilled coffee grounds.
The humans at the end of the world are glorious; the aftermath, anything but.
It's a good thing Jack doesn't sleep; after the Year That (Thankfully) Never Was, he doesn't know if he could manage it. When on the TARDIS, the sleep that Jack does get is fitful. Only a small part of this is because of nightmares.
He's wrong, according to the Doctor. The Master calling him a freak and treating him like an experiment, or turn-of-the-century Torchwood 'testing' him in much the same ways had never cut so deep into his heart as the fact that the man he'd looked up tofor most of his life could not stand to be around him.
Even Ianto, after he'd killed the Cyberwoman that used to be Lisa, had not reviled him that much.
As he tosses and turns in his bed, clinging to a pillow like it would hold him back, Jack has an epiphany hit him with all the blunt force of a tornado of feathers. The unsettling revelation that he's been thinking of Ianto almost solely to tide him through the past year, and very rarely of the team as a whole, or any of the other members, brings home to him how much Ianto has come to mean to him.
Ianto is home. As much as the TARDIS ever was.
In his mind, Jack thought he had been waiting for the Doctor, for the answers that turned out to not be as satisfactory as he'd hoped. But his heart…his heart had been waiting for someone like Ianto, someone who sees his 'freakishness' as just another part of what he is, and loves him for who he is.
Jack does acknowledge, though, that while he told the Doctor he'd come back for his team, he needs to give more of himself to the team, not just Ianto. Without Torchwood, he never would have met the man, after all.
He only hopes that Ianto is as glad to have him back, as Jack is glad to be back.
Jack's hopes are answered, when Ianto agrees to go out with him. After their first date, Ianto invites him in for coffee – and maybe 'coffee', though Jack doesn't expect to be let back into Ianto's bed this soon; once again, he just dares to hope. As they hesitantly settle into a cuddle on the couch, Jack lets himself ask, "I know I was gone for…well, longer than I planned to be." The Doctor never had been good at landings. He'd wanted to be gone just long enough that his team would have known he'd been gone, but not so long that they would have moved on without him.
Still, two weeks, six months; with a missing year in between, it's not as bad as it could have been, considering the Doctor's track record.
The questioning raise of Ianto's eyebrow in response still makes Jack's thoughts turn lewd faster than the grins of those acrobat twins had.
"I just…when I got back I wasn't…I wasn't sure you'd say yes," he finally lets out in an embarrassed rush. He can't ask Ianto what he really wants to know: had there been anyone else while he was gone? It took Jack twice as long as it seems to Ianto to even admit to himself that he wanted more from their relationship. The 51st century is a time of sexual freedom, but at the price of emotional repression. He'd never been in love until the Doctor and Rose, and despite over a hundred years of learning since then, he finds it difficult to tell Ianto how he feels.
Despite his reputation, Jack can do monogamy. Fidelity is easy for him, but he's rarely let himself become so attached to a single person – in the Doctor and Rose's case, a couple – that he is uninterested in purely recreational sex.
Purely emotional sex has the ability to unman him as nothing else Jack has ever experienced can.
"I waited for you," Ianto replies placidly, loyalty shining from his eyes…along with other, purer, emotions.
And that's something that Jack never even dared to hope for.
That night, curled up in Ianto's arms after some soul-melting kisses and nothing more, Jack sleeps.