TITLE: Never Got To Say Goodbye
AUTHOR: Erin Giles
WARNINGS: Character Death.
PAIRINGS/CHARACTERS: Jack/Ianto, Gwen/Rhys (implied)
DISCLAIMER: Torchwood is property of the BBC.
SUMMARY: Jack has always lived his life without regrets. That is until today.
AUTHOR NOTES: I am so sorry about this fic. You will all need tissues. I think I have some issues I need to work out.
Jack was stood on the top of Cardiff City Hall; Gwen could see him from where she'd parked her car outside the University. She watched him standing there for a long moment out through the windscreen of her car. She was distracted as a carload of students pulled into the space beside her, tumbling out onto the street, laughing as one of them told really bad 'Your Mum' jokes. They pulled rucksacks from the boot of the car, some of them grasping hands as they walked away to the building, one girl jumping on the back of her friend, and screeching as he took off through the park almost dumping her in the flowerbeds.
Gwen pulled herself from her car, slamming the door shut behind her as she crossed the road to the entrance to City Hall. She hated heights, she'd only been up on the roof of the Millennium Centre with Jack once, but she had to do this for Jack now.
She found him standing exactly where he had been for most of the day. Dusk was settling over the city in a deep crimson red as the last remnants of tourists found their way back to their hotels.
"Jack?" she called when she was still a good ten feet from him, her fingers playing unconsciously with her keys. He didn't seem to acknowledge her, but she stepped forward anyway, hugging herself when she felt the wind blowing in from Cardigan Bay.
"Jack, you can't stay up here forever." Gwen tried to reason, stepping forward again until she was almost level with him. She tentatively reached a hand out towards him before she placed it gently on his upper arm, squeezing in reassurance. She was bolstered somewhat when he didn't shrug her off immediately, but he still remained silent.
"Jack," Gwen tried again, stepping nearer to him so she could see his eyes were bloodshot from crying, "please. Say something."
There was a long pause in which Gwen listened to the roar of the Cardiff traffic below, a hand reaching out unconsciously for the stone gargoyle on the roof.
"I never told him," Jack said, so softly Gwen thought she'd misheard. She didn't know what to say, but soon found that she didn't have to say anything.
"We never talked about how we felt, we just spent so long assuming that the other knew," Jack continued quietly, barely audible above the wind that was blowing Gwen's hair in her face, "and I wonder now if he really did know how much I loved him."
"He knew," Gwen interjected quickly, her hand sliding down the length of Jack's arm until she found his hand, her small one fitting inside his, "he definitely knew."
"Are you sure?" Jack asked, turning to look at Gwen for the first time since she'd emerged onto the roof.
She nodded, "I'm sure, Jack."
"I just wish I'd told him, just wish I'd had a chance to say goodbye, but," Jack chocked back a sob, looking back out over Cardiff as he recalled the incident that had barely been twenty-four hours ago.
"Ianto, no, Ianto, come on," Jack called desperately, slapping at Ianto's cheek ineffectively. The body in his arms was cold though, had been dead a long time before he even got to it.
Gwen was feeling for a pulse at his neck as Jack gathered Ianto into his arms, pulling him up from the cold concrete floor of the warehouse and tucking a leg under him. He watched in denial as Gwen pulled her hand back from Ianto's neck, moving it up to his forehead where she tried to wipe some of the blood away with the sleeve of her jumper.
"Come on Ianto," Jack whispered next to Ianto's ear, but there was no response. "I was supposed to take you to the cinema tonight to see the new Bond film. My treat, remember?"
Jack heard Gwen crying but he ignored her as she tapped her earpiece to get in contact with the Hub.
"We've found him," Gwen said softly as she picked up Ianto's larger hand, cradling it against her chest as if she could bring him back by sheer force of will. "He's dead." Her voice broke on the last word and that somehow broke Jack's spirit.
"That new Bond film opens this weekend," Ianto voiced as he flicked through the morning paper, looking down at the Cineworld times.
"Is this you hinting that you want me to take you to the cinema this weekend?" Jack asked from where he was sat beside Ianto on the couch, pawing through a box of alien tech that he and Ianto were supposed to be sorting.
"Might be if you took any hints," Ianto replied as he started flicking through the paper, reading the sports section now.
"Hey! I take hints. I took you to that restaurant last month that you said you liked."
"I booked the table, and reminded you the day before and-"
"Fine, I don't take hints." Jack huffed, pausing for a moment before he continued, not looking at Ianto. "Do you want to go to the cinema this weekend to see the new Bond film?" Jack asked as he pulled a bit of tech that looked suspiciously like an egg timer from the box. "My treat?" Jack prompted when Ianto didn't reply.
"And you'll actually let me watch the film this time instead of distracting me with your hands?" Ianto asked, raising an eyebrow sceptically.
"You were never a scout."
"No," Jack admitted reluctantly, "but if I was I would have made a good one."
"I think you're possibly thinking of the Brownies." Ianto smirked down at the newspaper.
"Oi!" Jack admonished, batting Ianto's arm with the egg timer in his hand.
"Jack?" Gwen questioned after the silence had gone on too long, tugging on his hand slightly to get his attention. He looked down at her, sniffing slightly before he pulled her into a one armed hug, resting his chin on the top of her head. There was another brief moment when he looked out at the city of Cardiff, getting on with its life in the face of another day, another death, before he kissed the top of Gwen's head. He had a horrible moment where he wished that it were Ianto and not Gwen who was in his arms at that moment in time. He pushed that thought away as he pulled away from Gwen, but she kept a hold of him, coaxing him towards the fire exit.
"Come back with me," Gwen encouraged, "Rhys will cook us some dinner."
Jack hesitated, his hand still in Gwen's as he stopped in his tracks.
"I'll make you dinner," Ianto called as Jack dashed across the Hub, pulling his coat on over his shoulders as he made for the armoury.
"Maybe another night Ianto," Jack replied, not really paying attention as he checked the Weevil spray in his pocket, not even turning to say goodbye to Ianto properly as he headed towards the cog door, "maybe when the Rift is less busy and you're less injured." Jack called over his shoulder as the cog door rolled shut behind him.
"But I wanted-"
Jack could envision Ianto stood in the middle of the Hub now, his hands on his hips, sleeves rolled up and top button undone, looking decidedly dishevelled. He could imagine him limping back over to the couch and gingerly sitting down on it. He wished he'd stuck around to hear the end of the sentence, to hear every Welsh vowel as Ianto called after him, but he hadn't.
"Jack?" Gwen prompted again, seeing his hesitation.
"Are you sure he knew?" Jack asked, and he sounded so uncertain it almost unnerved Gwen.
"He knew," Gwen said again, squeezing Jack's hand.
"You okay, Ianto?" Gwen asked, sitting down on the tatty old couch under the Torchwood sign.
"Hmm?" Ianto looked up distractedly from the files in his hands, Gwen noting that Toshiko's name was at the top.
"Just wondering if you're alright love, you look a bit," Gwen shrugged, "off."
"Yeah," Ianto sighed, thoroughly unconvincing. Gwen just continued to look at him, waiting for him to crack, although if she knew Ianto Jones that could be sometime after never.
"It'll sound daft."
"We work for a supposedly secret organisation, yet everyone in Cardiff knows who we are, tell me something more daft than that." Gwen retorted, nudging his arm with her own as she put her feet up on the coffee table in front of her.
Ianto glared at her sideways before he resumed looking at the files in his hands. Gwen sighed before she snatched the files from Ianto's hands.
Ianto tried to grasp the files back from Gwen but she held them out of reach, twisting on the couch slightly so her back was to him.
"Gwen!" Ianto snapped.
"Tell me what's wrong with you and I'll give you your files back."
"That's really mature," Ianto groused.
It didn't deter Gwen, she wiggled the files in front of Ianto's face tauntingly, giggling and pulling them out of his reach when Ianto tried to grasp for them. Gwen watched as Ianto folded his arms defiantly, causing Gwen to sigh and hand the files back to Ianto.
"I'm just teasing, sweetheart," Gwen said, patting Ianto on the arm before she was pulling herself to her feet.
"I feel guilty," Ianto blurted out. Gwen turned back to him, watching him for a moment before she took up her seat on the couch again.
Ianto sighed again, looking back down at the file in his hand. "I know it'll sound daft before you start telling me I'm talking rubbish, but I can't help it."
Ianto looked over at Gwen who was waiting expectantly.
"I feel guilty about you know, when Tosh and Owen are, you know."
"Yes, thank you for that Ianto, that made perfect sense."
"I feel guilty about the fact being with Jack makes me happy, giddy even, when Tosh and Owen are dead." Ianto trailed off in a whisper, fidgeting with the hem of his jacket.
"Oh love," Gwen reached out and rubbed Ianto's arm. "You shouldn't feel guilty about something like that. You should never feel guilty about being in love."
Gwen wasn't sure what shocked her more, the fact Ianto didn't dispute her proclamation of love or the cute expression Ianto now had on his face.
"Does he know?" Gwen asked eventually, curiosity getting the better of her as Ianto looked down at the forgotten files in his lap.
Ianto sort of half shrugged, causing Gwen to frown.
"Does he love you?" Gwen decided to take a different tact.
"Yeah," Ianto answered almost immediately, nodding bashfully. "I mean, he's never said as much but it's the way I catch him watching me or the things he says, or the way he holds me, and bloody hell shut me up I sound like a love sick teenager."
"I think it's sweet," Gwen cooed.
"Exactly my point," Ianto replied, causing Gwen to slap him lightly on the arm. He smiled at her, kissing her on the cheek before pulling himself to his feet and taking his files with him.
Jack let Gwen lead him from the roof of the City Hall, back down all the stairs and out the front of the building. Jack also let Gwen shove him into the passenger's seat of her car. The SUV was still back at the Hub, Ianto's blood all over the back seat. Jack would have to clean it at some point, like he would have to clean his coat.
He absentmindedly picked at a dry patch of blood on the sleeve of it as Gwen navigated her way back across town. Jack watched city life flashing by his window as he lent his head against the cool glass, watching fascinated when they stopped at the traffic lights as a young man in a suit picked up a small girl, balancing her on his hip before crossing the road with her. He let out a sigh and watched as his breath fogged up the window. He resisted the temptation to wipe it away and instead continued to watch the streetlights flickering on through the foggy window. It was if he was watching another world that didn't seem as cruel through frosted glass.
Ianto didn't say anything as he took his shoes, tie and jacket off, lying down beside Jack on the bed not big enough for one. He lay with his back against the cold concrete wall, not touching Jack, just watching the hairs on the back of Jack's neck that moved against his collar, waiting.
Jack likewise didn't say anything, even when he eventually rolled over so he was facing Ianto. They stared into each others red-ringed eyes for a long moment before Jack reached out for Ianto, his hands snaking round Ianto's back and pulling him close. It wasn't sexual, just a desperate need on Jack's part to avoid the reality of his immortality for a moment by clinging onto the very mortal presence of Ianto. Death bore heavy on both of their shoulders, but Jack was riddled with the guilt that he would never have the comfort of death. He watched death take everything he ever loved, tease him with its promises of darkness, only to shove him back into the cruel world again where there was nothing but the grief of loss. Jack may live forever but he knew there were only so many times his heart could break unevenly before it shattered.
Jack's head found its way to the crook of Ianto's neck, his nose nuzzling Ianto's pulse point as his hand fisted in the shirt material just above his heart. The steady thrum of it was the only thing that kept Jack grounded that night as he lay in the bitter wake of Tosh and Owen's death. They never talked about it, how much it hurt, how Ianto and Gwen would die eventually too – what use was there in stating the obvious.
He could remember when they showered together in the morning, watching Ianto shaving through the frosted glass of the shower so that he couldn't see the cuts and bruises. His shape looked perfect through the fuzzy steam of the warm shower, causing Jack to trace his outline in the condensation on the glass until Ianto was pulling back the door, peering inside.
"Don't use all the hot water."
Jack nodded before Ianto shut the door, disappearing to go and get dressed, leaving Jack alone with the impression of Ianto on the shower door slowly condensing over again. Jack turned off the hot water before it disappeared all together.
He didn't notice the car had stopped until Gwen's voice was in his ear again, bringing him with a jarring jolt back to reality. It felt cold and empty. He noted though that the thermostat in the car said it was five degrees above zero. He sat for a moment staring out the front windscreen as Gwen sat beside him, watching him nervously.
"Take me to Ianto's," Jack said so softly, Gwen thought she had misheard him.
"Jack?" Gwen questioned, a hand reaching out tentatively towards him.
"I want to go to Ianto's flat," Jack said again, turning to look at Gwen this time, but she made no move to put the keys back in the ignition.
"Jack, I don't think-" Gwen started.
"I don't care what you think," Jack interrupted sharply, causing Gwen to almost flinch. "I don't want to sit round a dinner table with you and Rhys playing happy families."
Gwen frowned, tears slipping down her cheeks, shocked at how callous Jack was being. She didn't say anything as she started the car again and pulled out from the curb, driving across town towards Grangetown. No further words were exchanged and Jack didn't even so much as utter a thank you as he got out the car when Gwen pulled up outside Ianto's flat. She didn't follow him, just sat in the car and watched as he disappeared inside. She waited, for what she didn't know, but it somewhat satisfied her as she saw Jack's shadow pass in front of the window of Ianto's living room.
Only it wasn't Ianto's living room now. It was property of Torchwood. She and Jack would have to bundle all his stuff into boxes and put it into long-term storage. But not tonight. Tonight she wanted to go home to Rhys, curl up in his arms and pretend that she led something akin to a normal life, one where she didn't have to say goodbye to her friends and watch as Jack fell apart.
She felt guilty as she curled into Rhys' lap on the sofa, sobbing again now. Jack had no one to hold him.
"Are you awake?"
"Sort of." Came the muffled reply from Ianto whose head was half buried in the pillow beside Jack's head.
"Awake enough for a game?" Jack prompted. There was a long pause where Jack could almost hear the wheels in Ianto's head turning.
"Do I have to move?" Ianto asked, voice foggy sounding with sleep.
"No," Jack answered quickly, his hand moving from where it was behind his head to fall on top of Ianto's. There was another long silence, which Jack took to mean Ianto was agreeing to play.
"Close your eyes," Jack whispered, turning slightly so his lips were almost level with Ianto's ear.
"They are closed," Ianto mumbled into the pillow, and Jack caught the edges of Ianto's lips quirking into a smile. Jack started threading his fingers through Ianto's hair.
"Okay then, I want you to imagine-"
"This isn't you trying to get me to act out one of your kinky fantasies again is it?" Ianto interrupted.
"I've never heard any complaints before," Jack replied, mock indignantly. "And no, it's not one of my kinky fantasies, although I could always make it one."
Ianto didn't say anything, which just caused Jack to smile even more.
"Anyway, where was I?" Jack started again.
"Imagining something that wasn't kinky, which frankly I'm finding very hard to imagine." Ianto retorted quickly.
"Don't strain yourself," Jack teased before his fingers were combing through Ianto's hair again in a form of comfort, propping himself up on one elbow so he could look down at the recumbent form of Ianto.
"Anyway, I want you to imagine me," Jack paused for dramatic effect and caught one of Ianto's eyes winking open at him.
"Then I want you to imagine a flat." Jack was interrupted again.
"This game is far too taxing for this time of night," Ianto mocked, one eye still looking critically up at Jack.
"Shush you, you're supposed to be imaging," Jack reprimanded, and was pleased to see Ianto's eye snap shut.
"And then I want you to imagine a double bed."
"I don't think I can remember what one looks like," Ianto voiced sleepily.
"That's sort of my point," Jack finished, continuing to watch Ianto closely. "We spend too many hours in the Hub as it is, and as you've been telling me for a long time now, this bed is barely big enough for one person, let alone two fully grown men. Also, if my memory serves me right, you have a perfectly respectable flat five minutes down the road."
Ianto's eyes opened after a long moment, rolling over slightly so he could see Jack.
"Are you asking to move in with me?" Ianto asked as coolly as he could muster in his half-asleep state.
"No." Jack looked flustered now, back peddling slightly as he took in Ianto's slightly amused expression. There was a moment when neither of them said anything before Ianto, as calm as anything, lay back down on the bed, flat on his belly, burying his head back in the pillows next to Jack's elbow.
"I'll get a key cut for you in the morning," Ianto said softly, voice muffled again by the pillow as his hand flopped lazily over Jack's torso, tugging him closer. Jack faltered for a moment before he lay back down beside Ianto, a lazy smile spreading over his face as he turned into Ianto's side so he didn't fall off the edge of the bed.
Ianto's double bed felt too big now as Jack lay down on his side. He buried his head in the pillow, smelling himself on the cover. He rolled over onto his back so he was lying in the middle of the bed, exhaling before he rolled over onto his stomach, his head now buried in Ianto's pillow. He inhaled until he could see stars dancing in front of his eyes, and even then he kept going, almost suffocating himself. He stopped at the last minute, exhaling as he turned his head sideways. Ianto would never forgive him for killing himself, especially not on Ianto's side of the bed. He'd at least remembered to take his shoes and coat off before lying down. His coat hung in the hall next to Ianto's, his boots stood next to Ianto's shoes in regimented fashion. It was the closest he would ever get to normality. It was as close as he'd been to living in a long time.
"What am I supposed to do now?" Jack asked the ceiling. The ceiling had no answer, but Jack didn't need one.
You get up. You pick up all the pieces that you think will never fit back together again. You go on living – not one death to another, really living. You carry on. You learn to love again. You will love again. You'll close your eyes and you'll remember. You'll smile.
It was Ianto's voice that answered.