Disclaimer: I don't own Torchwood and I am not making any profit from this work.
At The End of the Day
Ianto's life fitted into five cardboard boxes and a black bin bags. His entire life slotted away so neatly that they could simply label the stuff and put in the same storage room as Tosh's things. Gwen's tidy cursive delicately wrote his name out on the side of the boxes as though she were writing the word of God, and they put them away and closed the door.
His flat was empty, and the rent paid out until the end of the month, when it would cease to be Ianto's. The landlady had looked sad at the news and said she would miss him, even if he did support the wrong rugby team. When Rhys had heard the news, he had insisted on coming to help clear out the flat. Somewhere along the line, both Jack and Gwen had missed it, but Ianto and Rhys had gotten along well, and had formed their own friendship.
But at the end of the day, Ianto was gone.
Jack had allowed a funeral, a proper burial. It wasn't anything Torchwood-related that had taken Ianto; nothing suspicious, nothing out of the ordinary, so he had bent the rules just this once. There was no Suzie, no Yvonne, to tell him he was doing the wrong thing, and Gwen had only squeezed his arm in silent approval and moved on.
The funeral had been a modest affair. It was August, and the weather unusually warm. The cemetery chapel had been bursting, full of people from Ianto's schooldays, university days, varying rugby teams, various local pubs around South Wales that he had frequented throughout his life, surviving friends and coworkers from London, and his extensive family that neither Jack nor Gwen really knew.
Ianto's father was long gone, and his mother had little resemblance to her lost son. She had cried openly, completely unashamed, all the way through the service, while Ianto's aunts and uncles had maintained a quiet, painful dignity that had broken at the graveside into tissue-smeared tears.
"Just like his father, just like his father," Mrs Jones had told Jack, crying into his shoulder. "Here one day and gone the next and he was one of the best things that had ever happened to this family, my Yan."
Jack knew how Ianto's father had died - he had been told some years before - and while the way he had died bore absolutely no resemblance to Ianto's own passing, the sudden departure was the same. He let Mrs Jones cry into his coat, and if he shed his own tears in the midst of it all, nobody would blame him.
"You don't take many days off, Yan, seeing as your family are only in Newport."
"What?" Ianto blinked at Jack, then laughed. "Only my Mam these days, and she's always off over the border to visit my Aunt Ceri. Not too well these days, Aunt Ceri, but I can't stand the woman..."
"What about your father?"
Ianto shrugged and said, "He's been gone a long time now, Jack."
"Oh, shit, I'm sorry, I..." Jack made to apologise, but Ianto waved him off casually.
"Don't be. It's a long time ago now. And it was quick; he never suffered. Best sort of death you could hope for."
"How...did he die?" Jack asked delicately.
"Had an aneurysm in his sleep and just died in the night. Never felt a thing, the doctors said. Nobody even knew he was ill, he hadn't been complaining of anything...just one of those things," Ianto shrugged. "I was about fifteen. Just before my sixteenth birthday. It was very quick, really. Here one minute, gone the next. Sudden...but no suffering."
Jack had approached Ianto's mother just after his death to enquire, as delicately as possible, as to whether he could put something in the coffin to buried with Ianto. He had found out then that Mrs Jones had known about their relationship all along. Ianto had kept no secrets from his mother in that aspect, and she knew not only who Jack was, but who he had been to her son.
And she hadn't minded in the slightest.
Jack had gone to see the body once, in the funeral parlour that smelled funny with the sombre air. He hadn't been able to really look at Ianto's face - he couldn't stand to see the waxy skin and bluing tinges of a corpse, and had simply slipped the stopwatch (by then, long broken) into Ianto's cold left hand, brushed a lingering touch over stiff fingers, and had fled the parlour.
He had locked himself in his office that evening and cried in earnest.
When Gwen came in the next morning, red-eyed and sniffly, Jack hadn't the heart to do any investigations or filing, and they had sat on the sofa behind Tosh's old, abandoned workstation, and simply talked. First generically, and then about Ianto.
"Did you...really love him, then?" Gwen asked.
"Yes," Jack said, with no preamble, and ran his hands through his hair in an exasperated manner. "For a long time. Maybe always. I don't know. But I loved him. I really loved him."
"He was right then," Gwen said, with a tiny, shy smile, and she looked down at the grille flooring. "He said...that he knew you loved him really, whether you knew it yourself or not. I just thought he had a bit of an ego, really."
"Well, he's a Newport F.C. supporter!" Gwen defended her, and the short laughter that broke the quiet was...alarming.
The silence that followed was oppressive and damning, before Gwen whispered:
Jack shrugged, and murmured, "He smoked. Maybe that's why."
"He was only thirty-four."
"Since when do you smoke?" Jack asked incredulously as Ianto lit up the cigarette, unashamed.
"I dunno," Ianto said, tucking the lighter away and taking a long drag. "Since I was twenty, maybe. Started in university for proper."
"Yeah. Smoked a little bit as a kid, but that was just to look cool," Ianto shrugged. "Smoking in uni helped with the stress of deadlines. My school hadn't been too tough on them and then I realised you could fail if you missed deadlines. Stress levels spiked a bit."
"It'll kill you," Jack said uneasily, watching the tip of the cigarette flare to life and fade away again in the windy gloom of a Welsh evening on the Plass.
"Torchwood will get me first," Ianto said, his posture already relaxing. And Jack had to admit that it was nice to see, after a long and tense day. He had to admit that whatever it was that calmed Ianto - the nicotine, the familiarity, the having something to do - was working, and winding him down. And Torchwood was something that could make you snap so easily.
"Fair point," Jack had admitted eventually. They leaned on the railings, watching the water in the bay sparkle with the nightlights of a Cardiff Friday night, and he slipped his arm around Ianto's waist. "But you do not smoke in the Hub, got it?"
"Uh, Jack, I've been working here a year and a half. What makes you think this is my first one in eighteen months?" Ianto said, grinning around the white stick.
"Well, you haven't been smoking out here. I would have noticed," Jack said.
"Usually at home. Landlady doesn't mind. Smokes like a chimney herself," Ianto shrugged. "But it's after eleven and it's been a ridiculous day. I really, really needed this one."
"Smoke them at that rate and I'm not sure Torchwood will get you first," Jack mused as Ianto stubbed it out and threw it away. "You're so having a breath mint before I kiss you, though."
"You haven't noticed before."
The funeral was almost two months ago now, but Jack still visits the grave daily. The earth is still brown and stark, because the impending has prevented plant growth, but Rhys had confessed to planting flower seeds in the topsoil that would grow and bloom in the spring and summer. Jack isn't sure he likes the idea of graves looking beautiful, but it has to look better than as if Ianto was only buried this morning.
The weather is a lot gloomier now - October is never Jack's favourite month in any part of Wales, let alone somewhere with such a 'brisk' sea breeze - but it's not foul yet. The flowers in Jack's hands still look bright and pretty in the cloudy light and he places them almost reverently on the earth as if something will break.
"You're missing a lot down there, you know," he tells Ianto jokingly, and it's a little easier to do it now. It still hurts, every single day, but in a way it's easier knowing that he didn't suffer and that he died happy with his life and what he'd made of it. "Turns out Gwen's new baby is going to be a boy. Rhys is absolutely over the moon. Says it's not the same taking your daughter to the rugby. The slap mark was pretty impressive, you know."
He settles to sit cross-legged in the grass opposite the gravestone. The ground is cold and damp, but he ignores that and faces the fresh, polished gravestone.
"She's talking of naming it after you, you know. Rhys isn't acting against it either. Think I should step in and save you from embarrassment?"
He can imagine the scandalised look on Ianto's face if she'd ever suggested that sort of thing to him when he was alive - but then, if he'd been alive, she wouldn't be doing it.
"I told her she should call it Owen, but she says she doesn't want her son to become a git," Jack continued, with a low chuckle. "So then I said she should combine the names. Can you imagine that? Ianto Owen Williams. How Welsh can you get? It's almost more Welsh than Ianto Jones."
It was almost ironic, really, and Jack suspected that Gwen realised that. Ianto had died whilst he had been out shopping for a congratulations present for her and Rhys after they'd found out she was pregnant with their second baby - this long-awaited baby boy. He'd had a heart attack and died in the middle of the shopping centre; dead, the paramedics had later confirmed, before he'd even hit the floor. One of the witnesses said he'd been whistling, and had looked fine, then just...stopped.
It was frightening, to Jack, knowing that people could be erased from this earth with such little warning, but it was also a blessing that he hadn't had time to tear himself apart over it all. There had been no agonising wait, no awful pacings in hospital corridors. Just a phone call from the morgue, and then straight into the getting over losing someone that he'd loved so much.
"I'll make sure to tell the new kid about how he's named after a man who was obsessed with the buttons on stopwatches," Jack teased lightly, and it was almost as if Ianto was sitting there opposite him, teasing right back.
The wind hissed through, chilly and warning, and Jack rose again, arranging the flowers carefully on the earth as he stood up.
"Give the team hell for me," Jack said, "and find out where in God's name Owen hid the research on Janet while you're at it, yeah?"
He turned and strode away across the cemetery, the pain twinging in his chest. The end of one day had come, but Jack's days would continue regardless. He had always known that, but it made losing Ianto no easier.