Ianto looked around the chest of drawers for his tie. His clothes had all turned up in strange places this morning – trousers over the lamp, waistcoat folded and placed on a shelf of the bookcase – and he had a sneaking suspicion that he knew who was responsible. The suspect's arms slid around his waist from behind and pulled him away from the drawers, a tie dangling from one hand against his hip, and back against a firm chest, "Looking for this?"
He smiled and lifted Jack's hand by the tie, "How did you know?"
Jack chuckled and pulled his hand back then Ianto tried to take the tie off him, "Let me." He put the tie in his pocket and turned Ianto to face the mirror, fastening the buttons of his shirt before he turned him round to face him and slipped the tie around his neck, tying a neat Windsor knot, "There, waistcoat?"
"Thank you." Ianto smiled and kissed him briefly, then pulled his waistcoat on and fastened it up, looking at Jack through his lashes, "You ready?" He meant more than just Jack's attire and work necessities.
He understood, "I'm ready."
Ianto's car was still at the Hub from the day before, so they took the Jag in again with the roof up – they'd had quite enough of the sun for a while, and the wind obstructed conversation. They had a lot to talk about.
"So what have the last six years brought you, apart from coffee and most of the United Kingdom?" Jack looked across and smiled at him.
Ianto smiled back at him, sighed and closed his eyes, "I've got another nephew, called Gethin, who's just gone four. One Goddaughter called Anna-Louise who is the brightest little thing I've ever seen. She's coming up two. My cousin's got married and divorced again – and when I say 'again', this is divorce number three." He played with his cuff, "My mum died, nearly a year ago. Cancer."
Jack reached across and took his hand, rubbing his thumb across the knuckles, "I'm sorry." He'd never met Morg (Morgana, but not if you wanted her to like you), but he knew that Ianto was extremely fond of her and that they were extremely close.
"Yeah," He looked down at his hand in Jack's and turned it over to squeeze back, "She's back with Tad."
"You believe that?"
Jack was watching the road still, and he'd had to take his hand back to change gear – it had created distance between them again. Ianto frowned, "She did, that's enough for me."
"Hey," Jack smiled at his warmly and squeezed his hand again briefly before he had to change gear again, "it's good, you won't hear a word against it from me."
"But, with aliens and other worlds and big balls of gas, where could Heaven fit into that?"
The immortal shrugged, "I've seen so many things, wonderful and terrible things, I could never say that something doesn't exist. If it gives someone hope, if it can give me hope, then I'll have a go at believing in it."
"Does it give you hope?"
Jack was silent, thinking about the times when he'd lost someone and the only thing that had shed a light in the darkness was the hope that they'd gone somewhere better, the times when they'd risked their lives and he entrusted them to someone who could watch over them better than he could, the times when he'd come back from the dead and despaired until he persuaded himself that it was part of something bigger. He quirked a smile, "Yeah, it does."
"Good." They pulled into the underground carpark and got out of the car in companionable silence, checking for any spectators before they opened the secret door and got into the lift. "The team will be glad to have you back, as well" he amended with a soft smile, stepping into Jack's arms as the lift descended, "it's not been the same without you."
"It wasn't the same without you, either." Jack held onto him and swayed slightly, "It's why I couldn't stay. We should get lift music in here."
"James Blunt first thing in the morning? Joyous." Ianto smirked at Jack's reflection.
"We could have good lift music."
Jack tapped a finger on his jaw as he feigned deep thought, "Led Zeppelin?" Ianto raised an eyebrow,
"Stairway to Heaven."
"That I could cope with," he grinned, "I'll get on it."
They arrived at the bottom, "Might have to slow the lift down so that we get to hear the whole song."
"Oh yes," Ianto pushed the button and followed Jack out into the Hub, "I can see that working. Aliens take over Newport because the lift took 8 minutes so that we could hear the whole of Stairway."
"It's be worse if I insisted on the whole album," Jack laughed.
"How many of them have you slept with then?" Ianto tossed over his shoulder as he headed down the stairs to the coffee machine.
Jack bellowed with laughter, "Only Sandy Denny, I promise," he looked around, "now is it just me or is it quiet in here?"
"They're late in," Ianto agreed, "must have pulled a late one. We've probably got an hour or so."
"Oh yeah?" Jack sidled up behind him and squeezed him, "Whatever are we going to do with ourselves for an hour then?"
"I have an idea," Ianto passed him a mug of coffee – his blue and white striped mug – and smiled at the look of pure bliss and resolved longing on Jack's face, "we could do some filing." Jack's face fell slightly and he laughed, "Or we could reset the lift before they get in."
"Or we could go down to my bunker?"
"Later." Ianto promised, pulling Jack into a coffee flavoured kiss, "But now I want to play with the lift."
"Lift sex?" Jack looked hopeful, Ianto laughed and picked up his MP3 player and a hand-held computer, whilst Jack grabbed a screwdriver and followed him.
They laughed a lot as they worked, singing along as they played tunes through the lift's sound systems (it already had speakers wired in, which saved them a lot of work). In the end, they put a selection of songs on the system, so that it played a random piece of music whenever the lift started up.
Once they finished, Jack headed up to his office, whilst Ianto headed for the coffee machine. Jack appeared to take a deep breath before stepping into the room and sitting down at his desk; Ianto smiled to himself and went to make the coffee, slipping back into the old routine as quickly as he could. When he took the coffees up to Jack's office, the immortal man had his hands splayed on the desk and tears in his eyes as he looked up at Ianto.
He held up his own mug and put Jack's blue and white striped one down in front of him. "Hey, coffee?"
"You're a star, Ianto." He picked the mug up and smiled into it, groaning as the flavours washed through his mouth, "God, I've missed your coffee." Ianto smiled and bent to kiss him, leaving his hand on Jack's shoulder when he pulled back. "Yeah," Jack grinned, "I missed that too."
The cog door rolled back, admitting Tosh and Owen bickering lightly. They waved a greeting up to the two men in the office and sat down at their desks, starting up their computers and opening reports whilst Ianto went back to the kitchenette to put on another pot of coffee. Gwen arrived just in time to collect her mug from his tray as she passed him on the way to her own desk, calling out greetings to everyone and beaming broadly. "Jamie slept through last night!" she laughed, "we're getting there."
Tosh cooed and leaned back in her chair, holding her mug in both hands, "He's grown so fast; they both seem to have grown much faster than Becca did at their age."
"Yeah, it seems that way, but Mum assures me they haven't." Gwen sighed, flopping into her chair, "So, Ianto, how did it go yesterday?"
"Yesterday?" he raised an eyebrow at her and looked through the file of what they'd sorted and stored the day before.
"Yeah, with Jack," she rolled her eyes and took the file off him, "How was he?"
Ianto smiled over her shoulder at Jack, who had emerged from his office, "He's fine."
Gwen followed his gaze and beamed up at Jack, "Jack!" She bounced up and hurried up the stairs to hug him, "Going to behave?"
He laughed and saluted, "Yes, Ma'am."
Tosh wiggled her toes and put her shoe, which for some unknown reason she'd removed, back on, standing up and picking up the file, "Right, guys, we've still got a lot of work to do on this shipment from UNIT. Ianto?"
He looked across at her with a small frown of thought, hands on his hips and feet apart, "Owen and Gwen, you go up to the garage and sort stuff out up there. Tosh, you can enter stuff in the system, and Jack and I can do the fetching and carrying down into the archives. I think that's the best way of doing it."
"Okay, Teaboy," Owen groaned as he stood up and grimaced, "I'm getting too old for this." Only Ianto noticed the flicker of pain that ran across Jack's face, "We'll go and get started, I think there's a couple of bits for you two to put where they belong from yesterday still, but that's about it."
"Don't worry," Gwen grinned, waiting by the lift, "we'll send you plenty to do."
Jack laughed and offered Tosh his arm, "Wouldn't want to be bored, would we Ianto?"
"No, Sir," he deadpanned, not even noticing that he'd slipped back into their old ways so much, "otherwise we may have to distract ourselves."
Laughter rang around the Hub and lingered after they had all gone to their respective tasks, mingling with the opening chords of Baba O'Riley and the groan of the lift into the not-silence of the ever-watchful, ever-waiting Hub.
Gwen flicked her earphone to silent and indicated that Owen do the same, "Do you think Ianto took him back?"
Owen tapped his foot with the music and watched her reflection in the mirror, "I think he took Ianto back. Or maybe both. They were both arseholes over this Gwen, it's not any less Ianto's fault than it is Jack's. They both made catastrophic mistakes, we all did, and it nearly ripped the team apart. It did rip the team apart," he sighed, "Gwen, Tosh and I are leaving – soon. Tosh is..."
She grinned, "Tosh is pregnant." He stared at her. "Oh Owen," she laughed, "I knew before she did. I'll act surprised when you announce it to the team though, don't worry." She turned to look at him directly and laid her hand on his arm, "I'm happy for you both, I really am. This is what we're fighting for."
"Yeah, it is." He grinned, "I want a girl, Tosh is hoping for a boy. And we're both hoping that she gets Tosh's brains."
"You chosen a name yet?"
"Nah, haven't even considered it really..." he smiled, "Although I've always liked Kyri." The lift doors opened and they strode over to the boxes, pulling open the first box and opening the connection again, "We're up, guys."
"Talking about us, Owen?" Jack's voice chuckled down the line at him and he grinned involuntarily.
"Gwen was complaining about Toby's sleeping patterns, I didn't want to subject the rest of you to it too."
"Cheek!" she laughed and thumped him, "I was telling Owen, my Mum thinks they're going to take it in terms now, one sleeping through one night, and the next one the next night, so they get sleep and prevent us."
"And that's quite enough of that," Owen clamped his hand over her mouth, "You lot set?"
"Nearly," Jack grunted and Ianto swore, "Ianto has just put that stupidly heavy ball away, on his finger, but it's a good start. That looks like it hurt." The only reply form Ianto was a growl, apparently muffled by a finger in his mouth. "You can start sending stuff down though."
"Okay, Galicos blender coming your way."
"The only race to have invented the bicycle before the wheel." Jack informed them. Down in the archives Ianto smacked him lightly and they laughed as they returned to Tosh. Jack held the door open for him, "Seriously though, they did. I think we've got one down in the archives somewhere, it used a sort of skis."
Tosh smiled at them over the top of her computer and pointed to a strange device on the table near them, "Blender, Jack. I've done the shelf label for you." Jack vanished down into the archives as the teleporter beeped, indicating the arrival of a Floktean clock – 18 hours and five hands.
They worked steadily, consciously relaxing back into the swing of having the five of them back together. And if Ianto directed his comments to Jack slightly more often and Gwen occasionally asked questions about him as if he weren't there, no one commented. It would take time, but they would take the time to win back what they'd lost, before Jack lost it all again.
After a few hours, Gwen went out to get pizzas in and they ate together in the board room, laughing and joking and listening to one of Jack's outrageous stories. Once they'd eaten, they stayed where they were, enjoying each others' company too much to go back to work just yet.
But, of course, the rift had never been accommodating. The alarms blared and they went into action immediately; Tosh went to her computers to find the reason for the alarms, Ianto went automatically for Jack's greatcoat – it seemed only natural now he was back in his trademark blue shirt – whilst Jack, Gwen and Owen geared up.
"Tosh, what have we got?"
"Positive spike in Blackweir, by the river. Looks big enough for something to have come through, but there's no way of knowing."
"No, it's in the part down there, I'll track down the feeds for the surrounding area and see if whatever came through moves. I'm picking up electrical impulses in the area that weren't there before."
"Okay." They all looked up at Jack as Ianto helped him to put his coat down and smoothed down the shoulders. He swallowed on the lump that had formed in his throat at their automatic reactions and nodded, "Let's go find us an alien. Tosh, you control us from back here. Gwen, Owen and Ianto, with me."
Ianto passed him his gun, their hands lingering a second longer than was necessary. "Yes, Sir."
They were back.
As he, Gwen and Owen waited on the Plass for Ianto to come around with the SUV, he put his hands in his pockets. His fingers brushed against a piece of paper. Curious, he pulled it out and saw his name written on an envelope in Ianto's neat script. He opened it and felt the lump return as he read the five words written on the piece of paper inside. Without a word, he slipped it back into the envelope and put the envelope back in his pocket, more grateful than ever for chance encounters.
Author's Note: The End. Thanks for reading, I hope youe enjoyed it as much as I did. Thank you so much to everyone who's reviewed, I'm like a little kid at Christmas when I get a review, it really does make my day (hint hint lol)
I'm going to concentrate on Out Of Place for a while now, which means that updates will probably continue to be slow, because I haven't the foggiest what's going on in Sin City, but I promise that that's at the top of my priorities list. Unless my Mum asks, in which case it's finding a job ;)