Ok, so in a lot of ways this didn't go the way I'd planned, but I'm not unhappy with where we ended up. I hope nobody else is either. That said, for the sake of sanity (at least mine) and to keep this from going on and on and on, this is it, the Last Chapter, right at 35, like I said. However… the fantastic Sidlerocks is hard at work on another Jack and Kam story (trust me, I've seen early drafts, it's amazing! I can't wait until she finishes it. No pressure or anything…)
And I think I've got another idea or three rattling around my own brain as well… but if I don't wrap this up, I'll never finish anything else and I think I've left poor Tim and Sara hanging long enough, we need to get Timmy better and get them to the altar with Abby!
Chapter Thirty Five
"Passion is the quickest to develop, and the quickest to fade.
Intimacy develops more slowly, and commitment more gradually still."
Jack propped himself up in one elbow and studied the beautiful boy… the beautiful man… sleeping next to him in their bed. When he'd first lain eyes on Kam, he really had been a boy, scared of his own shadow, starved for affection… for love. Real love. And the last seven months… Jack smiled. It wasn't just Kam who had found something so incredible… so good. Thank you for not giving up on me, Sweetheart.
"You never did, though, did you?" he asked aloud, very quietly, feathering a soft kiss to the young man's shoulder.
"We made it…" a beautiful Welsh voice… those eyes… the feel of his body pressed close as they took to the dance floor for the first time on their wedding day while all around them friends and family looked on, happy.
"Did you ever think we wouldn't?" he'd asked him, surprised by the question.
"Lots of times," Ianto admitted.
"Doesn't matter. We're here now."
"We're here now," he told Kam, "And I love you so much." He didn't know if Kam and Ianto were really the same person, if he really believed in something besides nothing after death—if all the similarities between the two men actually meant that someone, one amazing person, truly loved him enough to find his way back to him… or if maybe all the little similarities between them were just coincidences after all. If all he was seeing were the things he wanted to see, the memory of the person he'd loved so very much, so long ago….
But it didn't matter any more. He was happy. "Happier than I've been in five hundred years," he told them both. All because of you. Ianto Jones. Kamden Anders.
He had never thought he was the kind of person who needed someone else as much as he needed Ianto… Kam. He hadn't even realized wasn't happy, not truly happy, for the last five centuries. He'd mourned, moved on, lived his life…or at least that's what he'd told himself he was doing. He realized now that that wasn't the case at all. He'd been muddling through, existing… there had been a few moments of happiness. Mari and Euwan. Jimmy.
I really did love you, he thought in James direction. But not like I love you, he pressed another soft kiss to his lover's shoulder.
The younger man murmured something incomprehensible in his sleep, but didn't wake up. Jack smiled. It almost sounded a little like Welsh… which he knew was absurd, but it wasn't the first time Kam's sleepy mutterings had reminded him of the way his Welshman used to mumble in at him in the middle of the night. "But it really doesn't matter," he promised the young man next to him. "I love you for who you are, not who you might have been." He loved Kam for his smile and his dry wit, for the kindness of his heart. "I love you for loving me." Jack knew that took courage. He wasn't an easy person to love. Jimmy hadn't been able to do it, not after he told him about not being able to die, after he told him how long he'd already been alive. Not after the first time he saw him come back… he remembered the look of horror on Jim's face… the look of elation on Kam's, the easy way he'd just accepted everything he had to say.
He shifted slightly, moving into a more comfortable position, his arm wrapped securely around his lover. Kam had grown up in front of him over the last seven months. It wasn't just that he'd filled out, the result of a good diet, regular exercise… all kinds of exercise, he smirked, thinking back to the last few hours… but it was the way the he carried himself that made Jack acknowledge he really wasn't a boy any more. He stood up straight, held his chin up; he wasn't afraid to look people in the eye any more. Even Larissa had told him, in a moment of lucid clarity, that he was an extraordinary young man and he had better not do anything to hurt him. Of course she'd followed it up with a merry wink and the half hearted threat that if he did, she'd snap him up for herself and never give him back, he was just too precious.
Precious… he snickered. He didn't disagree, it just wasn't a word he ever would have chosen on his own.
Still, he was glad the Adonian had accompanied Kam and Anneke back from her home that day, the day Kam's cousin had come to the ship looking for him. It had been almost a week now and Kam was still… he knew something was wrong, more so than the young man was willing to admit to him. Whatever it was, it had started before Ree had accosted them in the street, he knew that. He just didn't know what it was.
He'd hated leaving them alone in his office that day. It had taken all of Larissa's considerable charm and wit to occupy him, keep him from eavesdropping on the conversation. To keep him from barging in there after ten minutes because he couldn't stand the way Kam had looked when he first came in…
He hadn't been especially happy that Ree was joining them for lunch, either. But she was Kam's cousin, so he'd played the good host. He did have to admit a certain amount of pride over how impressed she was with the meal. It wasn't really anything out of the ordinary, at least not for Lach, but it was certainly better than the young Ms Anders had been expecting.
She didn't stick around long after lunch, but Kam went to visit her a couple of times afterwards. He didn't seem inclined talk about their visits, even though Jack asked. However, he was determined to respect the young man's privacy because privacy was something he was sure Kam had had little of. He just wished… I wished I could be sure you really weren't thinking about staying here… leaving me…
Even before their arrival on Tunga Prime, Kam had been… he'd been as intense as Jack had been when he feared the young man was wanting more space, maybe thinking about leaving him—when they'd both said the wrong things, done the wrong things… But there had been no miscommunications lately, at least none of which Jack was aware. Kam had just been all over him… not that he was complaining. One thing five hundred years…nearly three thousand years… had not diminished was his libido. He just wished…
He reached out and ran his fingers gently through the young man's hair… "I would give anything for the chance to be like you," he whispered. Mortal. Human. "I wish I could give you the kind of life you deserve. I wish I could give you more…"
Henry's words echoed through his memory… Did Ianto ever once complain…?
He hadn't. He'd just loved him… loved me more than anything.
"But I still wish I could give you more this time around, Sweetheart. At least in Cardiff we had a house … even if it took us a while to settle on a place," he remembered suddenly with a smile. There had been a fight… a reconciliation by the fireplace of the house they finally agreed on, the one Ianto had wanted. It wasn't anything like the house he'd lived in with Laura… with Lucia… Alice… Seren… it had been a long time since he'd thought about his daughters… any of his daughters. But he rarely thought of his and Laura's girls any more. He hadn't really known them.
He hadn't stuck around to watch Seren grow old, he couldn't do it with her the way he had with Alice. But Alice had needed him more. He hadn't abandoned Seren, not by any stretch of the imagination, but they'd parted ways eventually, friends more than father and daughter. "I wish you could have known her longer, Cariad," he said to the man sleeping next to him. "She was a good kid. She grew up into a great woman." Deep down, he knew that he really did believe… Kam… Ianto… he knew… he was just afraid to admit it too hard. If he did, and Kam left him, if he stayed here with his cousin…
And even if he didn't stay on Tunga Prime or leave him to go off and live his own life, he would die eventually. Just give us longer this time, please… fifty or sixty years… was that really so much to ask? He was going to live forever, couldn't he have just a few moments of real happiness? Just another minute or two in his long eternity?
Wiping the moisture from his eyes, Jack slipped out of bed and padded into the bathroom. He didn't need a shower so much as he needed a few minutes alone under a hot spray of water to clear his head.
Julian should be back from Tunga Tav sometime today, tomorrow at the latest. Larissa had gone with him… under considerable duress. The natives of Tunga Tav were purported to be one of the most hideous races in the known universe… not that Jack knew much about them. All he remembered from his days in the Agency was that Tunga Tav was strictly off limits, no one came, no one went, and since they didn't have anything the Agency wanted, it wasn't an issue.
He would have gone with Julian himself, would have preferred to, in fact (Larissa certainly would have preferred it), but Jule had a point. He wouldn't exactly be welcomed on a planet full of telepaths. Even the very best telepaths he'd met, both inside and outside the Human Empire, said that when they looked at him, they couldn't see anything. That tended to frighten the really good ones, the ones who were used to being able to stare right into a person. One of them had described him as a black hole, a void… a fixed point in time… but only a Time Lord would understand that.
And he realized he'd been standing under the hot water for a lot longer than he'd intended to. He turned off the spray and stepped out into the steam, caught sight of his fuzzy reflection in the little mirror over the sink. Stopped a moment, considering… him. Kam. Ianto. The things Henry had said to him. Had he really used his immortality as an excuse not to live?
Kam woke with a start, realizing he was alone in the bed. For a moment cold dark panic gripped at him, seeming to come out of nowhere… after all, it wasn't especially unusual for him to wake up alone in the middle of the night. Jack never slept more than a few hours at a time… but lately… lately he'd been there almost every time he woke up. He realized how much he missed waking up snuggled into the crook of the older man's arm. But really, he was being unfair and he knew it. Jack shouldn't have to stay in bed just because of him. There was only so much reading he could honestly want to catch up on—that was his usual excuse for laying there awake. Kam knew it was an excuse, but he hadn't been able to bring himself to say that he didn't need the other man… his partner, his lover… there with him. He didn't want to tell him that he was still having bad dreams. Only little kids had bad dreams.
Besides, if he told him about the dreams, he might have to tell him what they were about and how could he admit to Jack how afraid he was that someday he'd lose him, too, just like he'd lost his mother… Kase… everybody who had ever been important to him? How could he admit to him that there had been someone else, a man… a boy… who had been so important to him?
He slipped out of bed, pulling Jack's t-shirt on over his head, his own pyjama bottoms onto his legs. When he stepped into the living room, he heard Glen Miller.
"Hey," beautiful blue eyes looked up from the heap of star charts that were lain out on the coffee table. "Hope I didn't wake you."
"Nah," Kam fibbed. He doubted it had really been Jack's absence that had woken him. He wasn't sleeping well lately. He suspected that Jack knew it, but he was grateful he wasn't pressing the issue.
Without a word, he picked up the older man's empty coffee cup and took it over to the kitchenette. There wasn't any coffee in the pot, a clear indication that the Captain had been up for a while, so he started a fresh pot. "What're you working on?" he asked over his shoulder, trying very hard to sound casual.
"That lead we got on a couple of wrecks," the other answered easily. "Trying to figure out the best way through some of this," he'd also managed to acquire a couple of decent maps of the area. "Maybe you could give me a hand?"
"Sure," Kam returned to him; the coffee would take a couple of minutes anyway. And the way Jack smiled at him… maybe a lifetime really wasn't so much to ask for. After all, what was his lifespan compared to Jack's? But to me, it's everything, it's all I have to give and… and when Jack leant in he reciprocated, met the kiss half way, savoured it.
The older man deepened the kiss, pulled him closer to him… held onto him. Held him tight for a long, long moment even after the kiss had ended.
When he finally let him go, Kam sat back, studying him… something was wrong. He knew it was. "Cariad?" his mind raced, wondering if it was something he'd done… but that kiss… Jack wouldn't kiss him like that if he was mad… but he wasn't looking at him, either. "Jack, what is it?"
"I erm… that is… I've been thinking … there's something…" he stammered.
"Jack please, whatever it is—" but something in his expression made him stop speaking. "I love you," he said anyway, his tone plaintive. If he'd dome something wrong, if he was upset with him, there was nothing Kam wouldn't do to fix it.
"I love you too. That's why… it's why I want you to have something, but I… I'm really rubbish at this," he almost laughed. "I just feel like I have so little to give you, Sweetheart," he tried to explain.
"You've given me everything!"
But he shook his head. "I haven't given you anything, Kam. I don't have anything to give. Just… just me and…" and that's nothing. That's what every single telepath he'd ever met said to him. It's what the Tungans would have said if he'd gone with Julian.
"Jack, you're everything! My everything."
He barely felt the younger man's hand on his, the brush of his fingers across his cheek.
"I don't even exist," he reminded him quietly. "Jack Harkness lived and died five hundred years ago and I haven't bothered to create a new identity for myself." Why was that, he wondered… why live all this time with somebody else's name? With that particular name? Because the best years of your life were spent while using that name, said a little voice in the back of his head. He couldn't decide who it sounded like. Henry. The Doctor. Hell, it might even be John Hart's voice for all he knew.
"I don't care about that," Kam's voice…
He turned to face him. "But I do. See, I would do anything to be able to give you the things you deserve. A real life, a home. A family. But I… I can't. I don't have anything… just… just this," he held out the one thing he had …but Kam's expression… it was unreadable. "That is… if… if you want it. It probably doesn't even fit." He tried to shrug off what he thought was rejection in the young man's brown eyes. After all, why would anybody want another man's ring?
Kam's heart rose in his throat; he was very sure he wasn't breathing at all once he realized what Jack was holding because he couldn't believe he really meant… he was really offering… His gaze darted to the chain around his neck because he had to be sure. Those rings were all he had left of his Welshman. His husband. And… and there was only one ring on the chain around Jack's neck. "Cariad," he barely heard his own voice.
Jack closed his eyes at the sound of the word, so familiar. The accent was different of course, but he loved the way it sounded coming from Kam anyway. "I know it's not fair," he admitted. Even if it was him, if somehow… if he'd come back, if he still loved him, if he did still want him… you're still just a kid in this life. Kam hadn't had a chance to live his own life.
"What's not fair?" Kam wanted to know, despondency heavy in his voice. It felt like Jack was offering him something—something he never would have dared to hope for, not in a million years, but something he wanted to accept more than anything—but then he was snatching it back again just as quickly as he'd offered to give it and he didn't know why. "Jack, please, tell me what isn't fair."
"You've never been with anybody but me. You should…"
"I told you, I don't care! I love you with all my heart, Jack. I've always loved you. Meeting you changed my life. You changed my life. I don't want or need anybody else. Please…" he bit his lip. He had to tell him, he didn't have a choice. If he didn't, it would be like everything he'd just said would be the biggest fattest lie in the universe. "Please don't hate me," he begged.
"There… there was someone else, once, a long time ago… well…" he managed a small smile. "You know. A long time for me. I'm sure seven—almost eight—years is nothing to you."
"It's still eight years, Sweetheart," he said gently, not unaware of the guilt that was plaguing the younger man, even if he didn't understand it. "What happened?" he asked gently.
"He was my trainer… one of them… the Red House," he explained. "But he wasn't like the rest of them, he was… he was a good person, Jack. He was nice to me. He didn't hurt me. He made me feel good," he couldn't look into those blue eyes any longer. "He…he kissed me. He was the first person to ever really kiss me."
The hurt in his lover's tone was unmistakable. "What happened to him?" he queried softly because he knew something must have.
Kam shrugged. "He was sent away, his contract was sold. I never saw him again. I…I think I loved him, Jack. Not like I love you," he added quickly, a nervous tremor rising in his voice. "But I… I cared about him so much and then he was gone and…and I'm sorry. Please don't hate me."
"Why would I hate you?"
"For loving somebody else. It wasn't like this, I swear it wasn't, but…but I know I loved him and I'm sorry."
"Kam… Sweetheart," he wiped the tears from the younger man's face wondering if this was what had been bothering him so much the last few weeks.
"I'm sorry…" he repeated through tears that wouldn't stop.
"Shhh… listen to me. There are all kinds of love, Kam" he said slowly, the ghost of another conversation snaking its way through his memory. He lifted the young man's chin gently in his hands so he was looking him in the eye even though he obviously didn't want to. "There's the love of a good friend, someone you can trust even when you can't trust anybody else. And there's…there's the love of a parent and a child… there's the kind of love you have for somebody you've known for a long time, someone you'll always love, even if it's different now."
"Like you and Mr Smeed?" It was only barely a question.
"Exactly. I will always love him, but it's been a very, very long time since we were in love."
"It doesn't bother you about me and Jimmy, does it?"
"No! Of course it doesn't," he couldn't believe Jack even had to ask.
"Does it bother you about me and Henry?" he continued in the same patient tone.
He shook his head. He knew that maybe it should because unlike James Smeed Henry was still… magnetic. Gorgeous. Immortal. But he and Jack were just friends. They'd had their moment, it passed, it was a long time ago. He was glad they had each other, glad Jack had somebody who understood. He was glad Henry did, too.
"Then tell me why should it bother me that before we even met you loved somebody else?" said Jack.
Kam swallowed. "Because… you… you're… you've always been in my dreams."
"You. Your eyes, your arms. Your scent. Your coat, the one you used to wear, back on Earth. I'd never seen a coat like it, not until I saw that picture Henry drew—but I knew it. I could feel it around my shoulders making me warm. I've known you all my life, Jack, and I feel like I cheated on you!"
"Oh Sweetheart," he pulled him close and held him while he cried some more. "You hadn't even met me yet, how could you have cheated on me?"
"But I had met you!"
"Dreams don't count, Kam. You can't cheat on… on a memory. And that's all I was then." He shifted them so he could look at the younger man again; he cupped his face gently in his hands. "I could never be mad at you for something that happened before we even met. I couldn't be mad at you for caring about somebody who was good to you, either."
Kam studied him a long moment. "You… you told me before that you wanted… you said the rest of my life, Jack," he reminded him. "Do…did you really mean that?"
"I still mean it. I just… it seems unfair to ask you for so much."
"It's not unfair, Jack. I want you too. I want you forever."
"Forever's an awfully dangerous word," he began, his tone forcibly light. 'Forever' hurt too much to think about. Even if he could believe…
"It's not a dangerous word Jack," Kam told him seriously. "You're going to live forever. I won't but… but I'll always find a way to come back to you, at least… at least as long as you want me to…" he hesitated.
"Don't you think you'll get sick of me after a while?"
"Not a chance." Then he smiled. "You're pretty entertaining, you know."
He laughed, he couldn't help it. "I aim to please."
"Well if that's the case…" he leered, albeit playfully.
"Kam…" it was Jack's turn to hesitate.
"I love you, Cariad. Forever."
When Jack and Kam came onto the bridge at the start of their shift, Jim Smeed didn't remark on the ring he noticed hanging from the chain around the young man's neck. He'd been up close and personal with Jack enough times to know it was one of the ones Jack always wore, to know that it had belonged to somebody from his past, somebody important. Somebody he never talked about, at least not with him. He suspected that if he asked—not that he ever would—that Kam would know. Whatever it was between those two it was just like Jack said. It was special. It was different. There had been a time when that might have bothered him…
"Any word from Mr Kyle?" Jack asked of no one in particular. Shift change was still in progress… they were a little earlier than usual. But if they hadn't left their quarters when they did, there was a good chance that they would have been very, very late.
They hadn't slept much, but they had talked… made love…talked some more. He finally got the younger man to tell him everything that was bothering him. It was more than just that he'd had feelings for someone else, it was that that someone had been taken away from him, suddenly. Unexpectedly. The same way that Kam had lost his mother, his home. He was terrified of everything again, of losing him.
"I can't die, remember?"
"You could still leave… or get taken away. The Empire… or that Time Agency of yours…"
"I will always come back for you, Sweetheart. I promise."
"Mr Kyle and the ambassador should be landing in about an hour," Kai Jennings appraised the Captain.
He nodded. "As soon as Mr Kyle is back on board, I want us off this rock. Planetside's nice an' all, but I think I'm ready for a nice view of stars. What d'you Kids say?" his grin took in the entire bridge crew, including An Cho who was just coming in the door, and Avi Stasi who was apparently bored down below—no surprise there. There wasn't much to do in the cargo hold as long as they were grounded.
Stasi managed to almost smile, nod. As usual, Ms Cho avoided direct eye contact without quite ignoring him either. It seemed that despite their little talk a couple of months back, there was still frost between them. But that was something to deal with on another day, Jack decided.
He took up his favourite spot on the bridge, just behind Mr Weiss' and Mr Anders' stations, one hand on the back of each man's chair… not that anyone had any misconceptions about who it was he really wanted to be close to.
Kam looked up, met his gaze and held it for just an instant. "Aye, Sir," he said to the Captain's order, his voice betraying nothing but calm professionalism… but that didn't matter either. Jack saw everything he needed—everything he wanted—in those brown eyes. He saw forever…