"And if I speak to you of days upon the ocean,
I can speak to you of memories and dust.
There wont be time for all of us,
You know there wont be time for all of us.
But in the morning I can smell you on my pillow,
I need to know we wont get wrung out in the wash,
I need to know there's time for us,
I must believe there's time for some of us"
Josh Pyke - Memories and Dust
Jack rolled over and reached out his hand in an unconscious gesture to reassure himself that Ianto was still lying beside him. When his hand touched nothing but soft mattress his eyes snapped open in a slight panic as his hand flailed in the bedsheets in a desperate search for his lover. He sat bolt upright his heart hammering in his chest blinking as his eyes became accustomed to the dark bedroom. Ianto wasn't there. Only mildly panicking Jack growled at himself to calm down, he couldn't have gotten far, Swinging his legs over the side of the bed Jack pushed himself off and out of the door, wrapping a robe around himself as he went.
In the hall he found a light coming from the lounge.
Slowly he let the breath out that he wasn't even aware he had been holding as he silently made his way down the corridor. 2.40 am blinked out accusingly from the clock on the oven in the kitchen and Jack had to blink to let his eyes adjust to the light as he stepped into the lounge. There in the middle of the floor sat Ianto, his back leaning up against the sofa and there was a box nearby from which Ianto had pulled out photos that now lay all around him.
Jack stood at the door watching as Ianto sorted carefully and methodically through the photos.
"Are you coming in or you just going to stand there gawking at me?"
"I never gawk, I ogle."
"So much better" Ianto replied sarcastically without taking his eyes from the photo he was holding.
Jack pushed off the doorframe and crossed the room, taking up position on the floor right next to him as he handed Jack a photograph of a group of young people posing in front of a building. As Jack took the photo Ianto leaned into him, Jack moved his arm so it was around Ianto's shoulder and his back as the young man snuggled his head in under Jacks chin, reclining on his shoulder. Jack rubbed circles over his back as he looked at the photo.
"You all looked so happy."
"We were." Ianto smiled at the memory.
"I had just asked Lisa out for the first time, I was so happy that day. We went double dating that night with Riley and Connor. Ten Pin bowling if memory serves." Ianto made a face at that.
"I tried bowling once, ended up on my ass when I forgot to let go of the ball."
Jack felt Ianto chuckle against him, drawing a smile from the older man.
Jack watched as Ianto picked up another photograph much along the same lines, same scene only slightly different, like a timestamp. he watched as he careully ran his finger over the face of Lisa Hallett as she stood beaming out into the lens.
"She betrayed us Jack."
"No, don't try to justify it for me. She betrayed us, it got someone killed and it almost destroyed the person who loved him most. I know all the reasons she did it. I know she thought it was for the best, the greater good." Jack felt him shudder as he drew him closer.
"I just hope when it all went down, when the consequences had played out, she knew what she had done and regretted it."
Ianto took a pair of scissors from the carpet beside him and went to cut Lisa from the picture.
Jack placed his hand over the scissors to stop him.
He looked up into Jack's eyes.
"This was such a good memory Jack and now it is tainted by what she did."
"But it's your memory Yan, these past few days should remind all of us that your memory, that is something no one should ever mess with" and gods knows I should know that better than most Jack thought.
Ianto moved his hand so the photo he had and the photo Jack held now sat side by side.
"I hear you Jack. This one…" he pointed to the one in Jack's hand
"This one I keep intact, as it was warts and all and appreciate the memory for what it was. This one, is mine, this one is nothing but happiness Jack, untainted."
Jack nodded his head, letting go of Ianto's hand and watched as he carefully extracted Lisa from the picture.
When he was finished he picked up a frame that was lying nearby and pressed the photo in. Closing the back he leaned forward and placed it on the coffee table, wincing slightly as his body protested at the movement. Leaning back against Jack he admired the photo.
"It was a good time Jack, it's about time I reminded myself that it wasn't all bad, no matter how it ended."
Jack pressed a kiss to his forehead, still rubbing circles on his back.
They sat like that for a while until Jack felt Ianto begin to drift off to sleep against his chest.
"Come on, back to bed, Owen will kill me if he knows I let you sleep on the floor"
Ianto sat up as Jack stood and he allowed himself to be pulled up and led back to the bedroom. He climbed in, feeling Jack's hand encircle his waist and his strong safe body spoon up against him and for the first time in a long time Ianto could see a path forward and the shadows of the past were no longer as dark as they once were.
Thankyou to everyone who commented and encouraged on his story. I can't believe I made it to the end, at times I had serious doubts :) Next from me is a short 7-8 chapter that is a bit random and then another story following on from this one.