Notes: People wanted a follow-up to 'Human Like You'. So I did one.
Summary: Jack always knew he'd lose Ianto, but this scenario is alien to him. Past Jack/Ianto, Ianto/OC.
Disclaimer: I do not own Torchwood and I am not making any profit from this work.
Gwen was still in touch with Ianto, and so heard news of the accident almost immediately. She had told Jack, who had gone a very funny shade of grey and agreed too amicably to getting the next train to London, and now she was worried about what Jack was going to do. Because, not to sound childish, Gwen knew things that Jack didn't.
It had been three years since Ianto had returned to London. He had since become Head of Records for the London archives, gotten a flat and a hefty pay rise from what he'd been given at Cardiff, and, as far as Gwen knew, was happy where he was. Jack, on the other hand, still retreated into a brooding mood whenever they had to interact with Torchwood: London. And it was stupid, because they never talked to Ianto on these conference calls. They never even saw him.
But they were going to see him today, and leading Jack through the hospital corridors, Gwen wondered if this was such a good idea after all.
From what Gwen had been told, an alien had gotten out of the holding cells and had gotten into the main Records landing, one floor above the cells themselves. And Ianto, being Ianto, had gotten in the way of the alien's intended target of their newest intern. And had gotten a hefty chunk chewed out of his chest, and had lost a hell of a lot of blood.
Gwen idly wondered what they'd told the hospital staff had happened. A hell of a big dog?
The ward was almost empty, apart from a little old man in the bed nearest the door, and Ianto in the furthest. He was lying down, but awake, and talking quietly to a man in jeans and a t-shirt and a pronounce five o'clock shadow sitting by the bed.
"Ianto?" Gwen squeaked, and homed in on him. Ianto's arms came up to reciprocate the ginger hug, and he murmured soothingly in Welsh to her before pushing her back a little and nodding towards the spare chair.
"Sit down," he said, then frowned. "Why are you here?"
"Mark rang me," Gwen said, nodding at the young man, and Ianto groaned.
"Shit, sorry. Mark, this is Gwen Williams, ex-colleague of mine. Gwen, Mark Ascott. Current colleague of mine. Sort of."
"Sort of?" Gwen asked.
"I'm the cook in the staff canteen," Mark grinned, and glanced past her at Jack. "You are?"
"Captain Jack Harkness," came the decidedly frosty reply, and Gwen glowered at him. Ianto ignored it and frowned at Jack for an apparently different reason, before asking:
"You've left the Rift?"
"It's being supervised," Jack said coolly. "This was more important."
"But-" Ianto began, but Mark took the temperature of the room down a few more notches by leaning over and taking Ianto's hand in an incredibly familiar matter.
"Don't you argue," he admonished sternly. "It is important. You are important."
"Sap," Ianto said, turning his hand over to squeeze back. The movement made him wince, and Mark frowned.
"I'll go see if I can find someone to give you more of those painkillers, alright?" he said, though it wasn't really a question. He leaned over and kissed Ianto's forehead before he left, and Jack looked away, the look on his face a mixture of anger and pain.
"Who is he, really?" Jack asked, the moment Mark was out of the room.
"My partner," Ianto said firmly, and the honesty surprised both Jack and Gwen. "Two years and three months and counting. We live together. He's my next of kin. We're taking about getting a civil partnership. What more do you want to know?"
"Do you love him?"
"Jack!" Gwen snapped.
"Yes," Ianto said coldly.
"What about us?"
"What about us?" Ianto demanded. "You didn't care when I was there, you didn't care when I left. You did nothing to get me back, didn't bother to think that maybe it was more than a hissy fit. Nine months is a long time for someone to realise you're not coming back, Jack."
"And then I met Mark. And I don't need you. I need him. I love him, and I don't have to second-guess the wisdom of being with him," Ianto said frostily, not letting Jack interrupt, then he sighed and shook his head. "Just go, Jack. Don't stir all this up again."
The change was subtle, but it was there, and the dismissal Ianto gave him when he turned to Gwen and started to talk in Welsh again hit it home. Ianto wasn't taking orders any more, and he wasn't hiding any more. He had admitted, without much pressure, what he wanted and what he felt and thought. And he wasn't taking the shit that Jack hadn't known he was dishing out.
As Mark returned with the nurse in tow, Jack slipped out. He caught the wary look that Mark gave him, and knew that Mark had been told about his and Ianto's...whatever it had been. Jack had called it a relationship, but apparently Ianto was no longer affording it the same legitimacy.
He watched from the viewing window as Mark reclaimed his chair by Ianto's side and held his hand again. He watched as Gwen made her goodbyes with another hug, and watched the weary smile on Ianto's features fade as he drifted away with the fresh wave of drugs. He watched Mark talk him to sleep as Gwen slipped out, and turned to her with a pained look on his face.
"You knew," he said.
"Yeah," she admitted. "Ianto told me when Mark asked him out. He really does love him, Jack."
"I fucked up, didn't I?"
"You fucked up years ago," she said. "Let it die, Jack. He's happy where he is."
Jack gave the sleeping man that he didn't know these days one last look, before nodding sharply and turning on his heel, walking through the hospital corridors back to Cardiff, and away, forever, from Ianto Jones.