Notes: The full oneshot for #31 and #28 from 'Snapshots of Smiles'. Requested by chocolatekiller and Paraxenos (sort of).
Disclaimer: I do not own Torchwood and I am not making any profit from this work.
It was at the end of a world when Jack realised just how much he had loved Ianto.
In that room with the sunlit wooden floor that shone, it was so clean. In that room with the small bed with the white sheets. In that room with the little machines and the passing staff who brought him coffee and sympathetic smiles. In that room that had seen the worst of him, but would never tell, because it was used to people like them by now.
Jack had been to hospitals with Ianto before, both public and private, both general and clinics. For work purposes to see victims of alien intervention. For health purposes, like when Ianto had broken his arm chasing down an alien. For safety purposes, like when his nephew had concussed him and Jack had to drive him home.
But though he loved him, Jack had never seen himself doing this.
He was not a man who stayed this long. Ianto had known that - he had always known that, even before Jack confessed it to him. And he'd smiled and said that what he could get would be enough.
But time moved on, and Jack hovered still.
He strayed longer and further, as time passed. He found new lives and new orbits, but he always came back in the end. Came back to the little terraced house on a Newport street, not far from where Ianto had been born. He always came back to the one man of Newport who could look at the stars and see both the terror and the beauty of the universe beyond the scope of the atmosphere.
But Jack had never thought he could do this.
When Ianto had told him, months ago now, there had been tears. They had held each other and cried, and Ianto confessed that he was scared. Jack had promised, throat dry from the lying, that he would be there.
Only now, at the end of a world, it hadn't been a lie after all.
He had been there, through the pain and anguish. Through Ianto's temper, frayed by frustrations and treatments worse than the disease, through failing medication and stubborn doctors. He had been there when the sickness had gotten so painful and wearing that Ianto begged him to shoot him, to let him die, and he had been there when Ianto returned to his senses and cried for what they were losing.
And when Ianto had begun to sleep for longer and longer, Jack would sit by the bed and talk to him. He would remind him of things, fill the air with his voice because he couldn't cry enough now to fill it with his tears.
And if Ianto woke to hear him talking, it made him smile, and Jack always wanted just one last smile.
When they had finally moved him from the terraced house to the sunlit room with the wooden floor, to ease the pain at the end and let him slip away quietly, Jack had, to his shock, come too.
He had never done this before.
"You don't have to," Ianto had said. "I won't think any less of you for it."
"I know," Jack had said, and he did.
But he'd gone anyway.
He spent his days and most of his nights there, in the sunlit and moonlit room, holding that frail hand and filling the air with words. Sometimes he would sing, murmuring little songs that held snippets of memory for them both.
"I love you," he'd whispered, when Ianto's sleep had finally slipped beyond merely sleeping into something harder to return from.
And he had stayed.
Ianto would never know that he had been there, in the end. Ianto would never know that when the world ended, in the middle of the reading aloud from a mystery novel, to the faint sigh of a final breath, that Jack had been there.
"You didn't stay to find out who did it," Jack had murmured, and carried on reading.
He held his hand until he could no longer ignore the cold.
Sitting in a hospital room and holding that white, cold hand, Jack realised he had discovered love. Because this time, he had been brave enough, despite the fear and heartbreak, to stay, and not make him die alone.
"Love is watching someone die." - Death Cab for Cutie: What Sarah Said