Ianto had nightmares.
Sometimes Ianto would deliberately stay awake to stop the nightmares. Sometimes he would encourage elaborate sex games with Jack just to have company to keep the nightmares at bay. Sometimes he was glad of more rift activity at the end of a long day just to postpone the nightmare times.
But sometimes the nightmares would come even if he was awake.
Ianto blamed himself. He had tried to save Lisa at the expense of others. He had betrayed Jack more than once to keep her safe. He hated himself when he remembered how close he had come to causing all their deaths.
'Boardroom five minutes!' shouted Jack from his office.
The team looked at each other, there was no rift activity and they all wondered what had occurred that needed conference time. However five minutes later they were all in the boardroom awaiting instructions.
'UNIT have set up a meeting with an expert in Cyber technology from the States' announced Jack.
He tried not to look at Ianto, knowing this would affect the whole team but Ianto the most.
'His name is Professor Gateman and he has travelled here at the express wish of UNIT to hold talks about using Cyber technology in robotics programmes with a view to incorporating organic material into robotic weaponry' he continued.
The team was silent, attempting to understand the implications behind what Jack was saying.
'Are you telling us UNIT are considering incorporating human tissue into their robotics and are thinking of using Cyber technology to do it' asked Toshiko incredulously.
Jack allowed the question to hang in the air for a moment.
'It looks that way...yes' he eventually answered quietly.
Jack sneaked a look at Ianto. Only Jack would notice the tell tale signs of stress in the young man, the slightly clenched fists, the even more rigid stance, the downcast eyes. He wanted to save Ianto from having to know about this case but that was just not feasible. It would be impossible to hide anything from the man who practically ran the hub, and they would need Ianto's particular area of expertise to solve the case.
'Why the fuck would UNIT be so stupid? Do they not remember Canary Wharf' snarled Owen.
'We can't let them do this Jack' insisted Gwen.
'They are making the mistake of assuming they can take something evil and make something good out of it. They're not bad people they just have bad ideas' said Jack sadly.
'What are we going to do about it Jack? Can we persuade them it's a bad idea?' asked Toshiko.
'I doubt it...and certainly not in time to stop advancements that would just steamroller out of control' said Jack.
Jack was still watching Ianto carefully. He was the only team member who had not contributed to the conversation, his eyes had not left the table in front of him.
'Right Tosh divert this plane to Birmingham airport'
Jack handed Toshiko a piece of paper with the flight details of Professor Gateman on it.
'Owen, Gwen you will meet the plane as UNIT representatives, you will need to gain access to his computer files and link them back here for Tosh to corrupt. Then you will need to convince him that UNIT is not interested in Cyber technology and send him home....or retcon him if convincing won't work' he continued.
'Ianto' he said in a gentler tone of voice 'I need you to create false UNIT papers for Owen and Gwen, and a cover story for UNIT for why their Professor never materialised. You will need to create cover stories for his university also'
Jack waited for Ianto to acknowledge his request, he nodded but did not lift his eyes from the table.
'Let's get to it' said Jack and the team moved to begin work.
Once the others had left Jack sat down next to Ianto and took hold of one of his hands.
'You ok Ianto?' he asked.
'It's happening again Jack. All the horror is coming back. Is it my fault?' Ianto was mumbling.
'Ianto! How can you possibly believe this has anything to do with you, of course it's not your fault...we will sort it...nothing bad will happen, I promise' said Jack trying to soothe the younger man.
He stood up and pulled Ianto with him, placing a kiss on his lips and urging him towards the door.
'Come on let's make sure this gets stopped before it gets started' he said.
Ianto functioned on auto pilot all day and Jack watched him whenever he wasn't busy. He knew Ianto still blamed himself for the debacle with Lisa. He had regular nightmares about her and about his own part in it. He hated himself for what he had done and more for what he had done since. Because he had fallen in love with the man that had killed the woman he loved. Jack knew he was tormented by Lisa's image. Sometimes in their most intimate moments Jack would see her face pass across Ianto's mind.
Ianto barely spoke all day. Gwen and Owen had left with their false identities and met successfully with the professor. Gwen flirted her way into his computer files and while she distracted him Owen remotely connected his computer with Toshiko's back at the hub, and she set a delayed bug to corrupt the files later.
Everything went to plan and by seven that evening the professor was on a plane home, UNIT was bewailing the unreliability of American scientists and Ianto had outdone himself with cover stories for all institutions concerned. Owen and Gwen were on their way back to Cardiff when Jack sent Toshiko home and packed himself and his favourite Welshman back to his flat.
Ianto was still largely uncommunicative but Jack knew he was needed to chase demons that night, he would not allow Ianto to brood.
'Jack I'm really not going to be good company tonight...you don't have to stay' said Ianto in a subdued tone.
'I want to Ianto...and you're always good company' answered Jack.
Jack tried to kiss Ianto, to pull him into an embrace but the younger man resisted with a small
Jack recognised the signs of self disgust and self denial in Ianto. His lover often had trouble believing he had a right to be happy and more so when thoughts of Lisa forced themselves into his mind.
'Ianto...it's over...it's past...you've moved on..you have a right to be happy...Lisa would not want you to grieve forever..to deny yourself love' whispered Jack.
But at the mention of Lisa's name Ianto had pulled further away from Jack. Jack knew he would need to force the issue, force Lisa away, force Ianto to accept what he had now, force him to acknowledge his betrayal of Lisa that was part of his loving Jack.
He grabbed Ianto and held him fiercely.
'Ianto you know you want me' he whispered.
'No' said Ianto harshly trying to pull away.
'Yes' hissed Jack 'You've always wanted me, even when Lisa was still alive'
Ianto whimpered, he hated hearing his own thoughts spoken aloud like this. Jack began to undress him whilst Ianto remained passive in his arms.
'Please don't do this Jack' begged Ianto.
'You know you want me too' insisted Jack licking and kissing at the flesh he was exposing.
Both men were already naked from the waist up and Jack removed his own trousers and started on Ianto's.
'Jack please...I don't want to do this...please stop' Ianto was shaking but could not raise a hand to defend himself.
Jack had Ianto's trousers off and leant into his body squeezing his cock as he answered.
'But this is hard Ianto..this tells me you do want to do this...just admit you want me Ianto...admit you want me to fuck you'
Ianto was sobbing now, his body was awash with desire that his mind insisted was wrong. He was in turmoil. His memories of his betrayal of Lisa made him hate himself, made him feel disgusted by his body's reaction to Jack's caresses.
Jack wanted to completely purge Ianto's guilt. He had done nothing wrong when he fell in love again after Lisa died. He knew Ianto struggled with guilt because he had fallen in love with the man who killed her. Jack wanted him to let go of those feelings.
Both naked now Jack pulled Ianto to the floor and rubbed their cocks together making Ianto moan with undesired need. As he was kissing and caressing he was constantly whispering to him.
'You want me to fuck you don't you Ianto?'
Jack continued to work on Ianto's body, kissing, licking, nibbling, loving.
'You've always wanted me to fuck you...even when Lisa was in the basement you wanted me..even after I killed her you wanted me...even as I disgusted you most you still wanted me to fuck you'
Ianto's eyes were tight shut but his body was responding to Jack. Even as he still mumbled.
His breathing was becoming ragged and his hips were bucking into Jack's hands and against his body seeking friction.
'Tell me you want me Ianto..tell me you want me to fuck you..tell me you don't care what I did because you love me'
Ianto's eyes shot open, he felt like Jack had seen into his very soul. In his innermost self he didn't care what Jack had done, didn't care that he had killed Lisa, didn't care what he might do in the future, because he did love him.
Jack saw him struggling with the realisation that Jack understood him. He positioned himself to enter Ianto but held back from the final thrust both men panting with need.
'Tell me Ianto...tell me you love me...tell me you want me to fuck you'
Ianto could barely breathe and was desperately trying to pull Jack towards him, into his body, wanting Jack to claim him as his own.
'Tell me Ianto...tell me you love me'
'Jack....I don't care what you did...I love you..'
Ianto gasped out the sentence, he was full of shame and desperate with desire.
Jack plunged in earning a startled gasp from Ianto and setting a rapid pace urging them both towards orgasm. It was over quickly. It hadn't really been about sex or love, it was about guilt and forgiveness and above all possession. Ianto needed to be possessed by Jack, to be claimed. To be stolen away from his past.
As their breathing slowed Jack became aware that Ianto was biting his shoulder with some force.
'Ianto' he whispered into the younger man's neck.
Ianto let go of his shoulder and Jack discovered that he had been trying to stem his sobs. Heart wrenching gasps and hitching breaths came convulsively from Ianto's mouth. Jack rolled off him and pulled him into his arms and held him as he cried his fill. Jack constantly whispered endearments to him, stroking his hair and gently shushing him.
Eventually Ianto calmed and tried to apologise but Jack shushed him again. He urged Ianto to his feet and led him to the bedroom and got them both into bed and wrapped him into his embrace once more.
'How could I Jack? How could I love someone who killed Lisa? How can I love a man?' asked Ianto quieter now.
'You're human Ianto. Can you really believe that your beautiful and loving Lisa would want you to be lonely forever?' Jack asked him gently.
'Maybe not...but she might not have wanted me to thank the person who killed her by fucking him' growled Ianto.
'I didn't kill Lisa Ianto...you know that...she died at Canary Wharf. Let it go Ianto...put the guilt down and walk away...you did your best..you're allowed to be happy now' whispered Jack.
'Why did you make me say those things?' asked Ianto.
'So you would face your demons...accept what happened' stumbled Jack not entirely sure it had been a good idea to surface those emotions but knowing it was a worse idea to leave them buried and festering.
'I hate myself'
'I hate you'
'I love you too'
'I know...and I love you'
With a barely repressed sob Ianto lost himself in the captain's arms again.
Ianto has dreams
He dreams of a normal life, of a job, a marriage, a mortgage, children, growing old with the woman he loves. He dreams of Lisa still being alive and of those dreams being true.
He dreams of a normal life with Jack. Of a Jack who is not the leader of Torchwood but just the lover of Ianto. He dreams of a Jack who can grow old with him, a Jack from this time, a Jack without the dark places behind his eyes.
He dreams of a Jack who can promise forever, who can promise never to love anyone else because they will spend their lives just with each other.
But on nights when Jack has made him face his demons and has chased them away with his love he is content.
On nights like this when Jack holds him in his arms and promises no one else will ever have Jack's whole heart because a tiny part will always belong to Ianto, Ianto can smile.
He knows this is a promise that Jack can keep, and in the dream spaces before sleep and the nightmare times come this is enough for Ianto.