Jack has nightmares.
The horror of living forever never fully leaves Jack's mind. He wonders what he will look like millennia from now. He is still ageing and he wonders if he will be crippled and decrepit, but doomed to carry on living in a dead body.
He wonders how many more precious people he must loose from his life, and will there one day be no one to ease the pain and loneliness?
He wonders how many more terrible decisions will be his to make.
He panics when he remembers he will lose Ianto, and sobs in his soul when he faces the fact that he will one day love another.
Gwen and Toshiko struggled into the hub half carrying Jack as he stumbled between them. He had been shot by a rampant alien twenty minutes earlier and was still recovering. The alien that shot him was currently being transported from the SUV to the autopsy room by Ianto and Owen.
The girls placed Jack on the floor as soon as they entered the hub.
'You might at least carry me to the sofa' groaned Jack.
'We might if you lost some weight. You need to cut down on pizzas' retaliated Toshiko.
'I resent that! Are you insinuating that I'm fat?' Jack looked down at himself with mock horror.
'Ianto likes me chunky...he says it's manly' continued Jack poking at his stomach.
'Ianto is biased Jack, his opinion does not count' said Gwen.
'We're not saying you're fat Jack...just a bit heavy for two girls to carry far' placated Toshiko.
Ianto and Owen arrived in the main hub. Owen was covered in alien blood and other stuff he did not want to contemplate and was going to shower before performing the autopsy. Ianto looked slightly flushed but otherwise unflustered as always.
'Ianto do I look fat to you?' whined Jack.
Ianto glared at the girls, whatever they had said it was going to be Ianto placating Jack's ego all night.
'No sir....I think your manly physique is just about perfect' he announced soothingly.
Owen rolled his eyes and muttered 'good God' before slinking off to the shower room. Jack was recovering from his injuries quickly now and stood up, still inspecting his middle, and moved to his office stopping to kiss Ianto on the way.
The girls moved to their stations, Gwen to begin a report on the incident and Toshiko to begin an analysis on the device the alien had been using. She thought it was some sort of mobile rift manipulator but would need to run tests to be sure.
Ianto made preparations for the disposal of the body once Owen had completed medical tests, and organised a cover story for the media concerning the large hole in a local park that the device Toshiko was working on had left.
'Ianto' Jack called later from his office.
'Yes Jack' said Ianto appearing with his usual speed and calm when his captain called.
Jack signalled Ianto to enter the office and whispered to him in a slightly panicky voice.
'Ianto, do I have grey hairs?'
Ianto rolled his eyes, good grief Jack was going to do the whole am I still young thing and Ianto wasn't sure he had the patience.
'No Jack...no grey hairs...no fat...no wrinkles..just six feet of gorgeous intoxicating manhood' he assured him smiling.
Jack grinned at him but Ianto could tell from his eyes that he was still worrying. He moved to kiss him passionately trying to infuse into the kiss all the reasons why Jack Harkness was the sexiest man on the planet. Jack looked slightly more convinced when the kiss ended and Ianto left the office.
He walked over to the monitors where Gwen, Owen and Toshiko were gathered to look at Toshiko's analysis.
'Well done girls, you've succeeded in making the sex God that is Jack Harkness doubt his attractiveness!' he spat, annoyed at the trouble they had made for him to solve.
'Oh Ianto no one will ever make Jack doubt himself for any length of time' laughed Gwen.
Ianto got increasingly annoyed. The others did not know Jack like he did. Much of his bravado was an act. Sure he was naturally confident and assured but he was still human. Ianto knew that in his darker moments Jack wondered and fretted about what he would look like in hundred, or a thousand, or ten thousand years.
He knew was still ageing although at a much slower rate and in the nightmare times the thought terrified him.
He watched Jack sitting in his office and brooding. He saw the dark places zooming in on his lover and knew Jack would be listening to the demons that spoke of never ending loneliness, of endless cycles of love and loss, of a body that would fail condemning the mind to an aged prison.
Ianto sighed. He knew he shouldn't blame the girls. Jack preferred to mask his horrors with grins and bravado and he did it well enough to fool those who weren't watching closely. However Ianto would prepare them decaff for the rest of the day, a silent reproach for the horror they had unwittingly released.
Ianto knew he would be able to comfort his captain when they were alone later but maybe there was a way to help it along.
He would need to think carefully and plan his strategy.
Before he could make any plans however the rift alarm sounded for the second time that day. Jack came out of his office still pinching his middle with a worried frown and looked over at Toshiko.
'What is it Tosh?' he asked.
'Seems to be a warehouse on the outskirts of the city...hold on they have CCTV that I should be able to patch in to' she explained fiddling with her monitors.
The team watched as the pictures came to life on Toshiko's monitor. It did not look good. The screen showed five vaguely humanoid aliens tearing into the warehouse staff. Two men were already dead or dying and others were screaming and panicking in their desperation to get away.
'Police are already on their way Jack' announced Gwen as she bought up coverage of the police network.
'Ok...tell them to evacuate any survivors and close the perimeters...under no circumstances are they to enter the building...I know these creatures of old...they come purely to kill...unarmed officers would not stand a chance..' Jack told her.
Gwen relayed the information to police control and the team swiftly left the hub.
'Owen you will be needed in case of survivors but I don't want you entering the building...stay in the SUV and relay coordinates' shouted Jack as they loaded up.
Owen rolled his eyes but accepted his fate. Obviously Jack would want to protect him from further damage that would not heal, but he took his gun with him for protection and if necessary to help.
Ianto swung into the driver's seat in the SUV and Jack got in beside him talking quietly so the others would not hear in the back.
'Ianto please be careful when we arrive. These creatures are from the Calex galaxy...they're vicious' he said.
'Ok Jack' replied Ianto concentrating on his driving.
Jack caught hold of his wrist, making him look around at his captain.
'Please Ianto!...I can't face my two worst nightmares on the same day...I need you safe' pleaded Jack.
Ianto acknowledged the concern and fear. He knew that along with growing old Jack feared losing Ianto, being alone again. He smiled tightly at his lover.
'I'll do my best...promise' he whispered.
Ianto slammed the SUV around the final corner before their destination.
'That's the warehouse there' he said.
He pulled quickly into the car park. Already police were on the scene and evacuating the building, dispersing the crowds.
'Torchwood' yelled Jack to a police woman on guard duty.
'There were screams from the East wing when we arrived sir, but we had instructions not to approach, she told Jack apologetically.
'Thanks' said Jack, 'believe me you did right to stay out'.
Jack organised his team.
'Owen stay in the SUV, relay coordinates and rift readings, Gwen, Tosh, with me and shoot to kill, agreed?'
'Agreed' said Gwen and Toshiko nodded.
'Ianto I want you to guard the entrance, nothing comes in or out' ordered Jack.
'No' said Ianto.
'Ianto these are killing machines we can't afford to mess about trying to disable them' argued Jack.
'I mean, no I won't stay at the entrance, I'm coming in with you' said Ianto.
Jack looked at him.
'I don't want you in there Ianto' he said.
'Jack be reasonable, there are only four of us as it is, I can fire a gun, you need me in there with you' argued Ianto.
Jack leaned in close.
'I need you safe' he whispered pleading.
'And I need to be useful' insisted Ianto.
They looked at each other for what seemed like an age.
'Can we stop the macho posturing and just get on with it?' asked an exasperated Gwen.
Jack gave in.
'Ok Ianto but you stay with me'
'Compromise' agreed Ianto.
They took guns out and entered the building quietly. It was easy to tell the direction of the aliens as it was the only area with noise. They stood before a door, guns poised in preparation.
'Gwen go right, Tosh left, Ianto and I will take centre' whispered Jack.
The others nodded then all four burst through the door. They each shot a alien immediately on entry, there were five more further away one of whom ran at alarming speed and swiped at Gwen with his arm. Gwen fired but missed, Ianto ran to cover her whilst Jack dealt with two more aliens in quick succession.
Jack saw the bodies before the others did. A man and a woman, both young, both very dead. Their chest cavities were open and their heads had been smashed. Jack felt nausea rising in his throat and tried to focus his attention on the aliens.
He knew Ianto had seen the destroyed bodies when he heard a gasp and retching, he glanced back at his lover and saw him valiantly pointing his gun towards the aliens whilst heaving at the sight of the bodies and desperately shouting to Gwen to check her status.
Jack needed to get Ianto out of here. That was the only thought in his head. He knew he should be concentrating on the mission, on killing the aliens and the safety of the rest of the team, but every atom in his body screamed at him to get Ianto to safety.
Gwen lay dazed on the ground and now three aliens were closing in on Ianto. One picked him up with surprising ease and swung around to face Jack as he prepared to fire.
'Ianto' breathed Jack.
The alien holding Ianto growled at Jack and he wavered, unable to fire in case of hitting the young man. Gwen was quickly recovering and had a better vantage point than Jack, she shot at the alien holding Ianto, hitting it in the chest. It would be a fatal wound, but before dropping, the alien threw Ianto to one of his comrades. Ianto flew through the air like a rag doll and was caught by another alien, his arm and shoulder being cut in the process, blood spread across his shirt.
Jack's heart was beating wildly, he had not been this terrified for a long time. The alien holding Ianto had him in a grip around the throat and Jack could hear his lover gasping for air. The alien altered his grip and suddenly Ianto was dangling with his feet off the ground and an alien arm around his neck. The alien was gesturing to Jack with his claw aimed at Ianto's chest.
The threat was obvious, the claw had already broken the skin and more blood was seeping through Ianto's shirt. Jack felt his nausea return. Gwen and Toshiko were both circling trying to get a good vantage point to shoot.
Two aliens left. Gwen, Toshiko and Jack facing them and armed, the odds were in the Torchwood teams favour, but Ianto was still held fast. Jack felt unable to breathe as he watched his lover held bruised and bleeding by an alien bent on destruction. None of the team had a clear shot, and they continued circling warily.
Jack never took his eyes from Ianto, his heart was beating so fast it hurt, blood pounding in his ears, he couldn't lose Ianto now, it would be too much to bear. I just need him for a while longer...not yet...not yet, he thought continually.
As he watched he saw Ianto move his hand into his trouser pocket, what was he doing? Ianto withdrew the SUV ignition keys. Oh God, Jack could not believe what he was seeing, surely Ianto could not be so stupid.
Ianto looked at Jack and saw him shake his head, but this was a stand- off and Ianto realised he had to take some action. He grasped the keys firmly, swung himself up and plunged them with force into the eye of the alien who held him. The alien screamed and dropped Ianto, who threw himself clear as Jack, Toshiko and Gwen found clear space and fired.
Both the remaining aliens were dead or dying and Jack ran to Ianto gathering him into his arms and openly weeping.
'I'm ok Jack' said Ianto.
'No you're not, you're bruised and bleeding and in big trouble' said Jack.
'Trouble?' queried Ianto.
'Disobeying an order' said Jack.
Gwen had joined them.
'It was an inspired move Jack and you know it' she said looking at Ianto with new admiration.
'Jack' said Ianto.
Jack looked at him softly.
'Yes Ianto' he said.
'You're hurting my shoulder' he replied, and fainted in Jack's arms.
Ianto regained consciousness quickly to find himself being carried to the SUV by Jack. He struggled in Jack's arms.
'I can walk Jack, this is ridiculous, put me down,' he insisted.
'No you can't, don't argue' said Jack with a pleading look in his eyes.
Ianto allowed himself to be conveyed into the backseat of the SUV.
Jack drove whilst Gwen and Toshiko began to arrange cover stories and clean up and Owen tended to Ianto's wounds.
'Owen?...how is he?' shouted Jack to Owen in the back seat as he inspected Ianto.
'Don't panic...he's ok.. just needs cleaning and a few sutures. When we get to the hub he'll be fine in no time' insisted Owen.
'Jack..breathe!..he's ok..it's a really boring injury for a Torchwood employee! I'm a doctor and I'm telling you he will be sore and nothing more..ok?' he continued.
'I'm ok Jack stop fussing' said Ianto.
'Told you...get over yourself Jack...teaboy just got a scrape..' sighed Owen.
Back at the hub Owen set about suturing Ianto's wound.
'See not life threatening at all...I may be dead but I can still tell a non fatal wound' said Owen sarcastically.
Ianto and Jack both shot Owen a look full of venom and he left them to comfort each other.
'I'm ok Jack...bit sore though' said Ianto with a small smile.
'I know...I over reacted...just panicked...you know?' murmured Jack.
'I know' said Ianto.
He knew Jack worried about losing him. He had lost so many people, and it would just keep happening over and over throughout the rest of eternity. Truly the never ending nightmare times.
Ianto smiled at him.
'Don't live it before you have to Jack' he whispered.
Jack nodded but looked into Ianto's eyes.
'Sometimes I want to cry for you now...while you're still here to comfort me for the loss' he whispered softly.
Ianto gulped back a sob, he loved it when Jack was this open about his feelings but the honesty behind this admission was so bitter and painful to hear.
They stared into each other's eyes, both acknowledging the fact that one day Jack would live it for real. It was painful for them both but in very different ways and Ianto had long ago realised it was worse for Jack. To be left behind, to be possibly forgotten held pain, but to do the loosing and the forgetting held agony beyond human endurance.
Ianto hugged Jack to him.
'Don't live it before you have to' he repeated.
They kissed chastely and placed their foreheads together, each providing an air of calm for the other.
'You two done slobbering over each other yet? Is it safe to look?' shouted Owen from the main hub.
That evening Ianto had organised what he thought of as a mission to save Jack from his never ending nightmare, at least for a time. He had arranged to meet a couple of old college friends at a local bar and had spent some time talking about Jack to his closest friend Will.
He took himself to Jack's office. Jack was still worrying that was obvious to Ianto. He sat at his desk, motionless, just staring into the endless future. Ianto approached him carefully and placed his arms about Jack's neck and putting his head into the crook of his lover's shoulder.
'Stop thinking about it' he whispered.
'Can't help it' murmured Jack.
'Come out with me tonight?' asked Ianto 'I'm meeting friends.
'Attractive friends?' questioned Jack with a gleam in his eyes.
Ianto rolled his eyes but kissed Jack's neck anyway.
'I think so. But you can't flirt, they don't know about us and Will is not comfortable with the whole gay thing' whispered Ianto.
'What do you mean?' asked Jack.
'Well...he's not anti gay...just gets a bit unnerved when people are obvious. Maybe he has unresolved issues with his own sexuality..' answered Ianto leaving the insinuation hanging in the air.
Jack grinned to himself, he loved unnerving repressed 21st century men, tonights outing just became potentially much more interesting. For a time he forgot to listen to his demons.
Jack's evening was going well. He liked Ianto's friends and he was having a good time. Robin was witty and intelligent reminding him of his favourite Welshman, and Will was beginning to cautiously respond to Jack's attention.
Jack was resisting the temptation to flirt with the young man but he saw no harm in paying a great deal of attention to him. Will was clearly not comfortable around Jack at the beginning of the evening but Jack's charm had worn him down and he was seemingly hanging onto Jack's every word.
As Ianto stood to leave, Jack leaned towards Will and placed a kiss on his cheek, Will looked slightly shocked but then looked Jack in the eyes and said.
'I hope to see you again some time captain'
Jack grinned widely and led Ianto away. As Jack visited the gents before leaving Ianto rushed back to Will and hugging him said.
'Thank you...I owe you a drink'
'No problem Ianto...and you were right he is very sexy' replied Will with a wink.
Ianto left to rejoin Jack relieved that his plan had worked.
Back at Ianto's house Jack took his young lover in his arms as he got undressed in his bedroom.
'You don't need to ask your friends to make me feel better...but thank you... for caring enough' he whispered.
Ianto looked at Jack and raised his eyebrows in question.
'Don't play games with me Jones...I know you asked Will to respond to me...is he really uncomfortable around gay men?' asked Jack laughing.
Ianto admitted defeat.
'No' he replied 'actually Will is VERY comfortable with gay men' he laughed 'and he's very happy that I've apparently seen the light' he continued giggling now.
The two men climbed into bed at ease with each other and Ianto slipped under Jack's arm to rest his head on the other man's shoulder.
'I know you worry Jack and I want to make you happy for as long as I can' whispered Ianto.
'I've lived a long time Ianto...but right now..right here..in this bed with you...I am happier than I have ever been. The nightmares will never go away..no one can help me with that...but you bring dreams in your wake Ianto Jones' said Jack.
Ianto looked up at him prepared to laugh but saw sincerity on Jack's face and was surprised, Jack was rarely so emotional.
'Live the now Jack' he said 'don't look forward or back...don't live it before you have to'
Ianto reached up to kiss his lover and began trailing kisses down his body. Breathing became more ragged.
Jack rolled onto his back and pulled Ianto on top of him. Ianto looked a question at him.
'I want to do it this way tonight...is that ok?' asked Jack.
Ianto took a moment to consider this. He didn't often top and it always happened when Jack was feeling vulnerable and wanted to be claimed, or if he was just in a kinky submissive mood. Ianto could see he wanted to be possessed tonight, to feel Ianto was taking hold of him, claiming him from the past and the future, making him live the now.
'Of course it's ok' he whispered and sensing Jack's mood prepared to take their pleasure slowly and oh so thoroughly.
Ianto placed his elbows either side of Jack's head and thrust his body against his lovers rubbing them both to full erection. He kissed Jack's neck and across his shoulders, then down his chest.
Ianto sat up slightly and pushed Jack's legs open and up, revelling in the feeling of control and enjoying the trust Jack showed by allowing this. He spread lube in and around Jack's entrance and over his own cock enjoying Jack's intake of breath as he watched him stroke himself.
He positioned himself to enter Jack's body and bent down to kiss his neck and whisper to him.
'For this short while you are mine' he whispered hearing Jack's breath hitch as he listened to him.
He thrust into Jack's willing and hot body and stilled briefly looking into his eyes. Ianto began small gentle thrusts and continued kissing Jack's neck and whispering to him.
'Here and now you are mine...you belong to me...it's just us'
Ianto pinned Jack's arms to the bed by gripping his wrists in his hands to ensure Jack knew he was being claimed, to ensure he could feel Ianto's dominance, his desire to own. Jack loved to give over control like this, loved to feel Ianto's need to capture and claim.
'It's just us...you belong to me'
Ianto was thrusting in earnest now and they were both nearing climax. Ianto placed Jack's hand on his own cock and ordered him.
'Do it Jack...let me watch you make yourself come...do as I tell you...do it!'
Jack lost control completely and rubbed himself frantically, searching for release, arching and pressing into Ianto. Ianto came seconds later, Jack's evident pleasure pushing him over the edge. He slowly continued thrusting through the waves of sensation as it died. Resting eventually on top of Jack and nuzzling his neck once more.
'All mine' he gasped finally.
'All yours' agreed a sated Jack.
Later as they lay becoming sleepy Jack tried to snuggle against Ianto's side.
'Jack' objected Ianto 'I'm sleeping now'
Jack smiled and rolled away keeping a hand on Ianto's back.
Jack smiled some more and removed his hand. Ianto hated to be touched when he was going to sleep, his whole body needed to be away from Jack's or he couldn't relax into oblivion. Jack had grown used to this quirk and accepted it because Ianto would crawl into his arms later whilst he was asleep. Once unconscious his body would seek out Jack's warmth and comfort. Cuddles in the morning were as obligatory as not touching at sleep time.
Jack slowly and carefully moved his foot closer to Ianto, barely touching his calf with a big toe.
Jack giggled and turned over to await the dreaming Ianto who would cuddle up to him.
Jack has dreams.
He dreams that he never met the Doctor and is still a time travelling con man.
He dreams he died and stayed dead on satellite 5. He dreams he died and stayed dead all the times since then. He dreams that he will die one day.
He dreams of a normal life with Ianto. A life where they love and laugh and argue and make up. Where they meet friends and go on holiday, where they watch boring TV and waste time lounging around. A life where they will grow old together.
He will only have a brief time with Ianto, but Ianto has taught him to live in the now. He has given Jack dreams of love and life and in the dream space before the nightmare times this is enough for Jack.