Jack was fascinated with the Tardis. He bounded around it, peering into every nook and cranny like they contained the secrets of the universe, which, Ianto thought, it being the Tardis meant they probably did.
Rose and Ianto were less enthusiastic, however. They were on edge, terrified of mentioning something, of revealing Jack's future. The Doctor seeming rather oblivious to the growing tension, insisting on taking the 'scenic' route as if they were all on a jolly summer holiday and had no cares in the world. Certainly the diversion had been worth it - it wasn't everyday you got the see the creation of a brand new galaxy - but Ianto knew he would have appreciated it more had it not been for Jack. It was hard to think of him as Jack, he wasn't Ianto's Jack - this man was colder and Ianto wondered what had changed him, whether it was really meeting the Doctor, or just the years of immortality he had been cursed with.
They dropped Jack off, eventually, and then the Doctor proposed just one last sightseeing trip before they took Ianto back.
"Time Machine!" the Doctor kept exclaiming, and Ianto fell for it every time until suddenly, one evening, he realised that it had been weeks since he was dumped in the alien prison, since he left Cardiff, Torchwood, Jack...
"I'd really appreciate it if you could drop me home now." He said, conversationally, over a cup of tea the next morning.
Rose and the Doctor looked a little sad, as if they thought they could have kept him forever.
"I mean it." Ianto added firmly. "I want to go back to Cardiff, because if Jack misses me half as much as I miss hi... as I miss everyone, then it's probably best if I get back soon. For the safety of the city and all that."
He was relieved when they agreed, and nothing seemed better than the freezing sea wind and lashing rain as the Tardis landed by the Bay.
"I'll go by myself from here." Ianto said, and wasn't even surprised as Rose swept him up into a teary hug.
Tosh was the first to notice him arrive, the noise of the cog door opening gave him away.
The next few hours passed in a daze of hugs, pub and talk of what he'd missed until finally he was alone with Jack. And in that moment Ianto Jones knew he'd made the right decision to return, because of all the wondrous places in the universe this was where he belonged. His home.
"You were away longer than a week, weren't you?" Jack asks, as they lie together in the dark, one hand playing with the curl of hair at the nape of Ianto's neck. His hair has grown, not long enough for anyone else to notice, but Jack can tell.
"A little longer," Ianto admits, and Jack steels himself. "About three or four weeks, I think, not a full month. Time seemed to pass differently, you know. " Of course Jack knows, how could he forget how it feels to be a companion, to travel through time and space with such a being as a Time Lord?
"That's…" Jack trails off, not knowing quite what to say. Is it good, that he has only missed this short section of Ianto's life, or bad, because not even loyal, dependable, Ianto had been able to avoid the lure of the Doctor?
"But I'm back now" Ianto senses the change in Jack's mood "Did you miss me?" he asks, half teasing, half dreading a truthful answer, thinking after he's said it that he really could have picked a better question to cheer Jack up.
"Ianto," Jack starts, "I don't know how we survived without your coffee! I don't think we could have lasted a day longer!" he sighs dramatically and laughs to himself, but behind the joking words Ianto can hear what Jack really means and if it isn't 'Course I missed you like hell, just like you missed me' then he doesn't know what it is.