Disclaimer: Ianto and Jack still belong to Russel T Davies, even if he does kill one off. Grr.

Author note: I've done a similar story to this one before (similar in the flicking between two events and hoping that everything will fit) and the link is in my profile, if you are interested. Sorry in advance for those of you who haven't yet watched CofE, and for those who have, I hope you'll appreciate just how dang hard it was to transcribe that scene without welling up. Again.

Please read, and tell me what you think!


A lone blinking light filled Jack's bedroom – which was hardly more than a furnished pipe, in all honesty – with swathes of red illumination, turning the tangled bodies shades of crimson and garish magenta. The smaller man of the two rolled off the larger all of a sudden, and the larger looked more than a little surprised.

"Jack," the smaller man began, revealing a lilting Welsh accent.

"Ianto?" Jack replied, looking at his lover curiously.

"Can I ask you something?"

Jack laughed. "If I say no, will that stop you?"

Ianto's lips quirked into a smile. Just a small one, mind. "I don't think so, no."

"Alright then," said Jack. "Fire away."

The Welshman frowned, staring at the low ceiling of the room. "What'll you do when I die?"

Φ

A red light flickers on and off on one side of the room, it turns purple where it hits the blue, smoke filled tank.

Ianto raises his gun. "If there's a virus, then there must be an anti-virus. Release it now, or I'll blow a hole in that tank." He aims at the glass, his finger shaking on the trigger. "And we'll all die together."

Φ

Jack gave a brazen laugh. "Jeez, Yan. Morbid enough?"

"I'm sorry, it just sort of..." A hand landed on his chest, and Ianto looked along the arm to meet Jack's gaze. "Occurred to me."

"I must be doing something very wrong, if those kind of thoughts are 'occurring'," said Jack.

The hand started to creep lower. Shivers spread across Ianto's stomach, and he tried not to let his eyelids flutter. This was serious.

Φ

"You are dying, even now," the 456 says as Jack rushes back into the room, his coat whirling around him.

Jack raises his gun, mirroring Ianto. A small nod, and together they empty their guns; all bullets intent on smashing that crystal-clear glass. It does not work. The glass shrugs every scrap of metal off effortlessly.

The alien, safe in its bullet-proof box of a throne, begins to shriek and screech. A tiny needle on the side of the box flickers crazily, a perfect accompaniment to the still blinking red light.

"What's that noise?" Jack is spooked, confused. "What's it doing?"

Φ

"Jack, please."

"I've heard that before," the older man said, grinning, "not ten minutes ago, I think."

Ianto wouldn't plead. He wouldn't beg. He wouldn't whine. Ianto just said, quietly and simply, "Jack."

"You're after a serious answer, I take it?"

Ianto moved his hand to halt the progress of Jack's. "Of course."

"Of course," muttered Jack, "Of course 'of course'."

"Ah sir, you surely do sound the very pinnacle of sanity."

Jack's hand whipped free of Ianto's hold to give him a flick on the head.

"Ow," Ianto said mildly. "I could take that as abuse, you know."

Φ

Ianto begins to sway on his feet, the infection taking root deep within his weakening body.

Jack's head whips around, his arms go out to steady the younger man. "We've got to get you out of here," he tells Ianto. "I can survive anything, but you can't."

Φ

"Oh, you would take that as abuse, but not complain when I do this?" Quick as a flash, Jack rolled onto Ianto and took both of the smaller man's hands in one of his.

Ianto struggled a little to escape the vice-like grip, but he could see Jack's point had been made. It felt too wonderful, with their bodies entwined, to protest.

Φ

"Too late," Ianto says simply. "I breathed the air."

All of a sudden it seems like Jack is the only thing keeping Ianto standing, the only thing keeping Ianto whole.

Φ

"Back to the point in question?" Ianto asked

Jack made a childishly disgruntled face, illuminated for a moment by red. "No," he said.

Φ

"There's got to be an antidote," says Jack. He clings onto Ianto and looks into his eyes, trying to a find a way out of this nightmare.

The 456 speaks again. "You said you would fight." It sounds smug, for as smug as a translator can be.

Jack glares at the box and its monstrous resident. "Then I take it back, alright? I take it all back, but not him!" Jack turns away from the 456 in time to see Ianto begin to collapse, and he catches him whilst crooning, "No! No, no, no. No, Ianto? No."

He looks down, Ianto looks back.

Φ

God, thought Ianto. He is actually pouting. Never thought I'd see that...

"Jack..."

Φ

"It's all my fault," Jack whispers as he cradles Ianto to him, holding tight against the encroaching finality

Ianto shakes his head as much as he can. His eyes are full of tears. "No, it's not."

Φ

Innocence bloomed large and totally unbelievable on Jack's face. He can't be innocent when his hand is starting to creep lower and lower again, Ianto thought.

"What?" said Jack.

Φ

"Don't— Don't speak. Save your breath." Cradling him, still cradling, Jack strokes with a light touch across Ianto's scarred cheek.

The younger man's face contorts like he is trying not to sob.

He is trying so hard.

Φ

"What indeed," Ianto chuckled without breath. Then he sucked in a gasp and had to bite down on his lips to stop the moan that threatened to escape...

Jack tutted. "Don't hold back, love." Ianto just glared, one eyebrow twitching.

Φ

"I— I love you." It comes out as a sob.

Jack shakes his head in denial of what is coming, as if by denial alone he can prevent it. "Don't," he begs. There are tears in his eyes.

Φ

"You look funny." Jack's face split into a dopey grin.

Ianto continued to glare. Maintaining complete composure always proved difficult when Jack tickled him right there.

The hand that had been holding Ianto's let go and joined Jack's other hand in fairly despicable, quite fantastical deeds. All the while Jack looked into Ianto's glaring face. Looked and looked, just so he wouldn't miss the moment when Ianto's eyelids would flicker shut.

Content in his mischief, Jack waited as gasp after gasp was rent from the younger man.

Φ

Ianto's eyes begin to close. The brilliance that had been there, a brilliance Jack now only noticed because it was gone, fades. His face goes slack.

"Ianto. Ianto? Ianto, stay with me." It is a demand, a deep and desperate request, but it is one Ianto cannot fulfil, try as he may to hold on. "Ianto, stay with me please." Jack's voice cracks. Ianto's heart breaks. "Stay with me. Stay with me! St—" Jack's voice descends into sobs and gasps. His hands rub restlessly over his lover's cheek.

Ianto's skin feels numb. Jack's fingers bring no comfort.

Φ

"God, Jack!"

"There we go!"

Jack's smile was as infectious as it was merciless, and Ianto found himself grinning back.

Then Jack slid lower, and Ianto's eyes truly did roll back into his head. After a few heady seconds, he recovered himself to look down at where Jack perched, waiting.

Φ

Jack looks at Ianto, his precious Ianto, and Ianto looks back, concern outweighing his pain.

"Hey," he says. "It was good, yeah?"

A tear falls from Jack's eye. "Yeah."

Φ

"Yeah, more?"

"G—god, Jack..."

Ianto craned forward, trying to see his lover's face, but the sight of Jack's head bobbing up and down like that was too much and Ianto had to lie back again. The glare had long been abandoned.

Φ

Ianto's face contorts as he tries to hold back another sob. "Don't forget me," he pleads.

It takes Jack long, painful seconds before he can regain control and say, "Never could." His voice is strained.

Φ

Ianto raised his head, confused. "You're stopping? Now?"

"I thought you wanted to chat," Jack pointed out, wiping his mouth a little.

"But now?" Ianto's voice cracked and Jack chuckled.

"Why not now? The night is young, the birds are chirping, wind is in the trees and you are—"

"Actually whimpering? You are a sick man, Harkness."

It was Jack's turn to chuckle breathlessly. "Want me to continue, then?"

Ianto nodded, a small action. His clenched fists looked like they were vibrating.

When Jack spoke, it was hardly more than a whisper. "How long for?"

Φ

"Thousand years?" Ianto asks, his lips barely moving to form the slurred words. "A thousand years time? You won't remember me..." Ianto's face screws up: his brows crease; his mouth twists, but his eyes stay open and stare, pleading.

Jack makes a decision.

"Yes I will."

He is serious now, more serious than he has ever been in his life, in his existence.

"I promise I will."

Φ

Ianto was close now, he could feel it. Everything under his skin felt tight and highly strung, like he could explode at any second. Red light flickered over his closed eyelids.

It felt good.

Jack felt good.

All of this felt good.

No, it felt better than good. It felt right.

Ianto's body jerked once, and then he was lost. Dimly, he was aware of Jack's hands holding him close, holding him tight and safe.

Φ

Ianto's head arches back slowly, his mouth gulps a few times around air it cannot capture, and then his face goes slack, his body limp in Jack's arms.

"Ianto?" Jack asks. He knows he won't get an answer. "Ianto?" His voice is cracking, his heart is breaking. "Don't go," he whispers.

But Ianto is already an empty shell. Red light flashes over his pallid skin.

"Don't leave me, please." Such desperation in his voice, such desperation from the immortal man who has nothing to fear, and yet everything to lose. "P-please don't—"

A tear drop forms on the end of Jack's nose.

The truth dawns

Words can do nothing now.

Ianto is gone.

Φ

"Welcome back to sanity, stranger."

"Don't want it," Ianto moaned, not caring that he sounded like a surly teenager. He felt like a teenager. He felt alive. "Wanna go back. Wanna stay."

Φ

"You will die," the alien in its glass box says. "And tomorrow your people will deliver the children."

Jack looks up at the 456, anger forcing its way onto his face. His lips want to keen and moan, he is panting and, for some reason, still fighting.

He doesn't know why he is fighting. There is nothing left to fight for.

Φ

"Love you, Ianto Jones."

"Love you too, sir," Ianto said dryly. "If it's not too much trouble, can I just melt here?"

Jack leaned up, gathering Ianto into his arms so they could fall asleep cocooned in each other's embrace. He gave the younger man a quick peck of a kiss before snuggling into his neck.

Ianto chuckled, but did not shrug him off. How could he?

Φ

Jack looks from the 456 – that bastard 456 – to Ianto. What has he done?

Jack shakes from the tightly wound tension inside himself. Forcing stillness, he bends to place a kiss on Ianto's cooling lips like Juliet desperate for a taste of her true love's liquid death; desperate for that one last touch.

It is over, and then Jack too slowly keels over and backward. He sprawls on the floor, hands and arms still holding onto Ianto, the lost love.

The 456 watches.

Red light flashes.

Silence descends.