TITLE: Letting Go
SPOILERS: Episode 2x09-Something Borrowed.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own Torchwood, or any of the characters or situations from the show, nor do I derive any profit from this writing.
SUMMARY: After Gwen's wedding, Ianto decides he needs to move on.
WARNING: Not beta-read. As a result, given I am not a very experienced fiction writer and have a tendency to be repetitive, it is probably over-dramatic, full of errors, and just generally not that great.
A/N: I started this a long time ago, but got stuck. However, the recent influx of all things Torchwood-related inspired me to go back. Originally, this was supposed to end not-so-happily for Jack and Ianto as a couple, but given recent events, I couldn't bear to make Ianto sad, so you get a happy ending!
Ianto watches as Jack dances with Gwen and for once he feels no jealousy, only resignation. The wedding, madness of crazy alien pregnancies aside, had raised a maelstrom of emotions, and for Ianto, it had been a catalyst. He had reached a decision. As he watched the way that Jack gazed into Gwen's eyes, the way that he held her, his feelings apparent for all to see, Ianto came to the realisation that letting go was necessary and he needed to move on while he still could. Since Lisa, Ianto had been living in limbo. Even as he gave his body to Jack, in his mind and in his heart, he had still belonged to Lisa. Yet, without him realising it, things had changed. Jack had slowly captured his heart, and Ianto hadn't noticed until it was too late. Unfortunately, Ianto had also recognised that Jack would never be his-and Ianto would never be what Jack wanted. Ianto had finally let go of Lisa. And now, he knew it was time to let go of his hopes and his feelings for Jack.
Ianto slowly made his way across the dance floor and cut in, turning to Jack and moving close. As they danced, Ianto was surprised at his own actions. He had always been a very private person, and Ianto knew that if Jack's mind had been clearer, he too would have been surprised at Ianto asking him to dance in front of all these people. However, Ianto had a reason for taking this moment. For Ianto, this was goodbye.
* * *
Clean up complete and everything taken care of, Jack turned to Ianto after dropping Tosh and Owen off at their respective homes. "Back to mine?" he questioned with a leer, having apparently shaken off his earlier melancholy.
Ianto shook his head, and instead asked "Can you just drop me off at mine? I need sleep."
Ianto could feel Jack's questioning gaze. After all, it was rare that Ianto turned down a night with Jack, but Ianto avoided his look and turned to stare resolutely out the window. Jack started the SUV and they drove silently to Ianto's. As Jack pulled to a stop in the street outside Ianto's flat, Ianto opened the door, trying to avoid an awkward moment with Jack. One foot out the door however, Ianto stopped himself. Turning around, Ianto leaned in and gave Jack a soft peck on the cheek, ignoring Jack's surprise at the gentle, tender gesture. Reaching up to gently brush his thumb over the spot he had kissed, Ianto whispered a soft "goodbye, Jack," before exiting the vehicle and swiftly striding up the path. However, he wasn't fast enough, and he heard Jack's quick footsteps behind him, before his arm was grabbed.
Ianto stopped walking and turned to face Jack, inwardly cursing at the fact that his getaway had been aborted.
"What was that?" Jack questioned.
Ianto played dumb. "What was what?"
To Ianto's dismay however, Jack was not to be deterred, having felt the emotion in his goodbye.
"Is something wrong?" Jack asked. "You seem…" Here he trailed off, unsure how to define exactly what he had sensed from Ianto. It hadn't been anger. Ianto hadn't even seemed upset.
"You seem sad, disappointed, resigned," Jack finally voiced. "Take your pick. Whatever it is, I'd like to know what's going on. Have I done something?"
Ianto sighed audibly. "I'm tired Jack. Why don't we talk tomorrow?"
"So something is going on," Jack nodded to himself.
Ianto sighed again and gave in. Perhaps it would be better to get this over with.
"I can't do this anymore. This…thing between us has been amazing, and I will always be grateful for you, and the fact that you got me through after Lisa, but I've realised that it's time to move on".
Ianto could see the shock and hurt in Jack's face, and hated that he was causing Jack pain, although a small part of him was gratified at this evidence that Jack cared for him, even just a little.
"I'm sorry," Ianto apologised, reaching out a hand to try and give Jack some comfort, but stopped, his hand hovering in mid-air when Jack took a step back to avoid his touch.
"Did I do something?" Jack asked, and Ianto flinched at hurt in his voice.
"I know it's a cliché, but I mean it when I say that it's not you".
"What is it then?" Jack questioned, his tone harsher this time.
Ianto hated that they were doing this, standing in the middle of the street outside his flat, but it was too late now. He had a feeling Jack wouldn't be too receptive to being invited inside in order to do this in private, and so, he continued.
"I just need more."
Ianto could see the confusion in Jack's face, and continued. "I want a life Jack. A life outside of Torchwood. As good as our time together has been, it's just been all about Torchwood and shagging, and I just can't do it anymore. I want someone I can be with, a proper relationship. And believe me, I wish you could be the person that I have that with, but I think we both know that you don't want that."
"You don't know…" Jack began, but was interrupted by Ianto.
"I want someone I can love, and who will love me back."
Seeing the instinctive step back Jack took at the use of the L word, Ianto nodded sadly at this unconscious confirmation of his words.
"I'm sorry Jack."
Jack stared at Ianto for a long moment, before turning and striding back to the SUV, coat swirling around his legs. Ianto stood, rooted to the spot, and watched as Jack drove away. Ianto sighed, knowing that things had gone terribly. Despite this, Ianto knew that he had done the right thing for himself. He tried to hold onto that thought as he turned to slowly make his way inside, trying to forget the hurt that he had clearly caused Jack.
* * *
A loud and persistent knocking woke Ianto from a restless sleep. He groaned in frustration. It seemed like he had only just gotten to sleep, after what seemed like hours of tossing and turning, trying not to replay the events of the evening in his mind. He pressed the pillow into his face angrily, but as the knocking continued, he threw himself out of bed, and made his way out of his room and down the hall. As he threw open the door, Ianto raised a single eyebrow at Jack, who stood outside his door, one fist raised as he was interrupted mid-knock.
"Is there something I can help you with?" Ianto asked dryly.
Jack glared at him, and pushed Ianto aside, storming his way into the living room. Ianto again raised an eyebrow and closed the door behind him, muttering sarcastically as he did so. "Please, come in, make yourself at home."
Ianto followed the path Jack had taken, and found Jack standing in the middle of the room. Whereas just moments before, Jack had been vibrating with anger as he had stormed his way past Ianto, that anger seemed to have drained out of him, and now he just seemed lost.
Jack stared at Ianto for a long moment, and Ianto, though confused, stood silently, simply waiting for Jack to speak. What he finally said stunned Ianto, who felt like he had been socked in the gut.
"You love me," Jack stated. "You're in love with me".
Ianto opened his mouth to speak, but was unable to make a sound. He wanted to laugh and tell Jack he was wrong, to spare himself the humiliation that was sure to come, but he couldn't get the words out. As much as he wanted to, it felt wrong to deny it, to lie and say he didn't love Jack. Instead of speaking, Ianto slowly sank onto the couch and buried his face in his hands, trying in vain to block out what was happening.
The silence seemed to stretch on forever, until Ianto finally raised his head again. Jack was still watching him. Jack took several steps forward and sat next to Ianto on the couch. To Ianto's relief, he had stopped staring, and instead sat, gazing blankly ahead. Ianto did the same, trying to avoid looking at the other man. Even though he was expecting Jack's next question, he still started a little when Jack finally broke the silence and spoke.
"Why did you end things? If you love me?"
"I told you earlier," Ianto bit out, the frustration clear in his voice.
"You're right. I do love you. But that doesn't mean that I will just roll over and take whatever scraps you hand out. That doesn't mean that I should be willing to put up with being a consolation prize, or a part-time shag".
"What the hell are you talking about?", Jack demanded angrily.
Ianto turned at stared at him, incredulous. "We shag, Jack. That's all we do. God knows, it's good, but it's not enough. Throw in the fact that you spend half your time pining after Gwen, and-"
"I do not pine after Gwen!" Jack interrupted.
Ianto stared at him, and raised an eyebrow. "I can list many examples which prove the opposite. Starting with your behaviour at her wedding reception earlier".
Ianto turned away again, the sadness written all over his face. He was surprised when Jack reached over to take his hand, but he continued to avoid looking at Jack, who sighed before he spoke.
"I'm not in love with Gwen. I admit, I've flirted, and I was a bit infatuated at first, but I never would have gone there. I'm not an idiot. I can see that if anything ever happened between Gwen and I, it would be an absolute disaster. In fact, that's probably why I acted the way I did. It's easier when there's no chance of anything happening. It's safer that way."
Ianto pulled his hand out of Jack's grasp, and turned his body so that he was facing Jack.
"It doesn't matter. Gwen isn't the main issue. It's like I told you. I want more, and we both know that is the opposite of what you want. I want a proper relationship, while you want a convenient shag in your office with no real attachments."
Jack's next words were spoken softly, the hesitation clear in his voice. "I thought I wanted that. I thought I didn't care. Until you told me we were done. Imagine my surprise when the thought of not having you, of not having us, in my life hurt. A lot more than I thought it could."
Ianto pushed down the hope that was rising in him. Nothing had changed. "I love you. And you don't want that."
"Maybe I do."
Ianto stared at Jack in shock. That was the last thing he had expected to hear.
"Tonight…after I left your house, I tried to imagine life without you in it. I tried to imagine how I would feel if you were to find someone else to be happy with. It was the shock I needed to see that I…I care for you. More than I want to. It just took nearly losing you for me to see it."
"But if you don't want it…it doesn't matter how you feel," Ianto began, before he trailed off, unsure how to express what he was trying to say. Before he could try to clarify, Jack jumped in, clearly understanding what Ianto meant.
"I've spent a long time trying not to get too close to anyone. You're right. I do want to avoid falling in love, or getting hurt. But I want you more."
Here, Jack paused to take in Ianto's reaction, before he continued. "I know it will hurt. The small dose I got earlier this evening showed me that. But I think you might be worth it."
Ianto was speechless. This was more than he had ever dared to hope for. However, ever practical, he tried to rein his emotions in. "You're not in love with me," he said cautiously.
Jack nodded. "No. Not yet. But I think I could be well on my way. And now that I know that the feelings are there, it's probably inevitable. I want to try this. Do things properly. The things you said before, about a life and a relationship outside of Torchwood. It sounds nice."
Jack reached out to once again take Ianto's hand, and gave it a squeeze before he continued speaking. "Maybe, I could take you out on that date I promised," he suggested hesitantly, still unsure if what he was offering was enough for Ianto.
Ianto nodded. "I think I'd like that," he responded shyly.
A soft smile spread across his face, and it was mirrored by the one on Jack's face, as the two sat, staring and smiling stupidly at each other. Giving Jack's hand in his a squeeze, Ianto reached up with his other hand, and cupping Jack's cheek, he tenderly brushed it with his thumb, exactly as he had earlier that night, when he had said goodbye to Jack. As he leaned in and kissed Jack softly, Ianto let go of all the things holding him back, for the second time that night. However this time, he embraced the fall gladly.