AN: Um, for right now I'll just thank Mama Rocks for the beta. The rest of my notes are gonna be at the end...


Chapter 40 - A Heart Won't Lie

Ianto smiled faintly as he shut the door and turned towards Jack. When he finally captured Jack's gaze he had to fight against the urge to laugh. It wasn't entirely helpful when Jack picked up an award that was sitting on his coffee table and arched his eyebrows as he read it. Jack put it back down and glanced at Ianto with an expression he'd never seen before. Before Ianto could say anything Jack smiled crookedly.

"I didn't know you could sing Ianto."

Ianto lost the battle and began to laugh wholeheartedly as he walked towards Jack and thrust the bag of food back into his hands.

"If you read that carefully Jack, you'll see that it's not exactly first place. In fact, it was so long ago that I'm sure whatever voice I had back then is long gone."

Jack chuckled loudly and shook his head as he walked over and dropped the bag onto Ianto's dining table. When he turned back around his laughter died down quickly and Ianto knew whatever he'd come over to say was going to be bad. Before Jack could start talking he walked past him, heading into his spare room. He heard Jack's footsteps behind him, indicating the other man was following him and sighed with resignation.

When he turned around, he found Jack leaning against the doorframe with his arms crossed, staring around at all the packages that filled the room. Jack's eyebrows rose again as he noticed the open boxes.

"Is there something I should know? Are you going somewhere?"

Ianto shook his head, offering Jack a frail smile before he spoke softly. There was more pain in his voice than he realised, but he was too distracted by what Jack was doing there to focus too much on it.

"I was just going through Lisa's things. Her family has been calling me for about four months to see if they could get some of it. At first, I just didn't know what she would want to keep when she came home. Afterwards, well, I just couldn't..." his voice trailed away when Jack nodded at him.

Ianto watched as Jack took a few steps forward, leaning over the box full of items he was planning on keeping. When he stood upright Ianto realised he was holding a black velvet jewellery box, staring at it suspiciously. Before Ianto could stop him, Jack flipped it open and gazed at the engagement ring nestled snugly inside. Jack snapped the ring box closed and dropped it back into the box without saying a word. He turned and walked out of the room never once meeting Ianto's worried eyes.

Ianto shuddered, frowning as he reached down to pick up his coffee cup and closed his eyelids. For a second he actually considered just sitting down and ignoring everything, but he knew that Jack would come back and drag him out of there. It took every bit of strength he had inside him to leave the room.

He found Jack in his kitchen, going through his cupboards sporadically as if he was looking for something. Jack finally stopped when he opened the cupboard full of plates and took two down, setting them carefully on the counter in front of him. When Jack didn't even look at Ianto he shook his head lightly, grimacing with frustration. He had no bloody idea what was going through the other man's mind, but in a way he was almost grateful for his silence.

'Avoidance isn't going to solve anything...' his mind added rather unhelpfully.

Ianto sighed heavily and walked past Jack until he reached his sink, turning on the water to wash his coffee cup. He took a few minutes longer to wash his hands and face, remembering how dusty everything he'd touched that day had been. Once he was sure he was clean he reached over and grabbed another mug for Jack. The moment he had it in his hand he finally heard Jack speak softly behind him.

"You were going to propose to her."

He bit his lip and turned back towards Jack, his heart thundering in his chest. He was surprised to see that Jack wasn't looking at him for an answer, instead he was staring down at the plates in front of him. He shrugged half heartedly, not caring if Jack could see it and turned back towards his coffee maker, pouring the liquid carefully into each cup. It took him a second to comprehend that Jack hadn't been asking him a question. Right as he realised that fact he turned back towards him to find the other man staring at him suspiciously.

"Why didn't you?"

Ianto glanced around the room, avoiding his gaze for as long as he could. Jack took a few steps forward, standing in front of him with an apprehensive look on his face. When he couldn't take anymore his eyes snapped back to Jack's as he growled with aggravation. He knew the other man wasn't going to leave him alone until he answered the question

"I didn't get a bloody chance, okay? I had reservations at a restaurant for the following Friday. Before I could take her and ask her, the God damn Cybermen came." Ianto snapped at him as he shoved Jack's coffee cup into his hand, not caring in the least if the hot liquid spilled over his skin.

He slid silently around Jack's body, grabbing the plates and setting them down on his table. When he turned around to grab some utensils, he found Jack right behind him, holding a fork out to Ianto. Jack's expression was more guarded than he'd ever seen before. It was the first time in quite a while that he wasn't able to tell what was running through the other man's mind. He turned away and dropped down into one of his chairs, reaching out to grab the bag of food. He filled up both their plates and pushed Jack's towards one of the other empty place settings at his table.

Jack sat down wordlessly in the chair and began to eat, glancing towards him every now and then. It took Ianto a while to realise that neither of them were actually eating that much food. Both he and Jack were pushing the food around the plates with their forks, silently. After twenty minutes of quiet broken only by the sound of metal scraping against glass plates and audible swallows of coffee he couldn't take it anymore. He pushed his barely touched food away and glanced towards Jack.

"What are you doing here Jack? You said we needed to talk, but you haven't exactly said a whole lot otherwise. I'm all for trying to read your mind or helping you see something if you're stressed, but I really thought that you wanted us to take a few days away from one another."

Jack sighed, pushing his plate out of the way as well, before dropping his face in his palms. Just as Ianto was about to reach out towards him, he sat up straight and looked directly at him. Ianto stared at him expectantly, crossing his arms almost defensively. When he realised what position he was in, he uncrossed them and placed his hands flat on the table in front of him.

"Well?" he said, nearly grimacing when he realised how belligerent he sounded.

If it had been under any other circumstance, Ianto would have found the idea that Jack was speechless almost amusing. However, at the moment he couldn't find any hilarity in the situation, even when Jack opened and closed his mouth several times. After nearly a minute of silence Jack reached out to take his hand but he pulled it back before the other man could grasp it. He wasn't about to let down any of his defences until he knew exactly what was on Jacks' mind.

"Ianto, I'm sorry for leaving you the way I did this morning. I was just a little shocked. I wasn't expecting...that."

Jack's voice was nearly a whisper by the time he finished speaking. Ianto stood up and walked back into his kitchen, facing the wall as he leaned heavily on the counter in front of him.

"Jack, did it ever occur to you that I had no idea what I was saying? I mean, we have discussed this before. A lot of things are said during the heat of a moment without realising it." Ianto paused, turning back to face Jack with his eyebrows raised in question, then continued, "Did that occur to you at all?"

Jack was shaking his head negatively before Ianto had even finished speaking. It wasn't until Jack stood up and walked over to him that he realised Jack wasn't actually answering his question. The look on Jack's face told him he was well aware that Ianto had been more cognizant than he was trying to pretend he'd been.

"Ianto, do you think I'm blind? I've seen something more when you look at me sometimes. The problem is, your emotions are snarled up inside of you. You have yet to take time and think about the things that have happened to you, I 'm not sure if you even realise that."

Ianto stood up straighter, glaring at Jack with frustration. When Jack gestured towards the living room he felt a thread of confusion run through him. It was only when he realised that Jack was indicating the boxes that Ianto finally understood what he was trying to get at.

"Look at how long it's taken you to even start getting rid of her things Ianto!" Jack said with aggravation coating his voice, "You kept it all because you were still trying to find a way to get her back. Even after you knew she was gone for good."

Ianto shook his head, his eyes narrowing with anger. If he didn't know any better he would almost swear that Jack was just trying to piss him off even more. Jack walked over to him, raising his hand tentatively and brushing the back of his fingers over Ianto's cheek. It calmed him down almost immediately, until Jack cupped his cheek in his palm and spoke softly.

"I shot her in the heart Ianto. Gwen, Tosh, and Owen, they all fired their guns too, but I was the first one to pull the trigger. A part of you still hasn't faced that yet."

Ianto snorted as he pulled away from Jack, stalking past him and towards the living room. He lost steam about halfway there and dropped heavily back into his chair. Something about Jack's words bothered him more than he wanted to admit. In many ways, he really hadn't been paying that much attention to what he was saying that morning. He was almost willing to admit that there might be more to his half arsed admission of love, but he really didn't want to revisit Lisa's death any more than he had to. He'd faced it once already and that was enough.

Ianto pulled his plate back in front of him, taking another bite. He grimaced when he had to force himself to swallow it. As a diversionary tactic, he knew he'd failed when he began to cough. Jack hit him gently on his back a few times and he turned towards him with a scowl.

"I'm not a child Jack, but thanks." he said hoarsely.

Jack chuckled and sat down next to him. This time when he reached for Ianto's hand, he allowed the other man to take it. Ianto closed his eyes when Jack twined their fingers together, drawing in a deep breath of air before opening them back up. As soon as he was sure his temper was under better control he captured Jack's gaze, stunned by the intensity that was directed at him. He growled softly before he could stop himself, gripping Jack's hand tighter as he spoke.

"You're right! Okay?" he said with aggravation coating every word.

Jack's eyebrows shot up at his words as he shook his head. Ianto ignored his reaction, softening his voice when he continued.

"Sometimes I look at you Jack and all I can think about is the fact that you ordered me to go kill someone I loved. Even though a lot of my memories of that night are hazy, there are a few things that I remember with absolute clarity. Lisa was dead the moment I walked back into that room. I don't care if her brain had supposedly been transferred. You shot Annie...not Lisa."

Jack narrowed his eyes, staring at Ianto. Just as he opened his mouth to say something, perhaps deny what Ianto was unwillingly facing, he spoke again.

"I'm not finished Jack."

Jack's mouth snapped closed so fast that Ianto literally heard his teeth clash together. Ianto smiled weakly and reached out his free hand to turn Jack's gaze back to him. He knew that Jack kept insisting that he needed to face what happened, but there were still things that he knew the older man was denying as well.

"Otherwise Jack, there are times I think that I could fall in love with you, that I may even be most of the way there. But so much is still wrapped up between that night and how much I hated you for not even pretending to be remotely human, that I have a hard time even accepting that it's possible. So I have to ask, how could I love you when I know that you've forgotten what it's like to be human? That you can't reciprocate because you may as well not even be alive for all the chances you refuse to take?"

Jack sighed, pulling his hand away from Ianto's so he could drop his face back into his palms again. Ianto drew his own together clasping them in front of him on the table as he studied Jack's posture, well aware that he'd pressed a sore point for the other man. When Jack finally looked back up, Ianto saw so much hurt and resentment reflected in his eyes that he glanced away.

"So you're saying what I'm thinking. That we should back off and that we might be getting drawn in too deep?" Jack said with sadness tingeing his voice.

Ianto snorted again, shaking his head as he glared at Jack. It took Ianto a minute to realise that, either Jack didn't realise how much of his emotions were coming out in his voice, or he did and was refusing to acknowledge it.

"Jack, I don't need this drama. You know that better than anyone. Not to be crass, but the only thing you ever wanted from me was a fuck buddy. Now you think you got more than you bargained for. You want to do this because you don't want to deal with any feelings that you might or might nothave."

Jack shook his head and reached for Ianto's clasped hands, gripping both of them between his own. When Ianto stared down at them, they moved up gripping his chin and forcing his gaze back to Jack's face.

"Ianto, I care about you. I really do. I never thought of you as a fuck buddy, no matter what you may think. You are more than I ever expected. You surprise me continually, never doing or saying quite what I'd expect. Sometimes I do think that I could fall in love with you. However, we both know I'm...well, that I'm not ready to take that step. I can't afford to let you in the way you deserve."

Ianto's eyes opened wide at Jack's words, his mouth dropping open in shock. He closed his mouth quickly, drawing it into a thin tense line when fury began to course through him. With a harsh growl he yanked backwards away from Jack's hands and glared angrily at him.

"You can't do that Jack! You can't tell me one second that we should back off and then say you could love me! That's just fucking wrong! Why the bloody hell do you always do shite like that?"

Jack stood up from his chair and began to pace silently across Ianto's small kitchen. He avoided Ianto's livid gaze for so long, that the young man was seriously thinking of standing up and forcing him to sit back down. Just as he made the move to rise Jack turned back towards him, his face was a mask of regret.

"Ianto, I'm sorry. I try to...to keep those feelings reigned in. I really do...but sometimes..."

Ianto growled and stood up. He moved quickly, his hands coming down angrily on either side of Jack's body, trapping him against the counter so he couldn't move. When he spoke his words were coated with all of the anger and aggravation that was running through his body.

"Don't you bloody dare! I'm fucking British Jack, so don't even try to talk to me about withholding emotions! We're the God damn definition!"


For a split second, when Ianto had trapped him against the counter, Jack felt every bit of blood in his body rush south, hardening his cock almost painfully. Ianto hadn't been this forceful with him since he'd thrown him against the wall of reception and began to kiss him senseless. However, when Ianto's words finally penetrated the rampaging lust that was inundating him he actually began to chuckle. Before he could stop himself, he was laughing harder then he could ever remember

Without focussing on what he was doing, he wrapped his arms around Ianto's waist and pulled their bodies tightly together. Nestling his face in the crook of his neck, he inhaled deeply, letting the smell and feel of Ianto wash through his senses. If he was sure of anything right now, it was that he wasn't going to have a chance to luxuriate again in these sensations for a long time. Everything inside of him told him that they needed a break from one another before they got in too deep...before he got in too deep.

When Ianto tried to pull away from him he gripped him tighter, holding him so close that he wasn't sure where his own body ended and the other man's began. Over the many years of his life, he'd had a few instances where, had he had the ability, he would crystallize the moment. Several of those times had happened with the young man he now held in his arms. Even now with his eyes closed while he held onto Ianto so tight he wasn't sure if he could breathe, those memories flashed before him.

First there was the night he'd met Ianto. He could remember the way that arousal had flooded through his entire body at the sight of this Welshman dressed in blue jeans holding his hand out casually as he introduced himself. It had taken every bit of control he owned not to give in to the temptation that was standing before him. Instead of reaching out and grabbing Ianto, his shaking hands and sweaty palms had thrown the unconscious weevil over his shoulder before he sauntered away, completely aware of the way the young man was staring after him lustfully.

Then the next morning on the pier he'd come to an abrupt halt when he saw Ianto standing in front of him holding out that God damn cup as if it were filled with liquid gold. For some odd reason, he'd taken that cup and drank from it without even hesitating. Considering he'd already known Ianto worked for Torchwood One at that point, he was still amazed he trusted the young man enough to drink anything that he offered. Jack remembered they way Ianto's eyes had lit up in pleasure at his response and how lust had again tried to overwhelm him. It hadn't been remotely helpful when he tried to escape and Ianto'd placed his palm flat against Jack's chest, sending another jolt of desire straight to his cock. With the calculating aroused look Ianto had thrown him, he could've sworn the other man was trying to find a place to shove him so he could have more access to the rest of his body.

And dear Lord, Jack had never seen anything as luscious as Ianto standing in the rain wearing a three piece suit. When he thought back on that night he was honestly astonished that he'd had as much control as he'd shown. First while yelling at Ianto and just knowing by his expression that the young man was thinking of shoving him against the front of the truck, and then when Ianto had actually caught him as Myfanwy dropped him. Ianto had every chance to get out of the way, but instead he'd braced his legs and held out his arms when Jack had dropped right on top of him. The feel of Ianto's body underneath him was enough to leave him nearly breathless as they both rolled away from the falling creature and chuckled. God how he wanted to take what Ianto was almost unknowingly offering him! He'd even tilted his chin up in invitation.

The memories came faster and clearer with every moment he'd wanted to hold onto. There was the night he'd first approached Ianto in the archives and left him practically panting with need in front of the desk, the night he'd finally been able to break through Ianto's facade and get a reaction worthy of a response, the way Ianto had lost control simply by sharing their first kiss, and the first time he'd meant to take Ianto, to sate the God damn lust he felt every time he got around the young man, yet ended up making love to him instead. He wanted to hold onto all of it, keep each special memory locked away in a vault in his mind that he could open and peruse through any time he needed them.

However, he knew that it just wasn't possible.

Experience over his long life time had taught him that the more he tried to hold on to something, the faster it slipped out of his grasp. The next time Ianto tried to pull back, he reluctantly let him. He was only mildly surprised when Ianto's head tilted to the side, his eyes intense as he tried to read Jack's expression. Jack did his best to distract Ianto, grinning and wiggling his eyebrows almost comically at the same time. At this point he was willing to try anything to get Ianto to believe that he wasn't finding this nearly as hard as it was.

After a minute, Ianto chuckled under his breath and shook his head lightly, a soft smile playing about his lips as he closed his eyes slowly. Jack took the time to study Ianto's face, trying to memorize every nuance while he could. His eyes drank in the sight of Ianto's smooth skin and the way the hard planes of his cheeks shifted into his soft lips. He brought one of his hands up and traced the soft dip in Ianto's nose, fighting against the urge to run his fingertips along his jaw. When Ianto chuckled again and opened his eyes he could tell the other man had known exactly what he was doing.

He didn't allow his embarrassment to show as he silently ducked and slid under Ianto's arm, moving over so he could drop back into the chair he'd vacated earlier. He heard Ianto sigh behind him and turned towards the young man, gesturing for him to sit down.

Ianto ignored his motions and grabbed the plates off the table instead, taking them over and cleaning them. Once he'd rinsed them off and placed them in the sink he turned back to Jack with a hint of surprise. It took Jack a minute to figure out that Ianto wasn't expecting him to stay there.

'Did he honestly think I was just gonna slip out the door while he wasn't looking?' he thought with astonishment.

When Ianto kept staring at him he gestured again for Ianto to sit down. He really didn't want to finish this conversation across the room from him. Even if he had to give up Ianto, he wanted to absorb everything he could while he had the chance. Ianto took the invitation this time, sinking down in the chair with a quiet sigh as Jack drew in a deep breath of air and released it slowly. When he was sure he had his emotions under better control, he reached across the table and captured both of Ianto's hands within his own.

"Ianto if we...if all of this follows through, I'd like to think that we could handle it with aplomb. I just don't think we should allow ourselves to get too wrapped up in each other. There's so much that you still don't know about me. That night we talked about my life, I told you a lot of things that no one else that hadn't lived through it with me has heard about. And as much as I'd like for you to trust me, you knew I was leaving quite a bit of information out didn't you?"

He turned to look at Ianto for confirmation of his question, sighing when he saw the young man nod almost imperceptibly. Ianto's face took on a contemplative look and he knew he was gearing up to ask him more questions. Instead of following that trail of the conversation further, Jack changed the subject.

"You still don't believe that I can't die, do you?"

Ianto snorted almost belligerently and turned away from Jack before he could see his expression again. Just as Jack was about to start talking he heard Ianto begin to whisper.

"Jack, we see a lot of astounding things every day, but for some reason you not being able to die just seems implausible. It's just makes more sense to see that you've travelled throughout that time as a Time Agent and that's how you have all the knowledge of it. I know you, I've touched every part of your body in ways that I never even knew were possible. You're every bit flesh and blood as I am. How the bloody hell do you expect me to believe that you can't die and have lived for over a hundred and fifty years when I've spent so much time finding out exactly how human you actually are?"

Ianto gripped his hands tighter and Jack knew it was so that he wouldn't pull away. It didn't stop a thread of anger running through him though. After all, Ianto was all but indicating that he was lying. He saw Ianto shake his head lightly and Jack found himself scowling in response. He was wholly unprepared to see Ianto smile weakly as he spoke again with confusion coating his words.

"What's really weird is that I know you're telling the truth. If I look back I'm sure I could even find proof. Hell, the night I met you in the forest I could've sworn that bloody weevil got you. But then why didn't I see anything on your neck but blood? I've seen you with injuries Jack. After Lisa died you had stitches, you were bruised. You didn't heal any faster than the rest of us. So how can I believe you can't die if you can get injured?"

Jack chuckled almost reverently as he stared at Ianto with speculation and amazement before shaking himself lightly. Somehow Ianto managed to pay attention to things that no one else would have caught. Ianto was too God damn perceptive and he really wished he had some answers for him.

"Ianto, the reason that I can't allow us to get more involved is because I'm searching for the answers to those very questions. I need to know if I'm ever going to live a normal life."

He was surprised again when Ianto suddenly burst out laughing. Ianto bit his lip in an obvious attempt to quell it, but Jack could tell it wasn't working. He smiled at Ianto, waiting to see what it was that had set the him off.

"I've told you once Jack, you are anything but normal, no matter if you can die or not."

Jack pulled his hands away from Ianto's and covered his face again to hide his smile. He knew it wouldn't help matters if he focussed on how much enjoyment Ianto brought into his life. There was just so much about Ianto that he was going to regret losing when he walked away.

And he would walk away.

He needed answers and there were absolutely no options left anymore. If he stayed on this path, he would only end up ignoring the Doctor when their timelines did finally cross. He would lose out on his only possibility to live normally. If he could live a normal life he wouldn't have to worry about situations like these anymore. He had to know if he could take some of those chances that Ianto had so blatantly pointed out that he avoided. He dropped his hands from his face, cradling his chin in his palms as he smiled at Ianto, trying to hide the pain that was ripping through him.

He knew it didn't work when Ianto's gaze instantly shifted away. Jack sighed, his smile leaving his face as quickly as it had appeared. When he reached over to run his fingers through Ianto's hair, the young man moved forward away from his questing hand and grabbed his coffee cup, cradling it in his palms and blowing on the liquid. Considering how little there was left in the mug and how long it'd been sitting there, it was easy for Jack to figure out that Ianto was just trying to avoid his touch.

"Ianto, I just...from my experience I know that if we stay on the path we're on, you'll only end up resenting me. I'd rather keep you in my life as a friend and a member of my team than have you hate me. It's better for you to try to live a normal life than stick with someone whose only goal right now is to get answers to questions I might never have the chance to ask..."

Jack's voice trailed away when Ianto growled and abruptly shot to his feet. He had no idea what he'd said to upset Ianto so greatly so he watched silently as the young man grabbed Jacks empty cup with his own and walked over to the sink. While Ianto was washing both mugs, he could have sworn he heard the him grumbling under his breath, but the sound of the running water drowned out his words.

He turned and sat sideways in his chair, his arm resting along the back as Ianto turned off the taps. Trying not to be too obvious about what he was doing, he leant forward in a somewhat feeble attempt to hear what Ianto was muttering when he moved closer to refill the coffee mugs. Without the sound of the water to drown it out he was actually able to overhear a few words that almost sounded like "Jack Bloody Harkness" and "self righteous bastard" before Ianto turned back towards him.

Jack sat up straight, tilting his head in confusion as he stared at Ianto. He still had no fucking clue as to what he'd said to upset him so badly, but it was quite obvious that Ianto had no qualms about letting Jack know what he thought about him. When Ianto glared towards him he saw the young man's lower lip thrust out invitingly in what he could only describe as a pout. It was so God damn sexy that he practically had to wage an internal war against his self control that was demanding he just fucking take everything that Ianto offered him. That small thrust of Ianto's lower lip made him want to forget everything...forget leaving...forget what was best for Ianto...

Forget the Doctor.

He arched his eyebrows in question and Ianto dropped the now full mugs back onto the counter, spilling half the hot liquid over the surface in the process. Ianto stalked over to Jack leaning over until he was practically nose to nose with him.

"Jack, why the bloody hell do you always assume you know what's best for me? Outside of Torchwood, when did I ever give you authority to make decisions about my life? How about just once, just for the novelty of it, letting me determine what I might or might not need?"

Jack's mouth opened and closed several times as he tried to think of a way to defend himself.

"Yan...I never assumed..."

Ianto scowled at him getting even closer until their noses were actually touching before speaking with a low growl. Jack bit his lower lip, trying not to stare at Ianto's icy blue gaze. He pulled back slightly only to focus his gaze on Ianto's lips, watching the way they curved as they shaped around his next words.

"No Jack, you've said your piece. Now it's time for you to listen to mine. Just because you've arsed about for years and ballsed up your life doesn't give you the right to make decisions for me. You are so obviously wrapped up in a few truths you may never know, that you've taken to trying to rule everyone around you. Who exactly died and made you the bloody king?"

Jack knew he was gaping at Ianto like he'd never met him before, but he was having a hard time trying to figure out who the young man in front of him actually was. When he continued to stare, realising he hadn't made another attempt to answer any of Ianto's questions, the other man pulled him out of his chair and started to drag him into the living room. He dug his heels in the best he could and grabbed the wall, halting their progress. Ianto turned back towards him with narrowed eyes, shifting his gaze away when Jack leant forward to study him more closely.

"I'm not trying to drag you to the fucking bedroom Jack! You've made it abundantly clear that you want out of that part of my life. So you've bloody well got what you want. You're out of my bedroom and my personal life. I work for you and that is where any relationship we have ends. You have exactly what you want."

When Jack once again failed to find anything to say, Ianto took a step back and curled his lips in distaste. If Jack had never gotten as close to Ianto as he'd been, he wouldn't have known what to make of this angry man before him. As it was, despite everything he'd been through with Ianto, he was having a hard time associating him with the same man who'd opened the door with dusty tear streaks on his face. He hadn't expected Ianto to be so fucking cold and distant. What he'd hoped was that Ianto would agree that they needed time away from one another.

Jack started to step forward and almost growled in frustration when Ianto moved away. When he glanced towards Ianto's face, he saw the young man looking at him almost apathetically. His eyes were focussed on the wall over Jack's shoulder.

"Do you feel better now Sir?"

Ianto spoke slowly, putting more emphasis and formality on the word sir than Jack had ever heard. He stood there for a few moments trying to capture Ianto's gaze again before finally giving up and closing his own eyes. If anything, he felt more like he was losing the other half of his soul. It certainly didn't feel good, even if he had instigated the whole thing for all the right reasons.

"What are you going to do? Are you planning on..."

He tried to hide the pain that was suddenly ripping throughout him, but it was clearly evident in his voice. Ianto didn't give him a chance to make any more excuses or even finish what he was trying to say. Instead he gestured towards his front door. Jack turned towards it, his body completely rigid. If Ianto was going to cut him out completely simply because he felt they needed time apart, he wasn't going to fight him. Especially since a deeper part of Jack's mind knew that Ianto had every right to shun him this way.

"I'll see you at work on Friday, Sir."

Jack froze, quickly turning around to stare at Ianto when he heard his voice crack. If he'd been any slower in reacting he would have missed seeing the horrified look on Ianto's face from the corner of his eye. It was only then that he realised how much effort Ianto was putting into not showing Jack exactly what he was going through.

He hesitated for a second, then walked back towards Ianto, stopping right in front of him. Ianto was still gazing silently at the wall so Jack reached up and turned his face towards his own. Just before he could capture Ianto's gaze, the young man quickly closed his eyes. Instead of dissuading him, Jack leant forward and brushed a soft kiss across Ianto's lips, lingering for as long as he could possibly get away with. When he pulled away, Ianto's eyes were still tightly closed. The only noticeable difference that Jack could ascertain was the fact that he was breathing deeply in and out. Ianto didn't so much as flinch when he reached up and ran the back of his fingers along his cheek as he spoke in a whisper.

"I'm so sorry for all of this Ianto. I really do wish I had the answers already."

Jack saw Ianto's jaw clench in response to his words before he turned and strode out of the loft, shutting the door softly behind him. He stood on the doorstep for a long time afterwards, holding his hand against the rough wood. For a split second he remembered when he'd done the very same thing and bit his lip when he realised how different the situation was. The last time he'd left and paused here, he knew he'd be back. This time however, he heard the lock slide into place on the other side.

That sound combined with the realisation that Ianto was on the other side of the door, barring him from re-entering was enough to drive the enormity of the situation straight through him all at once. Before he knew it, he was leaning with his back against the door, sliding down to bury his head in hands as he fought against tears that threatened to fall. He couldn't stop the sobs that were escaping his throat every time he breathed heavily in and out.

He stood up quickly when a warm tear escaped and trailed down his cheek. If he was going to fall apart, it wasn't going to be in the middle of a fucking hallway. Just as he reached the stairwell he turned towards Ianto's loft, his voice hoarse with emotion as he whispered softly.

"No Ianto...I don't feel better. I'm not sure I ever will."


Ianto sat silently, listening to see if Jack would leave or try to get back in. Within minutes of Jack walking out, he'd angrily thrown the lock closed on his door. He'd thought Jack was long gone, only realising a moment later that he was standing silently outside of his door. The idea that Jack might be lingering because he was regretting his actions had dispelled his anger and practically caused his legs to collapse out from under him, leaving him where he was now propped up against his door.

After what seemed like forever, he heard Jack leaning against the door heavily as he sat down on the other side. The door was thick, but not nearly enough to hide the gasping sobbing breaths that were coming from the other man. He had to struggle against every fibre in his body not to stand up and throw open the door. A second later, he heard Jack stand up and leave, but he stayed where he was, not bothering to fight the tears that were beginning to slowly fall down his cheeks.

END


AN: Yes, I know, it's probably not what a lot of folks expected. To be honest, I had no idea this is where it was gonna go until it was already written out. I was just as surprised and shocked as a few of you are. I was actually crying by the end so I know it's very very sad and angsty.

Now for good news! :)

I have already started on a sequel called Entropy and a surprise short story that takes place between Anticipation and Entropy. I'm about half done with the short story and about a third the way through the first chapter of the sequel. So you guys shouldn't have to wait too long for the next segment. I know this story didn't end on a happy note but it will get better in the sequel...I promise. :)

I appreciate everyone who stuck with this story from its start and everyone who came in along the way who was kind enough to tell me how much they liked it. Mama Rocks has been a god send for sticking with me for over a year and always helping Anticipation to be at its best before it was posted. I am eternally grateful for all the work and time she put in to make it good for both me and all of you who have read it. I haven't wanted to finish a fanfic in a long time and this one really is one of my favourites. I'm so glad to have found the Torchwood fandom and all the kind people who have supported me.

Thank you all so much! :)