A/N: This is a story that been spinning around in my head a while and I'm just finally writing it down. It takes place in between the third and fourth episodes of COE (except for the flashbacks and the end bit, that is). I felt that Ianto took a rather OOC turn during Children of Earth, and this is my explanation for why he may have acted that way. And yes, I'm taking some creative license and saying that at some point, they all would have tried to get some sleep. Because honestly, they would have had to at some point (well, maybe not Jack) even though RTD seems to think people can go five straight days without sleeping. Maybe mistakes stemming from sleep deprivation are why so many people died in this miniseries.
Disclaimer: Torchwood does not belong to me. Sadly. Because if I was in charge, Jack and Ianto's relationship would get a whole lot more screen time. And I wouldn't kill off the best characters in the show willy-nilly.
Forgetting to Remember
Captain Jack Harkness stared at the ceiling, lost in thought. Couple. What an antiquated word. Such an archaic custom, too. 21st century humans loved their labels, and Ianto Jones in particular was never quite as happy as when he was labeling something. So Jack was really quite surprised that they had been able to go so long without a label. When he thought about it, it was shocking that Ianto had allowed their relationship to go undefined for so long. Jack had known it was too good to last. Eventually, they were together too long, they had been through too much together and something more was required. Even though when he first came here Jack had thought monogamy was revolting, a product in living here too long was that he, too, came to be sucked into the dating customs of this century. He still thought the whole concept was incredibly unenlightened, but when in Rome, do as the Romans do. So now he and Ianto were a couple, Jack was resigned to it. There was that word again. That revolting word. Couple. But if it kept Ianto happy, he supposed he could live with it. As long as no one made a big deal out of it.
"Even she's calling us a couple now," Ianto had commented just a few days before. Yes, even Gwen was referring to them as a couple now. Wonderful.
"What is wrong with you?" was the only response Jack could think to make. It made Ianto so giddy to think that other people thought they were a couple. On the one hand, Jack liked keeping Ianto happy and it even amused him a bit to see how ridiculous Ianto was acting. On the other hand, he was now in a situation it felt fundamentally wrong to be in. That's it. He was done for. No more sleeping with other people. Not that he had done it much anyway, as it was always so much more convenient to sleep with Ianto (who was always in close proximity to the hub) than go out and find someone else. But knowing that now he doesn't even have the option should the opportunity present itself…
He'd be with Ianto for as long as…well, as long as he could, and Jack knew he couldn't ever be with anyone else in that time. Because he could never hurt Ianto that much. He just couldn't. But monogamy just wasn't something he was good at. Jack's only hope for getting through this was if Ianto suddenly decided to become very receptive to threesomes. Now there was an idea.
But what was bothering Jack wasn't just his now rather limited sex life. He'd been mostly faithful to Ianto for a while now, so he supposed when he stopped lamenting his imagined loss of other partners, he wouldn't really be forced to adjust his life too much. What really bothered him was Ianto's sudden change in behavior. Jack had just never expected to witness such a shift in Ianto's character once they started being an official couple. Jack had unwittingly opened the floodgates and he had no idea how to close them again.
"Why didn't you tell me?"
Those words echoed back to him from earlier that day.
Jack had heard those words from a lot people. Everyone was always so insulted that he kept things to himself and didn't inform them of his every action ever. But Ianto was different. Ianto was understanding. If there was one thing that attracted Jack to Ianto, it was the fact that no matter what he did, Ianto would always understand. So he never expected those words to come from Ianto. Those weren't words Ianto would say. They were words jealous and controlling lovers had always asked him in an accusatory tone. This wasn't Ianto.
"You know everything about me, Jack. Why do you keep shutting me out?" Gwen demanded.
Gwen was like that. Demanding. Jack felt his temper flare for a minute. Why in the world did she think she had the right to know anything about him? But he fought his temper down. She was his right hand man, so to speak. Maybe she did deserve to know more than he told. Maybe they all did. They were his team, after all. They trusted him with their lives and he wouldn't trust them with a few secrets.
"It's in the past."
That's what he had told her. It's in the past. It doesn't matter. Jack had done a lot of things in his past. Things he wasn't proud of. Things he couldn't even remember because the Time Agency had stolen his memories. What in the world had he done in those two years? And why was it so important to the Time Agency for him to forget it?
The team didn't know about the Time Agency. He'd deflected their questions concerning John's comment about Jack having been a Time Agent.
Gwen had always been horribly bitter about the fact that Jack wouldn't confide in her. Much more so than any of the others. What was her problem? She was a caring person. A shoulder to cry on. Maybe she was so used to people confiding in her, she took it as a personal insult when he wouldn't. Somehow, he couldn't care enough about the perceived slight to actually tell her anything about his past. The more someone asked, the less he wanted to actually talk to them about it. Which, Jack supposed, was the reason he'd told Ianto so many more things than he'd ever told Gwen. Gwen's insistence that Jack tell her everything was the source of many fights between them.
"Jack, it's me. Gwen. You can trust me. I'm here for you. Tell me, speak to me. I want to know what's going on."
"It doesn't matter, Gwen."
"Why do you have to be like this?"
"It's in the past. It doesn't matter."
"If it's bothering you, it matters."
"Ok, Gwen, even if it was bothering me, why in the world would I talk to you about it?"
Jack knew he shouldn't have said that. But it was true. Gwen was great professionally. He loved the work she did. The way she thought about things and dealt with the victims, it was brilliant. But he didn't want her to treat him that way. Like he was a victim she was taking care of. If he wanted to talk (which was highly unlikely under most circumstances) then he wanted to speak to someone who would let him get everything out in the open and then forget about it. Gwen would keep prodding. Keep questioning. She would want to fix it, when there were so many things in his past that couldn't possibly be fixed. She couldn't help it. She was a copper. And he loved that about her. But he didn't want to be interrogated. It's not how he wanted to be treated.
Ianto lay next to Jack, slowly and gently drifting off to sleep. The warehouse (or Hub 2, as Rhys had called it) left a lot to be desired. They had made a bunch of makeshift beds for everyone, spreading them out to be as far away from each other as possible to provide some privacy. Some privacy, but not enough for anyone to be comfortable having a little fun. Jack wondered if Ianto was as frustrated about that prospect as he was. Gwen and Rhys were off in their corner, Clem in his and Jack and Ianto were in theirs, and there wasn't any chance anyone would be getting any for as long as they were in this situation.
Ianto resituated himself, grumbling and rolling over. He opened a bleary eye, regarding Jack who was lying wide awake on his back, not even attempting to sleep.
"Shouldn't you at least try to get some rest?" muttered Ianto. "Something tells me it won't be an easy week."
"What's with you lately?" asked Jack. He had to get to the bottom of Ianto's strange behavior; otherwise it was going to bother him all night.
"What?" Ianto asked, honestly confused and surprised.
"I was just thinking," continued Jack, still staring off into space. "Lately, ever since we made this…us official. You've been weird. Different."
"That's what you were thinking about?" Ianto laughed quietly. "All the things going on right now and that's what's keeping you up at night?"
"It's not keeping me up. I was already up. It was just something to think about while waiting for sleep to come."
"So do you have a comment?"
"Your weird behavior."
"I don't know what you mean."
"I think you do."
"I'm really not in the mood for a run around with you, Jack. It's been a long couple of days for the both of us and who knows when the next time is we'll be able to sleep," Ianto rolled over so he was no longer facing Jack, signifying an end to the conversation.
Jack wasn't having it, though.
"Ianto," he said.
There was no answer from the Welshman.
"Ianto," Jack said a little more insistently.
Still no answer.
"Ianto," Jack said in a sing song voice, indicating he was quite willing to keep talking until Ianto responded.
"What, Jack?" Ianto asked angrily, flipping on to his other side to face Jack again.
"What's been bothering you lately?" Jack whispered, tearing his eyes away from the ceiling to observe his lover.
"I told you already, I don't know what you-" Ianto began defensively but Jack interrupted him.
"Stop that. You know what I mean. You don't sound like you anymore. You sound like…like…" Jack struggled for a word to describe his behavior.
"I sound like what?" Ianto's voice was getting louder. From across the warehouse they heard Rhys grunt in his sleep and there was silence between Jack and Ianto for a moment as they waited to see if they had woken anyone.
"I sound like what?" Ianto repeated in a whisper this time.
"You just don't sound like you!" Jack snapped.
"Either explain yourself or let me go to sleep, Jack," Ianto said irritably.
"What was that about today? I should have told you about the 4-5-6 and the children from 1965?"
"Well, you should have."
"And that whole thing about how you tell me everything so I should tell you everything? What was that about?"
"It's not an unreasonable request, Jack."
"But its not you, Ianto. You're not supposed to sound like…like…"
There was a pause.
"What?" Ianto hissed.
"You're not supposed to be like her. Or anyone else who has ever demanded I tell them everything. It's not you. It's not the way you are. This argument, its not the way we are."
"Well, we've only officially been a "we" for a few days so how do you even know what we're like?"
"I know what you're like and it is not this."
"Jack," said Ianto. "I don't see what the problem is. If you don't want to tell me. Fine. I'll stop asking. But if you didn't want us to be closer, I don't even know why we're still doing this anymore."
"Ianto, please don't be mad at me."
"It's a little late for that."
"It's just…its what I…" Jack hesitated before saying the word love. "Its what I…like about you so much. You understand me. You don't question it when I don't tell you things. You know I have my reasons. I…appreciate when you just let things be. Didn't prod and poke at them until I explode, like Gwen does."
Ianto exhaled slowly, mulling over Jack's last words.
"I didn't mean to…bother you," he finally said, slightly bitterly.
"I think maybe I didn't explain it right…" Jack began but trailed off. He hadn't meant to make things worse by saying that. He'd meant it as a compliment, but Ianto certainly hadn't taken it that way. "You're just…you're tactful. You know when I need your help and when I need to just leave things alone and forget about them. But lately its like everything I do…every time I do something you used to be fine with…you just…you've been demanding I explain everything to you lately. You know that's not me. I'm not good a talking about my past. I'm trying but…it's like you're not content with being in a relationship with me. You want to be in a relationship with someone you know everything about. That's not me, Ianto. You know its not. I don't have a confidant. I don't spill my secrets to anyone."
Ianto's grief over the deaths of Tosh and Owen had dulled his irritation at the presence of Captain John Hart. In fact, Ianto hadn't even noticed the other man approach.
"I…am sorry, Ianto," John said quietly. He even sounded like he meant it.
Ianto twitched slightly and looked at John suspiciously but after thinking for a minute simply shrugged his shoulder instead of trying to come up with a response.
"I came to say good bye to Jack," John was still speaking in the quiet voice that hardly seemed to suit him. "Do you know where he is?"
"The morgue, I believe," replied Ianto in barely above a whisper.
"Thank you," said John. Ianto wasn't sure if he appreciated John's sudden use of manners or if it was incredibly unsettling. It didn't really matter because he was far too numb to feel anything anyway. John turned to go, but stopped.
"He's come back for you. So many times."
Ianto wasn't entirely certain what that meant, and so wasn't sure how to respond.
"The old Jack, the Jack I knew, would have bailed on all of you so long ago," John continued. "Maybe he's a different man, now. Maybe…he will stay with you. Certainly, if it had been me, I would have bailed after the building I was in blew up. But he keeps coming back here. Even after he was buried for two thousand years."
"Buried by you."
"I didn't have a choice!"
"Of course you did!" shouted Ianto. "Of course you did. What would have happened if you hadn't helped Grey? He would have killed you. So you helped him kill others. That isn't an excuse. You're as much as a murderer as Grey is. You helped him place those bombs. You valued your own life above countless others, including ours."
"If I hadn't helped him, some one else would have."
"Say whatever you like to convince yourself all this death and destruction wasn't your fault, but don't try and sell it to me."
"Listen, eye candy," John's voice was rising. "Just because you don't like having me around doesn't me you can blame all this on me."
"I don't blame all this on you. I just blame a good portion of it on you. The portion of it that's your fault."
"You're grieving, you just want someone to blame and I'm an easy target because you hate me already," John said steadily. Ianto knew he must really be going crazy at last because John was acting as the level headed one right now. "But you might as well just face the truth about why you really don't like me. You don't like me because you don't want to be reminded that Jack's had other lovers. You want to live in your own little world and pretend it's just you and him and there has never been anyone else. Guess what, eye candy, there have been so many more. So many, I doubt even Jack would be able to name them all. You're just the next in a long, long line of people who have fallen for his charming lines. You're not the first, and you sure as hell won't be the last."
"I don't hate you because you remind me that he's had other lovers," Ianto said flatly. That much was true, at least. "I hate you because you are an insufferable bastard."
That part wasn't entirely true. Ianto did hate him because he was so awfully annoying. But mostly he hated him because he was a reminder. Not that Jack had had past lovers; Ianto knew the list of ex-lovers his Captain had far extended past any reasonable amount. He hated the reminder that Jack never told him about John. It sounded stupid, because why in the world would Jack want to mention a man like that? Except that Jack and John had been together for five years. What was it that John had said? It was like having a wife. Jack had been close with this man. For years. And now Jack just wanted to forget him. Ianto hated the reminder that he, too, could be just as easily tossed aside.
"I don't want you to spill your secrets, Jack," said Ianto quietly. "I just want you to tell me when things are bothering you."
"And what if I don't want to talk about them?"
Ianto sighed. "Can we have this conversation another night?"
"Its already started now, let's finish it," Jack said firmly.
Ianto just sighed again and said nothing.
"Now who's not talking?" Jack asked darkly.
"You never talk about your past, Jack," Ianto finally said.
"I talk about my past all the ti-"
"You talk about your past when you absolutely have to. If it's a life or death thing that we need to know what happened to you in the past. Then you say something. But other than that-"
"Other than that, nothing else matters! The past is in the past. Why would I need to talk about it?"
"For my sake, Jack."
Jack was confused when the last whisper from Ianto came across almost as a strangled cry. Ianto's voice was strained with emotion.
"What do you mean? What does my past have to do with you?" Jack shook his head. "There's nothing about my past you need to know. All you need to know is that I'm with you now and-"
"And what about when now is in the past?" Ianto asked miserably.
"What about when I'm in the past?" Ianto asked desperately. "I'm your now for, well, now. What about when I'm your past? I'll die or you'll leave and my memory will just be another ghost that haunts you. One you never speak about, to anyone. And years will go on and you'll forget me, Jack. You'll forget I ever existed, because now will turn into the past and all you ever want to do is forget your past. All you've ever wanted is to forget. I just can't stand the fact of being forgotten, Jack. You'll keep going on. And all those moments with you I cherish, all the things about us that I love…they'll grow dimmer and dimmer and you'll forget us. You'll forget how we were. You'll forget my name, you'll forget I ever existed. It's inevitable, because you'll live forever and I don't expect you to remember me forever but what hurts, Jack, what really, really hurts, is that I know you will actively try to forget me. You won't be able to wait to be rid of the memories. I'll die or you'll leave and you will never, ever speak of me again."
Ianto turned away from Jack. "Good night," he said in a hoarse whisper and Jack wondered if there were tears in his eyes. It sort of sounded like it.
"Ianto," Jack leaned over to whisper in his ear. "Ianto I won't forget you. It's never going to happen. The reason I want to forget so badly is because I can't. I remember everyone I've ever loved."
Ianto stiffened at the word love. It wasn't one Jack used very often. One of the very many things Ianto understood about Jack was that it was painful for him to love, because love always meant loss for him. Jack had never told Ianto he loved him. Ianto had to take it on blind faith that Jack cared for him. Ianto let out a slow breath.
"Don't make promises you can't keep, Jack," Ianto said in a small voice. "It's just cruel."
Jack put his arm around Ianto and drew him closer.
"I won't forget you. I promise. And I would never make a promise I couldn't keep."
Ianto snuggled in even closer to Jack.
"You mean it?" Ianto asked hesitantly.
"Have I ever let you down before?"
"So you'll tell me?"
"You'll tell me about your past. So I know you won't forget me," Ianto insisted.
"Just because I don't talk about it doesn't mean I don't remember it," sighed Jack.
"What color were your mother's eyes?" Ianto asked in an even smaller voice than before.
Jack had no answer.
Ianto simply sighed again. Perhaps he was asking too much of Jack. It's not like they had been together for a while. In fact, for Jack the last year and a half of their relationship had probably felt like mere hours.
"Just tell me a story, Jack," Ianto finally said.
"What kind of story?" Jack asked quietly. Ianto was glad he didn't ask why he wanted the older man to tell him a story. That would mean admitting that it was hard for him to go to sleep without the sound of Jack's voice to comfort him.
"Any kind you like," murmured Ianto. The content didn't matter. He just wanted to hear Jack's voice for a while.
"Once upon a time," Jack began and Ianto smirked. Jack could mock him if he wanted, but at least he was complying with Ianto's request. "There was a man named Ianto Jones."
Ianto squirmed a little. Where was this story going?
"He had worked for evil Torchwood One, for a while, but he switched to the side of good and started working for the dashing Captain Jack Harkness. Ianto was immediately attracted to the vivacious Captain, but he had hidden his half robot girlfriend in the basement and then she went on a murderous rampage and that put a damper on their relationship for a while. But sooner or later, Ianto could not deny his attraction for the handsome Captain any longer and Ianto finally coming to his senses led to kinky stop watch sex enjoyed by both parties. There were some bumpy times ahead, but Ianto organized the Torchwood hub, saved the world from aliens, made the greatest coffee on earth and did it all while looking gorgeous in a suit. And shagging the boss. That point is very important because Captain Harkness really was quite striking. Eventually, they were a bona fide couple which elicited much giggling among both Ianto and his coworker Gwen Cooper, for reasons the beautiful Captain would never quite understand. Ianto and his captain continued to shag and save the world until the end of Ianto's days. The end."
"That's a wonderful story, Jack," whispered Ianto. "You should tell it more."
"I don't need to tell it," Jack kissed Ianto's cheek softly. "I'm living it."
The New Papyrus Solar System
"Why would I need to talk about my past?" Jack shouted.
"For my sake," the figure of his long dead lover begged him. "You have to remember them all. For my sake. Please, I don't want to be forgotten, Jack. I won't let you forget the others. You can't, you just can't pretend like we never existed."
"I know, I know," Jack cried. "I don't want to forget you, but remembering…it's so hard…it's so hard…it hurts so much, please, I don't want to remember…"
"You have to, Jack, you promised."
"I can't break a promise," Jack said, defeated.
"Just remember the good times," Ianto said, reaching out to stroke Jack's cheek. "Remember us saving the world. Don't remember me dying."
Jack could do nothing but nod his head. Yes, he would remember. He would always remember. Because there would be no point in living if he didn't remember where he came from.
"I just can't stand loosing so many, so many," Jack fell to his knees. "All the faces, all the names. I've seen so many people die. I've died so many times. And it won't stop. I have to live this way forever. I need you. I need you to be here. You always made things better. You took care of me."
"You don't need me, Jack," said Ianto sadly. "You're strong. You'll survive. You'll keep going. And if you need someone, you can go out there and find them. There are trillions of humans out there, spread all across the galaxies. Chances are you'll find one to take care of you."
"And what happens when they die?"
"You keep going, my brave captain. You save the world. You live your life. You let yourself love."
Ianto glanced behind him.
"I have to go now."
"No…no, no, Ianto, no please. Not again…I can't loose you again…"
"NO!" Jack shouted as he woke up.
"Jack! Are you alright?" Arsas' face appeared above him, she was pinning his arms down. "You sounded like you were having a nightmare. You were muttering and thrashing around."
"I'm…I'm fine…I'm fine," he shook his head. "I was just…just…"
"Remembering?" Arsas asked. She knew a little of his history, but not much. She knew he was older than he looked, but she had no idea how much.
"Yes," Jack breathed.
"Anything interesting?" Arsas didn't want to pry, but she was offering him a chance to speak.
"Yes," Jack conceded. "I was dreaming about a man. A man I'd almost forgotten. Even though I'd promised not to. I can't believe I almost broke my promise."
"A man from the early 21st century. A man named Ianto Jones."
"Tell me about him," she gently encouraged.
And he told her. Everything he could remember. The memories were dull and faded, dusty with age. He couldn't remember every exact detail. But he enjoyed regaling Arsas with tales from Torchwood.
It had been so long since he'd even thought about that place. He missed it. Cardiff had been his home for several hundred years. And Ianto. He missed Ianto. He didn't even really realize how much so until that dream he'd had. Ianto was the first lover he'd had who'd completely accepted his immortality. He'd never even told most of them. How could he explain it without having to prove it? And the ones that had known resented him for it. Hated him for never aging a day while they withered away. Ianto had come to grips with it, in his quiet manner, and only asked to not be forgotten. Such a simple request. And one Jack knew he would obey.
A/N: I hope Jack wasn't too out of character in this. He is one difficult character to write accurately. Also, I hope no one minded the slight Gwen bashing. I honestly didn't mean to have Gwen bashing, it just sort of happened.