Author's Note: Takes place after that rousing, awkward game of "Who'd You Last Snog?" in "Countrycide".
Others taunt me with having knelt at well-curbs
Always wrong to the light, so never seeing
Deeper down in the well than where the water
Gives me back in a shining surface picture
Me myself in the summer heaven, godlike,
Looking out of a wreath of fern and cloud puffs.
- Robert Frost
Ianto stood. "I'll get the cots set up." He looked to Tosh; she nodded, then looked away, watching the retreating backs of Gwen and Owen. Ianto did not look at Jack as he moved past him and into one of the tents.
There, he just stopped.
For a moment, all he did was breathe, in and out, his hands rapidly clenching and relaxing at his sides. His heart hammered against his ribs. He could feel his pulse beating in his neck.
Then the tent flap opened and closed.
"That wasn't necessary." Jack's voice was low, bridled against the anger in it, eked out through clenched teeth.
Ianto didn't turn around, but he could imagine Jack's face. The storm brewing in his eyes.
"You shouldn't have thrown that in their faces. They were having fun. You should have-"
Ianto whirled around, angry, shouting, "I'm sorry, did Toshiko look like she was having fun?"
Jack looked briefly taken aback by the outburst, and his own voice rose. "You didn't do that because of Toshiko!"
"No, I did it because they don't think!" Ianto was red-faced, his hands fists at his sides, yelling at Jack from five feet away. "They don't think about what they say! Owen hurting Tosh by kissing Gwen, Tosh hurting Gwen by asking about it, and none of them see me! I make them coffee and I almost killed them and they still don't see me!"
Jack stood still, only looking at him.
Ianto broke. His fists relaxed. He raised one shaking hand to his eyes and let out a long, unsteady breath. "I'm sorry," he said, his voice distant. "I know. Out there, even as I was saying it – it was childish. It felt childish. I shouldn't have, but-" He looked into Jack's face, almost beseeching. "They should see. Shouldn't they?"
Jack came forward and put a hand on Ianto's shoulder. Then he pulled Ianto into a hug. Ianto stiffened in surprise, but gradually relaxed against him, his head against Jack's shoulder.
Jack spoke quietly in his ear. "I see you." He put a hand on the back of Ianto's neck. "And they will, too. But making them feel like hell isn't going to help." He paused, then added with a grin, "And neither is killing them."
Ianto hitched a laugh against Jack's coat. "I'll make a note of that."
"Good idea." Jack released Ianto and held him at arm's length, looking into his face. Oh, he was very pretty, even when he was upset. Jack sighed. "I can see you, so I know. You walk around the hub with that formal expression, but-" He put a hand over Ianto's heart, frowning deeply. "You're in pain, Ianto."
Ianto's breath caught, and he stared at Jack, his mouth slightly open, with an immutable kind of shock.
Then the tent flap flew open and Tosh stepped halfway through. "Jack!" she said, out of breath, "Gwen and Owen found something!"
Then they were all running.