And Jack doesn't want to fall in love. Ever again.
Not like last time. No. Especially not after last time.
It's unintentional, completely unintentional, the last thing he was looking for. But it's as irrevocable as it is unintentional.
Jack Harkness doesn't go looking for many things, the Doctor excluded, they usually find him sooner or later; trouble, aliens, drink, parties, aliens… And sex.
Sex. Never love. Because sex without love is different. It's intimacy, power, lust, primitive instincts sated, hard, fast and soiled sheets.
Love. Jack's fallen before. It takes him by surprise, creeping up on him and crawling into every corner of his mind until he's sitting up and paying attention. It's spring mornings and hazy afternoons and crisp autumn leaves and a soft dusting of snow.
When Jack Harkness is in love, everybody knows.
But with Ianto, it's different. Much unlike one expects.
Two months, three weeks and five days.
And that's when it hits Jack, when he opens the bedroom door to see the young man curled up in the corner, blue eyes filled with tears, and an expression of hate engraved into his face.
So Jack opens up his arms to embrace him, transforming the hate to confusion and they share something between them, that is vaguely familiar to Jack, but could never name for its been too long since he last felt it and he's forgotten what its called.
Three months, four weeks and six days.
And that's when Ianto comes to him, at first for comfort but then it grows. Jack can feel the change in Ianto as it happens; he loses his inhibitions, he becomes less reserved, he smiles and there's a general lightness about him that Jack associates with a man in love.
Ianto is subtle though, Jack only notices these changes as he spends his afternoons watching the younger man sit in the Tourist Office through the CCTV feed. Jack is sure Ianto knows he watches him, but he never mentions it, it's just that Jack notices that Ianto drops a lot of things now and has to bend over, arse facing the camera, to pick them up.
His mind wonders back to their first kiss. Ianto initiated it, his lips pressed against Jack's, and he lost all shyness. Jack had nearly come there and then.
But the kisses, Jack's not quite sure how, but they get better and better. Sweet, a bit like honey—but not quite, and rich, they consume Jack until he's begging for more and pulling Ianto closer and closer.
His favourite ones are when Ianto surprises him. One moment they're staring at each other wondering who's going to break first and the next they're kissing. But it's not really kissing since it's hands and knees and groins and other body parts and panting and indescribable and makes Jack wonder what he's been doing all these years.
Jack has no intention of telling Ianto how he feels, or letting the younger man see the depth of his love. He knows Ianto is young and naïve and this… He stops lying to himself then and there since he knows that Ianto would never leave him and acknowledges that his greatest (and irrational) fear is that Ianto will never say "I love you," in return.
But just because Jack has no intention of telling Ianto the truth, doesn't mean it will never happen. He finds himself doing things he hasn't done in years; humming, morning sex, plucking his eyebrows…
It's a quiet, yet fervent love. Ianto likes his privacy. Jack respects this, so keeps his feelings quiet, never one to kiss and tell. And Ianto surprises him, the first night they were together, with mind-blowing sex. For someone who adheres to a strict set of rules at work, he is surprisingly creative and inventive in bed. Teamed with Jack, however, the pair of them are unbelievable.
The love that they share is like nothing he has ever experienced. There are rarely endearments between them, the closest thing he has to an affectionate name is "sir", but that one word can grab his attention like nothing else can when whispered seductively into his ear as Ianto bends down to pick up a piece of paper that he's "dropped" or when Ianto presses against him from behind to hand him a steaming cup of coffee.
Ianto, Jack discovers as they spend more and more time together, is just genuinely amazing. And adaptable—the man remains unfazed however bizarre the situation they find themselves in and this impresses Jack, especially having seen the man in action. He's fluid and graceful and practical and efficient and Jack's mind runs out of words to describe him so he settles on wow, his mouth mirroring that decision.
It's the little things. The romantic things like taking him to an empty ice rink and teaching him to skate. Secretly, Jack thinks that Ianto has shamelessly stolen the idea from Bones, but he is having too much fun to complain. And because that would make him Brennan, and while he is sure they have very similar cheekbones (though he will never mention that to Ianto either) he is very sure he is not feminine. At all.
And Ianto teaches Jack to feel again. Jack's spent too long locked away in the tower surrounded by Weevils and short lived co-workers. But Ianto, all coffee and archives at work, can live on the weekends. Live hard and fast, Jack discovers, as he learns the side of the twenty first century that he never truly allowed himself to adventure into.
He loves Ianto for his quirks; his dislike of pyjamas, cooking barefoot and biting ears. His annoying habits; biting nails, re-using tissues and snoring. His opinions; blueberries are evil, James Bond is amazing, phone sex is best done not at work, Boris Johnson should stay out of Eastenders.
Best of all, Ianto changes his perceptions on sex. Perceptions that hadn't been challenged for nearly two centuries, and that are almost as conventional as the era that Jack found himself in when he returned to Earth to find the Doctor. Maybe it's a twenty first century thing, maybe it's Ianto. Either way, Jack doesn't really care, just more than happy to go along for the ride.
Ianto is hard and soft, light and dark, reserved yet passionate. He is a contrast in and of itself. And he puzzles Jack. To Jack he is a perfect embodiment of why the human race are special, he is a symbol, an idea and for this reason, Jack will never forget him.
So when Jack pads into Ianto's bathroom one morning and sees the words "love you" written onto the mirror in condensation, he realises that his love is perfect. Because although Ianto is amazing, he couldn't ever be perfect, and when Jack realises that he loves him exactly the way he is, flaws and all, he can't help but realise he has no choice but to tell him.