A/N: Okay folks, this is the last chapter of Part One, but please don't think the story is finished! There is a LOT more to come - after all, we still need to see what happens to Gwen, what happens to the boys, and what, of course, happens to the alien slugs (anyone remember them?). Part Two will begin soon, after a brief intermission, and yes, there will be half-time entertainment... ;)

Thanks for all your support!


Ianto awoke with great effort, struggling up into consciousness as though swimming through treacle. He was warm, surrounded by comforting heat, and the idea of further sleep beckoned loudly. It was only the weight of an arm draped possessively over his side that stopped him from drifting off again.

It was Jack's arm, no doubt about it, and the rest of his body was pressed along the length of Ianto's back. His breathing stirred the hairs at the nape of Ianto's neck, tickling lightly at his skin. The Welshman knew the cadence of that even breath, had heard it before on the nights Jack slept instead of merely dozed, and he was infinitely glad that this was one of those rare occasions.

Ianto stared at the rough wall in front of him, soaking in the normality of the situation whilst he could. He knew the moment Jack woke reality would crash down upon him and he'd be forced to admit to himself what had happened the night before.

The man behind him shifted, one hand idly running over Ianto's stomach before he settled again. Ianto swallowed hard; who was he kidding? There was no way he could stop from thinking about what they'd done, what he'd allowed Jack to do to him, whether his lover was awake or not.

Ianto's chest tightened as he recalled the feeling of helplessness he'd experienced; tied to the desk and held ready for whatever whim took the Captain's fancy. There had been pain, as he'd hoped, but it had been interspersed with moments of intense pleasure, as he'd imagined. He'd felt freedom and shame and ecstasy and all of it countless times better than anything he'd felt at Alex's hands.

With a gentle sigh, Ianto's eyes slid shut. He felt none of those things now; instead there was only something he'd been hoping to avoid, though deep down he knew it'd been unavoidable from the start. In not fighting Jack harder, in relinquishing his control and exposing every dark corner of his being to the older man, Ianto had allowed his tarnished heart to open once more, after promising himself it would never happen again.

Though he'd been fighting the inevitable all along, there was no doubt about it; by giving himself so entirely to Jack, he'd fallen that last fateful step into love.

A sharp breath caught in Ianto's throat (not a whimper, definitely not a whimper) and a great sense of sadness washed over him. It wasn't love itself with which he had a problem – though in truth he'd had more than his fair share of bad experiences in that area – it was instead the fact there was no chance of it ending well for him.

There were only two directions in which such an emotion could take him in this particular scenario; Jack would either grow bored with him, find another lover and Ianto would fade into the background, or else he'd leave all together, disappearing off with his Doctor back to the stars amongst which he belonged. And that wasn't self-pity talking either, Ianto told himself, it was a very distinct possibility. For all that Jack claimed to have returned to Earth for good after his vanishing act earlier that year, he still kept a very determined ear to the ground for any information that might suggest the Doctor had appeared again.

So Ianto knew he was setting himself up for a fall; he'd been aware of the risk for some time now, but had valiantly kept a wall around his heart, holding his emotions firmly in check to minimise the pain when it all broke apart. The young Welshman bit his lip to keep from groaning in frustration. If only he'd been able to control his perverted needs, Jack wouldn't have found out and insisted upon being a part of it, and Ianto wouldn't have ended up baring his soul to the immortal.

And now that soul belonged to the one person in the world who couldn't promise the same in return.

"I can hear you thinking," Jack mumbled suddenly and Ianto's eyes shot open again in panic. He wasn't ready for this, he needed more time to reign in his emotions and hide them from the older man.

Jack pressed his nose to Ianto's neck and drew in a deep breath. "How're you feeling?"

Like I want to both scream and kiss you senseless.

"There's no use playing sullen now," Jack went on, his voice still thick with sleep. "You can't deny I've proven my point."

Ianto mulled that over for a minute until he was finally unable to resist asking; "What point is that, then?"

"That it's better with me than a stranger."

Lips touched Ianto's skin and the hand upon his chest drifted south a little. The younger man gave a noncommittal grunt and resumed staring at the concrete wall. "It was different," he conceded, and rather bitterly at that.

Where Alex had been professional, Jack had been like a whirlwind. Ianto felt as though he'd been picked up and dropped from a great height. Of course that wasn't entirely unusual when dealing with the Captain, however this time he'd had the additional sensation of hitting the ground as well, rather than being caught just in time as normal.

"It was better," Jack repeated. "And it worked, didn't it? We're having what could pass as a conversation for the first time in weeks."

"Must be fatigue," Ianto muttered.

Jack gave a quiet laugh, pulling his lover tighter to his chest before turning serious again. "I'll always help when it gets too bad," he said solemnly. "You just tell me, or give me some sign, and I'll make sure you don't have to suffer alone again."

Ianto squeezed his eyes shut at the heady vow. It really wasn't helping his weak attempts to suppress his emotions when Jack said things like that. Dammit, did he even know how that sounded? Was he aware that such a promise could only ever be an empty one?

In that moment Ianto suddenly understood how close love and hate really were.

He might love Jack – impossibly and irrefutably – but he also hated that the older man had taken the very last private thing of Ianto's without a thought for the consequences. He had bound Ianto to him without realising that when the time came to part ways, he would leave behind an entirely broken man.

Ianto sighed, not caring if Jack heard. Perhaps it was his own fault; not being more careful with his secrets, or more convincing with his lies. He really should have been able to stop Jack earlier as well, but he hadn't done a very good job of trying. Even tied up, there had been plenty of opportunities for him to hurt the other man in order to get his point across, and yet he'd taken none of them.

He could have done more, but he hadn't. He'd practically invited Jack to step over that line, and whilst he refused to take all of the blame, he had to at least share it.

Ianto sighed again, to himself this time, and then there was gentle pressure on his shoulder. He rolled over without protest to meet Jack's questing lips, all the while considering the possibility that he was emotionally masochistic, as well as physically.


To be continued...