Inspired by: Chasing Cars – Snow Patrol
The nerve of you, walking out like you could do exactly that whenever you wanted. I said aloud, in your very office nonetheless, that I was leaving you behind.
I was going to start anew.
I wasn't going to give in to your games any longer.
And even though I secretly prayed that I was wrong...
"Hey, kids. Did you miss me?"
I didn't exactly count on you coming back.
"How are you, Ianto?"
"All the better for having you back, sir."
"Can we maybe drop the 'sir' now? While I was away, I was thinking. Maybe we could, you know, when this is all done... Dinner? A movie?"
"Are you asking me out on a date?"
"...Well, as long as it's not in an office. Some fetishes should be kept to yourself."
Crumpled suit jackets and ties of every colour were randomly strewn across the flawless cream carpet and large double bed of the room as a young man tried valiantly to get himself ready for the night to come. A large oak wardrobe had its doors flung wide open, welcoming the intrusive searcher into its hidden depths - and intrusive he was, a striking contrast to his usual methods, as he was carelessly throwing all that his hands touched behind him in a frantic manner, without a seconds thought.
The hectic probing and thoughtless chucking ceased not a few moments later as he finally withdrew with a pink tint across his cheeks whilst clutching the source of his troubles. Hurriedly, he tossed the item around his neck and continued his preparation with efficiency.
"Three months," Ianto muttered to himself, fixing Jack's favourite red tie underneath his pristine white collar. "Three bloody months, he was gone and all of a sudden, he pops back like everything's just perfectly fine."
Smoothing the tie down against his shirt, Ianto slowed his train of thought as he stared at his reflection in the mirror. His hand dropped limp to his side as he cocked his head slightly, frowning at himself - something seemed to be out of place.
Ianto's gaze flitted thoroughly over his body, trying to find the origin of his endeavours. He slowly dragged his eyes up over his face, over his flushed cheekbones, until he blinked.
There was something amiss with his eyes.
Hastily, he leaned into the mirror to gain a closer look. Peering into his own eye, he observed that they were dimmer than usual, like the light had been sucked out of them.
Ianto withdrew his breath sharply as he felt emotion rise in his chest, and he pulled himself upright once more.
The little bit of light that he used to feel caress him every single day before Jack had gone off gallivanting to only God-knows-where had faded away.
Just like that.
Ianto gently touched the pale skin on his face, never breaking the connection between himself and his reflection as he prodded the area underneath his eyes woefully. No wonder it had caught his attention - his eyes were duller than they had ever been, even after Lisa had died. Jack had once commented on his eyes, how full of life they were. How he loved looking into them.
Now, there was nothing.
Ianto dropped his gaze to the floor and fiddled timidly with the bottom of his shirt, unable to look at his reflection any longer. With a spark of realisation, he noticed that he had not felt the warmth that used to reside comfortably in his heart since that lonely day in the office. It could not have been Jack's sudden disappearance alone, could it? He couldn't have been the only cause.
Cursing himself for following that thought, Ianto suddenly felt a stone of guilt drop into the pool of his stomach and his line of sight moved to stare longingly at the one photo he had of Jack and himself, sat on its own on top of his old chest of drawers.
He remembered the moment so well, the air vibrant and colourful around them. Nothing had ever felt better and Ianto had clutched tightly at Jack's strong hands as he was pulled close to Jack's chest - there was almost no room to breathe. His arms were snug against his waist before he smiled cheekily at the camera. It wasn't the big Harkness grin – it was the smile that he reserved only for people like him, for people he cared about; a loving smile. Ianto was laughing, despite his protests at having a picture taken, and he could see the life dancing in his eyes, as clear as day.
In that small moment, they were happy. They had been happy.
Now there was a hand scrabbling at his heart, wrenching it one way or another as he tried to figure out which road he must follow. Ianto closed his eyes tightly as he felt intense emotions rise from deep within him.
It was his fault. All of this, his fault!
Ianto turned and threw his fist angrily into the solid wood of his wardrobe in a fit of grief and regret, causing the stable wardrobe to tremble with the effort of keeping upright. Feeling the sudden rush of pain dart down the lengths of his twitching fingers, he dropped his head forward as he tried to calm himself and allowed the cool glass to sooth his heated skin. Blinking, he chanced a look at the blurred outline of his face in his mirror before falling into a spiral of unwanted thoughts.
"It's entirely my fault..." he whispered, watching his hot breath produce dotted clouds in front of his glassy eyes.
Even though Jack had left him, he had not stopped trying to find someone that made him feel as alive as Jack had.
He had tried to replace him with so many others. How many?
"What have I done?" Ianto murmured regretfully to his unsympathetic reflection.
As he thought about it, Ianto felt even worse, because none of them, not a single one, made him feel the same way as Jack did.
Ianto pressed his hand lightly against the pane of the glass mirror, watching as the hazy condensation grew from his fingers and palm. Absently, he noted that even though Jack had returned, the warmth and the little fluttering in his stomach had not.
Ianto almost felt like crying until he heard three resounding knocks against the old wooden door at the front of his apartment.
"Jack..." The name slipped past his lips before he could stop it, and he felt his heart race in anticipation and worry - which unsettled him slightly. Tentatively, he padded through to the small hallway and let his fingers gingerly grasp the catch. It was only then that Ianto noticed he was trembling.
"What's wrong with me?" he whispered to himself quietly, withdrawing his hand and leaning against the door for support. He looked down at himself, taking in the clean white shirt, the dashing red tie and the deep black trousers - all the usual. Running a hand through his ruffled hair, Ianto pushed back the wall of emotion threatening to breach his mental boundaries and as he did so, he came to a startling conclusion.
Surely it wasn't because they were going on a date?
Ianto's eyes widened at the word and his hand leapt up towards his mouth, fingertips brushing lightly across his parted lips, much like a soft feather.
"I'm going on a bloody date with-"
"Ianto? Are you in there?" Jack's voice sounded from the other side of the door, and Ianto clapped both hands to his mouth in embarrassment, a delicate red flush covering his cheeks. Breathing slowly and swallowing the lump in his throat, he urged himself to stand straight and face the door. There were so many reasons why he should not open that door. Yet, there were so many reasons why he should. Reaching a decision and pushing back the temptation to just leave the door locked and pretend he was not in, he flicked the catch on the lock and opened it swiftly before he could change his mind.
Only to be left breathless.
The Captain was no longer dressed in his usual attire; the greatcoat had been ditched for a flattering black suit jacket, underneath which lay a baby blue shirt, crisp and fresh. The sharp tie stood out from the pastel colours, striking and bold, drawing Ianto's eyes immediately to it.
As his gaze wondered downwards, Ianto noted how flawless his suit was. It was as if it had been cut for him, hugging all the right places and leaving room for the imagination. Distantly, he felt the warmth spreading across his cheeks and swallowed deftly.
"Just that good, am I?" Jack queried, smirking at the blushing man stood in front of him. Ianto was jolted from his thoughts as he looked up at Jack, a slightly bemused look upon his face.
"You're wearing a…suit," Ianto murmured, meeting Jack's irresistible eyes.
"Well spotted. I am for now, anyway," Jack grinned, and Ianto felt like swooning - a fairly new feeling. Composing himself while attempting to push his fluttering thoughts to the back of his mind, Ianto coughed, running a slightly shaking hand through his hair once more before smiling gently.
"I would prefer you to wear something while we are in public," Ianto let his accent curl gently around his words, knowing the effect it would have on the Captain. True to his thoughts, Jack shifted his balance slightly as a familiar glint surfaced from the depths of the blue hues of his eyes. Ianto relaxed as he felt his nerves die down. "But later, well, I don't mind what you wear."
"If you want to make it out of the apartment, I suggest you stop that," Jack whispered huskily, gesturing towards Ianto slightly. Ianto beamed suddenly.
"Okay," he chirped as he disappeared back into his apartment, leaving a bewildered Jack standing at the door.
"You're cruel to me, Ianto Jones," he called as he walked slowly through to the living room, waiting for a reply. He took in the cream walls, the oak furniture and the lone couch all situated with precise co-ordination around the room. A vase of striking blood red flowers stood proudly from a towering glass vase upon the polished table top, planting a dash of colour into the otherwise peaceful environment.
"And don't I just know it!" Jack could hear the grin emanating from the Welshman's voice as it floated through from the bedroom, missing the slight wobble in his voice.
After a few more minutes of patient waiting, Jack let his fingertips caress the head of one of the flowers, which he now recognised as a rose. Who had bought him a rose?
"Nice flowers," Jack commented absently, wondering what Ianto was up to.
"Yeah, I know. Tosh bought them a few weeks back to cheer me up," Ianto replied distantly, shuffling around as he tried to get ready. "Sorry about this, I can't find my jacket."
"You won't find your jacket in there, Ianto."
A confused face popped around the frame of the door, and Jack suppressed the urge to grin like an idiot as he pointed to the lonesome jacket draped over the back of a solid wooden dining chair.
"Oh," Ianto strode over quickly, his hair now neater than a few moments ago, pulling the jacket from its resting place before donning it quickly. "So that's where you went."
Jack moved behind Ianto, running his hands down the curve of his back as the sleek material dropped into place. Jack felt delight swirl deep inside him as he felt Ianto arch into his touch and leaning forward, he let his lips lovingly nuzzle the skin of Ianto's neck, inhaling his alluring scent.
Breathing out in pleasure, Jack looped an arm around Ianto's waist, letting his fingers run a trail over his stomach.
"I missed you," Ianto whispered, leaning back into Jack and letting his hands caress the arm currently holding him tightly to Jack's chest, feeling his heart clench at the contact.
"I know. I realised that myself soon after I left," Jack murmured into Ianto's neck, his breath playing against the heated skin. "I'm sorry."
Ianto turned in Jack's arm, reaching his hands up to cup either side of his lover's face. Ignoring the nagging doubts in his mind, he met his eyes and Ianto leant in slowly to brush his lips deftly against the Captain's. Before Jack could deepen the kiss, Ianto had pulled away, a convincing smirk gracing his features.
"Are we ready, then?" Ianto reached for the keys as he turned towards the door, Jack slipping past him as he flicked the light switch. One last glance around the apartment, and then the door was closing. "So," Ianto asked, fumbling with the keys in the lock as they tinkled together, "where are we going tonight? You took the pleasure of organising the…" Ianto paused his ministrations as Jack raised an eyebrow in question.
Ianto coughed nervously before pulling the keys briskly from the lock. "Yes, date." Jack fell into a gentle walk beside Ianto as they made their way to the lifts.
"Well, like I said. Dinner, a movie, you know," Jack gestured briefly with his hands, throwing a glance at Ianto as they approached the cold metal doors. "I figured we could see what's on and then decide whether to eat now or later."
"Sounds good." Ianto replied with a hint of an edge, pushing the luminous button on the wall with perhaps a little too much force. Jack frowned.
"Hey, are you okay?" Jack asked quietly, a small brush of his hand over the dip in Ianto's slender suit.
Ianto stepped quickly into the lift, spinning around as Jack swiftly joined him. Without hesitation, Ianto jabbed the button for the top floor and gave Jack the silent treatment.
"Uh, Ianto," Jack tried to grab the younger man's attention with a small prod to his side, "that was the button for the top floor."
"I know," Ianto shuffled uncomfortably and knotted his hands together. "You asked me if I was okay."
"Yes," Jack ran his gaze intensely over Ianto's unflinching features. "And are you?"
Ianto gave no reply.
Left with no clues whatsoever to his date's unexpected turn in behaviour, Jack was given no choice but to follow as Ianto calmly walked out of the lift and began his ascend up the nearby staircase. Jogging to catch up with him, Jack caught one of Ianto's hands with his own and tried in vain to stop him. Ianto started slightly as he felt the familiar warmth seep through his skin.
"Hey, what's the matter with you? Less that ten minutes ago, you were all over me," Jack whispered with a hint of a growl, pulling gingerly on Ianto's hand, his eyes pleading for an answer as they bore into the back of the younger man's head. Without turning around, Ianto muttered a reply.
"I'm not okay."
In a brief lapse of shock, Jack's grip slackened and Ianto tugged away before continuing towards his destination.
Reaching the fire exit, Ianto grasped the rusted bar across the sturdy old door and pushed it forwards, listening to the resounding creak of metal on metal as it echoed down the stairwell.
Ianto stepped out into the cool night air and sighed wistfully as he basked in the astounding atmosphere of the familiar nightlife. Gradually, he paced over to the edge of the rooftop and allowed the exciting sounds of the city to surround him. He relaxed, taking up his usual position.
"Ianto?" Jack remained in the doorway, unsure as to whether he should walk over.
Ianto glanced over his shoulder at the Captain's silhouette before resuming his previous stance - hands in his pockets, head held high as he witnessed Cardiff in all its night-time glory.
"I've spent so many nights up here," Ianto whispered as Jack slowly approached. "So many hours, wasted, watching this place." Ianto had a hint of regret laced throughout his voice as his eyes glossily reflected the amber lights below. Jack felt the compelled urge to hug the man in front of him, but refrained from doing so.
"Yeah?" he offered weakly instead as he stood beside Ianto.
"I think I've finally seen what you love about standing on rooftops, Jack," Ianto replied with a hint of humour, causing a small smile to flicker over Jack's lips. "It reminded me of you."
All traces of wit disappeared as Jack focused his concentration on Ianto's almost-bitter words.
"It was three months, Jack. Three whole months without knowing why you had run away so suddenly," Ianto's voice cracked as he struggled to speak without letting his emotions breach. "At first, everyone thought you had been taken from us." Jack shuffled guiltily, willing the lump in his throat to die down. "I went into your office, and saw the empty coat rack and the space under your desk where that hand used to be, and I just knew, Jack. I knew you'd left us willingly."
"I'm sorry, Ianto." Ianto flinched as he turned his head away to look at the cool concrete floor of the desolate rooftop.
"Does sorry change the fact that Gwen made me spend a whole week at home because I wasn't fit for duty?" A tear ran down his cheek as he began to shiver in the biting winds. "I fell into a state of shock and was unable to do anything properly. I couldn't even work the bloody coffee machine, and that's all I'm usually there for."
Jack gave into his desires as he reached for Ianto. The coffee boy bore no resilience as he was gathered into the Captain's embrace, arms holding him flush against his chest.
"I spent every night up here, drowning in my sorrows," Ianto murmured into Jack's crumpled blue shirt. "I wanted you to come back so much, but when you finally decided to drag yourself back here, it didn't feel real."
"I am so sorry," Jack whispered painfully once more as his eyes clenched shut, his hot breath ghosting through Ianto's hair. "I am so, so sorry."
Ianto scrunched his fists into the cotton of the shirt in front of him, pushing his face into the material, hiding from the world. "I tried with other people, trying to find the same thing," Ianto croaked out and he felt Jack tense all around him. "It never worked. Probably never will."
Ianto pulled back and Jack let his arms fall from his body, yet kept his hands on Ianto's hips. "I ruined it," Ianto muttered sorrowfully as he stared at the floor, shivering at the loss of heat that Jack had provided him with. When no answer came from his companion, Ianto felt the need to add to his statement. "The date, I've gone and messed it up."
Jack lifted a hand to Ianto's cheek, lifting his face so he could look him in the eye. "You haven't messed it up," he smiled.
"Yes I have, I've gone and swamped the evening with misery."
"No, you haven't. Look," Jack sighed, "if we hadn't had this talk, imagine how tense we would be now, down there somewhere," Jack glanced over the side of the roof as to emphasise his point. Ianto peeked over the side too, to avoid looking at the pitiful eyes of Captain Jack Harkness. "Anyway, I'm glad we had this talk. It's better to open up rather than let things like this brew - we can go on a date some other time."
Ianto flushed gently at the idea of another date, despite his near emotional outburst only a short while ago. "Let's hope it can top this one," he mumbles, coaxing a laugh from Jack.
"See? Better already." Jack moved closer to the younger man, running his hands over Ianto's lower back as he pulled them together. "It'll be okay, you know?"
"Yeah, I hope," Ianto closed his eyes as he pressed their foreheads together, lavishing in the pheromones of the Captain.
"It will be," Jack covered Ianto's lips with his own, caressing them gently as they swayed in the midst of the city. "It will be."
"Will you go back to him?"
"I came back for you…"