Ianto stared blankly at his empty fish tank where it sat in the corner waiting to be set up. He had no idea what was he supposed to do and unsurprisingly the empty tank wasn't giving him any answers. He wished everything had happened differently. Maybe if he'd been back sooner… Maybe if he'd found another way to escape the Cybermen… Maybe if he hadn't played that stupid game with Jack - told him who he was and what he looked like… Maybe if he'd left London and gone with Jack when he'd first offered... There were far too many 'maybes' floating around Ianto's head and not one single one of them was doing him any good.
He almost fell from his seat at the kitchen table in surprise when there was a loud pounding on his front door.
Dread immediately began to fill Ianto when he remembered that there were only a few people who knew where he lived; none of whom he was particularly keen on seeing at that particular moment. But, he also knew that he couldn't put it off, considering they were his family and had every right to be mad at him – especially after the disappearing act he'd pulled not long before.
Sighing in resignation and steeling himself, he pulled open the front door, ready to be yelled at once again. The sight that greeted him was not what he had been expecting.
Jack Harkness was standing on his doorstep; his eyes red as he panted to catch his breath. He was practically soaked to the bone from the sudden rainfall and staring at Ianto as though he'd seen a ghost.
"Jesus, Jack, you're going to freeze to death!" Ianto scolded, grabbing the other man's hand and pulling him inside. The reason behind Jack's sudden appearance never occurred to him as he focused on getting Jack warm before he got sick.
With little protest from the Captain, Ianto pulled off Jack's coat and hung it on one of the spare hooks by the door, before pulling the other man into the living room; the fire was already on and it wouldn't take long for Jack to warm up. Jack didn't say anything as Ianto worked; he merely continued to stare at the man who was taking care of him. Ianto knew that something had to have spooked the Captain - that much was obvious - but what that was and why he'd gone there, the Welshman couldn't even begin to guess. Ianto stripped Jack down to his boxers and t-shirt, and he quickly ducked into his bedroom to fetch some dry clothes the other man could wear. Grabbing a towel on his way back, he ducked back into the living room and knelt beside the Captain, handing him the dry clothes. "Get changed," he instructed. "I'll make you something warm to drink."
He got to his feet and slipped from the room before Jack could say anything – not that Ianto thought he would - and headed back into the kitchen, quickly making Jack a Cup-a-Soup; somehow he didn't think coffee was going to do the other man any good. As he waited for the soup to be ready, his mind began to wander. It had been clear that the Captain wanted nothing to do with him, so Ianto couldn't figure out why he'd arrived at his home.
When the soup was ready, Ianto walked back into the lounge to find Jack pulling on the jumper; he was already wearing the tracksuit bottoms and his wet underclothes were thrown into the corner where Ianto had put the rest earlier.
"Jack, is the team okay?" Ianto asked. When Jack looked up at him in surprise, he briefly realised he was being a little informal with a man who was his superior and who he'd only just met, but he pushed the thought aside; Jack was a mess and Ianto needed to get him to talk.
"The team's fine," Jack replied, sounding confused. His eyes scanned Ianto's face and the younger man had the feeling that Jack was looking for something.
"Then, what?" Ianto pressed. "Sir, you've made it quite obvious you want nothing to do with me, so what are you doing here?" He stood up, running a hand through his hair. He couldn't believe how hard it was being close to Jack, he just wanted to...
"Tag?" Jack's voice cut through thoughts.
Ianto froze in shock, not sure he'd actually heard what Jack had just said. Slowly he turned to face the man sitting in front of his fire staring at him with a mixture of shock, confusion and hope. "What did you call me?" Ianto whispered afraid he'd imagined it.
"Someone left us the code for London's mainframe," Jack explained. "It was Ianto Jones - London's head archivist; please tell me it's you," he begged, his voice nothing more than a whisper as he stared up at Ianto; his eyes searching and studying him.
"Jack," Ianto whispered, kneeling down in front of the Captain.
"Why didn't you tell me?" Jack asked, voice tinged with hurt but it didn't stop his hand reaching out and cupping Ianto's cheek. Softly wiping away tears of relief that were sliding down Ianto's face.
"I didn't know how," Ianto confessed, leaning closer and pressing his forehead against Jack's.
"I thought I'd lost you, it's been a month. How did you get out? Where were you?" Jack asked softly still not ready to believe what was happening.
Ianto shook his head. "Not now; later," he murmured. He didn't want to answer questions; which he didn't even know all the answers to. He just wanted to be with the man he'd come so far to be with.
They sat there in silence for a moment just taking in the sight of the other. "Ianto?" Jack whispered again and Ianto smiled nodding in encouragement his nose softly bumping against Jack's.
"Ianto," Jack repeated the name again, pulling back to look at Ianto; it almost seemed as if he were cementing the name and face in his mind forever. "It suits you." Ianto smiled and reached up, wiping the tear from Jack's cheek. "God, I really thought I'd lost you," Jack confessed. "I thought I'd never have the chance to do touch you like this."
"I'm here, Jack," Ianto assured him. "I'm here, I'm alive and safe. We can do whatever you want." A smirk tugged at the corner of Ianto's mouth and then Jack swooped in, wrapping him in his embrace and claiming his lips.
Ianto sighed with contentment, melting into the embrace as he kissed Jack back. He might have wished things had been different, but he also knew that if they had, he wouldn't be there at that moment. He wouldn't be as happy as he was. He was home and, right then, there was no other place he wanted to be.
AN: The next story in the series will explain how Ianto escaped from the Tower and got back to Cardiff a month later.