Author's note: I'm not dead! I just feel it after this morning's exam and a slightly crazy day. So, um, sorry for the late upload.
In good news, I've decided to halve my NaNoWriMo original story to make it more concise and logical, and do two 25k stories, and the next one is going to be a Jack/Ianto AU meeting within Torchwood, spinning off from that Jack/Yvonne friendship story I did a while back. And in December, I'm going to try to get Just A Mistake finished. Whilst travelling the East coast of Australia.
Yeah, I'm mad.
Jack had never actually had a proper relationship with anyone he'd worked with. He'd had the occasional short-lived fling, and Lucia had been reasonably long-term, but with a different branch. He'd never found anyone who he trusted completely as both the subordinate he needed at work and the more dominant personality he needed in his personal life. Most people were understandably troubled by the switch between the roles, and Jack just hadn't had the energy to keep them balanced. So he kept work and romance, if he had any, separate.
Ianto just had to be different.
At work, he was the perfect second. He was there at Jack's shoulder whenever he needed him, and in the background making sure that everything was running smoothly when he wasn't immediately needed. He backed him up publicly, but would challenge him in private if he thought that he was making the wrong decision, always presenting a fully-formed argument and the evidence needed to change Jack's mind. And when Jack had to make the decisions that the others hated him for, that he hated himself for, Ianto was there with silent support – he just accepted that that was the decision that had to be made and lent his strength behind Jack. They were the perfect team: intelligent, experienced and deadly, and the team was their backup.
And then they clocked off for the night and collapsed onto the sofa at the Hub or at the flat, and the roles were reverse. When Jack dropped the mantle of leadership from aching shoulders and found that he didn't know quite what to do with himself, Ianto was there. His solid, supporting strength that kept Jack up during the day gave way to enfold him and protect him at night. He was warmth and comfort and unconditional acceptance, maybe even love. Jack didn't know how he'd coped before, and the future didn't bear thinking about. He'd rather go mad than live without this.
"Hey," he returned to the living room with bowl-pies (a tin of steak and kidney pie filling in a bowl, with a pie crust over the top) wrapped in tea-towels because they were fresh out of the oven, and passed Ianto's to him carefully.
Ianto smiled up at him and shifted so that Jack could settle down against him. "Thank you."
His simple gratitude warmed Jack better than the stew, and he leaned into him as much as he could whilst keeping his hands free to eat. "You're welcome." He smiled and waited for Ianto to take a mouthful. "Is it good?"
Ianto nodded with his mouth full and reached for his beer, but Jack got it first and passed it to him. "Very good, but very hot."
"Well, it is just out of the oven," Jack pointed out, somewhat worriedly. "Will you want another beer?"
Ianto laughed and pulled Jack back against him with the hand that was still holding the bottle, cold glass pressed against his shoulder. "It's fine, Jack."
Jack chuckled along and relaxed again. It had been one of those days at work, and he just wanted to be able to do something right for someone. They didn't need to talk about it, never had. It was just simple, comfortable and natural; they both knew what the other wanted without having to be told.
For the first time in his life, Jack believed in soulmates.