Chapter 10: I know him so well
Everyone is relieved with Ianto's return, being welcomed into work with a cup of steaming Ianto's special blend first thing in the morning is like coffee heaven for the java addicts of the Hub. Even Owen, who comes in a foul mood, mellows down once the mug is placed in his hand.
Ianto spends the days restoring the contained chaos that has become of the Hub during the four days he was out. He shudders imagining how the place would've looked like if he had stayed gone the whole ten days. While during the nights he pursues more pleasurable tasks down in Jack's manhole- pun intended. It's the third day since his return and he has yet to go home once.
This evening the Hub is deserted, today he presented the first of a series of briefings about Flat Holm; it had been limited to its founding, its history and a detailed report of the functions the facility provides for the Rift victims. It had been shocking for all, even Gwen who still knows next to nothing about the place, but even more so for Owen and Tosh. Knowing it was a lot to take in; Jack sent the team home early, only Ianto staid in.
The tea boy makes a last round around the Hub, double checking that everything is as it should be. The exercise is pointless, but it gives him the time to stall, to gather up his courage for what he is about to do. With one last glance around and finding nothing to distract him, Ianto shrugs on his coat, takes his keys and heads for the captain's office. The door is open and he raps his knuckles on the frame to announce his presence.
Jack is hunched over the desk, pen in hand, brows furrow and lips purse as he works on the ever hated stack of paperwork. He has been filling form after form, writing report after report since he sent everyone home three hours ago. He has actually made good progress in tackling the stack of papers he usually avoids like the plague. When he looks up at the sight of Ianto standing at the door he drops the pen, paperwork forgotten in hopes of getting a cup of coffee or better yet a round of sex; if he is lucky probably both, though not necessarily in that order. However his expectations crash when he notices there is no tray with coffee mugs, nor a suggestive smile on the tea boy's face. Instead the young man is wearing his coat and his keys dangle in his hand. Jack hides the disappointment quickly by flashing an amicable grin.
"You are done for the night?" he asks casually.
"Yes, I thought I'd be heading home. I've ran out of clean suits and I might need to clean out the fridge," Ianto says, a subtle reminder that he has spent the last three days and two nights at the Hub.
"You do that, I've seen alien life forms evolve from spoiled perishables inside neglected refrigerators," he says in mock seriousness.
Ianto rolls his eyes, "Yeah, I wouldn't want to have the team rush into my flat to kill the cheese that has mutated into some form of vicious, poisonous alien goo that scurries around attacking people's pets," he deadpans with a poker face.
The sarcastic remark makes Jack roar with laughter, "Have a good night Ianto," he says when he has managed to suppress the laughs to sporadic giggles.
"Actually, Sir, I was wondering…" he pauses awkwardly.
That caught Jack's attention and sobers him instantly. For the first time since the archivist walked in, he notices the tense shoulders, the shuffling feet, the down cast shifting eyes. He realizes the Welshman is not only nervous about something, but serious about it, if the reverting to 'Sir' is any indication. The 51st century man looks at him expectantly, encouraging the tea boy to continue by giving him his undivided attention.
Ianto licks his lips and plunders forward. "I, uh, I wanted to ask you if maybe, since the Rift has been pretty quiet, if you'd like to come home with me tonight, Jack?" he proposes trying to sound casual and not too hopeful.
The pseudo American is touched by the gesture and amused by his attempt at nonchalance. But he can see his prolonged silence makes Ianto fidget, insecure of the political correctness of his forwardness. Making up his mind- really there is nothing to consider- he stands and grabs his Grey coat.
"Since there might be mutant life forms in your fridge you might need back up, and how about we pick up some take-out on the way?" he says, casually accepting the offer.
Ianto smiles relieved, "No bullet holes in the woodwork. Italian or Chinese?"
"I was thinking Thai, but I haven't had Italian in a while,"
"I don't like Thai…"
They leave together, bantering about dinner.
They decided on Italian, after a quiet, pleasant dinner of pasta and cheap wine; Ianto invites Jack to make himself at home, pointing him in the direction of the bathroom in case the captain wants to freshen up. Meanwhile, the archivist stores away the left overs and discards the perishables in his fridge, no point keeping them if he is not going to be home anyways. He had bought them to stock up for what would've been two weeks holed up at home. Now that he is back to his regular working schedule, he'll be in his flat two nights a week, tops. He washes the few dishes and glasses they used and checks that the door and windows are locked before going to find what the wayward captain is up to.
Wandering into his room Ianto is met with the sight of a nude Jack lying in his bed; the pseudo American is lying on his stomach over the bed sheets, leafing through a book he found on the nightstand. The older man's body seems to undulate slightly, almost absently rutting, sensually enjoying the smooth coolness of the sheets against his skin. Ianto leans on the door jab appreciating the view.
"You're starting without me?" he asks, startling Jack.
"You did tell me to make myself at home," he replies, rolling onto his back he reclines against the headboard giving the younger man a full frontal view. Wearing nothing but a devil's grin, Jack is totally unabashed by his nudity. Even when Ianto's gaze rakes over his skin with a glint of hunger, the 51st century man doesn't bat an eyelash. He just lays there almost preening under the attention.
It makes Ianto roll his eyes, "You are like a peacock," he grouses.
Jack laughs heartedly, amused by the image before him. Ianto has removed his suit jacket and vest, the tie hangs around his neck undone, the shirt is un-tucked, sleeves rolled up, and he discarded his shoes and socks at some point through dinner. The rumpled attire makes him look younger than his scarce years. The pout on his lips and the scold on his brow make him look like a teen dressed for grandaunt Matilda's Sunday party. Still as cute as the juvenile appearance is, Jack prefers to see the fully grown man's body beneath it.
"Just take those off and get in here," Jack's voice is a low husk, as he gestures to –in his opinion- Ianto's overdressed state.
He half expects a witty comeback, but to his surprise, the archivist offers none. Instead he walks fully into the room and slowly sheds what he's still wearing of his suit. Jack doesn't offer assistance, content with watching how the expanses of well-known skin are revealed to him once again. No matter how many times he's seen, touched, tasted the younger man, he never tiers of it. Not of the darkness bleached skin, so pale due to spending his days underground away from the sunlight and from covering his body from neck to toes with well-tailored suits. Not of the lean muscular build, slightly toned but by no means ripped; nor of the soft hair lightly dusting his forearms up to the biceps and on his legs fading to almost nothing at the thighs, and not forget the thin trail running down from navel to a closely trimmed pubis. Now Jack gets to enjoy all of it again and he finds that the eager anticipation of their first time has not diminished in the list.
Now Ianto is standing as naked as the day he was born, and as hard as a teen peeking at a skin mag for the first time. He can feel Jack's eyes rake over his body, drinking in the sight of him in the most primal and base expression of his self. His own eyes rove over the ex-time agent lying in his bed and he is awed once again at how someone as ordinary as him has managed to catch the attention of someone like Jack. The man is sheer perfection and is right here for Ianto to have, as much, as often and as however he wants to have it. And he wants to have it all, from the caramel sun-kissed skin, to the well-defined, rippling muscles of that barrel chest and broad back; and most of all the manhood jutting proudly from the clean-shaven groin. To him it's still as nerve wrecking and thrilling as that first night when Jack accepted his brazen insinuations.
The mutual visual appraisal ends when their eyes meet blue on blue; Jack's warm summer sky gaze locks with Ianto's iceberg cool stare. They don't break contact even as Ianto moves forward to the foot of the bed and climbs onto it, crawling over to Jack on hands and knees. Their gazes still hold even as Jack sits up and forward, reaching to meet the younger man half-way. The stare breaks only when sight is replace by others senses coming into contact; when their skin touch, when they breathe each other's air, when their lips clash and part to savour the taste of their mingled tongues.
A couple of hours and go rounds later, worn and sated; they lay awake, Ianto tucked against Jack's side, his head pillowed on the captain's chest, the older man's arm slung around his shoulders cradle him close. The ex-time agent's mind drifts while his hand absently draws random patterns on Ianto's side.
"A quid for your thoughts," Ianto asks in a soft, curious voice.
Jack looks down at him, "A quid? Whatever happened to pennies, global inflation has gotten that far? It seems extremely overpriced," he jokes.
"I was being generous, besides they don't make ha' pennies anymore," the quip earns him a mock glare.
Jack heaves a sigh, "I was thinking about Owen and Tosh, they seemed to take it rather well, the briefing I mean," he says answering Ianto's question. "You did well today," he adds.
"There is still a lot more to go through, so much more to explain, lots more they need to know. Today was just an introductory crash course of sorts,"
"I know," Jack nods his understanding as he rakes a hand through his mused hair.
"You are worried, you fear for them," it's not a question.
"I know them," Jack says in an almost imploring whine, begging to be understood. "Tosh will try to develop technologies that are beyond this age to try to assist in their care. Owen will try to find remedies for alien illnesses and injuries that human medicine can't cure; just like Gwen tried to offer comfort that can't grant solace. It is folly, it will tax on their good will and it will break their heart when they figure out it is not possible, this people can't be fixed," the captain admits, for the first time coherently voicing his concerns and fears for his underlings.
"But they can be helped," Ianto counters, his voice barely above a whisper. "But you are right, that place has a way of changing people," he agrees.
And Jack knows he is not imagining the hint of remorse on the archivist's tone, Gwen was right, Jack has made Ianto second guess his own judgement.
"It does, but not necessarily in a bad way," the ex-time agent says after a long pause. "Something you said made me realize that,"
Ianto looks at him curiously, lifting his head from the captain's chest to peer up at his face.
"You said you led Gwen to the island to remind her that in spite everything I'm merely human. Also that you had faith she'd be fine after the initial shock, because of her natural empathy and sympathy towards others, a quality that you believe the rest of you don't possess. But I disagree, you need to be reminded that you too are only human, that all of you do feel everything that happens, and just as deeply as she does. Only the rest of you are far more rational, you can control and hide those emotions and not be swayed by them in the crucial moments," Jack explains.
"Jack, we are emotionally stunned," Ianto says but even though the pronoun is plural there is a self-deprecating tone to the statement.
"Are you?" Jack challenges. "You comforted Tosh through her ordeal with Mary and then with Tommy, you stun-gunned a man point black between the eyes, you spoil Owen with coffee when he feels down, you picked Gwen a wedding dressed and deejay-ed her reception, you take responsibility for things that are out of your control, and pick up the pieces of us all when things fall apart. We all see this and yet we under appreciate it, but mostly because you won't accept our gratitude,"
Ianto looks away clearly embarrassed, he can feel the blush colouring his neck and ears; leaving Jack's side he sits up and leans on the headboard. "You've been talking to Tosh," he says with a grimace.
"She is not the only one who pointed out your finer qualities, at least she was nice about it," the captain says in hindsight. "Owen chewed me out and Gwen chastised me,"
"I'm sorry about that, it should've remained between us," Ianto says.
"It's alright, it's my fault it got so out of hand," he reassured the tea boy. "And the little talks helped me to see things in your perspective," he adds.
"The way I see it, Tosh needs to remember technology is used for other things than creating and dismantling weapons. Owen needs to remember his medical training is for more than to autopsy dead aliens. Just as you need to learn to share the load, Ianto, you need to be taken cared off as you've care for others," he says.
His hand reaches for the archivist. He cups the younger man's cheek and kisses him; the gesture is more apologetic than seductive. Jack hopes to express his remorse for all the times he has failed to take care of the Welshman. When Lisa died and he left Ianto to drown alone in grief; and he let the young man bury himself in his work at the Hub, adrift in a meaningless existence. When he was injured and traumatized by cannibals and Jack didn't even notice. The time he sidestepped and avoided to admit the hurt he had cause to the archivist when he left chasing after the Doctor. As he was blind to Ianto's fear and guilt at being held hostage, by the butchers that held a gun to his head and the captain hadn't batted an eyelash in worry. Then at Gwen's wedding when he was unable to spare Ianto the humiliation caused by an asshole clerk and Jack's own insensitive words. He wants to make amends for all of it, even if he knows it's too little too late.
As if sensing Jack's feelings; Ianto opens up and surrenders to the kiss in wordless acceptance of Jack's penance for every careless actions. It's his way of awarding him absolution.
Jack breaks the kiss and presses their foreheads together, just enjoying the quiet contentment of their closeness. Then as a thought occurs to him, a frown furrows his brow and pulls at his lips in a grimace.
"Just don't go out drinking with Owen, ever," he says with a perceptible growl and a menacing glare.
Ianto looks at him, blinking perplexed for a moment, then a loud belly laugh shakes him with mirth. He has notice the occasional lewd stare the grouchy medic sent his way from time to time, probably out of curiosity rather than real attraction. Apparently Jack is now aware of it too, and very much against it. Ianto finds it hilarious and very flattering; it's thrilling to see Jack jealous for a change.
The 51st century man is not amused, and when his glare does nothing to sober up the Welshman, he launches himself at the tea boy, effective pinning him under him larger frame. He silences Ianto's snickering with a searing kiss that changes the giggles into wanton groans that have an immediate effect by stirring their loins.
From there it quickly escalates to a third go round and they fall back into the well engraved motions of intercourse. Their moves smooth and synchronized out of use and habit, after two prior rounds and three consecutive nights of shagging, there is no need for extensive preparations or foreplay. It only takes them as much time as it takes for Jack to locate the bottle of lube that went astray in the bed sheets at some point during their previous rutting. The smaller man's legs part wide open and the captain's hips slide forward, and it's all the effort needed to complete their joining. There is no need to adjust to find a rhythm; they fall into step with each other immediately, they both know exactly what buttons to push to elicit the best response.
Jack exploits his knowledge of Ianto's body to demonstrate to the tea boy why he, Jack, is the better bed partner choice. While the archivist lets it be known just why his choice is and will always be the captain, that the only man he is willing to surrender to, the only man he will ever allow to thrust into him, the only man that drives him into the throws of passion, the only man in the universe that Ianto will ever consider falling into bed with, the only man whose name he will call as he cums, is Jack's.
In the wee hours of the morning, feeling more sore than sated, Jack observes his young lover. Ianto is in a deep exhausted but satisfied sleep, curled up and cocooned in the 51st century man's strong embrace. The tea boy's arms circle his waist loosely, his even breathing ghosting over the pseudo American's collar, their legs tangled together. And for the first time in a century Jack is content.
For once there is no longing for the Doctor, no recalling of John Heart, no craving of Gwen, and no wishing for Saraha. Jack has finally realized Ianto is all of them and more than them at once, he has no need for anyone else as long as Ianto remains his bedroom factotum. Jack can live with that, at least for as long as Ianto himself lives and that is good enough, that is as much as he can hope for, that is as much as he is willing to allow himself to indulge in, at least for now.
They will make the most of this… relationship they have. It's a compromise; they recognize they need each other. It's more than a physical arrangement; they go beyond mere fuck buddies. It's not a romantic relationship; they are not boyfriends, they are not going to marry or even live together. But they are committed to each other in a more abstract if not fundamental way.
A/N: Chapter's title song is I Know Him So Well, from the musical Chess by John Barrowman and Daniel Boys. And generally the song that inspired this whole story, to me becoming a hallmark for it. Thanks to everyone who subscribed and favourited this story and especially thank you to everyone who reviewed. Please let me know what you think.