AN: This is the last chapter!
Now, before you all get out your 'IJ' monogrammed handkerchiefs and begin sobbing helplessly, I am planning a sequel (since there are a few loose ends that I left purposefully uncut). However, when I don't have random week-long writing bursts, my muse tends to move a bit slowly, and get distracted. So you can probably look forward to many interesting stories in the meantime, including a Johnto post-COE fic that's currently in the works (and don't you want to see how I manage that? ;)
What a long, strange trip it's been! From beginning this story the last day of winter term, to publishing the last chapter the final day of spring term, this story has truly shaped the last third of my year. I want to thank you all for sharing it with me, since it was your comments that spurred me to better my writing and continue posting on a regular basis. Plus, the reviews kept me awake during classes!
I hope you all like the ending! Please write in ideas for the sequel, I'd love to hear what people think should happen!
Connie was woken up at a truly despicable hour by knocking on the door of her hotel room.
"Bloody manager, if the UNIT credit card didn't go through I'm gonna bloody throttle whatever sorry accountin' officer gets in my way," she mumbled as she tumbled out of bed and stumbled to the hotel door.
"Shouldn't even be in a bleedin' hotel, fuckin' Torchwood imbecile, who the hell does he think he is," she swung open the door.
"Are those supposed to make everything better?" she demanded.
Ianto looked down at the bouquet of daisies. "No, but I know you like them."
She let him in, because she wasn't about to be having this conversation vertical. "What the hell do you call this sort of hour?"
He frowned. "It's nearly ten. What do you call it?"
"I call it too bloody fuckin' early," Connie moaned as she collapsed face-down on the hotel bed.
Ianto chuckled. "Late run?"
"I gogh ey ad bime."
She rolled over. "I got in at five."
She refused to open his eyes and see the puppy-dog face that was sure to be there. "As if that's what you should be apologisin' for."
There was silence.
Connie sat up. Ianto was sitting on the edge of the bed, letting the flowers droop toward the ground. With his head dropped and his eyes tearing, he was the picture of misery. "What is it, what's wrong?" she asked, suddenly worried. "Did the industrial espionage end badly? Are you okay?"
Ianto snorted. "Yeah, it's fine. That's not why…" He shook his head. "I can't apologize for how I treated you. I was… violent. I threw you out of the flat! It's unforgiveable." He sniffed.
"Just tell me why you did it," she said quietly.
"That phone call… it was Yvonne Hartman," Ianto told her solemnly.
"…Yeah, I got that from the way you said her name. Go on."
Ianto swallowed. "She wanted me to steal information from Torchwood Three, or she'd stop paying for Rhiannon's treatment."
Connie gasped. "Your sister? Is she all right?"
Ianto nodded hurriedly. "Yeah, she's fine. Capta- Jack helped," he gave a little smile. "I don't have to worry about her anymore."
"So, your colleagues know they don't have to worry about you spyin' and reportin' back anymore?" Connie clarified.
"Jack's gonna explain it to them, he told me."
Connie took a minute to consider. On the one hand, Ianto had been a bit aggressive with her, and she was not one to take that lying down. But she did know that Ianto was a gentle soul and she could tell he felt honestly guilty. The circumstances, she decided, were enough to excuse him getting over-excited.
"Don't ever do something like that again or I'll tear your dick off," she said decisively.
Ianto nodded fervently. "I won't, I swear."
Slowly, she smiled. "That's that then."
They sat in silence for another moment, before Connie decided to put it behind them. "So you're on first name terms with the captain now, eh?" she nudged his elbow and smirked suggestively.
"It's nothing like that," Ianto blushed. "He just helped with Rhiannon's treatment... and, he may have asked me for dinner on Tuesday."
"I knew it!" Connie laughed. "I knew you'd get the guy eventually. God, if only my life was a Disney story too!"
Ianto snorted, shaking his head. "Don't call me a princess, I take offence to that." Connie just laughed harder.
He turned so his body was facing her on the bed. "I came here to beg forgiveness and you made me smile."
"That's because I'm the best, and you'd better not forget it again."
Ianto nodded solemnly. "If I make you my best coffee whenever you ask for it, am I forgiven?"
Connie considered. "Hmm, I don't know," she grinned slowly. "I may require more payment." She indicated her suitcase next to the room's closet. "I'm running low on spring clothes."
"That how it is, eh?" Ianto asked. "I've gotta pay you back with a shopping spree?"
Connie giggled. "Why do you think I keep you around?"
"I thought it was for the coffee."
"No, it's definitely the groveling. There's gonna be a lot of grovelin' going on, a lot."
"I surrender myself to the groveling," Ianto grinned. "Let the groveling begin."
"So, you blackmailed London for the Teaboy."
"So, I can stop harassin' him and start… hazin' him?"
"Owen… yeah, I guess."
"That awful woman! I knew there was something about her!"
"Gwen, this is serious. Did you have contact with Yvonne in the past month?"
"Well, I called her to ask for help with Ianto's sister, but- Oh my God. This is my fault, isn't it?"
"No Gwen, she-"
"Oh my God, this is my fault! I did this! I helped her blackmail him, oh my God!"
"She would have found a way to get what she wanted either way. Gw- Gwen!"
"I'm so sorry, I can't believe-"
"You can't blame yourself. Look, you tried to help. It didn't work out, but this is why you have a team, that you talk things over with. If you'd asked me, I would have told you why that was a bad idea."
"I'm so sorry Jack. I had no idea this could happen."
"You'll learn from this, won't you? You'll try to work better as a team?"
"I swear it, I will."
"Did it work?"
"Yeah, it worked. You were brilliant, by the way, finding those secret projects to use against Yvonne. And transferring her own money to our account to pay for the treatment! You know, you're quiet most of the time, but it's thinks like this that really speak loudly."
"It wasn't hard. I just checked what else she'd used that account for."
"It was still absolute genius. I didn't tell Jo-Ianto that it was you, like you said. I still don't know why you're insisting on being left out of it."
"A wise man once told me that you should give someone a gift to make them happy, not to receive recognition yourself."
"So, now what?"
"What do you mean, now what?" Owen asked, digging into a carton of Chinese food. "Now we can stop lookin' over our shoulders, wonderin' if every mistake's bein' written down and counted against us."
"I mean, how do we act around him now?" Gwen persisted, setting down her chopsticks. "I've gotten so used to not talkin' to him, it's a habit. I don't know how to be nice to him anymore."
"I think that makes us bullies," Tosh commented. She got up from the table and went to her kitchen for more white wine.
Gwen sat for a moment, dumbstruck. "I suppose it does," she said slowly.
Owen looked up a few moments later. "Are you kidding me?"
She wiped a few stray tears away. "What? I never thought I'd end up like this. I was always the nice one."
Owen rolled his eyes. "Things change."
"What if I don't want them to change?"
"Then you work for it," Tosh said fiercely. Her teammates looked up to see her standing next to the table, face dark with anger. "What we've done, we have to fix. Jack's already trying to make it up to him, just being friendly, and we have to do the same!"
"But how?" Gwen asked.
"Just… be nice to him! Ask him about his day, include him in the conversation, I don't know, what do you do for Owen or me?"
"Nah, chatterin' at him won't help any."
"Owen, for once in your life, will you sh-"
Owen looked up from his food and Gwen stared, wide eyed. Tosh blushed.
"Excuse me," she said, more quietly. "We just have to start treating him like a human being, instead of letting him be the guy who cleans up our messes and never gets thanked."
Gwen sighed. "We don't know anything about him. Not really."
"That's the point," Tosh told them both. "We have to learn."
Jack dressed himself in a dark black suit and a blue dress shirt the color of his greatcoat. He went to tie his neatly patterned tie in the mirror and nearly laughed when he saw the slight tremble in his hands.
'Captain Jack Harkness, nervous for a date!' Jack shook his head. He couldn't believe he was doing this.
The last two days had been busy sorting out Ianto's transfer to Torchwood Cardiff. While most of that had been paperwork, there had also been the issue of Ianto's family. The former liaison had insisted on taking the bare minimum in assistance, saying that the money that wasn't going toward Rhiannon's treatment ought to be worked into the Cardiff budget. It had taken a good deal of persuasion on Jack's part, and, in the end, a command to stop being so stubborn, to convince Ianto that his sister's family should also receive monthly assistance toward Mica and David's schooling and the family's housing. Ianto had said that Rhiannon might be tentative to move out of their childhood home, but that they could definitely be in a better neighborhood.
Jack couldn't believe how much had changed in the last two days. When Tosh had told him about Yvonne's blackmail, he hadn't been surprised, knowing her, but it wasn't until he recalled the way Ianto had guiltily jumped at his approach for the three days before that the situation truly hit him.
He'd thought this Jones was a nice enough man, like Gwen had said back at the beginning. He hadn't realized that he was honestly a good person, who was aware and regretful of what he was being made to do. It had taken careful consideration before he'd decided to offer Ianto a position in his own branch of Torchwood, and not just set him up in UNIT or some other organization.
Then, when he'd confronted Ianto, he knew for sure that having Ianto as part of his team was the right thing to do. The Welshman shocked him by only negotiating for the lives of his family and friends, not asking what his own punishment would be for committing treason despite the fact that Jack could feel the fear radiating from the young man. Staring into Ianto's eyes and watching as his faith was stretched to the very limit had been a heart-pounding experience, and Jack came out of it feeling truly blessed by the gift of Ianto's trust.
While they'd discussed the changes to Ianto's situation, including the option of field training and precautions against backlash from Yvonne, that feeling only increased. Jack felt increasingly fond of the Welshman as they became more relaxed in each others presence. Ianto began to laugh and smile more. His wit and intelligence began to show themselves along with the kind of compassion and genuine caring Jack had noted earlier, but without the pigheadedness and lack of self-awareness that distinguished Gwen's particular flavor of humanity. Jack was increasingly convinced that… that he definitely had to ask Ianto out. Not just bed him, as he might have planned when Ianto joined Cardiff, but honestly court him. Because this man was special.
Jack picked up the small bouquet of carnations he'd picked out, checked his reflection one last time in the mirror, took a deep breath and left the Hub.
"Wait, you mentioned a girlfriend in UNIT?"
Ianto raised his eyebrow. "Did you just remember that now, sir?"
Jack wagged his finger. "Ah ah ah, what did we say?"
"Did you just remember that now, Jack?"
"Better. And yes, I sort of had more important things on my mind."
"Quite," Ianto agreed, twirling his fork in a plate of pasta. "And she's not my girlfriend."
Jack swallowed a piece of garlic bread in one bite which was so big that it really shouldn't have even fit in his mouth. "Then, why'd you say she was?" he asked, before taking a giant gulp of wine.
Ianto cringed at the mistreatment of the good quality food. "She's a good friend."
"A good friend who you tell people is your girlfriend," Jack remarked shrewdly.
Ianto shrugged and looked out the window. Cardiff Bay at night was alight with boats, car headlights, the windows of buildings. The stars were out on a rare clear night.
"If I had a girlfriend," Ianto said by way of explanation, "would I be on what seems to be, for all intents and purposes, a date with you?"
It was hard to tell in the candlelight, but it looked like Jack might be blushing. "This isn't a date," he said quickly.
"It's not?" Ianto asked. His stomach sank, though he tried to keep the sudden coldness from showing in his voice.
"Well, I mean- it can be. If, you wanted it to be?"
Ianto smiled a bit evilly. "I do believe you're flustered, sir."
Jack's eyes darkened. "I take back what I said about the sir, just don't use it in front of the team."
"So, was that a yes?"
"Yes, yes," Ianto answered. Then he chuckled. "I can't believe it was in question. This dinner is so much a date it's almost a cliché."
"Hey, I'm very original!" Jack protested.
Ianto quirked an eyebrow. "You brought me flowers, wore a suit, picked me up at eight, opened doors for m- Hey!" he realized. "That makes me the woman!"
He sent Jack a murderous look when the man laughed.
"You people and your quaint little labels." Jack grinned. "Why can't we both be the woman?"
After they'd both taken a few bites of their food, Ianto struggling not to roll his eyes over the pasta, Jack spoke up thoughtfully.
"You know, I didn't think you would swing my way, all those months ago."
"Would it have made a difference?" Ianto asked, honestly curious.
Jack considered it. "I'm not sure," he admitted. "Although," he said apologetically, "I doubt it."
"I thought no less. It'd be a sad day if the Captain of Torchwood Three made his decisions with the wrong brain."
"I never would," Jack said firmly. "I'd hate myself if I hired someone based on looks and it got them killed."
Ianto nodded. "I can see that."
A waited came with their desserts. Ianto was trying a sticky chocolate cake with cherry sauce while Jack, who apparently had tried most things on the menu, went with homemade ice cream.
"I gotta ask," Jack tried to say after a minute. "Why-"
Jack swallowed. "I gotta ask," he repeated in a clearer voice. "Why John? I mean, really?"
Ianto tensed. As comfortable as he was talking about normal things with Jack, or at least good at faking it, even the small talk with his boss was hard. He didn't think he was comfortable discussing anything serious with Jack yet. They did have seven months of absent trust to make up for, after all.
"He was attractive, and kind. I didn't think it through, to be honest."
Jack watched him carefully. "I warned you about him. Did you listen?"
"He turned out quite different than you made him out to be," Ianto said indifferently, taking another bite of his cake.
Ianto checked, but Jack didn't seem to be mocking him, or humoring him. He decided to take a leap of faith. "I think that was the first time I admitted to myself that I was actually bisexual."
Jack nodded, but otherwise didn't react. "And why is that?"
"He was… fun. I felt comfortable with him. And he made it seem so easy, to be the way that he was. Open, I mean," he explained thoughtfully. "I didn't think I could feel like that with a man." He gave Jack a shy smile. "I have begun to learn better, though."
Jack returned the smile and reached out to hold Ianto's hand over the table.
The Welshman cleared his throat. "Let me have a toast?" he requested. Jack, looking curious, nodded.
Ianto collected himself. "No more Ianto the London spy, no more lying about what I am. No more closet, no more denying who I am. To a whole new definition of me!"
Jack gave him a beautiful smile and clicked their wine glasses together. "Amen to that."