Ianto's shoulders slumped as he stared at the white card in his hand. He drew a finger over the silver embossed writing, sighing at the formal script and what it implied. He'd known it would happen eventually, but wasn't at all prepared for eventually to be now. It was too soon!

Hearing footfalls in the hallway Ianto slipped the card and envelope into his inner jacket pocket, pulling a few requisition forms in front of him as the door from the Hub swung open.

"Ah, good timing, sir," Ianto told the Captain, smiling as he reached for a stack of mail and held it out to him. "Mail just came."

"Anything interesting?" asked Jack, taking the envelopes from Ianto and quickly sifting through them.

"Not particularly," he replied, looking back down at his paperwork. "I'll have a few forms for you sign here in a moment, however, if you're looking for something to do."

Jack grinned at him, placing the stack of mail on the counter as he leaned closer. "It's like you know me, Ianto," he told him. "But forms weren't exactly what I had in mind."

"Oh?"

Jack took the pen out of Ianto's hand, causing the younger man to frown. "I was thinking I'd head out for lunch today, instead of ordering in." Ianto raised an eyebrow. "How about you come with me?"

"Ah. And…the rest of the team, sir?"

"Actually I was hoping it would be just the two of us."

Ianto opened his mouth to speak then let it snap shut while he mulled over the Captain's invitation. He reclaimed the pen from the man's fingers and continued to fill in the form he'd used as a cover. "I'm not so sure that's a good idea, sir."

"Why not?" Jack sounded hurt.

"I've a lot of work to do, sir."

"Yeah, and? It'll still be here waiting for you when you get back."

"Exactly, sir," he said, looking up and meeting Jack's eyes. Yes, definitely hurt. "I'd prefer to get it done before it piles up. Heaven forbid my desk might begin to resemble yours."

He'd meant it to tease, to lighten the moment, but couldn't miss the wince that flitted across Jack's face. "Alright, Ianto," the Captain conceded, straightening up and grabbing the mail as he walked back toward the door to the Hub. "Chinese it is, then."

He stood pointedly by the door and the Welshman pressed the button, watching as Jack passed into the hallway without another word. He took a deep breath, frowning at the thought that he'd hurt the man's feelings, twice in one conversation.

Putting the pen down Ianto reached for the phone to order the team's lunch. He'd have to apologize later when they had their talk.

tw tw tw tw tw

Ianto sat with the others in the conference room, eating his mushroom chicken as Jack regaled them with a tale from his past. Or the future, if Ianto were trying for accuracy. There was a grin plastered across the man's face and he laughed along with the rest of the team, but Ianto could see the humor didn't quite reach his eyes.

He felt terrible. He wanted to pretend that it wasn't his rejection of the Captain's offer that afternoon that had affected him in such a way, but he knew the man well enough to be sure that it had been. Jack wasn't used to hearing no for an answer, and truth be told, Ianto wasn't even sure why he'd said it in the first place.

They'd grown closer over the last few months, since Suzie had ended her life and Gwen had joined the team. Ianto knew the Captain needed a shoulder to lean on, and Ianto's was strong and reliable. He'd sat for many hours on the edge of Jack's desk, just keeping the man company after the rest of the team had gone home. Jack would break out the scotch, pour them both a generous amount and rant on about UNIT's lack of Torchwood Three knowledge.

It was an easy camaraderie, born out of mutual necessity. Jack needed someone to listen, and Ianto needed to be…needed. He didn't feel fulfilled unless he was being helpful, and what seemed to help Jack Harkness was Ianto's constant presence. He didn't mind being beckoned from the archives for one of their chats. In fact, he rather liked it. The Jack he got to know late at night was soft spoken, a little haunted, and nothing like the brash and loud man that sat before him now.

His reasons for not wanting to eat lunch alone with the Captain weren't really anything to do with the man himself. He was still reeling from the card tucked in his jacket. He didn't think Jack would understand how much it had affected him, and he wasn't sure he could explain the sudden sour mood he'd found himself in.

He looked up from his food when he realized the room was silent. He found that all eyes were on him. Swallowing the bit of food in his mouth he blinked. "What?"

"You're awfully quiet, Ianto," Toshiko explained, smiling gently. "Are you okay?"

"Yes," he answered quickly, looking down again and moving the chicken around on his plate. "Of course, yes. I'm fine." He looked back up and caught Jack's eyes. The man looked away.

"Right then, back to work!" the Captain told them all, placing his hands on the table and pushing his chair back. "Things to do."

With that the room began to clear and Ianto sighed, getting up and clearing the dishes as was expected of him.

tw tw tw tw tw

Around seven that evening Jack announced it was time for the team to go. Ianto watched as Gwen, Tosh and Owen wasted no time heading for the cog door. As was his custom Ianto brought Jack one last cup of coffee, smiling as he held it out. "Your coffee, sir."

"Thanks."

Jack didn't look up, instead continuing to read. Ianto frowned, setting the mug down on the desk in front of Jack's paperwork. He waited a moment more but when Jack flipped over the paper he was perusing and went on to the next one Ianto took the hint. He spun on his heel and headed for the door.

"Goodnight, sir," he called over his shoulder. He received no reply and felt his heart clench. He'd really hurt the man's feelings, and now their nightly chats had suffered as well. He looked forward to them every day, and wasn't quite sure what he'd do now that they were no longer happening.

He paused, wondering if he shouldn't just go apologize now. He looked back toward Jack's office but the man hadn't even reached for his coffee mug. Ianto sighed, hanging his head. Not tonight.

tw tw tw tw tw

The week dragged on for Ianto, and no matter how often or how many ways he thought of apologizing to the Captain for brushing him off he never seemed to get the opportunity. First UNIT decided a visit was long overdue, throwing the Hub into a tizzy trying to prepare for what ended up being nothing more than an empty threat. Next the Rift decided it would spit out every kind of artifact and alien possible, both friendly and not so much. Then, just as Ianto assumed the worst was over they received word that Torchwood One was being given additional funding and that Jack's request for Torchwood Three had been denied.

Ianto had rolled his eyes at that one, knowing immediately that Jack was not going to be happy. Not that he'd been particularly cheerful before the news had filtered down the wire from the top brass, but that wasn't the point. Ianto knew how Jack felt about Torchwood One, and the idea that the Queen felt One was more deserving of additional monies while Three was not was enough to make Ianto retreat to the archives.

When Lisa had secured a job there six months ago and left him in Cardiff Ianto had let her go. While he'd still loved her she'd made her choice, telling him that her future with Torchwood was more secure than her future with him. He didn't have the heart to explain to her that the likelihood she would live to see her thirtieth birthday had just been greatly diminished. Her demise would likely be sooner rather than later due to the risky practices at that facility, and her job with Torchwood One seemed like a great betrayal.

And so it was that he'd come to be working in the archives that evening, avoiding Jack, hoping to escape the man's anger. He didn't even hear the Captain send everyone home, and didn't expect the voice that boomed behind him.

"It's late, Ianto."

He spun around, file in his hand and eyes wide. "Sir. Hello."

"You should have left with the others," Jack told him, eyes narrowing. "Go on, get going."

"I…" He wasn't sure how to reply, and instead just nodded and placed the file back where he'd found it. He moved toward the door, Jack's arm shooting out at the last minute to block his path.

"Wait, Ianto."

He looked up at Jack, confused. "Sir?"

"What's going on?"

"I don't…" he started, breaking off and swallowing hard. "I'm not sure what you mean, sir. I'm just leaving as you told me to do."

"I mean what's with avoiding me?"

Ianto met his eyes, squaring his shoulders. "I wasn't aware I was, sir. I've just been extremely busy."

"Bullshit."

"Pardon?"

"Ianto, you can't pretend you haven't been systematically keeping your distance." His hands moved to Ianto's upper arms. "Tell me how to fix whatever's wrong between us."

Ianto's shoulders sagged. "I thought you were angry with me, sir."

Jack looked surprised, then contemplative, and finally shook his head, squeezing Ianto's arms before releasing him. "I'm not angry, Ianto. Just confused."

"Because I said no to lunch," Ianto said, stating it as a fact and not asking a question. Jack nodded anyway. "It wasn't personal, sir. I'd just received…well…some difficult news."

"So why didn't you share it with me, Ianto? You know you can tell me anything."

Ianto did know that, he just wasn't sure how to say it out loud. Instead, he walked over to his small desk in the corner and pulled the white card from beneath some paperwork. He moved back to where Jack was standing and handed it to him. "It's this," he said, pointing to the offensive card.

"Ianto this is a wedding invitation." He waited while Jack opened it, skimming the words inside. "Lisa's getting married?"

"Apparently, yes," he replied, folding his arms around himself.

"She broke up with you just months ago!"

"Yes sir," he nodded, a humorless smile crossing his face. "Six months ago, to be exact."

"Then how did she..?" Jack's eyes met his and Ianto looked away. He couldn't stand the pity he saw there. "Ianto…I'm sorry."

"Yes, well," he stopped hugging himself and waved a hand around. "I'm not even sure why she sent me an invite. To rub it in, I suppose."

"Would she be that cruel?" Ianto's eyes snapped up to meet Jack's again and Jack winced. "Right. I guess her behavior hasn't exactly been courteous up to this point, has it?"

"No, sir, it hasn't." He pulled the invitation from Jack's hand and tossed it back to his desk. He turned around again, folding his arms once more. "So…that's why I've been a bit skittish. I wasn't sure you wanted to hear about it. Sorry."

Jack smiled softly and came closer, letting his hands settle on Ianto's hips. Ianto stood quite still, unsure of his intentions. Jack merely leaned forward and pressed a kiss to his forehead, letting it linger just long enough for Ianto to inhale a breath of fifty-first century hormones. He felt dizzy.

"Her loss, Ianto," the man murmured when he pulled back, though he didn't remove his hands. "Whatever her intentions in sending this card to you, I think you should go."

"T-to the wedding?" Ianto sputtered incredulously. "I'm afraid you've confused me with someone glutton for punishment!"

Jack smiled again, tugging on his hips and shaking him a bit. Ianto's eyes widened considerably. "Not at all, Ianto," the man explained, winking. "You should go because you've moved on and aren't as childish as she's trying to be."

"Attend the wedding and give her my blessing?"

"Well, the allusion of such, yes."

"Even though I want nothing more than to glare daggers through her, sir?"

"That's the idea."

Ianto thought about it for a moment, then smirked. "It would drive her mad for me to arrive with a smile and not animosity."

"She'll be thrown for a loop, Ianto."

"It would serve her right."

"Yes, it would."

Ianto smiled, reaching up to cup Jack's face. "Thank you, sir." He then kissed him, softly, on the mouth, not realizing quite what he'd done until he pulled back and saw Jack's eyes widen. "Um…"

"Wow…" Jack's hands dropped from Ianto's hips and Ianto backed up, stopping only when he encountered his desk a second later. "Ianto?"

"I'm sorry, sir," he apologized, looking past the man and trying to plot the quickest escape route possible. He swallowed. "Got a little carried away."

Jack watched him for a moment before closing the distance between them once more. Before Ianto could say anything further Jack's mouth crashed down on his, hard and demanding. Ianto whimpered, arms snaking around Jack's middle. One of Jack's hands settled on his shoulder and the other weaved into his hair, cupping his head securely as their lips moved against each other's.

When the need for more air than only his nose could provide arose, Ianto broke the kiss, panting in a very unbecoming way. Jack was similarly affected, resting his forehead against Ianto's but not letting him go.

"Sorry," Jack threw back Ianto's words of a moment ago. "Got a little carried away."

They both chuckled, Jack pulling him into a tight hug. Ianto couldn't help smiling against Jack's neck. "I'd say so."

"We'll have to talk about this, Ianto," Jack whispered, stroking the back of his neck.

Ianto closed his eyes. "Won't be necessary, sir," he replied, squeezing him quickly and then pulling from his embrace and stepping around him. "I understand."

"Do you?" Jack asked, folding his arms.

"I went a bit too far in my gratitude and you…" He waved his hand around again. "Reacted.

Jack smirked. "A reaction. I see."

"Don't worry about it," Ianto shrugged, heading for the stairwell. He smiled over his shoulder. "I won't sue for harassment."

"Well I should hope not, Ianto. That would make it a little awkward next weekend."

Ianto's eyebrows furrowed. "Next weekend, sir? That's Lisa's wedding." Jack grinned, raising an eyebrow. "Wait…what?"

"I'm your plus one, Ianto Jones," Jack replied, putting a hand between his shoulder blades and pushing him toward the stairs. "A weekend in London. Ah, the big city life."

Ianto's eyes were wide and he swallowed hard. A weekend away with Jack? His stomach flip flopped. "Sure," he managed to say, keeping his voice even. "Why not?"

"That's the spirit, Ianto," Jack said, as they made their way into the main Hub. "Now go home and get some sleep, before I…react again."

Ianto couldn't help the blush that crept up his neck and face. "Yes, sir," he replied, heading for the cog door. "See you tomorrow, sir."

"Yes, you will."

Ianto left the Hub, wondering exactly when his world had been turned on its ear. He grinned, ducking his head into the wind as he closed the Tourist Office door behind him.

The thought of seeing Jack again in a few hours made his head spin.

TBC…