Moonlight reflected off the water as Ianto approached. He smiled softly, watching as it rippled. The sight never failed to make him feel peaceful.
He could see the Captain's dark form standing by the fence, shoulders slumped, head down. He wondered briefly if Jack got the same feeling about Cardiff Bay as he did, or if he was, in fact, just too tired from the day's events to find a suitable roof for quiet contemplation. Either way, Ianto was glad to see him.
"You've been gone a while," he said, coming to stand a few feet behind the other man. Jack didn't move. "Would you like some company?"
"I wouldn't turn it down," was the somber reply. Ianto could hear the real answer in his tone. Jack was into his own head too deep. He needed someone to draw him out.
Ianto closed the distance between them, wrapping his arms around Jack from behind and kissing his neck. He turned his face, laying it on Jack's wool-covered shoulder blade. He could feel the man's sigh as his arms closed over Ianto's, holding him in place.
Seconds passed, minutes even, but neither of them spoke. Ianto listened to the gentle sound of the water lapping at the rocks below, closing his eyes and remembering how much he'd loved that sound as a child. When Rhiannon would take him to the bay he'd stand there for hours, just watching the water and listening to the sounds.
"I didn't want to do it," Jack said softly, breaking through Ianto's quiet reverie.
Jack fell silent again and Ianto squeezed him a bit tighter, offering himself as physical as well as emotional support. He opened his eyes, looking up at the pier tower. It shined brightly under the moon, giving the illusion it was much earlier than midnight.
"She wanted to go. They swore she wouldn't be harmed."
"She was a chosen one?" he asked, lifting his head and resting his chin on Jack's shoulder.
"And in exchange they'd hurt no one else?"
"They gave their word."
"And what if you hadn't? If you'd kept the child here with her mother?"
Jack shuddered. "They'd destroy the world. Nothing will stand in their way when it comes to the chosen ones."
Ianto considered that for a moment, then nuzzled Jack's neck with his nose. Jack leaned into the touch. "You did the right thing, Jack."
"Did I?" he asked, turning in Ianto's arms and grasping his hips. "Because no one else seems to think so."
Ianto reached a hand up and brushed Jack's hair off his forehead, gently, before cupping the back of his head. He rested his forehead against Jack's. "That's because they're thinking too locally. What we do – every action we take – has consequences that reach much further than Jasmine's family. Beyond Cardiff, beyond the UK." He pulled back, stroking Jack's face. "It's hard for them to understand that, Jack."
"You do," the man replied, turning his head and kissing Ianto's palm. "How is it that you always understand, always support what I do?"
Ianto smiled. "You're my Captain, Jack. I won't always agree with your decisions, but I'll always support them. It takes a stronger man than I to make the tough choices."
He watched a small smile tug at Jack's lips, and his heart warmed. "I don't know what I'd do without you, Ianto Jones."
Ianto kissed him. Not a wild, lust-filled kiss, but a gentle, sweet kiss. "Let's hope you never have to find out."
Jack hugged him, wrapping his arms around Ianto's shoulders and holding him close. Ianto's arms went around Jack's middle, under his coat to help take a little of the bite out of the wind beginning to pick up around them. He breathed in Jack's scent, letting it wash over and through him and envelope his mind, body and soul.
He knew one day Jack would indeed find out. Jack would take a look at the stars and feel the need to leave the Earth behind him, to get back to the adventures he'd had before Torchwood Three had become his responsibility. To find that Doctor he always talked about.
Or perhaps, before that happened, Ianto would be killed. He harbored no illusions about the job they performed, the dangers they encountered. One day in the future – maybe not all that far – Ianto would be in the line of fire, and he'd lose his life. He'd lose Jack.
For now, however, as they headed back to the Hub, Jack held his hand. Ianto took comfort in the fact that Jack felt safe enough with him to open up. Even after everything that had happened, everything Ianto had done, Jack still came to him for comfort. For whatever amount of time they had left together Jack had entrusted himself to Ianto, and Ianto would be there to hold him together, whenever he felt like he was falling apart.
It was something in which Ianto took pride. He sometimes thought he knew Jack better than he knew himself. It was a blessing. It was a curse. It was who they were. And Ianto wouldn't change that for the world.