The afternoon was slowly fading away, into dusk, to move on to night. As the light dimmed, the shadows lengthened in the bedroom casting an eerie glow into the room. Neither Ianto nor Jack felt particularly inclined to get up to close the curtains. Instead they allowed the encroaching darkness to cover them. They both felt safe from it. The night couldn't touch them.
Jack lay with his arm loosely wrapped around Ianto's waist. His head rested on Ianto's chest and Ianto's arms were curled around him, holding him protectively. Jack wouldn't have ever thought it possible. Someone could hold him, and somehow make everything better.
The irony was he could do that for Ianto. It had never occurred to Jack it was ready to work the other way round.
Maybe the rather clinical filtration of his memories had made him think about that. There was not, especially over the last century or so as he had almost single-mindedly waited for The Doctor, a great deal of what he could count as good memories. There had been Torchwood, his work there, some of it open and a good portion of it covert to try and protect The Doctor.
It had shown Jack, in a way, just how depressingly empty his life had become. So he hadn't exactly been in a good frame of mind when he returned to it. Hence him trying to find excuses… for what he really didn't know… but he had taken it out on the rest of them. The people that were so loyally there for him.
That wasn't to say that there hadn't been anyone before them. Prior to that there had been people at Torchwood that had loved him and cared about him, but there was some distance between them. He was still on some levels a Torchwood experiment. They reported on him, something which he had used to his advantage on occasion, to Torchwood 1. Also made notes on his behaviour and used him for highly dangerous missions as they could easily and dispassionately put him at risk.
The people he had now were the ones that he himself had chosen. Who had come to him and were there because he wanted them. Jack had never truly thought that that one simple fact could make him so vulnerable. It hurt a hell of a lot more to lose them, and because of that he had trapped Owen when it probably would have been better to leave well alone.
But the fact was irrefutable. They were his and he loved them all, in different ways, with different strengths. But the strongest bond lay without doubt with the person who was now keeping him gently cradled in his arms.
Ianto's loyalty went above and beyond everyone else's, simply because Ianto's life had taken a similar turn to Jack's. After Lisa, Ianto had clung to Torchwood and to Jack because there was nothing else. Ironically it had been Torchwood that had ripped away the very fabric of his life in the first place. Twice it had been responsible for the destruction of the love of his life. Lisa's soul had been destroyed at Canary Wharf and Jack had killed her, finishing off all of Ianto's hopes.
With nothing else to feel Ianto had given himself to Jack, in every way possible. And Jack had wanted it. He hadn't realised how much until it had happened, and now he realised how much he depended on it. And Ianto understood the deep-seated need to suppress the bad memories. Even though it could be argued that facing them was a better option.
Despite the innocence of the statement when he had originally said it Jack had been right. He did love Ianto. In more ways than he could have thought possible.
Jack stirred slightly, moving his arm as it started to go a little dead and then he settled back down. Ianto's arms tightened their grip and Jack felt a kiss planted on the top of his head.
"Did I wake you?"
"I wasn't asleep." Ianto said in a low tone. It wasn't drowsy, he had just been rather comfortable to the point that he didn't want to move. Jack snuggled closer against him.
"Feeling better?" Ianto asked him. Jack nodded.
"Much." He didn't feel tired considering how active they had been that afternoon. Ianto however, in charge and aware of Jack's slightly fragile state, had been incredibly gentle with him. He certainly hadn't rushed, there had been no silly games, Ianto instead had just taken great pains to make Jack feel reassured, calmed and above all loved. The pleasure that had come with it was just a side-effect, and nothing more.
"A good memory then?" Ianto said.
"What's another one?" Ianto suddenly asked. Jack stirred slightly but he didn't lift his head.
"You said that you felt as if there were more bad memories than good. Think of a good one."
"Like what?" Jack asked, confused but oddly excited. He knew what Ianto was getting at. Just one step at a time to start using the good memories to counter-balance the bad and at the same time he could start talking to him.
"I don't know. Anything!" Ianto murmured into his hair. "What springs to mind?"
Jack's eyes flashed open as he thought of something. He glanced up at Ianto, who looked down at him, his eyes curious and a slight smile on his face. If Jack backed down then Ianto would let it go. However Jack knew he couldn't keep this up, he needed help with this.
"Okay. London, 1941, I was stationed there; well… everyone thought I was. Long story," Jack said. Ianto's hand moved to stroke his hair. Jack took that as a hint to continue.
"In the middle of a German air raid, I was planning to go follow a friend into a dark air raid shelter…"
Ianto giggled at that.
"…And then what do I find but a blonde, with an excellent bottom and wearing a Union Jack tee-shirt…"
"Of course it was a blonde," Ianto said cynically.
"Storytelling here!" Jack objected. Ianto kissed him. Jack snuggled back down against him.
"…And hanging from a barrage balloon in the middle of an air raid. That's not exactly what you expect to see."
"Well, neither was I. I had a space ship parked just outside Big Ben, and this was when I was a Time Agent. I was mortal as well."
Ianto stirred, this was then a very long time ago.
"Torchwood didn't even technically exist."
"Of course it did around that time; so how is that possible?"
"Because this is before The Doctor met Queen Victoria, before she set up Torchwood. This is when I met The Doctor."
"Who was blonde?" Ianto asked.
"No! Well, yeah kind of, but no, the blonde was a girl called Rose."
"Rose Tyler?" Ianto asked.
"How did you…?" Jack's head came up off Ianto's chest and he looked at him in shock.
"Her name was on the list of the dead at Torchwood 1 after the battle. It was the name you looked for. Not The Doctor's."
"The Doctor can take care of himself. Anyway, Rose was hanging by a barrage balloon and I guessed that was a little strange so when she fell I used the transport beam of the spaceship to reel her in."
"I bet you did."
"I was the dashing hero."
"And why am I getting the feeling you were in uniform?"
"Hey! I look great in uniform," Jack said. "I'll demonstrate one day."
"I'll hold you to that. So the dashing hero saved the girl?"
"I did indeed, and then she fainted into my arms."
"And you probably loved that."
Jack's head dropped again and burrowed against him. "Yeah. You could say that. I thought… I thought at the beginning they were from the Time Agency. I was running a con, found a piece of rubbish lying around London, put it in a place where I knew a bomb would land, figured they could buy it, I take the money and run, they get nothing."
"I was a con-man, it was what I did."
"So, instead I met The Doctor, found my junk was live with nanogenes and people with gasmasks fused to their faces starting running around the East End. The Doctor fixed it."
"Hang on! That is in the Torchwood archives, they were there. They sealed off part of the East End near the Albion hospital!"
"Yeah, how do you know?"
"The investigation was led by one Captain Jack Harkness, who had apparently been there before."
"Yeah, are you keeping up with this? The me that met The Doctor never saw anything to do with Torchwood; it was just the basic military that locked off the site. The later version of me, the Torchwood me, saw something else. The same time, two different things, one me, in essence. Do you understand why The Doctor abandoned me? He can't stand to be around me."
"I can, and I understand it. Two of you could have stood in the same place and you two would never have seen each other, because you didn't exist at the same time and place, even thought you were there in what was the same time and place."
Jack blinked, he lay still against Ianto. Ianto tightened his grip, hugged Jack carefully, knowing that he had stunned him slightly.
"That's not the point, good memories Jack."
"I had to stop the bomb; I took it on my ship and had to take it away. I couldn't have got away on my own; The Doctor rescued me and looked after me, as much as he could."
Ianto moved slightly, he lifted Jack's head and kissed him gently. "Well, his time of doing that is over. It's mine now, for as long as you want me to."
Jack smiled, "that might be a very long time. And speaking of Rose and her excellent bottom, that memory might lead me into remembering seeing another fantastic backside for the first time." Jack's hand slid down to caress Ianto's arse.
"I do remember a great view as a certain someone scrabbled on the floor and dragged a mad cat out from under the coffee table and I wasn't the only one enjoying the view."
"Ah, the admin section."
"To whom you were the dashing hero."
Ianto smiled. Jack grinned and then frowned as something occurred to him and he looked around.
"Speaking of which where is the psychotic mammal?"
"The vets, I phoned to ask them to keep him for an extra couple of days. I didn't think amnesiac you and a convalescing cat would work too well. I can pick him up tomorrow."
"What, did he get his…?" Jack grinned.
"Jack, he was neutered when we found him, so no… he had a blockage in his gut, they needed to operate to remove it."
"What like a hair ball?"
Ianto grimaced, shifting Jack in his arms and he took a deep breath. "Something like that, you remember those holes in your coat…?"
Jack's head shot up, his eyes widened in outrage and Ianto saw his cheeks flush with the same emotion. His jaw dropped.
"I knew it! He did it on purpose. He doesn't like me, he's out to get me!"
"He doesn't like anyone Jack. Plus he's a cat; I don't think he's out to destroy the world by chewing the hem of your coat. Besides I mended the holes, it's fine. Which is more than can be said for the cat."
"I'm gonna kill him… no… I'm going to skin him… or take off his tail. I'll have him for that."
"Now that might worry him," Ianto started to giggle, Jack looked even more outraged, but his eyes started to brighten up with humour. He looked better than he had done all day. In short he looked completely happy. The summer sky was back in his eyes.
The moment was broken as the phone rang. When, during a pause, Ianto had gone to make coffee, he had brought his phone up as well. Just in case. It was a necessary precaution they usually took.
"Saved by the bell," Ianto said and he reached for the phone. Jack scowled.
"Don't answer it."
"Better had," Ianto said. "Hello!"
"Where are you?!"
"At home," Ianto said.
"Right here." Jack listened to Ianto intently as he talked. It was one of three people, but which one? Jack wondered.
"What the hell are you doing there?"
"What do you think?"
"Oh for fuck's sake!"
'Owen' Ianto mouthed at Jack. Jack scowled.
"Tell him to go away!" Jack said snuggling back into Ianto's side.
"Jack says hi," Ianto said grinning.
"Yeah, right!" Owen snapped.
"Did not!" Jack hissed, he moved his head slightly and nipped Ianto's nipple, making sure he did it hard enough to get a reaction.
"Ooohh," Ianto gasped, and then he looked down at Jack. "Owen says hi."
"Like I am going to believe that," Jack said reaching over to bit Ianto's other nipple.
"I bloody well did not!" Owen roared.
Ianto rolled his eyes. "Look I know why you called and Jack will apologise to everyone in the morning. Goodbye Owen." Ianto hung up the phone. Jack put his head back down on Ianto's shoulder.
"I don't think you are up to it just yet. But when you are, say sorry properly, not just some silly flirting get out, all right?"
"Yes, I promise," Jack said. That would be hard. He hadn't even apologised to Owen for bringing him back from the dead and leaving him stuck there. Somehow Jack had managed to get himself out of that one. This one, Ianto wouldn't let him. So to please him, Jack would do as he was told.
Ianto put his arms back around Jack and in response Jack moved back into his embrace. He put his head back on Ianto's chest and closed his eyes.
"Ianto," Jack said his voice low and contented. Ianto cuddled closer to him.
"Thank you for looking after me."
"For as long as I can, I always will."