A/N: This fic came from a dream I had, plain and simple. I guess somewhere deep inside, my subconscious wanted a few more Janto moments for Jack...so here it is, full of angst and just a dash of fluff. Hope it works for you...
These dreams go on when I close my eyes
Every second of the night I live another life ~ Heart
Standing on the roof of the highest building he had been able to find, Captain Jack Harkness felt relaxed for the first time since he had arrived back on Earth. He was immortal again – Miracle Day was behind them at last – and the human race below him was getting back to it's feet again. Soldiering forth in that determined, stubborn way that had apparently endeared them to the Doctor all those centuries ago.
It had been one hell of a ride. One that had almost been the death of Jack, literally. That in itself had been an interesting experience. It had been both exhilarating and terrifying all at once, really. Taking Jack completely out of his comfort zone, if you could call it that. There'd been a time when being the only immortal guy on the planet had been one hell of a buzz for Jack. He got a kick out of playing the hero and saving the day, knowing that he could risk his neck over and over again. Sometimes wondering if...just maybe? He might actually die for real and be free.
Free of the loneliness and pain that you tended to accumulate over the years when everyone around you died one way or the other and you were left behind. Death was the one constant in your life...but never for you.
Miracle Day had changed that. Jack had suddenly been left mortal in a world full of immortal beings. It had left him feeling terribly vulnerable...and utterly alone.
Oh sure, he had Gwen and Rhys. Rex and Esther...or so Jack kept telling himself. He'd had a team to work with. But it was all a lie, really. Gwen and Rhys had moved without him in their lives. They were better off without him around to attract danger like a magnet. They could have a normal life again with him. Grow old together and watch little Anwen grow up to be whoever she wanted to be.
Happy. Healthy. Normal. The way life was meant to be.
As for Rex and Esther? They were strangers thrown together with Jack by fate. But that was over now and Jack had no illusions that they needed him in their lives any more.
Torchwood was re-established now and Jack knew he wasn't needed any more. Everything that had been his Torchwood was long gone. The Hub, his team. Nothing but dust now. Standing on the Plass with Gwen and Rhys that night before they were arrested by Rex – Jack had hoped to feel alive again. To feel some shiver of his past rush down his spine. Some echo of the history he had with the place.
But there had been nothing but cold steel and concrete. The breathing heart Jack had always felt when the rift was there, was gone now. Silenced at last.
And then the dreams had started again.
Captain Jack Harkness wasn't really sure why they had started. Oh, he had his theories. Maybe it was because his brain had suddenly been dealing with aging in the true, mortal sense? Maybe they had been simply triggered by his one drunken bender that saw him in the arms of the only person to remark about his jacket since...well, since it had mattered to Jack to hear it.
But more likely, it had been Gwen's conversation with Jack over the phone that had opened the flood gates. She had brought up Ianto so quietly, even though Jack had known the conversation would lead that way anyway. But it still hurt to hear his name. Spoken aloud again by someone who had known Ianto...or thought she had. Jack was pretty sure no one had ever truly known the real Ianto Jones. He liked to think that of everyone in Ianto's life towards the end, he was at least the one who came closest. That Ianto felt comfortable enough around Jack to lower his guard.
And yet Jack hadn't been able to tell him three simple words that he knew Ianto had needed to hear as he lay dying in his arms inside Thames House. Too damn scared to say them out loud and acknowledge that once again he was losing someone he couldn't bear to be apart from.
Someone he loved.
There had been countless nightmares after that night. So many dreams of Ianto dying, over and over again while Jack watched on helplessly. As if it was his penance. And why shouldn't it be? It was his fault, wasn't it?
Jack should have said no. He should have stopped Ianto from following him into Thames House. Thinking with his mind, not his heart. Thinking logically about the risk and not thinking about making a show to Ianto of how much he trusted him to watch his back in that moment.
That was the problem when you risked it all. What was left afterwards?
That was a question Jack had found himself asking again in the wake of the House of the Dead. Those weeks and months after the burial of Ianto had been such a weight on Jack, crushing him. Clouding every thought, every judgement. And then a simple pub had come to offer Jack everything he wanted again, giving him a chance to say those three simple words and hope for the future...only to take it all away again.
Jack had somehow carried on, knowing he had no choice now with the rift closed once and for all. His chance to end his immortal life was gone, but so was his reason for living. What else had been left for him but Space and the hope that it's vast emptiness might offer Jack the chance to move on and put his pain behind him?
An endless supply of planets and adventure.
Nothing helped. Nothing eased the ache. Jack simply blundered through each day, learning to bury his feelings that little bit more. A tried and true method that Jack had learnt over the years to stop himself from going insane. In time, it worked. The pain seemed to lessen. The ache in his heart eased and the nightmares slowly seemed to fade.
So why were they back now? Why he dreaming of Ianto again so vividly? Every damn night since he had slept with Brad. As if the ghost of Ianto Jones was insulted that Jack had jumped into bed with the first person to appreciate his jacket again.
As if he felt he was being replaced.
Jack snorted at that thought. There would never be another Ianto Jones. No one would ever own Jack's heart the way that well dressed Welshman had. And maybe that had been the allure of Brad? He was handsome, wore a pair of jeans in a way that caught Jack's eye in an instant and he was damn good in bed too...but he wasn't anything like Ianto. There'd been an underlying nervousness with Ianto the first night they had met that had told Jack there and then that the young man before him – for all his cocky bravado – wasn't who he was pretending to be. Trying to come on to Jack when it was obvious that he hadn't been with men before.
Brad was the opposite of that. So sure of himself, so relaxed with men, with himself. No games to be played...he knew what Jack was offering and it was enough for him.
No feelings to be hurt. No hearts to be broken.
That was reserved for Jack and Jack alone now. He wasn't looking to let anyone in again. So he told himself. His dreams said otherwise. Constantly reminding him of what he'd had.
There were the dreams where Jack would see Ianto standing outside Thames House, dirty, dishevelled...but alive. Offering a weary smile to Jack that was illuminated in the flashing red and blue of the emergency vehicles lights. Dreams where Jack would save Ianto again and again, night after night...only to wake alone and crying.
But worst of all, were the dreams that broadsided Jack. Dreams that gave no clue as to the direction they would take.
Like the time he was running across roof tops on Celtain 9, chasing a pack of cybernetic dogs only to catch a glimpse behind him of another figure in hot pursuit. Jack had skidded to a halt, almost toppling off the edge of the roof, his mouth dropping open in sheer shock as he saw Ianto there behind him. His suit perfectly pressed as always, stun gun in hand.
"Jack? You look like you've just seen a ghost?"
That dream had been one of the hardest to deal with. Because it had felt so right in that moment that Ianto was there. Of course he was there, why wouldn't he be? Ianto was always there when Jack needed him. To listen, to hold him, to offer coffee that Jack swore was nectar of the Gods themselves.
Jack had reached for Ianto, needing to hold him close, needing to breathe in that scent of aftershave and coffee that was so achingly familiar...and had woken up alone yet again. Even now, the numbness that had washed over Jack as his silent tears fell, seemed to cling to his bones.
Tilting his head back and looking at the stars, Jack felt their pull again. The distant blackness offering everything he needed right now. Anonymity, vast tracts of unexplored wonder. Just an endless supply of room to move and lose himself in. The Earth was too small again. Claustrophobic. Suffocating.
If he stayed, Jack knew he would fall into the same traps as before. Visiting graves, watching over families that had been left behind by Owen, Tosh...Ianto. There were times Jack was sure that Rhiannon knew he was watching her family, as though she could see him out of the corner of her eye. Like a ghost who was gone the moment you turned to look.
Jack couldn't do it again. He didn't deserve to watch Ianto's niece and nephew grow up. He didn't deserve to watch Anwen grow up. Steven was still lying cold in the ground because of him. Any rights Jack might have had to a glimmer of normality in his life had died with his grandson. Alice didn't know he was back and Jack would never let her know otherwise. He was a blight on her life that should have been removed a long time ago.
Lifting his wrist, Jack dialled in the co-ordinate signal to the nearest possible freighter that would be passing by. Gwen was already back in Swansea with Rhys. Jack didn't need any more tearful goodbyes.
It was better this way. He'd just slip away for good and leave the Earth to move on without him.
The Vortex Manipulator bleeped a few minutes later and with a grim smile, Jack took in one last survey of the landscape before him. Noting every detail, committing everything to memory before he hit the button on the wrist strap and felt the heady dizziness of the transporter beam.
He had a universe to explore...it was time to get some dust on his boots.
Three years passed. Jack had worn out several pairs of boots and his jacket had been repaired more times than he could recall. But it was still in good condition and Jack would never part with it or the memories it held. So many star systems and planets had left their smell and mark on it, almost as if it had become a map to Jack's travels. Places that humans were yet to discover even existed long after they took to the stars and spread across the universe.
A never ending sense of restlessness seemed to drive Jack now days. He could barely let the dust settle on his heels before he would need to move on, listening to a pull inside him that demanded he listen.
The marketplace Jack found himself in now had never been touched by humans. It was galaxies away from the Earth, well beyond their reach for centuries to come. Every smell, every sound, was so unusual, so alien. Street after street of food on offer, clothing of every shape, hue and material...some that would even suit tentacles. Jack couldn't help but smirk at the images that conjured up in his mind.
A small child with deep Magenta hair and a sweet smile that lit up her yellow eyes rushed past Jack, almost bumping into him as she ran, laughing. Several more children soon followed and Jack was forced to quickly sidestep them before he was bowled over.
He chuckled softly, shaking his head at their innocence.
And then, without any warning, it hit Jack. A scent.
A scent unlike anything else in this marketplace. A scent that conjured up warmth and slight spice, wrapped in an array of familiar scents that Jack thought he couldn't possibly ever know again. His pace picked up, Jack pushing his way through the throng of market goers as he let his nose guide him like some bloodhound in a battered great coat.
Aliens of various races, shoved and pushed Jack around as he tried to fight his way through them. Grunts, squeals and clicks in all languages abused Jack as he huffed a few apologies before finally giving up. The scent was growing stronger now, encouraging Jack to keep fighting through, following it down a side alley to a small shop front that was decorated with a material that resembled red velvet drapes.
Pushing the drapes aside, Jack stepped into the tent that adorned the shop front and was instantly assailed by a heady mixture of scents so strong it was like an invisible hand grabbing his collar and pulling him inside. He made his way to a small table near the far wall, noting that the establishment was bustling with life around him. All sorts of aliens were conversing and relaxing at various tables.
"I'm pretty sure that coat's seen better days."
Jack's heart all but stopped in his chest as the warm, familiar accent seemed to suddenly fill the air around him. Turning in his seat, Jack took in the sight of the figure standing a few feet away in utter disbelief.
The blue eyes he had once known so well were now lined with a few more laugh lines and Jack could see that the years had filled out the once slim figure into something more lean and muscular beneath the shirt that was clinging in all the right ways. But it was that damn smug little boy smile that was Jack's undoing. He got to his feet, blinking as if he expected everything to vanish in a puff of smoke. "Ianto?"
"Jack." His name rolled off Ianto's tongue so easily and with a depth of emotion that had Jack almost weak at the knees.
The distance between them was crossed in a heartbeat, Jack clasping his hands to either side of Ianto's face and just staring...taking in every line, every soft freckle with wide eyed disbelief that soon slid away into hope as Jack dared himself to speak. "Is this real?"
"It bloody well better be." Ianto managed thickly, tears shining in his eyes as he fought to maintain his composure. "I've been stuck here for ages, hoping you'd find me somehow. God knows why I thought you would...but I hoped anyway. You took your bloody time." His voice caught on the last few words as his smile became shaky.
"Traffic was a bitch..." Jack said with a casual shrug of the shoulders before he pulled Ianto in for a scorching kiss that had several onlookers cat calling and cheering. Not that Jack gave a damn what anyone thought of them in that moment. He had everything he needed right there in his arms.
"How?" Jack finally dared asked after he reluctantly came up for air. There was a flush to Ianto's cheeks as they both sat back down at the table. Ianto clicked his fingers and a young girl with soft blue skin brought over two steaming mugs of dark liquid. Jack picked his mug up and inhaled deeply, filling his senses with the strong spicy aroma that had brought him here. He quirked an eyebrow at Ianto. "This can't be..."
"Coffee? Not quite. Not out here. But it's the closest thing to it I could find locally. Try it...I think you'd be pleasantly surprised." Ianto smiled as he lifted his own cup and took a sip, all the while never letting his eyes leave Jack.
Jack sipped the warm brew, a broad smile breaking out a moment later. "Whoa...that's incredible."
"I do my best." Ianto smirked playfully. It was as if they had only been apart a few hours. The familiar patterns were already falling into place between them, like pieces of a long lost puzzle.
"You never answered my question. How?" Jack pushed again quietly, placing his mug on the table and reaching over the table to slide his hand over Ianto's. It was warm, it was real...this had to all be real this time.
"I wish I knew to be honest." Ianto stated quietly. "The last thing I recall is seeing you safely out of that damn pub, knowing that I was going to die...again." He caught Jack flinching at that word and knew that the memory was hard for them both.
"You...you remember all that?"
"Yes. Not exactly wanted as my last memory of you. Not after everything that we said."
"Everything?" Jack felt his heart lurch in his chest. Oh god...he'd screwed up. Made a mess of everything in those precious moments where he'd been face to face with Ianto again.
"Not that, Jack." Ianto squeezed Jack's hand gently. "I've held onto those words all this time. I've replayed the whole conversation over and over again in my head to be honest." He indicated the room with a gentle wave of his hand. "I had a lot of time to reflect on things since I woke up here."
"You...you woke up here?"
"Yup. The locals found me lying out in the desert outside the city. Covered in dust, my clothes in shreds and the only memory I had...was of you." Ianto explained. "I tried to find you, tried to see if there was any way to get home again, but no one here had even heard of Earth."
"I'm not surprised. Humans won't be out this way for quite a long time, Ianto. You've just broken the record for human exploration."
"I don't suppose there'll be a medal from the Queen though..." Ianto mused with a sad smile, lowering his gaze as his heart ached for a home he would never see again. His family, friends, everything that he had lost. "So I just...settled down as best I could. Got on with things. Got on with my life."
A soft beeping had Ianto snapping his head up to find Jack furiously punching buttons on his wrist strap. "Jack?"
"The rift..." Jack muttered quietly as he pulled his Manipulator away from Ianto. "It had to be the rift. Somehow...somehow it must have dumped you here. Ha!" He looked utterly pleased with himself in that moment, flashing Ianto a dazzling smile. "Ianto Jones, ever adaptable."
"Can we get out of here?" Ianto asked, pulling Jack to his feet with him as he stood up. "The shop will be alright without me and I'd rather go somewhere a little quieter right now."
"Oh now you're talking." Jack grinned, happy to let Ianto lead the way for once.
Hours later, Jack was lying on his side with Ianto's hand resting gently on his bare hip. The bed sheets were in a disarray around them, Ianto's breath gently warming Jack's neck as he stared out the window near him, out across the city below them while the planet's five Suns slowly rose over the horizon. The moment was so quiet, so peaceful. So perfect.
Jack didn't dare close his eyes. He couldn't. Not now. Not ever. He didn't want this to end.
Ianto pressed his lips to the soft skin on Jack's neck. "I'm not leaving you. It's alright...you can let go."
"You don't know that." Jack shook his head. "You don't know that for sure. I can't...I can't do it again, Ianto."
Ianto gently pulled at Jack, encouraging him to roll over so they were face to face. He drew Jack in against his bare chest and held him close. "Jack, I don't know how long we'll ever have together. We don't know what the rift might have done to me. If it's even done anything. But I promise you this much. I'll be here when you wake up again."
Jack studied Ianto's face for a moment, as if searching for some sign that this was all about to end. He was so tired. So damn weary of it all. " I meant it, you know. What I said to you back in Cardiff. I do love you, Ianto Jones."
"You bloody well better, Jack Harkness. " Ianto smiled, leaning in to kiss Jack softly. " Because I love you too. Now, get some bloody sleep, will you?"
Jack hesitated a little longer, fighting against his body as it tried to let his eyes drift closed. As the darkness pulled him in, all he could smell was Ianto's gentle scent.
"I'll be right here, Jack...I promise."
And that was the one thing Captain Jack Harkness loved the most about Ianto Jones. He always kept his word. The first Jack saw when he finally dared to open his eyes again, hours later, was his lover smiling at him sleepily. The room was just as Jack had left it, the sounds of the city outside reassuring as he recognised them. Nothing had changed. Not a single detail.
Jack had crossed the stars and crossed worlds that he would never wish to see again in his desperate search for peace. But that was all over now.
For Captain Jack Harkness, the nightmares were finally over.