A/N: This was a response to a prompt by Talia35 and posted after her encouragement – thanks!
Seeing by Candlelight
"Relax," Jack said, leaning over the table, his face taking on an ethereal sheen in the candlelight. "I just wanted to bring you somewhere with excellent food."
"It's a bit more posh than I'm used to is all," Ianto murmured, looking over the menu for about the twentieth time.
The waiter, a young man with blonde hair and a twinkling smile that gave Jack's a run for its money, approached the table. He set glasses of ice water on the white tablecloth and said with an easy tone, "There are some new things on the menu, Captain, since you've been in last."
Ianto looked over at Jack with a raised eyebrow as Jack responded, "I noticed. Could we start with a bottle of whatever white you'd recommend? Something easy but good, okay?" The waiter gave Jack a nod, stole a not-unnoticed glance at Ianto, and walked briskly away.
"Is this where you bring all of your "I'm sorry I left without even a note," dates?" Ianto asked drily.
Jack just grinned, "No. Actually, I think he's annoyed that I brought anyone tonight, but that's okay. Give 'em something to talk about."
"You come alone, usually?" Ianto asked, disbelieving.
Jack shrugged, "Sometimes takeout just doesn't cut it."
Ianto sighed, "I could never come to a place like this by myself, never was good at that sort of thing."
Chuckling, Jack responded, "I've been around a while. There are times I have to come alone or I'd never get good food." He paused as the waiter returned with the bottle of wine and waited as he poured the approval sip and then the glasses for the two men. As the wine was being poured, Jack looked up and said, "Michael, have you changed chefs since I was last in?"
The waiter nodded, "Yes, sir. It's been more than three months, I think. Chef Channing is the current chef, whereas I think the last time you were in it was Chef Winter." Michael looked at Ianto sheepishly, "The Captain usually spends his dinner distracting us wait staff with his conversation. We remember his visits."
"And I tip well," Jack added with a wink.
Michael nodded and smiled, and then, with another not-unnoticed look at Ianto, he departed with a simple, "I'll give you two gentlemen a few minutes to decide."
"I think he likes you," Jack said, reaching over the table for Ianto's hand. Ianto took Jack's hand tentatively and then caught himself looking around to see if anyone noticed them holding hands. His traditionalist background that he was determined to ignore showed up uninvited. Jack noticed and let go of his hand.
"Sorry," Jack said, smoothing his napkin in his lap, "Just feeling a bit possessive tonight."
"I don't think you're allowed to feel possessive until at least our third date, Jack," Ianto said, trying to lighten the mood. It worked, and Jack grinned.
"Twenty-first century customs. Still odd to me, but okay," Jack replied lightly.
Michael returned after a few minutes and Ianto ordered the fish special without really meeting Michael's eye. Jack leaned back and said, "It all looks fantastic, but I'll stick with my usual, thanks." Michael nodded and made his exit.
There was an awkward silence but after a few moments, Jack filled it. "How's your sister?"
Ianto looked taken aback, but answered, "Good. Went round for dinner just a few days ago. Kids are growing fast." He paused for a sip of wine and then asked, "Do children, in your experience, ever tire of being bought out by uncles or aunts? I give them a fiver each time and that seems to get me plenty of hugs and not too much bother. Can't tell if they like me or just like the benefit of me coming round on their piggy bank."
Jack laughed, "I had an uncle once who bribed us with these fantastic desserts. Never did figure out if he was a decent guy, but he made really good chocolate."
"You had an uncle?" Ianto asked, sounding surprised.
Jack paused and then answered, "Sure. Had a few aunts, too, cousins, the like. Humans stick together, you know," he added gently.
"How old were you when you left home?" Ianto asked.
Jack grew silent and took a drink of his wine before answering, "I was twelve the first time. Second time I was seventeen. That one stuck."
Ianto smiled, "Seventeen does seem like the time to do it. I left home then, too. Though I suppose I did go back now and again until Torchwood caught me." He paused, and then added, "Twelve seems early."
Jack nodded and shrugged, "There was a war on. It seemed like a good idea at the time."
They grew silent again. After a few minutes, their bread and salad were brought to them and they began eating.
"I missed you, Jack," Ianto said plainly, as he buttered a roll and avoided Jack's gaze.
"Me, too," Jack responded, voice breaking a bit. "I missed you, I mean," he said with a smile, looking off toward the windows. "Of course, I kind of missed me as well, but that's neither here nor there."
Ianto looked confused, but followed with, "Gwen led us beautifully. Once she and Owen stopped fighting about it, of course. She was right."
Jack smiled, this time more broadly. "I wish I could have seen that fight."
Ianto laughed, "No, you don't. It was ugly, but she was right and he knew it."
"Yeah, he usually does know it. Just fights it a bit first out of habit," Jack said around a mouthful of bread. "Any interesting cases?"
"You mean aside from the Himalayas?" Ianto said drily.
"Yeah. Saxon was evil," Jack said darkly, more darkly than Ianto's statement merited, really.
Ianto didn't reply to that, but carried on lightly, "We had the usual most of the time. Weevils, flotsam, jetsam. There was one Flat Holm addition, but you've seen those notes. Only a few close calls."
Jack nodded and ate silently. Ianto watched him carefully and soon the waiter brought their main course.
"Thank you, Michael," Jack said, as the food was set down.
"It looks delicious," Ianto added.
Michael nodded, "I hope so, sirs. Let me know if I can get you anything else." And he departed.
"He seems nice," Ianto said, looking at Jack, who was watching him leave.
"He is. Most of them here are, really. It's a good place." Jack followed with a story of his first time coming to the restaurant many years ago.
"Jack," Ianto said curiously, "Do you take care not to go places like this too often?" Jack looked up, confused. "I mean," Ianto continued, "Do you worry about people realizing you're not aging?"
Jack sighed, "Sometimes. Not too much. I mean, turnover's pretty high at these kinds of places; twenty year waiters don't happen often. Plus, you people are amazing at writing things off to coincidence or simply not seeing what's right in front of you," he said with a smile.
"I see you," Ianto said enigmatically and with a soft smile.
"You always have," Jack replied without missing a beat and looking thoughtfully at Ianto. Then he offered Ianto another shrug. "I think I need that right now, really," he said, looking down at his plate.
"What do you need?" Ianto asked, not following.
"Someone who sees me," and Jack took another drink, looking back up at Ianto.
And Ianto locked his gaze on Jack's and nodded, "I do. I will."
From then on, the conversation flowed easily, lightly, each one giving a little and taking a little, their eyes never leaving each other's face.
Michael got a good tip that evening.