A/N: As a thank you to all of those wonderful reviews for 'Queen takes knight's pawn', I thought the best way to say thank you would be to start posting the sequel straight away. Here's the first chapter - as usual there's angst and Ianto-whumping and Jack fretting and comfort sex... what's new are chess pieces, a sea monster and a mysterious stranger ... and PC Andy makes an appearance in this story. If the last one was set in the caves of the Brecon Beacons, this one is all at sea ;-) Enjoy :-)
Ianto's request for leave wasn't unreasonable. There could be no doubt that he'd earned it and that he needed it. Jack would've just been happier if he'd have chosen to stay in Cardiff. Although he knew where Ianto had decided to go and there could be no question about the security of the location, it bothered him that his lover would choose to spend time there, especially after the way that the Night Travellers had affected him.
Naturally, Gwen had demanded to know where Ianto had gone. She wanted to visit him, to see how the 'poor love' was doing. Her reaction to Jack's refusal to divulge Ianto's destination had been predictable, but no less annoying. She'd all but accused him of retconning Ianto and relocating him in another part of the country. He'd later seen her trying to talk Tosh into tracking Ianto's mobile phone. Fortunately, Tosh had already had her conversation with Jack and could at least appreciate Ianto's desire for a break away from everything for a few days. On top of everything else he had been through, the events surrounding the Electro Cinema had proven to be the straw that broke the camel's back. She had seen how much it had hurt Ianto not to have saved more lives, how he had felt responsible for the deaths of the child's parents, despite Jack's insistence that he was not to blame. Anyway, Tosh had told Gwen that she would not track Ianto down for her, that he deserved a break if he wanted one. The fact that his phone was off did bother Tosh, and she knew it upset Jack, but that was Ianto's business.
Owen hadn't beaten about the bush, he'd just bluntly asked Jack what the fuck was going on. This approach was rewarded with a more honest response that the others had achieved. Jack admitted that Ianto had told him that he needed to get his head together and he couldn't do that while he was worrying about how his every reaction was being closely scrutinised by Jack. Before he'd set off, Ianto had told Jack that he needed to be able to shout and scream at the injustice of the world or to feel sorry for himself and cry his eyes out for hours on end, without feeling guilty about how it was making Jack feel. Although it hurt at the time, Jack understood what he meant and had only made one request, that Ianto call him once a day, just to let him know that he was alright.
It was nearly eight o'clock, almost time for Ianto's call. He'd been gone for almost a week and Jack was missing his company. He felt bereft of the gentle presence that meant so very much to him. Jack sat expectantly at the desk in his office, clutching his phone anxiously waiting for the ring tone. Eight o'clock came and went. No call. After ten minutes, Jack was beginning to grow anxious and by eight thirty he was tempted to break the 'rules' and make the call himself, even though he knew that Ianto's phone wouldn't be switched on.
It was just after nine o'clock when the call finally came through.
"I can't speak for long, Jack. There's been an emergency."
"What? Do I need to come over?"
"No, it's OK. We've got it in hand for now. I just want to be around if they need me later."
"Are you alright?"
"More or less – couple of new bruises and scratches. Nothing serious."
"Damn, what happened?"
"It was the screaming again. Upset some of the residents. Furniture got thrown about-"
"And you decided to get in its way?"
"Not exactly, more a case of not ducking fast enough."
"You are OK, though, aren't you?"
"Yes, Jack, I'm fine. I needed this. The chance to do some good."
"I told you before, you don't have to make amends-"
"And like I said then, I need to. Anyway, I've been thinking, and ..."
"Ianto?" Jack's heart sank. He'd been worried it would come to this, that Ianto would finally decide he'd had enough and wanted to leave Torchwood.
"I'm ready to come back now. Ready to come home. If you want to meet me tomorrow-"
"I'll come out and fetch you. Lunchtime? I'll bring a picnic."
"Would that be cold pizza or cold Chinese takeaway?" Ianto chuckled.
"How about a thermos of hot soup and some sandwiches?"
"Sounds great. Jack? You know I didn't come here to get away from you, don't you?"
"Yeah, I know that." Jack smiled to himself. He'd had his doubts, but Ianto's words had put his mind at rest. He wanted to 'come home'.
"Oh bollocks, it's started again. I've gotta go. See you tomorrow –"
"Ianto-" Before he could say anything else he heard the sound of the call being terminated at the other end. Sadly, Jack pressed his lips to his phone and then sunk back into his chair.
At least he'd be seeing Ianto the next day, which was something to be glad for. He'd really missed him, far more than he was prepared to let on to the others.