Author's Note: First Torchwood fic. I absolutely adore both Jack and Ianto, and clearly also adore them together. This show has absolutely broken my heart, but I forgive them because I know I can always turn to writing fanfiction to create the happy endings I know the characters deserve. Let me know what you think. (Set sometime during Season 2).
Jack looked up from the paperwork on his desk and watched his lover move quietly about the room. It was just the two of them alone in Jack's office, Jack sorting through paperwork and Ianto cleaning up.
Jack was bored. He couldn't focus on the paperwork any longer. Jack found himself wishing that Ianto would stop fussing about for one second and just look at Jack so that he could see those beautiful blue eyes.
"Yes sir?" Ianto responded, halting his work and turning to face Jack. Jack's heart jumped when their eyes met. Ianto's eyes never failed to have that effect on him. And Jack loved it.
"Do you have any idea how much I care for you?" asked Jack, a flirtatious twinkle in his eyes despite his serious expression.
"How much would that be?" Ianto replied courteously.
"More than anyone else in the whole world," was the lighthearted answer.
"But not in the whole universe," said Ianto, his meaning clear. The Doctor. Jack wondered momentarily if Ianto honestly believed that he still cared more about the Doctor than Ianto, but he brushed the thought away. Ianto was teasing him.
"And the whole universe too," Jack corrected, smiling at his lover.
"If you say so, sir." Ianto turned away, busying himself with another task.
"What, you don't believe me?" Jack asked in mock incredulity, his eyebrows rising.
"I will when you tell me so, sir."
"Well I just did," he pointed out teasingly.
Shooting Jack a serious look that said, I know you're not as thick as you're behaving, Ianto replied, "You know what I mean."
Breaking eye contact, Ianto turned away again, leaving Jack rather surprised. He finally realized that Ianto hadn't been returning his playful words; he had been serious the entire time. And Jack also understood what Ianto meant.
Ianto wanted to know if Jack cared for him as much as he cared for Jack. He wanted to know if he was the most important person in Jack's life. He wanted Jack to say those three words.
I love you.
How could Ianto ask that of him? Didn't he understand? Jack couldn't do it, he couldn't fall in love again. Not ever. It hurt too much. After Lucia, Jack simply couldn't stand it any longer. Falling in love and being forced to watch the ones you loved grow old and die—or worse, die at a young age—while all the time you stayed exactly the same. A fixed point in time and space. A fact. Loving hurt too much, so Jack made certain never to do it again. Didn't Ianto understand that? Jack was giving him as much as he could.
But even as Jack thought this, Ianto turned back to look at him. There was such intensity in his gaze that Jack almost forgot to take another breath. But there was also something shining from those clear blue eyes, something that made Jack's stomach twist guiltily.
And suddenly Jack understood that it didn't matter to Ianto that Jack was giving all he could. It would never be enough, not for a man who loved so purely, with all his heart.
Ianto deserves better than me, Jack realized. He needs better.
Ianto's gaze had not faltered. He seemed to be waiting for a response. Jack's eyes threatened to tear up. His jaw dropped open but nothing came out. After a moment, Jack began to force the words.
But Ianto cut in, speaking stoically. Jack's dumbstruck silence had told him what he needed to know. "It's alright, sir. Forget I said anything. I'll go make you some coffee." Ianto quickly turned away to do just that, but not before Jack saw the undeniable hurt in his eyes. It broke Jack's heart to see it.
He should say something. Jack knew he should say something as he watched Ianto walk away, but no words came to him. What could he say? He couldn't say those three words, and that was all that Ianto wanted to hear.
Jack rested his elbows on the desk and dropped his head into his hands, sighing.
Ianto had been unusually distant this past week, ever since their short discussion in Jack's office. Wherever Ianto wandered about the Hub, Jack's eyes followed him seemingly of their own accord. There was an emptiness in Jack's heart, with his lover being so near and yet so agonizingly unreachable. His chest felt tight and he felt regret coursing through his veins every time his gaze alighted on the younger man, which was constantly.
He regretted not feeling the same way that Ianto did. He regretted hurting him in any way. He regretted being the cause of Ianto's recent seriousness. It was as if his capacity to have fun with Jack and the others at work had disappeared, like he had simply shut down, putting up a barrier between himself and his colleagues. Occasionally Jack could feel Tosh, Owen, or Gwen glancing between the two men, wondering what was going on.
Jack refused to give them the answer they sought. This was between him and Ianto. If only he could think how to fix it. He missed having Ianto keep him company after the others went home, and the things they would do together then. But more than that, he missed Ianto's pleasant, loving, teasing personality. He missed Ianto's smile and his laugh.
Jack remembered the first time he had heard Ianto laugh. They were rolling over and over on the ground, trying to avoid getting crushed by a falling pterodactyl. The two erupted in bursts of laughter like two teenage boys. But when Jack heard Ianto laugh, something bubbled deep within him. It was such a beautiful sound. So innocent and perfect. Childish almost, but in an endearing way.
And then they stopped rolling, and Ianto was lying on top of him, his lips only inches away from Jack's. Their laughs died away and Jack could feel the instant connection forming between them. His heart was racing impossibly fast and he wanted nothing more than to kiss this beautiful man in the suit.
But he didn't. He was too stunned. And Ianto quickly got to his feet and left. On an impulse, Jack finally offered him the job he'd been vying after. Ianto had proven himself after all. And besides, this way Jack would get to see the puzzling young man every day. He wanted to figure out if his reaction to Ianto's closeness had been a fluke, something created by the adrenaline of the moment, or if there truly was a connection there.
Thinking about this memory made Jack smile. It was odd to think of a time when he didn't know who Ianto Jones was, inside and out. A time before they were lovers. A time before their mutual respect turned into something much greater. A time when Ianto meant virtually nothing to Jack.
Now, nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, Jack had been telling the truth when he'd told Ianto that he cared more for him than anyone else in the universe.
Jack stopped suddenly when he realized this. He'd said the words so carelessly the other day that he hadn't taken the time to truly stop and consider how honest they were. He was surprised to find that they were 100% truthful.
How could he not have realized it before? There was no one, in any time or place, that Jack cared for more than Ianto. Ianto was perfect.
He was kind, devoted, loyal, caring, fun, and clever. He was warm and innocent where Jack was cold and cynical. He was accepting and peaceful, but brave and determined. His strength of character never failed to impress Jack, and his beautifully sweet personality was like a balm on the wounds Jack had incurred over time. During the Year that Never Was, it was Ianto that occupied Jack's thoughts more than anyone else. The idea of taking the dashing Welshman out on a proper date instead of merely shagging in Jack's office. Spending time with him, courting him. Romancing him.
These thoughts slowly floated together in Jack's mind, leading him towards one conclusion. He subconsciously shied away from the thought for as long as he could, ignoring the evidence, disregarding all the signs. But then it came together all too suddenly.
Jack felt as though the wind had been knocked out of him, because he'd finally realized what had been so obvious. He simply hadn't noticed before because he hadn't wanted to notice.
Captain Jack Harkness was undeniably in love with Ianto Jones.
Choosing not to say those three words didn't stop them from being true. Jack hadn't protected himself from love after all. Without ever meaning to, he had somehow fallen in love with Ianto.
Fear and anguish flooded his insides. This was exactly what he'd meant to avoid. He couldn't take it, not again. Not. Again. It would break him.
Inhaling deeply, Jack tried to calm his breathing. Tears were flowing silently down his cheeks and his stomach was clenched, threatening to be sick. His eyes were focused straight ahead, unblinking, as he attempted to regain control of himself.
He could hear Gwen's concerned voice through the glass. His office door opened. Suddenly Gwen's voice was much closer and he felt her hand gently resting on his arm.
"Jack, what's wrong? Are you alright? Jack, please talk to me. What's happened?"
Jack forced himself to look her dead in the eye. Despite the tears continuing their uncontrollable trek down his cheeks, his gaze was as unrelenting and commanding as ever.
"Nothing," he said simply. "Go home. All of you. Work is over for the day."
"But… Jack, you-"
"That's an order, Gwen Cooper!" Jack interrupted loudly, his voice not at all affected by his tears. It was clear how serious he was being. Slowly Gwen stood up straight and walked away, clearly not happy and still worried, but at least she was obeying him.
Good, Jack thought, I don't want them to see me like this. I don't want anyone here for this.
Jack heard the sirens of the Hub entrance going off. They've gone. The last of his self-restraint vanished and Jack began to have heaving breaths. The weight of his realization kept the tears coming through his gasps. His whole body was trembling.
The sirens went off again. Probably Tosh had to finish up something and now she's leaving. Jack let his head drop into his hands, closing his eyes and simply allowing the misery to overtake him. He was done fighting. Let his breaths become choked and his tears continue to fall as they would.
But then the door to his office smashed open. Jack raised his head, his eyes shooting open in shock. Standing inside the doorway was Ianto, looking as though he was trying to hide his concern behind a mask of calm. Wiping away the tears present on his face, Jack attempted to look like the Captain that he was.
"What is it, Ianto?" he asked, perhaps a bit too harshly. Ianto was, of course, unfazed.
"Everyone was leaving so I asked what was going on. Gwen told me that she saw you in here. Crying."
"And I was worried," Ianto answered, his usual blunt self. Ianto crossed the room and crouched at Jack's side. Reaching out, he wiped away new tears and then cradled Jack's cheek in his hand. His touch was so tender and delicate. A tremor echoed through Jack's body.
"Jack," said Ianto quietly, searching his lover's eyes, "You don't have to suffer alone. Tell me what you're dealing with. I can help. Or if you don't want to say anything, at least let me hold you."
"I thought you weren't happy with me right now," Jack pointed out, "You've been avoiding me. You've been distant. So why are you doing this?"
"No, I wasn't happy, and yes, I was keeping my distance. But I'm not going to stay away when you need me. This is more important than anything else. I will always be there for you, Jack, no matter what. It doesn't matter what you've done or if we're fighting. You will always be my top priority. I'll take care of you the best that I can. I'll never desert you."
The sincere words brought fresh tears to Jack's eyes and he struggled to hold them back.
"Thank you, Ianto," he whispered, taking Ianto's free hand in one of his own. "I don't deserve you." Ianto smiled.
"Of course you don't, sir," he agreed calmly. A bright laugh broke through Jack's tears. But then Ianto was serious again. "But that doesn't matter because I'll never leave you. I… care too much for you."
The unspoken words hung in the air. Both men could hear what Ianto had actually meant. He had meant to say "I love you". This reminded Jack of what had broken him down in the first place. He began to shake as he lost control again.
"Jack…" murmured Ianto, now taking Jack's face in both hands. His confusion was evident. "Please… tell me what's wrong. Let me help you."
In response, Jack stood up from his chair. As soon as Ianto followed suit, he pulled Ianto into a crushing hug. He wrapped one arm around Ianto's back, the other he placed on the back of Ianto's head, holding him close. Ianto held him just as tightly, saying nothing. He calmly rubbed up and down Jack's back, feeling as the tremors lessened and Jack's breathing returned to normal.
When Jack finally drew back his cheeks were still shining with moisture, but the tears had stopped coming. Taking Ianto's face in his hands, Jack leaned forward and planted a quick kiss on his lips. Drawing back slightly, their lips stayed only a few inches apart. Jack was still breathing heavily from his emotional breakdown. Their eyes locked.
And there it was again. That same indescribable bubbling in Jack's stomach, the connection to Ianto that he had noticed that day in the warehouse. But this time, he did just what he wanted to.
Jack captured Ianto's lips in another kiss. It quickly escalated from a soft, chaste kiss to something more passionate and lustful.
After a few minutes of this, the two men stopped, now breathing much more heavily. Jack kept his hands on both of Ianto's cheeks and leaned their foreheads together. Jack let a moment of silence pass before he spoke.
"I'm sorry, Ianto."
"There's no need to apologize. I only wish I knew how to help you."
"Ianto… the truth is… well I… I do love you."
The blunt delivery shocked Ianto and he stepped backwards out of Jack's grasp. He looked mildly hurt.
"I know you're hurting right now, but you can't just say things like that. You know how I feel about you, and I'll never leave your side, so you don't have to say that to make me stay. It's ok."
"No, you don't understand." Jack stepped forward, keeping his eyes locked on Ianto's. Those crystal blue eyes. "These past few days have made me think. About things I didn't want to think about but I realized… I realized that I love you. That's why I…" Jack was choked by the arrival of fresh tears. He smiled sadly, shrugging as if in surrender, trying to hold back his watering eyes. "…Well that's the reason for this."
Now Ianto looked confused.
"But why… why would that cause this? If you loved me… why would you break down like this?"
A shaky smile lit Jack's face.
"I had decided never to fall in love again. It hurts too much. Don't you see? I will outlive everyone. A hundred years from now, Gwen and Owen and Tosh and… you… will all be dead. Gone. Forever. And I'll still be here. Looking exactly the same as I do now. It hurts too much to watch the people I love die, over and over again, when I know I'll never be able to do the same. I'll be left with nothing but the pain."
"That's not true," cut in Ianto quietly, "You'll have the memories. That's what's important, Jack. The way you choose to remember us. I wish I never had to leave you, but I will eventually. I'll die of old age and you'll still be here. And that's not fair. But that's why… we should make the most of now. What if I died tomorrow?"
"No," responded Jack, shaking his head forcefully. "You won't. I wouldn't let it happen."
"But just suppose. Don't you want to remember something special? You get to live forever, Jack, but I don't. I want to make my time count. I want to make every single moment count. With you. I want to be with you. I love you. More than anything, more than anyone. And if you feel the same way, it isn't something terrible.
"Because you can't die, you've forgotten why you should live. This is what you live for. Love."
"But one day I'll lose you," returned Jack shakily, still unconvinced. "I don't think I can bear it. I need you. I can't let you go. It will destroy me. That's why I never wanted this to happen again."
"With all due respect… it did happen, sir, whether you like it or not. The question is… what will you do now that it has?"
"What do you think I should do, Ianto?" he asked finally. Ianto brushed his thumb gently across Jack's cheek and put his other hand on Jack's waist, pulling him in closer.
"Let yourself be happy. Let me love you. Let yourself love me. Live for today."
Ianto did not let his gaze drop from Jack's. Jack's mind was whirling. Was it worth it? He knew that when Ianto's inevitable death did come, Jack would go through hell, just like he did with Lucia. Maybe even worse.
…No, it would definitely be worse. To Jack, Ianto was… everything. He was an angel.
And just like that, the answer was clear. To refuse Ianto would be the most painful thing. It would be impossible. He already needed Ianto too much. His love was too deep.
So as an answer, Jack slowly leaned in towards his lover, allowing their lips to merely graze. He stayed there for a moment, their hot breaths mingling together. Then the space between them vanished completely. Their lips melded together in a hot, passionate expression of love and they grasped desperately at each other's clothes, simultaneously trying to divest themselves of the interfering fabric and trying to keep their bodies as close together as humanly possible.
After that night, Ianto and Jack never doubted their feelings for each other. It was still hard for Jack, but Ianto was always there to hold him up during the rough times. But mostly, the two found bliss together that neither had experienced in much too long. They still attempted to stay away from being a "couple", but it didn't matter because they knew exactly what they meant to the other person.
Everything, and then some.