A/N - Yay, the muse has struck again! Been listening to a lot of Avenue Q lately and this story just popped in. I really hated the end of 'Meat' (probably because I've always hated Gwen). I also don't like stories where Jack screws up and Ianto just takes him back. To me, after all he's been through; Ianto is a much stronger man than that.
While this isn't a songfic, it was inspired by the song and takes its tone from it. If you're not familiar with the song, you can find it on youtube.
A Fine, Fine Line
As Gwen stormed out of the hub and Jack roughly brushed past him snatching a bottle of water, Ianto leaned against the door frame and took a deep breath and ran his hand through his hair and he slowly let it out. He turned slightly to watch Jack at his desk. The older man had already accessed the CCTV footage and was now watching Gwen and Rhys outside. It had been a very long day and this was not how Ianto had intended it to end. He grabbed his jacket and headed home – disappointed but not entirely surprised.
Ianto sat on his sofa with a glass of wine. Although, he rarely drank alone; it he found it helped him think. His mind was replaying the events of that afternoon. Jack's declaration of whatever it was to Gwen shocked the whole team. It was obvious by the silence that filled the hub after he'd uttered those words. He took a sip from the glass and let it sit on his tongue for a moment before swallowing.
The words had hurt, of course, but not as much as they probably should have. It seemed he and Jack walked a fine line. It had started out as something casual… a distraction. But then it had moved on to something else. What that was Ianto wasn't sure. It was almost like someone had to make the next move. Taking a deep breath he swallowed the rest of the wine and stood up. Maybe Jack had finally made that move.
The next few days passed uneventfully. The rift was quiet, so Ianto took the time to work in the archives, only emerging for meals and coffee breaks. He was in the middle of scanning some records from the mid 1950s when he heard familiar boots stomping down the concrete steps.
"Are you avoiding me?" Jack asked coming up behind him.
"No sir, I'm working." He answered taking one stack out of the scanner and starting another.
He heard a soft chuckle. "Ahh yeah, 'work to do' huh?"
Ianto sighed. "Yes, Jack." He gestured to the files laid out on the desk. "Actual work to do. Maybe you should try it sometime."
Jack had noticed the lack of smirk on the younger man's face. "What's wrong?"
"Everything's fine, sir." He answered replacing the completed pile with a new one to be scanned.
"Cut the crap, Ianto. What's up? Did I do something?"
"No sir, nothing specific." Ianto said not looking up.
"Stop playing games, Ianto. Talk to me." Jack growled.
Ianto finally turned to face Jack. "Games, Jack? Really?"
Jack was quiet for a moment, then spoke. "Is this about the thing with Gwen the other day? Are you jealous? If it is, then it needs to stop. I never promised anything."
"No you didn't Jack. And maybe that's the problem." Ianto said calmly. "I don't think you really know want you want. And unfortunately, I don't have the time to waste waiting for you to figure it out. I, unlike you, have a finite existence, and I want something you don't seem willing to give."
"What are you saying?" Jack asked quietly. He wanted Ianto to yell at him – to scream and shout, but the younger man's calm was pervasive.
"I'm saying it's over. I don't know exactly what it is... or was, but for my own sanity it has to end."
He glanced at his watch and turned to straighten up the table before moving past the unusually silent Jack, and heading towards the main hub.
The hub was empty and Ianto was at the coffee machine when Jack came up a few minutes later.
"Ianto, please, can we just talk about it."
He flicked the switch to start the brew and turned to Jack. "There's nothing left to talk about. Like I said, it's not anything specific. Maybe down the road when you really figure out what you want, and if I'm still around…." He trailed off. "Coffee should be ready in a few minutes. I'll see you tomorrow, Jack."
Ianto slipped past Jack and headed home.
A/N – So what did you think? I left it open ended on purpose.
Questions... comments are always welcomed. Thanks so much for reading!