It had been almost six weeks. OK it had been five weeks, six days, twelve hours and 20 minutes and he was, at last, getting into a daily routine; a series of steps to get him through each day. He sat sadly in the tourist office and thought about that, wondering what it meant. Step one was wake up, remember his lover had gone and wait for the ache to start. Step two was take a shower and try not to think about the man who wasn't in there with him; try not to remember roaming hands or teasing tongues or that dirty, dirty laugh or the noises they both made when he buried himself deep in the other. Step three was go in to work and try to function so that the others wouldn't think him even more pathetic than they did already. He couldn't take Gwen's sympathetic smiles or Owen sarcasm much longer. Only Toshiko with her non-judgemental and mainly silent support seemed to understand what he was going through. He concentrated hard on getting through the day, doing whatever was necessary with a smile on his face, being who the others wanted him to be. Step four was to avoid the places that would remind him too much of the man who had left him behind but, hell, there wasn't a flat surface anywhere in the hub that they hadn't fucked on or against at one time or another. Step four was a bitch he had decided
With a sigh he levered himself up from the desk and locked the door – it was 6.30 on a rainy April Cardiff evening, there would be no more tourists today. He could hear the rest of the team making their way up the stairs ready to leave for the day. They were laughing, laughing…for a moment he felt almost insulted by their camaraderie. They spilled into the office and skidded to a sudden halt. Huh he thought to himself, they had forgotten I was still here.
'We are just off for a drink' Gwen said with her annoying I'm-so-caring-smile which almost but not quite hid the predatory gleam in her eye, 'why don't you come with us?'
'No, thanks' he managed a smile that looked almost authentic, 'I've got stuff to do'
Gwen was right in his personal space now, choosing to ignore how uncomfortable she was obviously making him, 'It's not good for you to be moping around in that flat every night' she said, 'come out with us, just for one drink'
'NO' he said, too loudly, 'no, thank you. I'll be fine. You guys go and have a good time'
Tosh, blessed Tosh, saved him by linking arms with both Gwen and Owen and leading them to the door, 'Come on' she said 'after tracking and fixing all the bugs in my translation programme I am ready for the biggest glass of wine Cardiff can sell me, and you, Dr Harper are going to buy it for me!'
'Why?' moaned Owen, 'If anything you should be buying the drinks because you have been so arse-y all day.'
'I was only arse-y because I was working on very complex stuff and you kept annoying me' explained Tosh, kindly, 'so either you buy me wine to apologise or we can see what I can do about freezing all your bank accounts and blocking your access to your subscription only porn channels that you think no-one knows about '
'So,' said Own, knowing when he was beaten, 'Red or White?'
'Whichever is the most expensive' grinned Tosh, 'C'mon we are wasting drinking time.'
As she hustled the others out of the door she looked back and gave him a sad smile. He smiled back, a genuine one this time, and mouthed a silent thank you in her direction and then they were gone.
Sighing he picked up his coat and made his way to the car park to drive back to what had been turning into their flat but now, he supposed, was just his flat. God I miss him he mused as he negotiated the wet streets, I hope he's safe. I hope he's happy. We know hardly anything about that bloody doctor; he could be putting him in all sorts of danger. And, because it had been a shitty day he also allowed himself to think the one thought he rarely permitted to linger in his mind; I hope he's missing me too.
He'd tidied the flat and done some laundry. Cooked for himself and the thought of what his absent lover would have had to say about that made him chuckle as he washed up and cleaned the kitchen. He had filled the evening with some kind of mindless rubbish of the TV and a bottle of wine and now he was in bed, curled naked around his lover's pillow, desperately hoping for sleep. He wasn't sure which was worse, the nights he couldn't sleep and lay awake all night conscious of the empty space that had once been occupied by the beautiful man that he loved so much; because I did love him, even if I never got around to telling him he thought to himself, or the nights when sleep took him into nightmares of war zones and machetes and unexpected pain and injury and never being able to tell him what he meant to him.
At some point he must have drifted off because the sound of the front door being cautiously closed jerked him awake. Keeping his breathing quiet and even he listened carefully. Someone was in the flat, moving around the living room. Moving silently he slithered from the bed, pulled his gun from the bedside drawer and blending into the shadows, crept down the short hallway towards the living room. He paused outside the door, whoever was in there was making no real effort to avoid detection, the soft glow spilling around the door frame told him the intruder had switched on the lights. He gazed at the door long enough for his eyes to adjust so that he wouldn't be going in blind, then pulled the door open and swept into the room yelling 'freeze'
Ianto Jones, freshly returned from Darfur in The Sudan where he had been helping his old university friend Dr Christian Jacobson build a community hospital for the last six weeks, dropped his rucksack onto the floor and gazed in astonishment as Jack Harkness, naked and aiming his Webley straight at him, strode into the room.
Swifter than thought the gun was discarded and Jack was across the room and enfolding Ianto into a tight embrace. Kisses were being placed on any part of the young man Jack could reach, hair, face, neck, ears, eye lids.
'What are you doing here?' demanded Jack between kisses; ' I thought you were volunteering on that hospital building project with Dr whatever-his-name-was for two months'
Ianto look down at his feet and mumbled something under his breath.
'I missed you' almost yelled Ianto, 'I missed you OK? I thought if I was the one who left I would be OK. I thought I would be so busy having a useful and exciting time that I wouldn't think about you, but I was wrong, I thought about you all the time and I missed you so much it was like a constant pain. It wouldn't have been so bad if I had been able to talk to you but no Internet access, patchy mobile network and…I missed you'
'So you came back to me early?'
'Yeah' admitted Ianto, 'I left Chris to it and got the first flight home I could. I've been travelling for nearly 48 hours but I just wanted to get back to you. Go on, laugh at me. I know I'm pathetic. I bet you didn't even notice I was gone.'
Jack laughed, 'look around you Ianto'
Ianto looked around the flat; it was pristine, it was more than pristine, it was…Ianto frowned, 'Have you decorated in here?"
'Yeah,' explained Jack, 'I re-decorated every room and cleaned every night, it felt like a way of still being close to you'
Ianto smiled, 'so…did you miss me?'
Jack looked serious, 'Yan I owe you an apology, when I left with The Doctor I had no idea how horrible it was for you. I missed you every second of every day, I was scared you would die out there, I was scared your doctor friend would make you forget me I was…I was just scared, all the time'
Ianto smiled, 'well, I'm home now' he said snuggling into Jack's arms.
'I don't like being the one left behind. Will you promise never to leave me again' asked Jack
'I promise, if you promise the same'
The two men smiled at each other, then Jack cleared his throat, 'and…if I get the paperwork done...will you promise to stay with me for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part?'
'Wait…are you asking..?
'Yes' said Jack softly, 'because I love you'
'Then, yes' replied Ianto, 'because I love you too'