Come a long way

From the moment Jack met Ianto, he knew he wanted him. There was something mysterious and intriguing about Ianto. Something that made Jack want to tear all his clothes off. As a double plus, Ianto already knew about Torchwood, and there'd be fewer secrets to keep. But Jack's first sense was that Ianto would not be open to that kind of friendship, so Jack didn't want Ianto anywhere near him. He did not want to bring Ianto into his life, unless he could have all of him.

Then the pterodactyl came.

It was like Ianto was baiting him—teasing him with an adventure that was impossible to refuse. It was the best first date ever and it ended just how Jack wanted—with Ianto on top of him. They were laughing, their adrenaline was pumping, and Jack could feel Ianto's breath on his face. It was more than pheromones now.

Time slowed, and the moment lingered, waiting to be filled with a kiss. There was a spark between them. Jack was glad to see it wasn't just him; Ianto wanted this too.

Then suddenly, Ianto's eyes widened and his jaw tightened. "I should go."

Ianto scrambled away, and Jack's head dropped to the pavement in frustration. This was exactly what he'd been trying to avoid. Exactly why Ianto could never join Torchwood 3.

Ianto hurried away, shoulders hunched, head down. Maybe the spark hadn't been real. Maybe it was just adrenaline from catching the pterodactyl. The only way to know for sure was to keep Ianto around.

"Hey," Jack called after him. "Report for work first thing tomorrow."

Ianto didn't look back. He just kept walking away. Jack was sure he'd lost his chance.

"I like the suit, by the way," he added. Jack was hopelessly infatuated, and even if all he and Ianto ever did together was catch dinosaurs and weevils, it'd be worth it.

-ooo-

Jack sat at his desk, brooding. He'd been played. Ianto wasn't interested in him. For months there had been flirtation bordering on sexual harassment, but it was all a lie. Ianto had used Torchwood 3—used Jack—to save Lisa, and nearly gotten them all killed. This whole time, Ianto's attention had been on someone else. Jack would have been angry, but he'd loved and lost before. He knew Ianto was going through hell, and that made things even worse.

"Did I stop breathing?" Ianto asked. His face was pale and beaded with sweat. His normally spotless, well-pressed suit was disheveled and smattered with grime. There were smears of blood on his hands and sleeves because he'd refused to let go of Lisa for hours after she died. The rest of the hub was cleaned up now. Everyone else had gone home to shower and change. Jack would have escorted Ianto home, if he'd known where Ianto lived.

"What?" Jack asked. He stood up quickly, checking Ianto for trauma. The man was in a dangerous state—the kind of state that made him prone to self-harm. The question came from nowhere, and Jack wondered if Ianto couldn't breathe. He cradled Ianto's face, counting the breaths.

"Did I stop breathing?" Ianto asked again. His eyes were glassy and his skin oily. "Were you resuscitating me?"

The tension left Jack's body and he finally understood. In the midst of the attack by the Cyberwoman, Jack thought Ianto was dead, and he'd given the other man a kiss. It was uninvited and inappropriate, and Jack didn't want to make things uncomfortable between them. "Yeah," he mumbled, moving his thumb over Ianto's lower lip. "CPR."

Ianto put a hand over Jack's, stilling his fingers, and pulling Jack's hand away from his face. Their joint hands seemed to move in slow motion, the connection lingering. Then Ianto let go, and his hands fell to his sides.

"You know you're not supposed to use your tongue for that," Ianto quipped, turning and walking away.

Jack watched Ianto go, stunned. And then Jack laughed.

-ooo-

Jack was having a bad week. He'd started out on top of the world, skipped into the hub, and kissed Ianto full on the lips. Ianto had slapped him and had been ignoring him fervently ever since. Jack didn't get coffee anymore. He didn't get his favorite pizza ordered. He knew it wasn't an oversight. Ianto knew who liked which pizza best, but since they bought pizzas in pairs, he rotated whose first choice he ordered. Jack's first choice wasn't in the rotation anymore.

It had been three days—long enough for the others to notice that something was amiss. Jack couldn't remember why he thought it was okay to kiss Ianto. Sure he'd fantasized about it, but Jack knew the difference between fantasy and reality. He'd had Owen scan his brain to make sure he wasn't possessed. Tosh had tried to talk to him about it. So had Gwen. No one was talking to Ianto. It was like they didn't see Ianto; they didn't notice his pain.

"I'm sorry, Ianto," Jack said for the umpteenth time. It was what he did now, if ever he happened to be alone in a room with Ianto. Ianto ignored him. Ianto had stopped saying anything to anybody that didn't strictly relate to business. It was miserable and dull.

"Did you transcribe that letter in the Rosedale file?" Jack asked.

"We don't have a Rosedale file," Ianto droned.

"Sure we do." Jack had made up the file that afternoon and sent it to the database for Ianto to cross-reference and verify. The file contained a scan of a handwritten letter, which Ianto would read and transcribe, for the digital records. It was Jack's apology letter. It was the only idea he had left for getting through to Ianto.

"I know all the files. We don't have a Rosedale file," Ianto said again.

Jack tensed. His apology was not accepted. "My mistake," Jack said quietly, his heart sinking.

"Hold on," Ianto murmured, staring intently at the computer screen, clicking his mouse. "It's a new file."

"Yes," Jack said, sitting forward. He watched Ianto's lips move as he read the letter, and then read it again. Ianto kept sneaking glances to Jack and Jack waited respectfully.

"I'm not queer," Ianto finally said, crossing his arms and leaning back in his chair. "You loom around, like you're waiting for me to notice you."

"You noticed that, did you?" Jack joked, his lips quirking nervously.

"Have you done something to me? Have you drugged me?" Ianto challenged.

"No," Jack said quickly. Aside from fifty-first century pheromones, which he couldn't control. "Need proof? We can go test your blood right now."

"I've already done that," Ianto said, dropping his chin. The fact that Ianto was asking meant that he felt something. The spark between them was real.

"So what's the problem?" Jack asked flatly. He stayed at his desk, giving Ianto space.

"I'm surprised is all," Ianto admitted. "Surprised I want you. Afraid I'll become your cabin boy."

Surprised I want you? Ianto wants me! Jack's heart pounded in his chest. He couldn't help smiling. "I'll be the cabin boy. You can be a pirate captain."

"Is this a joke or a fetish?" Ianto asked seriously. The man was impossible to read.

Jack stammered like a schoolboy, worried that the wrong answer would ruin his chances. "I could go either way," he said noncommittally. "Until you want to kiss me, it's a joke."

"Until, not unless," Ianto observed.

Shit! The cocky smile melted off of Jack's face.

"That spray Owen lifted," Ianto began.

"Is locked away," Jack assured. The pheromone-rich alien aftershave was enough to win anyone. "And I wouldn't do that to you. If I had, you wouldn't feel so unsure."

Nodding, Ianto stood from his desk and crossed the room, stopping next to Jack's chair. Jack wasn't sure whether to sit or stand. Ianto's hand glanced across Jack's shoulder, then Ianto gave the suspenders a tug. Jack took the hint and stood awkwardly. There they were, nose to nose, Jack feeling Ianto's breath on his face, just like their first non-date pterodactyl adventure.

Ianto's lips were parted, and he looked confused. His eyes were on Jack's lips.

"Don't force it," Jack said, taking a half step backward. "We still have to work together. You can make your amazing coffee again, and maybe let me have some."

"Of course," Ianto whispered, his eyes dropping. Suddenly his lips were on Jack's. It was a brief peck, and then Ianto took two steps back. His cheeks flushed, and he kept his eyes averted.

Jack pressed his mouth shut, touching the place where Ianto's lips had been. His skin tingled with want. "Well. That was..."

"Anticlimactic," Ianto finished, leaning against the wall, looking contritely at Jack.

"Yeah," Jack agreed, pursing his lips and leaning next to Ianto, trying to stay casual, even though he was turned on as hell. "Yeah, we really need to put a climax on that sucker."

"Possibly more than one," Ianto deadpanned. A second later, Ianto laughed at his own joke and blushed again. The smile was endearing. The innuendo was hot.

In a flash, they were kissing again, urgently pressing lips together. Jack felt Ianto's tongue in his mouth, and he pushed back with his own tongue, fighting for control of the kiss. They were falling. The floor came up fast, and Jack threw out a hand, the impact on his wrist radiating through his arm. The heat between his body and Ianto's was intense. Rolling so that he was on top, Jack reached between them, going for the belt buckle.

Ianto tensed, yanking his lips free of the kiss. "You're not- you won't-" he stammered, his eyes wide, his kiss-swollen lips parted.

"Tell me what you want and I'll do it," Jack offered, panting hard. His hands were frozen on Ianto's belt buckle. Their hips were pressed against each other, and Jack could feel Ianto's hardness. The seconds ticked by. Ianto appeared frozen in time, a stricken look on his face. Then he closed his eyes and his body went limp.

"I need to stop," Ianto said quietly.

Jack's self-esteem went crashing. Pushing off Ianto, he laid on his back, one leg peaked and fanning side to side. His body was on fire. He kicked himself for letting Ianto into Torchwood at all. Then he heard Ianto crying. It was a soft sob. The emotion rippled through Ianto's body, and Ianto covered his face with one hand.

"You okay?" Jack asked, running a finger over Ianto's cheek.

Ianto nodded, inhaled loudly, and then cleared his throat, locking away his emotions.

"First time with a man?" Jack rambled. "Of course it is. You said as much. I swear I was listening—"

"First time since... Lisa," Ianto said. The emotion rippled through him again, but no fresh tears surfaced. Ianto looked about to break and Jack felt like an ass. He knew what it was like to love and lose someone. It had to be especially confusing for Ianto, falling for the man who had killed his girlfriend.

"It's amazing how accustomed a soul gets to suffering. How wrong anything good feels," Ianto continued. He sniffled again and picked at his fingernails. Ianto was tortured, the pain and confusion radiating off his skin as tangible as the air.

Propping himself on one elbow, Jack gazed at Ianto, tenderly wiping the tears from Ianto's cheeks. "Having fun with me doesn't diminish your love for her. And you and I, Ianto Jones… you and I would have the most spectacular sex."

A small laugh surfaced and Ianto blushed. "You seem awfully sure of yourself."

"Well, I am, by nature, spectacular," Jack teased, smiling suavely.

Ianto blushed again, bashful but intrigued. His eyes roamed up and down Jack's body, and Jack shivered with delight. Jack loved that look in a man's eye.

"Impress me," Ianto said simply.

Is that an invitation? Jack's heart somersaulted and his skin flushed. He wanted this so much, but he needed to be careful. Putting a hand on Ianto's chest, Jack imagined all the things he could do to impress Ianto and have the man squealing with delight. Jack's breath quickened and his fingers twitched. Then he shook his head and doused himself with mental buckets of cold water.

"You're not ready for sex with me," Jack managed, his voice hoarse.

Ianto nodded in agreement. He ran his shaking fingers over Jack's lips. "A kiss. I'm ready for a kiss."

Smiling again, Jack leaned down and kissed Ianto tenderly. Ianto wanted to be impressed. Challenge accepted.

-ooo-

Jack saw his grandson today. It was rare, and he didn't go up to say hi, but just seeing the kid brought back a lot of memories. His wife, his daughter, and the danger he'd put them in. They were why Jack stuck to casual flings now... and men. He couldn't accidentally get Ianto pregnant. Jack lay on his belly, head resting on folded hands, on one of the catwalks looking into the hub, watching the pterodactyl's shadow circling. It was quiet this evening. There were three fresh bodies in the morgue and Ianto was handling the bodies and the paperwork. Ianto was good at his job, and hiding bodies was a terrible job to have to be good at.

Jack's mind circled back to his wife and daughter. Most of their lives, he'd been at a constant distance from them. Here he was trying to protect the world from monsters of the rift, and he'd become a monster his own family would run from. In the name of humanity, sacrifices were made. Jack had to live with his choices a lot longer than most.

Ianto's footsteps echoed on the stairs. Jack felt Ianto's toe nudging his leg, checking to make sure he was still alive. Jack gave just enough movement to indicate that he was lying on the floor on purpose. And then, Ianto lied beside Jack and put an arm around Jack's shoulders. Jack buried his face in his hands and sighed. Ianto could be playful and devious, but also insanely sweet. Being so meticulous about his appearance, Jack knew it was a big deal for Ianto to lie on the floor like this.

"I'm not in the mood," Jack said, shrugging Ianto's arm off.

Retracting, Ianto sat up and brushed the dirt off his jacket. "So I am just a sex toy to you? I should have known," Ianto said bitterly.

Jack gave him a look, and Ianto stared back hard, challenging Jack to correct him.

"You think you're better than us," Ianto continued. "That you can't have friends. You keep us here in Torchwood as your pets. And I'm the fool who lets you use me for-"

Snaking out his hand, Jack silenced Ianto with a kiss. It was a sad kiss, laced with regret, and Ianto broke away.

"I'm not here to fuck you. I just thought you needed a friend," Ianto said sharply, standing and stalking away.

"Ianto!" Jack hollered, chasing after him and tackling him in a bear hug. He held on tight, searching for the right words. Searching for a description that wasn't a lie. After so many lifetimes, it was hard to look at other men as equals. Their lives were so short, and their presence so fleeting. It was dangerous to love anyone too much. "You are my friend."

Giving Jack's hand a squeeze, Ianto said quietly: "Let go of me, Jack."

Jack let go and Ianto turned around, still holding Jack's hand and leaning in so their foreheads touched.

"What's troubling you?" Ianto asked.

Jack shook his head. He stepped back, but Ianto closed the gap, never letting go.

"The past," Jack confessed, pulling his hand free of Ianto's and turning away. "You don't want to know, and I don't want to talk."

"Don't talk," Ianto said simply, his hands massaging Jack's shoulders. "Just sit. Sit with me awhile. You'll feel better, I promise."

Ianto led him to the couch and they sat together, nestled in each other's arms. They'd never cuddled before. It did help, because rather than brooding on the past, all Jack could think about was Ianto. Jack worried that his palms were too sweaty or his hair was in Ianto's face. He wondered if Ianto was uncomfortable now, or if Ianto would become uncomfortable if he moved too much. It was too quiet.

"Maybe... you could talk?" Jack suggested. Ianto laughed softly, the movement in his chest sending ripples of joy through Jack. He'd found a treasure in Ianto.

-ooo-

Sixteen weevils and twelve humans were dead. Owen had a death wish. Jack had certainly had better days. He sat at his desk, painstakingly writing out the details in the Torchwood records. After having been victimized by his own poor note-taking skills once before, Jack was now meticulous about keeping complete records of everything that happened in regards to the rift. Writing about Owen's breakdown was the most difficult. Twenty years from now, maybe it'd help solve some case or other, but for now, it was simply a painful reminder of how Torchwood slowly broke a person's will to live. It was easy to die in the name of Torchwood, because Torchwood was all anyone had left.

Shivering and closing the file, Jack stood and stretched. He could see Ianto's shoes next to the couch, Ianto's feet peeking over the arm. Jack crossed the hub, watching Ianto sleep peacefully. He'd never followed Ianto home and had no idea where Ianto went when he wasn't here. A few times, he'd found Ianto sleeping in that room downstairs where Lisa had been hidden. The tech was stripped from the room, and a part of Jack wanted to put a bed there for him and Ianto to play, but the private space was tainted by the memory of Lisa.

Stretching out along the back of the couch, Jack gazed at Ianto, ghosting his fingers over Ianto's chest. Ianto's jacket was hanging neatly on the coat rack. He wore a navy blue vest and a matching blue and gray striped tie. Everything about the man was tidy, and Jack felt challenged to keep himself presentable because of Ianto.

Ianto shifted, his hand catching the tie, tugging it ever-so-slightly out of the vest. Jack tried to fix the tie's position and failed. He fingered the slip-knot, loosening it, and Ianto stirred.

"You're not undressing me in my sleep again," Ianto grumbled, his eyes still closed, his arms crossing, pulling the tie even more out of place.

"Just taking off the tie," Jack whispered back, brushing his knuckles against Ianto's chin tenderly, enjoying the hint of peach fuzz.

"Leave it on," Ianto said sternly.

"I don't want you to choke," Jack said playfully, giving the tie a tug.

Ianto yanked the tie out of Jack's hands irritably. "And I don't want you tying me up with it."

Jack pouted. "Yeah, that wasn't fun the first time. Doesn't bear repeating."

"You ruined my tie," Ianto accused, his eyes finally opening.

"I got you another," Jack said defensively. He sighed and smoothed Ianto's tie. "I'm not going to tie you up. Go back to sleep."

"While you're sitting there?" Ianto countered, eying Jack suspiciously. "Don't you have something better to do?"

"You're my favorite thing to do," Jack teased, running his hand over Ianto's belly.

Ianto glowered. "And I asked you not to do me while I'm sleeping."

"Can't I stare at you?"

Ianto grumbled, but then he rolled onto his side, leaving space on the couch for Jack to slide in. It was a strange invitation. They'd never slept next to each other. Honestly, Jack still found the cuddling weird. He slid into the space, sandwiching himself between Ianto and the back of the couch. They shifted, trying to get comfortable, and Jack started to get turned on by the closeness.

"You're such a bed hog," Jack complained, putting one arm around Ianto and trying to find a way to fold the other one so it didn't get crushed. His fingers slipped under Ianto's vest and between the buttons of Ianto's shirt. Ianto wriggled free, sitting up, and raking his hands through his hair.

"I wasn't undoing your shirt," Jack cried defensively. "My finger just happened to slip inside."

Standing and pacing, Ianto undid his tie and hung it on the coat rack with his jacket, then he removed his vest. "Take off your coat," Ianto ordered exasperatedly. "And your shoes."

Jack sat up slowly, complying with the orders. He hadn't come here for sex, but he'd take it if Ianto wanted it. When Ianto's shirt came off, Jack got even more excited. He set his shoes on the floor next to Ianto's. Tidy. Just like Ianto liked things. He shrugged out of his coat and handed it to Ianto, but he was slower about removing his shirt. Jack wanted Ianto to undress him.

Ianto may as well have been sleepwalking. Resting one knee on the couch, he motioned for Jack to lie down, then he nestled in Jack's arms, draping the coat over their bodies like a blanket. It was easier to get settled into a spooning position this time, and completely weird.

"Hands above the waist," Ianto ordered, pillowing his hands under his head.

"What fun is that?" Jack teased.

"I need sleep, Jack," Ianto snapped, his whole body twitching.

"Okay, Mr. Cranky-pants," Jack teased again.

He wrapped one arm around Ianto's chest, feeling the smooth skin, wincing at the deep cuts left by the weevils. Sometimes he forgot that Ianto didn't heal as quickly as he did. Ianto's breathing settled and Jack started breathing in rhythm. Giving the back of Ianto's neck one more kiss, he closed his eyes, getting absorbed in the sound and scent of his lover.

Lover. He wondered how Ianto would feel about that word. Jack had promised himself he'd never have sex with this man. Then he'd promised himself it'd never be more than sex. Now, they were spooning on the couch for no other reason than to be close. They'd come a long way.

-ooo-