Second post of the week. I hope I can keep this pace, I wouldn’t want to simply fill this blog with old WordPlays (I will resume that next week, though). Today, it’s once again fan fiction. Instead of Downton, this time I’m visiting Cardiff for the first of probably quite a few Torchwood fan fics. This is my first one, it’s quite long (around 3,000 words), probably qualifies as hurt/comfort (because Jack/Ianto…), and contains SPOILERS for the entire first two seasons. If you should feel inspired to write a NSFW follow up, please feel free to (and post a link to it in the comments).
I Heart J
At some point, Ianto had stopped counting the minutes, hours and days without Jack. It was probably a month already. The others were as upset as he was about the sudden disappearance of their boss, but somehow it had been easier for them to adjust. Elect new boss: check. Find security codes: check. Promote tea boy: check. Get back to work: check. In contrast, Ianto was still not done with the first item on his own to do list: “Get over Jack”. After all, it had taken him a long time to admit his not just platonic interest in his boss.
It was the threat of losing him that had slowly awoken Ianto to his feelings. Would he have pointed a gun at Owen if Jack hadn’t been trapped in 1941? Ianto doubted it. And even more he doubted that he would have made use of it if Owen hadn’t made that nasty comment. “In your sad little wet dreams where you’re his part-time shag, maybe.” Which part of that sentence had hurt him the most? The idea that his wet dreams about Jack were pathetic and miserable? Or the idea that he meant nothing to Jack? He didn’t know, but when he went to bed that night he found himself agreeing with Owen’s harsh analysis of his situation. He wasn’t really interested in Jack. They had sex sometimes and that was that. They had sex to pass the time. To have fun. To relax. To drive away those deep black thoughts that sometimes threatened to overwhelm Ianto. No feelings between them whatsoever. Not on Ianto’s side, at least. Ianto was still in love with Lisa. Still mourning her untimely death. Or so he thought.
And then Jack had died at the hands of Abaddon and Ianto thought he wouldn’t come back this time. He could survive bullets, but magic had just been too much for the Captain. And Ianto told himself it was okay. It had been nothing serious, after all. His previous boss had died as well, what was the difference? And there was none, not until he decided to clean up Jack’s office and the man’s smell still lingering everywhere hit him hard like a kick to the gut. “51st century pheromones” – whatever it was, it never failed to blow Ianto’s mind and in Jack’s office it caused Ianto’s epiphany.
He had feelings for Jack.
He saw Jack’s greatcoat, smelled it and with that his memories of Jack filled his head in colors brighter than ever before. Jack fighting the Weevil. Jack drinking coffee. Jack under him in the warehouse. Jack kissing him back to life (yes, of course he had noticed). Their awkward conversation about the stopwatch. With the memories came the possibilities. What could have been. What should have been. What Ianto should have said, should have done, would have said, would have done. And all those emotions decided to come together, to form a giant ball of pain and grief and to escape Ianto’s body with the tears flowing over his cheeks.
But then Jack had returned from the dead, had given him that lovely tender kiss, “I’m back, everything’s alright”, and Ianto felt like he could maybe start living again. Stop thinking of Lisa every day. Allow himself to love someone else, even if he was immortal and his boss. He thought it would work out somehow. Maybe even that complicated conversation with Rhia, someday in the far-away future.
And then Jack vanished.
He took the disgusting hand in the jar and his Webley, but he left his mobile. Was that an encrypted message? “Don’t look for me and learn how to protect yourselves”? “Don’t develop feelings for me, I won’t return them”? The others quickly decided on “Sayonara, you fools”, but Ianto had a hard time believing that. Jack wouldn’t do that. Or would he? Jack could kill without blinking, of course he could leave without saying goodbye. To hell with Ianto’s feelings, he was Captain Jack Harkness, the immortal soldier who shagged everything that moved.
Thankfully, they were too busy for Ianto to spend much time pondering about it. He had to prove to Gwen that he could indeed use a gun, drive the SUV, handle their alien tech, manage the fake tourist office and take care of coffee and food. He could, if he came to work at six and left at eight or even later. Every day, he felt exhausted, but still it took him so much energy to fall asleep. And when the alarm woke him at 4:30 in the morning, he still felt exhausted.
But as the weeks passed by, they developed a new routine and things got calmer. Suddenly, Ianto could leave at six. Suddenly, he once again had time to think. Suddenly, he started to dream of Jack again. In his dreams, Jack saved Ianto from a dragon, went shopping with him, or took a walk with him on the beach. He saw them kissing, felt himself blush in his dream, felt good – and then he woke up and the emptiness of his own apartment came back with all its might.
Some nights, Ianto tried to drown his sadness in Guinness. It was bitter and cold and he hoped it would fill the void inside of him. He hoped it would let him forget Jack so he could go over to that red-head and give her his number. But the beer did nothing, apart from always causing a massive hangover the next day.
The weekends were the worst. When there was nothing to do, when he had cleaned the apartment for the third time that day, done the groceries and the washing, and updated the computer. Ianto found himself wandering through Cardiff, the city he practically knew by heart. Soon he could even tell the fashion stores apart simply by looking at the clothing on their racks. Green was the color of the season, even for men. He hated green. When he fell asleep at home, he dreamt of Jack in a green shirt, grinning broadly at him. He woke up and sobs rocked through his body, tears flowing down his cheeks until he fell asleep again.
Then one Saturday, Ianto actually bought something. Two things. He hadn’t planned for it, but when he saw the items, he just had to. One was a small black cardboard box. It contained red braces, the same kind Jack always wore. Ianto’s fingers trembled when he suddenly spotted them at the mall. The emptiness inside of him mixed with pain and grief and he felt tears dwelling up in his eyes. He didn’t know what he bought them for, but he couldn’t help himself. The second item was a diary. Ianto’s original one wasn’t even half full, but he wasn’t intending to replace it. This second one was for something else. Something special. It was smaller than his usual one, and bound in red leather, embellished with golden heart-shaped prints. Something teenage girls would buy. Something Ianto had to buy.
Late that night, he sat at home on his bed, staring at the two items. The small box with the braces and the diary. He took his favorite pen and opened the diary on the first page. He hesitated, but then he drew a heart. Inside, he slowly wrote: “Ianto + Jack”. The sobs rocking through his body let him drop his pen. Somewhere in Hyde Park there was a tree, its bark bearing a carving from a knife: a heart and two letters, “I+L”. Somewhere in a boys’ toilet stall at Cardiff University, there was a message left with permanent marker: “Ianto + Melissa 4eva”. Somewhere on a table at a Cardiff school, there was a note from a pen: “Ianto + Jill”. Somewhere in one of his old diaries, there was a heart, soaked in tears and crossed out with so much force he had destroyed the page and the one underneath it: “Ianto + Tommy”. And now there was a fifth equation, one that couldn’t result in “forever” because he could not share Jack’s eternity. That night, Ianto once again cried himself to sleep.
Over the course of the next weeks, Ianto filled his new diary with memories of him and Jack. Memories he couldn’t share with anyone. Things Jack had said, Jack had done, things Ianto had felt for him. Memories that made him smile, sometimes even blush. Memories so detailed it made him wonder whether they had really happened. Ianto didn’t quite know why he did it. What was the point of collecting memories of someone who wouldn’t come back? Wasn’t he supposed to get over the man? Find someone new? But curiously, writing up those memories did seem to have an effect on him. At least Gwen noted that he had become “more relaxed” and that she was really happy how quickly he had adapted to the new circumstances. Ianto lied and said he had met someone, when in fact the Jack in his dreams was the only person he was having any longer conversations with outside work.
And then out of the blue, Jack returned.
“I came back for you.” Ianto wanted to believe him. Wanted to believe that Jack’s hasty “All of you.” wasn’t a rejection. But nothing followed that sentence. Not even a short conversation or a friendly pat on the back. Just plain nothing. And Ianto felt slapped in the face by the lack of emotions from Jack’s side, the nothing he got in return for everything he had invested those past months. At first he wanted to cry, but then he decided he couldn’t let Jack see those tears. He was a part-time shag and would never be anything else to the man.
So why had he agreed on that date? You didn’t go on a date with someone you had only casual sex with. That was not how it worked. But why had Jack suddenly suggested having dinner and then going to see a movie? That wasn’t the kind of Jack Harkness seduction Ianto was used to. Maybe this surprise move had caused him to say yes. But he still tried to tell himself that it was nothing.
It was an awkward dinner. Looking at Jack, the soft blue of his eyes, that dazzling smile, made Ianto blush. And then he looked away, reminding himself of all the people around them who should have minded their own business but never would. The pasta was delicious, but all while he was eating Ianto felt a sting in his stomach that kept him from taking more than just a few forks full. He heard Jack talking, but he couldn’t focus on what he was saying. He tried to smile and nod in reply, but then he reminded himself that this whole date didn’t mean a thing to Jack and the happiness about having him back again vanished from his heart.
Jack let him choose the movie. The cinema had a Monty Python retrospective and Ianto hoped the search for the Holy Grail would take his mind off Jack for a while. He loved the movie, he knew the lines by heart and usually it would have made him laugh out loud. But that night, he stayed silent. He heard Jack laugh a lot. He saw his arm on the rest between them. He thought about touching it, God, he wanted to touch it, but he just couldn’t make himself. Jack had called it a “date”, but they both knew this was just a prolonged foreplay. They were not a couple. He wasn’t supposed to show affection. Just to be there and look good in his suit.
Suddenly, Ianto felt very lonely among the crowd of movie goers. He knew that feeling all too well. Back in his school days, the other boys had talked about their favorite comics and superheroes. He had tried to fit in, had made up adventurers he pretended to like, and had soon been laughed at because they knew he had no idea what he was talking about. How could they have known he was talking about the heroes he made up to escape the reality of his home? His mam, who would make them omelet one second and the next sit under the table crying like a baby. His tad, always more keen on Rhia who was a good girl and brought some money home by babysitting for the neighbors. On Ianto’s fourteenth birthday, they had taken his mam to Providence Park. To cheer himself up, he had gone to the mall. The other shoppers hadn’t noticed the sadness in his eyes when he looked at all the things he couldn’t afford. And nobody had noticed when he had snatched that CD and had taken it home. “Penblwydd hapus”, he had murmured to himself. It had been so easy. Ianto had returned to the mall the next day, to finally get that expensive shirt he had wanted all the time, the one that every boy in town seemed to have. Only this time, he had been caught before he could leave the mall. His tad had been furious, had grounded him for three months, had made him responsible for cleaning up their place. That’s how Ianto had saved the magazine Rhia had thrown away. The one with the many naked men. It had felt good, at night alone in his bed, but outside of it, he had felt like he couldn’t look into anyone’s eyes anymore. And so he had thrown it away.
A strong pat on the shoulder woke Ianto from his daydreaming. As they left the cinema into the Cardiff night, Ianto once again felt the void filling his stomach. As they walked back to the Hub, Jack talked about that one time he had met John Cleese and had given him the idea for the Ministry of Silly Walks. Ianto didn’t really listen, instead burying himself even deeper into his coat. He hoped the night would soon be over so he could go home and burn the stupid red diary with the golden hearts that reminded him what kind of foolish dreams he had dreamt all those months.
They didn’t take the invisible elevator, which was a little bit strange – Jack loved that thing madly. Instead they walked down to the marina, towards the fake tourist office. But instead of entering it, Jack stopped and leaned on the wooden railing over the bay. Ianto hesitated, but then slowly stepped next to him. He shivered as the wind from the sea hit his face. Why did Cardiff always have to be so bloody cold? And then he felt Jack’s arm around his waist. It rested lightly on his hip and then softly drew him closer. Ianto expected to be naked in no time, but instead, nothing happened. They just stood next to each other, Jack’s body heating his. At last, Ianto dared to huddle another step closer. And suddenly, Jack’s smell hit him with all its might. The smell that contained so many stories of burnt up stars, grand civilizations, and adventures beyond anyone’s imagination. The smell he would recognize even if he were standing in the deepest pile of rot, dust and debris. The smell that was so uniquely Jack. Ianto took a deep breath, then another, and another. Slowly, he felt himself relax into Jack’s body, resting his hands on Jack’s chest. He buried his face into Jack’s neck and finally, he didn’t hold back his tears anymore. As the sobs rocked his body, he felt Jack’s arms folding around him.
When the tears resided, Ianto finally found the strength to whisper those three words he had wanted to say the whole time. “I missed you.” And he was delighted to hear those four words from Jack that he had hoped for all those months. “I missed you too.” His first kiss in months was soft and tender. It wasn’t a kiss of lust and desire, the kind of kiss they had shared so often in the past, but a kiss of pure affection and emotion. The kind of kiss, Ianto realized, he had always wanted from Jack. The kind of kiss he had always shared with Lisa, that he had loved from the very first moment, and that he had missed more than anything else.
When their lips finally parted, it was Jack who spoke first, still keeping Ianto in that warm embrace. “I’m sorry I left you so suddenly. I really am.” Ianto dared to look into Jack’s deep blue eyes and thought he saw truth in them. At least he wanted to believe that it was there. He heard Jack sigh. Slowly, Ianto lifted up his hand to Jack’s face and stroked the back of his fingers over Jack’s cheek. It was warm, despite the icy cold of the bay. Jack blinked, once, twice, then closed his eyes and leaned his face into Ianto’s hand. That was when Ianto gave up his doubts, finally stopped turning over that question in his mind that had been bothering him all the time – “What exactly is that thing between us?” Because he finally understood that it didn’t matter. Because the only thing that mattered was that they were here, together, under this one sky, on this one earth. And it felt good. Ianto smiled and leaned his forehead against Jack’s, closing his eyes.
It was Jack who broke their silence. “I haven’t been nice to you.”
“You had your reasons.” Ianto’s nose touched Jack’s, and it made him smile.
“But you deserve better.” He felt Jack’s hands slowly caressing his back.
Ianto opened his eyes. Jack’s were looking back at him and he felt as if he were drowning in that endless blue. And he loved it. “I deserve you.” He lifted his hand a little bit more and slowly ran the tips of his fingers through Jack’s hair.
“Let’s start this whole thing anew, Ianto.” At the sound of his name, he felt his knees tremble with happiness and excitement. “Will you let me do that?”
Their mouths moved closer together, Jack’s breath warming Ianto’s lips, making him shiver. “Yes.” he said softly. And then, almost whispering, “Jack.” He kissed Jack and felt how the void inside of him was finally replaced by a sea of pure joy.
Note: “Penblwydd hapus” is Welsh for “Happy birthday”. I wish they had used more Welsh on the series… (though I wouldn’t have understood a word)