Ianto looked up at the knock on the door and smiled. “Suzie. Come in.”
Suzie sat herself down on the other side of Ianto’s desk and placed a folder on it. “Here’s that report you wanted.”
Ianto took the folder and started flipping through. “Anything interesting I should know about?”
“It all looks to be about how you said. There was one room I couldn’t get into though; no matter what key I tried. And for some reason, there’s no CCTV in that room either, so I can’t even tell you what’s in there.” Suzie pointed out the room she was talking about on the floor plan she had included with the report.
“OK, thanks Suzie. I’ll check it out.”
Suzie nodded and got up to go back to her desk but paused and turned back to Ianto.
Ianto raised an eyebrow. “Was there something else?”
Suzie nodded again, a little hesitantly this time. “I was wondering, I mean, I’ve been back a month now… I was wondering when I’d be allowed back in the field again. You know, when I’ll get my full clearance back.”
Ianto looked out the door musingly. “Well… I did say we’d review your status after a month. I haven’t seen any issues. How do you feel about being here? There was one stage when you didn’t think I was the best option for Torchwood.”
Suzie shrugged. “I don’t have a problem with you. And I would like to stay.”
“Have you had any issues since coming back? Nothing trying to break through from before?”
She shook her head.
“Well, I don’t have any problem with reinstating you. There’s just one thing though, I want Jack to remain in charge of all field missions. Would that be a problem for you?”
“Not at all. I can see why he’s a good choice.” Suzie replied.
“Well that’s settled then.” Ianto pulled out some paperwork from his drawer. He had already prepared the forms necessary to reinstate her; they only required her signature to become official.
Ianto reached out and shook Suzie’s hand. “Welcome back!” he smiled.
After Suzie left, Ianto looked at the map of the room thoughtfully. He recognised that room. It was the room that he had found Jack coming out of the first week he was at Cardiff, when he had first found out about the power fluctuations.
Speaking of Jack, he hadn’t actually seen much of him today, Ianto thought to himself. When he had arrived in the morning, he had made his morning round of coffees, including one for Jack, but after taking the cup from him, Jack had disappeared downstairs and hadn’t been seen since. Ianto couldn’t really blame him, given the way he’d walked out on him the previous night. He knew he needed to speak to him about it, but he really didn’t know what to say.
Ianto made his way slowly down the lower levels to the room, hoping to find Jack there. He tried the handle, only to find the door locked, as Suzie had said. He knocked on the door, but there was no answer. He knocked harder, but still got no response. Ianto had just started to walk away when he heard the door opening behind him.
He spun around to see Jack standing there looking anxiously at him.
Sitting in the locked room, Jack had been observing Ianto on the monitor as he walked along the corridors, just as he had done when Suzie was investigating the power fluctuations. There was no CCTV into the room, but a surveillance system had been set up a while back, which allowed Jack to see all the way back out to the main Hub area and make sure he wasn’t disturbed. He needed to be assured of complete privacy while he was working in there.
Watching Ianto make his way down to the room, Jack thought back to what had happened between him and Ianto so far.
Captain Jack Harkness had never before needed to wait so long to get into the pants of someone he was interested in. The renowned Harkness charm never usually failed. In fact, at one stage he had even had an unofficial competition going with Owen over how many people they could pull. Jack won by a mile, and on the rare nights they had both set their sights on the same person, Owen never stood a chance.
When the new director arrived, Jack stopped going out on the pull. At first it was because he didn’t know what type of director Ianto would turn out to be; whether he was going to be one of the ones who treated him as something less than human, or one that actually treated him decently. As he grew to trust Ianto, and gradually grew closer to him, he found he simply didn’t want to. Ianto was far more interesting and far more important to Jack than going out and scoring some casual shag.
For the first time in a very long time, he wished he had never met the tarot card girl. If he hadn’t, he would never have known that someone would be coming that he had to wait for. He could have disappeared a long time ago, and never would have even met Ianto. What was the point in building a relationship with Ianto when he going to leave soon?
The century had now turned twice, as the girl said it would, and this someone should be coming soon. The one who would give him his answers. After all he had been through at the hands of Torchwood, once he found out what he needed to know and got his Vortex Manipulator back, he would leave Torchwood and never look back.
He couldn’t afford to be distracted by Ianto, not now. He had been rather disconcerted to find that he had actually missed having Ianto with him over the last couple of nights, and it worried him. Although, to be fair, it wasn’t only himself that he was worried about. He didn’t want to get too involved with someone when he knew all he was going to hurt them by leaving. Jack had the impression that Ianto had been hurt enough for one lifetime.
When Ianto knocked on the door Jack was determined to ignore him. Then Ianto knocked again, and Jack saw the look of disappointment cross Ianto’s face at the lack of response. He knew Ianto would know he was in there, so he decided to open the door after all.
“Oh, you are in there after all,” Ianto said.
Jack nodded. Ianto walked back to the door and looked in the room.
“What’s this room for?”
Jack shrugged his shoulders. “It’s just a room I work in from time to time, it’s nothing special.”
Ianto pointed to an alien device on a work bench and walked over for a closer look. “What’s that?”
“That? It’s just some alien technology that came through the rift a while back. It’s harmless.”
“What does it do?”
“Nothing much at the moment. It’s broken. Tosh’s birthday’s coming up soon, and if I can fix it I was going to give it to her for as a present. Something she would keep here at the Hub, obviously.
“It’s really only a toy. You feed it the co-ordinates of a place or the details of people you want to see and projects a 3D image of it. I know Tosh misses her family, and there’s only so many times you can look at the same picture over and over again.”
Jack was referring to the fact that Tosh had been forbidden all contact with her family, except in special circumstances, as part of the contract she signed to be released from the UNIT prison.
Ianto nodded and finally turned back to face Jack directly. They looked at each uncomfortably.
They both spoke at the same time and then laughed in relief. Ianto gestured at Jack. “You first.”
Jack, for once, found he suddenly didn’t know what to say. How could he say, ‘Ianto I want you but I’m heading off soon so nothing serious can happen between us’? He didn’t think Ianto was the type of person to do casual, and quite frankly, he thought Ianto deserved better anyway.
Jack just shook his head and gestured back at Ianto. “Nope, you’re the boss.”
Ianto smiled briefly and took a breath. “I just wanted to apologise for the way I ran out on you last night. It was err… rude of me.”
“Did I cross a line?” Jack asked earnestly. “Did I go too far? Did you not want me to kiss you?”
Ianto shook his head. “No, no. It’s not that. I did… I mean, I do want you to… I just, I can’t… I mean, I still love Li… Oh, I don’t know…” Ianto broke off, clearly upset at not being able to express himself how he wanted to.
Jack walked over to him, slowly, so as not to startle him. “Then can I just hold you instead? I won’t do anything else, I promise.”
Ianto looked at him, the strain showing clearly in his blue eyes. Jack stood in front of him and carefully put his arms around him. Jack felt Ianto freeze up and cursed silently, was even that too much for Ianto?
But Ianto managed to relax again. It wasn’t that different to when Jack had held him after his nightmares, he told himself. He put his own arms around Jack and leant his head in towards him, Jack’s pheromones relaxing him yet again.
After a while, they pulled apart and looked at each other again. “Was that OK?” Jack asked.
“Yes Jack, very.” Ianto’s voice sounded a bit rough. He hadn’t slept well the previous night, and being held by Jack he had allowed his professional mask to slip, letting his discomfort show through. He took a deep breath and got himself back into work mode.
“Come on,” he said. “Lunch should be here by now.”
With one last glance back into the room, they went back to the main area of the Hub.
Walking into the boardroom, Ianto went around to his seat and sat down. He leant over and started helping himself to some of the chicken-based dishes but stopped when he saw large grins appear on Owen, Gwen and Suzie’s faces.
“What’s so funny?”
Tosh laughed. “We were just commenting, before you came in, about how rarely you eat vegetables, and then you came in and went straight for the chicken.”
Ianto looked at the dishes on the table and saw they had deliberately placed the vegetable-based dishes closest to him, leaving the meat dishes further away, meaning he’d had to deliberately stretch out to get to them.
“Yeah, Owen bet us you would go for the beef vindaloo first, but Tosh said it would be the chicken.” Suzie added.
“Right, so you lot take bets on what I eat?” Ianto shook his head in mock anger. “Well, I think I better give you something a bit more interesting to bet on then.”
Ianto went on to propose a basketball competition. “We’ve got that basketball ring out there, just sitting there, gathering dust. We’ll split up into two teams: me, Jack and Tosh on one team, Owen, Gwen and Suzie on the other. No doubt Myfanwy will get involved too – whether simply to join in or even just to eat the ball.”
They had their first basketball competition that evening. Gwen volunteered to be the bookie and take all the bets for the game. They ran some serious bets on things like who would be first to score, which team would have the most even spread of scorers and, of course, which team would win. Owen wanted some other less serious things to bet on as well, things like how often he could trip Tosh over, how many times he could hit Jack and Ianto in the head with the ball or how many times Jack would stop and flirt with Gwen or Suzie in an effort to distract them. They all decided the losing team would have to shout the winning team a round of drinks the next night at their weekly pub night.
Ianto’s team won the game, much to Owen’s disgust. He immediately claimed a re-match, and both teams agreed to play again the following night before going to the pub. They were all too tired to play again that night.
After the game, Tosh and the losing team decided they were done for the night and they all went home. Ianto headed back up to his office, Jack following close behind.
Ianto sat at his desk and looked up questioningly at Jack who was standing in the doorway.
“Are you staying tonight?” Jack asked quietly.
Ianto hesitated. He needed to go home, he had left his laptop with the software that was testing the data from Jack’s Vortex Manipulator running weeks ago. With the busy few weeks he’d had where he’d barely left the Hub, it had been pushed to the back of his mind. Even being home the past two nights he hadn’t looked at it, being distracted by other events. Remembering the feel of Jack’s arms around him earlier though, he knew full well he wasn’t going anywhere.
He nodded at Jack who smiled back at him with a classic Jack Harkness mega-grin.
Jack stayed awake most of the night watching over Ianto. He wanted him to sleep, without being disturbed too much by his nightmares. He managed to fend off the minor nightmares, by calming Ianto down, much the same as he had done previous nights. He had just started to drift off himself when Ianto started calling out to Lisa.
Unlike previous nightmares, Ianto started thrashing about violently and Jack had to hold him tightly against himself to stop him hurting himself. Ianto eventually started to calm down and Jack was able to wake him up. Ianto lay there, breathing erratically and resting his head against Jack who was rubbing his hand up and down Ianto’s back soothingly. When his breathing and his racing heart finally returned to normal, Jack placed a finger under his chin and gently but firmly raised Ianto’s head up to look at him.
“You need to tell me about these nightmares Ianto. You can’t keep bottling it up like you are, it’s only making things worse.”
Jack saw the distress in Ianto’s eyes at that, but he wasn’t going to let it go.
“Ianto… Come on.” Jack rolled over onto his back, pulling Ianto with him, getting them both in a more comfortable position.
Resting his head on Jack’s chest, Ianto felt one of Jack’s arms wrap around him and his other hand come up to stroke the back of his head. Ianto lay there a moment, losing himself in the feeling of Jack’s hand running through his hair. Maybe it would be easier to tell Jack about the nightmare if he couldn’t see his face as he did so. He took a deep breath, inhaling another calming dose of Jack’s pheromones. How could it be that something so calming could also be so arousing at other times, Ianto wondered. There had been a number of times where the smell of Jack’s pheromones had made him want to rip all of Jack’s clothes off where they stood.
A gentle squeeze from Jack reminded him why he was there, and slowly, and haltingly, Ianto began to tell Jack about the nightmare. He told him when it had started and told him how it had changed when he moved back to Cardiff. The only thing he didn’t tell Jack about the nightmare was that it now ended with Jack being killed, rather than him.
With his head resting on Jack’s chest, Ianto didn’t see the look of shocked recognition cross Jack’s face. Jack had the presence of mind not to stop his hand moving through Ianto’s hair so he managed not alert Ianto to his reaction.
Jack had a horrible suspicion he knew what was causing Ianto’s nightmare, although he didn’t understand why Lisa had become the subject of the nightmare when she was already dead. He could only presume it was because Ianto still wasn’t fully over her yet. Jack knew now what he had to do. If it was the only thing he could for Ianto before he left, he wanted to help him get over Lisa.
He only hoped Ianto would forgive him for what he had done.