By the end of Jack’s suspension, Ianto was relieved to find that his recurring nightmares of Lisa rampaging through the Hub seemed to have faded away for good. He still had his fair share of nightmares, just as he’d had throughout his entire life, but there were no more of the terrifying nightmares that woke him screaming from his sleep.
At first, effectively losing Lisa a second time had left him feeling empty, terribly so. He would sit there at night, just staring into space, with no desire to do anything. Jack was gone, Lisa was gone, truly gone this time – Owen had cremated the body and Ianto had interred the ashes in the Torchwood mortuary himself – and Ianto was left on his own once again.
He also felt a large amount of guilt. For eight months he had attempted to get on with his life; starting his new job, forging new friendships, growing closer to Jack, when all the time Lisa, or what was left of her, had gone through who knows what, shut away, down in Jack’s hidden room. That was in addition to whatever else she had gone through beforehand in London. He was the one who had left her behind in that room.
He wasn’t angry with Jack any longer, he understood that subtle hint at the pub, and he knew that if the committee were involved in anyway, Jack would have had little choice. It still stung though, that despite how close he and Jack had seemed to be getting, Jack still hadn’t felt able to confide in him. And if the committee had gotten to him once, what was there to say that they wouldn’t be able to do it again. How could Ianto ever hope to trust him knowing that?
Ianto stopped socialising with the others during Jack’s suspension. He knew Gwen was pissed off with him for kicking Jack out of the Hub, and while Tosh and Owen were understanding of why he did it, they still preferred to have Jack there with them. He wasn’t entirely sure how Suzie had taken his decision, as she hadn’t been very forthcoming with any opinions, but at least she had not quibbled about needing to take control of the field missions once again.
Ianto also began leaving the Hub at normal business hours, rather than the extended hours that he had previously been in the habit of working. After the rest of the team had left for the day, the Hub seemed very quiet and empty without Jack there and not even Myfanwy’s presence could cover that.
The extra time he spent at home left him enough time to finally deal with all the boxes of Lisa’s belongings. Unpacking the boxes, he realised there were a lot of things in them that he didn’t really need to keep any longer. Despite the contents all being things that he had previously decided to keep, he could see now that he was only trying to hang onto past memories, memories that could never return. He decided to only keep the things with the most sentimental value; he’d send some of the nicer items to Lisa’s parents and then get rid of the rest.
Doing this proved to be very therapeutic for Ianto and by the time he had finished, he finally felt ready to move on. He would never forget Lisa – the memories and dreams they shared could never be forgotten – but for the first time since Canary Wharf, he felt ready to get on with his life. The only real doubts he had now revolved around Jack, and what sort of future they could possibly hope to have, if any.
After Ianto had left him at the pub, Jack knew there was no point staying there any longer. He definitely wasn’t going to be picking anyone up that night. Seeing Ianto sitting there opposite him, he realised why he hadn’t been able to find anyone at the pub up to his standards – the dark hair, blue eyes and Welsh vowels he had been thinking about belonged to Ianto, and not some random shag. Quite simply, no one else was going to be a good enough substitute for him.
Waving goodbye to Josh, he exited the pub, stood out in the street and took a deep breath. He knew there was no point going back to the safe house to try and sleep at this time of night, so he did something else he hadn’t done in a long time. He went and found himself a high roof to stand on.
He stood on his chosen roof, looking out over the city. Standing on a roof somewhere was his most effective “place of Zen”. Somewhere he could stand and think, and not be disturbed by the rest of the team. And with everything that had happened recently, there were many thoughts swirling around his head that he needed to sort through.
Jack was tired of being alone, tired of being the only immortal person he knew of, tired of having to keep it all secret. Only Ianto and the committee knew he was immortal; telling the rest of the team ran the risk of someone else finding out his secret. It wasn’t that he didn’t trust the others, but things had a habit of slipping, and being a lab rat once was more than enough for him, he couldn’t risk it happening again.
He thought back once again to the tarot card girl. She had told him he needed to wait in Cardiff, as someone would come who could give him answers he needed about why he was the way he was; but she had never told him who it was, and now she never would. She disappeared off to London just before Canary Wharf and never came back. I have to save someone there, she had said. She never told him who that someone was either. Another someone. Just how many someones were there?
Standing there, Jack heard what he thought sounded like thunder off in the distance. As it was a clear night in Cardiff with the stars shining and not covered by any clouds, he was surprised to also smell rain in the air. When the thunder sounded again, he thought he heard the sound of children’s laughter in the distance. He shuddered; that laughter sounded horribly familiar.
The night before he was officially allowed to return to the Hub, Jack found himself once again unable to sleep. His bag was already packed and he decided to leave the safe house straightaway, rather than wait for morning. He tidied up, making sure he left everything the way he found it; he would have to return later to replace the money he had borrowed. Considering how late it was, he figured Ianto would be home already and he decided to see if he could get back into the Hub.
To his surprise, his swipe card still worked and none of the entry codes had been changed. He went into his bunker and looked around. Ianto had clearly tidied up at some stage but it was obvious he hadn’t been staying there. Jack was taken aback at how disappointed that made him feel.
Suddenly the past couple of months caught up with Jack, and he felt more tired than he had done in a long while. Dumping his bag on the table, he undressed, got into bed and, with his hands resting on the pillow above his head, he closed his eyes and fell asleep.
The shrill of a whistle blowing and the sounds of a train rattling along the tracks. Jack is in a train carriage, dressed in his old captain’s uniform, sitting against the wall. He looks around him and smiles as one of the men moves past. The fluttering of wings. Another man lies, unmoving, on the floor. More fluttering. Jack looks around him in horror and the whistle blows again. The other men are all motionless – dead? – their eyes are closed; something red inside their mouths. Jack stands, the only one left alive. Fifteen men, they are all dead. One of them is on the floor, his head leaning back against a sack, his mouth filled to overflowing with the same red… something. The train lurches and Jack grabs hold of the wall with two hands to keep his balance. The wings fluttering gets louder. The dead man’s head lolls around and red rose petals come tumbling out of his mouth…
Jack’s eyes opened suddenly as his nightmare woke him up. As he lay there, covered in sweat and breathing hard, it occurred to him that he hadn’t thought of Lahore in a very long time. He had a horrible suspicion he knew why those particular memories had chosen now to resurface.
He got and up and had started to get dressed when he felt a compelling urge to get out from within the confined space of his bunker. After the dream of being shut in the train carriage with so many dead men, he desperately needed to get out. Despite not being fully dressed – he hadn’t even put his braces on properly yet – he climbed up the ladder. He stopped, leant over Ianto’s desk and let out a breath. He stood up straight again when he noticed a red petal lying there. He picked it up cautiously, suddenly even more worried.
A noise behind him startled him and he spun around to see what it was, shoving the petal in his pocket as he did so. Ianto was standing there, stopped just outside the office, reading through a file.
Jack took a moment to watch him. “You shouldn’t be here,” he said finally.
Ianto looked up at the unexpected sound, startled, and closed the file hurriedly. He had been engrossed in the file and hadn’t noticed Jack standing there. He looked back at Jack. He was not yet prepared for Jack to be back, to be so close, and especially not to be in the half-dressed state that he was in.
He pointed at Jack with the file. “Neither should you.”
He gripped the file nervously, and as Jack started to move closer, he looked downwards and started to walk away quickly. Having Jack that close, with that white t-shirt stretched so tightly across his hard muscles was just too much, too soon for Ianto. Being ready to move on with life, and being ready to deal with Jack, were two entirely different things.
Ianto walked over to and sat at the workstation where he had been working earlier. Jack followed and stood behind him, putting a hand on Ianto’s back. “What have you got?”
Unable to help himself, Ianto looked around at Jack’s hand and up at Jack briefly, before turning back to the screen. He straightened himself up and took a deep breath before replying. “Funny sort of weather patterns.” He turned back around to look at Jack.
Jack’s face grew grim as he pieced the information on the screen together with his nightmare and with the sounds he had heard earlier while on the roof. He stood there he looking through the data with Ianto.
“Have you seen anything like this before Jack?”
Jack shrugged, noncommittally. “Can I ask a favour? I received an invitation from an old friend, to see a presentation of hers. Can I take someone to investigate what she’s been looking at? I think it might help us with this.” He pointed at the screen.
The main lights switched on then, stopping them from saying anything more as they saw Gwen enter the Hub. She looked over at them and was delighted to see Jack standing there.
“Jack!” she exclaimed, excited to see him back. She came running over and gave him a bone crushing hug whilst sending a not-so-subtle glare in Ianto’s direction. “Welcome back!”
The two men smiled at each other over her head, amused at her response. She tried to lead Jack away, asking him what he had been up to since the last time she visited him.
“Take her,” Ianto mouthed at Jack.
Jack nodded gratefully at Ianto and allowed Gwen to lead him away.
When they arrived, the other two women greeted him just as happily, but not quite as noisily or effusively as Gwen had. When he finally stumbled in, Owen patted him on the back in greeting.
Later that day, when Jack took Gwen to see his friend’s presentation, she was disbelieving when she saw the subject on a poster outside the lecture hall. Jack had to shush her a few times when she made disparaging comments about what his friend, Estelle Cole, was talking about in her speech. Despite this, Gwen was all ears when she realised that there seemed to be more between Jack and Estelle than she initially thought. Then when she found the pictures of Jack’s father with Estelle during the war, her gossip instincts went into overdrive.
As soon as they got back to the Hub, she couldn’t wait to tell the others that Jack’s dad and Estelle had apparently been “quite an item once upon a time”. Ianto looked at Jack questioningly, knowing full well Jack’s father had never been on the planet. Jack however avoided his glance and changed the subject to give a debriefing of what he knew of Estelle’s supposed fairies.
Gwen also revealed a fair bit of knowledge about one of the photos that Estelle had shown and, even though she didn’t get it all right, it was still enough to impress Jack. After Owen also shared what he knew about Roundstone Wood’s history, it was decided they would go and investigate the wood.
They went to the wood to see if they could find anything usual, but everything appeared normal. Owen collected some soil and leaf samples to take back to the Hub to analyse further. Jack dropped Owen and Suzie back off at the Hub and was about to take Tosh and Gwen home when Ianto called through to tell them about the death of Mark Goodson.
At the police station, Gwen discovered the petals in Goodson’s mouth. With every petal that she pulled out, Jack felt a shudder go through him. This confirmed for him beyond a doubt who was responsible and he knew the “fairies” had found their next Chosen One.
Back at the Hub, Jack had just finished explaining about Chosen Ones to Gwen and Tosh when the phone rang, sounding extremely loud in the mostly quiet Hub. With a feeling of dread, Jack answered the phone only to hear Estelle’s panicked voice. She had tried summoning the fairies again only discover they were not the friendly, loving creatures she had thought them to be. There were bad ones and they were coming for her.
After the death of Estelle, Tosh, Suzie and Owen went home while Gwen stayed back at the Hub with Jack. He poured both of them a drink and they sat on the sofa. Jack tried to tell Gwen about some of the things his father had supposedly told him about regarding his time with Estelle, but found he couldn’t continue. He glanced pleadingly over at Ianto, who was standing in the doorway of his office watching them discretely.
“Gwen,” Ianto said gently. “How about you let me finish up here, hey?”
Gwen reluctantly looked away from Jack and over to Ianto. Ianto looked back at her steadily, silently willing her not to argue. Gwen sighed and nodded, she knew there was no point arguing with Ianto now. Despite not being convinced that Ianto was the right one to look after Jack, considering he had only recently kicked Jack out, she knew that arguing about it with him wouldn’t help Jack. “OK then, I’ll see you tomorrow Jack,” she said softly.
After she left, Ianto came over and sat down next to Jack. Ianto closed his eyes briefly then put an arm around Jack and pulled him closer. The other man just sat there, tears streaming down his face.
“Do you want to tell me about her? I know it wasn’t your father who was with Estelle. It was you, wasn’t it?”
“How did you meet?”
“In London… at the Astoria Ballroom… a few weeks before Christmas,” he began hesitantly. “She was seventeen years old, and she was beautiful. I loved her at first sight. We were inseparable. We once made a vow. That we’d be with each other till we died. But nothing lasted back then…”
“So what happened?”
“It was wartime, I was posted abroad, she volunteered to work on the land,” Jack shrugged and shook his head. “It just happened that way. Promises were always being broken.” He paused, and turned himself around to face Ianto. “Estelle… to have to die like that.”
He shut his eyes, trying to shut out the vision of Estelle dead in his arms and took another swig from his glass. Ianto tightened his grip on Jack, and when he put the glass down again Ianto raised a hand and caressed him gently on the cheek. They looked at each other, Jack’s eyes full of misery, Ianto’s eyes full of understanding. Jack closed his eyes again and rested his head on Ianto’s shoulder, letting himself be supported by Ianto. They stayed that way for a very long time.
First thing in the morning, Gwen called through to say her house had been broken into and had been thoroughly trashed. She knew it was the fairies who had done it – they had left some of those rose petals in amongst the debris.
Jack went around to try and calm her down. He had never seen her so spooked, it was the first time since she had joined Torchwood that something had happened in her own home and she wasn’t happy. It took something pretty bad for Gwen Cooper to admit she was scared.
They got back to the Hub just in time for Tosh to detect the strange weather patterns coming from Coed Y Garreg Primary School. The team took off as fast as they could and managed to find a teacher who able to give them the information they needed – they knew now who the Chosen One was.
Unfortunately though, they arrived too late to save Roy and, after chasing Jasmine to where the ancient forest used to be, Jack and Gwen finally came face to face with the fairies. To Gwen’s disbelief, Jack eventually allowed Jasmine to leave with the fairies. Owen, Suzie and Tosh were livid with him too, and refused to even look at him as they filed back to the SUV.
When they got back to the Hub everyone except Jack and Gwen spoke to Ianto individually and told him exactly what they thought about Jack letting Jasmine go. Ianto didn’t mention it to anyone, but he started getting annoyed by everyone blaming Jack for what had happened. All of them were thinking about the child’s mother and not one of them had stopped to consider what could have happened to the entire world had Jasmine and the fairies not gotten their own way. Plus Jasmine had wanted to go; it wasn’t like she was being forced to do something against her will.
He looked over at Jack sitting disconsolately on the sofa. If they thought it had been an easy decision for Jack to make, then they were all deluding themselves. Ianto suddenly had had enough and wanted them all gone. He told them to go home and hoped that maybe, in the light of day, they would reconsider their treatment of Jack. If not, they would need to be told a thing or two. One by one, they all left the Hub, leaving Ianto and Jack alone. None of them spoke to Jack as they left, not even Gwen.
Once alone again, Ianto and Jack found themselves in a very similar position to the previous evening. Ianto sat beside Jack on the sofa and had his arm around him once again. Jack leant into Ianto’s side, bringing one arm back around Ianto, and held on tight.
“It’s not been a good month for either of us, has it?” Ianto said rhetorically to Jack. He turned his head slightly and kissed the top of Jack’s head.
Jack shook his head and shuffled around in his seat to be facing Ianto directly. He looked at Ianto searchingly. They leant closer together and slowly their lips met in a gentle kiss.
There was not a sexual kiss; instead, it was a kiss of comfort and reassurance, two things sorely needed by them both. The Hub, their surroundings and the events of the past month all faded away, and their world was reduced to just the two of them and their kiss. The taste and feel and smell of the other. Their arms around each other, their tongues, their lips moving against each other’s. Their soft moans as they lost themselves in each other, their pulses racing and heartbeats soaring.
And for just a short while, everything in their lives felt good.