Ianto woke the next morning to find that he had a very sore neck and that he was alone in the Hub.
After talking for many hours throughout the night, both he and Jack had eventually fallen asleep on the sofa. Sometime later, Jack had apparently woken and placed a blanket from his bed over Ianto before disappearing. Ianto stretched out as comfortably as he could on the cramped sofa, trying to work the kinks out before he got up.
He thought back over the previous night, and in particular, to the kiss he and Jack had shared. Unsurprisingly, he found he had rather enjoyed the kiss and for a brief moment, he wondered exactly why he had taken so long to let it happen. He thought back to his weapons training session, so many weeks ago, and the way that he had all but run from Jack when the man was about to kiss him. He was fairly sure he wouldn’t be doing that again.
Finally deciding to get up, Ianto went looking for Jack in his bunker and then in any other likely places that he could possibly be, but wasn’t able to find him. Ianto tried calling his phone and got no answer. He decided to bring up the CCTV footage for the Hub and discovered Jack had walked out just after 5.00am and had then gone in through a back entrance of the nearby Millennium Centre. Ianto fast-forwarded through nearly two hours of footage but couldn’t see where Jack had come back out again. At a loss, he decided he may as well go home and get changed before the rest of the team arrived.
Perched on the roof of the Millennium Centre, Jack watched Ianto leave the Hub and begin his journey home.
Jack had also been thinking back to last night, and to the kiss, and to how easy it would have been for him to totally lose himself in the kiss, in Ianto. Jack had felt particularly vulnerable yesterday and, despite their recent history, Ianto had been there for him when he really needed someone. Out of the whole team, Ianto had the most reasons to hate him, but he turned out to be the only one who actually stood by him and made him feel like he had done the right thing.
Jack didn’t want that, he didn’t want to lose himself in someone else, didn’t want to get attached, despite how good it would feel. And he didn’t know what to do.
When the rest of the team arrived for the day they were all late, and all of them clearly wanted to be somewhere else. They were still not talking to Jack, but Tosh at least made sure Jack was covered when she and Suzie went out on the lunch run. Ianto observed them all and felt his anger from yesterday returning.
After a strained lunch, they dispersed through the Hub to continue their day’s work. Ianto watched them all interacting with each other. They were all subdued and only spoke the bare minimum to each other. Jack was ignored completely.
By mid-afternoon Ianto had had enough. He sent Jack off to the Archives for a while and called the rest of the team into the boardroom for an impromptu meeting.
He stood at the head of the table and looked at each of them in turn before sitting down. They could all see he was angry about something.
“Things is starting to get a bit ridiculous,” he began. “All of you need to stop treating Jack like a leper. Jack may not be perfect, but he did what he had to do.”
“But he sacrificed that poor girl!” Gwen objected.
“Sacrificed? Hardly! She’s alive and happy and where – and when – she wants to be.”
“And what about her mother? She’s lost her partner and her only child…”
“And what about the entire planet Gwen?” Ianto interrupted. “Jack had a far bigger picture to think about than just one family. If he hadn’t have done what he did, we wouldn’t even be here having this conversation.”
“So the next time the world needs to be saved, it’s OK for him to sacrifice anyone is it?” Suzie asked.
“That’s right, what if he decides it’s one of us who needs to be sacrificed next?” Owen said. “We need to be able to trust the people we’re with when we’re out on missions, not be watching our backs just in case Jack decides we’re the ones to go this time. You’ve never been out on field missions Ianto; you don’t know what it’s like. Without being able to rely on your team mates, someone’s going to get injured, or worse.”
Ianto took a deep breath before saying anything more; he was getting a bit sick of hearing the word “sacrifice”.
He looked the one person who hadn’t said anything so far. “Tosh, you’ve been quiet there. Have you got anything else to add?”
Tosh visibly squirmed as everyone turned their attention on her. She looked down at the table and shook her head quickly.
“Look, I’m not saying that what happened to Lynn wasn’t terrible,” Ianto continued. “And yes, I wish there had been another way of dealing with the situation. But the fact is that there simply wasn’t any other way of dealing with it and that is why Jack is in charge of the field missions. He’s the one who can make the decisions that need to be made, the decisions that none of you would ever be prepared to make. Everyone needs to accept that, or this team will fall apart.”
Toshiko and Gwen looked a bit ashamed of themselves and by the end of the day, they were both speaking to Jack again and Tosh had even apologised for her behaviour. Owen and Suzie were a bit slower to come around, but by the next day, they too had started speaking to Jack again. By the end of the week things appeared to be getting back to normal between the five team members again.
How things were between Ianto and Jack however was a bit harder to judge. Other than that one night, Ianto still was not staying at the Hub overnight. And even though they snuck in a few more kisses here and there, with hands tending to wander further and further each time, Jack was adamant that they should remain appearing as simply a boss and employee to the rest of the team. He did not want anyone to think there was anything between them.
Ianto, who was still struggling with trust issues where Jack was concerned, could see his point to an extent, but it made it so much harder for Ianto to believe that Jack even wanted there to be something serious between the two of them, when he was so adamant about hiding whatever it was they had.
As far as Jack was concerned, he was still prepared to leave Torchwood as soon as he could. It had started to become an obsession with him: meet anyone new and he would use all the resources available to him to see if there was any hint that they were that “someone” he had been told was coming. He also started plotting anew to get his Vortex Manipulator back; Ianto was the only one with the codes to the Secure Archives, so Jack had started using all his considerable charms to try to convince Ianto that someone else should know the codes, for security purposes.
A few weeks later, Ianto noticed a series of police reports about seventeen people who had disappeared without a trace within the last five months. The last known whereabouts of each one was somewhere out in the Brecon Beacons, all within a twenty-mile radius. None of the bodies had ever been found. There were no patterns in age, sex, race; one minute they were there; the next, gone. The police were clueless.
Ianto smiled to himself as he imagined how Owen would reply to that last comment.
Ianto sent the reports through to Suzie and Jack, wanting to make sure the rift had not spread out that far. Jack took Ianto aside and suggested that considering the distance Jack would have to travel, this case might be a good opportunity for Ianto to come out on a field trip. Partly as a way to avoid having to tell the rest of the team about the tracker injected into Ianto and partly because Ianto had told him about Owen pointing out that Ianto had no idea what it was like out in the field. Hearing this, Suzie requested to stay behind to monitor the rift; knowing that all six of them would not fit in the SUV she suggested it would be best if someone stayed behind in Cardiff. This would be the first time she had been alone in the Hub since she had been retconned.
As the team were packing up the SUV, Owen looked incredulously at the tents and made his feelings about camping and the countryside perfectly clear to anyone who was unfortunate enough to be in hearing range.
Ianto never liked camping either. The uncomfortable sleeping arrangements, the fact that he always ended up freezing or saturated in the rain, and the stupid campfire games that everyone would inevitably force him to play, all combined to make camping trips a thoroughly dismal experience for him.
It seemed inanely predictable then, when Gwen continued the tradition of stupid campfire games, by starting her Who Was The Last Person You Snogged game, claiming it to be “just a bit of fun”. Owen seemed to be giving Jack a run for his money in the Casanova stakes when it was revealed Tosh’s last kiss had been him and he revealed his last kiss was with Gwen. It seemed everyone was lost for words, especially those who knew that Suzie would most likely have said Owen too, had she been there.
Ianto sat there growing more and more uncomfortable at where this game was heading. And when Jack made a joke about aliens for his turn, weeks of being frustrated by Jack’s behaviour towards him turned Ianto’s discomfort to anger.
“It’s my turn, is it?” Ianto smiled bitterly. If that’s how Jack wants to play it, if he wants to deny there’s anything between us… “It was Lisa.”
The smiles dropped off everyone’s faces instantly; Toshiko looked away in mortification.
“Ianto, I’m sorry,” Gwen blustered.
“Sorry she’s dead? Or sorry you mentioned it?”
“I just didn’t think.”
In the uneasy silence that followed, Owen decided to use the excuse of gathering firewood as an excuse to get away. Gwen was quick to follow him, leaving Tosh alone with Ianto and Jack.
Ianto watched the two walk away and then turned back to see Jack watching him uncomfortably. Ianto looked away again, not wanting to be drawn into an argument. It may have been a low blow for him to throw Lisa back in Jack’s face again, but Jack’s continuing refusal to acknowledge Ianto was hurting him more than he thought it would.
A short while later it all became irrelevant as Gwen and Owen found the body in the woods and the SUV was stolen while they were investigating the scene. They soon realised the SUV’s keys had been left in the vehicle making it easy for it to be stolen.
“Basic security protocols Owen!” Tosh growled as they searched through the wreckage of their campsite.
“Oh, get off your high horse, Tosh! And besides, what about Captain Alien-Snogger over there?” Owen retorted. “He was still sitting in the SUV when Gwen started her stupid snogging game. Why didn’t he lock the SUV behind him?”
Everyone turned to look at Jack: they had forgotten he was the last one in the SUV, not Owen. He shrugged and gave a bashful grin. Owen looked around at the others, smirking in triumph.
They gathered up anything useful that was still intact and looked at Ianto to see what they would do next.
Ianto held up a PDA. “I’ve tracked down the SUV. It’s currently 3.4 miles west from here.”
“Gunning at ninety, no doubt.” Owen said. “You steal a piece of equipment like that, you drive straight on till morning.”
“Actually, no, it’s been stationary for the past four minutes. I’d go so far as to say it was parked.”
They all looked at each other, they all knew it was a trap but there was only one thing they could do.
Jack looked at them all. “Anyone fancy a walk?”
A lifetime later, Suzie waited solemnly at the Hub for them to come back. She could hardly believe that all those people had gone missing because an entire village were actually cannibals and were “harvesting” their victims’ “meat”. Jack had rung though with the details while they were waiting for the police to show up.
They arranged that Jack would bring Ianto, Owen, Tosh and Gwen back to the Hub and then take Ianto home after everyone else had been attended to.
Ianto did not speak much on the way back, other than telling everyone not to come in for a couple of days. Suzie could monitor any rift activity and if needs be she could call Jack or Owen in to help her with anything she couldn’t handle on her own, given neither of them had been injured.
While searching through the cannibal’s village, Gwen had been shot by someone who was trying to hide from them. Owen had been able to remove the pellets onsite and he patched her up a bit better at the Hub. He gave her a lot of painkillers to mask the worst of the pain, and then took her home to Rhys.
Ianto’s injuries would take longer to heal and there wasn’t much Owen could do for him before he left, beyond loading him up with painkillers too. He told Ianto he would come over to Ianto’s house the next day to give him a check up.
Tosh had been sitting on the sofa, thinking about that man’s hands around her neck. She wasn’t physically injured beyond a few scratches and bruises, but that man’s face and his sadistic smile was going to haunt her for a long time. Suzie volunteered to take her home and to stay the night with her, knowing she would not want to be alone after the way she had been assaulted.
Before they left, Tosh came over and gave Ianto a hug. “Thank you,” she whispered.
Ianto would have smiled back at her if he could, but instead, the best he could manage was a slight nod of his head.
Ianto’s limbs stiffened somewhat during the ride home and Jack needed to help him get out of the vehicle and into his flat. He stood in the middle of the lounge room looking lost until Jack slowly guided him to the bathroom and helped him get undressed. Jack started the shower running and urged Ianto into the cubicle. While Ianto stood there letting the hot water run over him, Jack went and got him a clean pair of pyjamas. Leaving them just outside the shower, he went into the kitchen and made Ianto a hot drink. He only made one, as he was not really sure whether he would be welcome to stay.
Jack’s anger after the snogging game had faded away to guilt as he remembered how many times he told Owen they would not go after Ianto and Tosh. He had sent Ianto away when they got to the cannibal’s village and had nearly lost him because of it. It was yet another reason he should not get too close to Ianto.
When Ianto was ready, Jack helped him get into bed, covered him up and after a moment’s thought placed a gentle kiss to his forehead. As he turned to leave, Ianto reached out and caught hold of his hand. “Don’t go,” he said quietly.
Jack looked back at him and nodded. He stripped down to his white t-shirt, grabbed one of Ianto’s spare pyjama bottoms and slipped under the covers. He lay on his side facing Ianto who curled up against his chest. Jack put his arm around Ianto carefully, trying not to bump any of his injuries, and held him close until he fell asleep.
Jack continued to lie there, watching as Ianto slept and waited for the nightmares to come. He tried to concentrate on Ianto only, but his mind kept wandering back what he had said earlier when Ianto and Tosh were separated from them…
“What’s taking Tosh and Ianto so long?”
“They’re not children. They know what to do.”
“Why are we still talking about this? Tosh and Ianto can look after themselves.”
“The kid is our first priority.”
Owen had wanted to go after them, but Jack had continually said no, frustrating Owen so much, that in the end he wouldn’t even let Jack help him with Gwen. And look what had happened – he had nearly lost Ianto, two seconds later and that red mark on Ianto’s throat would have been a whole lot more serious.
Remembering what Tosh had told him though, made him smile. Ianto had saved her; he gave up a chance at freedom so that Tosh could get away. Jack knew it was something any good leader would do, but this was Ianto’s first time in the field and he would have been terrified. Jack denied to himself that it was pride he was feeling for Ianto.
Ianto’s nightmares came, as Jack knew they would, and he was there to comfort Ianto through them. When the worst of the nightmares were over, Jack settled himself down and fell asleep himself.
When Jack woke in the morning, he gave a silent sigh of relief. Having spent the night in Ianto’s arms made him feel more comfortable and contented than he had in a while. After a while, Jack noticed Ianto had woken up and was watching him.
Jack smiled at him. “I’ve missed this,” he said quietly.
Ianto paused a moment and then nodded. “Me too.”
They snuggled in a bit tighter against each, neither wanting to lose the warmth or safety that the other represented. Jack was tempted to lean over and kiss him deeply, but he settled for Ianto’s forehead instead, all thoughts of trying to keep his distance flying out the window. “I’ve missed you,” he whispered.