Jack’s eyes widened and his lips parted in shock as he realised Ianto had heard his conversation with Gwen and when he saw the furious look cross Ianto’s face, he didn’t hesitate. He turned his head around to the side and called out urgently. “GWEN!”
“What?” Gwen’s impatient voice came from a distance. They heard her come thudding back towards them. “What is it Jack? I’ve got to get out of here before Ianto com… Oh!” Gwen’s voice trailed off as she saw Ianto standing there next to Jack.
“Oh indeed,” Ianto said shortly. “My office. Now!” He turned around and stormed off without waiting for a response.
Gwen turned to Jack and opened her mouth to speak but stopped when he shook his head. Now was not the time.
Ianto waited until the two of them had entered the office and sat down before loudly slamming the door behind them. It wasn’t really necessary to shut the door, given that Tosh and Owen had already left for the day, but Gwen’s wince at how much the office walls vibrated gave him some small amount of satisfaction anyway.
Steeling himself, he sat down and looked angrily at the two in front of him.
“Do you think Eugene committed suicide?” Gwen butted in quickly, before Ianto had a chance to speak.
Ianto screwed his face up in confusion and shook his head at her. “What?! What are you talking about?”
Jack also looked at her questioningly.
“Eugene! Do you think he committed suicide?” she replied.
Ianto sighed. “I didn’t bring you in here to talk about Eugene Jones, Gwen. And as both Tosh and I have told you, repeatedly, it was a road accident and there was no alien involved. I don’t know how to be any clearer about it.”
“See, I’m not so sure, because something seems really odd. I mean, I just… I just feel that there’s something going on. It feels like there’s someone there, someone following me, and until I sort out what happened with Eugene, it won’t go away. There was this Dogon eye that he had, and it hasn’t been found yet. I think I can get it for you. I just need some time.”
Ianto bit down on his lower lip during Gwen’s speech, not wanting to say something he would regret later. He was about to tell her to leave it alone when something she said made him think back to earlier in the day, when he had thought he had heard an extra person moving around in the Hub.
If Eugene really had been in possession of a Dogon sixth eye before his death, who knows what effect it could have had on him, both before and after his death. There had been a number of Dogon eyes in the possession of Torchwood London, and although the research on them had never been completed, it had been noted that at least three of the Dogons’ thirteen eyes had special powers. They just didn’t know what they were.
Ianto took a breath and looked grimly at Gwen. “So you thought you’d just run off and investigate, did you? Despite what Tosh and I have told you. Despite my warning to you earlier. And you thought you’d just leave Jack behind to cover for what you were doing?”
Gwen glanced at Jack guiltily. “Ianto, I…”
“Gwen, I’ve already had you in this office once today, and I placed you on warning then but still you think it would be a good idea to go off and do whatever you wanted. Did you ever even consider stopping to ask me first?”
Gwen shook her head and shrugged. “I didn’t see the point. You’ve already made your feelings quite clear and I…”
“Don’t you presume to know what I would say Gwen. I may well have had new information, or there could have been something else you didn’t know about,” Ianto interrupted.
“Is there something else?” Gwen asked eagerly, latching on to that one point.
Ianto looked away from her, he glanced at Jack briefly and then looked somewhere above him before sighing and looking back to Gwen. Knowing what little he did know about Dogon eyes, the possible opportunity of them having one for themselves was not one he wanted to pass up.
He shook his head, both at himself and Gwen. “That’s not the point. The point is, that once again, you were going off to do your own thing, and that can’t happen at a place like Torchwood. I need to be able to rely on my staff.”
“I just need a bit of time,” Gwen insisted.
Ianto nodded. “That’s fine. Go. Just go and do whatever you want. Take all the time you want.”
Gwen looked at Ianto in confusion. “Really?” she asked disbelievingly. She looked at Jack uncertainly.
Ianto lips pressed into a hard thin line watching her. “Yes, in fact you have all weekend and all of next week to do whatever you want.”
Gwen paled incredulously when she realised what Ianto was actually saying. “You’re suspending me?”
Ianto nodded once.
“Gwen,” Ianto interrupted, “I suggest you leave now, before I change my mind and make it an unpaid suspension.”
Gwen gawped at him for a moment. “What about Jack?” she eventually got out.
“Jack is not your concern at this moment.”
Gwen glared at Ianto and then stood up to leave. As she walked past Jack she placed a hand on Jack’s back and whispered, “I’m sorry” and left the room without closing the door behind her.
Jack looked through the empty doorway for a moment before standing up and closing the door softly. He turned back to the office and saw Ianto had buried his face in his hands, leaning on the desk. Ianto looked like he was in pain. Jack went and knelt beside Ianto’s chair. He placed a hand gently on Ianto’s shoulder.
“Ianto? Are you OK?” Ianto lifted his head and Jack was saddened to see the hurt in Ianto’s eyes.
When Ianto saw Gwen place her hand on Jack as she walked past, Ianto had had a flashback to when they had saved Carys Fletcher from the alien sex gas. Tosh had told him how she had looked back at Jack and Gwen kneeling on the floor and Gwen had leant forward and kissed Jack. Tosh had taken great delight in telling him of the dazed look Jack had had in his eyes as he rubbed his fingertips over his lips where Gwen had kissed him.
Ianto hadn’t thought anything of it at the time – he and Jack were not together then, so it wasn’t any of his business what, or who, Jack did. But the touch just then gave him visions of all the other little touches and glances between Jack and Gwen, when Jack had spent time with her rather than taking the time to be with him. And after standing there, listening to them plotting for Gwen to disobey Ianto once again, Jack being willing to provide an alibi for her, deliberately going against him in favour of Gwen…
Ianto shrugged Jack off and indicated to the chair on the opposite side of the desk. Jack looked at him closely and then went and sat down again. Ianto stared at him, but didn’t say anything.
Jack eventually broke the silence. “So, you’re just letting her go anyway?”
“Yep. You know as well as I do that she’s not going to leave it alone. Better she gets it out of her system, away from Torchwood. She’ll be a liability in the field if she is continually distracted by this supposed case.”
Jack nodded in agreement. “I suppose.”
Ianto raised an eyebrow. “So exactly what was it that has she covered you for?”
Jack opened his mouth to reply then stopped and thought about it. He couldn’t remember, which was strange because the moment she had mentioned it, Jack had an overwhelming thought that he really did owe her one.
“I don’t know,” he said, genuinely confused. “It’s true!” he said in response to Ianto’s quiet scoff. “The moment she reminded me of it, I knew, without a doubt that she had covered for me for something and I knew that I had no choice but to return the favour. But honestly Ianto, I really don’t remember now what it was.”
Jack thought back to earlier, when he was having conflicting memories about whether he had been with Gwen or Ianto, and now he couldn’t remember the truth about what Gwen had apparently done for him.
Ianto looked at him disbelievingly but, once again, chose not to say anything. Jack was beginning to feel unnerved by Ianto’s reluctance to speak to him. They sat there for several minutes just looking at each other. They both thought back to their last conversation where Ianto had told him that he needed to be able to trust everyone in his team. Jack had stormed out, indignant that Ianto seemed to think he couldn’t trust Jack. Jack knew agreeing to let Gwen go without talking to Ianto was not going to further his cause, but his concerns about his conflicting memories seemed to be of a higher priority than trying to justify his actions.
“Ianto, I think something strange is going on,” he began. Jack went on to tell him of his two sets of memories, hoping that Ianto would say something similar. But Ianto continued to sit there, not saying a word. His ongoing silence was beginning to worry Jack – did Ianto just not believe him, or was something else going on in his mind. Was Ianto too angry with him to believe what he was saying?
Ianto actually wasn’t sure what to believe. At first he wondered if Jack was trying to cover himself by saying he didn’t remember what Gwen had done for him, and then when Jack started talking about his memories being changed, or made different to what he thought, Ianto didn’t know what to think.
He thought about earlier in the day, when he thought he had heard a fourth person in the Hub.
“Do you remember the night we stopped Suzie going after Sarah Pallister?” he asked. “And Eugene turned up wanting to tell Gwen about something about…”
“Eugene wasn’t there that night,” Jack interrupted eagerly. “It was just you, me and Suzie.”
Ianto shook his head, “No, he was th…” and just like that it clicked. Ianto could suddenly see that it had just been the three of them there, where he previously remembered Eugene being there with them. And at the exact same time, Jack became unsure of his own memory – had Eugene been there after all?
“Oh. Maybe he was there,” he began to say, stopping when he saw Ianto shake his head.
“So what exactly is happening here then?” Ianto asked.
Neither of them had an answer to that.
After another uncomfortable silence, Ianto took a deep breath and began the part of the conversation he had been trying to avoid, knowing it was just going to cause more conflict between them. He brushed his hand over his pocket, feeling the cool hardness of the stopwatch.
“I spoke to you earlier about needing to be able to trust my team members.”
Jack nodded. He wasn’t looking forward to this any more than Ianto was.
“And yet I find you scheming with Gwen.”
Jack felt the indignation and rage rushing through him. “And I told you before that you can trust me. And besides, I told you, I thought I genuinely owed her a favour at the time!” Jack took a breath, surprised by the sudden anger he felt. He stood up, towering over Ianto. “If you don’t trust me, then we don’t have much of a future!”
Ianto paled. What was Jack saying?
Jack saw the look of shock on Ianto’s face, and quite frankly, he shared that shock. He wasn’t sure why he was suddenly so angry, but if Ianto was still questioning his trustworthiness, if he didn’t believe in him…
“I think you should stay at your own place tonight,” Jack continued. “I will stay here.” Jack looked out the office window. “I’m going out to get some dinner, I’ll see you tomorrow.” Jack left, taking great care to shut, not slam, the door behind him.
Ianto was stunned. “J-Jack?” he called out hesitantly, but the only answer he got was the sound of Jack’s footsteps getting further and further away.
Ianto sat at his desk, not moving, for another half hour. No matter how much he tried, he simply couldn’t process how things had gone so bad, so quickly. Eventually, he pulled the stopwatch out of his pocket. He pressed the button on the top and watched the hands move around before turning it over and re-reading the inscription on the back.
He turned his head towards the bunker. Most of the clothes he had there needed to be washed anyway. He climbed down the ladder and gathered his stuff. He didn’t really want to but he took his toiletries and other items too. Who knew when, or if, he would be coming back? Ianto looked around the bunker sadly, not wanting to leave. He straightened the bed covers and tidied up some things that had been left lying around. A glance at his watch showed him that Jack would most likely be returning soon, so with one last glance, he climbed back up the ladder and went home.
After his meal, Jack dawdled for as long as he could before returning. He hoped Ianto had left; he couldn’t face him just then. When he got back, the lights had all been turned off and the only sounds came from the computers. Ianto had obviously left.
Jack couldn’t help but smile when he got to his bunker and saw that Ianto had tidied up before he left. Just couldn’t help himself, Jack thought affectionately, before he remembered why Ianto was not there. The smile left his face abruptly.
He started to go through to the bunker’s tiny bathroom to get ready for bed when he noticed something was sitting on the middle of his pillow. It was the stopwatch. He was surprised; Ianto must have had it fixed while Jack was away from the Hub earlier. He was amazed it had been done so quickly. He picked it up and rubbed his thumb over the smooth surface of the watch face. As he did so, he realised the back of the stopwatch felt different. Turning it over, he saw the inscription on the back and had to sit down on the bed abruptly.
For Ianto to have had that message placed there, when things had been so uncertain between them… Jack suddenly felt ill.
“Oh, Ianto!” he whispered quietly to the empty room. He sprung up from the bed and practically ran up the ladder. He grabbed his coat, ran to the garage and drove to Ianto’s as fast as he could.
When he got to Ianto’s door, he paused before inserting the key. While this wasn’t the first time he had used the key since Ianto had given it to him, it was the first time he had used it uninvited. Would he even be welcome tonight, and this late? He felt the weight of the stopwatch in his coat pocket and knew he had to go in. He took the stopwatch out of his pocket and unlocked the door.
The lights were off, so Jack assumed Ianto had gone to bed. He started to take his coat off and hang it up when he heard a terrified scream from the lounge room. Dropping the coat where he stood, Jack rushed in but stopped when he saw Ianto was asleep on the couch. He was disappointed to see that Ianto was caught in a nightmare; he had hoped that last night’s dreamless sleep would continue for him.
Jack walked over to the couch, and placed a hand on Ianto’s forehead. The result was instantaneous; Ianto’s murmurings quietened down and he moved his head closer to Jack. That was one thing Jack had always liked about Ianto, whether asleep or awake, he was always highly responsive to Jack’s touch. Jack sat on the floor in front of the couch and waited for the nightmare to completely pass.
When Ianto had calmed down, Jack stretched Ianto’s legs out along the couch; his legs had become entangled in the duvet as he had thrashed through his nightmare and Jack knew he would wake up with sore legs if he stayed in that position.
Jack moved back up to the other end of the couch and sat down again. He rested his forehead against Ianto’s and waited for him to wake up. Jack must have dozed off, because the next thing he knew was that Ianto’s hand was resting gently on the back of his head and a kiss was placed on his forehead.
“Jack?” Ianto queried quietly.
Jack looked up at him and handed him the stopwatch. “I’m an idiot,” he declared, equally as quietly.
The corner of Ianto’s mouth twitched upwards slightly, but thankfully he didn’t agree with him.
“Ianto…” Jack began, but Ianto quietened him with a finger on his mouth.
“Shh! We can talk about it in the morning,” Ianto said. “You’re here now, and that’s all I’m worried about.”
“Are you sure?” Jack looked concerned.
Ianto simply nodded. “It’s late, let’s go to bed.”
Jack stood up, and held out a hand to Ianto. Ianto pulled himself up, with Jack’s assistance but stumbled slightly when he stood up, still a bit sleepy.
“Whoa, careful,” Jack chided gently, wrapping his arms around Ianto. Ianto smiled sheepishly and wrapped his arms around Jack in return. They stood there, holding each other for a few minutes, until they were interrupted by Ianto yawning. Jack laughed softly.
“Come on,” he said and led Ianto to the bedroom.
As they settled into bed, they wrapped their arms around each other again and snuggled as close as they could comfortably get.
The last things that went through Jack’s mind as he fell asleep, were the wording of the inscription and the knowledge that regardless of whatever was happening, he couldn’t let Ianto down.
“I trust you Jack. With my life, and with my heart. Ianto.”