Title: Restless 1/1 (but a bit long at 4000 words)
Rating: PG-13 for minor angst and kissing
Spoilers/Setting: Near-future!fic; general spoilers through 2.09
Disclaimer: Not mine; no major harm intended; will return when finished, only slightly scathed.
Warnings: None. Not dark! Who knew I had it in me? This is unbeta'd so all grammar/spelling mistakes and content inconsistencies are mine.
Summary: A few years later, and things have changed at Torchwood. Ianto is getting restless.
by daedreams (aka daedream_fanbot)
Ianto Jones twirled the silvery object carelessly in his hands. Such an inconsequential thing. He stood above the Hub, leaning forward on the railing of a metal walkway, watching. Of course, these days there really wasn't that much to watch. Nothing interesting anyway.
From up here he used to be able to see it all. The way Tosh always seemed to know where Owen was, and while at her workstation, she would sort of angle her body in that direction, unconsciously letting him know how open she was to him. Owen had never noticed.
Owen used to never notice anything. He had a hard concentration about him, so when he was working, nothing else existed. It was beautiful to watch, really. Owen had a kind of grace when he moved about his research lab or the medical bay. He would reach for things without looking, because he knew that whatever he needed would be there, and he was never wrong. He moved quick and recklessly, yet was precise and methodical at the same time.
Now, though...well, it wasn't the same. Tosh always knew where Owen was, sure, but now Owen was aware of Tosh. And Tosh didn't watch Owen with the hope that he would see her. She watched him because he needed to be watched. And Owen knew that, as well.
Nothing was the same. Gwen used to come to work every day with an exciting sparkle in her eyes. She was ready to face what the universe threw at her and she wanted desperately to be know more. She couldn't let anything slide by her. She would chase anything and everything out of the ordinary, just so she could be a part of it. A part of something bigger.
Gwen wasn't down below in the Hub now. She didn't come to work every day any more. Of course, she still had a sparkle in her eyes when she did come in, but it was for entirely different reasons. And honestly, Ianto couldn't fault her for that.
Mostly though, Ianto would love to watch Jack. The way he moved around the Hub, checking in with everyone throughout the day. His hands in his pockets as he moved to each workstation, asked questions and listened intently to the answers. Before he left each team member, he would smile and joke and place a soft hand somewhere on their body. Usually the shoulder, but sometimes with Tosh, he would touch the back of her neck and she would smile at the warmth and, for just a few minutes, turn her body away from wherever Owen was.
Jack still wandered around the Hub, but it was without purpose now. He didn't check in with his teammates, anymore. There wasn't anything to check in on.
Ianto used to stand up here, high about the Hub, and even though he was physically separate from them, as he watched them individually and together, he felt connected to them all. He felt like an important part of the team, because he knew them all. He knew everything about them. They were his team and he belonged. This was were he was supposed to be.
The connection was lost. He came to work every day and went through the motions, but at the end of the day he hadn't accomplished a thing. And neither had anyone else. Jack, Tosh, Owen, sometimes Gwen, and himself, just showing up. Because what else were they going to do?
But why? How did he keep doing this without the purpose? Is this where he belonged?
"Doesn't belong here."
Ianto startled at the voice. Lost in his own mind, he had stopped watching the people below him and therefore not tracked Jack's movements as he had climbed the stairs to Ianto's not-so-secret place.
Standing up straight and turning to look at Jack, he worried for a moment that Jack could read his thoughts, or that he had been thinking out loud, and did Jack really mean it? Did Jack think he didn't belong here either?
Then Jack was pointing. "That. It doesn't belong here."
Ianto looked down at the silvery object in his hand. Heavy, metal object. Pointless. He had completely forgotten that he was holding it, spinning it, almost dropping it. "Yes," Ianto agreed. "I've liberated it from the archives."
"It's just a thing. It wasn't being imprisoned. Just stored."
"It should know the kind of chaos it's caused."
"Look." Ianto gestured to the quiet space below them. Tosh was clacking away on her keyboard. God knows what information she was giving the computer, or extracting from it.
Owen moved slowly up the stairs from the medical bay (they used to call it the autopsy bay, but after Owen died, they tried not to use the word 'autopsy' too much anymore - it was just creepy), then limped over to Tosh and lowered himself into a chair. The limp was caused by a brace holding his knee together. Literally holding it together - ever since his last mission, a little over a year ago. He was chasing a Weevil, just a Weevil, nothing too exciting, when he tripped and slammed his leg into a park bench, effectively shattering his knee. Of course, being dead, the incident also shattered his ability to walk properly for the rest of his death. After that, Owen's duties were restricted to inside the Hub. He and Tosh grew even closer. Now all Tosh did was take care of Owen. She didn't seem to mind. Currently, Owen was watching her work, the two of them sitting in comfortable and knowing silence.
To their left, Gwen's workstation had collected a very light coating of dust. Ianto hadn't cleaned it in a few days. He just hadn't felt like doing it. No one noticed.
"It all looks calm enough to me," Jack observed, and Ianto was a little angry with him for not understanding.
"And that doesn't bother you? The boredom. The staleness. It's chaos, Jack, because it's not the way it's supposed to be. There's nothing to do. No reason to be here." Ianto spun the silvery object in his hand again, and leaned forward on the railing. "And it's all this thing's fault."
Ianto felt Jack rest a hand on the back of his shoulder and he flashed back to three years ago. To the first time that Jack had touched him gently like that. They had found each other late one night in the Hub. The tension between them had been palpable. It had only been a few weeks since the incident with Lisa, and they had only just begun to forgive each other. Ianto was telling Jack about some unusual weather patterns he had detected and Jack had placed his hand on Ianto's shoulder while he spoke. It had been the beginning of something.
And now, after so much time, Ianto still got that same tingle under his skin when Jack touched him. It was the one thing that hadn't changed. In the 11 months since the silvery object had fallen through the rift, and everything changed, that one thing hadn't. They were still Jack and Ianto. Still kept each other warm at night, kept the nightmares at bay, and kept up the innovation in the bedroom.
Jack's hand on his shoulder was a comfort, as ever. They had still never said it, but Ianto knew that Jack would always be there for him. Loving him, for as long as Ianto needed it. For as long as Jack could.
"What would happen if I dropped it, Jack?" Ianto tossed the thing up in the air and caught it easily.
Jack shrugged. "Probably nothing. You might dent it."
"Do you think that would do it? If it was damaged, would the rift become active again?"
Jack took hold of Ianto's hips gently, turned him around so they could face each other, then wrapped his arms around Ianto's waist. "Is that what you want? To open the rift?"
"Not open it. Just, you know, stir it up a bit."
Jack kissed Ianto's forehead. "No, Ianto. Damaging it would not activate the rift. When it fell through, it closed the rift behind it. But it's not keeping it closed. Nothing is keeping it closed. It just is."
Ianto brought a hand up and stroked Jack's back, enjoying the feel of being in his lover's embrace. He rested his head on Jack's shoulder. "Why are we still doing this?"
Jack's entire body stiffened in Ianto's arms. "I thought we were doing alright, Ianto? Aren't we in a good place?"
Straightening again, Ianto grinned at Jack's worried face and kissed him purposefully. It went on a little longer than Ianto meant it to, but he got his point across. When they pulled apart, Jack was smiling again. "So, you weren't talking about us?"
"No," Ianto said. He nodded his head toward the Hub below them again. "This. Why are we still Torchwood. Every day. All we do is maintain the archives. Find new ways to catalog old artifacts. It's pointless, and you know it." He dislodged himself from Jack, and leaned on the railing once again, spinning the object, cursing it. "We're as pointless as this thing. There has to be something more. We have to do something. Anything."
Ianto could tell Jack was about to say something, but just then the large round door began it's grating roll to the right as Gwen entered the Hub. Jack patted Ianto on the shoulder and began to walk away. "You coming down to say hello?" he asked as he descended the stairs.
"I'll be there in a minute," Ianto called after Jack. "Just let me put this back where it belongs." Jack nodded and hurried the rest of the way down.
Ianto watched as Jack kissed Gwen on the cheek, then took the tiny infant from her arms and cradled it in his own. "Hello, little Mari," he cooed to the squirming baby. "Did you miss your Uncle Jack?"
Mari immediately grabbed at Jack's chin and everyone laughed. Tosh stepped forward and took the baby from Jack. "Don't keep her all to yourself, Jack. We all want a cuddle."
It continued like that as everyone took a turn fussing over the little child. Ianto wanted to join them, but he couldn't shake this feeling that had been growing inside him for these many months. The feeling that he didn't belong anymore.
He flipped the silvery object into the air and caught it again. He felt numb. He needed to feel useful. Wasn't there something more?
Ianto closed his eyes and took a deep breath. After a moment, he began walking down the stairs, toward the archives, to put the offensive object back where it belonged.
A few days later, Ianto entered Jack's office to present his boss with a cup of coffee and an envelope. Jack let the envelope sit on his desk, but took the coffee up in both hands. After a moment, Ianto picked up the envelope again and held it out to Jack, practically shoving it in his face.
"No," Jack insisted and swatted at Ianto's hand.
"You don't even know what it is." Ianto was already frustrated with Jack. This was going to be a difficult conversation, and probably the first time since Lisa that he will have disobeyed an order from his boss.
"I know what it is." Jack set the coffee mug down and looked harshly at Ianto. "You think I don't know what's been going on in that pretty head of yours? I know you, Ianto, and the answer is 'no.'" He picked up his coffee again and took a drink, as if that settled everything.
"It's not a question, Jack. It's a resignation."
The striped coffee mug shattered against the metal of the wall safe before Ianto even saw Jack had thrown it. He held his ground as Jack stood and pounded both fists on his desk. They were silent for a moment, then Jack said again, simply, "No."
"I'm not asking permission." Ianto held up the envelope still in his hand and ripped it open. He unfolded the piece of paper inside and placed it on the desk, directly in front of Jack.
Jack closed his eyes tight and slowly lowered himself into his chair. "No," he said again, but much quieter this time and without any punch behind it.
Ianto stepped around the large desk and leaned against it, to Jack's right, a position he had been in many times before. It's how they talked when in this office. Jack in his chair, Ianto against the desk, they revealed so much to each other, without ever having to say the real words. This time, though, the words were too important to skirt around. Someone was going to have to say it.
"I suppose I could order you to stay," Jack said pointedly, but without looking Ianto in the eyes.
"You could," Ianto answered, but Jack said nothing further about that, kindly, so that Ianto would not have to defy him.
The silence dragged on. Jack still wasn't looking at Ianto. Eventually Ianto slid over a few inches on the desk toward his boss and told him, "I have to go."
Jack's head snapped up, and he glared at Ianto. "Why?"
"Jack. You know me. And you know why."
"Tell me anyway. Give me a chance to argue the point."
Ianto sighed heavily. He was so very tired. "We have no reason to be here. Torchwood's purpose is to collect and analyze the alien artifacts that fall through the rift to protect the human race against the future. But nothing is coming through any more. Cardiff is closed for business."
"Not permanently, and you know it. We're not done here. It will happen, and it will happen here."
"Yes, but when? In six months? A year? Five years? And in the mean time, we're just waiting. Holding down the fort like over-paid security guards. Jack," Ianto shook his head, "I can't just exist like this. I'm going mad. Can't you see it's driving me mad?"
Jack didn't answer. Of course he saw it. Jack knew what was happening with every member of his team. Especially Ianto.
Several more minutes passed before Jack placed a hand on Ianto's knee. Ianto knew that the work talk was over. They were going to get personal now.
"How am I going to do this without you?"
"You got along without me just fine before. You don't need me here."
"I wasn't talking about Torchwood."
"Neither was I."
Jack closed his hand tightly around Ianto's knee, almost to the point of pain. "I thought -," Jack's face was contorted with an anguish that Ianto had not seen before. "I thought you wanted to be with me."
Ianto let himself smile a little. "I do. Very much. And if you don't Retcon me, I'm going to miss the hell out of you, Jack."
"I wouldn't Retcon you."
"That's against rules and regulations, sir," Ianto said, slipping back into a formality they hadn't had in many years.
"I don't care. If you go, I'm going to need you to come back."
"Will Torchwood want me back?"
"I'll want you back. I'm going to need you to come back to me."
Ianto leaned down quickly and captured Jack's lips in a hard kiss. They were rarely physical with each other with others present in the Hub, but it hardly mattered anymore. Let Tosh and Owen get an eyeful. Ianto didn't care.
When they finally separated, the look in Jack's eyes broke Ianto's heart. He knew that Jack was done arguing. Ianto had made up his mind to leave, and there was nothing Jack could do to change that. And now Jack knew that, too.
Ianto sat back up, but held tight to Jack's hand, still resting on Ianto's leg. He smiled at Jack, but didn't get one in return. "Where will you go?" Jack asked.
"I've thought about it some, but I'm really not sure, yet. America, maybe? New York. Or perhaps India."
"That's so far."
"I just need to find it. A reason. A purpose. I don't know where it will be, but if I keep looking, then I'm sure to find something. Someplace where I'll be of use."
"But what if-"
"There has to be someplace, Jack. Something."
Suddenly Jack's face changed. It sparkled with thought. His eyes went wide and he smiled his biggest brightest smile. Standing up, Jack took Ianto's face in his hands and kissed him passionately. Ianto knew he must have had a very confused look on his face when Jack finally pulled away.
Laughing, Jack cupped the side of Ianto's head as he said, "I need to make a phone call."
A week later, Ianto stood in the middle of the Hub, dabbing the tears from Gwen's face. He found it surprisingly easy to say goodbye to his coworkers. He would miss them, sure, but he felt he had been saying goodbye to them in one way or another during the past year. It was definitely time to move on.
Gwen kissed him on both cheeks, then again hard on the lips until Jack cleared his throat and she had to pull away, not the least bit embarrassed. Ianto turned away from her and took Mari from Tosh's arms, giving the little girl a peck on the forehead before passing her on to her mother.
He embraced Tosh tightly, and they stayed that way for several long minutes. When they pulled apart, Tosh kissed him on the cheek and Ianto placed a hand gently on the back of her neck. He leaned in close to her ear and whispered, "Find some time for yourself, Tosh. You deserve more." As he backed away, Tosh glanced over to Owen and nodded lightly at Ianto, then lowered her head.
Ianto gripped Owen's handshake harder than he should have, but Owen couldn't feel it anyway, so it really didn't matter. "Hope you find the adventure you're looking for," Owen said.
"That's the plan," Ianto assured him. Then he leaned in close to Owen and stage-whispered, "I win."
Owen glared at him for a moment, then smiled broadly and shoved him away. "Bastard."
Jack walked over to Ianto, holding a small suitcase. Ianto turned to face his teammates. He looked at each of them, making sure to imprint their faces and expressions in his head. After all, he had no idea how long he was going to be gone.
With a final smile and nod, Ianto walked out of the Hub, with Jack only a few steps behind.
Blinking in the bright sunlight outside the Information Center, Ianto took his suitcase from Jack.
"You ready?" Jack asked.
"Yes," Ianto answered confidently, though nerves were twisting his stomach into knots.
Jack turned and began walking, with Ianto only a few steps behind. They rounded the corner and there, next to the water tower, looking exactly as Jack had described it, was a blue police box.
Jack was moving faster now. Almost running. Ianto quickened his step to catch up. When they were a few meters away, the door to the box opened, and a thin man in a relaxed brown suit stepped out, closing the door behind him.
Stopping short in front of the man, Jack stood for a moment and just grinned. The man grinned back. "Captain," he said.
"Doctor," Jack responded, and they immediately embraced, holding it for just seconds longer than Ianto was comfortable.
When they pulled apart, they simply looked at each other. Ianto saw the universe pass between their eyes. So much life, so much adventure, so much death, so much love.
Eventually, Ianto cleared his throat, and Jack looked over at him, only slightly embarrassed. "Doctor," he said to his friend, "may I introduce Ianto Jones." Then as an aside he added, "No relation."
The Doctor shook Ianto's hand firmly. "Good to know you, Ianto Jones."
"Doctor," Ianto greeted a bit too formally.
Clapping Ianto on the arm, the Doctor said, "No need to be so stiff, Ianto. Nice suit, though."
Jack beamed at that, and Ianto knew that the choice of wearing this particular suit today was no mistake. His bag may have been packed with his casuals -- jeans, t-shirts, jumpers -- but this suit was Jack's favorite. The Armani dark grey pinstripe with magenta shirt and gunmetal-and-magenta striped tie. It was how he wanted Jack to remember him.
Ianto nodded at the Doctor and tried to physically relax, but wasn't sure if he pulled it off.
The Doctor turned back to Jack. "Was a bit surprised when Martha rang me, Jack. I thought for sure that the world was ending."
"I kinda thought it was. With Ianto wanting to leave." Jack took Ianto's hand, and Ianto felt a bit silly being talked about. "But I figured, if he was with you, then at least you'd get him back to me." He held an accusatory finger out at the Doctor. "Safely."
"Sometimes it can be a bit dangerous traveling with me."
"True," Jack agreed. "But fun."
"I'll be alright." Ianto interjected. "I can take of myself."
Jack pulled Ianto close to him. "I know. But now you'll have two people looking after you. Yourself and the Doctor."
"Are you sure this is the right thing for me?"
"Trust me, Ianto. You'll find what you're looking for with the Doctor." Then Jack's expression changed to one of longing, and he pulled Ianto in for a very tight hug. Ianto clutched at Jack and for the first time during all his plans to leave, Ianto finally began to realize how much he was loosing.
He would miss Jack's smile and his laughter. His touch, both friendly and intimate. The way he listened and reassured. Jack always seemed to know exactly what Ianto needed. Even now, when Ianto needed to move on, Jack had found the perfect way to let him.
They began to let go of each other, but Jack suddenly grabbed his face and kissed him more fiercely than Ianto could remember ever being kissed. The Doctor, the Plass, all of Cardiff fell away from him as Ianto got lost in Jack.
My God, he was going to miss this incredible man. His boss, who had kept him whole these past three years. Kept him sane and loved. Safe and laughing. Jack had been his world for three long years.
Now it was time for Ianto to see what else was out there.
Ianto held on until Jack broke the kiss. They pressed their foreheads together gasping and laughing a little. A voice to the side said, "Wow," and the moment was broken.
Ianto took a step back from Jack and picked up the suitcase he had dropped. The Doctor smiled brightly at him. "You ready?"
The Doctor open the door to his box slightly and waited. Ianto turned to Jack.
"I expect to see you back here in...," Jack held up his hand and pushed the top button of the stopwatch he had just nicked from Ianto's pocket during the kiss, "...ten minutes."
Ianto grinned. "And counting?" He then wrapped his fingers around Jack's hand holding the watch. He squeezed, pressing the button and stopping the ticking. "Why don't we say a week? Give you a chance to miss me."
Jack pulled his hand away from Ianto's and placed the stopwatch in his pocket. "I miss you already."
Ianto reached up and brushed his fingers across Jack's cheek, causing the man's eyes to close. "Ianto, I lo--"
"Jack," Ianto interrupted. Jack opened his eyes. "Tell me when I get back."
Ianto turned away. Jack watched as the Doctor opened the door the rest of the way and Ianto stepped inside. The last thing he heard Ianto say before the door closed behind them was, "Oh. It's bigg--"