Pairing: Canon pairings, team
Length: 1,200 words, one-shot
Rating: R for language
Summary: It took almost dying to make him realise what living really meant.
A/N: Post Children of Earth, AU
Her fingers kneaded my shoulders for a moment -- ah, that felt good -- and then a mug of tea appeared at my elbow, along with a sleeve of McVities. I'd almost forgotten how much I love those.
"Have a digestive. You've lost a bit of weight, I think."
"Cheers, Rhi." I lifted the mug with a wink above it as she sat across from me at the kitchen table. "Stress'lll do that to you. You know, nearly dying..." But I knew she didn't want to think about that so I smiled instead and took a bite of chocolate-dipped biscuit.
"So tell me more about... Jack," she said, and I groaned.
"It's fascinating!" she protested. "Come on, I hear whispers round my friends and then you dropped that bombshell, and everything went sideways and we never got to talk about it before-" Her eyes went liquid and she cleared her throat. "Remember when I met Johnny and went on about him to you?"
"And on, and on, and on-" I laughed when she thwapped me with a tea towel. Mica wandered in, kissed my cheek, and held out her hand.
"Y'all right, unca?" she asked. I gave her a low-five. She gave me a look. Kids. They bounce back quickly.
"Right. You just want my cold, hard cash." I pulled out my wallet and extracted a tenner. "Don't spend it all in one place, mind."
"I won't!" She swooped in for another peck and then flitted off. Rhi looked at me, expectant.
"Right then. Jack Harkness. Spill."
"Well," I said, sliding my fingers over the stick figure and raised lettering on the mug. Number One Dad! "You know I'm not technically a civil servant. Well, technically. Torchwood gave me somewhere to belong after... I was lost for a long time." Rhiannon might know about Torchwood now but she doesn't know about what came before and as much as I could open up to her now, I couldn't tell her about that in any detail. Not yet, if ever. "Anyway, Jack didn't... he didn't want me- I mean, he didn't want me on the team. It took some convincing. Now it's just down to the three of us. But it looks like we're hiring a woman out of London, Lois. She helped us with the aliens."
"The 456," Rhi said, matter-of-factly. Well, as much as we'd like to erase bad memories, we couldn't retcon the world. And we'd likely get a new government out of it in the end so...
I nodded and waited for her to continue.
"Back to Jack. When did you realise you were-"
"I don't know. I think I'm pretty much...well, I like women too, and so does... it's, er, kind of complicated."
"So you're a bisexual, then?"
I sipped, and poked at a stray biscuit crumb on the table with my finger before I met her gaze again. "I guess. I guess that's what I am, if you want to put a name to it."
Hard to believe it was only the second time I'd been to Rhys and Gwen's flat.
As soon as Rhys opened the door and looked at me quizzically, I tripped over the boxes in the threshold and he had to help me up. That was slightly embarrassing.
"Never knew you to be clumsy, Ianto," he said. Well, since he'd barely got to know me at all before everything had gone to shit...
"You saw me dance, at your wedding," I said, squinting at him as he awkwardly brushed dust from my jacket sleeve.
"Give yourself some credit, mate. Can't really criticise, the way I dance."
"Suppose we're all moving, now. Jack hasn't got a place to live anymore." I'd come round to see Gwen but he told me she was out scouting for a new location. Looking back, I think Jack was well-amused by the concept of Torchwood buying property for a new base when he wasn't horrified by the whole process. I don't think he'd ever dealt with an estate agent in his life.
I was glad to catch Rhys alone, though. I really wanted to get to know him better, connect with him; Gwen loves him, and I care about Gwen; we've all learned to keep one another close.
He and I had a long chat on the settee over leftover pizza. As fucked-up as everything had been, he was still fascinated about everything "up there" in the sky. I have to admit that I am too; I suppose some people get jaded, start hating what's out there in the universe and what's here like Suzie Costello did, but I'm still not. If anything, Torchwood, and everything that's happened, has made me value humanity even more. To value my friends.
I had to leave before Gwen got back, but I promised to help out with the move and not to be such a stranger.
The 456 hadn't really been that clever, I told her later.
"They could have used the hallucinogens they'd loosed in that room in Thames House to make Jack believe I'd died in his arms. Maybe it was the nature of their addiction, or maybe they were slow learners. Or maybe they just didn't have enough of the stuff to affect everyone while, you know, scaring the shit out of us and perpetrating a global kidnapping."
Gwen nodded, folding her arms. "You and your tip-top earth logic, Ianto."
"Good thing they're not geniuses like I am, then."
"Or as modest as you are, duck." She grinned and cuffed me on the arm just as the makeshift Rift alarm connected to my laptop went off.
"Suppose it's Weevils again?"
"God. I don't know. Where?"
"Probably." She groaned, putting on her jacket. "They've been coming thick as moths through a tent flap. Why couldn't the 456 have wanted them?"
"Oh come on," I chided, loading up with spray. "Nobody deserves that fate."
"Yeah, I know you're right. Let's do this." She pressed the button to unlock the warehouse door, and we were off on another hunt. Back to what passed as normal, then.
When Jack first laid eyes on me, after, he'd thought he was going mad, or seeing things. Understandable, really. I was sort of... still out of it myself. Also understandable. I didn't even have a key to my flat; it had been left behind with my personal effects in London, I reckon. I had to break in. I showered and dressed carefully, methodically, in Jack's favourite shirt and tie. Like that really mattered.
Still, seeing me was a shock. He thought -- no, known -- I was dead. He'd seen me die with his own eyes, after all. "Let me explain," I told him.
"This isn't real", he'd gasped, swearing. He wouldn't believe I wasn't a hallucination or a ghost (and god knows Jack didn't believe in ghosts) myself, until he touched me. Then he wept. Jack wept.
I'd thought Rhiannon would cry, and she had when she realised I was still around, but somehow didn't expect it from Jack. We'd been... close before, but I didn't fully realise how he felt about me before that moment, and despite whatever I'd said earlier in that room with what he'd thought was my last breath, I don't think I'd known how I really felt about him, either.
Jack is special. He means the world to me.
A few weeks later, I stood on the lawn in the back garden of the small rental house we'd got, my toes curling into the damp grass, and took a deep breath as Jack's arm went round my waist. He pressed his lips to the back of my shoulder and I sighed into his touch, reached back and ran a hand through his hair.
It felt so good to be back. To finally belong. To remember what it's like to let other people in, to make them happy. At the end, it's love that holds us together.
That's what love is, isn't it? When you value someone else's happiness above your own?
My name isn't Adam anymore. It's Ianto Jones. I've grown to like it.