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Metal Tears for the Tin Man (13/27)

Jack paced his room, incensed at the absolute stupidity of Alpha Team's lead, his mind whirling like a dervish, and he was unable to stop it. Jack had stayed at the site long enough to supervise the clean up and then had PCs Gwen and Andy give him a ride back to the Hub, commandeering them from where they'd been acting as crowd control for a handful of night-owls and some story-hungry journalists. Four Cardiff Police units had been a serious case of overkill, at least as far as Jack was concerned.

If Jack hadn't been trapped in the never ending loop of his own thoughts, he might have found it weird to downright uncomfortable to be in the back seat of the cruiser listening to Gwen talk about her upcoming nuptials to Mr. Rhys Williams and Andy teasing her about her 'hen do'. However, all Jack had been able to focus on were the events that had transpired earlier and how he seemed to be doomed to repeat the same stupid, selfish mistakes of his life over and over and over again. Never mind the fact that this version of Ianto was an insanely competent leader, excellent marksman, and had been trained within an inch of his life for all sorts of situations, alien and otherwise, he was still Ianto, and Jack seemed to have the need to protect and look out for Jones hardwired into his very being. But what had the stupid son of a bitch done? He'd exposed himself to danger without so much as a second thought while attempting to keep safe the one person on the fucking planet who didn't have to worry about dying.

It was bad enough that Jack had failed Jake and Jenkins – that they were both in hospital because he hadn't been good enough, smart enough, fast enough – but the very thought of losing Jones had Jack alternating between almost homicidal fury and hyperventilating from a panic attack to end all panic attacks. Why the fuck had Jones slapped his personal armor on Jack in the first place? Did this version have a death wish, or was he just suicidally stupid? "What part of can't die doesn't the fucking moron get?" Jack snarled, feeling trapped by fate, circumstances, his own insane emotions and by the universe at large. It was like being buried in ten tons of concrete, like being trapped in that fucking grave for centuries, dying and reviving in a never-ending cycle of torture and pain. Was this all he was ever going to be – a harbinger of death and destruction? Was he doomed to an eternity of pain and loss no matter how much he atoned or suffered for his past sins?

"Fuck it!" he muttered, tossing on the only armor he needed – his greatcoat – and grabbing his Webley. If he couldn't sleep, he'd work out his fears and frustrations on the shooting range. Slamming out of his room, he made his way down to the subterranean level that housed the gym, armory and shooting range.

An hour and who knows how many expended bullets later, as Jack steadily worked his way through an assortment of weapons from light hand guns to semi automatics to the huge machine guns used to repel Cybermen and Daleks, he still wasn't getting over it. If anything, he was getting more and more irate and panic-stricken by the second as his brain whirred, playing through one increasingly grisly scenario after another where Jones ended up dead – always dead. "Son of a bitch!" he snarled. "Stupid son of a bitch!"

"Now then, it wasn't Ross' fault he was bitten by a butterfly," Ianto mused from the doorway, having just returned from the hospital and gone in search of Harkness, who had vanished once again after they'd found out that Ross was going to live. "He's stable, looks like shite, but he was grinning to beat the band when I left – Lisa showed up and was fussing over him. Jake's still going on about Harper and complaining that his head hurts and that he wants to come home. Tom's consulting with the staff at the hospital about that antivenin, and I've got a fuckload of reports to write up. Alpha team update complete… sir." The last was added with an almost insolent smirk.

"As much as I'm relieved to hear that Ross is going to be okay, I wasn't referring to him," Jack snarled, all but throwing the high powered rifle to the weapons counter before wheeling to glare at the younger man. "I was referring to you! What the fuck was that, putting your armor on me? Were you trying to get yourself killed?"

"No, I was trying to keep you alive," Ianto snapped. "What kind of fuckwit are you, running into a hostile situation with no protection?!"

"What part of I. Can't. Die! Don't you get?" Jack yelled back at Jones, at his wit's end to get through to the younger man. At this rate it would take Jack eating a bullet for Jones to get it through his far too thick skull!

"I don't know, probably the same damn part of 'you're not going to get in that position around me' that you ruddy well can't understand!"

"You don't believe it," Jack replied with patent disbelief. "I keep saying it; Rose and Doc have said it; and you're just not buying it. God damned pig-headed Welshmen, I swear, you're the bane of my existence at times," he muttered as he turned back to the weapons table and quickly surveyed his options.

"Well, if the mountain won't come to Mohammed and all that," Jack sighed to himself as he picked up his handgun which was still loaded, safety off and bullet in the chamber. At least he'd taken his greatcoat off when he'd come down here, the last thing he wanted to do was put a bullet hole through it.

"Fuck, this is gonna hurt," he sighed to himself and then, before he could actually think about it, pressed the muzzle to his chest directly over his heart and pulled the trigger, dead before he even hit the ground.

"What the – " Ianto was half across the room before he even consciously realized what Harkness was about. Ending up on his knees beside the other man's body, he frantically slammed one hand down on the small hole ringed by burnt fabric and singed flesh. Blood seeped out from beneath the body, and he frantically felt for a pulse, starting to call for medical back-up before realizing that there was no one else in the Hub.

"Fucker, fucker, god damn idiotic fucker," he rasped, working frantically to try to seal the wound, not realizing that it was closing beneath his palm – not until Jack jerked half-upright, gasping in an agonized breath as he did so.

"What the fuck?!"

"Son of a… I hate that part," Jack rasped and then slumped backwards, half-landing on Ianto's lap. "No matter how many times I do it, it still sucks. You owe me a new shirt, by the way."

"You fuckwit!" Ianto rasped, his whole body shaking with tension before he grabbed Harkness by the lapels and hauled him in for a kiss, their lips slamming together with bruising force, and then shoved him off his lap, looking as if he had no conscious control over any of the actions. "Don't you ever fucking do that again, or I'll kill you myself," he snarled as he scrambled to his feet, feeling his fatigue pants slide against his thighs, the durable fabric dampened by Harkness' blood.

"I'll just come back again." Jack's voice was hoarse with repressed emotion. Don't think about it, don't think about it. "Jones – you kissed me."

"And you fucking shot yourself!"

"Not my first choice but you weren't going to believe me any other way," Jack sighed, slowly getting to his feet. "Jones, I've been shot, stabbed, poisoned, irradiated, had my life force sucked out of me by an alien demon, buried alive in cement and blown to teeny tiny bits, just to name a few. An alien with a gun isn't gonna kill me permanently. So next time you feel like risking your very finite life, please don't. I couldn't take losing you too, okay?"

Ianto was silent for a long moment, looking down at his blood-stained hands. "I can't promise that," he finally admitted. "I'm sure you'd rather I smile and nod and lie, but I won't, and I can't. I had Jake nearly get his brains bashed in by that alien motherfucker and Ross injected with killer butterfly poison; I sure as hell wasn't going to let you go racing in to get yourself blown in half, and I won't do it the next time it happens either, so fire me or transfer me if that's what you have to do because I'm not budging."

Jack's eyebrows went up to his hairline at the rather passionate speech. "You're going to be a big pain in my ass, aren't you, Jones?" he murmured right before he swept an arm around the younger man's waist, tugged him close and returned the kiss with interest.

"Fuckwit," Ianto growled into Jack's mouth, one hand fisting in the taller man's hair, the other dropping down to his ass and dragging their bodies together.

It was like getting hit by lighting except a lot more pleasant, as Jack knew from personal experience. Gasping into Jones' mouth, Jack raised his other arm around Jones' waist and pressed them even more firmly together from chest to knees, instantly hard and straining. "Pussy," Jack retorted in kind, biting at Jones' lower lip before soothing it with his tongue.

"That's prick to you," Ianto's retort was spoken into Jack's mouth as he yanked at his clothes, dragging his hands up under Jack's shirt to feel the unmarked expanse of his chest.

"Whatever you say, boss," Jack gasped, his head falling to rest on a well defined shoulder. "Fuck, Jones, you're killin' me here," he whispered into Ianto's neck before sucking a far too tantalizing patch of skin into his mouth as his hands pulled at Jones' back, trying to draw him closer.

Ianto shuddered and ground against him, panting for breath in the face of the overwhelming desire roaring over him. "Not today, Harkness," he rasped. "Bedroom."

"Christ. Yours or mine? At this rate I'll be lucky if I can make it up the fucking stairs!"

"Mine is a bunk," Ianto pointed out, quite logically, he thought, considering that the stairs were looking better by the second.

"Mine it is," Jack gasped as he forced his hands to let go of Jones' waist only to catch on the bottom of his t-shirt and all but rip it off him. "Need you naked, need us both naked – now."

Leaving his shirt where it lay, Ianto grabbed Jack by the waistband of his pants and dragged him toward the door and up the stairs to the guest room Jack occupied, leaning up against a wall to drag off his boots and shimmying out of his socks, pants and boxer briefs even before Jack had the door closed. That done, he pounced, yanking at Jack's clothes, licking, kissing and biting at each inch of bared flesh.

"Fuck fuck fuck," Jack chanted as he was all but consumed by Jones' mouth; it was driving him insane with lust. Planting a knee in between Jones' legs, Jack wrapped his arms around the other man's waist and, through sheer muscle mass, picked him up and pivoted so that Jones was pressed into the wall once more, this time with Jack's body pinning his. "Sexy, arrogant fucker," he growled into Jones' ear as he proceeded to return the favor and devour every inch of Jones that he could get his mouth on.

"Could say the same for you," Ianto groaned, his fingers digging into Jack's scalp through his hair, tightening them to tilt Jack's face up to his. "And fucking sounds damn good about now. Heard from Jake that you're a power top; fine with me, I'm flexible."

"Let's just say I have a few issues to work through before I switch off again," Jack murmured, his heart barely giving a twinge he was so consumed by his need for Jones. "But I have to argue about not being flexible. I can be very flexible," he chuckled, nibbling a path around Jones' neck. "You'd be impressed by just how flexible I can be," he teased as he reluctantly backed off enough to walk them both back towards the bed, turning them and hooking a leg behind Jones' to send him tumbling back on the mattress.

"You look so fucking debauched lying there, but I think I'd prefer to see you looking fucked out." That said, Jack fell to his knees in front of the younger man and swallowed him whole even as his hand scrambled for the nightstand drawer and the tube of lubricant he'd stashed there after the first night the Wild Boys rolled into town and Jake had tumbled into his bed.

"Oh hell that's good," Ianto groaned, hooking a leg around Jack's shoulders and urging him on, arching up with each dip of the other man's head until he finally couldn't take it anymore and pulled Jack up. "Fuck me already, Harkness," he growled.

"And this would be what they call topping from the bottom," Jack chuckled, hot and dirty, as he squeezed a dollop of lube into his palm and slicked himself up before taking his now lubricated fingers and working them into Jones' ass one at a time, stretching him open, which hardly took any time at all.

"Fuck me," Ianto repeated, his eyes alight with lust and adrenaline as he dragged Jack's hand away from his ass, catching Jack's cock and jerking it, goading the other man on.

"You got it," Jack groaned, surging forward and burying himself in Jones' ass with a long, steady push. "Oh fuck me," Jack gasped as he was surrounded by sweet, tight heat. It took a supreme show of willpower to keep from coming right then and there. "You beautiful, fucking bastard!"

Ianto bucked upward, driving Jack impossibly deeper into him, the leg hooked around his hips digging in to goad him on. "Damn, that's good," he gasped, twisting his head to the side to catch Jack's mouth, their tongues sliding together as they dueled for supremacy even as the motions of their bodies ripped the sheets from the bed and sent the headboard banging against the wall.

Jack couldn't have agreed more, if he could think at all. He could feel Jones' nails rip into his skin, mauling him, only to feel his flesh re-knit almost instantly, the constant, tiny spikes of pain only adding to the overwhelming pleasure. Sweat poured as Jack lost all finesse and simply pounded into the man writhing beneath him. He was well beyond being capable of speech; animalistic noises poured from his lips without him even realizing it as his fingers dug into sleek muscles as he tried to pin Jones down without success.

Rough curses and cries wrenched their way out of Ianto's throat, and he clenched down around the thick length pounding into him, dragging out each thrust and pull, making Jack work for each slam of their bodies together. His cock was leaking copiously, wetting their flesh and creating a sucking slap whenever their bodies pulled apart. There was no way to jerk himself off; it was too wild, too frenetic, then there was no need; Jack's cock hit his prostate a final time, and Ianto convulsed, spurting hot liquid between them.

"Oh God!" Jack howled as his cock was clamped down upon in a vice grip and Jones' convulsions rippled along his cock in the most erotic torture imaginable. Barely a heartbeat after Jones started to come, Jack was flooding the younger man's ass with his own release, collapsing on top of him as he did so.

"Fuck all," the younger man murmured once he'd caught his breath, lazily shifting so that his legs stretched out alongside of Jack's. When Jack didn't move, he poked the other man in the side. "Hey, Harkness, don't tell me I managed to off you through sex."

"Damn close," Jack laughed, raising his damp and sweaty head from where it had been resting. Tilting his head slightly, Jack pressed a kiss against Jones' clavicle before he rolled off the younger man. "Nice artwork, by the way," he grinned, bringing up a finger to trace down the triple galaxy that marked a nicely muscled bicep and then trailed it down over the Torchwood symbol shadowed by an alpha sign in the hollow by Jones' come-spattered hipbone. "I'd heard about this, that all of you had one, but not the location. I like it," Jack murmured as he brought the now sticky finger up to his mouth and licked it clean.

"Jake..." Ianto chuckled, shaking his head. "I'm guessing you've seen Ross' on his wrist; now you've just got Tom's to find – sort of like an Easter egg hunt."

"Let's not and say I did. I don't know about this version, but the Martha Jones I knew had one hell of a right hook when she got riled. I like my jaw where it is," Jack chuckled, his finger dipping back down to Jones' left hip to trace the inked skin, smearing come and sweat and rubbing them into flesh as he did so. "It suits you very well," he said after a few moments of silence. "Both of them do – not to mention they're sexy as all fuck."

Ianto crossed one arm behind his head and caught Jack's hand with the other, bringing it to his mouth to suck it clean. "Could say the same for you – even without the ink." They fell silent again, the weight of what they had done settling in over them like one of those cocoons they had found, though who knew what would be birthed out of this.

"Thanks," Jack said after a while, a bloom of warmth spreading through his chest. A shudder chased its way through him from the feeling of Jones' tongue lapping at his skin. "You do that much longer and you may have something else to suck on," Jack warned the younger man, his voice slightly shaky. "Not that that would be a bad thing but..." he trailed off, not sure of what he was trying to say.

He'd just slept with Jones, Jack thought inanely. He'd just slept with Ianto Jones, and it was nothing like he'd imagined or thought it would be. It most certainly was nothing like he'd remembered because this was not the same Ianto. And Jack was beginning to suspect he liked the differences far more than the rarely discovered similarities.

Ianto felt the change sweep through the other man as a minute stiffening of his body, and he let Jack's finger fall away from his lips, setting his hand back on his chest with a gentle pat. "When the brain re-engages, it's not a good idea," he offered, giving Jack a graceful way out of the situation. "Besides, I've got those reports to write up, and you probably should clean up; you look like someone shot you point-blank in the chest then tried to fuck you through the wall."

He winked as he said the last and rolled out of the bed, feeling well-used muscles twinge. "I'll have those write-ups on your comp in the morning, Harkness."

"Tomorrow afternoon is soon enough," Jack replied, feeling oddly bereft as he watched Jones get up to leave. "Hey," he reached out and snagged the younger man's hand and gave it a squeeze. "The brain may have re-engaged, but I still don't have any regrets about what we did," he told Jones quietly. "I am, however, annoyed that I had to ruin a shirt to get you to believe me."

"I'll buy you a new one when I get to a store," Ianto promised, tightening his fingers around Jack's in return before drawing away to get dressed, his nose wrinkling unconsciously as he pulled on the now tacky trousers, slipping from the room with his boots in his hands once he was dressed again.

As soon as the door closed, Jack sighed and got to his feet, heading for the bathroom and a hot shower. He spent a very long time under the scalding spray trying to convince himself that tonight was a fluke and should and would never happen again. Unfortunately, he had little luck convincing himself of either. There were very few things that held Jack's attention like a good mystery, and it seemed that no matter what the universe, Ianto Jones was ever a conundrum to him. He was well and truly hooked, Jack thought morosely, he only needed to be reeled in, gutted, filleted and served up on a platter. And wasn't that a cheerful mental image?

Shaking his head in disgust, Jack got out of the shower, toweled himself off and walked back into the bedroom. Wandering over to the small sitting area, Jack snagged the top report from a box of files Rose had sent by overnight courier. The overabundant reading material was part revenge and part necessity in order for him to start familiarizing himself with all four Torchwood field teams and their recent missions. It was also just what the doctor ordered in order to get Jack's brain to concentrate on something other than the potential minefield he now found himself in – with both Jake and Jones. Pouring himself a drink, Jack settled, into one of the arm chairs and resigned himself to a night without sleep.


Tom locked up the SUV and scrubbed his face tiredly. Shit, he was exhausted. It had taken far longer than he'd expected for him to brief the medical staff, and he'd wanted to stop by and check on Ross and Jake before he left. Lisa had left for the night, but Jake still had a visitor fussing over him – his treating physician - and Tom had to chuckle to himself as he recalled the rather besotted expression on Jake's face. He had a feeling that Harkness would soon be in need of a new fuck buddy if Tom was reading things right. He hoped that the poor bastard wouldn't be too upset, considering his relationship track record. Harkness seemed to have one hell of a time keeping a lover.

Walking by the shooting range, Tom noticed that the lights were still, on so he stopped and stuck his head inside, expecting to find either Harkness or Ianto in there. Instead all he found was a mess of fired guns, Harkness' greatcoat, a black t-shirt – most likely Ianto's - and a whole lot of blood. Immediately on high alert, Tom palmed his sidearm and, walking over to a security panel, keyed in the code for possible Hub facility breach, sending a silent alarm racing to London even as he made his way silently up to the living area, hoping like hell that Ianto and Harkness were still alive.

"What the fuck?" Ianto yelped, almost colliding with him as he started down the stairs before taking in Tom's crouched posture and adopting one himself as he scanned their immediate area, looking for potential threats. "Sit rep," he demanded, cursing the fact that his pistol was on his bunk with his jacket.

"You're covered in dried blood; there's a pool of it on the range floor along with a fuckload of fired weapons. I found Harkness' coat and your t-shirt, but I can't find Harkness," Tom reported in a hushed voice that was tinged with equal parts anger and concern. "I've triggered the breach alarm, so London should be mobilizing. And if you don't know what's going on, then why the hell are you covered in blood?"

"Fuck," Ianto muttered, lunging for the nearest wall panel and keying in his personal code to cancel the alarm, going through the protocols necessary to prove that he was who he was supposed to be, wasn't being coerced, and wasn't possessed by an alien. That done, he turned back to Tom, rubbing his forehead with the back of his hand.

"What happened was that Harkness was pissed that I dared to try to save his life, and he killed himself in front of me."

"He did what?" Tom bellowed. "And you just cancelled the alarm? Jesus, Ianto, Rose and Doc are going to be livid when they find out we let their friend kill himself!"

"He's telling the truth," Ianto sighed. "He can't die. Shot himself in the fucking heart and popped back up like nothing happened. It was – that's a hell of a weight to live with."

"So Harkness shot himself in the heart, came back to life, and you… felt the need to strip down and wander around half naked?"

"You know I'm a closet necrophiliac, Tommy," Ianto snorted. "Seeing him lying there dead, I started to strip off so I could screw him." When Tom started to laugh, he cuffed the taller man on the shoulder. "I was trying to stop the damn blood, scared me half to death myself when he gasped and sat up."

"But he really shot himself? I mean, bullet hole and the whole nine yards? Maybe some alien tech he hasn't told us about? Seriously dead?"

"I may not be a doctor, but I know dead. Through and through hole, blood everywhere, no pulse, no breath, dead. Not sure how long he stayed that way, because I was working on him, but one second he was dead with a hole in him, next he was alive and whole. Honestly, freaked me the hell out," Ianto admitted.

"Not even a scar?" Tom asked, sitting down heavily on one of the steps. "Son of a bitch, he really can't die. Well, at least not permanently. Wow, so all those stories of how he died – he really did? Son of a bitch!" The doctor winced as he tried to imagine the amount of pain that their new leader had had to endure in his rather extended lifespan.

"The last thing he needs is you feeling sorry for him," Ianto warned, nudging Tom with his boot to get him to move before heading down the stairs. "I'm going to clean up the shooting range then clean up myself. Everything all right at the hospital?"

Tom got to his feet and fell into step with Ianto in order to lend a hand. "Ross is asleep; Lisa's at a hotel; and Jake's well on the way to recovery and starry-eyed over the attention Harper's been showering on him. Don't understand it myself, that man is nothing more than piss and vinegar, but Jake's always had bizarre taste in men," he threw out with a sly grin
"Oi, watch it, Milligan, or our boss might toss your ass out on the street, and then Martha would have to support you," Ianto growled.

Tom chuckled. "Yeah, well, Harkness was an improvement, actually," he teased.

"Was that supposed to be an insult?" Ianto asked, mock-shock coloring his words.

"Prick," Tom laughed, slinging an arm around Ianto's shoulders. "C'mon, I'll give you a hand. Let's get this place looking less like a slaughterhouse, and then you can return the coat to our boss and explain to him why Rose or Doc or both will be calling in the morning to know why we triggered and then cancelled a breach alarm. I'm knackered, so I'm going to bed straight after."

"Christ," Ianto muttered under his breath, not sure how he felt about seeing Harkness again that evening. There was too much still unsettled and raw roiling around under the surface of his thoughts. Too much frustrated desire from wanting to have stayed in that room and seen how many times they could fuck each other senseless that night. Bad idea all around, he thought. Even if there wasn't the whole strange situation of his being Harkness' deceased lover's double, there was the fact that the man was above him in the chain of command and, to put it bluntly, you didn't piss where you slept.

Once he and Tom had set the range to rights – and Tom had taken a sample of Harkness' blood to examine in his spare time – Ianto sped through a shower, changed, then picked up the greatcoat and started upstairs, wondering if he should hope that the other man was asleep. A brisk knock on the door, and he settled into a position that was near parade rest, his feet slightly spread, weight balanced evenly on them, and the coat folded over one arm.

The room was dark save for one lone reading lamp in order to let the twinkling lights of Cardiff at night flood through the open curtains of the room. A half empty tumbler of scotch was on the table to the right of the oversized chair, and on the floor to the left was a growing number of read files. At the sound of the knock, Jack looked up from the current file he was perusing, describing Delta's exploits with a neural disrupter that someone had mistaken for a disco ball and had hung in a night club; he felt a flutter of anticipation dancing in his stomach but forced it back into non-existence. Chances were it was just Milligan checking in with the new boss. Looking down. he abruptly remembered that he hadn't bothered putting on any clothes after his shower and was sitting there in the buff.

Not wanting to delay his visitor, Jack called out, "Door's open," thinking that Tom would just pop his head in and not notice Jack's distinct lack of clothing. He did, however, keep the file on his lap just in case. Twenty-first century humans were still incredibly prudish about nudity, and he wouldn't want to offend the team doctor's delicate sensibilities, Jack thought with a small chuckle.

"I've brought your coat," Ianto announced, stepping into the room, looking around as his eyes adjusted to the lack of lighting, then going still when he saw Jack in the chair and just what he wasn't wearing. "And I need to tell you that you're going to be getting a call from London; Tom thought someone had murdered one or both of us and hit the alarm." His voice was remarkably steady as he spoke, years of having faced down life-threatening situations lending steel to his nerves.

Jack's heart beat faster at the sound of Jones' voice, and he had to take a few seconds to compose himself before he turned around to look at the younger man. Unfortunately, there was nothing he could do about the heat that burned in his eyes or the catch of air in his throat as he took in the newly washed and still damp man holding his coat and oh so calmly giving him an update. Son of a bitch, that man shouldn't be allowed to look that good.

Jack had to give himself a mental whack to the back of the head to engage his higher brain functions again. "Well, he followed protocol, can't knock him on that," Jack muttered dryly, thinking about the morning conversation. Oooh yeah, that would be a doozy to explain. "Thanks for the coat, you can just toss it on the bed," he continued before unthinkingly offering, "Now you're here, want to stay? For a drink that is."

Ianto glanced at the wreckage of the bed he had left not an hour before, weighing possible consequences against the loneliness in Jack's eyes. "Are you planning on putting anything on?" he asked, taking a hanger from the coat stand in the corner and hanging the greatcoat there instead, his movements crisp and precise as he brushed dirt and grit from the heavy wool.

Jack watched as Jones hung up his greatcoat and felt an overwhelming sense of déjà vu. Trying to swallow the emotions lodging themselves in his throat, he felt as if he'd swallowed a small moon. Tears pricked Jack's eyes and forced him to blink a few times to clear them.

God, it was like the million times he'd watched Ianto do that, and his heart ached, sudden and sharp, with the acute reminder of everything he'd lost thanks to his own stubborn arrogance. The pain in his chest made it feel like it had happened only yesterday. "Ah, yeah, I'll go grab my robe from the bathroom," he finally managed to get out, his voice gruff with unshed tears. "Just give me a sec." And with that he hastily set the file down and disappeared into the washroom, more to compose himself than out of any sense of modesty.

Ianto frowned after him, wondering at the sudden change of attitude, but decided not to call the other man on it. Ignoring the scotch, he settled down in the other armchair, picking up the report Jack had been reading and leafing through it when Jack's absence lengthened

It took Jack longer than he thought it would to compose himself. Splashing his face to get rid of any trace evidence of moisture, he slid into his robe and fastened the belt snugly before walking back out. "Sorry about that, I got something in my eye," he covered, his voice full of its usual joviality. "And I was thinking, now that you're here, maybe you can give me a hand by giving me your impressions of the other teams. You've got a pretty good eye about these things, and I trust your judgment."

Dark eyebrows rose over blue eyes as Ianto took a moment to acclimatize himself to the shift in topic – all right, if that was how Harkness wanted to play it, they would go that way. "Well, none of them are as good as we are," he said, offering a small smile. "But they're all excellent; they wouldn't be in field ops if they weren't.

"But you asked for my opinion, not generalities, so... As I'm sure you've read, all of them are about the same makeup as us. Bravo team might be somewhat light in the munitions end of things; they lost a member six months ago, and they're still looking for the right fit. I think Anders from Charlie is too conservative, but then he thinks I'm an insane jackass, so we're even there. Delta... well, they ate alien pizza after being specifically warned about it."

"Right," Jack shook his head. "They either need a severe refresher course on basic procedures and protocols or need to be pulled from the field and a new team given a shot. As for Anders, you'll seem positively normal once he gets a load of me, so take some comfort in that," Jack grinned, refilling his glass.

Settling himself back down in his chair, Jack took a steadying drink and a deep breath. The minute shift in Jones' body language and tone had been all the warning he'd needed that he'd done something 'fuckwitted' again, and he had a pretty good idea what. Jack wanted to make it right or at least explain, and he knew it wouldn't be easy for him to say this or for Jones to hear it, but it needed to be done, at least for his peace of mind.

"Okay, here's the thing," Jack began softly. "And please, god, please don't ever think that I regret what we did earlier because I don't, not for a second. The thing is, and this is going to sound so unbelievably silly and sappy, but…

"When you were fussing over my coat before you put it away? Ianto used to do that, just like that almost every damned day, and it made me miss him like hell. So I did what I do best; I obfuscated and acted like happy-go-lucky Jack. It's my first line of defense and probably my most annoying one, so I'm sorry. I know I don't normally talk about him, and I'm sure you'd rather I didn't, but I just wanted to explain and let you know that I know you're not him, and fuck, this is hard," Jack muttered before continuing, "but I'm more than a little attracted to you, Jones, pain in my ass Welsh pussy and probably one the hottest partners I've had in my rather long and varied life."

Ianto was silent for a long moment, digesting the explanation before speaking. "You lost someone you loved, Harkness; it doesn't matter if it was a day, a year, or a decade ago, it hurts, and there are things that will always make you hurt because you miss them. You of all people have to experience that a lot, and to tell you the truth, I don't know if I could handle that burden; it means you're a hell of a strong man.

"Obviously, the attraction is mutual, or we wouldn't have ended up where we did, and yes, it was hot as all fuck, but, and don't you take this the wrong way, you're my boss."

"Understood," Jack murmured and then put his glass down and leaned forward, elbows on his knees and chin resting on his steepled hands as he watched Jones with quiet intensity. "But I should warn you, I don't give up easily. I want to get to know you better, Jones, and I think that's mutual as well. While I may be your boss in all things Torchwood - and I hate the word boss by the way - we both have lives outside of the office. Unless you tell me no flat out, I'm not giving up on the possibility that there could be an 'us'."

"Tell me that again," Ianto offered as he stood "when you can look at me and not see him first."

"I'd tell you now, but I doubt you'd believe me," Jack smiled softly, getting to his own feet. "However, when you live as long as I have, you're forced to develop this lovely little thing called patience. I can wait." Stepping closer, Jack took Jones' face between his hands and pressed a soft kiss to his forehead. "Good night, Jones. Sleep well."


( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 16th, 2009 11:54 pm (UTC)
OMG! This was so hot and then you gave us suffering, sweet, caring Jack and an equally sweet and caring Ianto!

Love it!
Dec. 17th, 2009 03:16 am (UTC)
I almost forgot you gave me my Xmas wish! Thanks you two! Oh, now can I have a New Year's wish? More hot Jack, Ianto, pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeez??

Dec. 17th, 2009 08:31 pm (UTC)
And as for New Years... well, you never know!
Dec. 17th, 2009 08:30 pm (UTC)
Aww thanks! It was fun reading the comments on the last chapter knowing what this one held ;)
Dec. 17th, 2009 12:22 am (UTC)
Nuff said :)
More please x
Dec. 17th, 2009 08:31 pm (UTC)
LOL love the reaction!
Dec. 17th, 2009 10:36 pm (UTC)
:D lol i can't help it! I really really love this story! I NEED an update soon or I get withdrawal symptoms :( waaa!!! ;) x x x
Dec. 17th, 2009 10:39 pm (UTC)
Oh dear, is it time for an intervention? ;) Nah, there are 8 chapters with out beta and 6 that are in the second stages of our own editing so there's definitely more to come!
Dec. 18th, 2009 11:10 am (UTC)
lol! Hello my name is Gemma and i'm addicted to metal tears for the tin man. :D Yay can't wait x x
Dec. 17th, 2009 12:24 am (UTC)
Wow. Explosive. Just like I thought it would be.

I like that our Ianto isn't just swept under the rug. He's still there. The wounds are still there but they are starting to close over some.

My questions to you as writers is- was your Jack in love with the Ianto that died? I know he cared for him- loved him, but was he in love? Because that doesn't just stop- it does change though when someone dies. I really give you credit for letting this happen gradually. It's not OMG! I want to marry Jones!

Thanks so much for such an entertaining piece. I have the best time reading it.
Dec. 17th, 2009 07:53 pm (UTC)
I believe Jack really was in love with Ianto but so afraid to get hurt (read abandoned and left alone when Ianto eventually died) that he refused to admit his feelings until it was too late. I think that was why he was pushing Ianto away so hard over the 'couple' talk. The poor man was running scared and then it was too late and he was left with the added guilt of never having told Ianto.

That was one of my driving thoughts when I first started writing Jack in the beginning of this story - his guilt over the original 456, the self hatred/blame for Ianto's death, the weight of the hard choice of sacrificing his grandson all mixed together with the emotional devastasiton of knowing that he never said the one thing that Ianto most wanted to hear.

But you're right - time does make things easier and it is getting easier for Jack. When he first saw Jones it was salt on a ragged and bleeding wound. This was Ianto's face, voice, smell, _dna_ but it wasn't Ianto. But he got to know Jones - first through Jake, Rose and Doc, and then through his own interactions with the younger man and Jack began to see the two Ianto's as separate and distinct and he's started to fall for Jones despite his best intentions. After all, the man _is_ intriguing, isn't he? ;-)

Hope that answers your question, Tracia, or at least helps explain my convoluted thinking!

Happy Christmas,
Angyl ~
Dec. 17th, 2009 03:24 am (UTC)
This was brilliant, hot, and absolutely perfect!!! I can't wait for the next installment.
Dec. 17th, 2009 08:32 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much!
Dec. 17th, 2009 05:32 am (UTC)
awesome update! hot and interesting and delicious!
Dec. 17th, 2009 08:33 pm (UTC)
Thanks very much Glad you're enjoying!
Dec. 17th, 2009 03:53 pm (UTC)
*gulp* so hot and then, poor Jack seeing Jones putting his coat away, a realy feel for him.

I think it would be good if they got together properly.
Dec. 17th, 2009 08:35 pm (UTC)
That scene with the coat got to the both of us, I suppose that's the way it is when you miss someone; it's the little things that bite you the hardest.

As for them getting together properly... well there are 14 more chapters ;)
Dec. 17th, 2009 04:20 pm (UTC)
Yay! Thank you! Oh so hot and fluffy at the same time!
Dec. 17th, 2009 08:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Hot and fluffy, I like that descrition ;)
Dec. 22nd, 2009 04:49 pm (UTC)
Wow! That was intense! It's inevitable that Jack would use the direct approach to show Jones he can't die...Poor Jack, that must hurt! And Jones...you just have to fall for this badass team leader! They are hot together, that's for sure, and I also liked the way Jones gave Jack a way out after sex. This Ianto is so strong and in control.

The coat scene was just perfect here. And I am glad this Jack is open enough to talk to Jones about those "silly and sappy" feelings.

Jun. 10th, 2010 12:35 pm (UTC)
I'm late to this party, slowly reading my way through it.

I just LOVE this Ianto.

And I love your realistic take on how a relationship between Jack and alt!Ianto would work.

Reading on.
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )