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Torchwood - Flame beneath Ashes - Chapter 13

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Title: Flame beneath ashes - Chapter 13: Home
Summary:
AU. After the events of Countrycide, Ianto was retconned and allowed to start a new life in London. Intervening accidentally in a burning building, it's a very different man Jack meets four years later. But can Ianto really escape his own destiny?
Rating: T
Characters: Ianto Jones, Jack Harkness, Gwen Cooper, Owen Harper, Toshiko Sato, Myfanwy, Original characters.
Pairing: Jack/Ianto, Owen/Tosh, Gwen/Rhys (mentioned), Ianto/Lisa (past)
Genres: Alternate universe/action/romance.
Warnings: Violence, swearing, sexual situation (nothing graphic), character's death (temporary)
Spoilers: Spoilers for seasons 1 and 2. Exit wounds and Children of Earth are only mentioned as incidents and Miracle Day, of course, never happened
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

Author's Notes: Special thanks to my precious beta reader badly_knittedwho takes time to beta my work, though she has hardly enough time to write her own wonderful fics.

I intend to recycle some of the original dialogues and situations from the show. I hope you wont mind and will like what I did with it.

You must be warned: this chapter contains a cliffhanger. Please dont hate me.

TW TW TW TW TW

Chapter 13: Home

Ianto carefully placed a mug on Toshs workstation. The earthenware gave a slight ding as it met the glass and made her look upwards.

The Welshman had spent almost an hour disassembling and thoroughly cleaning the infamous Italian coffee machine, before methodically putting it back together. Once it had been done, he had returned to Café Ambrosio and from there had come back with an armful of miscellaneous varieties of coffee beans. A few minutes later, the hissing of steam under pressure resounded again under the arcades of the Hub, soon followed by a series of almost orgasmic moans, as the young man went from one desk to another to deliver his delicious beverage.

The young Japanese woman smiled at him but shook her head.

“Thank you Ianto. It's very nice of you, but I’d rather not...”

He raised his hand, returning her smile.

“I know. Jack told me about the baby. Congratulations.”

Tosh sheepishly dropped her gaze to the floor.

“Thank you.”

Ianto gently pushed the mug towards her.

“It's decaf. Have a taste.”

She gave him a sceptical look, but he encouraged her with a nod. She grabbed the cup with both hands and took a tentative sip. Her face, already tensed in an apprehensive grimace, almost instantly relaxed.

"Mmm… Delicious," she said with a wide grin, as she greedily licked her lips.

Ianto shrugged modestly.

“It isn’t perfect yet, but Ill work on the blend and it should get better soon.”

Tosh took another sip of her coffee.

“Oh, Ianto you’re a wizard. You know that?”

He chuckled and bowed his head.

“I aim to please. May I…” he trailed off.

Tosh looked at him quizzically.

“Yes?”

Ianto merely shook his head, fumbling with the seam of his jeans.

“Nothing. It’s stupid.”

“Come on, Ianto. Tell me.”

He glanced at one of the monitors in front of her and pulled a face

“I was just wondering if I could help you somehow. But... it’s obvious that everything youre working on is out of my league.”

A warm smile lit up her face and she put her mug aside.

“No, that’s not stupid at all. Take a seat. Im going to show you how it works.”

He hesitated.

“Are you sure?”

“Yep. You’ll need to learn how to use it, anyway. So, better start straight away. Sit down.”

Ianto complied but didnt seem completely convinced and Tosh couldnt help chuckling.

“Don’t worry Ill try to spare you my usual geek babbling.”

She rolled her seat next to him and pointed at a monitor, on which a series of sinusoidal lines were waving on a blue background.

"Do you see it?"

Ianto nodded, his eyes locked on the data on the screen, determined to live up to her expectations.

“This is sort of the electrocardiogram of the Rift. These days, we are rather lucky and it’s very quiet. When there is more activity, this is what it looks like.”

She opened a new window showing a tangle of erratic peaks.

One thing leading to another, they spent the next hour going through the various networks and software that might be required to be used, as well as through Torchwoods intricate computer system. At first, she was surprised he didn't take notes of what she was explaining to him, then she remembered he had an eidetic memory. Although she was a genius in the strict sense of the term, she had had to work hard, to spend hours in classrooms or studying late at night at home. Seeing Ianto absorbing every piece of knowledge with so much ease was somehow… fascinating.

Ianto leant back in his chair and tapped his upper lip with his index finger

“With all the statistics you have built up through the years, don’t you think we could develop an algorithm to help us predict the alerts before they go off?” he asked, without taking his eyes off of the screen. “Something like what exists for earthquakes or hurricanes?”

Tosh hid a smirk behind the heel of her hand. Oh yes, she knew that Jack hadnt hired him in first place for his good looks. This guy had a brain and knew how to use it. It would be a pleasure to work with him. And she loved the way he had used we instead of you, showing that he already saw himself as a part of the team.

She tapped away at her keyboard and switched the screen.

“Well actually, that’s one of the projects Im working on. As with your decaf, its not yet perfect, but it has already provided some encouraging results…”

Iantos eyes went wide as he descrambled the data on the screen.

“Wow, that’s fascinating.”

A conspicuous clearing of throat coming from the gallery made them lift their heads. Gwen stood up the stairs and gave them a wide smile.

“Sorry to interrupt, but… Anybody for lunch? I fetched pizzas from Jubilee.” She turned towards Tosh and winked at her. “I brought you a vegetarian. More digestible.”

Tosh gratefully sighed. Thank God, at least that would be something she could smell and eat without throwing up within the next two minutes.

“Thanks Gwen. You’re my saviour.”

“You’re welcome. This is one of the advantages of having already gone through it. Dont worry, nausea usually eases after the third month.”

“May you be right,” hoped Tosh, as Gwen turned round and headed to the boardroom.

Ianto stood up and was about to obediently follow her when Tosh grabbed him by the arm and held him back.

“Ianto?”

He turned round and looked at her quizzically.

“Yes?”

“What… What did Jack tell you about the Brecon Beacons?” she asked hesitantly. “I mean about what happened to you and me.”

Ianto frowned, not really understanding where her question came from.

“Well, he told me we were taken prisoner and you managed to escape, before being taken again with Owen and Gwen. From what I understood, one of the bad guys was about to slit my throat when Jack finally came to our rescue and saved the day. Seems that it was the last straw for me and… well, as they say, the rest is history.”

He tilted his head.

“Did I get something wrong?”

She took a deep breath.

“No, that is indeed the outline of what happened, but… It’s not the whole story.” She cleared her throat and looked him straight in the eye.

“At a certain point, they came to take us from our cell in order to… to beat us to death and I really thought our last hour had come.”

She paused and lowered her eyes to her lap, forcing her breathing to calm down. Even after all these years and everything she had experienced in her job after that, this particular moment remained one of the worst of her life and it was hard for her to keep her emotions at bay.

“Anyway, as they dragged us from our cell, you told me to get ready to run. I knew you were almost as terrified as I was, but you started to joke as if it was nothing and all of the sudden you were head butting the guy and allowing me to make my escape.”

Looking upwards, she stared at him and he found himself squirming under the intensity of her gaze, not quite able to believe that he was the man she was talking about.

“Jack may be the one who saved us at the end,” she carried on, “but I’d have already been dead at that moment, if it hadnt been for you. You saved my life. I never got a chance to say it to you at the time, so Im doing it now.”

She stood up and went to stand in front of him. Standing on tiptoe, she wrapped her arms around his shoulders to hug him tightly.

“Thank you Ianto,” she whispered in his ear.

Taken aback, Ianto briefly tensed in her embrace, before finally returning it with equal fervour.

He patted her on the back and chuckled.

“You’re aware that if Owen ever finds us like this, hes gonna kill me.”

She released her hold and stepped back. Tucking a lock of her jet-black hair behind her ear, she shook her head.

“Owen may act like a twat sometimes…”

Ianto raised a dubious eyebrow at her statement and she rolled her eyes.

“Ok, most of the time. But he is a good man. Really. He just doesnt deal well with people. Give him a chance. Hes not so bad.”

Iantos features softened and he gave her an apologetic smile.

“I guess. It’s obvious you wouldnt be with him, if he wasnt worth the trouble.”

He stepped forwards and offered her his arm.

“Come on, we’d better join the others, before they start wondering whats taking us so long.”

She gratefully took his arm and they headed towards the boardroom.

TW TW TW TW TW

Lunch time went surprisingly smoothly and in a friendly atmosphere, each member of the team making it their duty to fill Ianto in on the most spectacular cases theyd had to deal with.

“I swear, Owen. You really missed something,” insisted Jack, picking up another slice of pizza from the box. “She was really hot for you.

The doctor overtly rolled his eyes, setting off a burst of giggles around the table.

“For God’s sake, Harkness, that thing had tentacles.”

“Yeah, but she knew so well how to use them,” chuckled Jack with his mouth full.

“And how do you even know it was a she?” scoffed Owen.

“Because I took time to get to know her,” said Jack with a sly smile. “Trust me, she had a lot of personality.”

Owen shook his head with dismay.

“I thought so, but please no details.”

“You people should be more adventurous.”

“What’s the point? Youre adventurous enough for all of us. I still dont know how you managed to prevent little Jack being cut off, considering the way you put it anywhere.”

“Everywhere, Owen,” corrected Jack, waving his index in the air. “Not anywhere.”

Their playful banter was abruptly interrupted by Jacks mobile phone ringing and Jack tapped his earpiece hurriedly.

“Harkness. Mister Prime Minister. I told you not to call me. I’m the one who calls you if needed,” he said, his expression wavering between frustration and aggravation, before he disappeared into his office.

Owen threw his napkin in an empty box and stood up with a sigh.

“Okay, I guess that means the break is over. I should go back to the autopsy. Big Daddy is still waiting for me to take care of him.”

“I’ll clear away the dishes,” said Tosh whilst he headed to the autopsy bay.

“I’m going to help you,” Ianto immediately offered, standing up in turn.

“It’s nice of you, Ianto,” she thanked him. “But I think Gwen has other plans for you.”

Iantos eyebrow went up as he turned towards the former PC who gave him a lopsided smile.

“Thought you’d like to help me feeding Myfanwy and our other residents.”

A smile spread on his lips at the idea of seeing the female dinosaur again.

“Oh yeah, I sure would.”

“Then come with me. And when we’re done with that, Ill show you around.”

“That’s nice of you,” Ianto thanked her, trying to look more enthusiastic than he really was.

He had nothing against Gwen. He really liked her, in fact. Like Tosh, she was very friendly and he was glad his reunion with his former colleagues went so well. He had just expected Jack to be the one who would give him a tour. Instead, the leader of Torchwood seemed to be doing his best to avoid him since their last conversation in front of the Tourist Office. Of course, he had noticed the glances and the encouraging smiles during the test, but since then, they had never been alone. Jack had spent the rest of the morning hidden in his office, and had disappeared in there again after the Prime Ministers call.

Ianto took a deep breath and followed Gwen towards the pterosaurs nest, hoping his earlier curiosity hadnt ruined all his chances with Jack.

As expected, his second encounter with Myfanwy went like clockwork, though she seemed slightly disappointed that he provided her only with her usual food and not with one of those delicious chocolate bars she loved so much.

The feeding of the Weevils, on the other hand, turned out to be livelier. Their new Weevil resident seemed to still bear a large grudge against Ianto and was snarling and growling whenever they tried to approach her cell.

“We'd better leave her to Owen,” Gwen finally decided, after three fruitless attempts.

Ianto looked at her quizzically and she chuckled.

“Would be too long to explain, but he has got a trick with Weevils. They are at his beck and call. I swear, it's freaky.”

Ianto joined her giggling.

“What do you want to call her?” she asked.

“Who?”

“Our new guest,” said Gwen, pointing her thumb at the glass panel.

“Oh.”

She crossed her arms and smirked.

“Unspoken rule: you catch it, you name it.”

“Well...” His face suddenly broke into a grin. “Alice.”

“Alice?” Gwen repeated, bemused.

“Yep. Since it seems that I fell down the Rabbit-Hole, it’s only fair there is an Alice here.”

Gwen nodded approvingly.

“Nice thought.” She turned towards the female Weevil. “What do you think? Do you like Alice?”

The creature merely snarled and hissed at her.

“Tut, tut, naughty girl. No one taught you it’s highly impolite to snarl at people? Youd better behave before Owen comes down. Hes not a model of patience.”

Gathering her equipment, she beckoned to him to follow her.

“Come on, Ianto. I’ll show you the rest of the place,” she said with a bright smile

He seemed to hesitate though and just as she passed before him, he grabbed her by the arm.

“Gwen. Wait.”

She looked at him quizzically.

“Yes?”

“I… I wanted to apologize.”

“What for?” she asked, completely at a loss.

He adverted his eyes and stared at the stained ground of the vaults.

“Jack told me about what happened when Li… the Cyberwoman put you in the conversion unit. It must have been awful, and…”

She spun around to face him and put her hand on his shoulder with an indulgent smile.

“You tried to save the woman you loved. You don’t need to apologize for that.”

“But, you could have died,” replied Ianto, still staring at his feet.

“I didn’t,” she countered.

“The two other people were not so lucky.”

“Oh, Ianto, sweetheart,” sighed Gwen. “That wasn’t your fault. You did what you thought was right at the time.”

She took his head in her hands and forced him to look at her.

“Love makes us do stupid things, sometimes. And when you do our kind of job, it can really suck. Trust me.”

She closed her eyes briefly, remembering all the disasters which had ensued from the bad decisions she had made over the years. Billis, the rift, Jonahs mother.

“You’re not the only one to screw up. Each of us has done more or less the same as you at one time or another. Were not better than you, not even Jack. Were only… human.”

Ianto pulled a face and couldnt help chuckling.

“Quite philosophical.”

Gwen let out a wry sigh and shrugged.

“I learnt the hard way that nothing can change what is already done. All you can do is to try and do better the next time.”

“Then I’ll try,” stated Ianto quietly.

“Hey, teaboy!” shouted Owen from the stairwell, making the two of them startle. “Hurry up! Time to update you vaccinations.”

“Huh, I’m up to date for all my vaccinations,” objected Ianto.

“Even the Prokaranian fever and the Squirdirrish flu?”

Iantos eyebrows shot up.

“Not as far as I know.”

“That’s what I thought, so move your butt. I dont have all day.”

Rolling his eyes, Ianto left a giggling Gwen behind him and followed Owen up the stairs.

TW TW TW TW TW

“Sit down,” the doctor gruffly ordered him as soon as they reached the autopsy bay.

Ianto perched on the autopsy table and looked around nervously. He didnt know what to expect and it stressed him. Moreover, it didnt help that the place looked conspicuously like some annex of Doctor Moreaus laboratory.

“Anything I should know before we start?” asked Owen, putting on a pair of latex gloves. “Something that wouldn’t be in you medical records? Any disease? Accident? Pregnancy?”

“Sorry?” choked Ianto.

Owen snorted and shook his head.

“Never mind. Just Jack having a bad influence on me.”

Ianto heard Owen shuffling behind his back and tensed a little. When the medic came back in front of him, he was holding what seemed to Ianto like a bigger than usual syringe, filled with an iridescent bright green liquid, as well as a cotton pad dipped in surgical spirit.

He swallowed hard. Hed had his fill of painful poking and probing over the years and a little shot was nothing in regard of what he had already endured, but he couldnt help cringing. He hated needles.

“Shirt off,” ordered Owen as he squirted a small amount of liquid to chase an eventual air bubble.

Ianto hesitated and Owens features softened.

“I’ve already seen your medical record. Its nothing new for me and nothing Ive not already seen before.” A vision of Jonah Bevans ravaged face flashed in his mind and he added: “Or far worse.”

The Welshman eyed him warily, before finally taking off his t-shirt.

“This is a little cocktail of some of our best homemade vaccines,” explained the doctor whilst he was disinfecting a small area on Ianto’s right shoulder. “Nothing too strong to begin with, but youll have to receive a booster in six months and some additional injections over the first year.”

Ianto let out an unhappy grunt.

“I’m not a big fan of needles.”

“I know, but it’s for your own good,”

Iantos expression suddenly darkened.

“What?” frowned Owen.

The young man shook his head.

“Nothing.” He winced as the needle pierced his skin and the fluorescent liquid slowly spread through the muscle underneath.

Catching his breath, he went on whilst Owen removed the needle and put a sticking plaster on his shoulder.

“It’s just weird that you know this kind of stuff about me whereas I dont know anything about you, except for what Jack told me.”

Owen threw away the used syringe and the cotton pad in a container, taking his time before speaking.

“Well, I wouldn’t really say that we know you.”

Ianto wrinkled his brow, confused.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, all the time you were with us, you were rather secretive and not exactly keen to share private stuff with us. The fact is that we likely know as much about you as you know about us.”

Iantos eyes widened slightly.

“I’m sorry, I…” he stuttered with embarrassment, realizing how little faith he had shown, at the time, to his former co-workers.

Owen brushed away his attempt to apologize.

“Don’t be. Hiding your little… secret in the basement certainly didnt leave a lot of room to build ties with us.” He snorted derisively. “Besides, were also to blame. We didnt make a lot of effort to get to know you either. And thats an understatement.”

He looked Ianto straight in the eye, holding out his hand to him.

“Maybe we should try to do a better job this time.”

A genuine smile spread on Iantos lips, as he took the outstretched hand and firmly shook it.

“Yeah. Anyway, we can hardly make it worse.”

Owen cracked a tight smile in return.

“Okay. So let’s start. I have a question for you.”

“Should I worry? Is it still eliminatory?” joked Ianto, imitating Owens accent as he put his t-shirt back on.

“No,” Owen rebuffed him with a roll of eyes, before adding more seriously: “But it could change the way you’re gonna spend the next ten years, provided that you manage to stay alive all that time. So I want you to be honest, ok?”

Iantos expression cooled down.

“Ok.”

“How serious were you when you told Jack that you wanted to study medicine?”

Ianto gaped for a second at Owens unexpected question, before regaining his composure.

“Deadly serious.”

Owen crossed his arms on his chest and lifted his chin.

“Still interested?”

“More than ever. But I don’t see…”

“I can teach you,” said Owen bluntly.

Ianto eyed him with disbelief.

“You mean… to become a doctor?”

Owen shrugged noncommittally.

“Yep. Sort of. I can tell you already, it will never be official. No nice diploma to hang in your living room and all the stuff that come along with it. But I can teach you how to be a decent doctor… Torchwood style.” He paused and smiled slyly. “You’ve been told and Ill warn you again. Im a bastard. It wont be a picnic. Still want to have a try, though?”

Ianto grinned, his eyes already shining with excitement.

“When do we start?”

TW TW TW TW TW

Later in the afternoon, Ianto was working on filling some paperwork Tosh had given to him, when Jack entered the Tourist Office, having finally managed to get rid of the clingy Prime Minister and the mountain of his own paperwork.

“Hey, Ianto.”

Ianto raised his eyes and his face lit up.

“Hey.”

“Is everything alright?”

“Oh yeah,” answered the young man, waving at the sheets of paper sprinkling his temporary desk. “Although, I would never have thought that chasing aliens could produce so much paperwork. Don’t think I could survive working in an office for the rest of my life.”

Jack chuckled and leant over the counter, arms crossed.

“Don’t be so categorical. It has its own charm.”

Ianto pulled a dubious face.

“Really?”

“Oh, yeah! Loving that office-y feel! I always get excited in those places. To me, they're rather… exotic. Office romances ... photocopying your butt...”

Ianto cocked an eyebrow and Jack faltered.

“Well, maybe not your butt...”

He cleared his throat and straightened.

“Did… Hum, did you call Mike Sherman?”

Ianto leant back in his chair and put down his pen.

“Yep. I told him I’ve finally decided to take this week off.”

“And what are you going to tell him when it’s over?”

Ianto merely shrugged.

“Don’t know yet. Maybe that I was offered a job I couldnt refuse.”

Jack shook his head and chuckled.

“I’ll remind you of that, once you start complaining about impossible hours and working conditions.”

He fidgeted with some out-of-date leaflets, before asking:

“Do you… have somewhere to stay tonight? Otherwise, I can surely get you a room at the St David.”

“It’s nice of you, but Owen has already offered me the use of his place, since he spends most of his nights at Tosh's flat now.”

Jack cocked an eyebrow.

“Seems that you and our good doctor have made some substantial progress lately.”

Ianto nodded.

“You could say that. He offered to train me to become a doctor.”

Jack pressed his lips together appreciatively, though he wasnt completely surprised by Owens proposition.

“No doubt he’s going to make you a good one.”

“Only time will tell,” replied Ianto modestly, still not completely sure about the feasibility of such a venture.

“Anyway," Jack carried on, "if you need help with finding a new place, I'd gladly give you the names of a few real estate agencies. The prices tend to shoot up these days, but I'm sure they’ll be able find you something affordable close by.”

At his words, Ianto hid his mouth behind his hand and stifled a fit of the giggles.

“What?” snapped Jack, slightly mortified by his reaction. "Did I say something funny?”

Ianto calmed down and schooled his features.

“Sorry. No, but it's too good. At least there is still something the almighty Jack Harkness doesn’t know about me. Its a relief to know I can still surprise you.”

Jack pouted.

“I’m glad youre having so much fun, but what do you mean? You cant stay in London and work here at the same time. And, excuse me, but living in the hotel will ruin you in no time.” He paused. “Unless you intend taking over Owens flat.”

Ianto shook his head.

“I’m a snail, Jack.”

Jack frowned, completely at a loss.

“Sorry?”

Although he really enjoyed the expression of bemusement painted on Jack's face, Ianto decided to take pity on him and to put him in the picture.

“I’m living on a houseboat."

“A houseboat?”

"Yep. A houseboat. I dont need to move out. All I have to do is to moor it in Cardiff Harbour and its done.”

Jacks eyes widened with understanding.

“Oh. Then I guess it solves a lot of issues.”

“And no risk I’ll arrive late because of the traffic,” added Ianto with a smirk.

“Any special reason for you to choose to live afloat?”

Ianto shrugged noncommittally.

“Not really, except that I always find it somehow… soothing.”

Silence fell between them and they stayed that way for a moment, both knowing there were still a lot of things they needed to clear up, but neither of them having the tiniest clue where to start.

Screwing up his courage, Jack was the first to speak.

“Hum... Now you are back, I was thinking ... maybe we could, you know... dinner? A movie?”

Ianto felt his heart skip a beat, but he strove to keep his nerve.

Wow, this is called getting straight to the point.

“Are you asking me out on a date?” he managed to ask, trying hard to keep his cool and slightly amused by the fact that the man whom everybody had described to him as a flirt on legs seemed suddenly as clumsy as a school boy.

Jack looked up and frowned.

“Interested?”

Ianto tilted his head on one side and waggled his eyebrows.

“Well... as long as it's not in an office. Some fetishes should be kept to yourself.”

Jacks frown dissolved into a hopeful look.

“So… Is that a yes?”

“Yes.”

Iantos answer was devoid of any trace of hesitation and the tension in Jacks shoulders visibly loosened. Patting at the counter, he cleared his throat and stepped backwards.

“Great! Great. I guess… I should… let you finish your paperwork. The past couple of days have been hectic and… you must be looking forward to getting some rest.”

He started to beat a retreat towards the front door of the Tourist Office

“I’ll see you tomorrow.”

His hand was already on the knob when Ianto bolted up and called his name.

“Jack?”

He spun around and looked at the younger man quizzically, suddenly afraid that he might finally have changed his mind.

“Yes?”

Ianto was chewing his lower lip nervously.

“May I ask you something?”

“As long as I have an answer,” Jack nodded, his hand clenching the knob.

“Before we went to see the team, you said you didn’t know whether we were a good thing or not.”

Jack nodded once again, trying desperately to get rid of the lump forming in his throat.

“Yes, I remember.”

Ianto took a deep breath and averted his eyes.

“What… What makes you think it may have been a bad thing? I mean… you just asked me out and to me it seems more than right. So, why…”

Jack let go of the handle and slowly retraced his steps to stop barely an inch from Ianto. He lifted his hand and cupped Iantos jaw, letting his thumb graze across his lower lip whilst his eyes slowly wandered from Ianto's lips to his eyes, then back to his lips again.

“I was attracted to you from the very moment I met you in the park. I couldn’t explain it, but there was something… different about you. Something that made me want you more than I had wanted anyone for years... maybe decades. It wasn't just physical. Of course, you were handsome, but you also proved to be smart and... cheeky.” He chuckled quietly. “You were such a tease. I wanted... I... I don't know. ”

“You wanted to win me over?” offered Ianto with a lopsided smile.

Jack minutely shook his head.

"Sort of. But not only." His eyes clouded wistfully. "I told you, I can't explain, but we just... fit. And it was great."

He sighed.

“Of course, I sensed you were holding back, but I thought that maybe, over time, you'd eventually lower your guard and let me in. And then...” He trailed off.

“Then, you found out about Lisa,” whispered Ianto

“Yeah. I found out and suddenly I started to question everything I took for granted about you. I started to wonder to what extent you had been acting. What was real and what wasn't.” He paused and swallowed hard. "I have done a lot of things in my life which I’m not very proud of, but I never intended to force someone to sleep with me. Never.”

“But you didn’t,” objected Ianto fiercely.

Jack shook his head sadly.

“There are a lot of ways to coerce someone into doing what you want. You needed to divert my attention from Lisa and... I'm not reputed for being really subtle when I want something, so…”

“You think that maybe I wasn't so willing,” finished Ianto.

He placed his hand above Jack's and pressed it against his cheek, revelling in the sensation of the other man's warm skin against his. His heart was beating so hard that he wouldn't have been surprised if it could be heard from the other side of the bay. He closed his eyes and slowly leant forwards, until their foreheads touched.

“I don't know how I felt at that time, Jack. But I’m pretty sure of how I feel and what I want right now.”

“And what do you want?” whispered Jack, his voice thick and hoarse with emotion and desire.

Ianto looked up and their eyes locked.

“I want you to kiss me.”

To be continued.

 

Tags: action, fandom : torchwood, fanfic, jack/ianto, romance, series : flame beneath ashes
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