That had been close.
Ianto shoved one hand over his hair, mussing it while taking a long sip from his drink. He gulped it down, closing his eyes as the fire spread from his belly to his aching limbs. Something hard and powerful and familiar clenched somewhere inside. That same old ache that had become such a part of him since he’d met Jack.
He didn’t turn to look after Jack’s retreating back. That view of the captain was ingrained in his mind. He knew the curve of that back, the way Jack’s head cocked to one side, the shape of his legs as they took long strides away from him. He chose to watch Owen and Toshiko instead, smiling into his glass when they bumped into each other and stammered over their apologies. He caught Owen’s eye and raised one brow in question. Owen in turn, smirked and looked pointedly towards where Jack had disappeared.
He had no more answers about that than he was sure Owen had regarding his own case.
He had almost fooled himself again. That things had changed. That whatever was happening this time had been different. Even.
And a small part of him knew that perhaps it might be. But the bigger part, the smarter and cynical part told him it wasn’t. Would never be.
He couldn’t compete with a time traveling doctor…with a doomed fighter pilot with a wonderfully human creature like Gwen. He held no excitement, really.
He was simple Ianto Jones. Coffee boy, archivist and all around go to guy.
The ache in his chest and arms reminded him that he was more than that, if he allowed it, and Ianto sighed into his glass. Maybe in another life...
The sounds of computers whirring down and the shuffling of papers brought his attention back to the pair in the room. He turned as Owen shoved his hands into his jacket, stepping back as Tosh moved past him. He glanced between Ianto and Tosh, swallowing past something. “Pub?” His eyes pleaded with Ianto to say yes.
“Not tonight.” Toshiko muttered, grabbing her case and patting Owen on the shoulder on her way down the stairs and out the door. “See you tomorrow.”
Ianto watched her go, speaking to a disenchanted-looking Owen. “You can breathe again, Harper.”
“I guess…I just figured…it would be awkward just the two of us? Tosh and me, I mean.” Owen stammered over the sentence and then cursed under his breath. “I’m no good at this.”
“What? Normal human emotions, Owen?”
Ianto chuckled, because whatever one could say about Owen Harper being dishonest wasn’t one of them. “Think you should work on that then, shouldn’t you?”
Owen smirked, waving a goodbye as he made his way out. He paused a moment at the gate and turned, looking back at Ianto. “If he doesn’t...”
Ianto cocked his head, waiting.
Owen shrugged. “He’s a wanker, Ianto. You deserve better.” With that, he disappeared out of the door, leaving the Hub quiet except for the occasional sound of Myfanwy’s wings as she glided overhead.
It reminded Ianto that she hadn’t been fed and before he was aware of it he’d started cleaning up, picking what had to be done right then and what could wait until morning. His hands went through the nightly routines, needing very little help from his mind to complete the task. It gave him too much time to think.
“Well, of course, he’s a wanker.”
Ianto hadn’t heard his approach but was unsurprised about that. Jack could be quiet when it suited him. He could be silent as the grave, actually. Ianto continued dropping discarded paper plates, cups, newspapers, scratch pads into the disposal bag in his hand. All this rubbish accumulated in a day. It said a lot about them.
“You are, sir,” he heard himself say, not looking up at Jack.
“We’re back to sir, again?”
Ianto straightened his shoulders. “Okay, then. You’re a wanker, Jack. Happy?”
The tone was droll and tired and it spoke to Ianto.
“It’s not something you can help, Jack.” Blue met blue across the room. “If that makes it more tolerable.” Ianto tore his eyes away and went back to the task at hand.
“Loads better, thank you.” Jack sighed. “What the hell is this about, Yan?”
It was the nickname that did it. Broke through the hard-won steel of Ianto’s defenses, past the wall he’d erected and straight into the heat of anger he’d stuffed down. He tossed the bag down, turning to Jack. “The fact that you have to ask...”
It was then that Ianto looked at Jack. Really looked at him. Weary eyes, rimmed with pain and exhaustion, brow creased in worry, lips firmly closed and face hard as stone. He was waiting for an attack. For Ianto to yell at him, tell him he didn’t understand…make him doubt his own feelings.
Make him feel less.
Jack blinked. “Ask what, Ianto?”
Ianto shook his head and after a moment Jack turned away, arranging papers that lay on the nearby desk into a pile.
Whatever they were, Ianto knew that there was one thing he didn’t want to be.
He didn’t want to be someone who caused Jack any kind of pain.
Even if the same couldn’t be said for him.
There was the longest silence between them while Ianto chose his next move. It didn’t take him too much thought. He loosened his tie and quietly pulled his vest off while he watched the muscles of Jack’s back strain against his shirt when he took a deep breath. Silently, he closed the distance, and when his hands smoothed the material over Jack’s shirt, he heard the distinctive sound of Jack’s quiet gasp.
“Whatever I did, Ianto...I didn’t...”
Ianto shushed him, pushing his front against Jack’s back…closing his eyes against the heat and hardness of their joined bodies. His lips found the back of Jack’s neck and he kissed him there…once…twice. “Don’t think about it.”
Jack leaned against him, a groan escaping as Ianto’s hands followed a slow path down his back, over his ass and around to the front, trailing along the edge of his waist and over the hard on there. Ianto rubbed him through the material, almost smiling at the panting he produced from Jack.
There it was again. That small sign of affection…of something more between them. Ianto leaned his head against Jack’s back while he continued his ministrations on Jack’s body. “I don’t know what we are, Jack.”
Jack turned then, pulling him flush against his front, locking his arms around Ianto. Eyes speaking volumes Ianto couldn’t quite let himself understand.
It didn’t matter.
If they were more...
His place in this life...
Whatever they were, it didn’t matter.
It was more than he expected.
Jack’s lips against his…Jack’s hands on his body…Jack’s breath on his tongue…
Even if it wasn’t everything he wanted...it was enough.
It was enough.