It’s night, and dark, and most of the gang have trotted off for a drink after a long day of chasing a very small and determined alien tourist all over Cardiff.
Normally, this is the point where Jack would find himself brooding alone by the light of his desk lamp, but it’s been exhausting catching up from the Year That Never Was and clearing up the mess with John Hart, and Ianto has always been very good at knowing when Jack needs a cuppa. So brooding alone becomes brooding over paperwork with wonderful Ianto coming sedately through the door with a tray and a lightly steaming mug.
Tonight, it’s tea (chamomile, by the smell), and it very nearly startles Jack as the mug clicks down next to his hand. In his usual way, Ianto pointedly doesn’t ask what’s bothering Jack, but Jack has finally learned that not asking doesn’t mean Ianto doesn’t want to know.
“You asked me once if I’d ever been in love,” he says, staring out the window at the atrium.
Just the slightest pause, the tiniest rustle of that crisp suit. Ianto doesn’t interrupt, because he’s perfect like that.
“Lemme ask you something,” Jack goes on. “Have you ever been in love with someone who abandoned you after you gave your life for him? Who can’t even stand to look at you because your very existence is wrong?”
His throat feels thick, which is just pathetic, God, how pathetic is it that the love of his life skips happily across all of time and space and can’t keep from making little disgusted winces every time he accidentally glances Jack’s way? That, more than anything, should prove to Jack that he amounts to very little in the Doctor’s eyes—just another failed companion who broke a rule and got left behind.
After another pause, Ianto just says, “He’s rather a thick article for someone Torchwood and UNIT seem to find so awfully clever, your Doctor.” So matter-of-fact. So Welsh. So Ianto.
Jack will never get tired of hearing the words ‘summun’ and ‘ohfully.’
And of course Ianto made the connection between the Torchwood Charter and Jack’s little hints here and there. There used to be a half-hour list of Doctor-related cautions at Torchwood One (he was subjected to it once while visiting). Ianto’s memory for cautionary lists is impeccable (like his suits), and there’s no way he would have let slip the opportunity to hear Jack’s answer when Gwen asked who Abaddon could have used to convince him to open the Rift.
‘The right doctor.’ Moron. God, he might as well have hung a sign around his neck that read ‘I’m in love with the last of the Time Lords.’ Or maybe ‘I like ‘em brilliant, weird, and completely unattainable.’
But Ianto has just bluntly called the Doctor an idiot for the truth he said over those footprint couplings at the end of the universe. Ianto appreciates the fact that Jack exists, doesn’t shy away from him even now that they all know he’s a fr—an anomaly in the fabric of time.
Jack sits and watches for a long while, searching, telling himself he’s reading too much into it, he’s hearing what he wants to instead of what’s been said. They’ve barely started this ‘actual dating thing,’ and Jack’s not very experienced with the ‘actual dating thing’ to begin with, and maybe he’s spent so many decades on a combination of wishful thinking and enforced lack of commitment that his ability to read people is a tad askew…
Because Ianto is so very perfect, he raises one eyebrow and explains, “At times, I find that your existence is possibly the only right thing in the universe. Now drink your tea. I’m off; I’ve shopping to do before breakfast.”
The tea is also perfect. Jack suspects Ianto is incapable of making imperfectly brewed beverages (unless he’s punishing someone). “Ianto—”
A lean forward, a hand on his, a soft kiss at the corner of his mouth. “Good night, Jack,” he says gently. That’s Ianto all over—so poetically eloquent with the words he doesn’t say. Perfect in several wonderful shades, including the ones that are stubborn and dangerously naïve and make Jack quite literally want to shoot him.
And then Ianto is gone, all straight back and even strides (and fantastic ass), and rarely has anyone so exactly matched the phrase ‘swanning off.’
Jack smiles and drinks his tea. He doesn’t feel any less like some stupid kid with a crush, but he feels less like it’s the end of his world to set it aside after carrying it for so long.
Then he imagines Ianto meeting the Doctor, and the idea of their immense mutual disdain (eyebrows arched as they look down their noses and snark at each other, ‘So you’re the teaboy, eh?’ ‘I could do you a cup, if you like,’ ‘Ooh, not poisoned, I hope?’ ‘Perhaps you should tell me about any food allergies, just in case,’ ‘Hah, yes, you’d like that, wouldn’t you, silly ape?’ and on and on) keeps him smiling for most of the night.
Some time around three, he starts to wonder if Ianto and the Doctor would be friends, instead—gang up on him, share stories of his nightmarish exes, trade advice (‘I find a well-timed cup of coffee calms him down a treat’ for ‘it’s best to just stop him introducing himself altogether,’ perhaps). That idea is slightly terrifying, until Jack’s mind does what it does best and turns the scenario sexual, and then he’s right back to smiling.
Ianto never does get to meet the Doctor in person. They meet briefly on a subwave call. For that moment, they get on smashingly, because Ianto is perfect like that.