“Tosh, do you know where Ianto went?” Jack asked, leaning around the frame of his office door.
“No. He said he’d be back before the afternoon briefing, though. Said he had an errand he had to run.”
“Yeah, that’s what he told me, too.”
She grinned up at him. “Don’t believe him?”
“He seemed off today. Quiet.”
“He’s always quiet,” Owen said, climbing the stairs to the main floor and settling in at his computer.
“More quiet,” Jack said.
Tosh just shrugged and so Jack went back to his desk, settling in to write another report. He was distracted, though. He’d asked Ianto to go to dinner with him last night but he’d refused, saying he was tired out. Jack had offered to bring takeout in, but he’d just smiled softly and said he just wanted a night alone. Jack understood; he had done the same thing himself. They both knew it wasn’t personal, just a need for space.
But when Ianto had come into work today without a greeting, had buried himself in the archives almost immediately, and then had simply said he was going out for a bit for an errand, Jack grew concerned. He didn’t say anything, though, determined not to pester.
An hour later at the afternoon debriefing, though, Ianto didn’t show up.
“Where’s Ianto?” Gwen asked, sitting down at the table and laying her folders in front of her.
“He’s not back?” Jack asked.
“I’m sure he’ll be here,” Tosh said.
But he wasn’t, and by the end of the meeting everyone was worried. It was certainly the first time Ianto had missed a meeting. Jack excused himself to call him on his cell, but got no answer.
“You all go on home,” he said, coming back into the conference room. “Time just probably got away from him.”
A few minutes later, after everyone had left – Tosh insisting that Jack text her to let her know Ianto was safe – Jack sat back down at his desk. He could trace his lover’s phone if he wanted to, but he knew that was probably a little extreme for a few hours delay. He stared at his own phone for a moment and jumped a little when it suddenly rang.
“Hello?” he answered.
“Captain Harkness?” a woman’s voice asked.
“Yes,” he said, sitting up a little straighter in his chair.
“I’m Rhiannon Davies, Ianto Jones’ sister,” she said.
“Is Ianto all right?” he asked.
“Well, he’s asking for you, and I’m a little worried about him, really.”
“Where is he? What happened?” he said, standing and pulling his coat on while he talked.
“I can give you an address. He came to see me, and, well, he said you were his good friend and I should call you.”
“Ms. Davies,” Jack said as he descended the stairs and stepped onto the invisible lift, “I don’t mean to be rude, but what the hell is going on? Is he all right or not?”
There was a sigh on the other end of the line. “I don’t know what he told you about today, but, well, he’s drunk and asking for you.”
“Ianto doesn’t get drunk when he’s supposed to be at work.”
“I know, Captain. Like I said, I’m worried. He won’t actually talk to me, just keeps talkin’ about Lisa and askin’ for you.”
Jack’s heart sank as he realized what day it was. He couldn’t believe he’d forgotten. “Where do you live?” Jack asked, and after she told him he climbed into the SUV, texted Tosh, and made his way to Rhiannon Davies’ house.
He arrived at a nice set of row houses with a well-kept garden and he strode to the front door and knocked loudly. A warm-looking woman with Ianto’s eyes opened the door and ushered him in. “I’m Jack Harkness,” he said, letting her lead him to a small kitchen, where Ianto sat at a small table drinking from a clear glass. His hair was mussed, his tie undone, his shirt pulled out of his waistband, and his eyes were already bloodshot. Jack looked from Ianto to Rhiannon.
“I hate to ask this,” she said, “but the kids will be home soon from football practice, and – “
Ianto shoved his chair back and stood a little unsteadily. “We were just leaving.” He hadn’t even met Jack’s eyes yet. He stormed past Jack and out of the kitchen, leaving Jack and Rhiannon standing alone.
Jack sighed. “I’ll take care of him,” he said.
She nodded. “I knew today would be hard for him – her funeral was this time last year – but, well, he just kept drinking, and this isn’t much like him.”
Jack shook his head. “No, it’s not. Thank you for calling me.”
She smiled. “He’s been talkin’ all afternoon, you know. Telling stories about Lisa. Every story he told about her, though, he added something about you.” She paused and looked at Jack carefully. “Like he was justifying you.”
Jack met Ianto’s sister’s eyes and gave his own smile. “He shouldn’t do that.”
“I told him as much, you know,” she said softly. “You’ll take care of him?”
“Yes. Thank you again.”
He followed Ianto, who had already made it to the locked SUV and was leaning against the door. Jack simply unlocked the door and Ianto climbed inside.
“I’ll take you home,” Jack said as he pulled away from Rhiannon’s house. He liked Ianto’s sister.
“I don’t want to be alone,” Ianto said, leaning his head against the glass car window and sighing.
They drove in silence back to Ianto’s flat and Jack kept a steadying hand on Ianto’s back as they climbed the stairs to his door. When they got inside and took off their shoes and coats, Ianto slumped into the couch, covering his face with his hands.
Jack sat down next to him and rubbed small circles on his back. “It’s okay. I should have remembered about today.”
“It’s not the day she died, you know. Just her funeral. She didn’t die for another month.”
Jack heard the bitterness in Ianto’s voice. “I know.”
“Her funeral was gorgeous. It was a crisp clear day and London was splendid. She was splendid.”
“How do you know? You never met her.”
“No. But I know you.”
“I’m a good judge of character, eh? Sometimes I wonder.”
“Me, too,” Jack said with a chuckle. “I just meant that if you thought she was splendid then she was. That’s all that counts.”
They were silent for a few minutes and Jack stood and got Ianto a tall glass of ice water. He took it gratefully and leaned back to drink. Jack stayed on the edge of the couch.
“You were married before, weren’t you, Jack?”
“How did you know?”
“Lucky guess,” Ianto said with a grin.
Jack chuckled. “Yes, I’ve been married. It was a very long time ago.”
Ianto suddenly looked very serious. “I wanted to marry Lisa.”
“Really? How long had you dated?”
“Eight months. Not long enough according to her parents. Rhi didn’t mind so much, being my only family, but Lisa’s parents hit the roof when she even hinted at it.”
“They didn’t know what they were missing,” Jack said with a smile.
“Right.” Ianto took a long drink of the water, downing most of it in one go. “I told Rhiannon about you and me.”
Jack smiled to himself at the abrupt change of subject. “I know.”
“Is that okay?”
“Of course it’s okay. She’s your sister. She should know.”
“Would your parents approve of me?” Ianto asked.
Jack leaned back on the couch, a warm feeling seeping into his chest. “Yes. My mother would have adored you.”
“Will adore,” Ianto said with a small laugh. “When she finds out.”
Jack grinned. “Timey whimey.”
“What about your father?” Ianto asked.
“I think he’d have liked you. He died when I was young, so I didn’t know him so well.”
Ianto looked at Jack very suddenly. “Everyone dies. Except you. That’s so unfair.” He leaned into Jack and Jack suddenly felt very protective.
“You wouldn’t want this, Ianto,” he said softly.
“I meant it’s unfair to you.”
Jack drew a sharp breath. “I’ve managed. I found you. You help.”
“Until I die. Then I just add to the goddamned problem.”
“Yeah,” Jack whispered through his own shaky breath. “Yeah, you do.”
They were quiet for a few minutes, and Jack held Ianto tightly in his arms, rubbing his back again.
“I wouldn’t trade the eight months with Lisa, though,” Ianto said suddenly.
Jack smiled as he ran his fingers through Ianto’s hair as he held him. “Right. So you see,” Jack said.
“It’s a problem I have, and you’re complicating it, but it’s not so much unfair.”
Ianto smiled, and leaned into Jack and kissed him softly, slowly. Jack enjoyed every minute of the kiss.