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No Exceptions

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The large blast door of the hub rolls shut. Jack had finally agreed to let Owen go back to his own flat and the others drifted away shortly after. He finds Ianto sitting on the steps in the med bay, staring at the wall ahead of him, unmoving. Jack lowers himself to sit behind, one step higher, and drapes his arms over Ianto’s shoulders.

“Hey,” he whispers into Ianto’s neck, rubbing his nose lightly over the soft skin.

Ianto nods, slightly, leaning back into Jack’s embrace. “He’s not going to start trying to eat our brains, is he?”

Jack grins into his neck. “He can’t actually eat or drink anything. And you really don’t want to see what happens when he does.” He checks to see if this elicits so much as a grin from Ianto, but his face is still blank.

They sit in silence for a time, before Ianto speaks again. “You shouldn’t have done that.”

“I think I realize that now.” He pulls Ianto impossibly closer, slipping his arms around Ianto's waist. “But I’m not sorry I did. I know people have died because of what I did. It’s not the first time that’s happened and surely won’t be the last. I will carry that on my conscience for… well, forever, I guess. But I wasn’t ready and I won’t take it back, even if I could.”

Ianto nods again, made difficult with Jack leaning against him the way he is. “You don’t get to be ready, Jack. None of us do. Death is a part of life. Even for the immortal.”

“You think I don’t know that?”

“I think you, more than anyone, should know that and what you did was irresponsible.” Ianto turns in Jack’s arms, silencing his coming protest with a kiss. “But you know I understand and I don’t blame you.”

“I couldn’t…” Jack’s breath hitches in his throat. He cups Ianto’s face with one big hand, foreheads touching. “I should have saved him, but I couldn’t.”

“No,” Ianto agrees. “And you won’t always he able to swoop in at the last second and be the hero. And that’s alright, Jack. It really is.” He kisses Jack’s soft lips again, longer, pressing against him. Pulling back he waits for Jack’s eyes to open and look at him. “I need you to promise me something.”


“Promise me. If we ever come across another glove… or a hat or a scarf or a magical, alien necktie that brings people back to life…” He stares hard into Jack’s eyes, holding his face with one hand and his hand with the other. “Promise that you will never use that on me.”

Jack starts to shake his head. “Don’t make me promise that.”

“Would you rather I live forever, too?”

Shaking his head again, Jack whispers, “No. I wouldn’t wish that-”

“Because I would, Jack. If I could make myself like you and be here forever, just so I could stay with you, I would.”

“No, I don’t want that for you.”

“Then promise me. When it happens, promise you’ll let me go.”

Dragging in a ragged breath, staring down into Ianto's soft eyes, Jack exhales, shakily. “OK, I promise. OK?”

With a nod, Ianto almost smiles, leaning up to kiss Jack again. “OK.” He lays his head down on Jack’s shoulder, closing his eyes while Jack’s arms encircle him, a wall between him and the rest of the world. They sit in silence for a long time, until Jack’s back begins to twinge from the awkward position and the hard, cold steps become unbearable beneath Ianto’s butt. “I think we need to move now.”

“Yeah.” Jack rises slowly, his back cracking. He pulls Ianto up by the hand. “Oh, hey, I meant to ask. Where have you been hiding my hockey stick? I was looking for that.”

“I know.” Ianto smirks. “It’s been put away where you shall never, ever find it.”

“Oh, really? I do love a challenge.”

“A challenge, you want? Bet you can’t beat your current record time of six minutes, thirty-seven seconds.”

“Six-thirty-seven? Piece of cake. You’re on.” Jack begins pulling him towards his office. “But no cheating and doing that thing you did last time.”

“It doesn’t break any of the rules.”

“Yeah, but it’s still not fair.”