There were rose petals covering the floor of his flat as Ianto stumbled through, he didn't notice at first he was still numb to the pain that he had failed Lisa.
That he could do nothing as she was gunned down by those who he worked with.
That Jack had ordered him to kill Lisa, Ianto wanted to throw up as he recalled the fury and hatred in Jack's eyes as he ordered Ianto to do the impossible.
Ianto couldn't gun down Lisa not even for Jack.
He didn't know when he had begun to fall for the other man, or how much it hurt to be overlooked and dismissed by Jack and forced to watch as Jack welcomed Gwen onto the team with open arms and made sure she adjusted while Ianto faded into the shadows.
"Our poor Ianto."
Ianto blinked as he felt a cool touch that like a petal that had been out in the rain against his cheek letting his eyes close Ianto leaned into the touch, he couldn’t remember the last time someone touched him with care. It had been Lisa before he lost her to the Cyberman.
“Come away with us.”
The Fae hissed in rage as they saw how broken their chosen one was, they longed to seek justice and harm those who had brought him to this state. They wished to care for him the way that he hasn’t been for so long. They had hoped their chosen one found happiness with the woman but it was not to be and the undying one had broken him. They wished to make him suffer.
It was so tempting, it was on the tip of Ianto’s tongue to say yes. It was a little known fact that once a chosen one always a chosen one they could go with the Fae at any age. “I can’t.” It was the hardest decision he ever had to make. He was hurting and at that moment he didn’t want to see Jack or anyone from Torchwood again but he couldn’t deny that tiny ache in his chest at the thought of never seeing them again.
Of never seeing Jack again.
The Fae was the reason that Ianto was still alive when Torchwood One was burning it was them that kept Ianto safe as he dodged Cybermen and Daleks as he hunted for Lisa. He owed them everything but he just couldn’t go with them, at least not yet.
“I’m sorry. I can’t leave just yet.” There was no missing the sorrow in Ianto’s voice as he turned down their offer.
“We understand, we will not force you, we will wait until you chose to come with us.”
Jack Harkness was at an utter loss as he stared at the empty storage room that only a few hours ago held a Cyberwoman, that Ianto of all people had sneaked it in underneath his own nose.
“When is the last time that you asked me about my life?” Ianto’s pain-filled words wouldn’t leave Jack alone they kept repeating over and over again in his head growing louder as he played back the CCTV footage of the Hub and he winced as he watched himself toss Ianto the basketball never stopping to ask Ianto if he wanted to come along, they just continued on ignoring him.
Jack racked his mind and he couldn’t recall Ianto ever coming along with them or any of them stopping to invite him.
The Hub was clean, they were kept in coffee and food and the inmates feed. Jack also knew that it was Ianto and Ianto alone who cleaned up the crime scenes and arranged everything.
‘Ianto has done so much for us and how to do we repay him? By ignoring and forgetting him, shoving him off into the dark, reminding him that he is nothing but an outsider looking in.’
Oh Jack was angry, so very angry and would be for a long time but he couldn’t deny that he had played a part in keeping Ianto from fully becoming a part of the team and he knows it was because of his hatred of anything that had to do with all things Torchwood One, Ianto being in the Hub had been a reminder of all things he hated and that Rose, his beautiful and bright Rose was gone all because of Hartman.
“No, the truth of it is Jack you hate Ianto for surviving when Rose didn’t,” Jack growled out he let his fist fly and strike the wall, not caring if he broke anything it would just heal. Unlike the fractured bond between them and Ianto.
He could Retcon Ianto but the idea of Ianto not remember him made Jack feel sick to his stomach and emotion he wasn’t ready to deal with surged upward and he did his best to shove it to the side.
Despite his anger at being tricked by Ianto Jack knew that the young man did a lot for them and honestly Torchwood was a lot better off with Ianto in it, even if they did suck a letting the Welshman know that he was valued.
“What do I do?” Jack asked the empty room and he wasn’t surprised when no answer came.
The Next Morning
Jack wasn’t surprised when after he gave the team orders that they could take the day off and he would only call them if there was an emergency that Tosh walked through the doors, eyes red from crying but a determined look in her eyes as she made her way towards Jack.
“I don’t want to Retcon Ianto. He was right we never made him feel like he was part of the team.” Tosh looked up at Jack with tears in her eyes, “We messed up Jack. We owe it to Ianto to try and make things right.”
Jack was not surprised that was Tosh’s response. ‘That’s my Tosh with her heart of gold.’ Jack thought with a soft smile on his face as he pulled Tosh into his arms and pressed a kiss on the top of her head. “I know we did Tosh. Ianto was wrong in hiding her but I should have never told him to kill her, that was cruel of me.” Jack had regretted giving that order to Ianto he still saw that thing as the woman he loved and ordering him to kill her would have destroyed what was left of Ianto’s soul.
“It was.” Tosh agreed she squeezed Jack when she felt him flinch. “We never reached out to him. I lost count how many times we excluded him as we went out, how many times did we walk past him laughing and joking and not once did one of us stop and ask him to come along. We all treated him like an outcast, we made sure that he knew he wasn’t one of us.”
Jack hated the self-hatred in Tosh’s voice he wasn’t surprised that she blamed herself for not reaching out and including Ianto. “We will just have to fix things.”
‘If Ianto will let us.’ Went left unsaid.
“What if Owen and Gwen don’t feel the same way? What if they want Ianto gone?” Tosh bit her lower lip as she voiced her concerns. It was no secret that Owen thought Jack only hired Ianto because he wanted to shag him and Tosh was certain that Gwen had a little bit of jealousy towards Ianto she wanted all of Jack’s attention.
“I’m planning on talking to both of them, to find out how they feel but I also plan on pointing it out how we failed Ianto and while misguided Ianto had been thinking with his heart, he had just survived through hell all he had left was Lisa or that thing posing as her. We had a lot of work to do all of us to help fix the damage done but I’m hoping, in the end, this will make us stronger.”
Time held no meaning for Ianto as he laid curled up in bed he wasn’t sure how he even got there all he remembers is blood, fire, and Lisa as the memories of Canary Wharf played over and over again every time that he closed his eyes.
And once again he found himself wondering if he had done the right thing in not going with the Fae at least with them he would be loved and cared for.
“No.” Ianto forced out he owed it to Annie, sweet Annie who had been in the wrong place at the wrong time to make sure that no one else had their life cut short.
“That is if I am even welcomed back.” Ianto knew that Jack was ruthless and as leader of the only remaining branch of Torchwood if he wanted to he could Retcon him or execute him and no one could stop him.
Okay, that wasn’t true if Jack did try to execute him Ianto knows that the Fae will try and stop him and as angry as Ianto is at Jack and the others the last thing that Ianto wants is the fury and vengeance brought down upon them.
Ianto knew that for a while he wouldn’t have to worry about that for a while, Jack would no doubt suspend him for a few weeks it would give Ianto enough time to really think if he wants to return to Torchwood, go with the Fae or start over anew. For now, he wanted to mourn the life he longed for with Lisa, the life that is now nothing more than a dream forever out of his reach.
Owen stormed into the Hub a cup of carrying out coffee in his hand and announced to all who would listen, “I ain’t going back to Starbucks, not that I know what real coffee tastes like.”
Jack raised an eyebrow at his medic he had been sure that Owen might be the hardest sell.
“Hell, I would have done the same thing.” Owen knew that if it had been Katie trapped in that metal body begging for help he would have done everything in his power to save her. He might not like Ianto but he couldn’t lie if he had been in Ianto’s shoes he would have done the same thing he did.
Katie had been his whole world and since he lost her his world had been darker and colder since she was taken from him and he would move heaven and hell and everything in between if it meant having a chance at saving her.
As Jack listened to Owen he wondered why he didn’t think that Owen would identify with Ianto, he had seen how much Owen loved Katie and the change that had overcome him when he failed to save her.
“Things will have to change Ianto returns. I am not saying Ianto didn’t mess up but so did we. I was so set on punishing him for Hartman’s mistakes that I didn’t stop to think how much Ianto had suffered and lost, he was lucky to come out of all of that with his sanity intact.” Jack declared and to his shock, Owen nodded his head.
“Good, and when he gets back I plan on giving him a good going over I have a feeling Ianto has been hiding things from us.” Owen knew he wasn’t close to Ianto and he sucked as a human but he prided himself on being a damn good doctor he should have noticed that Ianto wasn’t dealing with the fallout of Torchwood.
“I’ll make sure that he does.” That was the doctor Jack had hired and he was proud to see Owen’s caring nature coming through.
Gwen was the last one Jack had to approach about Ianto and she was the only one looking unsure and a frown appeared on Jack’s face he had been certain that Gwen with all of her heart and empathy would have been able to see things from Ianto’s point of view.
Of course, she knew nothing about Cybermen or Daleks or how Torchwood One fell. All she knew was that Ianto had brought something into the Hub that nearly killed her.
“Are you sure we can trust him?”
Jack blinked at Gwen’s question. “Gwen, we all let Ianto down. I’m not saying that he made a mistake in hiding Lisa but the fact that he managed to do so and not one of us didn’t notice says how apart he was from the rest of us.”
“Isn’t there anyone Ianto can talk to about what he went through? What about UNIT didn’t they offer him any counseling? What about you Jack did you do anything for the survivors?”
Jack blinked at the rage Gwen unleashed at him. He knows he failed Ianto but he didn’t need her to point out his failings. “UNIT destroyed any that had been converted and like us washed their hands of the survivors of Torchwood One. Gwen, there is no one Ianto can really talk to and I don’t want you pushing him into talking about what he saw.” Jack knew that Gwen would mean well but she also needed answers and she would push for them from Ianto and Jack didn’t want her to need to know to break Ianto any further.
A scowl appeared on Gwen’s face she didn’t like that Jack was calling a halt to her plans she just needed to know why Ianto would risk the world for that creature. “I just want to understand Jack, can’t you understand that?” Gwen pleaded with him.
“I do Gwen but I don’t want you pushing Ianto for answers that he isn’t ready to give. But think about this if that had been Rhys wouldn’t you have done everything in your power to save what was left of him? Even becoming a maid for a group of people that never noticed you, people, that couldn’t even say thank you when you brought you a cup of coffee.” Jack left Gwen alone to think over what he had just said.
Gwen liked to think that she would do anything to save Rhys.
It felt odd being back in the Hub after four weeks away Ianto was surprised at how welcoming back the others were to him, even Owen. Ianto wouldn’t say it out loud but he had been certain that Jack was going to Retcon him but instead he was wanted.
Ianto wasn’t surprised to find Jack at his door. “Would you like to come in sir?”
The immortal could feel his heart pounding as he found himself face to face with Ianto and he was pleased to see that he looked so much better than he did when he dropped him off. “If that is okay with you.” Jack didn’t want to impose on Ianto.
Taking a step back Ianto smiled at Jack, “You aren’t imposing if I am inviting you in.” He pointed out with a raised eyebrow.
A soft chuckle escaped Jack’s lips as he entered Ianto’s flat. “I’m not staying long I am here to tell you that you were right. We...I messed up. I let you slip into the background I held you responsible for Hartman’s mistakes and that was wrong of me. You suffered more than anyone for her mistakes I had no right in adding to them. You were also right when you called us out about when the last time we asked about your life. I know about the others but so little about you and I would like to change that if you will give me the chance to.” Jack found himself pouring his heart out.
“I would like that too.” Ianto’s soft hopeful voice filled Jack with warmth.
“When you return I would like it to be a fresh start for all of us. To show that you are meant to be a part of us. Will you let us?” Jack knew that he needed Ianto to say yes, he needed to prove to Ianto that he mattered to him.
Ianto saw the vulnerability in Jack’s eyes and felt the hope he thought died that night with Lisa spring to life once again, “A fresh start I would like that.”
“Please don’t kill her. I know you hate Jack but Estelle loves you, she sees the good in you, she is a light in this dark world please don’t dim it out because of your hatred for Jack.” Ianto pleaded in the empty Hub Jack and the others were gone off to save the woman that the Fae had targeted.
“For you, we will spare her.”
A feeling of relief coursed through Ianto when the Fae promised to spare Estelle, he wanted to get to know her the woman who Jack loved so much. “Thank you.”
Cannibals, of course, Ianto’s first official field mission with Torchwood Three would involve cannibals.
Ianto felt sick to his stomach as they touched him, the hunger in their eyes as they called him meat and spoke about how they were going to tenderize him. He could feel bruises forming from where the bat landed but Tosh had gotten away and was safe and that was good enough for Ianto.
“You touched what is ours. You harmed him. You will pay.”
The Fae’s vengeance was fast and furious as the cannibal's lungs filled up with rose petals, Ianto watched through pain filled eyes as the cannibals choked he couldn’t find an ounce of sympathy for any of them.
They had slaughtered innocent people, children. In Ianto’s opinion, they deserved everything that the Fae did to them.
Ianto blinked as Jack’s hands cupped his face, somehow while the Fae had been seeking their vengeance the others had arrived watching with fear and weariness as the Fae dealt with the cannibals.
“Shouldn’t we stop them? This isn’t right?” Gwen's fingers twitched around her gun.
“Hell no. These sick bastards are getting just what they deserved.” Owen spat out he could still see that bastard on top of Tosh his hands wrapped around her neck as he looked at her with lust in his eyes, that monster had planned on raping Tosh before dragging her back to this horror show.
Arms wrapped around herself Tosh could only nod in agreement with Owen. “You didn’t see it Gwen, piles of shoes some of which were children. Lives cut short because of these monsters. Watching them choke and suffocate is the fitting end they deserved and hopefully, it will bring peace to all those who lives were cut short because of their harvest.”
Gwen could only stare at her teammates, unable to believe that they were okay with this. “Jack?”
Jack missed most of what the others had talked about his attention solely on the man in his arms, the man he had almost lost tonight. “If it hadn’t been for them I would have lost you and I’’m not ready for that. Thank you.” Jack never thought he would say those words to the Fae not after they killed his men and nearly took Estelle from him.
“I’m here Jack,” Ianto whispered.
Closing the distance between Jack pressed his lips against Ianto’s he needed to know Ianto was really still here safe and sound. Too many time he had almost lost Ianto and it would rip him apart when he lost Ianto, he had a feeling it would hurt more than watching the Doctor leave him behind but he wanted to cherish every moment he would have with Ianto.
The Fae watched as the Undying One’s endless lifeforce swirled around their Chosen One binding them by soul and life. Their Chosen One would be safe from what was to come and his bond with the Undying One would allow them to deal with the one who moved in shadows and the one consumed by the drums.