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A Matter of Time

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Disclaimer: I own no characters in this story. They are the property of Russell T Davies and the BBC. I just like to play with them.

Chapter 1

Jack sat alone in his office thinking of all the things that had happened that day. His head was propped up by one hand, as he rubbed his forehead. He'd had to make one of those decisions again and he'd seen on the faces of the others how they felt about that choice. They had no idea how many times over the last hundred years he'd had to make the same decision and sacrifice the one for the sake of the many. At least this time Jasmine had wanted to go and she like him now would never die. He'd also lost Estelle and once again his immortality meant that he had to watch someone he loved get old and then die. Jack wasn't sure he would ever get used to it. Estelle had been one that he had really loved from first sight; at a time when all relationships were transitory. She had been beautiful and Jack had charmed her as usual. They had danced so much. He could feel her tucking herself into his shoulder and he could smell her perfume. For a moment he closed his eyes to try and stop the tears from falling. Why had she never listened to him about her fairies?

It had been a demanding time of late. Ianto had only recently returned from suspension. Jack was still worried about him; he wondered how much of a life the boy had. He'd been particularly affected by Ianto's declaration that all he did was deal with their shit and what was worse, Jack knew that Ianto was right. They had all taken him for granted. He hadn't felt able to confide in any of them. Jack knew he would have to spend more time with Ianto and bring him more into team activities. Now perhaps that Ianto had nothing to hide he would allow himself to become more involved. Jack knew that Ianto was far too young and he had to admit far too handsome to bury himself in the Hub.

Then he heard a noise from outside the office and immediately realised who it was likely to be hanging around the Hub in the early hours of the morning.

"Ianto is that you out there?" he shouted. Ianto appeared at the door carrying a bin bag.

"Just doing a spot of tidying Sir, while it's quiet; I couldn't sleep. I believe you had a tough day."

"Yeah you could say that. Sit down Ianto. Drink?" he asked and poured another for himself and one for Ianto.

"How are you doing Ianto? You look at bit better but I guess you're still getting the nightmares."

"I'm OK Sir, but yes sleep is a bit of a problem. I find sorting out here helps and I can kip down on the settee if I need to. Do you want to talk about today?"

"Not much to say. I knew the woman who died during the war. We were close and again I had to watch someone I loved die. The others are upset with me because of what happened but it had to be done. Are you not going to judge me too Ianto? Or are you going to keep your thoughts to yourself as normal?"

"I've seen your ability to make tough decisions close up Sir, perhaps more than the others, after Lisa. I know what I did was foolish but I did it for love. You have to see the bigger picture Jack and do it for humanity. We both just have to live with the consequences of our actions and hope that others will forgive us and trust us again."

"Ianto, I know how you suffered because of what you did with Lisa. You felt to blame for the two deaths she caused and that's hard to live with – I know. We both have to live with the guilt of what we have done and deaths that have needed covering up. The others don't have that personal experience. You've the ability to understand me better because of that and you haven't judged me. But we both need to put these things behind us and you should try to get some sleep."

Ianto looked at Jack and found himself wanting to hold him to make him feel better, knowing of course that it would make him feel better as well, but not wanting to acknowledge that part of what he was thinking. He'd always been confused about his feelings for Jack, ever since they'd met. He'd spent time thinking about it while he was suspended. He'd missed everyone but mostly he'd missed Jack's reassuring presence. When he'd returned and Jack had nodded towards him Ianto had felt such relief to be back. Then, that night, he'd found Jack again alone in his office and Jack had just touched his shoulder. It had been like someone had put a bolt of electricity through him. The Hub was the nearest thing he had to a home. His own flat was so small and felt bleak. Torchwood gave him a purpose now Lisa was gone, and he felt he owed it to Jack to do his best for him, as he had forgiven him and allowed him to return.

Jack suddenly looked directly at him and Ianto knew that he was reading his thoughts. Half of him wanted Jack to get up and fulfil his fantasy but he was scared, really scared. Jack just smiled and said, "go on Ianto try to get some sleep and I'll see you in the morning when I'll probably need several cups of your wonderful coffee."

Ianto got up and walked to the door. He turned to face Jack and said, "you know if you need to talk Jack you can. I may not have a way with words but I'm a good listener." He stopped for a moment and then added, "I'm sorry I called you a monster. You didn't deserve that."

"That's OK Ianto I've been called worse over the years. Goodnight."

Jack watched the handsome Welshman leave his office and heard him walk down the stairs. He wondered if Ianto would ever race down them again rather than the trudging steps he could hear.

Ianto took each step slowly and as he lay down on the settee he stared over to where Jack would be sitting and fell asleep wondering what might have been.