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Fic: Finding Ways To Smile Again.

Written for torchwood_fest and now it has been posted there for two weeks I can cross post.

Title Finding Ways to Smile Again.
Author the_silver_sun
For Bingo/Prompt/Exchange Prompt 
Prompt  jo02 Ianto is secretly rescued by Ten after he dies in Thames House, and taken onto the TARDIS. Work with what was televised of the rest of Day 4 and 5, no AU from what was seen on TV. Ianto is returned to Jack after he leaves Earth 6 months later. Your choice whether to concentrate on Ianto and Ten travelling, or the reunion and after Ianto and Jack are back together. Can be angst or angst with happy ending. 
Word Count 6400
Rating PG 
Contains Canon mention of death of a child. Spoilers for Children of Earth and for Doctor Who episode 'The End of Time' Crossover with Doctor Who.
Warnings None of Torchwood-fest's warnings apply to this story.
Summary Seeing Jack at the bar, so defeated, so lost, so sad, that had been heart-breaking.  There was only one thing for it, the Doctor decided, he had to find a way of bringing Ianto back to him.
Beta iantojjackh
A/N Thank you to iantojjackh for betaing this for me.


Part 1. The Doctor. 

He'd misjudged him. Misjudged Jack. Again. 

The Doctor supposed, in his defence that he didn't actually know Jack all that well any more. Assuming Jack hadn't changed after a couple of hundred years probably hadn't been the best idea he'd ever had. Trying to set up on what would have most likely been a one night stand to say sorry really hadn't been the most thoughtful of ones either. Especially as Jack was mourning the loss of the man he had evidently loved very much. 

There had to be a way to put it right, to make Jack smile again. Because seeing Jack at that bar, so defeated, so lost, so sad, that had been heart-breaking.  There was only one thing for it. He had to find a way of bringing Ianto back to him. The problem was the time-line would have to appear to the same – well from Jack's point of view at least. It was Jack that was complicating everything with his fixed point in time-ness, not that that was Jack's fault really. So much of what had happened to Jack wasn't his fault. He'd changed so much from the conman who'd accidentally turned a good size chunk of London into gas mask wearing zombies and flirted with anything that moved. 

It breaks his hearts that he can't do more, can't save the child as well. He'd not even known Jack had been a grandfather. He'd been a grandfather once. A father too. All casualties of the Last Great Time War. All lives he'd been unable to save. 

Well not this time. He had to think. Think. He paced around the TARDIS console. Think… think… think… think. He had millennia of experience. Why couldn't he think?  Ah yes, the imminent regeneration bubbling just under his skin. Well, it wasn't happening just yet, not while he had so much to do, so many people to see and so little time to do it. 

Time that was it. Just like the trick with Martha and the tie. Plant something before, reveal it afterwards.  He just needed to go back and give Ianto Jones something so that the gas released in Thames House wouldn't kill him. 

The Doctor frowned. Giving him something like a vaccine wouldn't be any good, as Ianto still needed to appear dead for Jack to do what he did and to run afterwards. He hated to think what losing Ianto and his grandson followed by all those months of cutting himself off from any comfort he might have been given would do to Jack, how much he'd suffer. Because he was suffering, racked with grief and guilt, still unable to come to terms with any of it by the time he'd found him in the bar so many months on from that terrible week. 

Sontaran cloning tech would be ideal, but it would take more time than he had. Which was ridiculous really, when he thought about it. A Time Lord with no time left.  No, there had to be something else. A shimmer. That would work. Program it to look like young mister Jones and put it on a body... No that wasn't fair. Somebody would be missed, and if somebody was missed there would be people who’d start looking and that could make the whole thing unravel.  A shop dummy, that would do.

Now all he had to do was find Ianto, preferably on his own or at the very least without Jack, no more than two days before the Thames House incident. Then it would just be a simple matter of getting him to breath in some of a compound that, when mixed with the gas, would act like a stasis drug and fool everybody. 

The Doctor found Ianto in London, leaving a coffee shop, bags of clothes in one hand and a tray of drinks in the other.  

Looking tired and rather bruised, he was still alert to any dangers around as he made his way through the bustling streets. So this was the man who'd caught Jack's heart, the Doctor thought, the man who'd managed the impossible.  It hadn't been possible to tell much about him during the brief moments he'd previously seen them when the Earth had been pulled out of orbit. Yes, the Doctor decided, as he watched him head back to where Jack and Gwen were hiding, there was definitely something about him. 

It was easy to get ahead of him, using the perception filter that he'd given Martha so that she'd been able to walk around the world undetected, and release it into the air as he walked by.

Ianto wrinkled his nose it drifted past him and gave disgusted look at the overflowing bins at the back of a takeaway before continuing on his way. 

The Doctor tucked the bottle back inside his suit and returned to the TARDIS. Now all he had to do was collect him in a couple day’s time, give him a dose of the antidote to wake him up and then take him to Jack in the bar. Then he could get on with seeing all the other people he needed to say goodbye to. Not that he was sure it would really be goodbye, but it probably was better to err on the side of caution just this once. 

The morgue was deserted when the TARDIS materialised, the staff long since left for home. So many lives lost, the Doctor thought sadly, as he looked for the right drawer. 

Inside was Ianto lying cold and still, his eyes closed and lips tinged blue in such an accurate approximation of death that it made the Doctor pause, worried for a moment that his plan hadn't worked. A quick check with one of the settings on the sonic screwdriver, allayed that fear as it detected the faint, but present electrical pulses of brain activity.  

After swapping Ianto for the dummy and securing the shimmer to it, the Doctor picked Ianto up. Carrying him over his shoulder and in to the TARDIS. “Right, here we go. Time to see Jack.” 

Glad that it wasn’t far, the Doctor placed Ianto down against one of the arching coral struts in the TARDIS control room.


“Wakey wakey,” the Doctor said, crouching down beside Ianto and carefully tipping a small vial of shimmering blue liquid into his mouth.

Ianto eyes snapped open and he stared at him before looking around wild-eyed, filled with fear and confusion. “How...” He began, but whatever else he was going to say was cut off by a series of violent fits of coughing until he was wheezing and blood stained his lips.  

He stared at the Doctor for a moment, abject terror in his eyes, before he slumped sideways onto the floor, barely conscious and struggling to breathe. 

“Oh no, no you don't,” the Doctor the said, rolling Ianto into the recovery position before hurrying back to the TARDIS controls. “No dying, I mean it.” A quick trip to the 32nd century to one of the automated hospitals should do it, the Doctor decided. Quick service and an absolute minimum of questions was just what he needed right now.

“A little help here,” the Doctor called as he carried Ianto out of the TARDIS and into the hospital.

One of the robotic medics, who looked like a solid grey metal rectangle with arms, hovered over. A trolley teleported down next to it as it reached the Doctor.

“He needs new lungs,” the medic said in a monotone voice after running a paddle shaped hand over Ianto's chest. “They will take four weeks to grow. We will freeze him while they grow. He will die otherwise. You have no objections?”

“No, of course not,” the Doctor gives it a baffled look. “I mean why would I? I brought him here to get better didn't I?” 

“He will recover. You can wait here.” The medic pressed a button on its chest and a second or two later a ticket came out of a thin slot just below it. It handed it to the Doctor. “You can collect him in thirty five days. We do not do refunds if unsuccessful. If you do not collect him after forty days you will be billed for the extra time. Terms and conditions apply. We use Judoon collection agencies for non-payment.” 

Well there was no way he could sit there and wait for just over a month, even if he had the time. So with one last look at Ianto the Doctor left. 

A quick trip to 2010 to stop Luke getting run over, then to 2017 to help Martha and Mickey and followed by a very brief stop in 2011 for Donna's wedding. Then back to the 32nd century to get Ianto. 

“You are late. Forty three days have passed,” the medic on duty said as the Doctor handed his ticket in at the counter. “You will not be billed for this. He needed extra treatment.”

“Oh.” The Doctor peered round him, trying to see into the ward.  “I can collect him though, can't I? Only there's somebody he has to meet and I really can't wait. Busy that me.”

“He will need rest for a minimum of two more weeks,” the medic advised it glided round the counter, hovering about a foot off floor as it showed the Doctor the way. It stopped and whirred for a moment, an internal teleport switching on and off, then a square hatch opened in the centre of it.  It reached inside with one of its telescopic arms and then handed two bottles to the Doctor. “For pain.” It tapped one bottle, then the other, adding, “Against infection.  Please read instructions while within universal translation field. Errors made due to later reading failure are not the responsibility of the hospital.”  

The Doctor had to admit for somebody who was apparently well enough to leave Ianto looked awful.  Much thinner than when he'd left him and nearly as pale as he'd been when he'd been just about dead, he was sat on the edge of his bed, trying to button his shirt with shaking fingers. Where his chest was visible through the gap in the unfastened clothes there was a livid, vertical scar, around it his chest hair only just growing back where it had been shaved off. The technology used to speed healing internally apparently not having any effect on the surface of the skin or perhaps the medics just didn't care about how it looked as long as it worked. 

Ianto stared at the Doctor for a moment then stood up. Taking a few shaky steps towards him, Ianto held out his hand. “Thank you. “ He looked around, expression getting more and more worried. “Where’s Jack?” 




Part 2 Jack. 

Jack stared hollow eyed at the piece of paper in front of him. His name is Alonso.  What the hell had the Doctor been thinking? Did he really imagine that he was so shallow that a pretty face and nice uniform would actually help?  He'd have done better re-asking him the question he posed back in the radiation filled room on Malcassairo – he'd have an answer for him now.

Not that it would do any good. There was no way out for him, not ever. Jack laughed humourlessly into his drink, knowing it was that or cry. “Well Alonso, I don't know what he told you about me, but I'm really not in the mood.” 

Alonso looked at him wide eyed and then blushed. “I'm not trying to pick you up,” he said sounding rather embarrassed, as he fidgeted with collar of his uniform. “The Doctor told me to take you this address and to give you these.” He took another creased piece of paper and a pair of tickets for a space cruise out of his pocket and placed it on the bar in front of Jack.  “He said there was someone there that you'd want to see, and he told me to tell you that he was sorry he couldn't have done it sooner.” 

“He says that a lot. There's no one left I want to see,” Jack said, picking up his drink and downing it in a single gulp. “At least no one there's a chance of seeing. Just leave me alone.”

“To do what? Drink yourself into coma?” Alonso said disapprovingly at the row of empty glasses on the bar. “Look I'm not even going to pretend I know what is going on, but he seemed very sure you would want to see him.”

“Who?” Jack asked wearily as he waved the bartender over to order another drink. Being left alone to drink until he couldn't think anymore, until there was some respite from the grief and guilt that plagued him had been his intention. It still was if he was honest. He knew he'd feel guilty as hell in the morning and that he'd be disgusted with himself for allowing himself to forget even for a few hours. But in a twisted way that felt right too, it helped to keep the guilt fresh and stopped it from fading. 

There was pity in Alonso's eyes as looked at Jack, seeing the misery and despair there. “I don't know his name. I only saw him for couple of minutes, when the Doctor showed me where he was staying. A young man, dark hair, funny accent, really pale, he'd been very ill from what I understood.”

Something twists uncomfortably in Jack's chest, a stupid, impossible hope that he couldn't allow himself to believe, because he knew it would crush him when he inevitably found out he was wrong. 

“I've only got a limited amount of leave before I have to get back to my ship and I'd rather be spending with some pleasant company rather than a drunk whose coat smells like something died in it, but the Doctor said that you'd listen, that you'd come with me, and I owe the Doctor a great deal. My life in fact,” Alonso said, then got off his bar stool and waited for Jack to do the same. “All I know is that he went to a lot of trouble to for you and I think you should be grateful.” 

“Fine,” Jack said with absolutely no enthusiasm. “I'll go. It's not like I've got anything better to do.” 

He followed Alonso through the bustling streets, hating the fact that his immortality was burning through the alcohol in him, sobriety reasserting itself despite his wish that it wouldn't. Eventually Alonso stopped outside a hotel next to the space port. “He's in room seven on floor thirty four.” He handed Jack a card. “You'd best just let yourself in.” 

“You're not coming with me?” Jack asked, surprised. What made Alonso think that as soon as he was gone he wouldn't just toss the key card in the trash and go and find another bar? 

Alonso shook his head. “I told you, I've only got another couple of days leave and then it’s back to work. And there's a very nice dance bar that I want to visit. So if you'll excuse me.”

“Sure, whatever.” Jack managed the ghost of a smile. “You go live, have fun. Someone should.” 

Jack watched Alonso leave, then turned back to look at the hotel. He turned that card through his fingers, then sighed. “What the hell, not like I've got anything left to lose,” Jack said to himself and went inside.

The lift rose swiftly up the side of the building, the glass sides giving a panoramic view of the city and spaceport, the planet's double suns starting to set. It was a spectacular view, but it was totally lost on him. 

He listened at the door for a moment, but couldn't hear anything, and then with a shrug, he swiped the card across the reader at the side of the door and let himself in. 

Lying in bed propped up with pillows, looking pale and exhausted, the pastel green of the bedding leeching what colour he had, was Ianto. 

For a second Jack wondered if he was going to pass out as he swayed on his feet, shock and months of self-neglect threatening to overwhelm him. Shaking, his breath catching in his throat he caught hold of the door frame as he attempted to stay upright. 

“I'm sorry it took so long.” 

Jack turned, still holding the edge of the door to see the Doctor standing to the side of him. “You! Why didn't you come?” Jack asked, a desperate appeal to understand in his eyes. “The Earth needed you. I needed you. Why?”

“I couldn't.” The Doctor took a step back from him, feeling the tingle and burn of pent up regeneration energy beneath his skin. “You were part of it, you being there made it a fixed point. You know how those things are, you can't change them.” 

Jack looked at him hurt and so very, very tired. “So this is my fault?” 

The burn got worse and the Doctor couldn't reply, having to focus all his attention and energy stalling his regeneration just a little bit longer. 

“Doctor?” Jack asked, the anger rapidly being replaced with concern. “What wrong?” 

“Nothing to worry about, I'm just going to regenerate soon. Well hopefully.” He smiled, manic rather than hopeful, his own fears getting the better of him just for a moment. “I got a blast of radiation, so I'm not actually sure. I mean who knows, maybe I'll come back with two heads. At least I'd always be able to have an interesting conversation.” 

“You're dying?” Jack gripped the Doctor's forearms, staring at him shocked and scared. 

“Isn't everyone really?” the Doctor replied flippantly, trying to sidestep that particular conversation.  
“Don't joke.” Jack voice cracked, as he pulled him into a hug. “Don't you even dare.” 

The Doctor smiled, looking like his hearts were breaking and then he pushed himself free of Jack's embrace. “I've got to go, things to do, places to go, people to see, you know me. Still a lot of universe out there I've not been to yet. ” 

“Don't, not when you're like this,” Jack pleaded with him. “You shouldn't be alone, not if... I've never asked you for anything before, but please don't go.”

“No, Jack.” The Doctor put a hand on his shoulder. “You need to live and love and heal, and you don't need me for that. Any way who knows maybe one day we'll travel again. You and me we're both impossible, so that makes anything possible, doesn't it?”

Jack nodded, close to tears, knowing that he'd lost.

Then, without looking back, the Doctor walked away. 

Jack saluted as he left, tears running down his face, until finally, as the door closed and the Doctor was out of sight he, dropped to his knees, hands covering his face.






Part 3. Ianto.

Moving was still decidedly uncomfortable even with what the hospital had done to speed up healing and a recent dose of painkillers. The sight of Jack kneeling on the floor, his shoulders shaking with barely contained sobs was more than Ianto could bear.

Holding one hand against his aching chest, Ianto got unsteadily out of bed and went to kneel beside Jack.  He felt exhausted from the effort, the medic's recommendation little more than an hour before that he should rest felt all the more sensible.  

He'd let Jack and the Doctor have those few uninterrupted moments, knowing that Jack and most likely the Doctor too needed that time to say goodbye. He'd not realised though that the Doctor had been thinking of this in terms of possibly being a final goodbye.

Shaking as badly as Jack was, Ianto put an arm around his shoulders. “I'm sure he'll be all right.”

Jack sniffed wetly and swallowed back tears before looking him. “It's really you.” He ran a finger down the faint mark on Ianto's cheek where debris from the exploding Hub had cut it months before. “You look...”

“Awful.” Ianto gave him an exhausted smile. “You can say it. You really can't get a decent suit out here.”

Jack took a shaky breath, his fingers moving from Ianto's cheek to thread through his hair. “So how are you feeling? Or is that a stupid question?”

“Sore, cold, tired.” Ianto rested his head against Jack's shoulder with a grateful sigh. “More relieved and happier than I think I've ever been in my entire life.”

“So how did he do it?” Jack asked, moving slightly so that he could put an arm around Ianto. “He said it was a fixed point.”

“Thames House was and apparently so was you leaving Earth, but I think the rest was a bit more fluid. He didn't give me all the details, but basically he drugged me with something so I didn't die, it just looked like I did,” Ianto said quietly, closing his eyes, images that he'd rather block out springing unbidden up behind them. “I still remember all of it, you know. I remember you holding me and knowing I was going to die. That you begged them...That it hurt.”

“Oh Ianto,” Jack held him tighter. “I'm so sorry, I should have never taken you there. I...” He loosened his grip as Ianto gave a small gasp of pain, and there was undisguised panic in Jack's voice as he asked, “What's wrong? Ianto, please, no, not again.”

“I'm all right. I'm just sore. ” Ianto forced himself to take slow breaths, until discomfort started to ease again. “New lungs. They had to freeze me while they grew me some new ones out of a piece of was left of my old ones.” Ianto shivered and Jack carefully put his arms back around him. The memories of waking up alone, in pain and somewhere utterly alien and of the two weeks afterwards while he struggled with the side effects of the cryogenic stasis – something to which he was apparently very ill suited -  were ones that he was sure would give him nightmares for years to come.  It wasn't the time to be sharing such thoughts and Ianto forced a smile, hoping Jack would assume that physical discomfort was behind why it wavered. “Don't worry, a couple more weeks and I should be fine.”

“You should be in bed,” Jack said, carefully helping Ianto to his feet.

Leaning against him, Ianto laughed then winced, pressing a hand against his aching chest. “You don't change.”

“I have,” Jack said quietly, as they slowly walked the few steps to the bed. “I'm not the person I was. Those days in Thames House, part of me died there and it's never coming back.”

Shocked at how disconnected Jack sounded, Ianto fell back against the stack of pillows as he lay down on the bed. “How long has it been since I...since then?”

Jack sat down on the edge of the bed, his hands clasped in his lap, looking like he was fighting the urge to run or maybe just scream at the horror of it. “About eight months.”

“Did anyone else...” Ianto asked, dreading the answer, but knowing that he wouldn't be able to rest until he got the answer however terrible it might be. “We did stop them, didn't we?”

“We stopped them and Gwen's fine. So is Rhys. They'll be parents by now I should think.” Jack managed a watery smile. “She looked as big as a house last time I saw her.”

“But someone did,” Ianto said softly, putting his arm about him, although whether it was for Jack's comfort or his own, he couldn't begin to say. “Didn't they? You're not like this just because of me, there's something else. Just tell me, I'm only going to think the worst if you don't. It's not Martha is it?”

“No. My grandson,” Jack said his voice thick with tears. “I had to send a signal to stop them, it needed a child's brainwaves to send it through. There wasn't another there, so I used Steven. That was his name you know. Now he's dead and it's all my fault.” Jack turned a tear streaked face to him. “I killed him.”

“Oh god.” Ianto froze. He couldn’t imagine what it must have cost Jack to do that, the guilt that must have been consuming for months.

Jack pulled away, a near hysterical sob shaking him. Sitting hunched over on the far end of the bed, he said, “You were right about me, I'm every bit the monster you said I was, aren't I? I don't deserve to have you back. ”

“I rather like being back given what the other option is,” Ianto said faintly, feeling like he was drowning in a sea of conflicting emotions. Anger at the world that Jack had been forced in that situation, disappointment in Jack for doing what he had, revulsion at the part of himself that says one child versus the lives of millions was the only call Jack could have made and fear that Jack won't ever be able move past this, that they've lost forever what they'd had together. Not entirely successful in pushing down his own insecurities, his voice cracked as he asked, “Was there any other way?”

“I don't know. I've played it over and over in my mind and I can't find one, but...I should have, somehow I should have.” Jack seemed to crumple in on himself. “He screamed you know, and I hear it, over and over.”

“Don't tell me this,” Ianto said feeling sick with fear at what he might hear next as he fought the urge to put his fingers in his ears and block it all out.  He wiped his hand across his eyes, wishing he didn't feel so wretched and weak. “Jack, I can't...please, just come here.”

Jack looked at him, eyes wet and red, before nodding. Then still fully dressed he laid down on the bed next to him. Shivering, he curled on his side and buried his face against the stack of pillows close to Ianto's shoulder.

Ianto doubted there were any words of comfort that he could say, even if he could think of anything that would make a difference. He settled instead for stroking his fingers through Jack's hair, trying to let him know that he wasn't alone. He wondered if he'd let anybody comfort him. He wanted to think that he would have at least talked to Gwen, maybe Martha as well, but he doubted it.

Slowly Jack's breathing evened out until Ianto knew that he'd fallen asleep. Exhausted, he finally closed his own eyes.



The room was dark apart from the city lights outside spilling in through the un-curtained windows when Ianto woke.  His chest ached appallingly and he reached for his pills and glass of water on the bedside table.

Jack stirred beside him, his voice still drowsy, as he said, “It wasn't a dream. You're really here. Or am I mad?”

“I'm here, nowhere else I rather be,” Ianto replied, before quickly taking the tablets. He knew it would take a few minutes for them to work, and he had no intention of moving until they had. Putting the glass back down, he asked, “So what do we do now?”

“Now?” Jack said, sounding like he'd never actually considered it, hadn't made any plans for the future. He rolled onto this back and stared up at the darkened ceiling.  “I could go find you something to eat if you're hungry.”

“I mean are we going back to Cardiff?” Ianto asked, watching the play of lights from outside across Jack's face. “Can we even get back?”

“Yes.” Jack absently rubbed his hand over his vortex manipulator. “But I can't, not yet. I can't face it.”

It's honest, which more than Ianto had expected. He'd thought there would be excuses, Jack shooting off reasons why they can't without ever giving anything away about how he knows it. It was unsettling in an ill-defined way to find Jack so changed. Ianto sighed and then said softly, “We'll have to go back eventually, we can't let Gwen deal with everything alone. We've got to rebuild. We can't leave the Earth without Torchwood.”

“Why not? Haven't you given enough?” Jack said angrily, getting off the bed and going to stand by the window. “You died or near as damn it. Why go back to that? Why risk your life again? You give me one good reason.”

It was a good question and one to which there was either many answers or just one. So much for resting, Ianto thought, then taking as deep a breath as his healing chest would allow, he got back out of bed and followed Jack to the window.

Jack looked guiltily at him, sorry that he’d got him up.

“You want an answer? It’s because it's who I am.” Ianto placed his hand over Jack's heart. “And you know that, because you know me. And it's who you are too. I'm not saying that we can't take time to heal. We need that, you more than me probably, but then we’ve got to go back and we've got to keep fighting.”

“I don't know if I can,” Jack said weakly, unable to look at him. “I feel like I've been fighting my whole damn life. I've been leading people, trying to make a difference, but they all still die. I can't make those kinds of decisions, Ianto, I just don't trust myself anymore.”

“Then don't.” It was wearier and harsher than Ianto had intended, but his chest hurt and the couple of hours sleep he’d managed hadn’t done much to alleviate the tiredness from the journey from the hospital to the hotel.

“You really think it's that simple?”  Jack asked sounding rather hurt at his tone.

“No.” Ianto stepped in closer, leaning against Jack for support, his legs starting to feel like jelly again. “I think it's going be hard, but we've faced worse and come out still standing. Let Gwen run the team if it's what she wants or I'll do it if she doesn't.  You can tell us what the aliens are and explain all the weird and wonderful technology.  You can still go out in the field if you want...”

“Hey, steady.” Jack carefully put an arm about Ianto as he swayed on his feet.
 
“Thank you. I think I should probably sit down for a while,” Ianto said closing his eyes, grateful that he's being held. “Otherwise I might just fall over.”

They sat on the edge of the bed in silence watching the lights of the ships coming in to land at the space port and waiting for Ianto's medication to start to work. After a few minutes Jack took the tickets that Alonso had handed him out of his coat pocket and laid them on the bed. Eight weeks all expenses paid cruise about a starliner.

Ianto looked down at them wondering just what Jack had been doing before he'd come to the hotel. “Should I ask why you have two of those?”

“They were a present from the Doctor for us. So what do you say?” Jack asked hopefully, taking Ianto's hands in his. “Me and you out amongst the stars.”

Ianto remembered what the Doctor had said before he left. Time to live and love and heal. More than anything that's what they needed right now. “I'd like that.” He leaned in closer to Jack, one hand curling about the back of his neck.

Jack smiled, the first real bright smile Ianto had seen since their reunion, and then kissed him.

With a sigh of relief Ianto relaxed. He knew things still weren't going to be easy. They'd both got their nightmares and Jack's grief and guilt wasn't just going to miraculously disappear from a few kisses and the distraction of a holiday. But they were together and they were alive, and as long as they had that Ianto knew there was hope for them and for a better future together.




Part 4. Alonso.

Alonso thought that he shouldn't have been surprised that Jack and the man from the hotel were passengers aboard the cruise ship he worked on. It was most likely the Doctor's way of making sure somebody was looking out for them.  Not that he'd been asked to do so as he watched them standing on the port side viewing deck looking out at the sparkling diamond asteroid fields of Serentum, hands resting low on each other's backs, that they appeared to need it.

The next time he saw them was at breakfast a few days later in one of the many eateries on board the Empress Cassavalia. He'd just finished his own breakfast and was about to leave to start his shift on the bridge when he saw Ianto – because he'd actually found out what the other man's name was by now - had looked exhausted as he hadn't slept properly. Sitting hunched over at the table he was rubbing his chest as if it was giving his discomfort. He looked up and smiled though as Jack brought both their breakfasts to the table. Although they were too far away for him to hear what was said, he could see the barely disguised concern on Jack's face as he sat with Ianto persuading him to have more than coffee.  It didn't feel right to intrude.

It was the best part of a week later before he saw them again. One evening, at least what was programmed to be evening on the liners sky projection system, beside one of the top deck pools. Ianto was sitting on a lounger looking a lot better than he had done, although Alonso could see now why he'd been rubbing his chest. There was a recent scar right down the middle of it.

Alonso paused on his routine safety patrol of the communal areas of the liner and watched them for a moment. Ianto's injury made a lot of what had happened make some kind of sense. The Doctor had obviously rescued Ianto, but Jack presumably hadn't realised he was still alive, which was why he had been trying crawl into a bottle in the bar.

He thought of his own scar gained the best part of two years before, when his captain had shot him before trying crash the Titanic into Earth. The Doctor had saved him and countless other lives that day. It made him wonder all over again just who the Doctor was and why he seemed to spend his time running from one baffling situation to another rescuing people.

There was a surprised yell from Ianto that broke Alonso train of thought as Jack had splashed water over him. He watched as Ianto got in the water and splashed him back. Jack just laughed and pulled Ianto close and kissed him. Alonso felt himself blush as they climbed out of the water and headed back to their cabin leaving most of their clothes behind on the edge of the pool. It probably wasn't the kind of looking out for them that the Doctor had intended, but he discreetly arranged for their clothes to be taken back their cabin a couple of hours later.

He saw them quite a lot after that. Playing a game of hover shuffle board on the games deck. Listening to one of the evening concerts. Asleep together, lying on one of the loungers by the pool. In restaurants in the evening, talking and smiling and laughing or just sitting on the viewing deck as the ship cruised past some of the most spectacular stellar formation this side of the Horsehead Nebula.

He was on a late watch, part of his safety duties as second officer – a far cry from his post of midshipman just a couple of years before - when he saw Jack sitting alone on the deserted viewing deck. Sat with his head in hands and apparently oblivious to the view of the glittering ice moons of Terapesca, his shoulders shaking. Uncertain whether Jack was crying or had been taken ill, Alonso was about to go over to ask what was wrong when Ianto appeared.  Slightly out of breath, he was dressed in pyjama bottoms, his hair dishevelled from sleep as if he'd just woken up and hurried out to find Jack with a second thought to how he looked. He sat down next to Jack and put an arm around his shoulders.  

Alonso caught the word nightmare and then saw Jack nod and shiver. Then Ianto pulled him into his arms, letting Jack burying his face against his neck. Realising that Jack would get far better support than he was able to offer, Alonso slipped away. 

Whatever had been the matter that night none of it was in evidence when he next saw them at one of the formal dinners. Jack stood at the bar talking, all big smiles and hand gestures, to the crowd who'd gathered around him. While Ianto, who was sat on one of the barstools next to him sipped his drink and looked at Jack with love, affection and occasionally embarrassment when the stories grew a little too racy. Later once the dancing started and both of them had had perhaps a little too much champagne, he watched them both trying to lead as they danced and treading on each other’s feet, until laughing and nearly falling over they kissed and slipped away from the crowd. 

They were about three quarters of the way through the cruise, the fiery rings around the red planet of Collabria providing a stunning afternoon backdrop, when another officer saw him looking at them. He joined Alonso at the railing looking down over the pool deck.  “Friends of yours, sir?”

Not really wanting to draw too attention to the fact he'd been watching them, he replied, “Friends of a friend really. They've had a few problems lately.”  

“The cruise seems to be doing them good.”

Alonso looked at them again. Sitting at the poolside cafe laughing and talking together they seemed so different from the morose man in the bar and the ill and worried one in the hotel. In love with with life and each other, he decided.  He smiled. “Yes, I really think it has.”

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
kenderlyn
May. 14th, 2013 02:17 pm (UTC)
Beautiful.
katwillow
May. 14th, 2013 05:40 pm (UTC)
Smile making.

More on the way?
nightchild78
May. 14th, 2013 08:19 pm (UTC)
Oooh! It's so lovely. Very nicely done. I love it. Can we have more, please ? :) Thank you for sharing
badly_knitted
Jul. 21st, 2013 04:44 pm (UTC)
Glad to see the Doctor finally got things right and gave Jack the one thing that would help him heal and regain his sense of purpose. Poor Ianto though, he's really been through the mill. I loved the automated hospital though!

I do wonder how they're going to explain the fact that dead Ianto isn't really dead when they return to Cardiff. It's too much to expect that Rhiannon won't find out, and since Ianto will need to be payed for his work at Torchwood, being listed as Deceased might cause a few problems.
aeron_lanart
Aug. 3rd, 2013 11:37 am (UTC)
Only just read this and I love it.

I really like the way you've fixed CoE while still sticking to what was shown onscreen
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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