Summary: Jack is back and things at the Hub have returned to normal, or at least that’s what the rest of the team say. Ianto, however, knows differently.
Warnings/Spoilers: Incredibly vague spoilers for DW Last of Time Lords.
Ianto wonders how the rest of the team can be so blind. How it is that they can't see the changes in Jack since his return. Perhaps it is because they are so relieved that he is back that they don't notice how his smiles never reach his eyes anymore and his laughter is hollow. Perhaps it is because they want everything to be back to how it was that they choose not to see just how much he has changed.
They go out on more cases alone now. Jack says it’s because he trusts them, that they’ve proved themselves whilst he was away. Ianto wonders if it really is because he trusts them more or if it’s just that he no longer trusts himself.
Jack’s provided no answers and has given no indication as to where he was during the months he was missing or what happened to him whilst he was gone. All he will say is that he was travelling with an old friend and he won’t be leaving them again any time soon.
None of them are happy with his answers, but the look that Jack gives them and the tone of voice he uses when he tells them that’s all the information they are going to get, means that none of them have tried asking again. So now they pretend that everything is back just how it was, that everything is okay.
Only it’s not.
Ianto is the only one there late enough to see how Jack works far into the night. Works until he is unable to keep awake any longer and he falls asleep across his desk.
He’s the one who silently watches as Jack trains down on the firing range and on the exercise mats until he is almost too exhausted to stand. He doesn’t interrupt. He knows that isn’t something Jack would want. But afterwards he’ll go to him, take him something to drink, to sit with him just so he knows that he’s not alone.
It’s in the times when they are intimate together that Ianto can see the changes most clearly of all. How Jack's body is thinner and how he flinches if Ianto hold his wrists. It’s how sometimes he asks just to be held. It’s the way the need in his kisses has changed, how it’s no longer just the need to show Ianto how turned on he is, now it is something else, something raw and so very desperate. It's like Jack is scared that if he lets Ianto go even for a moment, everything around him might just disappear.
It’s in the still of the night after they make love, because there is no other word for it now, given the gentleness, the care with which they treat each other, when they sleep, curled so close together in Jack’s bed. Sleep until Jack’s nightmares bring him gasping awake, shaking, sweating, eyes staring wide and fearful around his room.
Ianto holds him then, lets Jack cling to him until the worst of his fear and panic is over. Ianto doesn’t ask him what it is that he dreams. He knows that pushing him for answers will only serve to drive him further away. So he waits and hopes that one day Jack will feel able to tell him and that he is strong enough to listen.
So it is in these quiet moments with Jack sleeping beside him that Ianto knows that despite everything that they have been through and the challenges that they have faced and still do face, they are closer now than they have ever been.