Warnings: None really, just don't feel like changing the rating
Spoilers: Season Two thru A Day in the Death (2x08)
Disclaimer: Torchwood, Doctor Who and all their wonderfulness belong to the Mighty Beeb and He Who Must Not Be Named. No infringement, only worship intended!
Summary: In which the boys keep talking...
Notes: Happy New Year everyone! Here's to a great 2017! :) You can find all the previous chapters of The Sea After a Storm here. This is a sequel to Vizzini’s Rule and To The Pain. Thanks again and forever to my amazing beta and wonderful friend thraceadams for all the help and support and beta work; any mistakes are mine!
The Sea After a Storm: Chapter Ninety-Five
Previously on The Sea After a Storm: Jack and Ianto are finally talking...
Jack blew out a long sigh. "I'm still fucking this up, aren't I?"
"We're talking," Ianto said softly. "It's a good start."
"You want a turn?" Jack offered ruefully, scrubbing a hand through his hair.
"Sure." Ianto was quiet for a few moments, choosing his words carefully. "I can't let you take all the blame for this mess. You were right about one thing in particular."
"I find that hard to believe," Jack snorted wryly.
"It was when you said that the whole fight was really about my 'little hurt feelings'," Ianto said, his lips twisting over the unkind words.
Jack groaned. "God, don't repeat anything I've said in the last two months. Ever."
That made Ianto chuckle and relax a bit. "Gladly, but I think you had it right there in some ways. It was about feelings, both our feelings. I..." Ianto took a deep breath. This was the crux of it – if they couldn't get past this, they didn't stand a chance of staying together. "I still don't agree with you using the glove on Owen. Even though you couldn't foresee the exact consequences, you still knew there were risks and you ignored the entire team when we – wait, please? Just... let me get through this."
Jack frowned, but nodded and stopped trying to interrupt.
"While I think you made the wrong choice to use the glove, I do understand that it was your choice. You're the boss. We discovered early on after you disappeared that Torchwood can't be run by committee, someone has to be in charge. But you need to understand that I won't always agree with your choices and that has to be okay if we even have a chance of continuing to work together. You and Gwen... you two don't always see eye to eye but you always get past it without... well, I was going to say 'without any yelling' but that wouldn't be strictly true," Ianto said, darting Jack a little smile which Jack returned.
"But you never freeze her out," Ianto added.
Jack winced and his smile disappeared. "It was... different, this time... harder, somehow, with you."
Ianto nodded. "Exactly, and I reacted to the whole situation as your... lover and not as a colleague. I was more upset by the idea that you'd lied to me than any the rest of it. And, as that was a personal issue, the very last place I should have brought it up was in your office. So... I'd like to apologise for that." Ianto let out a relieved sigh. To his surprise, saying that aloud was like a weight off his shoulders.
Jack was silent for several minutes. Ianto allowed him whatever time he needed to process everything he'd said. He glanced behind them as they crossed Farringdon Road, surprised to see that they'd left Old Street and had been walking down Clerkenwell Road for some time now without him noticing. They'd travelled at least a mile from Jamie's flat as they'd been talking.
"Do you want to go back to the party?" Jack asked in a quiet voice, following his gaze behind them. "It really wasn't my intention to ruin your night."
"No," Ianto said quickly. "And you didn't ruin anything. I... I was planning to find you when I got back to Cardiff and make you talk to me even if it meant cuffing you to your chair."
"Like I'm falling for that again," Jack said with a dry chuckle.
They shared another smile, each small connection feeling like another step toward finding each other again.
Jack looked away first and cleared his throat. "You're right," he said finally, steering the conversation back on course.
"All of it. I don't know why I had such a hard time with you being the one to call me out on using the glove... well, that's not true, I know why. If it was anyone else... I can shake off anyone else disagreeing with my decisions because there's a limit to the repercussions. The worst thing they could do is quit."
"Well, Owen did shoot you once," Ianto pointed out.
"True," Jack said with a grimace. "But since he hasn't shot me with everything I've done lately, I think we can agree he won't do it again. And, truthfully? It would hurt more if anyone on the team wanted to leave than if they actually did shoot me. But I would get over it... eventually. I can't say the same thing about you anymore. It scares me how important you've become to me."
This last sentence was barely above a whisper and Ianto had to lean a little closer to hear it.
After another long silence where Ianto tried to get his emotions under control, he replied, just as softly, "I feel the same way."
Jack nodded stiffly but didn't say anything as they walked along for quite some time. When he spoke again, his voice was rough with emotion.
"So does what happened, the way we both reacted... does that mean we can't... that you don't think we can keep working together while remaining lovers?"
"I don't know," Ianto admitted wretchedly. "I just know something has to change if we're going to have a chance."
"I can't leave Torchwood, Ianto. Not even for you."
"I would never ask you to."
"And I can't face the idea of being there without you," Jack admitted, stepping closer, subtly herding Ianto to the edge of the footpath, away from the random passers-by.
"I don't want to quit."
"So we're agreed – no one leaves." Jack took another step closer. They were standing toe to toe now. "About the other issue..." he whispered.
Ianto swallowed hard. "Where do you stand?" he asked Jack.
"Where do I stand on never touching you again? Never kissing you or falling asleep again with your arms around me? Never hearing that catch in your voice when you're just on the edge of losing control..." Jack took a deep breath and let it out slowly, swaying closer to Ianto. "I'm against it," he added matter-of-factly.
"Me, too," Ianto breathed. He reached out tentatively, remembering the last time he'd tried to touch Jack.
This time was as different as night to day. Jack closed the last bit of distance between them and they wrapped their arms around each other. Jack gave a shuddering sigh and held Ianto tightly.
"Thank god," Jack whispered, his lips soft against Ianto's cheek. "So we're agreed? We're going to try? Figure out working together and loving each other and making it work?"
Ianto's heart warmed at Jack's words. He nodded and held Jack tighter, not trusting his voice at that moment.
A group of people passed them, one of them shouting "Oi, get a room!" making the others laugh and whistle encouragement as they walked on. Jack pulled back and gave Ianto a sheepish smile.
"Excellent suggestion," Jack said. "What do you think?"
"Getting a room?" Jack asked, the tentativeness of his voice making the clarification a question. "Not for anything... I mean..." Jack sighed and held his hands out in silent supplication. "It's just getting late and it feels like we have a lot more talking to do and I don't relish the idea of Jamie listening in and... well, after all this wasted time, I'm not ready to let you go just yet."
"Sounds good," Ianto replied with a smile. He was flattered that Jack wasn't making presumptions, but if Ianto had anything to say about it they wouldn't be getting out of bed until the new year was at least a few days old.
Jack smiled and then looked around for a moment, a look of surprise on his face as he took in their surroundings. A look of calculation flitted over his features and then he smiled again and gave Ianto a little nod.
"I know the perfect place," he said leading the way.
As they started to walk again, Ianto felt Jack's hand brush up against his. He held his breath for a second and then took the plunge, sliding his gloved hand into Jack's bare one. Jack didn't say anything, but his hand tightened around Ianto's and a smile crept across his face.
As they neared Gray's Inn Road where Clerkenwell turned into Theobalds Road, Ianto glanced at his watch.
"It's half past ten and it is New Year's Eve," he observed. "Do you really think we'll have any luck at a hotel?"
Jack nodded. "Not a problem. Place I'm thinking of is only about mile from here so we'll be there well before midnight. I fully intend on having a glass of champagne in my hand and you in my arms when the clock strikes twelve," he said. He smiled carelessly at Ianto but his eyes were dark with promise.
"Well," Ianto said lightly through the tightness in his throat. "They do say you should begin the New Year as you mean to go on."
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