Warnings: a bit melancholy for a schmoop piece plus mention of one of Jack's deaths
Spoilers: None (in accordance with Schmoop Law Section 27 Paragraph A Subparagraph 1 – the entire team is alive – really alive not dead-alive – so nothing from Reset on ever happened)
Disclaimer: Torchwood and all its wonderfulness belong to the Mighty Beeb and He Who Must Not Be Named. No infringement, only worship intended!
Summary: Schmoop_Bingo Prompt B7: Memories
Notes: Thanks as always to my amazing beta and wonderful friend thraceadams for all the help and support; any mistakes are mine!
Dawn was just breaking across the sky when Jack made his way through the centre of the deserted Plass. He'd dropped Ianto at his flat after they'd finally finished "tidying up" Gwen's wedding and had headed back to the Hub alone. He'd parked the SUV and taken a long walk, meandering slowly back to Torchwood with his head bowed.
Jack hated weddings.
He knew that Tosh, Owen and Gwen, more than anyone, thought he hated Gwen's wedding in particular but it simply wasn't true. It was all weddings. Ianto knew, of course. Jack chuckled slightly and kicked a stone in his path. He really does know everything, Jack thought with a smile as he rounded the corner and headed down the boardwalk to the Tourist Office. He straightened a few piles of flyers on his way past the counter in Ianto's space and made his way downstairs. After he'd turned the key to open the cog door, Jack shoved in hands in his coat pockets.
Jack scrunched his fists through the contents of his very full pockets. Confetti, he decided. Ianto must have stuffed his pockets full before they left the wedding. He shook his head and strode through the door as soon as it rolled back. He paused just inside and dug out a handful, pondering the confetti for a moment. Seized by sudden impulse, he blew the colourful shreds of paper out of his hand, a smile crossing his face as he watched them float to the floor. He knew Ianto would complain about the mess, but figured it served him right for the prank. He shook his head again and stripped off his coat as he hurried to his office.
Once he was settled at his desk, Jack reached to the very back of the bottom drawer and pulled out a small yellow box where he kept his few mementos from his time on Earth. They were mostly pictures of himself, taken at different points throughout his life. Once upon a time, he'd planned to show this box to the Doctor, to regale him with stories about the lives he'd lead while waiting for him. He'd imagined them laughing over most of the pictures while they were hurtling through the vortex in the TARDIS, off to their next grand adventure together. Jack smiled at the naïve, foolish man he'd been, still believing that the Doctor would come back for him. He shuffled through the pictures, looking for one in particular.
He found it at the bottom of the stack, folded carefully in its paper sheath. Jack hated stumbling across this photo by accident. He'd hidden it away from himself as best he could, making sure he'd only see it when he really wanted to. He took a breath and folded back the paper cover.
Her name still filled him with a painful combination of love, sadness and guilt. He'd married her knowing who he was, what he was – a conman, a time traveller, a complete rogue who didn't deserve her. But I didn't know… He sighed and tapped his lip with the edge of the photo, letting the memories wash over him…
Jack had been stuck on Earth for twenty years when he met Clara. Two decades of hanging around Cardiff, waiting and waiting for the Doctor, being frustrated by reports of blue boxes and a strange man but always arriving too late to catch him. He knew he was risking a paradox by trying to contact the Doctor, but he just didn't care. He just wanted to go home and for him, home was the TARDIS with the Doctor and Rose. He decided to celebrate his twentieth anniversary with a trip to New York City. He'd gambled his way across the ocean on the Britannic and planned to spend the week before he sailed back drunk off his arse in as many pubs as possible. He hadn't even had his first drink when he saw her.
It took him a few days to discover her name, and another week to meet her, but when they finally spoke, he was lost. He found a room and a job and spent part of every single day with her until she finally agreed to marry him.
They had almost two years together before Jack discovered the truth.
He knew his time on the TARDIS had done something to him – he was entirely too vain not to notice that he still looked as young as he had the day he met the Doctor – but he had no idea what it really meant until he'd accompanied Clara's brother, Dan, on an unremarkable errand one afternoon. They'd been dispatched to Ellis Island by Clara's father to meet a small group of cousins who were emigrating from Stuttgart and would be staying with the family for a time. While they were waiting for the paperwork to be completed, a scuffle had broken out between two men standing near them. Jack and Dan waded into the thick of the fight, trying to calm the men down. Before Jack knew what was happening, he was shoving Dan to safety and taking a bullet for him. The last words he uttered as the world went dark were, "Tell Clara I love her."
And then he died for the second time in his life.
Ianto's voice startled Jack from his reverie. He quickly folded the paper back around his wedding picture, but Ianto was too close for him to put it away before he saw.
"Ah," Ianto said as he stepped into Jack's office. "I thought I'd find you here." He walked over to the desk and sat on the corner, one foot on the floor, one leg dangling next to Jack's. He picked up the small stack of pictures and shuffled through them until he found the one of Jack in a dinner jacket and white tie. "This is my favourite," he said softly.
Jack gave him a brief smile. "You always say that."
"It's always my favourite," Ianto replied with a smile of his own.
After a brief silence, Jack unfolded the picture of Clara and looked at it again. "I never should have married her."
"She loved you, Jack, and you loved her. You didn't know."
Jack sighed. He ran his hand over his face and through his hair before setting the photo carefully back in the yellow box. Ianto smoothed his finger over the picture of Jack in the tuxedo one more time and then added the rest to the box and closed the lid.
They sat in silence for a few moments and then Jack shook his head, as if shaking off the past. He gave Ianto a sharp look. "What are you doing here? I took you home so you could get some sleep."
Ianto shrugged and rubbed his leg alongside Jack's. "Bed's too big without you there hogging the covers," he teased, coaxing a smile from Jack. "Besides, I'm hungry. Thought maybe I could convince you to go get some breakfast."
Jack smiled and rolled his chair over so he could run his hands over Ianto's legs. "I think that can be arranged. Can I convince you to get some sleep after we eat?" he asked.
Ianto leant forward and rested his forehead against Jack's. "I think that can be arranged," he parroted. He tipped his head and pressed a soft kiss on Jack's mouth. "Can I convince you to stay with me?" he added in a whisper.
With a nod, Jack deepened the kiss, standing up to wrap his arms around Ianto. When he finally pulled back, it was only to murmur the word thanks against Ianto's lips.
"For what?" Ianto asked, hopping off the desk and starting for the door. He paused when Jack tugged on his hand and pulled him back into his arms.
"For not letting me brood over my memories. For reminding me that there are some good ones. For… oh, lots of things," Jack said between kisses.
"Would those things include hot coffee, crispy bacon, perfectly fried eggs?" Ianto said with a wink, purposely steering the conversation away from deeper topics.
"Oh, now you're just teasing me," Jack said as his stomach growled at the mention of bacon.
Ianto shook his head and lead Jack out of the office. "Nah, teasing would be talking about the post-breakfast/pre-nap blow job I have planned."
Jack stumbled on the step and reached for Ianto, steadying himself. "Maybe we could skip breakfast," he suggested hopefully.
"What fun would that be?" Ianto laughed and stepped onto the invisible lift. When Jack followed, Ianto leant close and whispered in his ear. "They do say that anticipation whets the appetite, you know." He grinned as Jack groaned.
Breakfast was going to be fun.
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