Spoilers: All of Children of Earth and scattered references to series one and two
Summary: Set three years after Children of Earth. Strange events force Jack to reconsider his opinion on the existence of ghosts along with his definition of impossible. Yep, you guessed it, more Children of Earth fix it fic.
One Week Later
Ianto decided that if Jack asked him “are you sure?” one more time he was going to kill him, tie him to some bricks, and then throw him in the bay. He didn’t know how many more times he could say that he was beyond sure about coming back. Maybe he’d try switching languages next.
“What if I don’t let you back in?” Jack had asked him yesterday, when he’d finally told him he wanted to go back to work. Jack had been less than pleased about this and considerably more surprised that Ianto thought he’d be. What did he expect him to do? Stay home and mind the flat?
“You’ll let me back in,” Ianto had said confidently. “You know what happens when I’m off work for more than a week.” No flash of fear in Jack’s eyes like there would be before.
Jack folded his arms. “What if I say we don’t need you?”
A few years ago Ianto might have taken that threat literally. A few years ago Ianto might have jumped at the opportunity to resign. In this instance, at this time, the idea of leaving Torchwood was as painful to him as leaving Jack. “Then,” Ianto had informed him. “I’m going to have to get my job back the same way I earned it.” He had been a right pest and he knew it. That had been the point after all. Jack may have found him attractive and alluring but he still had wanted to beat his head into the ground every time he saw him. That had been plain as day.
Jack hadn’t smiled though. He had sighed and finally got to the point. “This job killed you.”
At least he was blaming the job now. That was an improvement of sorts. “I remember,” Ianto had grumbled. “I still want back in.” At that point he’d leaned forward over the counter, trying get Jack to look at him. When he finally did, Ianto reminded him of one important part of resigning one’s Torchwood commission. “You’d have to retcon me if I don’t come back, you know that. Do you have any idea how many things you’d have to either hide from me or explain to me after you did that?”
Not only would the retcon take away a few important memories and facts about Jack but it would take away the entire relationship. Ianto would open his eyes the next morning and have no idea who Jack was. Even if Jack managed to construct some story that would convince him, and Ianto did not doubt that he could, there would be the lie that Jack would have to live every day with him. He’d have to create a story for long hours at work, strange stains on his clothes and maybe one day some reason for his not aging.
Ianto did not want to be lied to and he didn’t want Jack to do this song and dance for him. He also wanted to be useful and Torchwood had given him purpose. It was an important part of who he was and he didn’t want that taken away.
Jack sighed. “It’s your choice, I know, but…”
“You worry,” Ianto finished. He flatted his palms against the counter. Why did this conversation feel so much like breaking up with someone? “I can’t promise that I won’t die on you again, you know I can’t.” Jack cringed but Ianto continued to hold his gaze without flinching. “I can promise you two other things.”
Jack had looked at him with a raised eyebrow but Ianto pressed on confidence. Jack had to believe this from him. “When it happens again,” he vowed, “I’ll be okay and I’ll say a proper goodbye. Okay? I won’t leave you without saying goodbye.” Some part of Ianto had recognized that was going to be a hard promise to keep but he’d do it. He’d find a way to say goodbye to Jack before leaving him again. One of his biggest regrets of his death was that the last thing he’d said to the man he loved was that he didn’t believe that he’d be remembered. Lovely parting words.
Jack had looked at him with the same scepticism but he must have seen something in Ianto’s face that convinced him. “Okay,” he had agreed. “Nine tomorrow alright?”
“Perfect.” That had been that.
That was until Jack had starting asking him if he was sure every five minutes. “I’m beyond sure,” he finally snapped. “Now if you ask me that one more time I am going to find a creative way to kill you. The government had some good ideas, I must admit.”
That had shut Jack up. It was a low blow and Ianto knew it but he’d apologise later. This was his life and he was going to do whatever the hell he wanted with it, even if he was killed tomorrow. Especially if he was killed tomorrow. No more wasting time and no more holding back. There was no way he was going to work quietly in some other job for the rest of his days. Not after all he’d seen and done. It was Torchwood or death, and the two went hand in hand so it was really a selection of both. He mentally shrugged. It was what it was and he wouldn’t change it for the world.
Jack headed for the invisible lift but Ianto went straight for the tourist shop. He wanted to walk through the doors and take a look at everything properly. He also didn’t want to make a dramatic entrance. No one knew he was starting work today.
The tourist shop looked much the same, though could do with a bit of tidying up, and he tried to walk in himself before he realised that his pass codes had all been deactivated and waited for Jack to open the doors. So much for the non dramatic entrance.
Seeing that door stamped with “Made in Wales” roll open was nearly as emotional as waking up next to Jack had been. The hub before him was almost an exact replica of what had been here before it had been blown up. The stations were still there, one with Mel busy tapping away and one with Harry looking at something through the singularity scalpel. Gwen was sitting at hers and reviewing what he guessed was the latest rift report and Jack’s office was where it always had been, same with the conference room. There was a new, well worn couch, over off to the side from Mel and Harry’s stations and instead of the word “Torchwood” on the walls was a familiar spray painted “HUB2.”
“Everybody say hi to the new blood!” Jack announced.
All three of the others turned in their chairs. Gwen’s face lit up the brightest he had ever seen it since her wedding day. Harry gave a jovial wave and Mel allowed a small smile to cros her face as she walked up and held out her hand, palming a piece of paper and a card in it. “New pass codes,” she explained. “Archives keycard as well.”
“You lot finally locked those down?” Ianto asked as he pocked the key.
“Yeah,” Jack confirmed. “Didn’t want anyone getting too tempted in trying anything down there. We’ve had enough problems with that.”
Ianto both remembered and could imagine. “So do I get a station too?” he asked.
“In the works,” Mel promised. “You’ll have one tomorrow or the next day.”
Gwen looked like she was trying to say something profound. She quickly abandoned it, came up to Ianto and hugged him. It was much gentler than she had earlier. “It hasn’t been the same without you, love.”
Ianto hugged her back tightly. “And I haven’t been the same without you lot,” he whispered into her ear. He swore he could hear Gwen’s eyes widen and he didn’t flinch when she pulled him tighter.
“Alright people!” came Jack’s brusque order. “Back to your stations! Ianto we have some paperwork to weed through.”
Paperwork, unfortunately, was not a sexual euphemism in this instance. He was a dead man who needed to get back on payroll, have all his assets released, and also talk to UNIT. That included the fact that Torchwood had broken in and stolen Ianto’s body. The whole team was taking the bullet for that one and Ianto gathered that UNIT would be too shocked to even bother sanctioning them.
Before they tackled that mess, Ianto had some things to take care of. He told Jack to go ahead and he’d be with him shortly. First order of business was the archives.
They were pristine. Nicely ordered and tidied just the way he would have done himself. The blue binder he’d put together lifetimes ago was sitting there looking quite well thumbed and a quick look on the inside showed a very familiar warning from his will.
He snorted at that and Jack’s notation underneath proclaiming that he was making the excerpt from the will Torchwood policy. He’d be sure to sure to leave that bit in when he wrote up his next one. When he was satisfied with the condition of the archives he went to the kitchenette and threw out all the instant coffee and started up a pot with what real stuff there was. No biscuits though, he’d remedy that when he had a moment.
He perched a cup by Gwen’s elbow, another at Harry’s. Mel’s he actually managed to get into her hands when she popped up from underneath what he assumed was going to be his workstation. As he walked into Jack’s office with his tray and two cups of coffee he almost felt as if the past three years had never happened. That he’d never died, that he’d never left Jack alone, that nothing had ever changed.
Something had though. Jack had snapped and broken and had been held together purely by his own will and Gwen’s help. When he actually walked into the office the shine in Jack’s eyes was one of such open love that Ianto felt as though they should move somewhere more private.
“Here’s you coffee, sir.” He held the cup, a new blue and striped one, out for Jack. Jack regarded him and the cup for a moment before taking it with a grateful nod.
As Ianto sat down in the chair across from Jack’s desk and began to sip his own, he wondered how much work they actually would get done. He knew that look.
With a resigned sigh, Ianto got up and locked the door. “You know,” he grumbled as he shrugged off his suit jacket, “I would appreciate being back on official payroll again sometime this morning.”
“All in good time,” Jack told him as he slipped off his braces and slowly approached Ianto. “All in good time.”
Ah, Ianto thought to himself as Jack dropped to his knees, it’s going to be one of those days.
All the better for the first day back at work.
Author's Notes: Thanks so much for sticking all the way through this! *hugs* :) There's more to come in this verse. At least one one shot and another multi chaptered fic.