Disclaimer: Owned by the BBC
Author's Notes: Companion piece to my imaginatively-titled Tag to Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.
Jack watched Ianto go regretfully; suddenly the spa treatments he was describing didn’t seem so appealing. He forced himself to stay enthusiastic, hoping the rest of the team couldn’t detect the brittle edge to his tone, and even booked himself a massage.
He needed something to stop him charging straight after Ianto like some kind of lovesick puppy; he could only hope that Ianto’s disappearance was due to a dislike of spas rather than an unwillingness to be around him. He ordered a bottle of champagne for Tosh, Owen and Gwen, and assumed from Gwen’s brilliant smile that he’d been forgiven. She and Tosh looked cosy and sexy in their white, fluffy hotel dressing gowns while Owen looked… well, faintly ridiculous, if he was honest. He was sure he looked the same; dressing gowns just didn’t flatter men in the way they did women. Tosh and Gwen had their heads together and Gwen talked animatedly while Tosh nodded and asked the occasional question. From the few words he’d overheard Jack gathered Gwen was talking about Rhys and the wedding. Owen sat down next to Tosh on her lounger and made a comment which made both girls laugh, and Jack frowned. When had they all got so close? He told himself that it was stupid to feel left out; to feel jealous of Tosh because he had been Gwen’s confidant, or jealous of Gwen because Tosh listened to him like that, all wide eyes and gentle questions.
Suddenly Gwen turned and beckoned to him, holding out a glass of champagne. Jack smiled, aware that it wasn’t reaching his eyes, and sat down beside her. He took a sip of the champagne. There was no reason not to; he wasn’t waiting for the Doctor anymore. The thought was strangely disorienting.
“So,” he said loudly, trying to ignore the fact that a moment ago the three of them had been all easy camaraderie, and now they were slightly tense, looking to him rather than talking to each other. “I want to hear all the gossip. Everything.”
Owen put his hands up, palms towards Jack. “Don’t look at me,” he insisted. “I’ve been work, work, work – no time for anything interesting. You’d better ask the future Mrs Williams.” Jack noted the way Owen had deflected his attention away from Tosh as well as himself with interest. No mention of Ianto either – Jack wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing.
“Come on then, Future-Mrs-Williams,” he demanded. “Tell me about the bridesmaids’ dresses, the waistcoats, the table-plan, how much Rhys’ mum’s annoying you – all of it.”
“You don’t want to hear all of that,” demurred Gwen. She was right: he didn’t, not really, but more than anything – well, almost anything – he wanted them to be chatting easily as they had before.
“Course I do,” he said firmly, turning towards Gwen slightly more, and she didn’t need any further encouragement, launching into a monologue that, from their fond eye-rolls, he assumed Tosh and Owen had heard plenty of times before. He half-listened: Rhys thought red and gold for the waiscoats but Gwen wasn’t sure, Gwen’s mum thought they should get married in a church but Gwen didn’t want to, Gwen and Rhys were paying for it to make sure it was their day, Rhys’ mum disapproved of… most of it, by the sounds of things. After the year he’d had, it was a luxury to just sit here and let her voice wash over him in the accent he’d grown to love after all these years in
Suddenly, Gwen stopped in the middle of an anecdote about someone inexplicably called Banana Boat. “Jack?” she asked sharply. “Are you alright?”
He opened his eyes to see Owen and Tosh staring at him in concern as well.
“Fine,” he mumbled, sitting up straight. None of them looked convinced, so he made a show of getting up and stretching. “Actually, I think I’ll turn in for the night.” He reasoned that it would take time before they’d be as comfortable with him as they’d been before, and right now, what they really wanted to talk about was probably him. He wandered back to the changing rooms and slowly got dressed again, considering what to do next; as far as he could see the options were to go to his room, go to Ianto’s room, or go and find a roof somewhere well away from the evening’s action.
Walking down the silent corridors of the hotel, Jack realised he genuinely was tired. He only rarely got tired, but he assumed that the horrors of the past year were catching up with him. He sighed. He really could have done without John’s visit today; if only he could have settled himself in with a nice easy blowfish case, reconnected with his team and then spent some time reaquainting himself with his hub. Maybe Ianto would have waited for him and would have been there when he got back up to the main level, offering him coffee and then-
Well, best not to get ahead of himself.
He came to a stop in front of a door and stared at the number, confused. He hadn’t really decided whether he was going to go and disturb Ianto yet, but somehow, in his daze, his feet had carried him to Ianto’s room.
Jack had always been a believer in making the most of situations, so, despite being unsure of what his reception would be, he knocked softly. There was no answer; perhaps Ianto was asleep. He knocked again, just in case, and whispered, “Ianto!”
After a pause, the door slowly opened and Ianto stood there, still fully dressed in the suit he’d been wearing earlier. He looked wary, but then his expression morphed into something Jack couldn’t decipher and he pulled him into the room and into a hug Jack hadn’t realised how badly he needed. He held on to Ianto tightly, palms splayed on his back, and, closing his eyes, rested his chin on Ianto’s shoulder. After a few moments, Ianto drew back and moved around Jack to close the door.
“I was just about to have another beer. Want one?” he asked lightly.
Jack nodded. “Thanks.”
Ianto shrugged. “You’re paying,” he said, with an edge to his voice which told Jack that he hadn’t been forgiven yet.
Jack followed him as he took two bottles of beer out of the fridge and then went and opened the French windows, stepping outside onto the balcony. There were two plastic chairs and a table in the small space; Jack could see from the half-finished packet of nuts and the empty beer bottle on the table that Ianto had been out here for some time. Ianto sat down and handed him a bottle of beer, and Jack took the other chair, pulling his coat more tightly around him. Looking across at Ianto as he took a swig of beer from his bottle, he suddenly realised he had no idea what to say to him. The atmosphere didn’t seem right for a serious conversation or an apology, neither of which Jack had ever been particularly good at in any case, and he wasn’t in the mood for his usual anecdotes. But Ianto didn’t seem to mind the silence, so Jack closed his eyes again and felt the cold breeze on his face as he listened to the sounds of the city – his city. The traffic noise was less than usual at this time of night, and he could hear the occasional drunk shout from the direction of the Bay, the seagulls squwaking overhead, and, if he concentrated, the ever-present sound of the sea. Every now and then there was a rustle beside him as Ianto lifted his beer to his lips.
Jack wasn’t sure how long they’d been sitting there in silence when it started to spit with rain. For a few moments he simply enjoyed the sensation of the mist of damp on his hair and face; who’d have thought how much he’d come to appreciate Cardiff’s rain after a year chained up on the Valiant? As it got heavier, he heard Ianto’s chair scrape back and he opened his eyes.
“Coming in?” asked Ianto, looking down at him. His hair and shoulders were beginning to glisten with the rain and Jack was suddenly indescribably grateful for his quiet, reassuring presence.
“Another beer?” offered Ianto, going to the fridge once they were in the room.
“No thanks – I’ve still got-” Jack held his still almost-full bottle up in explanation. Ianto nodded and levered the top off his own beer with the bottle opener, then kicked off his shoes and took off his jacket, and, propping up the pillows, sat down on one side of the bed, his back against the wall and his legs stretched out in front of him. Jack took off his coat and then hovered, uncertain whether he was invited to join Ianto on the bed, but eventually took off his shoes and swung himself onto the mattress, sitting next to Ianto.
“Sorry I’m such bad company tonight,” he said quietly.
Ianto turned to him with a brief smile and replied shortly, “You’re fine,” before returning to staring straight ahead of him.
The situation should have been uncomfortable; Ianto was clearly still tense and understandably angry with him, but nonetheless Jack felt relaxed in his presence, not required to talk or explain until he was ready. The fog of tiredness was making him feel disconnected from reality, but it didn’t seem to matter as it had done earlier in the spa; for the moment it was enough that Ianto was here and he was here, and Ianto was prepared to be with him even before getting the explanations and apologies he deserved.
Feeling the beer bottle begin to slip from his fingers as they relaxed, he forced himself to wake up enough to put it on the bedside table, then he slumped further against the wall and slipped into sleep.
Ianto fiddled with the label on his beer bottle. It felt strange to have Jack here, silent next to him; it hadn’t been unusual for Jack to brood before he left, but he’d usually do it on his own, avoiding Ianto rather than seeking him out. Now he had him alone he found he didn’t really know what to say to him; he had questions, of course, but he didn’t want to force Jack into revelations he wasn’t ready to share. And, in truth, he didn’t want to ask only to have Jack refuse to answer.
Not looking at Jack, still picking at his label, Ianto murmured in a sudden burst of honesty, “I’m glad you’re back.”
He waited for a moment, disappointed by the lack of any response whatsoever, and then looked over at Jack. He was slumped against the pillows, eyes closed and breathing evenly. Ianto stared at him incredulously. He could count on one hand the number of times he’d seen Jack sleep, and even then, he’d never seen him just slip under, fully dressed. Christ, what had happened to him while he’d been away?
Ianto considered Jack for a moment longer, then slid off the bed. He decided he didn’t really want to finish his beer, which had partly been an attempt to draw the evening out in the first place, and tipped the rest of it down the sink in the en-suite. Taking Jack’s bottle off the beside table, he poured that away as well. Looking down at Jack, he contemplated the feasibility of moving him under the duvet before shaking his head and carefully spreading Jack’s still-damp coat over him. Then he stripped down to his boxers quickly and efficiently and slid under the duvet next to his captain. He lay staring into the darkness for a while before sleep finally overtook him.
Ianto wasn’t surprised to find that Jack was gone when he woke up in the morning.
However, he was surprised to discover him on the balcony, staring out over the city.
Ianto had already had a shower and got dressed, and, keycard in hand, was just about to go down to breakfast when he noticed a gust of air moving the curtains in front of the French windows. Crossing the room to investigate, he found that the window was slightly open and Jack was outside, sitting where he had been the previous night. Trying to ignore the way his heart lifted at the sight of him, Ianto slid the window open. Jack jumped at the sound, and Ianto wondered how long he’d been sitting there.
As Ianto stepped out on the balcony, Jack stood up. Ianto was relieved to see he looked a lot more like himself this morning; he was smiling for a start, and there was a definite flirtatious note in his voice has he wished Ianto a good morning.
Ianto smiled back. “I was just about to go down to breakfast.”
If anything, Jack’s grin got wider. “Sounds like a plan.” His eyes unfocussed slightly. “I haven’t had a proper cooked breakfast in- well, far too long.”
“Can’t have that, can we?” Ianto commented, storing away the new information for future consideration, as Jack reached for him.
With a hand on Ianto’s shoulder, Jack suddenly became serious. “Thank you for last night.”
Ianto shrugged. “I didn’t do anything,” he said, wishing he didn’t sound quite so breathless.
“Exactly,” Jack murmured, sliding his other hand behind Ianto’s neck and drawing him in for a kiss. It was warm and firm and sure, languid and unhurried. Ianto had always been surprised how much Jack liked kissing; he’d have assumed that for someone like Jack it was just a means to an end, but in fact he kissed for a variety of reasons and to convey a variety of meanings. Ianto thought that this one was mainly about reconnecting and remembering, with a hint of apology and a note of thank you, and he relished the feel of Jack’s coat under his fingers, the familiar taste of Jack on his tongue and the heady smell of Jack’s pheromones.
Releasing him, Jack treated him to another blinding grin before asking, “You were saying something about breakfast?”