Disclaimer: Mine? Hah! I should be so lucky.
Summary: How a lonely man finally sees it in another. Set on Ianto’s first Boxing Day at Torchwood Cardiff.
4:08 the clock read. Even though Ianto was trying his hardest to will it faster onwards it never did.
It just plodded on like it had done all of yesterday.
And most of the day before.
For the 32nd time he calculated how long it could take him to get up, showered, dressed, into his car, out to the plaza. How long it could take him to park up, to open the tourist office. Just how long it could take him if he really eeked it out, how long it could take him to get into work.
'Take tomorrow off' His boss had told him. Well, it wasn't yesterday any more, was it. Nothing wrong with going into work early. Shows enthusiasm Yvonne had always said to early starters.
After the thirty third calculation he got up, trudging through everything as slowly as he could, pacing it out, making it last. But all too soon his dashboard clock read 4:53 and he opened his car door, picking up his briefcase and walking laboriously towards the shop front.
Everything was disappointingly as much in order as he’d left it on Christmas Eve. He was half hoping that someone would have trashed the place to give him something to do. And so, after as much re-stacking of leaflets that even his well ordered mind could take, he pressed the button, letting himself into the Hub.
The alarm beep woke Jack from the half doze he’d finally managed to get himself into and he jerked upwards. The clock on his wall was just ticking past 5 o'clock, far too early for anyone to be in on Boxing Day. Apart from... "Ahh. Him" A quick check of his wristband later and his thoughts were confirmed.
Jack prised himself out of bed and neatly made it before getting properly dressed, climbing out of his room to stand with hands in pockets, looking down as if he'd been waiting there for hours as Ianto walked in through the opening steel bars. Jack smiled, though he wasn't greeted by one in return, just a startled look from the man almost looking like he was creeping in through the window after a night out without Mothers permission.
Ianto looked down at the floor as he caught Jack's look. He hadn't quite banked on the boss being here already. Maybe Suzie's gossip was true afterall. He walked up the stairs to Tosh’s desk, luckily finding some clutter to clear up as he saw Jack move to his office door through the corner of his eye.
"Morning Ianto." Jack called out, surprised at not getting a reply as he ambled over.
Ianto half looked up, and vaguely tried to smile in reply, realising how much of a mistake this was. He should have stayed back there, waited to see how early the café round his corner opened. Waited to see what cartoon drivel he could coax out of his telly. He turned his back on Jack, trying to assemble his thoughts... though everything just seemed to be getting him more and more worked up. Everything was jumbling through his mind from 'Why isn't he asleep at this time of the morning. Can't he leave me alone?' to 'I can't even check... Not with him here.'
"You're in early, Ianto. Trying to get over your hangover? Or just needing to burn off the Christmas calories?" Still no reply from Ianto but Jack was feeling nothing if not persistent in his interrogations. Especially for someone that looked as bad as Ianto did right now. "So... spill the beans, have a nice day off boozing and watching telly? Mess up those manicured nails of yours ripping open presents? What did you get... Anything nice?" At that Jack's voice had to trail off, if only as another means to try to get something out of the sullen Welshman.
"I didn't get anything, Jack. ...I got bloody forgotten as usual. I don't have any family left, Sir. Just you lot." Looking away, trying to busy his unexpectedly trembling hands by cleaning things that didn’t need it. "I got to sit alone in my dingy little flat counting the hours till I could come back. I don't belong anywhere else but here." Ianto bit his tongue at that point. Literally. Not having meant to say anything like that. Not having meant to say anything at all. But Jack got to him like Jack always did.
Ianto plumped himself down on the edge of the coffee table and bowed his head, feeling sick suddenly. "Sorry."
"Sorry?" Jack blinked, looking down suddenly at the man almost crumpled up on the table's edge. If he had expected anything in answer to his questioning it certainly wasn't an outpouring like that.
He thought for a second, judging if now really was the time. And then he held a hand out to Ianto, placing it where it couldn't be ignored. "Come with me, Ianto."
It was not an order, as such, but it was something in the way it was so precisely spoken, that made Ianto look up. The fingers waggled in front of his face, their owner up above him motioning with his head towards his office. "Come on."
Ianto placed his hand in Jack's, trying to quash the plummeting of his stomach as he stood, fighting back the nausea that still filled him from his outburst of usually held back emotion. He found himself following dutifully, hand still in hand, weaving their way through the usual neatness of the hub till they got to Jack's office.
The hatch down to his private room was open and Jack dropped Ianto's hand, climbing down.
At the bottom Jack lifted his head, looked right up at Ianto with barely a scrap of emotion showing. "Down here." Motioning with his hand and then stepping out of Ianto's vision.
Ianto swallowed, bracing himself for he didn't know what.
He'd never been into Jack's personal quarters before, didn't even know they existed till a few weeks earlier when he'd overheard Suzie gossiping to Owen about how Jack never seemed to leave the place. Ianto took a deep breath and climbed down, chest pounding all the time. At the bottom he brushed his hands off carefully... and then looked around. Whatever he'd been expecting it wasn't this.
A small room met his eyes. One functional bed. One practical chest of drawers. Wardrobe likewise. Small sink, one painting on the wall - London during the Blitz from what Ianto could work out - Big Ben's clock tower. One old fashioned clock hanging above the bedstead.
Only the merest hint of the fact that someone actually lived here; a neatly folded t-shirt on a wooden chair, half a sock poking out from under the bed. One picture on the nightstand of a couple, wrapped together as they looked at the camera, frozen in time.
Nothing more. Nothing more personal than that. No warmth.
"This is where I spent my Christmas, Ianto." Jack said simply… softly. Openly. So different from how Ianto was used to hearing him speak.
"This is where I counted the hours pass. The minutes. Each nanosecond ticking away as slowly as only it knows how. Just like you did, it seems."
"I didn't know." Ianto said simply, turning to see Jack's eyes, opened and unguarded for the first time ever. And they shone.
"Neither did I, Ianto. ...And for that I am truly sorry." He moved in closer. Not too close, just... close enough.
"Seems for all I depend on you, I don't know much about you. Imagined you at home being mothered. I read parents in your file when you transferred."
"They died. They were visiting my flat in London when it all kicked off. Canary Warf. It took months to sort it out. 'Missing presumed dead.' They never even found a scrap of them to bury. Dalek cross fire, they thought."
"I'm so sorry." In the cramped space Jack's heartfelt words sear through Ianto's head. "You never said. ...anything."
"No-one ever asked. I just get on with my job. Head down, clearing up whatever needs clearing, filing whatever needs filing. Making sure everything's where it should be. I don't bring emotions to work... not usually. I’m sorry for my outburst earlier, Sir. Just everything built up inside and..." Words getting cut off suddenly by Jack's finger, pressed to his lips firmly.
"Don't you ever apologise to me for saying the truth again, Ianto." Finger not moving, feet stepping closer though, heat from their bodies mingling in the inadequate space between them. "Don't you dare." And the distance dwindled, finger dragging downwards before being replaced with Jack's soft lips.