Pairings: Jack/Ianto, Jack/Rose/Doctor (past), Jack/Gwen/Ianto (friendship)
Spoilers: Doctor Who 4x13
Summary: Why, yes, it's another reunion fic!
The world and everything in it is back where it should be. More or less. A lot of people died, but a lot more didn't. And Jack can't help but be pleased and feel a little bit better and brighter than he did before this particular set of terrible circumstances.
It's a combination of things, really. He figures not being killed by Daleks is probably a bit more special for him than for most people. It's a bit more personal, certainly. He'd wonder if he'll have more or less nightmares about them now, but he really, really doesn't sleep that much anymore, although, granted, Daleks have always been one of the reasons why.
More importantly, they didn't get his team. Well, what's left of his team. They didn't take Gwen and they didn't take Ianto and Jack's definitely still a thinking, functioning, feeling human being because of that. Because he needs them, needs Gwen's often careless ferocity and Ianto's quiet, methodical, stubborn attempts to be a good soldier when he's not made for that at all, even though he'd be one hell of a leader.
Jack can't help but smile at the memory of Gwen and the Doctor chattering and Ianto really having nothing to say but sir. But Jack knows the hundred things that word meant then and there. I'm still alive and we'll do this later and aren't people ridiculous, aren't you ridiculous when you're celebrating? And, most importantly, I am waiting for as long as you need me to wait.
Jack feels guilty, and Jack feels proud. The life of a fighter, of a soldier, of a leader is like that. There's nothing for it. You do terrible things because someone must. You allow yourself to be changed because someone must. You leave home because someone must. It's why he and the Doctor were always supposed to understand each other, even though in truth, they never really did.
It makes Jack sad, but he supposes they are even now. Especially with one of him -- and god, now there's a thought -- being part human. Jack made good, sure, but the universe got even, and he wouldn't be the man he is if he didn't enjoy that just a little bit. He has to. Otherwise he would grieve.
Because he never got his Doctor back. And Rose got hers. And they were all supposed to be together and are somewhere, he supposes, in a world he will never know. He wouldn't trade his life, the one he has now, in this moment, in Cardiff, adjacent to the Rift and often the end of the world, for anything, but Jack's a greedy man, a jealous man, and he is angry, furious even, that he cannot experience all of his existences at once like a bright and sharp shock of lightning.
He also worries. The Doctor will be alone now with everyone else having homes to go to or new ones -- he suspects in Donna's case -- to find. The Doctor doesn't deserve to be alone and can't really tolerate it, Jack knows, and he can't help but wonder who will replace him, who will replace all of them next. Someone will. Soon. But soon can be a long time for the Doctor. Jack wonders which of them is supposed to be lonelier. He wonders which one is.
Martha is content to be quiet as they walk hand in hand. Jack is glad of that, needing a bit of stillness. Mickey, when he falls into step behind them, figures it out too after a bit. Jack is even more grateful for that.
"Looking forward to seeing them?" Martha asks softly, after a while.
"Yeah," he returns at the same gentle pitch. "Yeah."
"It's not just dabbling, is it?" She asks, not thinking it necessary to specify what and who she means.
"No," he says, still muted. Then her words filter in. He stops for a moment and turns to her, Mickey almost bumping into their backs. "What?!"
"When I asked him about you, that's what he said."
Jack barks with laughter and starts walking again. "That is his version of territorial. If you know the value of something to someone, the more likely you are to steal it."
"Not really the trusting sort then?" She chuckles.
"Haven't given him a reason to be," Jack says. "No one has."
Martha squeezes his hand. "Should you call?" she asks.
Jack shakes his head.
The Hub is a disaster. Concrete dust, shell casings, the exploded innards and outers of Daleks and the general mess he and Jack and Gwen made of the place trying to call the Doctor when they were all sure they were all going to die. Ianto's been trying to pick up a little and Gwen's been helping, but it's hard to focus. She wants to go home to Rhys and Ianto's body periodically starts to shake so badly he has to sit down.
Eventually Gwen notices Ianto sitting on the couch not shaking, and that isn't like him. If he can work, he works.
"You all right?" she asks, but it sort of elides into one word in a very Gwen way that makes Ianto smile weakly.
He nods. "Considering, yeah." After a moment he adds, "Cannibals were worse."
Gwen manages a small laugh and sits down beside him. "He'll be home soon."
"No. Don't worry about me worrying about him when I'm not even worried about him, I'm just worried about me and --" Ianto forces himself to stop speaking. It's all so pathetic. He should be happy to be alive. "I'm sorry," he says. "I think I just need some air."
"Sunlight'd be nice," she says, all gap-toothed sympathy.
It occurs to Ianto that he loves her and that he also wants to smack her.
"Go on," she says, "get some air. I'll hold this place down. Or together. Or whatever it is for a bit."
Ianto wants to demur. His duty is here, waiting for his Captain, but somehow the idea of sunlight sounds like a cure, and so he nods and walks first hesitantly and then just shy of a run past the defunct Daleks and out the doors and up, through the tourist office, to the outside world. The brightly lit, radiant, living world. Dear God, it's beautiful, and for a moment Ianto can't help but wonder if this is the first time he's really, really loved being alive regardless of anyone else ever.
He thinks it's true, just for that second, and it fills him with pride. But it also fills him with longing. Where there is life, there is Jack, the man with too much of it, and dammit, he has to come back or Ianto Jones is walking away from this end of the world bullshit forever and just going on to be a normal boring person with a normal boring life who gets to enjoy normal boring sunlight.
"Jack, you're shaking," Martha says as they near the Hub.
"I kissed them goodbye," he manages, but doesn't add Just like the Doctor. And Rose. And we all saw how that worked out. Because that's not why Jack's shaking. Jack's shaking because he didn't give them hope, because Ianto had looked so brave and broken and Gwen was just shooing him out of there before he fucked it up even more, and now he was going to get them back, and he didn't deserve it or understand it or have the faintest goddamn idea what to say. Hell, he wasn't even sure if he should go in through the Plass or the tourist office.
"And now you'll kiss them hello, probably enthusiastically, and everything will be fine," Mickey says from behind him.
Jack smiles. The words don't really help, but he appreciates the effort.
"I'm going to go down to the water for a minute," he says. "Martha, you want to bring Mickey in, make my apologies?"
"Sure," she says, still feeling gentle towards the man. Water, she knows, reminds Jack of home, his first home as well as this one, and if he needs that sort of minute to gather himself, she won't begrudge him it. She also won't openly acknowledge it. Jack hates that sort of thing.
"Gwen? Ianto?" Martha calls as she makes her way down to the Hub, finding it far too easy to penetrate most of their security thanks to the recent ordeal.
"Martha?" Gwen calls, confused and concerned as she climbs over debris to get to the steel cog door.
"Yes!" she says, laughing awkwardly, as if she's only suddenly realized how astounding it is that she's alive.
"And this is...?" Gwen asks, pointing at Mickey.
"Mickey. Hi," he says, leaning forward to shake her hand.
"He's traveled with the Doctor a bit. I think we're around for a while."
"Where Jack?" Gwen asks abruptly.
"Oh he's just --"
"Oh no. Tell me he didn't. I will fucking kill --"
"-- by the water. He's just up by the water. He'll be down in a minute. He just needed some time."
Gwen lets out a huge sigh of relief. "Oh thank God, because we couldn't. Not again. Ianto --"
"I know," Martha says, firm and gentle in the hopes that Gwen will stop talking herself into a panic. "Where is he anyway?"
Gwen laughs. "I sent him out to get some air."
Jack sees Ianto leaning against the rail a good twenty feet away. He doesn't run to him, doesn't even speed up his pace. He just watches to see if he's angry or sad or just desperately in need of quiet he can't find in a Hub that's falling down around him after all that.
It's hard to tell. He looks rumpled and lost, but his back is broad and unbowed and he's gotten brave or braver, anyway, in the course of this whole thing. Jack can see that in his stance, in his carriage. He can see that Ianto Jones has just figured out what Jack's always known about him, which is that the man doesn't need anyone at all.
It should frighten him, Jack knows this. But it doesn't. A man not afraid to lose him is a man who will stand up to him, and God, he needs that. Needs it as a cure for what happened between him and the Doctor -- so long ago now -- needs it as a way to learn to somehow be a finer thing. It's why he appreciates Gwen so much; she never thinks his charm and charisma are enough, never wants to let him coast, and never, ever wants to let him be less. That she doesn't understand that sometimes he still needs to be less is why they've only ever been friends. Well, that and Rhys. Sparks and love aside.
"Ianto," he calls before he consciously means to. But he's there and Jack would rather be talking to him and taking his fury, his grief, his humour, whatever it is he wants to give, than be standing here like an idiot lost in his own thoughts.
Ianto turns and a grin splits his face. "Sir!" he calls. "You came back."
"Didn't I promise?" Jack asks, all charm as he closes the distance.
"I try not to think about promises at the end of the world, sir," he says, grinning.
"That's a lot kinder than you could be," Jack says, half teasing, but wanting to give Ianto the chance to speak now of what will inevitably come up later.
"You did what you had to, sir. And Tosh saved us. And I'm glad you're ho--" Ianto stops himself. "Back, that is."
Jack nods, a small smile playing over his face. "Home. Yeah," he says, as if to consider how the word feels in his mouth. And then he grabs Ianto's face in both hands and kisses him abrupt and hard.
Ianto smiles and lays a hand over one of Jack's still against his cheek. "The Hub's a mess, sir."
Jack shrugs. "We'll fix it. I brought help."
Ianto eyes him skeptically.
"Martha. A fellow named Mickey who used to travel with -- don't look at me like that! I'm not his type."
Ianto laughs. "Let's get to it then. Sooner we do it, the sooner we sleep."
"Sleep? That's my reward? sleep?"
"No, Jack," Ianto says, pulling the other man along after him. "That's mine. In the short-term, anyway."
"Am I going to like the long-term better?" Jack asks hopefully.
"Tremendously," Ianto says.
"Tell me about it?" Jack asks, sounding ridiculously young to Ianto.
"Certainly. Right after we figure out what to do with the Dalek carcases, sir."