Warnings: Slushy, fluffy Jack/Ianto abounds. You have been warned.
Word Count: 1756
Summary: Jack's on the phone. And Ianto's stunned to overhear what he says.
Prompt: 084. He
Ianto, finally finished with the dating and filing of the last of the reports, twisted to look at the clock. He was a little startled to see how late it was, so shut down all the applications, logged off the computer, and gathered his things together.
With his coat draped over his arm, he went downstairs to the main part of the Hub to say goodbye to Jack, idly checking that Gwen, Owen and Tosh had all turned their computers off properly on his way past. He could see Jack pacing in his office, talking on his mobile phone, and Jack, as if sensing he was being watched, glanced around and smiled a little, then turned away to finish his conversation.
Ianto opened the door to Jack’s office and stepped in, just as Jack, lowering his voice, said, “Um, yeah. Love you. Bye,” and finished the call.
He stopped, as Jack turned off his mobile and turned, grinning at him and saying, “What sort of time is this? I was beginning to think you’d gone home.”
Ianto didn’t reply for a moment. He was still too busy hearing Jack say, “Love you.” Something he’d never actually said to Ianto, something he’d only heard because he’d walked in on Jack murmuring it to someone else over the phone.
He managed to keep his voice vaguely curious as he finally said, “I just finished sorting the archives. Who were you calling?”
Jack shrugged, still smiling, and told him, “I was kinda worried you’d left without a goodbye kiss. And you just know I’d pine away to nothing if you did that.”
Fighting down the urge to sigh, knowing that he’d get no answer from Jack if he was in this sort of a mood, Ianto stepped forward to press a quick kiss to Jack’s lips, then turned away, muttering, “I’m going home, I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Jack reached out to catch his arm, and this time Ianto couldn’t quite hold back the sigh. He was turned back to face Jack, who pulled him closer, murmuring, “Now, what sort of a goodbye kiss was that, hmm?” and proceeded to demonstrate what was a more acceptable sort of farewell.
When they finally parted, Ianto hesitated, then stepped back and turned away again, repeating, “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
This time Jack let him go, saying, “Yeah. See you,” and following him as far as the railings by Tosh’s workstation. Ianto refused to look back, heading out through the door as it rolled open and stepping into the lift that was there waiting for him. He locked up the tourist information centre, fetched his car, and drove home, concentrating on the roads he knew so well rather than on Jack, who he’d found he didn’t know at all.
When he was home at last, finally able to relax, drop his car keys into the ashtray on the dining room table and hang his coat up with a slight sigh of relief, he emptied his pockets out on the table – wallet, mobile phone, two receipts and a note from Jack with the serial number of an artefact he’d had to fetch for Tosh to compare with their latest acquisition – and investigated the fridge. He didn’t have much of an appetite, and eventually made himself some toast, with a glass of water, avoiding the tea and coffee, and the bottle of wine he’d been keeping for some unspecified special occasion. Tonight wasn’t the night to be opening that.
Sitting down at the table with his plate and glass, he paused to hang his suit jacket on the back of his chair and take off his tie, folding it neatly and putting it on the table beside his wallet. After he’d forced himself to eat and drink a little, and washed up the dishes, he made a futile attempt to find something good to watch on television, giving up before long and sitting in front of the empty screen for a few minutes.
He got up to check his phone in the vague, guilty hope that there’d be an urgent message from Torchwood waiting for him – Come on back in, there’s aliens on the loose and we can’t manage without you – but found it was turned off. Oh. He remembered now. Just after lunch, Tosh had complained that the internal tracking system was affecting her tests, so all the comms and mobiles had been turned off to keep her happy. He’d forgotten to turn it back on.
Sitting back down on the sofa, he turned it on and leant back, staring at the ceiling while he waited for it to load up and check for messages. He was slightly surprised to find he had one. Voicemail.
He rang the answer phone, put it on loudspeaker, hit the right buttons, and put the phone on the coffee table in front of the sofa, while he settled himself down, taking his shoes off and stretching out, with his head on one armrest and his feet dangling over the other.
“Hey Ianto,” said Jack’s voice, and he turned his head to look at the phone in surprise. “It’s me, Jack. Though you knew that. I mean, nobody else sounds this good, even over the phone, right?”
Ianto couldn’t help the slight flicker of a smile that crept onto his lips briefly, as Jack laughed.
“Yeah, anyway. Your phone’s off, so here I am, talking to some machine instead of you. That was why I tried to call. To talk to you, I mean. Everyone else went home ages ago and you still haven’t come to say goodbye yet. Wondering where you are. I’d turn the internal tracking systems back on, except I don’t want to incur the wrath of Toshiko if I happen to ruin her experiments. Again. She said the phones were okay about an hour after you went back upstairs, though, so I’m safe enough calling you.”
There was a pause, and then Jack continued, “Personally, I think you’re still in the building somewhere. Hate to think you’re avoiding me or something. I’m pretty sure I haven’t done anything to piss you off today. You’d have told me if I had, right? Yeah, you would. Which means I’m still in the clear, so that’s okay.”
Another pause, with some small sounds in the background that Ianto managed to make out were Jack pacing round his office, poking about at the stuff on his desk, unable to sit still for long. Then Jack chuckled again, and said, “You know, it’s funny. I just thought, right now, that maybe it’d be easier to talk to a machine than a person. You’d think so, wouldn’t you? No interruptions, no disapproving expressions if you say something stupid, nothing like that. I mean, talking to the answer phone rather than talking to you in person means I don’t have the urge to kiss you senseless all the time. Does wonders for the thought processes. But it’s still kinda difficult to say certain things.”
Again, Jack paused for a few moments. By now, Ianto had more or less sat up again, leaning over the armrest and watching the phone intently, waiting for Jack to keep talking.
“I thought,” Jack said slowly, “when you didn’t pick up, that maybe I could take this chance to say a load of stuff I haven’t managed to say to you in person. But… I don’t know. I was going to say…”
Ianto heard Jack sigh, and then, “You know we need you. Torchwood. Sometimes I forget how much you actually do just to keep us running. But we’d fall to pieces without you. You’re an essential part of the team, and I should tell you that more often. Remind me, okay? And whatever you do, don’t let anything happen to you, because there’s nobody out there who could possibly take over. And I swear nobody else could look as hot when they’re making coffee as you do.”
Jack laughed and continued, “But that’s not what I wanted to say, believe it or not. I can tell you that to your face. I think I did today already, didn’t I? I was going to say a whole lot more about… us. You know. The whole in depth discussion on where we’re going and what we both want, and all that. ‘Cause I’d like to know what you want. Then I can give it to you.”
He chuckled again, muttering, “No innuendo intended, for a change. Though I’d love to explore your wants and needs in more depth sometime. What do you say to tomorrow night, if we don’t get invaded by evil aliens between now and then? Wear the black shirt. The buttons are easier on that, not to mention how sexy you look in it.”
Ianto laughed a little, in time with Jack’s recorded snigger. Abruptly, though, Jack stopped laughing, and then said hurriedly, more quietly, “Okay, I’m gonna have to go – you’re on your way over. There’s a hell of a lot I didn’t get to say, but I’ve kinda run out of time and I’ll need a lot more of a run-up before I can say it to you in person, so…”
He lowered his voice even further, murmuring, “Um, yeah. Love you. Bye.”
And the message finished.
Ianto stared at the phone for a second or two, then reached out and ended the call to the answer phone, careful not to delete the message. He sat for a minute, then called Jack’s mobile, sitting back with the phone to his ear and an indestructible smile on his face, that stayed even when he found Jack’s phone turned off, and was in turn directed to his answer phone.
“Jack,” he said, drawing circles with his free hand on the sofa cushion beside him, “tomorrow night sounds good to me. Tell the evil aliens to take the night off. And wear the red braces. They stretch more.”
He hesitated, then found himself lowering his voice slightly as he said, “We’ll talk more tomorrow. You’re not the only one who has a lot of stuff to say, and that should give you enough time to be prepared to say it in person, okay? And… um.”
Pausing again, he bit his lip slightly, but the smile wouldn’t die, and he said, quickly, “Love you too. Bye,” and hung up. And then he collapsed back on the sofa, grinning madly until he got to his feet and went to find that wine bottle.
Tonight was special occasion enough.