Title: Falling Into Place
Summary: Jack Harkness accepts a job at an IT company in Cardiff, hoping to begin a new life. When he's teamed up with a brilliant but broken Welshman, their lives may change in ways they never could have imagined. Jack/Ianto AU.
Pairings: Jack/Ianto. Also Jack/Gwen (sorry – trust me!), past Ianto/Lisa, past Jack/John, Owen/Katie, Tosh/Tommy, Gwen/Rhys.
Rating: Adult / NC-17 (overall story)
Warnings: Adult themes and situations, some course language, romance, angst.
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters created and owned by the BBC. No profit is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Author's Notes: Thanks to my beta prothrombintime
Sincere thanks to everyone reading this story and sticking with it. Please let me know what you think if you haven't had a chance to already. Just a word of warning that tissues/handkerchiefs may be required for reading this chapter...
Chapter List: http://riftintime.livejournal.com/4748.html
Jack was starting to worry.
Ianto hadn't shown up for work that morning. That in itself, while highly unusual, wasn't of particular cause for concern. Tosh had received a call from Ianto, and he'd said that he was feeling a bit under the weather, but that he would be back at work the following day. She had relayed the message to Jack. And while she hadn't said anything further, he hadn't missed the hint of anxiety in her eyes.
Feeling somewhat concerned, Jack had tried to phone Ianto several times during the day to check on him. He'd also sent an email and a couple of text messages. Ianto hadn't responded. Jack almost convinced himself that Ianto was probably just sleeping or didn't have his phone nearby. But he kept thinking about the day before. Ianto had seemed a bit off. To the casual observer, he had appeared to be his usual stoic, calm and unflappable self, but Jack had spent a lot of time studying the Welshman, and he was becoming more adept at recognising the flaws in Ianto's near perfect façade. And Ianto had definitely seemed to be distracted and on edge.
By late afternoon, Jack's mild concern was escalating into something more serious.
Twenty minutes later, he found himself banging loudly on Ianto's front door, with absolutely no regard for the neighbours and the noise he was making. He was almost ready to give up when finally the door cracked open.
"Jack, what are you doing here?" Ianto asked through the small opening, his voice sounding strained and uneven.
"Checking on you," Jack replied tersely. "What's going on, Ianto? Why haven't you answered any of my calls?"
"My phone's turned off," Ianto replied curtly.
"Are you all right?" Jack asked in a softer tone as he noticed Ianto's unkempt appearance and ashen complexion. Jack's wasn't in the least bit relieved to realise that his anxiety had not been unfounded. Something was definitely wrong.
"Just go away, Jack. Please. I'll see you tomorrow," Ianto said wearily and started to close the door.
Jack stubbornly shoved his foot into the gap between the door and its frame. "You didn't answer my question. I'm not going anywhere until I know you're okay," he said determinedly.
Ianto glared at him irritably. "I'm fine. Move your bloody foot."
"I don't believe you," Jack retorted with a shake of his head. "Just let me in for five minutes. Then if you're okay, I'll leave."
They stared fiercely at each other for a long moment.
"Fine," Ianto huffed, breaking eye contact and turning away. He retreated, leaving the door ajar. Jack entered cautiously and closed the door behind him.
Ianto had moved to the sofa. He was sitting there, a sullen expression on his face, and he was very deliberately not looking at Jack. He didn't seem to be looking at anything.
Jack shrugged off his jacket, hanging it by the door and then kicked off his shoes. Remaining near the entrance, he took in the other man's appearance in more detail. Ianto was dressed in a grey long sleeved t-shirt and dark blue pyjama bottoms, he was unshaven and his hair was unruly. His eyes were dull and red rimmed, and he looked like he hadn't slept for days. He seemed lifeless and diminished. Jack was struggling to reconcile the man in front of him with the alluring and fastidious man he knew as his colleague and friend.
"How about I make us some coffee?" Jack suggested, unsure what to do now that he was actually inside. Ianto just waved his hand dismissively. With a heavy sigh, Jack moved into the kitchen.
Returning to the living area a few minutes later, Jack placed two mugs of fresh coffee on the low table in front of the sofa. Sitting down next to Ianto, but keeping some distance between them, he reached for his mug and took a couple of sips. "So, are you going to tell me what's going on?" he eventually asked.
Ianto shook his head. "Just drink your coffee and go," he said resignedly. "I'll be back at work tomorrow."
Jack slammed down his coffee mug in frustration. "Damn it, Ianto. I don't care about goddamn work," he growled. "I'm here because I care about you. Is that really so difficult to get through that thick Welsh skull of yours?"
Jack moved closer and grabbed Ianto's hand, holding it tightly. With his other hand, he cupped Ianto's chin and turned his head so their eyes met. "Just tell me what's going on," he pleaded, softening his voice. "Whatever it is, I'll help. You must know by now that you can trust me."
Ianto glared at Jack defiantly, his body coiled and rigid. Jack instinctively braced himself, and he wondered if his jaw was about to become intimately acquainted with a hard and very angry fist. It was always difficult to tell with Ianto. His expression could be so unreadable that sometimes Jack had thought it was as likely that he was going to be kissed to within an inch of his life as it was that he'd be pummelled into next week. And he'd often thought that Ianto would have a brutal right hook. Under different circumstances, he might have found that to be quite a turn on.
He tried to keep his features relaxed as he held Ianto's stare. He hoped that he was projecting only compassion and concern, but a feeling of dread consumed him.
Then, suddenly all the fight seemed to leave Ianto's body. His shoulders began to shake. A moment later, his face collapsed and he began to cry. His body trembled and the tears rapidly turned into great gasping sobs.
Jack looked at his friend in shock, but he recovered quickly and gathered Ianto into his arms.
He held onto Ianto firmly and tried to comfort him. "Hey, it's going to be okay," he murmured into his ear. "I've got you… whatever's wrong, it will be okay."
It was several minutes later before the tears subsided and Ianto started to calm down. He pulled away from Jack and blindly reached towards the table, grabbing something white and fluffy and pulling it tight against his chest as he buried his face into it.
Jack hadn't noticed the object earlier, he'd been too focused on Ianto. But on closer inspection, he realized it was a rather adorable stuffed toy bear, dressed in a little blue jacket and matching cap. He stared at Ianto in bewilderment, having no idea what was going on.
He reached out and gently touched the soft, white fur. "What's this?" he asked gently.
"I bought it yesterday," Ianto croaked. Then he looked up at Jack in abject misery. "For my son's first birthday."
Jack's mouth dropped open and he stared at Ianto. He was sure that he must have misheard. "Wait, you have a son?" he asked in confusion.
"I… I should have," Ianto mumbled as he pulled his legs up and curled in upon himself.
Jack was becoming seriously worried. Ianto looked so bereft and lost, and he was clinging tightly to the plush bear as if it was the only tenuous link to his sanity. He shook his head, none of this was making any sense. No one had said anything about Ianto having a child, and it wasn't the sort of thing that people usually kept hidden.
"I'm sorry, Ianto, I don't understand," he said quietly.
Ianto looked up then. "He… died," he whispered, turning away, his face twisted in pain.
Jack was starting to get a sick feeling in his stomach. He placed his hand on Ianto's arm and rubbed soothingly. He asked gently, "What happened?"
"Lisa… my girlfriend… ex-girlfriend. She was pregnant. It was a boy." Ianto hugged the bear even tighter. "But something went wrong. She had a miscarriage… he died."
Jack felt his chest tighten at the pain in Ianto's voice. He had never really thought about wanting children himself, he'd never thought that he'd be cut out for it. He was too much of a big kid himself a lot of the time. But Ianto on the other hand, would have made… would make… an incredible father. "Oh, God, Ianto. I'm so sorry," he murmured.
Ianto's eyes filled with tears again as he looked up at Jack. "He should have been born a year ago. It should be his first birthday today." His voice broke and his body heaved with another gut-wrenching sob.
Jack's throat constricted, and he could feel his own eyes starting to fill. He pulled Ianto close and the younger man buried his face against Jack's shoulder.
"I thought she was…" Ianto began unevenly as he snuffled into Jack's shirt. "I thought we were happy. It was all I wanted, Jack… to be married… to have a family. I'd always thought how brilliant it would be to have a son…" Ianto stopped as his voice broke again and another ragged sob overcame him.
Jack could feel his own tears trailing down his cheeks and falling into Ianto's hair. If Ianto had noticed, he didn't react. Jack just kept holding onto the Welshman, rubbing his hand gently across Ianto's back to sooth him. He remained silent, sensing that Ianto needed to finish unburdening himself.
"I was so happy when I found out," Ianto continued a few moments later in a hoarse whisper. "I thought it was what she wanted too. She said it was. But she didn't want to tell anyone. Then, afterwards… she changed, we were always fighting… she said I had pressured her, that she hadn't been ready to settle down. She said that it was too much and that she… that she didn't love me anymore."
Ianto stopped, and there was a long silence punctuated only by his muffed sobbing. "Ianto?" Jack prompted softly.
Ianto lifted his head and turned away, gazing down at his hands. "She left me. I came home one day and she was gone. I found out later that she'd been seeing someone else…"
Jack still had his arm around Ianto, and he gave the other man's shoulder a gentle squeeze. Ianto seemed to recover slightly and he continued in a low murmur. "I loved her. She meant everything to me… when she left, I wanted to die. I thought I had nothing left. I was going to…"
He stopped with a shake of his head, as if trying to banish the dark thoughts. Jack winced as his mind filled in the gaps and he remembered what Tosh had told him. "I went away for a while," Ianto continued jaggedly. "Owen took me to a place… Providence Park… I got some help…"
Ianto looked up at Jack again, his expression tortured and his eyes filled with despair. "But the pain never goes away," he whispered.
Jack didn't have any words. He had never been someone who offered hollow platitudes, and he felt sure that Ianto would resent them anyway. He just pulled Ianto closer and wrapped him in a tight hug. He just wanted to take Ianto's pain away, even if only for a little while. "I'm so sorry," he repeated softly.
There was silence, and after several minutes, Ianto's breathing became more even and the fierce grip of his hands loosened. He was sleeping. The fluffy white bear slipped from his fingers and dropped down onto the floor.
Jack looked down. Lifeless, glassy, brown eyes stared back at him, and it felt like they were drilling into his soul, taunting him. He pressed a tender kiss to Ianto's forehead and buried his face in the other man's hair. He closed his eyes.
A couple of hours passed. The room was darker now. His body ached and his bladder felt uncomfortably full, but he didn't move or let go. If he could do nothing else, he could at least make sure that Ianto wasn't alone. Maybe Ianto wouldn't feel like he had to hide himself from Jack anymore and it would all just be a little bit more bearable.
Eventually Ianto stirred. He pulled away slightly and looked up Jack with unfocused, pain infused eyes.
Jack reached up and caressed Ianto's cheek. For just a moment, Ianto leaned into the touch. But then he pulled further back and looked away. "You should go," he muttered. "I'll be okay."
"I'm not leaving you, Ianto. Not like this," Jack said resolutely. Ianto looked at him warily. "I'm here now, so let me look after you. Even if it's just for a little while."
After a long moment, Ianto sighed and gave a slight nod. "Okay," he said, not seeming to have the will to argue.
It was a tiny victory, but Jack was grateful for it. Despite Ianto's stubbornness and fierce self-reliance, Jack was starting to realise that sometimes Ianto needed someone to take care of him. He needed someone to step in and give him permission to relinquish control.
He squeezed Ianto's hand. "Why don't you take a hot shower, or maybe a bath? I'll organize some dinner for us."
"I'm not hungry," Ianto replied tiredly.
"Neither am I, but I think we both need something," Jack insisted. "And we could both use a drink," he added with a wry smile.
He squeezed Ianto's hand again in reassurance. Ianto looked down at the floor, noticing the bear still laying there. "Can you…" he murmured. "I don't want to see it again."
Jack nodded in reply. Ianto stood and shuffled out of the room.
Leaning back into the sofa, Jack let out a heavy sigh. His mind was reeling. He slowly stood up. His legs were aching and a bit unsteady. Reaching down, he roughly grabbed the bear and moved off towards the kitchen.