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He’s a looker but I think it’s guts that matter most

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Title: He’s a looker but I think it’s guts that matter most
Author: Rating: R -NC17
Pairing: Janto, Ianto/Isaie [Isato], Tosh/Owen, Gwen/Rhys, Past Isaie/OMC
POV: Ianto
Summary: Since Jack returned from the Year that never was, he's found himself without the man who he has always relied on who is now with someone else. But with the Trauma from the YTNW haunting him will Ianto's feelings help him back to his old self? Will Ianto's relationship endure Jack's problems as well as his own issues with Isaie's ex on top of looking after a six year old? And when all is said and done will Jack help Ianto save Isaie when he needs him the most?
Disclaimer: The whole concept of Torchwood © the awesomeness that is the BBC, don’t sue because the contents of my bank account is only worth about a third of the amount in European currency. Plot mostly based on fiction…i.e. not real….but a girl can wish<3 [title © The Spill Canvas]
Author Notes: started before CoE and completed for tw_bigbang ‘10 [sequel to Funny thing happened to me while you were gone] Major thanks to holyfrell for being such an awesome artist despite the diffculty she had and also badly_knitted for being such a fast and efficent beta :) I really wouldn't have finished this without you guys :)

 

I managed to keep acting like everything was normal while we went to check the rift activity, trying to keep thinking of Isaie when Jack said he came back for us. Only his gaze kept straying to me and he used the word ‘you’ before us. It reminded me of our kiss before he left. How good it had felt with his hand on my cheek as he tried to pry my lips apart with his tongue. But when he appeared from the cells with Gwen following before our second call out of the night, I knew when he’d said me he meant her. Of course….always his beloved Gwen.I took solace in remembering Isaie’s touch and kiss that morning. But as always with Jack, things became a whirlwind including an ex, attempted murders and explosives, of course putting poor Gwen in danger. If he really asked me out I’m not sure…..I tried to push it off as some kind of dream as I arrived at Isaie’s after 2am when I knew he’d be sleeping…..thank god for keys.

I changed into a pair of baggy pants he kept saying looked better on me and his CSAD shirt before sliding under the covers. He immediately rolled over in his sleep to spoon my body and all the tension from that night seemed to disappear into the darkness.

I was woken not long after 8am to the lack of his body behind me but when I opened my eyes he was pulling some jeans up his legs, his hair wet and a mess from a shower.

“Morning,” I whispered as he buttoned his jeans, causing him to look up, that bright and beautiful smile on his face. That smile that seemed only there when I was around.

“Hey, you…..busy night?” he asked, climbing onto the bed and kneeling before me as I pushed myself upright.

“Yeah…..something like that. Sorry I had to cancel our night…..I was really looking forward to messing around on the couch again.” I sighed as he raked his fingers through my hair at the same time as he kissed me.

“It’s fine….besides, I had to get that work done so I could concentrate on taking you out on a date tonight.” He smiled, kissing my forehead as my hands rested on his sides, pulling him closer.

The word ‘date’ caused me to freeze as the word in an American accent echoed in my ears. Fuck, I’d said yes hadn’t I? Isaie noticed my tension because he paused from getting off the bed.

“Ianto, something wrong?”

“Huh? No….just a little out of it for a sec there. What do you have in mind?” I asked, pushing Jack to the back of my mind and playfully brushing my hand over Isaie’s back.

“I was thinking we’d go out to dinner tonight and then maybe I’d have my wicked way with you right in this bed.” He smiled, meeting my lips with an intoxicating kiss that made me want to call Gwen and take another sick day. Despite her threats I knew she’d never sack me and now that Jack was back there was an even lower probability of that happening.

“Um….I’ll look forward to it,” I murmured as he finally pulled back for air and kissed down my neck. His tongue grazed over the skin of my throat which he only did when it was to make me cum, before catching my gaze and winking as he got off the bed.

“Tease!” I pouted as he sorted through his closet for a shirt.

“And you love it.” He grinned over his shoulder at me.

I smirked and was about to try and get rid of my erection with thoughts of what he was going to do to me that night when I heard my comm. beep from the pocket of my suit jacket. I really should stop forgetting to leave it at work. I sighed and climbed out of the comfort of his sheets to pick out the device. I pushed it into my ear and took a moment to gain my composure and for Isaie to be back in the bathroom before pressing the button for the connection.

“Yes?” I asked, sitting on the edge of the bed.

“Ianto, it’s not like you to be so not early.” Jack’s voice echoed in my ear and I swallowed as I looked in the direction of the bathroom.

“Gwen usually lets me come in later, sir,” I lied, in a low tone so Isaie wouldn’t hear or think me crazy.

“Well I need you to come in and help me get reacquainted with some protocols.”

“I’m sure Tosh or Gwen can help you with that.”

“They aren’t in yet...besides, Ianto, I’ve missed hearing your beautiful Welsh vowels.”

I paused at the flirtatious tone in his voice and sighed silently. Isaie would be off to work soon and as long as I kept space between us I could deal……right?

“Ianto, you want me to buy some more of that shampoo you like?” Isaie asked.

Immediately I could sense that Jack had heard and bit my lip before replying.

“I’ll be there in half an hour, sir.”

I closed the connection and pulled the ear piece out just as I heard Isaie’s footsteps from the bathroom. I pushed the comm. under my pillow, looking up just as his figure appeared in the doorway.

“Definitely. I love how you smell when you use it.” I smiled, getting up from the bed and kissing him.

“Um, you don’t smell too bad either.” He smiled, letting his nose graze the curve of my neck before returning the kiss as he wrote a note for himself on the back of his hand.

“I should probably get ready for work….I have a feeling my boss will want me in early,” I sighed, flicking through the few suits I had at Isaie’s. It had been months since I moved in but I still kept half my stuff at my place….including a fair bit of Lisa’s stuff that I still wasn’t ready to part with.

“I’m sure Gwen would understand,” Isaie said, taking one of my blazers and pulling it over the shirt he’d picked.

“Er….well actually our boss….the one who left last year….came back yesterday,” I said, avoiding his gaze as I pulled out a suit and shirt.

“Ah….so Gwen was just….”

“Temporarily in charge…” I nodded, pulling the shirt I was wearing over my head.

“Ok….so when do I get to meet the big boss then?” he asked, pushing his laptop into his bag.

“Er….” The thought of Jack meeting Isaie was an unnerving one. There was a good chance that if they did, Isaie would dump me for Jack with his 51st century pheromones and I’d be back to square one. Being Jack’s resident fuck toy. Not a place I wanted to return to.

“Come on, they can’t be that bad.”

I gave him an unsure smile as I tried to pick a tie.

“He’ll probably be busy catching up on paperwork for a while but I swear you will meet him,” I lied.

“Him huh? Should I be jealous?” he asked and though there was a joking tone in his voice I knew he was being serious.

“Isa, sweetie, I swear you have nothing to worry about,” I promised, throwing my tie on to the bed before turning to him and pulling him to me by the lapels of my jacket.

He kissed me hard like he was praying I wasn’t lying to him. I couldn’t lie to him; I refused to lie to him in any way that wasn’t work related. He was the best person I had ever had in my life and I was not going to screw that up.

“Now….you go off to work and inspire many lacking minds and I’ll see you tonight,” I said softly, stroking his cheek and pecking another kiss on his lips.

“Bye, Yan.” He smiled, grabbing some books from his desk before going out the door. Now let’s just pray that I can stick to that promise while I’m around Jack.

~~~~
I managed to make my way to the Hub despite how anxious I was feeling at being alone with Jack. If Gwen or Tosh was around he’d at least tone down the flirting and touches but without them there, there was no telling what he would do let alone say. I parked at the wharf and leaned my forehead against the steering wheel to try and stop my heart racing against my rib cage. I finally pushed myself out the car and took the back way into the Hub. Myfanwy called a good morning from above me and I smiled up at her, pausing when I saw the light was on in Jack’s office. I quickly turned my back on the steps to his office and went to make some much needed coffee. It only seemed to take five minutes with Isaie on my mind the whole time.How he smelt of coffee whenever we met up for dinner or how he’d watch with fascination as I made coffee on the few mornings I got up before him.

Finally I made myself walk out the kitchen with the tray, pausing to throw a raw steak up to Myfanwy as her breakfast. I then steadily made my way up the steps. I stopped at the door and saw he had his back to the door like he had often used to when he was deep in thought about other things. I balanced the tray on one hand and opened the door, slowly approaching the desk.

I set the tray down and put his coffee in front of him with a click; when he didn’t turn around I bit my lip before making myself speak.

“Your coffee, sir.”

His chair spun around but his fingers were rested on his lips in thought, absent-mindedly picking up the coffee and taking a sip. His gaze remained on me during the gesture but unlike times before he didn’t compliment me on the standard of my coffee, just put the mug down with a click, looking up at me with an expression I couldn’t recognise.

“Is there something wrong, sir?” I asked, ignoring the way my heart was racing with anxiety.

“Usually when someone is seeing someone they don’t accept dates from others unless they are unhappy,” he said quietly and immediately I could see where this chat was going. It definitely wasn’t going to be a pleasant one.

“If I’m seeing someone isn’t Torchwood business. Therefore it’s none of yours,” I said calmly, sitting in the chair opposite him and picking up my own coffee.

“So you are seeing someone?” he asked, raising an eyebrow like he had been expecting me to deny it. Pffft fat chance.

I sighed, knowing I couldn’t avoid the question as much as I would love to.

“Yes….I am.”

“I see….how long have you been with her?”

“You mean him. And getting close to eighteen months,” I said, looking at him over my coffee, taking a sip as I tried not to register the surprise on his face. He’d probably expected he’d be the only guy I’d want to be with and while that was partially true, Isaie would always treat me better than Jack ever could.

“Wow…..”

I nodded softly, daring to take another sip of my coffee.

“So why did you say yes when I asked you out on that date?” he asked. It took a lot of strength to resist the urge to choke on my coffee.

“Because…..I wasn’t thinking of him. I was thinking of you and how much even though you’ve hurt me, I can see something happening between us.”

“Me too….hence why I asked you out.”

I replaced my coffee cup and sighed.

“But the thing is, I can’t hurt him, Jack. He means too much to me and has put up with more crap than any boyfriend should. Besides, there is nothing to say you could be monogamous with me like he can anyway,” I said softly.

“Do you love him?” Jack asked in a whisper.

I let my gaze meet his and swallowed as my heart jumped. How could I honestly say I loved Isaie after that? But my conscience screamed that I did love him and I couldn’t let my judgement be clouded by the 51st century pheromones that at that moment seemed to be choking my senses.

“Jack, stop it….” I whispered as I seemed to find myself drowning in his bright blue eyes.

I so badly wanted the spell to be broken as Jack got to his feet and walked around the desk.I wanted to leave his office but my body didn’t seem to be responding to the thought, like a computer frozen. It was like after Lisa died, during my suspension when he’d come around, when he had kissed me on my couch and made me feel everything but what I knew I should feel. Jack was stood before me, his hand on my cheek.

Ianto get out while you still can!” my conscience screamed, pushing flashes of me and Isaie before my eyes to try and make me come to my senses, but it did no good. His breath brushed against my lips and I found my eyes closing as he tentatively closed the gap between us. My hand rested on the back of his neck, making him deepen the kiss as what felt like an animalistic urge took me over. I felt like I was back at square one all over again, coffee boy and fuck toy.

His arms encircled my waist, making me realise I’d got up from my chair and he steered me towards his desk, my back colliding with the hard wood. My free hand unzipped his pants and mine, pushing them down our legs with months of practice as he guided my legs around his waist. His mouth took mine over again, leaving little time to breathe.

Yet I soon heard Isaie’s voice echoing in my sexually corrupted mind and causing me to freeze even as Jack’s lips traced trails on my neck.

“Him, huh? Should I be jealous?”

“Isa, I swear you have nothing to worry about."

I tilted my head back to try and get some air as his tongue followed the skin of my throat.

“Jack…..Jack, stop it!” I yelled, the desperation leaving my voice as I pushed him off me.

“Ianto….I….”

“Don’t even try to explain. I knew you’d try to do something like this! How could I have been so stupid?!” I yelled, pulling my pants back up, ignoring my now painful arousal.

“I swear I don’t know what got into me….I just… I missed you and need you!” His voice was cracking with desperation as he pulled his trousers up hurriedly, but not fast enough to hide his hard on.

“And I told you I’m with someone! You’re a bit late at trying to get things back to the way they were, Jack. You should have thought of that before you walked out on us!” I yelled, slamming my coffee mug on the tray and picking the tray up.

“Ianto, please don’t go!” he pleaded, his big blue eyes gathering tears.

“I’m working in the archives today and I’ll get Tosh to bring up your coffee,” I said stiffly, picking up the tray and going towards the door.

“No, please! I need someone to talk to!”

I glared at him over my shoulder in disbelief.

“Then talk to your beloved Gwen,” I snapped before walking briskly out the door, pushing my professional attire back on even though my body was shaking.

I retreated to the kitchen, slamming my tray down on the counter and resting my head in my hands. What the hell was I going to do? If I told Isaie he’d try and get me to complain to Torchwood superiors about sexual harassment. But how could I explain to him that before him Jack had been my world? Jack had used to be the one who would make me feel alive and that despite how much I loved Isaie, and I really did, a special part of me seemed to always be reserved for Jack.

I really wished I’d never got out of bed this morning.

I took a deep breath when I heard the cog door open and let myself soak in the banter between Owen and Gwen as I made their coffees. I managed to put the respective cups on the right desks before retreating towards the archives with my own refilled mug.

I managed to hide out there for the rest of the day, with the odd exception for coffee refills though Gwen would eagerly volunteer to take up Jack’s when I refused flat out and Tosh declined. Each time though it seemed like Jack wasn’t in the mood for her company, which definitely made a change. Nothing else really happened that I was aware of, well nothing that involved me anyway, and by the time seven came around that night I just wanted to leave and let Isaie lavish me with some much needed attention.

I grabbed my coat after feeding Myfanwy and the resident weevils for the night, making sure to leave my comm. in my desk drawer, but as I was making my way towards the back entrance I heard Jack call my name and reluctantly looked over my shoulder to see him hovering on the balcony outside his office.

“Ianto, I want to apologise for what happened,” he said softly, his fingers flexing around the railing as his gaze locked with mine.

“It’s fine...but I’ve really got to go right now. Maybe we can discuss it on Monday?” I said, raising an eyebrow as I waited for him to insert an innuendo as though hoping it would change my mind, but instead he merely nodded silently.

I made it out the building and to my car as Isaie texted me to ask where I was. I sent him a quick reply, assuring him I was on my way and let all thoughts of a certain immortal captain flow from my mind as I gladly became a member of the population of Cardiff who didn’t question the existence of the supernatural for one night.

Chapter Text

At three am I woke to the sound of a cell phone ringing, causing me to groan. Typical. Is it too much for me to ask to get a normal night’s sleep? I kissed Isaie’s forehead and slid from his arms out of bed to pick up my phone from the pocket of my jeans. One glance at the caller ID and I honest to god wanted to scream.

Jack calling

I took a glance at Isaie’s sleeping form, hoping he wouldn’t notice my absence for too long. Blowing off Jack was definitely for the best as far as my sanity was concerned.

“Jones,” I whispered as I walked into the bathroom, closing the door behind me when I switched the light on.

“Ianto, I need you to come to the Hub...”

“No.”

“What?”

“Jack, it’s three a.m. and unlike you, I don’t intend to walk out on the person I’m fucking without a word. Call Gwen or Tosh, but I’m refusing to budge on this,” I said, before clicking the phone shut.

I hesitated a second before turning the power off and left it on the bathroom counter, returning to bed and curling up in Isaie’s arms. As I stared into the dark I knew I had to set some boundaries with Jack. He was so used to Gwen dropping everything to be at his beck and call that he immediately assumed the same would be the case with me.
Fuck that.

Isaie seemed to sense my tension as a gentle hushing sounded against my ear, causing me to smile as I kissed his neck and buried my nose in the crook of his neck as I drifted off to sleep.

~~
The next morning I woke to the smell of Isaie’s infamous waffles, which he only makes on weekends and special occasions, like when he’s trying to butter me up for something. A smile appeared on my face as I slid out of bed. I stopped in the doorway to see him dressed in some jeans, which hung low over his hips and clung to his legs, his torso and neck covered in bruises and fading bite marks from the night before, while his hair was a mess but in a perfectly hot way. I could only imagine what I looked like in comparison.

“Morning, Isa,” I said, causing him to look up, his gaze drowning with lust as he looked over my next to nude figure.

“Morning yourself, stud. You’re looking rather sexy this morning.” He smiled as I wrapped my arms around his waist from behind.

“Don’t I always?” I pouted, causing him to grin and let out a chuckle as he looked over his shoulder at me.

“Of course you do. Only you have a lot more appeal when you look completely debauched,” he said, putting the newest batch of waffles on a plate and turning around in my arms to face me before pulling me into a deep kiss that had me murmuring for more.

“So do you know if you’ll be going in to work today?” he asked, brushing some annoying strands of hair out my eyes for me as my hands brushed over his hips.

“I doubt it. I told Jack I wasn’t this morning and maybe he’ll leave me alone for the rest of the weekend.” I smiled, my hands trailing up his bare torso until my arms draped around his neck.

“Here’s hoping. Besides, I was hoping you’d like to meet some of my family this weekend?” he asked, biting his lip as his gaze met mine.

“Hence the waffles?” I asked as I let go of him, my heart racing and nerves already shaking at the prospect.

“Well, not the only reason, but kinda...yeah.”

I sighed and tried to slide from between him and the counter but his hips ground against mine and I found myself clinging to the edge of the counter for support.

“Please, Yan...I keep bragging to them about you and they want to meet the face to match my description,” he murmured breathlessly, causing me to groan.

“But what if they hate me? Or think I’m not good enough for their son or brother?” I gasped, letting go of the counter and undoing his jeans, the friction of denim against skin bringing me closer to the edge of arousal than should be possible first thing on a Saturday morning.

“They won’t,” he managed to pant against the crook of my neck as his fingertips danced over the skin of my back.

“But what if they do? What then?” I whispered, though I didn’t managed to get any further with my argument as he turned me around and pinned my hips to the counter as the tip of him teased my entrance and caused my body to buck as my hands tried to reach for my crushed arousal.I wasn’t sure I’d be able to hang on any longer. But his body moved closer to mine like a shadow to stop the move while his hands pinned mine at the wrist against the counter top.

“They will not hate you, Yan. They know how much you mean to me. It won’t be a round of twenty questions, just us and them at my mother’s house one night for dinner,” he murmured, against my neck, his tongue brushing my pulse spot and causing a shock to my central nervous system.

“But I...ah!” I groaned, his grip on my wrists tightening before he thrust into me all the way. My body began to shake with pleasure, his teeth replacing his lips against my neck only causing a more intoxicating rush to flow through me. Another bite to add to my collection which I would gladly wear with pride.

Finally I felt him come, biting my lip as his hands let go of mine and grazed my hips and his fingers encircled me once I was a few feet away from the counter. I knew now was the time to tell him why I didn’t want to meet his family, but I couldn’t come up with a single word to say as he turned me around and sunk to his knees in front of me. His lips kissed my tip and I felt a jolt through my body which only intensified when his tongue licked every inch of me. Before I could make myself speak I was inside his mouth and down his throat, making me cling desperately to the side of the counter for balance while my legs felt like they would collapse at any moment.

The groans were flowing from my mouth so freely that I honestly couldn’t bring myself to care. I gasped as the feeling in my stomach continued to build, all the while his hands keeping me close by clinging to my hips with his nails. My back arched against the counter and my head tilted back as the pressure flowed through my veins and up my spine, his nails digging deeper into my hips until I cried out in part pleasure and part pain as my orgasm finally took me over.

I swallowed when I managed to regain some control of my body and slid down the cupboard below the counter so I was sat opposite Isaie, who crawled towards me and kissed me so I could taste the satisfying yet bitter taste of myself on his tongue. Willingly I opened my mouth as his tongue danced with mine, though he soon pulled back, sitting beside me with his arms wrapped around me and his lips resting instinctively on my neck.

“You sure know how to try and make me change my mind,” I gasped, resting my head against his chest.

“Are you going to at least meet them, Yan? Please?” he begged, as he kissed the crown of my head.

“Fine. Just this once. Just because it’s you,” I said reluctantly, trying to get back to my feet though he grabbed me around the waist and used one of his most intoxicating kisses like he was thanking me in our special language.

My thumb trailed against his cheek bone until he finally let me go.

“You’re welcome. Now I should probably get dressed and check my phone before I eat,” I said, kissing his forehead before pulling myself up from the kitchen floor.

“Check your phone? I thought you said you weren’t working?”

“I’m not. I just have to check in case an emergency comes up,” I assured him, stretching my aching back before offering him a hand up.

He took it reluctantly and got up, pressing one more lingering kiss to my lips before letting my hand go as he zipped his jeans.

I retreated to our room and pulled on some random jeans and a shirt of Isaie’s before going to the bathroom to retrieve my phone. It was still where I’d left it that morning and while I didn’t want to pick it up, I knew I couldn’t avoid it forever.

I turned it on as I walked back into our room, sinking onto the edge of our bed as I waited for the network to catch up. As expected there were several voice mail messages from Jack and a couple from an exhausted sounding Tosh, trying to persuade me to come to the Hub. I deleted them all and pushed the phone into the pocket of my jeans as I went back into the kitchen where Isaie was absent-mindedly eating a waffle with one hand while the other was wrapped around his cell phone. He was probably texting his family details to meet me. Ugh, why did I agree again?

“Penny for your thoughts,” I said, taking one of the plates of waffles from the counter. He pushed the remainder of his waffle in his mouth and playfully stopped me, waiting until he’d downed the food before speaking, through he was practically beaming. Ah that’s why. That smile.

“I was just texting my eldest sister about meeting you.” He smiled, picking up his own plate and another with the extras as he followed my lead towards the table.

I sat down and leaned my head on my free hand as he began to ramble on about his sister’s sexual history though I wasn’t really paying attention. My gaze was just fixated on the male opposite me who was the most beautiful man in my life.

~~
I managed to have a work free weekend with Isaie which was a first though I’m sure his beloved Gwen had something to do with that. I didn’t voice that thought to Isaie when I knew how much he was a Gwen fan too.

We managed to act like a normal couple, though I’m not even sure how we managed it since we had so little practise. Watching TV in bed all afternoon, ordering take out and wrestling for the best Chinese dish as we watched a movie, which he won. The next day was a little quieter since he had some school stuff he needed to catch up on. It had still been worth it, the two of us laid on the couch with our feet resting together, our laptops in our laps though every so often our hands would meet between a series of key strokes or he would kiss my head as he went to the kitchen to warm up our cold tea.

Though of course he didn’t notice I was lurking the Torchwood system via the inbuilt admin account. From what I’d been able to sneak out of the readings from the rift monitoring system and Jack’s report, Saturday morning had been nothing but a weevil hunting incident, which told me he’d just wanted the company. While it made me feel a little bit guilty I knew I had to make sure that he knew there was no chance of what happened in his office happening again.
I managed to log out and maximise an internet explorer window when he began to glance at the screen to put off continuing a lecture he had to write.

We had a fairly quiet night in, watching TV and eating lasagne I made since it’s the only thing I can make without burning. Isaie called his mother after dinner to have a catch up with her and mention he wanted me to come with him to the next family dinner. From what I could decipher, she didn’t have many objections but he still assured her someone called Menir would meet me first. Probably one of his sisters.

I ended up lying in bed that night while he was sleeping curled up to me, wondering if I should attempt to apologise to Jack for my behaviour. For all I know they could have needed me for some fieldwork. I shrugged the thought off, telling myself not to give it much thought. My finger tips grazed up and down Isaie’s back as I slowly drifted to sleep.

I woke a few hours later to the feel of a pair of lips brushing mine; my hand moving to rest on the back of Isaie’s neck to deepen it. He kissed me harder, raking his fingers through my hair. I pulled back and opened my eyes to see him dressed and from the looks of it, ready to leave. Shit, what time was it?

“Morning, Yan. Now don’t freak...you aren’t late but I have to go into work early for a faculty meeting. I was wondering if you maybe wanted to meet for lunch later?” he asked, tracing my jaw line with his index finger.

“Sounds good, I’ll text you.” I smiled.

“Try not to work yourself into a frenzy.”

“You too. Love you.”

“Love you too.” He smiled, kissing my forehead before picking up his bag and leaving.

I sighed as I heard the apartment door close and reluctantly picked up my cell phone from my dresser, turning it on and letting it settle on my stomach as I turned the TV on with the remote.

As expected more voice mail messages clogged up my inbox but just as I’d deleted them all it rang and I groaned as ‘Jack calling’ appeared on the screen, I didn’t want to answer it, to hear his ‘boss voice’ as he asked where the hell I’d been all weekend, yet I was going into the Hub anyway, better get it over with.

“Jones.”

“Ianto. Finally.” He sounded stressed beyond belief, like he was on the brink of tears and my heart jumped into my throat in a heartbeat.

“What’s wrong, Jack?” I asked calmly, pushing myself out of bed and sorting through my closet for what to wear that day.

“It’s just....I was worried about you...’ He sounded like a scared child and my heart moved back to my chest inch by painful inch.

“Why? I told you on Saturday I was taking the weekend off.”

“I know but....” he faltered and that wasn’t a good sign.

“Jack, take a few breaths and I’ll be there in half an hour. Then you can tell me what the hell is going on.”

“You swear?”

“I’m running a shower as we speak.”

No sexual innuendo followed my comment, which made me even more worried. What the hell had got into Jack to make him so unlike himself?

“Ok. Thanks, Ianto.”

“See you soon, Jack.”

I hung up before he could say another world and bit my lip as I grabbed the first set of clothes I saw, practically running to the bathroom.

~
I arrived at the Hub to find a mess, and that was putting it lightly.

Myfanwy was circling over head, shrieking her complaints. The readings from the rift manipulator were flashing on a monitor but there was no sign of the others, each desk top was covered in piles of files, papers and takeaway coffee cups from the cafe on the bay which pretty much told me my day was going to be spent in butler mode whether I liked it or not. I made coffee and fed the weevils before grabbing the mail Tosh had left on her desk for me and going to Jack’s office.

He was sat on his couch in the corner, his arms wrapped around his knees and face buried in his thighs. His eyes were closed as he took deep breaths, taking my advice seriously like it was his life line. His eyes opened and face appeared when I closed the door behind me, setting the tray on his desk.

“Jack...what’s going on?” I asked, slowly moving towards him and sitting beside him.

Surprisingly he snuggled up to me like a lost puppy, like he trusted I would make this all right. Whatever this was.

“I’m so sorry,” he blurted out, causing me to frown as I brushed his fringe out his eyes.

“What do you have to be sorry for?” I asked, hushing him softly but the frown refused to leave my face.

“I...I didn’t mean to do what I did....” he murmured, causing me to bite my lip as I remembered him practically jumping me.

“I know you didn‘t. It’s ok,” I said, brushing my hand up and down his back as I pulled him into a hug.

It seemed to do more harm than good though as he began to gasp for air, his eyes wide with panic as he pulled away as though asking me silently for help, like he had no idea what was going on.

“Jack? Jack, look at me!” I said, fear and anxiety in my voice as he tried to push himself to his feet, staggering a few steps away from the couch before falling to the floor.

He continued to gasp and wheeze on the floor like he wanted to say something but his voice was refusing to work.

While I was trained for basic first aid - Owen had put us all through our paces when we were first hired in case of an emergency - this was definitely out of my league. I knelt beside Jack and rolled him onto his side, even though I knew it probably wouldn’t help, as I pressed Owen’s number on speed dial.

“Yeah?” Owen grumbled from the other end of the phone.

“Owen, it’s Ianto.”

“Whoa, Tea Boy, Jack told us all to have the night off....”

“The night! It’s ten a.m. Owen!”

“Shit!”

“Look, how do you treat someone having a panic attack?”

“A panic attack? Who’s having a...”

“OWEN!”

“Ok.. er...just sit them upright, bend their torso and calmly instruct their breathing...”

“And if that doesn’t work?”

“There’s an oxygen machine in the autopsy bay....grab that and a minor sedative, yeah? Put the mask on him and then give the dose. I’ll be there in half an hour.”

“Pick up Tosh on the way? We’ll need someone to look at the results from the rift while we deal with Jack.”

“Will do.”

I hung up and did both as Owen instructed when the breathing didn’t work. When he arrived Jack was passed out on the floor of his office with the oxygen mask over his nose and mouth.

“So what happened?” Owen asked, checking Jack’s pulse and the reflex of his pupils as we both knelt either side of him.

“I don’t know. He called and asked me to come in since I hadn’t been in for the weekend, said he wanted to apologise or something. I came...he was very vulnerable...looking like he was very anxious. I tried to talk to him to calm him down but it got worse. He couldn’t walk...and ended up collapsing on the floor.”

Owen nodded and bit his lip as he instructed me to help him lift Jack. We put the oxygen tank over his chest with his arms wrapped around it and carried him down from the office to the autopsy bay, setting him on a gurney. I sat on the steps as I watched Owen murmuring as he hooked Jack up to the machines he only used if looking after one of the staff. It was a little disconcerting seeing a pale and lifeless Jack; not something unusual, since it happened several times before, but not normal.

Tosh appeared and sat beside me as she showed me the results of the rift, telling me she’d called Gwen to check it out while we sorted Jack. I nodded and kept my gaze locked on Jack’s expressionless face.

Finally Owen shooed both of us out the autopsy bay when Jack was coming around in case it spooked him again, leaving me to begin the clean up and Tosh to check in with Gwen.

~~~~
A few hours later, Owen called a staff meeting while Jack was resting, rubbing the bridge of his nose as he paced back and forth before us.

“From what I can tell, somewhere between leaving us and reappearing, Jack’s developed a case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is quite frankly impossible.”

“What’s that?” Gwen asked.

“Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is an anxiety disorder triggered by physical or psychological trauma or experiencing a traumatic event. The only problem is the diagnostic criteria leaves me pretty much in the dark. I tried to ask him about what happened that could possibly have caused this, but he refuses to talk about it, like he’s trying to hide something.”

“Well if he has experienced a traumatic event, I find it hard to believe he’d want to tell us about it, Owen.” I sighed, looking at the profile of the disorder on the screen behind him, including the criteria he was talking about.

“Well I can’t do much else till he talks about it, Tea Boy.”

“You can’t? There’s no pill or whatever you can give him?”

“Sure, there’s loads, but until I know how exactly this has affected him in terms of symptoms there isn’t exactly a lot I can do,” Owen said, crossing his arms over his chest as he looked the three of us over.

I worried my bottom lip between my teeth as I continued to stare at the screen before speaking. “I could give it a try. He must have called me for a reason after all, right?”

“I guess...just be careful, mate. With the amount of symptoms under the disorder he might not be able to tell you.”

“I know, but I’ll try. I’ll take care of him while you guys keep work running, the last thing Jack needs is the stress from Torchwood,” I said, sliding out of my chair and stretching my arms behind my head.

We came up with a schedule about who would look after the rift for the next few weeks while Jack was recovering so that one of us could always be around to check in on him. I took the most shifts, which I knew Isaie wasn’t going to be happy about, but if I was the only one who could worm the details out of him then it was for the best.

I then went to check on Jack who was staring blankly at the ceiling, his eyes watching Myfanwy as she circled. I sat beside him and his gaze immediately snapped to rest on me.

“Hi, Jack, you feeling better?” I asked, letting his fingers slide between mine.

He nodded mutely, but something in his eyes said it was a lie. That he just wished all of this would stop.

“Owen seems to think you have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but he can’t find a source without you telling him. You want to maybe tell me instead?”

He shook his head, which I should have expected.

“Ok, well, if you do ever want to tell me I’m right here. You can call me or tell me when the others are gone, but it’s really important.”

“I know...I just don’t want you guys to know. It’s kinda against the rules of time travel.”

“Rules? What rules?”

“Well, I’m not allowed to cross my own time line. I’m not allowed to tell people what happens in the future....or about things that nearly happened but only happened in an alternate reality.” His voice became a little choked up after the last one as I hushed him.

“Ok, you can’t talk about it. That’s fine. But I promise I’m going to take care of you...I kind of miss the old Jack Harkness,” I said teasingly, causing a small smile on his face.

“You sure the boyfriend won’t be jealous of all the attention you’re giving me?”

“Isaie’s not like that, he’ll understand.”

Definitely my famous last words.

Chapter Text

Isaie was insistent on meeting Jack in a way that didn’t exactly bode well with me at all. I kept making up excuses because I wasn’t sure if Isaie knew what he was getting himself in for and with Jack still a complete mess from whatever happened to him while he was gone, it would only make things worse.

Still, finally it couldn’t be avoided anymore; Isaie continued to ask since I was spending all manner of the day and night at the Hub, checking on Jack which seemed to be getting Isaie’s last nerve, which took a lot. I’m sure he wanted to make sure I wasn’t sleeping with him, which was insulting but I could understand why. Even though Isaie didn’t know Jack was my ex, it was always going to feel like a threat when your lover starts spending nights with another guy, no matter the context.

So reluctantly I agreed we’d meet him on the wharf, because meeting him in the Hub was out of the question, and managed to get Jack up there for some air. He was still quite nervous when outside the Hub, which Owen said was normal for Post Traumatic Stress, leaving me to try and reassure him by distracting him with talk of things that had been between us. We were leaning against the fence looking over the sea when I felt Isaie’s hand rest on my waist, making me turn around and smile at him.

“Hey, you,” I said, though his smile was strained like he thought his worst fears had come true.

I bit my lip as I turned to tell Jack me and Isaie wouldn’t be far if he needed me, before letting Isaie lead me away from him.

“That’s Jack?” Isaie asked, causing me to sigh.

“He’s my boss, Isa. He’s been through a really rough time and I just want to help him through it.”

“By staying late with him? By barely seeing your own boyfriend?”

“Look, it’s not what you think, I swear.”

“So you aren’t sleeping with him?”

“What? Of course not! He’s been through a major psychological trauma; I would never do that to you or to him.”

He shook his head as he crossed his arms over his chest in a way I knew wasn’t good. While I knew I should be ranting and raving that he didn’t trust me to have some self control, the pain in his eyes screamed he had been cheated on more than I knew and that was why it was hurting him so much.

“Hey, I swear to you, Isaie....I’ve been keeping the promise I made to you, ok?” I whispered, guiding his arms from his chest and holding them with my hands as I pressed a kiss to his lips.

“You have?”

“Yes. I haven’t touched another guy since I met you and I don’t intend to,” I said softly, sliding my arms around his waist and bringing him close to me.

It was hard to keep being the strong one when I had a lover filled with such self doubt and an ex with so many issues it was hard to keep up with them all, especially when I still didn’t know what made him this way.

He pressed a kiss to my neck as he pulled me as close as humanly possible.

“I’m sorry, Ianto...but you have to admit how suspicious it looks....I mean have you seen him?” he asked.

“Yes...I do have eyes. But you are so much more handsome to me than he is and it’s always going to be that way, I promise,” I murmured against his neck reassuringly.

He was biting his lip as we parted like he really wanted to believe me but there was still a nagging doubt in the back of his mind.

“Look, how about I make all this neglect up to you tonight, huh? I’ll take you out to dinner...and you’ll have my undivided attention.” I smiled, nipping slyly at the side of his neck.

“But what about Jack?” he asked, which seemed to make me realise I’d been the one who promised to look after him. The only one who really could, he went crazy when Gwen was around since she was completely overbearing with her mother hen act and he couldn’t look at Tosh and Owen without sobbing, but in this case there was no way around it. Tosh and Owen would have to be on Jack duty tonight....after all, Owen is the doctor....surely it couldn’t be that bad for one night.

“Tosh and Owen will deal with Jack. Do we have a date?” I whispered, brushing my thumb over his chin soothingly.

He nodded but still there was uncertainty in his eyes, like he knew there was good chance I’d back out.

“I’ll come get you from our flat at five,” I said softly, pressing a deep kiss to his lips which made him hold me tightly to him.

Jack then began to gasp and groan, while Isaie let me go to deal with him; he hovered to the side while I hushed and assured Jack everything was fine as he buried his face in my neck.

“Jack, you ok to meet someone?” I asked softly.

“Depends who.”

“My boyfriend wants to meet you. He’s heard a lot about you....not work related though,” I added as he opened his mouth to protest.

“Ok...sure...”

“Jack, this is my boyfriend Isaie....Isaie, this is my boss Jack Harkness,” I said, moving Jack around so they could meet gazes. Isaie didn’t say anything, just merely nodded in acknowledgment while Jack’s gaze wandered over Isaie’s form with interest....almost like the old Jack.

It was strange Isaie’s reaction to Jack though, he didn’t seem to be affected by Jack’s pheromones or begin flirting with him like I would have expected. Instead he was cold...kind of hostile, like he’d heard things about Jack that no-one else really would have....strange.

“Ianto, I have to go, but I’ll see you tonight, ok?” Isaie asked as I guided Jack back to the fence. I turned to him to press a kiss to his lips before he disappeared down the wharf with his hands buried in his pockets. It was definitely something I had never experienced before...but maybe it was just his way of disapproval...or telling me what he really thought of this man who’d stolen my attention from him. I was definitely going to have to keep an even balance.

Losing Jack was bad enough, but losing Isaie because of Jack would be unbearable.

~~~
On a rare night, Isaie was waiting up for me after a long night of chasing weevils with Gwen. Jack still wasn’t feeling up to getting out his office, let alone the Hub, so it was usually up to us while Owen and Tosh stayed to keep an eye on him, but that didn’t stop the both of us bitching about not being able to be home with our significant others.

I felt like collapsing on the bed but restrained myself just long enough to do my nightly routine of taking off my shoes, hanging up my suit and tie and throwing the shirt into the wash with my socks after changing into my pyjamas. It was only then I saw Isaie’s laptop on his nightstand and that I hadn’t had to turn the lamp on.

“Hey, what time is it?” Isaie asked, smiling sleepily from where he was slumped against the headboard in a vain attempt to keep awake, his eyes only just open.

“Hey, it’s about half past midnight. Why aren’t you sleeping? I thought you had an early morning class tomorrow?” I asked, sitting on the bed beside him and brushing his fringe out his eyes.

“Nah, one of the assistant professors is doing a guest lecture so I’m not due in until ten. I’ll make up my sleep while you’re off at work.” He yawned, shifting closer to me so his head was on my shoulder but his lips weren’t too far away for me to kiss them, which I did softly.

“Ok. So what is so important that it couldn’t wait till the morning?” I asked, pressing a kiss to his forehead as his eyes drifted closed.

“I wanted to ask you something before tomorrow.”

“Ok, then ask me and we’ll go to sleep.”

“There’s an exhibit of students’ work opening at the university next week and I promised a couple of my brightest I’d go along. But I wouldn’t feel right going alone, so I was wondering if you’d come with me?”

“I suppose I could. I mean I’d love to see all the pieces of work you’ve helped inspire.” I smiled, brushing his cheek with my fingers until he was settled on his pillow before I slid off the bed and went into the bathroom. “I’m just surprised you didn’t ask Moira instead.”

“Well, I would but she can be a bad art critic when she gets going and the last thing I want is her making one of my prodigies cry.”

“I see your point. So what day is it, so I can make sure I have the night off?” I asked, turning the light on and pausing to brush my teeth.

“Wednesday. I promise you no-one will make you feel awkward for not being in the art world.”

“You mean aside from Dante?” I asked through a mouthful of toothpaste.

“Dante won’t either; I’ll make sure of it. Though Jules comes back at the weekend so I doubt he’ll be able to take his gaze off him long enough to notice you’re there.”

“So why do you want me there in the first place, out of curiosity? I mean I’m a civil servant, not an arts lover, no offence.”

“None taken, though I will remedy that. Well, you haven’t been to any of the faculty or university events...”

“More like I’m your trophy boyfriend.”

“No, that’s demeaning. You’re more like my eye candy.”

I frowned in the mirror at the title which I hadn’t heard used since Jack’s ex was here; though it didn’t sound as vulgar in Isaie’s sleepy Welsh accent. It actually sounded good, like a compliment.

“Eye candy, huh?”

“More than that. More like a distraction to keep me from getting bored. Maybe if you’re lucky we’ll sneak away to my office.”

“You promise?” I grinned as I turned the light off in the bathroom and reappeared in the bedroom to turn the bedside lamp off before sliding back into bed. I cuddled up to him in the dark, his arm rested securely around my waist.

“I promise. The first opportunity we have alone I’ll be dragging you there.”

“Ok. You’ve got yourself a deal. Now go to sleep and I’ll make sure to get you breakfast before I leave,” I whispered, pressing a kiss to his lips as my head rested against his chest, his heartbeat soothing me to sleep despite the part of me that was afraid I’d embarrass him.

~~~
That weekend the two of us got invited to a welcome back party for Jules. I hadn’t wanted to go, but Jules was one of Isaie’s close friends, before he met Dante at the university, that I had yet to meet so I kept my mouth shut and let myself be dragged there. I hoped I didn’t get called by Jack, despite how much I’d love the opportunity to leave, I knew Isaie wouldn’t forgive me.

I mostly sat with Moira and Dixie and Teran and Alden while Isaie asked Jules about Paris enviously, despite the fact Dante was groping his friend.

“So how does Isaie know Jules anyway?” I asked curiously, taking a sip of my coke since I was to be the sober driver that night.

“Er...want to field this one, Alden?” Dixie asked, leaving me to look between the two questioningly.

“Jules is a best friend of one of Isaie’s exes from Art school,” Alden said, biting his lip as the fingers of his free hand played with those of Teran while I watched the other three members of the group look anywhere but at me, like it was a sore subject.

“A friend of an ex? Really? Which one?” I asked, causing Alden to look into the depths of his beer like he’d rather not be the one to go into all the details.

“It’s best you don’t know the details, Ianto,” Moira’s Irish brogue cut through the silence, though she was biting her lip in a way that screamed ‘I don’t think it’s a good idea,’ to the others.

“No, come on, tell me. I don’t have anything to worry about if he’s an ex, right?”

They all exchanged glances in a way that made my stomach sink.

“Guys?”

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you,” Moira murmured under her breath as she got up to get her and Dixie some new drinks.

“His name is Darius Grayson, he and Isaie have this long, painful history since art school. Darius has a habit of coming back to Cardiff after break ups to see Isaie and mess with his head,” Dixie said, her gaze locked on Isaie and Jules.

“When was the last time any of you saw him?” I asked.

“New Years Eve, a few years ago. Darius had an epic fight with his boyfriend at the time, Anton, and came to our party drunk off his face. Isaie disappeared with him to try and sort him out like he always does, but instead they ended up in bed together.” Teran sighed, like it was a story he had been told so many times when it came to Isaie and Darius.

“What?”

“Isaie’s boyfriend at the time, Lachlan, got pissed at them both and tried to knock out Darius, only for Isaie to come back into the room and find them fucking. Lachlan tried to blame it on Darius, but Isaie stormed out after breaking up with Lachlan. We haven’t seen either of them since, but the last I heard they moved to London so Lachlan could finish his PhD on Renaissance artwork while Darius opened a photo agency,” Dixie said softly.

“Since then Isaie had been single, I’m guessing?” I asked, watching all three nod.

“He was devastated. He’d always thought Lachlan was the one, that Darius had boundaries he’d never cross, but obviously not. Then again, he has you now, Ianto, and you are definitely the best boyfriend he’s ever had.” Alden smiled as Teran kissed his neck.

I smiled back and turned to look at Isaie who was still talking with Jules, but his carefree curiosity was gone and replaced with what I could only describe as worry, his face pale. I looked back at the others, who were following my gaze like they knew that look but refused to translate it for me when I asked.

The bad feeling in my stomach only seemed to worsen when Isaie approached us and said he wanted to leave.

“You’re sure? What about Jules?”

“He’ll understand if we suddenly disappear. Besides, Dante wants some time alone with him so that pretty much spells the end of the party. We’ll see him on Wednesday anyway.”

“Ok. I guess I’m off, guys. I’ll hopefully see you sooner rather than later.” I smiled, letting Isaie’s fingers lace with mine as he pulled me from the chair.

The group murmured a chorus of byes as they began to gather their own things together as Dante was steering Jules persistently towards the bedroom. Wow, talk about lacking subtlety.

The rest of the drive to his place was filled with silence, Isaie was staring out the passenger side window which he didn’t usually do unless he was in a very sombre mood, leaving me to think about what the others had told me about Isaie and this guy Darius. I hoped Darius didn’t decide to make an unscheduled visit while we were together, the last thing I needed was an inferiority complex after I’d only just got used to having Isaie in my life.

I felt his fingers rest between mine on the gear stick and waited until we were at a red light to flash him a smile, but I’m not sure if it was the caffeine in my system or the fact it was so dark but I could swear I saw him grimace.

Chapter Text

I still wasn’t really looking forward to the art show by the time Wednesday appeared and tried to get out of it, but Tosh immediately said she’d cover, leaving me with little choice. I went to Isaie’s to change and appeared at the university to see him sitting in his office critiquing some painting assignments.

“Hey.” I smiled, causing him to look up and I saw a smile appear on his face, glasses perched on his nose which looked really out of place, since he hardly wore them when I was around.

“Hey, you. I thought you weren’t going to turn up for a while.” He beamed as he slid the glasses off his nose and kissed me when I was within grabbing distance.

“That was the plan, but you still haven’t given me a proper tour of the university so I thought we could do that before the exhibit. Well, unless you have work to do,” I said, leaning against his desk as he began to sort his paperwork into organised chaos. Why am I always attracted to the messy guys?

“No, we could do that. Maybe grab a coffee before the exhibit so I’m not the walking dead.” He smiled, getting up while pushing his keys into the pocket of his blazer.

He laced our fingers together and led me out the office, the students passing us whispering at the sight of us together. He showed me the lecture theatres he usually used, the studio where his students often worked and detoured towards the only campus cafe.

“So, you have a busy day?” he asked as we hovered near the counter to wait for our coffees.

“You have no idea,” I sighed, his hand squeezing mine reassuringly.

“I do a little. Wednesday is always one of my busy days.” He smiled, the two of us grabbing our coffees and edging towards a table. “Still, I must say today is definitely a wonderful exception.”

“You’re just saying that,” I grinned, as I downed a mouthful of my latte.

“Nope. Any time I’m with you makes a day better,” he said, causing me to roll my eyes even as I started to blush like a school girl.

“What time does the exhibit start?”

“About five. But one of my prodigies, Olivia, wanted me to come a bit earlier. She’s a bit of a perfectionist.”

“You sure she doesn’t have a big crush on you?” I asked, taking a sip of coffee.

“Believe me, I’m sure. One of my other brightest is her boyfriend. Toby, I think his name is...” he smiled.

I gave him a sceptical look which made him grin.

“Don’t tell me you’re the jealous type, Ianto. She’s not my type...I like guys, remember?” he whispered, pressing a kiss to my free hand interlinked with his. “Besides, even if I was bi I still wouldn’t consider risking my career for a student. It’s not worth it.”

“If you say so,” I said, narrowing my eyes at him teasingly, causing him to roll his eyes and take a glance at the clock on his cell phone.

“Ok, let’s go before I get a call that Olivia’s hyperventilating in the girls bathroom,” he said, slipping the phone back in his blazer and getting up.

I followed his lead and let him grab my hand again to reassure me as we took the long walk towards the exhibit hall. I could feel a fair few eyes on the two of us but keep my gaze down as Isaie pulled me in the direction of a slender young woman with red hair, sitting down with a paper bag to her lips, and a tall, lanky guy sat beside her whispering in her ear.

“Olivia, we had this talk before about you calming down,” Isaie sighed, as Toby got to his feet to finish his own display, leaving me to just hover at the side.

“I know...I’m sorry, Isaie....I just...this could do so much for my career and....oh god....” she groaned, causing Isaie to guide the bag back to her mouth.

“Breathe....just breathe, Olivia. I’ll sort everything, you just stay here,” he said, getting up and leaving me to stay by Olivia who I could feel eyeing me up despite the inflating and deflating of the paper bag.

“You ok?” I asked, finally making myself sit down.

She nodded but took another quick breath inside the bag, causing me to give a small smile.

“I swear, Isaie knows what he’s talking about,” I said reassuringly though I heard more silence between us aside from the chattering of the other students around us. Ok, awkward...er...come on, Ianto, you can get Jack Harkness to talk on a dark day, this shouldn’t be much of a problem.

“Is he your boyfriend?” I asked, pointing at where Toby was working with a few friends.

She gave me a questioning look but nodded from behind the bag.

“How long you been together?” I asked, tilting my head and praying it would help her calm down a while.

“Six months....” she wheezed.

“You definitely make a good couple.” I smiled.

“Thanks.”

I managed to keep Olivia distracted while Isaie, a few other organizers and minions sorted out her exhibit, but by the time they were finished I was running out of things to say and the visitors were starting to pile into the room. Toby took over for me with Olivia, who was definitely calmer since I’d been talking with her about Toby, and Isaie steered me to the side as a few critics began to encircle the exhibit to look at Olivia’s work. He led me around to some exhibits he knew the artists of, though towards the middle of the room he stopped at one specific exhibit, his hand tightening around mine.

A tall, lanky male was stood chatting with one of the students who definitely had stars in his eyes; his hair was a black mess with no real style behind it to the point that looking at him made me cringe. Compared to all the others I knew from Isaie’s crowd, his style was a bit lacking, a low necked gray shirt covering his torso, so low it was showing the outline of the camera tattoo covering his chest, with a chequered shirt over the top rolled up to his elbows and tight jeans on his lower half.

I could feel Isaie stiffening when the unknown male flashed the student a smile before his gaze rested on Isaie. The way my lover took a step back screamed the need for space and avoidance as he tried to lead me to another exhibit, making me realise this guy was the real reason he’d wanted me here.

“Well, Isaie, I didn’t expect to see you here.”

“Darius....hi,” Isaie said softly, rolling his lips as he tried to avoid meeting my gaze let alone Darius’.

I swallowed the moment that name came from between his lips but managed to keep the sense of fear and possessiveness from appearing on my face to just that of curiosity.

“And this must be the new Toy Boy.” Darius grinned, turning his attention to me as he looked me over.

“This is my boyfriend, Ianto. Ianto, this is Darius Grayson, a visiting photographer from London.”

He didn’t include ‘my ex’ but it still seemed to echo in my ear, along with everything Dixie and the others had said last weekend about their relationship.

“Nice to meet you,” I said with a small smile, though Darius’ gaze immediately turned back to Isaie.

“I’m guessing Jules told you I was here?” Darius asked, causing Isaie to swallow and nod as my gaze turned to the ground, reliving the pale expression on Isaie’s face that night. No wonder the others hadn’t told me.

“Maybe I should go get us some drinks?” I said softly, trying to edge away from the two but Isaie’s hand tightened pleadingly around my own to get me to stop, like he didn’t trust himself if he was left alone with his ex.

I saw Darius frown at the gesture, like he thought Isaie would jump at the opportunity, he obviously didn’t take the time really know him, did he? Especially after how he seems to love fucking Isaie’s boyfriends.

“Please stay, Ianto,” Isaie whispered, causing me to nod and brush my fingers reassuringly over his knuckles.

I didn’t pay attention to what they were saying, to how long Darius would be in town....or how he’d broke up with Lachlan after finding him fucking a student librarian...just kept my gaze on the exhibits around us. But it didn’t stop me picking up on the tension in Isaie’s body, how he continued to try and edge away as though hoping Darius would pick up on the hint and leave him alone.

Finally we were given a lucky break when a naive student reporter asked to interview Darius and Darius seemed pretty happy to agree, as I led Isaie out the exhibition hall towards his office.

I closed the door behind us and let him sit down in a chair as he tried to come back from whatever bad place Darius had put him into.

“Hey, you ok?” I whispered, watching him bury his face in his hands while his elbows rested on his thighs.

He shook his head as his fingers rubbed his eyes.

I pressed a soft kiss to his lips which he quickly responded to, pulling me into his lap and making each kiss as deep as the last.

“Hey.....it’s ok,” I whispered, pulling back when we needed air and hugging him to me.

“It’s not. You don’t know about Darius...and me...”

“Yeah I do. The others told me last weekend at Jules’ party,” I whispered, kissing his forehead as he buried his face in my neck.

“Those assholes, I told them not to.”

“I can be very persistent where you’re concerned.”

He gave a small smile and nodded.

“So you haven’t seen him since Lachlan?” I asked.

I watched him bite his lip and knew that wasn’t true.

“When?”

“When I went to London for those exhibits last year, after we slept together for the second time. They were still together; don’t get me wrong...but...”

“Darius has such a hold on you, doesn’t he?” I asked.

He nodded and sighed.

“How long is he staying?”

“A few months. He said he might be doing some freelancing, teaching the photography students while Professor Prichard is on bereavement leave.”

I rubbed my forehead as the bad feeling in my stomach seemed to grow.

“So you’ll be seeing each other a lot huh?”

“Yeah....but I promise nothing will happen between us, Ianto.”

I bit my lip and nodded but he knew I didn’t believe it.

“Hey....I love you. You, not him. I stopped loving Darius years ago.”

“Then why do you still sleep with him?”

“I can’t explain it.”

I slid off his lap and began to pace the office, not knowing what else I could possibly say. I did love him too, so much, but I wasn’t sure I could trust him with Darius after all I’d heard...and meeting him face to face seemed to make it so much worse.

“Ianto...I promise,” he murmured against the skin of my neck as he wrapped his arms around me from behind.

“I know you won’t. It’s just him I’m not so sure of.”

He nodded and nipped at the skin of my neck reassuringly before a buzz in the otherwise silent room pulled his attention to his pocket.

“Is it Darius?” I asked, keeping my back to him.

“No. It’s my eldest sister, Menir, getting back to me about taking you to dinner at hers. She and the Mrs. are free this weekend, if that’s ok with you?” he asked, his gaze lingering on the small of my back.

It was still a big move, which made my heart sink in my stomach at the mere thought, bigger than I’d ever thought of before. But with Darius back in the picture, I wanted to show him how serious I was. That I loved Isaie....and nothing was going to make me not want to be with him.

“Ianto?” his voice shook with uncertainty like he could sense my doubt.

“This weekend’s fine with me,” I whispered.

I felt his arm rest around my waist as he pressed a deep kiss of thanks and love on my lips, soon detouring over my neck as he texted a reply to his sister. But once it clicked closed, he threw his phone across the room and I was on my back over his desk with my shirt unbuttoned before it even hit the floor.

~~~
I hadn’t expected Isaie’s sister to be what she was, A little bit taller than him, short wavy brown hair in a ponytail, with her skin tanned like she had come back from a holiday recently, yet her figure was like a female version of his. She was dressed in a Sweater and tight jeans and hugged Isaie like he lived on the other side of the world instead of a few miles away.

“Wow, Isa, he is a looker,” she grinned, pulling away from her brother and fixing her gaze on me.

“Yan, this is my elder sister Menir....Meni, this is Ianto.”

“Come in before you freeze to death.” Menir smiled, moving from the doorway to let us both in.

The place definitely put ours to shame and I’m sure Isaie could read my thought as he rolled his eyes and whispered, “She’s a high paid attorney’s PA,” in my ear.

“I heard that, Isaie. Paige has gone to pick up Amaya from a friend’s place, why don’t you two help me with the prep?” she asked, narrowing her eyes playfully at my lover before dragging us both into the kitchen as Isaie called her Mam, making her hit him with a tea towel.

I took to setting the table while the two siblings whispered amongst themselves about me on the other side of the counter. I could practically feel their gazes burning into my figure as I leaned over to reposition a place mat. I heard the front door open and a female voice call Menir’s name.

Menir sighed and gave Isaie a look to continue with the cheese he was grating before passing me on the way into the lounge.

“So...what’s her verdict?” I asked, deserting the impeccably made table and wrapping my arms around his waist, causing a grin to light up his profile.

“Excellent first impression. She thinks you’re good for me. Not bad considering you’ve been here fifteen minutes and haven’t as of yet said a word,” he said teasingly, sticking his tongue out as he turned his head and met my lips in a soft kiss, though soon his curse ruined the moment as he grated his finger, causing me to roll my eyes and guide him by the wrist to the sink.

“So who are Paige and Amaya?” I asked curiously as I watched his watered down blood flow down the drain.

“Paige is Meni’s wife...they got married a few years ago in Portugal and Amaya is Paige’s daughter...my niece. Paige had her before she came out of the closet...and had pretty much been a single mam till she met Meni,” Isaie said distractedly as his free hand rummaged through the nearest drawers in grabbing distance for plasters.

“I didn’t know Menir was gay...”

“Yeah, I forgot to mention it...though in honesty I’ve known for so long it’s just another family fact really. I mostly keep away from them except for when it’s Amaya’s birthday.”

“Any other homosexual siblings I should look out for just in case?” I asked teasingly as I wrapped a paper towel around his finger once he found the plasters.

“Not that I’ve been made aware of. Though in my mind they’re too young for boyfriends, let alone girlfriends,” he said, watching me as I wrapped a plaster around the wound after drying his finger.

“How old are they?”

“Nineteen and sixteen. Siwan has been at Cambridge for the past couple of years...and Rhosyn is about two years away from finishing high school.”

“So you’re the over protective older brother?” I asked, throwing the bloody paper towel in the bin.

“Yeah....I kinda have to be, there isn’t a lot of choice,” he said softly, wrapping his arms around my waist and pressing a kiss to thanks to my forehead before catching my lips in a deeper kiss, his hands grazing up and down the small of my back to keep me closer.

~~~
While the two of us had been murmuring and kissing amongst ourselves, at some point a young brunette appeared in the kitchen doorway, watching us, though it took me a while to realise after years of being out of practice at being able to tell when Mica or David was eavesdropping on a conversation me and Rhiannon were having. I turned to look in the doorway as Isaie put the bowl of cheese on the table. The girl tilted her head at me, like she was reading something in my eyes that my soul was unintentionally letting slip, quickly making me break the gaze as Isaie appeared causing a bright smile on her face, a squeal from between her lips as she threw herself at her uncle.

“’Maya! Hey, princess,” Isaie smiled, picking her up and hugging her close, causing me to see the other side of him which he rarely showed, the side that would make a great father; the closest I had come to seeing it was when we were together.

“Uncle Isa! Where have you been?” Amaya asked, hitting him on the chest as she playfully scolded him, making me grin. Even if she wasn’t biologically Menir’s she had obviously picked up some of her personality traits.

“Whoa, no violence, princess. I told you last time I was here that I was seeing someone and might not be around so much.” Isaie smiled, pressing a kiss to her cheek.

“Is that him?” Amaya asked, squinting over her shoulder at me.

“Yes....Maya, this is Ianto. Ianto, this is my niece Amaya,” Isaie said, shifting closer to me as I met Amaya’s gaze; her head was rested against her uncle’s shoulder with her face moulded to the contours of his neck and cheek as she look at me, her uncle’s boyfriend. If the concept of two men being together confused her it didn’t show on her face. Though with two mothers at least she could accept it was possible.

“Nice to finally meet you, Amaya. Your Uncle Isa couldn’t stop telling me about you.” I smiled, watching Isaie’s gaze out the corner of his eye.

“He does that sometimes,” Amaya nodded, brushing her long brown hair out her face, “Do you have a niece, Ianto?”

I paused and was about to answer when Menir reappeared with a redheaded woman whose mind seemed to be somewhere else as she nearly walked into the table, causing the cutlery to clatter.

Menir bit her lip and steered her wife to the nearest chair as though she had hoped that tonight would be different.

“Mam, is mummy ok?” Amaya asked, wriggling in Isaie’s arms until he put her down and she approached Menir.

“She’s fine, baby. Just tired from work. Why don’t you go wash up for dinner, huh? It should be nearly done.” Menir smiled, pressing a kiss to her daughter’s forehead.

Amaya nodded uncertainly before leaving the room, Menir’s smile leaving with it.

Isaie quickly steered me back to the kitchen though it didn’t stop me noticing that something in the atmosphere felt wrong.

“What’s going on?” I whispered as Isaie directed both our gazes out the kitchen window but it didn’t stop me catching their reflections.

“Paige has a slight drug problem. She didn’t when they first met but now it just seems to get worse every time I’m here,” Isaie murmured.

“And Amaya doesn’t know?”

“She’s six, Ianto. She’s way too young to be told all the dodgy details. Doesn’t mean she can’t sense that something is wrong.”

“They tried rehab?”

“No, though I wish they would. Meni refuses since they can’t afford it, but I’m beginning to think I should have made serious threats.” Isaie sighed.

“What threats?”

“Last times I came here I found Paige high on cocaine while looking after Amaya alone. I told both of them if it wasn’t sorted the next time I came over I’d call social services. Looks to me like nothing’s really changed.”

“What do you have in mind?” I asked uncertainly.

Isaie met my gaze and bit his lip like he knew it was a bit much to ask.

“Come on, Isa, I know you have a plan. Just tell me.”

“I take Amaya off their hands until they can sort this.”

My eyes widened, that was definitely the last thing I’d been expecting. Pay for the rehab for her, sure, maybe even take Paige himself, but this was a level I wasn’t so sure about.

“I know it’s a bit much to ask of you too, Yan, I mean our work hours are crazy and we don’t exactly have much room but I can’t send her to Mam because she doesn’t know and I promised Meni I wouldn’t tell," Isaie said with a small smile.

“No, I get why, really I do and if it’s that important to you I’m right behind you.”

“Thanks, I knew there was another reason I love you, Mr. Jones.” Isaie smiled, pressing a kiss to my lips. “I’ll tell them after dinner so there isn’t a riot while Maya’s around.”

I smiled and let Isaie lead me back towards the table; I just hoped this didn’t blow up in our faces.

~~~
After dinner, when Amaya was in bed and Paige was doing the dishwasher to make up for her performance, I shied away so Isaie could talk to Menir alone. Admittedly she was pissed at the idea and the two ended up having a hushed shouting match in the living room so Amaya didn’t hear and Paige didn’t get stressed.

“Meni, it can’t go on like this. I mean it! Amaya needs a safe, stable childhood and environment to grow up in, but with Paige high most of the time this is a logical approach so the two of you can deal with this.”

“By taking our daughter away?!”

“Take Paige to rehab, let me pay, and I’ll look after Amaya while you’re gone, otherwise Amaya stays with me and Ianto permanently until further notice,” Isaie said firmly.

“You have no right to do this! Things are fine...”

“I’m both her godfather and her uncle, I have every right! I refuse to believe things are fine since I saw Paige nearly walk into that table.”

Defeated, Menir sunk into the nearest chair, Isaie sitting on the chair arm and wrapping his arms around her as they continued the rest of the conversation quietly, leaving me to return to the dining room to wait. Finally the two reappeared, Menir with a brochure and cheque in her hands and her face streaked with tears while Isaie began to gather Amaya’s toys.

Paige immediately began to notice and dropped a plate on the floor, murmuring ‘no’ repeatedly as she sunk to the floor. Immediately Menir went to her side, hushing her as I exchanged unsure looks with Isaie who gestured towards the stairs with his head.

I reluctantly went upstairs to Amaya’s room, a pink night light giving the room a sweet, innocent glow. I bit my lip as I turned the main light on and grabbed the nightlight from the socket to put in the first bag I found which I began to pack while Amaya woke.

“Ianto, what’s going on?” she asked sleepily, sitting up with a teddy clutched under one arm while the other hand rubbed her eyes.

“You’re coming to stay with me and your uncle Isa for a while. Can you help me pack and grab what you need for school?” I asked, pushing her school uniform into the duffel bag.

“Is this because of what’s wrong with mummy?” Amaya asked, pushing her feet into her sneakers, causing me to pause in mid action.

“Just a little. Your mam and mum are going on a trip for a few months but they will be back,” I said reassuringly, dropping the duffel bag on the bed and sitting beside her.

“Promise?” Amaya asked timidly.

“I promise. Now let’s finish packing before your uncle Isa gets impatient..” I smiled, brushing her messy hair from her eyes before sliding off the bed.

Fifteen minutes passed before Isaie appeared with the toys he’d gathered to see me and Amaya trying to stuff both her tutu and gymnastic uniform into the top of the duffel bag.

“Ok, while I wrestle this closed, see if you need anything else, yeah?” I asked, flashing a smile at Isaie when I spotted him in the doorway.

“Actually, Maya, Mam and Mum want to say their goodbyes. We’ll be down soon,” Isaie said, steering her away from the toy chest, he could probably tell as well as I could that the bag was mostly filled with more toys than she probably needed.

“Ok,” Amaya smiled, kissing my cheek before disappearing downstairs.

“She really seems to like you,” Isaie said with a raised eyebrow, throwing the toys in his arms on to the bed and wrapping his arms around my waist.

“Why do you sound so surprised? Doesn’t she normally like your boyfriends?” I asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Not really. I think I spoil her way too much so that she doesn’t think anyone is good enough for me. Until now that is.” Isaie grinned, kissing my neck until I turned in his arms and kissed him softly.

“Which is good, I’m assuming?”

“Very good. She can be a little hell raiser when she wants to be.”

“So how are Menir and Paige dealing?”

“I’ve booked Paige into PCP in Luton and got Menir a room at a three and a half star hotel for a few months. She’ll email me the details of the programme when she knows it. Also she’s assured me we don’t have to bother with taking Maya to and from school, she’s got a couple of friends who do the drive from Cardiff to Swansea during the week so they’ll be able to take her. We’ll just to have to text them to ask.”

“Which leaves her after school clubs.”

“We’ll work on that at home as well as her room and a much needed shopping list.”

“Good thing we’re so organised or I might be freaking out right now,” I smirked.

“Same here. Ok, let’s grab her stuff and Maya and go home. It’s way past her bed time, let alone ours.”

“You’re starting to sound like a natural father already.”

~~~
While helping me baby sit Amaya one night, a month into her stay with us, Tosh told me how Owen had finally managed to win her over again with a lot of promises and assurance that he would never do it again because he knew how precious she was. But even as she said those words I could tell how uncertain she was that he would keep his word, that she was still filled with doubt and a lack of trust. It probably wasn’t intentional on her part but it showed.

I waited until Amaya had gone to change for bed for the night before asking her about it. My colleague and best friend gave me a small smile in return.

“It’s hard not to, Ianto. He’s done all of this breaking promises before to the point where I just don’t know if I can trust him let alone if I can go through this relationship without my heart taking another battering.”

I could see her point. Since Darius came into mine and Isaie’s life it was like I was practically counting the seconds until Isaie called it quits between us despite the fact he repeatedly told me he loved me and nothing was going on between them anymore than friendship. I wanted to believe him, really I did, but something about his ex didn’t bode well with me at all and it wasn’t just the history I’d heard from the others at Jules’ welcome back party. Not that I could tell Isaie that of course.

Tosh could probably read my thoughts from my expression as she put her hand on mine and pulled me out of them.

“Thinking about Darius and Isaie?” she asked softly, looking over my shoulder to make sure Amaya hadn’t reappeared and heard something that Menir would probably kill me for.

“It’s hard not to. They’re out together every night...while I stay home and look after Amaya. He denies there is anything going on, but....”

“...but you can feel that something is,” she finished, causing me to nod.

“I know it won’t make your situation or your feelings any better, Ianto, but I know Isaie loves you. Whatever he feels for Darius obviously pales in comparison to what he feels for you.”

“How do you figure that?”

“He comes home to you, after all is said and done that means something,” she said soothingly, looking in the kitchen doorway and stiffening, causing me to look over my shoulder and see Amaya leaned against the frame in a nightie, sipping a glass of milk.

“I’ll just go make more tea, Ianto,” Tosh said, getting up and leaving me to deal with the questions of my lover’s niece.

“Is Darius back again?” Amaya asked, putting her glass on the coffee table amongst mine and Tosh’s mugs once it was empty before climbing into my lap. Her face was filled with so much disapproval at the mention of his name it was hard to believe it was coming from a child.

“Yeah, he’s here to see your uncle Isa,” I said with a faked smile that she could obviously see through as she tilted her head at me.

“I don’t like him....” she said simply, braiding her hair over her shoulder as her legs swung back and forth against my thigh. “...and you don’t seem to either.”

“That’s not true, ‘Maya,” I said in firm but forced denial as I handed her a hair tie she’d left before and watched her wrap it around the bottom of the plait.

“It is. Darius always messes things up with uncle Isa. Robs him, gets him in trouble with work...and destroys his relationships,” she said plainly.

“Amaya, neither of us can stop your uncle from talking to or seeing Darius. You know as well as I do what he’s like.” I sighed in resignation, wrapping my arms around her and pressing a kiss to her forehead.

“I know....but I also know how much it’s hurting you, Ianto,” she whispered, burying her face in my neck as she hugged me, causing me to meet Tosh’s gaze over the child’s shoulder as I hugged her back.

“I’ll be ok, Amaya. As long as I have you and your uncle in my life...I’ll be ok,” I promised softly.

I just wished I could be so sure that that would be all it took to make my life complete.

Chapter Text

One day, a couple of weeks later, after Tosh had left to go to Owen’s, I finished the clean up at the Hub of the day’s biggest mess and went to the flat early to make sure Amaya was actually doing her homework before I took her to ballet, since Isaie had a meeting. But as I walked into the apartment I saw Isaie and Darius on the couch in a rather compromising position and froze, my heart plummeting into my stomach as Isaie pulled back once he spotted me.

“Ianto...I....”

“Amaya, you better be ready for ballet,” I called, ignoring my guilty looking lover and his smug looking ex and walking towards her room.

“I am! Just a second!” she called back as I heard her shoving some books and spare shoes into her bag, leaving me to hover in the doorway with my back to Isaie.

“Ianto....It’s not what you think,” Isaie whispered, his hands rested on my waist though they slid off when I tensed, like he knew nothing he could say at that moment would make up for what I’d just seen him doing. Though before I could stop myself I was looking him up and down like I couldn’t believe he thought I was so stupid, but Amaya appeared before I could tell him what I thought of him, which was probably for the best. I just needed a few hours to think this through rationally before I said something I regretted.

“Ianto?” she said timidly, causing me to turn my gaze on her and press a smile on my lips even though it felt as fake as hell.

“Come on, I’ll treat you to a milkshake before class so you can finish your homework,” I said, taking her bag from her and hovering awkwardly as she hugged Isaie, whispering something in his ear before letting me take her hand and lead her out the door.

Whatever she had said to him seemed to shake him up even more than my reaction to seeing him and Darius as he ran his fingers through his hair as he turned back to look at his ex before I shut the door behind us, not wanting to see any more.

We drove to the city centre in silence, though I could feel her gaze on me every so often like she expected me to cry about what I saw, and god how I wanted to, but I refused to in front of her. Soon we reached McDonalds and parked up before hurrying through the cold into the warmth.I ordered and we settled in a booth near the counter, Amaya continuing her homework while I kept my gaze on the table. It wasn’t until our drinks came that she spoke with knowledge in her tone that always surprised me when she used it, like she was an old woman in a child’s body.

“What did uncle Isa do?” she asked, pausing from a math puzzle to stir the straw around in her milkshake.

“Nothing,” I denied.

The look she gave me as she turned back to her maths told me she really didn’t believe me and wouldn’t let it go until I told her a simplified version of the truth, which was a hard thing to consider for a six year old.

“Remember what you told me about Darius’ effect on your uncle?” I asked, toying with my tea bag.

Her nose screwed up at the mention of the home wrecker as she nodded.

“You obviously know your uncle very well because you were right,” I said absent-mindedly.

She sighed and rolled her eyes as she took a sip from her milkshake.

“I had a feeling,” she murmured, her gaze moving swiftly back across her maths book.

“Just don’t tell him I told you....it’ll only get me in trouble.”

She nodded understandingly, her gaze on her maths as she used her eraser to get rid of a mistake.

I finished my tea and watched her finish her homework, including helping her practise her vocabulary for the next day, leaving us with just enough time to get her to ballet. While she practised a few steps in succession with the rest of the class, I hovered at the side with the other parents and let my mind drift.

I knew there was probably a reason Isaie had let himself be sucked in by that leech again but at the same time. how could I attempt to excuse it as nothing when my heart felt like it was battered and bruised? The scene from the apartment refused to leave my eyes and it hurt more than anything.

I felt a hand on my arm and looked up to see a guy hovering beside me with a smile on his face.

“Hey, which one’s yours?” he asked, as I quickly looked back towards the group of girls.

“The brunette at the end....you?”

“The blonde in the middle.”

I nodded in acknowledgment and leaned back against the wall.

“I haven’t seen you around here before.”

“Usually my partner brings her.”

His smile faded at the information and I gave him a knowing but discouraging look which made him walk away.

I sighed and my gaze locked with Amaya’s and I practically prayed for a call from work so I wouldn’t have the chance to properly confront Isaie when I got home.

It didn’t take long for the class to finish; I picked up Amaya’s bag from the bench as she slipped her coat on and pushed her trainers on.

“Who was that guy you were talking to?” she asked as I led her out to the parking lot.

“No-one.”

~~~~
We arrived home to find Isaie sat alone on the couch, his gaze on his laptop surrounded by paperwork and a few text books. I handed Amaya her bag and gestured with a jerk of the head for her to change in her room while I talked to her uncle alone.

“How was ballet?” Isaie asked Amaya, sighing when she ignored him and went straight to her room.

I walked into our bedroom while pulling my tie from my shirt’s collar, hearing Isaie put his laptop down and get up to follow me. I slipped out of my shoes and sat on the bed, waiting for him to appear, which he did with an unsure look on his face like he expected me to throw something at him.

“Ianto...”

“I can’t believe I saw you do that...let alone that you would try to brush it off as nothing,” I murmured, throwing my jacket and tie on to the window seat.

“I don’t know what came over me.”

“Don’t lie to me, Isaie. You knew exactly what you were doing,” I said, rolling my eyes. “Am I really that unattractive that you have to lie to me because you want to be alone with your ex?”

“It’s not like that! You know I love you more than anything!”

“Do I? Since you found out he’d come back to Cardiff you haven’t touched me ONCE! You can say the words until you’re blue in the face but until you prove it what else am I supposed to think?” I snapped, sliding off the bed when Amaya called out to me.

I left him in the room alone, pacing back and forth, as I walked to Amaya’s room; she was sat amongst the covers, clutching her teddy. I put a smile on my face for her as I kissed her forehead.

“Try not to be so hard on him. He really does love you,” she whispered as she lay down while I pulled the covers over her.

“I know and I love him too. But at the moment, Maya, I don’t know if I can believe him.”

“You aren’t leaving!” she squeaked with big brown eyes as she sat upright and clung to me.

“No, I won’t leave you or him anytime soon, I promise,” I whispered, squeezing her before guiding her back onto the mattress.

She smiled sleepily, like my words had soothed her fears, and snuggled up to the pillow.

But as I watched her I knew I couldn’t stay in that apartment, not even for her benefit while Darius was around. I couldn’t keep a smile on my face and pretend I was happy to play second string when Isaie’s attention was obviously on someone else. We were supposed to be together and until he could realise that, maybe it was for the best.

I sighed and turned away from her room, closing the door behind me and reluctantly going to our room. He was still there, dressed for bed and sitting amongst the covers but there was no sign of his laptop, like he was waiting for me to come back. I raked my fingers through my hair before making myself walk in, his gaze immediately meeting mine.

“Why didn’t you say something before?” he asked as I began to undress.

“You were never around long enough,” I said softly, throwing my waistcoat to one side.

“Still, it obviously bothers you a lot,” he said behind me.

I shrugged and heard the bed shift as he slid off it, his arms resting on my waist as I paused from undoing my shirt.

“Yeah, well....I think for now I should move out,” I said softly, feeling him stiffen behind me at the words.

“What?”

“I said, I think I should move back to my own apartment.”

“Please tell me this isn’t just because of Darius,” he murmured, the warmth of his arms leaving my skin as he pulled away in shock.

“I can’t just pretend to be happy when he’s here. Not when I’m the one taking care of your niece while you’re with him. I know it sounds selfish, but until he’s gone....and I know where we stand, I don’t want to be here,” I said softly, throwing my shirt to one side and picking up a t-shirt.

“I don’t want to lose you because of him, Ianto. Please don’t even consider it,” he whispered as I finished changing and gathered a blanket from the top of the closet.

“I’ve told you what I want and why, but I know you won’t stop seeing him until he’s gone back to wherever he’s from despite whatever you say. So I’ll save you the grief,” I murmured, grabbing the pillow from my side of the bed and trying to leave when his hand grabbed my shoulder.

“Don’t!”

“I’ll sleep on the couch tonight and be gone before you get back from work tomorrow,” I murmured, shrugging his hand off and leaving the room.

His gaze remained on me as I moved his things on to the coffee table before curling up on the couch with my back to his doorway.

In a way I could tell I was being over the top to get his attention, but I’d rather lose him this way than because I caught him in an even worse situation with Darius. I just hoped Isaie wouldn’t hate me for it, maybe we’d even get back together when we realised what we’d be losing. Hell, my heart was already aching at not being in the same bed as him. I sighed in the darkness as I heard the click of the bedside lamp in our...no, his room.

~~~
The next morning Amaya woke me with her usual clatter of cutlery and bowls and I made myself get up to supervise, despite my back killing me. She flashed me a bright smile as she sat at the counter, but it was a dimmer smile than normal, like she had seen me on the couch and knew what it meant.

I put on the coffee as she babbled about what she was doing for the rest of the day, my gaze avoiding Isaie’s when he appeared, looking like hell. Amaya didn’t ignore Isaie this time but kept her gaze on her cereal.

“You done, Amaya?” he asked as I poured myself a cup of coffee, putting his empty cup beside the machine while sitting at the counter, watching Amaya down her last mouthful of cornflakes before sliding off her stool.

“Yep. I’ll get ready before my ride comes, she said angelically before disappearing to her room, leaving us alone.

Isaie put her empty bowl and spoon into the sink before pouring his coffee. Neither of us said anything but I could feel him taking the odd glance at me like he wanted to tell me to stay. I just wasn’t sure my heart could take the strain and pain if I did.

Finally the horn sounded for Amaya’s ride and I picked up her bag from the counter, stuffing her lunch and snack in as she appeared with her books. She took the bag from me and kissed us both on the cheek before disappearing out the door. Our faked smiles vanished and I put my cup in the sink, once empty, beside her bowl and went to Isaie’s room to change, though he followed and hovered in the doorway.

“Ianto, can we please talk about what you said last night before we go to work?” he asked, causing me to pause at the closet.

“What’s there to talk about?” I asked, looking at him over my shoulder.

“I love you, Ianto, Darius will never replace you in my life, so please stay.”

“I love you too, but there will always be doubt in my mind if I stay while he’s around,” I sighed, turning around to face him.

He licked his lips and ran his fingers through his hair as I pulled out one suit and flicked through my pile of shirts.

“How about if I promise not to see him again?” He was definitely getting desperate.

“It won’t make a difference. Maybe this is just the way it had to be for us, a way to help us see if our relationship can stand all obstacles.”

“What about Maya?”

“Don’t try to guilt trip me. She’s your niece and I’m sure Dixie and Moira will baby sit if you need them to.”

“It’s not about babysitting, Ianto! She loves you! Just as much as I do.”

“I know and I love the both of you more than anything.” I sighed.

“Then don’t go.”

I bit my lip when I heard my cell phone ring with the work ring tone. Perfect timing, thank god.

“I’ve got to get this. I’ll be moved out before you get back and if you’re still insistent, we’ll talk at mine while Maya’s at Gymnastics,” I said, grabbing my phone from the dresser and hurrying into the bathroom.

“Jones.”

“Ianto, where are you? You were supposed to be here half an hour ago.”

“I know, Gwen, just some trouble at home. I’ll be there in half an hour. Text me co-ordinates if you need me for fieldwork, otherwise the cafe across the Plass makes reasonable coffee.”

“Ok...see you soon.”

I clicked the phone closed and set it down on the counter, sighing as I rested my hands either side of the basin, my head hung and eyes closed.

This was so the last thing I needed on top of everything else.

~~~
I appeared at the Hub after blocking out Isaie’s other attempts to get me to stay so we could sort this out. We’d still set to meet at mine that night, which I wasn’t looking forward to since Isaie knew exactly what buttons to push to make me give in. If worse came to worst I could probably stay at Tosh’s to avoid him while I got my bearings back. I set to work with the coffees and gave out everyone’s cups before disappearing into the archives, hoping to be there uninterrupted for the rest of the day. Unfortunately it didn’t save me from the others, like it normally did.

Gwen appeared first, using an excuse for an old file to try and talk to me, following me through the shelves as I searched for said file. Obviously Isaie had tried to get her involved which didn’t improve my mood at all. She left when I shoved the file into her hand and walked away, though when I didn’t hear her leave I looked over my shoulder and saw her return the file to where I’d got it from, she obviously didn’t need it at all.

Tosh was the next; she knew better than to use an excuse like Gwen and just appeared at lunch with sandwiches when she would usually have been with Owen in the autopsy bay. I told her everything that happened and the flinch on her face said it all as she sat on the edge of my desk.

“So you want to move out till Darius is gone and Isaie keeps refusing to let you?” she asked simply, swinging her legs back and forth as she played with her piece of sushi while I downed a piece of my sandwich.

“Pretty much. I can’t live with the constant worry and anxiety that he’s cheating on me, Tosh,” I sighed.

“Which I get, really I do. But are you sure breaking up with him will fix that? Even if Darius leaves you’ll still be worried he’ll cheat on you with someone else. Isn’t it better to try and talk it out now?”

“I don’t know. How can I tell the person I love that I have insecurity issues?” I asked, picking my sandwich apart absent-mindedly.

“You are only human, Ianto, there’s nothing wrong with that. Besides, maybe it would make you feel better to talk about it,” she said softly.

I gave her a small smile but still managed to convince her (and Owen) to go to Isaie’s and grab all my stuff before he came back from work or Amaya from school. I knew Amaya would hate me for lying to her, but I couldn’t let her experience a relationship falling apart before her very eyes, especially when that relationship was the only stable thing she had in her life at the moment.

After Tosh came a very fragile Jack who really hadn’t said much to me since he met Isaie. He mostly hovered around the archives as though he wanted to say something but couldn’t find the words.

“Can I help you, Jack?” I asked after he was still there three hours later, pretending to read a file.

“I heard a rumour going around the Hub that you and Isaie have called it quits,” he said, putting the file to one side, shoving his hands into his pockets and standing on the other side of my desk.

“Things never stay a secret for long around here, do they?” I asked.

“You ok?” he asked, tilting his head.

“Not really. I just wish I was home in bed and this was all some dream,” I sighed.

“I know the feeling. Look, why don’t you stay at the Hub tonight? Watch a few movies and drink some scotch with me...it might make you feel better.”

“Maybe another night. Unfortunately I need to be sober tonight,” I said, getting up and putting my blazer and coat on.

He nodded and flashed a small, uncertain smile as he watched me leave.

I arrived at my apartment and sighed at the layer of dust covering everything; all my things from Isaie’s sat on the couch.

I spent a while putting everything away and making it feel more like a home than a storage facility, when I heard the hesitant knock at the door announcing Isaie’s arrival.

I bit my lip as I brushed the last of the dust from my hands on my jeans and answered it to see him stood there, still in his work clothes, his laptop bag over one shoulder but no Maya, who he’d probably dropped off at Gymnastics on the way over. I let him in and watched him hover as I sat on the couch, my legs hugged to my chest and chin on my knees. He sat beside me, after putting his laptop bag in the free chair.

“So, you’re really moved out then,” he said softly as he rested his hand on mine, lacing our fingers together like he’d used to in the beginning.

“Yeah...why postpone the inevitable?” I murmured.

“I didn’t want this, Ianto. All I’ve ever wanted is you.”

“But you still kissed him, pushed me and your niece away and god knows what else.”

“He means nothing to me compared to before. Not compared to you. He just keeps pushing me to like he used to...’

“And you let him,” I said simply, watching him look down and bite his lips.

“Please move back. I’ll make it right, I promise.”

“He’s always going to tempt you, Isa...always. Maybe you should get the forbidden sin over with and come back to me when you’ve got it out of your system.”

“Don’t say that.”

“Why not? Your body obviously wants it.”

“But my heart and soul don’t,” he murmured as he edged closer to me, our gazes meeting.

“And what do they want? Me?” I choked out as his free hand brushed my cheek.

“They always want you. I always want you, Ianto, don’t make us both miserable by doing this,” he murmured, guiding my face off my knees and pressing a kiss to my lips that gradually deepened, neither of us wanting to pull back since it was the first expression of affection we’d shared in what felt like months.

Finally he pulled back when breathing became an issue but his thumb continued to trace my bottom lip like he needed the contact.

I looked away from his eyes and swallowed to keep back the tears that were building in the back of my eyes and throat.

“I think you should go,” I croaked.

“Ianto.”

“No. We need this. One month apart and we’ll see. If you still haven’t given in to him I’ll know everything you say is true. If you have...well....”

“Please don’t say this, Ianto.”

“I know where you are if I need you. We’ll meet again at yours a month to the night, ok?” I whispered.

Reluctantly he nodded and pushed himself to his feet. I buried my face in my thighs as I heard him pick up his bag and leave.

Part of me knew doing this was for the best, but it didn’t stop the dread in my stomach building. A lot could happen in a month...all of which could mean me losing Isaie for good.

Oh god. I just hoped I knew what I was doing.

Chapter Text

Once our separation period started it was hard for me to be alone. I seemed to withdraw in on myself; like Isaie had been the one keeping me out of my shell and without him everything was dull; even work, which I relied on heavily to keep me going, didn’t help.

Of course Tosh was the first person I told the next morning and she could see how much the decision was hurting me as we hovered around the kitchenette out of reach of both Jack and Gwen’s ears.

“I’m so sorry, Ianto,” she whispered, pulling me into a hug.

“I’m just feeling so much dread right now, Tosh. What if he does actually sleep with Darius? How can I stay with him knowing that?” I asked.

“He won’t, Ianto, I promise. He obviously loves you if he didn’t want to do this in the first place.”

“But what if he DOES?” I murmured into her shoulder.

“You’ll come to me for a good cry and we’ll go from there a day at a time,” she whispered reassuringly.

I nodded and swallowed as Owen called out for his coffee, causing Tosh to sigh and pick up both their cups from the tray.

“God knows I love Owen, but he can be so insensitive,” she said, moving towards the door.

“It’s ok, it is my job. I should probably be getting back to work anyway,” I sighed, brushing the few stray tears away from my eyes and picking up my tray.

“We’ll talk about this more at lunch, ok?” she asked, watching me nod before she left.

I took a while to compose myself before walking out to see Tosh hissing at Owen with a glare.

I gave a small smile and put Gwen’s mug down before going up to Jack’s office. He was hovering on the gangway and opened the door for me, waiting until I was through the doorway before following me inside. I put the tray down on his desk and watched him as he circled the desk to get to me.

“How are you, Ianto?” he asked, causing me to pause from putting his cup down to meet his gaze.

“I’m good, sir, you?” I asked, hoping he didn’t catch the hitch in my voice which had always given my feelings away to him before.

“I’ve been better. Though I’d probably feel a bit better if you considered my offer.”

“To stay in the Hub with you one night? It’s a bad idea, Jack, you’re still mentally scarred after what happened and well, I wouldn’t be much company wise at the moment,” I said softly, watching him take a sip of his coffee, his gaze never leaving my face.

“I find that hard to believe. Besides, I hear you and Isaie are finally over.”

“And of course I’d want to sleep with my boss because of that! Jack, we’ve talked about this....you know I love you, just not in the same way,” I sighed, sitting down.

“It’s just something to think about if you get lonely and want the company,” he said simply, but even with him toning down the pheromones it was obvious what he was thinking.

“I’ll be sure to keep that in mind, sir,” I said, picking up the tray and my coffee to leave the office.

“Check in with me later about where we are in terms of the filing?” Jack asked as I hovered near the door.

“Will do. Any preference for what you want for lunch, sir?”

“I’ll let you know before you order.”

I nodded and left to start the day’s filing.

~~~~

Me and Tosh sat in the cafe me and Isaie had met at before everything between us got crazy, just when Jack had died and we thought he wasn’t coming back; the nostalgia was unbearable.

“Jack tried to talk me into old habits,” I said, my gaze on the depths of my latte while Tosh ate her second half of her sandwich.

“I expected he would when he found out. As bad it sounds, he does miss human contact, especially with you, after what happened and maybe he just wants the chance to be with you again.”

“And I do want that chance. But after I put Isaie’s priorities first after he first came back, I promised him I’d never do it again.”

“But you and Isaie aren’t together anymore.”

“I know, but if he doesn’t sleep with Darius and I sleep with Jack, that makes me the worst kind of hypocrite. No way would Isaie and I get back together then.”

“I know, but what if he does and you don’t?”

“I just don’t want to think about that right now.”

She nodded and I turned my gaze to my untouched lunch when I heard the door to the cafe open and felt a pair of familiar eyes on my back. Tosh seemed to feel them too and looked in the direction of the owner, biting her lip when she realised our suspicions were right.

“Ianto!” a girl’s voice squealed, causing me to bite my lip as Amaya appeared at my side, uniform-less.

“Maya, aren’t you supposed to be at school?” I asked, meeting Isaie’s bloodshot gaze over her head.

“Uncle Isa forgot to set my alarm last night so he said we could have the day off,” Amaya smiled though I knew she wanted to ask why I’d moved out when I promised her I wouldn’t leave them.

“Maya, let’s leave Ianto and Tosh alone, huh?” Isaie asked, resting his hand on her head like he wanted to steer her to another table, though it caused her to frown as she looked at me.

“No, it’s ok, why don’t I help Amaya order?” Tosh smiled, getting up and offering Amaya her hand which she took.

“Thanks, Toshiko,” Isaie said weakly, sliding into her seat as Tosh led Amaya to the counter, distracting her with desserts while I picked at my sandwich under his gaze.

“You forgot to set her alarm?” I asked softly, watching him lick his lips uncertainly.

“I was distracted after I came back from yours.”

“So you haven’t been to work either?”

He shook his head as he played with a bracelet around his wrist.

“Isaie, you can’t do this for the next month,” I said softly, resting my hand on his and brushing my thumb back and forth over the back.

“I don’t want to do this at all, Ianto,” he whispered, stopping for a moment when I put my finger over his lips before continuing, “I’ve forgotten how to function without you.”

“I know, so have I...but we need to, at least for Maya’s sake. I can still watch her if you need to, but not if the reason is him.”

“Moira has already agreed to take her to her studio after school with Alice.”

“Still, I know how much she misses me and she’s kind of grown on me,” I said with a small smile.

“She was asking questions about where you’d gone last night. I didn’t have the heart to tell her the truth, I know how much she hates Darius...I don’t want her hating me as well for making you leave,” he sighed.

“I could always tell her something to numb it a little. It may not completely fix the problem but at least she’ll still know I’m in her life if she needs me.”

“I’d really appreciate it. She’s really missing Meni and Paige at the moment, if she finds out we’ve spilt up, even if it’s only temporary, I don’t know what she’ll do.”

“Well why don’t you consider letting her stay with your middle sister until we sort this out?” I asked, resting my hand on his.

“Siwan? I don’t know. She’s pretty close with Mam and would probably tell her there’s something going on. Besides, Meni would kill me if she found out I sent Amaya away to one of our siblings who isn’t in the loop.”

“I suppose, just something to think about if you need a breather and I’m working,” I said, taking a sip of coffee.

Amaya appeared at our side with Tosh, holding a vanilla slice and a milkshake, looking between us like she knew we were talking about her.

“Come on, Maya, we should probably go home so I can at least attempt to do some work,” Isaie said, sliding out of Tosh’s seat.

“Can’t we stay here with Tosh and Ianto?” Amaya asked, looking at me pleadingly.

“Sorry, princess, I’m sure they have to go back to work soon anyway,” Isaie said, looking at me for help.

“Your uncle’s right, Maya,” I said, taking her food and putting it on the table before helping her up into my lap. “Me and Tosh are on our lunch break, but how about at the weekend you come and stay at mine so we can catch up?”

I met Isaie’s gaze for the go ahead and he gave a small smile of appreciation and a nod before I looked back at his niece.

“Ok...then you can tell me why you’ve moved out,” Amaya said indignantly, crossing her arms over her chest.

How did I know she was going to do that?

“Amaya,” Isaie said in a warning tone which made her shoulders slump and a look of misery appear on her face as she looked at me.

“I’ll tell you as much as your uncle will let me. I promise,” I said, pressing a kiss to her forehead.

She smiled and hugged me around the neck before sliding out my lap as Isaie picked up her food. I watched him restrain the urge to kiss my lips or cheek like he usually did, settling for flashing me a smile filled with despair as he handed Amaya her milkshake and steered her out of the cafe, the cement block on my heart at his absence in my life getting heavier with every step between us.

~~~

The rest of the week was lonely, I kept myself distanced from Jack, who seemed to be gaining more of his confidence at the knowledge I was single, so I wasn’t tempted to go to the Hub and pick up where we left off. I’d often go to Tosh’s for dinner when she and Owen weren’t going out, and though she tried to distract me with movies and takeaways, my body still felt hollow without Isaie beside me, waiting for me at home or in my bed. Several times I nearly picked up the phone to tell him how much I hated this and didn’t want to do it anymore, but something inside told me if I stayed strong I would be rewarded no matter how miserable we were apart.

Amaya did come over on Friday night till Sunday with an overnight bag and homework; Isaie had hovered in the door like the sight of me was one that he was beginning to treasure and the dry taste in my mouth screamed of how I just wanted nothing more than to kiss him.

“Ianto, where’s the DVD player?” Maya called, causing me to be pulled back to reality and take the bag Isaie was offering me filled with takeaways.

“Under the TV in the lounge, why?” I asked, putting the food on the coffee table before turning back to meet Isaie’s gaze.

“Uncle Isa helped me pick out some DVDs he thought you might not have seen yet,” Maya smiled, putting a bag beside the takeaway and standing beside me.

“That’s great, why don’t you say goodbye to your uncle and we’ll eat?” I asked, looking down at her.

She smiled and approached Isaie, hugging him when he crouched in front of her, the two kissing each other on the cheek before Isaie got up, his gaze lingering on me like he desperately craved the same touch from me.

“I’ll make sure she does her homework before you come pick her up,” I promised softly, lacing our fingers together in between us.

“Just text me when she’s ready to go, call me if anything happens, yeah?” he asked, giving my hand a squeeze before pulling away and starting the walk down the stairs, leaving me to bite my lip as I leaned against the door frame to watch his retreating back.

“Ianto?”

I pulled back to close the door when I heard Maya speak and flashed her a small smile as I picked up the food and led the way into the kitchen.

*~*

Once we were both filled with Chinese and laid on the couch watching an old Disney movie I hadn’t seen since I was young, I felt her hand slide into mine.

“Ianto?”

“Yeah, Maya? You ready to call it a night?” I asked, looking at where she was laid on my chest staring at me.

“No, do you think you could tell me what happened between you and Uncle Isa?” she asked, causing me to sigh and press pause on the remote.

“Remember when I told you that I know your uncle loves me but I don’t know if I can believe him?” I asked, brushing her hair out her face.

I felt her nod and swallowed.

“Your uncle wanted me to stay when I wasn’t sure I could believe that he felt anything for me with Darius around. So I moved out and we’re temporarily separated,” I said gently.

“But you told me you wouldn’t leave us,” she said.

“And I haven’t. In the technical sense of the word I may have moved away, but I also would have severed all ties and refused to see or speak to either of you, Maya. But you two are such a big part of my life that I can’t make myself do it. I love you both and nothing will change that.”

“Then why are you two still separated?”

“We need some breathing room, that’s all. A chance for Darius to be pushed out of our lives. For your uncle to decide what he really wants and for me to be a part of your lives while not being the reliable partner that I thought your uncle was using me as. In a month things will be back to the way things were. I promise,” I said reassuringly.

She nodded like she understood, but her eyes screamed she didn’t like it. That she didn’t want to have to wait a month for us to be back under the same roof or for Darius to be out of their lives and I knew the feeling. I’d been the one who pushed for this and even I didn’t like it at the moment.

“Now, you ready for ice cream or you just want to skip to another movie?” I asked, changing the subject quickly as I gathered up our plates and went to put them in the sink.

I heard her call out in agreement for ice cream but bit my lip as I stared out the small kitchen window of the apartment as the doubt began to nag at the back of my mind. What if we never got past this and the only times I’d see Isaie would be when he came to pick up Amaya? I didn’t want to lose him but it seemed like it was too late for my common sense to come knocking.

I heard Amaya call out for her ice cream and swallowed as I picked up the bowls I’d filled while deep in that pit of hell called thought before walking back into the lounge. I just hoped my smile could last the rest of the night.

~~~

After Isaie came to pick Amaya up the next day, I laid on the couch trying to distract myself with a mental to do list but nothing was coming up except cleaning and filing I should be doing at the Hub. But at the moment I wasn’t really sure that would be a good idea. With Jack there I’d probably end up in his bunk without me even noticing. But what else could I do that didn’t involve seeing an ex or calling an ex to come back so I could call our arrangement off, just so he could be back in my bed again? I knew Tosh and Owen had a date that night and Gwen was doing wedding planning with Rhys, so unless I wanted to branch out to Isaie’s friends I might as well go to bed early.

Still, maybe getting some advice from someone who knew Isaie better than I did...without going to his family who I still didn’t know that well, might help me a little. I pushed myself upright and pulled my cell phone from the coffee table and looked through my phonebook until I found the number I was looking for.

Moira and Dixie had invited me and Isaie over for dinner once...and it had been a pleasure to see they had such a good life and a beautiful daughter who they adopted a couple of years ago. Maybe they would be able to give me the number of someone who could give me some answers without a snide remark which I knew would come from Darius or Dante.

I pressed call and leaned back after turning the TV down, restraining the urge to get up and make a cup of tea just for the sake of having something to do.

“Hello?” Moira’s Irish accent said from the other end, bringing me back to reality.

“Hey, Moira, it’s Ianto.”

“Isa’s Ianto?”

“Er...yeah...I was wondering if you would be able to have some free time to talk to me...or maybe give me a number for one of Isaie’s friends who is?” I asked.

“Dixie’s taken Alice out for new school shoes and I’m just doing some sketches for concepts tomorrow...so unless you’re ok with me putting you on speaker phone...”

“No, that would be fine...I just really need someone to talk to right now.”

“Ok, Ianto...let me just grab my cuppa and I’ll be a sec.”

I swallowed and hoped I was doing the right thing by getting Isaie’s friends involved when he probably hadn’t even told them we’d broken up...let alone that the reason was his ex who everyone seemed to hate with a passion. Or that was the impression I’d got from an overly possessive Amaya.

“Ok, I’m back...what’s the trouble, Ianto? You don’t sound too good,” Moira said, I heard her pressing a button on a mechanical pencil before scribbling something on paper.

“Well, me and Isaie are having some problems at the moment.”

“Darius related problems by any chance?” she asked, pausing in mid-scribble.

“He’s a part of it.”

“What’s Darius done, Ianto? You can tell me. I’d be more than happy to slap him for you the next time I see him in town.”

“I caught Isaie and Darius kissing.”

The scribbling came to an abrupt halt and I heard her cursing as she rubbed something out.

“He always does that when Isa is with someone... like he likes to know he still has control over him.”

“I guessed as much...but it wasn’t just that. Isaie has been spending all hours with Darius while I stayed home and looked after Amaya, it didn’t seem fair.”

“Well you aren’t in his life to be a nanny, Ianto. I can see where you’re coming from there.”

“So we’re kind of on a temporary separation at the moment.”

“What?”

“I called it off until Isaie knew what he wanted....and who he wanted it from.”

“Oh sweetheart...are you sure that wasn’t a bit too extreme? I mean, I know Isaie loves you but Darius has been a close friend of his since art school.”

“I know they have a history...but I’m leaving it up to Isaie to make up his mind about how he feels for me. If he wants to be with Darius and has fucked him again I’ll accept it’s over. It’ll hurt like hell, but I’ll accept it.”

“I don’t think it’ll come to that, Ianto.”

“How can you be so sure?”

“I may not have gone to school with Darius, Dixie and Isaie but I’ve seen the way Isaie watches you when you’re talking to us. He’s never looked that happy with Darius, he withdraws in on himself and lets Darius be the one in control. Isaie really loves you, Ianto...and if it were me in the position you were in I wouldn’t let anything tear me away from Isaie,” Moira said, I could practically hear her chewing the end of her pencil.

“I don’t want for this to be the way things are, Moira. But if I’d just kept my mouth shut how long would it have been before Isaie noticed there was something wrong?” I asked, glaring at an annoying TV ad.

“I admit Isaie can be pretty dense when he’s around Darius, but I assure you...Isaie is going to fight for you, Ianto. I can feel it my bones.”

“Thanks, Moira,” I said weakly.

“Sure...now I have to finish a concept sketch before dinner so is it ok if I go? Or do you have more angst?” she asked.

“No, I’m good. Thanks for listening, Moira.”

“No problem, Ianto. Make sure to call me when things are all good with you guys again.”

I heard the tone and sighed as I threw the phone to one side, my heart not any further up my chest but at least I knew I wasn’t overly confident on Isaie coming back. I turned the TV off and stared at the ceiling as I tried not to obsessively count the hours, minutes and seconds before I saw Isaie again.

Chapter Text

By the third week it was getting close to unbearable, to the point where I was looking for any excuse to be around him. I’d gone to the university multiple times, sometimes with Moira when she needed the inspiration for her new collection, or alone where I would just sneak into his lectures and sit at the back, watching him talk animatedly about a subject he was obviously passionate about. Even though his eyes looked dead to the world, there was still a smile on his lips. Either way I’m sure Moira could tell how pathetic and desperate I was becoming, that she was on the very brink of telling me to just call it off if I wanted to keep my sanity.

Finally I jumped on Dixie’s offer to go with her and Alice for a walk on the wharf. Rhiannon had pushed Mica into my care for the day while she went to deal with her latest David induced parent teacher meeting. It was a relief and gave me someone else to focus on which always seemed to help me out my rut.

The two of us walked there around my extended lunch hour since the day was pretty slow, Mica and Alice ran ahead as they babbled about things I hadn’t heard of while me and Dixie followed, finally stopping at the other end of the wharf and sitting on a bench while they ate their ice creams despite the cold weather.

“So how are you coping?” Dixie asked, brushing a stray strand of turquoise hair out her eyes as her pen moved of its own accord across the page rested on her lap, another intricate tattoo which would end up on someone’s skin.

“I’m sure your other half has told you how pathetic I’m becoming,” I said, burying my cold hands in my coat pockets.

“She has...but Moira wants you two back together and Darius drowned to death in the sea, so you can understand why I’ve learned not to pay attention to what she says too much.” She shrugged, scribbling a star in the eye of the pin up she was drawing.

“Yeah, I see your point. I am missing him a lot but can’t make myself call him just for that kind of comfort...I’d seem too much like a stalker.” I sighed, tracing the edge of the pavement with the toe of my shoe.

“You have it bad, boy....that much is obvious. Which is why I’m hoping you’ll forgive me.” Dixie smiled, folding her drawing up and shoving it in her pocket as she slid off the bench while a party of three approached us. My eyes widened as I saw Isaie and Amaya with a very happy looking Moira.

“You planned this?”

“Nope, blame the Mrs. But for now, me, Moira and Alice are off to McDonalds so you two can talk alone...well, present company excluded of course.” She smiled, picking up Alice so she rested on her hip before the three disappeared towards the Plass.

Amaya didn’t seem bothered at the deceit behind the situation as she jumped into my lap to give me a hug as Mica appeared with a questioning look and ice cream around her mouth.

“Hey, Maya, this is my niece Mica. Why don’t you two play for a bit while I talk to your uncle?” I asked, wiping Mica’s face with a tissue before kissing her on the forehead to put her at ease as Amaya slid off me.

“Ok.” Amaya grinned, leading Mica back in the direction of the Plass in a game of tag, as me and Isaie brought up the rear at a slow pace.

“So...how have you been?” I asked, pushing my hands back in my pockets to ignore the urge to slip my hand into his.

“I’ve been better,” Isaie said with a weak smile, his gaze on the pavement.

“How’s Paige and Menir at the moment?” I asked, hoping that topic might be better, but from the look on his face it was a bad direction to take.

“Still in a rough patch. Paige hates it so much; that combined with the withdrawal and she threatened Meni with a divorce if she didn’t get her out. Empty threat of course, but it hurt Menir a lot to call her bluff. Thankfully they’re fixing it in couples therapy at the rehab centre.”

“That’s good,” I said softly.

“But Maya is missing them so much. Well, you too...we both are.”

“Not much longer,” I assured him with a smile as his hand slid into my pocket and our fingers weaved together.

“I know...I just want this to be over and you back at my place...in my bed.”

“A heavenly picture which will soon become a reality.”

He nodded and turned his gaze to rest on the girls who were trying to avoid the cracks in the pavement.

“Oh, I forgot to mention Gwen handed over our wedding invitation yesterday...I tried to tell her about our situation but she refused to listen.”

“Oh...she’s set a date?”

“A couple of months or so. Doesn’t seem that long ago since we were having their engagement party with Bryn and Delilah.”

“I’m guessing she’s sent Bryn’s?”

“Actually she handed that to me too...since she doesn’t know his address and we’ve been too busy at work so I haven’t been able to mail it.”

“I can do it. I have a while free with students on exams now so I’ll probably see him and Delilah at some point.”

“I’ll remember to grab it before I see you next.”

Isaie nodded and bit his lip as he looked at our interlaced hands that had slid out of my pocket while we were talking, as though it physically pained him for us to have to part them again.

As we were getting closer towards the Plass I spotted a familiar figure sat on one of the benches by the entrance to the tourist office; he was watching Isaie possessively in a way that made my stomach sink and my body freeze in mid step. I felt Isaie follow my gaze before looking back at me nervously like he knew the thoughts running through my mind.

“What’s he doing here?” I asked coldly in a way that made Isaie swallow and shake his head.

“I...I honestly don’t know. I’ve been keeping my distance from him since we broke up, Ianto, you have to believe me,” he whispered.

“Then why don’t I believe you?” I asked, pulling my fingers from his grip and shoving my hand back in my pocket as Amaya looked up between us, confused.

“No. Ianto I honestly haven’t done anything with him. I haven’t even been out with him since we broke up. Ask Dix and Moira or Dante, I swear I’m telling the truth.”

I swallowed as I shook my head and led Mica down the Plass by the hand, even as Isaie called after me. I knew it was the end...that despite the front Isaie had tried to put on that he was happy to see me and treasured every time we were together, he had still slept with Darius again. In turn he’d made up his mind that I wasn’t who he wanted and that was fine by me, why should I cling on to something that was never going to happen?

I helped Mica into her car seat as I heard feet running towards me, not looking up even when she was buckled in and the door was closed to save her from the spectacle I never wanted her to see of her uncle.

“Ianto, don’t go. Please. Everything was going so well between us, it almost felt like...”

“...like we were before he walked back into your life?” I asked, crossing my arms over my chest.

“Yes. That’s what I want, Ianto, I want us to be the couple I wanted to be a part of since I met you and nothing more.”

“Then why the hell is Darius still here? Why is he sitting on that bench looking like he owns you or knows something that I don’t?”

“I don’t know! The last time I spoke to him, that night, he was moving in with Kade, a new boyfriend from the university. I didn’t think it was a permanent thing, knowing him the way I do.”

“It looks like it is to me.”

“Ianto, would you stop being so irrational and paranoid and listen to me! Please.”

I raised an eyebrow questioningly at his tone and heard him sigh as he looked down where his hands were playing with each other above his stomach, index finger and thumb picking at the other thumb nail.

“There’s no guarantee it’ll make much difference, but go for it,” I said, leaning against the side of the car, taking a glance inside to see Mica drifting to sleep.

“I love you, Ianto. You are the only person whose life means more to me than any member of my family, the person whose presence makes my heart skip a beat and I never want to lose that. I know I was taking you for granted, assuming you would look after Maya and being so irresponsible that I led you to believe I don’t care. I know I have a lot of ground to make up, but please...Ianto I’m begging you, don’t consider making things even with someone else to hurt me. I will still love you no matter what, but if I know that guy he will get more than he bargained for by so much as touching you,” he said, his gaze rested on my face the whole time he was speaking but his face looked down as the silence echoed in our ears, like he realised what he had just said.

“I need to take Mica home,” I said simply, turning my back on him as I walked around the other side of the car.

“I’ll see you next Friday?” he asked timidly, edging towards me and causing me to stop at the grille of the car and look at him.

“I don’t know, maybe. Call me next Thursday and we’ll see,” I murmured, before turning back to the car.

“Sure. Bye, Ianto.”

I waited until I heard his boots walking away towards the Plass before sighing and opening the car door. All I wanted was to bang my forehead against the steering wheel until I either saw stars or got some sense into my head, but neither was likely when I had Mica dozing beside me and Rhiannon would probably want her back soon. Just as well considering I had agreed to do the night rift-watch with Jack and I needed to come up with some tactics to keep him off me.

~~~

I arrived back at the estate to practically hear my sister ranting at David; the parent teacher meeting obviously hadn’t gone well. I hoisted Mica up on to my hip and grabbed her car seat and bag with my free hand before closing the door with my other hip. I managed to lock the car by pressing the button and began the walk inside, my ears ringing not just with Isaie’s explanation but Rhiannon’s threats to my nephew.

I sighed and handed Mica to Johnny when he opened the door so I could put her things down and push the keys in my pocket before dropping or breaking something. I then followed my brother in law inside and saw him and Mica sit on the couch, leaving me to hover until David appeared from the kitchen and Rhi had calmed down.

“Hey, Rhi...want a cuppa? You look like you could do with one,” I said with a smile, pulling my coat off and putting it on the back of a chair before moving towards the counter.

“Hey, Ianto, that would be great,” she said weakly, brushing a stray piece of her fringe out of her eyes.

I managed to make us both a cup and find her stash of chocolate biscuits before she noticed there was something wrong.

“What’s making you the doting little brother all of a sudden?” she asked, taking a bite out of her chocolate digestive as I stared into the depths of my tea.

“Nothing, I just have the day off and thought I’d help you out. No big deal.” I shrugged though from the glare she gave me, one I’ve used on Jack many times, I knew she wasn’t buying it.

“Out with it, Ianto.”

“I just...I’m having a bit of a bad time with Isaie, that’s all.”

“Mr. Perfect? I find that hard to believe.”

“Don’t call him that. It’s true...since his ex came back to town I’ve been unreasonable and not able to feel like I trust him.”

“Why’s that? The ex isn’t a she are they?” she asked, looking down as I glared at her.

“No, Isaie is actually the gay one, remember?”

“Ok...so the ex is trying to steal Isaie from you?”

“Yes. He’s manipulative and it’s got to such a point that I called our relationship off for a month.”

“What?! Ianto Jones! Are you an arrogant asshole or what? Isaie loves you and you want to dump him because of his ex?!”

“There’s more to it than that, Rhi,” I whined, feeling like my young self when she was trying to drag me to school and all I wanted to do was hide in bed so the other kids didn’t see the bruises from the night before.

“Explain it then,” she said, raising an eyebrow while taking a bite out of her next biscuit.

I let everything come out my lips without even thinking about what I was saying but she still didn’t look convinced when I dared to look at her again.

“Look, from what I know of Isaie he obviously feels bad at the fact you caught him in a moment of weakness with his ex. But don’t hold it against him, ok? Who knows how long it’ll take before another one of him walks into your life when you work all hours and don’t even have time for your family,” she said.

I merely nodded and downed my tea, hugging her after I got to my feet and muttering an excuse about work when she tried to make me stay for dinner. I really wasn’t in that kind of mood today. Yet the alternative was going back to the Hub to a sexually frustrated Jack, but at the moment maybe that was what I needed, for Isaie to feel the kind of hurt that I had felt from when I saw him and Darius together. It’s low I admit, but maybe I just needed an excuse to see what I was missing out on.

~~~

When I arrived at the Hub after changing and picking up the takeaway for the night, I found Jack sat in his office doing paperwork, which had become something he did to feel useful when it was a bad day for him. I sighed and put the takeaway to one side to feed Myfanwy and the weevils. When I came back Jack was still at it but there was not as much tension in his shoulders like usual when he knew I was around.

“Sir.”

He looked up from the paperwork and his gaze seemed to linger over my form like it had been so long since he saw me in something besides a suit and he liked it all over again.

“Ianto, I thought you took the night off,” he said, leaning back in his chair as I hovered in the doorway.

“I did, but then I remembered your offer, well, that and I picked the short straw when it came to the night shift,” I said slyly.

He gave a laugh but signed off the last paper on his pile before getting up and following me out of his office.

We spent most of the night watching DVDs and only checking the rift when the alarm sounded, which was rarely but just enough to not interrupt the plot while reminding me of my plan. However, mix that with alcohol and it pretty much ensured that something was going to happen between us. In a way I knew using Jack was really low and I knew Tosh would be pissed despite her being the one who suggested it in the first place.

I shifted closer to him on the couch and felt him tense a little, like he was still anxious despite the confident front he put on. I laced my fingers with his reassuringly and felt him ease uncertainly, just a little.

“Ianto, what are you doing?” he murmured, his gaze meeting mine like he was waiting for it to break whatever spell was cast over me, but all it did was make me more determined, like I was the old me, wanting to get something out of him....a place in Torchwood and somewhere to keep Lisa safe while being practically ready to jump him for reasons I couldn’t explain.

But unlike every other time, I was the one who acted first, the one who closed the gap and brushed my lips against his tentatively, pulling back just a little but it was the push he needed to bring the spark back to his eyes and pull me back to him in the blink of an eye.

~X~

After we’d been physical I couldn’t help but stare at the ceiling and ask myself what the hell I’d just done. I knew I was still pissed at Darius hanging around Isaie like a bad smell, but I knew Isaie would be deeply pissed when he found out about me and Jack, despite me promising him I would never do anything like that with him. After the way he was so edgy when he learned Jack was my boss, not to mention the one I was looking after. I heard a beep and the roll of the cog door, closely followed by two people talking. I assumed it would be Tosh and Owen until I heard a familiar Welsh accent causing me to freeze; who the hell was stupid enough to let Isaie in the Hub?

“Ianto! Isaie’s....here.” Gwen trailed off when she spotted me and Jack. I should have known, thanks for fucking up my relationship once and for all, Gwen!

“Er...hi...Isaie,” I said weakly, attempting to cover myself with Jack’s shirt which seemed to make things worse.

“IANTO, what the hell!?”

His voice actually broke as he edged towards us, Gwen grabbing him by the forearm at the last minute in case he decided to take a swing at Jack.

“What are you doing here?” I asked, sliding off the couch and pulling on my underwear before edging towards him.

“I wanted to talk to you after what happened yesterday, but instead I find you here...half dressed with someone who you claimed was only your boss and nothing else!”

“I can explain that!”

“I told you not to go to someone else to get revenge on me, Ianto.”

“Revenge? Is that what this was?” Jack asked, the look of betrayal on his face as he sat upright, his eyes wide with the warning signs of a panic attack. Damnit, now was not the time for this!

“No, Jack, of course not!” I said soothingly.

“Then what the hell am I? Somebody to keep your bed warm while he was gone god knows where?” Isaie asked, his voice filled with tears.

“No, Isaie!” I called, watching helplessly as he backed towards the door like he couldn’t stand to see the interaction between me and Jack anymore before running out.

“Ianto!” Gwen yelled, causing me to look back at Jack who was now in full panic attack mode, DAMNIT!

“Gwen, stay with Jack and call Owen. Remember the protocol we discussed and I’ll be back in half an hour, tops,” I said, pulling my pants on.

“You can’t leave me with him like this!” Gwen squealed, her voice filled with hysterics even as she tried to be brave and encourage Jack to breathe normally.

“I need to talk to Isaie right now, Gwen, just keep Jack as calm as you can. Grab the sedative and oxygen machine if need be, Owen should only take ten minutes to get here,” I said, pulling my jacket on over Jack’s shirt on my torso and slipping my feet into my shoes.

“Ianto!” she screamed after me as I ran out the cog door.

I took the lift and ran out the tourist office, managing to catch Isaie in the middle of the Plass. I dragged him by the wrist on to the invisible slab, despite his objection to let him go and the tears flowing down his cheeks.

“Hey, look at me,” I whispered, brushing my hand over his cheek which he quickly pulled away from.

“Don’t touch me,” he sobbed, causing my heart to feel like it was being constricted in an invisible fist.

“Isa, please...”

“Do you know how many times I’ven cheated on? How many guys have stomped all over my heart? I’ve lost count but only a couple of them are like you, Ianto...only they could break my heart so brutally.”

“Isaie, I...”

“Don’t. I told you I wasn’t with Darius and you refused to believe me, Ianto. How could you do this?!”

“Isaie, I love you, you know that.”

“Do I? Because you sure have a funny way to showing it!”

“Hey, listen to me. I was jealous of Darius, I admit it, but I didn’t want to lose you.”

“You were the one who said we should break up.”

“Which was stupid of me, I admit. All I wanted was to know where your loyalties stood, but I shouldn’t have questioned them to begin with.”

“No, you shouldn’t have. I love you, Ianto, but now I know how you feel for Jack, maybe we should extend the separation period.”

My heart sunk into my stomach as I shook my head in denial.

“Isaie, no. Don’t even think that.”

“You obviously need the time to get Jack out your system, whether with him or not.”

“Please don’t say that. I only want you and these weeks apart, even when I was with Jack, have made me realise that much.”

He shook his head as he wiped his tears with his sleeve.

“It shouldn’t have taken this to make you realise, Ianto.”

I swallowed the tears that threatened to break free from my eyes, how could I be so stupid?

He turned to step off the slab but I pulled him back to face me and kissed him desperately. I knew I probably tasted awful with morning breath and that he probably didn’t want to give in, but his response screamed that beneath the hurt was a heart that was healing just because I was close to him, because I was touching him and refusing to let what we had go so easily. He kissed back longingly, his hands on my waist and head tilted just right and I couldn’t stop the relief I felt at knowing he didn’t want it to be, or consider it, over. Finally he pulled back, his forehead rested against mine.

“I’ll see you next week?” I murmured, my fingertips brushing over his cheekbones.

He swallowed and nodded, inching away from me slowly until he’d taken the step off the pavement and was walking towards his car, his hands shoved in his pockets and head hung.

I rolled my lips and sighed as I watched him leave before turning back to the Hub in the hopes Gwen hadn’t killed Jack with neglect or just being plain overbearing.

Chapter Text

The last week passed slowly as though time was punishing me for what I had done. I spent more time at the Hub than at home to make my actions up to Jack who’d retreated back into his shell and his office. I still brought his food and papers, but he wouldn’t look at me or even smile like he remembered enough of that morning to have the ammunition to keep distance between him and me. Tosh wasn’t impressed when I told her what happened and scolded me like a child, giving me the evil eye when I pointed out it had been her idea in the first place.
Gwen tried to get back into Jack’s good books, but he still wasn’t interested in being her bit on the side and while Owen didn’t condone what I’d done in regards to Jack’s health, he did tease me about being a player until I retreated to the Archives for peace and quiet.

Isaie wasn’t answering my calls or texts, like he needed the time to come to terms with his decision on top of what I’d done and I couldn’t exactly blame him, but it did leave a black hole inside me, deeper and darker than the one I’d caused due to our separation, which I knew I was the one to blame for. So by the time Thursday came around, I was ready for it to just be over.

That morning I’d done the usual domestic chores and gone to get lunch for the others only to come back and find a sight I hadn’t pictured even in my wildest dreams.

Isaie and Jack stood in the middle of the Hub, staring each other down, fists clenched and eyes narrowed like a scene from a western; the only thing missing was the guns and cowboy hats. I restrained the urge to drop the food and stand between them while reprimanding them for being such children, but it took a lot of effort. I approached the couch to find Gwen, Owen and Tosh sat watching my boyfriend and my ex like it was a tennis match, waiting for the next move.

“Dare I ask?” I sighed, handing out the right burgers before sitting between Owen and Gwen.

“Isaie came in, went into Jack’s office guns blazing, the two came down here glaring at each other ten minutes later, they’ve been doing it ever since.” Owen shrugged, removing the salad from his burger.

“Theories anyone?”

“Fighting for your honour,” Gwen supplied.

“What?”

“Tosh’s idea, they both want you, but since they can’t split you down the middle they’re gonna fight for you.” Owen shrugged.

“Fight as in a fist fight?”

“I didn’t come up with that kind of fight specifically, but it wouldn’t surprise me,” Tosh said, taking a bite out of her burger.

“I’m betting Jack will win,” Owen said with his mouth full, pointing at the pile of twenty pound notes on the coffee table in front of us.

“Oh please, can you not put betting systems in place on our boss versus my boyfriend? This is not Vegas,” I sighed, throwing my burger on the coffee table beside the money. I seemed to have lost my appetite somewhere between coming in the Hub and finding out Jack and Isaie were going to beat each other up over me.

“Well, Jack is more experienced, plus the whole ‘can’t die’ spiel and god only knows what he’s picked up over the years,” Owen elaborated, about to wipe the ketchup from his face with his sleeve when Tosh pushed a napkin between his fingers.

“Guys, don’t,” I groaned.

“It is kind of true.” Gwen shrugged, but her gaze never left Jack and Isaie.

That seemed to be the magic words, as Jack made a move, punching Isaie in the jaw and making me cringe at the sound of cracked bone. Oh god. I could barely watch the flurry of limbs or stand the sound of groans of pain. Finally I couldn’t take it anymore and managed to wedge myself between them to make it stop.

Isaie had a black eye, a bruised cheekbone and blood flowing from the side of his mouth and his split lip, his knuckles bruised from impact with Jack’s face. Jack, by comparison, looked untouched; his nose was broken and both eyes blackening with him spitting blood on the cobbled floor every five minutes. I was definitely not looking forward to cleaning that up after all this was over.

“Guys, what the hell are you doing?” I yelled, grimacing as Isaie doubled over with the final punch in the stomach Jack had managed to throw.

“Ianto hi.” Isaie smiled through his pain as they both straightened up.

“Care to explain to me why I come back here to find my boyfriend and my boss fighting like kids in a playground?” I asked, crossing my arms over my chest.

“Well let’s just say we both want you and your boyfriend made some comments about backing off or else,” Jack said, leaning against the nearest workstation.

“Look, I’m not some damsel in distress you can win the affections of! I love you both and know I have to choose, so why don’t I just make it easier for the both of you and choose myself?” I sighed, watching Isaie struggle to stand upright with concern.

“So whose it gonna be?” Jack asked. I could feel the others on the edge of their seats as they watched the scene.

I looked between the two helplessly, my heart aching that I had to do this. I had loved Jack and some part of me still did, despite his disappearance for six months and his disorder which he refused to tell me the source of, but Isaie had long since replaced a portion of the large hole inside me while Jack was gone. Isaie now had a permanent place in my heart which seemed to be practically racing at the mere sight of him battered, bruised and bleeding due to him trying to tell Jack to back off so we could be happy together. I bit my lip, about to speak when the Rift alarm went off.

Jack didn’t even blink as Tosh appeared beside him to check the results on the computer he was beside, his gaze along with Isaie’s still locked on me.

“Owen, Gwen and Tosh, you guys go check it out.” There was no space for argument in his voice even though the others obviously wanted to see the outcome. They grabbed their stuff and left me to deal with the decision alone.

I waited until the cog door rolled closed behind them before speaking.

“Jack, you and I shared so much, you brought out another side of me before you disappeared and you tried to rekindle the flame when you came back despite your disorder. Isa, we’ve had to fight for each other multiple times and tomorrow night will be the reunion I’ve been aching for...”

I swallowed as I continued to look between them before speaking as I edged towards Isaie, “I hope you’re still up for that chance?”

He gave a half smile, half grimace, as he nearly collapsed against me. I heard Jack run up his stairs without a goodbye, watched him grab his coat and disappear out the back exit. I know I had hurt him by telling the truth.

I helped Isaie limp to the autopsy bay and up onto the gurney before tending to his wounds. I gave him a few painkillers and sat beside him, knowing even if I’d saved one heart I loved I had still broken another.

~X~

After the fight I refused to leave Isaie alone with his injuries, I’d been in enough fights in the line of duty for Torchwood to know it hurt like a bitch the morning after for someone who wasn’t used to it. I took the night and day off after finding out where Jack had disappeared to while Isaie was sleeping in the Hub. He was brooding on the roof of the office block where he and I had gone while his ex was here.

He hadn’t acknowledged I was there, merely sitting on the edge of the roof and looking out over the city like he didn’t want to talk to me or hear my reasoning for picking Isaie over him. I’d made sure to tell the others where he was when I returned and helped Isaie into my car to my place.

I wanted to call someone to take care of Amaya, but he managed to gain enough consciousness in the car to tell me that Menir and Paige had come back from Luton last weekend and taken her back to Swansea, so it was a relief.

At mine I helped him into my bed after stripping a few layers off him and making sure he downed some more painkillers. I spent most of the night laid beside him, just watching him sleeping and letting my eyes caress over the damage that had been made to his face in the fight. I barely slept a wink because I knew the fight was in part my fault. If I hadn’t slept with Jack to begin with, he wouldn’t have felt the need to prove to me that he was willing to stand up for us and get rid of any obstacles.

He woke at five am, complaining about the pain in his chest and how his face ached, which I gave him something for before going to get some breakfast. He couldn’t eat much but just seemed satisfied to watch me beside him, to assure himself it wasn’t some kind of mirage.

But after a day of doing nothing, of laying in bed and there being nothing but silence between us due to the pain, it caused him to actually articulate words. I heard something while checking my phone for any messages from work that would mean I’d have to go to the Hub and potentially deal with a Jack related issue; thank god there was none...yet.

“Ianto.”

His voice was hoarse, since all he’d done was sleep, but it was enough to pull me back to his side.

“Hey you, how are you feeling?” I asked, brushing his fringe out of his eyes softly.

“Like crap...” he croaked, pushing himself upright despite the grimace on his face.

“Ok, let me just get you some water and then I think we need to talk.” I smiled, kissing his forehead before sliding out of bed.

I appeared with a glass of water and helped him down a few mouthfuls before putting it on the dresser.

“Better?”

“Much...thanks.” He smiled, his gaze moving hungrily over my body like he missed not being in such close proximity to it.

“Whoa, down boy....there will be more than enough time for that. First we need to talk...about what the hell you were thinking yesterday,” I said, raising an eyebrow as he sighed.

“Look, I knew you had a history with Jack before I even knew who he was, Ianto. I knew part of you still loves him or else you wouldn’t have slept with him even if it was to provoke me. But yesterday all I wanted was for Jack to just gracefully step aside, to give you a proper relationship compared to the complicated one there obviously is between you. I didn’t expect him to come up with a challenge to what I’d said. So before I knew it I was hitting him...and he was saying the guy who was still standing could have you. I didn’t even consider that that wouldn’t be what you would want.”

“So you were fighting over my honour.” I sighed.

“Something like that.”

“Ok… one off a list of two things we need to talk about. The other being our agreement to meet a month after our separation and see if we can still do this,” I said, lacing my fingers with his.

He swallowed and reached for his water which I ended up leaning over him to get. Our gazes met at the close and imitate position we were in and I could still feel my heart racing in my chest at the hungry look in his eyes.

“I don’t know about you...but I still want this,” he whispered, completely ignoring the glass even as I helped him down another mouthful before putting it down.

“So do I. This month has been hell without you, Isaie, and I don’t ever want to be apart from you again.” I smiled, brushing my lips against the bruise on his cheek before kissing his lips.

It wasn’t a passionate kiss like I was used to from him, but it still seemed to express our feelings towards the other under the restraints of causing as little pain as possible in his current condition.

Once we pulled back, I felt his lips moving down my neck and collarbone like he’d missed being close that much that he needed it to make it real, but then he stopped like he’d forgotten something.

“What is it?” I whispered as he leaned back against the headboard.

“Can you get me my phone? I kinda promised someone I’d call.”

“Sure....” I said uncertainly as I slid off the bed and found the cell phone amongst his jeans.

He smiled and kissed me again once it was in his grip before clicking through his phone book and pressing call while I watched him with curiosity.

“Hey, Dante...can you hand me over to Jules? I’ll only be a sec....Yes, I swear.” He sighed.

There was silence for a while and then...

“Hey, Jules. Everything’s good again. Yeah, I know....look, I haven’t discussed it with Ianto yet but I think we might be willing to give one of them a home. Could you keep one aside?”

I gave him a completely confused look, but he put a free finger up like he’d explain all soon.

“Er...the gender doesn’t matter....how about that one that wouldn’t stop crawling towards me? Yeah, that’s fine. I’ll bring the cash...wait, you sure? Wow, thanks Jules! Yep...we’ll see you tomorrow. I owe you one. Ciao.”

I waited until he’d hung up before taking the phone and putting it to one side.

“Care to explain that to me?”

He smiled and rested his head on my shoulder as he kissed the side of my neck.

“Ok, well...over the past month or so I'd been stay with Dante and Jules on and off since I hated the silence and wanted some protection from Darius. When they first got together they brought a couple of pets together, Ramone, a white Pomeranian and Florin, a Burman cat. Florin gave birth to about eight kittens and everyone in the crowd has wanted one since they are so adorable. Dix and Moira got one for Alice, Bryn got one for Deliah and one for Mariana, even Menir wants one for Amaya who hasn’t had the joy of a pet yet. Anyway, Jules asked if I wanted one...I said maybe but only if things went well with you. So he made me promise to call if I changed my mind.”

“Wait, we’ve just got a kitten?”

“I’ll understand if you say no...aren’t a cat person or whatever, but I swear they are so adorable, Ianto you will love it.”

“...I admit it is a stage down from taking care of a child...”

“....which we did admirably well, Menir pointed out.”

“Did you tell her about our break up?”

“Only in passing, she hit me over the head and told me not to be so stupid next time.”

I laughed and watched the grin appear on his face.

“Is your landlord ok with pets?”

“He’s fine, he has like twelve Labradors or something where he lives so he doesn’t mind as long as we train it pretty quick.”

I bit my lip and nodded thoughtfully.

“So can we Ianto, please?”

I rolled my eyes, but pressed a kiss to his lips to stop his begging.

“Looks like we’re getting a cat then,” I whispered.

He nipped at the side of my neck as a thank you, causing me to giggle.

“So I’m guessing you’ve got a name for it already?” I asked as I pulled the covers over us.

“I did have one idea, I understand if you say no....”

“Let me guess, Monet?”

“How did you know?!” he grinned.

“I just know you that well. It sounds like an ok name....as long as I get to name the next pet.”

“You really think we’ll get another? Monet might be a handful.”

“I’m sure we will. But for now...let’s get some sleep so we can pick Monet up in the morning.” I smiled, pressing a kiss to his head as I rested my arm over his side, brushing my finger tips over his ribs soothingly.

~X~

After the whole Jack vs. Isaie situation, I was more than willing to just pretend it had never happened. Jack shied away from me quite a bit which was something new, but Isaie’s actions had obviously put the fear of god in him which was quite an achievement really. But then Isaie began to make phone calls which had me practically praying for not another Darius situation until Friday night a few weeks later, as we lay on the couch he mentioned something I hadn’t really expected. I mean sure, he had met Rhiannon, Johnny and the kids but I had never been exactly pushy about meeting his family. Menir, Paige and Amaya had been more than enough to last a lifetime.

“So, I was thinking maybe we go visit my Mam tomorrow,” he suggested as I stretched in his arms, causing me to pause and look at him while Monet looked at me over her shoulder disapprovingly since I dared to move.

“What?”

“You, me, meet my mother and possibly my younger sisters over dinner...” he said slowly, giving me a chance to process it. Oh god.

“You want me to meet the rest of your family?” I asked, sitting upright, Monet jumping off my lap with a hiss and flicking tail as she disappeared into the guest bedroom for some peace and quiet.

“Well yeah, I mean with Maya and Menir you’ve only met a small portion. I get it if you don’t want to though. No problem.” He smiled, pressing a kiss to my head but at the same time I could practically read in his eyes that that was what he’d been planning and setting up.

Especially since one of his sisters lived in London, for crying out loud.

“You’ve already planned it haven’t you?” I asked, biting my lip as he kept his gaze on the TV and shrugged like it was no big deal.

“It’s fine if you don’t want to. I’ll just call and cancel. Siwan won’t be in Swansea until tomorrow anyway.”

“Isaie...”

“What? I’m just saying.”

“I know what you’re saying....and you know how guilty it’s going to make me feel now.” I sighed, burying my face in his neck.

“So in other words, yes we’re going?” he asked, I could practically hear the grin in his voice.

“I suppose. Just don’t do that again, ok?”

“I promise I won’t.” He smiled, pressing a kiss to my neck and forehead.

Chapter Text

Saturday morning we made the drive to Rhiwbina where Isaie’s mother lived after making sure Moira and Dixie agreed to take care of Monet for the weekend. The house was just what I would have expected of someone from the Jacklin family, they all seemed to have taste and it was definitely no exception. It was a three-storey-townhouse, which looked like it had multiple rooms inside, yet it was also aged with ivy climbing up the dull grey walls and around, surrounded by so much land that I envied Isaie for being able to do things I never could unless I went to the park when I was younger. I felt like a pauper entering a palace since the only childhood home I’d had was about the size of a cottage.

I let Isaie lead me inside, taking in the entire decor and trying to avoid the two dogs trying to attack my ankles, which had Isaie laughing as he wrapped an arm around me to stop me kicking them.

“Word of advice, don’t kick my mother or Rhosyn’s dogs. They will hunt you down or punish you...believe me, I know,” he whispered in my ear as he led me into the lounge.

A young teenage girl was sitting parallel to a teenage boy, the two sharing iPod earphones and whispering amongst themselves on the couch, the female texting while the male had control of the music. Like Isaie she was lanky, tall and pale yet she also had an individual sense of style which I doubt even Isaie could have influenced. Yet one thing which didn’t look right was the way her arms were covered with long sleeves, like she was trying to hide something. Her hair was the same colour as Menir’s only longer and wavier, like she preferred that particular style, but her eyes were the most entrancing, made bigger by the eyeliner and mascara around them. It made her seem like she was so much older than sixteen as Isaie had told me.

“Rho, not gonna say hi and give me a reason not to throw this guy out on his ass?” Isaie asked raising an eyebrow as the girl grinned, taking her earphone out and throwing it and the phone at the boy.

“No need to threaten, Isa, geez.” She smirked, sliding off the couch and pulling him into a tight hug, leaving me to avert my gaze and not feel like a third wheel as they whispered under their breath to each other.

“You gonna tell me who he is?” Isaie asked once they pulled apart.

“I could, but I believe this weekend is about your Mr. Perfect, not mine.” Rhosyn grinned, looking me up and down out the corner of her eye.

“I’m guessing you’ve been talking to Meni.”

“Oh yeah, she’s very impressed with Mr. Jones...especially the way he helped you take care of Maya.” She nodded

“Getting off topic won’t save him the overly protective big brother talk, Rho, so just tell me.”

Rhosyn sighed, and gestured at the male to come off the couch, shoving both the phone and iPod into the pockets of his jeans as he approached us.

“Isa, this is Vida, I met him at an after school music program and we’ve been dating for six months.”

“Which after school music program?” Isaie asked, looking Vida up and down as he started to pace around him, only stopping when I wrapped my hands around his bicep to get him to stop.

“Ysgol Gymraeg Llantrisant’s.”

“Ysgol Gymraeg Llantrisant doesn’t have an after school music programme, Rho, I was there, remember? Mam may have swallowed the lie but you had better tell me the truth now.”

The young couple exchanged looks before Rhosyn rolled her eyes.

“Fine, we met at a concert in London while I was staying with Si. He actually goes to Cardiff University.”

“Which year?”

“Second.”

“Rho! We’ve talked about you dating older guys before!”

“I know, but can’t you just trust me to deal with my own mistakes? Besides, I love him,” Rhosyn said, sliding her hand into Vida’s while her gaze remained on her brother.

“You said that about the last one too.”

Rhosyn gave him the big eyes and Isaie sighed.

“Ok, fine, but if he hurts you I will track him down...I mean it,” Isaie threatened, only coming out of big brother mode when my hand slid into his.

“So where’s Si then?”

“Oh, she and Wyn are almost here, I got a text from them before.”

“And Mam is....”

“Right here overlooking the over protective big brother act I’ve missed so much.”

Both me and Isaie turned around and I let my gaze move over Mrs. Jacklin as Isaie pulled me towards her. She was a little shorter than Isaie but taller than Rhosyn, about the same height as Menir with long brown hair, naturally wavy and streaked with grey but at the moment in a tight bun on the back of her head to keep it out her eyes. Her eyes were warm and the same colour as that of her children, but they seemed to have years’ worth of bags under them from sleepless nights filled with worry, which immediately sent a sense of sympathy through me. I could only imagine what it must be like to have two grown up children and two teenagers that you couldn’t stop worrying about. Yet regardless, she looked good in a way that made it hard for me to believe she had four children.

“Wow, so you’re actually dating a guy in suits and with manners for a change, Isa. I thought your taste would never get there.” Mrs. Jacklin grinned approvingly as I offered her my hand.

“I thought it was about time I gave your advice a shot.” Isaie grinned as his mother looked me over.

“I should hope so. No use having a mother if you won’t listen to her every so often.”

“Even if I am twenty seven.”

“Age doesn’t matter to me where my only son is concerned. Now, let’s stop being rude. It’s a pleasure to finally meet you in person, Ianto. You’re all Isaie talks about.” Eirwen smiled, shaking my hand and pressing a kiss to my cheek.

“You too. Or that’s the impression I have from all the phone calls he makes.” I smiled as Isaie rested his arm around my waist.

“Yes, well Isaie has always been a bit of a mam’s boy. Still, I don’t know what I would have done without him while having to raise Siwan and Rhosyn.”

“Which reminds me, you said Meni wasn’t coming?” Isaie asked.

“No, she said something about work she needs to catch up on. Which is a shame really; Maya seems to have got such an attachment to the two of you.”

I flashed Isaie a raised eyebrow, I swear he’d said he was going to tell his mother about Paige’s drug issue and how we’d had to take care of Maya while they sorted it, but he shook his head like he knew what I was thinking. Like Menir had still sworn him to secrecy until she was ready to admit to the rest of the family that some parts of her marriage were anything but perfect.

“Now Rho, why don’t you and Vida go make us some tea before Siwan gets here? And no making out or I’ll send Isaie in there,” she teased causing Isaie to roll his eyes.

“Pat’s your guard dog, not me, Mam,” he sighed as the two teenagers left while he pulled me in the direction of the couch they’d been sitting on.

“Well I could send Pat in, but you know Sylar would probably attack him.”

“Pat? Sylar?” I murmured, looking questioningly at Isaie.

“They’re the dogs, Ianto. Patrick is mam’s guard dog since she’s usually here alone....whereas Sylar is Rho’s own personal Cerberus.”

“I heard that!” Rhosyn yelled from the kitchen.

“Doesn’t make it any less so, Rho!” Isaie grinned.

“So Isaie said you live here alone? Do you mind if I ask after his father?” I asked softly, watching Eirwen bite her lip and feeling Isaie’s hand squeeze mine.

“Brice passed away not long after Rho turned six. He was in a special unit of the British army, but something went wrong on his mission and he passed away. I didn’t know until the higher ranking officer of the unit came to tell me,” Eirwen said softly, her gaze turning towards an Urn on the mantelpiece, a familiar red beret rested on the top that made me frown as I got up and moved towards it.

I had only seen a UNIT uniform up close the couple of times Jack had persuaded me into it but what was rested on the urn was definitely a UNIT beret, which meant... I swallowed as I turned back to my lover and his mother, wanting to bite my tongue but I needed to know.

“I’m sorry but was this his?” I asked, pointing at the beret.

Eirwen nodded and took the tissue Isaie offered her, causing me to bite my lip and move back towards the couch. I wasn’t given much privacy until Eirwen and Isaie went to talk in another room, leaving me to pull out my cell phone and dial Tosh’s number; I needed to know if this was or wasn’t a mistake. That if there was a chance Isaie got caught up in Torchwood business it wouldn’t be a shock to him as much as I had thought. So much for having a normal boyfriend.

“Ianto?”

“Hey, Tosh...sorry if I’m interrupting...”

“No, it’s fine. Owen was just going to get me some coffee from the cafe across the Plass.”

I heard Owen grumble in protest but it was muted by murmuring from Tosh and the sound of a kiss before it stopped.

“I’m really sorry.”

“It’s really fine. We should be doing work anyway in case Jack makes an appearance...so what’s the reason you called?”

“I need you to run a name for me....on the system.”

“Ok, what name?”

“Brice Jacklin.”

“Is that Isaie’s father?”

“Yeah, I have a feeling he might not be as normal as I would have wished.”

“What? That’s crazy!”

“His father worked under UNIT, Tosh.”

I heard her open and close her mouth a few times before managing to find words.

“No...it can’t be. I mean Isaie’s an Arts professor....”

“Doesn’t mean his father didn’t try and edge him into our line of work...in some way or another. Can you please just look at Brice’s records?”

“Sure...but don’t jump to conclusions, Ianto. Just because his father knew about all the kinds of work Torchwood does, it doesn’t mean Isaie does.”

“I won’t...when can you get back to me?”

“As soon as possible. I’ll text before I call so I don’t catch you and Isaie in the middle of something.”

“Thanks. I owe you one.”

After calling Tosh, Isaie appeared without his mother but another woman on his heels, being reluctantly followed by the guy she was dragging along by the wrist. Ah, this must be Siwan.

Like the other female members of Isaie’s family she had long brown hair, only compared to her siblings it was straightened painstakingly. Her skin was the family pale but mostly hidden and her brown eyes were filled with determination and persistence, like Isaie when he’d been trying to get me to talk to him. Though she dressed more feminine compared to her sisters, the style was old to the point you could tell she was a university student, though the ring on her finger and the Ralph Lauren handbag hanging from the bend in her free arm screamed otherwise. I had a feeling she was the spoilt brat in the family.

“Oh no you don’t, Isaie Jacklin! Don’t you walk away from us when Wyn’s asking you something!”

“Si, I’m not in the mood for being the head of the household or accepting or rejecting marriage proposals, ok? I’ll think about it,” Isaie sighed.

He looked weary and tired, like putting up with his mother’s depressive episode on top of the drive here had taken it out of him to the point where he wished we were just back at his place, sibling free. I watched him sit on the couch before approaching the couple.

“Erm...Hi,” I murmured, Siwan’s anger transferring from her brother to me, which made Isaie open his mouth in protest, ready to reprimand her for being so rude to a guest, but it wasn’t anything I hadn’t felt before from Jack, Owen or Gwen. “Look, me and Isaie are kinda tired, he’ll give you an answer at the end of the weekend but for now I think the two of us could do with a nap.”

I offered Isaie my hand which he took gratefully while keeping my gaze locked with Siwan’s to let her know she couldn’t scare me. It was like showing a Weevil you were in charge, just keep eye contact. I let Isaie lead me out the room while Siwan began to curse under her breath to poor Wyn.

“Siwan I presume?” I murmured as I followed his lead up the stairs.

“Yeah, she’s been asking my permission to marry Wyn and walk her down the aisle for the past month and a half. But with all the things with us and Menir and Paige I haven’t been able to think about it properly.” He sighed, as what looked like a giant black fur ball ran down the opposite side of the stairs growling and barking its head off.

“You told your Mam?”

“She knows, just insists I be the one to accept or reject on behalf of the family since I’m the only male but this isn’t the 19th century, unless we’ve gone through some worm hole I don’t know about. She doesn’t need permission,” he said, leading me down the hallway and into a master bedroom where our bags sat on the window seat and a welsh terrier sat on the covers of the bed.

“Pat, off the bed!” Isaie sighed, groaning when all the dog did was tilt his head and wag his tail in a ‘butter wouldn’t melt’ way.

I let go of Isaie’s hand and managed to grab the dog and put him out in the hallway before closing the door as I heard Isaie collapse on the mattress.

His room was definitely the epitome of a teenage Isaie. Posters of artwork and prints of photos in frames covered the walls, the corkboard over the desk covered in fading polaroids. The desk was practically groaning under the weight of all the books covering it due to the lack of space in the book cases, the titles telling me they were old books from art school and teaching college he had yet to sort. His closet was hidden behind a curtain of the Monet picture I remember him saying he loved when we were at Rhiannon’s. It was like having a window into another part of him, like when I’d seen him with Amaya for the first time.

“You’re thinking too much,” Isaie murmured, his arm shielding his eyes from the sun through the window but his gaze was rested in my direction.

“Just enjoying the views and the silence.” I smiled, slid off my jacket and tie before closing the curtains and climbing onto the bed beside him.

“I know. I can’t really stand the silence when I’m here for longer than a weekend. It can drive you crazy after being in cities for years,” he murmured, resting his head on my chest, his arms around my waist to keep me close.

“I guess, and then again I spent most of my youth in council estates and houses on busy streets, so it’s refreshing to not have a headache.” I smiled.

Silence buzzed between us for a while before I heard him speak again, his tone a little sleepier like he really did need a nap.

“Thanks for dealing with Siwan for me. I really do feel like I’m getting too old for this.”

“It’s no trouble, but I wouldn’t say old,” I whispered, pressing a kiss to his lips.

“It’s true, I’m twenty seven, twenty eight next month and everything seems screwed up in my life but us. I have a depressed mother who still hasn’t got over the loss of her husband ten years later, a sister whose wife is a drug addict....”

“...Recovering drug addict.”

“...my middle sister is so eager to get married she wants it done as soon as possible despite the lack of money in the family savings, and my youngest who’s always dating guys older than her despite the fact she’s sixteen and is bound to get caught out one of these days. I should be worrying about my job and how to keep you happy, but I can’t stop worrying about them.”

“Which is understandable. They are your family and you love them, there’s nothing wrong with that.’

“But you don’t have those problems with Rhiannon and Johnny.”

“No...not the same but they do have problems. They live on a council estate, Isaie, Johnny’s on the benefit while Rhi works nights, my nephew’s a trouble maker and though Mica’s a sweetheart she’s always falling behind in school. I love them and always will, but you do have to draw the line sometimes as to how involved you get.”

He nodded thoughtfully as his eyes began to droop.

“If you do need to sleep then go for it, I’ll still be here unless one of your siblings drags me away.” I smiled, pressing a kiss to his forehead.

He curled up to me while I watched him fall asleep, brushing his hair away from his face like he really needed the contact with me at that moment to feel more at home. It was then I heard a soft knock at the door and slid off the bed to see who it was.

Rhosyn was stood in the doorway with Sylar the devil’s spawn and Patrick on leads, her gaze on the iPod in her hand.

“Hey,” I said softly, causing her to look up.

“I was hoping to talk to Isaie.”

“He’s kinda sleeping at the moment. But maybe I could fill in?” I asked, tilting my head as she looked about to disappear down the hall.

“I guess that would be ok...if you’re good with advice,” Rhosyn asked.

“Well, I’m not the best person when it comes to advice compared to your brother, but I’m sure Isaie won’t mind if I fill in just this once.” I smiled.

She nodded with a small smile and leaned against the door frame, Sylar and Patrick sitting either side of her feet watching me.

I walked back towards the bed to slip my feet into my shoes and kiss Isaie on the forehead before following Rhosyn out the door, making sure to close it so Siwan didn’t try and jump him while I was gone.

I took Patrick’s lead from Rhosyn once we reached the back door and let her lead the way around the grounds, trying not to seem too awestruck.

“So what was this advice you wanted from Isaie anyway?” I asked, once we were far enough from the house that no-one would hear.

“It’s actually about Vida,” she said, sliding one earphone out so she could hear me while tugging Sylar’s lead when the dog tried to take off to chase a bird.

“What about him?”

“He wants me to visit his parents with him, none of my other boyfriends have asked me to do that before so I’m wondering what it means.”

“He wants you to meet his parents and you’re how old?”

“Sixteen, seventeen in December.”

“Right, look, from what I remember of being a teenager, a boyfriend or girlfriend asking you to meet their family is serious. A sign they want you in their life a long time.”

“Is that why Isaie asked you home?”

I paused mid-step and saw her raise an eyebrow like she couldn’t believe I hadn’t considered that before.

“Possibly, but I can’t speak for Isaie. You might have to actually ask him his intentions.”

She nodded and turned back to look at Sylar.

“My point is, you’re a teenager, Rhosyn, you should be enjoying relationships, not fixating on it being so serious so soon. There will be more than enough time for that when you reach your twenties and thirties.”

“Like Siwan,” she murmured, leading me towards a tree near a greenhouse and sitting down.

“Hey, do you mind if I ask you something about Siwan?” I asked, sitting beside her.

“I guess.”

“Why is she so hell bent on making Isaie’s life a misery?”

She rolled her eyes but a grin appeared on her face.

“You noticed that, huh? When they were younger....like before I came along anyway, they were closer than now. Si always went to Isaie if there was a problem instead of Da, then when he got accepted to Ysgol Gymraeg Llantrisant she seemed to change, resented the fact he was leaving her behind. She never really forgave him after that so when Da died and Isa got accepted to Slade school of Fine Art, she put up a fuss and kind of went AWOL for a few months while in Europe with her boyfriend at the time. Isaie was doing exams, helping Menir and Paige and looking out for me and Mam so that she just kinda slipped out of radar. Until Mam got a call from her in Amsterdam saying she was going to get married. Isaie was fuming when Mam sent him to go get her, spent the ride back from Amsterdam to Cardiff bitching at her to get her to understand why what she had done was so serious. When they got back they weren’t speaking, Isaie moved back to London for teaching college and left Mam to get Si back on track. That’s how she ended up at Cambridge, she wanted to prove to Isaie she’s mature enough to get married, hence why she’s making a big deal out of asking him first this time.”

“Whoa, it’s really that bad huh? I thought my family relationships were a mess,” I murmured.

“Don’t get me wrong, they do love each other, they just don’t speak enough to prove it.”

I scratched Patrick behind the ears as he settled down beside me.

“So how long have you and Isaie been together?”

I dared to look at her, expecting a serious expression only to see a curious smile that put my mind at ease.

“Close to two years.”

“Wow, that’s a record for Isaie.”

“He wasn’t even together that long with Darius?”

“Oh don’t get me started on Darius. When Isaie went to London for art-school he barely spoke about anyone but Darius. Then over Christmas break he dragged Darius here to meet the family, they barely left his room for two whole weeks.”

I raised an eyebrow but knew she wasn’t finished, she had the same kind of determined look that Amaya did when she’d tried to get the truth out of me about why Isaie and I had broken up.

“They broke up for the first time on Valentine’s day the next year, Isaie came home heartbroken. But then it became an on and off thing and it was like he was on an emotional rollercoaster, happy one minute and miserable the next. Then after the new year’s incident he came home and barely spoke about it. No-one dared to mention his name or ask what had happened in case of what he would do. It was such a relief when he began to speak about you.”

“Me?”

“Oh yeah, the first night you two slept together we spent hours on the phone the morning after talking about you. He did know there was chance nothing might happen between you so soon after your ex dying, but he knew there was a spark, he loved you right from the start.”

I bit my lip as her last sentence echoed around in my head; he’d loved me from the get go and yet I’d put him through such hell with everything that happened this year.

“Just don’t let him know I told you all this. He can be quite good at the denial game when he wants to be.”

“I won’t.”

I heard Eirwen call out to Rhosyn and watched her get up.

“I think it’s about time for dinner, you might want to go check that Isaie’s up or there will be hell to pay.”

“Thanks, Rhosyn.”

“No problem, I’d say we’re about even.” She smiled, taking Patrick’s lead from me and slowly beginning the walk back to the house with me, walking slightly faster ahead.

As I was reaching the back door I felt my phone buzzing against my hip with a text and was relieved to see it was Tosh. I sent a quick reply telling her I was alone and took to walking around the front of the house so I was sitting on the front step before the ringtone echoed in my ears.

“Jones.”

“Sorry I took so long, Jack was in a bitchy mood when he saw what I was doing and tried to get me off track with some UNIT related stuff he should have done before you went away.” Tosh sighed, her chair creaking in the background as she stretched.

“So what did you find out?”

“Well, while Owen was distracting Jack with an overdue physical I managed to hack the UNIT files and look him up. Brice Jacklin was a senior officer of UNIT from about 1990 to 1997 after five years of training in the Welsh Army and one year in the SAS. He retired for a medical reason but got called back into service around the Battle of Canary Wharf. Apparently in the paperwork around that time is a paragraph that states retired officers can be called back into service in the case of a global or national threat.”

“So what happened to him?”

“I couldn’t hack that part of the file, Ianto. It was overly encrypted like someone was trying to hide something but what I did find out was that he died in the line of duty. His ashes were returned to his family along with the couple of medals he was given.”

“Ok, so what about Isaie?”

“I checked, there is no Isaie Jacklin listed in the rankings of UNIT, Torchwood One or Two. There is a chance he still has access to the UNIT files his father brought home and is actually an independent agent but we’ve met Isaie, Ianto. Owen and I think it’s hardly likely that that is what he’s doing. If he does know anything about Torchwood or UNIT it’s more a case of the rumours that circulate around, nothing malicious.”

“Ok, thanks Tosh. Call me if Jack causes you any more trouble, I’m up for giving him a strict talking to from here.”

“I doubt Isaie would appreciate that.”

“No he wouldn’t, but Jack needs a wakeup call to get him out of his mood.”

“Ok, will do. Have fun and we’ll see you Monday.”

“Thanks again, I owe you and Owen dinner for putting up with Jack.”

“I’ll be sure to let Owen know. Bye.”

~xo~

I arrived back Isaie’s room after Tosh’s call to see him sorting through his case for something to wear.

“Hey,” I smiled, kissing him before sitting on the bed to watch him change.

“Where were you? I woke up when Siwan called me for dinner and you were gone,” he asked, pulling his creased shirt over his head.

“I went for a walk with Rhosyn and the dogs, so don’t be surprised if she starts to ask you weird questions about us.” I grinned as he threw the old shirt to one side and grabbed another before sitting beside me and catching my lips with his.

“What did you talk about?” he asked, leaving the shirt forgotten in his lap as he undid my tie and a few buttons from my collar.

“Her and Vida, you and Siwan, you and me, you and Darius and you and me again.” I smiled as he undid a few more shirt buttons to kiss the skin of my chest.

“Really? Well I’ll have to remember to keep them all on a leash so they don’t let loose anything embarrassing.” He grinned against the skin of my neck.

“If you must you must, though I am curious as to how you and Darius spent a whole fortnight together alone in this room.” I smirked, causing him to groan and go bright red.

“She told you about that?”

“Not all the dirty details but she did mention it,” I murmured as he pulled his shirt on before sliding into my lap.

“Well I’m sure we could spend way longer in here together, sometime, when the house is otherwise deserted.” He smiled, brushing my fringe out of my eyes and catching my lip teasingly between his teeth as a knock came at the door.

“We’ll be down in a sec, I’m just getting changed,” he called.

I caught one more kiss before he slid away to check himself in the mirror while I removed my waistcoat. We made it downstairs after he coaxed me to change into another shirt, to see the rest of the family waiting.

Eirwen sat on the right side of the head of the table with Rhosyn beside her who was sneakily texting someone under the table. The head seat and the seat to the left were empty with Siwan and Wyn beside it.

I looked questioningly at Isaie as if asking if I really was sitting beside the sister who hated me with a flaming passion. He gave a reluctant smile and squeezed my hand before pulling out the empty left seat for me. I then watched him pause to kiss Eirwen on the cheek before sitting down. He said a little prayer in Welsh, something he rarely did at home, before we began to eat.

The atmosphere was definitely loving and filled with chatter as Siwan tried to convince Rhosyn to be her bridesmaid, her younger sister not happy at the proposition and desperately trying to get their mother to come to her defence. Eirwen and Isaie spoke though their topic was hushed while he tried to keep me reminded of his presence with his hand in mine under the table, the back of his hand brushing against my inner thigh teasingly in a way that should be forbidden at family dinners. I rarely spoke unless spoken to, a rule I’d kept since childhood in family environments, even those that were not my own, there had been way too many occasions when I was smaller of me talking too much and getting hurt for it. Yet Isaie seemed to pick up on it, like he’d spoken to Rhi when we were at dinner at hers and wanted to make me feel more at home, as he made sure the others spoke to me at some point.

By the time desert and coffee came, I could feel the fatigue of the car journey setting in but refused to excuse myself without Isaie. Isaie was now speaking to Rhosyn about school, while ignoring Siwan whining at their mother. I kept my gaze in the depths of my coffee after declining any cheesecake until I felt Isaie’s hand squeeze mine under the table to get my attention. I looked up and watched him jerk his head in the direction of the door before nodding.

“I think Ianto and I will call it a night, we’ll see you in the morning.” He smiled, getting up at the same time as me.

The murmurs of ‘goodnight’ followed us as we left the dining room, we barely spoke until we reached his room and only then when we’d changed and were curled up in his bed.

“I think that went well, don’t you?” he asked as I rolled over to meet his gaze.

“Yeah, only I don’t think it went as well as at Menir’s though.” I yawned, leaning my chin on his chest.

“Possibly, though it’s natural to be nervous to meet your lover’s parents, let alone his family,” he said, brushing his fingers over my cheeks soothingly.

“I guess, you’ll never get to experience it though, since all I have is Rhi.” I sighed.

“Yeah, but I’d say Rhi considers you her third child anyway. But I’d definitely feel the nerves if I had to meet your parents, I guarantee it,” he whispered, guiding my lips to his before wrapping his arms around me, though as he was about to turn the light off I stopped him.

“Hey, do you mind if I ask you something? It might seem a bit random...” I said, lacing my fingers with his.

“Sure, what’s on your mind.”

“When did you first know you were gay?”

He seemed to pause like he’d expected the question at the beginning when we first got together, before it became more serious but then he spoke like he knew why I was asking.

“When I was thirteen I got roped into spin the bottle at my best friend Blake’s birthday party. It was co-ed but Blake and a few guys thought it would be more fun to do single sex. If the guy I got refused, we’d be shoved in a bedroom until something happened. Needless to say I got Bryn, a year older than us but he was still as pure as newly fallen snow as far as people knew. The others teased us when Bryn refused and we got shoved into Blake’s parents’ room for the vast majority of the night.”

“Wait, so Bryn was your first kiss?”

He grinned and nodded.

“He was open-minded about the whole thing in private, still is when he has a few beers in him actually, just don’t tell Delilah.”

“So what happened?”

“Well, we kissed, made out a bit on the bed, then Blake walked in while we tried to re-dress before anyone else appeared. He made a few comments for the sake of his friends then closed the door; I was Blake’s first real kiss.”

“What?”

“Yeah, Blake was a closet case unfortunately.”

“So what happened to Blake?”

“We kind of saw each other, as kids do at that age, for a while, while Bryn maintained he was bi and moved on to the local whore. We got caught by his father in the park. They moved to Harrogate when he was old enough for high school, we kept in touch for a while but by the middle of high school it was like it had been beaten out of him. He maintained it was a phrase, nothing more, and we lost touch.”

“Wow.”

“I saw him last year in London actually with his husband Elliot. He apologized, but I haven’t gone out of my way to keep in contact with him. It’s not so easy to talk to someone who just ignored what he felt for god knows how many years.”

“Isaie, I’m sorry,” I murmured, kissing him softly.

“Don’t worry about it. I was young...It hurt like a bitch, sure, but me and Bryn were probably a more permanent thing than me and Blake anyway. Then when I reached high school I hid it till Art school.” He shrugged.

“Well you have me now.”

“I know, and being with you has definitely made up for all of that.”

Chapter Text

I felt Isaie nudge me about five to wake me up and murmured at him that it was too early, but he seemed insistent and once I opened my eyes I saw he’d opened the curtains and was looking at the sunrise. All the bags had been cleared off the window seat and he put his pillow there, but was waiting for me to get up before he added the rest of the bedding.

“Ok...but only this once because I love you,” I groaned, rubbing my eyes as I got up and let him rearrange the bedding on the window seat before he guided me back beneath the covers.

“Do you do this every time you’re home? Because if so I doubt I’ll be coming here again...the wakeup call is crappy,” I grumbled as I cuddled up to him.

“Only a few times a year. It’s a beautiful sight when you can be bothered to look.” He smiled, pressing a kiss to my head.

“I’m guessing you slept well then.” I yawned, tilting my head up so his lips caught mine again.

“Not that bad actually...Still, I wanted some excuse to wake you up,” he murmured as his lips met mine.

“Hence the sunrise...at god knows what time in the morning.”

“Technically yes.”

I sighed and let him help me up so his legs wrapped around my waist and my head rested against his chest.

“So what do you have planned for today?” I asked as the sun began to slowly rise over the forest of trees outside his window.

“Nothing really. Make some breakfast...a little TV watching with Rho...or spending all day in bed with you until we have to leave.”

“I’m liking the sound of the third option.”

“Thought you would...but I did promise Mam you’d have the chance to talk to her alone before we left, so...”

“....but that requires leaving this room.” I pouted.

“...and getting dressed, I know. I’ll make it up to you next weekend, I promise.”

“You said that last weekend when we had to take Monet to the vet for her second round of Jabs.”

“Ok, fine...breakfast, I’ll leave you and Mam to talk and then we’ll come to bed.”

“Did I ever tell you how much I love the way you bend to my will?” I grinned, opening an eye to see him laugh.

“Not once, but I’m sure I’ll hear it again sometime.” He laughed, kissing me a little deeper before we watched the sun appear before us.

After showering together, which I insisted on since Isaie was the one who got me up at an ungodly hour, we dressed and went down to breakfast. Eirwen was making pancakes like she’d long since got used to Isaie’s tendency to get up early. There was no sign of Siwan or Rhosyn as we sat at the kitchen table, but it didn’t seem to both either of them.

“Pancakes? Mam, you shouldn’t have.” Isaie grinned, kissing her cheek as he grabbed the coffee from the counter and poured us both a cup.

“I couldn’t help myself....It’ll be a secret between the three of us since your sisters are sleeping.”

“I’m guessing Wyn stayed over?” Isaie asked, a disapproving tone in his voice that made me roll my eyes.

“Isaie Jacklin, don’t be such a hypocrite!” Eirwen grinned like she knew what I was thinking.

“She’s twenty two, Mam, she shouldn’t be sleeping in the same bed as her fiancé.”

“When you were twenty two you’d more than just slept in the same bed as your boyfriends under this roof, Isaie.”

“MAM!”

I couldn’t stop the grin from spreading across my face at the look of horror on Isaie’s.

“Oh please, you think I don’t know about you bringing a few boyfriends over while I was in Cornwall with Rhosyn and your Aunt May? I’m not that out of the loop.” Eirwen laughed, picking up a plate of pancakes and putting it on the table as she pushed Isaie down into the seat beside me.

I watched Isaie and Eirwen talk while I ate, Isaie maintaining his mother was embarrassing him in front of me while Eirwen would merely come up with something to up the stakes. It went on like that for a while before I saw Isaie had finished his coffee and pancakes and was looking at his mother for the go ahead.

“Oh please, Isaie, if you don’t want to be around for the talk I’m going to have with Ianto then by all means go use the internet or play with the dogs, I’m sure you’ve heard it enough times by now anyway.” Eirwen sighed, pouring both me and herself another cup of coffee.

I gave Isaie a pleading look not to leave me alone with her in case I messed up but he pressed a kiss to my lips and forehead before leaving the kitchen, his plate and cup still rested on the table.

Eirwen sighed as she gathered his things and put them in the dishwasher, grumbling under her breath a little before sitting down.

“You’d think I raised him to be so messy,” she sighed.

“He’s the same at home, leaves his textbooks all over the lounge,” I said, taking a sip of coffee.

“So you are living together then?”

I nearly choked on my coffee; crap, he hadn’t told them that?

“I...I...” I coughed, watching a smile appear on her face.

“Don’t worry about it, Ianto. I know Isaie well enough to know he was going to ask you move in sooner rather than later.”

“It was kind of sweet when he asked me...got down on one knee with the key. Nearly scared me half to death...I thought he was going to propose marriage.”

She nodded absent-mindedly but something in her eye screamed marriage wasn’t far from Isaie’s thoughts.

“Not that I’m against marrying Isaie… It’s just we’d only been together six months. It felt a bit soon,” I said, making sure to quickly back track.

“No need to be so worried, Ianto. I’ve met all Isaie’s boyfriends...even that Darius guy who spat him out like a used piece of gum and I have to say you are definitely the best one he’s had. But Isaie likes it all or nothing when it comes to being with someone. He likes to know everything....live with them, the whole nine yards and that might include marriage.”

“Which I’m not against. We’ve been together nearly two years now and I can’t imagine not being with him,” I assured her which seemed to satisfy her enough for a smile.

“I know. So please don’t hurt him any more than you have done, Ianto. If you want him...be with him....don’t beat around the bush, huh?” she asked.

“I will.”

“Good. Now I’m assuming Isaie expects you upstairs so I’ll leave you to do that....but before I go...please be sure to tell Isaie that Gogh will be ready for you to take home.”

“Gogh?”

“Sylar...or maybe we should call her Sylaria, had puppies a few months ago. Isaie was up most of the night with Rho looking after them. He got rather attached to the runt, called him Gogh and asked if you could take him home. Looks like you’ve got another little animal to add to the herd.” She smiled, putting her cup in the sink before disappearing out the back door.

“Gogh? What kind of name is that for a dog?” I murmured to myself as I picked up my half empty cup and headed upstairs. So much for letting me pick the name of the next one.

~xo~

Since we came back from Eirwen’s I could tell there was something on Isaie’s mind, he tried numerous times to come up with an excuse to come to the Hub but I’d always shoot it down, not just because of what Torchwood did but also because I knew Jack still wasn’t over the fact I’d chosen Isaie over him. I even made sure Gwen didn’t make the same mistake again but one night it seemed to be gnawing away at him more than normal.

“Hey Yan...what was it you say you do?” he asked, sitting on the counter, supervising me making the curry for the dinner while Monet and Gogh played on the floor.

“I’m a civil servant, I told you,” I said uncertainly, pausing to put the two bowls down for the dog and cat.

“ I know, it’s just your office doesn’t look much like one for civil servants.”

“We’re a special branch.” I shrugged, adding tomatoes to the curry.

“Ok, what kind of special branch?”

“Isaie, is there something you want to ask me about my job?” I asked as Gogh and Monet finished with their own bowls and switched to the other’s for any crumbs.

“Maybe.” He sighed, turning the heat down on my pan and sliding off the counter.

“Look, Isaie, my job is boring, ok? It’s a good thing you don’t know the details, trust me,” I said, wrapping my arms around his waist and pulling him to me into a kiss.

“Why? You know everything about mine.”

“True, but just trust me on this, ok?” I murmured against his lips, his hands sliding under my shirt and grazing my back as the pets circled our legs obsessively in the hopes of chicken being thrown their way.

“Only if you let me come visit you there one more time.”

“Isaie,” I groaned, burying my head in his neck.

“Pretty please?” He pouted, one of his hands moving from my back to pick up some uncooked chicken to give them.

“Just this once, during lunch and only my part of the office.” I sighed.

“Thank you, Ianto.” He smiled, kissing my neck as the chicken fell to the floor and the two animals fought to down it first while Isaie and I kissed deeply above them.

 

He didn’t waste any time appearing at the tourist office during my break, a smile on his face, a brown bag in one hand and coffees in the other while I tried to check Jack’s grammar and spelling in an email to UNIT before he sent it. You’d think he’d know better by now.

“Well hello there.” I smiled, saving the email to drafts and locking the workstation before leaning over the desk to kiss him.

“Hey yourself, I brought some lunch so you don’t have to worry about takeaways and coffee from the only cafe you like on the Plass,” he smiled.

“Ok, well let’s get this over with.” I sighed, pressing the button under the desk and leading the way down the back door.

He chatted about Monet covering my blazer in cat hair and Gogh chewing his favourite pair of boots again while his mother called about Siwan’s wedding, though it all seemed to go in one ear and out the other. My mind was fixated on how I could come up with an explanation if he asked what Torchwood was. It shouldn’t come up but I had a few Retcon tablets I could slip into his coffee. Not like I ever would make myself go through with it.

I led him through the Hub and down the stairs to the Archives, causing him to hover in the doorway a while as I set the coffees on the desk.

“This is your part of the office?” he asked.

“Yeah, I’m not exactly given the room with a view but it kinda reflects on my rank really,” I sighed, rubbing the back of my neck as he hoisted himself up onto the desk amongst the files that needed to be re-filed and projects that barely got touched.

“So you would be the....”

“Archivist, maintenance guy, Personal assistant and tech support wrapped all into one, this department has a tight budget,” I lied; if he saw my pay cheque he definitely wouldn’t believe me.

“Huh,” he said thoughtfully.

“Sorry to disappoint,” I sighed, sitting down in my chair and downing a mouthful of coffee.

“It’s not that, it’s just...so many files.”

“You wouldn’t believe how many,” I said, watching him pull out my lunch from the bag.

“So what are Tosh, Owen and Gwen?”

“Tosh is the professional tech support, Owen the medical officer and Gwen liaison to the police.”

“Why do you need a medical officer?”

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

“And Jack’s the boss?”

“Technically team leader, but boss just about covers it.”

“Hm.”

“I told you my job is boring, it’s nowhere near as good as yours is. I sit in the archives the vast majority of the day surrounded by things as far back as the 1800s. I only leave when the others want coffee or food.” I shrugged, taking a bite of my sandwich.

“I doubt it’s really that bad...anyway, you feel like showing me some files from the 1800s?” he asked, sliding off the desk into my lap.

“I suppose I could be persuaded,” I grinned, as he kissed my neck teasingly.

I led him through the Archives to the back, which had the most privacy and all the dirty handwritten files from the 1800s and kissed him against the bare brick wall. I let him manoeuvre me until I was against the wall and he was undressing me. I paused while kissing him to tie my tie over the nearest security camera before letting him continue.

I had never seen this side of Isaie before, the side that didn’t care that we were somewhere that any of my colleagues could walk into at any given minute, but it was such a thrill that I couldn’t make myself find the words to stop him as he threw my clothes aside like all that mattered was him being able to touch my skin.

I met his lips eagerly as his fingertips caressed over my sides and chest, his gaze locked with mine like the sight of my eyes glazing over with arousal was the prize he was waiting for. It didn’t take long for my mind to feel like it was going to short circuit as he slid my pants and underwear down my legs, helping me step out of them so I was leaning naked against the rough brickwork of the wall behind me.

His lips took over from his fingertips, grazing red patterns over my chest and sides with his nails as he got to his knees while absent-mindedly undressing himself like it didn’t really matter how far I got.

Finally his lips reached my thighs and hips, his teeth nipping and tugging at the flesh which seemed to send an addictive adrenaline fuelled sensation flowing through my nerves. His lips soon left the abused skin to bruise as his mouth detoured down before opening around my cock, letting it slide inside. A groan was pulled from my mouth as I sunk uneasily to my knees at how exhilarating it felt to have the warmth of his mouth wrapped around me. His hands continued to trace my body while this was happening like he was trying to keep me grounded until the last minute. It seemed to work, every moment I was sure I was on the very brink of an orgasm he’d pull back or slow the pace until his mouth was motionless, only his hands moving while his gaze remained locked on my face to take in how I looked at that moment.

Amongst the groans that came from me freely, I finally found my voice, “Isaie, Please!”

He bit his lower lip coyly as a smile appeared, a devilish smile I’d dreamt about seeing ever since we first met, oh god.

He finally started another slow pace, gradually increasing it until I was scrambling to grip on to the wall for balance as I felt the pressure building in my stomach, taking over every other emotion and feeling in my body as it flowed through my every nerve like a tidal wave. He kept me still with his hands on my hips while I came undone, the most beautiful feeling and all because of the talented man in my life who seemed to know me as much as he knew himself.

I came back to reality to find him looking through a few files, not really taking them out and reading them but just looking at the labels.

“What are you doing?” I murmured, pushing myself upright.

“Nothing, just being nosy.” He smiled, crawling back towards me and straddling my lap as his head rested against my chest.

“Well that’s my work; we should probably go before one of the others comes down looking for me.” I sighed, kissing the contours of his neck.

“No, not yet,” he pouted, kissing my chest.

“Isa, there isn’t much else to know about what I do. I’m pretty much just a lackey.”

“I definitely wouldn’t say that.” He smiled, shifting his body so I was inside him before I could prepare myself, causing a groan to come from my lips while my nails left red lines over his skin as my hands moved to grip his waist tightly. He tilted his head while gasping my name over and over again. It was like those times he fucked me in his office only a thousand times better as he let me direct his body, thrusting myself inside him deeper and deeper until I felt like we were one person. All I could hear was his gasps and groans of my name spurring on a type of ecstasy I had craved since the first time we slept together, two strangers in my bed. He caught my lips when I came and muffled my groans of his name but it felt so right. I tightened my grip on him so he didn’t even consider leaving me and sucked his lips when he kissed me.

It was as my ears were ringing with the sound of his groans and cries that I heard the cough and looked up to see Tosh stood not far from us. Crap.

I edged Isaie off me until he got the message and got off me to pull his clothes on out of her line of view while I pulled on my pants as a common curtsey.

“Er...hi, Tosh.” I smiled weakly.

“Jack sent me down when he couldn’t access the feed down here,” she said, raising her eyebrow.

I sighed and called at Isaie to remove the tie which soon landed on Tosh’s shoulder. I took it from her and draped it around my bare neck.

“Ianto, why is Isaie down here? You put up such a fuss about not letting him in after you found out about his father but then you turn around and do just that so you can what? Fuck him?”

“It’s not like that. He promised after this he would stop asking. I didn’t intend it to be fucking...it just happened.”

“Um hm. Well expect a lecture from Jack at some point,” she said, disapproval in her voice. Oh yeah, like she and Owen never fucked in the Hub.

“Sure, thanks for the warning, Tosh,” I sighed.

I watched her leave before turning to watch Isaie finish dressing. But it was true, after I found out about Isaie’s father being in UNIT I had wondered if there was an ulterior motive behind him wanting to be here.

“Hey, Isa, what do you know about what your dad did?” I asked, making him pause from straightening the collar of his shirt.

“My Da? Not much. He’d send letters and stuff, sure, but never mentioned his job specifically. Why do you ask?” he asked uncertainly as he leaned against the wall to put his shoes back on.

“I’m just curious,” I shrugged, but he seemed to pick up on the truth without me saying a word.

“You’re worried I have another reason for being here aren’t you? That I actually know what you do and came here to find out more.”

“Well honestly, what do you think I do?” I asked.

“You’re a civil servant just like my Da was just a soldier. That’s all I needed to know, Ianto. I’m just glad you let me come here compared to my dad’s habit of secrecy.” He smiled, handing me my shirt as he approached me and kissed my lips.

I felt guilty for believing there was something more behind Isaie’s curiosity, but I reasoned to myself I had been there. I’d done the whole back stabbing and betrayal bit with Jack and I really didn’t want to be on the other end of it from Isaie.

I pulled him to me for another kiss and smiled as his hands continued to graze my chest and back.

God knows how lucky I am.

Chapter Text

Siwan’s wedding was to be held in Cardiff a few weeks after we came back from their mother’s. Isaie would have much rather not been there but since he was the family money and the ‘head of the family’ he had no choice, leaving me to let him drag me along for the sake of his sanity. It meant time off work but Gwen agreed to cover as long as I covered her on her honeymoon, which wasn’t a bad deal.

He got dragged to caterers, florists, churches and rehearsals as well as dress fittings. The last one of which wasn’t as daunting due to Menir, a new clean Paige, Amaya and Rhosyn being there for their own dress fittings. Amaya loved her dress and spent most of the time spinning around so it would billow out until she nearly fell into a veil display, leaving me to pick her up just in time.

“Ianto!” she squealed, hugging me tightly as we sat down while Siwan bitched about how she wanted another dress. I could see Isaie gritting his teeth hard, even as Menir and Rhosyn tried to calm him down .

“Hey, Maya, you look gorgeous in that dress,” I smiled.

“I feel like a princess,” she beamed.

“You look like one.”

“So are you coming to Auntie Si’s wedding?” she asked, tilting her head as we watched Isaie out the corner of our vision pacing back and forth like he wanted to rip his hair out. Oh dear, this wasn’t going to go well, maybe he’d finally hit the last straw.

“I think so, but your Auntie Si doesn’t like me much,” I said with a small smile.

“Please come! Uncle Isa and you will look so handsome in your tuxes.”

“We’ll see, Maya. I’m not sure Uncle Isa’s blood pressure will stand the arrangements let alone the main event,” I said, watching over her head as Isaie finally snapped and stormed into Siwan’s cubicle to give her a piece of his mind while Menir and Rhosyn grimaced.

A few planning sessions I managed to skip, thank god, the meeting with the jeweller about the wedding bands, viewing the reception venues and photographers, but when Isaie came home that night he was practically fuming to the point where he nearly hit Monet with his boot when he threw it to one side leaving both her and Gogh to run to me for protection.

“Today not go so well?” I asked, Monet jumping up into my lap and glaring at Isaie while Gogh curled around my ankles protectively.

“Don’t get me started. I swear Si doesn’t care if she bankrupts the entire family with this damned wedding,” he sighed, throwing himself on the couch beside me, causing Monet to hiss and jump from my lap to probably curl up on our bed while Isaie rested his head on my lap.

“Tell me all about it, rants and all.”

“She changed her mind three times at the jewellers and insisted she wanted the one ring that didn’t fit her custom sized for an extra hundred quid. She picked the most expensive hotel for the reception and booked two whole floors for the guests then she laughed at my suggestion to get a student to do her photos. Instead she hired some poncy prick from an agency who charges fifty pounds an hour.” He groaned.

“It’s ok,” I hushed, brushing his hair out his eyes.

“She’s turned into such a bridezilla she makes Menir look tame.”

“Was Menir really that bad?”

“No, she just had this fixation on an expensive designer wedding dress but thankfully Paige managed to find something just as nice for less, saved a thousand pounds on the final bill. I wish Wyn would do the same thing.”

“Where is he anyway? I thought he’d be helping her do the planning.”

“No, Si wouldn’t let him choose a flower let alone a venue. He’s back in London for work so there’s more income for the wedding for Si to waste. He’s supposed to be coming down for the tux fittings tomorrow though, which we can’t miss. Si wants you in a tux as well as me.”

“But why me? I’m not walking down the aisle!”

“She knows I’ll bring you and I’m giving her away so I made it none negotiable. You in a tux or I don’t give her away.”

“You just want to see me in a tux.”

“Well yeah, but also she needs to deal with the fact we’re a couple. She can hate you all she likes and bitch about you to Wyn until the cows come home, but she isn’t the one dating or fucking you so she can deal.” He smiled, lacing his fingers with mine as he looked up at me.

“Isa that’s sweet, but...”

“No, you’re wearing a tux and that’s final,” he whispered, his free hand resting on the back of my neck and pulling me into a kiss that made me glad I was sitting down. I definitely couldn’t argue with him when he put it that way.

~xo~

The big day arrived and I was nervous, but nothing compared to Isaie. Even though he’d walked Menir down the aisle at her and Paige’s wedding it was like there was something else on his mind.

“Oi, you nearly forgot your boutonniere,” I called, as he looked about to walk out the door.

“Oh crap, Si is going to be the death of me,” he cursed, checking himself in the mirror for the ninth time since he put the tux on that morning while I put the Lily in the right place.

“Hey, just relax. I’ll be coming along with your mother and sisters, ok?” I smiled, kissing his lips soothingly.

“You look so good in your tux,” he whined like he would rather stay and peel the expensive suit from my form than deal with his troublesome sister.

“There will be time for that later. Just breathe and smile.”

He took a deep breath and checked he had everything just as the car horn sounded outside.

“That’ll be her royal highness. I’ll see you at the church,” he sighed, stealing one more kiss from me before walking out the door.

I took my time with the finishing touches and ensuring Monet and Gogh were fed and kept out our room before my ride came. I managed to squeeze in between Rhosyn and Amaya and let the other members of Isaie’s family chatter amongst themselves about how Rho was the last single girl left in the family, like they knew something I didn’t in regards to Isaie.

We arrived at Llandaff Cathedral to a large collection of family and friends entering the church through the front door. Though as I was about to follow the Jacklin females inside through the back door, I felt my phone buzzing against my jacket pocket, causing me to sigh and Rhosyn tried to wait for me, probably so she could hide behind me due to her immense hatred towards the dress she was wearing.

“You go on ahead, I’ll be there in a minute, Rho.” I smiled, stepping aside.

I waited until she was inside before answering it.

“Jones.”

“Ianto, we have a serious problem.”

“I told you guys the manual for the Archives is in Jack’s office in the second drawer of his desk in a green folder,” I sighed.

“No, it’s not that, it’s something else.”

“Well make it quick, I need to go make sure Isaie’s ok before he finds a source of alcohol.”

“The rift alarm went off...the source is at your location.”

“What? Are you sure?”

“Positive, I know it’s Isaie’s sister’s wedding but if we all go in guns blazing we’ll ruin her day and need more Retcon than we have at the moment.”

“Ok, well what do you want me to do, Tosh?”

I heard her bite her lip before speaking like she knew I wasn’t going to like it.

“Tell Isaie the truth, explain the circumstances and ask him to keep an eye out for anything unusual.”

“I can’t do that! Now is not the time for the Torchwood talk!”

“Ianto, you have to, you can Retcon him later but until you can locate the visitor and cause as little a ripple as possible in the crowd we can’t do anything.”

I swallowed and looked around uncertainly as I tried to think. Could I really do this alone, let alone tell Isaie the truth?

“Can you do it, Ianto?”

“I don’t really have much of a choice do I? I’ll keep you guys posted.” I sighed, closing the connection and the phone before going inside.

Behind the scenes it was completely crazy; Rho was distracting Amaya by letting her braid her fringe while Paige, Menir and Eirwen looked in on Siwan to keep her calm. A Bunch of strangers, probably from Wyn’s part of the party were dotted around joking and chatting outside another door on the opposite side of the corridor as though to make sure he didn’t do a runner. There was no sign of Isaie which had me wondering if he’d disappeared with his source of stress relief or was giving Wyn a big brother speech. I hovered a little longer to wait before spotting Isaie appearing from Wyn’s room.

“Isaie, I need to talk to you!” I called, managing to make it through the crowd to grab him by the wrist and steer him into the bathroom.

“Ianto, what’s wrong?” he asked, frowning as I shoved a bin up against the main door to the bathroom so he couldn’t leave and no-one else could enter.

“I need to tell you something, something important,” I sighed, biting my lip.

“Ok, well can’t it wait? I mean I have a wedding still to stress about. The photographer isn’t here and...”

“Torchwood.”

I watched him stop in mid sentence at the word that came from between my lips, like he was part of the population who knew what Torchwood was, and stare at me.

“Wait, what did you say?”

I swallowed and tried to ignore the feeling my heart may break after I finished telling him the truth.

“I’m a member of Torchwood, Isaie. I know I told you I’m a civil servant but it’s just a cover...a joke we make...”

“You’re a member of Torchwood?”

I nodded and watched him turn his back on me and pace back and forth, raking his fingers through his hair.

“How long?”

“I was in Torchwood One six months before canary Wharf but I’ve been in Torchwood Three eighteen months.”

He still wasn’t looking at me, silence echoed around us but all I could hear was my heart pounding anxiously in my chest.

“Why are you telling me this, Ianto? On all the days you could have picked to tell me the truth!” he asked, turning around finally.

“I know you probably don’t believe me and hate me for telling you this on Siwan’s wedding day, which is already five levels of stressful, but it’s going to get a whole lot more stressful. We believe something alien might be at Siwan’s wedding. We don’t want to let it know we know so it can make an escape in the crowd so I really need your help.”

“Ianto, I’m an arts professor, not a Torchwood volunteer.”

“I know, but I also know you don’t want to put your family, or Wyn’s family, in danger. Please, Isaie, help me.”

He swallowed and took a deep breath as he leaned against the nearest sink, staring into the mirror like he didn’t want to believe this was happening.

“What do you want me to do?” he murmured.

“You do actually believe me?”

“I know you wouldn’t lie about something so serious, Ianto. So what do I do?”

“Watch out for anyone or anything that looks suspicious, pxt it to me and I’ll deal with the rest, ok?”

He nodded as he played idly with his phone between his fingers.

“Isaie, I’m so sorry.”

“I know, but we’ll get through this together and then we can talk about Torchwood.”

I nodded and caught a quick kiss from him before exiting the bathroom, him following not far behind.

I let Isaie be the one to watch Siwan with his family for the moment while I made my way to the audience, sitting close to the seats reserved for them during the service. It didn’t take long for him to send me a pxt with a message that explained why. It showed a guy in an old fashioned tux that, while looking like an older version of Wyn, the photo showered a golden aura around him and green irises with black sclera.

‘Wyn’s father died 2 yrs ago & all other male relations didn’t RSVP.’

I forwarded the picture to Tosh and stood with the rest of the crowd as Wyn and his best man appeared at the altar with the reverend as the wedding march started.

Amaya led the party first, skipping down the aisle, throwing rose petals either side of her, looking absolutely adorable. I smiled at her when she waved and watched Rhosyn follow her lead at a slightly quicker pace with Menir and then Paige bringing up the rear. Then like everyone else I turned to the back to see Siwan walking down the aisle side by side with Isaie, his arm looped through hers, looking absolutely gorgeous in his tux. I gave him a smile when he caught my eye, barely paying attention to his sister in her long trained dress. I watched Isaie pause before the altar to kiss Siwan’s cheek before handing her over to Wyn.

I managed to lace my hand with his even though he was sat in front and watched the service, feeling the silent buzz from my phone as Tosh replied to my text. I pulled it out one handed and bit my lip as I read the reply.

‘We’ll be there in 10... don’t let it leave.’

I closed the phone and checked on the groom’s side for any signs of it. I soon spotted it sat between two young women and managed to keep an eye on it throughout the service. Finally it came to an end and I stood with the rest of the congregation as they walked back down the aisle.

Eirwen told everyone where the reception would be but I found myself being dragged along with the family to be included in the photos with the newlyweds. I spotted Owen and Gwen catching the guy before he made a run for it and restraining him before putting him in the back of the SUV. I let myself enjoy being part of the celebration until Isaie led me away from the camera down to the front of the church yard, looking slightly nervous.

“Hey, what’s wrong?” I asked, as we hoisted ourselves up on the high and uneven wall around the perimeter of the church.

“I...I just....I had this whole speech planned, Ianto, and then when I found out about you and Torchwood it seemed to have left me,” he said softly.

“Isaie, I’m still the same person. My job doesn’t define who I am,” I assured him, edging closer on the wall towards him.

“I know...I just...” he stuttered, biting his lip in a way that was completely out of character, the last time I’d seen him acting this nervous was when he asked me to move in with him.

“Hey, whatever it is, you can ask me,” I smiled, brushing my hand reassuringly over his cheek as his gaze locked with mine.

He nodded and moved to take something out of his inside blazer pocket...but what happened next seemed to happen in slow motion.

I saw a figure out the corner of my eyes as Isaie reached into his pocket, heard Gwen yell my name and suddenly Isaie was pushed off the wall, a ring box falling out his hand and a ring rolling across the grass.

I managed to catch the figure responsible for knocking my boyfriend down, using my tazer, long enough for Gwen and Owen to grab her but then the reality set in at what she had done.

“Isaie...” I whispered, sinking to my knees beside him and brushing his cheek, hoping to wake him, but he didn’t even move.

“Isaie!” I murmured, looking desperately at Owen who’d appeared at Isaie’s other side while Gwen dragged the other alien towards the SUV.

“Mate, it’s ok, we’ll get him to the Hub and I’ll figure out what’s happened,” Owen said soothingly, checking Isaie’s pulse by touch and his eyes with a pocket torch which seemed to have appeared from nowhere.

I was so shocked I couldn’t even help him carry Isaie to the SUV, Gwen helping him while I picked up the ring and box, shoving them into my pocket before following them to the SUV.

Isaie was laid over the back seat with a gap spare by his head for me, his face bruising slightly from the fall as I brushed my fingers over his face while I sat beside him, convinced if I did it enough times he would wake up. We began the drive back across the city to the Plass. I couldn’t stop my hand sliding into his, missing the way his fingers would usually curl over my knuckles. I couldn’t concentrate on what going on around me, all that mattered was Isaie.

It had started out as a perfect day and had gone so wrong because of me, all because of my job. I’d tried desperately to cling to the normal card but why did today have to be the day it was snatched from me?

Finally we arrived and parked at the Wharf entrance, Tosh there with a gurney for Isaie and a gun for the aliens. I let Gwen pull me out my seat while Tosh and Owen moved Isaie to the gurney, which I followed on autopilot while Gwen and Tosh dealt with the aliens. We reached the autopsy bay and Owen pushed a seat in my direction which I ignored as I sank onto a step, unable to make myself watch Owen at work. It was Jack’s first panic attack only worse, I was scared something could happen to Isaie that would mean I could lose him and I didn’t want to be the one to tell his family.

I heard Owen curse as a machine began to beep over and over but I kept my gaze on my shoes as I pulled the box and ring out of my pocket.

The box was plain black velvet, I pulled it open to see a speech in tiny type stuck to the top, the speech he’d wanted to say but had lost because of what I’d told him. I swallowed as the tears threatened to fall, and made myself read it.

‘Ianto,
Once I told you I love you more than my family or any other person in my life.
That remains true but with all that has happened between us I want you to become a part of my family, my other half of my life and my heart.
I love you so please, won’t you give me the greatest gift ever by agreeing to marry me?’

The tears were unstoppable to the point of painful. I felt like I was choking and couldn’t breathe due to the sobs I was muffling against the sleeve of my tux. I set the box on the step beside me and took the ring from where I’d left it on my thigh, a simple silver band, a Celtic pattern on the outside. It was the engraving on the inside of the band that finally broke me.

‘Now and forever.’

I let the ring slide down my finger and began to sob, Tosh sitting beside me and hushing me as she hugged me tightly. This could have been the best day of my life, all I had ever wanted but now the person I loved wasn’t responding to life and while I was no doctor I knew well enough that it was a bad sign.

It was only when Owen knelt in front of me, looking frustrated but with a look of sympathy in his eyes I’d never see before, that I knew it was worse than bad.

“I’m so sorry, Ianto. Isaie struck his head pretty hard against the wall and floor. He’s in a stable coma for the moment and while I can keep him alive, I don’t know if he’ll ever come out of it.”

It was more than I could bear, I found myself getting to my feet and walking out the Hub despite my colleagues’ cries for me to stop, pacing up and down the Plass as I prayed he would come through this. He had to come through. We hadn’t gone through all this only to lose each other in such a cruel way.

I stopped at the fence overlooking the bay where Isaie and Jack met for the first time and heard a set of hesitant footsteps approaching me.

“Ianto.”

I felt Tosh put her arm around me and swallowed shakily.

“He was going to propose.”

“I know.”

“I was going to say yes.”

“Ianto, I’m so sorry.”

“Why did it have to be me?”

“What do you mean?”

“Why did he have to fall in love with me? Over everyone else in the country, why me? The person who put him in a coma.”

“Ianto, you didn’t do this.”

“No, my job did.”

“Don’t you even think about resigning. Jack would never accept it and you won’t feel any better starting over if it’s without Isaie. Owen’s agreed to set Isaie up in a permanent room in the autopsy bay and come up with an excuse for his family. Some day he’ll come out of his coma and you’ll be right there.”

I nodded and played with the ring.

“But what do I do until then?”

“Don’t give up and keep working. Trust me, Ianto, that day when he sits up, looks at you and says your name will be a day worth waiting for.”

I looked out at the bay and let her hug me.

“Now let’s take you home, huh? I bet you have some mouths to feed.”

I said nothing, but let her lead the way. I hoped she was right, I wasn’t sure I could wait for everything we had only for it to be pushed back to square one.

Fin