It was nothing like the brightly lit pub Jack had taken Gwen to; it had no friendly faces with laughter and conversation, no cheer with which to disguise the unpleasantness to follow. It was dark and bordered on the dingier side of things with its low lightning and rough, weather-hardened crowd. There were growling whispers and angry mutters and Ianto could not help but shift nervously as Jack led him towards the back of the bar, slipping so casually into on relatively hidden booth that Ianto suspected that this was not the first time Captain Jack Harkness had visited this type of establishment.
It was with sweaty palms and a thumping heartbeat that Ianto followed Jack’s lead, slipping in opposite the captain whilst sending a silent prayer up to anything listening that Jack wasn’t going to outright murder him for his deceit. The lot in this pub didn’t exactly look the honest, tell-tattle type and Ianto got the distinct impression that no one would so much as bat an eyelid should Jack whip out his pistol and put it between his eyes. There may, however, be more than couple of disgruntled looks thrown their way should Jack actually fire. Inconveniently loud as it was bound to be.
“You can stop fretting,” Jack’s voice startled Ianto from his thoughts, causing the younger man to jump a little, his eyes furtively rising to meet Jack’s inscrutable gaze. Ianto watched as Jack relaxed back into the booth, the upper section of his face becoming lost in shadow and Ianto was forced to drop his eyes once more, unwilling to be caught staring.
A twitch started up in his right leg, causing the muscle to jiggle and Ianto closed his eyes tightly for a moment, his hands scrabbling to still the nervous habit so unbecoming of his usual self. He was entirely aware of Jack’s eyes upon him, watching the minute tremble that travelled its way through Ianto’s body though he said nothing. Ianto was grateful. Bad enough he’d fallen apart back at base; he didn’t want to humiliate himself now, here at the end of all things.
“It won’t be painful,” Jack assured him, though his voice lacked his usual charismatic warmth. “You won’t even realise it’s happening.” He said, as if somehow this was meant to reassure him.
Ianto listened as Jack thanked the barmaid who brought their drinks, watching though blurred eyes as Jack openly pulled out a small capsule-type pill from an ornately carved, silver cigarette box. He surveyed Jack as the older man held the capsule over Ianto’s drink with no pretence to subtlety and pulled the ends apart, a quick dribbling of white powder dropping down into the clear liquid of his drink. There was not so much as a fizz or a cloud made as powder met liquid and Ianto found himself both disappointed and impressed with Jack and the amnesia-inducing pill he’d created.
“It won’t hurt you, Ianto,” Jack said, nudging the spiked drink towards Ianto even as he lifted his own to his lips, drawing a mouthful of bitter alcohol with only the slightest of grimaces.
“Not physically, sir,” Ianto agreed, his voice soft and defeated as he lifted his hands to the table, grasping hold of his drink as if it was his saviour and not the destroyer of everything that meant something to him.
“You brought this upon yourself.” Ianto could only nod his head at the comment, swallowing thickly against the parched dryness of his mouth but resisting with every fibre of his being from sipping of his drink. The silence grew between them with neither making the effort to break it for the moment. Minutes ticked by as Ianto scrutinized the scratched surface of the table, gathering his thoughts and the words needed to finally speak.
“You said I never talk about myself, sir,” Jack cocked his head slightly as Ianto spoke, his voice an awkward croak.
“But what about you, sir?” Ianto looked up, his eyes flittering across Jack’s face, trying to meet his eyes through the shadows that hid them. “We don’t know anything about you either.”
“I’m not the one keeping a cyberman in the basement, Ianto.” Jack chided, watching the pained expression that crossed over the younger man’s face.
“No,” He agreed, “But then how can we be sure?” Ianto looked up and saw Jack’s mouth twist into a wry smile, conceding the point to him.
“I did it for love, Jack.” Ianto continued, imploringly, needing Jack to know. “Can you not understand that?”
Jack wet his lips, hearing the barely disguised desperation in Ianto’s voice. He lifted his drink for another sip, contemplating whether or not to deign Ianto’s question with a response.
“It won’t matter what you tell me, sir,” Ianto added, looking up again, “I’ll only forget.”
“Okay,” Jack said amiable enough as he set his glass down sat forward, peering intently at Ianto for a long moment before speaking again.
“Take a sip of your drink, Ianto.”
Ianto eyed his drink warily, a deep fear gnawing at him as he regarded the innocent looking beverage before him, knowing as he did that it contained Jack’s special recipe.
“Jack…” The name came out as a broken plea, the rest of his sentence choked and cut off before he could utter it by the hand that reached out to grasp at his own- pulling one of his hands from its stiffened hold about his glass and holding to it with fingers that were both sure and strong as they curled about own.
“Take a sip, Ianto.” Jack’s voice came again and Ianto squeezed his eyes shut, shaking his head in defiance even as the image of their hands held burned before his eyelids.
“Don’t make me, sir.” Ianto forced his eyes open, meeting Jack’s gaze with open fear as he clenched his fingers tight into the warmth of Jack’s hand. “Please don’t make me.”
Jack leaned in closer, raising his free hand to touch softly- so tenderly- at Ianto’s cheek, the tips of his fingers barely grazing his skin as they traced a line down the swipe of his jaw to his chin before boldly touching at the tremble of his lower lip. Jack ran his index finger around the outline of Ianto’s mouth till his ample lips parted of their own accord for quick and silent gasps of breath.
Moving his fingers away from Ianto’s lips to take hold on his chin once more, Jack gently eased Ianto forward, noting the heat-darkened dilation of his eyes as he moved their faces close enough to feel the heat of each other’s flesh. Jack’s breath was a teasing tingle against his wanting lips and Ianto found he could not move- neither to press forward nor recoil- as his eyes fluttered and he waited in a limbo of anticipation for the moment when Jack’s lips finally connected with his own in a kiss.
Jack’s mouth was sure and slow against his, the kiss perfectly paced and giving as Jack teased him with the press of his lips and the flick of a playful tongue that never quite asked for entrance to his mouth. Ianto breathed deeply into the kiss, taking what he could of Jack’s offering, needing the contact and the absolution it promised. He whimpered as Jack bit lightly at his bottom lip, drawing it into his mouth and laving it better with the leisurely swipe of his tongue.
Ianto was on the verge of forgetting- forgetting everything that had happened in the last forty-eight hours as he lost himself in Jack’s kisses, in the touch of their mouths and so when Jack finally released them from their lip-lock, Ianto could only stare at him through half-lidded eyes and grief upon his face.
With a masked smile, Jack pulled back, removing hand from Ianto’s grasp and lifting his fingers to trace the rim of Ianto’s drink before dipping two of them into the clear liquid and swirling them about. Ianto swallowed thickly as Jack removed his fingers, raising them to touch at Ianto’s mouth with purpose, seeing the question and undisguised hesitancy in the younger man’s eyes.
“Open, Ianto.” And Ianto did, parting his lips to Jack’s fingers and closing his eyes to the taste of alcohol (and punishment) and the subtle salt of flesh as they pressed against his tongue. Ianto closed his mouth; his tongue licking at the digits in his mouth before sucking at them, his cheeks hollowing as Jack carefully slipped his fingers back out of his mouth.
Ianto swallowed heavily, tasting the loss and feeling the flush of discomfiture rising up to stain his cheeks.
“I understand love, Ianto,” Jack said quietly and Ianto blinked, frowning as he struggled to recall what they had been speaking of before Jack’s impromptu kiss.
“Understand, sir?” Ianto asked and Jack nodded his head with a smile playing about his lips.
“Do you only understand it?” Ianto began, “Have you never experienced it, sir? Known it with such emotion that you would do anything to keep it? Known it with such force that you felt you could never live without it? Known that you would die for it?”
“Oh, Ianto,” Jack chuckled tenderly, looking away and then back, his eyes showing such raw emotion that even had he not continued speaking Ianto would have known the answer.
“I have known love.” Jack admitted, licking at his lips as he remembered it with fondness and aversion and the echoing ache that never quite went away once love was lost.
“I have loved. I am in love. And I have lost love.” Jack removed himself from all contact with Ianto, folding his hands before him and saying no more till Ianto took the initiative to tentatively lift his glass from the table and lift it to his mouth. Jack expected him to take barely a mouthful of his drink and found himself blinking in surprise as the young man gulped down more than half of it instead.
Ianto put his glass down with a cringe, meeting Jack’s eyes and silently asking him to keep talking.
“I have only ever truly loved two people in my life,” Jack spoke as Ianto raised a napkin to dab at his mouth. “Both have betrayed me.”
Ianto’s eyes shot to meet Jack’s, hearing the bitterness of his words and the promise of no forgiveness. Ianto got the distinct impression that Jack was referring to his betrayal but the very thought of the captain talking about love with him in mind seemed so very far-fetched. They barely knew each other, certainly not enough for such a deep attachment to have occurred, and Ianto certainly didn’t-
“You should never have doubted me, Ianto.”
-certainly couldn’t feel the same. Could he? He felt the cold touch of realisation wash over him and bowed his head. For as much as he had loved Lisa (still loved her), there had always been… a shadow of emotion… something he had never allowed himself to feel…
“You would have killed her anyway.” Ianto finally muttered, more for something to say than for an answer. He felt the sting of tears touch at his eyes and blinked them forcefully away, not ready for them to fall.
“I would at least have had the opportunity to decide before she became a threat to the rest of the human race.”
Ianto sighed heavily, staring into his glass with foreboding. He jerked slightly when Jack reached out once more to touch at his face.
“Drink, Ianto.” Jack urged and Ianto nodded sullenly, lifting his glass with another defeated sigh and bringing it to his lips. Jacks eyes never left him as he sipped and swallowed the last of his drink. The alcohol a deep burn as it made its way down his throat.
Jack leant in to press a quick and chaste kiss to the corner of his mouth, and Ianto felt as if his heart was breaking for the second time in as many days.
“Don’t let me forget you, Jack. Please.”
Jack smiled at him, the expression pained as he watched Ianto’s eyelids fluttering tiredly.
“I’m sorry.” Jack whispered and left.
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