Ianto didn’t think he’d ever felt as nervous as he did now, standing just outside the Tourist Information Centre that masqueraded as a front for Torchwood’s underground base. Wiping his hands awkwardly down the front of his suit, Ianto knew that there would be no turning back, not now, not after he’d spent so long working himself up to this.
Besides, he thought with a wry sort of humour as he gripped the door handle and twisted it open, Toshiko had most likely picked him up on the CCTV by now and would no doubt have informed everyone else that Ianto was back.
Stepping into the Information Centre, Ianto allowed his gaze to sweep over the small room, his eyes taking in what had once been so familiar to him but which now only seemed a distant memory of what once was. Walking over towards the desk, Ianto trailed his fingers over the somewhat dusty countertop with a frown. For some reason he’d expected someone to take over his duties- unofficial as they had been- both at the counter and in the day-to-day workings of Torchwood. He was sure Jack would have replaced him as swiftly as he’d replaced Suzie with Gwen.
Still, Ianto supposed that one dusty countertop didn’t necessarily mean that his job hadn’t been filled, only that the rest of the team had neglected to do what Ianto had wordlessly taken it upon himself to do, namely the cleaning.
Ianto located the little golden press bell that sat upon the counter and hesitated only a moment before pressing his hand down atop it, hearing the quick bring! it gave in indication that someone was waiting to be served. Now all Ianto had to do was wait and quell the soured sickness that churned his stomach as he imagined the electronic signal the bell would send down into the main hub, alerting those downstairs of the presence of someone upstairs.
Ianto ran his hands over the front of his suit once more, quelling the shake of nervousness that ticked at his leg as he waited, his nervousness growing bit by bit till he began to question his sanity over this whole sorry situation. For the last three weeks he’d been in a state of constant denial over the fact Torchwood existed at all- that the dreams he was dreaming were merely vivid fantasies made up by his subconscious as a way to replace the block of amnesia he’d been suffering.
Only, they hadn’t been dreams at all. One spotting of a vaguely familiar military coat snapping round a corner and out of sight had jarred his memory back full force, pushing Ianto to remember the truth in an avalanche of emotion and memory till at last he’d remembered everything that had been stolen from him by one last drink.
“Hello,” Jack’s voice pulled him from his musings with a jolt, and Ianto spun to face Torchwood’s charismatic leader with a thumping heart and a lump in his throat.
Ianto said nothing, unable to reply for the moment as he regarded Jack standing before him- real and tangible and not a dream at all. If he’d had the guts enough to do so, Ianto would have reached out, intent on touching Jack just to prove to himself that this was authentic and not some creation of a vivid imagination.
“May I help you?” Jack asked after a heartbeat and Ianto had to smile, the small twist of his lips growing to a grin as he gave a quick and hollow laugh at Jack’s polite pretence of not knowing him. Though Ianto had to admit, the tactic was to be applauded, for whom was to say Ianto remembered at all? That he hadn’t simply arrived here on a whim or after a phase of déjà vu he’d experienced walking down the bay?
“You might have taken my memory from me, sir, but you didn’t make me forget.” Ianto was thankful to find that his words remained strong and concise despite his apprehension.
“You realise that makes little sense?” Came Jack’s reply, a frown crinkling at the corners of his eyes as he surveyed Ianto.
“It makes enough, Jack.” Ianto added Jack’s name at the end, hoping that it would prove to the older man that Ianto was here because he remembered.
Jack said nothing to that, choosing instead to watch Ianto with unfathomable eyes till Ianto was forced to drop his eyes, to run his gaze over the room once more and take in everything else but Jack.
“I woke in a back alley the day after,” Ianto said softly, running his fingers through the dust on the countertop again. “No shoes, no wallet and no idea who I was or just what the hell had happened to me.”
There was bitterness in his voice and it gave him the strength to turn his attention back to Jack, whom had the decency to look a little chagrined at the accusation in Ianto’s words.
“I’d made arrangements for you to be taken to one of the back rooms,” Jack answered by way of apology and Ianto frowned at him.
“They have back rooms?” Ianto asked with surprise, “Whatever for?”
“Well, you know…” Jack finished his sentence with an impromptu hand gesture and a cringe as Ianto turned a glare on him.
“I don’t think I gave that back alley the credit it deserved, Jack,” Ianto said, trying to hold back the anger that touched him, upset at the thought that not only had Jack abandoned him in the sleaziest of all places, but that he’d actually trusted Ianto’s welfare to people who should never have been trusted in the first place. Ianto was doubly lucky that he’d awoken at all.
Jack pressed his lips together in an awkward smile, rocking back on the balls of his feet but saying nothing. He’d shoved his hands deep into the pockets of his trousers, looking the picture of awkwardness.
Ianto sighed, lifting the back of his hand to press over his eyes as he relaxed himself and forced the anger and bitterness down. He was here for a reason, hitting Jack with his resentment now wouldn’t help him any at this moment in time.
“How long have you remembered?” Jack asked gently and Ianto dropped his hand to watch as Jack rounded the counter to stand in front of him.
“A few weeks,” Said Ianto, “It wasn’t until a few days ago that everything started making sense again.”
“Why didn’t you come back then?”
“I was too much of a coward to come sooner,” Ianto confessed, dropping his head slightly.
“Why did you come back at all?” Ianto looked up at Jack with confusion written all over his face, as if he didn’t understand the question- why wouldn’t he come back? This was where he belonged, after all, and there was nowhere else to go.
“We could have filled your position already, Ianto,” Jack continued and Ianto forced himself to breathe.
“Have you, sir?” Ianto asked, inhaling shakily.
Jack smiled almost forlornly at him, “No,” he admitted, “But we could have.”
Ianto smiled a slow half-smile, his throat tight as Jack reached out to cup his cheek in the palm of his hand, touching him as if he had every right to touch him, to hold him, to know him as he did through the stroke of a thumb over the jut of a cheekbone.
“Is this alright?” It was Ianto who asked when it should have been Jack, but Jack replied with another smile and a step forward, his head dipping down to touch his lips to Ianto’s with the merest brush of a kiss.
“Is this alright?” Jack repeated the question, and Ianto could only reply with a shaky nod, lifting his mouth to meet with Jack’s again.
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