Ianto’s hands were shaking by the time he slipped through the beaded curtains and into the back room of the Information Centre, leaving Jack to conduct the interviews with the Petrelli brothers. He squeezed his eyes shut, gripping at the low counter than ran the length of one side of the room.
It wasn’t that he didn’t want to be there when Jack questioned them. Certainly not that he wanted to avoid them. It was just… Ianto sucked in a slow breath, he hadn’t realised that it would be quite so hard to see Peter again so soon. A scant few hours ago they’d made their emotional farewells in the knowledge that they may never see each other again and yet here they now were, ensconced together in Torchwood and Ianto didn’t know if he could face the young American again so soon.
Not that he’d been insincere in his platitudes towards Peter out on the bay. He’d so dearly wanted the other man to stay, there was no denying that. They had a connection between them. An inexplicable connection that brought them so painfully close that all Ianto wanted was to take hold of Peter and hold him tight, to keep them both pressed so closely together that they’d never again be parted, not for a second. It was irrational, he knew. He’d told himself it a thousand times. But irrational or not it didn’t make it any less right.
And yet… Ianto pulled two mugs out of a nearby cabinet. Coffee and sugar soon followed along with a quarter pint of milk he kept in a small stowaway fridge. He set the kettle to boil. All the while his mind was elsewhere, his hands running on automatic as he attempted to hash out his own emotions.
“Ianto?” His name was softly spoken, the beaded curtain rustling as the very man he’d been thinking about stepped into the room beside him. If Ianto’s smile was a little too strained at seeing him, Peter pretended not to notice.
“Hello,” Ianto greeted. Peter stepped further into the room, moving until he was but a hand span away from Ianto.
“How are you?” Peter asked. Ianto swallowed thickly, his already weakened smile straining under the concern in Peter’s gaze. He shrugged his shoulders by way of answer, his eyes flittering elsewhere.
“Ianto?” Peter reached out and touched at his arm, his mind welcomingly open to Ianto, wanting the other man to read his concern. He felt Ianto’s curiosity wash over him as he ran his hand in a soothing up-down motion over Ianto arm, hoping to coax a reply from the other man as he replayed his most recent conversation with Jack in his mind.
Ianto’s head shot up suddenly, his face paling so fast that Peter reached out to grab at him in his fright, calling Ianto’s name with sudden panic as the Welshman stared wordlessly at him.
“Jack told you!” Ianto managed to force the words out, his tone somewhat accusing. Peter winced, feeling the exact moment Ianto’s walls slammed back up into place.
“I- yes,” Peter answered, frowning. He didn’t understand Ianto reaction at all. It wasn’t as if he hadn’t already known…
Ianto turned out of Peter’s grip, leaning back against the counter as he let his shock and displeasure run their course through him. He’d specifically told Jack that he didn’t want the subject to be so much as hinted at once the Petrelli brother’s were brought back to base. He’d made it pretty damn clear that he didn’t want the matter to be broached by anyone, including Jack, at all!
He didn’t want to have to explain, didn’t want to spend a moment over thinking the incident, didn’t want to taint the memories that he had of Peter by rationalising something he didn’t so much as want to think about.
Ianto knew he shouldn’t have, but the thought had come so unbidden to him as he’d sat in Jack’s office mere hours ago, clasping the sweet tea Toshiko had brought him, whilst trying to compose himself. He knew he should have just dismissed the first niggling of doubt that had wormed its way through the turmoil of his thoughts to whisper poisoned accusations into his ear. He knew he should have, but still, he’d allowed himself to wonder, to contemplate, to speculate on the ‘what ifs’.
What if it had been Peter who’d told Jack where to look? It was hard for Ianto to accept that something he’d once kept so desperately hidden- this inexplicable depression he felt that had subsequently lead to his failed suicide attempt- should now be so widely known to the very people he’d desperately wanted keep it from.
Had Peter taken it upon himself to somehow inform Jack of the attempt in the space between their return to the hub and Ianto’s appearance to serve the coffee? Had he felt that Ianto’s word, his promises, hadn’t been sincere enough to be trusted? Had he thought Ianto too fragile to take care of himself that he’d wanted someone perceivably stronger to look out for him, to look after him?
“-you take care of him, alright?”
Those had been Peter’s words to Jack; Jack who’d been clueless but concerned whilst Ianto had panicked and pulled Peter close to whisper his promises. Promises he’d earlier said he couldn’t make.
How else had they known to search the CCTV footage? How else had they come across the Millennium Centre feed? How else than if they’d been helped along the way?
Peter reached out to him once more, a hand sliding over his shoulder, urging him to turn.
“You’re upset with me.” Peter commented.
“No,” Ianto answered but the answer lacked the conviction needed to make it true.
“Is it because Jack knows?” He asked but Ianto only shook his head, unable to form the words he needed. “Is it because the rest of your workmates know?”
Ianto said nothing. Peter’s hand moved up to cup at his face, nudging his chin upwards so that their eyes would meet.
“Is it because I’m here?” The question was spoken softly and Ianto found his face crumbling with misery.
“No!” He denied, “Peter- no.” Ianto reached out to touch at the other man.
“I don’t pretend to understand this-,” Peter bit at his lip as he tried to find the right word “-thing between us. And maybe you don’t want to. Understand it, I mean. I wouldn’t hold it against you if you wanted me gone. One less reminder of what happened-?”
“Peter-!” Ianto grabbed hold of the other man’s hand. “That’s not- I’d never…” he reached out with his other hand, touching at Peter’s face. “I didn’t want you to leave. I still don’t want you to leave. I just- it’s hard. Knowing that everyone knows and wondering if…”
“If I told them?” Peter asked gently and Ianto felt his cheeks heat, his mouth moving wordlessly against the statement.
“Ianto, I would never.” Peter began, “I promised you, didn’t I?”
Ianto nodded, “I know,” he agreed softly.
“But?” Peter urged and Ianto shook his head.
“I want to believe you. I do believe you. I just- how did they know, Peter? How did they know when and where to look? It was only you and me up there on the roof. Only you and me and I…”
“And you didn’t tell them.” Peter finished.
“I’m sorry.” Ianto breathed, feeling foolish for pressing the matter when he did believe (or wanted to believe) that Peter had had nothing to do with Jack and the team having found the footage.
“Don’t be,” Peter smiled for him. “It’s what I’d have thought too.”
Ianto nodded, forcing a smile that felt more like a grimace than an expression of happiness. Peter squeezed at their clasped hands.
“How about that cup of coffee you were making me?” Peter asked, deftly changing the course of the conversation as he shot a quick look to the pre-prepared cups.
Ianto sighed softly, turning a look to the kettle. The water would be tepid by now. He’d have to re-boil it. “We need go down. Jack’s expecting you.”
“Jack can wait,” Peter said, lifting Ianto’s hand to his mouth and pressing a tender kiss to his knuckles. “We should probably talk more.” He added as he pulled his mouth away.
Ianto wet his lips before answering, his eyes following Peter’s mouth, “It’s about Sylar.” He pressed.
“I know.” Peter smiled, the gesture less forced now. “Jack’s not nearly as good at blocking his thoughts as he thinks he is,” Peter said at Ianto’s enquiring look.
“Oh.” Ianto said, finding himself able to smile a little bit as he reached out and flicked the kettle back on.
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