Fandom: Torchwood, Doctor Who.
Summary: It takes them a while, but finally, they're on the same page.
Author's Notes: So, this fic happened. It's an AU, clearly, set somewhere mid-series 2. I’m not completely sure how I’m feeling about it, but it’s too late in the evening for me to edit it any further, so... enjoy, I guess, and feel free to let me know what you think!
Also posted on FF.net and AO3.
The Doctor was still wavering by the door of the small room in the deepest parts of the Archives when he heard the loud crash coming from inside. He winced and finally pushed it open, only to be faced by copious steam and several stray water drops, some of which landed on his glasses. He cleared his throat.
“In here,” came the young man’s muffled voice. “Sorry ‘bout that.”
“No, it’s fine, just – what are you doing?”
“Didn’t they tell you?” By ‘they’, the Doctor assumed, he meant his teammates. “They do love calling this particular project ‘an unhealthy obsession’. ‘Really, Ianto, leave that damn thing alone and go outside to get some sunlight’ is also an option.”
“Ah.” Well, okay, he had heard about that. “The machine you were building, right?”
“Uh-huh.” The steam had finally got thin enough for the Doctor to be able to see him. Ianto was hunched over an odd little thing, oblong and bronze, and was seemingly trying to modify it. He was wearing the same clothes as usual – a three-piece suit and a shirt in a rather ridiculous (but different every day) colour, but today it was all a little more rumpled, with only his purple shirt and dark waistcoat remaining from the waist up. His hair was sticking everywhere, damp and glistening with sweat and water, and his eyes were shining almost enticingly from under it.
He had that ability, the Doctor had noticed. He wasn’t like Jack; he rarely even bothered to actually flirt with someone, but he provoked strange, unexpected reactions with anyone he got close enough to. It was like he cast a spell every single time; making people do what he wanted them to without much prompting. It was fascinating to see and even more fascinating to acknowledge when it was used on the Doctor himself.
And really, he should have stopped staring about half a minute ago.
“What is it?” Ianto asked, clearly too busy and irritated to deal with enamoured – and possibly unwelcome, the Doctor thought – glances.
“Nothing,” the Time Lord stammered, looking away abruptly. “It’s just, how does it work?”
“One-way, at least for now,” Ianto said with a shrug. “I’m working on it, though.” A small, content and yet almost shy smile graced his lips. “Come closer, I can show you.”
The Doctor approached him without hesitation, not letting himself be scared away by the small explosions he’d heard only a few minutes prior. In the last month or so, since he’d started visiting Torchwood on and off, he’d got strangely attached to the young agent. He was a weird combination from a plethora of qualities that never seemed to clash and instead formed someone endlessly curious and infinitely gentle while also painfully lonely, and the Doctor had felt as if he’d looked into a mirror.
“See this?” Ianto asked, pulling him out of his thoughts and pointing at a small satellite-like appendage he’d installed on his machine. “It’s supposed to use the Rift as a phone cable of sorts. I call, and the other side receives me despite the difference in time and place.”
“Clever,” the Doctor admitted, impressed. “Gwen told me all about it, but it’s still nice to see it firsthand.”
“Yeah,” Ianto said, still slightly distracted, as he tweaked an antenna, “she likes to help. It’s not every day that you find out that the Welsh have landed on a foreign planet in the thirty-first century. Mind you, she and the Captain and the only people who haven’t mocked me for it yet.”
The Doctor had to admit this much, even if ‘the Captain’ (he’d quickly got used to Ianto’s fond addressing of Jack) had mentioned being worried that it was eating away Ianto’s time. Not from work, either, but mostly from sleep. He’d heard all about the project, of course, mostly from Ianto himself, who was uncharacteristically eager to tell everything he knew about it to anyone willing to listen. After Starship UK had found a place to land, the Welsh had decided to separate themselves on a planet very much resembling Earth despite being much smaller than it – Velzia. Ever since Torchwood had started accidentally receiving all sorts of objects from them through the Rift – including their Prime Minister’s messages – Ianto had been trying to establish contact with them.
“And what would you send them, if you managed it?” The Doctor asked softly and Ianto turned around to give him a questioning look. “If you get to contact them, what would you say?”
The young man seemed to think about that for a few seconds, then sighed and his eyes met the Doctor’s full on, with intensity the Time Lord hadn’t expected.
“They’re alone,” he uttered at last, eyes still locked with the Doctor’s and passionate enough to be nearly unbearable. It was strange, sometimes, how someone so quiet could be the source of such overwhelming emotions, and yet here it was. “They’re hundreds of light years away from home and they want to celebrate that they’ve managed to find a new one, and they’re ecstatic, but there’s no one to see it. They want to shout out to the entire Universe, “Hey! We’re here! We made it and we’re alive!”, but no one’s hearing them, because they’re on their own. So really, if I make this thing work and find a way to contact them, and if there was time for just one message...” Ianto swallowed painfully, his gaze dropping down only to meet the Doctor’s with new determination, “I’d say, “I know it looks like that now and you feel like you’re the only people left in the universe. I know how badly it must hurt to think that you’re the last ones left. But you’re not. You’re not alone. I’m listening. Show me, tell me how it feels. I’m listening.”
And by the time the Doctor had choked on his teary laughter, Ianto had captured his face in his hands and had pressed their mouths together.
As Ianto stretched out with a satisfied smile, delightfully stiff from the last two hours’s activities, the Doctor watched him, bemused.
“What is it?” Ianto drawled lazily, turning to face him and leaning on one elbow while the smile slowly morphed into a leer. “Never seen a naked man before?”
“Oh, I have,” the Doctor assured him. “But it hasn’t always been as pleasurable.” When his bed mate gave a pleased laugh, he groaned. “Great. Like your ego needed to swell even more.”
“Oh, it’s swelling all right. And it’s not alone,” Ianto said, voice breathy and deliciously hungry, and the Doctor found himself confused once more. Only hours before, when they’d met in the Archives, Ianto had been sincere and gentle and understanding to the point the Doctor had almost felt like crying, and he was essentially different now, his dark hair tickling the Time Lord’s cheek while he did his damnedest to leave a love bite that he would be entirely incapable of hiding, no matter what shirt collar he chose.
“You’ve already got me in your bed,” he said, voice hitching at the small bite of appreciation that earned him. “I don’t think you need cheesy pick-up lines to keep it up. Don’t,” he warned when he sensed the innuendo. “I really have to watch my mouth around you, huh?”
“I don’t mind it if you don’t,” Ianto quipped, pulling back and straddling his thighs. They were the same height – Ianto was probably an inch or two shorter than him, really – but the Doctor always felt as if Ianto was towering over him. It was happening even now – he was towering over him, all broad shoulders and wide chest and it would have been intimidating if it wasn’t so thrilling.
A part of him felt defeated, as if he’d lost a fight he didn’t know he was having. He’d offered great resistance – that much couldn’t be denied – because he hadn’t wanted to make things complicated. The thought of offering Ianto to come with him when he left for good had crossed his mind plenty of times and he’d refused to indulge in it each and every one of them, because it had still been possible. He’d wanted friendship, or so he’d thought, because Ianto was bright and funny and his mind was open to all the wonders of the universe, but he’d never intended to let himself slowly and painfully fall for him.
Then again, he’d had even less of an intention to end up in the man’s embrace and then in his bed, and here he was now.
“Well,” he commented at last, trying to ignore his traitorous body’s reactions, “got what you wanted, didn’t you?”
“What d’you mean?” Ianto asked and the Doctor was mildly surprised by how easily he could recognise his confusion – the furrowed brow, the slightest melting of the words into one another. “You were very much up for it an hour ago.” The young man’s eyes dropped pointedly down his body to the place where one of the sheets was barely hiding the Time Lord’s modesty. “Still are, as it would seem,” he added with a smirk.
“That’s not the point,” the Doctor insisted, squirming away half-heartedly from Ianto’s inquisitive touches. “It’s just that– people like you are unaffordable. I know you,” he added with a wistful smile as he reached up to trace a finger down Ianto’s cheekbone. “You love with all your heart but can never leave the past behind enough to leave.”
Another one of those frowns, this time looking even more conflicted as if the idea was just entering Ianto’s mind. He knew it couldn’t be like that, though; he’d seen the longing in Ianto’s eyes whenever he’d looked at the TARDIS. “Do you want me to leave with you?”
“One day, in the near future, yes, maybe.” The Doctor shrugged, trying to downplay the entire thing. Maybe he could hope for a repeat performance only if he could keep this into light-hearted territory. “I’ve been thinking about it. We could be amazing together, you know. And you would love it out there. What is the Rift when you can have the Universe?”
Ianto was clearly torn, especially if the frustrated sigh was anything to go by. The Doctor could practically see the gears of his mind turning as he tried to calculate all the good the bad sides of any potential decision he could make. It was what had drawn him in in the first place; seeing that brilliant, dazzling mind at work. “All my friends are here,” he said at last. “My team. I can’t just pack up and leave them behind.”
“That’s the best part of it!” He was starting to feel as if he was encouraging a reluctant student to go to the summer camp. “It’s a time machine. You can come back whenever you like and they’ll be none the wiser. And, even if you tell them, they won’t have time to miss you.”
“And if I miss them?” The young man’s smile was back, although it wasn’t as sad this time. He was contemplating it; the Doctor was certain of it.
“If you do, you can come back whenever you like. But if there’s one thing I can promise you,” he started, leaning in so he could whisper in Ianto’s ear despite the slightly uncomfortable position, “is that it’s going to be amazing. Not overwhelming, no; not to you, anyway. You’re going to love it so much that you won’t even think of going home.”
“And you say that I’m the dangerous one,” Ianto sighed, running a hand through his dark hair. “You’re just as tempting and unreliable as I am.”
“Exactly,” the Doctor said blithely, a wide smile quickly spreading from ear to ear. “We’ll make quite the pair, don’t you think?”
Ianto laughed – a rich, honest, full-body laugh that the Doctor had never heard before. “Oh, that, Doctor,” he said, leaning in for a kiss to share his smile, “I am completely sure of.”