Summary: Jack meets the same man in different ways over and over again. When it finally comes to an end, it's not exactly how he expects it to.
Author's Notes: I don’t think this fic needs any explanation. It came out longer than expected, but I hope you enjoy it and, of course, let me know what you think of it!
Also posted on FF.net and AO3.
Cardiff, Wales, 1902
The first time Jack didn’t know better. It was the only excuse he could come up with later and even if it wasn’t a very good one, he knew that he couldn’t be blamed. It had been inevitable.
Jonathan Baines was all wide eyes and naive beauty and Jack couldn’t help but be drawn to him immediately. Despite his colleagues’s ridicule, he’d taken the young man under his wing since the very beginning and he’d taken to the life in Torchwood like a duck to water, which had made things even better. For just a few months, Jack was allowed to forget the horrors of this life and his endless waiting and was granted a bit of peace.
That was, of course, until the first obstacles started to appear.
“I’m afraid the news is not good,” Jonathan announced as he came into the room and Jack looked up at him. They were sharing an apartment in the outskirts of Cardiff – as nothing but roommates, at least where their neighbours were concerned, of course, as both of them were considered bachelors – and he didn’t tend to just come into Jack’s room with no warning whatsoever. It wasn’t that they had anything to hide from one another at this point, but in any other situation, his manners would have forbidden that, so Jack immediately realised that there was something very, very wrong.
“What happened?” He asked, standing up from the chair near his desk and sitting on the bed as he tapped the space next to him. Jonathan had been visiting his parents in the countryside and his expression was unusually grim. Jack had come to recognise most of his emotions already despite his unnaturally expressionless face, and could see that he’d come back with a burden he couldn’t help but share.
“My father wants me to find a wife,” the young man said mournfully. Just for a moment or two, he looked like one of the tragic heroes of the novels of the time they were currently living in – his hair slightly longer than was strictly appropriate, falling near his cheekbones in slight curls, a gaunt and pale face that suddenly expressed every bit of misery he was feeling. “He said that I’m already old enough and that if there’s something he wants to see before he dies, it’s grandchildren.”
“You do realise how cheap that is, right?” By the scandalised look Jonathan gave him, he didn’t. It was typical – he was careful and distant with strangers, but he could be terribly trusting where the people he loved were involved. “He can’t manipulate you like that! If you don’t want to get married, then that’s your own choice and there’s nothing he can do about that.”
His lover’s eyes were begging him to understand. “I can’t do that to him, Jack,” he uttered, his blue eyes full of all the sincerity Jack was afraid would kill him one day. “He’s not well, how could I ruin the last years of his life?”
Jack’s only answered was a long, frustrated sigh. There was a more selfish part of him that just didn’t want to let the man go, but the bigger part of him cared too much to let him sacrifice himself like that. He hadn’t planned on falling in love – but then again, when had he? – but it had just happened, as naturally as everything else did with Jonathan.
“If he really cared about you, he wouldn’t force you into anything,” he retorted at last. He knew that it sounded cruel, but he didn’t want to see Jonathan of all people – someone so strong, so self-assured – fall for something like that and throw his life away in favour of someone else.
“You’re right,” the younger man sighed, leaning his head on Jack’s shoulder and even though the Captain was relieved, the unease remained.
Jonathan never gave up so easily. There was most definitely something going on in his mind. In retrospect, Jack knew that he should have paid more attention to that when the time had been right, but for now, he’d let himself relax.
“What is he doing?” Emily asked as she looked high up above them. “Has he lost his mind?”
It was one of the rare situations in which Jack had to agree with her. Jonathan had somehow climbed on the back of the creature they’d been chasing through half the country and was now trying to land it rather unsuccessfully. It was circling lower and lower, yes, but it still looked like it was going to throw him off its back any second.
Realisation hit Jack all at once.
“No!” He shouted and ran across the field, trying to catch up with the creature and its rider. “Jonathan, no!”
All those silent glances and guilty looks; all the words he’d said when no one but Jack could hear him. All the shame he’d admitted to despite all of Jack’s convincing that there was nothing wrong with choosing himself instead of someone else. It figured that he’d try to help them one last time before... before.
Much to his horror, Jack saw every detail of it. The grip on the creature’s neck loosened as Jonathan’s eyes hardened even more and then, just like that, as if it was the simplest thing in the world, his body relaxed completely and he slid off the alien’s back, falling like a drowning man through water. It happened just as slowly, or so it seemed to Jack as he ran to reach him, but there was no time left. How hadn’t he noticed? His life had been running out like the sand in an hourglass, and there had been less and less left of him every day until they’d reached this point and everything had become painfully clear.
“Why?” He asked as he fell to his knees by Jonathan’s side, holding – gripping – his lover’s hand in his. “Why would you do this?”
“I couldn’t live with this, Jack,” he said and there was the same look in his eyes – the one that always begged Jack to believe him, to understand him – as his eyes fluttered open again. “I couldn’t cause him even more pain. But I didn’t want to cause myself pain either. Don’t you see? There was nothing I could have done.”
As if it was that simple. As if he’d thought through all the alternatives and had just decided that the simplest thing possible, the one that would – ironically – make everything better, was to rid the planet of his presence.
“Tell them...” He choked on his own blood painfully. “Tell my parents I’ve died while on duty,” he pleaded and Jack found himself nodding through his tears. “Tell them I’ve done my best and that I’m sorry.”
“I will,” Jack swore and, his hands trembling, reached up to close his eyes.
London, England, 1928
Jack was startled out of his thoughts as someone opened the door he’d been tirelessly knocking on for the last five minutes. “Hello, Captain,” the man on the other side said with a salute and a cheeky wink. “Torchwood One salutes you!”
“Cadwallader, contain yourself,” Lillian – the leader of the Institute – snapped from behind him, but Jack was too far gone to pay attention to that. He was too busy carefully taking in the man that had greeted him.
“What is it?” he asked with a smile that had suddenly turned a bit condescending. “Have I got something on my face?”
In a way, he looked nothing like Jonathan. Instead of baggy clothes he’d inherited from his older brother and that were too big for him, he was wearing a perfectly tailored suit that hugged every bit of his body like loving hands. His hair was shorter and carefully groomed – with wax, Jack assumed – and his face was open and provocative, as if he relished on the shocked look he was getting. The look of a hero from a romantic novel was gone and was replaced by something Jack didn’t see enough of in this day and age – an almost shameless amount of confidence to back up the perfectly sculpted features. It took Jack a while to collect his thoughts.
“No, it’s... Well, your entire face, really,” Jack said bluntly, only to see that all-too-familiar eyebrow rise. “You remind me of someone. Have you got any connection to Torchwood Three?”
“If you don’t count my birthplace, then none,” the man said carefully and shook his hand. “Evan Cadwallader, nice to meet you.”
“And connection to a Jonathan Baines?” Jack asked. He’d come to the vague realisation that Lillian was staring at him pointedly, but he couldn’t find it in himself to care. “As in, a Torchwood employee from about two decades ago?”
“None whatsoever,” Evan said. He looked even more puzzled now and Jack tried to drop the topic. It wouldn’t do to have someone in the Institute itself think he’d lost it. “Now, I’ve been assigned – along with Miss Lovelace herself, of course,” a charming smile in Lillian’s direction, “to invite you to a discussion on that Penicillin ordeal...”
It was stupid. The idea itself was ridiculous, and Jack knew that it would bring him a world of trouble, but he couldn’t stop himself.
“Wait,” he said, mostly to himself as he broke into a run. “Evan, wait!”
The man turned around, amusement shining in his eyes. “Captain Harkness,” he remarked as Jack drew near him and they started walking next to each other. “I thought you’d had enough of my company for the day.”
“I doubt one could ever get enough of you,” Jack started and saw the man’s eyes widen with glee. It was just what he’d intended to do – get his attention.
“Are you flirting with me, Captain?” he asked, voice soft and all the deeper for that. There was a reason for him to lower his voice, of course – they were in the middle of Hyde Park on a Sunday afternoon, after all – but the effect was there all the same. “Because I think you’re playing with fire.”
This man was nothing like Jonathan. While Jack’s lover had been quiet and repressed and yet with his soul out there for everyone to see, Evan was playful and provocative and all sorts of outrageous, and Jack recognised himself in him. And yet, deep down, deep in those eyes in the colour of a summer storm, there was a spark of familiarity. There was something knowing, something old in his pupils themselves and Jack resigned to his fate.
“Maybe,” he offered with more bitterness than he’d expected to feel, “I like to get burned.”
“Jack!” Evan keened, arching his back and chasing Jack’s hands. “For God’s sake, you’re going to kill me!”
“Shh,” Jack soothed him with a gentle caress up his lover’s side. “You said it yourself – we can’t let the neighbours hear us.”
“Damn the neighbours,” Evan said; a delicious little mewl to his voice. “I don’t care about anything they hear, Jack, just–”
“Good things come to boys who wait,” Jack said, reaching for the Vaseline. Evan’s breathing hitched even further. “You look so sexy from down here.”
“Don’t overdo it,” he warned. “I– I want to be sore.”
His voice was lost on another frustrated whimper and Jack tried to fight off his smile. “Mouthy little thing, aren’t you?” He said absently as he placed little kisses over his bare chest. He hated the primitive conditions and this entire repressed century that just refused to admit that sex just for the hell of it didn’t exist. He hated the shadow on Evan’s face whenever someone in Torchwood Tower made a snide remark about the two of them. But, God, he loved his gorgeous lips and the glint in his eyes and his wicked smiles and outrageous ideas and all of the other wonders he’d offered in the three months they’d had together so far. He loved him as one anachronism loved another – they were both lost in this time and place, but only one of them realised it. Jack’s observation on the first day they’d met had been right – he had nothing in common with Jonathan except for his looks, but there was something in him that was the same. As if his soul had been torn sometime long ago and had spread around the cosmos in search of a place that could take him, accept him, celebrate him, and had yet to find it.
He’d become so distracted by his thoughts that he only noticed the movement when Evan was already on top of him.
“I’ll give you mouthy,” the younger man conceded with a smile that had far too much teeth in it, “but there’s nothing little about me.”
Somehow, Jack was inclined to believe him.
Cardiff, Wales, 1940
“No way,” Jack cut Charles off before he’d had a chance to go through the entire speech. “This is not my job.”
“Jack, come on!” Charles said with a tone too close to whining for Jack’s liking. “You’re free and you’re here; why not just show him around?”
“Because I’m tired of handling the newbies,” Jack sneered, even though – and mostly because – his resolve was slowly crumbling. He knew that he would be far better off if he didn’t do that and that it’d be far healthier for him to just stay in the shadows this time, but he couldn’t stop. Once again, the same story would start over again and he’d be helpless against it. It always happened – it had happened with Evan, too, during a rather reckless mission that had included him chasing an alien all the way to the Tower of London and letting himself be cornered by it. There hadn’t even been a body they could bury. He bit back a sob. “And I sure as hell won’t get invested in some poor boy that could be called up at any moment.”
“I’m not asking you to get invested in him,” his colleague said with a sceptic note to his voice. “You always do, though, and that’s your own problem. Either way, you’ve seen his file and you know what he looks like, so get to it.”
His name was Greg Bishop and Jack hated him with every fibre of his being.
Well, not really. In fact, not at all, and that angered him even further.
The bigger part of him just wanted to ask him what the hell he wanted from him. If he was an alien, then why couldn’t he find another victim? Did he have to torture the same man – who was, accidentally, immortal as well – again and again?
But, of course, Jack didn’t say anything. Greg was only twenty-one and was painfully eager to get into the war. Jack could see him wander about the gun training halls of the Hub in the afterhours with fire in his eyes and yet, there was nothing of that to be seen during the day. He was shy and quiet, with a blink-or-you’ll-miss-it sense of humour that was just on the edge of inappropriate sometimes. Without even realising it, Jack had started wooing him with weapons and tips about any kind of warfare he could think of as he silently prayed that the boy would never need it. It wasn’t long before they ended up together in bed and Jack couldn’t help but marvel at the feel of him. If he really was an alien, then he was doing a damn good job manufacturing people that could be different and yet somehow the same. Greg trembled in his arms, flushed and breathtakingly beautiful. Unlike his predecessors, he was so visibly fragile that Jack was afraid he could snap him in two with nothing but a kiss. Jonathan had been a bit like some of the sailors Jack had known – roughened by winds and toughened by storms, facing his fate with heartbreaking indifference, and Evan had been lively and unbreakable with life pouring out of his laughter.
Greg, on the other hand, was just that – fragile. His place in Jack’s heart was filled with hidden blushes and stolen smiles and he knew that this time, he’d last even less, especially with the threat of the war hanging over their heads.
In the end, Jack was only halfway right. He did get called to join the war when he was barely two months into his employment for Torchwood. But it wasn’t the war that brought the end.
Jack came into the gift shop that doubled as Torchwood entrance at the time and stopped dead in his tracks.
There, over one of the chairs behind the desk, someone had carelessly tossed a military jacket. Only one of the men of Torchwood Three had gone with the troops.
“Go see him,” Vivian – another newcomer who’d only arrived a month ago – smiled. She’d never seen Greg, but she, just like everyone else from the team, had heard enough of Jack as he expressed his worries all too noisily for anyone’s liking.
“Is he all right?” Jack asked, almost afraid to hear the answer and her smile widened.
“See for yourself,” she prompted. Jack didn’t need a second invitation as he dashed off into the Hub.
And there he was. Sitting in front of his workstation as if he’d been there all along, Greg looked up to face him, a smile lighting up his face and giving life to those devastatingly blue eyes. Without thinking twice, Jack pulled him into his embrace and kissed him with all the enthusiasm that could pour out of him.
“Jack, what are you doing?” he hissed. “You’ll get us arrested!”
“Not here,” Jack gasped, wrapping his arms even tighter around his lover. Months and months of worry and anxiety and waiting were coming out of him on waves and he knew that he had to get a grip, but he couldn’t bring himself to break their embrace. “Not here, Greg; you’ll always be safe here.”
And then came Bilis Manger and his revenge for the future and Jack was left alone yet again.
Cardiff, Wales, 2006
He’d brought a pterodactyl with himself.
If Jack were a suspicious man – which he was beginning to become – he would have thought that the Universe had found a brand new and even more perverted way of mocking him. There was no other reason as to why Ianto – and honestly, what kind of name was that? – could have appeared in such a way just when Jack had been starting to think that he was free of whatever curse had fallen upon him. There’d been nothing for years and years n- save for a brief, rather tragic affair with a James Holloway in the eighties, which had been even worse than anything else that had happened before because his death had been just so cruel and so pointless that it didn’t bear thinking about – and Jack had licked his wounds and found new lovers to keep him occupied lest he summoned that restless spirit once more by thought alone, and he’d been doing fine. Or so he’d thought, even though the rush of excitement he’d felt while hunting for the pterodactyl was something he couldn’t deny. It was terrible and unfair, but Jack didn’t tend to learn anything from his mistakes, so he was absurdly happy to see him once more.
It had hurt so much; more and more every time and he’d felt bad for himself and even worse for the boy who apparently couldn’t rest in peace because of some cruel twist of fate. This one was a child of his time – swagger and jokes and appreciative glances and the obvious, unapologetic selfishness his generation had brought with itself. He looked stunning in a suit and even more so on top of Jack’s body, his breathing shallow and his lips oh so inviting. He infatuated Jack in ways he never had before and even in the midst of betrayal and blood and gunshots when Jack hated him with the power of a thousand suns, he was still drawn to him. That, at least, seemed to be mutual, because Ianto came to him just a month after that. They fell together once more and this time it was different. There were no inhibitions, no shame, no duty to hold them back and he was glorious. He was beautiful and Jack had never seen him like that before so naturally, he wanted nothing more than having him all to himself. Not even Jack’s absence had been able to keep them apart, if their rather passionate reunion after that was anything to go by, and this time Jack felt hopeful.
Maybe this time it would be different. Maybe this one would stick around, after all.
“For God’s sake,” Ianto cursed under his breath as he kept rummaging frantically for his car keys. He always left them on the same place and yet somehow he’d lost them, which would lead to both of them being severely late.
“Jack?” he shouted in the general direction of the bathroom. “Have you seen my keys?”
“They’re in the box on the bedside table,” Jack shouted back and Ianto rolled his eyes. Of course they’d be there. Jack had driven them home last night, albeit in Ianto's car, so it made sense that he’d just toss them somewhere.
But why would he put them in a box? Ianto opened it as he sat down and started putting everything in it on the bed in his quest for the car keys. Much to his irritation, there were no keys to be seen.
“Are you sure they’re here?” he asked, raising his voice once more. “There’s nothing in...” his eyes fell on one of the photos he’d tossed out of the box and his voice died. “...here.”
He picked it up. It was extremely old and had all the signs of some of the earliest attempts at photography, but it was clear nonetheless. Jack was sitting on a bench with the Bay behind him and there was a man sitting next to him. A man, specifically, who stared back at Ianto with his own eyes. His hair was longer and shaggier, but he was otherwise pretty much the same. Of course, Ianto wouldn’t be caught dead in the clothes his double from the picture was wearing, but that wasn’t his biggest concern at the moment.
He looked at the back of the photo and squinted against Jack’s elegant handwriting, faded after years and years of being kept in the box. Jonathan, 02. 03. 1902
Ianto took out the next photo. In this one, the man was alone, but the date on the back was the same and he flipped through the pictures, trying find some kind of pattern; something that could help him understand. But there was nothing supernatural about it – it just looked like a photo shoot in the early twentieth century.
Then, the pictures started changing.
The quality was definitely better and the man next to Jack was just the same, even if he’d groomed himself better now. Ianto supposed that this was what he would have looked like had he been born in the twenties and he checked the back of the photo once more for the precise year.
Little did he know that the name had changed as well. Evan, 12. 01. 1929.
Almost frantic now, Ianto started sorting the pictures by the dates on the back. They ranged between the late 1928 to the middle of 1929 and were all of the same man – Evan – and Jack over and over again, although the city behind them was definitely London and not Cardiff.
And just when he’d thought that it couldn’t get worse, Ianto found yet another one. He didn’t even have to check to know that the name and the year would be different – the man in the photograph looked a bit younger than he was now and he was dressed in what looked like a genuine World War Two uniform. And there it was: Greg, 19.08. 1941. There was a faded, barely noticeable note under it. Happy birthday, Greg!
Well, there was no way this could be a mistake, then. Even the birthday was the same and Ianto wasn’t sure how it was physically possible for any of that to occur.
The last photographs were more colourful and of far better quality, although the face was still painfully familiar. James, 22. 11. 1982. A year before Ianto had even been born. How was any of that even remotely possible?
“But it is,” Ianto whispered to himself as he closed his eyes, trying to concentrate. Memories were chasing one another in his mind, too quick for him to catch them and yet too slow and too important for him to dismiss. There’d been another flying dinosaur, long, long ago, and he’d thrown himself off of it so that he wouldn’t disappoint anyone, ever so eager to please. Torchwood Tower, but the woman was different – it wasn’t Yvonne’s face he was seeing, but a red haired woman’s – Lillian – and he’d loved his job more than anything. The war, and how eager he was to prove himself, to fight for his country and do what he could to help. Torchwood in later years, with a different team and suddenly the world had been changing, the technology in the outside world slowly catching up with what Torchwood had had for so long, and that Hoix that had attacked him when he’d been on his own. He hadn’t been able to call for backup and it’d been too late when they’d found him.
And there was always Jack. Wherever he looked, there was Jack, waiting for him, looking at him with the same anxious flame of a trapped butterfly that had resigned to its fate because the net had consumed its whole world. It hurt; his head felt like it was going to burst and Ianto fought against the urge to vomit.
“I was wondering,” a voice put in from the door and Ianto looked up sharply, blinking away the fog of his almost-memories, “just how long it would take you after you saw it all.”
“What’s all that?” Ianto asked. He hated how weak his voice sounded, but he felt as if he was in a thousand places at once. “How is it possible?”
“I don’t know,” Jack admitted easily. He sat on the edge of the bed and wrapped his arms around Ianto, bringing him closer. “But I’m pretty sure it ends with you.”
“How would you know?” Ianto asked. He wasn’t sure of anything. His entire world had suddenly flipped upside down and he was left to handle the consequences, but Jack had lived through it again and again. He could at least hear him out.
“You remembered,” Jack said, as if it was as clear as day. “You – the past you, I mean, all the other versions of you – they’ve seen the photos too, but it didn’t ring a bell. It never did. I made them forget afterwards, because I couldn’t explain it, but the truth is... I can’t explain it now either. But you’re still here, and you remember, so that must count for something.”
“I hope so,” Ianto said. His mind was a mess and he tried to pull himself together. “But I don’t understand why. Is it the Rift, or...”
“I can’t be sure,” Jack said. His embrace tightened a fraction. “But that’s my best guess yet.” He pulled away slightly and smiled as he took Ianto in. “What did you think at first, though? Did you think I’ve collected you through the years?” Ianto glared at him. “Jealous, weren’t you?”
“I am NOT jealous,” Ianto protested fiercely. “I’ve just watched enough horror to fear about my life after finding a bunch of photos of men that look like me in your drawer. Or, well, I would have feared if it hadn’t been for the life we lead.”
“You don’t need to fear for your life,” Jack assured him. “And I hope that neither will I, for the near future.”
There was a moment of tense silence and Ianto shook it off as quickly as he could. “We need to get to work,” he reminded and saw something new and tentative in Jack’s eyes die as soon as it had appeared. “Come on.”
And they went on, just like they always had. But the realisation haunted Ianto with surprising stubbornness.
Cardiff, Wales, 2011
“Why isn’t he waking up? Everything’s stable and yet he just... isn’t conscious.”
The voice was unfamiliar and Ianto felt strange, as if it was surrounding him from everywhere. He did his best to open his eyes, but gave up halfway through.
“Just give him a little time.” This one was familiar. So familiar, in fact, that Ianto wasn’t sure he could ever mistake it for someone else’s voice. “He’ll come around.”
“So he’s what, brought back to life?” Another unfamiliar one, this time a woman’s. “I thought you couldn’t go back in time for that, Doctor.”
Wait a second.
“I haven’t brought anyone to life; Jack did that bit. I just, well, sucked him in from the void between the dimensions,” said the Doctor.
“Jack, what the hell is going on?” he asked with all the power he could gather, wincing at how hoarse his voice was. Then everything came flooding in – the House of the Dead, the sealing of the Rift – and he groaned. “Don’t tell me you opened the Rift again to bring me back from in there.”
He opened his eyes and was greeted by Jack looking at him with a ridiculously big smile on his face and a blonde man who was staring at him with a frown.
“Doctor?” Ianto asked softly. He’d seen the Doctor on the screen when the Earth had moved, but he knew that the man could change his appearance, so it was the only logical conclusion, but the man scoffed.
“God, no,” he said. “Rory Williams, actually. Nice to meet you.”
“Me too. I’m Ianto Jones,” Ianto said and did his best to sit up. He almost succeeded and Jack was there to assist him soon enough, “but I suppose you already know that.”
“Yep. Made quite the fuss there, Ianto Jones, and Jack called favours from half the Universe to find me so I could use the TARDIS to find you. You shouldn’t just throw yourself into the Rift, you know. Never a good idea. This is Amy Pond, by the way, and I’m the Doctor.”
That one was so clearly the Doctor that Ianto wasn’t sure how he’d got it wrong on the first go. His hair was defying the laws of gravity itself and he shook Ianto's hand enthusiastically.
“Pleasure to meet you, Sir,” Ianto said as he stood up and the Doctor turned a smile in Jack’s direction.
“Polite, too! I see why you like him, Jack,” he added, then cleared his throat. “Of course, I hope you keep on liking him for a long time, given.”
“Given what?” Ianto asked, alarmed, and his eyes made the travel between the Time Lord and Jack. He didn’t want to face his lover just yet, knowing that he’d have to face the consequences of tricking him as well, but couldn’t miss the anxious look that had suddenly appeared on Jack’s face. “Jack, what’s happening to me?”
“You’re okay,” Jack hurried to say and stepped closer, putting his hands on Ianto's shoulders as if he was trying to calm him down. “Everything’s fine, it’s just that – we found out why all the versions of you happened when they did, and we know why you’re the one who remembers them all. It all came from you – when you entered the Rift, the last thing you saw was me, so the Time Vortex acted accordingly and it spread you across my timeline for as long as I’ve been in Cardiff. The last thing you remembered was home and me, so that’s where it took you; it just did it a lot of times. But it was too much for the Rift to take.”
“Meaning?” Ianto asked, trying to calm down his suddenly shallow breathing. He had the feeling the news wouldn’t be good.
“Meaning, you’ve got an abundance of it inside you now and it doesn’t look like it’ll run out soon, so... It looks like you’re like me now.”
He almost seemed afraid and Ianto realised with a start that he must have thought Ianto would be furious. And he was, in a way, but Jack wasn’t to blame. He’d brought this on himself by using himself to seal the Rift.
“But... this is the TARDIS, yeah?” He got several nods. You said she rejected you; why is she not doing it now?”
“Ah, but you see,” the Doctor cut in, coming into his line of vision once more, “it’s different now. She’s a bit more– welcoming these days, so she doesn’t mind either of you, really, which means, of course, that you can,” he faltered for a moment and Ianto idly wondered if he could physically keep still for more than a second. “Well, you could stay with us.”
“What,” Jack uttered, even if it wasn’t really a question. Ianto could see in his eyes that he probably felt like he’d just got his cake and ate it. And it was quite close to the truth, really; he’d apparently done so much to bring him back and now he could get the TARDIS and the travelling too.
“What do you say?” The Doctor asked, clapping his hands together. “Would you like to travel with us? The more the merrier as I always say.”
“I’d love to,” Ianto said sincerely and turned to Jack, barely able to hide his smile. “What do you think, Jack?”
“Ianto, you’ve got eternity on your hands,” Jack said, eyes ever-so-careful as their gazes locked. “Don’t you want to think this through? Maybe we could stay back on Earth for a little bit; the Doctor’ll still be there when we’re ready.”
“But we are ready, Jack,” Ianto assured him. For a moment, it felt like there was no one else in the room. “Thinking about eternity can wait. I’d like to experience it first hand for now.”