Characters/Pairings: Ianto, Jack, few OCs, Jack/Ianto (past) Ianto/OFC
Warnings/contains: not applicable
Summary: Post-Exit Wounds. Ianto needed a break from Torchwood to help himself heal before he could help others. He did not expect the break to become permanent. What happens when he is reminded that there is no escaping Torchwood? Will Ianto choose his old life or keep on the road he been living? Written for tw_classic_bb.
Disclaimer: I don't make any money off of this, sadly. All things Torchwood belong to those who own them and the poem The Road Not Taken belongs to Robert Frost. OC's and the plot are mine.
Beta: timelordshines and czarina_kitty
Artists: the_silver_sun - Art found here & iantojjackh - Art found here. Combined art post is here.
Word Count: ~24k
After several minutes of holding on for dear life, Ianto let out a strangled sob followed by, "I'm sorry."
Jack pulled away just enough to be able to look Ianto in the eyes. He carefully framed his hands around the young man's face and saw the heavy burden Ianto carried. "It's okay. I've missed you so much." He began to lean in to kiss Ianto's forehead until the Welshman took a step back and kept Jack at arm's length.
"Don't. I can't," Ianto said despite his obvious want to feel those delicate lips again.
"Didn't you miss me too?" Jack never looked more vulnerable. It was as if Ianto's answer would shape the future. At least it would shape Jack's future. It would make or break his heart.
Ianto did not even dignify that with a response. The answer was clear as day; a resounding yes but he did not want to travel that dangerous path. "I'm married."
"I've noticed. Did you know your wife is pregnant?" Jack thought they were playing the state the obvious game. It was too easy to slip into their old bantering ways. It was easier to hide behind the jokes than to face Ianto's possible rejection.
"I might have noticed that and I'm pretty sure I'm the one responsible for getting her that way." Ianto was relived the conversation had gone in the direction it did. The light hearted banter was all he could take right now.
"Kids put a big crimp in your sex life. Never mind." Jack winced knowing he was heading into painful territory. "I'm guessing now's not a good time to tell you I hit on your wife before I realised she was your wife and that she was pregnant. It's kind ironic now that I think about it. I was this close to asking her if she'd be interested in a threesome, but I stopped because of her husband, you."
"Lucinda would have smacked you had you asked. I might smack you for telling me that." Ianto had to laugh and roll his eyes. "Only you, Jack. Only you." He said fondly.
Jack felt his stomach flutter as Ianto sighed, seeing the man relaxed and happy for the first time in a long time. "Are you happy here, Ianto?"
The Welshman thought on his answer for several moments, not wanting to hurt Jack's feelings and not wanting to lie either. "I'm happy. I like my life here. It's calm. It's normal. Well, was normal until today. I don't think the whole immortal and never aging is going to go over well."
"I'm sorry about that. This curse is not something I'd wish upon my worst enemy, let alone someone I care for deeply. I was telling the truth when I said I had no idea how or when I passed my immortality to you."
"I believe you. I know you wouldn’t do this on purpose. A couple of years ago I might have wished for something like this to happen so you wouldn't be alone after I died.". Ianto regretted letting the last part slip as he bit down hard on his lip and squeezed his eyes shut.
"But I'm alone now. You left instead of trying to fix what was broken." It was time to put away the flirty bantering and get to the answers Jack had waited three years to hear.
Ianto took a deep breath and looked all over the office except at Jack. He finally settled and sat on the edge of his desk. "That was the problem, we were all broken. After everything that happened with Owen, Tosh, Hart and your brother we were all shattered. I had to forget all my pain and hold it together for you and Gwen. I was losing myself.. Becoming a zombie. Everything I tried to help you wasn't working. You were slipping further and further away and I had no idea how to pull you back. Some days I doubt you even knew I was there."
"I knew. I always knew you were there. If it wasn't for you I would have fallen into some oblivion and never returned.” Jack was now in front of Ianto, his hands on the other man's knees, trying to get Ianto to look at him.
"It didn’t feel that way. There were times you would lie in your bunker for days, staring at nothing. You wouldn't even shower and some days I wondered if you even got up to use the loo. Some days you'd push me away and others it was as if nothing was wrong. I was scared to run to the shops and not know what I'd come back to." Ianto sighed as he leaned forward until his head came to a rest on Jack's chest.
Jack took a deep but shaky breath. "You have no idea how much it meant to me that you never left my side during those darkest days." The immortal captain tried to ignore how right it felt to have Ianto this close to him again. Jack could not resist kissing the top of Ianto's head then resting his head on top of Ianto's, feeling his heart breaking knowing this was as close he could get to the man he loved.
"That day I found you trying to cut yourself open in the kitchen I thought I couldn't take much more of it. I didn't know how to help you anymore. Maybe it was my turn to break finally. Some part of me thought that going away would help all of us. And it worked for a while. As I travelled I never felt more alive. I was finding myself again, healing so I could come home and help you heal." Ianto did not realize he had been crying until Jack started to rub his back and Ianto lifted his head to tell him to stop, but instead buried his face back into Jack's chest. Ianto hated how easy it was to be drawn back in by Jack. Why couldn't Jack be mad or scream at him for leaving? This was making it so much harder.
"One day I got hit in the head with a frisbee on the beach and got knocked out. When I came to there was Lucinda, standing over me. We got talking. We spoke for hours. It was nice. And normal and I started to think that maybe coming home would be a mistake, that things were better without me. That staying here meant you wouldn't have the pain of watching me die one day. I convinced myself that you hated me for leaving." The floodgate of emotion was now open and Ianto let everything out. "It just got easier the longer I was gone. It was easier to stay away, to pretend my old life didn't exist. It helped that I genuinely fell in love with Lucinda," Ianto finished quietly.
"I could never hate you. Not in a million years, Ianto." Jack was crying too now. It hurt to hear from Ianto’s own mouth that he loved his wife. He had seen them together, but there was something different, more gut wrenching to hear the words when Lucinda was not around to hear them. "You gave me the best gift I could ever ask for; our daughter. Ava made life worth living again. There is nothing like the unconditional love of a child. For what it's worth I still love you. That is probably something I should have said to you a long time ago."
The words hit Ianto like a sledgehammer. The words, had they been uttered years ago would have changed everything. It was his fault too, never having said the words either. "Love isn't always enough." The words sounded weak, like Ianto did not believe them. "This is the wrong time to bring this up. What do you want from me?"
For a moment their eyes locked and it was as if they were transported back in time. Back to a time where nothing else mattered but waking in each other’s arms. The trip back to the present ended with a jarring shove and a slap to the face for Ianto. It took a couple of seconds to realise what had happened; Jack's lips had lightly begun to graze his when Lucinda returned to the office to get her prenatal vitamins.
"Lucinda, wait!" Ianto took off after his wife. He felt as if he was being torn in two: a part that wanted to continue the kiss and see where the moment took them and a part that wanted to run after his wife and tell her she was the one he wanted to be with.
To be continued... Chapter 7
Previously on The Road Not Taken
Prologue :: Chapter 1 :: Chapter 2 :: Chapter 3 . :: Chapter 4 :: Chapter 5