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Bad at Communication

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Jack, being Jack and bad at communication, sends short, brief messages that tend to sound ominous and are often a little terrifying. 'In hospital with Ianto' sent at two in the morning is certainly one of those. The following 'Still in hospital, take over today' at seven is no less concerning. Gwen doesn't even bother stopping at the Hub, only driving directly to the hospital at a speed Ianto would call 'breakneck' and Jack would call 'barely breaking the speed limit, Ianto, relax.'

She is in quite a bit of a haze when she asks for a Ianto Jones at the desk. It doesn't at all fade as she hurries down the halls, looking for the right room and trying not to freak out. She can't lose Ianto, not so soon after Tosh and Owen. Scratch that, she can't lose Ianto at all, whether or not it's close to Tosh and Owen's deaths. He's like a brother to her, and she doesn't think she could handle not having him around. 

Upon finding the room, she takes a few deep breaths. She can't go in and lose it. She's got to keep her calm. Fuck calm, she thinks to herself, and barges into the room.

Whatever she had expected, this was not it. Ianto is in a hospital bed, yes, and Jack has his chair scooted up as close as possible and he's holding Ianto's hands, but Ianto is... giggling. Like a little girl. It's startling to say the least. Gwen's eyes meet Jack's, and they stare at each other, each confused for their own reasons.

"Bloody hell, Jack," Gwen bursts out. "I thought Ianto was dying!"

Jack frowns at her and opens his mouth to say something, but Ianto cuts over him.

"I'm dying?" he asks in a panicked tone, all traces of his previous giggles gone.

"You're not dying," Jack says exasperatedly. "We've been through this twice already. You're fine now."

"Oh," Ianto says, apparently appeased.

Turning back to Gwen, Jack scowls. "I thought I told you to watch the Hub."

"Gwen!" Ianto cries out, finally noticing her. He tries to sit up. "I'll go make the coffee!"


Jack practically leaps out of his chair and pins Ianto back down to the bed. Ianto struggles for a moment, then relents and gives Jack a comical glare. Jack huffs a sigh and sits back down in his chair, keeping a hand on Ianto's shoulder. Gwen watches as Jack absently rubs small circles on it with his thumb, before his hand trails upwards and starts weaving itself into Ianto's hair.

"You should really be at the Hub," Jack says. "Someone needs to watch the Rift."

"We both know that that--" she points at his wrist strap "--gets alerts. I'll leave if something happens."

She pulls the remaining chair up to Jack's and plops down in it. Jack throws her a look, but she settles further in to show that nothing, save the Rift, will force her out of that chair. Jack sighs again and returns his attention to Ianto.

"So," Gwen says. "Weevil gone wrong?"

Inexplicably, Jack lets out a laugh. A real laugh, not just one of his placeholder chuckles that have little to no humour in them. 

"No, actually," he says. "Appendicitis."

"Really?" Gwen asks. She frowns. "But he seemed fine yesterday."

"Yeah, well, that's Ianto for you." He shakes his head fondly at Ianto. "Idiot wouldn't tell me about the pain until the fever came along."

"Did they take his appendix out?" Gwen asks curiously.

"He's recovering from that now. That's why he's all..."


Jack shrugs and continues to play with Ianto's hair. 

"Rhys had appendicits when he was a kid," Gwen muses after a while. 

"Rhys!" Ianto shouts. "Is he here, too?"

"No, love," Gwen says, reaching out to pat his hand. "Rhys is at work."

"Work," Ianto says, frowning. Then, his eyes widen. "Work! I need to make the coffee!"

Ianto tries to get up once more, only to wind up squirming underneath Jack's hold on him again. Jack plants a kiss on Ianto's forehead when he stills. Gwen notes the dark lines underneath Jack's eyes. They've been there since Gray and Owen and Tosh, but they look even worse today.

"How much sleep have you gotten?" Gwen asks Jack.

"I don't sleep," Jack replies, replacing the hand in Ianto's hair as he returns to his seat.

"Actually, I know for a fact that you do."

"And how do you know that?" Jack asks, his voice full of challenge.

"Ianto told me." Gwen gestures to the man.

"What'd I do?" Ianto asks, peering at Gwen.

Jack glares at the other man, making that pout of his (the one that he always claims he doesn't make). It softens as Ianto grins ridiculously at him. Gwen could be imagining this, but she swears she hears him give a gentle chuckle as he continues to comb his fingers through Ianto's hair. 

"You love him," Gwen says abruptly, startling even herself.

Jack's hand stops midway through Ianto's hair. He blinks down at Ianto for a moment, then slowly turns his gaze to Gwen. There's something hidden in those blue eyes of his. Gwen can feel it. Even if she doesn't understand it, she can appreciate the depth it has. 

"Yeah," he says eventually.

"Are you ever going to tell him?"

There's no answer from Jack. Ianto, on the other hand, certainly has something to say about that.

"I love you, Jack," Ianto says, and Gwen nearly chokes on air.

The moment is ruined when he continues to say: "And I love you, Gwen." 

"I love you, too, Ianto," Gwen laughs nervously.

"And Tosh. I loved Tosh, too. Not sure I loved Owen, cause Owen was always..." Ianto makes a noise to show exactly how Owen always was. Gwen will never decipher exactly what that noise meant.

Gwen grins. It's the first time she's smiled after someone mentioned Owen or Tosh since they died. It feels nice, to smile like that again.

"Yeah, he could be a bit much, couldn't he?" 

Ianto nods solemnly. "Yeah."

When he starts to stare off into the distance, his eyes trained at the ceiling, unfocused, Gwen expects that to be the end of that conversation. Surprisingly, it's not.

"Gwen," he says, sounding rather sincere.

"Yes, love?"

"You have to promise not to tell Jack," he says severely. "You have to swear not to tell him. He can't know."

Gwen glances over to Jack. Jack looks mildly intrigued and shrugs, now moving his hand to Ianto's cheek to stroke the cheekbone.

"What is it, Ianto?" she asks.

"I love him."

The blow should've been less staggering, considering he had already said as much two minutes ago, but by the way Jack's eyes widen, it's still a shock. Gwen merely frowns.

"Are you sure he can't know? Because he's just heard you."

Ianto ever so slowly turns his head to look at Jack, who has quickly recovered and is now sporting a semi-composed look. Jack grins crookedly down at Ianto, and Ianto turns back to Gwen, shaking his head.

"No, he hasn't," Ianto says, vexed. "I just told you, he can't know. So... he can't. He doesn't."

That logic must seem good enough to Ianto, because he nods resolutely to himself. Jack, on the other hand, lets out another of those real laughs, loud and clear. Gwen lets out a long-suffering sigh.

"You are both idiots," she proclaims. "My life would be a lot easier if the two of you just..." She gestures wildly in the air in front of her.

Jack raises an eyebrow, but says ultimately nothing.

Silence slips into the room again, and Gwen watches Ianto watch them for a while. She's glad Owen never saw Ianto all loopy like this; Ianto would never be able to live it down. Then again, she'd gladly listen to the two of them banter uselessly for hours on end, if it just meant she could see Owen again. God, she misses him. She misses him and Tosh and the life they used to have in Torchwood together.

Despite being lost in thought, it doesn't slip her notice when Jack yawns minutely. 

"Get some sleep," she says as he's mid-yawn. 

He stops yawning, closing his mouth sheepishly. "I'm fine."

"No, you're not."

"Yes, I am."

Gwen rolls her eyes. "No, you aren't. And we don't have time for you to not be fine. We're already down a person."

Jack frowns as she motions to Ianto. 

"I'm serious, Jack," she says.

"Fine," Jack sighs. 

He stands, and Gwen stupidly expects him to leave, but instead, he starts moving Ianto over in the bed. Ianto lets out something that's halfway between a squawk and a yelp, but Jack shushes him.

"Shift over," he says, climbing into the hospital bed next to Ianto.

Gwen has no idea how they will fit, but she suspects they'll manage. She's seen that poor excuse of a bed that's down in Jack's bunker. If they can sleep together on that, then they should be able to fit on this. She looks away as Jack gently pulls Ianto close to cradle him in his arms. It almost feels intrusive, somehow. She's caught them in flagrante plenty of times before, but that, for some reason, feels far less private and personal than this. It's probably because they're such a noncommunicative, unforthcoming, withholding, repressed pair of thickheaded idiots that make every minor sign of affection a whole goddamn ordeal.

"Right," Gwen says after some time. "I'm going to work."

"I need to make the coffee!" Ianto exclaims again.

When he tries for a third time to get up, Jack simply tugs him back down with the arm that's already draped over his chest. This time Ianto doesn't really protest, but he does settle back into Jack's embrace with an long, irritated sigh. Jack throws Gwen a dirty look.

"That was not my fault," Gwen says stubbornly. 

"Go watch the Rift," Jack merely states in return.

She's nearly out the door when he adds, as an afterthought: "Call me if you need help!"

"I won't!" Gwen calls over her shoulder.

Through a closed door and halfway down the hall, she can still hear them talking.

"I still haven't made the coffee!" 

"You can make coffee later. Just sleep."

"I can't! You're squishing me!"

"Then move over!"

She laughs to herself. She really does love her two idiots.