Ianto is fairly certain, in all the time Jack has lived in Wales he’s never taken it upon himself to learn the native language.
Sure, Jack probably knows the basics from signs like ‘araf’, ‘croeso’ or ‘allanfa’, maybe even even ‘unffordd’ or ‘ysbyty’ (and probably ‘tafarn’) but Ianto feels safe in the knowledge that a quick curse or pep talk to himself will go under the radar if he speaks in his mother tongue.
Since Gwen’s onoculation into Torchwood, the pair have taken to playful banter, insulting each other with stupid jibes. Ianto decides one day to fill her coffee with cold water instead of hot. He watches from across the Hub as she takes her first sip and spits it out, narrowly missing her computer.
“Dos i chwara dy Nain ( Go finger your gran) ,” Gwen says, giggling as she brushes the front of her top, Ianto laughs and walks over to her, replacing her mug with a proper coffee.
“Drewgi ( Skunk) ,” he says back and that sends Gwen into a fit of laughter, she holds her side and Ianto can feel laughter bubbling up his throat and he covers his mouth with a hand as he stifles more laughter.
“Dyn drwg wyt ti ( You’re an evil man) , Ianto Jones,” Gwen manages and Ianto pokes her in the side.
“Ydw ( Yes) ,” he says conspiratorially still chuckling “dyna ad-daliad ( it’s payback) ,”
He watches her roll her eyes and gather her composure “Payback?”
He shoots her a look “I know it was you who tried to use the coffee machine yesterday. It was broken when I got back from Glasgow,”
Gwen wrinkles her nose “Okay, fair play. Promise I won’t touch it again,”
“Good. Twmffat ( Idiot ).” Ianto gives her a good-natured smile and gets a toothy smile right back in return.
It’s nice , Ianto thinks as he pours the cold coffee down the sink and watches it disappear.
“You kids done?” says a voice next to him.
Jack chuckles and Ianto hands him a perfectly timed cup of coffee.
“Beautiful language - Welsh,” Jack says, it doesn’t sound like a question, so Ianto lets it settle between them.
“Rwy'n dy garu di ( I love you ),” Ianto says quietly, so quiet he knows Gwen won’t hear.
Jack looks at him in puzzlement, Ianto just grins into the washing up.
They’re speeding through a quiet and empty city centre, Cardiff feels bizarre at 3am on a Tuesday morning and Ianto wishes with every fibre of his being that he was in bed and not chasing around a blood-thirsty Weevil. The only positive is that it’s Jack in the driving seat and this might lead to sex (if they can both keep their eyes open).
The SUV makes a sharp turn and Ianto tries to swallow the yelp that pushes against his lips, Jack slams on the brakes as they come face to face with a narrow alley, a figure hobbles into the shadows.
“That’s it!” Jack says, yanking off his seatbelt and throwing the door open, Ianto follows, gun at the ready. They chase the shape to a dead end and Ianto positions his gun and cocks it just in case. What he doesn’t expect is the shape to approach and a shaft of yellow street light hits the shape.
“What the fuck?” he hears Jack say
It’s a woman, clearly homeless and with a severe limp, Ianto drops his gun and clicks the safety back on.
“Beth yw'r uffern ydych chi'n meddwl ydych chi'n ei wneud? (What the hell do you think you’re doing ?)” the man shrieks and Jack looks at Ianto, worried.
Ianto tucks his gun into the waistband and holds his hands up.
“Mae'n ddrwg gen i, ( I’m sorry )” he says calmly and flaps his hand for Jack to move away.
“Maniacs gwaedlyd yn chwifio gynnau yn fy wyneb! ( Bloody maniacs, waving guns in my face!) ” the homeless man shouts, and Ianto realises this man does not smell particularly fresh, more like old feet.
Ianto decides to back track a little “Roedden ni'n meddwl eich bod chi'n rhywun arall ( We thought you were someone else), ” he raises his hands again and backs away “Byddwn yn gadael ( We’ll leave) ,”
The homeless man lets out a sigh and Ianto turns to Jack.
“Let’s go, we’ve probably lost the Weevil now. We can try again in the morning when we’ve got daylight on our side,”
Jack looks like he’s about to contest but thinks better of it and nods “Sounds like a plan,”
They reach the SUV and climb in “My place?” Ianto asks, innocently as possible.
Jack smirks, there’s a glint in his eye “Why? Do you have plans, Mr Jones?”
Ianto smirks, putting the SUV into reverse and raises his eyebrows “Maybe…,”
Jack laughs and they pull back onto the high street and blast towards the main road, taking a sharp corner before speeding in the direction of Ianto’s flat. After they pull up in the garage below Ianto’s flat, Jack turns to him and pulls him into a deep kiss which definitely feels like a promise of something more.
Jack breaks the kiss and holds Ianto’s chin with a hand “And for the record? You speaking Welsh - big turn on,”
Ianto blushes “ Shut up ,” he says before pulling Jack into another long kiss.
The younger man drags Jack through the foyer and into a lift, they barely make it to Ianto’s flat without violating several tenancy rules.
Ianto does not want to be woken up on his day off, especially by insistent prodding.
“Ianto. You know you talk in your sleep?”
Jack props his head up with his arm and smiles indulgently.
Ianto, half-asleep, groans and rolls over and away from him.
“Urgh, I can’t believe you woke me up to tell me that,” he complains, shoving his face into the pillow and pulling the duvet over his shoulders.
“It’s cute!” Jack protests, wriggling closer (to be even more irritating).
“We’ve barely slept this week, please leave me alone,” Ianto all but sobs, but it’s muffled by his pillow.
“You can say nothing considering I gave you the opportunity to go straight to sleep last night but you couldn’t get enough of my - -,” Jack doesn’t finish the brag because Ianto has grabbed a decorative pillow from the floor and smacked Jack, blindly, in the face with it.
“Please... shut...up ,” he begs, bringing the duvet over his head.
Jack grin grows wider and he chucks the pillow to the foot of the bed, he snakes an arm around Ianto’s waist, leaning closer until his lips are by what he assumes is Ianto’s ear.
“You sleep-talk in Welsh,” somehow he manages to make it sound filthy.
Ianto huffs and shakes him off, he rolls onto his back and pulls down the duvet to look at Jack.
“And what do I say in these spates of enlightenment?” he asks, grouchily.
Jack thinks for a second “Fun guwer u eh. Or something like that,”
Ianto stiffens, suddenly awake, he reckons he knows what that roughly means. That would explain his dream last night.
A brief flutter of concern crosses Jack’s face “You okay?”
Ianto nods dismissively, trying to brush it off as naturally as possible “Mmhm, fine. I’m fine,”
Jack scoffs “Yeah, totally fine,” he runs a hand through Ianto’s hair, petting it softly.
“Just some rubbish,” Ianto says finally.
Jack nods but seems unconvinced “Whatever you say,”
Ianto bites his lip, an idea forming in his mind “You mentioned something about last night?”
The older man’s smile nearly breaks in two “I was wondering if you were up for a rematch?”
“Always, sir ,”
Ianto and Jack sit in the front room of a house which smells distinctively like lily of the valley. They’ve been getting reports of rift activity from this house and they’re pretending to be community support officers in order to find out what’s going on. Currently, the pair are dressed in full CSO police uniform (it’s been a test of wills for Jack to keep his hands off Ianto) and sipping the weakest tea Ianto has ever had the misfortune to drink out of fine bone china teacups which feel as delicate as butterfly wings.
“Mrs Evans - -,” Ianto starts.
“Eirlys, please,” the elderly lady across from him says, batting her eyes.
“ Eirlys , have you seen anything strange recently? Funny lights outside? Heard strange noises?” Ianto asks, setting down his anemic tea on the coffee table in front of him.
Eirlys shakes her head “No, can’t say I have. Roger at number four’s been playing is radio loudly, he listens to the Shipping Forecast, see, but nothing apart from that,” she ponders for a few seconds “there was that problem with the lamp last night, but I just blamed it on dodgy wiring…,”
“The lamp?” Jack says, leaning forwards.
The older lady nods “Yes, see we’ve been having a few bursts of electric, of late, and it’s been blowing a few fuses. Didn’t really think much of it, except I’m spending all my pension on new bulbs and plugs,”
“Mind if I have a look at the lamp in question?” Jack asks carefully.
“Knock yourself out, love, upstairs on the left. Green shade.” she vaguely points and Jack smiles politely before excusing himself.
Eirlys fixes Ianto with a look.
“Dim ond llygaid i chi, yr un hwnnw ( Only got eyes for you, that one) ,” she says wisely, nodding to herself.
Ianto coughs awkwardly “We’re not, he’s not…”
She holds up her hand “Peidiwch â'i wadu ( Don’t bother) . He looks at you the same way I used to look at my husband,”
Ianto looks down and suddenly finds himself very interested in the out-dated, swirling pattern.
“Rydych chi'n fachgen lwcus. Mae'n edrych fel seren ffilm ( You’re a lucky boy. He looks like a film star) ,” she continues, ignoring the way Ianto’s cheeks are flaming red.
Ianto doesn’t really know how to reply to that so he settles for “Diolch,” he reaches for his (probably cold and mostly milk) tea, sipping it for something to do. He prays for Jack to come back downstairs before Eirlys says anything else.
Thankfully, ten seconds later, the sound of boots thunders down the stairs.
“I can’t seem to find anything wrong, Mrs Evans, we’ll go and talk to Roger and see if we can’t sort out that radio habit,” he says smoothly, taking Ianto’s cup and his own before walking to the kitchen to neatly place them on the sideboard “we’ll probably be back in a couple of days so keep an ear out for anything strange,” he adds.
Eirlys nods, and Jack slips past her, he unlocks the front door and walks out onto the garden path, Ianto goes to follow but she catches his elbow before he crosses back over the threshold, Jack turns with a hint of anxiety.
“Nid yw cariad fel yna yn digwydd yn aml iawn ( Love like yours is rare) ,” Eirlys says sadly, and then slakens her grip. Ianto nods and continues walking away. They wait until Eirlys closes her door before making a sharp right in the direction of the SUV.
Ianto sits in the driver's seat of the SUV and waits whilst Jack unzips his stab vest before clambering in.
“You know, before we put these back into storage we should give them a little test run in the bedroom,” he suggests, more innocently than should be possible.
Ianto takes a breath and shakes his head “No way,”
Jack considers this a challenge “I should arrest you for being so hot,”
“Maybe you should arrest me for harrassment,” Jack considers this for a second “maybe you could cuff me?”
“You’re just embarrassing yourself,”
Jack barks out a laugh “Don’t pretend there isn’t a role-playing streak in you, Ianto Jones,”
Ianto smiles to himself and grips the steering wheel a little tighter “I don’t know what you’re talking about,”
It’s been the shittest week in living history. Ianto feels like he’s been thrown down a particularly long staircase and hit a considerable amount of steps on the way.
He’s stumbled to a pub around the corner from the Hub, planted himself at the bar and ordered himself a large whiskey, it’s shit but it’ll get the job done. The painkillers are wearing off and, well, either can do the job. He washes the remnants of the alcohol down and lifts the empty glass aloft, cuing the extremely bored (if reasonably attractive) bartender, who picks up a bottle from the back bar and uncorks it, pouring out a double into a measurer and dumping the liquid, unceremoniously into Ianto’s glass.
“I’ll put it on the tab,” he says, walking away to tap at a touch screen computer.
Ianto grunts and takes a sip, trying to avoid the way he nearly checks out the bartender's arse, he closes his eyes as the whiskey burns down his throat.
“Didn’t take you as a ‘drowning your sorrows’ kinda guy,”
Ianto winces and turns around.
“Can I just have one hour where you don’t poke fun at me? I’m starting to feel like a pinata,” Ianto exasperates, turning back to the bar.
“Oooh, if I keep going do you spill sweets on the floor?” Jack teases.
“More like punch you in the face,” Ianto picks up his drink “if you’ve got nothing helpful to say, just go, I’ll see you tomorrow,”
Jack doesn’t go, but he sighs “I’m sorry about earlier,”
Ianto spins quickly, shaking his head “No. No. We are not doing this here .”
“Where then? You bolted as soon as you could.” Jack looks uncomfortable. “I was worried,” he adds quietly.
Ianto rolls his eyes, he spots the bartender who suddenly looks very interested in the commotion.
“Another double,” Ianto calls, jerking his head in Jack’s direction, the bartender nods and busies himself pouring out another whiskey into a glass and putting it on the bar before scuttling away (but not too far that he can’t hear them).
Jack grabs the glass and takes a grateful mouthful, he waits a moment before speaking.
Ianto swivels faster than a halfway-to-pissed man should “No, you look ,” he hisses “I spend a considerable amount of my life worrying about you for one reason or another. I never know what you’re going to do next! Do you have any idea what it’s like to have a boyfriend who seems to have a total disregard for his own safety? I know that you don’t need to worry about the big stuff, but what about the rest of us? Do you ever think about how we feel after you do something reckless or...or stupid?”
Ianto stops, looking a little shell-shocked, like he can’t believe the words that have just come out of his own mouth. Jack looks hurt, and Ianto appreciates the gesture.
“Urgh, sit down, Jack,” Ianto groans, kicking out a seat, and Jack complies, sliding onto the bar stool and sipping at his drink.
They sit in silence for a few seconds, although Ianto can practically hear Jack thinking.
“I’m sorry,” Jack says finally, Ianto scoffs.
“You’re sorry ,” he repeats bitterly “and what exactly are you sorry for?”
Jack looks irritated “You know why,”
“Yes, but I want to hear you say it ,”
Jack grits his teeth “I’m sorry for going headfirst into things without thinking about the fallout.”
“ And? ”
Jack looks even more pissed off “ And I’m sorry for not considering your... feelings ,”
Ianto fixes him with a look “You don’t have to say it like it’s a disease.”
They lull back into angry silence, both men look at the bottom of their glasses. The red mist around Ianto clears a little as the alcohol seeps into his bloodstream. He takes a breath.
“I think you forget, Jack, that the rest of us are still learning. You’ve had hundreds of years to live and learn but we’re like children, still getting steady on our feet,” Ianto says lowly, he gives Jack a sad smile “whilst you’re being all heroic and enigmatic, we’re still figuring out what we want, the kind of lives we want to lead. We’ve all got limited time, Jack. I think you forget that,”
Jack looks at him in disbelief “You really think I’ve forgotten that all this is temporary?” he shakes his head “Ianto, I wake up everyday knowing that this could all disappear like that.” he snaps his fingers “Immortality hasn’t taught me the insignificance of life, it’s shown me how fleeting and small those lives are -but also how important they are, too,”
The younger man’s mood takes a U-turn and he picks up his drink, chuckling mirthlessly into it “Just a blip, never anything more,” he says sharply.
The tables turn and now Jack looks furious “How many times do I have to tell you, try to convince you, that you’re more than that to me? I could get on my knees, right here - -,”
“Please don’t,” Ianto says coldly.
“- - and tell you how much you mean to me, and it still wouldn’t be enough,”
Jack looks tired and properly upset for the first time in a long time, Ianto feels a little bad.
“Now please , believe me when I tell you, you’re more than just a passing romance. You’re everything to me, and if anything happened to you I’d…,” he gulps and Ianto can see tears beginning to form “you’re important to me, Ianto,”
Ianto feels his resolve crumble, he looks down at his lap “I know,”
Jack holds out his hand on the bar, Ianto thinks about leaving it for a split-second but he covers Jack’s palm with his own, his fingers twisting around his wrist, tracing veins on his skin.
“It’s been a long day,” Jack says, watching Ianto’s fingers.
“Long week,” Ianto huffs.
Jack smiles a little “Come on, I’ve got better whiskey in my office,”
Ianto concedes and nods, fishing his wallet out of his pocket and dropping a few notes on the bar, the bartender notices Ianto’s departure and scurries to collect the money, Jack threads his fingers through Ianto’s as the bartender picks up the notes.
“lwcus gwaedlyd, wyt ti ( Bloody lucky, you are) ,” he says with a smile, inclining his head at Jack “not many would admit they’re wrong,”
Ianto nods, smiling wryly before letting Jack tug him towards the exit “Cadwch y newid,”
The bartender nods understandingly, before disappearing out of sight.
Once they’re back at the Hub, Ianto has to admit that the whiskey is a damn sight better than the one he’d been drinking ten minutes before.
They’re in bed. Because of course they are. Between saving the world and trying to fit in some kind of structure - bed always seems to be somewhere they end up spending the most amount of time, mostly because it forces them to relax.
Jack’s asleep, his eyelids fluttering as he floats through REM dreaming, Ianto watches intently, even whilst he sleeps he still smiles every now and again.
Ianto doesn’t know if it’s early or late but it’s definitely dark, he’s lost all concept of time from the past few days. It's probably some heinous in-between hour. He knows he should be asleep, but life’s too short, and Ianto will take any opportunity to commit to memory the lines of Jack’s face, because he knows that one day he’ll want to remember times like these. He wants to stay awake to keep this tableau in his mind to use on cold nights when he’s old and alone (if he gets that far).
He reaches across to run his fingers through Jack’s hair, he’d never dreamed five years ago, or even three, that he’d share a bed with a man, and yet here he is - and he can’t imagine it being any other way.
In petting the older man’s hair, he accidentally rouses him from sleep.
“Sorry,” Ianto mutters, running his knuckles down Jack’s cheek “go back to sleep,”
Jack sniffs into the pillow, stretching out on the bed, he looks up at Ianto with heavy eyelids.
Ianto shakes his head “No.” he pulls his hand back but Jack catches it and puts it back to work in his hair, Ianto chuckles and he slowly massages his fingertips across Jack’s scalp.
Jack closes his eyes and they lull in quiet again. Silence settles around them as Ianto tries to learn by heart the way Jack’s hair feels under his hands.
“Rwy'n dy garu di,” Ianto whispers.
Jack’s drowsy lips form words “Dwi'n dy garu di hefyd,”
Ianto pulls his hand back suddenly and Jack chuckles in a low baritone, he opens his eyes and looks pleased with himself.
“Nid wyf yn credu eich bod yn deall faint yr ydych yn ei olygu i mi ( I don’t think you understand how much you mean to me) ,” Jack continues, shuffling his tired limbs until they’re facing one another.
“I didn’t know - -,” Ianto says, startled, eyes wide.
“I’ll be honest with you, it kind of took me off-guard when you confessed your love whilst washing the dishes in the Hub - but then I guessed that perhaps you didn’t think I knew Welsh. I do. It’s a beautiful language. Almost as beautiful as the people who speak it,” Jack says carefully.
Ianto gapes “Why didn’t you say before?”
Jack laughs, it’s throaty with tiredness “It was fun to pretend, I knew as soon as I told you, you wouldn’t speak it around me. I enjoy hearing you speak it,”
“But all this time…,” Ianto thinks back to the past few weeks.
“My favourite was Mrs Evans, I heard her say I looked like a film star,” Jack teases, poking Ianto in the side. The younger man jumps and Jack chuckles roughly, Ianto can’t help but crack a smile.
“I can’t believe you knew all this time…,” he mutters, shaking his head, wiping this face with a hand.
Jack shrugs, playing with the hem of Ianto’s t-shirt “It was nice hearing what you really thought. If it ever got too much I would have said.” he adds seriously.
Ianto narrows his eyes “I don’t believe you,”
“I’m bad, but I’m not that bad,” he says, looking a little hurt.
Ianto gives him a less than pleased look but Jack puts a hand on each of his shoulders.
“Trust me, if I ever thought that you might be saying something that was private, then I would have told you,” Jack reassures him, rubbing his hands on tired muscles.
“I think we can safely say, me saying ‘I love you’ is pretty private,” Ianto grumbles.
Jack gives him his best charming smile “It was nothing I didn’t already know.”
Ianto flushes and rolls his eyes and swings his legs over the side of the bed.
“Ianto, stop, wait, ” Jack throws the covers off and follows him as the younger man sweeps out the bedroom and towards the kitchen.
Ianto opens a cupboard and pulls out a glass, he walks over to the sink and fills the glass with water. He takes a long drink and brings the glass down from his mouth, thinking. Jack watches, apologetic but unable to put into words why he did what he did.
Ianto sighs and sets the empty glass down.
“I’m not angry because you can understand Welsh.” he says, and he sounds exhausted “I’m angry because it’s yet another secret, it’s another thing that you could have told me, another thing which could have brought us together, and you chose not to share it with me.” he sounds pained.
Ianto turns to look out of his kitchen window, onto a dark street, Jack watches the way his shoulders tense and his head bows forward. Neither man know how long it is until morning, but this is beginning to feel like a very long night.
“You have every chance, Jack, to bring us closer together - to help me understand you. You know how I feel about you, Jack. I love you... Let me in,” Ianto all but begs “if you want this to continue, you have to let me in,”
Jack watches Ianto closely “I know there’s a lot I don’t tell you. And there’s reasons for that,”
Ianto turns, looking disparagingly at him “You’ve got enough excuses to last until the Sun goes out,”
Jack lets out a small scoff “But that doesn’t make them less valid,”
The younger man exasperates and throws his arms in the air “This is exactly what I’m talking about. Jack, I’ll give you all the time in the world if you want to talk about anything. You’ve had such a long life, I want to hear about as much of it as you’ll let me,”
Jack gives him a wary look “Not all of it is good,”
“None of us are perfect. Just tell me stories, Jack, tell me anything that’ll help us learn more about each other, please,” Ianto says as he walks over to him.
Jack considers this for a second “Do you want me to tell you them in Welsh?”
Ianto lets out a laugh and then tension between them deflates a little “If you want,” he puts his hands on the other man’s hips “I want you to be able to tell me anything . I don’t want you to think I’ll love you less for anything you’ve done in the past, because I won’t, because that’s not the man you are now. I’d rather hear it from you, not some ex, or accidentally read it in a file, or hear about it from some stranger. Because I know that’s what I’d want, if it were me,”
Jack nods and lays his hands over Ianto’s “I’ll answer any questions you have, just come back to bed.”
“ Any questions?” Ianto says as they walk back towards the bedroom.
“I’ll try my best,” Jack pauses “it’s not easy for me. I don’t want you to think differently of me,”
“I think I know you well enough to know that the things you’ve done in the past are what have lead you here. So without them...we wouldn’t be here, in this situation now. It’s the same in every relationship - people have baggage,”
“Yeah, but baggage for a normal person is drunk-texting their ex. Mine’s more conning, stealing, escaping prisons and sleeping with royalty,”
“Anyone I’d know?” Ianto asks, perhaps a little too quickly.
Jack laughs “I wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise. Come on. Bed. Plenty of time for me to you to grill me,”
“How do you manage to make that sound dirty?”
Jack winks “It’s a talent,”
They climb back into bed and Jack beckons Ianto over, the younger man lies against him, with his head leaning on Jack’s shoulder.
“What do you want to know?” Jack ask, running his fingers through Ianto’s hair.
Ianto doesn’t really know how to answer, he takes a few seconds before replying.
“Tell me about the Doctor,” he finally says, closing his eyes.
Jack takes a long inbreath “Okay,” he wraps his free arm around Ianto’s waist and pulls him close “I first met him in 1941, in London. I’d seen that they were passing by, thought they were Time Agents…,”
“What exactly is a Time Agent?” Ianto mumbles sleepily.
Jack kisses his temple “A story for another time, let me tell you this one first…,”