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Interpretation

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“You alright?”

Jack didn’t acknowledge him at first, and Ianto stood silently and waited for him to finish whatever train of thought that coursed through his mind. Sometimes, it just took a few minutes for Jack to collect himself. Ianto could grant him those minutes. Even if Ianto had somewhere else to be or something else to do, it was always worth it to let Jack have that time to think.

Ianto shifted the weight on his feet. The cold rooftop cut icy sensation through his feet. He regretted his hasty decision to leave footwear behind. And a coat, too, because the wind had him shuddering. He hugged his arms together and rubbed warmth into his own shoulders, still watching and waiting.

Eventually, Jack huffed a sigh, and then turned.

“Yeah,” Jack said. “Fine.”

He didn’t look it. Lines etched his face—lines so hard even the soft blues of pre-dawn couldn’t smooth them out. And a steely hint rode in his gaze. So, no. Not exactly fine.

If anything, Ianto would say Jack was upset. But that was vague and useless. Upset had many meanings for Jack. Upset had many manifestations and ways to present itself. Ianto prided himself in knowing Jack’s emotions, but every now and then Jack got even better at hiding what he truly felt, and Ianto was left floundering as he tried to guess as best as he could.

Right now, Ianto was thinking… a fusion of mad and upset? But what caused Jack to be mad and upset, Ianto didn’t know. Finding that out would be step two, but they were still on step one.

“You shouldn’t be up here,” Jack said.

“Neither should you,” Ianto pointed out.

Jack shrugged, a nonverbal “touché” if Ianto ever saw one.

“How did you know I was up here?”

Ianto wanted to make a glib comment about something adjacent to a spider-sense, but he had the feeling the reference would go over Jack’s head. Not to mention, if Jack was mad-upset, then it would not be appreciated, anyway.

“You didn’t come back to bed,” Ianto said instead.

Jack sighed again, shaking his head. “Flat Holm.”

Ah.

Not mad and upset. Just upset, plain and simple. Perhaps with a touch of melancholy on the side.

“New… patient?” Ianto asked, because “another lost soul?” wasn’t very kind or helpful.

“Yeah.”

Ianto nodded, then stepped forward, sliding up next to Jack at the edge of the roof. He glanced down the side, remembering he hated heights a few seconds too late. Jack turned, frowning at him as he straightened up again.

“Do you need me to go in?” Ianto asked after a moment.

“What?” Jack frowned harder. “No.”

“Well, if you’re up, and I’m up…”

“You didn’t have to get up,” Jack informed him. “You should still be in bed.”

“I’ve been up since you got the call,” Ianto said. “It’s hard to fall back asleep when both your pillow and heat source has walked away.”

Jack gave a short laugh, and Ianto glanced away.

“Lying through your teeth”—that was what they called it. Jack was a master at it. He did it every time his lips parted and grinned wide, showing off those pearly whites to the world as one great big lie. “Yes, I’m alright,” Jack’s smile said. “Yes, I’m happy. No, I’m not deeply and terribly hurt. No, I’m not in pain.” Lie after lie after lie, all in one smile.

Ianto supposed he could only blame himself, half of the time. Mix together Ianto’s need to joke away his pain with Jack’s need to grin his own away, and rather telling results appeared. Granted, sometimes it was necessary, but tonight wasn’t one of those nights. Evasive jokes and lying smiles were detrimental, at best.

“Do you know who it was?” Ianto asked, looking back to Jack.

The hard lines on Jack’s face tightened as his jaw set. He said nothing for a while, which Ianto allowed. Jack would speak in his own time, if he had anything he wanted to say.

“She couldn’t have been more than eleven,” Jack said eventually.

Ianto closed his eyes for a moment, giving himself some time to process that information. When he opened his eyes again, Jack was staring out into the distance.

“She landed near the Plass,” Jack continued. “She was just standing there.”

Standing sounded hopeful, but the look on Jack’s face clearly stated there was no hope to be found in this situation.

“I don’t know where she’d been,” Jack said. “I don’t know if she knew, either. I don’t know if she knew much of anything.”

“I’m sorry,” Ianto whispered. His breath curled outwards from his numb lips and into the frozen air.

Jack shrugged again.

“You’re cold,” he said.

“It’s not so bad.”

Jack shook his head. “C’mere. There’s room for two in this coat.”

Ianto rolled his eyes, but Jack insisted, so Ianto huddled closer to Jack as Jack wrapped an arm and a side of Jack’s greatcoat around him. Jack tilted his head sideways, letting his forehead tip into Ianto’s hair. Ianto didn’t move an inch.

Sometimes, Jack just wanted the simplest contact. Ianto figured it had something to do with the way Jack was raised. He loved touch and would take it in any form at almost any time. Ianto tried to provide what he could, but he was awkward and unsure of himself, and he was always secretly grateful when Jack opted for the barest forms of physical intimacy possible. Because this he could do for Jack perfectly. He could just stand here for hours and let Jack hold him the way Jack wanted to. He wouldn’t mind the way the freezing rooftop ate into the soles of his feet, he wouldn’t mind the growing weight as Jack leant more and more on him, he wouldn’t mind how tired he was. All that mattered was that Jack got what he needed.

A selfish part of him did want to move, just to see Jack’s face. Ianto knew exactly what expression would play out before his eyes, should he check. Jack’s eyes would be closed, his face relaxed, and the bluing early morning lights would turn him something akin to angelic. A specific, gentle sort of beauty that hid beneath Jack’s otherwise handsome face, and it only ever appeared when he was completely and totally at peace. Ianto desperately wanted to see that. But he couldn’t move, so he wouldn’t see it. A complete shame, really.

After what felt like ages, Jack let out a deep exhale through his nose, tickling the hairs around Ianto’s ear.

“It’s still early,” Ianto said quietly. “We could go back in and get more sleep before we have to go again.”

Jack huffed a small laugh into Ianto’s hair.

“You really hate mornings, don’t you,” he murmured.

“You didn’t get enough sleep. And you’re always tired after Flat Holm.”

Jack pulled away from Ianto slightly, looking him in the eye. Something deep hid in those blue eyes, but Ianto couldn’t interpret it. That made for twice this morning that he couldn’t pick out Jack’s emotions. But Ianto didn’t care much this time, because Jack leant in and kissed him softly.

When the kiss ended, Ianto brushed a stray hair away from Jack’s forehead and nodded pointedly in the direction of home.

“Bed,” he said. “You need sleep.”

Jack chuckled. “Yes, sir.”

Ianto gave him a fondly exasperated glare, but he took Jack’s hand when it was offered.

 They walked down to the flat in silence. Ianto helped Jack undress, not in the usual haste they had before a shag, but slowly and carefully. When Jack was stripped to his pants, they crawled into bed. Ianto instantly sought out his source of warmth and comfort, and Jack’s arms immediately folded around Ianto.

Jack, exhausted both physically and mentally from his Flat Holm run, fell asleep first. Ianto lifted his head up and looked at Jack.

The dark hues of the bedroom shone just enough to show Ianto the relaxed face of one Jack Harkness. Ianto studied it for a moment, taking in the beauty to behold.

Not many got to see this. Not many knew what it meant. But Ianto did. And Ianto loved every bit of it.