Jack promised never to forget Ianto. Not even in one thousand years.
It wasn’t the first time he had made that promise.
He had learned that the grief never left. It did not dull over time. He only learned to live with it. The ache was a reminder of those lost.
But, none of those he loved before had been brought back to life by his kiss. To this day Jack doesn’t know how he did it. Only knowing that while the Cyberwoman was running amuck, Ianto’s breath and heart had stopped. Then, in a moment, he was back and that was the beginning of their connection.
Jack never told Ianto that he felt his heart beating as an echo of his own. Another gift of the 51st century was instinctual empathy. Before, it had been simply another sense he could use to his advantage, just like his pheromones. After, it was atuned to Ianto, giving Jack an indepth experience of Ianto’s dry wit, keen intelligence, guilt, insecurity, joy in the little things, and deep love. He was closer to Ianto than he had ever been to anyone else and it scared the hell out of him.
Then Ianto had died again. He tried to kiss the life back into him once more, but it didn’t work a second time.
Ianto’s heart stopped and the echo of Jack’s heart beat was lost. Jack died with him and wished he stayed dead with him.
He never told Gwen that he surrendered Ianto’s body to The Rift. It was only fitting he should be born in the shadow of The Rift and be set adrift as the sailors of old Earth had been given back to the sea.
Jack sacrificed his own grandchild. Steven had had Gray’s eyes. Alice killed herself shortly afterwards with a gun to her temple. She did not inherit her father’s immortality. He was the last living member of his family and they were all dead by his sins.
Six months after Ianto died Jack left Earth intending never to come back.
Seven months after Ianto died Jack felt the echo to his heart beat return.
Jack’s time agent device was long ago attuned to Ianto. It chirped happily detecting Ianto’s presence and Jack walked into a wall.
It did not report Ianto Jones on Earth or even his time. He found Ianto on Boeshane Peninsula decades before Jack’s parents had been born.
Ianto’s hair was a little longer and his pale skin still pale despite the scorching sun.
Jack had given up wearing up his RAF clothing, falling back to the favourite of black leather pants and form fitting black shirt. Ianto on the other hand was wearing the flowing and cream coloured clothing of the locals. A brief memory recalled his grandfather in such a cut of pants.
Ianto was standing on a balcony staring out at the ocean and salt flats. Jack stalked over to him and was afraid to touch. His hand hovered close to Ianto and finally settled on his upper arm.
“You look ridiculous without a suit,” Jack blurted out.
Ianto turned and was smirking, but his eyes were red-rimmed and teary. “Jack.”
Jack pulled Ianto into his arms, crushing him into a too-tight embrace. Ianto smelled the same even with the addition of the slight salty smell of his home planet.
“How?” Jack asked.
Ianto returned the embrace and buried his face against Jack’s neck.
“The Rift,” he mumbled. “It gave me back to you.”
Jack had no idea why Ianto of all of the people he loved came back, but he didn’t care. Ianto was back and alive.
“Something’s different about me now,” Ianto confessed.
“I know. I can feel it.”
Ianto was no longer completely human. He radiated something that Jack had only felt one other place. The TARDIS. Ianto was a part of The Rift now. He was a living TARDIS.
Jack held Ianto closer and shifted so he could kiss him. As their lips touched, he felt the power of The Rift rustling through Ianto, acknowledging him and rejoicing.
Jack’s mind raced. The TARDIS was The Doctor’s. The TARDIS was timeless.
Ianto was now as eternal as The Rift. He was also Jack’s.
“I’m scared, Jack,” Ianto whispered against Jack’s lips. “I wanted to see your home and I woke up here. I can’t control it.”
Jack pulled away from Ianto, but only so he could grasp his face between his hands and kiss him quickly.
“Can’t control it yet.” Jack grinned and chuckled like the madman he was. “Yet.”
“What am I?”
“A part of me,” Jack told him. “How do you feel about seeing the universe with me, Mr. Ianto Jones?”
Ianto chuckled nervously, but gifted Jack with that shy smile he loved. “Scared shitless.”
Jack knew The Doctor had a complicated relationship with The TARDIS. It might be part machinery, but there was a part that was a living thing that the Time Lords of Gallifrey had harnessed and partnered with long ago. Whatever that indefinable thing was that returned to The Rift to refuel was embodied as a wild thing in Ianto. Jack wondered if the double-heart beat was something similar to the double-hearts of the Time Lords. One of their own, and one for the connection to time and space.
Jack whispered into Ianto’s ear, “I promised not to forget you in one thousand years. Now I never will because you’ll be here, too. Take my hand.”
Jack laughed in way he hadn’t since Ianto died seeing the questioning look on the man’s face. Ianto was perplexed, but he took Jack’s hand all the same.
“Close your eyes and think of anywhere in the universe you would like to be.”
Jack closed his eyes only a moment after Ianto did. He felt the surge of The Rift rush through the connection he shared with Ianto, twisting and dancing from his circulatory system to his soul.
When Jack opened his eyes, he burst out laughing. “The entire universe and you pick a Starbucks?”
Ianto’s cheeks were shaded with a blush. “I really wanted a good cup of coffee.”
Jack interlocked his fingers with Ianto’s and kissed the back of his hand. “We will certainly have to broaden your horizons.”
“After my coffee.”