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Title: The Sea After a Storm, Chapter 91

Rating: R

Warnings: Some bad language

Spoilers: Season Two thru A Day in the Death (2x08)

Pairings: Jack/Ianto

Disclaimer: Torchwood, Doctor Who and all their wonderfulness belong to the Mighty Beeb and He Who Must Not Be Named. No infringement, only worship intended!

Summary: In which Ianto turns to an old friend...

Notes: Apologies for missing last week! I was on vacation out of town and completely forgot it was even Sunday, let alone posting. :P You can find all the previous chapters of The Sea After a Storm here. This is a sequel to Vizzini’s Rule and To The Pain. Thanks again and forever to my amazing beta and wonderful friend [personal profile] thraceadams  for all the help and support and beta work; any mistakes are mine!



The Sea After a Storm: Chapter Ninety-One
Previously on The Sea After a Storm: Just when Ianto thought things couldn't get worse between him and Jack, a particularly bad outcome at Flat Holm drove them further apart...

Ianto slammed into his flat, noting with vague disinterest that he'd put a hole in the wall behind the door with his fury. He strode through the flat to his bedroom, yanking his suitcase from the top shelf in his closet and throwing it on the bed. He packed haphazardly, tossing pants and socks and jeans and shirts into the case without care for the items or even what he was choosing. He could hear Jack's words echoing through his skull like it was a cavern: FUCKING GO AWAY, IANTO repeating again and again until he wanted to bash his head against the wall just to make it stop.

He realised he was muttering under his breath and bit his lip hard to make himself stop. He put a couple of pairs of shoes into a duffle and then stopped in the bath to pick up his toothbrush. When he caught sight of his face in the mirror he almost didn't recognise himself. He was dead white, his lip was bleeding and there was a look of anguished panic in his eyes that he knew hadn't been there since the Cybermen attacked Canary Wharf. He forced himself to stop and take a few deep breaths, gripping the edge of the sink until his knuckles turned white.

He was surprised he hadn't crashed his car on the drive from the Hub. He didn't remember even a second of it. Everything since Jack's order to get out was a blur. Ianto rinsed his mouth with a handful of cold water from the tap, taking a second to splash some water on his face. He towelled off with shaking hands and then turned off the faucet. He avoided the mirror as he grabbed a few more toiletries and shoved them into his duffle. He walked back to the bedroom to grab his suitcase and then made sure that his alarm clock and all the lights were off. He did the same in the main area of the flat, turning off lights, double checking the lock on the French doors and adjusting the thermostat. He locked the front door behind him and wondered when – or even if – he'd be back.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~


The Second Severn Crossing was thirty miles behind him before it occurred to Ianto that he needed a destination other than away. He fleetingly thought of Brendan but dismissed it quickly as a bad idea. The temptation to let Brendan soothe his hurt feelings with some physical comfort would be too great. Plus, he remembered Brendan's new maybe-boyfriend and knew he'd never forgive himself if he messed that up for his friend. He glanced over his shoulder and changed lanes, exiting at Swindon. He spotted a Costa just off the motorway and rang Jamie as he waited in the drive-through.

"Jones!"

"Smith! How are you?"

"Can't complain. Well, no that's a complete lie, you know I can always find something to complain about," Jamie said with a laugh. "How's Cardiff?"

"Fine. At least I assume it's fine, I'm not there."

"Really? And where, pray-tell, are you?"

"Swindon, at the moment."

"God. Why?"

"Coffee."

"Ah."

"Listen, Jamie, I hate to ask this and I know my timing is shitty with the holidays and everything but would it be possible for me to crash with you tonight? I'll be out of your hair in the morning, I just... I need..." To his dismay, Ianto felt his throat close up and tears fill his eyes.

"Hey, hey, hey, what's wrong, son?" Jamie asked.

Ianto could feel Jamie's concern wrap around him like a warm blanket. He took a deep breath and blinked hard. A horn sounded behind him and he rolled forward to the drive-through window, giving the car behind him a wave.

"One second, Jamie," he said into the phone. He cleared his throat and ordered the largest cup of the darkest roast they had. After the barista handed him the coffee, he settled it in the cup holder before pulling into an open parking space and dropping the car into neutral. "Sorry, I'm back," Ianto said, picking up the phone again.

"You've got me worried, Jones. Is it Jack?"

"Yeah," Ianto admitted, setting the hand brake. He rubbed his eyes and resisted the temptation to just start drinking the coffee; he didn't need a scorched mouth to go with the rest of his agony at the moment.

"Are you two still fighting?"

"Yeah." Ianto was very glad had told Jamie most of the story on the phone one evening a few weeks before so at least he didn't have to explain it all right there in the Costa car park.

"What did –" Jamie broke off and started again. "Scratch that, m'boy. Just get here and we can have a proper convo about it. And don't you even think of trying to find a hotel or something. You stay as long as you need to. We'll be in town until the twenty-fourth and even then you're welcome to stick around. We can call it flat-sitting if that makes you feel better."

"Thanks, Jamie." The relief in Ianto's voice was palpable.

"You'd do the same for me," Jamie said dismissively. "Use the car park on Clere Street again and just get here in one piece, okay?"

"Yes, father," Ianto replied, rolling his eyes. He ended the call to the sound of Jamie's laughter and couldn't help but smile. He took a drink of his coffee and put the BMW back in gear. A moment later he was back on the M4, heading east.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~


Even with all the holiday preparation madness, staying with Jamie and Mark was restful. Ianto didn't realise just how high the stress at the Hub had gotten until he was well away from it. Owen's ordeal plus Ianto's falling-out with Jack had affected them all in ways Ianto didn't fully appreciate until he was free of its daily misery. He'd expected to be grilled by Jamie the moment he walked in the flat, but his old friend had surprised him by merely handing Ianto a beer and asking what he fancied for dinner. He must have warned Mark away from the topic as well so Ianto had an evening of blissful denial that he was doing anything but visiting friends.

Jamie never did sit him down for a big talk, he just worked his questions into their conversations naturally over the next few days in between flat decorating and shopping for presents and even a little baking. It was Jamie and Mark's first Christmas together in their new flat and spending time around their infectious joy had Ianto feeling more in the holiday spirit than he had since he was a child.

Little by little, Jamie got Ianto to share more about his fight with Jack; the crux of the argument, if not the specific details, of course, and the resulting fallout. During the tree trimming the day before Mark and Jamie were scheduled to leave for Wales, Ianto admitted that he still loved Jack and wanted to find a way to work things out.

"But I can't find a way to get past this," Ianto sighed. "He doesn't want anything to do with me anymore. The only thing he said – well, yelled at me lately was to fucking get away from him," he added bitterly.

"And that's when you came here, right?" Jamie asked, hanging a delicate glass snowflake on the tree.

"Yep."

"Do you think it's in the realm of possibility that you overreacted a bit? That maybe he actually meant 'I need some space' not 'get out of my life'?"

Ianto hunched his shoulders and then shrugged.

Jamie let out a frustrated sigh. "What are exactly are you looking for here, Ianto? Do you want me to just say 'oh my God, Jack is such a wanker, you are so much better off without him' or do actually want to fix this?"

"You thought he was a wanker from the start! You're the one who punched him in the face!"

"I remember. And then you spent a lot of time convincing me otherwise. Was I right after all? Is he just a wanker?"

Ianto was silent for a moment and then admitted, "No."

"Okay, then," Jamie said more calmly. "The first step is identifying your goals."

"Don't analyse me."

"Someone has to," Jamie said. "Look, I'm just trying to give you the benefit of my past romantic failures – God knows there're enough of them," he added with a self-deprecating grin. "Think about it, you've only had one serious relationship in your life before Jack, and Lisa had you totally whipped so it hardly counts at all."

Ianto gaped at Jamie. "I was not whipped!"

"Oh, please. You were wrapped around her finger from day one."

Ianto sorted through a box of ornaments while he thought back to his relationship with Lisa – she was older, she had been at Torchwood longer, she had even been the one to make the first move, cornering him in the Archives one day to tell him she thought he was hot. Ianto flushed. "Fine, I'll give you that one."

With a contented nod, Jamie continued. "So basically you've never been in a relationship on equal footing before – Lisa controlled your first one and you're not really in one now as Jack is quite literally the boss of you. It sounds like that's what you want but you're not there yet. I'm not surprised you don't know how to fight as part of a couple."

"I think I've got the fighting part down," Ianto said ruefully.

Jamie laughed knowingly. "The actual fighting's always easy. The hard part is getting past it, apologising and making up, and you've made it doubly hard by dating someone you work with. You've got extra pressures there – especially since he is the boss and has to answer to his other employees as well." Jamie paused for a long moment. "You know, the more I think about this, the more sorry I feel for Jack."

Ianto rolled his eyes.

"Anyway, step one – you want Jack. That takes us to step two – apologise."

"I didn't do anything wrong!"

Jamie snorted. "Okay, A: I don't believe that –" Jamie kept talking over Ianto's protests, his voice getting louder whilst he gathered up an empty box to put back in the spare room closet. "And neither do you from what you've told me. Then there's B: apologising doesn't necessarily mean admitting you were wrong."

Ianto stopped defending himself and sat there for a moment with his jaw hanging open in surprise. He realised he must look something like Gwen often did and shut his mouth with a click. Jamie gave him a knowing look and left the room with his box.

TBC...

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