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21 July 2009 @ 07:07 pm
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Title: Chances

Pairing: Jack/Ianto

Author: Buttercup

Contact: Buttercupgaud@aol.com

Rating: PG-13

Warnings: Spoilers for CoE. All of it.

Disclaimer: I own none of these characters, they belong to Russel T and the beeb.

Summary: What happens after CoE. Here be SPOILERS.

Thanks: Thanks to the Jen for beta reading!

PART ONE


Part Two

Jack was different. It wasn't just the way that he sometimes looked half terrified, half desperate when they made love. It wasn't just that his old coat and military dress were nowhere to be seen. It wasn't even the way everything about their relationship had changed, either. Jack couldn't get enough of him. Not that their relationship had been short on the physical side before. But, Jack had always been able to keep out of Ianto's personal space when they were in public, or not about to have sex. Now, if Jack went a couple of minutes without grabbing his hand, or touching his shoulder, or pulling him into a tight hug it was unusual. It had taken three fairly heated arguments before Jack had even let Ianto go somewhere without him, too. Maybe all of that could be explained by whatever had happened in Thames House. Jack didn't want to talk about it, but whatever it was, it must have been bad.

But, there was more to it than that, Ianto was sure. Jack didn't look older exactly. But there was something in his eyes that hadn't been there before. A haunted look. It took him a few days before he realised what Jack and his new behaviour reminded him of. It was himself after the destruction of Torchwood One. It made Ianto's stomach churn uncomfortably.

Jack wouldn't let him anywhere near a phone, not even to let Rhiannon know that he was safe. Jack was keeping something from him, he knew it. Plus, when Ianto talked about the Hub, Gwen or even Tosh and Owen, Jack seemed surprised. Sometimes he would laugh heartily or look sad, as though these things hadn't occurred to him a long time. There was something obviously wrong with the situation.

But.

But at the same time, after a couple of days Jack had begun to relax a little. They were having fun. Jack was the same man he had fallen in love with, even with these new traits. They made each other laugh, and Jack was capable and in charge. Ianto found himself just watching him, the determined way he handled situations. It was impressive. And sexy as hell.

The left over money from their crime wave was letting them live comfortably enough, although they spent the odd night sleeping rough in outhouses or on a beach, it was more for the fun of it, than through any real need.

At night Jack would pull him close and ask question after question. Like he was trying to learn every detail of Ianto's life and thoughts. The attention was new, and it felt like the sun was shining on him. So Ianto ignored the unsettling feeling that there was something wrong. That if they were really on the run from the government, that staying in hotels wasn't the safest option, and that Jack sometimes said “him” instead of “them”.

*****

“You did not,” Ianto said, rolling over and checking the time.

Jack laughed. Rolling over and wrapping his arm around Ianto's waist and kissing him behind the ear. “I did.”

“And they just let you off?” Ianto smiled and pressed back into Jack's embrace.

“Well, I did get them off, so really, it was only fair,” Jack said kissing a trail down his neck to his shoulder.

“You think you're pretty amazing, don't you, Harkness?” Ianto grinned.

Jack stilled suddenly. He was silent for a long time.

“Jack?” Ianto turned over. Jack's face was suddenly sombre, and he had that haunted look. “Jack, what's wrong?”

Jack blinked and forced a smile. “Nothing. Just, I don't, you know. Not really. I wish you wouldn't say it like I'm some invincible hero.”

Ianto frowned. “I was joking. Having said that,” Ianto continued, smiling, “You do tend to swoop in at the very last moment and you always save the day. So-"

"Stop it." Jack's voice was suddenly hard.

"Jack, I'm just-" Ianto began, not sure how they'd gotten to Jack being annoyed at him.

"Well, don't, okay? I hate it. I'm not here to save everyone." Jack shrugged off Ianto's hand and rolled onto his back, staring resolutely at the ceiling.

Ianto paused, utterly confused. "I didn't mean anything by it. I was messing about. It's what we do, remember? You're the super hero who'll live forever and I'm going to die like an ugly dog?"

"Yeah," Jack's jaw was tense, Ianto watched a tiny muscle in it jump, "I don't find it funny anymore."

Gently, Ianto moved so his head was resting on the pillow next to Jack's. Jack wasn't looking at him. Ianto paused, considering his next move. Then, very deliberately, he licked Jack's cheek, right from his chin to his temple.

"Hey!" Jack exclaimed, wiping his hand down his face and grimacing.

Ianto laughed heartily.

"Oh, you're for it now, Jones." But Jack was grinning.

They didn't get out of bed until dinner.

****

Jack was scanning the paper. Lots still about the 456, the government and children generally. He turned the pages quickly, searching. Then he found it. He sighed and ran a hand through his hair.

There were ripples. Spreading out from the day he and Ianto went to Tames House. Jack had crossed his timeline too often. Bad enough if there were more than one of him on any given day in the same place. Let alone about a dozen, one of whom had messed with the timeline. The universe was stretched and now a little torn. It was trying to heal itself, but it was by no means a given that it’d be able to. He might have caused another rift. Or worse.

He swallowed.

“Jack, we eating?” Ianto emerged from the shower, looking tousled and damp.

Jack stuffed the paper under the bed. He watched Ianto move about the room for a moment, then smiled. Suddenly the universe didn’t seem to matter so much. He stalked over to Ianto and removed his towel. “Maybe later.”

****

Their luck couldn't last forever, of course. Seemed like Jack had used his up long ago.

They were in another nameless hotel. Ianto was complaining about the coffee. He always did. It was a running joke, and Jack grinned at him across the table.

"I'm thinking of cutting you off," he said, through a mouthful of cake.

"Oh, are you now?" Ianto arched an eyebrow, "Fancy your chances of winning that fight, do you?"

Jack doubled the ante by raising both eyebrows. "We should probably settle it with some naked wrestling. There ought to be some sort of mud. Or maybe baby oil. Or even whipped cream."

Ianto rolled his eyes. "Stand down, soldier, it's going to fall off if you're not careful."

Jack grinned. "Maybe. Shall we find out if that's even possible?"

"Tempting," Ianto said, as he drained the last of his coffee, with a grimace, "but, no."

"No sense of adventure, that's your problem." Jack pushed his plate away and stood up to go and settle the bill.

"I'll meet you in the room," Ianto said.

Jack forced down the sense of terror that threatened every time Ianto was about to leave his line of sight. He paid quickly and all but ran after him, catching sight of him as he was opening the door to their room.

“Jack.”

Jack stopped and closed his eyes.

“Jack, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry.” The Doctor's voice was heavy and sad.

Jack didn’t turn around. Maybe if he didn’t then this wouldn’t actually happen. “No,” he said. He’d spent too long, and fought too hard trying to get this far to fail now.

“You’re the Doctor.” Ianto turned from opening the door, with a frown. “About time you turned up.”

Jack looked at Ianto, and felt a tear run down his cheek.

“Jack, I’m sorry. I have to take him back.” The Doctor’s voice was soft, but firm.

Jack swallowed. He shook his head. “You’ll have to kill me first.” He turned around slowly.

“Jack,” the Doctor shook his head. “I’m sorry, I haven’t got any choice. Maybe before, if there was still a council, I might have been able to sort out the timeline, but I can’t. Not now.”

“Will someone tell me what’s going on?” Ianto had walked to stand next to Jack.

“I’m sorry, Doctor,” his voice was stronger than he’d thought it would be. “I’m not letting you take him.”

“Take me where?” Ianto was not an irritable person, but even his temper was being tested.

The Doctor looked hard at Jack. “Are you going to tell him? Or should I?”

“No,” Jack shook his head. “I’ll do it.” He turned and gently took hold of Ianto’s shoulders. He smiled gently feeling, impossibly, his heart break a little more when Ianto half smiled back. “You died.”

“I… what?” Ianto looked sidelong at the Doctor before looking back to Jack. “I died?When?”

Impossibly Jack felt his mouth twitch in a near-smile. “In Thames House. We confronted the 456, and…” he swallowed heavily. “And they killed you.”

Ianto blinked, his eyes unfocused for a moment as he took that in. “Okay,” he said, a small frown forming between his eyes. “Only, I don’t feel very dead.”

“No, I crossed my own timeline. I stopped you before you got there.” Jack felt his hands start to shake. He tensed against it, but that only seemed to make it worse. “It was my fault, Ianto,” he said. He didn’t allow his voice to break. He pushed down hard on his emotions. “I took you in there, and there was no need. It didn’t achieve a single thing. I killed you.”

“Jack,” Ianto reached out and gently touched Jack on the cheek. “It was my idea. I told you to stand up to them. It was my choice to come.”

“Ianto,” the Doctor broke in. “I’m sorry, but the timeline has been put out of kilter.”

Ianto looked at the Doctor. “Because I’m not dead?”

The Doctor nodded. “I have to put it right, I’m so sorry, but it’s… I just have to. Things are starting to unravel, and I can’t stop it.”

Ianto swallowed and opened his mouth, but Jack got there first. “No, Doctor, there’s no way. I’ve made the minimal changes to the timeline. The me from the present already thinks Ianto is dead. I know what I have to do to take care of the 456. I’m not giving him up. Not again.”

“I can’t let you decide what the timeline ought to be, Jack,” the Doctor’s voice was getting the slightest hint of an edge to it.

“Then kill me.” Jack stepped in front of Ianto. “If you have to take him, then you’ll have to do that first.”

The Doctor sighed. “Don’t make this harder than it has to be.”

Jack stepped toward the Doctor. “Time changes all the time, I know that. I’ve been the one responsible for it enough to know that. I can do this.”

Ianto reached out and grabbed his hand. “Jack-”

He looked over his shoulder at Ianto. “I’m not loosing you again. I can’t.”

The Doctor looked at him for a long time. “I’ll do what I have to, to protect this world.”

Jack stood straight. “And I’ll do what I have to, to protect mine.”

Ianto’s hand gripped Jack’s. “Guys, as cute as it is to see you fighting over me like I’m a Dame in a western, don’t I get some sort of a say?”

“No,” the Doctor said. “It’s not a decision. There isn’t a choice.”

“No,” Jack dropped Ianto’s hand. “There is. Look, I’m really sorry that Rose isn’t here, I’m sorry that Martha left you, I’m sorry you had to destroy Donna to save her, and I’m sorry that you’re alone. But, you’re not taking him from me. I’m not you, I don’t want to think of the world and be alone. I’ve done that for centuries and I’m tired. I’ve died so many times, and it’s taken a little part of me every time. But I’ve got up, and I’ve kept on fighting. When someone I loved died, I grieved and I kept on fighting. When I lost the only family I had left, I kept on fighting. When every member of every team I’ve ever assembled died, I kept. On. Fighting. But, I can’t. I’m done. Stephen was the last of my fight. I don’t even know if this world is worth saving anymore. But,” Jack took a deep breath and pulled Ianto to him, and wrapped an arm around his waist, “for him, I will fight. You may be the Oncoming Storm, Doctor, but I can’t die and I will fight you. I don’t want to hurt you, but if you…”

“Jack,” Ianto’s voice was soft. “Jack, this isn’t you. Don’t do this. If the Doctor thinks it was my time, then it was. At least I died knowing I was still fighting.”

The Doctor sighed. “Jack, I’m sorry. You’re right, it’s not fair, but you’ve changed the timeline. There’s nothing I can do. I have to put it right.”

Jack’s hand went to his holster but Ianto was faster. He pulled out the gun and stepped back from Jack. His breathing was fast, and his eyes shone. Then, very slowly, he pointed the gun at his temple.

“Ianto, no” Jack breathed. Taking a step forward, feeling the bile rise in his throat.

“Jack, I’m not letting you do this. Not for me. I can’t let you do this to yourself. I was always going to die young. We knew that. If I died next to you, then I know I was happy. It was all I ever hoped for. I know you love me.” Ianto’s hand was shaking.

“Ianto, please, please, don’t.” Jack took a step forward, and Ianto took one back.

“Take me back to where I’m meant to be, Jack.”

“Okay,” Jack had never, not in a once, imagined that this is how this would happen. He’d underestimated Ianto. He thought it wasn’t possible to love him anymore, but in that moment, he did. He was filled with it, and something deep in his soul screamed. “Okay, just put down the gun, I’ll take you back.”

Ianto nodded.

*****

Jack was waiting. He checked his watch needlessly for the fifth time.

“We’ll be here in a moment.” Ianto shifted uncomfortably.

Jack nodded. His jaw was so tense it ached. All of him ached, he’d never held himself so tight before. But then, he’d never been so sure that he’d fly apart if he didn’t.

“Where’s the Doctor?” Ianto looked around as though expecting to see him.

“I don’t care.” Jack played with the cuff of his jacket.

“Jack,” Ianto’s voice was heavy. “Jack, you know that I…”

“Ianto, please.” Jack swallowed hard on the lump in his throat. “I love you, but I swear if you keep talking I’ll-”

“Okay,” Ianto said softly. “Thanks for saving me, though. One last time.”

Jack turned to look at him. They held each other’s eye for a long moment. “You’re welcome, Ianto Jones.”

Ianto’s eyes shone, and he was about to speak when he saw something. “Jack, we’re here.”

They watched as they exited the car, and as the other Jack stepped out of the alley and ran towards Ianto. “How unobservant are you?” Ianto breathed as he watched himself be dragged away as Jack continued to walk on.

“I had other things on my mind,” Jack said, but he smiled. Then it flickered and went out. “Now go. Otherwise-”

“I know,” Ianto nodded. “I do love you.”

Jack nodded, but couldn’t speak. It shouldn’t have hurt as much watching him leave as it did watching him die. But it did.

The other Jack turned around just as Ianto hurried to catch up. He apparently didn’t notice anything odd and didn’t even break stride. They hurried down the street, but just before they turned off it, Ianto looked back. Jack stood just in the shadow of the alleyway. Ianto stood for a moment, a small smile on his lips. Then he was gone.

****

He hadn’t had much time to consider his death. Things had moved so fast and then they were in a room, facing a misty, glass case. He wondered if it would hurt. But, he knew that being here, with Jack, was the right thing. He knew that as much as he knew the sun was hot and the sky was blue. And he knew Jack loved him. The thought filled him, and try as he might he couldn’t be afraid. Jack was here and Jack loved him. There wasn’t anything else.

When the virus was released, he began to feel the affects almost instantaneously. It was a heavy weight on his chest. Jack ran from the room. He pulled his gun, figuring that if he was going then he was taking at least one of them with him.

He should have known the glass was bullet proof. The 456 weren’t stupid. Jack was shouting at him. But, there was a ringing in his ears. Everything was blurring at the edges. Jack’s arms were around him, holding him tight. It was the pain in Jack’s eyes that hurt. Ianto felt his own fill with tears.

The grief on Jack’s face wasn’t that of someone as young as Jack looked. Suddenly Jack’s sheer age weighed down on him. Panic set in. Sure Jack loved him, but he’d been right all along. He was nothing more than a blip in the life of someone who would never die. He didn’t realise he was saying this out loud until Jack responded. Jack didn’t panic, not ever. Ianto had never seen him like this before. He swallowed and tried not to give in to his own, rising panic. He hadn’t imagined that dying would feel like this. Seeing Jack’s despair hurt, and there was nothing he could do. More, he was the cause. He’d done this to him. Twice. He wanted to apologise, but the words wouldn’t come out. He hurt, and he just wanted to close his eyes.

As they fell shut, he could hear Jack begging him to stay. He dimly felt a soft kiss, and then, darkness.

*****

Ianto opened his eyes. Which, when he thought about it, was odd. Unless… “Am I in heaven?”

“What makes you think you’d get in there?”

Jack.

Ianto sat up. Felt like the world span upside down and lay back with a thud. “Jack?”

“Hey,” Jack was leaning over him, his eyes dancing.

“Hey,” Ianto smiled. “You’re here.”

“And so are you.” Jack leaned down and pressed his lips to Ianto’s.

“And so am I,” came a voice from the other side of the room.

Jack pulled back and grinned.

“Doctor,” Ianto might have blushed but his head was spinning and Jack was here and kissing him and, “I’m not dead.”

“Well,” the Doctor grinned, his eyes crinkling at the sides and his whole face lighting up, “that’s a matter of opinion.”

“What happened? I thought I was dying.” Ianto thought about sitting up, but gave up when his body gave all sorts of protests about that. He settled for grabbing Jack’s hand and turning his head to look at the Doctor.

“Well,” it was Jack who answered, squeezing Ianto’s hand gently, “let’s just say it involved some serious research, a little bit of grave robbing, an optical illusion and no small amount of very good timing.”

“I didn’t understand any of that,” he said, because he didn’t understand any of it. “You saved me.”

“Always,” Jack said. “Although,” he nodded toward the door, “it was the Doctor really.”

The Doctor looked uncomfortable, for reasons Ianto didn’t understand. “I’m going to drop you off in Jack’s personal timeline, where you go from there is up to you.”

Something dawned on Ianto, a nasty, prickling feeling creeping up his neck. “What year is it?”

Jack sighed. “On Earth? 2053.”

Ianto nodded. “That would make Gwen…”

“She ran Torchwood 5 for eight years until she died in the line of duty. Oh, Ianto, you should have seen her.”

Ianto nodded, feeling a little sick.

The Doctor shifted. “I’m sorry, Ianto, but you’re dead. I couldn’t put you back on Earth in your own time. There are paradoxes to consider.”

Ianto nodded. Gripped Jack’s hand and tried not to think. “I’m okay,” he said after a moment. “I’ll be fine.” He looked at Jack, and knew he wasn’t lying.

****

“So, what are your plans?” The Doctor was standing by the doors to the TARDIS and smiling broadly.

“Not sure,” Jack said, picking up his backpack and swinging it over his shoulder. “I figure there’s a lot I want to show Ianto.”

Ianto grinned. “I never did take a gap year.”

“Figure we might take a gap decade. Maybe two,” Jack said. “Then, I don’t know. There’s still Torchwood on Earth.”

The Doctor nodded. “There’s a lot to see out there.”

Jack stood for a moment looking at the Doctor before enveloping him into a tight hug. “Thanks,” he said.

The Doctor nodded. “You’re welcome.” He smiled, a little sadly. “A happy ending. Just this once. Right, Jack?”

“Just this once,” Jack agreed.

“You’d best be off. You’re missing it.” The Doctor opened the doors.

Jack stepped out of the TARDIS and began to walk away into the sun. Ianto thought he saw purple grass, but before he followed Jack, he paused. “Doctor,” he said, looking him in the eye, “thank you.”

The Doctor nodded. “You’re welcome, Ianto Jones," he over pronounced his name, looked at the floor with a smile, jamming his hands tightly in his trouser pockets, "look after yourself.”

“You too,” Ianto took a step toward the doors and stopped. “I’m still going to die,” he said slowly.

The Doctor looked at him, then nodded.

“It might be tomorrow for all he knows.” He wasn’t sure what he was getting at, but it made his chest ache and stomach churn.

“It might,” the Doctor agreed. “But sometimes, it’s worth it. For another chance. It’s worth it.”

Ianto smiled. “Thanks, and it wouldn’t kill you to take your own advice you know.”

The Doctor grinned. “Get out,” he said gesturing with his head towards Jack.

“Aye, aye,” Ianto winked and was gone.




The End
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gottabefierce: Jonesgottabefierce on July 21st, 2009 06:50 pm (UTC)
A very interesting idea, and good to see a happy ending^_^.
I do love noble Ianto, knowing he has to give himself up for the greater good. He really is the big hero sometimes:).
lexia4lexia4 on July 21st, 2009 08:25 pm (UTC)
Kudos to Ianto for doing the right thing and I'm so glad everything ended happily. :)
Madam Morrighanmadmogs on July 21st, 2009 09:40 pm (UTC)
Awwww, cute ending.

That said, love the grittiness of it too, the scene where the Doctor catches up with them was very powerful, & very, very sad. *loves*
Hayleyh4yleyg on July 22nd, 2009 12:36 am (UTC)
*loves*

You've made my heart happy. Mine is not as good as yours. But still, I'm carrying on, because I'm scared for tomorrow even though it's nearly 2am and I really should be asleep and I have dissertation to do. Oh well!

You are wonderful! And ridiculously talented, I hate you. (with love) xx
oximore: Nimuehoximore on July 26th, 2009 05:39 pm (UTC)
Oh wow...

I loved it. :)
Alexandra Needhamfiwen1010 on June 6th, 2010 08:43 pm (UTC)
Love the happy ending, and Jack's desperate grief was beautiful
Gxxx
badly_knitted: Kissbadly_knitted on December 28th, 2014 11:05 pm (UTC)
Oh, what a rollercoaster ride this second part was! So many ups and downs. I'm glad the Doctor fixed things so Jack and Ianto could be together without disrupting any timelines, but a little sad that he only gets one life to live which could end at any time. I can never help thinking that they deserve better than that after all the losses they've suffered. But a second chance is well deserved by both of them, I'm sure they'll make the most of it and be happy.

Edited at 2014-12-28 11:07 pm (UTC)