Summary: Sometimes Jack visits him in the past.
Sometimes Jack visits him in the past. Takes the place of his younger self, and kisses Ianto again. Whispers I love you, as Ianto drifts to sleep in his arms.
Sometimes he takes him on the vacations they never had. Trips to the Riviera, teas at the Ritz, afternoons in the British Museum or the Vatican basement, where Ianto can touch and examine and know to his heart’s content, and Jack can watch the smile creep up on him, that fragile, beautiful, broken-winged smile that Jack first fell in love with. They shag in the stacks of the lost Library of Alexandria, not so lost in time, and make love under the chimera-moons of Druidia III.
More than once, Jack is tempted to take him away. Put him somewhere safe, where he will age gracefully and slowly, die peacefully in Jack’s arms. He even asks him one night in 2007, if he would choose that, while the retcon takes hold. Wiser than he, Ianto says no, he’d rather have Jack like this, brash and messy and real, than for a faded near-eternity of Jack’s deaths and other loves.
The next time he comes back, needing Ianto’s beautiful Welsh vowels and perfect tea, Ianto’s kiss is sweeter, sadder. Before the amnesia takes hold, he smiles and Jack knows he remembers all the times before, that he has found some way to keep these bits of never-happened for himself. Jack knows he should erase them, but he can’t, he won’t.
One time he takes Ianto to future that didn’t happen, where they raised a family with Gwen, and taught the children games and dances that will never be invented. And when he finally breaks and weeps for all that wasn’t, Ianto kisses him. Says in his stoic-Ianto tone, “You’d have tired of me in time. But this way, you’ll always love me.”
A/N: linaerys and just_katarin have kindly indulged my squee over these two for a week now, and linaerys and poisontaster have facilitated my character-meta. So thank you, all three of you, and especially PT for the quick read on this piece, and for prompting this thought that will, I'm sure, end up inspiring yet another fic: His memories steep like tea, it seems, until people like Captain Jack Harkness become treasured, storied loves instead of passing glances.
Jack Harness is a complex creature, tragic and comic by turns. I love that he can call himself the dashing hero in one breath, and weep for a hero lost in another. That his stopwatch kink persists alongside/in time with the knowledge that Ianto needs holding when he returns from the dead. This pairing breaks my heart and makes me ache. I can't stop thinking about them, so I wrote this to exorcise it. But it doesn't seem to have worked...