Fic: But the Kisses have Changed...
This is my submission to torchwood_fest ... Enjoy!
Title: But the kisses have changed...
Word Count: 4,000 ish
Pairing: Jack/Ianto, Ianto/OMC (kinda), Jack/Others (implied)
Rating: PG-13 – although there is a little – almost miniscule – swearing.
Summary: But the kisses have changed... and Ianto doesn’t know why.
Warnings: None. Except for the one – or maybe two – bad words.
Setting/Time: Pre COE – although no real show references.
A/N: Thank you to my beta – and to the fest mods... I was a rather tardy Christmas elf this year. heeroluva wanted kisses and realizations though I am not sure if this is really what was requested but I tried. I really hope you enjoy it!
Ianto Jones’s neat and tidy little brain categorizes each kiss he’s ever received from Jack, sliding them away into tiny perfectly labeled drawers. It should not be all that surprising; he is an Archivist after all, organizing is what he does. He can’t help that Jack Harkness kisses like Michelangelo paints. Each kiss is a tiny little work of art, impossibly worthy of its own very special place in Ianto’s memories. So, Ianto categorizes them almost ruthlessly, grouping together the soft slow slide of seduction and comparing those kisses to the frantic life-affirming ones that stole Ianto’s breath and made it feel as if he was the one that had just burst back into life.
Jack is the only person Ianto’s ever kissed that kisses in techni-colour. Not that Ianto has kissed a lot of people; just enough to know the difference between a good kiss and a great kiss, and Jack’s kisses are mind-blowing. It is as if the world bursts into colour the second Jack’s lips touch him. It does not matter if Jack kisses his cheek, his brow or his lips (or anywhere else for that matter), every single time Ianto’s world burns brightly and paints itself on the back of his eyelids. Like looking at the sun for too long and closing your eyes. Jack’s kisses remind Ianto of the Wizard of Oz, the old Judy Garland version that he has re-mastered on DVD. His life meanders on in monochrome until Jack dumps him in Oz with the softest brush of his lips.
Somehow, Ianto is sure, that it is highly unfair. No one should be able to distort the world with a kiss; but Jack can.
Ianto’s favourite kisses, by far, are the ones that Jack gives him just before the others come into work because it is the only time Ianto thinks Jack is genuinely honest with the world. Only in the mornings is he soft, almost pliable, and Ianto thinks that the mornings are the one time when Jack Harkness is actually real. A human boy after all. That is why those kisses are the best. They are very gentle and unhurried. There is absolutely no seduction to the kiss, it is not meant to arouse in any way. Jack’s lips are impossibly soft, as if he continually uses lip-balm (which given his vanity he probably does), and very warm. He presses them softly to Ianto’s whilst his hands rest firmly on Ianto’s lean hips, not quite holding him in place but making it clear he is not to go anywhere. They do not wander – which is unusual for Jack’s hands – but his thumbs make tiny circles that sear Ianto’s skin through the wool-linen blend of his trousers. One finger always manages to get itself tucked under the leather of Ianto’s belt, and somehow – no matter what sexual deviancies they’ve performed – it is the most intimate thing they’ve ever shared. Jack’s tongue barely breeches Ianto’s mouth, almost as if he is too timid to really kiss Ianto and Ianto never forces the issue. He does, however, wind his hands through Jack’s hair. It is the only way Jack can achieve his trademark messed up style; Jack puts the wax on himself, but it is Ianto’s fingers that do all the work.
Other kisses scorch Ianto, burn themselves into his memory like acid. They make his blood boil and his soul sing and they breathe life into his lungs. They are all wonderful, all heartbreaking – each and every one – and Ianto thinks that he could live forever on those kisses.
But the kisses have changed. A hard edge has crept into the kisses somehow and Ianto doesn’t know why.
Jack’s fingers dig into his hips, leaving blue fingertip bruises in their wake and his teeth graze Ianto’s lips just once too often for it to be accidental. He does not know why things have changed; he thought he had given Jack everything he had ever wanted. He’d asked, and listened respectfully to the answer, about Jack’s own time and the cultural norms. He knows that Jack thinks it’s because Ianto is curious about him, just like the rest of the team. But, for Ianto, it is more than that. He’s been the stranger before, the only Welsh boy in a London office, and while it does not quite compare to being the only 51st century immortal in tiny 21st century Cardiff, Ianto still feels compelled to help. So he asks questions because he wants to make things just that little easier on Jack.
And on himself.
Everyone thinks that Ianto is a push over. He is quite aware of this but none of them really understand him, or Jack for that matter, and Ianto is happy to let them think what they want. The only thing he really cannot stand is the pitying looks he gets from Gwen every time Jack makes some reference to a night he spent with someone other than Ianto. They think that he does not know which is ridiculous – because Ianto knows everything. Of course he knows, it was his idea. He is the one who suggested that Jack has nights out, on his own, to do what he wants and, if he cheats, well then, he has Ianto’s permission. Not that Ianto ever put it that way to Jack.
Jack thinks Ianto is allowing him to go off on his own to please Jack, and, to an extent, he is right. He likes keeping Jack happy and Jack quite obviously feels more comfortable not being in a monogamous relationship. But Ianto is far more pragmatic than people give him credit for. Oh, they know that he can organize pretty much anything and has a fairly sensible approach to life, but he doubts that any of them would imagine that he would go this far.
Lisa, or rather the Cyberman she eventually became, was an eye opening experience for Ianto. He had always been passionate and, though he was loathe to admit it, leaned towards obsession in many parts of his life. Lisa was a prime example of how dangerous Ianto’s obsessive streak could become and he knows, without a shadow of a doubt, that he has the potential to love Jack infinitely more. And he can see the problems in that. So, Ianto has ensured that Jack is not ideal. Ianto is, as Jack would say, a traditional twentieth century boy – even if they are living in the twenty-first century – and, in his heart, he craves fidelity. From friends and lovers alike, but especially from those that he loves. And he loves Jack. But, every time Jack goes off on one of his night outs, it reminds Ianto why he should not love Jack.
It breaks his heart and, at the same time, keeps him safe.
But, things have changed and Ianto is not sure what Jack wants anymore. His kisses used to tell complete stories and now they only raise questions. And Ianto does not know how to answer them.
Jack knows the exact moment things changed. If asked, he could tell the exact second his world was spun on its head and he realized that he was a long way from the 51st century.
Ianto is perhaps the best partner he has ever had. He seems to understand that to Jack, fidelity is not about who you sleep with or who you bestow kisses upon, but who it is you are intimate with. Intimacy, by the 51st century has nothing to do with the sharing of bodies because people have come to view touch – no matter the kind – as simple comfort between sentient beings. Centuries of scientific enquiry have demoted touch to just another method of communication and sex as nothing more than a pursuit of pleasure and, occasionally, reproduction (although there are far less messier ways of achieving progeny). Because really, when you think about it, the number of people you touch or kiss in a lifetime is immense. So, it only follows that if you consider kisses intimacy, every time you kiss a friend in passing or shake hands with a stranger it cheapens it. Intimacy is reserved for that which is truly personal – thoughts, feelings, memories. Only those things cannot be taken accidentally or given away carelessly.
So, Jack doesn’t reserve his kisses or his body for Ianto only, but he does share his thoughts and the snippets of his past he can bear Ianto to know. And Ianto gets that. He gets that Jack does not have to only be with him to be faithful to him.
Ianto is quite happy to let Jack go out on his own every so often, telling Jack that he needed sleep or to do his laundry or one of thousands of minute household chores that got put aside because of Torchwood. Jack always stops at Ianto’s before he leaves for the night. If Gwen knew, she’d probably lecture him – thinking he was rubbing Ianto’s face in his infidelity – because she is like that. She thinks with her heart and not her head and she would find it inconceivable to think that Jack is actually trying to be considerate when he drops by before ‘going out on the pull’ as Owen terms it. It is his way of giving Ianto a chance to tell him not to go. He never does. He merely kisses Jack goodbye and, even though his lover is off out to meet other people, Ianto’s kiss is never possessive. If anything it is quite passive. He simply presses his lips to Jack’s and wriggles his tongue through the seam of Jack’s lips. It is then nothing more than a soft slide of tongue against teeth and palate and Ianto’s fingers gently stroking Jack’s cheek. Then, he pats Jack’s cheek fondly before pushing him out of the door.
Occasionally though, very occasionally, Jack manages to persuade to Ianto to join him. He slips Ianto into faded jeans and an open necked shirt – either black or a deep burgundy – and wraps a leather necklace around his neck before making Ianto buckle the studded rent-boy belt he’d been wearing the night they met. Ianto always looks gorgeous in that combination and Jack quite likes having Ianto looking his best when they go out, even if Ianto is, technically, competition.
It’s one such night when the world shifts. Ianto is wearing a white shirt for a change and Jack does not like it because it reminds him of the Ianto Jones that kept secrets, but it is glowing blue in the lights of the dingy little bar they’ve gone to so he forgives it. The bar is small and not one of the large popular bars; it is tucked away in a little side street between a kebab shop and an all night taxi rank, but it has a sizable crowd and a good, grinding beat that pours out of the speakers like honey. It’s a friendly place. The bouncer on the door seems to know everyone by name and the few he does not know seem to be with someone he does. Jack clocks all of that from his place at the bar. He’s been to the bar before, but he still has to check the place out before he can truly relax.
He’s drinking water, alcohol does nothing for him, but Ianto is on Jack Daniels and coke and the bartender is taking his time pouring it. Ianto is leaning with his back to the bar and is watching the crowd whilst Jack watches the door. It could be a night on the job if Ianto weren’t drinking, because they are, automatically, watching each others back. Ianto’s head bobs in time with the music whilst Jack drums his fingers against his water glass, seeing the ripples out of the corner of his eye. Ianto’s drink arrives and Jack slides it across without looking. On nights like this they have an unspoken agreement, they might be in a relationship – however unconventional – but they are not here “together”. If Jack sees someone he likes – man or woman – he is free to leave and Ianto will make his way home. Alone. Always alone, even though Jack has made it incredibly clear that Ianto can take someone home if he wants.
Ianto never wants. Nor does he ever seem to want to join Jack even though the offer is always there.
“Thanks,” Ianto mutters, taking a sip of the drink. He does not grimace, even though Jack knows that the first taste of ‘Jack’ always burns. He smirks into his water and turns to look at the club.
There are a number of people on the dance-floor, bodies twisting and twining around one another, moving effortlessly to the throbbing heartbeat of the baseline. Jack kind of wants to pull Ianto out there, the man has an inordinate amount of grace that Jack would like to see out on that floor, but it would defeat the purpose of the night out. And, he doesn’t think Ianto would want to dance with him really. Two very pretty girls are grinding up against each other in a way that would have Owen drooling into his drink and whipping out the pheromone spray but Jack barely spares them a passing look. They are obviously far too interested in each other and he does not like to play the third wheel in these little shows. He wants to be the star attraction.
He knows that is selfish and, perhaps, a little childish of him but really, he has forever; he can spend some time being selfish.
He takes another sip of his drink and feels Ianto brush against him. He turns. Ianto is merely shifting to let someone else get to the bar and is looking at his phone. He almost seems bored with the night out and Jack bites back the little swell of annoyance. After all, he convinced Ianto to come; Ianto would have preferred to stay at home watching Blue Planet.
A trickle of awareness seeps down Jack’s spine and he turns, lifting his head, like a predator scenting his prey, and his eyes land on a figure on the dance-floor.
The man is attractive. He has honey blond hair and whiskey coloured eyes and hips that move like a side-winder. There are several people dancing around him, trying to dance with him, but he is dancing alone. Moving like sin and attracting all kinds of attention he is lost in his own little world and Jack is immediately turned on. Independent people always call to him. The Doctor would wax poetic about them being little flames burning against the black backdrop of the Universe and him – like the Doctor – being a moth to those flames. Jack is not that romantic but he understands what the Doctor means. Some people shine just that little bit more and this man is one of them.
Ianto is forgotten as Jack watches the man writhe on the dance floor. His palms begin to throb with the need to touch and heat sears through his body.
The man pivots neatly, ducking the grasping hands that are intent on snaring him and his eyes flick in Jack’s direction. A millisecond later and they flick back and something flares in his eyes. Even though there is the width of the bar between them Jack can see the lust that sparks in the man’s eyes. It is a universal look, one Jack recognizes no matter the time or species or planet and the man is looking at him with such heat that Jack feels his feet melt into the floor.
Not that anyone would know to look at him.
Jack is still sprawled against the bar, his body utterly pliant and relaxed. Only his hand, curled around his condensation covered glass, is tense. He knows how he looks. Inviting. Sumptuous. Ianto once said that he looked like an all-you-can-eat buffet when he put himself on display like this and Jack can’t help but imagine that man licking his way down Jack’s chest. It makes his groin tighten and twitch in anticipation. The man looks as though his mouth was made for licking and sucking and Jack cannot wait to taste it. He imagines that the man will be fresh, more like peppermint than mouthwash and that his skin will taste of sweet sweat and musk.
Jack’s mouth is watering already.
Abruptly, the man stops dancing and heads Jack’s way. His smile is just slightly lopsided, and he has a dimple in one cheek, making him looking both adorable and utterly fuckable. His eyes crinkle at the corners, creasing up like an excited child, and he moves smoothly through the crowds towards Jack. It is not until he is a few feet away that Jack realizes that the man is not looking at him. He’s looking at something over Jack’s shoulder.
Jack turns slowly, but he already knows what the man is looking at. The hairs on the back of his neck start to rise and the smile on the man’s face twists into something predatory. Under any other circumstances Jack would have called the twisted smirk sexy or even devilish but something is stopping him.
The man brushes past Jack, nudging his shoulder as he passes, and Jack inhales a lungful of cologne that is just a little too sweet for Jack’s taste and no, that is not the bitter slap of rejection talking. It is something darker, something Jack does not recognize but it is twisting his gut and pulling just enough to make Jack’s eyes water. His eyes narrow as the man pulls up alongside Ianto, who is still looking at his phone.
“Buy you a drink?”
The voice is coloured with a rich Welsh accent but it does absolutely nothing for Jack. It does, however, make Ianto look up. He glances at Jack momentarily, over the man’s shoulder, and turns to the man. He is smiling, but it is polite – Jack has cataloged each smile by now and he knows that this is the smile Ianto reserves for customers in the Tourist Office. It does not make him feel any better though. The man is looking at Ianto like he is the all-you-can-eat-buffet not Jack, as he was supposed to be, and Jack does not like it. Jack does not like it.
“Got one,” Ianto says, tipping his glass towards the man. It is still three-quarters full because Ianto does not drink spirits fast and he never gets drunk. Or, at least, Jack has never seen him drunk. “Thanks.”
Ianto is polite but dismissive and Jack can tell that it is not working on this man. If anything, it is encouraging him – just like it would Jack. The man moves closer, slipping between Jack and Ianto like Jack isn’t there at all.
“Then, I guess I’ll have to wait to buy you a refill.” He smirks, and Jack sees it reflected in the mirror behind the bar. It is a parody of Jack’s own smirk and Jack scowls. “I’m Ioan.”
Jack knows, even though he hates it, that Ianto is too polite not to respond. “Ianto.”
“A good Welsh name.”
The man, Jack won’t call him Ioan, presses just that bit closer, his groin angled towards Ianto. Jack can read him like a book; if Ianto gives even an inch, Ioan will have him bent over the bar in a moment. “So, Ianto,” Ioan purrs, “What do you do?”
It’s an innocuous way of getting someone to open up. The man is a pro – and Jack means that in every sense of the word. Ianto is struggling with his manners; Jack can see it in the slight clench of his jaw and the flexing of his fingers on his drink. The club lights shift colours and Ianto’s shirt turns a shocking pink. Jack preferred the blue but the pink looks delicious against Ianto’s pale skin. Ioan obviously thinks so too because Jack can smell the sudden increase in his pheromones.
He can’t help it. He does not even think about it, the words just tumble from his lips. “He works for me.”
There is just enough edge to his voice to make Ioan glance over his shoulder and quell whatever he was about to say. He raises an eyebrow and gives Jack an appraising look. “Lucky you.”
Ianto blushes so hard that it’s visible under the lights.
“Yeah,” Jack says, settling himself against the bar. “So what do you do?”
Ioan smiles, “Internet company. You didn’t say what you do, Ianto?”
Jack grits his teeth at the dismissal, and although it goes against everything he has ever preached to his team, something is overriding his common sense. “It’s classified.”
Ianto frowns at Jack, obviously concerned at his behaviour but Jack does not spare him a glance. His eyes are fixed firmly on the back of Ioan’s neck and Jack wants to bite it. Hard.
Ioan shrugs one shoulder. Obviously, though Jack is getting to him because he shudders, a slow shiver that works its way up his spine. He reaches out, the silver ring on his finger glinting in the light, and wraps his hand around Ianto’s wrist, forcing him to put his drink down on the bar. “Come dance.” He does not ask; he tugs Ianto with him as he walks backwards. “Your boss can watch the drinks. Or I’ll buy you a new one.”
Jack does not get time to say anything. He watches as Ianto is pulled to the dance-floor, his spine rigid and his limbs stiff. Jack knows that Ianto does not want to be out there really but Jack daren’t move because if he does, he is quite sure that he will break the man’s neck.
Ioan uses his grip on Ianto’s hand to pull him into his body, looping Ianto’s arm around his own neck, before settling his hands on Ianto’s hips. In exactly the same spot as Jack likes to grip and Jack grips his glass just that little bit harder. They move to the beat, or rather Ioan moves and Ianto lets himself be guided. Ioan’s knee worms itself between Ianto’s legs and his head dips into the hollow between Ianto’s shoulder and his jaw and Jack does not stay to watch anymore.
He throws his glass down, dimly hearing it shatter as he stalks from the bar and the next morning, when Ianto brings him his coffee, he tells him that he was pulled away by a feisty red head with brilliant green eyes. Ianto does not comment, he just sets down the tea tray and leaves the office.
That was exactly forty-three days ago and Jack hasn’t been out since. Instead he’s spent the time sitting in his bunk watching re-mastered films on the new portable DVD player he bought forty-two days ago. Ianto doesn’t know that – none of them do – because Jack still turns up at Ianto’s flat before he heads out “on the pull” and takes his kiss. And, if he squeezes Ianto’s hips just that little bit harder, then it’s only because he doesn’t want Ioan’s fingerprints to remain on Ianto’s perfect skin.
And, if he kisses Ianto just that little bit more fiercely than he ever did before, it only because he never wants Ianto to kiss anyone other than him. He wants to sweep every other kiss from Ianto’s mind and etch his own there in ink as indelible as he is. And, for the first time in his life, he does not want to share anything with anybody but Ianto and he most definitely does not want to share Ianto.
The twenty-first century is where it all changes