White Sand That Melts into Spring

by James [Reviews - 7]

  • All Ages
  • None
  • Angst, Drama, Humor, Slash

Author's Notes:
The bit about Ianto, the chair, and going 'whee' is from the audiobook 'In the Shadows.' I would not make up a thing like that. OK I would, but I didn't have to because they did it for me.

Jack did not jump when the cog door's alarms went off and the door itself rolled open. That would have implied he'd been forcing himself not to stare at the Hub entrance's CCTV camera, waiting. No, he was sitting at his desk, doing paperwork for...something.


He jumped as soon as the door opened and hurried out of his office, stopping at the landing where he could watch Ianto come in. Jack grinned. A second later Ianto was stepping into the Hub proper and without even a glance around, he looked up towards Jack's office and caught Jack's eye. Ianto smiled, and Jack found himself grinning even harder.

Three days, he told himself, and then told himself to stop being a big ninny and ran down the steps to greet Ianto.

Ianto remained standing just inside the door, watching him with a smug little smile on his face. It was the one which always made Jack think Ianto was about to burst out laughing, but was refraining out of a sense of dignity. Jack came to a quick halt directly in front of Ianto and stood still, absolutely not grabbing him in a hug and rubbing himself all over Ianto. Three days. Easy.


Ianto's smile flickered, just in the corner of his mouth; on anybody else it would have been an outburst of laughter. "Hello," Ianto replied, easily. As if being gone for three whole days had been nothing and seeing Jack again was just like coming back to work after being gone for only three days.

"So," Jack said, trying for some semblance of calm and collected and reminding himself that Ianto wouldn't let Jack throw him against the wall and start undressing him. Later, when everyone else is gone for lunch. Out loud, Jack said, "So how's granny?"

"Mam-gu is fine," Ianto said, that tiny little pleased smile flickering again. Jack wanted to lick Ianto's mouth, see if he couldn't tease that smile out into the open. "She sent a box of treacle toffee for you."

"Really?" That surprised him -- on second thought he realised it didn't, because grandmothers loved Jack, no matter the time, place, or species. They all thought he was charming and good-looking and not at all out to corrupt their precious grandchildren. Not like some mothers, fathers, and jealous older siblings Jack could name. But grandmothers -- oh yeah. Grandmas loved him.

It didn't hurt that a lot of them remembered a young man just like him from their youth.

Jack looked down at Ianto's hands, and wondered if the toffee was in a coat pocket. And if that meant he got to look for it. "Where is it?" Jack waggled one encouraging eyebrow. Hunt for the toffee was a game he could definitely enjoy.

Ianto gave a look of concerned surprise. "Oh...I ate it. Sorry." That smug look was back, and Ianto started to step away from him but Jack was having none of it. He grabbed Ianto and pulled him close; there was no way Ianto was going to be so smug and happy and adorable, and not get thoroughly kissed.

Besides, it had been three days.

Ianto didn't seem to be fighting him, not judging by the way his hands gripped Jack's arms and his mouth opened the moment Jack's lips touched his. Jack kissed him, eager and happy and wondering if it was too early to send everybody out for lunch. He felt a chuckle vibrating from Ianto's chest, then he was being gently nudged away. Jack gave him a pout which seemed to bounce right off Ianto.

"That's all I get?" he asked as Ianto began to walk away.

Ianto glanced at him, wearing an indulgent smile. "Depends on if you've been good while I was away. How much work have I got waiting for me?"

"None at all!" Jack declared, although he knew from Ianto's point of view it was more like "tonnes and tonnes." But none of it had to be done before tomorrow, so there was no reason why they couldn't ignore it for the rest of the morning. Screw waiting for lunch, if Ianto was going to be all smiling and happy. It made Jack want to follow him around and just look at his face.

Well, his face and everything else. But Jack could seriously spend hours just watching Ianto's face, especially when Ianto was in a good mood or, even more wonderfully, when he was feeling silly.

Jack had backup copies of all the CCTV footage of Ianto being silly. His favorite was of Ianto pushing himself back and forth in a wheeled chair, helping Tosh with one of her programs, and going 'wheeee' every time he glided across the floor. Jack had never yet managed to get Ianto to say 'wheee' when Jack was around to hear it in person, but he was determined. Someday.

Right at the moment Ianto was frowning at him, and Jack smiled as innocently as he could.

"How is it that I don't believe you?" Ianto asked.

"Promise," Jack said. "No paperwork at--"

"Oh, Ianto! You're back," Tosh called out, then she was coming up the stairs. "I hate to bother you when you've only just returned, but I need an item from the archive and Jack is hopeless at finding anything in the catalogue." She looked at Jack and said, "Gwen said she's waiting for you to finish those reports and she'll send the whole lot of them to the Prime Minister's office. You know, the ones for the Deviesh landing; those little aliens everyone thought were mice?"

"Of course," Ianto was saying, giving Jack a dry look as he turned his attention to Tosh, taking a slip of paper from her that Jack supposed was about the item she needed from the archives. Jack opened his mouth to point out none of this 'work' was urgent, but Ianto just frowned at him and looked towards Jack's office, clearly saying that it was work first, and reunion-sex later.

Jack mouthed, "Three days!"

Ianto didn't look sympathetic. Jack thought about trying again, knowing that eventually he'd either wear Ianto down, or he'd amuse himself until it really was time for lunch and Jack had the excuse to get Ianto away from work for an hour. He was debating his options when Ianto stopped and turned back to him, one hand coming up to rest on his hip -- pushing his jacket back and giving Jack a very tantalizing view.

"It isn't the first time I've been gone for a few days, Jack."

"I know." Ianto went to visit his grandmother whenever he had a couple of days to spare; this wasn't nearly the first time he'd gone, wasn't even the fifth or tenth time. It wasn't even like he had gone far; the tiny village of Mawr wasn't a very long drive and if Jack had needed him, Ianto could have been back to Cardiff within hours.

But Jack still missed him, and enjoying pouting at him and pestering him for the first few hours when he got back. Reunion-sex was one of the best kinds, in Jack's opinion. Along with every other kind. But having a reunion without sex wasn't any fun at all.

Jack sighed, and admitted that -- like every time before -- Ianto was going to win and that Jack was going to have to sit in his office and pretend to get some work done. Ianto, on the other hand, really would get some work done and that would satisfy his work-ethic. Someday Jack was going to replace that work-ethic with a 'play now and work later' ethic. It was on his list of things to do, right after getting Ianto to say 'wheeee.'

He returned to his desk and sat down, intending to indulge in such thoughts while Ianto helped Tosh; then he pulled up his folder of CCTV footage clips and let the sight and sound of Ianto spinning around on an office chair play on a loop while Jack shuffled papers on his desk.


Ten minutes before lunchtime -- in Helsinki, but lunch was lunch -- Jack headed out of his office. He saw Tosh at her workstation, Gwen just past, at her own. Jack cleared his throat but only Gwen looked up.

"So, is everybody leaving for lunch?"

Gwen frowned and checked her watch. "It's barely nine a.m., Jack. Why would we-- Oh." She shook her head. "Honestly, Jack. What if the rest of us want to get some work done? Can't you and Ianto go somewhere?"

Jack didn't want to explain that the whole point of staying at the Hub meant saving time. He tried to think of a reason that actually sounded good when Owen came up the stairs from the autopsy bay. "Jack, are you going to sign off those requisition forms, or should I just take teaboy down to Tesco's and buy it myself?"

"What requisition-- oh, actually, that's a great idea! But take Gwen and Tosh with you." Jack smiled encouragingly.

Owen stopped, his look of confusion melting almost instantly to scorn. "I'm not running errands so you and Ianto can fuck all over the Hub. I don't care if he does sanitise everything afterwards."

"I am not trying to--" Jack began, even though he didn't think they'd actually believe him.

"The forms are signed," Ianto said, interrupting as he came in from the stairwell that lead to the Archives. "I took the liberty," he said, looking at Jack. "Since it didn't seem as though they were going to get signed in proper fashion, after sitting on someone's desk for a two weeks."

"It hasn't been two weeks!" Jack paused. "Has it?"

"So me and the girls don't have to go to Tesco's," Owen said, smugly. "Which means you two had either better invent a weevil alert, or just admit you're going off to shag and go get a hotel room."

"Why can't we go back to Ianto's place?" Jack asked. True, there was a hotel just a block away, but he didn't really care for their room service. And besides, most of the desk clerks knew his face and tripled the room charge as soon as he walked in. Jack looked around, intending to pose the question to Ianto and hopefully get an agreement that back to his place would do fine. But Ianto was over by Tosh's workstation again, standing behind her and looking at something on her screen.

Jack scowled. How could work be more interesting than having sex with him? Unless...unless Ianto was teasing him, and the game wasn't 'find the toffee' but rather 'pretend to be working until Jack gets a clue and manhandles me to someplace private to have sex anyway.'

He headed over to Tosh's workstation, taking up a position casually just to one side, not quite close enough to lean against Ianto's back but close enough Ianto would be perfectly aware of Jack and how much he wasn't quite touching. Tosh was working on a translator, by the looks of it, and Jack took a moment to read the lines of code and see if any of it made sense.

Mostly his attention was on Ianto, and Jack waited to see if he was right about the name of the game. But Ianto seemed genuinely focused on Tosh's computer screens. Well, that was all right. He could work with it -- maybe the game was 'seduce Ianto while he's not paying attention.' Jack had just put his hand out to rest it casually and oh-so suggestively on Ianto's back when Ianto's mobile rang. Ianto jumped a bit, scrambling for it and pulling it out.

"Hello?" Ianto looked confused; Jack kept his hands to himself for the moment. Ianto's look of confusion deepened as he said, "Yes, it is. Who-- what?" Ianto's eyes went wide with alarm and Jack felt himself tense. Tosh had stopped typing and looked up at Ianto, glancing a question at Jack who shrugged back that he didn't have a clue.

Ianto seemed almost to relax, then, saying, "Yes, it is. I do." Then Ianto suddenly went pale. "She's what? Alone?" There was another pause and Ianto's breath was coming more rapidly, and Jack put his hand gently on Ianto's arm to reassure him. Ianto didn't seem to notice, just saying into the phone, "Yes, she is. Yes! Of course, I'll be right there. You'll stay with her? Yes! Yes, fifteen minutes. Or less." Then he snapped his phone shut and was turning towards the stairs.

"Ianto?" Jack asked, already hurrying after him. Ianto looked back at him, eyes wide with panic.

"She's at the bus station!" he said, half-laughing. "Eirlys wanted to come to Cardiff so she got on a fucking bus!" He turned and ran for the cog door; Jack was on his heels and caught his elbow, tugging him back. Before Jack could speak, Ianto whirled on him. "She's at the station alone, Jack!" Jack opened his mouth to say that he only wanted more details, when Ianto snapped, "She's four."

Jack nodded and let Ianto go, running up the stairs right after him. In the car park he beat Ianto to the driver's side, not even looking at him to argue about it. Ianto didn't say a word; a second later he was in the passenger seat, glaring at the car park as if about to demand why they weren't driving, why they weren't there yet.

"Which station?" Jack asked as he pulled out of the car park.

"Central. God, the station security said she'd been found, just standing there alone. Anyone could have-- Jack, hurry."

Jack nodded to himself, getting the SUV pointed in the right direction. He glanced over at Ianto and said, "If the station found her, that means they're with her. She'll be fine. They'll look after her until we get there."

He wasn't really surprised when that didn't seem to calm Ianto down. He wanted to ask who the hell they were after, but then he realised it was probably one of his cousins, or a niece -- one of the many relatives Ianto saw on his trips to visit his grandmother.

Jack concentrated on his driving, glancing over from time to time to see Ianto glaring at the road ahead, looking ready to leap out and run if it would get him there any faster. Halfway there Jack reached over and squeezed Ianto's thigh. "She'll be fine," he said, calmly.

"I know," Ianto said, but his voice was bleak with worry. Jack couldn't blame him.

Soon enough they pulled into the station's car park; Jack went right for the emergency vehicle zone and slammed the SUV into it. Ianto was out of the SUV in a flash; Jack followed only a few steps behind, shouting 'Torchwood' at the security guard who was coming over to berate him for his parking. The SUV might get ticketed or even towed, but Jack didn't really care at the moment since he wasn't about to lose sight of Ianto.

It was obvious Ianto was heading for the main office. Jack caught up with him and followed him into the outer office, catching hold of Ianto's arm as the other man began to look around wildly. More calmly, Jack looked for someone in charge.

A woman in a Cardiff Bus uniform came over, looking concerned. Before she could ask them anything, Ianto said, "We're here about the little girl. Eirlys. Eirlys Jones. I was told she--"

"Yes, she's right in Mr. Powell's office. Are you Ieuen Jones?" When Ianto nodded, she smiled kindly but asked, "May I see some identification?"

Ianto paused, then grabbed his wallet. "Yes, yes, of course."

She gave Jack a smile. "We obviously can't just hand a child over to anyone who asks for her," she explained. Then she took the card Ianto was holding out, reading it carefully and checking the photo against Ianto's face. Finally she nodded. "This way."

She lead them behind a counter and past a row of desks towards a short hallway. The second office had a large glass window, and through it Jack saw a little girl sitting on a chair, playing with a doll. Ianto was through the door in an instant and the girl looked up, her face breaking into a huge smile as she saw him. She jumped to her feet and ran to Ianto.


Jack slammed to a halt. Blinking, he watched as Ianto caught the girl up in his arms, clutching her closely as if she'd just been pulled from near-death. The girl wrapped her arms around his neck unconcernedly, and Ianto held her, rocking her back and forth and cradling her head.

The woman who'd brought them to the office gave Jack a look. "I'd say that counts as confirming his identification."

"Yeah," Jack managed. Tad? He watched, transfixed, as Ianto finally pulled himself away just enough to look down at the girl and see that she was all right.

"Eirlys, how did you get here?" Ianto asked.

"On the bus," she said, as though completely unaware of the mayhem she'd caused. Which, Jack reflected, she probably was.

"You came on the bus?" Ianto looked torn between laughing and crying. "Did you...you didn't tell anyone, did you?"

Eirlys frowned. "I wanted to see you. Mam said the bus went to Cardiff. So I got on the bus. And here I am!" She smiled, triumphantly.

Jack turned his attention away from Ianto for the moment, giving him some privacy despite the way Jack wanted to grab him and start demanding answers. He looked at the station manager, Mr. Powell, and asked, "So can anyone tell me how a four year old girl gets on a bus without anyone noticing? I'm just guessing she didn't have a ticket? Or an adult escorting her?"

Powell's face clouded over, and Jack proceeded to spend the next several minutes listening to the man stammer his way through conjectures and excuses, all of which boiled down to anyone who must have seen Eirlys had assumed she was with whatever adult she'd been near at the time. Because who would guess that a four year old would take it upon herself to travel alone?

Jack let the manager bluster his way through his apologies, waiting until he'd finally wound down. Then he walked over to stand beside Ianto, who had, at some point, concluded his own conversation and was listening quietly. Jack glanced down at Eirlys -- her eyes were the exact same shade as Ianto's, her nose and chin the same shape. She didn't look exactly like her father, but Jack could tell she was going to be gorgeous when she grew up.

Assuming her parents didn't strangle her before then.

Ianto had her on his hip, Eirlys holding onto him with her doll dangling from her hand. She looked delighted, and still completely unaware of the trouble she'd caused. "We need to ring her mam," Ianto said, trying to sound calm. The way he didn't quite meet Jack's eyes told Jack just how upset he was.

"I left a note," Eirlys volunteered. "I drew a picture of you and everything!"

"We should still ring her and let her know you're here. I doubt she quite believed your note and expects you've just gone to your henfam gu's to play in her garden." The fear hadn't left Ianto's eyes, despite holding Eirlys tight -- and safe -- in his arms.

Jack slipped his hand onto Ianto's shoulder. "Why don't we go do that, and then...we'll probably need some lunch." He'd been about to say 'we'll talk' but he'd seen the way Ianto's eyes had started to widen with panic again. Jack smiled, gave Eirlys a friendly smile as well.

There was nothing in Ianto's files, official or the unofficial ones Jack had unearthed after they'd found out about Lisa. Nothing at all about a daughter. But he wasn't going to ask Ianto those questions in front of the child.

Instead he just picked up what was clearly Eirlys' rucksack, bright pink with unicorns and butterflies all over it, and held it on one hand, and took Ianto's arm with the other. They walked out of the manager's office and down the hallway, Ianto carefully not looking at Jack. Eirlys, on the other hand, was staring quite openly.

Jack smiled at her again, and she asked, "Are you Jack?"

Surprised, Jack said, "Yes. I am." He glanced at Ianto, hoping for some hint, but Ianto stared resolutely ahead. He looked back at Eirlys, who was nodding with some confidence.

"I like your coat," she said, and Jack bit back a laugh -- at the words and at the bright red flush that appeared on Ianto's cheeks. Eirlys regarded his coat, then nodded again. "Tad said you have a nice coat. You're tall," she added.

"Your tad talks about me, does he?" Jack asked, letting the question be an accusation. Ianto's glance shifted towards him, then away again.

Eirlys was nodding vigorously. "You're his boyfriend," she announced. "Tad likes you."

"I like him, too," Jack said, and he gave Ianto's arm another gentle squeeze. He was finding it hard to be angry about Ianto's secret in the face of the girl herself, charming and innocent. Later he'd be angry. Right now, he would let himself be charmed.

"Eirlys, stay here with Jack for a moment while I ring your mam," Ianto said suddenly, setting her down and talking out his mobile -- all the while still never looking at Jack. Jack took Eirlys by the hand, crouching down to her level.

A couple of leading questions got Eirlys talking -- all about her great-grandmother's garden, and her favorite toffee, and the cousins Eirlys played with. Jack confessed to having missed his promised toffee, which had Eirlys agreeing that her tad should have shared. Jack caught the half-glare from Ianto, and grinned unrepentantly.

When Ianto hung up, he took Eirlys' hand. "Your mam didn't know you'd gone," he said, and Eirlys frowned. "She's extremely worried. I've offered to drive you back home this afternoon."

Eirlys' frown deepened. "But I came to visit!"

"We had a visit just yesterday," Ianto said, and suddenly Jack understood. Ianto's frequent visits hadn't been to see his grandmother. She was the excuse, but Jack had never really understood why Ianto had seized every single opportunity to visit.

But visiting a daughter, that was something else.

Said daughter was scowling furiously. "But I wasn't ready for you to go."

"I know." Ianto crouched down, taking both of her hands. "It's never long enough. Or often enough." He pulled her close, closing his eyes as he pressed his cheek against hers. "I wish I could see you every single day."

Eirlys threw her arm around Ianto's neck, and Jack could see that she had no intention of ever letting go. Ianto hugged her tightly, but, after a long moment, pulled away. Jack could see him struggling to contain his emotions.

"I won't go home yet," Eirlys began, stubbornly.

"You will," Ianto responded, calmly. "I'm taking you home today, and I will visit you...when I can."

Eirlys buried her face against Ianto's shoulder, and Jack wondered if they should get her into the SUV before the screaming started. He waited, letting Ianto hold her close for just a bit longer, then tapped Ianto's back.

Ianto just nodded and stood up, picking Eirlys up as he did.

For a moment Jack wanted to offer to kidnap them both, and let the three of them spend the next twenty years on an island in the tropics. Instead he just got in the SUV, waiting while Ianto buckled himself in the backseat next to his daughter, and drove away -- ignoring the parking ticket plastered on the windshield.


The drive to Mawr felt incredibly long -- Jack called the Hub and let the others know what was happening, hoping Tosh would take the unspoken hint to find out what she could about an Eirlys Jones. Then there was silence for a long while, Eirlys refusing to speak to either of them and Ianto clearly hoping to avoid risking Jack's questions.

After awhile Jack began to tell Eirlys stories, and soon enough the girl was giggling and helping him embellish the tales of mighty princesses and their quests for golden dragons in faraway caves. Ianto only spoke to give Jack directions, then they were pulling up in front of a cottage and a woman was running out, shouting Eirlys' name.

Jack stayed behind as Ianto followed the woman back into the cottage with Eirlys. It was some time before Ianto finally emerged; he got into the SUV and only said, "Can we go home?"

Jack started up the SUV and drove away, waiting until the village was fading in the rearview mirror before asking, "When she grows up, can I date her?"

There was a second of silence, and Jack didn't look over -- and wasn't at all surprised when Ianto hit him. Hard. "No, you can't-- Jack...." The brief anger drained out of Ianto's voice and Jack saw him fall back against the seat, head rolling to look out the window at the fields beyond.

"She's not in your records," Jack said, quietly.

"Her mam doesn't have any father listed on her birth records. She won't show up as a relative of mine in any of your searches. Or any of Tosh's," he added. Jack couldn't hear any censure in Ianto's tone, but then Jack wasn't the one who'd been lying.

"So...what happened? Why didn't you two get married, raise Eirlys together? Since you aren't keeping it a secret from her."

"To protect her," Ianto said. "And...we are. Keeping secrets from her." Jack looked over and found Ianto staring at him. He was pale, and his eyes were dead.

Jack hadn't seen Ianto look so defeated since Lisa. "What aren't you telling her?"

Ianto sighed and shook his head. "Torchwood."

He didn't think it was as simple as not telling Eirlys her father worked for Torchwood, so Jack just waited. After a moment, Ianto started talking.

"She isn't my daughter. Although I'm the closest thing she has. Jennifer's raising her...she isn't Eirlys' mam. Eirlys...got made, quite by accident, in a lab at Torchwood One. Neither Jennifer nor I had any idea what they were doing, they just wanted two assistants to help them test a device. A few months later, there's Eirlys."

Jack frowned. "A DNA mixer? Birthing devices are pretty common in some centuries." It didn't make the kids any less the sons and daughters of the parents whose DNA had gone into the mix. If Ianto thought otherwise, Jack was happy to set him straight.

Ianto shook his head. "We don't know exactly what it was. But...Eirlys isn't exactly human." He glanced back, over his shoulder, as if able to see the girl they'd left behind. "She thinks she is. At least, she never lets on if she knows the truth. She's about 97% human, from Jennifer and me."

"That would still make her your daughter," Jack pointed out. He'd known kids who had only 20% of each parent's DNA and he found himself a little surprised, and just a little annoyed that Ianto would say he wasn't Eirlys' real father.

He looked over again and found Ianto looking at him, sadly. "She isn't," he said. "She isn't real."

Jack pulled the SUV to a stop. He glanced at his wristband; he hadn't actively scanned the girl, but it was possible the scanner had passively taken a reading. He didn't check just yet, waiting to hear what Ianto had to say.

Ianto reached into the back and pulled out Eirlys' rucksack. Jack frowned, wondering how that proved anything, when the rucksack turned to sand.

Jack watched the sand fall onto the floorboards, stared at the pile. He glanced at his wristband. Silicon. Normal sand. 97% Earth-source.

3% something else.

He looked at Ianto.

"She vanishes at night," he said quietly. "Sometimes she doesn't reappear until noon. Sometimes she reappears before dawn." He smirked slightly and it vanished quickly. "Not as bad as getting up every two hours for feeding. She...wasn't ever a baby, just...came out of the...whatever it was, a four year old girl." Ianto looked at him, eyes still dead and staring through him. "She's been four years old her entire life. Six years."

"What, and Jennifer just...no one ever notices that Jennifer's little girl doesn't grow up?"

"They move," Ianto said. "If you've ever taken a good look at my personal accounts, you'll find that every twelve months I pay a relocation expense. We...don't know how long we'll manage, but... Jennifer actually likes it. She's always wanted to see the world, and...she says four years old is the perfect age for a little girl." He smiled again, still sadly.

Jack thought maybe he understood the reason for it. "So why aren't you traveling with them? Being a dad?"

"When we're both around for more than a few days, she changes back." Ianto closed his eyes. "Back into sand. Alien sand. Or imaginary sand. I don't have a fucking clue what she is. And Torchwood One blew itself up before R&D could figure it out."

Jack sat there, unsure what to say. The girl he'd seen -- she'd acted and sounded exactly like a little girl. He'd never heard of a device that made a temporary child -- but it stood to reason, he supposed, that some society somewhere would do. Perhaps a learning tool for parents to be, practising before having the real thing.

A thought occurred, and he asked, "So she doesn't age? I mean, she isn't six in a four-year-old body?"

Ianto shook his head. "She was exactly like you saw, the first day. She's never grown up, even mentally. We think she just resets every night, except she keeps all her memories."

Jack let the information sink in, mulling over what Ianto had told him. Compared it to the little girl he'd met. "So...she isn't human, exactly, and doesn't age, and she...doesn't have a purpose other than to be someone's four year old girl?"

Ianto nodded.

Carefully, he asked, "Why do you bother, then? Why not just...let her turn to sand?" He didn't exactly mean it the way it sounded, but he had to know.

Ianto just looked at him. "She's my daughter."

Jack reached over, then, and took Ianto's hand. They sat quietly for several moments, until Ianto finally began to look as if he wasn't afraid of what Jack might do or say. There was still fear in his eyes, but the deadness in his expression had been replaced by something that might have just been tiredness.

Jack got the SUV back onto the road, and they drove in silence for awhile. Ianto finally broke it by saying quietly, "Someday we might. But not yet."

Jack nodded. "The next time you come up, can I....?"

And finally, Ianto smiled. A genuine, if tired, smile. "Of course. I think she likes you."

"Everyone likes me," Jack pointed out. "But coming back here with you seems to be the only way I'm going to get any of your grandmother's toffee."

Ianto laughed, and leaned over. He gave Jack a hesitant kiss on the cheek and Jack put his arm around Ianto's shoulders and held him there.

"You know, we never did get around to that reunion sex," Jack said casually.

"I know." Ianto moved forward, slipping his hand along Jack's thigh. "You were supposed to send me explicit emails while I was working, and drive me to storm your office, demanding sex."

"Is that the game we were playing? I wasn't sure -- I like that one. I'd have sent them right away if you'd told me."

"That's the game you were meant to be playing," Ianto corrected. "I was playing 'drive Jack mad by making him guess what game you're playing'."

Jack sighed, happily. "You have a devious mind, Ianto Jones." He turned just enough to give Ianto a quick kiss. "I love that about you."

"You love everything about me," Ianto said, softly.

Jack gave him a squeeze, arm still tight around his shoulders, and didn't answer.

There was no point in arguing with the truth.

the end