Right from the beginning of their relationship, and even before then, when all that existed between them was a tentative friendship with sex on the side, Ianto had made it clear that Jack was not to show him any kind of favouritism. In part that had been because he’d wanted to keep what they were doing between themselves, and if Jack had started being extra nice to him, the rest of the team would have noticed. Mostly though, he hadn’t wanted to be accused of sleeping with the boss in order to get preferential treatment. They were a small group, and playing favourites would just upset the dynamic between team members.
In his own mind, Ianto was the low man on the totem pole, and had been since he’d joined. Back then he’d been a glorified gofer, caretaker and handyman, surrounded by more qualified professionals; doctor, technical genius, and weapons expert, all of them experienced field agents. His job was to stay in the background, keep the place tidy, and make sure the rest of the team had all the equipment and information they needed to carry out their jobs effectively. That was the limit of his importance; practically anyone could have done what he did, it didn’t require specialised knowledge or skills.
After Lisa, Jack had decided Ianto’s abilities were being wasted, and had trained him up as a field agent, but as the youngest and the least experienced, he’d still seen himself as subordinate to the others, even Gwen, who’d been there a shorter time than he had but had been a police constable before being recruited. Ianto didn’t mind being bottom of the heap, he’d always preferred not to draw undue attention to himself, and Jack had understood and accepted that.
When Jack had vanished without a word to anyone, Ianto had kept his head down and supported the team any way he could, hoping to ensure Jack would have something left to come back to. It must have worked, because Torchwood was still standing three months later when their errant leader returned.
“I came back for you,” Jack had said, staring straight at Ianto before remembering his promise not to show favouritism and adding, “All of you.” Ianto half wished Jack had let his original statement stand, because at least then he would have known he mattered to Jack, but he couldn’t have it both ways. Later though, Jack had nervously asked him out on a date, Ianto had accepted, and they’d progressed to where they were today.
“No favouritism, Jack!” Ianto admonished his lover.
Jack gave him an exasperated look. “Do you honestly think anyone on the team doesn’t know by now that you’re my favourite? We live together!”
“That’s not the point.”
“Then what is?”
“You shouldn’t treat me differently than the others.”
“You treat ME differently,” Jack pointed out.
“You’re the boss.”
“Doesn’t that mean I can do whatever I want?”
“Good. Now eat your cream cake before everyone wants one.”