The Heart Knows When it's Time to Let Fear Go

by Gracefultree

A/N: This is a little standalone story that I've had in my mind for a while. What if Ianto ran after Cyberwoman? What if he escaped and no one could find him?

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Ianto awoke to a bed that was empty more often than not these days. He sighed and climbed out of bed and into the shower, absently flicking on the radio so he could listen while he washed.

"...today, on the tenth anniversary of the disaster in London that has come to be called the Battle of Canary Wharf, we celebrate those lives lost..."

In the shower, Ianto let out a sudden sob. He collapsed to the tiles and cried his eyes out for everyone he lost that day, especially his beautiful Lisa.

.

I forgot today was the tenth anniversary of the Battle, he wrote in his diary while he ate breakfast. I've been so busy with work and the minutiae of life that I - well, I forgot.

How could I forget? How could I be so busy with this trivial bullshit that I forgot Lisa? Forgot the 800 other people that died that day? No, the thousands worldwide. I used to know all their names, and now it's just a blurry list in my mind's eye. I used to call so many of them my friends. And now? Ten years later? I'm still in hiding. I still have a bag packed in my car and at home and at work, all with different documents in case I need to disappear again at a moment's notice.

There's still something missing from my life that I haven't been able to find no matter how hard I look. It's been missing for a long time, whatever it is. Almost ten years, now.

I dreamed of him again last night. Jack. That's three nights in a row. And every night I've spent alone this past month. Why couldn't it have been her? Why couldn't it have been Lisa? It should have been Lisa. She was my fiancé. She was my world. He was just – a mistake.

A beautiful, sexy, wonderful mistake. A mistake I'd make again if given the opportunity, God help me.

A mistake I'll never be able to make again because of how I fucked everything up.

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Ianto went through his day in a daze, assaulted by memories of fire and blood and death. The fourth time his supervisor asked him if he was ok, Ianto shrugged sadly and mentioned that he'd lost someone in the Battle everyone was talking about and anniversaries were hard. The man told Ianto to go home for the rest of the day, which he did gladly.

That night his girlfriend of seventeen months, Maggie, came over and cooked for him, for the first time in a week. He'd told her it would be a difficult day, and she promised to take care of him, though she commented snidely that it would be much easier if they lived together. Ianto couldn't imagine taking that step, however, and didn't comment, avoiding the issue as he avoided so much in his life. As he avoided thinking about the dreams.

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Warm golden skin, bronzed to perfection by a sun mankind was yet to discover, moved against his own pale Welsh equivalent. Large, callused hands, more gentle than he would ever have expected, touched him, drawing out the pleasure of something as simple as a careless caress in the heat of passion. He gasped, his breathing harsh in his own ears. He was losing control, losing himself, losing everything but the man in front of him. Heated kisses rained down on him, tracing his neck, his collarbone, his chest. His abs tightened in expectation. The subtle scrape of a recently shaved cheek against his inner thigh and it was almost over before it began. His lover knew his body in ways he didn't even know it himself, daring him to learn more with each encounter. He moaned, dragging that perfect face up to kiss the sensual lips he'd dreamed of ever since they first met. The tide rose higher, and he was crying, begging, demanding what only his lover could give him. Filled at last, he let go of everything, every last regret, every last deception and lie, every last shred of himself as he came apart in an orgasm so strong he never thought he'd be able to move again.

"Jack! Oh God, Jack!"

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"Who the hell is Jack?"

Ianto struggled awake, jolted from the dream moments before –

"I said, who the hell is Jack?" Maggie demanded angrily. "And why are you dreaming of having sex with him?"

"I'm not," Ianto protested, sitting up in bed and looking over at his erstwhile girlfriend.

"It sure seems like it," she snapped, indicating his obvious erection. "Is there something you need to tell me, David? Are you gay?" she asked, slightly horrified.

Ianto started slightly at his assumed name, though he'd been using it for nearly ten years. It was difficult, though, when the man in his dreams called him 'Ianto' in that deep, rich, velvety bedroom voice he'd loved.

"I don't know anyone named Jack," he finally said, not meeting her eyes, willing his erection away easily because of her presence and tone of voice. "And I'm bi. I thought you knew that. Can we drop it, please?" He asked desperately.

"Drop it? Fine, we can drop it, but that's your last chance. You do something like this again, we're through."

"I can't control my dreams," he snapped.

"So you admit it? You were dreaming of someone named Jack?"

"Maggie, yesterday was the anniversary of my fiancé's death. I can't talk about this now." Ianto rolled over, away from her, and squeezed his eyes closed tightly. After a few minutes he heard Maggie's frustrated sigh. She rolled over as well, her back to his. It's the beginning of the end, he thought. Again. It always happens like this. The dreams of him getting out of control. She's probably cheating on me... They always do. What is it about me that no one will be faithful to me since Lisa?

.

"I've tried to be patient with you, but maybe I've been too patient," Maggie muttered as Ianto drove her to work. His car was in the shop and this seemed like a convenient solution. "Maybe I need to take the initiative."

He decided to play along. "What have you been patient about?"

"Are you going to ask me to marry you or not?" she demanded.

"What? No! How could you ask such a thing?"

"I told you I wanted a family..."

"And I told you that I'm never getting married or having children! You accepted that! You said that would be ok with you!"

"All men say stuff like that, then they come around! I've been waiting for it, but you're remarkably slow."

"Come around? You've been dating me for seventeen months because you think I'm going to 'come around' and change my mind about wanting to get married?"

"Yes!" she shouted.

Ianto struggled to keep his concentration on the road. It was raining, as usual, and the wipers on her car needed to be waxed. He'd been telling her so for weeks. In front of him, a trailer swerved between two lanes, throwing a wave of water over the windshield and obscuring his vision. He cursed in Welsh.

Maggie crossed her arms over her chest. "Drive more carefully," she scolded. "The weather's nasty today."

"Nothing compared to Cardiff at its worst," Ianto muttered, remembering a time driving the Torchwood SUV through a downpour of alien origin that seemed to be made of very runny mustard, with the Captain hanging out the passenger window with a plasma rifle and Suzie Costello handing him new charges every three shots. "If I can drive there, I can bloody well drive here," he snapped, shifting gears to speed up and go around the trailer.

"Since when have you ever been in Cardiff?" she demanded. "You've never left the States!"

Ianto cursed in Welsh again, then in Japanese for good measure. Then in German. 'David' hadn't left the United States, nor would he ever. Europe, especially, was full of CCTVs and facial recognition software that would find him as soon as he got off the airplane. He'd be in custody within the hour. Not something he could risk, when the crime was treason against the British Crown. The dreams of Jack and the nightmares about the Battle must be making me slip up, he thought, desperately trying to come up with a plausible explanation for his comment.

He was saved from having to answer by the oncoming car who's lane he drifted into when he hit a particularly wet spot of road and started hydroplaning. He was saved from dying by his seatbelt, though not without major injuries. Maggie was not so lucky.

.

Ianto woke to the smell of antiseptic and cleanser. His head pounded in time with his heartbeat, and a monitor beside him carried the steady beat right along with it. He felt an IV in his arm. Looking around, he noticed he was in a hospital room. It was night, and the date on the board across from his bed was three days later than he remembered. He groaned. Somehow, though, nothing except his head hurt, and that was fading rapidly. Odd.

"David Ifan Taylor," said a voice from the corner of the room. Ianto tensed. He knew that voice. He'd been avoiding the owner for ten years, though it frequented his dreams with alarming regularity. A dark shape detached from the shadows and approached. "343 West Elm St., Seattle," the voice continued. "Born August 19, 1982. Only a year different. What's it like to be a year younger than you're supposed to be?" Before Ianto could answer, the man stepped into the limited light filtering in through the ineffective hospital curtains, revealing a distinctively handsome jawline, flashing blue eyes that seemed silver in the moonlight, and a face free of wrinkles or any signs of aging since Ianto had last seen it. He was just as beautiful as Ianto remembered. No, more beautiful. And more sad. His eyes were older. His smile more forced. Ianto sighed, wondering how he could still read the man so well after all the time between them.

"Jack," he croaked.

"Do you have any idea how long I've been looking for you?" Jack growled, throwing down the clipboard that must have held Ianto's medical chart.

"Nine years, six months, three weeks, roughly," Ianto answered snidely, though he doubted Jack expected him to. Jack grunted.

"Do you have any idea how angry I am at you right now? A routine traffic accident? That's how you almost died? That's pathetic! A Torchwood agent doesn't die in an RTA!" Was that fear underneath the anger in Jack's voice? What was he afraid of?

"I'm not a Torchwood agent anymore," Ianto snapped. "Or don't you remember what happened right before I left?"

"I remember," Jack answered. "We both said a lot of harsh things that night."

"How did you find me?"

Jack snorted. "Tosh couldn't find you in two years of searching everywhere. Jimmy couldn't find you in three years, and in the last five, Emma hasn't even been able to access your records, which you so conveniently set to be completely locked. Good thing I'd saved a backup." Ianto shook his head in confusion.

"Who's Jimmy and Emma? What happened to Tosh?"

Jack advanced, his expression hardening. "Tosh died. And Owen, and Gwen. I'm the only one left from your time in Cardiff. Jimmy replaced Tosh, and Emma replaced Jimmy when he died."

"Oh," Ianto breathed, feeling a sudden burst of sadness for his fallen comrades, even the ones he'd never met. "Torchwood agents die young, I suppose," he said. "How did you find me?" he asked again.

"Apparently, Mr. Taylor, when you were in the ambulance, and later in the Emergency room, you kept asking for your 'boyfriend' Jack Harkness. Now, I'm pretty liberal about who I consider a boyfriend, but I don't think six blowjobs and two shags to keep me from finding out about the Cyber-girlfriend you hid in my basement counts!"

Ianto stared at him in horror. He'd called Jack his boyfriend when he was delirious? This was not good. And Jack was angry again. Shit. But, on second thought, it wasn't all bad, either. An angry Jack was better than a quiet Jack. And, it meant he felt something towards Ianto, though not the affection that had once been there for far too brief a time. Before Ianto betrayed him.

"You impressed the paramedics, you know," Jack continued. "You were able to tell them how to dial internationally and give them my personal mobile number. The one I never told you because you weren't around when I got it." They glared at each other until Ianto couldn't take the silence anymore.

"What happened to Maggie?" He finally asked, not bothering to admit to Jack that he'd known the mobile number because of some illicit tracking software he'd 'liberated' from MI5 seven years before, just so he could find out what Jack was up to. After the fiasco with the 456 and the Miracle Day nonsense, Ianto knew he'd need to be able to reach Jack in an absolute world-ending emergency, his treason be damned. He'd gone to ground during Miracle Day, disappearing off the map and grid like a ghost. His self-preservation instincts had served him well, and he'd left his modified fall-out shelter three months after the all-clear sounded, when he was absolutely sure things were back to normal. In all the craziness, no one in his life noticed his absence, something that saddened him briefly and got him wondering about Jack. Had Jack been looking for him? Did Jack still wonder where he was? He found out almost immediately that Jack's New Torchwood kept a lookout for his name and had the facial recognition software primed to find him.

"She didn't make it," Jack said, his voice kinder. "I'm sorry."

"So, if you've been looking up on me, did you look her up, too?"

"She's been cheating on you for the last three months, if that's what you're asking," Jack told him. "Some guy named Eduardo from accounting. He skiis."

"It wasn't meant to be, anyway," Ianto muttered to himself. "I doubt there's any woman I could really settle with. Not after Lisa."

Jack made a low growling sound in his throat, stalked over to Ianto's bedside and turned off the monitoring equipment before removing the IV from Ianto's arm. He tossed Ianto a pile of clothes.

"Get dressed. We're leaving."

"What?"

"I haven't spent ten years looking for you only to let you slip away again. Get dressed. You're coming back to Cardiff with me."

"If you're going to kill me, just do it, Jack. Don't prolong this."

"Kill you?" Jack asked, laughing harshly. "Why would I kill you? You've proven your worth ten times over! Keeping that thing hidden right under my nose for months like that was brilliant, and staying hidden so long with my best people looking for you? That's the kind of skills I need on my team. I repeat: Get dressed. I gave you a dose of nanogenes to heal your injuries that my team worked on for three years to replicate, so you should be in complete working order shortly. Don't waste my generosity."

"You're offering me a job?" Ianto asked, still not grasping what Jack was telling him.

"Yes, unless you want to stay in the crappy job you've got now. From what I can tell, you hate it, and the rest of your life isn't exactly sunshine and roses. Some of those girls you dated were so not your type."

"And how would you know what my type is, sir?" Ianto growled, pulling on underwear and trousers, trying not to blush because Jack was watching him, and why, at thirty-three, he even considered it possible to blush, he wasn't sure. It was probably something to do with Jack and the pheromones Ianto could suddenly smell. He didn't want to think about what working for Jack again would mean. He didn't want to think about the fact that he took it on Jack's word that he'd do it, that he was already doing exactly what Jack wanted. He didn't want to think about the past blowjobs and shags and possibility for more now that he'd be near the man again.

"I read your diary," Jack said matter-of-factly. "You might be David Taylor on paper, but you're Ianto Jones in your head. If you're going to assume another identity, you have to become him completely. Trust me, I've done it more times than you can imagine." Jack paused, tilted his head to the side as he thought of something. "You don't mention any boyfriends in your diary, though. Interesting."

Ianto grabbed the shirt Jack held out to him, quickly putting it on and buttoning it. "You're the closest I ever came to having one," he admitted. "It wasn't men, Jack. It was you. And I wouldn't have done it if I really didn't want to. Between the flirting and you staring at my arse in those suit trousers, you were plenty distracted enough to keep from noticing her."

Jack didn't respond for a moment. "Looks like you kept your figure," he commented finally.

"And you don't have a single new wrinkle," Ianto retorted. "Though it doesn't look like you've been smiling very much."

"Anything you need from your flat before we go?" Jack asked briskly, effectively changing the subject.

"Just my diary, but I assume you still have that," Ianto said, accepting that he'd pushed too far, for the moment. Jack nodded in confirmation. They both knew he'd return to the topic of Jack not aging at some point. Jack waited silently as Ianto pulled on his shoes. Ianto looked around for his watch or wallet, and not finding either, shrugged. "Well, then, let's be off." Jack handed him a Welsh passport with 'Ianto Jones' written on a sticky note on the outside. Ianto shrugged again, checked to make sure it was actually in his real name, with the correct birthday, and put it in the pocket of the suit jacket Jack gave him. This is one of my suits from home! he realized. Jack must have ransacked the whole place.

In the car to the airport, Jack seemed to relax slightly. "When we get to the Hub, I have a few things I saved for you," he said into the silence.

"Oh?"

"The picture of Lisa you kept in the basement with the Cyberman," Jack supplied. "Those little nick knacks you kept in the tourist office. Your favorite mug. Your stopwatch," he finished softly.

"Where did you find it?"

"It was on the floor in the basement room. I cleaned off the blood and made sure it worked again."

"Thank you," Ianto whispered.

"I know what it's like to loose people, Ianto. I didn't want it to be harder than it already was."

Hours later, as they sat in first class seats on a transatlantic plane, Ianto turned to Jack. "Why did you keep those things?" he asked hesitantly.

"Why do you still dream about me?" Jack countered.

"I've come to realize that Lisa died in London, that the thing I brought to the Hub was the real monster that day, that you were only doing what you needed to do to save the planet."

"If that's an apology, I accept," Jack said, reaching over to put a hand on Ianto's forearm. It wasn't a sexual gesture, but Ianto felt a spark nevertheless. He held himself tense, willing Jack to leave his hand where it was. "I forgave you, you know. If you'd stuck around for your suspension instead of running, you'd have known that."

"I was so young," Ianto said. "I was scared and stupid and naïve. Maybe I called for you in the ambulance because I knew ten years was long enough to run from my fate."

"You dream about me a lot," Jack commented, trailing his fingers along Ianto's arm until he could rest his hand on Ianto's. "Is that the 'fate' you were running from?"

"I thought you wouldn't kill me, once you put me on suspension. I figured you'd respect my skills, want me around for them. Revised that thought when I saw you tonight, but you put that worry on its head, didn't you? Do you ever dream about me?" Ianto wondered, flipping over his hand so he could hold Jack's properly.

"It's been ten years."

"But do you dream about me?"

Jack closed his eyes and squeezed Ianto's hand. "Yes," he whispered. "Why do you think I dropped everything and came all the way across the world to bring you home the moment I heard about your accident? Why do you think I gave you experimental nanogenes to heal you so quickly? Why do you think I spent so long looking for you? Or kept your employee file open? Or fixed your stopwatch?" They stared into each other's eyes for a long moment. "I know you're scared –"

"I spent ten years being scared," Ianto murmured, leaning over to press a tentative kiss to Jack's lips. "I'm not scared anymore."

"Then kiss me like you're not afraid, Ianto Jones," Jack replied, tightening his grip on Ianto's hand. Ianto did.