sariagray (sariagray) wrote,

Edging on the Almost

Title: Edging on the Almost
Author: sariagray 
Characters/Pairings: Jack/Ianto, mentions of the team
Word Count: ~3100 
Rating: R
Spoilers: Up through Season 2
Warnings: Sex, some language.  
Disclaimer: I do not own Torchwood, its characters, or its environs, nor do I receive any monetary gain.
Beta: analineblue 
Summary: The evolution of a relationship defined by five times they didn’t have sex.
Author's Note: This thing gave me HELL. Even now, I kind of want to blow it up. Special thanks to analineblue for letting me write an explanatory essay about the themes of this fic and looking over it a million times and writing extensive commentary on what I needed to do. <3

Edging on the Almost


There were pizza boxes and sopping paper plates and grease-translucent napkins scattered over the gleaming polished conference table, and a shiny black bin liner draped over one of the chairs. Jack’s chair, actually, but that really didn’t mean anything.

Ianto’d meant to tidy up after lunch, but there had been a weevil alert and he’d had to provide backup. And then he’d had to run all sorts of background checks on some PC that Jack was keeping an eye on. After that, it was feeding the pteranodon and the weevil and Lisa. The former two got hunks of bleeding raw meat. Lisa got milliliters of pure morphine and a handful of quiet promises.

It was late when he finally got around to cleaning. The room smelled rank, of stale pizza, and would need a thorough cleansing now, rather than a simple tidying up. Toshiko was probably still monitoring the PC’s movements on her various CCTV streams, which meant that she was watching a confused woman walking around in frustrating, lopsided circles for hours as Owen shouted out bits of snarky speculation. Owen himself would be working on an autopsy or else beating some high score on one of his games, and Suzie would be fiddling with that damned glove. Ianto was occasionally tempted to steal it, to see if it could be used to cure Lisa, but each time he got close, he’d feel sick with anxiety.

And Jack was…wherever Jack was. Humans had habits. They’d leave their homes at the same time every day, or sit in the same seats, or perform the same tiny rituals when entering a room, and they’d never even notice how entrenched in it they were. Ianto spent a lot of time observing this team and they all adhered to the truism. Everyone except Jack, of course.

Jack had the places he liked to go; rooftops and bars and his office and sometimes even cold storage, where he’d linger curiously around one or two of the vaults, but there was no cycle to his visits, no pattern to his wanderings. While everyone moved by routine, Jack seemed to exist by impulse. It was one of the many clues in Ianto’s ever-growing list that Jack wasn’t entirely human.

He began to consolidate the bits of rubbish into a pile, plates and napkins in the small containers and then each of those stacked in the larger boxes like nesting dolls. Oily, sodden nesting dolls.

Ianto didn’t even flinch when a warm hand pressed against his right hip. His muscles merely tensed instinctively at the intrusion and then relaxed as his rational thought caught up with his acute stress response.

“Can I help you, sir?” He shoved another container into a box.

He felt breath against his hairline as Jack chuckled.

“One of these days, I’ll make you jump,” Jack warned, though it sounded more like a promise than a threat.

Jack stepped back and watched Ianto finish his process. Ianto refused to look at him, but he still felt the heat of Jack’s gaze at his back, almost uncomfortable but never quite making it there. It was awkward to be scrutinized like that and Ianto fumbled when he tried to close the cover of one of the boxes.

As soon as the last piece was tucked away in the bin liner, Jack attached himself to Ianto’s side as if an electromagnetic field had formed between them. They were barely touching, like north to north, and Ianto felt his heart race.

It had been like this for weeks now, his resolve crumbling slowly, bits and pieces of his determination eroding away in Jack’s constant wind-and-rain. The only walls left to his defenses were Lisa and professionalism; everything else had fallen.

It had been so long; Lisa was so cold to the touch, and Jack was warm and here and now. He was also mute, seeking silent permission as he inched closer and closer and Ianto white-knuckled the back of a chair, his eyes closed tightly.

When he was little more than a rebellious youth, he’d watched all the old sci-fi pictures from the ‘50s and ‘60s. When he was thirteen, his father had taken him to the Electro to see an older film from the ‘20s about some robot woman. He didn’t focus on the plot at all (something Orwellian was the only thing that he could recall even now), but he’d touched himself for weeks after to her image.

The thought of Lisa objectified like that, her pain and suffering, made him hate his naivety. And the thought of having sex with her made him nauseous, and then guilty, until he found himself leaning into Jack almost wantonly.

Jack’s fingers traced the hem of Ianto’s waistcoat and all Ianto wanted to feel was the warm slide of fingertips against his skin. But Jack was tentative, trying to read him by touch, and Ianto stood completely stock-still, stiff and stark.

Yes, Ianto thought. Yes. Now. Yes. Please. Yes. Yes. “Yes,” he breathed and felt his muscles loosen when the weight of the decision, of the word itself, released.

Jack gripped Ianto just below his shoulders, hands wrapped tight around his upper arms, and spun him around quickly. Ianto barely had time to blink before Jack’s lips were on his own, warm and hard, barely holding back from bruising. Jack’s hands roved up until they cradled Ianto’s face, unyielding and yet gentle. Ianto’s fingers twitched and then he raised his hands to dig them into Jack’s scalp.

Pushed back against the conference table, Ianto almost slid on the bin liner, but Jack held him in place. His hands moved swiftly, taking hurried inventory of Ianto’s body, tugging the cotton shirt from his trousers. He finally settled on Ianto’s belt buckle and fumbled blindly with it.

“You were right, Jack! She just picked up our pizza order from Jubilee!” Tosh called out excitedly, perhaps with a touch of relief; stake-ins were almost as tedious as stake-outs, they’d all discovered. “She’ll be here any minute.”

Groaning, Jack pulled back and sighed. Ianto ran a shaky hand through his hair, his breathing erratic and difficult, his head dizzy with need.

“I want you up in the tourist office,” Jack stated, all business, though his gaze was fond. He laughed suddenly. “Well,” he clarified, “I mean you should be there when she shows up. Let her in. We’ll be ready for her. But I also want you in the tourist office.” He leered, and Ianto knew he shouldn’t find it such an attractive look. “Later.”

Jack about-faced and retreated from the conference room, his stride sure and even a little upbeat. After he disappeared from sight, Ianto let himself sag against the table, boneless and weary. He tucked his shirt back in and fiddled with his belt until it sat right again, all the while trying to get his lungs to function properly.

The interruption left him equally disappointed and grateful, but the disappointment was only for the immediate concern of his very neglected body, while the gratitude extended long-term. This Gwen Cooper, if Jack ever brought her on the team, would be the perfect distraction and he could go on with his original plan.

And, if she did get hired, he’d be sure to favor her with his best coffee.


“Tonight,” Jack had whispered into Ianto’s ear, his chest pressed firmly against his back as though he were prepared to take him right there, in front of the coffee machine, with the others just around the corner. Then again, if Ianto had allowed it, Jack probably would have done just that.

Ianto had swallowed against the thrill of his imagination (his hands gripping the countertop as Jack caressed his chest from behind; Jack’s teeth grazing against the juncture between neck and shoulder; thrusting back against Jack, pulling him deeper inside, clenching against him) and nodded, continuing to brew the morning’s coffee, his hands never halting in their work.

“Tonight,” he’d echoed, a small smile on his face.

“Good.” Jack had stepped back and then leaned forward to press a kiss against Ianto’s temple. And then he’d bounded away.

Ianto hadn’t seen Jack since he’d found his keys missing hours ago. It was getting late now, the twilight sky fading incrementally from pale blue to black, and he’d already resisted the urge to check in with Jack twice. If there was a problem, Jack would get in touch with someone.

As the minutes slowly ticked by, Ianto tried to keep himself busy.

He spent a solid hour on the care of their charges, though the majority of that time had been spent with the pteranodon rather than the weevil. Jack had taken to calling her Myfanwy, his voice teasing and his eyes seeking out Ianto with a wink, like they shared a private joke. If they did, Ianto couldn’t remember what it was, but he liked it all the same.

When that was finished and the creature had settled into her aerie to chew on her slab of meat, he wandered over to his work station. There were emails to sort, and he spent a good deal of time going through all of the possible red flags for alien tech at various auction houses and sites. They’d upped their searches ever since the incident with Eugene Jones, though the increased measures hadn’t proven particularly fruitful yet. He also checked in on Henry Parker. Still nothing, status quo for the past twenty or so years. Sometimes, he wondered why they bothered.

He spent more time tidying up, though the hub had been relatively empty all day, everyone taking care of those in their respective temporary custody. Gwen was seeing off Emma, Owen was somewhere with Diane, and Jack, he hoped, was with John. Toshiko had been the only one in the hub consistently, and her presence was always quiet and neat. Cleaning, unfortunately, didn’t eat up much of his time.

Finally, as a last resort, he went to reorganize the tourist office. There had been a new shipment of brochures and souvenirs last week that he’d been meaning to put away. There was a whole stack of outdated material, too, that needed to be sorted; admission to the Castle had gone up almost three pounds, and the National Museum was temporarily closed for renovations. Not that accuracy really mattered (it was just a front, after all), but Ianto took pride in the little space.

He’d been up there for almost two hours, his attention diverted by reading through the new pamphlets (the knowledge proved surprisingly helpful during missions), when his computer pinged with a new chat message. He wondered if Toshiko had left something running again, and wanted him to check on it. He liked that sort of work, and could easily get lost in it for hours.

Ianto shook the mouse until the screensaver disappeared. Jack. It was Jack. He must’ve taken the back entrance or the invisible lift. He felt his body ease as he settled into the chair and typed up a response. His car had been retrieved, Jack had returned, and…oh. Oh.

After Jack signed off abruptly, Ianto closed his eyes. He didn’t even have to look at Jack to know that he’d died. Not that Jack knew that Ianto knew, had known for quite some time now. One doesn’t spend months reorganizing Torchwood Three’s archives without coming across references, and it hardly required a brilliant mind to connect those dots. And Ianto was smart enough to keep his knowledge close to his chest.

He shut down the computer and took his mobile from his jacket pocket, dialing Jack’s number with speed borne of repetition. Jack picked up on the second ring, his voice rough and empty.

“I’m going to lock up here,” Ianto said, slowly. “If you don’t need anything, I think I’ll head home. Do you still want to–”

“Good. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Jack rang off hurriedly, and Ianto held his mobile away from him, staring at it with despair for a moment before shoving it back into his pocket. He glanced up at the camera, wondering if Jack was watching the feed, and gave it as reassuring a smile as he could muster.

And then he walked home.


“I can’t,” Jack murmured face-down into the pillow, defeated.

The pillows were fluffier than Ianto liked, just insubstantial air and feathers. He preferred something more solid beneath his head, something firm that wouldn’t give him a sore neck in the morning. Still, the hotel linens were crisp and clean and smelled faintly of lavender. They lay across the king-sized mattress, miles apart.

Jack had looked exhausted all night, and his return hadn’t been anything like Ianto expected. Though, truth be told, he wasn’t expecting much. Maybe to walk into the hub one day and find him in the office, or up on a rooftop somewhere, or in cold storage staring at the vaults. His appearance had all of the usual dashing bravado and none of the real charm; big smiles and haunted, shadowed eyes.

Those shadows were what got Ianto to open the door, more than any promises of dates or always coming back.

Jack shifted until he was resting on his side and the bed creaked slightly. The white sheet draped artfully over his waist, like it had been positioned, and his cheek was crushed against his pile of pillows. He regarded Ianto with weary, anxious eyes, his skin almost sallow in the unnatural yellow light.

Ianto’s erection tented the duvet, a bold recrimination, an admonishment, until he rolled over, too, and faced Jack.

“It’s been a long time,” Jack said. “I don’t know if –”

Ianto placed a finger over Jack’s mouth, silencing him, and gave a little smile. The words were too strange coming from Jack. “It’s fine,” he assured. He twisted his body and shut off the table lamp next to him.

He’d tried to nurse his anger all night; anger at Jack’s disappearance, at his return, at his past and the present and the future, all combining together in one dizzying instance. But the well ran dry pretty quickly, for all of them. Ianto shifted his foot until it was resting outside of the blankets. He toyed with a loose thread that had come up from the pillowcase, rolling it between his fingers and tugging at it intermittently, until Jack wrapped his hand around Ianto’s wrist.

“A year,” Jack whispered into the darkness, so quietly that Ianto could barely make out the words. “It’s been a year.”

Ianto lifted his trapped wrist and kissed Jack’s fingers. “Okay.”


They woke up to sunlight instead of a blaring, monotonous alarm for once. It was a pleasant change of pace, at least after the initial panic of possibly having slept through an emergency had worn off.

Ianto lay panting on his bed as he came down from the adrenaline-high, his eyes closed and his chest rising and falling rapidly as Jack watched him. As his breathing evened out, he smiled a little, cracking one eye open and raising the associated eyebrow.

“It’s only just gone six,” Jack reminded him as he leaned forward suggestively, casting a shadow over Ianto’s skin. “We don’t have to be in until nine.”


Jack’s foot, surprisingly warm, trailed up Ianto’s calf leisurely, then back down until Jack’s toe poked insistently at his ankle. Jack was easiest to read like this, less impulsive and manic. It was terrifying if Ianto thought about it for too long.

Ianto opened his eyes fully. “Alright.”

Outside of the bedroom window, a few trees were beginning to bud and it was getting warmer. A car horn honked; a commuter rideshare, probably, and someone called a hasty greeting back. Sometimes, Ianto envied the normalcy of it all, the way people went about their lives like clockwork, blithely unaware of all of the danger, clinging to their little habits like ancient traditions. Sometimes, during quiet moments like this, he pretended to be just as innocent.

Jack traveled down Ianto’s body, kissing and nipping at patches of exposed skin as he went. He bit at the flesh on the inside of his thighs until Ianto closed his eyes and moaned. He felt Jack smile against his hip.

Compared to the warmth of Jack’s mouth, the room was cool and made Ianto’s skin break out in gooseflesh. Ianto lifted his head from the pillow and watched Jack; he looked reverential, with his eyes closed gently and the palms of his hands flat against Ianto’s thighs like supplication. It was too much in the clear morning light and Ianto threw his head back down with a grunt.

Jack was finally beginning to get somewhere, his tongue tantalizingly close to just where Ianto wanted it, when both of their mobiles rang. Jack stilled and they locked eyes, Ianto gasping and trying to restrain himself from thrusting impatiently. Jack finally pulled back and leapt up next to Ianto, grabbing both of their mobiles from the nightstand where they’d been tossed the night before.

“It’s probably about the murders. I’m thinking of calling someone in from UNIT. She’s good.” Jack stretched and checked the displays. “You’ve got Gwen,” he muttered darkly, “and I’ve got Owen. Trade?”

“No,” Ianto groaned and turned to retrieve his mobile. Before he could answer, Jack kissed him softly.

“Sorry,” he whispered against his lips, smiling. “Later.”


The scratch spanned the length of Ianto’s forearm, but it thankfully lacked depth and had barely bled at all. It was more of a raised welt of pink skin, a scrape, and it would fade soon enough. It wouldn’t even scar. Still, Owen’s poking and prodding, and the myriad tests he’d made Ianto undergo to be certain no poison had been involved, was a tiring process on the best of days. After chasing some slathering beast through the streets of Cathays, though, it left him far passed the point of exhaustion.

He shuffled to the kitchen and opened the refrigerator, staring blankly into it, willing it to offer something that would interest him. It was fully stocked with all of the necessities, but nothing was prepared and the idea of cooking was beyond daunting. Even calling for takeout seemed like too much effort.

He felt Jack slide up behind him, his arms wrapping around his waist as his body slumped against Ianto’s back. Once, the gesture might have annoyed him, but now Ianto felt it was a weight he could bear and he was glad to do it.

“Bed.” Jack kissed the back of his neck and then nuzzled at the spot.

The lights hadn’t even been turned on yet, just the glow from the refrigerator and the entryway allowing them to move freely. He turned around in Jack’s arms and frowned apologetically.

“I don’t think –”

“Bed,” Jack repeated. He reached into Ianto’s pocket for his mobile and shut it off, dropping it onto the counter. “Sleep. Now.” He kissed Ianto, softly, and pulled him close.

Ianto sighed in relief, closed the door to the refrigerator, and let Jack lead him to the bedroom.

The End

Tags: fanfic, jack/ianto, one-shot, team, torchwood

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