When it happened he wasn't ready for it. He supposed no-one was ever really ready. They say they are, when they know the end is near, when a loved one is stepping closer to that final abyss, but that's a lie. The truth of it is that, nobody is ever ready for a loved one's death. Especially not him, no matter how many times he faced it in his long and drawn out life he was never ready when it happened. It always took him by surprise.
He had thought his life with him was just beginning, despite the danger they faced every day, despite the loss of Owen and Toshiko. He never thought that he would lose him as well especially not so soon after. Even at the end when Ianto said those three little words for the first time, as he lay dying. He didn't even have the guts to say them back, he couldn't. His heart was breaking, this was not how it was supposed to happen, Ianto was not supposed to die, not like this.
Perhaps he thought he could stop the inevitable if he refused to voice it, he knew Ianto had wanted to hear it back, had wanted him to voice those same words back, but he just couldn't. What Ianto must have thought of him at that moment, Jack didn't want to think on it, and perhaps he thought that he could save his lover by keeping his silence, but in the end all that happened was Ianto died in his arms never knowing that he loved him. Jack just hoped that in the end he knew, that seep down in his heart he realised why he couldn't voice it, and knew how much Jack loved and cared for him.
At the end he'd tried so hard to bring him back, he had done it before, during the cyber woman incident, he had given Ianto some of his life force and brought him back again. It hadn't worked, Jack didn't know if it was the fact that the virus had overcome his system too much to allow it to work, or that Ianto was already too far gone, at the time Ianto had been barely hanging onto life, Jack didn't even know if he had still been alive when he had attempted it. But as Jack had died, clutching his lover to him, he had still had hope. Hope that when he revived that it would be to discover that it had worked and that Ianto would be alive, and they would both walk out of Thames house together. Perhaps it had been a foolish dream but Jack could not accept what it would mean if the opposite happened.
It hadn't worked out like that though, for the first time in so long Jack had finally allowed himself to fall in love, even knowing that he would eventually lose them, even knowing they would break his heart. He had foolishly hoped that Ianto would be old and grey before he even had to contemplate losing him, he should have known better. In Torchwood everyone died young, why should Ianto be any different?
He couldn't bear the thought of saying goodbye, knowing that when he did, it would somehow make it real, make it final. After that he knew there was no turning back. Ianto would be gone forever and he was in no way ready to accept that. Jack didn't think he ever would be ready no matter how old he grew to be. Jack couldn't even begin to contemplate living in a world without his beautiful partner to share it with. Jack didn't think he would be able to carry on without him.
But for a while at least he had to, it was what was expected of him. They were in the middle of one of the biggest crises that earth had ever faced and Torchwood, Jack in particular had just stood up and said 'I can fix this.' Only now Jack wasn't quite sure that he could.
They had gone in with a plan, Ianto and him storming into Thames house and demanding an audience of the 456. Jack challenged its authority and it responded by taking the only thing that mattered.
He couldn't do it anymore; everywhere he went all he brought was death and destruction. He may not be able to die, but sometimes he forgot everyone else can, and they usually do. The fact that they could die when confronting the 456 had never occurred to him, and look where that had got him, hundreds dead, Ianto included, all of them dying terrified and trapped.
All he wanted to do was take it back; he wished he had never confronted the 456. Maybe if he had of stood up to them in 1965 none of this would be happening now and Ianto would still be alive.
Now he knew why the Doctor always left, why he never stopped running, it was because it hurt too much to stay. Human lives were fleeting and fragile, over so quickly, even more so when they worked for Torchwood. When those lives finally ended they left gaping holes that left you broken and wishing you could join them. For him that was a joke, he had so much life, never ending life, he was a fact, but he didn’t have enough to share with Ianto, to keep him from losing his battle with death.
For that he hated the doctor, he who would swoop in to the rescue, and save the earth again and again, but not when they needed it the most. Not when he needed him the most. Then, there was no sign of him. After this if Jack saw him again, when he saw him again, he didn’t know what he would do. Punch him, or beg him to take him back, to save Ianto. Maybe he would do both.
Jack had once told Ianto that he had forgiven Rose for what she had done to him, but at the moment he blamed her just as much as the Doctor. Rose was so human in her desire to save him he just wished that she had of thought to give him someone to share it with; he wished she had of given him Ianto. The doctor had told him she'd been able to see all of time and space when she had altered him, so why had she not seen how much Ianto meant to him? Why couldn't she save him?
He had wanted so much for Ianto to meet the Doctor, had wanted to take him travelling, to show him that it wasn’t all blood, death and violence out there. Only he had left it too late, he would never be able to show him the wonders that the universe held, he would never see Ianto's eyes light up with the realisation that he was on another planet, breathing new air and standing on new soil. Ianto would have loved it.
He had wanted it all for him, but now it would never happen.
After losing Toshiko and Owen he had hurt. He had mourned, but he had been starting to move on, he would not forget them but he had been able to cope with their loss. Jack didn't think he would ever recover from Ianto’s loss. In the short amount of time that Ianto had been with him, he had come to mean so much to him. He was his best friend, his lover and his confidant. He was someone who had never judged him, just accepted and helped him to cope when things became too much.
Ianto had always known when Jack needed someone to listen, and when he had to press him to talk, Ianto had eased his burdens just by being there for him to share them with. Jack knew that there was nothing he could have done to make Ianto turn his back on him. It would never happen; Jack doubted he would ever have that again now that Ianto was gone.
He would never again hear those beautiful Welsh vowels as they made love, Ianto whispering to him all the things he would do to him. Jack could still remember how nervous the Welsh man was the first time they had made love, how self-conscious he had been, it had thrilled Jack to no end. That he would be his first, could make it special and make sure he knew how much he was cared for, and it had been, all that and more.
When they had made love, they had connected on a level Jack in all his long years had never felt with anyone else and never would again. Jack truly believed Ianto was his soul mate, the one who completed him and made it bearable every time he died and came struggling back to life. No one else realised just what it cost him every time he died, but Ianto had and he made sure that he was there with him when it happened, and for that Jack would be forever grateful.
Ianto had been the only one who understood him, he had been the best of them; his quiet, reassuring presence had held them together, had held him together. Ianto had always known what he needed, and had never pushed him for more than what he could give. Jack sometimes wished he had.
So when he woke up in the makeshift morgue next to Ianto and realised that he was truly gone and there wouldn't be any miracles, not this time. He just wanted to run and keep on running and never look back, but he still had responsibilities, they still had to defeat the 456.
Sitting up, Jack removed the red sheet that still covered most of his body and moved to sit behind Gwen, holding her close whilst she said goodbye, Jack couldn't help but resent her slightly. She got to live and keep everything while he lost the most important person in his life. He knew that it was unfair of him to think that about her, she had also lost a friend and college sat there beside him, straightening his tie. Jack just wanted her to go, he wanted to tell her not to touch him, that she didn't have the right.
He didn’t though; he knew it would be selfish of him. Gwen was grieving too and he didn't want to add to that by asking her to go, as much as that was what he wanted. He wanted to be able to mourn his lover in peace without seeing her pitying looks, with her trying to comfort him. He didn't want that, it only made it harder to bear. He wanted to scream and shout and ask why him? Why did they have to take him? Jack knew he would have sacrificed everything if the 456 would have saved him.
What did that say about him? That he was willing to send millions of children to an unspeakable life just to save one man, one beautiful, caring, loving man.
He could feel the tears flowing unchecked down his face.
In the end Jack sat there holding her as much for his own comfort as hers, he could barely make himself look at Ianto. He was deathly pale, the life gone from his features, his skin gone waxy and grey in death. Seeing him like that was like a sucker punch, reality coming in to say "Did you really think it would work? Did you think he would walk out of here?” and Jack wasn’t ashamed to say that he had really thought it would be like that. Which was why seeing him now lying so still in death was so unbearably hard. It was the loss of hope, the shattering of every dream he had ever had for the two of them.
Jack didn't know what he would have done had, his vortex manipulator still worked, but that was a lie he knew exactly what he would have done, he would go back and make sure Ianto never entered that building and damn the consequences. If ever given the chance he still would. He didn’t care what happened if it gave him his Ianto back. He hadn’t deserved to die; he was so young and still had a lot left to give to the world and to him. This couldn’t be all there was for him, he had deserved so much. He hadn't deserved to die like this.
Jack could barely hold back his sobs, he didn’t want Gwen to see him like that, Ianto had been the only one he’d allowed to see him so vulnerable, and he knew once he started he wouldn’t be able to stop. He just wanted to curl up and die, then he wouldn't have to deal with this, but even that he couldn’t have. He wished he had stayed dead, stayed with Ianto, at least then he wouldn’t have to face up to a reality where he was gone, and everyone was looking to him for answers he didn't have.
Ianto had never been so still. In life he had always been so vibrant and full of energy and life, it felt unnatural to see him so still and realising he would never have that energy again, that he was truly gone. Despite his outwardly calm exterior Ianto had always been in constant motion, cleaning, making coffee, or just fiddling with whatever was close, but he was always doing something. Jack had liked that about him; it usually meant something enjoyable for him.
After a short while Jack felt Gwen move from under his arm and stand, leaning down she kissed him on the forehead, leaning in and hugging him tight "I'll wait outside, sweetheart" Her voice cracking with grief and stress. Jack barely heard what she was saying. He was too focused on Ianto, but he appreciated what she had done, leaving him to grieve in peace and say goodbye.
Once she was gone Jack moved himself closer to his partner, running his hand lightly through his hair and down his face to cup his cheek. Leaning down Jack kissed him, Trying to push his life force into the other man but Ianto's lips were cold and unyielding.
Laying his hand on Ianto’s head Jack made sure his hair was sitting like his lover liked and it started to hit home that he was really gone and would never be coming back.
When nothing happened after his kiss, Jack realised it was never going to work, that he was truly never coming back. He pulled Ianto's cold lifeless body into his arms and broke down sobbing, rocking them both gently, but even his body felt different, it was cold and stiff with death, but all Jack cared about in that moment was that he had his lover back in his arms again, and he never wanted to let go, that maybe if he held on tight enough he wouldn’t have to.
Jack didn't know how long he sat there with Ianto but he knew it must have been some time as he felt a pair of arms go around him "Oh, sweetheart," at first it didn't even register that there was anyone there, he was too caught up if his grief it wasn’t till he felt someone prise his arms from around Ianto and try to pull him away that he reacted.
"NO...let go of me," Jack yelled pulling away from the arms and grabbing Ianto to him again. It didn't even register with him who it was that was trying to pull him away he just knew that he couldn't go that he had to stay with Ianto, that he had to keep him safe.
"Jack, it’s Gwen, you have to let him go" Her voice wet with tears and grief "He's gone and we have to go, we have a planet to save." Gwen hugged him tighter "Ianto wouldn't want this, he died to protect the children, he would want you to finish what he started, otherwise his death will mean nothing, and he will have died for nothing."
“Don’t…don’t you dare say that. He was so brave …” Jack snapped his voice breaking on the last word.
“I know, sweetheart. I’m sorry I shouldn’t have said that, but I can’t stand to see you like this. It’s the last thing he would have wanted, you know that” Gwen said pulling his face up from Ianto to look at her, her eyes full of tears.
Jack just nodded, he knew she was right, but that didn't mean he had to like it, he hated her for saying what she did, leaning down Jack placed one last kiss on his lover's mouth whispering into his ear "I love you, Ianto..." his voice breaking at his lover’s name "And I will never forget you." Pulling away Jack gently lay his lover back on the ground, straightening his clothes and hair. Taking one last look at him Jack pulled the sheet back up, but couldn't bring himself to cover his face, instead he brought it up to just under his chin, as if he was just sleeping and Jack was tucking him in.
Jack could still feel Gwen behind him her eyes boring into his back, as he stood he felt her help him to his feet and lead him from the makeshift morgue. He didn’t say a word to her. What more was there to say, his lover was dead and the world was going to hell, and Jack didn't think there was anything he could do about it, despite the faith Gwen seemed to have in him. He didn't think this one was one they could win. Yet he still hoped they could. It was what Ianto would have wanted and for that reason alone he would try his damnedest to make him proud.