skidmo_fic: (jones)
[personal profile] skidmo_fic
Title: Roses in December
Rating: NC-17
Pairing: Ianto Jones/Evan Lorne
Word Count: 14,865
Warning: adult content, angst
Disclaimer: None of these characters belong to me...sadly
Feedback: yes, please.
Summary: Torchwood/SGA crossover, future-fic set sometime post series 1 Torchwood and post season 4 SGA (slight AU as of SGA ep "Doppelganger"). Not part of the Beatles 'verse.
Ianto thinks he should remember, but Lorne can’t tell him why.
A/N: Title is from a quote by J.M. Barrie - "God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December." Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] misslucyjane for the beta.



Ianto’s lunch with Dr. Esposito is pleasant. She’s very friendly, she smiles prettily and she seems to be interested in his work.

But Ianto’s mind is not on his meal or his companion. He is thinking rather of a man who, by all appearances, despises him.

There’s something disturbingly familiar about Major Lorne. Ianto feels as though they have met before, only briefly, perhaps at a club or a concert. And the few times he’s spoken with the major, he’s left feeling like he’s missing something. Something important. Something he really ought to remember. He’s never felt a connection like this to someone, certainly not to someone he doesn’t even know.

A few days after their first encounter, Ianto began having the strangest dreams. Dreams where he was at a club in Cardiff, talking to a man with the major’s eyes. The details vary, but he always leaves the club with the man, and they kiss on the street corner.

It’s not that Ianto is uncomfortable with his sexuality. It’s just that he’s never really been all that interested in men before. He’d thought about it on an intellectual level, but he’d never had reason to pursue it. Except once. He thinks there was someone else once. Someone who made him think about it beyond the realm of academics. He had blue eyes too, like the major’s, only…deeper, happier and sadder at the same time. Older. And Ianto can’t quite remember his name or how he knew this man.

It’s like a scab at the back of his mind that he just wants to pick at, but he knows if he does it will never heal. The trouble is, he can’t decide if he wants it to or not.

Dr. Esposito tells a joke, and he laughs politely. When they finish their meal, she asks if he’d like to have lunch again tomorrow. He says he’s meant to be having lunch with Dr. Zelenka, and she blushes and asks about dinner…in her quarters. He smiles and says that he’s rather busy, but perhaps some other time? She smiles back and says that would be lovely, but he knows she understands.

He just wishes he did.

***

The happiest week of Lorne’s life had been the week of his high school graduation. He’d finished school and been accepted into the Air Force Academy. He had the whole summer ahead of him, and Jenny Saunders had let him fuck her in the back seat of his Dodge Spirit after her graduation party. For an eighteen-year old kid who was just a little too geeky to be cool, it didn’t get any better.

Comparatively, this was probably only the fourth or fifth happiest week of his life. He was about to ship out on what was probably going to be the most exciting assignment of his career. He had a whole week to do whatever he wanted, and he had a damn sexy Welshman who had somehow agreed to let Lorne fuck him every night of the week.

The sex was better than it had been with Jenny (who never could quite get the hang of giving head without using her teeth), but he had the whole one week time limit thing hanging over his head. Normally that would be a good thing. Keep him from getting attached.

When he stood in Ianto’s front hall on his last day in Wales, he knew that it hadn’t worked. And for all that Ianto had said he only had the week to give too, Lorne could tell it hadn’t worked for him either.

“What time is your flight?”

Lorne checked his ticket, though Ianto had asked him this at least three other times that morning. “Fourteen hundred hours.”

Ianto nodded. “Your cab will be here soon then. Are you sure you don’t want me to give you a ride? It’s no trouble.”

“Thanks, but no. I prefer to take a cab.” Truthfully, Lorne would have rather had Ianto drive him, but he thought it would be easier to say goodbye here, with no audience.

“Okay. Er…do you have your passport?”

Lorne held it up to show him. He wanted very much to kiss Ianto goodbye, but he felt like that would ruin the show they were putting on. “Ianto, I….” He was interrupted by the sound of the cab outside.

“You’d best be going. Don’t want him to leave without you.”

Lorne nodded. He was just going to leave, just walk out the door and be gone. Instead, he pulled Ianto close, holding him tight and kissing him softly. “Will you…god, this sounds cheesy….Will you write me?”

Ianto smiled at him. “Of course. Will you be able to receive mail where you’re going?”

“It will take some time to get to me but, yeah.” Lorne fished in his pocket for a scrap of paper, pulling out the receipt from their dinner the night before. Ianto handed him a pen, and he hastily scratched an address out. As an afterthought, he added his email to the bottom. “We’ll get databursts every week. It might be a couple weeks before you get a response, but I’ll always check my email.”

Ianto smiled at him again, and Lorne heard the cabby honking. “I’ve…”

“Go, Evan.” Ianto kissed him softly. “Just go.”

Lorne shouldered his duffle and headed for the door. He stopped just outside, turning back for one final look.

“Thanks.”

And then he was gone.

***

When they stop by the mess to pick up some food, Lorne tries not to look over to where Ianto is sitting, laughing at something Dr. Esposito is saying. He doesn’t even realize he’s watching them until Zelenka takes something off his tray. “Hey!”

“You do not like the roast beef,” he says, putting the sandwich back and picking up a different one. “It has horseradish, remember?”

“Right. Thanks, Doc.” Ianto isn’t laughing anymore, but he is smiling at her, and Lorne feels his stomach drop.

Zelenka puts a hand on his shoulder and leads him out.

They take their sandwiches out to a deserted balcony on the west side of the central tower, and Zelenka lets him eat in silence for several minutes.

“I do not pretend to know what sort of history you might have with Ianto, Major, but it is clear there is something between you that I do not see.”

Lorne puts his sandwich down and looks out at the ocean. He says nothing for a moment. He’s not sure how he can tell this story. “I…he was….” He clears his throat. “We dated for a while.” He glances over at Zelenka out of the corner of his eye. They’ve never discussed his sexuality before, but he doesn’t think it will be an issue.

Zelenka looks at him warily. “I see,” he says. Then, “No. I do not see. He has never given me any indication that he knows you. He seems honestly perplexed that you do not wish to spend time with him.”

Lorne picks up his sandwich and takes another bite, chewing slowly and swallowing before saying, “That’s probably because he doesn’t remember it.”

Lorne has to admire Zelenka’s calm. He merely raises an eyebrow at this. “When you say that you ‘dated for a while’….”

“I don’t mean that I picked him up in a club once.” He pauses and smiles just a little. “Actually, that’s exactly what happened. But it didn’t end after one night. We were together for…almost three years, I guess. I was never quite sure when what we were doing became a relationship.”

Lorne looks out across the water. “I told you it was complicated.” He takes a swig from his water bottle, wishing it were something stronger. “He had a sort of history with his boss. They were sleeping together. I couldn’t ask him to stop, not when I was so far away most of the time. And Ianto…” he trails off for a moment. “He said Jack didn’t love him and that he didn’t love Jack. But he couldn’t stop. He said it wasn’t like our relationship. He didn’t care about Jack that way.” Lorne snorts out a bitter laugh. “Somehow that never made it easier to know they were fucking every time I left. After a while…it was just too much. I asked him if he’d leave me for Jack if Jack wanted him the way I did, and he said he didn’t know. So I…I left him. I left him and said I wouldn’t be coming back.”

Zelenka looks suitably horrified, but still a little confused. “I don’t understand, Evan. If you were together so long….”

“How could he possibly not remember me?”

Ano. Yes, exactly.”

Lorne carefully sets down his water and looks down at his hands. “Ianto worked for an organization that was a little bit like the SGC without so much government oversight. They have a…a drug of some sort. Ianto called it Retcon. It makes people forget things. Whole chunks of their lives even. He said if he ever quit, he’d have to take it, so he wouldn’t be able to spill any secrets.”

“And you think he has taken this…ret con?”

Lorne shrugs. “I have no way of knowing. But it’s either that or he’s on some secret mission for them to spy on Atlantis, and I can’t imagine him doing something like that.”

Zelenka laughs. “No. I cannot see him as a spy. He is too…sincere.”

Lorne gives a half smile. “He’s definitely sincere, but he’s also…he hides things very well. I just…I can’t believe he would do that.” He closes his eyes for just a moment. “I don’t want to believe he’d do that.” He doesn’t say ‘to me,’ but he thinks it. “Not even for Jack.”

Zelenka is quiet for a moment. “How long ago?”

“How long ago did I leave him? It’s been six months.”

“Oh,” Zelenka says softly. “Oh, my friend, I am so sorry.”

“Yeah, well…sometimes relationships don’t work out. And then you get on with your life.”

Zelenka shakes his head slowly. “No. No, that is not why I am sorry. I am sorry because it has been six months, and still you love him. This is not a relationship you can let go, my friend. It is not a relationship you should let go.”

Lorne drops his half-eaten sandwich onto the tray. “So what am I supposed to do? Go to him and say, ‘I know you don’t remember me at all, but trust me, I love you, and you love me too. You just don’t remember’? Yeah, I can see that going over real well.”

“I can’t tell you how you should do this. I can only tell you that you should. How did you win him over the first time?”

“I fucked him.”

Zelenka blushes, and Lorne feels bad for being so blunt. “I do not recommend that this time, I think. Perhaps you should start by not avoiding him. He is a little hurt, I think, that you seem to dislike him so much.”

Lorne’s chest constricts at that. “I never wanted to hurt him,” he whispers, remembering the look on Ianto’s face the day he’d left. “I just couldn’t…it hurts too much.”

Zelenka puts a hand on his shoulder and squeezes gently. “I do not think it will be easy, but…there must have been some reason he left his job. Maybe that reason was you.”

***

Several days after Ianto’s lunch with Dr. Esposito, Radek finds him in his office perusing a memo with a raised eyebrow.

“I do not think it will change no matter how hard you stare at it.”

“Hm?” Ianto looks up, brow still furrowed in confusion, then smiles when he sees Radek. “I’m not expecting it to.”

“What is it?” Radek asks, peering over Ianto’s shoulder.

“It’s the mission schedule for next week.”

“I didn’t think they distributed the mission schedule to anyone not going off-world.”

“They don’t,” Ianto says, frowning at the paper.

“But that must mean…” Zelenka trails off.

“I’m scheduled to travel to M9G-382 with Major Lorne’s team on Thursday. They need a translator, and I’m the only one available with any grasp of Ancient.”

“Well,” Radek says, and Ianto can’t help thinking he sounds a bit suspicious, “this will certainly give you a chance to get to know the major better. Perhaps you two will work out whatever the problem is.”

“Yes.” Ianto is less than sure about that.

He’s about to ask Radek what he knows about the planet in question when Major Lorne himself appears in the doorway. It must be his day off as he’s not in uniform, and as happens so often around the major, Ianto finds his eyes drawn to the way Lorne’s shirt hugs his shoulders, like there’s not quite enough room for them.

“Oh! Hey, Doc,” he says, leaning against the doorframe. “I didn’t expect to see you here.”

“I was just about to ask Ianto if he’s ready for lunch yet.”

Lorne nods. “Well, I won’t keep you. I just wanted to see when Ianto might have a free hour or so to complete his certification.”

Ianto is distracted by his surprise at the perfect way Lorne pronounces his name—it usually takes people a couple tries to get it right—so it’s a moment before he asks, “Certification?”

“All civilians have to be certified before they can be taken off-world.”

“Right. Of course.”

“So,” Lorne says, dragging the word out and raising his eyebrows, “you free tomorrow afternoon?”

Ianto quickly flips through his appointment book, though he knows he’s free. “Yes. Is three o’clock all right?”

Lorne grins, and Ianto’s stomach gives a curious flip. “It’s a date.”

He’s on his way out the door, when Ianto finds himself calling after him. “Major?”

Lorne stops in his tracks and spins on his heel. “Yeah?”

“Would you care to join us for lunch?”

There’s that grin again, and Ianto wishes it didn’t affect him the way it does, but at the same time, he doesn’t want it to stop. “Sorry, I’m meeting Cadman, but thanks. Maybe next time.”

“Next time,” Ianto mutters as the major disappears around the corner. When he turns back to Radek, the Czech has a peculiar smile on his face that he refuses to explain.

***

For the first year, Ianto wrote him faithfully every week. Supply runs only came about once every other month, so Lorne would get a nice thick stack of letters in every run. No one ever asked him why he always disappeared for a few hours immediately after the Daedelus docked. Ianto was very careful. The letters were always innocent, full of daily happenings or stories about Ianto’s co-workers, and Lorne tried not to be jealous, especially when Ianto talked about his boss. He seemed to think the sun shone out of Jack’s ass, and for all Lorne knew, it did.

Lorne wrote him back too. One letter for every supply run. His were shorter. Trying to think up unclassified things to tell Ianto was a difficult task. He focused mainly on stories of team nights or the latest engineering pranks. He talked about Zelenka quite a bit. Sheppard too, and Ronon, focusing on people rather than events.

They emailed each other weekly. Every databurst brought a message from Ianto. It became difficult after the first month or so to keep these messages innocuous. Ianto developed an encryption program after the second month, and it wasn’t long before the messages became quite personal. They never tried to deny their attraction to each other, and there were frequent reminiscences of the time Lorne had spent in Cardiff, but it went beyond that. Ianto told Lorne a little more about where he worked, and it became more and more difficult for Lorne to keep his work a secret. They were in the same business after all, protecting Earth from alien threats.

It was a full year before Lorne took any leave—eighteen days on the Daedelus was not a cheerful prospect—but eventually he was called back to the SGC to give a report on Sheppard’s leadership, and use of the gate was authorized. He took two weeks leave when he was finished there. He spent three days with his mom in Tennessee and then flew to Cardiff.

Ianto met him at the airport, and neither of them tried to pretend this was just about Lorne’s time off.

***

Lorne meets him at the shooting range at 1500 precisely. Ianto is in uniform and casually surveys his surroundings before letting his eyes rest on Lorne. The smile that lights up his face when their eyes meet is so familiar that for a moment Lorne forgets that this Ianto is not the Ianto who fell in love with him. Whatever feelings he may have had once have all been erased.

“Shall we get started?” he asks, hoping the routine of the range will keep him from dwelling on his memories.

“Of course,” Ianto says with a hint of his earlier smile.

Lorne walks him through his basic safety and assembling procedures for the Beretta 84 Cheetah, the sidearm civilians carry in the field. Ianto picks it up quickly, and Lorne only has to show him once before he assembles the weapon flawlessly. When they move on to target practice, Ianto proves equally proficient. He’s giddy with excitement when his first round lands six shots cleanly in the center of the target.

They finish with the Beretta, and Lorne is about to ask Ianto to clean it before they move on to the stunners the security teams carry, but before he can say anything, Ianto has cleared the chamber, released the clip and has the gun half disassembled. Ianto looks at him with something like fear in his eyes, and Lorne asks him what’s wrong.

“How did I do that? How did I know to do that?”

Lorne smiles gently, attempting to soothe him. “You’re a natural.”

Ianto shakes his head. “You never said. You never told me to clear the chamber. How do I even know that’s what it’s called? It is, isn’t it? Clearing the chamber?”

Lorne nods. “Maybe you remember from a movie or something.”

“I’ve never held a gun before in my life, but I’m a perfect shot, and I know how to disassemble this weapon. I even know how to clean it.” Lorne watches as he takes the gun apart and cleans it with no prompting. “How am I able to do this?”

Part of Lorne wants to shake Ianto and say Remember! You had this life. You’ve done this all before. Why can’t you remember? but he knows how that would sound, knows how he would react if someone said the same to him.

But he can’t lie to Ianto either. Can’t say that he doesn’t know. So he just takes hold of Ianto’s upper arm and pulls him away from the weapons. “Maybe we should do the rest tomorrow. You’ve had a long day.”

Ianto still looks a little shaken, but he just nods and says, “Yeah. All right. I should…I should go.”

***

Ianto told him about Jack right from the start. Not that first week, when they were still pretending it was nothing more than a quick fling, but after, when Lorne came to visit him, Ianto told him. Lorne wasn’t happy about it, but he understood. How could he ask Ianto to give up whatever he had with Jack for the prospect of weekly emails and one, maybe two visits a year?

And then the Ancients came. It had been six months since Lorne had visited Ianto when they were kicked out of Atlantis. Lorne was floundering. He didn’t know what to do with himself, so he took a huge chunk of his accrued leave and went back to Cardiff.

For six weeks, he lived in Ianto’s flat, sketched and painted the city, looked after Ianto when he wasn’t eating enough, and sat at home worrying when Ianto worked late. And he was happy. He wasn’t content—he missed Atlantis so much it was like a lead weight sitting in his stomach—but he was happy. Every moment he spent with Ianto was perfect, and Ianto loved him. He couldn’t even be jealous of Jack because he knew that Ianto was coming home to him.

When they were called back, Lorne seriously considered resigning. But Atlantis needed him, and he needed Atlantis, and he knew he’d never be happy again if he didn’t go back.

That was the first time he asked Ianto to come back with him. He told Ianto about his city, his alien, floating, flying city in another galaxy. Why he had to go away, and how much Ianto would love it if he would only come back with him.

And Ianto smiled and said that it sounded marvelous, but he just couldn’t leave Torchwood. And Lorne heard him and knew that he meant that he couldn’t leave Jack, but how could he blame Ianto for that? At least Jack was a person. Lorne couldn’t give up a city for Ianto.

It was the hardest goodbye Lorne had ever said, but he knew he couldn’t stay.

***

Ianto dreams again that night. Only this time, it isn’t the man with the major’s eyes. It’s the other man. He’s at the shooting range, and the man with the deep, old, blue eyes is teaching him how to assemble a Beretta. The man presses up against Ianto’s back as he helps Ianto place his shots on the target, and Ianto knows you aren’t supposed to be able to smell in dreams, but he can smell this man. There are words spoken, but Ianto can’t make out anything beyond “clearing the chamber.”

When he wakes up, he remembers the dream like something that actually happened, and he can’t shake the feeling that he really knows that man. Jacob maybe? Or Joshua? James? He’s still thinking about it when he goes to meet the major to finish his certification.

He has no unexplained knowledge this time. They’re working with alien weaponry, and Ianto finds that his aim is off today. He can’t get a feel for the recoil. Lorne smiles at him, and Ianto’s stomach does that strange flip again, the one that is starting to become familiar.

And then Lorne is standing behind him, showing him how to hold the stunner, how to sight it, and Ianto doesn’t even realize he’s leaning back against him until Lorne clears his throat.

“Sorry,” he mumbles and pulls back away. He could almost swear the major sighs when he does.

It doesn’t take long for Ianto to become certified, and as they leave he finds himself unwilling to part company. “Major?”

“Hm?”

“Would you…would you care to join me for dinner?”

Ianto is faced with Lorne’s grin again, and he wonders why he feels such a strange sensation of being home. “Sure thing, Ianto.”

Lorne turns to head towards the mess hall and Ianto thinks I would follow him anywhere, but he has no idea why.

***

Dinner is awkward on Lorne’s part. He keeps forgetting that Ianto doesn’t know he’s told Lorne all these stories already. He forgets himself once.

“I studied literature at Cambridge,” Ianto says after he makes a relatively obscure reference to a Romanian poet.

Lorne nods. “Fitzwilliam College, right?”

Ianto gives him a skeptical look. “Er…yes. How did you know?”

Lorne shrugs. “I think it’s…in your file.” He hadn’t meant to let that slip, but Ianto had some interesting stories about Cambridge, and most of them had centered around Fitzwilliam.

Ianto arches an eyebrow at him. “I…wasn’t aware personnel files were available to anyone other than someone’s supervisor.”

Lorne tries to backtrack, but he knows Ianto isn’t stupid, so it’s unlikely he’ll get out of this. So he gives Ianto one of his most charming smiles. “Well…technically that’s right, but I have,” he leans forward and waggles his eyebrows, “connections. And I was curious. It’s not every day we get a good looking Welsh guy joining the ranks.”

Ianto blushes, and Lorne feels somewhat gratified that even Jack couldn’t get Ianto used to taking compliments until he remembers that whatever Jack may have gotten him used to, Ianto has forgotten it all.

“Are you allowed to flirt with me, Major?” And Ianto’s got that smile that just turns up one corner of his mouth, and Lorne has missed that smile but not as much as he misses kissing it.

“I won’t tell if you won’t.”

It shouldn’t be this easy, slipping back into flirting with this man who broke his heart and whose heart Lorne thinks he might also have broken, but it is.

Ianto must notice it too because he stares at Lorne for a long moment and says, “God, I feel like I’ve known you for ages.”

“I know the feeling.” Lorne doesn’t realize he’s staring too until Ianto leans across the table as though he’s going to kiss Lorne.

Ianto doesn’t seem to realize it either until he’s only a couple inches from Lorne’s face. He sits back suddenly. “I’m so sorry, Major,” he stammers, blushing furiously. “I should…I’m sorry, I should go.” He stands and picks up his tray.

Lorne stands too and reaches out to grab his arm, pulling back at the last second. “Don’t go.” He thinks he must sound pretty desperate, but this is the most comfortable he’s been since Ianto came to Atlantis, and he doesn’t want to lose that. “It’s fine, really. Sit down and finish your dinner.”

Ianto’s blush hasn’t gone away, but he sits back down and begins to nervously pick at his food.

Lorne smiles gently across the table. “So, tell me about Fitzwilliam.”

***

Once the gatebridge was finished, Lorne’s trips to Cardiff became much easier to wrangle, and he and Ianto saw each other just about every other month. He thought things were going pretty well, apart from the space of two galaxies that separated them every time he left. And every time he went back, he asked Ianto to come with him.

Their second year together, Lorne managed to make it back to Earth for Christmas. His mom had wanted him with her, and part of Lorne felt guilty for not staying with her, but Ianto invited him to spend it with his family.

Of course, in the middle of Christmas dinner, Ianto got called into work. He dropped Lorne off at his flat on the way in, and he was gone until the next afternoon. When he got back, he was exhausted, and his suit was torn, and he collapsed immediately on the couch. Lorne helped him out of his suit and cleaned his wounds despite Ianto’s vehement protestations that he was fine. When Ianto had showered and dressed in clean pajamas, Lorne ordered them some takeout, and they cuddled on the couch watching daytime television.

“This is nice,” Ianto murmured, curling himself around Lorne.

“Mmhm.”

“’Susually Jack who cleans me up, but I wanted to see you.”

Lorne knew Ianto was falling asleep and that he should have been happy that Ianto wanted to be with him instead of Jack, but he couldn’t stop the niggling jealousy that Jack was the one who usually took care of Ianto, and he couldn’t stop the niggling guilt that Jack wouldn’t have to take care of Ianto if he weren’t so far away.

That was the first time he really meant it when he asked Ianto to come back with him, and it was the first time it really hurt when Ianto said no.

***

Ianto’s first off-world mission is a cakewalk. It’s summer on M9G-382, and the abandoned Ancient outpost they find has a plethora of texts for Ianto to translate. The planet is uninhabited, so there’s no danger of the infamous harvest festivals Ianto has heard so much about.

He’s having more fun than he’s had in quite some time. Gate travel still amazes him. Instantaneous transport between two planets. He understands enough of the physics to be a little frightened, but not enough to refuse to go.

Halfway through the day, they break for lunch. Lorne sits with him and surprises Ianto by pulling out a thermos of coffee.

“Oh, god,” Ianto moans when he tastes it. “I didn’t even know you could get quality coffee out here.”

Lorne grins at him. “This is from my private stash.”

Ianto is still thinking of a response when he hears a sound he knows will haunt him for the rest of his life—a high-pitched shriek that chills his blood and sends adrenaline zinging through him. Lorne immediately raises a hand to his ear, and grabs Ianto’s arm. “This is Lorne, we’ve got darts incoming. I repeat, we’ve got darts incoming.” He drags Ianto back into the outpost, and pushes him into a corner as he contacts the rest of the team.

Once he’s gotten their positions, he goes to check on Ianto. “Are you okay?”

Ianto nods. “It’s the Wraith, isn’t it?”

“Yeah. It looks like a flyby. Ramirez doesn’t think he was seen and neither does Cadman. We should be able to just sit it out here and head for the gate as soon as they’re gone.”

Ianto leans back against the wall and stares straight ahead. He knows he should be frightened, terrified even. There are aliens out there who want to suck his life out through his chest, but Ianto knows, though he can’t explain it, that he is safe with Lorne. So he allows himself to be ordered about, and he follows where Lorne leads, and they make it safely back to Atlantis, and he can’t remember ever being as certain that he could trust someone as he is that he can trust Lorne.

***

Lorne is furious with himself when they get back to the city. He should never have taken Ianto with him. He thought it would be a good way to spend time with him, a try at starting over. But it’s too dangerous. This is Atlantis, not Cardiff. There’s no time for romance.

Ianto has a few bruises from Lorne’s rough handling, but otherwise he’s fine. Lorne stays in the infirmary until Ianto is given the all clear. He’s going to head straight back to his quarters, but Ianto catches up to him in the hallway.

“Walk me to my quarters?” And there’s that smile again. Lorne doesn’t think it’s possible for him to say no when Ianto’s smiling at him like that.

“Sure,” he answers, wearily.

They walk in silence, and when they get to Ianto’s quarters, Ianto invites him in, and he’s smiling like that again, and Lorne forgets again for a minute that this isn’t the Ianto who fell in love with him, so he goes in.

He’s about to ask Ianto if he needs anything, but before he can do more than open his mouth, Ianto has him pressed up against the wall and he’s kissing Lorne, hard and desperate, and it’s so familiar and so good and so right that Lorne can’t stop himself from returning the kiss. And Ianto’s hands slide under his shirt just like they had that first night when Ianto was still learning how to touch him, and Lorne moans into the kiss until Ianto scrapes his nails over the small of his back and Lorne remembers that that was something Ianto had learned from him, something this Ianto shouldn’t know.

He pulls back, and Ianto looks at him, confused. “I can’t,” he whispers, even as his fingers trace the familiar planes of Ianto’s face.

“Please,” Ianto whispers back. He slides his hand, that familiar, perfect hand, down Lorne’s chest and lower to cup the bulge in his BDUs, and Lorne leans into the touch. “I want you.”

He hadn’t known it could hurt so much to be wanted.

“I know,” he says and reluctantly pulls Ianto’s hand away. “I just…I can’t. Not like this.”

“How then?” Ianto’s question is almost a whine.

“I don’t know. Just…not like this.” Maybe he’s been spoiled. Maybe he’s fooling himself into thinking he can only be with Ianto when it’s perfect. All he knows is this isn’t right. It’s like seducing him under false pretenses. He steps away from Ianto and leaves the room, wondering if he’ll ever get this thing right.

***

Lorne decided to surprise Ianto on his birthday. He got leave without telling Ianto, and he bought his ticket to Cardiff. He wasn’t sure where Ianto would be, so he stopped by the flat first. Ianto had given him a key four trips ago. Ianto wasn’t there, so he decided to try the tourist office. He’d been there before, so he knew where it was and how to get in touch with Ianto if he wasn’t in the office. He just hoped Ianto wouldn’t see him on the CCTV before he had a chance to surprise him.

As it turned out, he needn’t have worried. When he walked into the tourist office, he discovered he wasn’t the only one who’d wanted to give Ianto a birthday treat. Ianto was backed up against the counter, being thoroughly snogged—and thoroughly enjoying it, by the looks of things—by Jack.

They didn’t notice him at all, so he quietly backed out of the office and went back to the flat. It would be just as big a surprise a few hours later.

***

Ianto is well and truly confused. He can’t believe he was reading the signals wrong. Lorne wanted him, he knows this. The evidence had been right in front of him. He just isn’t sure what’s holding the major back.

He’s been puzzling over this since he got back from M9G-382 four days ago, and he’s no closer to an answer. On top of all that, his dreams are getting even stranger. The man with the major’s eyes is there every night, and if he didn’t think it was crazy, Ianto would say that he was falling in love with him. But the other man, he shows up occasionally too, and somehow Ianto knows that he can’t have them both, that there’s a choice to be made, but he doesn’t know what it is. And all this thinking isn’t solving anything, so he tries to take his mind off it any way he can.

He sits at his computer to write an email to his mother. It’s long overdue, and he’s sure she’s worried sick about him. But when he opens his email account, a message pops up. It’s from an I. Jones, and it’s encrypted.

Without even thinking about it, Ianto types in the password he didn’t realize he knew and opens the message. “Look in your Dickens,” it says, and it’s signed Ifan. He always used to sign notes to himself with his given name when he was in Cambridge. Somehow he felt it made the fact that he wrote notes to himself a little less odd.

He’s only brought one Dickens book with him, and he’s not even sure why he packed it. It’s not one of his favorites. But there, in the middle of his battered copy of Martin Chuzzlewit is a piece of paper. He unfolds it and finds that it is a handwritten note. It reads:

Ianto,

I wanted...no, I needed to tell you that I love you. I didn’t say it before I left, but I need you to know that. I don’t want you ever to think that this is because I don’t love you. I think that I’ll probably always love you.

You’re probably pretty mad at me right now, and I don’t blame you. I’m mad at me too. I don’t expect you to understand. Not yet anyway, though I hope you will someday. And I want you to know that if you ever need me—really need me, I mean, not just want me—I’ll be here for you. Just let me know. I will always be here if you need me.

-Evan

Underneath the signature is a note in his own handwriting that says, “This is why.” But the bulk of the message is written in a script he knows very well after over a month of sorting through mission reports and requisition forms.

He takes the note and makes his way to Major Lorne’s quarters.

The door opens to reveal a sleepy looking Lorne in his boxers with his hair standing on end. “Ianto? What are you doing here? Is everything okay?”

“It was my favorite blend,” he says, pushing past him into the room with no preamble.

“What?”

“The coffee that you gave me on the planet. It was my favorite blend.”

“Oh. Was it?”

“That’s not in my file.”

“No. It’s not.”

“And that’s not the only thing.” He begins to pace slowly, his mind coming up with all sorts of examples. “You knew I was at Fitzwilliam. You weren’t surprised that I was an excellent shot. You even seemed to expect me to know how to clean the gun.” He rounds on Lorne and puts his hands on his hips as he looks at him accusingly. “You look at me like you know things about me I don’t know myself.”

Lorne clears his throat. “I…I don’t know what you mean.”

“No? Maybe this will help clear things up.” Ianto shoves the note towards Lorne, and he takes it gingerly, reading it slowly.

“Where did you get this?”

“It was in one of my books.”

“What does this mean, ‘This is why’?”

“Damned if I know. You’re the answer man.” Ianto drops heavily onto Lorne’s bed and stares at the floor. “Ever since I got here, I’ve had this feeling like…like I’m trying to remember something, something important, but I don’t know what it is. And you. You’re always there, in the back of my mind. I feel like I know you, but that’s not all it is. You’re in my dreams.” He pauses and looks up at Lorne. “I do know you, don’t I? We’ve met before.”

Lorne looks at him then with a pained expression, as though he’s not quite sure what answer to give. “Yes,” he finally whispers. “We have.”

“And we…we were together. We were in love.”

Lorne just nods.

“I don’t remember,” Ianto says, shaking his head. “Sometimes I think I do, but it’s only flashes.” Something clicks in his mind, and he says, “I did this to myself. I made myself forget, but I don’t know why.”

Lorne is watching him warily, and Ianto stands and moves over to him. “I said before that I wanted you, but it’s more than that. I’m drawn to you. I can’t break myself away. At first, when you didn’t seem to like me, I…I was hurt. I didn’t understand it at the time, but I was hurt. But you…you stayed away because you loved me, didn’t you?”

Lorne nods again. “It hurt to see you without touching you.”

“And now, with this,” he holds up the note. “You left me. I don’t know why, but I know it hurt more than I can say. More than anything. I remember that.”

Lorne reaches up to touch his face. “Let me make it up to you? I can. I can make you remember, or I can make you forget.”

Ianto turns away. “I know. I don’t know how or why, but I know you can. God, why you? Why only you?”

Lorne presses himself against Ianto’s back. “Because I know,” he says, pressing his lips to the base of Ianto’s skull, “how you like to be kissed.” He snakes his hands around Ianto’s waist. “And I know,” he slides his hands up Ianto’s stomach, under his shirt, “how you like to be touched.” He pulls Ianto back tight against him. “And I know,” he growls low in Ianto’s ear, rubbing his groin gently against Ianto’s ass, “how you like to be fucked.”

And Ianto can feel himself melting into Lorne’s arms, and he knows without doubt that this is right. He’s already decided he would follow this man anywhere, so when Lorne leads him over to the bed, he goes willingly.

Lorne strips away Ianto’s clothes as though he is peeling away the pain, the confusion, the fear of the last few days, and Ianto lets him. Lorne’s hands on his skin seem to pull out the memories or polish away the dirt that’s keeping them hidden, and when Lorne’s lips touch his, he remembers their first kiss, hard and desperate on that street corner.

When Lorne’s hand wraps around his cock, he remembers a dozen quick blowjobs against the wall in his flat. When Lorne’s fingers press inside him, he remembers their first night together and how desperately he needed Lorne to stay, how badly he wanted to forget everything else.

And when Lorne finally, finally pushes inside him, he remembers the night he realized that, as crazy as it was, he loved this man, as they slowly made love after Lorne had drawn him.

It’s like that again tonight. Lorne is gentle, slow and tender, and Ianto falls in love with him all over again. And when he comes, instead of Lorne’s name, the words that fall from his lips are, “I remember.”

They lay like that, tangled together on Lorne’s tiny bed, for what feels like hours as Ianto tells him how he’d set the entire thing up before he left Torchwood. He’d contacted the IOA, had Tosh forward recommendations and explained Torchwood’s security protocols before allowing himself to be retconned. The very last thing he’d done was to leave himself an emailed reminder of why he’d done what he had.

Lorne is silent throughout the explanation, and when Ianto is finished, he asks, “Why did you do it? Why did you go through all that for me?”

Ianto smiles and brushes Lorne’s hair away from his forehead. “Because I needed you.”

Lorne smiles back and wraps himself around Ianto while they fall asleep.

***

Lorne is late getting back from his next mission, and Ianto spends so much time pacing around the control room, that Col. Carter threatens to have Dr. Keller sedate him. He agrees to wait in his quarters only after she promises to contact him as soon as there’s word. He falls asleep on his couch, though, so he doesn’t hear his radio beeping when Chuck calls to tell him that Lorne’s team is back.

Lorne stumbles into the room about an hour later. His uniform is ripped and his face is slightly bruised. Ianto jumps up from the couch and helps him out of his clothes, leading him to the bathroom and attempting to clean him off with a damp cloth until Lorne complains that he’s well enough to shower.

Ianto lets him go, but he lays out a clean pair of shorts and a t-shirt and runs to the mess to pick up some dinner for them both. When he returns, Lorne is just getting out of the shower, and Ianto helps him over to the couch, wincing every time Lorne does. They eat slowly, watching whatever shared videos are available on the network.

When he finishes his dinner, Lorne lays down with his head in Ianto’s lap, and Ianto cards his fingers softly through Lorne’s hair.

“We’ve done this before,” Lorne says. “Only it was the other way around.”

Ianto smiles softly. “I remember.”

fin
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