Disclaimer: I own them in my dreams. Does that count?
While You Were Gone
Jack’s face fell, staring at Owen. “What?” He looked to Gwen and Tosh, nerves eating away at him when they refused to meet his eyes. “What happened?”
“You left,” Owen sneered, “You left and he couldn’t handle it.” He turned on his heel, exiting the Hub. Jack watched him stomp off, watching Owen pull out his cell phone as the cog door rolled shut.
“What happened?” Jack asked his two remaining teammates, his voice beginning to get panicked. Images were flying through his head; Ianto killed, body ripped apart by an alien; Ianto Retconning himself, leaving him and his memories behind; Ianto taking his own life. Oh, God.
Tosh refused to meet his eyes, the loose thread on her shirt sleeve suddenly fascinating.
Gwen glanced at the Japanese woman, staring up at Jack after a moment. “He couldn’t do it, Jack. It was hard for all of us when you left, but it was hardest on him. He just broke down about a month after you left,” she said, looking pained, “Owen found him and took him home. They were gone by the time we got to the Hub.” “Ianto!” Gwen called, smiling as she walked in, “Is that wonderful coffee done yet?”
“He’s not here,” Tosh said. Her voice was soft, sounding muffled as she sniffed. “Come here.”
Gwen frowned at the sound of Tosh’s voice, obeying, and walking up beside Tosh. “What’s wrong?”
“Look at the CCTV footage.” She blinked, a tear dripping off her lashes as she rewound the footage from the hour before.
Gwen’s frown deepened as she watched Ianto walk in, falling to his knees a minute later. Her heart broke watching the youngest member of their team break down. He was too young to feel that kind of pain. Tears sprang to her eyes as the footage continued, Owen coming in and pulling Ianto to his chest. She gasped, her heart skipping a beat when Ianto spoke, his words echoing in her head. “Oh, God,” she whispered as Owen led Ianto from the Hub, “He’s not going to-”
“No. No way.”
Gwen tried to ignore how unsure Tosh sounded.
“He Retconned him?!” Jack shouted, not even bothering to withhold his anger.
“No,” Tosh whispered. “What did you do?!” Gwen cried, rushing at Owen when he walked into the Hub two hours later. She punched his chest, her tiny fists having no real effect on Owen’s muscled chest. “Where is he?!”
“Owen, please,” Tosh begged, “Please tell me you didn’t-”
“No!” Owen shook his head fast. “No. He wanted me to, but I didn’t. All I did was drive him to the airport. He couldn’t stay here.”
They all heard the unspoken ‘it was killing him’.
“Where?” Tosh asked, almost in a sob.
“I don’t know. He told me he’d call when he found a place.”
“Ianto called a few days later, told Owen he was somewhere in California. He made Owen promise not to tell where,” Gwen said.
“I tried tracing his call the first time Ianto called Owen at the Hub, but it wouldn’t go through,” Tosh explained, “I think it’s something about where he is. I can’t trace the e-mails either.”
Jack let out a sigh, relieved that Ianto still had his memories. He still had a chance.
“He e-mails us every week or so, just to let us know he’s okay,” Gwen continued, “He calls Owen at least twice a week.”
Tosh nodded. “They got really close.”
“Yeah,” Gwen agreed. “I think they bonded over Diane leaving Owen and you leaving Ianto.”
“I didn’t mean to,” Jack protested, “I needed answers.”
“And you couldn’t have left a note? You disappeared, Jack,” Gwen shot back, “You didn’t say anything. You were here one minute, and the next, you were gone. At least Owen got a good-bye.”
“I didn’t mean to be gone so long!”
“A year, Jack.”
Jack clenched his jaw.
A month later and nothing. Ianto still called Owen and e-mailed Tosh and Gwen, but he’d never replied to the five page e-mail Jack had sent him. Jack didn’t even know if he’d read it. Ianto didn’t even comment when the others would mention him, like he’d never been brought up.
It was like he didn’t exist.
Jack sighed, taking a sip of his coffee. Starbucks. Never Ianto’s. He glared at the cup as if blaming it for the absence of his missing teammate.
He hated himself for leaving. He’d needed answers and in searching for them, he’d lost Ianto. Jones, Ianto Jones that had become such a fixture in his life.
He missed him. He needed to hear those beautiful Welsh vowels telling him his comments were harassment. He needed to hear him so he knew Ianto was still alive, that Saxon hadn’t killed him like in the Year That Never Was.
He needed Ianto, but Ianto was gone.
“The archive is a mess, Owen!” Tosh shouted from out in the Hub.
“I’m going for coffee,” Gwen cut in, “Anyone want some?”
“I didn’t do it!” Owen shouted back at Tosh.
And he wasn’t coming back.