Jack tried not to show it. After the 456. After the Hub had been destroyed along with all his memories. After Alice told him she never wanted to see him ever again. Jack tried not to show it, but he could see his heart was broken.
Ianto had almost died, but overall he actually felt he'd come out of it on top. He was finally able to be honest with his sister. Jack was now living with him. Work was hell, but overall he was more content than ever.
Sometimes, he felt guilty about that, when he'd see Jack gazing at the few tattered personal belongings and pictures they'd be able to rescue from the remnants of the hub. He was so content and Jack was so heartbroken.
He couldn't, he knew, change the past, but three months after the 456 had been sent on their merry way, with the hub only half rebuilt and Jack spending half his nights staring at half ruined pictures and Ianto couldn't stand it anymore. He had to do something - and for that something, he was going to need transportation.
The Doctor looked at him. Eyebrows drawn together. "It's dangerous. If it isn't timed exactly right..."
"I know that," Ianto said. "And I've got it timed. The night before the hub was destroyed, Jack was at my place. I can go in, get the things and be out in half an hour."
"It'll take that long to..."
"Wipe the CCTV and stuff, yes, because Jack might not have been in his bunk, or even in his office much, but he always checks the CCTV footage in the morning," Ianto said. "I can do a good enough job, Jack will never know..."
"How sure are you about that?" the Doctor asked. "Because..."
Ianto laughed mirthlessly. "Doctor. I hide a Cyberman in the basement of the Hub for six months and Jack didn't know about it until it tried to kill us all."
"She was... had been my girlfriend. She was only partially converted, I thought... I was wrong of course, but I... I know this hub backwards and forwards Doctor. I can do this," Ianto said. "And you owe him."
The Doctor stiffed slightly at Ianto's words. Ianto knew it was a low blow, but he was willing to make it. After all the Doctor had done and not done, for Jack over the years, he owed him this and much more.
The 456 were the least off it and really, that wasn't even his fault. Although Jack had railed at him until he was horse from shouting, when he'd arrived after it was all over, and at the time, Ianto had been angry too - when the Timelord had quietly apologised, because the Tardis wouldn't let him come... because the 456 was an event that had - had - to happen, they'd both had to let it go.
Even a Timelord could only do so much Ianto supposed.
But he still held him responsible for leaving Jack when he'd been made immortal and for Jack's torture at the hands of the Master. And this really was the absolute least he could do.
"Alright. But if we tear apart the fabric of space time, I'm telling Jack it was your fault," the Doctor said finally.
Ianto snorted. If they tore apart of fabric of space time, Ianto probably wouldn't live long enough for Jack to yell at him.
Ianto of course was right. He prided himself on it really. Being right. Or at least, not being wrong, which Torchwood had taught him wasn't always the same thing as being right. But this time, he was right. It was ridiculously easy.
The Doctor had to park the Tardis outside the city, because the sensors in the hub would alert Jack if the Tardis was any closer - Ianto would know, he'd helped Jack set the monitors after he'd come back from his little... excursion, with the Doctor after Abbadon.
It meant getting himself from the edges of Cardiff, to the hub but public transport was good going towards the city centre. Not to mention handily anonymous. No one looked at anyone else if they could help it and if they did accidently, they'd just smile faintly and look away fast.
He got to the edges of the Plass and waited. It was... a little weird... and sorely tempting... when he saw himself and Jack leaving the hub. But he knew he couldn't interfere, even if he desperately wanted to save Jack - and a lot of other people, but mostly Jack - from the heartache the 456 had brought, he couldn't do it.
But he could do this.
Ianto hadn't lied when he told the Doctor he knew the Hub backwards and forwards. Including all the 'secret' entrances that mostly everyone else forgot about. Using one that came in near the Weevil cells, Ianto made his way quickly up through the hub, disabling alarms as he went and thanking whatever screwed up higher power was out there, that he knew and remembered all the correct codes.
In the main hub, he went straight for Jack's office, getting the tin of photos and a few other personal things he knew Jack would appreciate. He couldn't get it all, he didn't have the time and he could only carry so much, but he took the things he felt were most important and least likely to be missed in the few minutes Jack would spend in his office the next day.
Finally, he made his way to what had been Tosh's station and in a fit of... something he refused to really label - grabbed a few things from there and Owens desk to add to his loot, before beginning to reset and the CCTV and cover his tracks. If Jack looked deep enough, he'd notice the problem, but Ianto knew there wouldn't be time, even if Jack suspected anything was wrong - and there should be no reason for him too.
In the end it took a little longer than the half hour he'd predicted, he'd stopped to say hello - and goodbye - to Myfanwy, who hadn't been seen since the hub blew, but he was shortly, back on the streets again and moving away from the hub.
Bus services were rarer at this time of night, only a few for late night revellers, but he managed to catch one half way at least and then he set of to walk. It was almost dawn by the time he made it back to the Tardis and he was cutting it damn fine - which the Doctor was happy to point out.
"I made it didn't I," Ianto said. "And I got Jack's things, that's all that matters."
The Doctor shrugged. "Well, back to where you belong then. And then I have places to be."
Ianto was almost tempted to ask him to stay a while, to come see Jack.... Jack was always pleased to see the Timelord.
Well, almost always...
But Ianto hadn't gone to all this trouble to let the Doctor steal his thunder, so no invitation was issued, when they landed, on the right date, Ianto was pleased to note and even in reasonable time. He'd only been gone three hours.
His phone beeped the moment he stepped outside the Tardis and three text messages at once came through, two from Rhia asking if he and Jack were still coming to dinner the following day and one from Jack asking why he wasn't answering his sister's texts, because she'd already phoned the house phone three times.
Texting Jack first to tell him that his phone must have lost signal while he was in the shopping mall, because he only just got the messages, he then called Rhia to assure here they'd be at dinner and remind her to please not embarrass him - and that meant no baby pictures and keeping her husband on a leash.
"Well, I'll be off then," the Doctor said when he got off the phone.
"Doctor..." Ianto paused. "Thank you. Really I... I know this will mean a lot to Jack, he... worries he'll forget and the pictures help."
The Doctor smiled faintly. "He's a braver man than I am. And he's lucky to have someone like you."
Ianto knew he was blushing, when he returned the smile. "I'm the lucky one. Look, uh... don't be a stranger okay, Jack he... he'd like to see you more often."
"Maybe I'll come by in a few months. I have some things to check out myself first," the Doctor said.
Ianto nodded. "You're welcome anytime."
Jack was home when Ianto arrived back, hiding his precious packages in the hall closet. He'd give them to Jack later, sneak them in and replace the destroyed copies, with the originals and surprise him.
"Hey Jack," Ianto greeted the older man, who was seated at the desk they'd set up. The rift monitor they'd cobbled together from what they could recover at the hub and a few things they'd gotten from Torchwood two was in their spare room, along with whatever else they'd been able to salvage.
"Hey," Jack replied. "Did you get the files?"
Ianto set the second bag, the one he'd ordered online from the stationers the night before, on the desk. "I'm sorry I took so long, I ran into an old friend and had coffee."
"Really now," Jack grinned salaciously.
"An old Rugby buddy from school. Behave yourself," Ianto rolled his eyes.
"Do I have to?" Jack asked, waggling an eyebrow. "Gwen's gone home, the rift monitor looks clear for now..."
"You get worse," Ianto muttered.
Jack chuckled. "But you love it."
Ianto grinned, allowing himself to be pulled onto Jack's lap. "This chair won't hold up to our usual acrobatics," he warned.
"It's not as sturdy as my old one," Jack agreed, sighing a little. "Bed?"
"I have a better idea," Ianto offered, kissing him softly. "Been a while since we made out on the couch..."
Jack grinned. "Oh necking like teenagers on the couch... do I get to leave love bites?"
"Only where Gwen can't see it," Ianto said, smiling seductively as he slipped off Jack's knee and backing up towards the couch, pulling off his tie as he went.
Jack followed quickly, pinning Ianto to the couch before he'd gotten his shirt half way undone. "No where above the collar... check."
It was three nights later, Ianto still hadn't found a way to give Jack the things he'd gotten, uncertain how... he didn't feel like they could just be handed over, like he was giving him a cup of coffee, when Ianto blinked awake to find Jack was... sitting on the edge of the bed, the quilts shoved back - causing the chill that had no doubt woken him.
"Jack? Cariad, what's wrong?" Ianto shifted to sit up, wrapping an arm around Jack's shoulders.
"Nothing," Jack murmured. "Sorry, I... didn't mean to wake you."
"Don't be silly," Ianto said. "Jack..."
"It's nothing," Jack said. "Just... I was trying to remember... I can't remember what colour Elizabeth's eyes were..."
"Green," Ianto said. "She was beautiful and she had green eyes and long, dark hair that fell to her waist when she wore it down."
Jack swallowed. "Thanks..."
"Come on, I have something for you," Ianto told him, crawling out of the bed and grabbing his dressing gown.
"Ianto, it's the middle of the night, you should be sleeping..."
"And I'll sleep better knowing you're not sitting here fretting about forgetting the people you've loved," Ianto said.
"Come on," Ianto said, grabbing Jack's arm and dragging him into the living room, grabbing a pair of sweat pants from the top of the dresser - just why they were there was anyone's guess - on the way. "Put these on, I'll be right back."
The bag of things was still where he'd stashed it and he grabbed it, along with two bottles of water from the fridge.
"I... called in a favour," Ianto said, entering the living room again, finding Jack had pulled on the pants and was sitting on the couch expectantly. "I was going to give you them right away, but... I wasn't sure how to explain... they were too precious to just, thrust them at you and say 'here you go'."
"Ianto, what are you talking about?" Jack asked.
Ianto joined Jack and the couch and reached into the bag, pulling the largest item, the box of pictures, from inside.
"The Doctor took me back to the night before the explosion... I..."
"Oh God..." Jack's voice was so soft Ianto barely heard the words, as the other man took the tin from his hands, fingers carefully moving over the patterns on the surface. "I..."
"I knew you wouldn't notice they were gone that morning," Ianto said softly as Jack opened the box and ran his fingers gently over the picture on top. A young Alice with her mother. Of course Ianto had seen the picture before, never knowing it was Jack's daughter. Some pictures, Jack told him everything, all the little details he could remember, the ones he didn't, Ianto had never asked, assuming the memories were just too painful.
"I can't believe you... and the Doctor was okay with..."
"He owed you, I was careful, he couldn't really say no," Ianto shrugged. "There's a few other things, I couldn't bring everything I'd have liked, but I got the coral from your desk, the letters and post cards from under your bed and a few other bits, you can..."
"No one... no one has ever done... anything... God Ianto, what this means to me... I can't even..." Jack murmured, face filled with wonder as he continued to stroke his daughters face. "I can't even begin to thank..."
"You don't," Ianto said. "I'm going to bed. And in the morning, we'll make digital copies, put them somewhere safe. Maybe the Doctor can keep one on the Tardis..."
Jack leaned over and kissed Ianto softly. "I love you..." he murmured.
Ianto smiled. "I love you too, Cariad."
When Ianto woke again in the morning, Jack was sitting cross legged beside him on the bed.
"Morning," Jack said, grinning.
"Morning..." Ianto muttered. "What time is it?"
"A little after nine, I told Gwen to take the day off, barring emergencies," Jack said. "We're going out."
"We are?" Ianto asked.
"Yes. We've got dinner at your sisters tonight, but today, it's just you and me. We can do anything you want."
"What if I want to stay in bed?" Ianto asked, a smile teasing his lips.
"Well... that can be arranged, for part of the day," Jack said. "But we're going to do something normal. Shopping, or bowling, or we could go..."
"Ianto," Jack stalled him. "What you did for me... it's... nothing I can say is going to explain... how much I... those pictures, they're more than pictures, they're memories, they keep things fresh in my mind, so I never forget the people most important to me. And I need a lot more memories of you... a lot more. So that in a thousand years, or ten thousand, I can look at them and remember the beautiful Welshman who stole my heart and kept it safe..."
Ianto smiled around the lump in his throat. "You... I love you."
Jack grinned. "I love you too. Now come on. Get dressed. We have memories to make."