Title: A chance to say goodbye
Characters: Ianto, Jack
Length: 1,313 words
Content notes: BYO kleenex
Author notes: Written for badly_knitted's prompt "Any, any, a small miracle" at fic_promptly
Summary: Miracle day has taken Jack's immortality, but given him a miracle of a different kind
He'd been shot. It hadn't come as so much of a shock at being shot, as it was knowing that the shot could kill him. There were muffled voices around him, Rex and Esther, feeling someone pulling him over to the car and bundling him into the back seat.
He'd been shot plenty of times before, and yet, this was worse. He couldn't even find the strength to raise his hand and put pressure on the wound. He knew the car was moving, but by that time, everything else was getting blurry. There was Esther's voice, somewhere in the background, pleading him to tell her what to do, but he didn't have the answers. The Miracle had made him mortal, and now finally he was going to get the release he'd waited so long for. Death was finally coming to claim him for its own. He wasn't coming back this time.
When he woke, the room was filled with a pale golden light, and all of the pain from his abdomen had disappeared, replaced by a soft warmth that filled him from head to toe.
Where were Esther and Gwen? He'd even be glad to see Rex at this point in time. He turned his head and saw another figure in the bed beside him, its back turned for the moment, yet the outline somehow familiar. As he shifted slightly, the other figure shifted also, turning over and smiling at him, sitting up slightly as it leant over him in the buttercup coloured haze.
'Hello, Jack,' Ianto's voice greeted him.
'Ianto,' he could barely get the word out. He'd been gone, but now he was here. How?
'Am I dead?' Jack asked.
Ianto reached over and stroked his hair gently with his fingertips. 'Not yet,' he replied.
'Where am I?'
Ianto cocked his head slightly, considering the question. 'Somewhere between here and there,' he replied vaguely.
Jack reached up a tentative hand and felt it touch Ianto's face. He was here, he was real. He could feel his skin beneath his fingers, soft and warm and whole.
'You're really here.'
Ianto quirked a little smile at him. 'In a manner of speaking.'
'I've missed you so much.' He couldn't even begin to explain just how much; how cold and lonely all the days had since been. How the world had ended, and all its colour drained away.
'I missed you too,' he said continuing to stroke Jack's face. He leaned down and placed the most feathery light kiss on his lips, savoring the tender moment when their bodies were once again together.
'I forgot just how good you smell,' Ianto murmured, breathing in Jack's heady scent. Just hearing Ianto's voice was like heaven, and perhaps that was where he was.
'I didn't,' Jack replied. 'Every day I prayed I could see your face just one more time. Sometimes when I woke I thought I could smell you right there beside me, so close I thought I could just reach out and touch you. But there was nothing.'
'I'm sorry, cariad,' Ianto apologised, kissing Jack tenderly again. 'I never meant to hurt you.'
Jack pulled Ianto's face closer to his. 'It doesn't matter now. Now I have you back.'
He smiled up at Ianto, but watched as the expression on Ianto's face turned to one of sadness.
'You can't stay here, Jack.'
Jack was confused. 'Why not?'
'This place is not meant for you. Not yet, and not for a very long time. Perhaps never.'
Jack shook his head. 'But you're here. Why would I go?'
'This is a place for the dead and the dying. You don't belong here. Your place is to live, and to keep living.'
'No,' Jack cried. 'If I'm dying, then let me die so that I can stay here with you! I've waited so long for death, thinking that I could never reach it, and now I can finally follow you there.'
'You need to live, Jack. That's why I'm here. To guide you back.'
He gripped Ianto's hand hard as it pressed against his cheek, holding it firmly to him.
'Ianto, don't you understand? Every day that I wake up is like dying because you're not there. I'd rather die now and have this moment with you, than live a million lifetimes without you. I can't go back. I can't live without you there beside me. That's not life at all.'
Ianto looked at him sadly. He loved Jack with all his heart, but Jack's heart was so much bigger than his, capable of so much more love than he could ever have given him.
'You must live. Otherwise the Miracle will trap everyone you know in an unending death. Only you can save them now, but to do that, you have to keep fighting.'
Jack managed to sit up and look at his lover properly. 'I'm tired of fighting, Ianto. I'm tired of living alone. I want to be here, with you. That's all I've ever wanted. I know that now.'
Ianto smiled sadly. 'The Jack I know would never condemn the world to a living death. He couldn't live with himself, knowing that others would suffer as he has before. You are the only one who can save them from the Miracle, Jack. If you love me, then do it for me.'
Jack could feel the tears starting to slip down the side of his face.
'Just once I wish I could do the selfish thing,' he replied.
Ianto resumed stroking Jack's face. 'We both know that would be never happen. You'll find love again, Jack, hundreds of times over, and you'll forget all about me.'
'No, I'll never forget you. You are the only one, and the one I'll carry in my heart for all of eternity. There will never be another.'
Ianto kissed his wet eyelids, one by one.
'There will be. And you will love them with all the same joy and reckless abandon, and I wouldn't have it any other way. But you have to promise me that you will live, first. If you cannot live, how can you ever love?'
Jack knew that everything Ianto said, however much it hurt, was true. His heart ached with loneliness that only love could fill, but he couldn't believe that he would ever find anyone who would bring him so much unrelenting happiness as the man in front of him right now.
'It's time to go, Jack,' Ianto's voice said, as he felt their cheeks brush tougher, Ianto's warm breath ghosting his neck.
No, he didn't want to. Not just yet.
'Please, can I stay? Just a little longer. I'll go, I just... I need a chance to say goodbye properly.'
'Of course,' Ianto replied softly, his own eyes beginning to glisten with unshed tears. 'I can give you a few minutes more.'
Jack wrapped his arms around Ianto's torso, pulling him on top of him, their skin pressed together as their lips parted for one another in a slow, sweet kiss. Every inch of Ianto's body was immediately familiar and comforting, as if he'd held it only yesterday, and every single day in his dreams, though none had ever felt as real as this.
Ianto lay down on Jack's chest, and Jack nuzzled into the soft brown curls, enjoying the feeling of his weight on top of him, his heart beat pounding against Ianto's ear, and the rise and fall of Ianto's chest pressed to his own, hands interlocked as if they'd never be parted again.
He grew sleepy in their embrace, knowing that time was quickly running out for them. Before he grew too drowsy to do anything more, he made sure he said what needed to be said.
'I love you.'
'I love you, too, cariad,' came the whispered reply, before the pale golden light faded once more to darkness.