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Torchwood: One-on-One (Fanfiction)


Word Count: 1.928
Summary: Ianto thinks, the team's evenly matched. Jack thinks, playing one-on-one can be fun, too.
Characters: Ianto Jones, Jack Harkness, Toshiko Sato, Gwen Cooper, Owen Harper
Pairing: Jack/Ianto
Rating: PG
Spoiler: Cyberwoman
Setting: after Cyberwoman
Author's note: Written for the redisourcolor  challenge #003 – Sports. Using the phrase "It's not always the winning that matters, it's the taking part that counts." and the words belonging, enjoyment and pride.
Feedback: Can’t breathe without it.
Disclaimer: I’m not making money with this fanfic. The tv-show Torchwood and the characters appearing within it belong to their producers and creators. Any similarities to living or dead persons are purely coincidental and not intended.


The ball whizzed through the Hub, past Ianto's head, and hit the window to Jack's office with a loud bang accompanied by the sound of four cups and one tray tumbling to the floor – the tray clattering and the cups shattering. Ianto stared in disbelieve at the coffee and tea puddle at his feet, then he took a step back to avoid his shoes getting wet. His eyes found the sheepish ones of Tosh. “I'm so sorry,“ she said.

“Oops!“ Owen added dryly. Gwen hid her giggle rather unsucccesfully behind her hands while Jack crossed his arms with an indulging smile at Tosh.

Ianto draped his coat of professionalism back around his shoulders, not wanting to let them see just how tired and fed up he was. “That was unfortunate.“

Tosh was already making her way towards him, passing by her and Owen's desks. “I'll clean it up, Ianto.“

“No, that's okay,“ he answered.

She touched his arm but when he flinched she drew her hand back as if she'd been burned. “I startled you and caused you to drop the tray in the first place,“ she said, “I'll clean it up.“ With that, she went to get a cleaning rag. Ianto sighed deeply and crouched down to pick up the pieces, relocating the pile of shards to the tray.

“Oi! Would you mind throwing us the ball, tea boy?“ Owen asked. Ianto reached out to grab the still moving ball and rolled it towards Gwen who picked it up with a thankful smile.

“Tosh!“ Owen called out, “Come on!“

She returned with a bucket of water and a rag. She signaled Owen to wait for a minute and crouched down beside Ianto. “Let me help you.“

“No, Tosh. Let me.“


“Get back to the game.“ He smiled at her in reassurance and took the rag from her hand, “Thank you. Now go. You never know when the next Rift alert will come in. You should use the break to relax.“

She nodded hesitantly, touched his arm again and then left to get back to the game. Ianto was tuning out the yelling and laughing of his colleagues while he cleaned up. Not even a week had passed since he'd returned from his suspension and he was invisible again. At least Ianto Jones was. Not Ianto, the tea boy. They saw him every day, ordered their meals and their drinks and handed him their finished paper work.

There was nothing wrong with that, of course. Ianto loved his job. He liked taking care of the team, listening to their problems no matter if they wanted his advise or just someone to let off some steam. But he wanted them to care about his life, too – about him. He'd even told them as much. Yelled at them that they didn't care not even a month ago.

And yet … this situation right now … it was quite metaphorical, really: They were playing basketball while he was cleaning up. But he wouldn't complain. He'd always taken it in stride before because at the end of the day, there had been Lisa listening to him. And he would certainly not complain now because, even though the Hub was working like Lisa had never happened, the team was scarred.

And he knew it was his fault. He had no right to ask for something he wasn't entitled to, be it sympathy or attention. So he continued to be invisible. All the while hoping that someone would notice him and start to care just because they wanted to.

Feet passed by him, almost knocking over the bucket. “Sorry,“ Gwen muttered and was gone for a moment then running past him again, this time with her bag and her jacket and back towards the cog door. “Rhys will kill me,“ she said loudly, warding of Owen who was grabbing her around the hips, playfully trying to stop her from leaving. “I promised him to be there half an hour ago. Let go of me, you idiot.“

She freed herself from the doctor attached to her hips and left through the cog door.

“You are no fun!“ Owen called after her. The game ceased after that. By the time Ianto had put the bucket back and gotten rid of the broken cups, Tosh and Owen were gone, too. Ianto checkd on the weevils. When he returned to the main Hub, Jack was standing a good distance away from the cog door and the basketball basket above it, trying to shoot some hoops.

“Is there something else you need, sir?“ Ianto asked.

Jack turned around to him, the ball in his hands. “Fancy a game?“

Ianto forced a smile. “No, sir, thank you.“

“Oh, c'mon, Ianto. A little one-on-one,“ his eyebrows raised suggestively and this time, Ianto's smile wasn't fake.

“I really couldn't. I'm incredibly untalented at basketball.“

“It's not always the winning that matters, it's the taking part that counts,“ Jack said. His smile faded and he asked, “Ianto … for me? Please?“

They were alone, so Ianto decided to be blunt, like he'd always been with Jack whenever there was no one around seeing Ianto question Jack's authority. “It never mattered to you before.“

“Well, it matters to me now.“

“You never asked me if I wanted to play.“

“I'm asking now.“

Ianto rolled his eyes. “That is so mature, sir.“

Jack grinned about his sarcasm. He threw the ball towards Ianto, forcing the younger man to catch it rather clumsily.

“C'mere“, he said, beckoning Ianto closer. “The others are gone. Nobody there to see you being anything less than perfect.“

Ianto ducked his head, but he obeyed, feeling like he was serving his dignity on a platter. Much to Jack's enjoyment. The basket seemed to be awfully far away. Ianto rolled his eyes and decided to get it over with. The ball bounced off the wall next to the basket and Jack caught it when it returned to the two men. “Not bad,“ he said.

“Well, I tried,“ Ianto said, intending to move away, but Jack encircled him with his arms around his shoulders.

He was holding the ball, his chest pressed to Ianto's back. “Like that,“ he said, showing Ianto how he was holding the ball. “That way, you can control it better.“ He nudged Ianto with his shoulder. “Take it.“

Hesitantly, Ianto took the ball and held it like Jack had shown him. “Right,“ the captain said and Ianto closed his eyes when the older man's breath touched his neck. “Whenever you're ready.“ His hands touched Ianto's waist, not really holding him, just being there. Ianto swallowed, a familiar panicky feeling constricting his throat. Since he'd started at Torchwood Three - whenever Jack had smiled at him or whenever they were lying in Jack's bed in the aftermath of Ianto trying to distract Jack away from the basement or not being strong enough and craving someone to take the pain away - he'd had this lump in his throat. It was made of shame, betrayal and sorrow and he could hardly breathe around it. Lisa was gone but he still felt like he was betraying her when he thought of Jack that way. Ianto threw the ball, not really paying attention, just wanting to get this over with. Jack's arms wrapped around his waist and his cheek rested in Ianto's hair. “Does it still hurt?“ he asked suddenly and softly.

Ianto was taken by surprise. “I think it always will, sir,“ he whispered. Jack's lips pressed against his temple. Ianto turned around to him. “But I don't regret it.“

Jack frowned. “Hiding her?“

Ianto shook his head. “Not taking you up on your offer, sir.“

Jack nodded in understanding and a smile tugged at his lips. He was looking at him with something akin to pride. Just like a few weeks ago, when he'd visited Ianto during his suspension and offered him Retcon and a new life in London, enough money to study and no memories of Torchwood One, Three and Canary Wharf. Jack kissed his lips, a gentle pressure that was nothing more than a peck. “I'm glad.“ Then he grinned. “Now let's get back to practice.“ He went to get the ball from where it had rolled into a corner.

“Sir, you are evenly matched,“ Ianto pointed out. “Four team members – it's perfect. You don't need me.“

Jack threw him the ball and Ianto caught it.

“Well then, Mr. Jones,“ Jack grinned, “we'll just have to play one-on-one.“ He rolled up his sleeves. “By the way, Ianto, in my book,“ he took position under the basket, “a team of four isn't perfect. But five – five is more like it. And I'll always need you.“

Ianto couldn't help but smile. It wasn't over. He knew that it would still take some time to get over what had happened, but with Jack standing there, grinning like a kid and waiting for Ianto to start the game, it was hard to not let the warm feeling of finally belonging somewhere after over a year of running away and hiding spread through him – even if it was just for tonight. So he swept his exhaustion and sadness aside. He nodded and removed his jacket and tie. “Alright, sir. I'll do my best.“

Jack laughed. “Bring it on. The winner gets a kiss.“


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( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 17th, 2010 07:10 am (UTC)
Lovely characterisation in a very sweet and simple scene, but most satisfying. I like it because the characters are spot on and the emotional tone is so well judged. You didn't put a foot wrong IMO. :)
Jul. 18th, 2010 11:40 am (UTC)
Thank you so much. And it was only my second Torchwood fanfic. *yay*
Jul. 17th, 2010 09:15 am (UTC)
Aww, Ianto is breaking my heart in this! Very nice scene with the basketball. Poor Ianto, feeling left out, invisible, like no one cares. I love stories like this, where Ianto is feeling unappreciated, but there is a happy ending.

Also: "Ianto stared in disbelieve"
It should be "disbelief"

As a whole, nicely done!
Jul. 18th, 2010 11:47 am (UTC)
Oi! Thanks. There are some words I always spell wrong. "disbelief" is one of them.

Thanks for the review. I like those fanfics too. And I wanted to have a fix-it for the first scene in "Cyberwoman" where everyone was playing basketball but Ianto. The were acting as if he wasn't even there. I think I started to really like him because of that scene (and episode).
Jul. 18th, 2010 09:10 pm (UTC)
Ianto was really on the outside looking in. I definitely can identify with that, and I can remember others saying that that was the time when they really fell for Ianto.
Jul. 19th, 2010 11:58 am (UTC)
He was always in the background in the first three episodes. And then he gets such a story line out of nowhere ...
Jul. 17th, 2010 10:16 am (UTC)
wonderful story.
Jul. 18th, 2010 11:47 am (UTC)
Thank you. :)
Jul. 17th, 2010 01:34 pm (UTC)
Jul. 18th, 2010 11:48 am (UTC)
Thanks. :)
Jul. 18th, 2010 04:12 pm (UTC)
This is lovely! I always hated the way Ianto was left out of everything and pretty much ignored in the early episodes. It's nice that here Jack is making the effort to include Ianto, even if just for one-on-one basketball when everyone else has gone. He's making sure Ianto knows he is needed and appreciated and I'm sure at this point, that's what Ianto wants more than anything - just to know he matters to someone.
Jul. 18th, 2010 05:05 pm (UTC)
Very well-written and interesting. I like the transition from Ianto feeling completely invisible to his playful banter with Jack. Very nice job.
Jul. 19th, 2010 12:04 pm (UTC)
Thank you. :)
Jul. 19th, 2010 12:04 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I adore Ianto telling Owen in "Captain Jack Harkness" that Jack needs him. He says it with such conviction. I love to use it for my fics. I think 'need' is a pretty big topic in their relationship
Jul. 19th, 2010 01:08 am (UTC)
This is lovely. Good job.
Jul. 19th, 2010 12:05 pm (UTC)
Thanks. :)
Apr. 26th, 2012 06:23 am (UTC)
Aww that was cute. Great characteristic of characters, they are absolutely themselves in some way. And scene was just perfect. :)
Apr. 26th, 2012 09:02 am (UTC)
Thank you. :)
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )