"It's time to stop defining yourself by your reflection in other people's eyes."
Ianto tore himself away from the too-gentle hand that cupped his face and stepped back to stare into hazel eyes that saw too much.
“Isn’t that what you’ve been doing for the last 5 millennia?” He accused. There was a ripple of movement thorough Methos’ shoulders, not quite enough to be called a shrug.
“Not at all. I show a certain face to the world, play a role; people make of it what they will. They don’t see me, they don’t *know* me, but that doesn’t make me less real. I’m like the shadow you never quite see, the movement you catch out of the corner of your eye; there, but not there. And I like it that way. How can you fight a shadow or catch something you don’t even see properly? But it’s my decision, my choice, not something that’s been imposed on me by other people. I know who I am, but I don’t think you know who you are.” Ianto had moved further away while Methos spoke; he turned, flinging his arms open in a wild gesture.
“Is that necessarily so bad?” He asked, the tone of his voice begging Methos to drop it; now. It was a futile hope; Methos closed the distance between them, clasping Ianto’s shoulders in a firm but gentle grip, but one that Ianto knew he could break if he so desired. He met Methos’ eyes once more as they searched his face, his voice echoing the touch on Ianto’s shoulders,
“It is when you’re letting yourself be defined by how other people see you. You are more than that, Ianto, so much more.” Ianto closed his eyes for a second, needing respite from that too intent gaze, but not wanting to break away from him again. He swallowed, opened his eyes and continued in a near-whisper,
“Maybe I am. But what if I don’t want to be? What if I don’t want to know who I am? This way, no-one has any great expectations of me, least of all myself. Maybe I’m content to be no more than what other people see of me.” It was Methos’ turn to move away; he whirled around making a noise in the back of his throat that sounded faintly disgusted, before turning back to face Ianto, arms folded.
“I don’t believe *that* for one second.”
“Believe it, Methos; it’s true.” Ianto spat out; he then sighed, and stared at his feet, the wall, the floor; anywhere apart from Methos’s face.
“Since when?” Methos asked carefully. Ianto finally raised his head, and met Methos’ eyes.
“When do you think?” He said, ashamed at the note of desperation he could hear creeping into his voice, but singularly unable to do anything about it. “Since Jack left.” Methos’ posture loosened as he unfolded his arms, reaching out one hand to quickly squeeze Ianto’s arm above the elbow, though his fingers lingered on Ianto’s arm afterwards, his touch reassuring.
“He’ll be back, just wait and see.”
“Will he? He went after his Doctor, Methos. Who the hell am I to compete with that?” Ianto hated the betraying waver in his voice, but he couldn’t help it. He knew where Jack had gone, and he’d hidden that knowledge from the rest of the team for reasons that were still unclear to him. Methos was the only person who had a cat in hell’s chance of understanding at all. Unexpectedly he found himself gathered in Methos’ arms, a soft kiss brushed across his forehead, long fingers resting on his cheek.
“You are Ianto Emrys Jones, and a very special man.” Methos said. The reply burst out from Ianto before he could put a stop to it;
“Not special enough, obviously.” He mentally cursed himself for sounding like a whiny teenager, but resentment toward Jack was still bubbling away inside of him despite how he tried to rationalise things. He felt Methos’ fingers slide across his skin until they were tangling in the short hair at the back of his neck, encouraging Ianto to raise his eyes again. Methos’ response was pitched low; intimate, but not quite a whisper,
“You are to me.”
“I...I thought...Jack..I...” Ianto shook his head irritably, unable to string a coherent thought together, never mind a sentence with Methos looking at him like that, with his fingers burning into Ianto’s skin like a brand.
“You, Ianto. Not just Jack. You. Let him chase after The Doctor for a while; when he stops to think instead of just reacting, he’ll remember what he’s missing and he’ll come back. To both of us.” Methos’ hand moved from the back of Ianto’s neck, upwards, to cradle his head softly. Ianto relaxed into the touch, letting his eyes drift shut with a sigh.
“And until then?” He whispered his question, eyes still closed, luxuriating in the feeling of Methos’s fingers in his hair.
“You’ll just have to make do with me.” The hand in Ianto’s hair became more insistent, drawing him closer, closer, until he could feel Methos’s breath puff across his lips. “Think you’ll cope?” Ianto opened his eyes, and smiled.
“I will now...” He closed the space between Methos’s mouth and his own, still smiling as their lips met and his arms crept out to hold the ancient immortal as tightly as Methos was holding him. Wrapped in Methos’ arms, the prospect of not having Jack in his life seemed a lot less daunting, and, if he was honest with himself, the idea of making the rest of the team actually *see* him began to appeal. He responded hungrily as Methos deepened the kiss, all thoughts of Jack, and his Doctor, being pushed from his mind by the demands of the here and now and the lips against his own. Ianto’s last, and slightly guilty, thought before he abandoned himself to the thrill of the moment was that maybe he was going to enjoy not having Jack around after all...