This is the only time, the only time we ever see Ianto initiate this kind of affection with Jack. He initiates more physical affection towards Lisa in Cyberwoman than we almost ever see him initiate with Jack. (Granted Lisa couldn’t really do much herself, and Ianto could have several possible motives for the amount of affection he shows Lisa, including love, guilt over what happened to her, guilt over his growing attraction to Jack, pity, grief, trying to hold on to what he once had) Ianto always keeps things so close to his chest, so quiet, hidden, and restrained when it comes to his emotions. But in this instant, he isn’t.
Okay, let’s look at this scene as a whole. Ianto walks into Jack’s office, the night before they send Tommy back to his time. You can tell that Ianto is rather melancholy, and understandably so, the whole story of soldier out of his time who is called to go back at the expense of a blooming romance hits very close to home. This is after all not too long after Jack’s departure with the Doctor in End of Days. Ianto knew then that Jack wouldn’t stay forever, that he was waiting for something before he would run off (which is why in the first season he tried to keep their relationship mostly physical, and expecting nothing in way of emotional support from Jack, ie going in for a handshake in End of Days) So when Ianto asks Jack if he would go back to his own time,
Jack is surprised. They don’t talk about this kind of stuff. They are both very closed when it comes to this emotional vulnerability. Ianto hides behind his quiet exterior, Jack behind his charisma and innuendos. So Jack is thrown when Ianto attempts to break through their mutual armors. In response, Jack tries to joke his way out of it.
They banter like this all the time. Jack wasn’t expecting such an honest answer from Ianto. Emotional vulnerability isn’t a thing that they do. Jack was probably expecting banter, maybe a “Not really” or a “I’d get over it.” But instead Ianto answers him honestly, showing Jack that he cares deeply about Jack, because he doesn’t attempt to hide how he feels. He might downplay it a bit, but he doesn’t hide it. Having already lost Jack to the Doctor once, Ianto knows how he would feel if Jack left, never to return. He never expected Jack to return to him, why would he? Jack waited over a century for the Doctor to show up, and he finally found him and ran off with him. The Doctor can offer Jack adventure that he craves and that he could never have while stuck in Cardiff. Ianto would never expect Jack to stay for him. So Ianto doesn’t attempt to hide it from Jack. And this surprises Jack. His smirk falls, he drops the banter, and shows a level of emotional vulnerability unprecedented from Jack.
Name one other time where Jack shows this level of vulnerability. Where Jack doesn’t hide behind his ego, anger, jokes, or backtracking.
Ianto’s line here expresses some of his fears concerning their relationship. That to Jack he’s just a warm body, someone to pass time with, and that there isn’t anything real between them. Ianto by this point loves Jack, but is afraid that Jack will never reciprocate. At this point, Jack realizes that this conversation is of the utmost importance, and he chooses to put away his work, and focus entirely on Ianto.
Jack continues to show his vulnerability, talking honestly about his experiences over the past century. His home has changed now. His home is here in Cardiff, with Torchwood and Ianto. But while he’s talking, he doesn’t look at Ianto. He has trouble showing this level of vulnerability and talking so honestly about his emotions. But when he does, he looks away for half a second before looking Ianto straight in the eye for the first time. At which point he says this line.
Just as Ianto let Jack know how much he cares for him by answering Jack with an honest yes i would miss you, Jack lets Ianto know how much he cares for him by telling him that he wouldn’t change anything because in the end it led him to Ianto.
Which puts us here
Ianto initiates this kiss, the only time we ever see him do this. And dammit, this kiss is their most passionate, most possessive, most driven. Even time time Gwen walks in on them having sex pales in comparison to this kiss. Just the way that Ianto grabs Jack, cradling his neck. The action is so possessive while also being quite protective, covering the vulnerable points in his neck. Jack mirrors this touch, bringing his hands up to Ianto’s face.
This is such an important scene for the two of them. They acknowledge each other’s vulnerability and don’t try to hide their own. Ianto is able to address his own fears about his relationship with Jack, and Jack validates his feelings and shows that he cares for Ianto. The only thing that they aren’t able to do yet is actually say the words “I love you.” And that is one of the great tragedies of Jack and Ianto.
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