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Fic: Echoes Of Our Souls Chapter 5/13

Title: Echoes Of Our Souls
Fandoms: Torchwood/The Avengers
Pairings/Character: Steve/Ianto/Tony, Jack/Ianto/Steve/Tony, Natasha/Tosh/Darcy, Maria/Owen/Martha, Clint/Pepper/Coulson, Thor/Bruce /Jane, Nick Fury, past Steve/Bucky/Peggy and mention of Rhys/Gwen
Summary: After Jack left, instead of falling apart like the others him to, expected Ianto moved on with all aspects of his life. When Jack returned from his journey with the Doctor, nothing was the way he thought it would be. Now he's on a quest to win back Ianto's heart but Tony and Steve are not making it easy for him. The three men must figure out a way to put aside their differences in order to fit into Ianto's life, but it may take a mission gone wrong for them to finally see that Ianto loves them all equally.
Rating: R
Beta: RoyalLadyEmma
Art by: hollymarchosias see it hereand here
Disclaimer: I do not own Torchwood or the Avengers.
Author Note: I had to mess with the Avengers timeline in order for this to work.

Chapter 5

It wasn't hard for Ianto to figure out where Steve was and as he neared the private gym Ianto could hear the sound of flesh hitting a bag. Entering the gym Ianto stood silently and watched as Steve continued to punch away at the boxing bag. The man's muscular, sweat-covered body was truly a thing of beauty, and  Ianto had to admit he was thoroughly enjoying the sight before him.

Every hair on Steve's body stood on end as he felt Ianto enter the gym; he could always sense when Ianto or Tony walked into any room. "What can I do for you, Ianto?" Steve asked pausing in workout and he swiped his arm across his forehead.

"Everyone's worried about your lack of sleep. I just wanted you to know that I'm here for you if you ever want to talk." Ianto's voice was soothing and as always, it calmed Steve's frazzled nerves.

"It's stupid," Steve punched idly at the bag. He didn't want to tell anyone what he was having nightmares about, much less let Ianto know. It seemed like such a silly thing to lose sleep over.

Ianto could tell by the tension in Steve's body and the look in his eyes that he was embarrassed by whatever was keeping him from sleeping. "Even the bravest of us has a fear of something that seems silly. Jack..." Steve pretended not to notice the way Ianto's voice wavered and tightened at the mention of his former boss and Ianto was grateful for that little courtesy.

He cleared his throat and continued on, "he was one of the bravest men I know, Steve, and yet he was afraid of spiders. Big ones, little ones, even dead ones would turn him into a scared little girl!" A memory of Jack standing on his desk and shrieking for Ianto come and save him sprang to mind and for the first time since Jack left him, Ianto's smile was true and from the heart.

Steve looked at him, glad to see Ianto happy even if just for a moment; it warmed his heart. He could tell what the other man was trying to do and it made him smile. Sighing, he took a seat on the bench. "I'm afraid of the cold," Steve admitted softly to Ianto as the young Welshman took a seat next to him. "Anything cold and suddenly I'm back frozen in ice, unable to move, breath, talk or even scream.

"I'm trapped but I'm not alive and I'm yet not dead." Steve shook his head ruefully. "See, I told you; it's silly." Unable to look at Ianto, afraid of what he might see, he focused his gaze on his hands and started fumbling with the tape he'd bound them with.

"Not at all." Ianto shook his own head. "I'm afraid of fire and loud noises. Never was before, but now, the tiniest spark and the smallest boom and I'm back at Canary Wharf reliving that day. At first, it was so bad that I'm talking pee-my-pants, shaking-in-my-boots, I-want-my-mam terrified!"

"Really?" A spark of hope lit Steve's eyes and he left off unstrapping his hands to look up at Ianto.

Ianto took one of Steve's hands in his and finished unwrapping it. "It is not a weakness to be afraid of something; it's simple human nature." Ianto favoured Steve with a soft smile as he changed to his other hand, trying not to caress the skin beneath his fingertips. "I don't think any less of you. And besides, you know what they say, it takes a real man to admit his weakness."

The warmth and sincerity of Ianto's smile made Steve's heart flip-flop and danced in his chest, something it hadn't done since Bucky and Peggy. He was overwhelmed by the sensations; they rocked him to his very core, and yet he felt giddy with happiness. He hadn't felt so alive in a long, long time and he knew that it was all because of Ianto Jones.

As soon as he'd learned that Ianto and his friends were going to become part of the Avenger family and that they'd be working with highly classified materials and in top-secret locations and labs, Tony had done a thorough back-ground check on each of them, Ianto included. When he revealed his findings, everybody, Steve included, had been in awe of everything that Ianto had survived.

Steve had discovered a newfound respect for Ianto at that moment and he realised it was no wonder that Ianto had nightmares after that experience. Steeling himself, Steve decided to take a chance and put his heart on the line, he reached out and covered Ianto's hand with his own. "Given everything you've survived you've still found the strength to save the world again and again. I think you're one of the bravest men I've ever met, Ianto."

Ianto felt himself beginning to blush; the heat in his cheeks was nothing compared to the heat seeping into his hand. No one had ever said anything like that to him, not even Jack, and given that it came from a living legend, it was all the more special to Ianto. "Thank you, Steve; I feel the same way about you." Ianto turned their hands over, entwined their fingers, and squeezed Steve's hand, feeling the heat spread up his arm.

Neither man moved; they didn't want to break the magic of the moment, too afraid that they would shatter the spell being woven around them.

Not much went on in his tower that Tony didn't know about and he felt a twinge of guilt for spying on Steve and Ianto's private moment in the gym. Unfortunately, watching how natural the two of them were together hit home; they just looked so right together and he realised how much he wanted to be a part of their lives.

"Looks like it's time for me and Steve to have a little talk." Tony could no longer deny how much he wanted and needed Steve and Ianto in his life; in fact, it actually scared him just how much he wanted them. Not even Pepper had stirred such intense and dangerous feelings in him.

'Before we can approach Ianto, though, Steve and I need to clear the air between us.' Tony took a long swallow of his drink; he felt a little guilty that he needed the liquid courage to talk about his feelings to Steve, but knowing it would help nonetheless.

Tony was grateful that Darcy and Ianto had taken to each other so well, and the two were known for going out for lunch at least once a week. Today they had even managed to drag Tosh, Bruce, Owen, Thor and Jane with them, and if Tony was right, and he usually was, they were attempting to play matchmaker between Thor, Bruce and Jane. Natasha, Clint and Coulson were in a meeting at SHIELD and Pepper was working on something or another at Stark Industries, but Tony had no doubt that the four of them would soon be joining the others for lunch. Tony was just thankful that Steve hadn't left yet.

"Well, time to get this talk over with." Tony hated talking about his feelings, always had and probably always would, but something within him told him that Steve and Ianto were worth opening himself up to.

Steve's fingers continued to move the pencil along the paper as he added the finishing touches to his latest set of drawings. Satisfied that they were as perfect as he could make them, he laid his pencil down and stared down at the images of Tony and Ianto. "They're beautiful," he whispered as he look in the faces of his subjects.

Steve had caught Ianto unawares; he'd been able to observe him while the Welshman had been making coffee. The sight of the young man standing there, his eyes closed as he slowly inhaled the scent of his coffee and a blissful smile on his face, had taken Steve's breath away. Tony's sketch, of course ,was of him working on his latest invention; totally and happily oblivious to his surroundings, and with his gaze trained intently on the technology before him, his eyes held a sparkle that only appeared when he was working.

Steve couldn't stop himself from reaching out and gently tracing the delicate features of the men with his fingertips. He was so preoccupied with remembering the details of each moment that he'd preserved in his drawings that he never heard the footsteps growing closer.

Tony peered over Steve's shoulder and let out a low whistle. "Wow, that's pretty good there, Captain; you really know how to capture my smouldering good looks!" He chuckled when Steve jumped a foot into the air and then gave a disappointed sound as Steve snapped his sketchbook closed with a huff.

"What can I do for you, Tony?" Steve asked, hoping against hope that Tony wasn't reading too much into his drawing.

As a master of redirection himself, Tony knew perfectly well what Steve was doing so he wasted no time in getting to the point. "We need to talk about us," he said succinctly. "Well, us and Ianto."

"There is no us and what about Ianto?" Steve was immediately on the defensive; he was sure that he was about to become the victim of one of Tony's pranks or the butt of a bad joke.

Refusing to be swayed from his mission, Tony ignored the other man's hostility and pushed on. "It scares you just how deeply I get to you. I'm willing to bet that few people have ever tested your control like I do and that scares the hell out of you." Tony raised an eyebrow and crossed his arms across his chest, defiantly waiting for Steve to rebuke his claim.

Silence reigned supreme in the room and the problem was simple; Steve knew he couldn't deny what Tony had said. Everything single word was true.

When he realised that Steve wasn't going to say he was wrong, Tony continued on to his next point. "Ianto also scares the hell out of you, because while you were fighting your feelings for me, he slipped right past your defences and buried himself just as deep into your heart as I am."

Without realising it, Tony had just given Steve the opening he needed. "Don't think I've missed the way you've looked at Ianto. He's one of the few people who can match you snark for snark and not only that, he sees past the mask you wear. Every time he looks at you, he sees the real man behind the humour and the bravado and that, my friend, scares you to your core." Steve paused, giving Tony the opportunity to deny his words but he said nothing.

"Let's face it, he has conquered your heart just as deeply as I have. So tell me, Tony, what should we do?" Steve was lost; he'd never had to face such raw honesty within himself before, and he simply wasn't sure what to do. His conflicted feelings for both Tony and Ianto were literally making him dizzy and he could feel a cold trickle of sweat roll down his back.

Emboldened by Steve's admission, Tony pushed aside some of the debris littering the man's desktop and planted his butt on the corner. "Simple, we..." and he pointed between the two of them, "man up and admit that since the moment we met something has been building between the two of us." He waited to see if Steve was on the same page with him and he was rewarded with a small, hopeful smile.

"Okay then, next we seek out Ianto, and together, we lay our hearts on the line and tell him that we want him to be an equal part of our relationship." Tony paused when he thought Steve was going to say something, but once again, the man remained silent. "Finally, we do everything in our power to kill once and for all the thoughts that Ianto Jones is second-best in our eyes."

Steve stiffened. "What do you mean, second-best?" he asked in a low and dangerous voice. The very notion that Ianto would ever think of himself like that made him a deadly opponent to whomever had planted such a sick idea in his head.

"It's in his eyes every time he sees us together, Steve. Someone hurt him deeply and made him believe he was just a stand-in till someone better came along. We have to show him that it's just not true." Tony hated seeing that look in Ianto's eyes; it was a look that Tony knew all too well, He'd seen it too many times when he'd looked in the mirror.

At some point, Tony had picked up a pencil from the desk and had been absently twirling it as he spoke. Not Steve took it from Tony's hand, replacing with his own. "How do you feel about me?" he asked softly, savouring the warmth of their flesh.

Deciding it would be much easier and his message much clearer if he let his actions speak for him, Tony did something he had wanted to do from the moment he'd first laid eyes on Steve Rogers. Tony leaned across the short distance between them, gently cupped Steve's face with his hands and kissed him.

Kissing Steve was everything Tony had ever dreamed it would be and so much more. As their lips met, the pure feeling of finally belonging to someone nearly overwhelmed Tony's senses as he memorized the softness of Steve's lips and how they parted for his eager tongue.  

Not since Bucky and Peggy had a kiss felt so right. Tony was right; Steve had fought his attraction to Tony and then to Ianto, not just because he was scared of how they made him feel but also because he felt guilty for moving on. As far as his heart and mind were concerned, he'd only just lost Bucky and the last kiss he had gotten was the good luck kiss he'd received from Peggy.

Their kiss continued for several moments as months' worth of pent-up longing came flooding forward and although both men could feel the empty void within their souls slowly begin to fill they knew they were missing someone. Slowly the kiss ended on its own and Steve smiled happily at Tony. "Now tell me about this plan of yours to woo Ianto's heart."

Grinning brightly, Tony tightened his grip on Steve's shoulders. "It's sheer brilliance, if I do say so myself! Trust me on this, Steve; Ianto will be ours in only a matter of days."

Steve rolled his eyes affectionately, but he couldn't help smiling at Tony's confidence; it was actually pretty infectious.

Tony and Steve wasted no time in putting Tony's plan into action. Tony ratcheted his flirting with Ianto up to new levels, and Steve actively sought to get Ianto alone whenever he could to work a little magic of his own. While it was an obvious relief to everyone that Tony and Steve were finally together, no one was surprised to see the two men begin their campaign to win Ianto's heart.

Clint was so sure that everything was going to work out that he was running an intricate betting pool. Available choices ranged from the extreme, like the time, date and placed of their first shag to the simple, like who would snap first and finally just kiss Ianto. So far, Tony was winning the latter by a country mile; it was an accepted fact that Steve was just too shy and reserved to make the first move.

To avoid Tony and Steve as well as their unsolicited attentions, Ianto sought sanctuary in the peace and quiet of Tosh and Bruce's labs. For once, Tony had enough sense not to bother neither one of them, not because he was getting any smarter, but because Bruce had the big green guy on his side. Hulk had grown rather fond of Ianto and Tosh, and could often be found wherever they were. As for Natasha and Darcy, they were being less than subtle in their attempts to win Tosh's heart and Tony knew that upsetting Tosh was a good way to earn Natasha's wrath.

Having delivered a carafe of freshly-brewed coffee to the lab, Ianto settled into a corner chair to enjoy a cup of his own. As he sipped slowly, his blue-grey eyes studied Tosh over the rim of his mug. Although she appeared to be absorbed by her investigation into a new piece of alien tech, she kept mumbling to herself. In fact, she'd seemed a little 'off' to Ianto for the past few days and he wondered if she was all right. He hoped that her distracted behaviour had something to do with Natasha and Darcy's earlier visit. "Tosh, are you all right?" he asked softly.

Sighing deeply, Tosh set her tools down and slipped off her glasses, setting them down next to her mouse pad. Finally, courage gathered, she turned away from her computer to face Ianto, and a light blush painted her cheeks as she suddenly found her hands very interesting. "Natasha and Darcy came by this morning and they've made their intentions towards me clear."

'Yes! It's about time!' Ianto was so excited he nearly leapt up to hug his best friend. Instead, he took a sip of coffee and said, "Oh, yes?"

"They want me to be a part of their relationship," she mumbled.

"Do you like them like that?" Ianto softly questioned Tosh and she could hear the concern in his voice. He didn't want her setting herself up for another heartbreak, but in his opinion, Darcy and Natasha would be a much better fit for her than Owen would ever be. 'It's about time she put that disastrous dream firmly in her past.'

The blush painting Tosh's cheeks deepened. "Oh, Ianto, I really do! I've never felt this way about anyone before, not even Owen. I think..." she finally met Ianto's eyes and smiled brightly. "I could really be happy with Natasha and Darcy."

Ianto was thrilled to hear Tosh's words. "Then I think you should go for it. I know Natasha and she does not offer her heart easily." After everything Tosh had done for him, Ianto wanted her to be happy; she deserved nothing less than to be loved deeply and dearly. "I know you certainly smile a lot more when you're around Darcy and Natasha."

Favouring Ianto with a smile just for him, Tosh studied her friend. 'Should I ask him' she pondered for a moment and decided that there was no time like the present. "What about you?"

Confused by the question, Ianto blinked at her. "What do you mean, what about me?" Ianto had a pretty good idea of what Tosh was talking about and he wasn't sure if he wanted to have this conversation just yet, even with his best friend.

Tosh saw the wary look in Ianto's eyes and normally that would be enough for her to back off, but not this time. 'You can't wait around for Jack forever, Ianto; there's no telling if he'll ever come back.' "You've listened to me talk about the problems in my love life for years, and you've always offered sound advice, so now it's my turn." She raised her hand when she saw Ianto getting ready to speak.

"No, let me finish. Steve and Tony have made it very clear they want you in their lives. Ianto, when you love, you love so deeply and so truly and it's beautiful thing to see. I know you haven't had the best of luck with love, just like me. You've been hurt just as I have but I'm willing to take the chance, are you?" she asked softly.

Rather than agreeing with her as she'd expected, Toshiko was shocked when Ianto slammed his mug down on the table to hard that coffee slopped over the edge. "I have only truly loved two people in my life, Tosh. I trusted them completely, I gave them my heart without reservation, and look how that turned out!" To Ianto's horror his words were fully of bitterness and angry tears threatened to fall. "A smashing success all around, don't you think?"

Toshiko remained silent, afraid that if she spoke, Ianto would stop talking, and she knew instinctively that he was expressing thoughts that had been festering for a long time. 'It's better that he gets the poison out now, before it infects his relationship with Tony and Steve.'

Ianto didn't seem to notice that Tosh hadn't responded; the floodgates had opened and there was no stopping the out-pouring of emotions. "I placed the world in danger because I couldn't bear to live without Lisa. I nearly killed Gwen and I did kill Jack. Then I turned around and start up a relationship with Jack and the entire time, I was playing second fiddle the memory of the Doctor!"

His eyes shining brightly with unshed tears, Ianto angry venting continued unabated. "No matter where we were or what we were doing, Jack would flirt openly with anyone who caught his fancy; he didn't give a rat's arse that he was hurting me. And then, if all that weren't enough,  Gwen Cooper did everything but strip off and danced naked on his desk! He mooned over her constantly and no matter how big her cock-up, he let her get away with murder."

Tosh watched as one tear slipped slowly down his cheek and her gut twisted with the truth of what he was saying. Gwen had taken every opportunity to throw herself at Jack, and she always took a sadistic pleasure in making sure that Ianto either witnessed it or heard about it later from Owen.

"I can't be someone's second choice again, To..." Ianto's voice broke and he swallowed several times and cleared his throat. "To do so with Steve and Tony would destroy what little is left of my soul." As he uttered the last of his words, Ianto seemed to deflate, as if he'd emptied his soul of its burden and when he looked at her there was nothing left but pure pain.

"Oh, Ianto." Her heart absolutely breaking for Ianto, Tosh pushed back from her chair and hurried over to hug him. As she pulled him in to her, she felt him shudder violently as his arms came up to wrap around her. "I know you can't see it, but Tony and Steve look at you the way Jack did when he thought nobody was watching." She felt Ianto tighten his grip around her waist.

Tosh stroked Ianto's hair as he clung to her. "Jack wasn't perfect but he did care for you, Ianto, he cared very deeply, even if never actually said the words out loud." She could have sworn she heard a tiny whimper but she persevered. "You and I both know that if he had really wanted Gwen nothing would have stopped him having her. Her affair with Owen made it abundantly clear that she wasn't as loyal to Rhys as she wanted us all to believe."

Ianto gave a small snort of derision and Tosh knew that she was getting through to him. "You and I both know that Jack never, ever took Gwen up on her constant offers because he cared for you. Having seen the look in his eyes when he'd watch you, I'd say he loved you, Ianto Jones."

"Do you really think so?" Ianto's tone was cautiously hopeful and when he raised his head she could see that he'd been crying.

"Yes, I do, in his own way." Tosh brushed the tears from Ianto's cheeks. "But he's gone now, and you cannot spend your life waiting for a man who may never come back. Tony and Steve obviously love you, and they're here, right in front of you, offering you their hearts on a platter. Please, Ianto, don't throw this chance away. I don't want you to miss out on something that could be wonderful."

Pulling back Ianto brushed a kiss across Tosh's forehead. "I need some time alone; I guess I have a lot to think about. Can you act like a buffer for a little while?" Ianto asked softly.

Tosh nodded her head. "You take all the time you need; Jarvis and I will make sure no one disturbs you, right, Jarvis?" Tosh tilted her head back to look up at the ceiling.

"Of course, Miss Sato; I will keep Master Stark and Mr Rogers away from Ianto until you instruct me differently," Jarvis readily agreed.

"Thank you, both of you." Ianto pressed another kiss across Tosh's forehead before taking his leave.

Tosh watched as the door closed behind Ianto. "Jarvis, make a note to remind me to have a talk with Steve and Tony. I need to explain in graphic detail just what I will do to them and their manly bits if they hurt Ianto."

"Noted, Miss Sato." If Jarvis had been alive, Tosh would have sworn that there was just a hint of satisfaction in his voice.


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