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Fic: Echoes Of Our Souls Chapter 10/13

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 10

To say that Tony and Steve were less than happy to come home and find a very handsome man and a beautiful dark-skinned woman in their living room. The scene looked way too cozy and to their eyes, the strange man was sitting far too close to Ianto.

Tony forced a smile, all teeth and never reaching his eyes, on his face as he entered the living room. "Ianto, who's your friend?" Steve merely stood behind Tony, glowering menacingly across the room.

Ignoring the sudden spark of love, lust and fear that ran the length of his spine, Ianto took a deep breath; this was the moment he had been dreading. He knew Tony and Steve weren't going to react well to Jack's sudden return; in fact he was pretty sure that if he wasn't careful, all the testosterone in the room would lead to physical confrontation. Even though he hated to admit it, the idea of three gorgeous men fighting over him was strangely erotic.

 'How did my life get so complicated? I never thought I would love anyone but Lisa and yet as much as I loved her, it pales in comparison to my love for Jack and my ever-growing feelings Tony and Steve. How did my life get so damn complicated!?' Ianto cleared his throat. "Steve, Tony, I would like you to meet Doctor Martha Jones and Captain Jack Harkness."

Reflecting back amidst the ruins of the living room, Ianto and Steve should have seen Tony's next move coming but they didn't, none of them did. No one even registered Tony moving until his closed fist collided with a solid punch on the side of Jack's chin. Jack responded as any man would, and he returned the favour, sending Tony tumbling backwards onto his arse. The next few minutes were a blur of flying fists, over-turned furniture and shattered glass.

Finally, exhaustion and the realisation that they were too evenly matched for either man to win had Jack and Tony sprawled on the floor just a few feet apart, their chests heaving as they sucked in desperately needed oxygen. They both sat up and surveyed the mess they'd made of the immaculate living room, and then they looked at the group of people watching them with a mixture of horror, surprise, admiration and lust. Ianto broke the silence.

"Jack!" Without thinking, Ianto rushed to Jack's side and helped the now mortal man and onto the couch. As he cast a critical eye over the cuts and bruises on Jack's handsome face, a shy, happy smile curved Ianto's lips. "You're not healing," he murmured in wonder. He took hold of Jack's hand and pressed it to his chest. "It's true, you are mortal!"

As Steve followed suit and helped Tony to the closest chair, something tore deep inside their hearts as they watched their sweet Welshman holding hands with the man who ripped his world apart.

"Yeah," Jack answered, wincing as he used his free hand to touch his split lip and bruised cheek. "Kinda sucks at the moment, though. I'd really gotten used to being invulnerable, ya know?" He tried to chuckle but it hurt his stomach muscles too much so he just sighed and squeezed Ianto's hand in his.

Abruptly aware that they were being closely watched, Ianto knew that the time had come when he had to talk to Steve and Tony or it would simply be too late to salvage anything of their budding relationship. Giving Jack's hand and answering squeeze, Ianto stood up, righted an over-turned side table, and retrieved the heavy wooden lamp that had fallen from it. He used the attempt to straighten the lampshade to school his features.

Finally able to face the two men who also had claim to his heart, and determined to return to some sense of normality, Ianto turned and smiled at them. "Steve, Tony, can you come give me a hand with supper?" He kept his back towards Jack, no matter how much it hurt to let the man out of his sight. He was sure from the strength of the grip Jack had had on his hand, the other man felt the same way.

"I'll be right back," he promised Jack softly speaking over his shoulder. He'd have given anything to stay with Jack, to clean his wounds and to comfort him, but he owed it to Steve and Tony to explain in private why Jack was there in the Tower.

Reluctantly Jack remained where he was Ianto and watched as his Welshman headed for the kitchen with his two new lovers, 'Are they lovers yet?' following him. 'I wonder if this is how Ianto felt when I  flirted with Gwen and chased after the Doctor? Like his heart was being ripped out of his chest? If he this is how much pain I caused him, then I have so much more to make up for with Ianto.'  In that moment, Jack hated himself more than he ever had before and knew he would be extremely lucky when... if... Ianto took him back.

Owen saw the pain clearly displayed in Jack's eyes and he couldn't help but feel a little smug. 'About time you got a taste of what you put Tea-Boy through, mate. Oh man, what I wouldn't give to be a fly on the wall for that talk!'

******
Ianto entered the kitchen followed by two walking thunderclouds. "Jarvis, silence mode," Tony ordered gruffly and was satisfied that Jarvis did as he asked, Tony crossed his arms over his chest and glared at Ianto. "Mind telling us why your ex-whatever he is to you is doing here?"  It was obvious that even after fighting with Jack, he was still quite angry.

Ianto winced at the hurt in Tony's voice and the clear pain in Steve's eyes. "I'm sorry, really I am. Jack just turned up here this afternoon; I had no idea he had even come back to Earth. I really didn't think he'd ever come back."

Tony snorted in derision, "Yeah, right! You want us to believe that?"

Ianto reached out to him with pleading eyes. "Please don't be like that, Tony." But to Ianto's dismay, Tony avoided his touch and stalked over to stand next to Steve. "Can't you try to understand, just for a minute? No matter how hurt and angry I am with him, I just couldn't turn him away. I swear I never thought Jack would return, I was so sure that he was gone for good after finding his Doctor."

With a deep sigh, Ianto sank down onto the kitchen stool. "I made my peace with that and then I moved on with my life. I moved back to New York where I met you two, and I swear to you that I wasn't lying about my feelings for either of you," he looked back and forth between the two men and his eyes were shining with unshed tears, "but at the same time I'm not over Jack."

"Are you going back to him?" Steve asked softly.

Immediately Ianto shook his head. "No! As much as I love Jack, I also love the two of you. But you have to understand Jack was and is a big part of my life; I can't just cut him out of it." Ianto took a deep breath as he told them the part that would more than likely make Tony burst into rage, again. "Jack's mortal now and he said he came back for me."

All the air left Tony and Steve's bodies in a sudden whoosh as if they'd been punched. They knew that this news meant only one thing: Jack had willingly given up his Doctor and travelling the stars forever to live a mortal life with their Ianto.

There was a sharp gasp and both Ianto and Tony turned to look at Steve. "You want to bring him into our relationship, don't you?" Steve recognized the look in Ianto's eyes; it was the same look he had had when he'd asked Bucky if they could make Peggy a part of their relationship.

A delightful blush spread across Ianto's cheeks and the two other men felt their hurt and anger fade more than a little. It was impossible to stay mad at Ianto when he looked so sweet and delicious. They looked at one another, silently seeking the other's agreement, 'how can we deny him anything when he looks so damn hot?!'

Fortunately, Ianto missed the silent communication going on right in front of him; he was too busy trying to make his case without alienating two of the most important men in his life. "Not right away, no; I need to move completely past the pain Jack caused and you three need to get to know one another before we jump into anything. All I can ask is that we take this one day at a time, because all I know is I want Jack and the two of you to be in my life either as lovers or as friends for as long as you'll have me," Ianto explained.

"Well, I don't like him." Tony snarled as he paced back and forth across the kitchen floor. He was struggling to maintain his anger in light of Ianto's honest sincerity. Steve sighed; he could understood where Tony was coming from. Jack and Ianto had a history filled with hate, lust, love, friendship and betrayal; they were some of the strongest emotions a human being can feel.

After several minutes of introspection, Steve made a decision. He took a deep breath before addressing Tony. "Look, I'm not the biggest fan of Captain Harkness; he's hurt Ianto so badly in the past, but it's Ianto's heart which means it's his choice whether or not he wants Jack in his life." Steve knew how hard the situation must be for Ianto and he really didn't want to make things even harder for him.

Ianto still clearly loved Captain Harkness deeply and Steve had to admit to himself that such devotion was enviable. But on the other hand, Ianto didn't try to hide his growing love for Tony and Steve, and while Steve could understand why Ianto needed Jack in his life it didn't mean he was simply going to roll over and let Jack steal Ianto from him and Tony.

"I hate it when you're right," Tony muttered under his breath as he slouched against the counter and sulked; as much as it pained him to admit it, he knew Steve was right. If Ianto really did want Jack in his life there was no way they could say no but as Steve so helpfully reminded him it was Ianto's life and therefore his choice. Tony turned his attention to Ianto. "I'm not making any promises, mind, but I will try not to throw him off the top of Avenger Tower."

A knowing look entered Steve's eyes as he crossed the distance and pulled Ianto into his arms. "Jack may talk a big game but when it comes to you, Ianto, it's clear he has a slightly possessive side. He's gonna have to learn to share because there's no way I'm giving you up without a fight. But at the same time we'll all have to be careful and make sure no one ends up hurt. But Ianto, know we're going to have to tread carefully with Jack."

"What do you mean?" Ianto asked curiously, although he had a horrible feeling he already knew. Jack just wasn't the same man he'd been before he'd left with the Doctor.

Steve's answer was succinct. "He has the same haunted look about him that Bucky had after he'd been tortured."

Tony shivered violently as the memory of his own time being tortured flashed through his mind. As much as he disliked Jack he wouldn't wish that experience on even his worst enemy.

With sympathetic tears in his eyes, Ianto nodded his head. "Jack spent a year in a time paradox being tortured by a madman. He didn't go into much detail and I didn't push him for answers. All I know is he's not the same man he used to be, so please, for me, go easy on him," Ianto requested gently.

Steve brushed a tender kiss across Ianto's lips. "I promise."

Tony scowled fiercely. He didn't want to get Ianto's hopes up; there was something about Jack that rubbed him the wrong way. Finally, reluctantly, Tony nodded; "Fine, for you I'm willing to try." He joined Steve and Ianto and wrapped his arms around both of them. "But only because I love you."

Ianto smiled sweetly at Tony and pressed a kiss to his lips. "That's all I ask."

******
A week later

Jack had been back for one week and he'd been given a room in the Tower as far from Ianto's as possible. Slowly Ianto, Tosh, Owen and most of the Avengers had warmed up to the former immortal, that group did not include Tony Stark. Tony didn't try that hard to hide his dislike of Jack, nor did Natasha and Darcy, although Darcy had lightened up a little after she and Natasha had threatened him a few days after his arrival.

Jack blinked at the quivering dagger that suddenly embedded itself in the wall between his legs, and then he gulped with fear as a pissed-off redhead stepped out of the shadows twirling a matching second dagger between her fingers. "Ahh, you must be Natasha," and he flashed his most charming smile.

"You hurt Ianto and Tosh." Natasha growled low in her throat. " I should kill you for that." She stalked closer to Jack and ran the tip of her blade along his cheek. "Ianto and Tosh are a part of my family and nobody gets away with hurting my family. When my family gets hurt it makes me want to hurt whoever hurt them."

Appearing at her lover's side, Darcy nodded her head as she glared at Jack. "I don't know why Ianto has decided to give you a second chance but let me tell you something, Captain Harkness. I once tasered Thor, the God of Thunder and he went down like a felled elephant. You hurt Ianto again and I will make sure you get a firsthand taste of my taser." Darcy growled out her warning. "Probably more than once!"

Memories of the Master using electric shock therapy on him made Jack weak in the knees with fear and for a moment he was afraid he was going to vomit on both the beautiful women. "I'm sorry I hurt Ianto and Tosh, and I paid dearly for leaving them like that, but going with the Doctor was something I needed to do! I had no choice in the matter; I needed answers and he was the only one who had them."

Darcy was curious; "Did you find what you were looking for?"

"Yeah, I did." The pure happiness in Jack's voice actually brought a reluctant smile to Darcy's face, although she made sure Natasha didn't see it. Jack continued, "I know that leaving the way I did was cruel; Tosh, Owen and especially Ianto deserved better but at the same time I'm so grateful that they've found a place where they can belong. More than that I can see that they're so very happy because they're with people who truly love them."

Natasha's glare grew darker as she stepped so close to Jack that he could feel her breath on his cheek. "Remember that if you hurt them again it will be the last thing you ever do." She emphasised her warning by pressing the very sharp point of her dagger into the very soft flesh of Jack's groin.

Even though time had passed since their meeting, Jack still shivered every time he saw Natasha and the knowing gleam in her eyes. 'Yep, scariest woman alive. Of course it could be a tie with the rest of the women around here.' Jack didn't see them often but Maria Hill and Pepper Potts had already made their own mark on him. With a sweet smile, Pepper had calmly laid out in graphic detail what she would do to him if he broke Ianto's heart again, while Maria commented that she could always use him, and Owen, for that matter, target practice.

Regardless of all the promises of violent retribution he'd heard to date, no one scared Jack more than Ianto's father, Phil Coulson, Jack had actually been shown CCTV footage of the man using a simple bag of flour as a formidable weapon. Afterwards, the man had casually looked Jack up and down and informed him that if he hurt his son a second time, they would never find his body and he would make sure that all trace of Jack Harkness would be permanently erased. As far as the Universe was concerned, it would as if he had never existed.

None of that really mattered to Jack; he would gladly take the hate and the threats because they all meant that he still had Ianto in his life. As a minor aside, Jack wouldn't deny that he had always had a schoolboy's crush on Steve Rogers and the chance to get to know his hero was a true fan-boy's dream come true. Of course life wasn't always easy within the foursome; as much as Tony disliked Jack, Jack liked him even less.

At the moment, however, none of that matter to Jack; his lips were still tingling from the soft, loving kiss good-bye Ianto had given him before he left for SHIELD headquarters that morning. 'I wonder if there's any of Ianto's coffee left?' Jack smacked his lips in anticipation as he thought of Ianto's delectable coffee and headed for the kitchen.

As he drew nearer, Jack could hear soft voices and his ears quickly picked up Ianto's soft Welsh vows. He grinned at the idea of seeing Ianto yet again that day as he moved down the hallway and towards the partially open door.

Red-hot fury filled Jack as he watched his beloved Ianto brush a gentle kiss across Tony's lips before taking Steve's offered hand. Struggling to contain himself, Jack watched as hand-in-hand the two men left the kitchen through the dining room door.

Tony waited until he was sure Ianto and Steve were gone. "Enjoy the show?" he called over his shoulder as he refilled his coffee mug.

Unable to hold himself back any longer Jack burst through the door and lunged at Tony, " You bastard! Ianto was mine first!" Jack snarled at Tony, his jealousy over witnessing Tony and Ianto's good-bye kiss overruling his common sense and emotions.

Unimpressed with Jack's posturing, Tony calmly sidestepped his swinging fist and took a sip of the coffee Ianto had left for them. Knowing the effect it would have on Jack Tony made sure he moaned erotically at the taste. 'I will never understand how Ianto can make such divine coffee and not be ruling the world yet!' Tony would happily worship Ianto and he was pretty sure that he'd be joined by the rest of the Avengers in doing so. He slowly savoured his coffee as Jack simmered in anger.

"Hey, are you even listening to me?" Jack demanded; he was definitely not used to being ignored by anybody, 'much less an annoying little prick like Tony!'

Realizing that he wouldn't be able to enjoy his coffee in peace Tony rolled his eyes. "I am listening to you; I'm just waiting for you to say something important before I answer you. But let me make one thing clear to you, Captain, Ianto may have been yours once upon a time, but you chose to leave him behind to chase after something. You gave up all rights to Ianto and as far as I'm concerned you don't deserve a second chance, but for some reason Ianto still cares about you but I will be damned before I let you hurt him again," Tony growled menacingly, getting right up in Jack's face. "You need to understand that Ianto's not just yours, not anymore! And you have no one to blame but yourself!"

Jack reared back as if he had been physically struck even though the only weapon Tony used was his words. Jack had known when he left with the Doctor that there was an excellent chance that Ianto would move on from him but to get the answers he'd been waiting well over one hundred years for, it was a risk Jack simply had to take. At the same time however, Jack had been so sure that based on his response to Jack's last kiss, Ianto would jump his bones the moment Jack told Ianto he'd came back to be with him.

Now he was being proven wrong, drastically, dramatically, painfully wrong. "You really hate me don't you?" he asked Tony softly as he sagged against the closest counter; his anger had faded as quickly as it had erupted.

Sighing with resignation, Tony lowered his cup and actually looked closely at Jack for the first time, and for the first time, he actually saw the broken man Ianto and Steve saw and cared about so deeply. Against his will, Tony felt the stirrings of something other hand hatred for Jack in his heart. He remembered Ianto telling them about Jack having been brutally tortured for months and a sense of shame washed over him. 'Emotional torture is just as painful as physical torture.'

As a small way of making amends, Tony poured Jack a cup of Ianto's coffee and handed it to him, and as he watched Jack close his eyes and breathe in the heavenly aroma, a tiny smile did its best to twist his lips. Frowning quickly so that Jack wouldn't think he was going too soft, he said, "You remind me of the old me, of the people I hurt and used, the ones I discarded the moment something better came along." He drained his coffee while he gathered his thoughts; he didn't want to break their fragile détente by being too harsh, but there were things he still wanted to say.

"You didn't see how hurt Ianto was when he came to us, Jack; for a while, we weren't sure he was going to ever be okay again." Tony snorted in wry amusement. "Oh, he tried to hide it; our Ianto can be a brilliant actor when it comes to hiding his true feelings, but even a blind man could see that his heart was broken." Tony looked Jack straight in the eye. "I don't want him to get his hopes up all over again and for them to be dashed if you suddenly decide to up and leave him again."

Jack returned Tony's direct gaze, and the other man could see the naked emotions in Jack's eyes, although he pretended not to notice the way Jack's hand trembled as he set his coffee mug down on the counter. "I won't be leaving again, not ever. I love him more than I have ever loved anything or anyone in my entire long life and I'm going to make sure he knows how much I love him. I know I have to share him with you and Steve and I know there's nothing I can do about that. As much as I hate that idea, I made him a promise, one that I swear I will try and keep." Suddenly aware of how much of himself he'd just revealed to his 'enemy', Jack snatched his favourite blue-and-white striped mug, the same one Ianto had brought over with him from Cardiff, from the counter and stalked away. As he exited the kitchen, he threw his final words over his shoulder, "How about you?"

Tony scowled deeply at Jack's departing back and as much as he hated to admit it, Jack really did have a point. "God, I can't stand that man!"

******
Things continued like this for the next week; after a few days of cautious tip-toeing around one another, Steve and Jack finally found common ground. An off-hand comment from Jack to Tosh and overheard by Steve made him realise that he was no longer alone. In Jack, he at long last had someone in his life who was also out of his time, someone else who knew the sense of devastation and isolation that came from losing everything and everyone he'd ever known.

Bringing them even closer, Steve was gratified to discover that in Jack, he'd found a compatriot who knew from firsthand experience just what it was like to be in a war zone. Jack was the only other man in the Tower who knew what it was like to see active combat on the battlefield, and worse, Jack knew the devastating effects of survivor's guilt.

As he watched a movie with Ianto, Tony found himself rolling his eyes as he heard Jack and Steve exchange yet another boring story about the 'good old days'. 'At least Ianto knows how to live in the present.' Tony was also rather tired of hearing about how great a man Howard Stark was. 'It's not like they really knew him,' Tony thought bitterly as he swallowed his drink. Despite his attempts to educate them about the real Howard Stark, it didn't seem to matter to Jack or Steve that Tony didn't have such fond memories of the man.

Overhearing the other's conversation, and seeing the bitterness in Tony's eyes, Ianto set down his coffee, slid closer on the sofa and wrapped a comforting arm around Tony pulling the man down onto his shoulder. "Hey, how about we leave those two to reminisce about the good old days and you can explain to me whatever break-through you, Bruce and Tosh have come up with?" Ianto offered softly as he ran his fingers through Tony's hair. He hated the fact that Tony and Jack just couldn't seem to get along. 'I just wish they could find some way to move past all this bitterness and distrust. Hell, I almost wish they would just shag already!'

Tony knew how much his fights with Jack were bothering Ianto. On more than one occasion he had seen Steve cradling Ianto in his arms, trying to comfort him, as he and Jack snarled at one another. He was truly ashamed of his actions, but he just couldn't help himself; even though he his actions were hurting Ianto, there were times when Jack just pushed his buttons!

Sighing with pleasure over Ianto's gentle ministrations, Tony rested his forehead against Ianto's. "That sounds nice," he murmured. He really wished he could promise Ianto that he would be nicer to Jack but if he were being honest, he knew that it would take something big for that to happen.

Little did Tony know how prophetic he was being.


Tags: crossover: the avengers/torchwood, fic: echoes of our souls, pairing: steve/ianto/tony/jack, poly big_bang
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