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Fic: Echoes Of Our Souls Chapter 12/13

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 12

As it turned out, Martha was only partially right; Jack and Tony couldn't find the courage to face Ianto after their first quick visit and they remained in the outer room, just close enough to ease their consciences. It killed them to see Ianto looking so small and broken in the hospital bed. He was swathed in bandages, and there were tubes and wires running from his body to various monitors and machines. They couldn't get over their own guilt for not being there when Ianto needed them the most.

Steve, on the other hand, couldn't be moved from Ianto's side. He took over many of the nursing duties, including feeding Ianto, bathing him and changing the bed linens. He slept only when Ianto was asleep and he took all his meals in Ianto's room. When Ianto was strong enough, they'd talk about everything under the sun and when Ianto was too tired, Steve would quietly read to him. They never discussed the fact that Jack and Tony were on the other side of the door.

Without one of the two cooler heads in their relationship around to keep the peace, Tony and Jack quickly moved from exchanging heated words to reacting violently to one another. It was an offhand remark from Jack that sent Tony into a screaming rage that led to him throwing a vase of flowers at the door, narrowly missing Pepper's head.

Concerned about the fact that she hadn't seen Steve since Ianto was attacked, Pepper had stopped by the hospital to see if she could relieve him from his bedside vigil long enough for him to go home for a few hours. Ducking just in time to avoid being hit in the fact by a flying vase, she was outraged to see Jack and Tony in yet another fight. Pepper had had enough; it was time someone took action to cool off these two hotheads.

"Will the two of you grow up and cool off!" Pepper's loud shout stopped Tony and Jack just as they were set to throw the first punch. In unison, the two men turned to see who was yelling at them just as they were doused with ice-cold water.

Spluttering madly, Tony could only stare in amazement at Pepper, who stood with one hand on her hip and holding an empty water pitcher in the other. He gulped as he saw the deep frown on her face and the angry look in her eyes; it was painfully obvious that she was not happy which did not bode well for either him or Jack.

"For some reason that I simply cannot understand, Ianto seems to love the two of you and yet here you are fighting over him like he's a toy! How selfish can you possibly be? So far, out of all of you, Steve is the only one who's taking Ianto's feelings into account for anything. Why you are two fighting like spoiled children when Ianto is injured and needing you?" Pepper growled ferociously to Jack's ears, she sounded just like a mother bear protecting her injured cub.

Pepper was pleased when both Jack and Tony adopted identical guilty expressions as they sheepishly hung their heads in shame. "Now I expect the two of you to grow up, put aside your ridiculous petty differences and go in there and be there for the man you both claim to love!" Pepper's eyes flashed with warning.

Out in the hallway, Darcy and Clint exchanged amused looks as they hovered just outside the door. They had arrived just in time to thoroughly enjoy the long-overdue tongue-lashing that Pepper had just given Jack and Tony. Darcy in particular was tickled pink that her phone had a full charge and that she was able record the whole thing to show Natasha and Tosh later.

Pepper continued to glower angrily at them. "If you two don't smarten up I swear I'll tell Hulk to smash you until you do!" Anyone who knew Pepper knew that she wasn't making an empty threat. Ianto was hands-down one of the green man's favourite people and he would gladly grind Tony and Jack into dirt if he thought they were causing him the slightest bit of pain.

"You'd think that by now people would have figured out that while Natasha is the deadly one Pepper is the scary one," Darcy quietly whispered to Clint. They were still lurking in the hallway, unwilling to risk Pepper's anger.

"Oh trust me. I learned that lesson a long time ago!" A wicked smirk crossed the Archer's face. "Now the only time I piss off Pepper is to get her to punish me; she's a real hellcat in bed."

"Shhh!" Darcy hissed. "Not so loud! They'll hear you!"

Unfortunately, Tony did hear Clint's boast and he blanched with distaste, shuddering as he thought, 'I so did not need to hear about Pepper's love life with Clint and Coulson. But still, Pepper does have a point.' Looking up at Pepper, Tony admitted softly, "I just can't face Ianto, not when I failed him so badly."

Dropping into the closest chair, Jack nodded his head. "I should have been there backing up Ianto, he shouldn't have been alone." His voice was laced with guilt and as he looked up at Pepper, she was shocked to see how bleak and defeated he looked.

Pepper felt bad for them both, they really did love Ianto, but she also wanted to smack their stubborn heads together for not seeing how much they were hurting Ianto with their selfish and self-destructive actions. "Ianto doesn't blame you. No one blames you and you both need to stop beating yourselves..." she smiled at them, "... and each other up over something that was out of your control."

Darcy and Clint chose that moment to enter the room; Clink had gotten tired of standing out in the hallway eavesdropping. Actually, he'd just gotten tired of standing and the first thing he did was plop down on the sofa and put his feet up on the arm. "Please, continue," he invited with a magnanimous smile that disappeared the moment Pepper turned a disapproving frown his way. "Uh... sorry," he muttered as he sank down into the cushions trying to make himself as small as possible.

Satisfied that she'd made her point, Pepper continued. "Ianto's physical injuries will heal with time, but the emotional injuries you're causing him with your pig-headed nonsense are the worst of all. Why can't you understand how hurt Ianto is that neither of you has been in that room to see him. He thinks he's done something wrong; he thinks you blame him for not destroying the creature and that he let himself get hurt. He truly believes that he'd a failure and that neither of you want anything more to do with him."

Stricken to the core, Jack and Tony stared at Pepper in abject horror. "Please, Pepper, Ianto can't really believe that, does he?" Tony asked in a heart-broken tone. Jack was so upset that he couldn't find his voice, he just looked past Pepper's shoulder towards the door to Ianto's bedroom.

"Yes, he does." It wasn't Pepper who answered Tony's plea but Tosh. She'd come by for her daily visit with her best friend and she'd heard Pepper's last statement. They were harsh words, but she knew they were what her boys needed to hear. "I get that you're scared; not even the cannibals hurt Ianto this badly, but pushing Ianto away isn't going to help, not him and certainly not the two of you, he needs your support, he needs to know that you still love him, and it's time you bloody well grew up and was there for Ianto when he needs you the most!"

It was amazing to everyone in the room how a woman as tiny as like Tosh could make Tony and Jack so feel, like very naught children. The two men exchanged an extremely guilty and sorrowful look and they knew Tosh was right. It was time they stopped acting like stubborn fools and started acting like men who loved Ianto.

Jack brushed a gentle kiss across Tosh's forehead. "Thank you, Tosh, for talking some sense into me."

"Into us," Tony interjected, offering his hand to Tosh; when she accepted it, he smiled gratefully.

"About time they grew up. I was ready to kill them!" Natasha grumbled under her breath as Tony and Jack hightailed it towards Ianto's room.

Tosh watched them go, although her eyes were mainly on Jack. She was drawn back to their life at Torchwood, when Jack would disappear down into the Archives to 'help' Ianto with his filing. 'How curiously things have changed,' she reflected. Then with a quick shake, she was back in the moment. "They are all broken in some way and yet in some strange way they fit together. But it's obvious that Ianto is the glue that holds them together, the one who grounds them," she said softly. "Without him they don't know how to function."

No one could deny that Tosh spoke the truth; Ianto may be as broken as they were, but there was something special and endearing about him that held even the most damaged of them together.

******
On the far side of the room, just as Jack put his hand on the doorknob, Tony grabbed him by the arm and stopped him. He knew that before they could see Ianto they needed to clear the air between them. "It's time we stop fighting over Ianto like he's a piece of meat; we're only hurting him and ourselves. The four of us may be broken but together we make a whole."

Chagrinned that he didn't offer to make first, Jack turned to look at Tony. "You're right, and I'm sorry. I just not used to sharing Ianto with others," he frowned in frustration. "Before I left I felt like I was constantly competing with Lisa's ghost for a place in Ianto's heart, even though she was gone and not much of a threat. You and Steve though, you guys are very real and you  could give everything Ianto I never thought I could." He raised his hand when Tony started to speak and Tony obliged by remaining silent.

"When I came back I was a mortal as the next man, and I was so sure that Ianto would accept me, that he'd want to share his life with me, but then I find he's already moved on. You and Steve can give him a normal life and a chance to grow old together. But I love him and so I'd rather have some part of him than nothing at all," Jack admitted softly before giving Tony a broad leer. "Besides we both know all this aggression between us is gonna lead to some pretty explosive sex!" 

For the first time in days, Tony threw his head back and laughed long and loud. "Well I'm sure you won't have to wait very much longer to find out." Tony returned Jack's leer with a dirty wink.

Laughing together as if they'd never been enemies, the two men made their way down to the medical floor; the closer they got to Ianto's room, the slower they walked and the more solemn their behaviour became. They were all too aware of the fact that they'd really messed up when it came to Ianto and they needed to work together make things right with him.

Taking a deep breath, the two men entered the medical bay and came to a gasping halt, their eyebrows climbing into their hairlines. "Well, well, well!" Tony grinned wickedly at the doctor as Martha and Maria hastily grabbed the nearest pieces of clothing in an attempt to cover their naked bodies. "I didn't know you had it in you, Maria. Well done, Owen!"

Ignoring his nudity in front of the interlopers, Owen scowled. "Yeah, well, I'm just happy to see the two of you finally came to your senses. Tea-Boy and Captain Spandex are expecting you. Don't you think you've kept them waiting long enough?" Owen snarled at them. He hated seeing the hope in Ianto's eyes die a little more each day that Tony and Jack didn't visit. As a doctor he knew how important family support was to a patient; when withheld it could be potentially lethal.

For the first time in his life, Jack wasn't ogling another man's naked body; he looked Owen square in the eyes, squared his shoulders and said, "Don't worry, Owen, we plan on making things right."

"About bloody time! Fury was about to grant us permission to start using you two as target practice if you two didn't straighten up soon," Maria informed them with a wicked gleam in her eyes. Jack and Tony both shivered; it was obvious that she had been looking forward to shooting at them.

"Right, well you can tell Fury to call you off, Maria," Tony snarked. "Jack and I are here to claim what's ours." With that Tony grasped Jack by the shoulder and dragged him to the hall that would take them to Ianto's room. He had one last parting shot for Maria, "We'll try and keep it down so not to disturb you again."

******
As they approached Ianto's hospital room neither man was surprised to see a scowling Steve waiting outside the door for them. He folded his arms across his chest, effectively blocking the way. "Give me one good reason why I should let you see Ianto?" He could understand the role Tony and Jack's guilt had played in their absence; it was the same guilt he'd felt ever since Ianto had gotten hurt but still, they had hurt Ianto deeply by not being there for him.

Jack's heart spoke for them. "Because we love him."

"Because we are fools who hurt not just Ianto but you as well and we would like the chance to make things right," Tony admitted with a sheepish smile on his face.

Steve narrowed his eyes suspiciously at the sheepish and regretful look in both Tony and Jack's eyes. "Oh, stop with the eyes already! Ianto and I have been waiting too long for you two to stop acting like bratty children. If this relationship is going to have a chance of working you two need to get past your ridiculous rivalry with one another." Turning on his heel Steve walked back into Ianto's room, confident that Jack and Tony would follow him.

The sight that greeted them as they walked into the room made Jack and Tony's hearts leap into their throats. Steve was settling on the bed next to Ianto, carefully cradling Ianto's hand in his. "They've finally come to their senses," Steve whispered quietly to Ianto.

Ianto's blue-grey eyes burned into theirs and they were blown away by the pure joy that appeared in them, but behind the happiness they could see there was still a slight hint of hurt and betrayal. With a single look between them, Jack and Tony silently vowed to wipe that hurt away forever. "I missed you both so much," Ianto's words, although softly spoken, were like daggers to their hearts.

Steve and Ianto watched with rapt amusement as Tony and Jack tripped over one another in their hurry to get to Ianto's side. Reaching his beside first, Jack took Ianto's free hand in his. "We are so sorry, Ianto, we let our fear and guilt rule us. We've been acting like children and we've vowed to do everything in our power to make this relationship to work. I swear that we've finally seen the truth about us, that the four of us are meant to be together. Please say you'll give us a chance to take care of you like we should have been doing all along?" Jack begged Ianto and then he carefully lifted his beloved Welshman's hand to his lips and laid a tender kiss on it.

To show Jack was telling the truth, Tony came to stand beside Jack, took Jack's free hand in his and reached across Ianto to take Steve's other hand. "This is how we should be, Steve is our courage, Jack's our strength, I'm the brains and you Ianto, my sweet love, you are our heart. We are not as strong apart as we are together."

Ianto smiled with misty eyes as he squeezed both Jack and Steve's hands and smiled at Tony. "You're here now, that's all that matters. Tosh told us how you felt but please, please believe me when I say that neither Steve nor I ever once blamed you for what happened, not once. Promise me, all of you," and he looked at all three men, one after another, "that from now on we talk to each other openly and honestly or else this relationship won't last."

Steve bent down and brushed a kiss across Ianto's lips. "We will, if need be we can get Natasha to promise she'll smack some sense into us if any of us ever acts like a jackass again." Both he and Ianto chuckled as Tony and Jack shivered with dread. They all knew how much Natasha would love to go all Amazon warrior on any man, but especially Jack and Tony.

"Hey," Ianto's voice had grown even softer than before and it was obvious to the others that they were wearing him out.

"Yeah?" Jack asked as he freed one hand to gently brush Ianto's fringe from his forehead; his heart clenched when Ianto leaned into his caress.

"I love you guys," Ianto whispered; he closed his eyes and as he fell asleep, he heard three different voices say,

"We love you too, Ianto."


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