Chapter: 02 | ??
Characters: Jack Harkness, Ianto Jones
Genre Alternate Universe, Romance
Rating: NC-17 just to be safe.
Warnings: A bit of angst, and some tentacles in the future.
Disclaimer: If I owned anything in this, I'd be a rich rich rich bitch. However, I am not a rich rich rich bitch so you may all, therefore, assume I own nothing. Which I don't. It all belongs RTD and the BBC, in case any of you didn't know.
Summary: Ianto finds himself heartbroken and alone, but eventually learns that no matter what point in Captain Jack Harkness' life he finds himself, they will always fall in love.
The ‘School’ was in the middle of nowhere. Ianto saw very little of the outside world on his journey there, and now could see nothing but blue skies and vast expanses of green fields for miles around. What he had glimpsed were towering skyscrapers and box-like cars in lines of traffic above him in the sky. The people had been mainly human, but aliens of hundreds of different origins – as well as human/alien hybrids – were integrated amongst them. Ianto wondered how long the stigma against equality between aliens and humans, on both sides, had taken to quell.
To him, the School looked like a giant tic tac with windows and large automatic doors leading into the reception and atrium. From above, it was square in shape, like a massive white cushion nestled in the vast expanse of what must have been artificially green grass.
Novice Blaine accompanied him to the School, because ‘they knew how much Time Refugees grasp to any form of familiarity’, then promptly left him to the care of the School’s staff. Fair enough, thought Ianto bitterly, to her I’m just another face, I suppose ...
He had a brief wander around the sterile white reception area, trying not to gape at the humanoid droid (he tried saying it fast in his head ten times) sat behind the desk, and found himself in front of a large collection of notice boards. Each one was separated into three columns, labelled ‘Name’, ‘In’ and ‘Out’. The first column of most was filled with names of what Ianto assumed were either current students or alumni. The second column, ‘In’, was full of what he assumed must be the current format for writing the date, given what year it was or what reckoning they were working with. The final columns gave Ianto pause.
Most of the ‘Out’ dates were prefixed with a ‘d.’, and in Ianto's head that stood for ‘deceased’. He scanned the final column of each of the boards, and saw most of the dates were prefaced with the symbol. He thought about it, and realised it stood to reason that a lot of people probably couldn’t cope with being tossed through the Rift or however it was they had got here and probably ... ended it themselves.
Swallowing hard, he turned to see what else the entrance hall had to offer. There was a fish tank, and he wandered over to it and blinked hard, barely able to believe his eyes. The fish were wearing clothes, and they were talking to each other.
“They always stare like that.” said a lady-fish grumpily, and Ianto shook himself out of it.
“Sorry! I ... sorry ... I’m Ianto. What ... what’s your name?”
“Goldie.” the fish replied, flicking her tail and showing off with a little spin. Her golden scales shimmered in the water, and he smiled broadly.
“You’re gorgeous. Don’t you get ... bored here?”
“The company’s not so bad.” the fish told him, regretfully.
“Ianto Jones?” a voice called from behind him, and Ianto turned to see a man in what looked like futuristic monk robes.
“Er ... that’s me.” he said uncertainly, stepping forward.
“I’m Professor Fukayama,” – Ianto nearly gagged – “and I’m going to show you around and help you get settled in, okay?”
Ianto nodded, not trusting himself to speak and cursing his immaturity.
“Right, well ... c’mon then.”
The Professor lead the way out and down a corridor, where the sterile white gave way to the much homier wallpapered or painted red brick. The stairs he was taken up were wooden and lined with holographic photographs, three dimensional photographs, photographs and paintings.
“Let me explain how housing works here before we get on to the meatier stuff – you do understand what’s happened to you, don’t you?” he asked, pausing.
“Yeah ... thrown through a Rift in Time and Space and chucked out here.”
“Basically,” said the Professor, looking a little amused. “anyway: housing. We used to work on the barracks system, but now we’ve introduced little units.”
“Family units. A lot of children find themselves in this strange place, and we found it easier for everybody if the other refugees took care of them within a unit rather than a boarding-type situation. Sometimes, these children just need some personal care.”
“Right.” Ianto said, trying not to wonder what the Professor was getting at. “What’s a ‘unit’?”
“Two adults, and at least one child.”
“And ... and you want me to ... you want me to join a unit? You want me ... this is all a bit fast!”
“Don’t worry! There’s no gaps available in the units just yet, so we’ll send you to the barracks until you get used to this whole situation. But just so you’re prepared: children come before adults. At some point, you will join a unit.”
“What if I don’t like the other adult?” he asked, wondering where the Professor was leading him as they climbed more stairs.
“Six months, then you can think about changing.” smiled the Professor. “Don’t worry, we will try and make you as happy as possible while you’re with us. Our goal is to help you integrate with this strange world and continue your life here in our society – unless, of course, you want to move planet.”
“And the exams?”
“You’ll take yours next week so we can calculate how long you’ll need to be here for, or if you can just go.”
The Professor took a sudden turn and Ianto stumbled to follow him, and they stopped outside a large wooden door. ‘Dormitory V’ was carved into a plaque set into it. With a knock, the Professor pushed it open, and they found it empty.
There were eight beds – not quite double, but too big to be single – lining the walls, and they looked surprisingly comfortable for ‘barracks’. The covers were soft, not rough, and there were drawers underneath them for storage. Each bed had a bedside cabinet and reading lamp, too, and above them there was a rail, like a shower curtain rail, jutting out of the wall. There were no curtains, however, and the rails looked stark and bare.
A tablet hung at the foot of each bed, and six of the eight had a name written on in electronic pen. One read ‘Freddie’, another ‘Vegas’. Ianto saw that there were people called ‘Jodie’, ‘Jessica’, ‘Rina’ and ‘Till’.
“I’m sharing with girls?” he asked.
“Is that ... a problem?” frowned the Professor.
“Oh ... no! It’s just ... in my time, they would have split males and females up.”
The Professor shrugged. “We just shove you where there’s space. And don’t worry – these girls are lovely if you don’t antagonise them. That’s you, there.” he pointed, changing the subject and pointing to a neatly-made bed with a blank electric tablet dangling from the footboard. “Your cabinet is the one on our right, and that button controls the lamp, and that button is for your curtain.”
Ianto tested the springs on the bed, then reached out to test the buttons. An opaque hologram of a curtain cascaded down from the rail above the bed, and Ianto thanked whoever might be listening that he got this little pocket of privacy at least. He turned the curtain off, and smiled at the Professor.
“I’ll send you up some clothes and things – you will need a uniform ... could I borrow your shoes? Just for sizing ...”
Ianto kicked them off and handed them over, sitting cross-legged on the bed.
“You’ll have a proper induction later on, no doubt. Full tour, introduction to your tutors, rules and regs.”
“Thank you.” smiled Ianto as the Professor turned to leave, leaving him to get settled in – or rather to have another fit of crying into his pillow.
Everyone must react the same, Ianto realised as he sniffed, wiping away even more tears. He turned onto his back, and frowned when he felt something cold move under his shirt.
Then he remembered.
The hospital staff mustn’t have taken it off him when they’d changed him, probably recognising its significance at least. He pulled the chain from his collar, and couldn’t help but smile nostalgically at the little multicoloured stone dangling from his neck. Taking it off, he squeezed the stone tightly in his palm, then held it gently so that he could lose himself in its depths, and the miracle of what it was.
If Jack was alive now, would he still have the child of this galaxy? Would it have been lost or broken aeons ago?
He jumped when the wooden door burst open, and a young woman carrying lots of what looked like files entered the room, listening to loud music. She looked a little ... well ... geeky, and she wore thick-rimmed glasses and her hair was unkempt. She was wearing a black open-necked shirt with a silver logo on it, and her trousers were pressed and expensive.
She froze when she saw him, and pulled the earpieces out before tossing everything on the bed labelled ‘Jodie’.
“You’re new?” she asked.
“Yeah ... um ... hello.”
“I didn’t know we had anyone new ...”
“I didn’t know I was coming.”
She gave a small smile and took a couple of wary steps forward. “What’s that?” she asked, pointing.
“Er ... a pendant. Nothing ... just sentimental.”
“Oh ... okay. Erm ... I’m Jodie.”
“What’s that accent?” she frowned.
“Welsh. Don’t you have Welsh anymore?”
“Not sure. I don’t particularly leave the School.”
They sat awkwardly for a moment, until Ianto broke the silence. “So ... when are you from?” he asked her.
“Oh ... I ... five hundred years ago. You?”
“I’m twenty-first century, Cardiff, original Earth.”
“Woah! You’re a long way from home ...”
“So ... twenty-first century ... that would make you, like ... pure human ...”
“Yeah. Um ... why does everyone keep saying that?”
“The last pure human died a billion years ago.”
“Lady Cassandra. All part-humans know her name ... but ... you ... you could be famous!”
“No thanks.” he smiled sheepishly.
“So ... what did you leave behind?” she asked gently.
“Sister, brother-in-law, niece, nephew, a few friends. My partner.”
“You seem ... quite calm ...”
“Don’t worry, I bottle it all up and then explode at a later date.” he assured her, and she laughed as she sat beside him on the bed, probably not thinking he was serious.
"You're from so long ago ... you may as well have just been born again ... I mean ... you'll know nothing."
"Sorry! I just ... I mean ... I know that Jack goes back pretty far - maybe a billion years? But six. That must have hurt."
"Sorry! I'm ... I'm not good with people."
He smiled sympathetically. "It's okay. Neither am I, really. I just let ... did you say 'Jack'? Jack what?"
"I dunno his surname."
"What does he look like?"
"Er ... humanoid. Blue. Lotta teeth."
"Oh ... never mind. Hmm."
She gave him a confused look. "You won't know anyone." she told him.
"I knew a time traveller called Jack - didn't want to miss any opportunities." he smiled. "So ... um ... what are the other people here like? In this dorm?"
"Oh ... they're ... okay." She tried to sound reassuring, but it didn't really work. "Just watch out for Jessica, she's a bit of a bitch. And Rina's her 'ohmifuckingod BFF', so don't piss her off either. Freddie's too into his work to really care for anything other than himself. Till and Vegas are okay, though. Vegas is from the future and totally insane, and Till only fell back about five years. She's waiting it out here until she can return to her timeline."
"Oh. Okay. Cool. So - avoid Jessica and Rina, leave Freddie alone. Vegas might destroy us with knowledge of the future and Jodie and Till are worth my time?"
She turned a little pink. "Basically. If you ... uh ... if you want to put it like that ..." she smiled sheepishly.
A bell rang out in the hallway, and Ianto could hear footsteps and voices and doors slamming in the corridor.
"Time for lunch." smiled Jodie.
"Like ... in a dining hall? Like at school?"
"This is a school." she reminded him.
Ianto scowled. "I hate school. And ... I don't know anyone."
"You know me." she shrugged. "It's okay, Junior. None us know anybody when we first get here."
He internally fumed at being called 'Junior'. No one had ever called him that, and no one was about to. Still, he tried to placate himself, better than Newbie ...
They were just standing to make their way to the door when it burst open and a lanky, blond, frantic teenager charged into the room. He was wearing his black uniform scruffily, with his top buttons of his shirt undone and his tie loose.
"Jode! Have you seen my hat? I can't find it!" he whined, pulling apart the bed with the nameplate 'Vegas'. Mentally, Ianto labelled him as Jodie had done: the insane one.
"This is Yan." Jodie introduced him.
"It's Ianto, actually." he reminded her, hoping to god she'd just forgotten the second syllable and hadn't actually tried to nickname him 'Yan'.
Vegas looked up from his pile of bedclothes, hair sticking out in stress as he tried to find his oh-so-precious hat. His eyes narrowed, taking in Ianto's suit and neat hair and pleasant smile. "Hey." he eventually said. "What barracks you from?"
Ianto flinched at the omission of 'are' from that sentence, but was determined to make friends nonetheless. "Twenty-first century Cardiff, original Earth." he said yet again.
Vegas looked impressed. "Woah!" he exclaimed. "That's so far back I bet they had real grass!"
"Er ... yeah ..." Ianto blinked, and thought back to the artificially green grass outside. Jodie laughed at Vegas, then urged him to forget his hat and come down to lunch.
"It'll turn up, Vague!" she sighed.
"It better had do," mumbled Vegas. "and don't call me 'Vague'. It's Vegas. Two syllables. Not difficult."
"Well," pondered Ianto. "it's either 'Vague' or 'Ass' - which do you prefer?"
Vegas scowled at him. "And I can call you To-To, right?"
"Touché." conceded Ianto, and they grinned. "So - lunch?"
The way to the dining hall was very simple, and if it wasn't so white and sterile, in contrast to the homier red brick of the barracks and corridors, he would have thought he'd found himself in a future version of Hogwarts. Ianto laughed to himself, remembering when he'd first realised that he was a Slytherin. Not all Slytherins were bad - just because someone was ambitious and cunning didn't mean they were going to turn to evil and world domination. Ianto liked to think of himself as a good Slytherin.
Jack would have been in Gryffindor. Pure of Heart. Bravery and ego in equal measure (though whether Jack was brave or stupid remained to be judged. Ianto had been leaning towards the latter) ... and always taking the credit. Ianto had put Owen down as a Gryffindor, too, though he did have tendencies to go a bit Slytherin or Ravenclaw.
Toshiko was a Ravenclaw through and through, and he'd even bought her the scarf. After she died, he sneaked it out of the boxes in the lock up to keep for himself, but not to wear. Just to remember.
Finally, Gwen. Gwen, Ianto decided, was what happened when Gryffindor and Hufflepuff collided in an accident of chemicals and evolution. She could take up the mantel of Gryffindor and be brave and true and all that, but really she was happier sat in the corner with her glitter and safety scissors making cards for Rhys - or playing Minesweeper set to 'Garden'.
Unlike at Hogwarts, Vegas, Jodie and Ianto had to queue up to get their food. Ianto had been worrying about slots and buttons and mechanical chefs, so was pleasantly relieved to find there were real dinner ladies serving real dinner. Today they were having butter-baked salt and pepper lamb chop burgers, and Ianto's mouth was watering with the succulent scent of the kitchens.
Vegas and Jodie led him to a small table off to the side of the room, leaving space for a couple more people to sit down.
"Owh!" Vegas shouted suddenly. "Jezbie! Yo got my hat!" he fumed, bolting to the other side of the room, chasing a small girl who was giggling madly and holding a bowler hat firmly on her head. At least, Ianto assumed she was a girl.
It took him a couple of minutes to realise he was drawing attention.
"They know you're new." Jodie told him. "No uniform yet."
Ianto ignored them, uncomfortable with drawing attention, and tried to eat his food. Vegas was crawling under tables, trying to retrieve his hat from Jezbie with much drama and disruption. His eyes roaming over the other 'refugees', Ianto tried to gauge who he may or may not get on with.
It really was his first day at school, he realised. He knew nothing and no one, taken under someone's wing, learning about everyone else from her perspective. That feeling of being a little lost and alone was there, too, and the isolation he felt was increased tenfold by his lack of uniform. There were people pointing and whispering at the new boy, commenting on his appearance, on the way he held his knife and fork or his strange, lilting accent.
Like being in London again, he thought to himself, trying to compare his experiences with something familiar to his adult self, rather than his lost, lonely and quiet child self.
There was loud crash that echoed through the dining hall, and Ianto paused, lamb chop sandwich part way to his mouth, and watched as Vegas finally managed to catch Jezbie by diving over a table and grabbing the back of her collar.
“Gotcha, you ‘lil bugger!” he cried triumphantly, and snatched his bowler hat from her head. She coughed and spluttered as air got back into her lungs after the strangling hold Vegas had had on her shirt, and she turned, red in the face, and starting yelling incoherently at him. He sat on the table he’d attempted to dive over, waiting for her to finish and looking decidedly bored. “Whatever.” he eventually deadpanned, then got up, ignored her and sat back down beside Jodie and behind his lunch. “Little bugger. Can’t get shot of ‘er.” he scowled.
“They used to be brother and sister.” Jodie explained.
“Used to be?” asked Ianto, sipping the strange green drink Vegas had suggested he get. It was actually quite delicious.
“When I turned eighteen I moved out of the unit into the barracks.” he explained.
“The unit? The little family set ups?”
“Yahuh.” nodded Vegas, chewing on some chips. “In the units you get a kitchen,” he grumbled. “and I miss having a kitchen ... OWH! DAVID!” he shouted and waved at someone. A twenty-something man with dark, curly hair saluted then turned to continue the conversation he was having. “Know what else I miss?” asked Vegas distantly. “Kaah’s cooking. Kaah was my dad.” he added, filling Ianto in. Ianto nodded, showing he understood.
“So ... who’s in charge here?” he pondered after a minute or two. “Is there like a ... a headmaster or ...?”
Vegas nodded. “The Captain.”
Jodie smirked. “Vegas has his eye on the Captain – and he’s been leading you a merry dance, hasn’t he Vague?”
“Shut it you. Any day now, and I’m telling you: he’s mine.”
“... Captain what?” urged Ianto, ignoring the probably uncalled for stab of jealousy.
Jodie and Vegas shrugged. “We just call him the Captain. Someone told me his real name once, but I forgot it because ... well, everyone just calls him the Captain.” said Jodie.
“Rhys knows, we could ask him.” suggested Vegas. “OWH! RHYS!” he yelled, and a middle-aged, thick-in-the-middle man in the queue turned, saw who was shouting him and waved. His eyes travelled over the other occupants of the table, and when he saw Ianto his mouth dropped. Ianto turned and saw him, and knew instantly they were wearing matching, quite stunned expressions.
Rhys abandoned the queue, and Ianto stood. “No way.” he practically shouted. “Rhys!”
“Ianto! Bloody ‘ell. This ... this is what happened to you!”
“How did ... how did you get here?”
“Wandering around the town centre, trying to find Woolworths and ... bam ... here. ‘Course I remembered a couple o’ days after I came ‘round that Woolworths shut down!”
Ianto laughed. “How long have you been here?”
“Nearly a year.” sighed Rhys, both he and Ianto sitting down. Vegas and Jodie were still gaping at them, clearly in shock that they knew each other.
“Where are you living?”
“They put me in a unit with a woman called Helen, and we’ve got a little boy to look after.” he smiled. “No match for home, though.” he added quietly.
“How long after I ... y’know ...”
“Six years after.”
“... six years? You were looking for Woolworths seven years after it went bust?”
“Shurrup. Old habits die hard!” laughed Rhys.
“Woah, woah, woah!” interrupted Vegas. “Rhys: are you tellin’ me you’re pure human?”
“And?” challenged Rhys.
“Nothing, nothing ...” Vegas glanced away, then back again. “Ever considered selling your sperm for profit?”
Rhys sniggered. “I’ve considered.”
“And you can sell your own sperm, Vegas.”
“Ha!” smirked Jodie.
“Timelines.” scowled Vegas. “I’m from the future. Don’t want go giving my superpowers of amazingness to you primitive lifeforms.”
“Anyway,” Rhys cut in. “Ianto: we need to talk.”
“Food first.” Ianto indicated his half full plate.
“Can’t argue with that.” admitted Rhys, pinching a couple of chips. Ianto decided that since he’d been dragged from the lunch queue, he’d let it slide this once. If it happened again, however, he was going to attack him with his fork as violently as permitted.
Eventually he let Rhys drag him off.
“How’re you holding up?” he asked, once they were alone in a corridor.
“I’m falling apart whenever I have the time to.” Ianto replied. “You?”
“I miss her every day,” sighed Rhys. “more and more and more. One day, it’ll get too much. I know it. I ... I tried forgetting all about the old life but ... I don’t think it’s good to do that. Besides, you’ve just turned up as a living, breathing memento!” he tried to joke.
Ianto fought back a wave of tears as his voice heightened in pitch. “I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
Rhys nodded sympathetically, then grinned. “I’ve got news and you’re gonna love it!”
Blinking hard, Ianto controlled himself. “What?”
“The guy who’s in charge? You’ll never guess.”
“You mean ... Ja- no way. No way!” Ianto practically screamed, his heart thudding in his ribcage. “Too much of a ... a coincidence ... all three of us ...”
“Only you and me were taken by the Rift. Jack got here on the slow path – only he doesn’t even recall living in the twenty-first century, let alone me or you or Gwen ... sorry ...” he added, remembering himself.
“S’okay. I knew he’d forget me eventually.” Ianto assured him, trying not to bounce on the spot. “Can I see him? When can I see him?”
“He usually comes to have his lunch in the dining hall. He’ll know we’ve got a new arrival, so he’ll probably introduce himself. Just ... don’t try and hug him or anything. I totally forgot, saw someone familiar and launched myself at him. Embarrassing.”
Ianto was already heading back to the dining hall, sitting opposite Jodie and Vegas and bouncing in his seat. “Where is he?” he cursed under his breath.
“Wha - ? You know someone else?” Vegas asked with wide eyes.
“Possibly.” smiled Ianto as Rhys caught up with his other friends in the lunch queue and finally got some sustenance.
“What?” exclaimed Jodie. “It’s impossible that you know Rhys, nevermind anyone else!”
“Not entirely improbable.” Ianto analysed. “I mean, we lived in the same city, under the same Rift. I suppose the opening between the Rift then and now must have been active more than once and brought us both to a pretty similar time.”
“Yah,” agreed Vegas. “it’s highly improbable, but not impossible. So ... how would you know ... who’re you looking for?”
At that moment, there was a hush at the other side of the room, and a tall, dark, handsome man wearing a black mandarin-collared skin-tight shirt, black trousers and knee-high boots entered the room, flanked on either side by a PA and someone wearing the futuristic monk get-up Ianto had seen Professor Fukayama wearing. He smiled broadly, a trademark grin, then strode over in Ianto's direction.
He looked exactly the same. He smiled the same, he walked the same, he talked the same. It was like he’d simply changed his style rather than spent six billion years alive and kicking.
“Heyy there.” grinned Jack as he stopped by Ianto's table. “And what is your name?”
“Jones. Ianto Jones.” Ianto smiled, remembering the first first time they’d met. He was sure he saw a flicker in Jack’s eyes when he said his name, but knew it was probably just wishful thinking.
“Well, Jones Ianto Jones, I’m Captain Jack, and I’m in charge.” He sat down beside Ianto, and both Vegas and Jodie were lost, gazing at him with silly expressions. “You got here this morning right?”
“Yeah.” breathed Ianto.
“Settling in okay? Jodie and Vegas takin’ care of you?”
“Good. Nobody picking on you?”
“Er ... no.”
“Awww. Pity. I was hoping for an excuse to come to your rescue.”
Ianto sniggered at his over-the-top flirting. “I’ll keep that in mind, sir.” he deadpanned.
The PA that had entered with Jack set a plate of food and a drink in front of him, and he thanked her with a smile and a wink that made her giggly. He tucked in, as messy an eater as ever, and Ianto smiled fondly, then grimaced as he spoke with his mouth full.
“So when did you come frum?” he said thickly over his food.
“Twenty-first century Cardiff, original Earth.” Ianto told him, then added: “I used to work for Torchwood.” in the hope something might flicker.
“Torchwood?” frowned Jack. “Didn’t he invent the Biro or something?”
Ianto laughed quietly, almost to himself. “No. No they didn’t.”
Jack shrugged. “Thought I might give it a guess on the off chance I might be right.”
“The chances of you being right were beyond microscopic.” Ianto smiled.
“Yeah – but a microscopic chance is better than no chance at all.” Jack countered, holding his gaze as he weighed Ianto up. Ianto kept the eye contact, but couldn’t help himself sliding his eyes down to Jack’s lips and back up to his eyes again. Jack registered the movement, and his eyes sparkled with amusement.
“So ... what did you do for Torchwood?” Jack broke the momentary silence, Jodie and Vegas still entranced by the Captain.
“I was a General Support Officer. A bit of a personal assistant, bit of a dry-cleaner, bit of a barista. I did a lot of Archiving. I also got everyone everywhere on time – but mostly, I just stood around and looked good in a suit.”
Jack laughed heartily, and took a swig of his drink. “Can’t fault you on that job description.” he grinned. “Hey – did you say archiving? Sooz!” he shouted before Ianto could reply. “Hey! Sooz! Didn’t we need someone to sort out the records?”
The PA smiled and nodded, lifting her computer tablet and poising an electronic pen ready to write.
“Give him a job in the Records Office, yeah?”
“Hey!” scowled Vegas. “What about his classes and stuff?”
Jack shrugged. “We need an archivist. Lucky the Rift spit him out right where he was needed.”
“Yeah but ... how will he get out without qualifications?”
“He’ll be a qualified Archivist.”
“What if he doesn’t wanna archive for the rest of his life?”
“Tell ya what? I’ll ask him: Jones Ianto Jones, do you want to be an archivist, or do you want to go back to school?”
“Well ... it’s not like I’ve got much on ...” shrugged Ianto.
Vegas was throwing him daggered looks.
“Excellent.” mumbled Jack over a mouthful of chips. “I’ll take you to the Records Office this afternoon.”
“Oh ... okay ...”
The word ‘rushed’ sprang to Ianto's mind.
Jodie and Vegas were muttering between themselves, and Jack simply sat and munched away, oblivious. Ianto tried not to stare at him, the conflicting emotions he was feeling towards this Jack (this couldn’t be his Jack, because he would no doubt have changed – yet already he seemed so similar) rushing through his veins. He tore his eyes away for a moment to search for Rhys, but he was lost amongst the tables and tables of people in the hall. His gaze fell back to Jack, who had finished his food in record time and was now gulping down the remainder of his drink.
Carefully, he boxed up all of his conflicting thoughts, confused emotions and the overwhelming feeling of being lost, and stored it away to be dealt with later.
“Right!” Jack announced as a bell sounded in the depths of the building and the entire room groaned. “I believe that means it’s afternoon!”
Chairs scraped and talk babbled out louder, and Vegas and Jodie linked arms – Vegas adjusting his hat, hoping Jack might notice the new angle – and walked a step ahead as they made their way to wherever it was they were supposed to be. Jack forced Ianto to keep in step with him by putting a hand on his shoulder as he leaned in to speak and walk at the same time.
“The Records Office is next to my office.” he smiled wickedly. “So if you’re ever lonely ...”
“Captain!” Vegas interrupted, looking a little cold and edgy. “Just wondering if you’d like your watch back this afternoon?”
Jack looked blank. “Watch?”
“Yeah. It broke, and you gave it me to fix? Turned out you’d just pulled the pin out of the side and it had stopped.”
“Oh ... that ... yeah ... drop it off when you can ... thanks, Vegas ...”
Vegas huffed and carried on walking with Jodie.
“Anyway,” continued Jack. “Where was I?”
“You were shamelessly flirting, sir.” Ianto reminded him.
“Oh, when am I not?” smirked Jack. “Where was I up to in said flirting?”
“The Records Office is next to yours, and if I’m ever lonely dot dot dot.”
“Ahhh yes: if you’re ever lonely, feel free to pop in for a quick ... chat.”
“What about our chats?” sulked Vegas.
“Always room for one more.” shrugged Jack. “... and you do know how much I just love talking.”
Ianto smiled to himself. “Doesn’t necessarily mean you like being in charge of the conversation, though.”
Jack gave him a sharp look, that was then replaced with a naughty wink and grin. “I think we’re going to get on, Mr. Jones.”
“I should hope so.” Ianto muttered to himself, trying to ignore the prickling excitement Jack’s hand on his shoulder had been causing.
Vegas practically dragged Jodie off up some stairs, and Ianto began memorising the route to the Records Office in relation to his barracks, trying to ignore the filthy looks Vegas was shooting over his shoulder in Ianto's direction.
“I think you hurt his feelings.” Ianto commented.
“He’ll get over it.” shrugged Jack. “Besides, he has a thing for Jessica.”
“Jessica ...” Ianto pondered the name. “Jodie said she was a total bitch.”
Jack laughed, guiding him towards a spiral staircase. “Jodie would. She has a thing for Vegas.”
They were right at the top of the building, and Ianto tried not to show how much he was panting when they reached the end of the spiral stairs. Jack seemed totally fine, and Ianto supposed he had to climb these stairs multiple times a day and would be.
“My office first.” Jack indicated a large wooden door with ‘The Captain’ embossed in large, gold letters on a big plaque covering the top quarter of the door. He opened the door and waited for Ianto to enter, then indicated he should sit down. Jack dropped into the large, comfortable – almost sofa-like – chair behind the desk, and his gaze bored into Ianto, his demeanour changing from bubbly and flirty to quite cold and professional in a nanosecond.
Ianto gulped, with the sudden feeling he was in trouble.
“First thing’s first:” he began, reaching into a locked drawer that required a thumb print to open. “how do you spell your name?”
Ianto blinked. “Erm ... I – A – N – T – O.” he enunciated.
“Okay ... why the hell is your name on my pendant?” he asked, thrusting a chain in Ianto's direction, looking a little angry, but Ianto knew he was probably more frightened of what he didn’t – or, perhaps, didn’t any longer – understand. Ianto remembered the way his eyes had darkened and clouded when he couldn’t remember the name of some former lover or friend or colleague, as if forgetting a name or face or feature or habit was a personal, and very harsh, failure.
Ianto took the pendant, and blinked in surprise at the stone on the chain. He had seen this less than two days ago, and it had been a black, empty space. Now, six billion years later, it was glowing a swirling just like his own. “You kept it ...” he beamed. “You ... all this time ... you kept it ...”
“You know what it is?”
“It’s a galaxy.”
“I mean ... you know what it is ... to me?”
Ianto gazed at him seriously, and nodded slowly. Jack seemed to breathe a sigh of relief.
“In the twenty-first century, you lived in Cardiff, Wales. You were part of a small team taking down alien threats as the first defence of planet Earth. So was I. We were called Torchwood.”
Jack repeated the word, but it was clearly alien in his mouth. His eyes clouded over as Ianto continued to speak.
“We ... you and me ... we made this ...” He indicated Jack’s galaxy, then reached inside his shirt, pulling out its parent. Jack sat bolt upright, staring at the pair.
“We ... we made ...you and I ...” he stammered.
Ianto removed the chain from his neck. “For me, it was only ... it was only two days ago ...” he sniffed, fighting to control himself as he handed the pendant over for Jack to examine. He turned the younger galaxy over in his hands, and blinked in shock. “You ... you carved my ... you carved my name on it!”
It was Jack’s turn to blink. “Must have ...” he murmured, staring back at Ianto's galaxy. “I assumed that was the galaxy’s name, if I’m honest.” he sighed. “Didn’t even consider that I’d made it ... I mean, helped make ... you and me? This ... this is ... you being here, in my timeline again ... you could have been spat out anywhere in time and space and ... right back into my timeline?”
Ianto shrugged. “You’re near the Rift.”
“Rhys knows me from the twenty-first century, too.” sighed Jack. “I don’t even remember what original Earth felt like.” he scowled. “Ianto?”
“How long were you and I ... ?”
“And ... how ... how close were we? How much did you ... know?”
“Everything there was to.”
“Even that you cannot die.”
Jack swallowed. “I’m sorry.” he murmured.
“I don’t, for one second, expect you to remember even a shadow of me.” Ianto told him softly.
“That’s ... very understanding.” Jack replied, looking hurt, like he couldn’t believe himself.
“It’s common sense.” smiled Ianto. “I mean ... I can’t believe you ... you scratched my name into the galaxy.”
“I must have ... I must have really cared for you.” swallowed Jack. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry ...”
“It’s not just that.” Jack told him earnestly. “I ... right now ... you and me ... it can’t happen.”
Ianto blinked, then kicked himself, then fought back a sudden wave of anger, depression and hurt. “W-why? Not that I expected it,” he lied. “but why?”
“I can’t ... I just ... I can’t ...”
Jack’s shoulders slumped.
“Is there someone else?”
“No.” Jack replied bitterly. “There’s no one.”
“You ... you don’t want to get hurt when I ... when I die?”
Jack looked up sharply, his expression serene. “I’m sorry.”
“I ... I’ve lost too much.”
“You’re heartbroken.” Jack stated.
“I apologise for being so obvious.” Ianto choked, then realised he was probably wearing his heart on his sleeve, what with his eyes glistening and his posture so frigid.
They stared at each other, then Jack broke the silence, passing Ianto his galaxy back and reaching out for his own. “At least it clears up the mystery of the Ianto Galaxy.” he tried, attempting to sound jovial.
“Yeah.” Ianto laughed awkwardly. “So ... that’s it then?”
“We can’t even ... y’know ... chat?”
Jack looked shocked. “Of course we can! Love and sex are totally different things – ahhhh you’re twenty-first cent-”
“Twenty-first century and had a relationship with you – believe me, I know what the attitude to sex is now.”
Jack smiled and sat back in his chair. “Excellent ... so ... would you like to start the conversation, or should I?”
“I think you should find someone else to talk to.” Ianto practically snapped, suddenly angry though he couldn’t think why.
“I’ve been your sex toy before, and as much as I enjoyed it, I don’t think we should go down that route again.”
Jack blinked again. "But ... you said ...."
"Just because I understand your attitude doesn't mean I share it. You have, quite succinctly, just dumped me."
"I'm sorry." muttered Jack, subdued and staring at his hands.
"You ... you don't even want to ... try?"
"I can't, Ianto."
"Hey! I don't even remember you - you should be thankful I even feel the need to have your forgiveness!"
They found themselves locked in each other's gaze again, and once more it was Jack that broke it.
"I offered you a physical relationship. That's all you're going to get."
"Fine." glared Ianto.
"There we are then."
"There we are." repeated Jack quietly. "Erm ... actually ... I have no idea where we are ..."
"Then it looks like we're going to have to find our feet again, doesn't it?"
"So ..." Jack made an exasperated sound. "Are you saying 'yes' or 'no' to sex?"
"Why do you want to have sex with me?"
"Because you're hot." he replied simply. "A little muffiny around the edges, but that's my type."
Ianto's eyes clouded over and his annoyance dissipated. "You used to call that my Happy Weight. I ... I used to be all skinny and lanky and ... and then I was with you ... and you used to make me eat properly, and ... and then you made me eat so many donuts ... ring donuts." he added with a twinkle.
Jack smirked when he got the mental image of exactly where the said ring donut may have been ... resting. "That's one helluva game of hoopla, I'd bet."
"Oh yeah ..." breathed Ianto. "God ... all this has happened so fast ... I'm so ... I'm so confused, Jack ... I don't know ... I don't know what to do ..."
He was choking back sobs, and he felt Jack stiffen, uncomfortable with what to do. Ianto's Jack would have been by his side in an instant, arms around him, kissing away the tears that were freely falling down his face.
Ianto hid his head in his hands as his shoulders shook, and filled with uncertainty Jack crouched next to him, putting an arm around his shoulders.
"Two days ago I was the happiest I've ever been," he whispered through his tears. "and now I don't even know if I'm going to want to live anymore. Everything's gone ... everything! My home, my family - you. Everything's gone. Everything I tried so hard to keep safe and to protect and keep away from harm is dead and gone. Even the goddamn planet, if the scientists were right."
"The Earth died." Jack told him quietly.
Ianto felt another wave of tears. "Hold me!" he gasped, and Jack gathered him into his arms. Ianto cried into his neck, filling his lungs with the unchanged scent of Jack, pretending this was his Jack and that everything would, one day, go back to normal.
He knew it probably never would, but it was okay to pretend.
Jack was patient, waiting for him to calm down, reaching for tissues and drying his eyes for him.
"I think you've been holding that in." he smiled gently.
Ianto nodded, flushing, a little embarrassed.
"It's okay." Jack said soothingly. "I know you're feeling alone and frightened in this insane place, but I'll take care of you. We'll all take care of you." he corrected.
"I think ... can we be friends?" Ianto asked, gazing at Jack hopefully.
"You'll be working next door," Jack smiled. "I'm sure we'll find plenty of time to be friends. I promise."
"And you'll let me take care of you, Jack?"
Jack looked taken aback. "I ... what?"
"I can't stand people taking care of me." Ianto explained, suddenly very aware and a little optimistic in realising Jack had yet to let him out of his embrace. "I need ... basically, I'm fucked up. If I don't have someone to look after, I go a bit mental." Jack frowned down at him. "Please, Jack. I know how to take care of you. Even now."
"I ... I pretty much take care of myself."
Ianto sat up straight.
"Right! We'll see! Find me a coffee machine!"
"Er ... what ... what for?"
"I need to show you exactly just how inept you are!"
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Remember: comments aren't just love, they're the the Torchwood equivalent of hand-clapping for fairies - the more you comment, the more dead characters come back to life!*
*this, similarly to Alternative Medicines and Remedies, cannot be in any way, shape or form - scientifically or otherwise - proven.
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