Authors: Milady Dragon and Cyberdigi
Pairing(s): Jack/Ianto, Owen/Toshiko, Gwen/Rhys
Spoilers: None really
Disclaimer: I don't own Torchwood, I would have treated it better.
Author's note: This is the results of a conversation Cyberdigi and I had almost a year ago, about a crossover between her Blue Child Universe and my Dragon-Verse. This story takes place immediately after Jack of All Trades. This is also for one of my Long Live Ianto Bingo Prompts, "Meeting AU Counterparts".
Summary: Unknown alien tech leads to new insights and new friends.
Chapter Thirteen is HERE
Nowhere and No Time
When the white glare faded, Ianto found himself…well, he could only describe it as nowhere. It was as if he were standing in a fog bank, but without the darker forms of shadows within the fog. It was disconcerting, to say the least.
But was more disconcerting was the other him standing in front of him, also looking around with interest.
“Well,” the dragon said dryly, “this is interesting. You must be my counterpart.”
The other Ianto glanced in his direction, his eyes widening slightly. “And you, mine. A dragon…really?”
“And you’re part TARDIS.”
“Indeed,” the other answered. “Both are rather rare possibilities.”
The dragon considered. “That makes me wonder if there are any other Iantos out there that are as unique as we are.”
The TARDIS Ianto smiled knowingly. “That seemed to be a popular question among your team. The answer is some, but a good many are perfectly normal humans.”
Ianto wondered how he knew that, and asked. The TARDIS Ianto chewed his lip, and then answered.
“My Mother is a TARDIS; that gives me an outlook on time that not a lot of people have.” He seemed to consider his words. “Time is open to me. I can see all possibilities...at least some of the time. For lack of a better description, it’s like having a vision; sometimes it’s what could be and in others what will be. That also applies to the past. I can see and experience the stories of people through their artefacts. It’s something I enjoy, even if I can’t indulge it often.”
Yes, that made sense.
He looked around some more, but the fog was just as thick as it had been when he’d arrived. “I don’t seem to remember this when we were switched in the first place.”
“Neither do I,” the other admitted. “If I had to guess, I would say this was some sort of return switch, or a debrief area of some kind. But this does appear to be outside the normal flow of time, moving at a much accelerated rate than what we would be experiencing in our home dimensions.”
The dragon wondered if he could feel that as the child of a TARDIS; there was a strange thrumming in the air, but it was different from what he could feel from the Rift, but with a certain tonal similarity. “I do hope it is, because I’d hate to think of either of our teams getting more and more worried since we haven’t shown up yet.”
“Agreed,” his counterpart said. “But it is, although I don’t have a way to measure the exact difference, and given the apparent purpose of the tech I’d say it’s feasible that it’s designed to appear instantaneous on the outside.”
“That’s good.” The dragon paused, contemplating his doppelganger. “You have a good team.” He’d been impressed with the other Torchwood, even with the differences he hadn’t been used to.
“Thank you, you do as well,” the TARDIS Ianto said. Then he rolled his eyes. “Where are my manners? Mam would box my ears! Pleased to meet you, Ianto Jones,” he said, extending his hand. “I’m Ianto Jones.”
The dragon chuckled, taking the hand. “It’s good to meet you as well, Ianto Jones.” He felt a bit ridiculous introducing himself to himself, but good manners always won out, and his mother would have done the same.
They slipped into a rather uncomfortable silence for a few moments, and then TARDIS Ianto laughed. “Well, this is a bit awkward!”
The dragon joined in. “Just a bit, yeah.”
“It’s like one of those team-building exercises that corporate offices do in order to get their employees to work better together.”
“Not my team,” the dragon rolled his eyes. “When we do team building, it usually has more to do with a lot of alcohol and karaoke. It’s too bad we don’t have a machine here, or a pint…”
“Mine just goes to dinner and drinks…”
“Jack just likes to get me drunk so I’ll sing in public,” the dragon admitted.
“He did mention something about that,” TARDIS Ianto answered. “I’m just thankful that my Jack has to work very hard to get me drunk.”
“Oh, of course he told you that,” the dragon sighed, acting put upon. “That’s Jack…trying to embarrass me even when I’m not around.”
“To be fair, Jack was trying to cheer me up at the time.” A shadow passed over the other Ianto’s face, but was gone before the dragon could ask about it.
“That does sound like something Jack would do.” The dragon was glad that his mate had been able to help his look alike; he knew how he’d felt with things being different, so he could imagine that this Ianto would have been going through something similar.
TARDIS Ianto fidgeted slightly, pressing his lips together before answering. “I have this…connection, with Mother and Jack, and both of them had disappeared. I was not handling that very well.”
The dragon nodded. “I can understand that. Your universe felt…different. Not bad; just…not mine. I can sense the energy of my Rift, and the energy that keeps Jack immortal, and it was just slightly off from what I’m used to. Toshiko called it harmonic dissonance.”
“That makes sense to me. Energies between dimensions would be somewhat different. And it looks like you and I have something in common: a sensitivity to temporal energy.” He smiled. “Tosh was completely correct in calling it that. But it’s fascinating that you can sense Jack’s presence. At least he can’t sneak up on you in the Archives for an afternoon quickie.”
“That’s half the fun!” he laughed.
“But of course! At least my Jack does enjoy surprising me, just as much as I enjoy it.”
That seemed to break the ice a little, and the dragon felt himself relaxing a bit. Yes, it was still strange to be talking to himself, but at least it was a tad more comfortable.
“If I had known we could slip back so easily instead of worrying about making it home,” the other went on, “I would have taken more of an opportunity to enjoy the experience of seeing another possibility first-hand.”
“You may have,” the dragon answered, “but I’m ready to go home.”
“I can understand that,” TARDIS Ianto said. “I’ll be glad to get back to where I don’t have to deal with Gwen on a regular basis.”
The dragon cringed slightly. “Oh dear…was she bad?”
“To be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t let her anywhere near an extraterrestrial ambassador. She didn’t seem at all sympathetic to my plight.”
“That sounds like Gwen,” the dragon sighed. “And she doesn’t like me anyway, so I can imagine that she wasn’t on her best behaviour.” He could have hoped that Gwen would have been at least a bit nicer to his counterpart than she was with him. “I accidentally injured her pride when I didn’t tell her right away that I was a dragon. She has a thing about keeping secrets…as long as they aren’t being kept from her. It’s getting a bit better, but I do apologize for her attitude.”
“Her attitude isn’t your fault. And I would hate to have your team have to do intergalactic clean-up because of something she said or did. But, despite all that she’s given me some food for thought…or rather her existence at least.”
He didn’t say that, if it had been his choice, Gwen would never have been in Torchwood in the first place. Instead, he was about to change the subject when his counterpart did it for him. “I do hope your reveal was less traumatic than mine.”
“I simply changed form in front of them,” the dragon said, grinning. “Toshiko never did get the chance to work out the mass ratios like she’d wanted to.” TARDIS Ianto chuckled at that. “I take it my team discovered you before you could inform them?”
“Unfortunately,” the other said dryly. “It isn’t pleasant to have your team’s doppelgangers pointing guns at you in a threatening manner.”
“No, it wouldn’t be. I would assume they found out through the Hub’s internal sensors?” It was good to know they were working as they should, and that his Toshiko had obviously caught on to the physical differences – whatever they were – between the two Iantos.
“From what Owen said, that sounds right. Unfortunately they realised it before I could tell your Jack.”
“We had someone impersonate Jack to get into the Hub,” the dragon explained. “We’ve been security conscious ever since.”
“Well, that certainly explains the zealous gun-waving.”
“I would apologize for it, but I’m quite proud of them, to be honest. It means they won’t have to get any extra training when I get back.”
“No need for that,” TARDIS Ianto waved it away. “They were on their toes, which is a good thing.” He looked at the dragon closely. “Although I would have enjoyed spending more time in…I suppose you called it your hoard room?”
The dragon nodded. “It’s part of dragon culture to have one. In fact, I have three, but the largest is in the Hub, since it’s more secure.”
“Then the legends on my world seem to have got something right, then. But I do wish I’d had more time to spend in it. The entire room was permeated with so much history! I only had time to experience one moment in time, and that was from the totems you have. It was a wonderful scene, and I would love to have seen more of it. In fact, it was what told me you were a dragon.”
The dragon wondered what it was like to be able to touch history like that; to be able to see things that had long since passed into memory. He couldn’t help but smile softly. “That would have been my sister’s mating posts. They were carved by my father and myself, and I kept them after my sister and my family were murdered. He sighed. “And you would be right about the history; most of my hoard is very old. A large part of it came from offerings back during the time I was actually being worshipped. I don’t recommend that to anyone, it’s far too embarrassing a situation to find oneself in.”
TARDIS Ianto laughed lightly. “Oh, if only all those who find themselves thought of as deities felt that way!” Then he sobered. “I’m sorry for your loss. I still miss my sister as well. I always knew I’d outlive her and my family, but I also knew there would always be Jack, even if we never got together as lovers. ”
“And I of yours,” the dragon replied, nodding his head. “That is the curse of outliving all the ones you love…except for Jack, of course.”
“Very much so, and you’ve lived longer than I have. But at least I’ve always known Jack would be a part of my life. I imagine you never thought you’d be the last of your kind.”
The dragon felt the familiar pain in his chest at that. “No, you’re right. I never would have believed that humans would have hunted down dragon-kind and destroyed them, especially since I’d had a vision since I was a child of meeting my future mate, a blue-gray dragon. You can imagine my despair at ever meeting him then.” He paused. “It took my Tosh to tell me that my dream was allegorical and that the dragon I was seeing was the exact same colour as Jack’s greatcoat, so I was actually seeing him and not a real dragon. I simply had no idea that he had an ephemeral form, and not a dragon one.”
TARDIS Ianto had a strangely glazed look in his eyes, as if he were seeing something within his own head. The look vanished quickly, and he said, “That must have been a bit of a shock to realise he was the dragon you were dreaming of.”
He wondered if that was truly what his counterpart had meant to say, but answered the spoken question. “It was, but a pleasant one.” He looked at the other being. “And you…what of your Jack? I read your journals – and I apologize for the invasion of privacy, by the way.”
The other shrugged. “It’s fine; after all, I ‘read’ the posts in your hoard. For as long as I can remember Mother would always tell me about Jack. I knew one day I would find him. If anything else Mother had intended for him to be told what had happened, but I think she secretly hoped that we would be more; that we would bond.” He smiled faintly. “When I realised that I had bonded with him, I didn’t know how to tell him. I had no doubt that, when we were together, that I was the only one; but he could be so distant sometimes. It wasn’t until after I’d told him that I realised that he was scared I would leave him to travel the universe, leaving him alone once more.”
“So we were both destined for our Jacks.”
“You could say that,” TARDIS Ianto answered, “but there will always be a Ianto for Jack.”
“That makes me feel better, knowing there is.” It did; he felt light, as if a weight he didn’t know existed had been lifted from his heart. Knowing that there would always be someone for Jack, that there would be a Ianto for him, even if it was for a short time…it wasn’t fair, that his mate had to be alone. He didn’t deserve it. Humans weren’t meant to live for eternity, and he didn’t want Jack to be out there, somewhere, driven mad by his losses. He was very glad to have met this Ianto, who could reassure him that Jack could be happy in other dimensions as well.
“It is reassuring that Jack will always have someone to love him as much as we do.”
“You’re right,” the dragon agreed. “Jack deserves happiness, after everything he’s been through.”
“You’ll get no argument from me on that,” the other answered.
“I am glad to have met you, Mr. Jones.”
TARDIS Ianto smiled, his eyes crinkling up at the corners. “As am I, Mr. Jones. I get the feeling that, if we had more time together, we could have been great friends.”
“You know, so do I.”
There was a strange glow, and Ianto looked behind his counterpart. A portal had appeared, breaking through the fog like the rising sun.
“I believe that’s our cue,” TARDIS Ianto said, his own gaze looking beyond the dragon.
“I believe you’re right.” The dragon stepped forward, until he was standing right beside his counterpart. “Be well, and be happy.”
“You as well.” The other moved past.
The dragon had just reached his portal when the TARDIS Ianto called out to him. He turned to see the other also at his portal, staring back at the dragon. “One day your stars will dance to the magic of ancient songs.” His gaze softened, and he smiled. “It was a pleasure. Please tell your team goodbye for me, and it was good to meet them.” With that, he stepped through.
The dragon wondered at those parting words, but he followed suit, and white light flared around him once more, taking him home.
TARDIS Ianto Epilogue