The Last of His Kind - Chapter Three
Pairing: beginning Jack/Ianto
Spoilers: Tw Season 2 "Fragments"; possible other vague spoilers
Disclaimer: I don't own Torchwood, but then I'd treat it right if I did.
Author's note: This is written for alt!Ianto Halloween Challenge on the longliveianto</lj> Community on Livejournal. Also, all my Wales knowledge came from online, so I wouldn't be surprised is it's wrong.
Summary: After Alex Hopkins murders the Torchwood Three team and then kills himself, Jack Harkness gets a Tarot reading that sends him to a tiny Welsh village, where he finds a creature of legend...
22 October 2000
“It’s only rain.”
The soft voice roused Jack from his perusal of the downpour out of the restaurant window. He glanced up, catching Ianto’s reflection in the glass. “It’s been raining for two days.”
“Look…it’s none of my business,” the innkeeper said delicately, “but something is obviously bothering you. Perhaps if you talk to someone about it…”
Jack stifled a sigh. “I’m just not used to being cooped up for days,” he answered, the half-lie leaving his lips easily. Certainly, he was a man of action, but he also found himself missing his nightly chats with the dragon. It made him realize that he’d come to rely on those talks, and it surprised him; he hadn’t become that reliant on anyone, not since the Doctor.
“I’m sorry,” Ianto answered, his eyes meeting Jack’s in their paired reflections, “but the mountain trails will be completely washed out. The rain will let up tomorrow, and then perhaps the day after you can take your walks again.”
The older man turned, favoring Ianto with a slight smirk. “And how do you know the rain will end tomorrow? Do you have some sort of weather sense or something?”
Ianto grinned. “Or something. Huw, down at the greengrocers’, has a knee that very reliably tells the weather. That particular joint has never been wrong.”
“Then I shall bow to the superior wisdom of Huw’s knee.”
The innkeeper chuckled. “Smart man.” Then he grew serious again. “I don’t think that’s the only thing, Captain, and my instincts are pretty good.”
The man was sharp. Jack tried to play it down. “And do you always trust your instincts?” he asked, half playfully.
Always, Captain. Always.”
A small shiver went down his spine, but Jack couldn’t say why. There was just something about Ianto Jones that he trusted…and he couldn’t say what that was. It was the same feeling he had around the dragon, and Jack thought vaguely that it had something to do with being Welsh.
“Do you have any family, Ianto?” he asked, changing the subject while trying to hide just how close the younger man had come to getting him to spill.
“Nope,” he answered. “I’m the last of my kind, as they say.”
Another frisson passed down Jack’s spine. “What?”
A look passed through Ianto’s blue eyes, then was gone before Jack could identify it. “That’s what some of the villagers say. I’m the last of the Joneses in Ddraig Llyn. My parents and my sister are all gone, so I’m the last of the family line.”
“Oh. I’m sorry.”
Ianto shrugged. “It was a long time ago. And don’t think I didn’t notice the subject change.” He rested his hand on Jack’s arm, and the man pretended that the warmth through his shirt sleeve wasn’t pleasant. “Come on. I’ll make us some coffee. If you want to talk, you can.”
Jack followed him into the kitchen, where Ianto began working with the coffee machine in the corner. Agnes, the cook, was nowhere to be seen, and he guessed she was home at this time of the day.
“As I was saying,” Ianto began, his hands working the coffee machine gracefully, “my family has passed. We’d gone on a trip to visit relatives and, on the way back, we were waylaid by…” he sighed. “Well, let’s just say they weren’t very nice men. They murdered my family for their wealth, and I was left for dead. I was…quite young at the time.”
Ianto told the story dispassionately, as if the events had happened to someone else, but Jack could tell by the sudden trembling in the younger man’s hands that he was still quite affected by the loss of his family. “Did they catch the men who’d done it?”
“No.” Ianto set a steaming mug of coffee on the counter next to Jack’s elbow. “Pardon me for saying so, but I think you’ve had more than your fair share of loss.”
Jack had been about to take a sip of his coffee, and was pitifully glad he hadn’t, because he certainly would have choked on it. “What do you mean?” he asked quietly, continuing the movement of mug to lips in order to cover his surprise.
Ianto took a sip of his own coffee. “It’s just…you get this look in your eyes sometimes. Almost like you’re seeing ghosts.”
Jack snorted to cover his discomfiture. “There’s no such things as ghosts.”
That earned him an eye roll and a look that said ‘if you say so’. He turned away so his back was resting against the counter, the mug to his lips as he sipped his coffee.
The silence between them wasn’t all that uncomfortable. Jack was surprised; usually silences like this became unbearable for him. Most people he’d known over the century or so had seen the loud and brash Captain; they didn’t know that Jack was as fond of silence as he was of noise, but that all too often the quiet wasn’t a peaceful one. His thoughts and doubts would come to the fore, and he’d need the loudness of his nature to drown them out.
But with Ianto…Jack felt a strange peace. It was like the peace that he’d felt in the dragon’s company, and he couldn’t pinpoint the reason for it. Perhaps it was the very Welshness of the two of them; or perhaps it was something beyond that, something inherent in both the human and the creature. They did share many of the same characteristics: both were intelligent and witty, and had an easy dignity about them that was somehow old-fashioned.
There were differences, though. Ianto wasn’t as melancholy as the dragon; he wasn’t weighed down by all the years that the dragon had lived through. He was a bit more intense as well, and not quite as free with the laughter as the dragon was, but the little smirks and asides were more than enough to bring across his amusement. He didn’t need the large gestures; but then, the dragon didn’t have quite the facial mobility that Ianto did.
Jack sighed as he compared the two in his mind…coming to the conclusion that, despite some obvious differences Ianto Jones and the dragon were, in fact, more alike than different.
He finished his coffee, and before he could even open his mouth to request another Ianto had the pot, ready to pour. Jack nodded his thanks, drinking about half before beginning to speak.
“It was my boss,” he said. “He killed all my co-workers and then himself.” Jack didn’t add that he’d seen Alex do it, and there were times when he could still feel the warm blood splatter on his face from the shot.
Ianto went completely still, his face pale with horror. “And you?” he asked quietly.
“I was out at the time. I…found them.”
A warm hand rested on his shoulder, and he looked away, not wanting to see the sympathy on Ianto’s face. “And this is why you’re running,” the innkeeper murmured.
Jack’s head whipped around, surprised by the assumption. “Why do you think I’m running?” he demanded, shrugging off the comforting hand.
Ianto snorted. “Because you’ve stayed in Ddraig Llyn for nearly a month. A man like you…someone so obviously used to being the center of attention, to being the man of action…for you to stay here that long, you had to have been running away from something.”
He didn’t want to admit that Ianto was right. That Jack was, indeed, running…but not for the reasons the man believed. And yet, for Ianto to have assumed that just by Jack’s demeanor, from just observing Jack…he had to admit, he was impressed by it. He’d thought he’d managed to suppress much of that energy, or to walk it off during his treks along the mountain trails.
Jack took another look at Ianto Jones. Outwardly, the man was handsome…no, if Jack was being honest he’d have to say that Ianto was basically sex on legs. Anyone seeing him and judging him just on appearances would most likely think him a bit shallow, simply because of his looks. But that wasn’t at all true; there were depths to Ianto, hidden depths of intelligence and instinct and strength, and also Jack suspected loyalty and courage as well.
It was then that Jack wondered if he hadn’t been sent to find Ianto, instead of the dragon.
The young man certainly had a head on his shoulders and a strong work ethic. He ran the inn practically on his own, which meant he had organizational skills. Anyone who could keep a business like this afloat would have no trouble at all running Torchwood. He was independent and able to be a good boss to his employees. He could keep the inn’s books; Torchwood had the same need for such skills. Ianto was also good with people, as evidenced in his interactions with the villagers. Jack didn’t see any problem with him liaising with any of the organizations Torchwood dealt with on a daily basis.
That was when Jack remembered the other card that the girl had shown him: the Lovers. Two men, wrapped around each other, in as intimate an embrace as Jack had ever seen. Could the other man on that card have been Ianto?
It was no secret that the older man found him attractive, and would have loved to have gotten him into bed. But Ianto – despite his comments about playing hard to get – had rebuffed Jack at every turn. And suddenly Jack was shaken, because the term ‘lover’ intimated something more than just having sex with someone. That there was an element of emotion in the act, and a sense of permanence in accepting that someone was a lover, instead of a shag.
It occurred to Jack that Ianto deserved just that, but didn’t know if he was man enough to give that to him. Not if he was going to leave when the Doctor arrived.
The older man focused on Ianto; the young man’s eyes were darker than usual, and he was looking at Jack with an intensity that hadn’t been there before. There was such age, and such intelligence…as if Ianto was looking into Jack’s very soul.
Before Jack could even react to it, the expression was gone, replaced by concern. “Look, it’s not really my place,” he said gently, “but I do know it’s no good running. There comes a time when you have to face what drove you away. If you don’t, it will just fester and will poison everything you touch. And, if there’s one thing I have noticed about you, is that you’re not a coward. As much as I’ve enjoyed having you here don’t you think it’s time you went back to Cardiff? To handle what business you have there, and begin to live your life again? Not that I necessarily want you to leave,” he added quickly, smiling, “but you don’t really belong here. You belong out there, part of the wider world. You’ll only end up suffocating yourself if you stay here.”
Jack snorted. “You don’t know me at all if you don’t think I’m a coward.”
Ianto grabbed Jack’s chin with his fingers, pulling his head around so that he had to meet those blue eyes once more. “No Jack…you may have convinced yourself that you are a coward, but there’s nothing even remotely cowardly about you. You may have gone through more than anyone should have to, but that doesn’t make you afraid to face your demons. For what it’s worth…I have faith in you. I know you can do anything you put your mind to. You just have to convince yourself of that.”
Jack simply stared into Ianto’s eyes, now steely with determination. He didn’t feel himself move, and before he could even register it his lips were against Ianto’s, a gentle, chaste kiss that still managed to send shockwaves through Jack’s nerve endings.
Ianto stiffened for a second, and then returned the kiss. He pulled away before it could become more, however. “Jack, I – “
“I know,” Jack answered, resting his forehead against Ianto’s. And he did, because Ianto could become easily so much more than just a friend.
He could become the soul of the new Torchwood.
And, if Jack wasn’t careful, his own as well.