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Myfanwy 2

January 2018

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Myfanwy 2

The Immortality of the Deathless - Chapter Twenty-Two

The Immortality of the Deathless - Chapter Twenty-Two
Author: Milady Dragon
Rating: PG-13, for language and violence
Summary: When Master Archivist Ianto Jones of Torchwood Castle discovers the presence of a powerful magical Artifact, Baroness Gwen Williams hires Captain Jack Harkness and his band of mercenaries to retrieve it.
Pairing(s): Jack Harkness/Ianto Jones; Gwen Williams/Rhys WIlliams
Warning: Fantasy violence
Spoilers: None really; mostly for Doctor Who S1 episodes "Bad Wolf" and "Parting of the Ways", and Torchwood S1 "Everything Changes" and S2 "Fragments".  Although the stories have been warped to fit into a fantasy setting. 
Author's Note:  This is Torchwood in a fantasy setting.  Everything that could be considered alien in the normal universe is magical here. 
Disclaimer: I don't own Torchwood, if I did I'd have treated it better. It - and Doctor Who - are owned by the BBC, and created by Russell T. Davies.



Chapter Twenty-Two


Another two days of riding found them at the place that Ianto's scrolls claimed was the place that the other Great Wizard had lived, and where he'd hidden the Gauntlet and Dagger.

Their destination had once been a fortified tower, but time and weather had been very unkind to the worn, once-white stone. Now, it more resembled a splintered bone, shards pointing toward the sky as if trying to stab the clouds. Wasted and stunted trees encircled the base of the tower, whispering in the wind that had kicked up earlier in the day.

The sight made Jack shiver involuntarily. He couldn't have said why, but it did. The whole tableau was simply disturbing.

Ianto sat on his horse just beside him, the magical glasses obscuring his eyes and the scroll held in both hands. He looked…well, Jack could think of all sorts of adjectives to describe how good the archivist looked, and all of them felt quite right. And that was really the problem…that he could do so in so many different ways.

"This place gives me the creeps," Owen groused.

Jack turned to look at him; he was with Suzie, who didn't look any less spooked than Owen – or Jack, for that matter – did. Toshiko, who rode at the back and was leading the pack animal at that moment, was staring at the ruin with her mouth partially open; Jack was tempted to tell her to close it before she caught some sort of insect in there, but didn't feel much like joking. The whole atmosphere was oppressive, and not conducive to kidding around.

He looked once more at Ianto, and for a heartbeat he thought the younger man was completely unaffected by what the others were feeling. But then Jack saw that his hands were shaking slightly, and the blue eyes under the magical lenses kept darting toward the structure as if he weren't sure it would still be there if he looked away.

Yes, they were all on edge. And that broken tower was the cause.

Jack wanted to lean over and ask Ianto if he was getting anything magical from the place, but didn't dare. For one thing, what had happened at Gateway hadn't been discussed with the rest of the team; Gods, they themselves hadn't spoken of it, not since that night. Jack had felt vulnerable, had talked of things that he'd never dreamed of saying to another person. He'd been surprised at Ianto's apparently casual acceptance of Jack's Deathlessness, which had fueled his need to share. To find someone who could actually accept him for who he was…that was something the mercenary had never even dreamed of.

It was a revelation. It made him want to treasure the younger man riding beside him, to confess all his secrets and to protect him against all evils. Jack hadn't felt this strongly in…well, he really couldn't remember when. He'd grown so used to keeping his own council and moving on when it became impossible for him to stay in one place for too long, out of fear that he'd be discovered.

But…

Jack shook himself. Just because one person knew and accepted didn't mean his vagabond life was over. He'd have to leave again some day, and that meant he still really couldn't get that attached. This was why he really didn't get that close to people; the physical part was fine, but Jack just didn't do emotional connections. He'd learned a long time ago that those led to heartbreak, and while the captain was well able to handle physical pain, he was quite soft when it came to his feelings.

"You all right?"

He started, turning toward Ianto. The archivist had his glasses perched on top of his head, his sharp eyes regarding Jack closely.

Jack just stared at him for a few moments. "It's that damned tower," he finally answered. "I feel almost like it's watching me."

The archivist nodded. "There's something about it. I can't…put my finger on it. Perhaps when we get closer?"

"I don't think I want to get closer," Suzie's voice butted in.

"Yeah, well," Owen snarked, "we're gonna have to, aren't we? If we wanna get paid. Of course, if you'd all just went along with me in the beginning when I said we should just travel about a bit, then claim we couldn't find anything…"

"Couldn't get away with that, even before Ianto joined the team," Toshiko said, rolling her eyes.

"And it was never an option anyway," Jack snapped. "We do the job we're paid to do."

With those words, he prodded his horse on. It didn't get any better the nearer they got; in fact, the foreboding grew worse until even the animals were feeling it. Jack's mount, who'd been trained to ignore most blood and violence, shied away from the structure, and he finally called a halt within walking distance of their destination.

They set up camp, but it wasn't the concerted effort that it had become between them. Ianto was silent, carrying out his duties without comment; Owen was pissed off, and tried to goad the others into arguments, and Suzie was more than willing to oblige him until the site was filled with angry voices and Jack had to growl at them to shut the fuck up, which spoke of the strain he was feeling; and Toshiko, who would stop in the middle of tasks, mumble something, then continue on with what she'd been doing.

He made the decision that they wouldn't explore the ruin until the morning, and there was no dissention over that. Jack didn't want them to get trapped in there when it started to get dark, even though they had at least a couple of hours before nightfall. A part of Jack was telling him that he just wanted to put it off as long as he could, and even as he quashed that voice down he realized it was correct.

Dinner turned quiet, and Jack didn't even feel like regaling them with his usual stories. The entire atmosphere was strained, and it could all be blamed on the tower that loomed before them. The captain wondered if there was some sort of spell on the thing, and he really wanted to ask Ianto his opinion about it, but the archivist was withdrawn and wouldn't meet his gaze across the fire.

Despite how they were feeling, the team eventually began dropping off to sleep. Jack stayed awake – he didn't really need all that much, but had become quite good at faking it – and kept watch, uneasy about leaving the camp unguarded. The fire threw sparks up into the air, the wood popping and breaking the smothering silence. He closed his eyes, letting his other senses take over as he lay on his bedroll.

Jack didn't know how much time had passed, but his eyes shuttered open as a rustling sound reached his ears. It took him a moment to get used to the firelight, but he was soon able to make out a shadow across the stones of the pit, moving past a sleeping Toshiko and heading out of camp.

He rose to follow, gathering up his sword and resting his cloak about his shoulders.

The bulk of the ruined tower blocked out the starlight; the moon was only a crescent, so it didn't let out much illumination. But Jack could see the shadow heading toward the structure, and the captain crept behind it, knowing by the movement just who it was.

Jack was irritated. They'd all agreed to explore the tower in the day; and now, Ianto was sneaking off to do a little exploration on his own. Didn't the archivist know how dangerous it was, sneaking off like that and no one knowing where he'd gone?

He tried to convince himself that his personal feeling didn't enter into it, but was pretty sure it wasn't working.

The archivist made it to the tower, and began to circle it. A light suddenly flared on, pinpointing the younger man's location even though Jack knew exactly where he was. In the glow the captain could see Ianto examining the walls of the structure, running his hand along the stone, and he wondered if he was trying to use his magic on it, to get a clue about what they were facing.

Jack didn't want to startle Ianto, so he approached straight at him. As he got closer he could make out a strange globe in the archivist's hand, and it was from this that the light was emanating. He actually recognized it, having seen several in his travels. He wondered where Torchwood Castle had managed to get one.

Ianto's head snapped up from his perusal of the tower, lowering the light globe a little in order to make out who was approaching him. "Jack?" he murmured.

"Can I ask what the hells you think you're doing?" Jack kept his voice low, but the anger in it was obvious. "It's dangerous for you to be out here on your own like this."

He had the sense to look abashed. "I'm sorry, but there's something bothering me about this place. I just couldn't stay away."

"You should have told me you were leaving." The captain got closer, almost into Ianto's personal space. "I would've come with you, instead of following you. At least you came armed." He motioned toward the sword at the archivist's waist.

At that, Ianto rolled his eyes. "I might be obsessed with this place, but I'm not that stupid."

"The jury might still be out on that."

The moment the words left Jack's mouth, he knew he'd put his foot in it. Ianto's eyes narrowed, and he glared at him across the globe he held. "I know how to handle magic," he snapped. "I respect it, and I can deal with it."

Jack took a step back, his hands raised in surrender. "I'm not gonna fight with you, Ianto. I'm just…concerned for your safety, that's all."

Ianto took a deep breath, calming himself. "And I'm sorry I didn't tell you. But you were sleeping and I didn't want to disturb you."

"I really don't sleep all that much, to be honest. I haven't had to, not since becoming immortal." Jack turned to the tower wall. It was covered in vines and lichen after so many years of being abandoned. "What do you see?"

Ianto smirked. "That must be your favorite thing to ask me. Is this some new sort of pick-up line that I've been completely unaware of?"

"I don't know…is it working?" The mercenary leered, falling naturally back onto flirtation.

"Not…entirely." In the light of the globe, Ianto was actually blushing. "But, to answer your question…there's definitely magic involved here, but it's very old, and many of the spells are just whispers of their former selves." He sighed. "There's Protection, and Warding, and Perception spells here."

"Would that cause the ominous feeling we've all bee having?"

"No." Ianto raised his hand back to the stone. "They're way too weak to do anything, anymore. There's definitely some sort of geas on the stone, and it's evading my touch." He paused. "Could your Wizard friend have had something to do with it?"

Jack considered the question. "No. Master John lived in Gateway…well, until he left, that is." He couldn't keep the hurt out of his voice, and Ianto glanced at him, concern in his blue eyes. "I'm more inclined to think your scroll is right: that this place was built by that Wizard that wanted to destroy me."

The younger man nodded. "Yes, I agree with you. Whoever it was, I don't think they were exactly on the sides of the Angels. After all, he wanted to kill you. I don't see that as something a good person would want to do."

Jack's heart swelled. "Thank you for saying that."

"I'm only being honest. You're a decent man, Jack. Just because someone tried to do the right thing and save you, there's no reason to condemn you for what she made you. Nothing done out of love is bad."

"You are a remarkably romantic man, Ianto Jones." Jack's voice cracked with emotion.

"You're the only person to think that, Jack." Ianto smiled softly at him.

"It's just because they haven't seen this side of you."

"If you say so." Ianto sighed, then turned back to the tower. "Whoever built this, twisted some sort of magic into the very stone itself. I'd think it would take someone extremely powerful to do that."

Jack put his mind back on the problem at hand, and shoved the upwelling of feeling he suddenly had toward the young man beside him back down where it belonged. Time and a place, Harkness

"So, you think we're in the right place then." It wasn't a question.

"Undoubtedly. If the Gauntlet and Dagger exist…they're here. Unless, of course, someone beat us to them."

"Let's hope not."

"Jack."

The captain regarded his companion even more closely than before. There was a pensive look on the archivist's face. "What?"

"If the Artifacts are here…would you use them?" Ianto's voice was completely neutral, but his eyes were troubled. "Would you end your life?"

"I…" Jack was silent, not sure how to answer that in a way that didn't expose himself to pity.

He must have been quiet for too long, because Ianto lowered his gaze and went back to looking at the tower. The archivist cleared his throat. "Well…maybe you're right, we should wait til morning to look around anymore." He turned away.

"Ianto." Jack grabbed his arm lightly, just enough to stop the man from leaving.

"It's fine, Jack. Let's go back to camp." He shook off the grip, moving away from the mercenary.

Jack made to follow, needing to explain. As he went to touch the young man once more, the ground seemed to shift a little under his boot. Another step, and it shifted even more.

"Ianto!" he called out, as the earth dropped out from underneath him.

And then Jack was in freefall.

He heard a voice cry out, recognizing it as Ianto's. Fear stabbed him; not at his fate, but at the archivist's. Jack managed to reach out and grab ahold of his companion, and twist so that Jack himself would land first, cushioning the other man's fall.

Pain arched through him as he collided with hard ground, and darkness descended.


Chapter Twenty-Three...

 

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