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.
Ianto really didn't know what to think.
His thoughts did laps in his mind, trying to reconcile what he'd always believed about himself and what he'd found out since leaving Cardiff. One thing kept surfacing, as he and Jack – and their new addition – made their way up the crumbling steps and into the main hall of the tower: that was, if he hadn't insisted on coming along, he'd have still been ignorant of just what he could do. Would he have ever have found out? Well, to be honest he had no idea. He wasn't half-convinced that Jack was correct, although Ianto had seen enough evidence that the mercenary was certainly onto something.
The weight on his back shifted slightly as the men picked their way across the ruined hall, toward the broken front doors. There was an actual dragon perched on his back. She wasn't all that heavy; it was like having a particularly stuffed backpack on, although the tail around his waist pinched a bit. A rapid heartbeat pulsed through him from his burden, and lungs moved against him as the creature breathed softly against his ear. A real, honest-to-Gods dragon. It just wasn't possible. No matter how pragmatic Ianto's outlook was, accepting that he was carrying around a supposedly extinct animal was so very surreal he just knew he was in some sort of dream and that he'd wake up by the fire back at camp and have a good laugh about it.
And then, there was Jack.
He could see the captain casting appraising glances in his direction as they walked together toward the doors. He'd admitted to himself that he'd been attracted to the man for a while now, but Ianto had never thought he'd actually kiss him. Certainly, he could see Jack taking the initiative like he had back at Gateway, but Ianto wasn't the sort to put himself forward like that. It had felt right, though. Like it had been meant to be.
Sort of like having a dragon riding on his back like a living pack.
The archivist needed to get his thoughts back into their compartments. If he could do that, perhaps he could then begin to make some sense out of them. They were all tangled together, and he couldn't twist them apart. Would he have been more content if he'd never been exposed to these ideas? If he'd simply stayed at Torchwood Castle and continued on as he'd been?
That was the second time he'd asked himself that question. And he knew, in a flash of insight, that the answer was a resounding "no". Hiding away wasn't the answer; at least not in this instance.
Ianto wondered vaguely what the Baroness would say, when she found out that her Master Archivist was actually a Wizard. Probably shit herself, then wonder just how she could use it to her – and Torchwood's – advantage.
They had to wrestle one of the doors open enough to squeeze past. Once they were outside, the oppressiveness of the tower seemed to fade a little, but it was still strong enough to cast a pall over Ianto's thoughts. He wondered about the Wizard who'd lived there; why they'd enchanted the tower so deeply that, even centuries afterward, the spell would affect anyone who came close. Judging from the condition of the building, the Wizard had put far more effort into that particular spell than they had the standard preservation magicks that would have kept it from deteriorating into the shape it was now. He shivered slightly, glad to be back into the free air.
"Let's be careful," Jack said, speaking for the first time since leaving the lower room. "We don't want another collapse like we had. Personally, I don't relish dying again tonight." He chuckled harshly. "Until this mission, I hadn't died in almost a year. I was beginning to get used to it."
He tried to make it sound offhand, but Ianto heard something in the older man's voice that he thought was fear. He wanted to ask if it hurt, when the Deathless resurrected, but suspected that he already knew that answer. He'd seen Jack come back, and it hadn't looked like fun. "I'm sorry, Jack," he replied.
"For what?" The captain looked at him curiously, the light from the globe highlighting his cheekbones.
"For getting you killed. A couple of times now."
"You didn't have anything to do with it, Ianto. It's just the mission. It wouldn't be the first one to have been a bit rough."
"Don't beat yourself up over it. It'll be fine."
Ianto opened his mouth to say that it wouldn't, actually be fine, but the words were choked off as the dragon suddenly shifted. With a small screech the creature launched herself off his back, wings carrying her into the air and the force of the push off sending Ianto straight into Jack's side.
The captain's reflexes saved them both from a fall; he grabbed the archivist and managed to keep them both upright. "You all right?" he asked, setting Ianto back onto his feet.
"Yes, although I'm going to have to have a talk with her about doing that sort of thing." Ianto brushed himself down.
"You should name her."
Jack kept his arm around Ianto's waist, even though the young man was now steady. Ianto wasn't about to argue with the gesture. "I think my biggest concern is how to actually explain her presence without people freaking out on me."
"I'm sure you'll come up with something." Jack removed his arm, and Ianto missed it instantly.
The archivist looked up; he could just make out the shape of the dragon against the stars. "She's magnificent, isn't she?"
"Yes, she is." Jack tugged on his arm. "Come on. Let's get back to camp. Looks like we have several hours before dawn, and we both need to get some rest before we tackle that tower for real."
They began walking once more. In the distance Ianto could make out the glow of the fire, where Jack's team would be sleeping. "I wish I had access to the Archives; I'd love to know more about her."
"Well," Jack answered, "I can tell you what I know. It's not much, only what Master John told me…"
There was such a wistfulness in Jack's voice when he mentioned the Wizard, but at the same time there was a world of hurt there as well. Ianto knew where both came from, and he wished he could go back and change things for Jack, to rid him of the curse that had been settled on his shoulders. Despite his words about it being done out of love, he couldn't help but feel a bit of anger over the whole situation. He thought back to his question, about Jack seeking a way to end his life; at the time, he'd been disappointed by the lack of an answer. But now…no, he wasn't. Not anymore. Jack had been around for a little over a thousand years, and Ianto couldn't blame him if he was tired of the existence he'd never asked for.
It was then that he realized just how much he would miss Jack if he were gone. He would miss the man very much indeed.
"I'd love to hear about it," he murmured quietly.
Even though he wasn't looking at Jack in that moment, somewhere Ianto knew the captain was pleased. "I know that, once a dragon has chosen its companion, that they're loyal until death. Nothing will ever separate her from you, unless you order it. I also know that a dragon can sometimes enhance spell casting, although I'm not quite sure how that works."
"Spell casting?" Ianto blurted. "I don't think that'll be an issue; I doubt any Wizard's gramaryia have survived until today."
"I'm sure you'll make due."
Hearing Jack's confidence in his abilities made Ianto's heart do a strange flipping thing that was really pretty pleasant. "I'll always have my Catalyst powers, though. And I'll have to practice with the Deep Ways – "
"Be careful with them," Jack warned. "The Deep Ways are dangerous. People aren't supposed to be able to channel that sort of power."
Ianto appreciated Jack's concern, but he'd already done it twice. "I can feel them, even now," he confessed. "They're inside me, a part of me." He stopped, pulling Jack to a halt with a hand on his arm. He met the man's eyes squarely. "I can't explain it – hells, I'm not sure I even still believe it – but I think this was always meant to happen. And I think my Gran knew."
"What do you mean?"
The archivist sighed. "Back, when I was attacked by Adam in Haven…he used his power to find a memory that was of me, of who I was. It was of my Gran, and she was telling me I was special…but the thing is, I don't remember it at all. Something happened, and it made me forget until Adam messed with my head. It was back when I was a child. And I forgot about it. But my Gran knew, she was trying to help me."
"Just who was your grandmother, Ianto?" Jack's eyes were narrowed, but steady on his.
"Her name was Carys. She was Cardiff, born and bred. She once said that her family had lived there since before the Castle. Beyond that…she was a mystery to me. Maybe my parents know more, but unfortunately we can't ask Gran herself."
"You think there are more memories that you can't recall?"
"Could be." He smirked. "Although, since I don't remember them, I can't be more certain."
"You make sarcasm sexy, Ianto."
"I'll keep that in mind…sir."
Jack's eyebrow went up. "Sir? Really?"
"Really." Ianto really only called him "sir" because he secretly suspected that Jack enjoyed it. "Now…back to dragons."
They began walking again. "I know they're empathic, and very intelligent."
"I haven't really felt anything from her yet…"
"You will. She just chose you; it'll take time to develop that bond. Once that's done, she'll also feel more comfortable in broadcasting to people you're closest to. There may be times when you might be able to actually see through her eyes as well, although that's a pretty advanced ability. It might take even longer to develop that one. I know Master John could, but he and Tardis had been together for a very long time. Their dragon/Wizard bond is very powerful."
"Sounds like it." It made Ianto more than a little apprehensive that another creature would be that close to him.
They were close enough to the camp for the archivist to extinguish the light globe, stowing it back into his pack for safekeeping. The rest of the group were asleep, and it suddenly occurred to Ianto that they'd left the three of them pretty much defenseless while they'd been dragon wrangling, as Jack had put it. A rush of guilt made him blush, and he hoped that Jack didn't notice. Anything could have happened while they'd been gone, and it made the young man aware of just how stupid he'd been for going off alone.
Before they could enter the ring of firelight, Jack touched Ianto on the arm. "I wanted to ask you something," he spoke softly. At Ianto's nod, he continued, "You mentioned something back at the tower, about being able to touch something magical and knowing how it worked. And you used the term Catalyst twice now…"
Ianto knew that Jack would bring it up eventually. "That's what my ability was called, since I'm a catalyst to make magical objects work; and since they had a word for it, I would guess I wasn't the only one able to do it, and they knew how to Test for it. But I do know that I'm the only one there's been in the last three generations, and that makes me very valuable to the Baroness."
"You make it sound like you're some sort of commodity." There was a thin veil of outrage in Jack's voice.
"But that's exactly what I am, Jack. I'm a resource to Torchwood Castle; I've signed a contract. I've accepted that."
"You can't let the Baroness treat you like you're less than a human being!"
"I'm very well treated at the Castle. I love my work. You're making a big deal out of nothing, Jack."
"You should travel with us."
Ianto's mouth opened, then closed. He honestly didn't know what to say to that; he'd fully expected to go back to Cardiff and take up his duties once more. "I can't break my contract."
"Like hells you can't! It's done all the time!"
"It may be done "all the time" but not by me. I have more honor than that." He took a deep breath. "Look, thank you for the sentiment, but you know as well as I that it wouldn't work. Your team barely tolerates me as it is, with the exception of Toshiko. I'm pretty well useless, except to make coffee. You don't need me to come with you, Jack."
"I think you'd be a valuable asset to the team, Ianto."
The archivist barely managed to contain his eye roll. "You object to me calling myself a Torchwood resource; and yet you proceed to call me a possible "asset" to the team? Don't you think that's just a bit hypocritical?"
"That's not what I meant! Damnit, Ianto – "
"Keep your voice down, or else you'll wake the others."
"I just think we can make this work." Jack's voice dropped to a whisper.
"No, Jack. After this is done, I'm going back to the Castle. It's where I'm needed, and I can use my knowledge and experience to the utmost. You don't need me here. Not really."
The captain didn't say anything. He simply stared at Ianto, and the younger man found himself growing distinctly uncomfortable under that sharp gaze. He took a deliberate step into Ianto's personal space. "Maybe the team doesn't need you, Ianto," he finally answered, "but I do. You know about me, and accept me for who I am. That's something that hasn't happened in centuries."
"And I can still do that back in Cardiff. Please Jack…just drop this. Neither one of us is going to back down, nor do I want to fight with you."
"Fine." Jack moved back, his jaw clenched. "Get some rest. You'll need it tomorrow."
With that, the mercenary captain turned and walked away from the campsite, leaving Ianto alone with his thoughts.