Pairings/Characters: Jack/Ianto, Tosh, mentions of Rhys/Gwen and Owen/Gwen
Summary: Jack sets Gwen straight about what she thinks is going on between them, all the while dealing with the fairies.
Beta: The amazing royalladyemma
Disclaimer: I don’t own the pretties of Torchwood. RTD can keep Gwen, and I am pretty sure that Jack and Ianto belong to one another.
Author Notes: This is the first sequel to my alien Ianto fic Screams of the Lost, my take on ‘Small Worlds.’
It had been a tense night for the two men. Jack had clung to Ianto, following him around the flat, not wanting to let him out of his sight. It had all come to a head when Ianto insisted on closing the bathroom door in order to use the toilet in private, and Jack grudgingly admitted that he was going a little overboard. Once they’d gone to bed, however, Jack got very little sleep, preferring instead to watch Ianto as he slept. He cherished the way the young man looked so innocent, so peaceful, as though he hadn’t a care in the world. As a result, Jack was on edge as they prepared to head to a lecture about Fairies done by one of Jack’s past lovers. Jack had encountered the fighting little creatures before with disastrous results, and now he feared exposing Ianto to them.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Jack asked for the fifth time since they left the Hub. His brow was furrowed with worry, and he had a death grip on the steering wheel that left his hand white-knuckled.
Ianto couldn’t find it in him to be annoyed with Jack’s worry; truth be told, he found it rather sweet. Instead, he just gave Jack a soft smile and linked their hands together. “I can’t keep hiding away in my house afraid to go out again. My mental shields have to be tested, plus I have you by my side. And besides, I really want to met Estelle; she must be someone special for you to have fallen in love with her.” Ianto explained to Jack, watching Jack as he drove the SUV.
Jack knew that Ianto was right, but that still didn’t stop him from worrying that Ianto’s shields might fail. On the plus side, though, he was happy that Ianto wanted to meet Estelle. She had indeed been someone very special to him, a ray of sunshine in a dark, war-torn world. “You stick by my side and if even one voice begins leaking through you tell me immediately and we are gone.” There was no way he was risking Ianto. “Don’t even think about trying to deal with it on your own.”
“I’m sure I will be fine, Jack, it’s just a lecture. But I promise you that if anything goes wrong then I will tell you right away.” Ianto promised.
Jack and Ianto ended up arriving a little late for Estelle’s lecture and quietly snuck in to the back row, careful not to drawn attention to themselves. Despite their best efforts to remain unnoticed, Estelle saw Jack immediately, and a bright smile lit of her face. He felt his heart lurch unexpectedly; they’d been so in love, so very long ago.
Estelle was in mid-lecture with a slide projector and screen behind her. “I suppose I am one of the fortunate few who’ve been allowed to see our little friends,” Estelle was telling them. “And it’s been no easy task. One needs to have the patience of a saint and the blind faith of a prophet.”
The picture on the projector turned to show one that Jack and Ianto both knew to be one of the infamous Cottingley glass-plate photos. Around them, Estelle’s audience sat paying her rapid attention.
“But for me the wait was worth worthwhile.” Estelle continued, excitement in her voice growing as she changed to the next picture. “This is my first photo. Not that clear, I know, but the ring of stones can be seen quite distinctly.”
Jack had tensed the moment the picture from Roundstone Wood appeared on screen. Ianto gave Jack’s hand a gentle squeeze and gained a thankful smile from the immortal even as another picture came on the screen. This one filled with blurring lights, and Jack alone knew what was hiding itself in those lights.
“Well, of course, I am not the world’s greatest photographer, but this little person is just about visible.” Ianto didn’t need his empathic abilities to tell how truly happy Estelle was. She was almost glowing with joy. “I was so lucky to have seen them, so privileged to witness such a magical moment. Because fairies as shy, you see. But I know in my heart that they’re friendly, loving creatures.” Estelle told them in conclusion as she shut off her projector. “Thank you.”
Jack and Ianto applauded along with the audience, and they watched as one by one, the others stepped forward to pay their respects and chat briefly. Jack was quite distracted, filled with worry about what kind of games the fairies were playing with Estelle. Ianto, on the other hand was wondering who would ever want to bring harm to such a kind woman.
Jack kept a firm grip on Ianto’s hand as they waited for the audience to leave and it was finally their turn to talk to Estelle.
A bright smile lit across Estelle face, and she greeted Jack with a hug and kiss to his cheek. “Jack, I’m so glad you could make it.”
Jack smiled fondly as he returned the hug and gave her a soft kiss on her cheek. “I won’t have missed this for anything. Estelle, I would like you to met Ianto Jones.” The affection in Jack’s voice when he introduced Ianto was not lost on Estelle.
Estelle was thrilled to see her one-time love; she wasn’t at all fooled by Jack’s story that he was her lover’s son. She was very happy to see that Jack had found someone to make him happy. “It is nice to meet you, Ianto.” And it truly was.
Ianto graced her with a smile that left her feeling like a schoolgirl. “It is nice to meet you too Estelle. Jack speaks so highly of you.”
Jack was pleased to see two of the most important people in his life getting along so well, but he still had to focus on the task at hand. “Estelle, when did you take these photos?” He tired to make the question sound casual; Jack knew that Estelle truly had no idea of the danger putting herself in, and he hated the fact that he couldn’t be there all the time to protect her.
Estelle rolled her eyes; Jack could not fool her for a moment with his casual inquiry. She just couldn’t understand how Jack could hate such innocent creatures, but still answered anyway. “A few nights ago.” She then turned her attention to Ianto as she explained, “Jack and I always disagree about fairies. I see only the good; he only sees the bad.”
“They are all bad.” Jack stated firmly, wishing all the while that Estelle would see them for their true self before she got hurt. While Ianto took care of the collapsing the screen and packing up the elderly woman’s slide projector, Jack helped gather her notes and lecture materials.
Estelle shook her head stubbornly. “No, I refuse to believe that. Jack, if only you could see them in the woods; they were so happy, they were dancing and the fairy lights were shining.”
Ianto could feel the tension growing between the former lovers. Jack had told him about Estelle and their love affair during the ride to the lecture, and even at her advanced age, Ianto could easily see why Jack loved her so much. Before they could begin arguing, he decided to do something about it quickly. So with his most charming smile, he turned to Estelle. “Do you have any more pictures?”
Delight filled Estelle at Ianto’s question. “I do! Would you like to see them?” She was so glad that the younger man didn’t consider her precious fairies to be monsters.
Ianto nodded his head. “I would love to.” He didn’t notice the loving smile Jack sent his way.
Estelle turned her attention to Jack. “I take it you’ll be coming along as well, Jack?” She smiled at her one-time lover, hoping he’d say yes, just so she could spend more time with him. Despite the fact that he was clearly completely in love with Ianto, she still loved the unforgettable Jack Harkness.
Jack’s heart swelled with joy as he watched Ianto and Estelle together; he was so thrilled that the two of them were getting along so well. It was important to him that the people he loved connected to one another. “I’d love to,” he answered, taking her bag from her and linking her arm with his; he knew Ianto wouldn’t mind carrying her equipment.
Ianto and Jack followed Estelle back to her house where Ianto was introduced to the purring ball of fur known as Moses. The cat took an immediate liking to the well-dressed young man, something that made Jack pout as he never got greeted like that by the pernickety feline. He felt a twinge of guilt over how pleased he was when Estelle decided the cat needed to spend some time out in the fresh air of the back garden.
As Estelle left the room to gather the pictures, Ianto found his gaze on the photos along the mantle. His eyes immediately latched on to the ones of Jack, and he smiled at how happy his mate looked in them. Jack wrapped his arms around Ianto’s waist took comfort from his mate. He found himself remembering the times he and Estelle shared, and not for the first time, he wished he were a normal human being. Despite his love for Ianto, he knew that had he not been immortal, he and Estelle would have grown old together; he would never have been forced to leave her behind.
Ianto sensed the pain in Jack’s heart, and he leaned back into his lover’s body, covering Jack’s arms with his own and holding him tightly. “It must have been so hard for you to walk away from her. I’m sorry that you’ve had to suffer losing everyone you ever loved,” he whispered softly. “I can’t begin to imagine that kind of pain.” Ianto tenderly ran his fingers across Jack’s smooth hand.
Jack felt his breath hitch and he blinked rapidly as tears began to fill his eyes. Once again he thanked the Universe for sending such an amazing man into his life. “It’s worse than dying,” he admitted quietly, “ having to walk away from someone I love, knowing that eventually my memories of them will fade away. It doesn’t matter how hard I try to remember, even the ones I held onto the hardest have faded with time.” He kissed the top of Ianto’s head. “But all that pain was worth it in the end, because it brought me to you and you are my greatest gift.”
If they hadn’t been standing in Estelle’s front room, Ianto would have pulled Jack into a kiss that showed the immortal exactly what he was coming to mean to him.
Unbeknownst to either man was the fact they were being observed. Estelle stood in the entryway and watched the two men share a tender moment together. She didn’t have the heart to interrupt them; she knew Jack well enough to see that it was early days in their love for one another. She fondly recalled sharing those same emotions and stolen moments with Jack herself, and she knew that he did not give his heart easily. She also remembered how fragile new love was as it found its way into open hearts, so she slipped quietly away. She would give them a few moments alone and then make her entrance; a few minutes later she returned. “I’m hope I didn’t keep you waiting long?” Estelle asked sweetly as she entered the room.
A dark blush came over Ianto’s face at being caught in such an intimate embrace, but he made no attempt to remove himself from Jack’s arms; he would never reject his mate like that.
Jack kissed Ianto’s head again as he released his hold on the young man, and then he gave Estelle a gentle smile, a special smile reserved for those he truly loved; as such, not many had seen it. “Not at all and in truth it is no trouble waiting for such a beautiful lady.”
Now it was Estelle’s turn to blush, and as her cheeks turned pink, Jack saw again the beautiful young girl that had captured his heart seventy years earlier. “Just like your father, you are, Jack,” she chuckled, maintaining his charade. “Save your charm for your young man.” As she offered Ianto the pictures in her hands, her eyes met the young Welshman’s and they shared a knowing look. Ianto knew she wasn’t fooled by Jack’s story; he wondered if Jack thought she was.
Ianto took the photos. “Do you mind if I take them with us? I promise to return them as soon as possible.” Ianto asked while sharing a look with Jack. Having Toshiko study the pictures with all the tricks of her computer would certainly help the others to understand that fairies were not only real, but that they posed a very real danger.
“That would be fine as long as you stay for tea next time the next time that you come around.” Estelle wanted a chance to get to know this young man. She didn’t begrudge Jack finding a new love, not at all, but she wanted to make sure he was the right man for her beloved.
“I would be honoured to have tea with such a lovely lady.” Ianto placed a gentle kiss on the back of Estelle’s hand. He was delighted to have the opportunity to get to know the woman who held Jack’s heart, and he couldn’t wait to talk to her about Jack as she had known him.
‘It seems Jack is not the only one who’s such a charmer.’ Estelle felt like a giggly schoolgirl again.
“I hate to cut this short, but Ianto and I should really get back to work.” Regret filled Jack’s voice as he cut in, and he claimed her hand from Ianto, holding it between his own. “Estelle, I want you to promise me that when you see these creatures next that you will call me immediately, day or night. Do you understand?” He needed Estelle to be safe; she was too important to him to lose.
“Alright, but Jack, I really don’t have anything to worry about.” Estelle truly did not understand Jack’s fear of over such innocent creatures.
Jack pulled Estelle into a warm hug and kissed the top of her head; she barely came up to his chin. “I mean it. Just please be careful.”
Ianto stood quietly, watching the tender scene with a smile on his face. Although he has only known her a few scant hours, there was something about Estelle, about the way she still loved Jack after all these years, which gave her a permanent home in his heart as well.
That was the only warning Ianto had when he arrived back at the Hub before he had arms full of a beautiful Japanese dynamo.
Ianto sighed as Tosh’s warmth filled him; next to Jack, Tosh was the next most soothing person to be around. Her inner peace was a welcome respite from the chaotic noise sent out by Owen and especially Gwen. “Hello, Tosh, I missed you so much.” Ianto whispered into her hair as he returned her fierce hug.
A bright smile graced Jack’s face as he watched the two best friends. He was grateful that Ianto and Tosh had found a strong friendship in one another. Of course, that didn’t stop the tiniest bit of jealousy that swiftly surged throughout his body at the sight of his Ianto in the arms of another.
“Oi, Tea-Boy! How about some coffee?” Owen demanded the very moment he spotted Ianto. It was close to a welcome back that as he could give his teammate.
Tosh and Jack both laughed softly at Ianto’s eye-roll and deadpan delivery. “Hello to you too, Owen. I have so missed that charming personality of yours.”
Owen scowled at Ianto and muttered affectionately under his breath about cheeky ‘alien Tea-Boys’. Luckily his voice was low enough that Gwen, just arriving through the cog door, did not hear.
“Hi, Gwen,” Ianto said hesitantly. “Would you like a coffee?”
Gwen said nothing; she just glared daggers at Ianto before giving Jack what she thought was a seductive smile. “All right, Jack, now that I am here, what was so important that we had to come back in early? I had lunch plans with Rhys.” She thought mentioning Rhys might make Jack jealous, make him remember that she was the one he really wanted, not Ianto. Reminding him of that fact had worked in the past.
Sadly, as Gwen was about to learn, that trick never had any true power over Jack. Ignoring her blatant attempts at flirting, he raised an eyebrow at her. “First of all, I’m sorry your plans with Rhys fell through, but you should know by now that Torchwood come first. And I wouldn’t have called you in, any of you, if it wasn’t important.” Jack reminded her.
Gwen’s smile faded and a pout took its place.
“Secondly, I believe Ianto asked you a question, which you rather rudely ignored.” The captain looked at her rather pointedly, waiting for a respond.
Through gritted teeth, Gwen turned in Ianto’s general direction and ground out, “Yes, that would be lovely, Ianto, thank you.” She then flounced over to her desk and threw herself into her chair, turned on her computer and put her purse in the bottom drawer, making a point to slam the drawer shut.
Jack ignored her and turned to Ianto; he was still unsure if Ianto should be back yet, and given the degree of hostility surrounding Gwen, he didn’t want to risk Ianto’s mental shields not been strong enough to withstand the assault. They had worked so hard and Ianto had come so far, and if his shields shattered under the pressure, he didn’t know what he would do. He studied Ianto carefully, but he seemed calm and collected as he turned and walked into the kitchen area. Ianto refused to go home after Estelle’s, and despite everything, Jack was grateful that Ianto was by his side. There was really nowhere better for Jack to make sure that Ianto stayed safe.
“Ianto, would you bring your wonderful coffee into the boardroom? We will be waiting for you. Oh, and maybe some biscuits, too? Some of those yummy chocolate ones?” Jack pleaded with Ianto, flashing him sad puppy-dog eyes.
Ianto knew he could never resist Jack’s puppy-dog eyes. “Of course Sir. Would anyone like anything else?” He looked around at the others.
Gwen gave him fake smile. “Could you be a pet and run out and fetch us some lunch while we have our meeting?” Gwen asked in a honey-dipped tone, the one she always used on Rhys, Jack and Andy to get what she wanted. “That’s a dear.”
Tosh stiffened and let out a growl which amused Jack; he approved of how furiously protective of Ianto she had become. She had even given him the ‘shovel speech’; Jack still had nightmares after his ‘talk’ with the petite woman.
Before Tosh could open her mouth, Jack said, “Gwen, Ianto will be joining us. He is part of my team and it’s time we all remembered that and began acting accordingly.” Jack informed them in a no-nonsense tone. “Which reminds me, Ianto, I will be starting your firearms training tonight.”
Gwen suddenly couldn’t breathe as imagines of Jack pressed up against Ianto flooded her mind. That method of training with Jack had been hers and hers alone! ‘There’s no way in hell I’m gonna let that happen!’ “You can’t be serious, Jack! After everything that’s happened, you except us to trust Ianto in the field?” Gwen snarled viciously. “I refuse to work in the field with him!”
The instant he saw the look of hurt and shame enter Ianto’s eyes, Jack snapped and he saw red. This selfish, self-centred woman was insulting his mate, and no one did that. Ever. “I suggest you watch your tone, little girl.” Jack’s own voice was dangerously quiet. “Ianto made a mistake, and while it was a big one, we have all made mistakes. Perhaps one of the biggest, and certainly the most devastating for Ianto, was not reaching out to him when he first arrived. We are a team and it’s time we start acting like one. If you can’t accept the fact that Ianto is going to become a true, full-fledged member of this team, then you’re free to leave.” Jack growled at her.
Gwen couldn’t believe how blind Jack was being to how dangerous Ianto was, and she turned to the rest of her teammates, certain that they would support her decision. Sadly, she quickly realised that she was not going to get any help from either of them.
Tosh, who had rushed across the Hub and was snuggling Ianto’s her arms, glowered at Gwen. “I can’t believe you! You actually dare to claim you are the ‘heart’ of Torchwood and then you treat a teammate so coldly.”
Owen shook his head, siding with Jack and Tosh. ‘Hell, I may want to sleep with the woman but that doesn’t mean I agree with her or her claim at being our humanity.’
“Sorry, Gwennie, but you are on your own,” Owen told her matter-of-factly before turning to Ianto. “Now, can I please get some coffee?”
Tosh, Jack and Ianto all stared at Owen in shock.
“What?” Owen snarled, not liking the way they were staring at him. ‘What did I do now?’
It was Tosh who found her voice first. “Owen, you said please.”
The medic crossed his arms and glared at them belligerently. “Yeah, well, don’t get use to it.” He stomped off towards the conference room without a backward glance.
Ianto blinked and shook his head. “I won’t,” he said with a smile. “I’ll get everyone’s coffees and something to nibble on and join you all shortly.” He moved out of Tosh’s arms. With a sweet smile for Jack, he went into the kitchen and began working his coffee magic.
By the time Ianto joined the others in the conference room, Gwen was arguing with Owen about the Cottingley photos.
“These photos were faked.” Gwen’s voice left no doubt that she was sure she was right.
“Conan Doyle believed in them,” Owen shot back.
“He was crazy at the time,” was Gwen’s retort.
“And Houdini,” Owen added to his argument.
“Self-publicist,” Gwen shot back.
Owen gave her a mocking look. “And how is it that you know so much about this?”
“I wrote an essay on the Cottingley-glass photos when I was in school. Besides, when the girls were old ladies they admitted they were fakes.” Gwen boasted, thinking she was right.
“I blame it on the magic mushrooms.” Ianto spoke up, knowing that Gwen’s stubborn attitude was going to make it hard for her to accept that she was wrong and that fairies did indeed exist.
“What you do in private is none of our business.” Jack teased back, most of the team knowing that what Ianto did in private was precisely Jack’s business. Jack flashed Ianto a fond smile, which Ianto readily returned, before turning his attention back to the others.
“Tosh, I need you to set up a program to watch for strange weather patterns. Ianto, I want you to help her, you were the first to notice them after all.” Jack knew that besides him, Ianto would feel the most comfortable working with Tosh.
Tosh smiled at the quite Welshman. “Between Ianto and I, we’ll have a program up and running in no time.” Ianto smiled gratefully.
Jack smiled at his mate and his gentle tech genius. “Wonderful! Now, Ianto, can I have that cup of your wonderful coffee you promised us?” Jack pouted at his Ianto.
Ianto, suddenly feeling just the slight bit mischievous, gave Jack a coy little look. “Why of course, Sir, I would never deny you the pleasure of my coffee or anything else you might desire.” Ianto practically purred the last word in Jack’s mind.
It took all of Jack’s willpower not to give into his body’s demands and take his mate then and there audience be damned. ‘Oh, the moment I get you alone you are so going to pay for teasing me!’ Jack thought back, letting Ianto feel just how much Ianto’s teasing affected him physically.
As Ianto and Jack were having their silent talk, Gwen was watching them with clenched teeth and narrowed eyes. ‘Don’t worry, Jack, I’ll soon free you from whatever mind control Ianto has you under and then we can be together.’ Gwen vowed silently. ‘Forever.’
Tosh and Owen shared a worried look. Besides the fairy problems, they could see that they’d have to keep a close eye on Gwen; they were not her ruin Jack and Ianto’s chance at happiness.