Dedicated to John and Gareth, because without them we wouldn't have Jack and Ianto. Many many thanks guys. This is my Xmas present to you.
A/N This story came about because CJ said something that gave xosuperstarchloeox an idea that she then told me about and I, in typical fashion turned into something a lot angstier and quite a bit bigger. This story is a collaboration between me and Chloe with some input from the welsh voice that reads over her shoulder and CJ. Working with Chloe and her "muses" has been a wonderful experience. Thanks for sharing with me and inviting me to join in. And many thanks CJ. You started it. The "welsh voice" has an interesting take on things as well!
This the Christmas story we might have had if "Out of Time" never happened. Also assume that Jack and Ianto have been in a serious relationship for several months and Ianto knows about Jack's immortality.
In this first chapter we have angst, then we get into fluff, bondage with fairy lights (thanks CJ) and come back to angst again. It is a full programme for your holiday enjoyment.
Ianto dragged his battered and bruised body into the Hub and sank into the first chair he came to. It was actually Owen's and his bleary eyes noticed something odd. He suddenly looked up and focused on a sprig of green sticking out from the top of the monitor. Mistletoe?!
Owen! You sneaky fuck!
Cursing Ianto crashed the chair backwards getting as far away as he could before anyone noticed what he was sitting under. The last thing he wanted right now was to be kissed – by anybody. He glanced up to where a subdued Jack was slinking into his office. He was covered in blood, his own and the weevil's and he was deeply upset they'd had to kill the creature. But none of that made Ianto feel any more fondly towards him than he had when they went out. He particularly didn't want to kiss Jack right now. Owen would be preferable.
Muttering to himself Ianto got up and headed to the locker room; let Jack shower on his own. He'd been in a weird mood for days, evasive, snarky, demanding and downright rude and Ianto had had enough of it. He was particularly pissed off with being treated like a cross between a house elf, a sex slave and a naughty child. Ianto make the coffee. Ianto bring me the phone. Ianto suck my cock. Ianto have you got your gun? Ianto don't chase the weevil that way. Ianto watch out for traffic. Ianto, Ianto, Ianto, but nothing actually useful like, Ianto the weevil's right behind you. No Jack didn't give him a chance to move out the way, just flung himself straight in there and let the weevil chew him up so that Ianto had no choice but to shoot it and somehow that made the weevil's death Ianto's fault, even though Jack had actually died too and Ianto really hated that.
God he was tired.
Ianto stayed under the shower, letting the water wash off the stench of weevil and sewers and the heat soothe his bruises. He couldn't stay there forever however. He needed to get home to bed. The others would already be gone by now. The trick would be to get out without Jack snagging him for another stupid task.
God what had happened to them? Seemed like only days ago he was delighted to be last in the hub with Jack. They'd been really happy. Well at least Ianto had but then somehow, about the beginning of the month Jack had gone all moody and funny. Everyone had noticed and none of them had any idea what was wrong with him. Ianto had started off being mildly and then seriously concerned. That didn't last though. Jack showed no signs of sharing and started brushing him off, being rude and downright disconcerting and nasty. The trouble was, they were all working hard, they were all tired and it was nearly Christmas. Ianto wanted to start feeling happy, to be with happy people and have a bit of Christmas cheer. Hi family weren't here so he didn't have some mothering to look forward to. The others were helping, in fact they'd been quite fun recently but Jack seemed to be determined that if he was miserable Ianto had to be too.
He'd gone too far though. One night last week he'd evicted Ianto from his bed. He'd been rough and he'd been selfish and when Jack was finished, suddenly that was it. He'd rolled off, picked up his clothes and marched off to his bathroom. He patently didn't want Ianto there anymore.
Ianto felt like the bottom had dropped out of his world. There had to be something wrong with Jack because Ianto couldn't think of a single thing that he had done that might have triggered behaviour like that. He tried everything he knew of to find out what was wrong. Jack kept insisting that nothing was.
It hurt terribly, but whatever they'd had was obviously over. Ianto had known Jack for a little less than a year and they had a really dicey history. Maybe he'd suddenly realised what a screw up Ianto actually was? Maybe he was manic depressive. Right now he seemed border line psychotic and Ianto couldn't deal with it. He felt guilty, he should try to help, but he was continually rebuffed. He could only take so much of that, he was too fragile himself, he knew that.
The water finally started to cool down and reluctantly he turned it off and climbed out. Dressed in jeans and tee shirt he headed out, glancing anxiously at Jack's office, but there was no sign of anyone there. Letting out a sigh of relief he made his way up to the tourist office unmolested, picked up his keys and let himself out. He locked the door behind him, straightened up and turned… 'Whoa!' …straight into Jack.
Jack grabbed his shoulders to steady him, then just stood there chewing his lip, staring at him.
Ianto heaved a sigh. 'Jack. I'm tired. I want to go home.' I really don't want to see you right now. His heart still did that flippy thing when Jack looked at him like that until he remembered that it was all over and then it seemed to go thunk and sit in his chest like it was never going to beat again. They stood there some more. 'Jack. Can you let me go please.'
Jack swallowed, and Ianto was surprised to see tears in his eyes. However it was fairly dark just here at this corner of Mermaid Quay.
Jack drew himself up. Pouted. 'Walk with me,' he barked. He softened the order. 'Please?'
Ianto sighed loudly, letting Jack know very clearly that he didn't want to be doing this. He allowed himself to be propelled along the boardwalk. What the hell did he want now?
It was dark and the lights from the Plass made pretty patterns on the ripples on the water. They stopped and leant on the railings watching the water move underneath them. Ianto wondered how cold it was, what it would feel like to fall in, to have the dark water close over his head? To not have to work next to Jack every day knowing that what they had had obviously meant so little to the other man? For christsake Jack was the first man he'd ever slept with, that surely wasn't something to throw away lightly. He kept a close reign on his features, hiding behind the butler face. He was good at that. He was starting to get cold and was about to just turn and leave; he didn't have to take this crap, when Jack finally spoke. 'What are you doing for Christmas?'
Ianto stood and gaped.
'What are you doing for Christmas?' Jack repeated.
'I… I… Ah. Nothing. I suppose I can work if you want me too.'
'Why are you doing nothing?' Jack sounded surprised. 'Where are your family? Aren't you going to them?'
'No. They're away. Mam and Tad, they've gone to Australia to spend Christmas with Miff and Garry, meet their grandson.' He was sure Jack knew this. The others certainly did. Gwen had even placed an order for a didgeridoo to be brought back for Rhys. 'Anyway, what do you care?'
'I care,' Jack said. He was standing twisting his hands. 'I do care,' he said adamantly. Ianto noticed a glint. He had a wedding band on his finger!
He lunged for Jack's hand, caught it and held up the ring finger. 'Jack?'
Blackly Jack stared at him, and then suddenly he dissolved. With a despairing cry he threw himself at Ianto. Caught by surprise he automatically caught him in his arms then stood there dumbly as Jack burst into noisy sobs. He patted his back awkwardly unsure what to do. Jack's hands tangled in his sweatshirt pulling him closer and he could feel body raking shudders running through him. All of a sudden Ianto's walls fell. He knew there'd been something wrong. Feeling something like relief that there was a reason for Jack's behaviour he wrapped his arms around his Captain holding him tight, leaning back against the railing to take his weight. He soothed and shushed, hand on Jack's head, stroking his silky hair, letting the other man cry, wondering who the hell Jack had married and why.
Jack cried for a long time. Eventually he calmed but stayed leaning into Ianto, arms around him, head on his shoulder. A young couple had walked past during the messy sobs stage. They came back again with a parcel of chips, seemingly surprised to see them still there. Ianto could tell the bloke was going to ask if they were all right. He made eye contact and shook his head, motioned him on. He also smiled and mouthed "Thank you." It made him feel good to know that there were people in the world who cared enough about others to ask if complete strangers were okay.
Ianto was starting to shiver before Jack showed any signs of wanting to move. 'Come on,' he told him. 'Let's go get in the car and crank the heater up. I'm not dressed for being out.' He just knew that going back to the hub wasn't a good idea even if he didn't yet know why. The fact that Jack had met him outside told him that.
He led a compliant Jack along to his car around the corner from the Plas and seated him in the passenger seat before getting in himself. He turned the car on and the radio off. He didn't want any distractions. 'Buckle up.' Jack did as he was told.
Ianto didn't drive home. He'd meant to but between leaving the carpark and reaching the road he decided neutral territory would be a better idea. He drove, took the tunnel, skirted the docks, got on to Cardiff Road and kept going. The car warmed up and started pumping warm air out of the heater. 'Where are we going?' Jack asked wanly when they turned left at Llandough.
'You want to explain what that was all about? Why have you got a ring on your finger?'
The streetlights flicking past gave Jack's face a yellow glow. The tear tracks shone orange. He twisted the ring around and around before cradling the hand to his chest. 'She died. My wife.' He leant his head back against the seat staring straight ahead. 'It's ninety years ago today.'
Ianto let the silence drag out. It wasn't uncomfortable. He knew that now Jack had started he would eventually say more. 'Her name was Louise.' And with that the terrible story flooded out. Jack had been very much in love, with one of his co-workers. They had married, quite against Torchwood regulations at the time, but there was a war on and life was short. Louise's had been. They'd married secretly on December 1st before shipping off to France undercover. Torchwood had been seconded by the secret service for the duration. It had seemed a lark, like a real honeymoon, they both loved the clandestine stuff. They loved working together. They were clever, they had alien tech that the enemy never had. They shouldn't have been caught, but they had been betrayed. Jack found that out later.
Jack had been late getting to a rendezvous point; he'd been picking flowers from the roadside for his love. Louise was captured, tortured and hung as a spy, all within the space of twenty four hours and well before Jack had even found out where she'd been taken. He hadn't even been able to bury her. Happy Xmas.
Jack finally lifted his head and looked at Ianto. His face was white in the dim light. 'I'm sorry I've been so awful lately. December is a really bad month for me. So many bad things have happened in December.'
Ianto reached over and took his hand. 'I wish you'd told me.'
'I couldn't. I…' Jack looked around. 'Where are we?' He only just seemed to notice that they'd stopped.
'Sully,' Ianto told him. They were on a cliff top overlooking the island. 'See the campground down there. Mam used to bring us here for a week in the summer. Tad would come out for the weekend then he'd go back to work and we'd stay. There's a great chip shop in the village. They might still be open. We'll go and see in a bit.'
'You drove us all the way out here for chips?'
'And the view.'
They sat holding hands. The moon rose behind them and the sea took on a silver glow.
'Why couldn't you tell me?' Ianto finally asked.
'I feel… so raw. My skin hurts. I can't bear to be touched. It's like it happened yesterday, not so long ago. It's like this time is Louise's time and the rest of you are ghosts around me.' Jack looked at him sadly. 'When you, any of you come into contact with me it hurts. It's better not to be touched at all.'
'You mean physically touched?' Ianto asked trying to understand.
'No, any sort of contact.' He took his hand back and stared out the window. 'Ianto I'm so scared.'
Ianto looked at him alarmed. 'What? What of?'
'I tried to stay away from you. I really did. I tried to make you mad.'
'Well it worked,' Ianto told him, 'but why would you do that? What are you afraid of?'
'I'm afraid because the years I've had someone special, someone close to me since then.' Jack looked up at him with a face of terror. 'They die at this time of the year.'
'They die. Pauly and Euan died, 1923. They drowned in a stupid ferry boat going home for Christmas. Jim, his Spitfire went down over occupied France in the Second World War. Ironically it was only about five miles from where Louise died in the first. Glenda died of cancer on Christmas Eve in 1963 and Alex shot the whole Torchwood team and then himself on New Year's Eve 1999.' He shuddered. 'I hate December.'
Ianto felt a frisson of fear. 'Have you loved other people who haven't died in December?'
'Well yes,' Jack admitted, much to Ianto's relief. 'There was Estelle, but I made sure we never spent a Xmas together and then… You know I lost touch with her towards the end of the war?'
Yes Ianto knew. 'Does that mean that Jim and Estelle were both at the same time?'
'It was wartime.' Jack looked contrite.
'Who else have you loved? Who hasn't died at Christmas time?'
Jack looked at him with eyes full of fear. 'No one. No one I've really loved, who really mattered.'
Ianto's heart was fluttering with fear and joy. Jack loved him, thought he really mattered. So, all he had to do was survive. He took a deep breath. It was all coincidence, superstitious rubbish. 'Until now,' he said firmly. He put the car in gear. 'I want some chips.'