Daine was surprised when a gentle yellow hand held out the saddlebag from Cloud's back. Looking around, she saw that they had followers: the Nepthalae had disembarked as well, and were helping them build camp, under Jack's soft directions. Kitten wriggled from her arms and scampered down, helping shyly as well. The pink faded from her scales as she passed sticks to an alien trying to start a fire. Daine smiled proudly at her charge.
Camp was finished in record time, and with many thanks and soft trills, Jack sent the Nepthalae back onto their ship. Kitten, less nervous, bounded up to Daine, chattering excitedly because she had faced her fear. Daine scooped her up with a smile and they watched as the great metal hatch of the space ship closed slowly. The ship's inhabitants, safe on their vessel, settled in for the night, leaving the Tortallans to their own devices.
"That was unexpected," Alanna stated after a moment of silence.
"They're good people," Jack replied quietly. He sighed and poked at the fire, sending sparks to the sky, which had darkened into twilight. "I wish they hadn't crashed here."
Daine! Cloud whinnied suddenly in alarm before a horribly familiar voice said, "You're not the only one, dearie."
Kitten shrieked with fury and they turned.
"You!" Daine burst out.
The Graveyard Hag, the patron goddess of Carthak, was standing just on the edge of camp, leaning on her cane and watching Jack with one keen eye. The light of dusk cast her half in shadow, her hunched back a silhouette against the darkening sky. She took three steps toward them, so that the light from the fire could reveal her old, haggard face. "I told you we wanted them dead," she growled. "You did not fulfill your end of the bargain." The goddess frowned and scratched her chin. "You are a handsome thing, though, I'll give you that."
Jack's face hardened as he rose and walked around the fire, standing protectively in front of the Tortallans. Alanna raised her eyebrows at Daine, and they all stood up as well. Daine grabbed Kitten before the snarling dragon could reach the Hag, shushing her and holding her close. She jumped a little when she felt Numair rest a hand on her shoulder, but then leaned back into his support. The horses, not tethered, milled nervously around the edges of the firelight. Daine warned them to keep their distance, although Red whinnied anxiously.
"I'm not killing them," Jack stated firmly, eyes fixed on the Hag. "They're peaceful; I'm sending them on their way. If you want them gone faster, you will help me fix their ship."
Alanna, Daine and Numair gaped at him. Even Daine, who had been fair annoyed at the Hag in her time, had never taken that tone with her.
"They will go off into the stars," the Hag growled, leaning on her stick. "And they'll tell others of this place. Then they'll come back and upset the balance further. They must be destroyed."
"The Nepthalae?" Jack demanded incredulously, and laughed in the goddess' face. "They've barely got space travel. They'll settle somewhere else, and they'll be grateful for the help. They'll talk about your planet in legends, nothing more. They're harmless."
Kitten shrieked a warning. The Hag lunged with her staff, aiming to knock Jack on the head for his cheek. Their friend was too quick; he saw the blow coming and rolled swiftly out of the way. "Do not take that tone with me, immortal," the goddess snapped and her eyes flashed to Daine. "And control your dragon!"
Daine blinked, clamping a hand automatically over Kitten's muzzle. Did the Graveyard Hag just call Jack immortal? Daine glanced at Numair, who tugged his nose nervously back. Alanna's eyebrows had risen to her hairline. Yes, Daine thought in surprise, she had heard correctly. Kit muttered unhappily, struggling in Daine's grasp. The dragon didn't seem surprised at this revelation, Daine noticed with a frown.
"Look what I've found for you, wandering in the dark," the Hag continued, her gruff voice soft and tempting as she watched Jack. "Call it a bargaining piece. Kill them now, and we'll call it favor number two. He's a looker, and the deal's more than generous." She waved her staff.
"I told you," Jack gritted, glaring, "I won't—"and then, as he saw what was behind the Hag, his voice caught in his throat, and the only sound that emerged was a shocked croak.
A dark haired man in strange clothing was suddenly standing there. His face was soft and young, and pale eyes widened in surprise. He blinked once, looking confused. The man was wearing a shirt of the same make as Jack, although he wore white and covered it with some kind of sleeveless gray garment. There was a piece of blue cloth tied neatly around his neck and then tucked inside the v of the gray sleeveless thing over his shirt. His eyebrows had ridden up to his forehead.
"You're kidding, right? Tell me you're kidding." His accent was pronounced although Daine could not place it, voice dry and incredulous with just a touch of sarcasm. He looked left and right, disbelieving.
"Ianto?" Jack's face had gone slack. He looked like he'd been dying of thirst, and suddenly found an oasis in a desert; he looked like he had found his heart's desire. "Ianto!"
Daine and Numair both caught their breath, recognizing the name.
Oh, no, Red said quietly.
"Jack?" The young man breathed, composure melting away, eyes locking on their friend. The man called Ianto tried to step around the goddess, but the Graveyard Hag flung out an arm, stopping him. He blinked at her, coming up short.
"Not yet, dearie," she growled, and turned back to Jack, while the man she blocked looked vaguely affronted. "We can make it better, Captain Harkness," she said, and her gravelly voice was soft and persuasive. "We can bring them back. All of them."
Daine found her voice as fury on behalf of her friend rose in her chest. "You leave him alone!" she shouted, hand still clasped around Kitten's muzzle, although the dragon had turned purple with outrage. "Don't listen to her, Jack, it isn't permanent. The things she brings back to life don't always stay that way."
"Daine," Numair gasped in horror at her impertinence. His hand tightened in alarm on her shoulder and Daine shot him a fierce look.
"If you weren't a godborn, I'd kill you for that," the Graveyard Hag said offhandedly, not taking her eyes of Jack. "As it is, I might take your lover instead. Your Lindhall Reed's little beast remained, did it not? It's the choice of the soul, no one else's."
Daine stood protectively in front of Numair, just as Jack's Ianto remarked very quietly, "Don't I have any say in this?"
"Ianto," Jack whispered painfully, as though unable to say anything else. He looked like his heart had broken all over again. Suddenly he shook himself, as though remembering where he was and why the other was standing there. Jack jerked his attention to the Hag. "What have you done?" he snarled furiously, voice rising, "What have you done to him! Your Black God said that you couldn't touch the dead of my world. What the hell have you done?"
The Graveyard Hag smiled smugly, the twilight of early night glinting off her face strangely.
"She said your name," Ianto answered dreamily, and Jack's eyes locked back onto him. "I heard it, so I followed. I thought you might've finally died. I looked for you, you know. I thought… in the spaces between, before you woke up each time. I might be able to see you."
Jack looked like someone had stabbed him. "Ianto, I'm sorry, I—"
"This isn't fair, goddess," Alanna broke in quietly. Daine glanced at her.
"It was never a question of fairness, Lioness," the Hag told her sharply. "It was a question of—"
"Of manipulation!" Jack snapped suddenly, wrenching his eyes off Ianto and back to the Graveyard Hag.
"Do not interrupt me, immortal—"
"Ianto, they want me to kill," Jack cried, turning back desperately to the man at the Hag's side. "They want me to kill a hundred civilians: men, women and children—not human, but not—"
"Then don't do it," Ianto interrupted fiercely, and Daine decided then and there that she liked him, even just having seen him. "Don't listen to her, Jack."
"How dare you?" the Hag snarled, spinning to face Ianto. "How dare you defy me—"
"I'm not in your jurisdiction," Ianto told her primly, eyes steely, determined and just a little bit smug. "I came here of my own free will, and I can leave of it as well." He turned back to Jack. "I love you. I'm sorry I left." He started to fade.
"I miss you," Jack whispered miserably. "I'm sorry, I—I—"
"It was never your fault, Jack. I'll look—" Ianto started, but he disappeared before he could finish.
"Don't," Jack choked to the empty space where Ianto had been standing.
"Well," the Hag scowled. "Isn't this touching."
Jack whirled. His eyes, trailing tears, flamed with fury. "Leave," he snarled lowly.
"How dare you—"
"I SAID, LEAVE!" Jack bellowed. "I am not dealing with meddling gods until I have these people back up in space! And you, you," now he advanced upon the Hag, murder in his eyes, "have lost your right to speak to me. I'm talking to Owen, or nobody at all, IS THAT CLEAR?"
"You have no power here," the Hag growled, and Jack drew his revolver furiously.
"Wanna bet?" he spat. "You wanna fight a man who can't die? Seriously? You may be a god, but let me tell you something; fighting me is the worst idea you could possibly have." His finger rubbed against the back of the weapon, pulling some kind of lever, and Daine heard it creak ominously.
"His soul will rot in Chaos!" screeched the Hag, and she vanished with a snap.
There was a silence. Jack took a breath that hitched in his throat. It sounded like a thunderclap, and Daine was beside him in an instant.
"Jack," she breathed, "Are you—"
"No," the reply was quiet, and Jack's voice cracked. "No, I'm not alright." His eyes were wide and shocked, and his hands shook when he tucked his revolver away.
"Oh, Jack," Numair whispered, coming over as well. "Jack, I'm so—"
"Don't say you're sorry," Jack spat, whirling on them. The fire glinted off the tears on his cheeks, and his blue eyes looked mad in the starlight. "Don't you dare." Violent tremors had spread from his hands, and he looked as though he was on the verge of collapse.
"He was your lover." Alanna's voice was quiet, more of a statement than a question. Daine blinked in surprise. She glanced at Alanna, briefly perplexed that her friend would come to such a conclusion, but then Jack's breath hitched and caught, and Daine knew an affirmative when she heard one.
"He won't really rot in Chaos," Daine assured him, shoving her vague confusion aside and trying to tug Jack closer to the warmth of the fire. The man was like a stone; he would not move, except for the trembling that racked his body. "She really doesn't have control over him."
"Ch-chaos would be better," Jack gasped, relenting when Alanna and Numair joined Daine's gentle persuasion. "Then what he gets at home."
"Don't say that," Alanna murmured as she guided him to sit down. "You don't know that."
"Yes I do," Jack whispered brokenly, slumping to the ground. "I really, really do."
"She called you immortal," Daine changed the subject quietly, rubbing his arm. Jack gasped a bark of bitter laughter, although he leaned into the reassuring touch.
"Yes," he choked. "She did."
"You come back," Numair murmured, half-disbelieving, and Daine remembered Ianto's words. Jack had called himself a man who couldn't die, hadn't he? She watched his face as Numair asked him, "You come back each time you're killed?"
Jack nodded wordlessly, wiping his eyes.
"That must hurt," Daine said sympathetically, believing him without questioning. Cloud had been saying as much from the moment they had met him, and this made more sense than it didn't. He must've come back to life when that spidren bit him when they met. Had that only been a few weeks ago? It felt like forever.
Jack huffed a little, laughter that sounded hysterical. "Yes," he told her. "Yes, it does."
"Who was he, Jack?" Alanna asked quietly. "He was yours, but who was he?"
Daine shot her a glance. This was delicate territory, and she was shocked when Jack spoke, words drawn from him with great reluctance.
"He was—he used to work for me. He was part of—of Torchwood." His breath hitched at the title, and Daine wondered if Torchwood was this place where Jack had worked, this place that he had loved. "Ianto made the best cup of coffee I've ever had, and he was loyal to a fault." Jack swallowed, his speech halting. "He helped me catch that pterodactyl, and we used to hunt weevils together late at night. His first field mission, he— he was Ianto, and in the end he became everything. That wasn't supposed to happen. I begged them not to kill him," he whispered. "But they didn't care."
"Who?" Numair asked gently.
Jack did not reply. He just looked down into his lap and sighed.
There was a short silence, which Kitten interrupted. She wriggled out of Daine's grasp and made her way over to Jack. Sitting up in front of him, scales gray with sympathy, she cheeped. The man—no, Daine thought, the immortal man—choked on a sob when he saw her. He whispered something that sounded like "I'm sorry," but Daine couldn't be sure.
"She knew," Numair said quietly, and Daine turned to him. "She knew you were immortal. That's why she likes you, isn't it?"
Daine blinked and looked down at her charge. "Is this true, Kit?"
The dragon shrugged and turned back to Numair. She huffed a little and then squawked before climbing into Jack's lap. Kit curled up there like a cat and began to croon very softly. Jack sighed and ran a finger between her small wings.
"Maybe," he mumbled. The dragon's head shot up and she shook it. Jack's eyebrows rose. "It helped," he pointed out. Kitten cocked her head and then nodded after a moment. "What else do you know?" Jack asked her, his blue eyes miserable. He looked like he was waiting for a killing blow, Daine thought uneasily, and rested a supportive hand on his shoulder.
The dragon looked at him, and then looked at Daine. She tilted her head back and made a sound like a howling wolf.
"Bad Wolf," Alanna whispered, and Jack's head shot up, dislodging Daine's hand. Clearly, he had not been expecting that.
"What about it?" he demanded harshly, defensively.
"I keep on dreaming about her," Daine told him softly.
"That's impossible," Jack snapped, visibly drawing his shields up around himself. Daine shrugged.
"Cloud said you were a wolf," she continued, keeping her voice soft and trying to placate him with a hand on his arm. "Only she called you the Lone Wolf, the cub who is not a cub – the Bad Wolf's cub."
Jack stared at her and then turned his head to the gray pony, grazing innocently just outside the ring of firelight. "She made me," he said flatly after a moment, eyes unfocused as he looked into the night as though at something impossibly far away, "into a fixed point in time and space." Jack's voice had turned bitter, and Daine did not understand what that could mean. The Bad Wolf made him immortal?
"Who was she?" Numair asked, and Jack fixed him with burning eyes.
"Rose Tyler," he said lowly. "The Doctor's Rose. She looked into the heart of the Doctor's ship, absorbed the power of the Time Vortex and brought me back to life—only she did it permanently. They both left me behind. The Doctor could not bear to be around me. That's all I know." His voice had twisted with a long accepted injustice, with hurt buried deep. Jack looked away.
Alanna, for her part, looked perplexed. Jack seemed unwilling to say any more, as he rose, placed a protesting Kitten on the ground, and walked over to Red. "I'm going for a walk," he announced. "Please don't follow me."
Daine stood as well, but to her shock, Red turned to face her. No, he said. Do not come. We will be fine.
Blinking, she sat back down.
"Daine?" Alanna asked. She'd stood as well, but Daine gestured her to sit.
"Red said to leave him alone," Daine replied quietly, watching man and horse walk away from the firelight. "Horse Lords," she whispered after a moment. There wasn't really anything else to add.
"Yes," Numair agreed, and they watched Jack fade into the night.
MASSIVE A/N ABOUT THIS CHAPTER:
For those of you who don't know Torchwood, Jack and Ianto really were lovers; it's canon. So there! During Ianto's death scene in Children of Earth, he tells Jack, "I love you," and Jack says, "Don't." And then he begs Ianto to "Stay with me," and finally "Don't go," in a very, very heartbreaking scene that had me bawling. I wanted to echo that, just a little, here. Because, for all that I am bitter about Ianto's death, that scene was beautifully done.
About Daine's reaction to Jack having loved another man: this was very, very carefully thought out, even if it's only a few lines. I'm sure she was raised, in her little town, to know for certain that little girls grow up to marry whoever their fathers say that they marry, and then go to live with their husbands. The same goes for little boys, only in reverse. That is the way of her world, and she would have no reason to question it. At thirteen, her mother is killed, and she gets to Tortall at fourteen, during which a war happens. Her worldview is not challenged, mostly because she is out and about and too busy to come across anyone who would challenge it. Thus, when confronted with a m/m relationship, her first reaction is confusion, because such a thing simply doesn't fit into her worldview. Daine is very practical; she's not going to dispute things she believed as facts when she grew up, especially if she's worried about other things, like wars and Immortals. But she's pretty open to different people and in the end she only sees her friend in pain.
Anyway, that's why Daine reacts the way she does. This AN is way too long, so if you're interested on why I think Alanna would figure it out, or Numair's response, say so in your review and I'll tell you. I love discussion about characters (if you couldn't tell haha), so don't worry about offending me or anything!
For those of you who know Torchwood, you'll also note that Steven was not even mentioned here. This is because Jack still can't bring himself to think about his grandson, much less explain what happened. He also hasn't been directly confronted about it; he's still trying to forget. Jack tends not to say anything unless he absolutely has to. Ianto appears before him; he must explain. The Hag calls him immortal; he must explain. Everyone knows about Bad Wolf; he must explain. Nothing about Steven, though, and no confrontation, so he's not saying anything. It still hurts too much.
Also, you'll notice that Jack STILL didn't tell Ianto that he loves him. This is because Jack is a pain in the butt, and getting him to admit his emotions is like pulling teeth.