This is sort of random - something that cropped up in a PM with Paraxenos - so, I suppose I owe her some credit for the idea. -waves to Paraxenos- Anyway, it turned into an odd, sad little crossover that's been sitting in a folder somewhere, so I figured I should post it. It's not a happy ending, people, just FYI.
At any rate-enjoy!
DISCLAIMER: JK Rowling owns Severus Snape and all Wizards mentioned, while the BBC owns Ianto and Torchwood. This stuff isn't mine, but it's fun to play with! Don't worry, I'll give them back when I'm done.
It was a Sunday, and that meant that Ianto left work early.
Torchwood wasn't exactly the type of job one had if one treasured weekends. While everyone generally did get some time off, at least, it was often random quiet days in the middle of the week, rather than a Saturday or a Sunday, simply by virtue of there being more weekdays than there were weekends. A quiet day was more likely to fall in the five days than the two.
At any rate, it was Sunday, and while Ianto was often at the job after hours, Sundays were special.
"I'm off," he said quietly, picking up his coat. "Think you can handle yourself for the night?" he asked Jack cheekily, and Jack gave him a patented Harkness thousand-watt grin.
"I think we'll be okay," he replied easily, "But we might go through caffeine withdrawal."
"No different from any other Sunday, then," Ianto remarked, and Jack chuckled.
"I'll see you tomorrow, Ianto," he said warmly. "You don't take enough time. Go."
Ianto offered him a smile and headed out toward the cog door.
"Oi!" Owen called from the autopsy bay. "And where does he think he's going?"
"Out!" Jack shouted. "Unlike some of us, Ianto actually works seven days a week!"
The cog door closed over Owen's indignant reply, and Ianto smiled to himself. He called the elevator, and then pushed L.
It was true – he did work seven days a week. This was mostly because spending time with Jack generally consisted of Weevil hunting and Torchwood related things, so technically he was working most of the time. Still, unlike Owen, Ianto didn't find it a chore. He enjoyed working for Torchwood three, more than he ever had at Torchwood one.
But that was not a train of thought he wanted to continue, so he stopped there. This was his time off; he had no place for unpleasant thoughts. Or, at least, unpleasant thoughts on his own. The elevator dinged and he walked out into the tourist office. He checked the pamphlets on his desk—everything was in order—before walking out to the quay, the sign almost perpetually proclaiming the office closed flapping as the door shut.
The evening was clear and chilly, but not so bad, really. Ianto adjusted his coat and walked across the Plass, enjoying the weather simply because he could. The pub wasn't a far walk.
It was not the place he went with Torchwood. The Dancing Bears was small and poorly lit and often half empty – Torchwood was too loud and rowdy, and the place wasn't clean enough for Owen's tastes. Ianto rather liked it, though, despite the grunge. This was mostly because he liked the company, though.
He had found the place soon after Lisa had died, about two years ago; the other pub was too familiar, too associated with Torchwood. This one, with its dark, poor lighting had fit his mood better, and the service had been good enough to bring him back.
When things had gotten better, he'd almost stopped going. The pub with Torchwood was more fun, really, brighter and less lonely. But five months ago Ianto had visited and made a friend. It was rare to have a friend outside of Torchwood, and Ianto liked the ritual, anyway.
"You weren't here last Sunday," the dark baritone scolded by way of greeting when Ianto slipped through the door and wandered over to the bar. "I thought you'd died."
"It came close," Ianto replied gravely as he sat on a stool. "There was an incident with a paperclip."
The other man smirked into his drink, the flash of yellowed, crooked teeth hidden by his dark, shoulder-length greasy hair. "One wonders at the idiocy required to die by paperclip," was the response.
"Not my idiocy," Ianto huffed. He caught the bartender's eye and the scruffy man brought him a drink.
"The medic's, I assume," his friend guessed, all dark amusement.
"Of course," Ianto said as he took the glass. He sipped. "How've you been, Severus?"
Severus Snape uncrossed his legs and leaned back a little, stretching casually. He was a tall man, clean but unkempt, with something of a hyena about him. His eyes were black and coldly intelligent, but he regarded Ianto with a strange sort of satisfaction. It was hard to get a friendly word out of him, but his sarcastic comments had gentled over the past few months – or, rather, they remained sharp, but always applied to people who were not Ianto. Ianto assumed that this was a gesture of good will, and took care to do the same.
"The invalids haven't managed to kill me yet," Severus drawled, and Ianto smirked. The man said that he was a chemistry teacher, but Ianto didn't buy it. Never mind his strange, robe-like clothing, Severus had far too sour a disposition to deal with children on a regular basis. Still, Ianto kept his own secrets, so he didn't pry into Severus' life.
"I keep telling myself the same thing," he said dryly. "Any good stories?"
"My, we are inquisitive tonight," Severus shot back.
"Slow day," Ianto shrugged, knowing better than to be offended.
"I thought you were nearly killed by paperclips," Severus sneered.
Ianto smirked at him. "That was last Sunday," he said.
Severus huffed and took another sip of his drink. That sat in companionable silence for a moment, before Severus sighed.
"I think," he announced slowly, in the way he did after a pint – not tipsy, but relaxed – "that I will snap one day, and kill Potter."
"That's usually frowned upon," Ianto replied easily.
"It would be worth it," Severus muttered into his glass. "Worth every hour of tedious paperwork. But then—" he trailed off, eyes distant.
"Blood on your floor," Ianto broke in. Severus blinked at him.
"I beg your pardon?" he asked, clearly thrown by the non-sequitur.
"Blood. It's ridiculously difficult to get off tile," Ianto said lightly. He knew that look of melancholy, and Severus sometimes needed cheering.
"Floor's stone," Severus muttered, but his eyes were amused.
"That's worse," Ianto insisted.
"And you know this how?"
"Just do." He shrugged. Severus knew about as much about Torchwood as Ianto know about the school at which the other man worked: that is, nothing. Ianto didn't ask, so Severus didn't either.
"Deadly paperclips and blood on the floor. Your life must truly be a joy," Severus drawled.
"You have no idea," Ianto chuckled. "No idea."
Severus Snape returned to Hogwarts a little tipsy, riding a high from slight intoxication and good company.
He'd ended up in the Muggle bar on a whim over the summer, drinking away the depression that always came around the end of June, days that used to be marked by Lily's companionship.
The place was grungy and scruffy and dark, oddly fitting his tastes. The lager was good so Severus had stayed, only to have his silence interrupted by a young Muggle with a scowl on his face. The man had ordered a beer and sat down with a tired huff, and the bartender had asked him, "Hard day, Jones?" to which he had replied politely, but Severus caught the indignant mumble that followed as the bartender walked away.
They'd struck up conversation somehow, and Severus was surprised to find that he liked the boy, who looked as though he were in his early twenties. Ianto Jones was witty and sarcastic and unfailingly polite, although his language tended to turn foul if he drank too much.
They shared a taste in beer and a sense of humor, and Jones had returned that next Sunday. So had Severus.
Severus' companions were few and far between; since Lily he'd learned to value a truly friendly face. This year looked to be a bad one, with the mess at the ministry since Scrimgeour had taken over, and the Dark Lord's plan of action and Dumbledore's—request. An anonymous pub and a sympathetic if slightly sarcastic ear were by far enough to bring Severus to Wales once a week.
He really had feared Ianto's death when the man had not shown up last Sunday. Death Eaters stuck mostly to England, but there had been a few—Welsh fieldtrips. In and of himself, Jones wasn't in any particular danger, as he was just a regular Muggle and not part of any sort of resistance, but random casualties were known to happen, especially when Bellatrix went Muggle-baiting.
His friend had been whole and hale, however, and greeted him with a smirk and a sarcastic conversation about blood on the floor.
"So then, Ianto Jones," Severus drawled after ordering his second drink. "I assume government work goes just as poorly as teaching?"
Jones said he worked for the government, but his suits were far too fine, and his eyes glinted with far too much smug knowledge. Severus wasn't fooled for a second. Merlin only knew what the man did, but he didn't ask about Severus, so Severus didn't ask about him.
Ianto snorted into his drink. "We've had a bit of a run around lately, but nothing particularly shocking." He smiled a little to himself. "My boss remains confusing, and Owen remains irritating."
Severus clucked his tongue in his best impression of Minerva. "Does your mother know you're sleeping with your boss?" he mocked.
Ianto almost spat out his drink. "I should think not!" he spluttered, snickering at Severus' tone. "Can you imagine? It'd be a nightmare!"
"You're sure you're not trying to gain intelligence?" Severus drawled. "I do so fear for the welfare of the state."
"I'm obviously the most subtle spy to ever cross the threshold of an office," Ianto deadpanned. "I only ever tell strangers in pubs about my true motives. And I'm a superhero by night, too."
"Obviously," Severus replied loftily, not letting himself laugh. "Everyone needs a hobby."
"X-ray vision is so much fun at parties."
Severus lost his battle with composure and chuckled. Ianto tipped his glass and drank, blue eyes bright with amusement.
The horrible, crushing loneliness of Dumbledore's request eased, just a little. Here was a person who would not know either way once Dumbledore was dead; Severus could be simply a sarcastic chemistry teacher, just for a night. He could be nothing more than a friend at the local pub, and share a sense of humor and companionship over a drink. Sundays were good, and as Severus walked up the hill and back to the castle contemplating his night, he thought that maybe this week would be bearable.
"Jack, we've got an incident at a pub called Dancing Bears," called Tosh the next Sunday, tapping away at her computer. Ianto, who had been just about to stroll out the doors, paused.
"Where?" he breathed.
Jack jogged down the stairs. He cast a sympathetic look to Ianto – he was no fool; he knew exactly where Ianto went on Sundays, and such an attack may have been targeted.
"Dancing Bears, small pub at the end of High Street," Tosh said and tapped up an image. "There was some kind of explosion—"
Ianto bolted from the cog door and stood behind Tosh. He swore very quietly at what he saw on her monitor; a wrecked crater where the pub should have been. As he watched, smoke drifted slowly from the ruin. Jack came up behind him, laying a supportive hand on his shoulder.
"Any idea what did this?" he asked, tone businesslike. His thumb, however, rubbed soothing circles into Ianto's back.
"Not a clue," Tosh murmured, tapping away.
Gwen grabbed her jacket. "Are we going to stand here, or are we going to check it out?"
Jack opened his mouth to respond, but stopped before any sound came out. His hand tightened on Ianto's shoulder. "Tosh," he said slowly, "Can you pan the camera up?"
Tosh twisted around to look at him quizzically, but at his nod did as she was told.
"Some kid, looks like," Owen muttered sourly, coming over for a glance. "Playing with fireworks."
Jack did not respond. He stood very still, strangely so, and Ianto glanced back at him. His face was pale, and the grip was not loosening; in fact, Jack's knuckles were whitening on Ianto's shoulder. Frowning, Ianto turned back to the monitor.
Owen was right. It looked like the afterimage of a firework display, but a bit more morbid. A green skull and serpent glittered ominously above the smoking ruin of the building.
"It isn't our department," Jack said coldly after a moment.
"What?" Gwen demanded, voicing Ianto's thoughts precisely. "I thought everything weird was our department! What other departments are there? This certainly isn't a matter for the police!"
"The skull and the snake," Jack stated in reply, his grip not loosening. "It's a threat, but not to us. It isn't our business." His fingers were starting to pinch and hurt Ianto's shoulder.
"Then we should make it our business!" Gwen snapped. "People have died, Jack!"
Not just people, Ianto thought, misery and fear sweeping through him. Had Severus been in the blast?
"Jack," Ianto put in very quietly before he could answer Gwen. "Jack, I met a friend every Sunday in that pub."
"You have friends?" Owen sneered, but Jack cut him off before Ianto could snarl a response.
"I know," Jack murmured, ignoring Owen. "I'm so sorry, Ianto." He removed his hand.
Ianto let out a shocked breath. At least he was honest. "Jack—" he started.
"You can't check it out," Jack stated, spinning Ianto to face him. "I'm sorry. It's too dangerous."
"Too dangerous?" Ianto demanded. The rest of the team fell absolutely silent, watching the row that was about to break out. "Jack, I'm a Torchwood Operative. I think I can handle dangerous for a friend."
Jack pinched his nose. "My office, Ianto." He tilted his head. Ianto heard Gwen say something to the others with shrill indigence, but he ignored her, numbly following Jack up the stairs to his office. As soon as the door closed, Jack tugged Ianto into his arms. Ianto resisted only briefly, confused and on the edge of angry, but he let Jack hug him when he saw the alarm in his eyes.
"Listen," Jack whispered in his ear, voice soft and urgent. "It isn't aliens. It's something else—like the Fair Folk, remember them? It isn't the fae, but they're like them. It's beyond us, Ianto, and we're defenseless. It's their war, not ours. Please, please trust me. I'm sorry about your friend. I'm so, so sorry, but if you investigate, or go after them, you will get killed. Please." Jack's arms were tight and frightened around Ianto, who sighed and rested his cheek against the Captain's shoulder. He should've known it was something like that.
"What are they, Jack?" he asked quietly. Jack shook his head.
"Can't tell you," he muttered. "No, really. They tend to wipe people's memories, with nothing so clean as Retcon. You have to trust me on this, Ianto."
The tremor that went up Jack's spine was more convincing than his words, really. Ianto felt it, sighed, and despaired for Severus even as he trusted Jack. He swallowed, feeling grief welling in his throat.
"You would've liked him, Jack," he muttered into Jack's shoulder and he felt Jack relax against him as he conceded. "He had Owen's sarcasm."
"Yeah?" Jack asked softly, his nervous cling of before turning into something gentler: comfort. Ianto smiled sadly.
"His name was Severus Snape."
"Severus Snape," Jack repeated, as though cementing it into his memory. "Has a nice sort of ring to it." He let go of Ianto carefully, before reaching under his desk and pulling out the Scotch. He poured two glasses. "Tell me about him?"
Ianto sighed and sat, taking a glass and appreciating Jack's support. "He was tall and thin with long hair and the most sour disposition you could imagine," he murmured, rolling the glass in his hands before taking a sip. "He said he was a chemistry teacher, but I didn't buy it—"
The Dark Mark shone high in the sky, and the sirens of the Muggle authorities wailed in the distance. He should go, Severus thought miserably. He should really, really go.
He was standing knee-deep in the rubble, dark cloak swirling in the faint breeze. Smoke curled up around him, and in the green light cast by the Mark above he could almost see the afterimages of the spells that had brought the pub down. This had Bellatrix written all over it.
Evidentially he wasn't allowed to have any peace, Severus thought angrily, standing still as a statue.
Never mind that Ianto had been a Muggle—he'd been a friend, and a quiet shore Severus could visit briefly once a week. The pub had represented a freedom that Severus knew he could never have, but something he could pretend to possess, if only for an hour or so. But apparently that wasn't allowed; no fraternizing with Muggles. The Dark Lord wouldn't be pleased.
Damn the Dark Lord, anyway, Severus thought viciously. He had a cover story all planned out, too – that he'd needed potions ingredients from a willing, preferable Muggle, donor and he'd been buttering Jones up for it. Imperius would've tainted the work, anyway. He even had the notes on the stuff.
He was going to kill Bellatrix. No, even better, he was going to twist his cover story so that the Dark Lord would kill Bellatrix. Ianto Jones had never realized it, but he'd made a formidable friend the night he'd struck up conversation with Severus Snape, and Severus would be damned if he didn't avenge the boy's death. His vision blurred with fury.
Turning on the spot, Severus disapparated before the Muggle authorities arrived. The ash from the fire swirled up around the place where he had been standing, reaching for the sky before falling back down.
The students of Hogwarts noticed that Snape was especially vicious the next day, but even Dumbledore never knew the reason behind his sudden, poisonous rage.