The very first day after the sixth week they'd been in town, Jack finally saw himself. The other him. He'd just settled down for a sandwich lunch on a bench off the docks when the other Jack Harkness sauntered by. Luckily he'd spotted him in just enough time to avert his face, or it could have been disastrous. Frankly he wasn't sure why it had taken this long to run into him in the first place. Well, other than the fact that he was quite adept at knowing where he'd be.
Jack noticed that the other him – the real him, he who came first, that other guy – was talking to a woman and realized exactly who she was. Beatrice Llewellyn. Wow. He'd just been thinking about her not too long ago and suddenly, there she was, looking every bit as beautiful as he remembered she'd been. She'd had quite a thing for him, back then.
He watched as his twin flirted with her shamelessly, all winking eyes and big, bright smiles. He shook his head. He'd improved his game a little bit since then. Hadn't he? Maybe not. Those winks and smiles were what got him Ianto, after all.
Ianto. He felt his chest tighten with just the name. What a ridiculous reaction after all the time they'd spent together, but nevertheless, just the mention of the man could make Jack happy. Especially with their current relationship going as well as it was.
Jack leaned in to kiss Beatrice and his future self felt almost like a dirty old man for watching. It was a private time for him and Beatrice, and one he really shouldn't even be witnessing, but somehow he couldn't turn away. He wanted to watch it play out. He knew why. It was the simple fact that he was going to marry the girl, even though he'd never loved her. He was going to marry her and it was going to get her killed. That was what Torchwood's influence had meant, back then. Now that he thought about it, not much had changed.
Jack waited until the couple turned away before throwing out the last of his sandwich and walking back toward the docks. His stomach was rebelling, even though it wasn't the food's fault. If he'd been a better person back then he wouldn't have stayed with Beatrice. He hadn't even been faithful to her. There'd been plenty of other women, as well as men, and he should have never made that kind of commitment if he wasn't going to honor it.
It had been her family pushing them more than anything. Her mother was a devout woman, raised in the faith and passing that on to her offspring as well. Beatrice had wanted to convert him, to teach him their ways, but Jack declined. He did agree to marry her, but only because he liked the idea of having someone there for him at night. Well, the nights he was actually home. The rest of the time he was out on the town, pretending to be at work so that he could pick up the next hot thing that passed him by and have his way with them in some seedy back alley.
If it hadn't been for his changed body chemistry he'd have likely picked up much more than his lovers. He supposed that was one good thing to come of his immortality. Even if his body didn't sort out diseases on its own, the next time he died everything would reset anyway.
The rest of his shift that day Jack thought about himself and Beatrice. He had to tell Ianto. He hadn't, before, not even when they'd discussed relationships and he'd mentioned having been married. It wasn't that he'd lied, really, but he certainly hadn't admitted to Beatrice. And now she was weighing heavily on his mind.
Jack took Ianto out for a meal that night, broaching the subject after they'd been served their food. Surprisingly, Ianto didn't seem angry.
"I knew you'd been married more than once, Jack."
"Really?" His eyebrows went up and he set down his fork. "How did you know that?"
"Process of elimination, actually. You mentioned one of them in conversation during a particularly drunken night out with the team, but her description didn't match the woman with you in the photo in your drawer."
Jack sighed. "My brilliant Ianto Jones," he said, cracking a smile. "I should have known you already knew all my secrets."
"This Beatrice," Ianto said slowly, eyebrows furrowing, "how long were you with her?"
"Not long at all, and that's the problem."
"Ianto, I've done a lot of shady things in my past, but Beatrice was one of my biggest mistakes." He took a sip of his water before meeting Ianto's eyes. "I'd lost my first wife to illness, as you already know. But Beatrice, well, I only married her because her family wanted me to, and…"
"And?" Ianto asked, after Jack had faded out.
"And…I wanted the companionship."
"There's nothing wrong with that, Jack."
"There is when you don't love the person you're marrying. And I never would have stayed that long. She didn't know I couldn't stay dead."
"I wasn't faithful to her either, Ianto. I married her, I took care of her, but I was never monogamous."
"Why are you telling me all of this now?"
"I'm the reason she died."
"Jack, I realize that at the moment we're not in our own time, but," he lowered his voice even further, "unless she has amazing genes, in our time she'd have died of natural causes by now."
Jack shook his head. "She died a year after we married. I was away at war, Torchwood had demanded I return for a special mission, and I refused. I told them I was needed in the fight. That same night, they murdered Beatrice."
Ianto's eyes grew wide. "Oh God, Jack. I'm so sorry."
"Not exactly the kind of conversation I'd normally bring up over dinner, but…"
"But seeing her – them – today, that brought it all back."
"Yeah, it did. But truthfully, I was thinking about her not long before we came here."
Jack nodded. "I know you've seen the footage, Ianto."
"It's all right, Jack."
"No, it's not. Ianto, it was never about Gwen, really. It was the pain that hit me when I thought of her getting married. The pain of my own failures, not of her marrying Rhys. That was never what it was about. You know that, right?"
Ianto met his eyes briefly and then looked away. A moment later he looked back, smiling gently. "I understand."
"I always tell her not to let it drift because I think there's a real future there. But another part of me is worried for her. I'm not blind, and I know she also wants to be with me. Even if you and I had never started this, I would never have let that happen. I've caused too many problems with my lack of fidelity, and I won't do that to someone else's relationship."
"What happened to Beatrice, Jack, it wasn't your fault."
"No, they targeted her because she was my wife. If I had let her go, let her marry someone worthy of her, instead of selfishly keeping her for myself…"
"You're being entirely too hard on yourself." He looked around, worry painting his features. "Look, why don't we head back home? I'll give you a back massage. Those always relax you. We can talk about all of this later."
Jack couldn't help but smile. "What would I do without you, Ianto Jones?"
"Flail miserably in a vat of self deprecation until you couldn't find your way out. Lucky for you, sir, you'll never be condemned to that fate on my watch."
"You're too good to me."