Tosh was at 'The Hub' running though the lighting and sound test for Ianto's performance that night. Rhys was sitting next to her with a mug of coffee, watching Ianto rehearse
'I really wasn't expecting him to sing tonight' he was saying, 'I saw him on the TV and he looks...broken'
Tosh nodded distractedly, 'he is that' she said, 'but between Martha with her "first rule of show biz is never, never cancel a charity gig" and Rhiannon with her "if you don't turn up people will think you are disgusted by the manner of Jack's death" poor bastard doesn't stand a chance'
'Think he'll be OK?' asked Rhys worriedly, 'we have got a lot of very important and wealthy people coming here tonight, this is important to me as well as to SOSA and Ianto. People will be kind I think, if that's what he's worrying about '
Tosh stopped what she was doing and turned to face him, 'I know' she said, 'but I know he will turn up. He seems to have lost any free will of his own; he's doing everything people are asking him to do compliantly and to the best of his ability, he understands how important all this is but… all of his happiness and joy is just gone. Jack's death has just drained all of the life out of him. It's...it's heartbreaking to see.'
Together they looked at Ianto who was standing on the stage, singing beautifully with a sad loving expression on his face and his eyes fixed on a reality that no-one else could see and that he would never have again.
Rhys sighed, 'this is the saddest thing I've ever seen'
Tosh nodded, 'I think we all misjudged just how much Ianto and Jack loved each other' she said sorrowfully.
Jack had slammed the phone down with a curse. Martha's phone went straight to voice mail, Tosh wasn't picking up at all and Rhiannon and Ianto's phones were turned off. Given the media frenzy that his apparent death had stirred up, none of this was really surprising but Jack was beginning to feel that, once again, the universe was fucking with him. He felt as if he was in a nightmare, as if he was jumping around yelling "I'm not dead, still alive here" in a soundproof box whilst outside of the box the man he loved most in all of creation was falling into pieces too small ever to find. Because Jack was essentially and good and kind man, he tried to find an atom of regret for John and Gwen's deaths but all he could think about was how totally obliterated Ianto had appeared, how the two of them had used him, the pain they had caused and he just couldn't bring himself to care that they were gone. He finally decided, regretfully, that trying to phone people was just wasting precious time; he had to get back to Cardiff and Ianto at once. Fortunately even though his car was gone, transport was the least of his problems. He silently thanked the gods that Hart and Cooper had been too busy fucking him and each other to explore the cottage grounds properly. Jack dreaded to think what they would have done had they found the SUV parked in one of the outbuildings since, at one point, they had seriously discussed testing the off road capabilities of the XKR-S. The only thing frustrating Jack's plans to get back to Ianto was the fact that the SUV was low on petrol.
Now he was turning the cottage upside down as he frantically searched for some money, he knew there was some stashed somewhere, if he could just remember where. Pulling tins out of one of the cupboards in the kitchen, Jack was sobbing with frustration and desperation until his hand lighted upon the old cream cracker tin he was hunting for. Suddenly HE was back, standing next to Jack and laughing;
Memory; 'Alex, are you insane?' asked Jack, ' You want to leave £150 in cash just lying around in a tin in a house that's empty at least 28 days out of 31?' Alex pulled Jack into a hug, 'emergency money' he laughed, 'trust me you'll thank me one rainy Bank Holiday Monday when we are out of Vodka and the ATM is out of money.' Jack tangled his fingers into Alex's short blonde curls, 'can I thank you now instead?' he asked huskily and he pulled his lover into an adoring kiss. 'Please do' murmured Alex, sliding his hands down Jack's back to cup his arse and pull him closer. 'How do you you think of all this stuff?' asked Jack. 'Because I like to take care of you and because I love you so much, Jack' smiled Alex happily
Gratefully, Jack tucked the notes into the back pocket of his jeans, 'I loved you too, Alex' he said softly, 'and you would have liked Ianto,' he paused and considered, ' maybe a little too much I think' He smiled gently, wiped his eyes and, scooping up the keys to the SUV, left the cottage at a run.
By 8 o'clock 'The Hub' was packed out. Rhys and Martha had been proved correct the sensational nature of Jack's reported death had piqued interest and the event was completely sold out, with people being turned away on the door. Behind the small stage Owen and Rhiannon were standing with Ianto, both of them watching him carefully,
'You can relax' said Ianto, 'I'm not gonna do a runner'
Owen gave a tight smile trying to ease the tension, 'Last time I saw you on this stage, that's exactly what you did,' he said, 'when the crowd saw…' and with a mental curse he shut himself up.
'When they saw Jack' said Ianto sadly
'Sorry he's dead or sorry you mentioned it?' asked Ianto
Owen shuffled uncomfortably, 'I-I didn't think'
'You forgot' Ianto gave him a sweet desolate smile as he turned to make his entrance
Ianto walked out onto the stage to resounding applause, as Rhys had predicted, the audience were inclined to be sympathetic and supportive. He stood in the spotlight and gave a smile 'Thank you for coming' he said as he always did, 'Survivors Of Sexual Abuse is a cause that is close to my heart and I thank you for turning out tonight to support their very fine work.' Then Ianto straightened and looked out into the eyes of the crowd, 'My name' he said, 'is Ianto Harkness-Jones. Jack Harkness was my friend, my lover and my civil partner and the reason I am here tonight is to honour his name.' A wave of shocked whispering swept the room as Ianto revealed his true relationship to Jack in public for the first time. Looking out at the crowd Ianto could see Rhiannon, Martha and Owen in the front row applauding him gently, and glancing to the side he could see Tosh wiping her eyes and smiling at him proudly.
Ianto picked up his Gibson, Gods this was going to be so hard. He closed his eyes and thought desperately, please Jack, please help me get through this; then he suddenly felt the sense memory of strong arms being wrapped around his waist, a gentle kiss being planted beneath his left ear and a soft American voicemurmuring, "This is my love and it will always be here when you need it" Keeping his eyes tightly closed to hold on to the feeling and the memory, Ianto began to sing softly;
With one more look at you
I could learn to tame the clouds
And let the sun shine through
Leave a troubled past and I might start anew
I'll solve the mysteries, if you're the prize
Refresh these tired eyes….
It was no good, he couldn't do this, a tear slid down Ianto's cheek and his voice faltered as the meaning and sentiment of the lyrics created a fresh spasm of loss that pierced his heart and stole his voice and his music from him. I'm never going to touch him again, he thought. Suddenly, from the back of the room a familiar baritone voice picked up the song;
With one more look at you
I might overcome the anger
That I learned to know
Find a peace of mind I lost so long ago
Your gentle touch has made me strong again
And I belong again…
Ianto's eyes flew open, he thought for a instant that he was going mad, there pushing his way through the crowded tables was the one person in the universe he wanted to see and had thought never to see again. 'Jack?' he whispered. People in the audience were hurriedly pushing their seats and tables out of the way to clear a pathway for Jack who never wavered from his route and never for one moment took his eyes off the young man on the stage as he sang. With a loud scream of 'JACK!' Ianto leapt from the stage and ran into his partner's arms to be swept into a kiss that set the standard for passionate kisses from that moment on, if not across the whole planet, at least across most of South Wales. When they finally broke for air, Jack rested his forehead on Ianto's drinking in the quiet satisfaction and ecstasy in his sparkling tear filled eyes,
'So, ' said Ianto, pseudo-calmly, running the tips of his fingers over Jack's smiling face, 'not dead then?'
'Completely fine and in one piece?'
'Never ever, ever gonna leave me again?'
'Good' laughed Ianto and kissed Jack again as the entire audience got to their feet and cheered.
~ Fin ~