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ArWen the Eternally Surprised
Author: Ria Time: 2007/11/22
Arwen encounters a strange monk and gains a little extra time.
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The Clash of Worlds: The Fellowship of Necessity
Submitter: Date: 2011/10/30 Views: 304
Chapter 3

"Okay kids, here's what we have," Jack raised his voice over the hum of chatter and Tosh, Owen and Gwen looked up at him almost guiltily. Ianto hid a smirk behind his hand and nodded when Jack glanced at him, because it seemed like the appropriate thing to do. "They took out our security last night, so we have no visuals on them. They walked through our defences like they weren't there, and knew exactly what they were looking for. Nothing else has been taken, am I right Ianto?"

"Nothing at all," he agreed. "There's stuff here that would make most people jealous or terrified," he mused. "But they ignored them."

"They know how valuable what we have is," Jack agreed. "If there had been anyone here, they would have been cut down once they realised that I'm the only one who knows where it is."

"Why's the Doctor different, then?" Owen asked.

"Because he's the Doctor," Jack stated, as if that explained everything. "We don't know when they'll come again, we don't even know if they'll come again, but until this is all sorted out it's all of us or none of us. They won't come for us at home, well anyone but me... But no one's to stay late alone, I want us all here to cover each other."

"What about you, if you think they'll come for you?" Gwen asked, eyes wide and challenging. "You can't expect us to let it pass."

"Why are you always surprised, Gwen?" he leaned forwards towards her. "If the choice is between me and one of you, that's no choice at all. I'm not going to change my life on the off chance that someone will try to kill me, though, if that's what you're asking."

"What about Ianto, though? You'll lead them straight to him and they'll use him against you..."

"I doubt it, Gwen," Ianto looked over at Jack. "Everyone knows that Jack would never put me before the safety of the world, they're too bright to even try it."

"But Jack..."

"Gwen, he's not you," Ianto cut her off again quietly, swinging his gaze to her and ignoring their audience. "We can't afford for him to be you. I'm not you either, and I can cope with what we are."

Jack squeezed his hand, and everyone looked round to him when he spoke to Gwen. "Life's too short, Gwen. We go on, like we always do, knowing that there's an extra load of them on our tails as well as the Weevils and space debris. That's all we do, we carry on."

"Where's the device?" Tosh interjected when the pause grew uncomfortable. "Can I look at it?"

He shook his head. "It's secure, that's all you need to know. It's all ready for me to take it and use it when I need to."

Owen leaned back in his chair. "You taking it alone?"

"No," Ianto huffed. "Much as he wants to."

"Oh thank God, don't think I could cope with you pining again," Owen slapped the table. "So what's next on the agenda?"

And that was that for two months.

Ianto felt like he was saying goodbye each day. Not just to Jack, who seemed to be torn between clinging tight to say 'I'll never let you go' and clinging tight to say 'I miss you already'. Jack was confusing and irritating and sometimes scary and, yeah, Ianto was learning to breathe more lightly in his sleep and Jack was learning to cope with the fact that sleeping with his head on Ianto's chest made Ianto snore, and it was nice, even if every second they spent together reminded Ianto that Jack thought he was going to be dead in under three months. It was lovely to feel so cherished and well cared for, his recent weight gain showed how much Jack had been spoiling him, but bloody awful to be faced with his own mortality all the time.

So he figured it was no surprise that the times when the urge to run outweighed all other instincts were getting more frequent and harder to argue with, which had led him here, wandering the nearly deserted streets of Cardiff at some hideous hour of the morning, doing his best to notice the little things about the city that he never got to see when he was running through it in pursuit of the Bugblatter Beast of Traal, or with his head down and walking fast to get all the things he needed to get before Jack or work called him back.

The soundtrack to his late night wanderings was the ringing of his ignored mobile, vibrating in his jacket pocket. He'd heard Carameldansen all the way through five times now, and was on the verge of turning the damned thing off; unfortunately, Jack's sanity was slightly too valuable for that, so he just dealt with the fact that he had both the world's most annoying ringtone and the world's most annoying boyfriend... husband.

The bells of the Parish church chimed the hour around the corner, and he counted the chimes whilst he found a bench and sat down to ponder. When he put it on the bench, his phone vibrated off the edge and dropped into his hand, at which point he decided to answer it and shut Jack up. "Can't you take a hint?" he demanded as a greeting.

There was a long pause, too long because it made Ianto feel like shit, then a very deliberate, "Fuck you," and the line went dead.

He clenched his fist around the phone and pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes hard, then let out a yell and threw the phone across the square, watching as it flew apart on impact with the concrete wall. It didn't mean anything nothing meant anything, symbolism like that was all crap, but it was a very stupid move in a very real sense. Jack was now scared and angry at the same time, both now aimed at Ianto, and the tracker on Ianto's phone would just have sent out a cry for help to the Hub computer as it was detached from the battery. If Jack came for him he'd be scared and angry at Ianto, and if he didn't then it was entirely possible that everything Ianto held dear was damaged beyond repair.

He dropped his face into his hands again and dug his fingertips into his eyes, pressing until lights flashed. Tears dampened his fingers and he hiccuped a sob into his palms, then slid his hands down so that his fingers covered his mouth, staring straight ahead down the street.

His defences were crumbling at last, dropping away and letting in the weight of 'oh shit, I'm going to die'. Torchwood was ready for him to go, he had made sure of that. The archives were up to date with clear instructions, the repeated orders were all automated, his account was set up to send off emails to the people that no one would think or know to tell, and there was a folder with the details of a dozen people he thought were suitable replacements ready to go to Tosh, Owen and Gwen, because Jack would refuse to hire anyone, which was flattering but impractical. Jack still wasn't coping at all, unless withdrawing into himself every time Ianto was out of his sight and having increasingly frequent nightmares about being abandoned counted as coping. And Ianto really, really hadn't started dealing, probably with reason if this was how he dealt.

He didn't look up when someone joined him, or even when their pace quickened and hands grabbed his own with a strange mixture of forceful and tender, pulling them away from his face and holding them tightly. Jack transferred one of Ianto's hands so that they were both held, palm to palm, between one of his and tipped Ianto's chin up, wiping tears off his cheeks with the pads of his fingers before Ianto dropped his head forwards again to study his knees instead. "Ianto... Ianto, look at me," he tipped Ianto's chin up and Ianto blinked slowly. "Stay with me baby."

He blinked again and shook his head, pivoting on the tip of Jack's finger. "Don't call me baby."

"Don't act like one, then."

"I'm not acting like a baby," he snapped, standing up fast and meeting Jack's eyes on a level. "I'm acting like a twenty seven year old who's just realised he's not going to live to twenty eight."

Jack squeezed Ianto's hands, still trapped in his. "Don't. Don't say that."

"Why, Jack? You've accepted it. Why am I not allowed to?"

"I've not accepted it," Jack insisted. "I'm preparing for the worst, but don't you ever think I've accepted it." He tugged Ianto in and trapped his hands between their chests, wrapping his free arm around Ianto's back and cupping the back of his head to guide it to his shoulder, where Ianto tucked his face into Jack's neck and shuddered again. "I'm not going to lose you, Ianto. Not yet."

He nodded and tugged his hands free so that he could cling on to the back of Jack's coat, burrowing further into it. "Jack, I don't want to die," he told him, knowing how petulant he sounded. "I'm twenty seven, and I've barely started living. I wanted to have kids, teach them to fall out of trees and to swim and ride a bike, see New Year in Sydney, visit Las Vegas. I wanted to marry you for real in one of those stupid alien themed chapels there, and it wouldn't matter that it's not legal because we've already done it," he chuckled through more tears. "Jack..."

"I know," he soothed, and Ianto realised that Jack was crying too. "You could stay, you should stay. Stay here, Ianto, please?"

"It won't make a difference. Whatever we choose, that's what we choose, and that's... I couldn't watch you leave knowing that you were going to get hurt and that I might never see you again," he buried his face deeper into Jack's neck. "However long we get, I'm going to use it."

Jack sighed against the back of Ianto's neck. "You going to stop scaring me now?"

"I'm sorry. And for snapping at you. I'm... I think I just dealt with it."

"I'll bring you home," he told him with a quiet intensity. "You get me there, and I'll get you back again, okay?"

"Yeah, and then I'll take you to Vegas, and you can put me to bed when I get legless."

"You really want to do it again?" Jack pulled back and flattened his palm against Ianto's cheek. "In Vegas?"

"Well, somewhere," he admitted softly. "It'd be nice to do it with more than Tosh and a passing doctor there, for starters. Maybe not Vegas, then I could invite my sister."

"Does..."

"I told her we're married," he cut him off. "She was pissed off, understandably so, so I've promised that I'll take you round to meet her."

"We'll see her before we go, and we'll arrange a repeat performance when we get back."

"Okay," he leaned in and pressed his lips to Jacks. "I'm not going to die, I'm not."

"You're not," Jack kissed him back, half promising and half begging.

After several mugs of coffee in the fast food restaurant that was the only place still open, they wound up on the roof of the Capitol building. Ianto had Jack's coat around his shoulders and Jack's arms around his waist, facing East and watching the sky turning pink and gold. Again, Ianto wanted to reject the symbolism, but it seemed to be following him around. "Dawn," he pointed out. "A new day."

"Fresh start, if you want it."

He turned this over in his mind, thinking back over the night and the new day. "Yeah, fresh start. I'll eat more fruit and vegetables, get more sleep, get more sunlight, see my sister more, take up writing. Turn my life around."

"Give up smoking?"

"Maybe," he conceded.

"Divorce?"

"Definitely not."

Jack chuckled and kissed the back of his neck. "Well, I'm glad I rank above the cigarettes."

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