Rating: PG-13 (language, violence)
Spoilers: Children of Earth, scattered ones for the rest of the series
Disclaimer: Everything you recognize belongs to the BBC. Everything you don't is mine.
Summary: It's seven months after the events of "Crossing Back" and the fun begins with a building collapse.
Author's Notes: Sequel to Crossing Back and Crossing Eyes and Dotting Tees. I'd highly recommend reading those first before you attempt this or nothing with make sense. Be warned that Crossing Back is a fix-it fic.
Birthdays had never been much of a celebration to Ianto. When he was growing up his sister had always tried to throw him a proper party when the attempts of their parents either fell flat or didn’t happen at all. Ianto didn’t blame his parents for those failures as much as Rhiannon did, though; it was silly to force two of the most profoundly unhappy people in the world to be happy even for the sake of their children. Ianto also preferred the old subdued observations than anything Rhiannon had tried to throw. Uni hadn’t changed anything and Torchwood duties quite often got in the way of having any sort of proper celebration. He and Lisa had done one birthday dinner and he’d had small celebrations with the team. Despite the camaraderie he had felt for the later ones it really hadn’t been a celebration. There was always an undertone of ‘will we be sitting here with you this time next year?’ That went for everyone’s birthday though so Ianto accepted that.
This go around it was different. It was even different waking up in the morning. He’d woken before Jack and had gone to stand out on the small balcony and watch the sun rise. This was his first birthday in three years and it would be the first one that would legitimately feel like a celebration. That and there was no question about his longevity, at least for a good long while. He had a feeling that one day he would die, that one day he would want to leave, but that would be in his own way, on his own terms, and in his own time. Very few human beings could claim that and Ianto was not going to take that lightly.
He had so much, and that would get him through the day. Aside from festivities with the team, and a dinner with his sister and her family, Ianto did still work for Torchwood. Something would make this day run off schedule. He’d already warned Rhiannon and she was more than understanding. For the time being, he had this morning – or at least another half hour before Jack saw fit to get out of bed. The calm before the storm and a moment to appreciate his position, something he had never had a chance to really do.
Not surprising. He did work for Torchwood after all.
- - -
There had been birthday day sex not five minutes after Jack had woken up. Said birthday sex had taken place in various rooms, on various surfaces, and Ianto made Jack clean it all up in the name of his birthday. “Thirty years old,” Jack teased as he tore the sheets off the bed and tossed the bundle into the growing pile of laundry. “Getting old.”
“Twenty-seven,” Ianto corrected. “I’m not counting the years that passed while I wasn’t alive.”
“They did still happen,” Jack observed. “And it wasn’t like you weren’t conscious of them.”
Ianto shrugged and ducked into the bathroom. He really didn’t care whether people said this was his thirtieth birthday or is twenty-seventh. There would come a point where even he would lose count of how old he was. Jack had lost track of his own age long ago, though travelling in time so much had certainly made that calculation even more difficult. “Doesn’t matter anyway,” Jack had said when Ianto had first expressed distress that Jack couldn’t remember how old he was. “It’s nothing but a number anyway. That’s one thing that’s always stayed the same no matter where I’ve ended up.”
“Please tell me you aren’t in there looking for grey hairs in there.” Jack’s head appeared in the doorway of the bathroom and the teasing smile dimmed a little. “What are you thinking about?”
He almost told him but Ianto held his tongue. Not out of any sort of desire to hide anything but because he really wasn’t sure what he was thinking about anymore. “Nothing important,” was what he decided to say. He smiled ever so slightly and, when Jack’s smile matched his, he wondered if he’d known the whole time.
“Come on,” he gestured. “We’ve got to get some work done today.”
“Of course by work you mean more shagging.”
Jack’s smile went back to full brightness, except this time it was more of a leer. Next thing Ianto knew it was back to the bed and he knew they were going to be late. No matter, he was a man who had all the time in the world and this happened to be his birthday. Gwen and the others could handle themselves.
- - -
Heaven knew why, but the day managed to go somewhat well. A few minor rift hiccoughs but nothing severe enough to make anyone stay late or to make them miss their dinner with Rhiannon. They were meeting the others for drinks after the fact, and probably more food considering Harry’s latest experiment that had effectively killed the refrigerator. Harry would be paying for everyone the way he’d heard it. Or that was what he thought he heard Mel say.
The kids were out with their friends so it would just be Rhiannon and Johnny at a semi-decent restaurant where, hopefully, the day would continue to progress in a trouble free manner.
Jack was looking his typical dashing self and Ianto was wearing the suit that he typically reserved for formal occasions. He supposed this counted as formal, this was the first time he’d presented any lover to his sister and the fact that this was both his boss and another man added a whole other dynamic to his nerves.
“Quit your worrying over there,” Jack ordered as he pulled them in to the car park. “It’s going to be fine.”
Jack had ended up being right. Rhiannon had been absolutely smitten with him, so much so that Ianto found himself sharing the same sceptical look as Johnny – both of them worrying if they’d leave alone tonight if this kept up. “I’d like to remind you that your husband is over there,” Ianto said to his sister when Jack got up to get more drinks. “Also I would like to point out that I found Jack first.”
“That man is too gorgeous to be kept to yourself,” Rhiannon chided him. “Can’t you lend him out?”
Ianto shook his head as Jack returned with another drink for Rhiannon and, to Ianto’s surprise, another beer for him. “You were looking a little lonely,” Jack winked and ruffled Ianto’s hair before sitting down beside him and across from Rhiannon and Johnny. Ianto had to smile as he watched Johnny take Rhiannon’s hand tightly in his own. He was about to show a bit of solidarity and take Jack’s hand but Jack beat him to it. Ianto raised an eyebrow but Jack paid no attention as he asked after Mica and David and sought to learn more about the other couple. They’d already been interrogated after all.
This was insane. Too insane for words or thoughts. Never in a million years had he ever expected to be sitting at a table across from his sister with a significant other. The fact that it was Jack was another degree of impossible – or rather incredibly unlikely since he was hesitant to call anything impossible now. It was nice and harmless really. Everyone liked each other, Johnny’s fear of being made single notwithstanding, but it was just so surreal.
Rhiannon and Johnny and the kids were his family by blood. His family though was Torchwood and the real celebration and the real party and the real connections would be there. He didn’t want to disregard Rhiannon, he’d been an awful brother and he knew it but she loved him anyway, but there were only so many aliens one could see before there was some sort of disconnect. He didn’t want there to be a disconnect, not with her.
Jack and him hadn’t really discussed him telling Rhiannon about the immortality business but it was something that they recognized would have to be done eventually. Now seemed a good enough time.
“I can’t die.”
Rhiannon blinked at him. Jack and Johnny had gone to settle the bill, and probably fight over who got to pay for what, so he was alone with his sister by their cars in the empty car park. This was a moment where he would have expected Rhiannon to scream and go off like she did normally but instead she raised a familiar looking eyebrow and asked if he was having her on.
“Wish I was in some ways,” Ianto said. “It’s been proven though. Multiple times.” Rhiannon winced and Ianto promptly regretted adding that last bit.
“So you’ll live forever?”
“Close to it.”
“What about Jack?”
“He’s facing forever right along with me.”
She started for a moment but quickly recovered. “That’s good,” she nodded. “At least neither of you will be alone.” She smirked at Ianto’s surprise. “You were expecting a more extreme reaction were you?”
“Well,” Ianto began. “There is a strong precedent for it.”
“Anything you say to me about you doesn’t surprise me anymore.” Rhiannon smiled that knowing older sibling smile. For the first time he wasn’t annoyed by it. “It’s also nice to know that I won’t lose you again.”
Ianto sighed. “I never told you how sorry I was for that did I?”
“No, but you don’t have to. I’m assuming you didn’t ask for it.” Ianto didn’t know who reached to hug whom first but next thing they hugging. They stayed that way until they could hear Jack and Johnny approaching. Rhiannon raised an eyebrow again, this time toward Johnny. Ianto shook his head and held out a hand as they stepped away from each other. Wait, was what he was saying. Despite other precedents about Rhiannon’s ability to keep her mouth shut, Ianto knew that she’d keep quiet this time. No matter how calm she seemed to be there had to be some questions bouncing around in that head of hers.
Good-byes were said and then Ianto found himself in the car heading down to the bar where they were meeting the team. Jack was looking at him every now and again between conversation and watching the road but he hadn’t asked about anything yet. He’d figure it out on his own before the night was through, Ianto gathered. Or else he’d tell him tomorrow. Better be sure that he knew the next time he saw Rhiannon.
In the meantime, however, there was a celebration to be had.
- - -
Gwen had booked one of those private rooms for them to get up to their antics and loud mouthed ways with as little interruptions as possible. Jack had assisted in this by simply being his overly flirty self. The staff had really been scared into submission, however, with a shocking death glare from Mel when one of the servers had inquired whether “her boyfriend” would be paying for her as well. After the woman had fled the room the real shocking moment had come when Harry looked over at Mel and said “well it is my turn, I think.”
“Hold on!” Jack had yelped. He looked back and forth between their socially inept doctor and their abrasive technician. “You two are together?”
Harry nodded proudly while Mel simply said. “Maybe not after tonight after that display there, Harry.”
“How long?” Gwen asked. “And who asked who?”
“The answer to how long would be three days ago,” Mel answered coolly. “And I am not divulging the answer to the second question since I know full well of the bet you have with the Boss.”
“What bet?” Harry asked. “What bet?”
Mel rolled her eyes but Ianto saw, now that he was looking for it, the slightest undercurrent of amusement in the gesture. It was official now, he decided, Torchwood was now a matchmaking service. Three relationships begun in the organization, one of which in death but it still counted. Torchwood is not responsible for the cluelessness of the parties involved and all that. Tosh and Owen had clued in at the end, literally, though. It was also pleasing to know that Harry and Mel decided to go for it. They had seen enough regret and broken hearts in their time. There was no time but the present to act on these feelings.
One of them could be dead tomorrow. He didn’t want to think of it but there was always that idea. Was this how Jack felt, he wondered. Watching them all live their lives and enjoying their friendship knowing they’ll be gone sooner rather than later. That and you were certainly going to outlive them. No questions there.
It was impossible to dwell on that. He’d spent years trying to teach that to Jack and it was something that he promised that he himself wouldn’t do. He had his friends today and that what mattered most. Later that night he would dance with Mel and Gwen both, buy Rhys a beer and get the full play by play on the capture and beating of John Hart, and get the answer to Gwen’s second question out of Harry with the promise to keep silent about it.
It wasn’t his birthday he or anyone else was celebrating anymore. It was a celebration of completeness, unity, friendship, family, all that other stuff. They’d come together totally now. It would take death to get them apart now, and Ianto knew that death was far from the end as well. No matter who died or didn’t die tomorrow, nothing would keep them apart. Not forever.
As the night was devolving into drunken antics, Ianto was currently babysitting the Gwen’s margarita and Mel’s Kilkenny, Jack slipped into the seat beside Ianto. “I want to give you this now before I get too drunk for you to take it seriously.”
Jack pulled out a small box and Ianto couldn’t help but gag. “If those are wedding bands I promise I will throw up on you.”
“Not wedding bands,” Jack assured him with all seriousness. “Just rings.”
“I know you don’t want to get married,” Jack said. “I don’t want to either. I do however want to show that I’m committed. That I’m not going to get tired of you in a few decades.” Jack stopped for a moment and mouthed the words again, as if getting used to saying something important in a foreign language. “I never thought I’d ever say that. To anyone let alone you.”
“You’re stuck with me.” Ianto informed him, saving him from the embarrassment of trying to get any more romantic than he already was. He took the smaller of the two rings and slipped it on. “For a very long time.” He held out his hand.
Jack picked the last one up and put it on. He took Ianto’s hand. “Wouldn’t have it any other way.” He threw Ianto that trademarked Harkness grin and Ianto matched it with his own understated smile.
“Now,” Jack continued. “The last time you danced with me was nearly four years ago.”
“I was extremely drunk too if I remember correctly.”
“You do,” Jack confirmed. “Care to give me a sober dance?” He rose and offered his hand.
“I think I can do that.”
Ianto could do many things now. Many things that he never would have thought he could do or live to do. Giving his partner in immortality a dance was far from the most taxing.
Author's Note: Thanks a lot for the support and for hanging through! I'm writing the next installment now so keep your eyes peeled for that! :)