Title: A new friend for Ianto
Beta: A brittish friend who is not on LJ.
Rating: NC-17 (nothing explicit in this chapter but it will come later...)
Character(s)/Pairing(s): Ianto/Gabe (my OG)
Summary: This takes place in the time between season 1 and 2 when Jack is gone off with the doctor.
Disclaimer: I´m taking the liberty to play in the world of Torchwood even though it belongs to RTD and BBC
I love to get some comments so please drop me a line or two. Hope you will enjoy it.
A new friend for Ianto
Ianto had sent Gwen and Tosh home early. Owen was at a doctor’s conference. The rift was quiet. The weevils were staying underground. He had changed out of his suit and into a pair of jeans and a hoodie. He stepped out the door of the tourist office and spotted him right away. There was a young man, well not much more than a boy really, sitting in the corner and it looked like he was crying. He flinched when he saw Ianto and immediately got up on his feet.
“Hey there” said Ianto and tried to make his voice sound really nice and friendly. He added a smile just to be on the safe side. The boy stood motionless for a little while as if he was deciding if he was going to run or not. It seemed he chose to stay and his shoulder fell down a little. Ianto took a careful step forward.
“I’m Ianto. I work here. Is there anything I can help you with?”
“I highly doubt it.” the boy said and shook his head.
“Try me.” Ianto replied “You have no idea of the things I can do.” For a second he felt like the words coming out of his mouth could just as well have been Jack’s. He even tried to smile as reassuringly as only Jack could. The captain’s manners must have rubbed off on him he thought. But that was all there was of Jack for now. Ianto had no idea where in the vast universe he was or if he would ever return. He missed him like crazy sometimes. His kisses and his touches. The way they used to play. Life had gotten a whole lot greyer since he left. But it seemed he carried a bit of him around still, like now, when approaching this boy.
He sat back down, leaning his back against the wall. His hair was dark and long. It fell in smooth curls over his shoulders. He was wearing a purple velvet coat and a blood red scarf, a black top, jeans that were torn and bleached and red sneakers. Between his feet was a backpack. Ianto moved closer.
“Mind if I sit down too?” he asked and the boy nodded. Ianto took a closer look at his face. He guessed the boy was between 17 and 18. His features were beautiful, if slightly feminine. He had been crying. And quite a lot by the look of it, his eyes were really puffy and red. They both sat silent for a while.
“Once when I was really low, a guy I didn’t know came to me and for some reason it felt so good to unburden myself on him. Cause he had nothing to do with anything that was going on in my life and had no reason to pass judgement or whatever, you know. So if you want to talk…I’ve got ears.”
The boy glanced at him and a hint of a smile flew briefly over his face. Then he looked down again and drew a big breath.
“It’s just…I don’t know where to begin. I think I hurt someone I really care about.”
“How do you mean hurt someone, like physically?”
“No! No…it wasn’t like that. I…I hurt their feelings. I was unfaithful.” Ianto noticed the gender-avoiding pronoun.
“Was it a boy?” He turned his head and looked Ianto in the eyes.
“That obvious huh? What gave me away?” Ianto´s first instinct was to say that the purple coat was a bit flamboyant for a straight guy but he decided to go another way.
“Takes one to know one I guess.” The boy flinched, eyes widened and he looked Ianto up and down with a newfound curiosity.
“No!! You? For real? I would never have guessed it.”
“Well, what can I say? We come in all size and shapes these days.” He thought to himself that it was the first time he actually introduced himself as a gay man. And it felt good. It felt like he was being honest to his own identity. Even now, with Jack gone, he knew that things had changed in him. Things that weren’t likely to change back. His sexual preference had changed. And it wasn’t just Jack anymore. Since he left, Ianto had found himself cruising the gay clubs of Cardiff and once he even allowed himself to be picked up by a guy whose name he didn’t bother to remember after. The sex had been urgent and sweaty but purely mechanical. Sex with Jack had always been fuelled with the love they felt for each other. Or at least the love Ianto felt for Jack. He had started to doubt that Jack had ever really loved him back.
“Well how about that? I’ve managed to run into someone who might actually understand without prejudice.” the young man said. “What are the odds?” he paused and extended his hand “I am Gabe.” Ianto grabbed his hand and as he did so a small clinking sound made them both look down. They were both wearing thumb rings and that’s where the sound came from.
“Wow!” said Gabe and lifted Ianto´s hand to take a closer look. “That is a beautiful ring!” Ianto told him his sister had given it to him on his 20´th birthday. It was thick and silver with an ancient Celtic pattern. He hadn’t worn it much but recently he had found it in a drawer and begun using it.
“Your ring is very cool too.” said Ianto while inspecting the V-shaped ring with a small shackle on top.
“Yes. It’s a...” Gabe´s hesitation made Ianto curious and he tried to meet his eyes but he didn’t succeed so he filled in the blanks himself.
“It’s a slavering isn´t it?” he said and that finally made Gabe looked up and met his eyes. For a little while they both sat silently not letting go of each others hands. Ianto felt the warmth between their palms and started to wonder how long this moment would last. Then, as if woken from a dream Gabe suddenly withdrew his hand as if he’d burnt it.
“Any particular significance to it? Or is it just a fashion statement?” Ianto asked
“It’s just for fun” answered Gabe hastily and averted his eyes making, Ianto think that there might be more too it than that but decided not to probe.
“So…Gabe” Ianto began “want to tell me what made you sit and cry outside my office door?”
“Want to go grab a coffee?” Gabe responded. Ianto nodded.
“Actually, I have the greatest coffeemaker right in here, shall we go inside?” He made a gesture with his thumb towards the door. Gabe hesitated for a minute to make a quick assessment of how smart or safe that would be. He came to the conclusion that Ianto´s friendly demeanour made him relax so he nodded, got up and went inside. Ianto pointed at a stool and told the lad to sit and then he slipped back behind the pearly curtain and made the coffee.
When he came back out with two steamy mugs of black coffee Gabe was browsing through a catalogue from “Abercrombie & Fitch” that had been lying on the counter. He held up a page with a picture of a male model wearing a pair of low cut jeans and a plaid shirt that was unbuttoned and showed off a perfect torso and a real six-pack. He was lying on a hay bale with a straw between his teeth and a very seductive smile.
“Busted!” said Gabe and Ianto felt himself blush just a little but then they both laughed. He handed the mug to Gabe and sat down on a stool on the other side of the counter. He had suddenly become acutely aware of the fact that he had a very attractive and very young, openly gay boy in the tourist office and they were completely alone. That’s why he chose to sit on the other side of the counter. It felt safest. He thought about the camera overlooking the room and how many times he had just felt that Jack had been watching him through it. A part of him almost wished Jack could see him sitting there with this beautiful boy now. He wondered if it would make him jealous. He felt he had to remind himself again and again that Jack wasn’t there anymore. That was the difficult part. This whole new identity of his, the one that had developed since he came back to Cardiff and started working at Torchwood three, it was all so tangled up in the presence of the captain. He felt a bit conflicted. The young man in front of him now was clearly in need of some guidance. Was Ianto the right person to give it to him? Had he become too accustomed to the role as the protégé to Jack to be able to take on the role of advisor now? He decided for the time being to just be there. Gabe had to make the choice of what he wanted from Ianto and then they would have to take it from there.
“So this is where you work then is it?” he said, looking around.
“It’s part of it. And what do you do then. Still in school?”
“No.” he replied with a slightly annoyed sigh. “I know I look younger but I’m actually 21.”
“Really? Not quite sure I believe that. I would have guessed 17 or 18.” Ianto´s tone was playful and a bit teasing accompanied by a smile but Gabe pulled out a drivers licence to prove himself. He handed it to Ianto with a proud grin and Ianto looked at it and had to admit it probably wasn’t a fake. If it was, then it was a pretty good one.
“Alright then. I believe you.”
There was a moment of silence when the both sipped their coffees. Gabe cleared his throat.
“But that is part of my problem. See, not only do I look younger than I am; I am also totally immature and childish. At least that’s what I’ve been told. I always do whatever I feel like without any deep sense of responsibility. And that’s how people get hurt by me. And I really don’t want to. I just can’t help myself. All I want is to have fun. Laugh and dance and make love. And instead I’m just a bad person. I don’t know how I can…” He stretched out his arms, palms upwards in a gesture that seemed to want to embrace the whole world.
“Hang on a minute. It sounds like you are being a little hard on yourself here.” Ianto cut him off before he started rambling on. “Everyone has to take responsibility for their own feelings and needs. If someone need more from you than you can give, then don’t you think that at least a part of the responsibility lies with them? Do you know what I mean? Does that make sense at all?”
“I guess…a little…but still…”
“I know. It’s never a good feeling to let someone down. But you are you, and perhaps that guy had some kind of romantic illusions of what it would be like to be with you.” Ianto didn’t really know where these words came from or if they applied to this particular young man’s situation. It was like he was giving himself advice at the same time. He had fallen in that very same trap himself. Falling for Jack. Loving Jack. Relying on and trusting Jack. And then Jack just went away. Not so much as a “see you”. And he was left behind in confusion and despair. He needed to find a sustainable way to get on with his life.
“You think so?” Gabe glanced at Ianto who nodded.
“I think it’s likely. I think most of us walk around with illusions of what love should be like, rather than taking it at face value when and how it comes into your life.”
“You sound like a wise man.”
“Eh…just bit of common sense and life experience I suppose.” Ianto shrugged his shoulders.
They talked a bit back and forth about what could be considered to be wisdom and who had it.
“Can I ask you something Ianto?” Such a simple thing as hearing the young man saying his name sent a small shiver of pleasure down Ianto´s spine. With Gwen, Tosh and Owen it was always just work talk. Since Jack went away he hadn’t engaged in this type of intimate conversation with anyone.
“Shoot!” he replied with a smile.
“Do you have a boyfriend?”
“Not at the moment.”
“But when you did…did you hurt him? Or did he hurt you?” Ianto thought about the time when he had called Jack a monster and he would never in his life forget the depth of the sadness he’d seen in Jack’s eyes at that moment. It had been like a bottomless pit of the blackest sorrow. Later he apologised and Jack forgave him but the image would never leave his memory.
“It was a bit of both” He didn’t want to talk about Jack so he decided to turn the issue back to Gabe. “How about you? You say you have hurt someone but have you never been hurt yourself?”
Gabe looked down and went quiet for a long while and then he just mumbled something that Ianto couldn’t hear. He looked so serious that Ianto didn’t want to stress him. He let the silence stretch out until the young man finally took a deep breath.
He began telling him about his father who had been a very hard man. He had disciplined Gabe by forcing him to take baths in ice-cold water when he’d been naughty. His mother was warm and loving but turned a blind eye towards the abuse. Gabe had run away from home when he was fourteen. He’d been living on the streets for a while and some bag-lady had taken care of him for a year before she died. After that an older guy had introduced him to male prostitution and given him a room in a fairly decent squat where he’d stayed for a while before coppers tossed them all out. He was put into foster care but as soon as he had turned eighteen he had gotten out of there. He was now sharing a flat with two other guys and supported himself with different odd jobs.
Then Gabe absentmindedly removed his scarf. There was a bruised imprint around his throat. The sight of it made Ianto gasp.
“Oh my god! What happened there? Did someone try to strangle you?”
Gabe got nervous and put the scarf right back on.
“No it wasn’t like that. You weren’t supposed to see that. It was a silly game that got a little rough.” He laughed a little and waved his hand in a gesture as if it meant nothing. Ianto wasn’t convinced.
“Gabe. Talk to me.” Ianto said and gave the boy a deep look.
“Don´t, Ianto. Just don´t…”
”Don’t what ? ”
Ianto almost wanted to weep for the boy who had been through such a tough upbringing. He was amazed that he could still find hope and a will to go on. Gabe looked at the floor. The long hair fell over his face. Ianto stood up and walked around to the other side of the counter. Gently he gripped the young mans chin and lifted his face and looked deep into his eyes. He didn’t know what to say. Everything he could think of would just sound like some stupid cliché. He stroked the hair back from his face and put it behind his ear. And then he leaned in and kissed his cheek. Gabe put his hand over Ianto´s cheek and kept him close for a while. Then he turned his head so their lips brushed together. A sting of heat rushed through Ianto´s body as he reciprocated the kiss. It was soft and tender at first but then lips parted and tongues began playing. Gabe´s lips was so soft and his tongue so gentle. It was so completely different than kissing Jack. And as for others he had kissed in clubs, well, he’d been pretty drunk on those occasions and didn’t remember them all too clearly. This was something else. When it was over Gabe stood up. He had tears in his eyes.
“See what I mean?” he said “I can’t stop myself from snogging someone that I’ve only known for less than an hour.”
“Shhh…” said Ianto and placed a finger on his mouth. “It’s okay.” He pulled the lad in for a warm embrace and they stood like that for a long while. Gabe cried and Ianto stroke his back and his head and repeated the words “It’s okay” like a mantra. Finally the tears subsided and Gabe pulled away and sat back down.
“You caught me on a bad day. I’m not usually this sad.”
“We all have our bad days” Ianto replied.
“I should be going” Gabe said and looked at Ianto “Could we meet again? Can I have your number?”
“I´ll give you mine if you give me yours” he said and winked at him. They both let out a short laughter that dispersed the sadness in the air. He picked up his mobile, got Gabe´s number and called him right up. His phone was in his coat pocket and the ring signal was one of Lady Gaga´s songs. Ianto recognised it but didn’t know which one. It made him smile though.
“I’ll call you tomorrow to see how you are doing, okay?” he said and placed a hand on Gabe´s shoulder. Gabe nodded and smiled and then he headed for the door, picking up his rucksack on the way. Before he left he turned around.
“I´m so glad I met you today Ianto. Thank you.”
And then he waved and was out the door. Ianto stood indecisive for a minute. Then he lifted his hand and touched his lips as if there would still be some trace of what had really happened there. He wrinkled his eyebrows when he thought about the bruise around Gabe´s throat. And there was also that slave ring. Perhaps this boy was caught up in something he couldn’t handle. In time he would have to try and find out more, he told himself. Then he took the coffee mugs back to the kitchenette behind the pearly drapes.
To be continued.