Characters/Pairings: Jack/Ianto, mentions of pretty much everyone, OCs
Spoilers: Seasons 1 and 2, Children of Earth
Warnings: Character death. Lots. Major characters, minor characters. Original and canon.
Summary: Ianto always kept a mental list of the people that he knew Jack would stay alive for, then later who he would stay human for. Ianto is that last one on that list and his own time is running out. Fourth and final part of my "Crossings" 'verse.
Author's Notes: As mentioned above this is the fourth in a series (and I know it's been like a year since the last one. My apologies). Nothing will really make sense unless you've read those - sorry to be assigning extra reading. I know it's been awhile. Earlier fics are as follows:
Crossing Back (Prologue plus 13 parts)
Crossing Eyes and Dotting Tees (one shot)
Crossing Lines (11 parts)
It had never been difficult to keep Jack human. They always said that the family you chose was more important to you than the family that was yours by blood, or at least that was a few incarnations of that statement that Ianto was familiar with. It had vacillated back and forth various times as the centuries had gone forward but that same core group of people that Jack had decided he valued more than anything had never changed. Occasionally a few people were added in but those days had long passed. Another thing Ianto remembered from a few business classes he’s taken at uni was that one’s social network rarely expanded past the age of thirty. Jack must certainly have long passed the immortal equivalent of age thirty by now. Ianto at times was sure he had himself.
Jack was different now. He did not mean that in a bad way, precious little with Jack was ever a truly bad thing, but if some people from the days in Cardiff had happened to walk past him today they would have problems recognizing him in any way aside from physically. Old age had certainly mellowed him out. He was a little more tolerant and less brash. Ianto had to admit that he missed some of that but at his core Jack was still Jack and he loved him for that. He seemed to continually be repeating himself nowadays. He needed constant reassurances what with tentacles sprouting up where certain other appendages would be that would be a cause of concern for anything.
Jack was changing but he was holding himself back. It was part medically and part psychically, another thing that had simply ballooned into existence one day. Occasionally he’d wake up looking like his skin had turned to leather, or that one leg seemed to be shorter than the other. Jack would tell him not to worry about it and, sure enough, whatever was the problem would quickly be solved. Ianto had explained to him that if one day he woke up and Jack was nothing but an old fashioned leather shoe he’d still stay with him, (he’d still have his tongue after all) how many lovers had stayed with him for so long after all? This didn’t seem to help anything. He’d always been rather vain. Usually it was for everyone’s attention but Ianto knew for a fact that this was something Jack was only bothering himself with because he was the last person on the List.
The List was a mental list and Ianto had never really told Jack about it. There was no need to make a few painful facts of life concrete after all. The list was of people that Jack would stay wherever he was for, would stay human for. That list now only had one name on it and it was Ianto Jones. Everyone else was dust, or beyond it by now. Their names were all there in Ianto’s mind and they all had neat black line crossed through their names.
It was a chore to be the last surviving name on that list, or at least one that was still alive on the ‘slow path.’ That was not a problem. Ianto had been used to carrying a burden meant for several on his own for a long time now, and Jack could never be considered a burden in any case. The first problem was that he was quite sure that his time was running out. Coming back was hurting him more and more and was taking longer. Back in the old days a quick death, such as being shot, would take him two to five minutes to revive from. Getting shot now, and that was with the advances in technology for killing people, was nearly half an hour sometimes. Last week it had been forty minutes. Ianto still ached and Jack was still horrified.
The second part of this problem was that Ianto was beginning to want to leave. He’d lived too long. His time should have been up eons ago, first death notwithstanding. He was thankful for this time and he’d had a good run of it. But it was time for his final strut across the stage. Alone. Jack had displayed no signs of being as fatigued as he was or had slower revival times or anything else that Ianto seemed to be experiencing. The often nostalgic Jack was firmly fixed in the present and Ianto was losing himself more and more to the Cardiff days.
Tosh, a long time ago, had theorized that one day they’d have to make a choice about whether to stay or go. Ianto had no doubt that the next time he died he’d want to go if offered a choice. That being said he did not want to leave Jack without saying goodbye or getting a few things sorted. They had time enough but neither had had to deal with the idea of one of them properly dying in...well in ever come to think of it.
Ianto grunted and hauled himself to his feet. Driver’s license renewal was awful. He should be above such things by now. All part of pretending to be in your mid thirties instead of approaching your fourth millennia. He gave his citizenship card, ID chip, and subjected himself to a retinal scan and was sent back to wait for his turn in the simulator. Soon enough that was done and he was headed back on this planet’s idea of underground transit. Part of being immortal required constant moves. For the past six years they’d been living on Malta, which was almost precisely like the Malta of Earth was, or is. Landscapes may change, technology may change, but the essentials were all still there. Not a bad place to end your days.
There it was again. That surety that this would be the last place he’d ever see. The last place him and Jack would share together, at least until Jack finally passed on as well. Jack may think otherwise but Ianto was totally convinced that one day it would end for him too. The universe had a way of paying back the faithful, sometimes it was through death.
Jack would come to him again one day. That made things a little easier.
When the train collided into something, and the car suddenly became a raging inferno, Ianto shut his eyes and waited.
Ianto! Jack’s voice. That psychic thing again. What’s going on?
Train’s on fire. I’ll be dead in a few.
I’m on my way.
Ianto wanted to tell him not to bother. He didn’t to spare his feelings, but Jack knew.
Why wouldn’t I bother? What’s wrong?
I love you and I’ll be okay. An old promise, one that had never needed to be kept on a permanent basis so he’d never actually said the words. Jack would get the significance.
What? No. Ianto, wha-
Ianto embraced the darkness.