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)
Morning broke with a thunder storm to end all thunder storms. Flatware was rattling and Jack was unimpressed at being roused so early on his day off. They had bought a vineyard some time ago and Ianto considered it as probably one of the more interesting things that they had done in their lives. A touch slower than any of their jobs for various taskforces or Torchwood-like organizations but they had decided that it was time for a stint with something less likely to kill them every other week. It was much quieter, that was for sure, but there was something to be said about getting killed every other week. Mel Telson, Ianto found himself remembering, would never have put up with this sort of life. Not when she was single. Not when she married Harry and not even when she’d had her baby boy, Nigel. Where Gwen had welcomed the more subdued duties as Field Agent Coordinator, Mel had refused to be a desk agent. She had put up with the maternity leave and the brief stint of being on reserve staff but it had been Harry who had ended up begging that Jack allow her back on full time. Mel need constant action, constant stimulation, to keep going. She needed her life to be in danger to function. When Mel had been on reserve she had looked as if she was going to fade away into nothing. The fire in her was dying. Once Jack had signed off on her permission to return to duty that fire had come back with a vengeance and had kept right on burning until the day she had died.
Mel had died in a fire saving the life of her brother, Lachlan. Lachlan and Mel had never got on while Ianto had knew them, and hadn’t gotten on ever since Mel had finished university and disappeared into the world of cyber crime. Apparently she’d been doing it all through her education – rent and tuition being ridiculously expensive – and had decided that it was a better career option than anything her education could have afforded her. Lachlan had been understandably upset but the sheer magnitude of how much he hated her was intense. Neither did more for each other than was the barest minimum of human dignity.
Mel hadn’t even invited Lachlan to her wedding but she’d died to save him.
Showdown at a chemical refinery – 19 October 2027. Gwen had been frantically coordinating to get everyone out of the area before the whole place went up. Their quarry had escaped and they’d been trapped. Everyone had got out mostly unscathed, only Martha had burned her arm and Jack had actually burned to death himself. Ianto had managed to drag him out before the thing had exploded but it was only after the fact, when they’d seen a shaken but very much alive Lachlan wobble out of the ruins that they knew Mel had died. That and Gwen’s frantic calling over the com for Mel to respond was another dead giveaway. Mel was always prompt and always capable. The only that that could slow her down, could smother that fire would be death.
The story that they’d gotten out of Lachlan had been a simple one: there was only time for one of them to leave and Mel had literally thrown him out of the room. He’d heard her struggling, fighting into the very end, but fire had met fire and that had been the end of everything.
Melanie Laurel Telson: 13 August 1988 – 19 October 2027. It had taken them almost a year to get that spark back. The hiring of Calvin Trotter to replace her had helped matters, but things had never been the same again. Jack also never let anyone refer to him as “Boss” ever again.
The story did not end there.
One week later UNIT had got into touch with Ianto to inform Torchwood that Lachlan Telson had killed himself. He’d hung himself. He’d left no note but everyone knew well enough that it was because he couldn’t bear living in debt to his dead sister. His pride would not allow it. Jack had been infuriated and disgusted by this display of ingratitude and selfishness to the point of wanting to kill himself to he could have a go at letting Lachlan know exactly how he felt personally.
“Don’t worry about it,” Ianto had told him. “When Mel meets him again the hell that will be unleashed will rival most horror films.”
The very next night the worst thunderstorm in the whole of Welsh history had torn through
Cardiff. Jack and Ianto had been at Harry’s flat at the time, being there for Harry and then eight year old Nigel. Nigel, who was a perfect balance of Harry and Mel’s personalities but oh so slightly like Lachlan, was looking up at the night sky pumping his fists in the air whispering “go get ‘im Mum!”
Mel hadn’t wanted to leave her son motherless, she had been adamant about that, but there was only so much that someone could do to curb their own nature. Fire was fire and it always burned.
The thunder blasted again and the sky lit up as brightly as Paris. Jack started in his seat, nearly dropping the datapad he was reading. “That’s a big one isn’t it?”
Ianto nodded. “Think Mel’s saying hello?”
Jack smirked a little at that. “I hope not. She sounds angry.”
“Maybe Lachlan did something stupid again.”
Jack muttered something unintelligible and went back to reading that datapad. Ianto wasn’t sure if Jack remembered Lachlan’s name or not. Whenever Ianto referred to someone that Jack didn’t remember clearly or at all, Jack usually would mutter some agreement or simply nod. He probably would have reacted more if Ianto had said “Mel’s brother.” Still, though, it was upsetting that Jack didn’t remember Lachlan. Yes he’d only been reserve staff but some of the fights between him and Mel were worthy of remembrance, and Jack had been so angry at the time. That was something worth remembering. Jack could remember some minor offenses that Harry had done in his early days with Torchwood, along with a few pranks Nigel and Tegan had pulled on their parents. This was a little suspicious.
“He’s trying to forget him. Lord knows I’d try it if I didn’t see him way too often.”
It had been many centuries since he’d heard that particular Irish lilt – he was surprised that he could still identify that accent– but he recognized the deceptively sweet voice of Mel Telson. He looked towards the sofa next to Jack, lying across it and thumbing through what appeared to be an old paper magazine. Popular Mechanics. He might have known. Mel had always had stashes of the magazine lying around her station. Back issues had continued to pop up in various places around the hub years after Mel had been killed.
“You know,” Ianto told her. “You can get those in digital format nowadays.”
Mel put the magazine down and glared at him. Jack mumbled something at him, probably assuming that whatever Ianto had said was directed at him. “I like it this way,” Mel told him. “Also you might want to try thinking at me, yeah? Don’t need to scare the Boss now do we?”
“I think I’ve been doing that awhile now.”
“Been doing it since they day I met you.” Mel set the magazine down and swung herself to her an upright position. She shook out her hands and then rested them on her legs and leaned toward him. “Time that should stop don’t you think?” It was a light hearted question with a very serious undertone. Ianto had to agree though. It was time. It had been time some time ago.
Mel sighed. Her lips pressed together and she leaned forward to whisper. “You don’t have to stay for his sake.” She jerked her head to the immortal scanning through his datapad, still unaware of the presence of the spectre in room. “Jack will be fine and eventually he’ll have to let you go.”
Ianto was fairly sure that was what he was waiting for. Permission. For Jack to say it was okay for him to move on. To say that he’d be fine without him. Even if it was a lie.
Mel chuckled to herself, as if she’d read his mind. Maybe she had. “I didn’t get Harry’s permission,” she said. “Remember?” Ianto did. “Gwen didn’t get Rhys’. We don’t get permissions for this. You don’t owe Jack your sanity. If you hang along too long you’re going to eventually just leave anyway. You know that don’t you?”
“I know!” Ianto snapped.
“You know what?” Jack asked. His datapad was on the side table. “You know what, Ianto?”
“Nothing,” Ianto said. He threw a glare Mel’s way only to find the couch empty. The Popular Mechanics magazine was still on the coffee table. Jack followed his eyes and got up, walked over to the sofa, sat down and then went white. He picked up the magazine and stared at it as though it were a severed human head in his hands.
That was something new but for some reason he wasn’t surprised.
“Mel.” Ianto finally admitted. “It was Mel this time.”
Jack nodded distractedly and set the magazine back down as though he was laying it on a grave. “How is she?” he asked.
“Seemed fine,” he said. He wanted to say that Mel was much more concerned about him but he didn’t want to discuss this right now. Jack seemed to be of the same mind. He suggested going to for a walk along the beach. The rain looked as if it was going to be stopping soon.
Ianto could not imagine a better idea.