Walking the Streets of Cardiff in the Rain

by James [Reviews - 2]

Printer
  • Teen
  • None
  • Action/Adventure, Alternate Universe, Hurt/Comfort

Author's Notes:
Canon taken from DW ep Tooth and Claw, DW audio play Loup-Garoux, and Torchwood. Written for Taffimai.

Jack levered himself up onto one elbow, wincing at the shooting pains in both legs, pelvis, and the entire lower half of his back. He grabbed onto Gwen's arm, ignoring the pain in his wrists -- one broken, one almost so -- and tugged awkwardly at her, forcing her to look back down at him. Her eyes were wide with fear which was only natural under the circumstances, but she was holding onto every shred of control she had. The set of her jaw said she wasn't clamping down on a scream, but telling herself whatever it was she said in situations like these. She'd been with Torchwood long enough to not flinch when aliens stole them out of their vehicle and landed them on a grassy hillside; she hadn't quite got to the point where that meant it was just another Thursday.

"Gwen," he hissed at her, partly to keep from drawing attention and partly because most of his body bloody hurt. "Gwen!"

"What!" she snapped, but keeping her voice quiet.

Good, Jack thought. Keeping her wits about her. Out loud he just said, "I really, really need you to do this."

The muscle in her jaw trembled, then clenched harder and Jack wanted to shout at her that this was not the time for an argument. Before he could open his mouth, she glared at him, daggers in her eyes and said, "I can't do that, Jack. We'll get out of this somehow."

Jack rolled his eyes. "Of course we'll get out of this. But -- you know, Gwen. You know...what I can do. But I can't heal unless I die first."

There, she flinched, her eyes flicking away from him and scanning the trees in the not too distance. Somewhere in those woods were the aliens that had kidnapped them, sneaking towards them with weapons at the ready.

Hunting them, because that's what this was: a game. A hunt with Gwen's and Jack's lives as the prize and the rest of the planet at stake. Cnarthi hunters, Jack had recognised them the second he'd opened his eyes, dizzy from the transport. He'd tried to argue with them, maybe should have tried to reason, but not five words had got out of his mouth when one of them had raised his weapon and fired.

Jack had been blown back, and the rules of the game were laid down even as Jack landed and he felt the bones of his body snapping. It was only luck that Jack knew the Cnarthi, knew the typical rules of their games and it hadn't been necessary that he be paying attention to the booming tone of the lead hunter's translator, hanging around its neck. The Cnarthi would give them a count-off while they circled the edge of the woods, then the hunt would begin. A trial for the game of this planet, they'd said, and if the hunting was good they'd be back.

In numbers.

Jack had known planets devastated by Cnarthi hunters before. The Cnarthi were crass and violent, sport hunters who used weapons too big and powerful for the sentient people they hunted. They liked to impose rules that were impossible and conditions that guaranteed their own success: like shooting down one of the 'prey' before the hunt even began. Their only hope lay in defeating these two; the Cnarthi didn't like to waste effort on prey that fought back too well.

Gwen glanced at him, as if following the line of his thoughts. "The others will find us. They were right behind us when we were grabbed," she said quietly, with an edge of steel in her voice that almost covered her uncertainty. Jack felt proud of her, but still he shook his head.

"We don't know how far away from the vehicles we were transported," he reminded her. One of the first things they'd done was try to orient themselves, figure out where they were. All Jack knew was they were probably still in Wales. "The tracking beacon was in our car -- it won't help them find us." He paused, then looked at her, tried to hold her gaze with his own. "Gwen, our only chance to stop these guys is if you kill me." Jack spoke quietly and calmly as he could. "I can't walk, and there's no way you can out-fight them by yourself. If we just sit here we're going to get killed.

"And then they're going to come back and hunt down everything and everyone that they want to. it won't just be hunters on foot, but ships full of weapons that will blast through any kind of defense Earth has in this time. There won't be any reasoning with them because they're doing this for fun. They like the fact odds are on their side, because they aren't in this for a challenge. They just want to mow us down and drag our bodies back to display. We have to stop the scouts before more of them come to Earth. We have to stop them, right here, right now."

Gwen was staring back at him as he talked, defiant and afraid. When he paused, she finally looked away but didn't try to free herself from his grip. he knew her answer even before she said a word, the defeat clear on her face. "I can't. I can't...kill you, Jack. I'm sorry," she whispered. "I can't do what you're asking."

"It is the only way," Jack insisted. "If I could hold a gun I'd do it myself. But I can't be sure I'd be able to aim well enough." He stopped as he saw Gwen's eyes -- unfocused, distant, and when she looked back at him there was the terror that he hadn't seen through their entire encounter. He let go of her arm and fell back. She wasn't going to do it, which meant he wasn't going to be able to stop the Cnarthi. All he could do, then, was hope Gwen was somehow able to hunt down the two aliens and stop them herself.

He was used to impossible rescues, last minute heroics, but unless Gwen shot him, killed him and enabled him to come back, hale and whole, then he honestly didn't see how they were going to get out of this one. All Gwen had was her sidearm, and the two Cnarthi had spit-rifles and knives as long as Jack's arm, and at least one of them would be carrying a laser weapon of some kind, hidden somewhere on its person.

The Cnarthi didn't believe in fair game. They wanted to kill things and call it sport; Jack could only be grateful they didn't simply vaporize humans from the air, but at least chose to come down to the ground and give them the appearance of a fighting chance.

He sighed and tried to look around for something, anything he could possibly use. He might be able to prop himself up, maybe Gwen could lure the Cnarthi towards him and he could....

He had no idea. He could barely move, and even if Gwen lucked out and shot one of the Cnarthi, they hunted in pairs and were too experienced to let something like a projectile weapon slow them up for long. Jack looked back at Gwen, wondering how he could persuade her that she needed to kill him and soon, so he could regenerate in time.

He didn't think about how he wasn't much better armed than Gwen, or how hand-to-hand combat against a Cnarthi was almost always doomed from the start. He saw Gwen glance his way as she scanned the tree line, her jaw clenched as she refused to turn towards him.

Jack opened his mouth -- to say what, he didn't really know. That was when he heard the howling.

He closed his jaw, blinked, then stared -- and grabbed Gwen's arm as she drew her gun to aim at the large brown wolf that came crashing through the trees and ran straight for them. Gwen pulled herself free and Jack hissed, "Don't shoot!"

"That isn't them...?" Gwen began, and Jack shook his head quickly.

"Ianto," he said, and Gwen's eyes grew wide as Ianto ran up, coming to a halt beside them. He gave them both a once-over, eyes still blue but sharper, somehow, with their new shape. Then he raised his head and sniffed the air.

"Cnarthi," Jack said, softly, though he wasn't sure if Ianto had heard of the alien race. "Two of them. We have to stop them -- kill them before they kill us, or they'll come back in greater numbers and hunt down every human on the planet." He paused, then asked, "Where are-- how did you... there's no moon!"

Ianto turned his head towards Jack, and even if Jack hadn't known who it was, the eye roll would have identified Ianto completely. Jack frowned, but shook his head. More important things to do right then.

"I need someone to kill me, so I can--" He stopped because Ianto had tensed, then all Jack saw was Ianto's open mouth, teeth bared, and there was a sharp pain in his throat. Then blackness.

~~~

The world slammed into him in a familiar rush: familiar but not one Jack ever truly got used to. He sat up gasping, barely aware of his surroundings as his body made itself re-known to his mind. He looked around, saw Gwen sitting on the grass, watching him. She raised one eyebrow and a word, sardonic, flitted as if randomly through Jack's head. Then languages and memories and awareness poured into his head until it was over-full to bursting and all Jack wanted was to crawl under a blanket and hide for awhile.

Instead he looked around and saw Owen frowning at him. "You're fine," Owen said dourly when he saw Jack looking at him.

Jack nodded. He knew better than Owen his condition by now -- and even as he realised he was alive and whole again, he saw that Ianto was gone and Gwen and Owen were decidedly calm. He craned his head around but saw nothing, heard only distant movement through the underbrush that might be a werewolf on tiptoe, or possibly just a squirrel.

"Where are--"

"They've gone off to hunt down your aliens," Owen said. He didn't seem unduly bothered, Jack noticed, and he wondered if part of his brain wasn't yet back online to process things like concern.

"Alone?" Jack got to his feet, grateful to discover that, as expected, everything worked properly.

"Teaboy implied something snide about my concern over their ability to hunt down two aliens by themselves," Owen said, rolling his eyes in what Jack thought was a pale imitation of Ianto.

"I offered to go with them," Gwen said, and Jack heard the tremble in her voice that said she'd reached her limit of believing six things before breakfast that day, and was simply coasting along until she could go home and go to bed. Gwen shook her head as if trying to make everything she'd seen fit together. "Tosh...I think it was Tosh. It was a large black wolf that arrived with Owen, and Owen said it was Tosh, and she answered to the name 'Tosh' but, as I said, a large wolf. She went with the wolf you said was Ianto. To hunt down the Cnarthi." She was looking at Jack as if to dare him to either contradict her, or agree that the two wolves were in fact her co-workers.

Jack shrugged. "Did I forget to mention Ianto and Tosh are werewolves? Although I don't understand how they can be right now. There's no moon. It won't be full for another two weeks." Jack frowned at the sky, because it was entirely possible that somehow a moon had appeared just in time to turn the two into their wolf forms right when they needed it.

The sky was blue and clear, and completely devoid of a moon.

"I believe you forgot to mention they were werewolves," Owen said. "If I hadn't watched them turn into wolves right in front of me, I wouldn't believe it. I still wouldn't believe it, except it's the only thing that explains why they got undressed by the side of the road." Owen paused. "I've seen Teaboy naked, you realise. As a doctor I'm supposed to not mind that sort of thing, but he has a hickey in a place I would like to not ever think about again."

Jack grinned at him, unrepentantly. Gwen said, "Oh for god's sake, Jack. Can you go one entire day without having sex?"

"Can we please not talk about it?" Owen interjected before Jack could respond. "Can we get back to the fact that they're werewolves and every medical scan I've ever done of them says they're human, and oh, by the way, don't werewolves kill people?"

"Ianto promised not to kill you when I offered to give him a pay rise," Jack said breezily, enjoying the look that appeared on Owen's face. Jack frowned, then, as he checked his wrist strap for the location of the Cnarthi. A quick scan of the area revealed that two non-human life forms were headed directly towards two non-human life forms. "Well, come on," Jack said, and he began to run.

~~~

Owen and Gwen kept pace behind him as Jack ran towards where the four life-forms had converged. There was no way to know what was going on with his wrist band; the life-forms were over-lapping on his readout and all he knew was that somewhere out there, Ianto and Tosh were fighting for their lives and the rest of the world.

He didn't know if he'd properly emphasised the come back and kill everyone if we lose part of the briefing he'd given Ianto. Of course he knew they'd fight as best they could, but-- Jack ran faster, knowing he was starting to leave Gwen and Owen behind as he ducked around trees and leapt underbrush and wished again for a personal transporter.

As he crashed through bushes into a clearing, he stumbled to a halt, arms flailing for balance as he took in the scene. There were two bodies lying in heaps on the ground and Jack could distinctly see at least one arm and a foot detached from those bodies, scattered haphazardly in the grass.

Jack looked at Tosh, who was sitting on her haunches and watching him calmly. Then he looked at Ianto who was shoving his nose into a satchel that one of the Cnarthi had been carrying. "Um. So. I...guess you don't need our help?" Jack glanced at his wrist band to be sure and, indeed the two Cnarthi were dead. Behind him Gwen and Owen came to a crashing halt; he didn't bother to look back to see if they looked as dumbfounded as he expected them to be.

He was feeling a little dumbfounded, himself, and he was supposed to be the expert on the weird things that tended to happen at Torchwood.

Tosh gave a slight whuff and stood up, padding towards them casually. It was obvious she wasn't injured -- there was one splatter of something that was probably Cnarthi blood down one side of her neck, matting the thick, black fur. But there was no red blood, and she moved easily as she came towards them. When she got close she sat down again, looking up at them with an expectant sort of air. She looked from Jack, to Owen, then back -- and Jack realised she'd been looking at his wrist band and Owen's scanner, specifically. The patient expression on her face made Jack nearly reach over and scratch her behind the ears; he stilled his hand and focused on Ianto instead, not entirely sure how Tosh would respond.

"Do you want to get some scans?" Jack asked Owen, because he knew all he could find out from his wrist band -- he had questions, but he could wait until Ianto was human again to ask them.

"I can really--?" Owen began, then he was fumbling with the scanner and aiming it at Tosh. Gwen went over to stare over his shoulder as he took readings of the werewolf waiting patiently before them.

Jack walked over to where Ianto was still rooting through the Cnarthi's satchel. When Jack got closer Ianto pulled his nose out and yapped at him. Jack folded his arms and looked at him sternly. "How can you change when there's no full moon?"

Ianto stilled, then cocked his head. Jack had communicated with peoples with well over a hundred different languages, not all of them verbal. He could have been dense as a post and would still be able to interpret the look Ianto was giving him.

"Much as I like the innocent who-me puppy eyes, I'm going to ask you again when you've changed back. And don't think you can pretend you're stuck like this. I'm not putting papers down on the Hub's floor, and eventually you're going to want thumbs again, or you'll have to cope with Owen's method of filing reports."

Ianto shuddered, his entire body shivering and he gave Jack a look of disgust.

It was, Jack had to admit, entirely too adorable; fortunately with Ianto, he didn't have to hold back. He walked over and sank to one knee, then dug his fingers into the thick brown coat of fur and petted Ianto's entire body.

"Oi! Do you think you could wait 'til we get back?" Owen's voice came across the clearing. "Not all of us want to see that."

"I'm just making sure he isn't injured," Jack called back. Ianto wriggled happily, tongue lolling in sheer delight.

"No, you're not," Owen retorted. "You're copping a feel because you think we won't mind. Well, I do mind, even if he is a giant dog at the moment."

There were twin barks of disapproval and Jack grinned, turning back to Owen. Both Tosh and Ianto were glaring at Owen, who was backing up a step, hands palm-out in front of him.

"I wouldn't upset the team members with the large teeth and claws, if I were you," Jack said.

"Yeah? Well, I've got the keys to the SUV, and the fingers required to use them," Owen retorted, pulling out a keyring and spinning it on one finger.

Ianto leapt to his feet and in three bounds was across the clearing and had bowled Owen onto the ground. He sat up with the keyring in his teeth, tail wagging hard with one paw on Owen's chest. Jack opened his mouth to congratulate him on his victory, when Tosh jumped up -- slamming into Ianto and snatching the keyring from him.

She ran and immediately Ianto was after her.

Jack shook his head, then grinned. "And some people say that werewolves are vicious, deadly monsters." Although he would agree that first thing in the morning, before he'd had any tea, Ianto could be quite the vicious monster, growling as if his vocal chords had changed overnight.

"So...they're really werewolves," Gwen said in a distracted tone, glancing at him briefly but quickly going back to staring after the two wolves who were pouncing on each other as they fought for the keys. She frowned. "They don't look vicious." Ianto was trying to wrestle Tosh to the ground, and Tosh leveraged herself up, toppling Ianto onto his back.

Jack looked over towards the dead Cnarthi in the clearing, laying mostly forgotten as they'd watched the two wolves. Neither Ianto nor Tosh was even scratched -- or if they had been injured, they'd already healed. Jack didn't know how rapidly werewolves healed; he knew stories, but those same stories also said they shouldn't have been able to change in the middle of the day. It was possible they'd simply overcome the two Cnarthi easily, dispatching and dismembering them without suffering injury.

But he didn't know, and he didn't like not knowing. He and Ianto were going to have a talk when they got back to Cardiff.

~~~

Back at the vehicles, Tosh climbed into one SUV and Gwen closed the door behind her; Ianto merely went around to the other side of the car, whuffing at Jack who grabbed the folded suit from the front seat and followed him. Jack helpfully held Ianto's clothes while the wolf began to transform, He'd seen Ianto change before a couple of times, nights of a full moon when he'd invited himself to Ianto's flat. But it was fascinating to watch, though Jack had to admit it was mostly fascinating in exactly the same way as watching Ianto get undressed.

Ianto leaned back on his haunches, brown fur shortening in length as it was absorbed through his skin. His front legs began to shorten slightly, growing thicker as his hind legs grew longer; at one precise moment Ianto reared back and stood up on paws that were rapidly flattening into human feet.

Jack unabashedly watched the undercoat fade from Ianto's stomach and genitals, the smooth pale white skin showing through soft fur, then a fine down, then nothing at all but skin. Jack gave in to the urge to step forward and place his hand flat on Ianto's stomach and he felt the muscles ripple as Ianto laughed.

Jack looked up at him and smiled, carefully not handing over Ianto's clothing. "Nice," was all he said.

"May I have my underwear, please?" Ianto asked, polite and calm as if he weren't standing naked in the middle of the Welsh countryside.

"Give him his bloody clothes, Jack!" Owen shouted from the rear of the vehicle. Jack glanced back to see Owen standing with his back to them all, studiously watching the road.

Jack pouted. "Don't I get anything in return?"

"I'll give you all the expense reports you care to sign, once we get back," Ianto said, blithely. He held out his hand, but Jack didn't hand anything over just yet. Ianto raised one eyebrow, then said, "I've walked to town naked, before."

"Really?" Jack grinned. "Can I watch?"

"That's it," Owen said. "I'm taking the other bloody car back to the Hub. You lot can do whatever it is you like, including getting arrested for indecency." He walked around the opposite side of the car; as he went past, the door slid open and Tosh -- fully dressed -- popped out.

"We'll join you," Gwen said to Owen, glancing towards Jack though he saw a slight smile on her face. "Come on, Tosh. Let's leave the boys to...sort things out."

Jack just watched them head for the other SUV; he saw Tosh give Ianto a look, a shy smile on her face as well. Neither Jack nor Ianto moved as the others got into the SUV and drove away.

As the SUV disappeared down the road, Jack turned back to Ianto -- still naked, still waiting patiently. Jack tucked Ianto's clothes more firmly in his arms and said, "Now, I believe there was a negotiation going on?"

Ianto just smiled. "I think I was explaining how I can hot-wire the SUV and drive myself back to Cardiff."

Jack gave Ianto's body a careful once-over. "Hot-wire with what?"

Ianto just smiled, devilishly.

~~~

"Offering to handcuff me to the SUV for a blow job, then stealing my keys, doesn't really count as hot-wiring," Jack explained as Ianto drove them back towards Cardiff.

"I believe it did work, though," Ianto said, giving him a small smile. Small, but extremely smug. It was exactly the sort of mischievous smile that made him want to wrestle Ianto out of his suit again.

But that reminded Jack of the questions he had, and he frowned. He caught Ianto glancing his way. Jack sighed. "So, Ianto. Werewolves. Full moon. Ring any bells?"

"I believe you're referring to the way a werewolf changes form in full moonlight," Ianto began, and his tone was almost lecturely.

"Don't give me that," Jack said, feeling suddenly angry. "Werewolves can only change during a full moon. I've seen you change during a full moon." He understood his anger, knew where it had come from and he didn't like it -- didn't like discovering he'd been lied to.

He'd known Ianto was a werewolf from the first day he'd met the man. Years before the Cybermen had attacked and destroyed Torchwood One, he'd visited Canary Wharf on Torchwood business. As he'd been walking along a hallway he'd caught scent of a werewolf. He'd been surprised, though not surprised by his surprise -- he hadn't been expecting Toshiko Sato either, when he'd gone to rescue a brilliant scientist from the clutches of UNIT. But when they'd brought her out and he'd caught scent of her, he'd known what she was. That had been reason enough to rescue her, but the fact he'd got a computer genius as well was icing on the cake.

He should have been used to discovering the unexpected when it came to Torchwood, but when he'd followed the scent of the second werewolf and found himself facing a sharply dressed young man sitting at a very boring-looking office cubicle, he'd been surprised. Perhaps, though, it had been the cut of the suit and the way Ianto Jones had stood to say hello, his grip lingering on Jack's just a moment longer than was strictly required for politeness' sake.

Jack had been ready to invite Ianto out for drinks, or directly back to his motel room, but work had interfered that day. Jack hadn't seen him again until, a month after Torchwood One had been destroyed, Ianto had shown up on the dock outside Torchwood Three and asked for a job. Jack had asked Tosh about other werewolves working for Torchwood but she hadn't known of any; when Ianto showed up he'd sent Tosh out to interrogate him and she'd come back an hour later with a bag of fresh scones and her full approval for Jack hiring Ianto.

Later, the first time Ianto had flirted with him, it hadn't taken much deliberation to say yes. Neither of them had ever really discussed the fact two of Jack's team were werewolves and other than Jack having watched Ianto change forms, it hadn't ever really impacted anything at all.

As far as Jack knew. He scowled again and looked over at Ianto, waiting for a response.

Ianto merely looked over at him. "You've seen me change during a full moon. You assumed I had to do so."

"But you can change whenever you want? That doesn't--" He bit back the words that it didn't make any sense, because it had happened. "Torchwood was founded after the Doctor helped the Queen fight off a werewolf. They did it by focusing the light of a full moon onto it!"

After calmly waiting a moment, Ianto just shrugged. "I'm not that sort of werewolf."

Jack waited, growing angrier as he realised that Ianto wasn't even trying to explain or apologize. "You're not that sort of werewolf?" he echoed, not trying to fight down his anger, knowing that Ianto could hear as well as smell it clearly.

Ianto looked sideways at him, and Jack saw him hesitate, then Ianto pulled the SUV over into the grass and stopped. He turned to face Jack, looking him square in the eyes. "You don't tell me your secrets, Jack. What I know I've deduced, or guessed at. But I've never asked and you've never really offered."

Jack glared. "So, this is you show me yours and I show you mine?"

But Ianto shook his head. "If you want to have the sort of relationship where we tell each other our secrets -- then we will tell each other. Both of us. Or, we can continue as we are: we work together and we have sex."

"Technically you work for me," Jack spat out.

But Ianto just looked at him, unruffled by Jack's growing irritation. "Yes, sir," he said, but Jack could hear quite clearly the lack of anything subservient in Ianto's tone. "Do you wish to have the sort of relationship where we tell each other our secrets, or do you want an employee with whom you have sex?"

"That's not what this is about," Jack said. "This is about you lying to me."

Ianto looked surprised. "I never told you I could only change in the moonlight. I'm fairly sure Tosh never did, either, because it isn't true and Tosh would have no reason to lie to you about that." Ianto shrugged again, as if he truly didn't understand why Jack was upset.

"And when I came over to your flat on the full moon, to watch you change?"

Ianto nearly smiled. "I presumed you wanted to see me change. I obliged. I thought...." He paused, then said carefully, "You've never been particularly squeamish about your sexual activity."

Jack blinked. "You thought I wanted to--"

Ianto merely made a 'what have you' motion with one hand. "Then you didn't, so I assumed you changed your mind. But you were happy enough to stay the night while I was in wolf form, so I didn't bother changing back." He gave Jack a shaded look, one that Jack found he couldn't interpret at all. Normally, he realised, he could read Ianto like a book.

Or so he'd always assumed.

Then Ianto said, "I liked having you there while I was in my other form."

Jack shook his head, because he suddenly felt like he was having two completely unrelated conversations. He waved one hand, and asked, "So, you're saying you don't need to change, you can change whenever you want to? Then what was that that the Doctor fought?"

"I believe they're called lupine wavelength haemovariforms. It is, technically, an alien blood-borne virus. And a slightly insane one, at that." Ianto looked discomfited. "Normal werewolves aren't any more likely to be insane than humans are. But it's the mad ones who get noticed and remembered. Written into fairytales."

"So...you...." Jack paused. It actually made a great deal of sense. It didn't help that he felt betrayed and lied to, but -- again, Ianto had a point. It wasn't one he liked, but...he did have a point. And that brought Jack back to the other side of the conversation. "Are you saying you want the sort of relationship where we...tell each other our secrets?"

He hadn't ever really thought about it. Faced with living forever, outliving anyone he ever fell in love with -- Jack was perfectly content to pick up lovers and play for awhile and do his best to simply never care enough to get hurt when they grew old and died.

Content might not have been the right word, but Jack had already been at this living-forever thing for a couple hundred years now and he'd quickly had it impressed upon him how long humans lived. How quickly they died.

"I'm not asking for your secrets, Jack," Ianto said quietly. Again, it didn't seem to be answering exactly the question Jack was asking. "If this is what you want, I am happy giving it to you. I enjoy your company and you are extremely inventive when it comes to sex." Ianto grinned, cheerful and cheeky, a sharp contrast to Jack's mood.

"I--" Jack stopped, and shook his head. Then he looked out of the window, at the rolling hills beyond. He knew this place, had been here before thirty years before. The details were already growing fuzzy; he was grateful that his immortality didn't seem to be coming with a perfect memory. He could still remember most things well enough, and if he tried he could recollect finer details.

He could remember the yellow, grassy hills of Sashfgi Five, leaning back on his hands while Rose and the Doctor squabbled over the contents of their picnic. He could remember the face of a woman he'd fallen in love with once, when he'd been barely nineteen and full of himself.

It was depressing as hell, and he didn't know any way out of it. The anger churned into bitterness and he said, more honestly than he'd planned, "I don't expect anything better."

He started slightly when Ianto's hand touched his arm. He glanced over, ready to wave away the sympathy he expected, already embarrassed at what he'd said. "It isn't much, really, in the grand scheme of things. Fifty thousand isn't much compared to millions. But I thought -- I honestly thought you chose me for your mate because of what I am." He looked briefly embarrassed and added, "I thought you'd tried Tosh first and she didn't suit you, so when you asked me...." He shrugged.

Jack felt his mind swirling. "Wait, what?" He shook his head. Ianto still wasn't telling him everything, he felt like Ianto wasn't telling him anything except -- Jack tried to focus. "Mate? Fifty thousand?" He couldn't possibly mean years?

So why was it suddenly so hard to breathe?

Ianto's fingers closed gently on Jack's arm. "I thought you knew, which was why I never explained. I thought...for now, you wanted something casual and fun, and that's fine with me. So I didn't push. I can see now that was in error. Jack, my species of werewolf -- we're bound to the Earth, so I'm afraid I can't go flying off with you if your Doctor comes back. Or even if he doesn't -- humans will be going into space soon enough on their own and I know you prefer to travel. But we live a very long time. I thought... if you're not looking for a mate, that's all right, honestly it is. I can keep you company for as long as you want while you're here."

Jack couldn't tear his eyes away from Ianto's, feeling caught, somehow, in their depths. They seemed to go deeper than ever before, like he was seeing past a veneer that had been torn away. "You're telling me you'll live for fifty thousand years?"

Ianto gave a half-shrug. "Forty nine and five," he said in a teasing tone, then he sobered quickly as Jack's shock didn't fade. "But yes. If you want, or if you change your mind, or... Jack, I just thought that was why you wanted me. Because I won't die for a very, very long time. Neither will Tosh, and she says she likes you fine, though she was rather relieved when you didn't flirt with her seriously." Ianto slid his hand down Jack's arm and took a hold of his hand; Jack couldn't bring himself to tighten his grip on Ianto's fingers. Couldn't drag his eyes away even as his mind starting doing the math, unraveling what Ianto was saying.

Forty nine five, he thought, which meant Ianto Jones was already five hundred years old. Which meant Ianto was older than he was, and why was his hand suddenly sweating and his heart pounding like it was going to break out of his rib cage?

At least if he had a heart attack, he'd come back and he could try to make sense out of this conversation.

Ianto was tugging at his hand as if trying to get his attention. When Jack focused on him, trying desperately to not get sucked into those deep blue eyes, Ianto said, "We'll be your pack if you want us. We can't give you forever, but we can give you as much as we have."

Jack opened his mouth and wasn't surprised when nothing came out. He shook his head, not saying no and he could tell that Ianto understood him. Ianto tugged at his hand again and Jack began to lean forward, and he found himself being pulled into Ianto's embrace.

Of all the things he'd been expecting that morning when the intruder alarm when off, it hadn't been this.

But maybe he should be used to the unexpected happening. Jack gasped, feeling the curl in his throat and the tightness in his chest. Ianto pulled him in tighter, and gave a soft 'whuff' in Jack's ear.

~~~

"Christ, have you two had sex again?" Owen groused as he walked into the Hub. "That's the third time today. It's not a holiday or anniversary is it? I would have stayed home."

Jack just leaned against the stair railing and grinned as Owen walked in, wrinkling his nose at them both. Ianto just kept walking, reader in his hand and his usual bland but secretly amused expression on his face. Owen wagged a finger at Ianto as he went by. "This is your fault. You could have warned me about my sense of smell."

Ianto didn't pause or even look over as he continued on his way; at her desk, Gwen just rolled her eyes at Owen. "He did warn you, Owen. We all knew perfectly well what would happen when he bit us."

Owen pointed his accusing finger at her, and said, "He didn't bite you, did he? Left that to Tosh. I think he offered to be the one to change me just so he could bite me."

"He bites me all the time," Jack said. "You don't hear me complaining."

"Not helping, Harkness," Owen said, glaring over at him. "It's bad enough I have to smell it whenever the two of you have had sex. But now I can tell exactly which part of the examination table you were sitting on and have I mentioned you two should stay the fuck out of my work space?"

"You're as bad as Rhys," Gwen said calmly. "He still complains about not getting drunk anymore. Though I notice he likes his new metabolism just fine when it comes to eating burgers and fries every day."

"Yes, well, there are compensations," Owen conceded. "But that doesn't mean Jack and Teaboy can have sex on my exam table." He gave Jack another angry glare.

Jack just shrugged, unapologetically. It wasn't like he was going to deny it, nor claim that he hadn't known Owen would mind. But when he was faced with Ianto looking happy and fuckable and not saying 'not here, Jack, Owen will kill us' -- well, on second thought it was all Ianto's fault for not making them go upstairs, wasn't it?

"I can smell you from here, Jack," Ianto called down with a warning tone. "Whatever you're thinking, you should consider stopping."

"What do I smell like?" Jack frowned. Ianto couldn't read his mind -- he was pretty sure -- but how could he smell like he was blaming Ianto for having sex with him?

"You smell like you're trying to act innocent," Tosh commented, not looking away form her computer screen.

"Which means you're up to something," Ianto concluded from the upper walkway. He leaned over the railing and looked down at Jack, a stern expression on his face.

"How do you...?" Jack began, then stopped.

"Two hundred years, Jack," Gwen said, dryly. "We know what your 'who, me?' act smells like."

"Huh." Jack rubbed his chin, then he looked back up at Ianto. "Caught me," he said, easily. Then he leered. "Maybe I need a spanking."

"I give up," Owen said, throwing down his file chips, scattering them across the desk. "I'm going out to find a nice, normal, human bird who wants a drink, dinner, and a one-night stand. You two can do whatever you want -- but stay out of my work area." With that he turned on his heel and walked out, storming through the cog wheel door and disappearing into the surface-transport.

Jack watched him go, then slowly turned to look up at Ianto. None of them minded Owen's tirades -- they hadn't much before, either, but Jack had asked Ianto to confirm what Jack thought he could smell, with just his normal 51st century human sense. They were a pack, now: the five of them. Over the decades they'd all had chances to leave -- the pack or Torchwood or both. None of them had left, and Ianto had assured him that for all his bluster and complaints, Owen was happy.

It was why, once Gwen and Tosh took their leave as well, Jack enticed Ianto back down the stairs and towards Owen's desk, pulling his belt out of his belt loops as they went.

the end