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Different Shades of Darkness: Chapter Five

Title: A Different Shade of Darkness
Chapter Five: Unforgotten
Author: blucougar57
Summary: In the wake of his untimely death, Ianto Jones accepts a deal that will change his life forever.
Rating: Strong T, for now.
Warnings: Spoilers for The Series That Never Was (AKA, Children of Earth).
X-over: Torchwood/Doctor Who/Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter books.
A/N: The explanation regarding the origins of the Were Hunters came from that font of all knowledge, Wikipedia.

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Ianto honestly hadn't imagined that it was possible to learn so much in one short month. Even the short time he'd had with Jack at Torchwood Three hadn't taught him so much so quickly. Not only had he been trained in fighting techniques that he hadn't thought were even physically possible, he had also discovered a couple of astonishing psychic abilities that he was now able to access. It was, Ash explained, one of the benefits of his new state of being although he'd also suggested that how beneficial it could be was entirely subjective, given that Artemis decided which Dark Hunters got which abilities.

It was with somewhat dark amusement that Ianto learnt that Artemis tended to favour certain Dark Hunters over others – in particular, Amazons. Consequently, some Dark Hunters ended up with more abilities than others. Some Dark Hunters, Ianto learned, ended up with no special abilities at all. In the end, Ianto wasn't entirely sure whether to be grateful or not that he had been granted a moderate selection of supernatural skills. What he did know was that it couldn't be a good thing to feel indebted in any way to Artemis, and he suspected that she would expect it from him regardless of what she did or didn't give him.

What had surprised him was that Ash was the only Dark Hunter who had had anything to do with his training. Apart from Ash, he'd had no direct contact with other Dark Hunters, even though he knew there were some that resided within New Orleans. Ash had explained that no two Dark Hunters could be within close proximity of each other for very long without it resulting in a degradation of their powers. Though he hadn't actually said so, Ianto gathered that it was yet another little spiteful clause added by Artemis to try and ensure the Dark Hunters led solitary and lonely existences.

Ianto had immediately queried how it was that he could be close to Ash and neither of them experience that, only to be told to focus on his training and not on insignificant matters.

It was something that Ianto chose to slot away in his mind for later reference. In the meantime, his training was dealt with equally by Ash, wolf Were Hunter Vane Kattalakis and Devlin Peltier, a bear Were Hunter whose family ran the New Orleans bar Sanctuary. Were Hunters, Ash had explained to him, came to exist back in ancient times.

Lycaon, King of Arcadia, had a beautiful wife and two sons. Not knowing that his wife was of the Apollite people (cursed by Apollo), he watched helplessly as she died horribly at the age of twenty-seven. Realising his sons would meet the same fate, he tried to circumvent the curse. Gathering as many Apollites as he could find, he began using arcane magic to change the people, trying to find a way to fool the gods. King Lycaon began splicing the essence of the Apollites with that of predatory animals, creating the first Were-Hunters. His experiments succeeded in circumventing the curse. Instead of living only twenty-seven years, they now lived for close to a thousand. Choosing the most powerful of the animals on which he had experimented, King Lycaon blended his sons with a dragon and a wolf.

For defying the will of a god, the Fates demanded that Lycaon kill his sons as punishment. When he refused, the Fates cursed the new race saying, "They will spend eternity hating and fighting until the day when the last of them breathes no more."

Whenever Lycaon blended an Apollite with an animal, he ended up with two new separate beings: one with an animal's heart and one with a human's and that, Ash explained, was how the Katagaria and the Arcadians came to be.

Frankly, Ianto thought it a fair load of crap that two races that were so closely aligned could allow their lives to be torn apart by the whim of three goddesses who, judging by Ash's scathing remarks, were little more than spoiled brats.

Dev's family were a mixture of Katagaria and Arcadian Were Hunters. Katagarians were apparently born in animal form with animal hearts, and could only take on human form at the onset of puberty when their powers were unlocked. Arcadians, conversely, were born in human form with human hearts, and could only take on animal form from puberty onwards.

From what Ianto had been able to work out, it was a fairly unique situation as, for the most part, Katagarians and Arcadians were utterly intolerant of each other. The Peltiers were a perfect example of tolerance, though. They were a big family, and family clearly overruled any petty (or even not so petty) differences. Dev, one of quadruplets, was Arcadian, as were his brothers Remi and Quinn. The fourth quad, Cherif, was Katagarian. They fought fiercely, but there were few brothers who were closer.

No, it made no difference to the Peltiers, whether they were Katagarian or Arcadian. Family was family, and that was all there was to it.

Similarly, Vane Kattalakis was Arcadian, whilst his brothers Fang and Fury were both Katagarian, but the loyalty displayed by those brothers to each other was legendary.

Ianto liked both Vane and Dev Peltier. Neither man took any crap and they could be scary as hell, even just in human form, but they were also kind and that was a quality that Ianto cherished in anyone. Also – and he would die before admitting it – Dev reminded Ianto of Jack. There was the same ferocious loyalty, the same grim determination to do what had to be done, and the same sense of duty to humankind, despite no obvious reason for it.

The Arcadian's stunning good looks weren't such a bad thing, either, and that was also something Ianto would never admit to.

He learnt fast under Dev, Vane and Ash's joint tutelage. He had to, but he also took pride in honing his new talents and abilities. And always in the back of his mind was the image of all those bodies in Thames House, and of the cruel, arrogant aliens that had so callously and so casually put an end to his human life.

"Kid, you're gonna be a great Hunter," his trainer told him at the end of a particularly gruelling training session. Ianto nodded his head politely in appreciation of the compliment.

"Thanks, Vane. But it's only thanks to the training that you, Dev and Ash have given me."

Vane laughed and clapped him roughly on the shoulder. In his previous life, that gesture would have knocked him on his arse and left him with a massive bruise at the very least. Now, he barely felt it.

"One thing I'll tell you, kid. You're way too polite for your own good. Try learning swear a little."

Ianto smiled wryly.

"I'll take it under advisement. How is Bride, by the way?"

"Happy and pregnant. I thought she'd want to stop after Trinity was born, but apparently she's out to start up our own mini-pack."

Ianto laughed, but at the same time he couldn't keep his thoughts away from the lover that he missed so desperately.

"Tell me about him," Vane urged him. "Tell me about this Jack. He must mean a lot to you. Your thoughts are always on him, and I have to admit to being curious. I don't think there's ever been a gay Hunter in the ranks."

"I'm bi, not gay," Ianto corrected him. Vane grinned, and Ianto caught a glimpse of his canine teeth glinting in the moonlight. The sight had him running his tongue absently over his own fangs.

"Trust me when I say the difference is irrelevant when you're surrounded by male Were Hunters who are intent on protecting their manhood."

Ianto chuckled, although he conceded to Vane's point.

"Their manhood is perfectly safe. And for the record, it's not men in general. It's Jack... just Jack. Before him, I had a fiancée, Lisa. She died, and Jack helped me to move on."

"In more ways than one," Vane teased lightly. Ianto accepted the ribbing good-naturedly, but couldn't resist the urge to correct Vane.

"It wasn't like that, not at first. He never made it a secret that he was attracted to me, and he flirted like you wouldn't believe. I kept threatening to report him to the boss for harassment, but we both knew it was a bit of a moot point given that he was the boss. But despite everything, he never tried to force me into anything. He waited until I was ready, and he never made me feel like I was obliged to reciprocate his feelings."

Vane regarded Ianto thoughtfully.

"He respected you?"

"Yes, in a way that I'd never experienced before."

"And if you'd never reciprocated? Would he have let you be?"

Ianto smiled fondly.

"Well, I doubt the flirting would have stopped, but I know he would never have pressured me. He would have let me be if I'd made it clear that I wasn't interested."

Vane nodded approvingly. It was not the sort of pairing he was used to, but he figured the dimensions of the relationship ought to be the same. Respect should be paramount, and this Jack had just gone up considerably in Vane's opinion, for the respect he had clearly shown to the young Dark Hunter that he was really coming to like a lot.

He decided right then and there that he would cheerfully go into bat for Ianto if his Jack ever turned up – if for no other reason than it would seriously piss off Artemis. Acheron was another matter entirely, but Vane couldn't see him denying anyone a chance for love, no matter what form it came in.

"C'mon, junior. Let's head to Sanctuary. I'll buy you a drink."

* * *

When Jack arrived in New Orleans, he had to concede that he was flying blind. He had not the first clue where to start looking, and New Orleans was a big place. Worse, he kept hitting brick walls and blank stares whenever he mentioned the words 'Dark Hunter'. For perhaps the first time in a long while, he didn't know what to do. It was more than a little awkward, having no contacts that he could fall back on, and having to avoid using his wrist strap in order to keep UNIT from getting wind of his location. In the end, he found himself resorting to trolling coffee shops, desperately searching for any hint of Ianto.

He'd been there in the city for nearly two weeks, growing ever more frustrated and despondent, when he finally remembered one of things that Artemis had told Ianto – that he could no longer go out in the daylight. So far, Jack had only been searching New Orleans by day, and crashing in a cheap hotel at night.

He wanted to kick himself for the mental oversight. Better late than never, he tried to reassure himself, but he didn't really believe that. With that newly remembered titbit of information in mind, though, he switched his pattern and began to search at night, while resting by day.

It was another week before he finally hit pay dirt.

* * *

to be continued...

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