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Different Shades of Darkness: Chapter Six

Title: A Different Shade of Darkness
Chapter Six: Reunited
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); brief description of torture
X-over: Torchwood/Doctor Who/Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter books.

Chapter Six

Jack arrived at the door of the club, feeling nearly as despondent as when he had believed Ianto to be dead, and lost to him forever. It had been over three weeks now, and he'd seen nothing nor heard any whisper that might lead him to Ianto. Despite searching high and low in all the logical, and some of the more illogical places, he'd found nothing. It was like waiting for the Doctor all over again – not knowing when or where a hint might pop up, but too scared to go anywhere else in case he missed a vital clue.

After more than three weeks of futility, this was the first time that Jack had ceased his searching to rest, though it was more out of sheer misery than necessity. He was starting to wonder whether he'd been mistaken, and that it hadn't been New Orleans that Artemis had sent Ianto to after all. He hoped he was in the right place, but his memory had never been quite the same after spending nearly a millennia buried alive. At any rate, though, he had no other leads, and no choice but to either give up, or keep looking.

He would never give up.

Jack approached the door of the bar, and found himself confronted by an absolute bear of a man who looked at him like he was considering whether he was worth eating.

"I'm just looking for a quiet corner and drink," Jack said tiredly, too careworn to even attempt to flirt his way inside. "I don't want any trouble."

He didn't know why he was trying to justify himself, but it seemed to appease whatever suspicions the bouncer might have had. He was ushered through the door with no arguments.

The bar was fairly dimly lit and, by all appearances, not too heavily populated. That suited him just fine, and with the jeans and leather jacket he'd switched to, he didn't stand out too badly from those who were there. Finding himself a little table tucked away in a corner, Jack ensconced himself there, and watched his surroundings through heavily-lidded eyes. The place seemed normal enough, but something about it had the hairs on Jack's neck standing up. The bar might have looked normal enough, but instinct told him it was anything but.

The waitress was a pretty young thing called Aimee, according to her name badge. In another time, Jack would have flirted ferociously with her, but as it was, he just saw the face of a beautiful Welshman, and any desire to flirt went up in a proverbial puff of smoke.

"You look like you're missing somebody a lot," Aimee said gently. Jack glanced up at her. He made no attempt to hide the pain in his eyes.

"Yeah, I am. I've been searching for nearly a month now..."

He trailed off, fighting a sudden lump in his throat as it hit him hard that it had been nearly two months now since that terrible night in Thames House; two excruciatingly long months since he had last laid eyes on his lover. Aimee offered him a sympathetic smile, but probed no further.

"What can I get you?"

"Whiskey, straight," he answered. Truth was that he would have preferred coffee, but that in itself was just too painful.

"Okay, then. One whiskey, coming up."

When the whiskey arrived, Jack was surprised to find it was delivered as a double, and not by Aimee. He looked up to find a sinfully handsome young man standing there who, again in another time and place, would have taken his breath away and had him flirting outrageously.

"The name's Fang," the young man said. "I'm Aimee's husband." He indicated the double that he'd set on the table. "That's to say thanks for being the first guy tonight not to hit on her or give her a hard time."

Jack's gaze quickly found the woman in question currently fending off some half drunk lout who had over-extended ideas of his own attractiveness. Before he even realised it, he was getting up out of his chair.

"She deserves to be treated better than that," he growled. Fang chuckled and laid a startlingly strong hand on his shoulder.

"Down, boy. Trust me, she can take care of herself, and she's got a lot of brothers to defend her honour, even before I'd get a chance to do anything. I just wanted to say thanks for not adding to her grief. She also mentioned you were searching for someone?"

Jack nodded.

"Yeah, my... my boyfriend."

The idea that perhaps he was not in the most tolerant place for such an admission never occurred to Jack. Instead, all he could think about was that he was finally not afraid to use the word 'boyfriend'. Once the word had found its way passed his lips, it seemed like the most natural thing in the world, and Jack wanted to rage that he'd not had the courage to name Ianto as such when he should have.

"What's his name?" Fang asked, showing no indication that he was bothered by Jack's proclamation. "I can keep an ear open for news."

"Ianto. Ianto Jones. I thought he'd died, but I have reason to believe now that he's here in New Orleans."

Fang nodded amicably.

"Okay. Come by here regularly, and I'll let you know if I hear anything about him."

Jack watched Fang walk away. His 'spidey-senses' were tingling again, but he was tired and just wanted to sink into his own little bubble of misery to wallow. Inwardly focused as he was, he never noticed Fang cross the floor and speak in a low voice to Aimee. He never noticed Aimee's eyes widen, and her eyebrows shoot up. He never noticed the whisper that went around certain quarters of the bar, or the less than subtle looks that followed.

He did notice, however, when nearly an hour later darted into the bar and grabbed Fang by the arm.

"Get the word out, we need back-up at the corner of Locke and Sunderland. Ianto just got ambushed by a pack of daimons. He's holding his own for now, but he needs help."

Jack's heart leapt wildly, but his excitement was followed by a wave of icy-cold fear that crashed over him. Ambushed...?

Trying to look as casual as possible, Jack rose out of his seat. He left some money, more than enough to cover the barely-touched whiskey as well as a generous tip, and sauntered out of the bar.

* * *

He hit the streets running, grateful that he knew where Locke and Sunderland was without needing directions. As he ran, his hand brushed the new weaponry of choice at his side – chosen in favour of his beloved Webley because of what Artemis had said about piercing a daimon's heart or taking off its head. It was what looked like a retractable walking stick, but in fact extended into a long and lethally sharp blade. And despite his preference for guns, Jack was well adept at using the blade.

He was almost to the intersection in question when the sounds of a fight reached his ears. Rounding the corner, Jack was momentarily brought to a standstill in utter astonishment at the sight before him.

Ahead of him, Ianto was engaged in ferocious battle. He fought with two short sabres, swinging them with deadly accuracy while executing some hair-raising moves to avoid the blades and weapons of his enemies. As Jack watched, Ianto leapt into the air, twisting and rolling his body as he went, and slashing at bodies at the same time. He removed no less than three daimon heads with that slick manoeuvre, Jack noted proudly as three bodies exploded into dust.

Ianto was fighting magnificently, but the daimons were numerous, and far too many for his precious Welsh boy to contend with alone. Detaching his sword from his belt and extending it to its full length, Jack joined the fight.

* * *

Ianto ducked a daimon blade and felt it whistle across his face, missing him by mere millimetres. A rapid counter-attack saw the daimon responsible dispatched quickly and cleanly, but for every daimon he destroyed, there seemed to be another two to replace it. The first twinges of panic threatened to take hold, and though Ianto fought to keep his wits about him, it was becoming increasingly difficult not to let his fear get the better of him. He knew his abilities – both fighting and otherwise – were still limited by inexperience and time, and it wouldn't be long before he started to flag.

Eric had gone to get help, as Ianto didn't seem to an ability to summon other Dark Hunters to his aid, the way that Ash had told him some were able to do. Whether that back-up would arrive in time was anyone's guess.

He turned, saw a daimon coming at him, but before he could even contemplate a defensive strike, the daimon exploded into dust right in his face. He blinked, and then his eyes widened as he finally set eyes on the newcomer.


Jack grinned almost manically. He desperately wanted to kiss Ianto, but the daimons who had been momentarily stunned by his abrupt arrival were starting to converge once more.

"Fight now, shag later?" he offered. Ianto couldn't help himself. With a wild cry, he launched himself back into the fight with renewed vigour, and Jack did the same.

* * *

"Okay," Dev Peltier said as he, Vane, Fang, Remi and Eric arrived back at the scene of the fight. "I have to admit, I was not expecting this."

Far from struggling to hold his own against the onslaught of daimons, Ianto was cutting through the rapidly diminishing swathe with an enthusiasm that bordered on disturbing – but he was not alone. Fighting alongside him, in perfect synch with the newest Dark Hunter, was the man that Fang and Aimee had spoken to in Sanctuary, who had professed to be looking for Ianto.

"You think that's the guy he's been moping over?" Remi wondered, and won himself a smack across the back of his head from Vane. He snarled in response to the solid whack. "Hey, watch it, wolf."

"Watch it yourself, Yogi. The kid hasn't been moping. Look at him fight. He learnt to hold his own against a pack of daimons in a month and a half. That's no mean feat, so show a little respect."

"He's right, Remi," Dev agreed. "Still, now that we're here..."

He trailed off as a daimon suddenly got the jump on Ianto's battle companion, and ran him through with a sword.

"Oh no," Eric whispered as the man collapsed. Ianto uttered a bellow of fury and, one by one, the remaining daimons erupted into flame until none were left.

"Pyrokinesis," Fang remarked casually. "Nice. Artemis either really likes this one, or she really hates him. Could go either way, knowing that bitch."

Vane smirked.

"He's learning to control it. More or less."

With the daimons summarily dealt with, Ianto dropped to his knees beside his companion's now lifeless body. He barely seemed aware when the Were Hunters approached, or that they had been joined by Acheron. As they came to stand around, he lifted Jack's body into his arms and cradled him gently.

"Ianto, I'm sorry," Dev said quietly. "He's dead."

"I know," Ianto sighed. "He's going to have a dreadful backache when he comes back. That sword went through his spine."

Ianto didn't have to look up to know what looks were being shared amongst the Were Hunters. When Acheron spoke, it almost amused him.

"He's dead, Ianto."

It was said perhaps a little more harshly than necessary, but Ianto supposed he thought it was necessary to snap him out of the shock that they all clearly thought he was in. He looked up finally, and his gaze found Dev.

"Dev, can I bring him back to Sanctuary? I need to get him off the cold ground."

Dev looked despairingly at Ash before sighing in defeat.

"Okay, Ianto. Okay."

* * *

Ash teleported them all back to Sanctuary, and Jack was soon laid out on a bed in one of the rooms kept for guests of the non-human persuasion. Ash, Dev and Vane hovered, each one deeply worried that the evening's tragic events had succeeded in tipping Ianto cleanly over the edge of sanity. It wouldn't have been the first time a Dark Hunter had gone mad from grief and shock, but it would have been the quickest it had ever happened.

"Ianto, please," Vane begged. "You've gotta realise that he's dead, and he's not coming back."

"Unless Artemis decides to be a royal bitch," Dev muttered. Ash glared at him, but anything he'd been about to say was lost to the ether when Ianto opened up Jack's shirt. The stab wound, so prominent only minutes ago, was gone. It had completely healed, as though it had never existed.

"It won't be long now," Ianto said. As though on cue, Jack suddenly lurched back to life, surging upwards with a ragged gasp. Ianto caught him and pulled him close to his body, murmuring reassurances.

"I've got you, cariad. Easy, love, just breathe."

Slowly, Jack settled and the panic and distress in his eyes faded. Then, it seemed that he suddenly became fully aware of whose arms he was in, and he began to weep openly. Ianto glanced at the observers as Jack clung to him like a distraught child.

"Would you mind? Jack and I have a bit to sort out."

"We will be talking about this soon," Ash warned him before hauling Dev and Vane out of the room. Once they were gone, Ianto returned his attention to his lover, whose face was currently buried in the nape of his neck.

"Jack? C'mon, this isn't like you."

If anything, Jack's hold on him only got tighter.

"I thought I'd lost you forever," Jack said in a distraught tone. "You were dying, and I couldn't even tell you how much I love you."

Ianto's breath caught. He knew he hadn't misheard, but it still seemed surreal for Jack to actually say the words aloud. Abruptly, Jack pulled back from him and reached up to clasp his hands on either side of Ianto's face.

"Ianto Jones, I love you."

And Ianto suddenly found himself on the receiving end of one of the most passionate kisses he'd ever had. It was all that he'd ever dreamed about with Jack, and he wanted to weep that it finally happened at what was probably the most complicated time of his entire existence.

"Jack, we need to talk."

Hands gripped him with pure desperation.

"I'm not letting you go again. I can't. Please, Ianto, don't say you don't love me anymore. Don't leave me again."

The openness with which Jack was conveying his emotions and his need was startling and a little frightening. All the same, Ianto was glad to at least be able to offer some reassurance.

"No, cariad, I'm not telling you anything of the sort. I do love you. I love you so much. I'm just worried that it's you who won't want me when you hear what I have to tell you."

"You mean about you becoming a Dark Hunter, and selling your soul to Artemis?" Jack asked, and Ianto's jaw dropped.

"How do you know about that?"

Jack stroked his fingertips lightly over Ianto's face, as though reassuring himself that his lover was really there, and that he wasn't just imagining it.

"I just about went mad at losing you, and I hated myself for not telling you that I loved you. After the 4-5-6 were destroyed... that was you, wasn't it?"

"Yes," Ianto confirmed. "I was given the chance for one act of vengeance. I suppose I could have used it against anyone. Agent Johnson, for what she did to you... Or Frobisher, or the PM, for giving the order for it... But in the end, I chose to end the 4-5-6, and I won't apologise for it."

Jack kissed Ianto, silencing him.

"Thank you. Thank you so much. If you hadn't done whatever it was that you did, the only way to stop them would have been to relay their signal back at them. I would have had to kill a child to do it, and the only child available was..."

"Stephen," Ianto murmured. "And you would have had to do it. In that case, I thank Artemis that she intervened when she did. It meant you never had to make that dreadful decision."

Jack shuddered a little in Ianto's arms.

"Afterwards, I went home with Alice and Stephen. Instead of doing something that would have left her hating me forever, I reconciled with her. She gave me her blessing to come and find you, you know. She said I deserved a chance to be happy again."

"I'm glad," Ianto murmured. "And I'm sorry about that fight we had. I should never have tried to force you to tell me about them."

Jack sighed as he and Ianto settled in each other's arms.

"I should have told you. No regrets, though. Just a new start. We can start again, can't we?"

"I'm not supposed to fraternise, you know," Ianto said dryly. "Unwritten rule."

"And yet it seems to keep happening anyway."

Ianto looked around almost lazily at Ash, who had reappeared in the room.

"That's hardly enough time to sort things out, Ash."

"Well, firstly, he apparently already knows what you are. Secondly, it doesn't appear to have affected his feelings for you, seeing as how he's clinging to you like a sucker cup."

Ianto smiled wryly at the oddly apt comparison. It wasn't that far wrong. He made no attempt to dislodge Jack, though. He knew the signs of the immortal's emotional insecurity all too well, and this clinginess was the most prevalent.

"All right. What do you want to know?"

Ash sank into a nearby chair.

"So this is Jack Harkness."

It was not a question, so Ianto didn't bother to answer it. Jack, however, spoke for himself.

"Captain Jack Harkness, formerly of Torchwood, now freelance."

"Formerly?" Ianto queried.

"I officially disbanded it," Jack told him. "Gwen was not happy. I think she expected me to just move on, and go straight back to work. I guess it's my own fault that she thought that, since that's more or less the line I pushed after we lost Tosh and Owen, but she underestimated how hard your loss had really hit me. I called UNIT in front of her, and told them I was disbanding Torchwood and revoking her status as a Torchwood operative. She slapped me and called me a few choice names." Jack shook his head. "She'll get over it sooner or later. She'll be happier once it sinks in that her baby will be safer for it."

"Excuse me," Ash spoke up dryly. "Still here, and still waiting for an explanation as to how you know what Ianto is, and how you knew to come here looking for him."

Jack stared piercingly at Ash, and all of a sudden his senses weren't merely tingling. They were spiking all over the place, much the same as when he'd encountered the Mara for the second time.

"I'll tell you my secrets if you tell me yours."

Ash's expression went dark and unreadable, while Ianto visibly cringed.

"Jack, please, don't piss him off. He could put us each in entirely different dimensions if he wanted to."

Ianto's plea struck a chord, and Jack relaxed a little. He had no fear of the being before him, but Ianto was clearly deferential towards him. He would do nothing to make his beautiful Welshman's life harder than it already was.

"Have you heard of the time vortex?" Jack asked, and Ash frowned.

"I don't know what that is."

As much as it galled Ash to admit it, he really didn't. Jack went on, showing no hint of smugness – something for which Ash was quietly grateful.

"It's the space-time continuum, the power behind the turning of the universe. It's because of the vortex that I'm a fixed point in time and space and, consequently, will always come back to life. A girl... a very special girl absorbed the power of the vortex to end a terrible war, and she brought me back to life after I'd been killed. Only catch was that she went a step too far and brought me back forever. That's why I came back to life tonight. That's why I will always come back to life, no matter what is done to me. And trust me when I say there have been some very creative attempts to end me permanently."

Ash regarded Jack with growing empathy.

"An immortal human... How old are you?"

Jack smirked.

"Now we're getting personal. I lost count a while back, but I would estimate that I'm around two thousand, one hundred and seventy years old. Two thousand of those years don't really count, though. I spent around nineteen hundred years buried alive beneath Cardiff, and another hundred in cryogenic freeze."

Ash winced, despite himself. Having the chance to talk to Jack directly, he was starting to see how the man had suffered in his life. It left some of the Dark Hunters looking like they'd grown up surrounded by lollipops and rainbows, rather than death and despair. As that thought faded, though, his mind turned to the issue of their obvious relationship.

"As a Dark Hunter, Ianto is not meant to have any personal relationships."

The defiant look in Jack's eyes was one that Ianto knew well. Ash had just laid down a challenge that Jack was all-too-ready to meet head-on.

"I never liked following the rules."

"Rules are there for a reason, Jack."

"Yeah, they stop the universe from imploding. Well, guess what? I break just about every damn law in the universe just by existing, and the universe is still here in all its infinite glory. Tell me, why are Dark Hunters not supposed to have a significant other?"

"We're immortal," Ianto said.

"So am I," Jack countered.

"We don't age."

"Neither do I."

"Grey hair, Jack."

"Shut it, you." Jack looked back at Ash, who was beginning to look more than a little amused. "I haven't heard a reason yet why we can't be together, other than it might piss off some prima donna so-called goddess who thinks she has the right to run interference in people's lives."

"She owns his soul," Ash pointed out. Jack hugged Ianto tightly.

"And I own his heart. And he owns mine. What's your point?"

Ianto swallowed. Hearing those words of devotion and love from Jack's lips was more than he had ever once hoped for. The significance of it all hit Ianto hard, and his eyes filled with tears as he tightened his own hold on Jack. He watched out of the corner of his eye as Ash stood slowly and gazed down at the two men with a thoughtful look. He, too, did not appear to have escaped unaffected by the commitment being declared.

"Would you be willing to commit to Ianto heart and soul? Tie yourself to him permanently?"

Ianto looked puzzled.

"We can't mate like the Were Hunters. Dark Hunters don't get a mating mark."

"Not what I'm thinking," Ash said. "Jack, answer the question."

"Yes," Jack answered firmly. "I would."

It was an unequivocal answer that left no doubt in Ash's mind. Oh, it was going to piss off Artemis no end, and he knew he would have to be mindful of any degree of reprisals that she might take. These two, though...

A tiny smile tugged at his lips. Love was always worth taking a chance.

"Well, I guess I'd better let Eric know that he has a new squire to train."

Ianto's eyes widened, while Jack frowned in confusion.

"Squire? What's that?"

"It's what you're going to learn to be if you want to stay with Ianto. You'll work for him, and keep him safe from harm during the day time, and basically do whatever he needs you to do. Think you can cope with that?"

"Like a butler?" Jack asked, grinning at the irony. "I can do that. I'll do whatever I have to do. I just want to be with him. That's all."

Ash nodded.

"So be it. By the way, Ianto, you can clue him in about Simi, because if he ever hurts you in any way, she'll probably eat him."

Even though it was a semi-serious threat, Ash had tried to say it as a joke. He wasn't prepared for the deathly shade of white that Jack suddenly turned. Concerned, he reached out to touch Jack's arm in a rare gesture, and was abruptly bombarded by a horrific image of Jack hanging by chained wrists, screaming himself hoarse while pieces of flesh were sliced off his body and cooked right in front of him.

Ash yanked his hand back, beyond horrified. His own human life had been indescribably shocking, but being carved up for food was one horror he had never suffered.

"I'm sorry," he said quietly. "I should have seen that... but I didn't."

It was that cloudy kaleidoscope again, keeping him from seeing Jack's life clearly.

"It's not your fault," Ianto murmured as he hugged Jack to him. "That happened during a paradox that lasted a year. Time was reset, and only a handful of people remember it. Sadly, Jack is one of them, and he probably suffered the worst because the mad bastard responsible knew he couldn't die."

"Creative ways," Ash realised.

"Right," Ianto confirmed.

Ash took a step back.

"Take care of each other. I'll speak to Eric and he can start training Jack tomorrow."

"Ash, what about Artemis?" Ianto asked worriedly. Ash smiled grimly.

"Let me worry about her. You just do your job, and we won't have any issues. Okay?"

Ianto nodded his agreement, thoroughly relieved.


Then Ash was gone, and Ianto was alone again with his lover.

"All right?" he asked. Jack shuddered slightly.

"I will be. Sorry. That memory hit kind of hard."

"Don't apologise, Jack. I just want to know you're all right. And don't worry about Simi. When she finds out how special you are to me, she'll make it her mission to keep you safe."

Jack smiled weakly. Now that the adrenalin was finally wearing off, he was starting to flag badly.

"Who is Simi?"

"Simi rather defies description. You'll meet her soon enough. Now tell me truthfully, how are you feeling?"

Jack didn't even attempt to mask his discomfort.

"I hurt... Pretty badly, actually."

Ianto kissed him lightly.

"Then rest. We can talk again tomorrow."

As they settled in each other's arms on the bed, Jack sighed.

"Didn't tell you how I know about you being a Dark Hunter."

Ianto stroked his fingertips lightly up and down Jack's back, conscious that it would be sensitive to the point of pain.

"You can tell me tomorrow, although I wouldn't mind betting that the Doctor had something to do with it."

"You'd win that bet," Jack mumbled. Ianto kissed him again softly.

"Sleep, cariad. I'll be here when you wake up, I promise."

* * *

Ianto lay awake for a long time, unwilling to doze off and lose the stunning image of Jack sleeping peacefully in his arms. He had always determined that he would encounter Jack again, but he hadn't imagined it would be so soon.

It had been a real physical pain to him that Jack would have believed him to be dead, and that he couldn't do a thing about it. He didn't know exactly how Jack had learnt that he was alive but he was grateful for it. More to the point, though, he was grateful that Jack loved him enough to come after him. That was more than he had ever hoped for. Hell, having Jack here in his arms was more than he'd hoped for.

His mind whirled with the gravity of the promises that Jack had made. Jack had promised to effectively bind himself to him for what might well equate to an eternity. If they went ahead with it, Ianto knew he could possibly become more reliant on Jack, as his personal squire, than he had ever been during his mortal existence, but it took just the blink of an eye for him to know there was nothing he wanted more.

Once upon a time, he had fantasized about being able to give Jack an eternity of companionship. Now, he could make that fantasy a reality, and it was enough to make him weep for joy.

He just hoped and prayed that Artemis would not interfere in their newfound happiness.

* * *

to be continued...

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