1 September 5192 (Earth Standard Date)
The dragon dropped his fork, turning in the direction of those words.
She still looked like a child, in clothes that had been old-fashioned back in the twenty-first century, the last time he’d seen her. Her dark eyes were heavy with age and a knowledge so terrible it made the smile she gave him seem bleak. No one seemed to be paying her any sort of attention at all, no matter how out of place she was in the well-lit café.
Ianto had the sudden impulse to hiss at her, but he managed to pull it back before he could do it. This being brought only sorrow, and he wanted nothing to do with her. “What do you want?” he demanded, his appetite gone.
“Tad,” Rowena said warily, “you know this…” she frowned, her eyes dropping into their dragon aspect and then back to human so fast it was almost unnoticeable. “Creature?”
Henry was glancing back and forth between the two of them, curiosity written all over his face. Ianto could tell he wanted to ask the same thing, but he was being silent. That was Henry…he always waited to be given the answers before he would draw his own conclusions, and wouldn’t repeat the question his mate had just asked because it was redundant.
Ianto knew what he saw: a child, perhaps twelve, in something that would not have looked out of place in an historical reinactment. She was anything but, and he was explaining before he had a chance to keep anything to himself.
“There are powers in this universe…powers that are far older than life itself. I don’t know what her race is called, only that I’ve had dealings with her before.” Ianto glared at her. “I’m not so sure it would have been best if you hadn’t told my fortune, although I do have to thank you for sending Jack in my direction, all those years ago.”
The girl inclined her head, respect and mockery in equal measure in the gesture. “I did tell you we would meet again,” she reminded him.
“You did. However, it’s been so long ago now I’d almost forgotten.” It was more he’d put it out of his head, really. Ianto didn’t want to have anything to do with her, not after that first time.
The smile that graced her features was close to ghastly. “I would not have come now, but something is happening, Ancient One. And you must be prepared.”
With that, she pushed their plates aside, and her cards appeared from nowhere. With a flourish, she turned over the top card, laying it on the table.
It was of a man in a white robe, with a red cloak over it, an infinity sign above his head. While the card itself was faded with great age, Ianto recognised the man immediately.
Beside him, Rowena gasped. Henry was frowning, but Ianto could tell he also knew who that card was supposed to represent as well.
A second card joined it.
Ianto knew this card as well, but it was because he’d gotten it in a reading before: a man in a rich looking robe, face obscured by a hood. Only, where the robe had once been blue, this time it was a deep purple.
It was a representation of the Doctor.
The time he’s seen it, it had been in the reading that claimed that Jack would break his heart four times. It hadn’t exactly turned out that way, but the Doctor had certainly been a part of events that had, indeed, broken his heart.
The third card: a man, dressed and hooded in black, one hand upraised with an icicle held in his fist as if it were some sort of dagger. There was only one person Ianto knew who could control ice…Phillip. It had to be him.
The fourth was the card that had always represented Jack: the knight, in armour, with a sword in his hand, tip planted into the ground. It was frightening just how closely that card resembled his mate, and Ianto hated it with a passion.
Rowena made a noise that was more like a growl this time, and he couldn’t blame her for it.
The fifth: a king, with a fine crown, on a white horse and holding an upright sword. He was dressed all in red, and once again the dragon was convinced he knew who this was: Arthur. He was the only king Ianto knew of, he was a red dragon, and the sword would have to have been Excalibur.
The sixth: a tree, looking as if it had once been struck by lightning.
The seventh: a multi-headed serpent.
The eighth: a woman in white seated on a throne, wearing a dull crown over curly hair, holding a rod in each hand, looking as if she was trying to fit them together.
The ninth: A woman wearing what looked like pure shadow, holding an open book, blonde hair draped across her face and obscuring it, except for laughing, dark eyes.
“My card didn’t come up,” he said, trying to remain calm, but he was certain he’d failed.
With that same, terrible, smile, the girl turned the next card over.
It was the green dragon.
The card Ianto knew was meant to be him.
“A great danger is coming,” the being said, her voice in a trance-like sing-song. “Already events are in motion, and it may be too late to stop them.”
“You couldn’t come to me before things could get out of hand, if that’s true?” he demanded.
“There is a time and a place, Ancient One, and you know that.”
He did. That was the problem. And the time and the place was usually not the time he wanted it to be.
“Wait,” Henry interjected. “Are we going to trust a tarot card reading?” He didn’t sound overly incredulous, only curious, as if wanting to be certain that they were actually taking this course of action and relying on what might have been perceived as superstition.
“She only uses the cards for effect,” Ianto replied sarcastically. “It makes her prophecies that much more dramatic. Like they really need to be.”
That made the girl laugh, and the dragon wanted to cringe away from the sound. “If that is what you want to believe.”
“So, you’re coming to warn Tad now,” Rowena put them back on track. She was obviously disturbed by the whole thing, and Ianto couldn’t blame her. He felt the exact same way.
The being nodded. “There may yet be time to change the reading.” Her smile returned, but this one was almost sweet. “And I bring someone who might be able to aid you in this.”
She turned back toward the door. Ianto followed her gaze, and he saw when the woman entered the café.
She was dressed in an ankle-length blue dress, and matching slippers. A shawl in a paler blue was draped across her shoulders, held there with a gold brooch. She moved gracefully as she made her way around the tables toward them.
Her skin had an olive cast to it. Long black hair was plaited over her left shoulder. Her eyes were equally dark, and there was an uncertain expression in them as she approached.
It took him a second to realise that he knew her. It took another five for the information to slot into place.
Ianto stood up so quickly his chair scraped back, making a terrible racket as the legs dragged across the floor and drawing attention to himself.
He didn’t care.
He simply stared at the woman, his heart pounding furiously as he suddenly found it difficult to breathe.
“Suzie?” Ianto gasped.