1 September 5192 (Earth Standard Date)
Ianto couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
The woman standing there was very much Suzie Costello, with a few little differences. This version wasn’t as sharp-featured as the one he remembered from his and Jack’s old team back during the beginning of their Torchwood; her face was rounder, even though she did have the same cheekbones if he was recalling correctly. She was also a little taller, almost Ianto’s own height, and a little curvier in shape.
Still, he was staring at Suzie Costello, the woman who’d committed suicide because of that magical, alien glove that had preyed upon her mind and soul.
Ianto also remembered that he hadn’t trusted her back then. There had been a darkness within Suzie, and even though they’d worked together for years he’d never told her that he was a dragon. So long he’d been able to avoid her finding out. She’d been responsible for a lot of bad that had happened to the team, but at the same time she’d done a lot of good, as well.
That darkness was gone. Ianto couldn’t feel it any longer.
As he stood there, staring at her but not saying anything, Suzie’s uncertainty seemed to grow, and she took a hesitant step backward.
Ianto immediately cursed himself for that, and before she could go any farther he was surging forward and wrapping his arms around her.
Suzie was trembling in his arms, but she folded her own arms around him, resting her face in the crook of his neck and inhaling deeply. “Ianto,” she whimpered, “I am so sorry…”
The dragon was startled out of the hug, pulling back and meeting her eyes. “You remember?” he gasped in shock.
Of course she did. It had been obvious from the moment she’d entered the café that she’d known who he was.
Suzie nodded. “I’ve known for a while now,” she admitted. “My parents – my current ones – had figured out something was different about me from the time I was five years old, but I didn’t realise that the memories that were coming back were actually real. My parents thought I was just overly imaginative. It wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I figured things out, and told my Mum and Dad. They didn’t believe me at first, but I managed to convince them.” She smiled; a soft thing that would have been out of place on the first Suzie’s face. “They encouraged me to come and find you, but I couldn’t do that…not after what happened, and what I’d tried to do.”
“You could have at any time,” he assured her, “and Jack and I would have welcomed you. The past is the past, Suzie, and despite everything you were a friend.”
She laughed. “Just not a good enough one to let in on your big secret apparently.”
Ianto was chagrined. Yes, he’d hidden his true self from her, and he was still glad that he had, but now it felt a little bad that she was calling him out on it even though she didn’t seem at all upset about it.
“You don’t have to apologise,” she rushed to say, “because back then I wasn’t the best person. I can understand why you did it. I’m hoping we can start over, if that’s alright with you.”
“It’s more than alright,” he said warmly, relieved at her assurances. “Come, sit down. Oh! You should meet my daughter and her mate…” He turned back to the table, where Rowena and Henry were looking at the pair of them, Henry bemused and Rowena smiling. “Suzie, this is Professor Rowena ap Llyn, my daughter, and her mate, Professor Henry Morgan. Rowena…Henry…this is Suzie Costello, she was in mine and your Dad’s first Torchwood team.” Then he started. “Wait…do you go by Suzie anymore? I shouldn’t have assumed…”
“Suzie is just fine,” she answered. “I’ll admit…it’s better than my birth name, which is Chastity.”
Ianto flinched. “Why on Earth did your parents do that to you?”
His old friend laughed. “It’s a family name. But I think I like Suzie better.”
“I think I would, too,” Rowena said, joining in on the laughter.
“Chastity isn’t that bad,” Henry denied, scandalised.
“My love, that’s because you were born in the 1700’s,” Rowena teased. “You wanted to name our daughter Prudence.”
“Prudence is a perfectly good name,” the immortal huffed.
She patted his hand. “If you say so.”
“Come and sit,” Ianto invited her.
“I would love to,” Suzie said, “but there’s a lot you need to know and I don’t think we want to discuss this in public. Is there someplace we can go for more privacy?”
“Take her home, Tad,” Rowena replied. “Henry and I have classes this afternoon, but you’re free. I think that being brought her here for a reason, and you should listen.”
The Tarot Girl. Ianto searched the café for her, but she was gone, as were the cards she’d laid on the table…except for one: the multi-headed serpent, its edges worn and frayed with age.
Ianto picked it up. It was cool in his fingers, feeling almost like fabric instead of paper. “You’re right. I’ll see you both tomorrow.”
“Go, Ianto,” Henry shooed them off. “Go and take care of whatever’s going on, no matter how long it takes.”
Tucking the card into the inner pocket of his tunic, he offered his arm to Suzie. “Let’s go home.”