It is purely by chance that Jack happens upon the Red Dragon bar, hidden away in a side street not far from the Hub. That particular evening having been spent on a less than successful hunt for a weevil that had taken a liking to raiding wheelie bins for food.
The weather is appalling even by Cardiff’s usual standards and the streets are nearly deserted, with most people preferring to be indoors. With the weevil having managed to escape, Jack decides to duck in the bar out of the freezing rain and wind and consider his options. Either spending the rest of the night hunting down the weevil or calling it a night and going back to the Hub.
Jack is still sat at the bar drinking a soda water, when there is the crackle of a microphone and the noise of a sound system being turned on.
A man, who Jack suspects is the landlord, taps the microphone a couple of times before asking loudly, "Can you all hear me." There is a chorus of yeses and get on with it's from the pubs regulars.
"All right then." He taps the microphone once more and there is another whoosh of static. "I'd like you to put your hands together for our returning guest artist, Ianto Jones."
It takes a second to register. Jack turns and looks towards the small stage that has been set up in one corner of the bar.
Ianto, dressed casually in jeans and tee shirt, and carrying a guitar, walks onto the stage and smiles.
Captivated, it’s not a word that Jack uses that often, but it truly sums up how he, and apparently the other patrons of the bar feel, while Ianto is singing.
The dim light of the pub, the press of warm bodies, the faint smell of alcohol in the air and the way the Ianto’s fingers move across the strings all add to the effect.
Admittedly half the time Jack doesn’t actually know what Ianto is singing about, as a lot of the songs are in Welsh, but the tunes, the melodies, the feeling in his voice, makes it somehow even more magical.
"This last song is called Lisa Lan." Ianto smiles, it’s a little sad and so full of memories and longing. "It’s a song for all those who have loved and lost."
There is no need for Jack to know the meaning of the words, it is clear enough that it is a song of loss, but also he suspects of hope as well.
The tune is achingly reminiscent of one that his gran had loved so much. He closes his eyes and just for a moment he can see her humming softly to herself as she tends the flowers in her garden, a bright splash of colour in the arid bleakness of the coastal desert where he grew up, so long ago and so far in the future.
It wasn’t exactly this song, he knows, but then in the vastness of time and given the limited number of musical notes that the human ear can hear, the chances of two melodies sounding so similar isn’t that impossible.
Set finished Ianto smiles and gives a small bow. "Thank you and goodnight."
There's applause and the barman picks the microphone back up. "Our next act is a new band, who’ll be performing classic rock with there own modern twist." He checks a slightly crumpled piece of paper. "Or at least that’s what they’ve told me to tell you. So put your hands together and give a big welcome to Datguddiad."
Jack’s nervous now, he knows he’s got every right to be in this bar, it’s a public place and it’s not like he followed Ianto here or anything, he hadn’t even known that Ianto would be here. However, Jack’s almost certain that Ianto won’t see it that way. After all if Ianto hadn’t have wanted to keep this part of his life private he would have told them.
Had he told him? Jack’s almost certain that Ianto hasn’t. Then again it’s not like I’ve ever asked him what he does to relax or have fun, is it? Jack thinks a little bitterly.
So before Ianto has a chance to see him and raise any awkward questions, Jack finishes his drink and leaves, pushing his way through the crowd.
Deep in thought Jack walks back to the Hub.