30 November 2007
A strong, chill wind whipped Jack's coat around his legs as he held the pub door open for his team. They walked past, laughing and relaxed, and he wished he could see them all like this more often. Things had been so stressful lately, and he was glad that the Rift seemed to be cooperating, in letting them have a night to just be five colleagues out for the night, and that nothing would occur to turn them back into Torchwood Three once more.
He followed Ianto in, his eyes dropping to the dragon's human ass as they made their way to a table toward the back. The pub Jack had chosen wasn't busy as yet, but he knew it would be later, and wanted his team to bond over good drinks, and good conversation before the place was heaving.
They quickly slid into the unoccupied booth, and Jack pulled up an extra chair so he was able to sit next to Ianto. "So, what's everyone having?" he asked.
"How do we decide who gets the drinks in?" Gwen asked, sitting next to Owen.
"Seniority," Ianto answered. "Jack first, then me, Tosh, Owen…and you last. Then, if we're all still sober, we start over."
"Which means Jack gets to drink bloody water all night," Owen added.
"And make fun of the rest of us," Tosh said.
Ianto nudged her playfully. "That's why he's the boss, you know. And the designated driver."
Jack laughed, standing. "Order 'em up, ladies and gentlemen."
His three long-standing teammates gave their usual orders; Gwen, after a second's thought, decided on a gin and tonic. Jack strode to the bar, putting in the order, then turned to look back at their table.
His team sat there. He was inordinately proud of them, even while they drove him nuts at times. Jack smiled softly, his eyes going to one particular member of that group.
After that night when the Earth Dragon had spoken to Toshiko, Ianto and Jack had decided to let things develop between them. Jack had never really felt closer to anyone in his entire life, not even the Doctor and Rose. If there really was a way for them to become mates, even though he wasn't a dragon, Jack was becoming increasingly certain that it was, indeed, what he wanted. It bothered him more than a little though that there was the potential that he'd hurt Ianto at some point, but that was a chance that all relationships faced. They would have to deal with it, and he hoped it would be together.
And Toshiko…his brilliant friend. She was seated beside Ianto, and the dragon was leaning into her as she grinned at something he'd obviously said. After she'd told them what had happened – both Jack and Ianto hadn't seen or heard what she had, and it puzzled them both – and had shown them the Earth Dragon's mark, they'd both accepted her for what she truly was…their best friend and confidante. It was amazing; when they'd pulled her out of that UNIT detention center, Jack had been certain she'd always remain that timid creature that her confinement had wrought. But she'd blossomed, and Jack felt bad for ever doubting that she had the strength needed to rise above everything and come into her own.
He hoped that both Owen and Gwen would become as close to them as Toshiko had. Jack wanted them all to be close, and he would work for that goal.
The bartender gave Jack their drinks on a tray, and Jack balanced them fairly gracefully toward their table. He got them passed out, putting the cleared tray on an unoccupied table next to them, then took his seat at the head of the table.
He raised his glass. "To another year," Jack toasted, "and to the successes, failures…and the one we lost."
"To Suzie," Ianto echoed, clinking his glass against Jack's.
"To Suzie," Toshiko and Owen said, their own glasses touching their teammates'.
Only Gwen didn't join in the toast, but then she'd only known Suzie as the murderer, and not the brilliant woman she'd been before the glove. Jack decided she needed an education in Suzie Costello. "Do you all remember the time Suzie found that piece of tech that ended up being some sort of futuristic whoopee cushion?"
Toshiko spluttered in her wine glass. "Oh god," she said, after Ianto had patted her on the back to clear her airway. "She spent weeks trying to figure out what it did!"
"And all the time," Ianto joined in, "it was making these farting noises and she couldn't figure out where they were coming from!"
Owen nodded in agreement. "And the bloody thing stunk! It was like being around a dead skunk, it was so fucking disgusting."
Gwen's eyes were large. "You're kidding me!"
"Hell, no," Jack answered, laughing. "It would go off at the weirdest times, and she never could track it down until, finally, she was right next to it when it farted."
"Owen blamed her," Toshiko accused.
"I thought it was her!" Owen defended himself. "How was I supposed to know it was that damned whoopee cushion?"
"Not even a dragon with intestinal issues could make a smell that bad," Ianto snorted. "A normal human certainly wouldn't."
"Yeah, gimme a break. It seemed like it was her at the time…or your flying rat, Ianto."
"Myfanwy has better manners than to pass wind on someone," the dragon said primly. "I taught her better than that."
"Okay," Gwen said, "just how did you get a pterodactyl, anyway?"
"Pteranodon, actually," Ianto corrected. "And Jack and I caught her."
Jack nodded, remembering. That had been the first time he'd taken Ianto to his bed, and he considered capturing Myfanwy as a part of their very strange courtship. "There was a Rift spike, and it led to this warehouse. Ianto and I went in…and there she was."
"Luckily for me I had nets in the SUV," Ianto said. "We might not have managed otherwise. But Jack decided that he had to try without them, and she took him for an impromptu flight."
"She dropped me pretty quickly," Jack went on.
"Right on top of me," Ianto retorted.
"You make a very soft cushion," Jack said, leering at him. He could still recall how it had felt to have Ianto under him, to feel his own sudden arousal match Ianto's…and then, Myfanwy had regained their attention once more.
"It's just a good thing my bones are very tough, or else you might have broken something."
"But then," Owen added, "the reaction when we all came in the next day to find a bleeding dinosaur in the Hub!"
"She's not a dinosaur," Ianto corrected.
"Yeah, yeah…a freaking pteranodon. I got it, Dragon Boy."
"But Myfanwy hadn't been Hub-trained yet," Toshiko stepped into the story-telling breach. "She'd shat all over Suzie's desk and had pulled out all the cables from around my terminals. Oh, and we found out the hard way that pizza disagrees with prehistoric creatures."
Ianto shuddered dramatically. "It proved that we really needed to train her on what she could and couldn't eat."
Gwen looked as if she was having trouble believing it, and Jack wanted to snort. After everything she'd seen…why was Myfanwy's capture so hard to take?
"Are we really going to do karaoke tonight?" Toshiko asked eagerly.
Jack grinned. "We most certainly are. We should make it mandatory that we do every anniversary."
"You just want me to sing," Ianto groused good-naturedly.
"Damn right," Jack answered. "You don't get out of it that easily, Mr. Jones."
"I don't understand," Gwen said. "What's the big deal about Ianto singing?"
Jack felt Ianto stiffen beside him at the woman's dismissive tone, but it was Toshiko who spoke up. "You're kidding, right? Ianto could've been a professional if he'd wanted."
"Yeah," Owen said. "I keep telling him he needs to get famous so he can introduce me to Angelina Jolie."
Ianto rolled his eyes in irritation, but the faint blush told a different story. "It's almost an imperative that dragons sing," he explained, leaning slightly over the table in order to avoid anyone overhearing, even though the pub was still fairly empty. "We have songs for everything – "
"Is that why the coffee is so good? You sing over it?"
"Stuff it, Owen," Ianto demanded good-naturedly. "But yes, that's the reason I enjoy singing, it's because it's in my nature. And I'd never do it for financial gain. It's not like I need all that much to live."
Jack rested his hand on Ianto's leg, under the table, squeezing slightly in support. He knew that the dragon was still unsure of where he stood with Gwen; the ex-PC still didn't seem to trust him, and Ianto was afraid that it would affect their work. Jack was hoping that, if Gwen saw Ianto as a normal person, then she might be on the road to acceptance.
If not, then she'd just have to get over it.
"But we have to lubricate the pipes a bit before he'll actually do it," Jack added. "Which is why we begin the annual pub crawl here, and then move on to somewhere with the proper set-up. Gotta get a few pints into Ianto first…"
"I don't see what the big deal is to get me out in public, and on a stage," the dragon said, miffed.
"It's fun to get you in front of a crowd," Owen answered. "You embarrass easily."
"Although," Toshiko said, "if you listen closely you can hear Ianto singing while he works. I'm sure he does it at other times, too."
Jack remembered the last time Ianto had sung for him, and his body reacted to that recollection. That had been the night he'd told Ianto that he'd loved him, and the dragon had said it in return. That song had been beautiful, and it had added something to their lovemaking that Jack couldn't name. It wasn't just that Ianto sang; it was the power behind it, especially when he was singing in the dragon tongue.
"I heard him singing in Latin once," Jack volunteered.
"Like a religious song?" Gwen asked, curious.
Ianto shook his head. "I was born in the 19 BCE. It would be another 60 plus years before Britain would come fully under Roman occupation, but there'd been invasions since Julius Caesar first set foot here, about 30 years before I was born, so Latin was a known language by the time I was learning my first songs. My father was very well-traveled, so I learned not only Latin, but Egyptian, Hellenistic Greek, and Persian…although, I've pretty much forgotten the Persian. And this doesn't count the old British and Welsh dialects. My father, himself, spoke a dozen languages, but they're all dead and gone now, except for snatches in books."
Jack could hear the sadness in Ianto's tone, and once again squeezed his leg in sympathy. Jack himself had lost so much in his long life, but that didn't even come close to comparing what Ianto had.
A warm hand clasped his, returning the touch.
Gwen looked as if she'd been smacked in the face. "You're…really that old?"
"I told you he was," Jack snapped, angry that she'd obviously dismissed a lot of what he'd told her about Ianto.
"It's just that…" Gwen looked lost for words, and it made Jack want to mentally mark his calendar. "You're not human; how can you sit here with us, pretending to enjoy our company?"
"Pretending?" Ianto questioned, surprised. "I'm not pretending anything. You're all my team…my friends. Okay, Owen is a bit of a twat – "
"Smile when you say that, Dragon Boy!"
" – but, on the whole, I do like you all, and I enjoy spending time with my friends."
"How can you even relate to us?" Gwen went on. "I don't understand it."
Jack opened his mouth to call her off, but Ianto answered first. "I can relate to you, because I was raised around humans. When my family was murdered, it was a human family who took me in and cared for me. I have to relate to you, because I can't relate to anyone else. Does that answer your question, Gwen?"
"Ignore her, Ianto," Toshiko urged, glaring at the woman from across the table. "She doesn't understand because she doesn't want to."
Gwen looked angry, but Jack jumped in. "We're all teammates here, and we all need to get along if we're to survive. So just leave it, Gwen. If you can't think of Ianto as a friend, then at least consider him a teammate. That should be good enough. Now," he changed the subject, "I'm done with my drink, and I think it's Ianto's round. Same again?"
Another pub later, and the team found themselves faced with the actual karaoke equipment, placed on a small stage near the pub's bar.
By then, three of the four of Jack's teammates were pleasantly tipsy, while Owen was clearly on the way to being shit-faced. The medic really couldn't hold his liquor, despite his protests to the contrary. Gwen was a bit giggly, and had a tendency to grab onto Jack's arm at random moments, which he did his best to discourage since he didn't like the glares that Ianto would send her way when it happened and the last thing he needed was a cat fight. Not that Gwen would stand a chance, of course.
And if Jack was honest with himself he quite liked Ianto looking like that. It was just plain sexy and made him want to yank the dragon into the nearest mens' and have his wicked way with him.
The dragon himself was already humming silently, and looking very mellow…when he wasn't giving Gwen the evil eye. Jack knew it wouldn't take much to get him up on stage when the singing started. He knew he was playing dirty, loosening Ianto up by plying him with beer, but then Jack didn't play fair at times. They didn't often get this chance to relax in their jobs, and he intended that everyone would take advantage of the lull. The Rift might blow up again tomorrow, but tonight Jack was determined that his team enjoy themselves.
The drinks were served – Jack getting Owen a water, in order to curb his medic's binge – and he was listening to Ianto tell Toshiko a joke about a dragon and a maiden when the first person went up to sing. Jack had to admit; he loved karaoke. It took balls to get up in front of an audience, and nine times out of ten the person doing the singing couldn't carry a tune in a bucket.
He elbowed Ianto, interrupting his story. "You gonna sing?" he asked.
The dragon looked put out. "You poked me for that?"
Jack rolled his eyes. "Well, yeah. We're in a karaoke bar, after all. I thought that was the point."
"I think you should sing together," Toshiko suggested, grinning like a maniac…which was a very scary look for her.
Ianto grinned as well, but his was more of a mellow thing, his eyes lighting up at the idea. "I'm willing."
Jack was going to deny doing it, but Owen spoke up. "Bloody hell, can't get away from you two for even a night, can we? Always so fucking lovey dovey at each other – "
"Owen!" Gwen smacked him, causing him to slide into the wall at his shoulder. "You're drunk and seeing things. There's nothing going on between Jack and…Ianto, yeah. You're crazy!"
Jack ground his teeth. Ianto looked livid, and he was opening his mouth when the immortal decided he didn't want the wrath of the alcohol-buzzed dragon to come down on their newest member. "Actually, I'd love to sing with Ianto." He grabbed the dragon's hand, pulling him out of the booth. He got a fine sense of satisfaction seeing Gwen's gobsmacked look.
They waited until the man was done – Jack wanted to snicker at his extremely unsexy version of Do Ya Wanna Touch Me? – and then took the tiny stage together. They went to the monitor, and began searching through the songs.
"How about this one?" Jack asked, pointing.
He was favored by a raised eyebrow. "No, Jack. I will not sing Endless Love. Not in a pub full of drunken Welshmen."
Jack pouted. His choice had been influenced by Gwen's words. He really didn't know what she had against Ianto, although she'd either started to realize that the dragon was there to stay and was getting used to working with him, or was getting very good at hiding her true feelings. But Jack wasn't ashamed of how he felt, and wanted to show it.
Okay, maybe Endless Love was a bad choice in that particular place…
"How about this?" Ianto asked.
Jack looked over his shoulder. "Are you trying to tell me something?" he asked, his voice going low. He wasn't familiar with the song, Don't Go Breakin' My Heart, but didn't want Ianto to even think he'd do something like that.
"It's not what you think," Ianto assured him, "but okay."
"Hey…" Jack grinned, indicating one he did know.
Ianto frowned. "It's not a duet."
"It can be!"
Jack looked at his lover; Ianto was smiling slightly. "All right," he agreed.
That was what Jack was waiting for. He queued it up, and they both grabbed microphones, Jack beginning to enjoy himself as the music started.
Jack started off.
"You're just too good to be true.
Can't take my eyes off you.
You'd be like Heaven to touch.
I wanna hold you so much.
At long last love has arrived
And I thank God I'm alive.
You're just too good to be true.
Can't take my eyes off you."
Ianto rolled his eyes, getting into the spirit of the song.
"Pardon the way that I stare.
There's nothing else to compare.
The sight of you leaves me weak.
There are no words left to speak,
But if you feel like I feel,
Please let me know that it's real.
You're just too good to be true.
Can't take my eyes off you."
Jack smiled, and they both joined in on the chorus.
"I love you, baby,
And if it's quite alright,
I need you, baby,
To warm a lonely night.
I love you, baby.
Trust in me when I say…
Oh, pretty baby,
Don't bring me down, I pray.
Oh, pretty baby, now that I found you, stay
And let me love you, baby.
Let me love you."
He wanted to laugh, looking over at their teammates. Gwen's mouth was open, and she was doing a really good imitation of a goldfish. Owen had cadged Ianto's pint, and was busily inhaling it. Toshiko though…she had the dopiest expression on her face, like she was seeing the most romantic thing imaginable. Maybe he should have left her his handkerchief…
They continued to sing. Jack playfully bumped Ianto's hip, getting the dragon to move a bit. Ianto laughed, and together they went into the next verse, singing to each other, and Jack was simply loving the look of pure freedom and joy on the dragon's human face. He wished he could see that all the time, and he slipped his arm around Ianto's waist as they slid into the chorus once more, Ianto's almost growly baritone meshing with Jack's tenor as they sang to each other.
They actually got an ovation as the music faded away. Ianto looked out over the crowd and blushed, Jack simply dipped into a low bow, putting the mic down and pulling his lover off the stage and back to the table.
"That was amazing!" Toshiko enthused, as Jack did, indeed, hand her his handkerchief. The technician wiped her eyes, smiling sappily.
Gwen was still looking shocked, and Ianto playfully reached across the table and pushed her mouth closed. "You'll catch flies," he told her.
"Fuck," Owen snarled drunkenly, "didya haveta make a scene? I'm fuckin' embarrassed to know ya both."
"Get over it, Owen," Jack told him calmly.
Gwen was looking between Jack and Ianto. "But…" she seemed at a loss for words.
Jack smirked. "What can I say? He's irresistible."
"But he's – "
"Gwen Cooper," Jack warned, "If you finish that sentence…" he let the threat fade, as he casually grabbed Ianto's hand under the table.
Jack knew that he and Ianto hadn't broadcast anything, but for Gwen to seemingly dismiss it out of hand…he didn't want to be irritated, but he couldn't help it.
A squeeze of his hand brought his attention to Ianto. The dragon was still smiling softly, his eyes glowing in the dim lighting. Jack returned it, once again realizing just how much he was in love with the dragon, and he couldn't imagine why he'd ever tried to fight it. He'd been a fool, and it hadn't been a hard choice at all, to pick staying with Ianto over going with the Doctor when it was time.
There really was no choice at all.
"Let's say we get our team poured into cabs and head back to mine, now that you've heard me sing?" Ianto suggested.
"I like how you think, Ianto Jones," Jack said happily. "At least Owen needs to sleep it off."
"You're not kidding," the medic popped up. "God, I hope I'm drunk enough to forget what happened tonight. If not, I'll be hitting the Retcon in the morning."
"I'll see that he gets home," Gwen volunteered quickly. She got up from the booth, dragging a swaying and complaining Owen with her.
"Why doesn't that surprise me?" Toshiko snorted, loud enough for the other woman to hear. Gwen flushed slightly as she pushed Owen in front of her, and toward the exit.
"That was a bit catty, Toshiko," Jack commented, smirking.
"Don't tell me she didn't have it coming," the technician snarked, draining her drink.
"I didn't say that. I just said it was catty." Jack had known for a while that Toshiko had had rather misplaced feelings for Owen, but she seemed to be getting over it. Which was a good thing; she could do so much better.
"Come on, Tosh," Ianto encouraged. "Let's get you home."
Jack stood, and the dragon followed, his hand on Toshiko's elbow to balance her. She wrapped her arm through Jack's and together the three of them left the pub. The cold air hit like a hammer as they left the warm air of the pub, and Jack shivered despite his heavy greatcoat. It didn't matter how many centuries he spent in Cardiff, he still wasn't used to the freezing weather.
They got Toshiko into the SUV, and Jack jumped into the drivers' seat, getting the vehicle started and turning the heat on. He knew it didn't bother Ianto, but he knew he was cold, and if he was then Toshiko was as well.
"You know," she drawled from the back seat, "you guys are my best friends."
Jack wanted to laugh, but stifled it; she was starting to get into the maudlin phase of drunkenness, and it was entertaining. Ianto grinned over at him from the passenger side, and rested his warm hand on Jack's leg as they pulled away.
"It didn't take any pseudo-mystical dragon to tell me that," she went on. "We've been through a lot together, and you saved me. I love you guys."
"We love you, too, Tosh," Ianto responded seriously.
Jack barely kept the grin off his face. Toshiko was an adorable drunk, and Ianto was just tipsy enough to go all cute.
He could feel the dragon's natural body heat on his thigh through his trousers, and it distracted him from the rambling conversation his Second and technician were having. If he'd had to choose someone to be his and Ianto's confidante, it would have been her, so in that respect the Earth Dragon showed perfect taste.
Jack still wasn't at all sure about this whole Earth Dragon thing. Certainly there were things out there that he didn't know about, but some sort of ancient dragon spirit was somewhat beyond him. He was having enough trouble accepting the concept of magic…but then, Toshiko had seen and spoken to it, so Jack couldn't deny what had happened. He'd seen the mark that the Great Dragon placed on her back; if Jack was sure of one thing, it was that Toshiko hadn't had a tattoo before that night, and now she did. Hell, she didn't strike him as the type for it, and so he had to accept that. Jack still couldn't believe that she'd do something like this so willingly.
If he hadn't loved her before, he certainly did now.
Together the two escorted Toshiko up to her door when they arrived at her flat. She hugged them both fiercely, then let herself in, the last thing Jack seeing was her brilliant smile.
And then, he suddenly found himself with an armful of Welsh dragon, who was doing his best to remove his tonsils with his tongue.
Jack moaned into the kiss, Ianto's mouth hot against his. Heat pooled deep in Jack's groin, and it was all he could do to push Ianto away. "Not here," he said, when Ianto tried to reattach himself to Jack's lips. "Let's go back to yours, okay?"
"Sorry," the dragon said, panting. "I've been wanting to do that ever since we sang together. Do you have any idea what that meant to me? Even though it was a human song?"
He'd only really done it to spite Gwen, but Jack's heart warmed at the dragon's words. He knew how important singing was to Ianto. "I hope to sing with you again sometime," he murmured, taking Ianto by the elbow and leading him out of the building.
"Count on it," the dragon said. "And, one day, I'll sing the Song of Commitment to you."
The captain smiled softly, his heart swelling in happiness He'd never expected to feel this way about anyone, and he couldn't believe that Ianto really wanted to commit to him like that.
He was in serious danger of getting very sappy.
Jack bundled him into the SUV. "Now," he went on, as Jack got into the drivers' seat and restarted the engine, "why don't we get back to mine, and I'll show you just how much it meant to me that you want to sing with me?"
"I think that's a brilliant idea." It was Jack's turn to put his hand on Ianto's thigh, as he aimed the vehicle toward the dragon's house, happy that they'd come through so much to get where they were.
They loved each other, and for now everything was just fine.