Jack should have expected it when it happened, following on the heels of what had occurred in Scotland a few weeks ago.
But he was still surprised by the careful ‘knocking’ against his mental shields, and the somewhat casual ‘dropping’ of an address into his forebrain as if it was some sort of mental appointment book.
Which was why, later that afternoon as soon as he could get away, Jack was standing in front of a non-descript book shop on Bute Street.
Even without opening the door, Jack knew who was waiting for him within. There was only one person that he knew of who would have been powerful enough to surprise him and get into his brain with so little effort, and he entered the shop cautiously, the bell over the door tinkling merrily to announce his arrival.
He hadn’t expected the young man who smiled slightly at him from behind the counter, however, despite his own slight mental scan of the area. “Can I help you, Sir?” he asked, his accent local. He looked to be in his early to mid-twenties, dark-haired and blue-eyed, wearing a nice suit that accentuated his lithe form.
Jack leaned against the counter. “I’m certain you can,” he said smoothly, pitching his voice down into a more intimate level. The young man was gorgeous, and Jack couldn’t help but flirt with him despite the trouble he could conceivably get into over it.
The man smirked, and then did something that Jack didn’t expect…he moved as close as he could without coming out from behind the counter, and took a deep breath.
Had the man just smelled him?
Then the young man pulled away. “You might want to check the philosophy section,” he directed. “I believe you’ll find what you’re looking for there.”
Jack winked even as he realized this Welshman knew why he was there. He moved away from the counter, and then went to the section indicated.
He wondered vaguely how they’d managed to get the wheelchair into the shop, with its narrow aisles.
Oh course, Jack recognized the man sitting there, a book open in his lap. His mother had an ancient photograph of him, although it had showed an older gentleman, bald and almost regal, and not that younger man, still with a head full of dark hair and smirking slightly at Jack’s approach. The eyes were the same, though.
His mother’s eyes.
“Welcome to Wales, Professor,” Jack greeted, making certain his mental shields were as tight as they could be. Not that he was worried that the man would read him without his permission; no, Jack was concerned that he might accidentally let something slip and he couldn’t afford that.
“It’s a pleasure to finally meet you, Captain,” Professor Charles Xavier answered, the smirk morphing into a genuine smile. “I wanted to thank you personally for saving those children.”
“How are they?” The last he’d seen of the twelve children that the British Government had wanted to sacrifice to a race of blackmailing aliens had been as they’d vanished with Azazel, the Brotherhood’s teleporter. He’d expected that Magneto would have sent the children to the Professor; being a mutant activist on the run from the militaries of the world left little time for child-rearing.
“Settling in quite well,” the Professor said, giving Jack a smile even brighter than before.
Jack marveled that, if hadn’t been aware just how powerful a mutant the Professor was, he would have been completely taken in by that smile. Not that Xavier would ever use his powers against him; no, it was because the future Father of Mutant Rights was just that charming, and if Jack didn’t have such a personal connection to him he’d have been flirting for all he was worth.
“Although,” the telepath went on, “I’m certain you’re wondering why I’ve come all the way to Wales in order to thank you and to give you an update.”
“I had wondered that, yes.” Jack was frankly surprised that Professor Xavier had left the United States just when he would have been needed to help with the new ‘students’ for the school he’d been setting up. He also wondered if this man in front of him was even considering the fact that the children he would be training would, someday, be soldiers in the mutant cause despite his best efforts.
No, he doubted that. The stories he’d been told of the Professor had made much of him being a man of peace; it wasn’t until much later in his life that things would change.
Jack wanted nothing more than to tell the Professor what would happen in the future; that the mutants he and Magneto would find today and in the years ahead would go on to become the first wave in an exodus to other worlds in order to escape persecution. Would he find that good? Or would he be disappointed that integration would not work, or at least not for centuries to come?
Would he be disappointed in the family that he and Magneto would have in that future?
Would he be disappointed in Jack and the ancestors he was descended from?
Jack wrapped those thoughts up tightly, not wanting to broadcast them. He couldn’t afford to have the future changed in any way, and that meant making certain he revealed nothing of what was to come.
“I considered that it might be difficult to contact me…or Magneto…if you ever needed one of us again,” the Professor explained. “Magneto and I might not see eye-to-eye on a lot of things, but the one thing we do agree upon is the need to protect mutants.”
“I agree with you both,” Jack said. He remembered just how hard it had been to get any sort of message to the Brotherhood, and had almost given up when he’d been grabbed from his flat by Azazel, who’d teleported him to a meeting with Magneto himself. Of course, Jack would have gone to the Professor before giving up completely, but he’d known the telepath would not have been able to do what Magneto and his group had done. Destroying the 456 had been the only way to get across to the aliens that Earth wouldn’t bend to the will of blackmailers.
“I also understand why you contacted the Brotherhood and not myself,” Xavier went on mildly, as if he really was reading Jack’s mind.
“I’m not sorry about that, Sir.”
“You don’t have to be. You saved twelve mutant children from being handed over as bargaining chips in a deal with an alien race who could have used them the anything. No, it’s all right, Captain. I know I have a certain…reputation, where taking direct action is concerned.” He made a waving motion with his hand, dismissing the topic. “Be that as it may, you might need to contact me some day, or Magneto again, so that is why I’ve set up this shop. You can use it as a drop-off for any information you might need to get to either of us, and you can trust Mr. Jones implicitly.”
As if summoned by his name – or more likely, the Professor’s telepathy – the young man from the front of the shop stepped into the aisle. “Captain,” he said, smiling once more, this time revealing his teeth…and slightly elongated incisors.
“You’re a mutant as well.” Jack knew he was stating the obvious, but couldn’t help himself.
Mr. Jones nodded. “Enhanced senses, strength, and agility, as well as regenerative healing.”
Enhanced senses…well, that explained the sniffing, then. Jones had been getting a noseful of Jack’s pheromones. “Regenerative healing…does that mean you age slowly as well?” Jack had heard of that particular ability…but where?
Jones nodded. “I was actually born 19 August, 1923.”
Jack whistled. “You look great for being forty-two.”
“Thank you, Captain.” He stepped closer. “And it’s Jones…Ianto Jones.” He offered his hand.
Jack took it. “Pleasure to meet you, Jones Ianto Jones.” He found himself wondering how Jones’ slight fangs would feel on his cock…and was suddenly glad that his mental shields were clenched down tightly. While he knew for a fact that he’d be trying to get Jones into his bed, he didn’t want to communicate his desire to the Professor.
It was just a bit like your parents knowing you were going to have sex, only Xavier was too far down the family tree for that particular concern.
Then it hit him just where he’d heard about someone aging very slowly before. “You don’t sound like you’re from Canada.”
“That would be my uncle. He currently lives in Canada. I’m not certain where my father is, and I don’t much care.” There was a darkness in his blue eyes that Jack wanted to ask about, but didn’t.
“Ianto has volunteered to be your go-between,” the Professor said. “He has many contacts in the area, as well as knowing how to reach me…or Magneto, as needed.”
“I understand you have your own regenerative ability,” Jones – no, Ianto – replied. “I thought it would be nice to finally be around someone who ages as slowly as I do.”
Jack could understand. It was hard to see those around you aging and dying before your very eyes, and he was personally glad to have met someone who would still be there when the people he knew now would be old and grey…if they survived Torchwood.
He was also glad that his actual mutation remained a secret, although he could honestly see himself sharing with Ianto if it came down to that. There was something about the younger man that made Jack want to trust him.
“You also have the most interesting pheromones,” Ianto commented, his mouth curving upward into what Jack could only interpret as a flirtatious smirk.
“Yes, well,” Xavier cut in, clearing his throat. “There are some things I don’t really need to know, so I’ll take my leave.” He looked up at Jack, pinning him with those eyes that were so much like Jack’s mother’s. Jack knew then that it would be difficult to handle when he inevitably disappointed the professor. “Feel free to pass anything you find along, just don’t do anything to put yourself at too much risk. We’d hate to lose you, Captain.”
“I’d hate to be lost,” Jack commented dryly. He held out his hand, making certain his shields were tight once more before the most powerful telepath on the planet took it. “I’ll make sure I’m careful,” he promised. He knew what Torchwood would do if they ever discovered that he was a mutant, and that he had contact with other mutants. He wasn’t about to put Ianto or anyone else in danger if he could absolutely avoid it.
“Good. And if something does happen, we’ll do our best to come for you.”
Jack found himself swallowing thickly, the lump in his throat choking him slightly. He’d been alone for so long…being in contact with mutants again would certainly make up for his continuing lack of success in contacting the Doctor. It was almost like having a family once more.
He was surprised by the warm feeling that the thought caused in his chest.
Professor Xavier looked at him, his eyes calm, and Jack knew that he was broadcasting his emotions. He should have tried to dial things back, but didn’t bother. This, he could afford to share.
“If you should ever wish it –“ the telepath began.
“I know where to come,” Jack answered. “Thank you, Professor.”
“You’re quite welcome. Now Ianto, if you could help me get to the rear door?”
Ianto nodded. With a show of strength that impressed the hell out of Jack, the younger mutant picked up the wheelchair and managed to get it turned and wrestled through the narrow aisles. Jack watched the pair of them go, and then made his way to the front desk.
He rooted around the well-organised detritus until he found a book of sales slips. Taking the nearest pen, Jack wrote his number on the top slip, then added, Dinner tonight? with a time and address.
Whistling, Jack left the book shop and headed back to the Hub, looking forward to hearing back from the gorgeous Welshman and hoping to really getting to know his newest contact better. Who knew what was going to happen between them?
Jack couldn’t wait to find out.