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Variation in Act II

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Ianto was a mystery to everyone at the hub, and they weren’t shy about trying to solve it. 

Granted, they mostly operated behind his back. Tosh tried any number of times to hack his file. Owen tried to find any medical record on him. And Gwen-- she would just ask him personal questions straight to his face.

Somehow, Ianto could always change the subject in a way no other human was capable. He would give a polite but useless answer, usually not related to the question. Then he would ask Gwen a question that could get her talking for minutes on end about herself. He was scary.

Jack chastised the group for their activities, but never quite stopped them. He was also curious himself about the ex-Torchwood One employee who was now content to just make them coffee and feed their pets. But he came along with a hand written recommendation and a Pteranodon. He knew Ianto’s previous employer must have had something to do with the absence of information. Hell, they probably retconned him so many times he wouldn’t know the truth anymore. It was probably for the best that they didn’t ask him about his past.

Lunches and car rides would go by with discussion of childhood occurrences, teenage romances, and personal preferences in every category possible. Ianto would just sit and listen. Sometimes he would ask about places mentioned or non relevant things. For the most part though, he would change the subject back to work while the others would feel ashamed that their thoughts and conversations were elsewhere.

Jack was also a mystery. But he was also immortal. It got him a free pass when he didn’t want to explain himself to the team. Ianto had no such luxury and yet he still managed to escape them. 

However, when the incident with Lisa happened, the game was up. Jack demanded his records… his untampered records. If Ianto ever wanted to return to the hub, Jack had to know the truth.

But what was the truth? Where did he go to school? Where did he grow up? Did these things even matter to his job at Torchwood? What could they possibly contain that could help solve the mystery of what the hell happened in the basement?

 

What came in the mail was not what anyone expected. A package was left at the tourist office without a return address. Thankfully, Jack was the one who intercepted it. Opening it on his way down to his office, he was surprised to see how simple it appeared. Standard Torchwood employee file tagging, and a few dozen pages inside of it. For someone who survived Canary Wharf, it seemed about right. Closing his office door behind him and lowering his blinds, he sat down and braced himself for what he was about to learn of their resident teaboy turned Cyberman enthusiast.

Jack opened the file. 

His eyes scanned the pages for all of three seconds before he promptly reached out, grabbed the chunk of alien coral that adorned his desk, and threw into the adjacent wall in frustration. Line after line was blacked out. Sparse information connected the dots between large passages of censored lines. He couldn’t be more furious if he tried. Gwen knocked on the door.

“Is everything okay in here, Jack? I heard a crash…” She trailed off as she saw the coral now in pieces on the floor. The poor thing...

“Yes.” Jack said abruptly and then sighed. “No. Just a bit aggravated.”

“Anything I could help with? What’s that file?” Gwen quickly asked.

“It’s a classified Torchwood employee record. I was expecting it to be a lot more information on one Ianto Jones. But instead I got this.” Jack said while holding up a form with more Sharpie than words on it.

Gwen gasped. “Is that what I think it is?” 

“Yeah, if you think it is an employee file with no useful information on our rogue coffeemaker.”

“Well… It can’t be too bad, right? What’s the information that isn’t blocked out?” Gwen asked as she came closer to sit in the chair on the opposite side of his desk. She had a point. Jack shuffled through the papers.

“Let’s see…” He started. “Reports from supervisors… Junior Researcher, Ianto Jones. Did good work it appears. List of some projects... This one has some research on an artifact in the archives.” He shuffled around some more. “This one has some personal contacts. Oh, his sister’s address.”

“Ianto has a sister?” Gwen asked politely.

“Yeah.” Jack answered. “A bit older, if I remember correctly.” 

“Hey, couldn’t we just do what the spies do with forms like that?”

“What do you mean?” Jack finally looked up from the pile of forms.

“Don’t they rub lemon juice on them or something, and they can see through to the stuff censored?” She tucked her hair behind her ear like she did when she’s unsure of herself.

“I don’t know what spy films you’ve ever watched. But I’m pretty sure lemon juice won’t do us any good.” Jack said before bracing both hands on his desk and standing up. “I do know what could work, now that you mention it!”

“What’s that, Jack?”

Tosh.”

 

Leaving Jack’s office and looking around the hub, Tosh seemed to be the only one else left.

“Where’s Owen?” Jack yelled down to get the quiet woman’s attention.

“It’s Friday night. Where do you think he is?” She replied.

“That’s okay. He’ll just have to miss out on our wild night here. I have a project for you!” Jack said as he bound down the steps, followed by Gwen. Tosh looked at her computer as if trying to suggest she already had a project to work on tonight.

"This is more fun than that. Know anything about uncensoring documents the hardcopy way?" Jack asked as he proffered the folder to her. She looked at it skeptically until she was able to read the writing on the cover.

"Oh! Wow, didn't expect that." She flipped it open and sighed. "Really Jack? This is your problem? Didn't they teach you anything in Torchwood training school?" Toshiko teased while standing, taking the forms with her.

"Training school?" Gwen asked innocently. "I thought we just got lessons on the gun range."

Tosh snorted, attempting not to laugh. "Really, Jack?" 

"Hey!" Jack reprimanded. "That was more job training than I ever got. This is a trial by fire learning environment here."

"It sure is…" Gwen muttered as she watched Tosh pull out something that looked like a compact scanner. After being plugged into the side of the printer, she turned it on and began to feed the pages through. Moments later, the old printer started to turn out copies. All remnants of blackouts had been removed.

“Whoa… how long have we had that?” Jack asked while inspecting the device.

“Since last year. Used to be a laminator, but I added in some alien tech I’ve been playing with and now it’s an x-ray based document decrypter.” 

“Jeez, Tosh. When was the last time you got a raise?” Jack laughed.

But his joke landed flat as the three of them now stood around Tosh’s desk with the uncensored version of Ianto’s past in front of them.

“Are we really doing this? Don’t you think he should be here?” Gwen nervously asked.

“Maybe I should look at this on my own first in my office.” Jack suggested.

“Seriously, Jack?” Tosh asked. “You know I’m just going to sneak a peek anyway. Come on, we've all wanted to know for so long. What’s the betting pool up to now for him having worked as a barista before Torchwood?” 

“I feel like a bunch of gossiping school girls.” Jack muttered to himself.

“Speak for yourself. Although that’s quite the image for you, Jack.” Gwen said.

“Hey, don’t knock it until you try it.” Jack winked at them before flipping the first page over. “Ladies, time to meet Ianto Jones.”

They skimmed the first couple of pages together. 

 

Old addresses in Wales... 

 

Deceased family members... 

 

“Ianto Jones. Age 20. Archive Specialist…” Jack read aloud. “And Field Agent?!

 

“Look at this!” Tosh exclaimed while reading along with them. “Over a dozen successful ops. But he was so young…”

They were seeing just how prolific his career was going before the fall of Canary Wharf…

Before moving to Torchwood Three…

Before just being their teaboy… 

But the other shoe dropped when the next page held his retcon record. Not to be confused with the record of all the times he’s retconned bystanders. No. This was a clear list of Yvonne Hartman’s orders after top secret missions to make sure he had no trace of them. Some things were starting to make sense.

“What’s this?” Gwen asked as she slid the next paper out. “Education and employment record. Oh, he better have been a barista, or I swear…”

“Holy shit…” Jack snatched the paper up and read it more closely. “Well he never went to university… and you definitely lost the betting pool. But look at this...” He let out a low whistle and put the form back down where they could all see it. And there it was, right at the bottom of a long list of part-time jobs, life events, and former schooling.

 

Age 14, accepted at the Royal Ballet School, London. Trained three years. Dropped out.

 

Age 17, arrested for minor theft and burglary.

 

Age 18, recruited by Torchwood One.

 

The rest was history. 

 

Silence hung between the three coworkers. Each scared to make the first comment. Finally Jack spoke up.

“Well... That explains why he’s so flexible.”

Gwen’s jaw hit the floor as Tosh smacked him in the arm.

“Wait. But that’s like a really hard school to get into, the Royal Ballet. I could only dream of it as a little girl. I guess that explains how he ended up in London from Wales. But wow… you have to be really, really good to get in.” Gwen admonished.

“Well,” Tosh started. “I guess he was really, really good. Right?”

“Yeah, I guess he was.” Jack replied, sounding almost sad. “Dropped out, it said. Not kicked out. Looks like he was getting into trouble, though. I mean… other than that bombshell. There’s nothing really to condemn him about. I’m even wondering if he remembers that he was a field agent?” 

“Jack, that’s really sad.” Gwen said as she watched Jack begin to pile the forms back into the folder. 

“Yeah, Gwen… that is really sad.”

“Do you think he remembers that he did ballet?” Tosh asked quietly.

Jack shrugged. “I don’t know. But what I do know is that we can never, never, ever let Owen find out about this.”

“Oh God, you’re right." Gwen agreed. "He would never let poor Ianto hear the end of it.” 

They all looked at each other and made a silent pact. This could never see the light of day.

 

When Ianto returned to his job at the hub after his suspension was served, Jack and the two women definitely watched him more intently than their own jobs should have allowed. It was almost as if they expected him to pirouette his way to the coffee machine. Ianto most likely just assumed they were watching him to make sure he wasn’t making another Cyberman in the basement. If only he knew the truth.

Toshiko was almost the first one to crack. It started with her and Gwen quietly talking in the kitchen while splitting the last chocolate muffin.

“You know, to get into that school he must have been doing ballet for a pretty long time. You need to start young to be that good.” Gwen said around a mouthful.

“Wow, that would make sense.” Tosh said but didn’t notice when Gwen suddenly looked like a deer in headlights. Ianto had just quietly joined them in the kitchen. “I really don’t know much about ballet. I was more of a bookworm growing up.”

“I would have never guessed.” Ianto suddenly joked from behind Tosh, sending her spinning.

“Ianto!” Tosh yelped as she turned and started to stutter. “We were just… talking about…”

“The ballet.” Gwen completed and Tosh immediately turned back to stare darts into the other woman. Just at the same time, Jack poked his head out the door, eavesdropping on the conversation. Ianto couldn’t see him from behind. But Jack was giving the chopping motion to his neck as in “End this conversation now!

“Yes.” Tosh agreed. “We were just talking about… the ballet. I was thinking about getting tickets. But I wouldn’t know who to go with.”

Jack looked at Gwen from across the hub. He had to agree, that was a good save.

“Oh.” Ianto said, a bit surprised. “Which ballet were you thinking of seeing?”

“The uh… Nutcracker. Yeah. The Nutcracker.” Tosh tried to say more confidently.

“Hmm. I don’t think you’ll be able to find tickets to the Nutcracker in May. But Coppélia is on tour this Summer.”

“What’s Coppélia about?” Gwen asked.

 

That’s when Jack dropped his mug out the door.

 

“Jesus, Jack! Why did you throw your mug on the ground?” Owen yelled from his station in the medical bay. Everyone had turned around to see Jack staring at the pile of shards that was his favorite dragonfly mug.

“I uh… needed another coffee.” Jack said. 

Ianto raised an eyebrow. The two women evacuated the kitchen during the distraction. Ianto just went about pulling out another mug, this one with blue and white stripes, and making his boss another coffee. 

 

They made it a whole week and a half without another incident. But leave it to Gwen to go out with a bang.

 

All five of them were squished into the SUV following the trail of a rift gift that came in about an hour ago. Owen was driving and Jack was riding shotgun even though most of the time he was turned around backwards talking to Tosh as she followed the tracker. Somehow Ianto ended up in the middle with his long legs folded in on himself, Gwen and Tosh on either side. It was Gwen who suggested they bring Ianto. Owen just thought he still wasn’t trusted to be at the hub by himself. The rest of them knew Ianto used to be a field agent now. However, the question still hung in the air whether or not Ianto knew this about himself.

After about a half an hour drive outside Cardiff, their rift gift appeared to be some sort of alien aloe plant. The retrieval was uneventful and it was even giving off a pleasant smell to fill the back of the SUV. All in all, it was going to be a good ride home if they added a coffee stop to the experience. Jack couldn’t help but notice (as he was still turned around in his seat to answer Tosh’s questions about the plant) that Ianto was almost content looking. Not as tired as he had been looking since his return. It was a good look on him, Jack thought to himself.

 Both him and Gwen were staring out the driver side window, watching the local places pass by. That’s when Gwen saw it. Her old dance studio she used to attend as a little girl. Ballet and tap, she thought with a bit of pride. 

“Oh guys, look. See that little place on the right? I used to take dance lessons there. Aw, I was adorable back then with the little tutus!” She suddenly said with an air of delight. “It was so much fun, like being a little princess!”

No one knew how to respond to her outburst. Ianto just looked at her, waiting for her to go on. Jack even just froze, sitting backwards in his seat, waiting for where this was going.

“Ianto!” She exclaimed, and then asked him with a light punch to his arm, “You used to do ballet, didn’t you?

It was like the world stopped spinning.

“Um… yeah.” He replied quietly.

Owens' head whipped around so fast.

You what?!” He yelled.

And that’s when Owen abruptly rear ended the car in front of them, activating the airbags and throwing Jack backwards from where he was perched. 

Thankfully, only Jack died in the accident.



When they got back to the hub, Jack was already on his feet again. However, Owen was not. He was doubled over on the couch, laughing like a madman.

“How come I didn’t know this?! Teaboy is a damn ballerina, too!” He howled. “What else am I missing out on? Did you dance with the Rockettes?”

Ianto looked at Jack pleadingly. Jack looked as guilty as he felt.

“All right, come on Owen. It’s no big deal. Get back to work.” Jack said while giving Owen a light kick to the shin from where he laid.

Tosh chimed in from across the hub where she was moving the new plant in with Gwen. 

“I’m sure you were a great ballerina. Weren’t you, Ianto?”

If it wasn’t for Owen practically screaming with laughter they might have heard Ianto reply.

“I was…” He said softly as he left for his safe space in the archives.



Jack gave him some time to cool off before he went down to check on him.

“Look, I’m sorry they found out.” Jack started to say as he entered the lower room where Ianto was hiding at his desk. “I needed Tosh’s help reading the file you had sent. It was only her and Gwen who ended up seeing parts of it."

“It’s fine. Really Jack… It’s no big deal.” Ianto said with what felt like a sad smile.

“It’s your personal file though. It was a total breach of privacy.”

“If it’s any consolation, I’ve read all of their files, too. I’ve had a lot of time down here between making rounds of coffee.”

“Huh, well. I won’t uh… tell anyone you said that.” Jack said. “But it still doesn’t give Owen the right to laugh at you. I mean, so what if you did ballet. It’s not really funny. It’s actually kind of cool.”

“Cool?” Ianto raised an eyebrow.

“Yeah. I mean, I’ve never met too many guys who bend in half like that.” 

Ianto laughed. It was a good sound to hear. It seemed to be missing from the hub for far too long.



Things had settled down for a bit thanks to a spree in rift activity and Owen having multiple autopsies to keep him busy. However, it didn’t stop him from calling Ianto names every time he came around with fresh coffee.

“Thanks, Cinderella!” He said one day. 

“You know, I actually have to applaud your research into that one. That's an amazing role to dance.” He trailed off as he took the last empty mug away.

“Fuck.” Owen started. “Please tell me you danced as Cinderella. Christmas will have come early.”

“No.” Ianto said apologetically. “Just the prince.”

“Huh…” Owen said as Ianto walked out of the bay.

As soon as the team realized that one of them would end up dead (besides Jack) before they ever convinced their teaboy to show them some moves, they knew they needed a new plan of attack. This time it was Owen to come up with the idea. Although, it was going to take some convincing. He knew just the way.

 

“Good morning, Tosh.” Owen said as he leaned over his coworker's station and batted his eyelashes at her. She looked up and watched the display in horror.

“Don’t ever do that again.” She told him.

“Yeah, I suppose I’m a bit out of practice with that one. Which leads me to think, Tosh… maybe you and I should grab a drink some time?”

Tosh sighed. 

“What do you need, Owen? Make it quick.”

“Dammit, you know me too well..” He said while rolling his chair around to her side of the desk. “I have an idea. And it’s a horrible idea. But it’s going to need some technical snooping. Something you’re way better at than me.”

“Considered me flattered. What are we doing?”

Research.” He replied, as if it made all the sense in the world.

“Go on.” Tosh encouraged him.

“Well, if Ianto went to this fancy dance school you and Gwen keep going on about, don’t you think it would be fancy enough for them to record like… recitals or something?”

“Shit.” She swore. “You want me to hack a ballet school? I don’t know if that’s in my realm of capabilities.” She laughed quietly.

“That sounds like you’re going to do it. Right?” Owen looked almost manic with glee.

“I need to know what year and what show he could have possibly been in.”

“How do we get that?”

Tosh thought for a moment. “Well if he was there from ages fourteen to seventeen, that would be somewhere between 1997 and 2000. Their website should have a back catalogue of performances.”

After another ten minutes the two of them had narrowed it down to two shows available in the archives, both with a cast list containing a Ianto Jones. The first was Giselle, and the other was of course, The Nutcracker. 

“Which one do you want first?” Tosh asked Owen.

“Is that even a question? The Nutcracker.” He was practically wheezing over the idea.

The commotion at Tosh’s work station was enough to draw Jack’s attention to them. So he decided now seemed like a good idea for a visit from the boss.

“Hey kids. What are we up to that looks like no good?” He asked with his usual charming smile.

“Nothing!” Owen yipped out, trying to seem casual, but utterly failing. Jack peered over at the monitor to see a frozen screen with a grainy video that looked like it was once on VHS before being converted into digital. It was paused on a young ballerina surrounded by what appeared to be giant rat soldiers.

“Please don’t tell me he was a mouse…” Jack whispered to them. Ianto was up in the tourist office at the moment, but you could never be too cautious around him.

“What are you guys watching over there?” Gwen giggled at them all huddled together.

“These two naughty children are watching a turn of the millennium edition of The Nutcracker for some apparent reason.” Jack said as he motioned with a nod of his head for her to join them.

“Oh no! You didn’t? This is so evil.” Gwen said before quickly adding, “Which one is he?!”

“We’re not sure. He’s listed in the cast but there weren't roles listed. He would have been fifteen. I don’t even know what he would look like then. He could be one of the mice for all we know.” Tosh explained.

“Can we fast forward through the whole thing? How long could this possibly be?” Owen asked.

“You’re kidding, right?” Jack snorted. “You’ve never seen The Nutcracker?”

“And you have?” Owen chastised.

“Of course I’ve seen it. What kind of uncultured beast do you take me for?”

They were six minutes into fast forwarding the recording while pausing every so often to inspect any male dancer as if they were doing a crime scene analysis.

“Have you found me yet?” A beautiful welsh voice suddenly interrupted from up on the walk to Myfanwy’s nest. The four coworkers screamed in surprise, setting off the Pteranodon into a screeching fit. Ianto covered his ears and came down to the first floor as smooth as a ghost. He looked over the screen to where a bunch of sugar plum fairies were paused in their number. 

“We’re sorry, Ianto.” Gwen said with an appropriate amount of guilt.

“I really should let you watch the whole thing, but I’ll have mercy on you. I’m the Arabian Dancer in act two.” The four heads whipped around to look at each other with delight. “But I’m not in this recording. This is the matinee with some of the understudies.”

Owen booed. “Damn it, I just sat through all this for nothing?”

“Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.” Ianto said politely.

“All right, everyone! Back to work! You had your fun. Sorry they’re being a bunch of brats about this.” Jack apologized to Ianto as he started to collect empty coffee mugs from desks to go wash out. Jack was feeling rather guilty for not stopping them.

“Don’t think I didn’t notice you enjoying this investigation, too, sir.”

“Well of course! Like I would miss out on seeing my favorite coffee maker in a set of tights.” Jack whistled.

“May I remind you that I was a minor, sir.” Ianto deadpanned and instantly took the wind out of Jack’s sail.

“Ah. Yes. I’ll just be uh... retconning myself from ever remembering saying that now.” He pointed to his office over his shoulder before throwing a salute and evacuated the scene.

“You know…” Ianto called to Jack before he got too far away. “All you had to do was ask.”

Jack stopped walking. By the time he turned around to say something, perhaps ask-- Ianto was nowhere to be seen.

 

The next day went by as usual. Rift alarms, weevils in the streets, Jack dying… just a typical day at work. However, the night was predicted to be much calmer so Jack decided there was no need for anyone to hang around. Even Ianto was excited to get some fresh air. But before he left he stopped by Jack’s office and put something on his desk. Even though Jack wasn’t in there, he could see him do it through the large glass windows. 

What in the world could that be?  He thought to himself.

Tosh and Gwen were putting on their Jackets when Ianto headed towards them on his way to the cog door. 

“Hey Tosh, I was thinking.” Ianto said, a bit nervously, “Were you really interested in going to see Coppélia?”

“Oh.” The question caught Tosh off guard. “Actually Ianto, I think I would be.”

Ianto smiled. 

“Good, I’ll keep that in mind when tickets go on sale. Have a good night at the bar, ladies.” He gave them a small salute as they giggled with their own farewells.

Jack watched his team leave for the evening before heading to the hot house to water the plants and check in on their new alien aloe plant, otherwise now known as Ulla. He was oddly tired, probably from dying earlier that day. So comfort food and watching some television from his bed were calling his name.

After warming up some leftover Chinese food and heading to his office, he put the food on his desk and undid his braces. That felt better already. But his plan to quickly finish up some work while eating got suddenly derailed when he remembered Ianto left something on his desk. Jack looked around in the mess to see what wasn’t standard debris. Ah, it’s a tape… a VHS tape.

He picked up the tape in a simple white cardboard sleeve and read the writing on it.

 

Giselle, 2000. I'm Prince Albrecht. Don't worry, I fast forwarded it already for you. 

 

Jack didn’t blink, perhaps he didn’t even breath, for almost a minute as his brain tried to catch up to what he was reading. Oh…

He was now extra excited that he sent the team home early. He couldn’t be more enthralled that he was going to be the first to get to see Ianto… a baby Ianto… but still Ianto-- dance. 

Adorable. His heart fluttered.

Not now, heart. Jack mentally threatened, whether he knew it or not.

 

Looking at the tape after removing it from its cardboard sleeve, it was indeed fast forwarded more than halfway. Discarding the idea of getting work done, he took the tape and his dinner down into his quarters. Thankfully, Jack isn’t fond of upgrading his style very often so he still had a VHS player connected to his television. 

(Tosh did gift him with a DVD player a year ago after he died a very gruesome death. He was stuck in bed for almost a week while the two halves of him sewed themselves back together. The team didn’t know if he was cognitively aware, but they thought he might be really bored if he was stuck just staring at his ceiling. Gwen brought in her entire DVD collection of Disney movies for him and then promptly discovered Jack didn’t have anything to play them on. Tosh rushed out and picked one up. If anyone were to ask, he would probably admit it was the best week of his life, apart from screaming in pain for most of it. Bless Owen for turning the volume up for him. Although, Owen had to tap out when Jack requested The Little Mermaid for the fourth time.)

Setting his dinner down on his bed he went about plugging in the tape. Due to the very tight quarters of his room, he was very close to the screen. He shoved a forkful of food into his mouth and hit play. 

 

The lights came up, the scene was forest like and very blue. Even though it was a bit grainy for a VHS, it was clear enough to know the exact moment a much younger Ianto entered. However, he wasn’t as young as he anticipated. Doing some quick math, this Ianto was seventeen. This was his last year dancing. Framed by a row of ballerinas on both sides of the stage, he stood poised. Jack had to pause it for a moment just to take in the sight of Ianto in a very prince-like costume and tights. It was positively darling. He took another bite of food and hit play again. As the music began to swell, Ianto’s arms raised in a movement that was absolutely beautiful. 

As Ianto made that first leap across the stage, Jack promptly choked on a mouthful of lo mein noodles. Holy shit. And Ianto didn’t stop with the leaping! Making a pass across the stage, jump after jump had him practically floating in the air. How did he do that thing with his feet while he was in the air?

Jack had to pause and rewind. He felt like he wasn’t appreciating what he was witnessing enough. Ianto… this was Ianto? 

He was beautiful.

 

Jack watched from the beginning again in awe. This time he made it all the way through Ianto’s piece before the scene carried on. Through every leap and spin, his mind was blown. By the time this Prince Albrecht was in his final pose, dramatically laying on the stage, Jack’s heart was in his throat. Applause erupted from the audience. Jack could see just how labored Ianto’s breathing was as he remained posed after such a feat of physical strength he had just accomplished.

This was his Ianto, Jack thought possessively, though he was very far from letting Ianto know that.

Jack rewound the tape again to Ianto’s entrance. 

This time, he let himself just take in the whole scene of what Ianto was portraying. Jack didn’t know the story, but there was so much emotion in every movement that he felt like he understood what the prince was trying to say. 

 

And that’s when it struck Jack like someone turning on the lights.

 

Ianto was so quiet. But he said so much at the same time. Every small expression, every gesture from making coffee to mastering the archives-- Ianto spoke volumes. Suddenly, the amount of discipline he saw in the man everyday made so much sense. Dancers did the impossible, physically and mentally as their job. Falling down and getting hurt never stopped the show. Even in a suit and tie, Ianto danced through his pain every day right in front of the eyes of the team and no one ever noticed because it was in Ianto’s blood that the show must always go on.

Jack watched Ianto again. It was hard to think that he was seeing the last year that Ianto was training. What had happened that made Ianto want to stop dancing? He obviously was good. But it was hard to think that if he didn’t work for Torchwood, he might have had the potential to be a great success in the ballet world. And maybe instead of being treated like a servant having to clean up after their shit, he could have been something.

The applause of the audience interrupted Jack’s thoughts as he once again watched to the end of Ianto’s number. All of those people, cheering for his talent and beauty. And here he was… barely a handful of years older, forgotten by everything around him.

“Why did you give this up, Ianto?” Jack whispered to himself, suddenly losing his appetite for his dinner. “Who broke you?”

 

But then again, perhaps Ianto wasn’t as broken as Jack thought. Thinking back on the last few weeks, not once did Ianto ever seem embarrassed about this part of his life. He wasn’t exactly keeping it a secret. All Gwen did was ask him. Jack wondered just how much he could learn by just asking the right questions. Sure, Owen was bullying him relentlessly about it, and no one likes to be on the receiving end of that. But otherwise, Ianto seemed to almost light up at the brief mentions of his former craft. Jack was almost jealous that Tosh was going to be the one to get to go to the ballet with him.

It all just made so much sense now. Ianto wasn’t ashamed of this part of himself, much like he wasn’t ashamed of any other aspect of his life. He fought for Lisa to the end. He worked more than anyone at Torchwood and won’t even question his duties to retcon people or any such dubious tasks from which the other team members shy away. And he damn well wasn’t ashamed to kiss Jack back when the opportunity came. Why would he feel the need to be ashamed of how beautiful he used to be on stage? He was beautiful in his own constant and relentless way that Jack felt very few people would recognize. 

But he recognized it. Ianto was unapologetic about who he was, whether he was dancing in tights or kissing Jack out on the Plass in the middle of a rain storm. He was unapologetic and braver than anyone Jack had ever met.

 

Jack began to rewind the scene to watch again and then had a thought...

 

He kept rewinding all the way to the beginning so he could watch the entirety of the production. Sure, he was in for hours of ballet. But he was also in for hours of being able to talk to Ianto about something other than Torchwood for a change.

 

And if Jack knew one thing from working for Torchwood all these years, it was that you had to be ready.

 

And Jack was ready to know Ianto Jones.

 

The real Ianto Jones.






The End