Old Magic

Jul. 17th, 2011 10:50 pm
tonjavmoore: (You're Mine)
[personal profile] tonjavmoore
Title: Old Magic
Author: [personal profile] tonjavmoore
Rating: PG
Summary: Magic sometimes brings the unexpected
Pairings: Jack/Ianto
Warnings: Just a little scary is all
Spoilers: The radio play "The House of the Dead". It assumes you've heard it or read the transcript. It starts from the end of the play.
Disclaimer: I don't own Torchwood. Other people do. Oh, the unfairness of it all!
Beta: The incredible [personal profile] cjharknessgirl 
Author's notes behind the cut in case of spoilerage.



Author's Note 1: Like every other Janto fan, I "reeled" when I heard it. After I stopped crying my brain said, "But wait!" That's how these things happen, you know?

Author's Note 2: First installment of my Long Live Ianto! bingo card. Based on the prompt: Magical Creatures.
 


Old Magic

“… a story, please?” the young boy asked. “A story about the Wanderers?”

“Another one? Oh, very well. There was once a man from the distant future who met a man from the distant past. They were together for a short time when Past was torn away from Future and Future was broken. He needed Past to make him whole and went to find him only to lose him again…”



Jack didn’t know how long he sat there. The rain came, the wind came, but he took no notice. He sat with eyes closed, seeing only Ianto. His gentle crooked smile, the unlimited depths of his eyes, the slight upturn of his nose, the long fingers of his elegant hands. He had to commit them to memory because he’d promised not to forget. One thing he wouldn’t need to concentrate on – something that would stay with him throughout his long, empty life – the acceptance. No one had ever known so much about him and loved him anyway. Ianto had loved the dark as well as the light and that Jack would never forget; not until the Universe was gone and he was finally a part of the darkness of final death.

He did not open his eyes until the first darkness was fading in preparation of the coming day. Dawn was near. Time for the renewal of a life he had never wanted.

A warm breeze blew gently on his ear and he started. There was power here again. Deep magic from the creation of time. He turned his head to see the sparkle of a light that should not be there, and another, and another. It was them.

He should have known they would come. All that powerful Earth magic must have lit up their senses like a titanic pillar of fire. It didn’t matter though. There was nothing left to torment him with. Let them stuff his throat with the deadly petals. When he woke up the end of all time would be that much closer.

“Unending Man…”

“Immortal One…”

“Enduring Spirit…”

The childish voices called him many names, but he didn’t answer. There was no answering the Mara. They came as they pleased or they didn’t. It wasn’t time yet for a new Chosen One and the magic that surrounded him didn’t really touch him. Or maybe it did. He didn’t care enough to find out. They would go when they were bored. He closed his eyes again, thinking again of his lost love.

A ghostly finger touched his chin and forced his head up. Startled, he looked into the face of a very old and wizened Mara who studied him with a curious tilt to her head. “I come to speak to you, Undying Human.”

Jack stared at it. “Why? I have nothing you could want.”

There was a stirring and soft ripples of laughter floated through the air. The Mara waved a hand and all was silent again. “Perhaps not, but perhaps yes. Perhaps we have something you want. Perhaps we have found what you have lost. Perhaps we can restore what was lost to you.”

It moved to one side, keeping the touch on Jack’s chin so that he was looking straight ahead. Three of the lights moved away from the others, weaving an intricate dance over the stony ground. They spun faster and faster and suddenly dove into the rubble. A fourth light hovered over the spot and grew larger until Jack could see an almost human shape. It looked up at him and he gasped.

It had the face of Jasmine, the girl he had surrendered years before. The lips curved into a sweet smile. “I remember you, Captain,” it said. “You freed me from the life I hated to go to the one I love. I asked for this honour.”

A light shot out from its hand like a spotlight on the ground. From out of the rocks grew a strand that became a stem and then the bud of a rose. The Jasmine look-alike took hold of it carefully and tugged as though picking a wildflower from a meadow. It came away, but holding it was something else. A hand. A hand with long fingers. Attached to a wrist with a white cuff and the sleeve of a pin-striped suit. As the flower moved upward, more of the figure became visible until all of Ianto Jones was aboveground, standing transfixed by the flower that had pulled him from the depths.

Jack scrambled to his feet. “No,” he said. “No, don’t do this. I’ve lost him twice. I can’t… I…”

“Hush,” the old Mara admonished. “He is as you see him. The Old One who called herself Syriath was clumsy in the ways of the Old Magic. She could not see that by manifesting this one in her charge in the way she did gave him dominion over Fate. He chose to be the sacrifice and keep the gap you called the Rift closed until the end of all things. But choosing that sacrifice gave him a power that kept him away from emptiness and connected him to this place. This is the human you came to see. The human you want to come with you, yes?”

Jack could barely see past his tears. Ianto’s faced was bathed in the light from the Jasmine-Mara’s hand, his pale skin glowing faintly. He did not turn to look at Jack, but kept his eyes on the rose. “What are you doing?” Jack whispered. “Why are you showing him to me?”

“A gift. We can use our power to restore him to you. He is a gate which can be swung back into life if we take turns to hold his place. There are many of us and only one of him. We can free him from his sacrifice and give him life again. Life as long as yours, if you wish it.”

They want something terrible, his mind told him. Something so horrible you cannot give them. They are not to be trusted. Leave now with your memories. But instead he said, “What do you want?”

The laughter rippled again and was quickly silenced. “Your occasional assistance. Nothing more. We want you to help us.”

“Help you do what?”

The Mara came around to face him again, but did not get between him and Ianto. To Jack’s surprise, the eyes did not gleam with the malevolence he’d come to expect, but with sadness. “Change is difficult for our people, and we have found that we must change or retreat into the stillness of the past. We can move freely through time and could live there if we wished, but we do not so wish. We wish to continue to move both forward and backward while there is life and for that, we must have Chosen Ones.”

Jack’s face hardened. “More children,” he said slowly. “You want more children. I sacrificed my own flesh and blood to save the children of this world. I will not…”

The thing gnashed its teeth. “We know you are the savior of the human children! Stop talking and listen.” It signaled to the Jasmine Mara, and the rose was lowered to Jack’s eye-level. Ianto’s eyes finally met Jack’s and they widened. “Both of you will listen,” it insisted. “For it needs both of you to do this.”

A step brought him closer to Ianto, but the Mara did not let him go. “The power that keeps you from travelling into the Land of Death is the same power that keeps us travelling in life. We share this. We will give it to this one who can now hold it. What we ask in return is almost nothing. Only for you to smooth our way. To smooth our brethren’s way. To keep the cycle of life from withering.”

“Jack…”

His name from those lips was a siren’s call. He took another step. Ianto stayed where he was, but his eyes… his eyes were there and Jack wanted to drown in them. He shook himself. “I can’t bring you children. I can’t.”

“We do not ask this of you.” For some reason, the Mara sounded indignant. “We do not need you to bring children to us. Many want to come, but we do not want them all. We do not ‘steal’ children, human. Children ask us to take them. We have not nor never will remove a child from the mortal world who belongs in it.”

“But…”

“Attend to what I’m saying and put your insane notions out of my sight. We have difficulties, but not in that way. There are children born here who cannot stay. Thus it has always been and thus it will always be. It is our duty to remove them from their pain and torment and take them to safety with us. They are not harmed here. They live lives of beauty and harmony. They sing to the stars and dance on the winds. And they do not interfere with humans.”

Jack remembered the drawings and poetry that they’d taken from Jasmine’s room before her distraught mother had awakened from her Retcon-induced sleep. Wild, eerie sonnets and sketches of things better left unseen. Owen had remarked that they looked like stuff out of a serial killer’s apartment and had shown Jack similar things from the past. It hadn’t been pleasant. “So, what do you want from me? From us?”

“Our race is full of power, but it is difficult to control. There is a saying among your kind, ‘like swatting flies with a sledgehammer.’ That is what we have become. In this society, we cannot go unnoticed. Unknown is what we need to be. We cannot be trapped, we cannot be encased, and attempts to do so cause the power to be unleashed. We saw our mistake with our latest One. We should have been able to liberate her without anyone being the wiser. Unfortunately, we could not. The young ones could not contain themselves under threat and there were consequences. We do not want to destroy. We do not want to bring death.”

“You do though,” Jack said, remembering Estelle’s lifeless body cradled in his arms.

The Mara’s eyes flashed with unholy fire. “Those who have cost us beloved humans have been punished. Punished!” The entire group of lights shifted. Jack caught a distinct smell of fear in the air. Whatever had happened was something that had even these wild things trembling. “Know this, Man Who Cannot Cross, that we are the opposite of Syriath and her kin. We bring life. Though our wrath is terrible for those who would keep us from the ones who cry out to us. To pluck them to safety among us. We do not wish to bring harm to this place nor do our brethren who live among the stars.”

“Come, Captain,” the Jasmine-Mara sang. “Come and touch so you will see we are telling you what is. The process is almost complete.”

Once again Jack stepped forward. He was close enough now that he could reach out a hand to caress Ianto’s cheek. Ianto watched his eyes, and then turned his head to brush his lips against Jack’s palm. Jack knew then that the Mara were telling him the truth. This was Ianto alive again – not a ghost made to simulate life, not a resurrected corpse, but the man he had held on that horrible day before his breath had been drained by a monster. “Ianto,” he said helplessly.

And since this was Ianto, he said, “Jack, don’t let them use me to hurt you again. Walk away.”

Still looking at Ianto, Jack said, “Tell me what you want.”

“No more than you give those who share this place with us. We wish your pledge to protect us as you would them. The times ahead are fraught with danger for our world, even more than the dangers you have faced before. We have found we cannot do it alone. Humans cannot do it alone. Even you cannot do it alone. Ergo we will give you what you need in order to overcome these obstacles. The gift is yours, and with it we ask only your pledge to us.”

“He won’t help you take Chosen Ones,” Ianto insisted. Jack smiled. Had he needed further proof that this was really Ianto.  That statement alone would have provided it. Ianto protected him even when he didn’t need protecting.

The Elder Mara spread its arms. “We will never ask you to do that. That is for us to learn. We seek no protection from those within. Only those without.”

Jack moved close enough that he and Ianto could touch foreheads. They had stood like this before, making decisions that would change their lives. “Do you want to come with me, Ianto?” he asked.

He knew Ianto would recognize the true question. He showed it by answering, “If you’re willing to risk it, I want to be with you. Not for your sake, Jack, but for mine.”

With a deep breath, Jack raised his head and said, “I accept your gift and pledge myself to your protection.”

There was movement as the lights swirled around them, bell-like laughter ringing in the air. The elder Mara took the rose, now in full flower, from the other and held it out. “Your heart hands,” it demanded.

They both held out their left hands. She drew the rose across the backs, and it left a faint impression of a rose bud on each. “Invisible to mortal eyes,” it explained. “Should we need you, they will glow. An ancient tree shall be our meeting place. Farewell, protectors.”

As the first shaft of sunlight from the rising sun reached them, the lights were gone. Jack held out his arms and Ianto came into them. They stared at each other and then laughed. In the midst of the light and magic over tumbled stones of power, they danced for joy.



“…And so they were reunited, Past Magic and Future Science. They wander now through space and time to wherever a world calls to them with trouble that cannot be helped in any other way. Where they go, there life is renewed.”

Two sleepy blue eyes blinked. “Will I ever see them?”

A gentle hand smoothed the covering back into place. “Only time will tell.”



 
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