Title: The Plass In Summer
Characters/Pairings: Jack/Ianto, OC
Word Count: 2399
Summary: An artist becomes fascinated by two men she keeps seeing throughout summer as she sketches on the Plass.
Written For: My cottoncandy_bingo square Sketch/Draw.
Beta: The wonderful milady_dragon, who generously allowed me to throw some of my bingo fics her way despite being very busy after I decided at practically the last minute that I wanted to get a blackout on my card. What would I do without my friends?
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood or any of the characters. Which is sad.
She came down to the Plass every day that summer, rain or shine, taking a seat on one of the benches and watching the people pass by. Sometimes she would take photographs, especially if it was raining, but mostly she sketched; seascapes, people, the Millennium Centre with its dramatic frieze or the majestic Water Tower.
That was where she first spotted them, right in front of the gleaming silver obelisk. One moment the area was devoid of people, then suddenly there they were, as if they’d stepped out of nowhere; two tall men, one in a heavy coat despite the heat, the other dressed in a three piece suit. Not one of those mass-produced, off-the-rack jobs either; it looked expensive, tailored to fit the man who wore it with such confidence.
There was something about them that drew her eye. They were striding along purposefully, shoulder to shoulder, neither of them speaking, and she found herself wondering who they were and where they were heading. Almost without thinking, she started to sketch them, quick strokes of her pencil capturing their outlines and the ease of their movements. The way they walked, matching each other stride for stride, told her the two knew each other well, but their expressions were serious so wherever they were going it wasn’t for pleasure. The Plass was full of tourists that day and she soon lost sight of them in the crowd, but her curiosity had been piqued.
Five days later, she saw them again, this time coming from the opposite direction. It was getting chilly as evening approached and she’d just been thinking of packing up for the day when she spotted them; they were strolling along as if they had all the time in the world, the younger of the two wearing an overcoat over his suit today, hands buried in the pockets. She opened her sketchpad again, working quickly to capture their image; their faces were relaxed and open this time, Suit Guy smiling slightly at something Coat Guy was saying, playfully nudging him in the ribs with an elbow. She heard Coat Guy’s laughter as they made their way down to Mermaid Quay and on a whim gathered her things, hurrying to follow, but before she got very far they’d disappeared again as if they’d never been there. Were they real? Ghosts? Figments of her imagination? They’d looked real enough, but that didn’t mean anything, not in Cardiff.
Two weeks passed before she saw them again, early in the morning just as she was arriving to find herself a good spot for the day. They were standing a short distance from the Water Tower, arguing quietly but heatedly. Trying to remain unnoticed, she stayed in the shadow of one of the pillars; pulling out a pencil and flipping to a fresh page, she made a rough sketch, already planning to turn it into something more detailed later.
The tension in their bodies was palpable. Just as she completed the rough outline, Suit Guy spun on his heel, clearly intending to walk away. Coat Guy made a grab for his arm, only to be shrugged off. He seemed to shrink in on himself as Suit Guy stalked away across the Plass. He passed only a few metres from her hiding place, and she got her first really good look at him. He was younger than she’d thought, mid-twenties at the most, and the expression on his face was more hurt than angry. What had Coat Guy done? Glancing back to where he’d been standing, she wasn’t particularly surprised to find he was no longer there.
Suit Guy by now was just a distant figure across the other side of the Plass so she settled onto her favourite bench and unpacked the tools of her trade, preparing for a day of sketching. When the winter came, she would use her many sketches to inspire paintings of the Plass and its visitors. She could afford to take her time; the paintings in her last exhibition had sold very well and if truth be told, her inheritance made her chosen profession easier for her than for the average struggling artist.
The next time she saw them was just two days later. They were walking across the Plass in the early evening with three other people, one to each side of the small group; whatever the fight had been about, it didn’t look as though they’d made up. In the centre of the group was a sour-faced man with a strident voice that carried easily across the distance, even though she couldn’t tell what he was saying. To his left walked a pretty Oriental woman who was deep in conversation with Suit Guy. She wondered if this was Suit Guy’s significant other. The last member of the group was a busty brunette, hanging on to Coat Guy’s arm and talking non-stop. Coat Guy didn’t seem to be listening, he was watching Suit Guy from the corner of his eye, a wistful expression on his face. They soon vanished into one of the nearby pubs, just like any normal group of friends out for the evening, and yet different in some indefinable way. Strange.
Almost a week had passed when she next came across them as she returned from breakfast in a small café just off the Plass. It was August now, and already hot; Suit Guy was without either his jacket or his waistcoat, shirtsleeves rolled to his elbows as he leant back against the railings overlooking the bay, head tipped back and eyes closed, enjoying the sun. Coat Guy, for once minus the coat, stood beside him, so close they were almost touching but facing out across the water, forearms on the topmost rail and one foot on the lowest. It was the first really nice day since she’d last seen them, and in the intervening time it looked like they’d made up. She was glad; neither of them had seemed at all happy last week.
She tried to look like she wasn’t watching them as she pulled out her sketchpad and started to draw the scene. The pair looked relaxed and lazy, soaking up the sun like cats lazing on a shed roof. Languid, that was the word. They’d be the perfect focal point for a painting.
Suit Guy shifted suddenly, reaching into his trouser pocket for his phone and checking a message. She hadn’t heard anything; he must have had it set to vibrate. He turned to Coat Guy with a wry smile, quietly saying something, and reluctantly they pushed off from the railings, heading down towards Mermaid Quay again. She let them go, not even trying to follow this time, and just before they disappeared from sight she thought she saw Coat Guy take Suit Guy’s hand in his, their fingers twining together. Well, that was unexpected! She smiled; they made a very handsome couple.
It had been nearly a month since that delightfully sunny day, and she hadn’t seen hide nor hair of either of the two men. The holidaymakers had drifted away as the new school year had loomed, heading home to get their kids ready for the start of term; summer was coming to an end and soon it would be autumn. It was already starting to get cooler, especially at night. She’d taken the evening off from sorting her sketches and photographs, going to see a movie instead. As she left the cinema with the crowds of other moviegoers, she caught a glimpse of a familiar coat and instinctively headed in that direction.
They were still dressed in what she assumed were their work clothes, wandering along sharing a Styrofoam box of chips and she followed them as discreetly as she could, watching as they came to the last chip. Coat Guy grabbed it, putting one end of it between his teeth and somehow managing to leer at Suit Guy around it. Suit Guy rolled his eyes, but leant forward to claim his share of the chip, their lips touching in a brief, chaste kiss before they parted to eat their prize. Suit Guy threw the empty box in a nearby bin, wiping his fingers fastidiously on a paper napkin. Coat Guy just licked his fingers clean, earning himself another eye roll. Smirking, he tugged Suit Guy close and kissed him thoroughly beneath the street lamp, Suit Guy’s arms sliding around him inside the coat. Not wanting to be caught staring, she walked on past them and headed home, cursing herself for leaving her sketchpad in her other coat.
It was a long, cold winter, but she had plenty to do, working busily in her heated studio, getting ready for a springtime exhibition at a small gallery in the heart of Cardiff. It was to be titled ‘The Plass in Summer’. Her favourite painting in the exhibition was the one of two men leaning on the railings luxuriating in hot August sunshine. When the exhibition was set up, she made sure to hang that one in pride of place. She thought it was probably the best piece she’d ever painted. There was a sense of intimacy between the two men, even though they weren’t touching or even looking at one another. It was all in their body language, the way they were angled slightly toward each other and totally at ease.
Opening night was a huge success, she had several very generous offers for the painting she had simply titled ‘August Idyll’, but she turned them all down, saying that painting wasn’t for sale at any price. She was looking at it again herself when an American accented voice spoke behind her.
“You’ve caught the scene perfectly. I can practically feel the heat of the sunlight on my shoulders. It would be the perfect painting for the lounge in our new flat. Is there any chance that I could persuade you to sell it to me?”
She turned, ready to tell whomever it was that she was sorry, but she wasn’t selling that particular painting. Instead, she found herself speechless, staring into the bright blue eyes of one of the men who, over the previous summer, had become almost as familiar to her as her own reflection, she’d sketched them both so many times.
“Coat Guy!” The words were out before she could stop them, but far from being offended the man, dressed in an elegant tuxedo rather than his trademark coat, laughed.
“Aw shucks, you guessed my secret identity! I was so sure my clever disguise would work.” He mock-pouted at her.
“Don’t mind him,” a deep Welsh voice told her. “I knew I shouldn’t let him have that last glass of champagne. Goes straight to his head, which is already big enough, thank you very much. Ianto Jones; it’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Scott, your paintings are so evocative, you’ve captured the Plass and its inhabitants beautifully.” She barely heard his words, losing herself in eyes that were as blue as Coat Guy’s and sparkling with mischief. He was dressed the same too, in an expensive-looking tailored tux with perfectly tied bowtie.
“Um, thank you. I’m glad you like them.” ‘God, did I really just say something so inane? What’s the matter with me?’ A little corner of her mind was busy squeeing like a fangirl. ‘OMG they’re real and they’re talking to me!’ She tried to make it shut up so she could concentrate.
“Let me guess,” Coat Guy was saying, “you call him Suit Guy?”
She felt herself blushing.
“Jack,” Suit Guy, Ianto Jones, admonished. “Behave. Can’t take you anywhere, can I?”
“She started it.”
Ianto rolled his eyes. He was scarily good at that.
“What are you, five?” Turning back to her, he added, “I apologize. Manners aren’t his strong point.”
“I have other attributes that more than make up for any slight lapses in manners.” Jack sounded smug.
“Yes, and we aren’t discussing those in public.”
“You’ve already got me arrested once this month.”
“That was fun though, wasn’t it?”
Ianto got a distant look in his eyes, smiling dreamily, then snapped back to reality, turning faintly pink.
“Yes, well, I think we’ve gone a bit off subject here.” He turned his attention back to her. “Weren’t we discussing your paintings?”
“Yeah,” Jack chimed in, “and this one in particular.” He turned to Ianto. “That was your birthday, remember? Busy day, we didn’t get much time for celebrating, but I made it up to you the next day with breakfast in bed.”
She smiled at them both, coming to a decision.
“I couldn’t sell it for any price, but I’ll give it to you both as a gift.”
“Oh, but we couldn’t possibly accept…” Ianto started, but she stopped him.
“It’s rightfully yours anyway. Aside from me, you’re the only people who have a right to it. Please, I want you to have it. It belongs with you.”
Ianto looked into her eyes for a long moment, as though making certain that she meant what she said, then nodded.
“Thank you, nothing could please us more. But if you’re giving us this one, then we must buy one of your other paintings too. It’s only fair. I’m rather taken with the one of the Water Tower with the Millennium Centre in the background.”
Of course he would be. They were in that one too.
“Yeah,” Jack added, “you caught the sunlight just right.”
“Then it’s yours, Mr…?”
Jack smiled at her.
“Harkness. Captain Jack Harkness, Miss Scott. It’s been a pleasure meeting you.” He gallantly kissed her hand.
“Likewise, Captain Harkness, Mr Jones.”
A million or so years in the future, standing in the gallery of their TARDIS, Jack and Ianto studied the painting of two men enjoying a sunny day on the Roald Dahl Plass in Cardiff, Earth, so very long ago.
“I remember that day like it was yesterday,” Ianto murmured to his husband.
“So do I. That was the day you became immortal and I realised I’d never have to lose you. Have you ever regretted what happened?”
“Not for a second.” He turned to Jack, kissing him lovingly. “Happy millionth anniversary, Jack, and here’s to the next million.”
“I’ll drink to that,” Jack agreed, raising his glass and clinking it against Ianto’s. “And may the next million years be just as happy.”