Title: Forever And Always – Sequel to ‘The Show Must Go On’
Characters/Pairings: Ianto, Jack, Andy
Word Count: 1707
Summary: Alone in his childhood bedroom, Ianto thinks back over the years he spent growing up with his best friend.
Warnings: Completely AU, no Torchwood, no aliens.
Written For: My cottoncandy_bingo square Promise.
Beta: The lovely lilyrose225, who did an amazingly fast beta on this one after I spent most of the day trying to wrestle it into submission. Thanks so much! I’ve mucked about a lot with it since then though, so any mistakes and mangled tenses are on my own head.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood or any of the characters. Which is sad.
A/N: This is the sixth in a series of AU stories for different prompts on my bingo card, following Jack and Ianto through their school years and beyond. There are seven in total, of wildly varying lengths.
Ianto sighed wistfully. Being home in Cardiff again had brought memories of his childhood flooding back. Sitting alone in his old bedroom, he thought back to his first day of school so many years ago, and that inevitably led to memories of the day he’d first met Jack, exactly twenty years ago today. Two little six-year-olds in a school Nativity play, trying their hardest to be the best little angels they could possibly be. He smiled as the memories filled his head; so much had happened since that day so long ago.
He and Jack had been best friends from the moment they’d met, inseparable; where you found one, you’d be sure to find the other. All through primary school they’d held hands everywhere, promising each other that they would be the best of friends forever and always.
When they’d moved up to secondary school, the only thing that had changed was that they’d no longer held hands; not out of choice but because the other kids had laughed at them and called them names. It had been okay though, they’d still had each other and that had been all that really mattered to either of them. They kept the promise they’d made, their friendship only growing stronger as time passed. Having someone to share everything with had made their schooldays wonderful and he felt blessed because of all the memories they’d made back then.
Slipping his cufflinks into place, Ianto walked over to the window, looking out into the familiar back garden where he and Jack had spent so much time growing up. It was so strange being back here; everything looked smaller and the memories were everywhere. Turning back, he looked around the room.
Right there on that very bed he and Jack had shared their first kiss when they were fifteen, realising something that at some level they must have known all along: they loved each other. Friendship and love, it had turned out, made the perfect combination. If they’d been inseparable before, from that moment on nothing had been able to prise them apart. Even then they’d been planning their future together. The memory was as clear now as if it had been yesterday.
“There’s never been anyone else for me, and there never will be,” Jack promised, as they lay on the lawn in Ianto’s back garden on a lazy summer afternoon, holding hands.
“We’ll always be together,” Ianto replied, smiling. “Forever and always, even when we’re old and grey.”
“Even when we’re both wrinkled and bald,” Jack agreed solemnly and then they’d both started laughing. Still, it was what they both wanted, to grow old together.
Ianto shook his head and sat down to tie his shoes. They’d been so young and naïve back then, full of seemingly impossible hopes and dreams for the future. If they’d known how hard they’d have to work, would they still have been so optimistic? Probably. They’d both been incredibly stubborn and determined back then, with an unshakeable belief in each other.
Amid the drudgery and stress of GCSEs, secondary school had come to an end and after a blissful summer, they’d started college. It had proved to be something of a revelation. Their classmates had readily accepted them as a couple and they’d thrown themselves into their studies. It had been hard work, but no worse than they’d been expecting and anyway, they’d known it would be worth it if it brought them the future they dreamed of. The two years had flown past and almost before they knew it, they’d been sending in applications to every drama school they could find, as well as all the universities that ran drama programmes.
“I don’t care where we go just as long as we’re together,” Ianto insisted as he turned down his acceptance to a prestigious university because Jack hadn’t been offered a place.
“You’re too good to me,” Jack told him.
“We promised we’d do this together and we will, Jack. Besides, I didn’t want to go there anyway, it’s too far from home.”
It had turned out to be worth waiting, the school they’d both eventually been accepted into had offered them everything they’d wanted, not just the performance side but scriptwriting, cinematography, producing and directing too. More than anything they’d wanted to act, but it had seemed a good idea to keep their options open and anyway, the classes had turned out to be even more interesting and informative than they’d been expecting, giving them a much wider understanding of their chosen profession.
“Maybe someday we’ll make a movie of our lives,” Jack joked.
“Stranger things have happened,” Ianto agreed.
Turning to pick up his jacket, Ianto’s gaze fell on a photograph by his bed, a picture of himself and Jack taken at their university graduation. Picking it up, he sat on the edge of the bed, studying the two young men in the picture and chuckling. He’d felt horribly awkward in his cap and too long gown, but he remembered thinking that Jack had never looked more handsome. He let the memories wash over him again.
Graduation had been a little scary, as they’d prepared to head out into the real world. They’d known there must already be a lot of struggling actors out there, fighting over whatever roles were available. Competition was bound to be tough, especially with them both being openly gay, but becoming actors had been their dream since childhood and they weren’t about to give up now.
Renting a small bed-sit in one of the less expensive residential areas of London, they’d started going to open auditions, supporting themselves as so many out-of-work actors did by working as waiters. It hadn’t been easy, but just being together had given them the courage to face whatever life threw at them.
“We’ll work together someday, Ianto, but for now we both need to take whatever roles we’re offered. It’s the only way we’re going to make a name for ourselves,” Jack insisted when Ianto was considering turning down a bit part in a small play because Jack hadn’t been cast. “I’ll be there in the audience on opening night, that’s a promise.”
“Thank you, Cariad.” Ianto leaned in, kissing his partner lovingly.
“What for? You’d do the same for me.”
Jack was right of course. He always was. Ianto had been sitting right in the front row on the opening night of Jack’s first play, just as Jack had done for him.
Ianto laughed softly as he remembered that. It had been just a few short years ago. He wondered what Jack was doing right now. Well, knowing Jack, he was probably in a mad panic over something; he never could quite manage to organise himself. Ianto chuckled at the thought. He’d never figured out how one person could be so full of self confidence and so disorganised at the same time. Touching his fingers to the picture in his hand, he smiled softly as he set it back in its place. They’d almost been late to their own graduation because Jack had managed to lose the car keys. He stood up, straightening his trousers and reaching for his suit jacket. Slipping it on, he spared a moment to check his appearance in the mirror, pleased to note that he looked immaculate. Good. He didn’t want anything to spoil this day in any way. After all, it was the most important day of his life so far.
A knock came at the door.
“Ianto, aren’t you ready yet? You’re going to be late if you don’t get a move on!”
“I’m just coming, mam. I’ll be down in a minute.”
“Well hurry up, your tad’s already got the car running.”
With one final look around the room Ianto headed out the door, closing it behind him and hurrying out to the car.
As he slipped into the front passenger seat, his tad looked over at him.
“Finally! What kept you? I always thought it was the women who had to spend forever primping. What were you doing up there?”
“Just feeling nostalgic. My old room holds a lot of memories.”
“I suppose it does at that.” His tad put the car in gear and pulled out of the drive. “Days like this are just made for reminiscing.”
Ianto had never really felt nervous in front of an audience in his life, not until now. He didn’t know what to do with his hands. Stupid suit trousers; they looked good, but the pockets were too small for his hands.
“You okay?” asked Andy.
“Fine. Nervous.” He tried twiddling his thumbs; that helped a little.
There was a bit of a commotion a few minutes later but things calmed down again pretty quickly. At last everybody was ready.
“We’re gathered here today to join these two men…”
Ianto concentrated on the words, not wanting to miss his cue. Had it really taken this long to get there in the rehearsals? Ah, finally!
“Ianto Jones, do you take Jack Harkness to be your husband?”
Turning to the wonderful man beside him, his best friend for twenty amazing years, Ianto knew that he’d never been happier.
“I do.” As he took Jack’s hand in his and slipped the ring on his finger, the promise they’d made each other as children came back to him again. “Forever and always.”
Jack smiled back at him, squeezing his hand and sliding the matching ring onto Ianto’s finger.
“Forever and always. I’ve loved you since the day we met and I will for the rest of our lives.”
“Likewise.” Ianto grinned at his husband. “Did I mention that you look amazing? Only you would wear a kilt to your wedding!”
Jack leant in close to whisper in his ear.
“And I don’t have anything on underneath it either!”
“You just had to tell me that now, didn’t you?” he whispered, rolling his eyes fondly. “I might not survive the reception at this rate!”
Twenty years of friendship had led them here, and neither one of them would change a second of it. They were together and would be for the rest of their lives.
Two hearts sharing a single soul.
Forever and always.
TBC in ‘Part 7 - Living The Dream’