Title: The Rough Treatment of Stones
Characters: Jack Harkness, Ianto Jones. Jack/Ianto
Disclaimer: I do not own, nor ever will, Torchwood or the characters within.
Note: AU. Set after Exit Wounds. This is for my longliveianto bingo card prompt ‘Gift Giving’.
Title taken from “As in Nature, as in art, as in grace; it is rough treatment that gives souls, as well as stones, their lustre.’ Thomas Guthrie.
Author’s note: I am planning on using the ‘pre-canon fic’ prompt to fill in the gaps as to how Ianto has become immortal.
Summary: After the death of his brother, Jack remembers.
The Rough Treatment of Stones
“I’ve got a brother now,” ten year old Franklin Slate said as they made their way through the sand dunes towards the hills. “When’s yours coming?”
“Don’t know. Mam says the sooner the better,” his nine year old best friend, Ikaite replied. “What they callin’ him?”
“Franklin Gray after Grandad.” Slate sighed. “Ain’t gonna be able to play so much now either. Mom says I’ll have to help look after him. Dad’s on the next mine call up and Pa’s sick again.”
“Medics are coming through in a month Tad said. Mam’s got to see them. Will your pa be going too?”
“Dunno. He don’t like doctors,” Slate shrugged and the pack at his back shifted with a muted metallic clink. Crystal hunting was a common past-time for the children of the colony.
“Neither does Mam,” Ikaite said. “Said she’d see Tad in hell first.”
“Your mom’s gone sand crazy,” Slate pointed out and Ikaite nodded in agreement. Slate shot his friend a quick look and was relieved to see no distress in the younger boy’s expression. He grinned and poked Ikaite’s shoulder. “Race you to the outcrop,” he said and was off and running before Ikaite realised.
“That’s cheating!” Ikaite called and started chasing after his laughing friend.
The two boys raced towards the large rock outcrop that signalled the end of the dunes and the start of the Boeshane Range that contained the mines that kept the small colony viable and independent.
“You cheated again,” Ikaite pouted once they reached the top of the outcrop. He dug into his pack and pulled out a water bottle. He took a quick mouthful and passed it to Slate.
“I have to cheat,” Slate said before drinking. “You’re gonna be a Finder. I’m helping you practise.”
“A cheat and a liar,” Ikaite said almost fondly as he sat down near the edge and looked back towards the settlement.
“No lie,” Slate said as he sat down next to him. “Your dad’s a Finder, you’ll be one too.”
“Finders only appear with puberty,” Ikaite reminded him.
“You always find me,” Slate pointed out.
“You’re my friend. I always know where you are,” Ikaite shrugged. “Finders are supposed to find ores and other stuff. You don’t have metal insides.”
“You’re the only one who can always find me. Even Mom can’t do that. You’re special.” Slate reached over and tugged at Ikaite’s hair. Ikaite shrugged again and the boys leant against each other in a comfortable silence.
Slate had been born on the Peninsula. His dad was a top class miner and his Pa was still one of the colony’s best fishermen when he wasn’t ill. His mom helped teach the nearly two dozen children that lived on the Peninsula.
Ikaite and his family had arrived three years ago and the boys had struck up an immediate friendship. Ikaite’s Tad was a Finder, a Talent much needed in mining colonies. A natural affinity for metals and ore combined with minor telepathic gifts meant he was able to guide the miners to the best deposits and could often sense potential dangers. The Talent was not hereditary but there was always interest in a Finder’s children. Ikaite’s older sister had shown no gifts when she had reached puberty and only time would show if Ikaite had any Talent.
“One day I’ll leave here and go into the stars,” Slate murmured as he looked up into the endless blue sky.
“I’ll follow you.”
“You can’t. You’ll be Finder here after your Dad.”
“Nup. Gonna follow you.” Ikaite leant more heavily against Slate.
Slate snorted. “I’ll cheat.”
“I know but I’ll still find you.” Ikaite grinned and pushed at Slate sending them tumbling backwards over the rocky ground. They tussled and laughed as they rolled until they came to a stop.
“We’re always going to be together, you know that, right?” Slate told him as they lay there.
“Yep.” Ikaite held up his left hand and Slate gripped it in his right. They stared at the matching wristbands that hid matching scars. “Always.”
The Hub was empty now and almost silent, the others had all been sent home and Captain Jack Harkness was slumped on the sofa staring up into the dim heights of the ceiling. It had been a long day in more ways than one and his little brother now lay dead on the autopsy bay table.
“You’re remembering again,” the soft Welsh voice broke into his thoughts and he turned his head slightly with a smile. Soft footsteps slowed and stopped beside him.
“Yeah. Remember when Gray was born?”
Ianto Jones smiled. “I remember. We went to the outcrop and stayed out too late and your dad beat us for not bringing anything back.”
Jack nodded. “Yeah, because you dropped them all on the way back.”
“And I dropped them because…?” Ianto prompted with a grin.
“Because I pushed you,” Jack sighed.
“And you pushed me because…?” Ianto prompted further.
“I pushed you because you said you’d give that crystal to Gray and not me.”
“So you made me drop all the crystals we found that day because you were jealous,” Ianto said calmly as he dropped onto the sofa.
“It was the best one there,” Jack said with a small pout.
“Actually it wasn’t,” Ianto remarked and Jack turned to face him fully. There was a definite nervous look in the blue eyes that met his.
“It wasn’t?” he queried with a frown.
Ianto slipped a hand into his pocket and pulled out a small crystal which he offered to Jack. “I found this that day too when you weren’t looking. I was going to give it to you at your next birthday but well - mam lost the baby and went completely crazy and then your pa died.”
“And there was that mine accident,” Jack sighed. “Mom took me to the mines to make sure dad was ok and we never did celebrate my birthday that year.”
“And you came back and took up fishing and wanted nothing to do with the mines or ore anymore.”
Jack smiled wryly. “I remember.” He pointed at the stone. “But you still kept it.”
Ianto rolled his eyes. “Of course I did. I just didn’t think it’d be this long before I could give it to you.” He held his hand closer and Jack studied the small crystal. Translucent with a blue inner glow it gleamed even under the dimmed Hub lights. It looked perfect and absolutely beautiful. It looked like home. He picked it up and felt its smooth edges. Edges worn smooth by nearly two centuries of being in Ianto’s care. Just as he had been.
“Ikaite,” Jack slipped into his native tongue as he struggled for words. The small crystal felt quite heavy on his palm and it held a lingering warmth. Memories of home threatened to overwhelm him. “I never should have left,” he muttered through an aching heart and burning eyes. “But I had to find him. Had to save him.”
Ianto wrapped his arms around him and held him close. “And you have.”
“Not quite the way I wanted it,” Jack murmured brokenly against Ianto’s neck.
“It never is,” Ianto replied sadly.
“I’m glad you followed me, Ikaite,” Jack whispered as his fingers closed around the crystal.
“Always, Slate. Always.”
there is a prequel here... Lodestone