Title: The Charms of Gravity
Warning: Set post-series 1, no specific spoilers.
Word Count: 4000
Rating: PG (No swearing. Not much sex. Lots of kissin’, though.)
Summary: “I’m starting to think I’d follow you anywhere.”
Notes: Written for the April challenge “wedding” prompt.
Thank you: to and for beta. (Sorry, . I had the posting jonez.)
It was a very handsome row of young men waiting at the end of the aisle, all in black suits and blue ties, white rosebuds in their lapels. The family resemblance was astonishing, Jack thought: they all had clear blue eyes and dark hair, broad shoulders and high cheekbones. The groom, Ewan, was smiling so broadly it seemed he’d begin laughing any moment.
Ianto was still his favorite, of course.
Ianto caught him looking and smiled, and Jack grinned and winked back. Really, Ianto’s family had been amazing about all this, Jack thought–he’d expected some protests, or at the very least some discomfort, about Ianto bringing his boss as his date to the wedding. Instead, Ianto’s father had shaken his hand and Ianto’s mother had hugged him and Ianto’s brothers had acted as if Ianto brought home strange men all the time.
Maybe he did. The prospect was intriguing–just one more thing he didn’t know about Ianto and needed to find out.
The organ music changed from Debussey to Wagner, and everyone in the chapel rose and turned to watch the bride and her father walk down the aisle. She was a tiny little piece of spitfire, this Eleanor Bevan soon-to-be-Jones–the kind of woman Jack imagined Lisa must have been, someone strong and stubborn and unabashedly loving.
The families had eaten supper together the night before–no bachelor party, no formal rehearsal dinner–and spent the rest of the evening telling stories and reminiscing. Eleanor had spent most of the night on Ewan’s knee, her arms around his neck while he absently stroked her back. It had been sweet to watch them, and made Jack wish he could pull Ianto onto his lap and hold him the same way–but he felt it would be pushing the limits of the Jones family patience, to say nothing of Ianto’s dignity.
At least Ianto’s mother had put them in the same bedroom, though with the admonition, “The walls are thin.” Best behavior, then, which meant holding each other in one of the narrow twin beds and very little else. “I have a hotel room for us tomorrow night,” Ianto had said as Jack was dozing off, promise in his voice, and that sent Jack into sleep with a smile on his face.
Eleanor reached the front of the chapel and her father kissed her, squeezed her hands and put them in Ewan’s. The vicar beamed at them and began the ceremony, her voice warm, and Jack kept his gaze on Ianto the entire time.
If he was aware of this scrutiny Ianto didn’t show it. His eyes were on his brother, proud and happy, but Jack thought he could detect a little melancholy too. Thinking of Lisa, Jack suspected, or even wanting this for himself someday and not certain he’d get it.
Jack shifted in the pew, getting an uncertain smile from the woman beside him–one of Ianto’s cousins, Jack was fairly certain–and wondered if he asked Ianto about this, what Ianto would tell him. Ianto had asked very little of him since he came back from traveling with the Doctor. At first Jack had thought Ianto didn’t want him back at all, until a few weeks after his return and Ianto climbed down the hatch into his quarters and said simply, “Well?”
It was well. It was nearly perfect. It was a good way to start over.
On the drive he’d suspected that Ianto had asked him to come to the wedding merely to keep him occupied over the weekend; but now Jack thought there was more to it than that, that Ianto had decided it was time Jack met his family and this was the simplest way. That Ianto had only said, “You need to get out of Cardiff more,” convinced Jack Ianto wasn’t even aware of his real purpose.
Someone–the bride’s best friend from university, Jack thought–was reading a poem now. “I love you because it is the natural order of things,'” she read, and Jack looked at Ianto again to see that Ianto was watching him.
“‘I love you because I don’t want it any other way.'”
Ianto smiled faintly and looked away, his eyes darting from the reader to Jack and back a few times before Jack closed his eyes and gave a small nod.
“‘I love you because I am afraid of the dark, and can’t sleep in the light.'”
When he opened his eyes again Ianto’s face was slightly flushed and his gaze was fixed on the reader.
“‘I love you ’cause I changed my life to love you,'” the woman read, and Jack knew exactly how that felt.
* * *
The bridal party stayed at the church to pose for pictures while the guests walked or drove to the Bevan house. It was a short, pleasant walk from one green hill to another, and Jack hung his coat over his arm and turned his face up to the sun.
Someone fell into step beside him–a teenaged girl, who smiled at him and said, “You’re a friend of Ianto’s?”
“Yes.” He smiled at the girl. “I’m Captain Jack Harkness. Who are you?”
“I’m Maeve. Ianto’s my cousin–our mums are sisters. So you’re the bloke everybody’s been talking about?”
“I . . . suppose so. What are they saying?”
“That you left and Ianto was really upset and now you’re back and Ianto’s happy.” They walked for a minute or so in silence, while Jack wondered how to answer that, and then she said, “I know it’s not always easy to tell the difference.”
Jack threw back his head and laughed. “It’s very, very subtle.”
She smiled back at him. She was perhaps fifteen or sixteen, tall, dark-haired and blue-eyed like much of the family. “Well, I approve,” she said with a nod. “Will you dance with me later? So I can say I danced with somebody I’m not related to at this?”
“Sure,” said Jack, and was still smiling as she scampered away to pick up two smaller cousins in both arms and spin them around. He’d known there would be dancing. It was a wedding: of course there would be dancing. He hadn’t thought about how they’d handle the dancing.
There was champagne and music at the pavilion set up in the Bevans’ garden. A few more people introduced themselves to Jack, and he said as little as possible about what he did and where he was from, keeping the conversation on the wedding and the family.
When Ianto and the other groomsmen entered the pavilion, Jack put aside his champagne flute and went to him, and lightly wrapped his fingers around Ianto’s wrist. “Hi.”
“Hi.” Ianto leaned against him a little. “This has been a bloody long day.”
“It’s halfway done.” He led Ianto away form the main body of the party so they could sit in relative quiet. “I’ve promised about three different cousins I’d dance with them. I hope that’s okay.”
“Of course it’s okay.” He leaned his head on Jack’s shoulder and closed his eyes.
“If they play anything with a swing beat, that’s reserved for you.” Ianto chuckled and Jack smiled, putting an arm around his shoulders. “If that’s okay,” Jack added.
“Of course it’s okay,” Ianto repeated. He stayed leaning against Jack a moment longer, then straightened up and smiled at Jack. “I have to sit at the head table, but you’ll in good hands.”
“Have you put me next to somebody cute, mid-twenties and single?” said Jack, and then at Ianto’s answering look said, “I’m sure I’ll have a good time no matter who I’m sitting with.”
“That’s much better,” Ianto said, and then the singer of the band announced the bride and groom and everyone began to cheer.
* * *
There was no skimping in the supper: roast beef and mashed potatoes and vegetables, and more and more champagne. Jack was at a table with Maeve and her parents, and it only took a few minutes to see why Ianto had wanted them to look after him: Maeve’s mother Julia adored Ianto and had loads of stories to tell about him. Jack laughed until tears ran from his eyes, and Maeve announced as the waiters put cake and coffee on the table in front of them, “I like you more than Lisa.”
Jack’s smile faded and he sipped some water. “You met Lisa?”
“Maeve,” Julia said, shaking her head, but Maeve went on anyway.
“Oh, yes. Ianto used to bring her to family things all the time. Did you ever meet her?”
“Not really, no,” Jack said.
“She was nice enough, I suppose. She wasn’t any fun and she thought I was a baby.”
“You were only thirteen the last time, sweetheart,” Julia said.
“Thirteen is not a baby. Ianto has never talked to me like I’m a baby. I mean, I’m sad she died and everything because it was hard on Ianto, but he’s fine now. He’s got Jack.” Her father cleared his throat and drank some coffee, and Maeve said, “What? You are Ianto’s boyfriend, aren’t you?”
“Yes,” Jack said after he’d avoided choking on the water he was swallowing.
“Maeve,” her father said.
“I don’t see why it’s such a big deal,” Maeve said. “I know Ianto’s bi. We all know that. Even Grandma knows that.”
“It’s not a big deal,” said Jack. “You’re absolutely right: it’s not a big deal at all.” He looked at the head table, where Ianto was talking to one of the bridesmaids and occasionally looking in his direction. Jack smiled and Ianto smiled back, his face soft and his eyes bright, and Jack thought, I did that. I make him look like that.
* * *
The waiters brought around more glasses of champagne. The fathers both made toasts, and then it was Ianto’s turn, and he smiled at the newlyweds proudly as he took the microphone.
“Hello, everyone. I’m Ianto, the best man and the groom’s younger brother.” There were a few chuckles: apparently an introduction really wasn’t necessary. “I’m going to start with a story. I think we all remember that night, about four years ago, when many of us got a phone call: Ewan had been in an accident, and we should come to hospital as quickly as possible as he was not expected to survive the night.”
Maeve made a little whimper in her throat and Jack frowned, watching Ianto.
“I got into my car,” Ianto said, “and drove here from London faster than I had my entire life so I could say goodbye to my brother. I remember seeing a lot of faces that are here tonight in that waiting room, none of us certain of what would happen.” He took a breath. “I went into Ewan’s room, and there was Ellie, holding his hand. And I will never forget what she said to me.” Eleanor, whose eyes were sparkling with unshed tears, laughed self-consciously and Ianto smiled down at her. “You said, ‘Don’t you dare say goodbye to him, Ianto. He’s not leaving us. I forbid it.’ And what do you know–he listened.”
There was quiet laughter throughout the party, and Ewan leaned over to gently kiss his bride.
“Now, a wedding day is usually about the bride, and so is this toast.” He lifted his champagne flute. “To Eleanor. May Ewan always listen to her, as she always knows what’s best.” People lifted their glasses and said, “To Eleanor,” and she laughed and blushed and stood up to kiss Ianto’s cheek.
Jack echoed the others quietly and sipped his champagne. He hadn’t thought Ianto’s family was so close-knit–and it had never occurred to him that Torchwood was taking Ianto away from something that meant so much to him.
That would have to change.
* * *
After the last of the toasts were drunk and the plates were cleared away, the band started playing again and the bride and groom rose to have their first dance. Jack looked around for Ianto, and saw him slip from the pavilion. Jack followed: the sun was setting and the garden was getting dark, and Ianto was bent over the rosebushes.
“Hey,” Jack said and Ianto turned, and there was something so tired in his shoulders that Jack said, “Hey,” again, more gently, and cupped his head in both hands to kiss him.
In a moment Ianto took hold of his waist, parted his lips and flicked his tongue into Jack’s mouth. When he ended the kiss he kept their mouths close enough to taste each other’s breath, and kept his hands on Jack’s back. “Sorry. I just needed a minute.”
“Should I go away?”
“Never.” He kissed Jack gently.
Jack exhaled and held him, and then said, “Do you want to take a walk with me?”
“Yes. Where are we going?”
Jack led him back up the hill towards the church. “I think we both could use a little quiet right now.”
“Oh,” Ianto said, “all right.” He gripped Jack’s hand tightly and walked beside him without complaint, away from the noise of the party and into the tranquility of the church. The doors were open and the sanctuary was empty, still decorated with the flowers from the wedding. The sun was low, casting the church in gold and pink light.
Ianto let go of Jack’s hand and walked down the aisle, his hands in his pockets, and then turned back to Jack. “You’ve got that look.”
“What look is that?”
“The ‘I’ve got something to tell you and you’re not going to like it’ look.”
“Well,” Jack said. “There is something.”
“Oh, dear,” Ianto said mildly. “Auntie Julia told you about the time I tried to run away from home when I was eleven, didn’t she?”
“No, and I may have to ask you about that at some point. Ianto.” He inhaled slowly. “If you want this–” He gestured to the church.
“This?” Ianto repeated uncertainly.
“This. Marriage. Wife. Children. If this is what you want–”
“What makes you think this is what I want?”
“The way you looked just now, how excited you’ve been about this, even the expression on your face when you showed me the rings last night.”
“Of course I’ve been excited about this,” said Ianto, brows furrowed. “We never thought it would happen–we were told he would die or be a vegetable. It’s been a long time coming, that’s all.”
“Oh.” Jack put his hands in his pockets and took them out again. “So . . . you don’t want kids?”
Ianto sighed. “I don’t know. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I think it’s mad to bring children into this world.” He laughed ruefully. “And if I became a father I’d have to quit Torchwood, and frankly I don’t trust you to take care of yourself without me.”
“Hey, I got on fine without you for years.”
“Yes, but you’re used to me now.”
“Cheeky,” Jack said and finally went down the aisle to meet him. He kissed Ianto again, arms around his shoulders, and Ianto sighed and relaxed in his arms.
“I want you,” Ianto whispered between kisses. “I want you.”
When he pulled away to breathe Jack said, “I want to do something.”
“Sir, even you must find it inappropriate to have sex in a church.”
“Not that, tempting as it might be. C’mere.” He pulled Ianto by his hands up the steps until they stood by the lectern.
“Okay,” Ianto said slowly, leaving his hand in Jack’s. “You want to see the view? I’m sure the vicar won’t mind.”
“No. I’m sure the view’s fine. I want to make a vow.” Ianto’s eyebrow arched and Jack didn’t stop himself from kissing it. “Ianto Jones,” he said softly and Ianto started to smile, “I swear before God and the entire known universe and you, that you are my best friend for life.” Ianto laughed softly and kissed him. Jack whispered, “And with my body I thee worship,” and kissed him harder.
“I hope that’s it,” Ianto whispered, “because I really don’t know what I’d do with your worldly goods, sir.”
“And you’d never swear to obey me.”
“Not when I know better.” He buried his face in Jack’s neck. “Jack Harkness,” he whispered and Jack smiled, his eyes closed. “I swear, before God and the entire known universe and you, that you are my best friend for life.”
“And,” Jack prompted.
“And with my body I thee worship.” He lifted his head and looked at Jack with bright eyes. “If I wanted anything tonight I wanted that, Jack.”
“Wow,” Jack said softly, “and I didn’t even plan it.”
“Upon occasion you stumble on just what I need.” He grasped Jack’s hand, entwining their fingers. “Do you want to go back to the party?”
“I suppose we ought to.”
“Yes. At least until Ellie and Ewan leave.” He started to leave the chapel, holding Jack’s hand, and then paused and kissed him one more time, so sweetly and sincerely Jack shivered. “Thank you for coming with me.”
“I’m starting to think I’d follow you anywhere,” Jack said and let Ianto take him back down to the pavilion.
* * *
Jack danced with various relatives, as promised, and when he looked at Ianto he seemed to be having a good time. Cousins, old friends, his new sister-in-law, his mother–Ianto had no lack of partners.
When Jack finally left the dance floor to get some water Ianto joined him at the table and took his hand. “Thank you again. You’ve been incredible.”
“I’m enjoying myself. But you’re very welcome anyway.”
Ianto took a sip from Jack’s glass and gave it back. “Too bad they haven’t played anything that swings.”
“Much, much too bad.” He played with Ianto’s fingers a moment, then downed the rest of the glass and said, “Come on. Dance with me anyway.”
“Jack,” Ianto said in a warning tone and shook his head.
“Did we or did we not just get married?”
“We did not,” Ianto said pointedly. “We made a promise.”
“And you promised to worship my body,” Jack said gleefully. “I have you.” He stood and tugged on Ianto’s hand.
“You do have me,” Ianto said with a sigh. He let Jack lead him into the dance floor and spin him into his arms, tucking his head against Jack’s neck. The fabric of his dinner jacket was soft under Jack’s palms, and even though it had been hours since his shower there was still a lingering scent of his soap and aftershave. Jack pressed his cheek against Ianto’s temple, and they slowly danced, ignoring the other bodies around them and even the rhythm of the music–though it didn’t escape Jack’s notice that the band slowed down their selections once he and Ianto got onto the floor.
“Ask me for something,” he whispered into Ianto’s ear.
“I don’t know. Something you want. Anything.”
“A puppy,” Ianto said comfortably and kissed Jack’s neck. “A floppy-eared puppy.”
“The pterodactyl would eat it.”
“You did say anything.” He lifted his head and held Jack’s face in both hands to lightly kiss his lips. “You know I don’t need anything more than a slow dance, an occasional snog–”
“Oh, you’ll get them much more than occasionally.”
Ianto laughed. “All I want, Jack,” he said and moved up his arms to around Jack’s neck, “is what you said. Best friends for life.”
Jack tapped Ianto’s nose with his fingertip. “You are wise sometimes, young one.”
“I’m an old soul.” He massaged Jack’s neck. “Do you want to go?”
Jack sincerely hoped he wasn’t leering. But would it matter if he were? “Yes. To that hotel-type place you mentioned?”
“Oh, yes. With nice, thick walls.”
“I like thick walls. They’re so cozy.” He wrapped his arms around Ianto tight and they continued dancing.
* * *
“I love your stomach,” Jack decided, running his fingers over Ianto’s skin. Ianto hummed sleepily and rested his hand on the back of Jack’s neck, watching him through half-closed eyes. “I’ve been quite fond of your toes and the inside of your elbows, your shoulders send me into raptures and your ass is a work of art–but I have to say, this right here is my favorite place on you.” He kissed Ianto’s stomach and it trembled under his mouth as Ianto laughed.
“I would have thought it was someplace further south, to be honest,” Ianto said. His fingers rubbed Jack’s neck soothingly.
“That would be horribly unoriginal. I do like your cock very much–we’ve had some good times–but how can I say it’s my absolute favorite when there’s a sweet little belly button just above it, waiting for my attention?”
“Belly buttons aren’t sweet, they’re odd-looking–oi, what are you doing?”
Jack tongued Ianto’s navel and then grinned at him. “This is where your mummy fed you when you were in her tummy. That’s why it’s sweet.”
Ianto looked at him through his lashes and said, “You are so daft.”
“Yes,” Jack said, laughing. “And yet, here you stay.”
“You are my weakness, sir.” He stretched and yawned, and then folded his hands behind his head and looked at Jack thoughtfully. “I’d suggest you do something useful while you’re down there but I honestly think I’m spent for the night.”
Jack massaged Ianto’s hip bones with his thumbs. “It’s late.”
“Are you going to try to sleep?”
“Maybe. I brought something to read if I can’t.”
Ianto sat up and tilted up Jack’s face to kiss him; and since Ianto was so comfortable and smelled so good, Jack tucked himself against Ianto’s body, curling up his legs and looping his arms around Ianto’s waist. Ianto chuckled and kissed his forehead.
“This is new,” he murmured.
“I crave affection as much as the next person.”
“Oh, is that what you call it . . .” He kissed Jack again, sweet and gentle, and Jack sighed in contentment. “Jack,” Ianto said and rested his chin on the top of Jack’s head.
“All that at the church . . . I’m not saying I’ve never wanted a relationship I don’t have to explain.”
“Oh,” Jack said softly.
“So perhaps the trick is to just stop explaining. Just say it outright: I love a man called Jack Harkness and that’s all there is to say about it.”
Jack could say nothing. He traced the inside of Ianto’s elbow with his fingertips–one of his favorite places, the skin was so smooth and the muscles of his arms so sleek.
“I’m in this for the long haul, you know,” Ianto added.
“You would have given up on me a long time ago if you weren’t.”
“Yes.” He kissed Jack’s hair and Jack closed his eyes. “So. No marriage, no children, no promises. Perhaps a floppy-eared puppy someday.” Jack chuckled and turned his face closer to Ianto’s chest, wanting the scent of himself on Ianto’s skin.
“One promise,” he said. “Not about the floppy-eared puppy, though. We’ll just leave that to fate.”
“Very well.” He leaned back, bringing Jack with him, and pulled the duvet up over them. “Try to sleep a little.” He turned out the light.
Jack lay in his arms, listening to Ianto’s breath even out and slow. He thought about the poem from the wedding–‘I love you ’cause I changed my life to love you’–and thought of the changes he had made, to his life, to himself, to be the man Ianto needed him to be.
They were nothing, really, compared to what Ianto had done, to the things he had given up.
Nothing really lasts forever: Jack knew this. But they can last a very, very long time.
He whispered to Ianto, “I don’t want it any other way,” and thought Ianto smiled in his sleep, hearing him in his dreams.
The poem quoted is “Resignation” by Nikki Giovanni.