FanFic_50 Prompt: Friends (Writers choice)
Rating: This part G, over all pg13.
Summary: A chance visit to a bar and the unexpected arrival of an old acquaintance raises a lot questions for Jack and creates a dangerous situation for Ianto.
Notes: This is set during the first series after 1x06 Countrycide, but before 1x08 They Keep Killing Suzie.
This is part 1 of 12/13, ten part are written the eleventh is in the process of being written.
Over the next two months, and despite it being against his better judgement, Jack visits the Red Dragon each time Ianto sings. Every time he waits until Ianto is almost ready to begin before taking up position at the corner of the bar furthest from the stage. Then, when Ianto’s set is finished, Jack slips away before Ianto has a chance to notice him.
Jack knows that one way or another it’s got to stop. He has two choices, either he can stop going to the Red Dragon, stop listening to Ianto sing or he can come clean, admit to Ianto that he’s been as good as spying on him.
The problem is that Jack doesn’t want to do either. He doesn’t want to stop listening, doesn't want to stop seeing how alive and in love with life Ianto looks when he sings. Telling Ianto has its own problems though. What if makes their already difficult relationship worse? What if it means that Ianto stops going there to sing? Jack doesn’t want to be responsible for that. There's been enough hurt in Ianto's life without him ruining something that seems to give him pleasure.
He is still debating what to do when he feels a tap on his shoulder and a loud, decidedly un-Welsh voice says, "Jackie boy, I thought that was you. It’s been what? Ten? Twelve years?"
Turning, Jack sees a short, dumpy figure dressed in a far too bright suit with a clashing floral shirt and enough gold jewellery to finance a small war.
"Jubel Panorian, whatever did Cardiff do to deserve your presence?" It’s been far longer than ten years for Jack, not that he’s about to tell Jubel that. He couldn’t even begin to explain it to him if he did.
"There's no need to be like that." Jubel sits down on the bar stool next to Jack.
"There's every need. Last time we crossed paths I ended up naked and tied to a bed."
"Tell me you didn't enjoy it? Those showgirls we were with, the ones with the tentacles, you must remember them. How could anyone not enjoy that?"
"I enjoyed it just fine up until the point where you stole my ship and left me naked for the hotel staff to find the next morning." Not that being found by one of the cleaners had been a bad experience. Jack grins. That young man had been very talented, firstly at picking locks and then at a lot of other things.
"It was an emergency. Anyway I brought it back."
"No." Jack shakes his head. "What you did was get it towed back and dumped outside a club, where I then got a series of parking fines. What had you been doing with it? There were blaster marks all over it and what were those stains on the floor? Because nothing should smell that bad or be that purple." It’s so long ago now that it’s just amusing. It hadn’t been at the time, it had been annoying, and he’d have quite happily handed Jubel over to the authorities and have him pay the fines.
"Can't be just let bygones be bygones?" Jubel looks hopeful. "I’ll even buy you a drink."
Jack pats him on the back, "Seeing as it’s you." It’s so good to see somebody from the old days, he can’t seem to stay mad at him. "What are you doing these days? Apart from bar hopping."
"I'm an acquisitions agent now. All above board for me these days. Well mostly above board." He thinks for a moment. "That it to say that there are quite a few places where it isn't illegal per se."
"Same old Jubel," Jack says with a laugh. "So what are you acquiring here in Cardiff?"
"Anything that'll make enough of a profit to keep the creditors off my back for a few more months."
"Who did you annoy this time?"
"You don’t want to know. Anyway what about you? What are you doing here? It’s hardly your usual place for a scam or is this just a pleasure trip?" Jubel sips his drink. "Although what you could find pleasurable about this place after any length of time is beyond me. Does it ever stop raining here?"
"Sometimes, and believe me, it has its charms." Jack leans back against the bar and watches the stage where Ianto is smiling at the crowd.
"Still thinking with something other than your brain, I see." Jubel looks fondly at Jack and shakes his head, "He sings at the Castle bar as well. That’s where I first saw him." Jubel gestures towards the stage. "Such a voice."
"He has," Jack replies slowly, his eyes never leaving Ianto.
"So you can see why I'm interested in him then. I mean a body like that and the voice, such emotion. But it’s like I've always said, empaths make the best singers, they are so emotive, they can read the crowd, know what they want to hear." He waves the barmaid over and orders another drink.
"Ianto's not an empath." Jack tries hard not to laugh, it’s such a ridiculous idea to his way of thinking. He’d know if Ianto had any form of psychic talent.
"I'm rarely wrong, Jack, you should know that, especially about something that could make me as much money as that young man." He drains his drink and put the glass down heavily on the bar. "So, why are you so sure that I'm wrong?"
"Because he's been tested for telepathic abilities and there wasn't even a hint of it."
"And how would you know that?" He asks questioningly.
"He works for me, I’ve seen his psi test results."
"That's what I mean," Jubel says triumphantly
"That's what you mean, what?"
"You said he was tested for telepathic abilities, probably tested him for pre and post cognition as well, but those sorts of test won't tell you if he's an empath. It'll have all been electronic flash cards and guessing which box a playing card has been in. Am I right? Nothing with an ounce of human connection in there?" Jubel looks thoughtful for a moment, before asking. "So just who do you work for anyway? You always used to be a free agent, so to speak."
"So how would you test him?" Jack ignores his second question. It was bad enough that Torchwood was Cardiff’s worse kept secret, telling Jubel would mean it would become the universe’s worst kept secret as well and he can do without that hassle.
Jubel appears to thinks for a moment before replying, "View people with him, get him to tell you what he thinks those people are feeling. Then increase the difficulty of the test, use crowds of people, get him to pick out those that are happy or sad or annoyed or scared. You'll have placed those people in the crowd, you'll know who they are, so you'll know if he's right."
"That’s because empathy isn’t a science. You say you work with him every day, surely you must have noticed how he is around people, how their moods effect him."
"No. He keeps himself to himself most of the time." Jack cringes a little as he says it, it makes Ianto sound like some psycho being described on an American cop show, the sort of one where the neighbours all say how nice the guy was, how he kept himself to himself, right up to the point where he went postal and shot anybody who looked at him funny or was wearing the wrong kind of hat.
Jack had always thought that was rubbish, that people couldn’t possibly be that stupid or unobservant as not to notice a killer in their midst. Then there had been Suzie and suddenly it wasn’t so funny any more.
"Avoidance," Jubel says knowingly tapping the side of his nose. "I get that, he’s not been trained, he probably can’t shield all that well, so he tries to avoid people."
"I’m telling you he’s not an empath." Jack would quite like this conversation to be over now, it’s a stupid idea and it making him miss Ianto sing
"With a bit of training he could make himself a.lot of money. I could introduce him too a few people who would only be to happy to take him on."
"He’s not looking for another job."
"How do you know? You don’t seem to know all that much about him."
"Let’s just say that his job and mine are not sort of jobs you can just quit," Jack says firmly. He doesn’t want it to get to the point where he has to tell Jubel to shut up, but if he keeps talking he may just have to.
Jubel doesn’t seem deterred and gestures at the stage, "The Emorians would pay handsomely for him, you know. As would the Verdanii, and probably about two dozen others that I can think of. An unbonded empath like him would fetch good money on the open market these days."
"He’s not for sale either." Jack says warningly. His patience with Jubel on this subject is wearing thin. He came hear to listen to Ianto, not to run into an old con artist with an over active imagination who never seems to stop talking.
"I don’t have that kind of cash anyway." An odd look passes across Jubel’s face, but it's gone before Jack can even begin to understand it’s meaning.
"Can we just listen to him sing? It’s what we both came here to do, wasn’t it?"
Jubel nods and then turns back to the stage, watching Ianto intently.