Summary: Our favourite tortured boys are back in this third and final instalment in which they try to outrun Hell.
Notes: See chapter 1 for disclaimer warnings and related info and 35 for additional warning/disclaimer. So close to the end now. This is only a short chapter leading up to the final part.
My power rushes through us both, and I feel the surge in Ianto. Our souls blend, become one as we kiss, and when we finally separate, he’s already making the change. White lightning crackles through him until he glows. The tattoo on his right arm isn’t a serpent anymore; I watch as the black ink rearranges itself into a giant pair of wings that stretch over his shoulder and across his back.
“What is this job?” Michael interrupts.
I look into Ianto’s eyes a moment longer before turning to face Michael.
“Liaison to Hell. Appointed by the Almighty Herself.”
Michael’s eyebrows shoot up, and I’m not sure if it’s the job title or the use of “Her” that got him. There’s no way I’ll ever be able to see God in any other form.
“How is that going to work?” Ianto looks down at his white swirling essence. “Is—” his eyes flick to mine and away, “—am I being sent back to Hell?”
I smile. “Actually, no. At least not how you mean it.” I reach for his face and lift his chin, forcing him to look at me. I drop my voice. “But I want you to go back to your body.”
“I can’t. Not without you.”
“I want you to live, Ianto.”
His face hardens and he finally meets my eyes. “Is this my choice?”
This time it’s me who can’t meet his gaze. “It is.”
“Then the choice is already made.” His jaw is tight and his expression set, but as he stares into my eyes, it softens. He lifts a hand to touch my cheek. “I promised I’d never leave you, so…”
Michael clears his throat, but I don’t take my eyes off Ianto’s, so deep that I could crawl into them and live there. “This is really what you want?”
Half a smile curves his perfect lips.
I feel joy, the first I can remember in a long time, bubble up inside me. I turn to Michael. “Good-bye,” I say, then press my lips to Ianto’s, close my eyes, and focus.
“Whoa!” I hear him say, and I giggle at the rush but then feel a little sick.
And the next instant, I’m wrapped around his body in the hospital bed. There are still tubes down his throat, but all the machines have been unhooked.
The pretty doctor looks mournfully at the clock on the ICU wall. “Time of death, six-thirteen,” she says as the nurse starts to pull a sheet over Ianto’s face.
He gasps a loud, rasping breath.
The nurse screams and drops the sheet as the doctor rushes to the side of the bed. “Holy shit!”
Ianto coughs and starts grabbing at the tube protruding from his mouth. The doctor unceremoniously rips the tape off his face and yanks it out with his next cough.
He opens his eyes. “Hi.” The word is hardly anything, but it’s loud enough that the doctor, who is leaning over him checking his pupils, hears it.
“Holy shit,” she says again.
I’ve never once been inside a cemetery. I’ve driven by them and that’s as close as I’ve ever gotten. After Gray died, I had vivid dreams of him crawling out from under a headstone and screaming for all the world to hear that I’d killed him. Mum knew I was traumatised and didn’t make me go when we buried Grandma.
But I’m here now.
The simple gray headstone has an epitaph in smooth curved lines of clean letters that reads:
I THINK OF YOU AS WATCHING FROM A TIME AND SPACE
BEYOND THE SKY, A PLACE WHERE WE MIGHT SOMEDAY COME
On the left it gives her name and her dates. On the other side of the stone is the fresh inscription of Grandpa. Under his name there’s his date of birth, followed by the date that everything changed forever.
Father Mahoney is saying something about Grandpa being a sheep in God’s fold and preparing himself for an eternal life of glory, but I can’t really listen. I keep trying to remember what happened.
It’s all so foggy, coming only in shrouded images. Lucifer … angels.
I work on sucking air into my lungs and blowing it out as Father Mahoney finishes. My parents and sisters move forward as a group to put roses on Grandpa’s box. I turn and walk the other way, to the small copse of trees near the road. Ianto weaves his fingers into mine and keeps pace with me.
I lean on a rough oak for support and Ianto folds me into his arms. He kisses the top of my head, but knows better than to say anything. The only thing getting me through this is that I truly believe Grandpa’s in Heaven. And I also truly believe he’s with Grandma—both the God one and the real one.
My heart skips at the musical silk of John’s voice. He steps out from behind the tree and there’s no mistaking what he is. All in white, his platinum hair swirling around his face, he takes my breath away. “He’s happy, Jack.”
I’d promised myself I wouldn’t cry. Grandpa would hate it if I got all sappy. But at the sight of John and his confirmation that Grandpa is okay, a tear slips over my lashes.
Ianto squeezes my hand, dipping his head to catch my eye. “I’ll be with your family.” He raises his eyebrows, waiting for my okay.
I nod and he backs away, still holding my gaze, before turning and striding back to Grandpa’s gravesite.
John steps up and wipes the tear away with cool fingers. “You have good people,” he says, his eyes following Ianto as he steps up next to Dad and rests a hand on his shoulder.
“John, I’m so—”
He stops me with a finger to my lips, then leans forward, smothering me in the scent of clean winter sunshine. “Everything is as it should be,” he says, low in my ear. “I—” I wait through the catch in his voice, fighting tears. “I just wanted a chance to say good-bye.”
My voice is thick with the lump in my throat. “Will I see you again?”
He pulls away then and looks down at me with sad eyes. “No. But I will always serve you.”
My tears spill over as he kisses my cheek, and then he’s gone.