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. I regret to inform you this is the end. Yes, we have reached the end of this journey, despite the earlier break in transmission. Whatever the case, I hope you enjoyed seeing our favourite boys being thrown into this world.
Deal with the Devil
Tosh sits cross-legged at the end of my bed as we talk.
“I think I’m just going to take the year off,” I say, feeling a stone sink in my gut. “My admission got deferred, so…” So I just need to figure out what comes next—what I’m supposed to do and if I can ever get my life back.
I hear his sigh. “Don’t give up on college, Jack. You were meant for bigger things.”
If only you knew.
“I won’t.” I hope. “So … how’s Tommy?” My heart squeezes tight as I ask. In the few weeks I’ve been home, I haven’t been able to bring myself to go over there—to see Owen’s family.
“Okay. Started school a few weeks ago.”
“Senior year,” I say, remembering how everything changed for me when Ianto walked through the door of English class.
“Yep.” She shifts to lie down and sighs. “Do you miss it? High school?”
I think about Owen, how he, Tosh, and I were attached at the hip. Everything was so simple then. “Yeah.”
There’s a knock on the open door and I look up to see Ianto standing there. “Hello, Tosh,” he says.
She slides off the bed. “Hey, Ianto.”
“Don’t go,” I say to his as he bends to grab her bag off the floor.
Se hikes her bag onto her shoulder. “Sorry, Jack. Told Tommy I’d be over.” She shoots me a knowing smile. “And besides, you’re in good hands.”
I haul myself up from the bed and hug her. “Talk tomorrow?” I say. It feels a little desperate coming out of my mouth, but there’s a deep piece of me that is desperate to hold on to this small bit of my old life.
She smiles and squeezes me a little harder. “I’ll text you when I get home. I need some stuff for school. Maybe we can go shopping.”
“Okay.” I usually hate to shop, but there’s something comforting in the thought of hanging out at the mall with Tosh. A step toward normalcy.
Tosh sweeps past Ianto on her way to the door. “Treat him right,” she says.
“Always,” he answers with a smile.
When she’s gone, I close the door and walk over to Ianto, pushing him onto the bed. He flops on his back, and I climb on top of him. “You heard her. Treat me right.”
The spark in his eye makes my belly flutter. “Your wish, my command.”
His hands smooth cautiously over the curve of my arse as I lean forward to kiss him. I pull back and look into his liquid obsidian eyes. “You really think I can do this?”
My fluttering belly is joined by my sputtering heart at his roguish smile. “I’m sure of it.”
I sit up and stare at him, my insides tightening. “They’re not gonna listen to me, and even if they did, I have no idea what to say.”
“You’ll know the right thing when the time comes.”
Panic crawls through my chest. I think he has way too much faith in me.
The door swings open and I spring off Ianto. Dad stands in the doorway sporting his best scowl. “Things haven’t changed so much around here that you can start breaking the rules, young man.” He fixes me in a hard stare and taps on the door with a knuckle. “Door open.”
Ianto pushes to his feet, and I thread my fingers through his, my face burning. “I’m eighteen, Dad. Plus, I’m in charge of ...you know … stuff.”
As hard as he tries, Dad can’t hold the scowl, and he cracks a dubious smile as he leans into the doorframe. He flashes his wings and gives them a quick ruffle, to remind us of his new responsibilities as my guardian angel. “That may well be true, but you’re still my son.” He sends a look of paternal consternation at Ianto. “Hands off, demon boy.”
I grin at Dad. “He’s not ‘demon boy.’ He’s my Left Hand.” I press into Ianto’s side. “You can’t argue with God.”
Dad raises an eyebrow at me. “Fine, as long as he keeps his hands to himself.”
I let go of Ianto and sink onto the bed. “So, I’m still not sure I’m really getting what I’m supposed to do.”
“Well, the way I see it, someone needs to pick up the pieces and figure out how things are going to work.”
I feel my face scrunch and Dad laughs. “It’s not funny! I don’t even know what I’m supposed to do, but whatever it is, you know I’m gonna screw it up.”
Ianto’s arms pull me tighter. “You have lots of support, Jack. We’ll figure it out as we go,” he says.
As if on cue, Maggie walks past my door and peers in. Dad grabs her and tucks her under his arm. She squirms for a second but then settles into his side and looks at me expectantly.
I heave a sigh. “But…”
“You’ve already accomplished so much, Jack,” Ianto says, brushing his fingertips over my cheek. “You just need to tap into your power and—”
“Spread the love,” Grace interrupts.
I look up to find her tucked under Dad’s other arm. The way she looks at me still creeps me out a little, but at least I understand it now.
“Spread the love,” I repeat sceptically. “How is that gonna bridge the gap between Heaven and Hell?”
“Faith and hope, Jack,” Grace says, and I can’t help thinking of Hope. Lead rolls through my stomach at the thought of everyone I’ve already lost. Hope, Owen, Grandpa … and Gray.
“Gray…” I look at Dad. “Is he gonna be okay?”
“He’s safe. Once he’s atoned, the Almighty has agreed to allow him to join the Grigori. He may be of some help to you, but his powers will be limited.”
Out of nowhere, I feel the pull. It’s becoming more familiar now. The first time I felt the faint tickle in my chest, I thought I had indigestion. But now I know what it is. And I know what I have to do.
“Speaking of …” I grab Ianto and hold him tight. “Bye, Dad!” I say as I close my eyes. I think of where we need to go and instantly I have that sickening sense of floating again. I hear Ianto groan.
“This is so different from phasing. I keep thinking I’ll get over the motion sickness,” he says through clenched teeth.
The rush stops and I open my eyes. I grab Ianto and pull him tighter when I feel him let go of me, suddenly afraid of losing him too.
He reaches up and trails a finger along my cheekbone, and I can see my glow reflected on his hand. “This…” he says, “… is going to take some getting used to.”
I weave my fingers through his. “It’s just me, Ianto.”
His eyes slide to mine and his expression is reverent. “I always knew you were too good for me.”
I shove him hard. “Stop looking at me like I’m some sorta god!”
“But you are.”
“I am not!”
“Well, you’re certainly something,” he answers, waving his hand in a circle at me.
I pull him close, rubbing strategic parts of myself into strategic parts of him, wanting him to look at me the way he used to—with reckless abandon. I close my eyes and spin us in a circle.
When I open my eyes again, Ianto is gazing into them, a wicked smile on those angelic lips. “Well, this opens a whole new world of possibilities,” he says with a spark in his eyes, his voice thick.
I press my lips to his and his electric kiss causes my heart to skip. “So, you’re getting over that ‘too good for me’ crap?” I say when our lips part.
“Working on it,” he whispers into my ear, then his lips glide across my cheek and find mine again.
I jump at the sound of a throat being cleared. When I turn and look around the Collective, Grandma is sitting in a white wingback armchair.
Ianto is immediately on his knee.
“The meeting is set,” She says into the silence. “Are you ready?”
I feel myself starting to shake, but then Ianto’s fingers thread into mine from where he kneels next to me. “As ready as I’ll ever be.”
She moves to Her feet and the chair instantly vanishes. “Good.”
“I still don’t really understand this,” I say. “Am I still mortal? And why did Ianto go back to his body?”
“Both of you need to be able to travel through planes into all three realms. That’s easier if you have a corporeal form to return to on Earth, but neither of you is mortal.”
I feel dizzy as I try to process that. “We’re immortal.”
She nods, moving closer.
I buzz all over and realise I’m glowing. “So … are we angels?”
She laughs. “No. You are … unique.”
I’m not sure if I like the sound of that. “Unique,” I repeat warily.
“Both of you are one of a kind. You, my dear, are borne of three worlds, and Ianto…” She touches Ianto’s shoulder, beckoning him to stand, “… is borne of Hell but belongs to Heaven.”
Ianto stands and we share an uncertain glance.
“So, that makes us…?” I press.
Her iridescent smile broadens. “Unique.” Her expression turns sympathetic when She sees the apprehension break across my face. She loops an arm around each of us. “I know this is a little overwhelming. We’re charting new territory. But things will unfold from here and we will all learn. You will figure out the rules as you go.”
Panic flutters through me, making me feel queasy. “I’m gonna screw this up.”
“You will be fine, my dear boy, as long as you follow your heart.”
She gives my shoulders a squeeze. “You should always keep Grace close when you’re on the mortal coil, but there’s no point bringing her where you’re going now. Maggie and Kate, on the other hand…” She contemplates this, tapping a finger on Her chin. “I don’t think so. I don’t expect any trouble this trip, so we should show good faith.”
“Maggie’s been a total pest. It will be good to give her something to do,” I coax.
“Next time.” Grandma grasps Ianto’s hand. “Are you ready for your first day on the job?”
He drops to his knee again, keeping his head bowed. “Yes, your Grace.”
“Will Michael be there?” I ask.
Grandma’s smile is warm. “It will go better if you meet with them individually to start. You’ll know when it’s time to bring them together.”
She winks and cold mist swirls around us, like being sucked inside a cloud, and then She’s gone.
Ianto stands from his kneel and I weave my fingers into his hair. “So, where were we?”
His laugh is indignant. “You’re joking, right?”
I press harder into him. “Not really.”
“The Almighty just sent us on a diplomatic mission, and you’re going to blow it off…” he says in a clear attempt to scare me into submission. What he fails to realise is that the defiant set to his face just makes him that much hotter.
“I wasn’t gonna blow it off. Just delay it for a few minutes,” I say with a shrug.
His strong arm around my waist crushes me to him. “We’ll have time for that later,” he whispers in my ear.
I love how his body is saying one thing and his lips are saying another. My hands slide up his chest. “You’re sure you want to wait,” I tease.
With his smile, warmth spreads through me like a wildfire.
“You’re stalling,” he says. “The sooner we get this over with, the sooner I can get you alone.”
An involuntary grin pulls at my lips. “Now we’re talking.”
He kisses me as I close my eyes, and we swirl through time and space.
We’re still kissing when I feel the crush of lava rock under our feet and the stench of brimstone stings my nose. A trickle of sweat rolls between my shoulder blades and I squirm in Ianto’s arms.
“Damn, it’s hot,” I say when he pulls away.
He closes his eyes, his face pinched in a grimace, his whole body tensing.
I reach up and trace my index finger over the piercings in his eyebrow and down his cheekbone. “Is it hard being back here?”
He heaves a sign and nods. His eyes open and he peers over my shoulder at the source of the flickering vermilion light. All his defenses bristle. “It’s too quiet,” he says warily. “No screaming.”
The strong sulphur of brimstone makes my eyes water as I glance around and take in my surroundings. High stone walls rise in front of us, scarred by heat and eons of abuse. Over the top of them, ruby waves illuminate the surrounding gray, like light reflecting off a pool. The blistered iron Gates are ominous, black and bulky, and a sense of hopelessness creeps into my heart just looking at them. Through them I see the flicker of a huge white flame in the distance, and past that, roiling violet and gold lava.
As I stare, the Gates swing wide, and Suzie saunters through in her human form. In her hands is a heavy wooden sign. It’s roughly carved, and from this angle I can’t read what it says.
“Are you going to stand there like a couple of Ozone Heads,” he calls, with a red-hot glare in our direction, “or are you going to help me with this?”
Ianto grasps my hand and we move to where she stands, our heels crunching loudly over the coarse lava rock. Suzie props the large chunk of wood against the Wall and unhooks the old, charred sign hanging next to the Gates from the rusty chains. She hands it to Ianto.
“‘Abandon hope all ye who enter here,’” I read and grin at Ianto. “Your boy Dante?”
He nods without taking his wary eye off Suzie.
“You’ve always been so melodramatic,” Suzie says with a scowl as she hooks the new sign up. “I’ve never liked that. So cliché.”
Ianto glares and I’m starting to think bringing Maggie might have been a good idea.
“Oi, Harkness. You dead too?”
My breath catches at the sound of Owen’s voice.
I spin and find him propped on the Wall just inside the Gates. He looks catlike, in sleek black, his slit like mouth curved in a smirk.
For a second, I can’t even move except to shake my head.
He pushes away from the Wall and starts to walk through the Gates, but Suzie holds up a hand and growls. He stops and shrugs with a doleful smile. “If you’re not dead, what are you doing here?”
I glance at Ianto, who inclines his head toward Owen, indicating that it’s okay for me to go to him. “I’m … um…” I stumble, unable to think. “Is that really you?” I say, moving slowly toward him, feeling a little numb.
“The one and only,” he says with a sideways smile.
I can see his essence, pale gray with specks of green, gold, and brown. “Oh my God,” I breath.
When I reach him, he pulls me into a hug, even though that was never really our thing, then shoves me away and smirks again. “Yeah … about that. Think you could put in a good word for me? This heat is killing my complexion.”
Suzie leers at Owen and growls, but he doesn’t back off. Instead, he gives her his signature lascivious smile. “Don’t be that way, sweetheart. You knew it was too good to last.”
I find myself smiling so hard I’m convinced my face is gonna crack. “Careful, Owen. I’m not sure you’re helping your cause,” I say in warning.
His eyebrows shoot up in surprise. “There’s a cause to be helped?”
“That’s what I’m here to figure out … how to make that work.”
His face goes slack. “Seriously?
“The Almighty never planned for Hell to be like this,” I say with a wave of my hand toward the Gates.
His eyes pull wide. “And you know this because…?”
I cringe a little against Owen’s reaction. “Because She told me.”
“She told you,” he says, incredulous.
I nod as Ianto steps up beside me and lays his hand on my shoulder. “She did,” he confirms.
“Guess there was more to that holier-than-thou thing you had going on than I gave you credit for.”
I glance down at myself and still can’t get over the glow. “I guess so.” I step back to get a better look at the new sign hanging over Suzie’s head:
UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT
I meet her gaze. “Let’s talk, Suzie.”