Title: "Back Stage: Enter Stage Left, Act I"
Rating: THIS CHAPTER CONTAINS VERY MINOR DRUG USE, WHICH I HOPE DOES NOT SPOIL ANYONE’S ENJOYMENT OF THE STORY. Not sure what rating that makes it- M?
Spoilers/Disclaimers : Torchwood, belongs to the BBC and RTD, I’m just borrowing the characters- I own nothing here, nor do I make any money! So please don't prosecute! It’s an AU story, so I’m pretty sure that it shouldn’t spoil anyone’s enjoyment of Torchwood itself.
Summary: Torchwood characters in a story set in the contemporary world of UK theatre/entertainment.
A/N: As mentioned (see above) in the Ratings, this chapter contains very minor drug usage, but I’m hoping that it’s sort of in character. I truly hope it doesn’t put anyone off the characters or story- it’s not meant to alienate readers, and it’s in no way sleazy.
Chapter list: http://wanda1969.livejournal.com/23796.html
“So… who’s going to the party at Angharad’s place?” Owen’s tinny voice sounded through the talkback system. It was the penultimate day of the show and despite tomorrow’s Last Night Party Angharad had planned a more informal get-together. Throughout the run there had been a number of house parties at the turns’ digs or techies’ homes; the Welsh Soap star was a Cardiff native, and her success in her home country had resulted, by all accounts, in a comfortable house on the outskirts of the capital.
“I’m up for it,” said Chris from his position at the follow spot.
“Straight after the show?” Ianto didn’t really see the point of getting in an early night. It was a Friday and, over breakfast that morning, Lisa had told him that the lead in her production was having a similar ‘Penultimate Night Party’ that she and the rest of the staff at the Art’s Theatre would be attending. Besides, he was secretly eager to see just exactly what kind of house Welsh Soap superstardom bought.
“Yeah, but a few of the cast and crew are meeting up at the White Lion for a pint before getting a taxi up there. Me and Rob are going to Morrisons to get some drinks to take if you want to come?”
“Count me in,” Chris said.
“Me too,” Ianto added.
“See you at five, back stage… wait a minute… Standby LXQ 68. Stage crew- stand by for our so called bloody magic grotto.” The ‘cave scene’ wasn’t the Stage Manager’s favourite moment; setting the numerous chests of ‘gold’ and jewels had been a constant headache for the stage crew all run.
“Standing by,” several voices chorused through the headsets as they waited for their cues. Seconds later the blackout came, accompanied by the hushed sounds of stage crew moving the various props into position.
“Go. And Standby LXQ 67, Ianto.”
For the next couple of seconds all that Ianto could hear was Owen’s muffled voice, hand over his cans’ mic as he shouted to the stage crew to get off ‘the bloody stage’ before the cloth went up.
“Right, clear… Go LXQ 67…”
Everyone settled into the next scene.
“Anyway, what was I saying?” Owen said as he settled back down.
“You’re getting some beers in at Morissons,” Chris, over on the lime, responded.
Yeah right…” Ianto’s eyes were fixed on the stage, watching nothing in particular, as he listened to Owen’s plans to get to the supermarket with time left over for a swift half before the evening’s Act One Beginners call. He looked on as Jack tried to stifle a laugh as he gazed in awe at the treasure chest overflowing with gold and jewels. Jack was having difficulty getting out his next line. “What the hell’s going on there?” he interrupted.
“Jesus, Bloody Rob’s hidden in the treasure chest…” Owen grumbled as he looked onto the stage
Throughout the run, the crew had been upping the ante as they tried on stage gag after stage gag. Yesterday there had been the stage weights hidden in the bag of swag which had caused Jack to struggle to lift the sack. All run, Rob had been desperate to conceal himself in the trunk of jewels, and it seemed that he had finally got his chance and was cheerfully waving the odd prop at the lead actor while making inappropriate gestures unseen by the audience. However pissed off Owen seemed, Ianto could hear the suppressed amusement in his voice.
Ianto was on his third large glass of punch- and that didn’t count the pint of bitter at the pub before he, Owen, Tosh and Chris caught one of the fleet of taxis to Angharad’s party, or the can of Brains as soon as he got there. The Welsh actress’ home was much as he expected it to be: a detached 1930s house, not too large or ostentatious and surrounded with simply landscaped gardens, which looked down on the twinkling lights of the city and the sea beyond. Inside it was tastefully furnished in the main, with three reception rooms and a large kitchen whose worktops were laden with ready-made snacks and nibbles, and a huge, glass bowl containing the aforementioned punch which seemed to be comprised of whatever spirits Angharad had found in her drinks cabinet, some sparkling white wine and a mere half can of lemonade.
The Welshman was starting to feel slightly woozy as he chatted to a tipsy Toshiko in the smaller and quieter of the two sitting rooms.
“Well, Owen had better get a move on with Rose. He’s basically got about a day and a half before the cast leaves,” she said, and looked through double doors into the main room where the majority of the guests were mingling and a small group, including Jack and the hostess were singing along to a small karaoke machine plugged into a large wall mounted plasma TV and surround sound speakers.
“I wish we’d run a book on it. I would have been willing to bet that he had no chance from day one,” Ianto stated somewhat blearily.
“In that case, you would have been sharing your spoils with me,” the Sound Tech grinned as Ianto downed the last of the lethal drink. “You know, I think I’m going to miss this lot. They’re not bad for turns.”
“I know what you mean…” Ianto was going to miss them, too, especially Jack, but was looking forward to a return to some kind of normality. “Anyway, I wouldn’t worry… They’ll probably all be back next Christmas. One thing about turns, is they always turn up again.”
Toshiko groaned. “Was that meant to be a joke, Ianto? If so, it was really, really bad…”
He grinned. “Sorry. I think I should slow down on the drinks. Anyway, I’m off for a pee,” he said unceremoniously and got up and sought out the downstairs loo.
When the Welshman returned to the lounge, Tosh had gone. He easily spotted her in the main sitting room, no doubt dragged there by one of the other guests, wincing at Chris’ efforts at singing along to ‘Ruby’ on the karaoke machine. The house was hot with the central heating on full and the punch had taken its toll. Ianto felt his cheeks burning- it was time for some fresh air. He went into the kitchen to make his way through to the patio at the back of the house. Quickly filling a glass with water as he passed the sink, he noticed Rob just outside the backdoor wreathed in a combination of smoke and his own breath condensed in the crispy, clear night air. As he stepped out into the cold he sniffed at the instantly recognisable sickly sweet smoke and coughed.
“Jesus, Ianto!” Rob exclaimed as he turned around. “Do you always have to creep up on people like that?”
“Sorry! I needed a break from the karaoke.” He dug into his pocket and produced a packet of cigarettes.
Rob eyed the packet. “Here mate, have some of this instead. You look like you need to relax,” he said handing Ianto the remains of the joint that he’d been smoking. “I was just about to go inside and find Leanne anyway. Don’t wanting her getting bored without me, eh?”
“Cheers, Rob.” Ianto didn’t usually indulge in cannabis, or any other drugs, these days but he reasoned it had been a pretty tough few weeks. Half a joint couldn’t do much harm. As Rob went inside, Ianto took a deep drag and strolled towards a small bench which overlooked the bay and Cardiff. It was a chilly, cloudless night and Ianto found himself just enjoying looking at the stars which seemed to sparkle and flicker in the dark sky.
Jack was getting bored of his fellow actors’ performances as they all vied for supremacy over the karaoke machine. It was time for a break, and he wandered into the kitchen and helped himself to another glassful of punch. The back door was open and, although it was cold, he stepped out. He sipped at the glass and enjoyed the view, until a small plume of smoke drew his attention to a bench behind a shrub, and just out of sight from the house. He walked towards the bench, and further inspection showed it to be occupied by none other than Ianto Jones.
“So, this is where you’re hiding yourself!” he said announcing himself.
The younger man jumped slightly as he was stubbing out the now finished spliff under his heel, but smiled as he realised that the voice belonged to Jack. “I wouldn’t exactly call it hiding away. I just felt like a bit of peace and quiet.”
“Me too.” Jack sat down. “I hear enough of this lot singing at work.”
“You’re not the only one. I don’t know how Toshiko is coping in there- after all she has to listen to this more than the rest of us.”
“She must be a glutton for punishment…”
“I’m beginning to wonder…”
Talk quickly turned to the Panto- what had gone wrong, what could be improved- and Jack’s new venture with the BBC, and his hopes that it could be just the breakthrough that he needed after all these years of hard slogging at his craft.
Eventually Ianto looked back towards the bay, and Jack found himself admiring the way that the moonlight emphasized the man’s high cheekbones and that button nose he’d found so striking when they had first met. He’d obviously had a little too much to drink and looked away before the temptation to act on his attraction to him became unstoppable.
“Anyhow, how about you? You could always get back to the West End. You’re too skilled to be working here at your age,” Jack quickly changed the subject.
“Been there, tried that. I’m pretty sure that Lisa would like to go back, but we’ve got to sort things out before either of us makes a decision like that…”
“You’ll sort it out. You just need a bit of time together.”
Ianto had a sudden moment of clarity. “I hope so, but I’m not sure, Jack. I’m starting to wonder if we can sort things out…” Lisa’s visit to her parents at Christmas had been somewhat of a turning point and it still niggled, but since then he’d started to ask himself if the whole thing was worth the fight. “If I we ought to work things out…”
“Hey, don’t be hasty, Ianto. You’ve got to give it one last chance.”
“Maybe, maybe… but… well, this is supposed to be a party, not a counselling session! You should be telling me all about Rob hiding in the chest earlier…”
Accepting Ianto’s need to change the direction that the conversation was going in, Jack laughed. “I was not expecting that. It’s a good job that we’re at the end of the run. At least the punters are expecting some gags, so they’re enjoying it. Actually, I can’t believe it took the crew so long before they tried the stage weight in the sack gag.”
Ianto laughed. Most of the casual crew was just out of college. “You’re right… but I blame it on the younger generation. They get far too serious about theatre and entertainment!”
“Bloody Hell, Ianto… when you start calling the crew the younger generation, I know I’m over the hill. For God’s sake… how old are you?”
“Twenty seven. And, anyway, you’re hardly ‘over the hill’…”
“See, I’ve got ten years on you. It’s make or break time for me this year; I don’t want to be hitting forty without some kind of breakthrough.”
Ianto snorted out a laugh. “Come off it! You’ve made it in the West End and you’re always popping up on TV these days, and there’s Doctor Who.” He paused for a moment and looked over at the other man. “And I have to say that you’re wearing well for your late thirties.”
“Ah, it’s the jaw line and good genes, you know.” Jack raised an eyebrow and gave his best cheesy showman’s grin. “I reckon I’ve got five years before it all goes downhill. So me and Martha are hoping for a hit with Torchwood.”
“When did you say it was scheduled for?”
“The BBC’s got it down for late February on BBC3, moving to some repeats on BBC2 if everything goes well.”
“I’ll give it a go- and you can bet Tosh will.”
“Ah, I’ve already got fans!” Jack said with a theatrical flourish of his hands.
“I wouldn’t go that far!”
There was a break in the conversation as the Welshman looked out across the garden and out to sea. “Angharad’s got a great spot here. It’s the kind of place I could only dream about owning…”
“Me too, Ianto.” Jack had made his way through the last of his drink and set the glass down next to the bench. He could only agree, as he admired the house’s view. He glanced to his right, and he was rewarded with another view- of Ianto’s profile as he gazed down at the Bay, the moon’s light reflecting off the dark water.
It was as if Ianto knew that he was being watched, and he turned to look at Jack, the sea forgotten.
What came next seemed to happen in a flash, with neither of them sure- when they looked back on it- who had started it all. First, their lips met, tentatively, hesitantly; next arms wrapped around one another and they kissed almost hungrily, as one of Jack’s hands moved to thread through Ianto’s short hair. The kiss was everything- and more- that Jack had fantasised about in those lonely moments when he struggled with his resolve to resist his attraction to the young Welshman. From the way that he clutched at him, pulling him closer, he was sure that Ianto felt the same. After what seemed like an age, Jack drew away for a second and took in the beautiful sight of the other man, heavy lidded eyes now dark with what he hoped was the same amount of passion that he himself felt. He leaned in once more and placed a gentle peck to the button nose that he’d always admired so much. Ianto let out a barely audible soft moan and he moved his head lower to scatter similar tender kisses along Ianto’s jaw.
For a moment, all was perfection… until Jack became aware of Ianto’s arms dropping away. An instant later and the actor was disappointed to be pushed away.
“Shit!” Ianto ran a hand through his hair. “I’m sorry… Look, Jack, I’m not gay… I… well, I’m wasted… I’m sorry…” he repeated.
Suddenly the situation became clear to Jack, and all at once he felt his disappointment turn to horror. He’d taken complete advantage of the state of the man sat next to him. “I’m the one who should be sorry… I blame it on the punch.” He paused, unsure of what to say or how to explain himself- and his actions. “I’m not actually gay, either…” he trailed off.
Ianto stood up. “I ought to go back inside… I… I’m really, really sorry… I’ve ruined everything.” He made towards the kitchen door, giving a final fleeting look back at the bench. “I’m so, so sorry.”
Jack didn’t even have time to try and reassure the other man that none of what had happened was his fault at all. Ianto was gone. He sat there for at least five minutes, possibly ten or longer, he couldn’t be sure, all he knew was that he’d fucked up royally. He might be leaving in a few days but it had never been his intention to upset the Lighting Engineer, much less to behave like a predator towards someone he regarded as a friend that he would have liked to keep in touch with.
When he eventually returned to the party, Ianto was nowhere to be seen.
To Be Continued…
Lime- follow spot