Title: “Back Stage: Act II, Chapter 2”
Rating: M, for later adult content.
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!
Synopsis: Torchwood characters in a story set in the world of UK Theatre/ Entertainment.
A/N: Yet again, real life is taking over, so this is late- I can’t begin to thank those that are still reading and reviewing. I’m trying to reply to every comment, but please forgive me if I miss anyone out. Anyway- here’s the next chapter if anyone’s still reading!
Chapter List: http://wanda1969.livejournal.com/23796.html
Ianto stood on the pavement outside the Grand and fiddled with the buckle on the strap of his satchel cum laptop bag. He’d stayed on to reply to some e-mails and go through some paperwork and check the show files (and, boy, did he hate that part of the job) when the rest of the crew had left after a hard day’s rigging. He’d undoubtedly missed the swift half his colleagues had gone for close to two hours ago, which was a pity since he could have done with a drink after spending the last hour going through an Inbox so full he couldn’t even send the shortest of messages. Thank God that he had Donna helping out in the office while he was rigging and programming the show; without her at least deleting all the industry exhibition invitations and sales shots, the theatre’s server would surely have melted down before now.
He started at the voice behind him, and then recognised the Transatlantic twang. Jack. He gathered his thoughts and then turned; it was no use avoiding the man, as he’d managed to do so far. Sooner or later during the production they would have to interact more closely, however self conscious he felt in the other man’s presence.
“Jack, how’re rehearsals going?” The Hartman team had been having last minute rehearsals in the Anthony Hopkins suite most of the week, and even when they’d had a couple of on stage run throughs for a few scenes they’d been well out of the way of Ianto up in the Control Room, operating the lighting desk.
“Good, good,” Jack nodded and smiled. “But I guess we’re lucky with this one- I’ve been working on the Show ever since I signed up, and quite a few of the other guys know the show pretty well.”
“It shows. It’s looking good already...”
“We’re all hoping it’s a winner.” Jack paused. “Look, are you on your way home?”
“Well, I don’t know about you, but I need a drink after the last couple of days...”
Ianto didn’t respond immediately, thinking through the correct reply to Jack’s unspoken question.
“Just a drink or two, nothing heavy. I need to get that dust out of my throat.”
“OK then. The Griffin?” he said, and inclined his head down the street in the direction of the pub. “But only a couple. I’ve got to get back. I’m knackered.”
“Me too,” Jack agreed, thinking of tomorrow’s full Dress Rehearsal. They were a only day away from the first Preview night, and everybody was sorely in need of a rest. He felt a pang of guilt for keeping the young man from home and a relaxing evening in with his girlfriend, but the selfish part of him needed to reassure the other man that he didn’t harbour any grudges or ill feelings after their last show together.
The men settled into their booth at the Griffin. During the short walk to the pub, the two had indulged in idle chitchat- how the read throughs and rehearsals were going for both the actors and technicians, or whether the show was selling well.
Now seated in the small and quiet, side street public house, Ianto sipped at his bitter and wiped away the froth from his lips with the back of his hand. “Well, it looks like you’ve had a busy year, Jack. I’ve hardly been able to switch the telly on without you turning up on something.”
The actor laughed. “Well, tell me about it... Do an episode of Doctor Who, and they’re all clamouring for you. It’s what I’ve wanted my whole career, but when it actually happens... well, I’ve gotta say it’s a bit overwhelming. There’s a big difference there between the stage and TV. For a start, you don’t get this kinda coverage in the press in the theatre... thank God,” he finished and smiled wryly as he took a draught of his pint.
“That’s true. Every time I open up a tabloid you’re there, too.”
Jack groaned. “That’s the worst bit! You think you’re gonna have a good night out, and before you know it, there’s a pile of paparazzi there.”
“Oh yeah?” Ianto grinned. “Mind you, you seem to have had some pretty good nights out- and some glamorous escorts, if you’re going to believe the press.”
“Never believe the press, Ianto,” he replied with a toothy laugh and a cock of his head. “It’s all work.”
“Even the photos?” It was his turn now to cock his head questioningly. “You and Alex Kingston were looking pretty close a couple of weeks ago in the News of the Planet.”
“All work, you know the score- promoting the show. Anyway, Mr Jones, I never took you to be the type to buy something as tacky as the News of the Planet,” Jack admonished.
The part of Ianto that was still struggling with the fact that he found the dark haired man sitting across from the table from him ridiculously attractive, was oddly comforted by Jack’s belief that he wouldn’t stoop so low as to read one of the trashier red tops. “Believe me, I wouldn’t pay good money for that rag. I found it in the Staff Room when I was having a break.” He said then feigned hurt, and tried his best not to laugh. “And- Mr Harkness- I’m rather offended that you think so little of my intellect that I would ...”
For a second Jack was about to apologise before he noticed the corners of the Welshman’s lips twitching as he forced himself to suppress his amusement. Jack grinned and then broke into laughter. “Well, I guess that’s as good as an excuse as any!”
Quickly forgetting about the previous year’s indiscretion, they settled into effortless small talk and chatted about the busy, non-stop year that had seen Jack go from well known musical and stage actor (at least in the world of West End Theatre goers) to full blown TV celebrity. Ianto found himself learning all about the off screen antics and gossip on Doctor Who, and which Jack felt were the most ‘fun’ panel shows or chat shows to appear on. Before he had time to check the time, they were starting their second drink.
“So...” Jack started. “It looks like you’ve had an eventful year, too. Last time I was here you were the Lighting Engineer, and now you’re in charge of the whole Technical Team. Wasn’t it that old Scottish guy who was managing last time I was here?”
“Archie,” Ianto supplied.
“That’s him. So what happened?”
“He retired. I wasn’t even going to apply for the job, but Tosh convinced me. I was surprised when I got the interview. I was even more surprised when I got the job. I’m not really management material.”
“I’m not surprised you got the job,” Jack said truthfully. “The Grand’s got someone now who knows the job better than most. Things seem to be running smoothly, and the lighting looks amazing. You don’t get that without being able to plan and schedule. You’re obviously a better manager than you give yourself credit for.”
“I don’t know about that- that’s more good lock than good management!”
“Whatever...” Jack dismissed Ianto’s insecuritres. “Anyway, I’m betting the money’s better? It’s got to be good for you and Lisa.”
Ianto flinched and was quiet for a moment. “Me and Lise broke up... Perhaps if she’d stuck around long enough for me to get the promotion, it might have been good for us both.”
“God, I’m sorry.” Jack apologised. And he was sorry, even if he could not help the small flicker of hope the news gave him. Ianto had seemed to idolise his girlfriend, but Jack was resigned to the fact that he stood no chance with the Welshman, and he could tell that Ianto was still smarting over the break up.
“Don’t be. I got over it...”
“So when did all of this happen?”
Ianto sighed. “Not long after that Panto. Turned out she’d been seeing the Ents Manager at the Arts Theatre all the time,” the Welshman explained without elaborating too much on the circumstances of how he had discovered Lisa’s affair. “She ended up moving down to London with him. Which is where she’d always wanted to go back to, I guess.”
“It’s OK- at least getting this job took my mind off it all. I’ve had time to think since then, and, looking back, me and Lise always wanted different things anyway. I should have seen that. Hey... it’s a new start, really. Time to take stock and concentrate on my career,” Ianto finished with a weak smile and tried his hardest to sound optimistic.
Jack wasn’t quite sure what to say; it was clear that the other man’s split with his girlfriend continued to niggle. “It seems you’re getting on with life. This is one of the best organised shows I’ve worked on,” he reiterated his earlier praise, and attempted to quash the feelings of relief that the young man was, perhaps, a free agent- not that it would make any difference. “Been seeing anyone else...?” he asked as nonchalantly as possible.
“God, no! I’ve got my plate full with work. And I’m not going to rush into anything else. It’s time to do things for me for a while.” It was no use saying anything else in front of the actor- Jack’s words all that time ago rang in his ears: “I’m not gay...” Ianto wasn’t even sure that he was gay; he’d visited more than his usual number of clubs and bars over the last year, and he had had to acknowledge that there were a great number of good looking men at some of the more open and mixed venues, but none of them had managed to ignite his attention like the actor had.
Jack nodded and grinned at him. “Same here- this year’s been all about Torchwood for me. Sometimes you just have to go for the opportunities that life throws at you, even when the going gets tough. You’ve got plenty of time to meet someone new at your age. Someone who doesn’t go off with the Entertainments Manager.”
“I know you’re right. It’s just that sometimes it doesn’t feel like that. I thought I’d got everything planned- I knew where I was going, who I was going there with. But I never thought I’d be a Tech Manager- or if I did, not yet. I was devastated when everything kicked off with Lisa, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be, now I really think about it. And I may not even have applied for the job, whatever Tosh said, if I’d still been with Lisa. She wasn’t very enthusiastic about me applying for jobs in Cardiff. It was like it really meant we were staying here.”
“Well, you’ve just gotta look at it all as a new start.” Jack stopped himself from making a comment that there were plenty more fish in the sea, and instead decided that both of them needed another drink- the conversation had got way too heavy in some respects. “Anyway... one more for the road? Let’s forget about all that shit.”
Ianto laughed. “OK- but I’ve really got to call it a night after that. It’s Dress tomorrow.”
The subject was swiftly changed as Jack sat down again and placed a glass of beer for Ianto on the table. “So, what do you think of the show?”
Another forty-five minutes passed, and the pair had settled into an effortless conversation, as they talked about anything but either Ianto’s break-up with Lisa, or .
“Time to go?” Jack asked as he drained his glass and fished in his jeans back pocket for his ‘phone. “Let’s grab a couple of cabs. Which way are you headed?”
When it became apparent that Jack’s digs were just less than half way in the same direction as Ianto’s place- a fact that Ianto had failed to realise thus far- they opted for a single taxi. As Jack handed over his portion of the fare and jumped out of the car, Ianto sighed and raised his hand in farewell and sank into the cab’s back seat. Jack returned the gesture with a wide smile before he turned and walked to the entrance of his block of flats.
Reconnecting with Jack had been ‘fun’, he supposed, now reassured that he could at least work with him, the embarrassing incident of last year, if not forgotten, forgiven. But the evening had also brought thoughts of ‘what might have been’- if only Jack had felt the same way that he did.
Despite that last thought, it was good to have a friend back in Cardiff, and after all, it was only for a limited time; if the two men couldn’t put aside their differences for a few weeks it would be a pretty poor show.
To Be Continued...