The rain had stopped at least. That was Peter’s first thought as he made his way from the hotel towards the café where he was due to meet Ianto for perhaps the last time. He approached the moment with equal measures of anticipation and trepidation, pleased that he would at least have a chance to make good on his promise of seeing the Welshman again, even if it were only to say his goodbyes.
That was where the trepidation came in, knotting his stomach as he contemplated never again seeing the mysterious Ianto Jones. It was a thought that bothered him more than he cared to admit. Why should one man-- a man he did not even know, not in any way that made sense-- have such a hold on him? Why should the very thought of leaving Ianto to his life and the lowly regard he held for it cause him such heartfelt distress?
Nathan touched at his arm as they walked, his grip strong and reassuring as they walked along the bay towards the café. Peter looked up at his brother.
“You’ve stopped smiling.” Nathan said, his eyes worried. Peter offered him a shaky sort of smile but Nathan merely raised an enquiring eyebrow.
“Is… is it wrong to want to stay? For him?” Peter asked softly, coming to a gradual stop and turning to face Nathan.
“Stay? Peter you barely even know this man.”
“I know.” Peter frowned, confused himself. “There’s just something about him. Something that makes me want to…”
“Help him?” Nathan supplied as Peter drifted off into silence. Peter shrugged, not sure himself what he’d intended to say.
“Look, Peter,” Nathan began, placing his hands on Peter’s shoulders. “You’re obviously confused right now. You’ve been through so much over the last few months that I’m not surprised your head is all over the place. But think about this for a minute, you do not know this man, at all. There isn’t any reason for you to stay for him. You’re just looking for someone to cling to, Peter. You always have.”
“It’s not-,” Peter tried to speak but Nathan shook his head, interrupting before he could begin.
“It is, Peter. You’ve always needed someone to be there for you, someone to look after you. And I’m here for that. But you’ve also needed to look after other people. Dying strangers you can get to know in their last few weeks of life. It’s just who you are. It’s who you’ve always been.” Nathan said. “But you don’t need to stay for another dying stranger, Peter.”
“He’s not dying,” Peter whispered.
“From what you’ve told me about him, he may as well be.”
“Don’t say things like that.” Peter pulled away from his brother, forcing Nathan to drop his arms to his sides. “It isn’t like that at all. He’s- it’s just not that, Nathan. Not any of it.”
“Then what is it?” Nathan asked abrasively, though Peter could tell he wasn’t ready to listen to any of his explanations. “Did Hiro come to you again? Did he tell you to save the Welshman? That it would save the world?”
Peter gaped at him. “That’s not fair, Nathan.”
“Life isn’t fair, Peter. It’s past time you realised that.”
Peter stepped back, his look of hurt dissipating swiftly to one of offence. He couldn’t even find the words to respond to that, to any of it in fact. Turning on his heel, Peter pressed on towards the café, seething silently as Nathan’s cutting remarks repeated themselves over and over in his mind.
This wasn’t just a ‘dying stranger’ to Peter. None of his patients had ever been. Was it wrong to care, to want to help people through their last few days of life? It certainly wasn’t an easy thing to do. Death… it hurt. It took something from you with every departing soul. Was it wrong to want to promote life? He wanted Ianto to live. To… to learn to love a life that felt impossibly cruel to him. But more than that, he wanted Ianto. Wanted to be there for him, to be the one to save him.
Save the Welshman, save the world…
Peter didn’t have the strength to laugh at the mockery of his own thoughts.
- - -
When finally they arrived at the café, Nathan brooding and silent at his side, it was to find Ianto already there and waiting. Captain Harkness sat opposite him and neither of them looked particularly relaxed or at ease as they spoke quietly between themselves.
Peter watched as Ianto’s mouth thinned with anger at whatever the Captain was saying, turning his face away as if to ignore the words. Peter offered a hesitant wave as Ianto caught sight of him.
“I do not need to be supervised.” Ianto said, turning to Jack. His words were cold.
“I’m not taking any chances.” Jack replied, looking over towards Peter and the man he assumed to be his brother, Nathan. The elder Petrelli looked about as happy with this situation as he himself felt. He waved back at Peter, his lips finding a smile for him, if only briefly.
“With all due respect, sir,” Ianto hissed, slipping from the booth. “This meeting has nothing to do with Torchwood. It does not require your supervision.”
“That man,” Jack said, referring to Peter, “is now an officially recognised danger to this country and until he leaves British soil he is to be kept under surveillance. It’s for your own safety.”
“For my safety?” Ianto looked almost offended. “Peter is not a danger to me or this country.”
“And yet all I have seen from him is danger.” Ianto’s face went suddenly impassive. “Look, we’re not having this argument again, Ianto.” Jack placated. “I’m sorry if you find this a violation of your privacy, but the terms are clear. Either I stay or we both leave. Which is it to be?”
Ianto didn’t need to answer. He turned away and walked towards Peter and his brother. He offered Nathan a polite nod before taking Peter’s arm and leading him to the other side of the café and an empty booth. Peter smiled for the first time since earlier that morning as Ianto held onto him as if it were the most natural thing for him to do.
“That bad, huh?” Peter asked as Ianto finally let go of him and they slipped into the booth. He nodded his head in Jack’s direction and Ianto watched as Nathan made his way over towards his boss.
“You’ve no idea.” Ianto muttered darkly and Peter’s smile became a bit more sympathetic.
“Nathan’s the same. He just doesn’t understand.” Ianto smiled tentatively in agreement.
“I don’t want to leave.” Peter said, almost out of the blue. Ianto eyed him for a curious moment before nodding.
“I don’t want you to either.” He replied. “It’s… a bit strange. This.”
“Yeah, I don’t particularly understand it myself.” Peter agreed, looking up as a waitress approached and placed two mugs of steaming coffee on their table.
“Courtesy of the gentlemen up the back,” She said with a polite smile before leaving. Ianto and Peter took one look at the coffees before turning simultaneously to face Jack and Nathan. They gestured their thanks with sharp nods in their direction.
Ianto took hold of his mug, staring intently into the swirl of liquid for a time before pushing it away.
“Drugged?” Peter asked. Ianto looked up quickly.
Peter shrugged, “It’s what you did with mine, isn’t it?”
Ianto flushed slightly. “It needed to be done.”
“I suppose not.” Ianto met Peter’s eyes until the young American flickered his gaze away.
“When do you leave?” Ianto asked, not sure really what else to say.
“Couple of hours,” Peter answered. He felt his face heat, an awkwardness falling over him. He looked over Ianto’s shoulder to find his brother watching him intently. A bitter taste suddenly tinged his mouth.
“Do you want to get out of here?” He asked suddenly.
Ianto frowned, resisting the urge to ask just how they were supposed to manage that as he too looked over towards Jack and Nathan, finding Jack’s eyes fixed upon him. Ianto glared his displeasure across the café before turning and nodding his answer at Peter.
Peter smiled grimly, reaching across the booth to take Ianto’s hand in his own. “Then follow my lead and when I say, we run.”
Ianto pushed to his feet first and Peter stood, their hands still clasped together.
They made it to the door before they heard their names shouted.
By the time Jack and Nathan exited the café, Ianto and Peter had already disappeared from sight.
- - -