Genre: AU/ Romance
Pairings: Jack /Ianto
Summary: Ianto Jones in an aristocrat who’s been betrayed by his fiancée, Lisa. There enters industrialist Jack Harkness. Is what he asks something the young lord can give? Or isn’t?
Torchwood- Copyright BBC. Vaguely based on the book Le Maître de forges by Georges Ohnet
Beta-ed by the wonderful evalentine99
Chapter 1 at: http://anastasisrick.livejournal.com/1723.html#cutid1
Love or Pride Chapter 14
The first day the Harts took up their residence at Brecon Beacons, it was easy for any onlooker to understand that John Hart was planning to unsettle that peaceful corner of the Welsh countryside. The ‘Agency’ and the whole village transformed into a centre of festivities which John gave by way of making his presence well known. Although he was new comer in the district, he had an ambition of becoming its uncontested sovereign, by dint of lavish display, vivacity, and eccentricity. But all these celebrations could only keep him happy for a while.
While he saw his wife was keeping herself absent he didn’t particularly care because he had an annoyance of his own. He had been trying to lure both Jack and Ianto to his party but Ianto had asked to be excused from attending the Saturday receptions. He declared that he was not yet well enough to sit up late.
Now in point of fact, Mr Hart had only given these fetes with the view of compelling Ianto to witness them, and he couldn’t easily conceal the rage which his rival's absence caused him. He had fits of petulance and ill-humour which affected the cheerfulness of those about him, not that Lisa actually cared but it put the servants into a nasty position. John had promised himself the delightful pleasure of seeing the man who had refused his advances broken in front of him. However it was all lost since he could not crush his rival with his magnificence, stab him with a thousand daggers by appearing by the side of the woman Ianto was to have married, or see him shiver each time that John was addressed as Ianto's cousin.
John's hatred would perhaps have been quieted by the sight of Ianto's humiliation; but it increased in the presence of his resistance and at sight of the haughty calmness of his brow.
Ianto came on only one occasion to dine at the Agency, and conducted himself most skilfully. The petulant, imperious ex Captain Hart appeared as he really was by the side of Ianto’s dignity and elegance — that is, as an unmannerly person, who said and did whatever came into his head with the vulgar audacity of the newly rich. The difference between the two was at once apparent, and all the advantages rested on Ianto's side.
John’s one goal was to charm his way into Jack's good graces and swore that he would have his terrible revenge. This man, with dark brown hair, such a charming face, bright eyes, and an engaging smile, was in point of fact one of the most perverse beings to be found on earth. If he could only have been sure of impunity, he would have been quite capable of throwing vitriol in Ianto's face, so as to permanently disfigure him, and burn out those lovely blue eyes so soft and pure, but in which he read so much disdain.
The few times he had been graced with their presence John was especially irritated by the good understanding which apparently prevailed between Mr and Mr. Harkness Jones. Jack was gracious, loving, and attentive towards his husband –nothing like John remembered from their past liaison; Ianto appeared to return every token of respect and affection. There was no mistaking Ianto's smile when Jack was near him: he loved him, and no doubt he was loved in return.
In his jealous rage, John began to devote particular attention to Jack. If he couldn’t have Ianto, he could hurt him even more... and with that plan sketched in his mind he tried to come back to Jack's good graces. The final evening Ianto and Jack came to the ‘Agency’, he managed to monopolise Jacks attention. He did this only with the thought the grief this would cause Ianto, John’s eyes brightened with glee, and he allowed his usual tendencies full play. He was filled with diabolical joy when he saw Ianto become gloomy and restless, and watch the little game he was playing with a look of anguish. John could read on his expression and how much he suffered despite Ianto's attempts to hide it,. He realised that he had found the flaw in Ianto's armour which would enable him to deal a real blow to the man's pride.
Walking slowly by Jack’s side he went close to where Ianto was sitting talking quietly with his brother and Gray.
“Have you ever been to America?” He asked Ianto who turned started to look not at him but at his husband.
“No, I haven’t had the pleasure.”
“I was reminding Jack here… did Jack ever tell you about our time together in Manassas? We were so young…” Ianto remained silent, his nails leaving marks on the soft skin of his palms as John recited the story of how he had met Jack, all the while staring blankly at his husband.
Jack noticed the look, but he was certain his own attitude was that of a well mannered man who finds himself flatteringly distinguished by the master of the house. He met John's well known advances with perfect ease, and talked to him gracefully and pleasantly. He was just sufficiently attentive to seem an agreeable companion, and just cold enough to prevent any one from saying that he had conducted himself with Hart any differently from what he would have done with any other man or woman. And yet, despite all his power of self-control, an attentive observer would have detected that he was really much concerned. Now, if Ianto’s pride couldn’t see that, it wasn’t his fault.
Surely, Ianto could not really see that because he had already lost one partner to the man so seeing Hart advancing to his husband meant only one thing; he wanted Jack. On top of that, seeing Jack being polite and attentive meant only one thing as well; Jack was flattered by the attention. An attention Ianto had never given to him. Only when he tasted blood, Ianto realised he was biting his lips.
Pleased by Ianto’s reaction John took Jack with him to show him the exotic –and - expensive flowers his father in law had grown in the conservatories. Jack followed him but kept an eye on Ianto who was sitting in his secluded spot.
“I can’t understand why you married him, Jack…” John said suddenly. After all the days of pretence, John had decided it was time to remind the other man of their more intimate moments.
“Oh really, John? And here I thought it was as clear as water!” Jack said his eyes searching Ianto narrowing dangerously when he saw Lisa glide gently towards Ianto, lean over the back of his arm-chair, and speak to him with a smile on her face. It was the first time he had seen Lisa and Ianto together, exchanging their thoughts beyond hearing. He quivered, and a burning flush rose to his brow. For a moment a combined feeling suffocated him; pain and jealousy? His arm stiffened, and he involuntarily pressed John's hand to his side harder than he indented. John looked at him with astonishment.
“What is the matter?” John asked, as he lightly pressed Jack's arm with his fingers by way of return the gesture.
“The strong scent of these plants and the heat of the conservatory have made me feel light headed.” Jack said not really caring if John believed him or not. Jack made an effort to calm down and turned to smile at John. “Let’s return to the drawing-room.” And, with John still by his side, walked slowly back to the drawing-room, keeping his eyes on Lisa and Ianto, who were still conversing together.
Immediately after dinner Lisa had taken most of her female guests into the drawing room, where she had placed a varied collection of exotic and rare flowers from the conservatories to be seen and admired. She was anxious to approach Ianto, but being acquainted with his impulsive, quick-tempered character, she did not approach forthrightly. She felt ill at ease with him, and audacious as she was, she hesitated to speak, for she realised that the first words she addressed to him would have decisive influence on their subsequent relations.
Seeing him sitting on his own –and with a quick glance around she saw John talking with Harkness- she decided that it was time to check the waters, to see if Ianto would converse with her again.
Perhaps staying away from Ianto for a while would have been the better policy, to allow time to consolidate the ground before venturing upon it; but Lisa had reached such a degree of cynical egotism that she could not delay satisfying whatever fancy seized her. With that in mind she stepped forward, chatted to her friends, pausing for a short time near the ladies who were present, she slowly made her way to Ianto’s armchair. At last she found herself just behind him. She took a step forward, and leaning towards him she softly asked. “Are you quite well tonight? I fear it is my misfortune that you cannot see me without displeasure."
Ianto turned quickly round and looked Lisa full in the face. He felt angry with himself for not noticing her before, angry with Jack for occupying his mind and thoughts and a strange mix of disinterest and abhorrence for the young woman in front of him. Only years of good manners’ practice kept him seated on the spot. He replied calmly even as his eyes searched for Jack for the last time.
"And why should I see you with displeasure? Would I have come here if I were influenced by those feelings you ascribe to me?" Ianto asked raising an eye brow.
"This is the first time since our marriages that we have been able to speak freely. Having behaved so badly towards you, it will be the grief of my life not to be able to explain to you the reasons which might perhaps induce you to absolve me."
"But you have no need of absolution, Lisa, believe me," said Ianto quietly. Do you think that you deserve reproaches? Let me tell you that it would be a sign of strange conceit on your part."
“You have eased my conscience. My marriage was one of the inevitable consequences of London's life. I found myself in such a situation that I had to choose between my happiness and my honour. My family was in financial difficulty... I couldn't ask your family to give more that you had already given me.” If Ianto knew about his family’s misfortune he would have understood the hint and had interrupted her that moment. As things were he kept listening to her. “I sacrificed my love to save my name. That is what I wished to tell you, Ianto.”
“In other words, Mister Hart helped you out of embarrassment, and in your gratitude you married him! Come, Lisa that is pleasant penitence, as the saying goes and besides, if I understand you rightly, you were sustained in this so called trial by the consciousness that you had done your duty. So you must be very happy, and I am delighted to hear it.”
Lisa started, stung by his words. It was the last thing she expected.
“And you are you happy?” She asked abruptly.
“You of all people have no right to ask me such a question.” Ianto answered.
As he spoke John re entered the drawing-room with Jack. Lisa jerked her head, as if to call Ianto's attention to John, who was leaning a bit too close on Jack's side, whispering something in his ear. When Lisa saw how pale and troubled Ianto became at that exchange, she gave him a knowing look and said, “You deserved to have been better loved.” Then she slowly turned away.
Ianto shuddered at the thought that Lisa might had been able to divine the true nature of his relationship with Jack He foresaw what dangers he would be exposed to if Lisa decided to flirt with him. How could he continue his task of winning his husband's affection back? How could he prevent his husband from responding Hart's attentions? He decided to leave that house immediately and calling Jack by his side, he asked him to have the carriage sent for. Then, curtailing John's protestations and bowing coldly to Lisa, he led Jack from the drawing-room as if house had been on fire.
When they were in their coach, rolling along the road in the clear, night air, Ianto prayed they were saved. He turned towards Jack.
“How did you find Mr. Hart?”
“Charming.” Answered Jack absentmindedly.
The young man shrank back into his corner wrapping his arms around himself feeling suddenly cold and lonely, as he hid from his husband’s stare grateful for the darkness. The word alone had struck him; ‘charming’ he had not noticed the tone of utter indifference in which it was uttered.
At the same moment Jack, who was absorbed in reverie, envisioned Lisa leaning forward near Ianto, and with a dishonest smile whispering tender words in his ear. Jack’s throat became dry, a threatening light gleamed from his eyes, and he clenched his fists with rage.
Chapter 15 at: http://anastasisrick.livejournal.com/9442.html#cutid1