Author's Note: So, I'm definitely new to Torchwood, and I've never seen Dr. Who (though for the story I did do a little research), but this plot bunny wouldn't leave me alone, making writing the next chapter in my House story freaking impossible. I'm hoping that by bring this fic to fruition I can move on.
Author's Note Two: I don't do AU's. I don't know why, but for some reason, all I can do is write fix-its, and make them take place in the future. So, suffice it to say that this piece right here begins after Children of the Earth (obviously), after Miracle Day, after Torchwood's eventual demise (because I'm assuming at some point in the future they'll dissolve Torchwood), after all of it. Oh, and if anyone wants to Britpick, that would be straight-up awesome, just send me a message because I'm doing the best I can, which unfortunately merely consists of switching out words like "apartment" for "flat."
Ianto Jones never thought he would end up as a ghost. After all, the best years of his life were spent destroying spirits and the like, so naturally he'd assumed that he wouldn't exactly be welcomed into their fold when his time finally came. He had expected the darkness that had been described to him by others in the past, but somehow he had emerged from Death a floating, transparent being.
Life, and death as it turned out, were weird.
It had taken some getting used to, of course, though learning to travel from one place to another hadn't been hard. Common sense had told him to try just thinking of somewhere he desired to be, and desire to be there, which had worked flawlessly. Unfortionately, however, figuring out how to move objects around by channeling emotion through his ethereal hands hadn't been such a cakewalk.
He had known from the beginning that it was something that could be done. Years of working for Torchwood had instilled that knowledge in him. Though several frustrating months of swatting at Jack's surroundings fruitlessly tested his faith. Finally, in a fit of fury, Ianto had aimed a slap at a nearby book and the damn thing had actually shifted a little to the left. Ianto's following yell had been so loud that he later wondered if it was his imagination that Jack's eyes had narrowed slightly in suspicion.
Jack. Fuck. After everything he still loved Jack.
Jack. Who had still, in Ianto's final minutes, been unable to say the words that had risen so readily to his own lips. But he'd promised to never forget him, which Ianto had supposed was something. For a boyfriend destined to live forever, never was quite a long time.
And it had been to Ianto's immense relief that Jack seemed to be following through with his word. No, it wasn't as if his Time-Traveling-Unable-To-Die-Ex spent years, lives, still crying over the consequences of the lethal fog, but there was a small picture of the two of them that Jack kept on the inside door of his closet, and every Sunday, like clockwork, he swung the door open and stared at it.
The reason Ianto knew this was slightly embarrassing: even in the afterlife, Jack was still his entire world.
He had tried to waste his time doing other things; he really had. Once he'd become good at moving objects around, he had picked up a book and began teaching himself Italian, and after that, the violin. After that, he'd visited every place in the world that he had ever wanted to see. But nothing kept him entertained, not one damn thing because nothing could replace the excitement that he'd felt every time he had opened his eyes to see the long masculine form lying beside him. And so it hadn't been long before he gave into the temptation and began invisibly stalking Jack, though he tried to tell himself that that wasn't what he was doing. But morning, noon, and night he loitered around wherever Jack happened to be, listening to his conversations, reveling in the sound of his voice. Every so often, when Jack was talking to Gwen, or occasionally to others, Ianto's name would come up and each time "Ianto" was uttered with an American accent, tears ran down his cheeks.
He was, even in death, slightly pathetic.
Which was how he had ended up in South Africa that Tuesday evening.
Since Torchwood had disbanded, Jack had taken it upon himself to handle whatever alien remnants he could find. He'd heard some whisperings about a small cave on the Southern side of the continent so he'd traveled that way, with Ianto following, muttering the entire way about the "fucking heat" (as he was a ghost he actually didn't feel different temperatures, but it relieved some of his concern for Jack to complain).
The cave in question was easy enough to spot - not too many others gave off light from the inside. As Jack stepped inside the lights went out and both man and ghost were left in total darkness.
"Fantastic," Ianto heard Jack mutter, and he found himself grinning lightly. He'd forgotten how amusing Jack could be when he was frustrated.
It's odd, he thought, with a touch of melancholy. The things you miss.
Ianto wasn't sure at what point Jack withdrew the flashlight, but suddenly the cave was bathed in bright yellow light, making it possible to step forward without walking into things. The pair moved further inside, Jack going further than Ianto, who was distracted by a small, glittering stone wedged between the floor and the wall of the cave. He wondered how Jack had missed it, then reached for it, his hand acting of its own accord.
His fingers closed around the smooth, black stone, and as he brought it up to his eye line, carefully watching to make sure Jack wasn't paying attention, he caught sight of the silver chain dangling. Oh. Right. So it was a necklace then. There was minuscule writing carved into the bottom of the stone, almost invisible due to a thick layer of dirt, so Ianto did the only thing that made sense: he dusted it off.
Immediately he realized that he had made a grave mistake. The air in the cave began to pick up, and if ethereal hair on the back of his neck could have stood up it absolutely would have.
He spun around to face Jack, who of course couldn't see him, and wasn't really looking his direction anyway (which Ianto counted as a plus because he might have been a little unnerved to see a piece of crude jewelry just floating in air). Instead, Jack was staring at the opening to the cave as though it was the culprit, smiling, almost laid back about the entire thing.
Ianto followed his gaze, not sure what he was looking for, but when no sentient being came running into the room he relaxed slightly (though he couldn't begin to guess why he had been worried - it wasn't as if Jack could die).
Until an unfamiliar female voice from behind him said, rather flatly, actually, "Oh. So you're dead then. Well, I guess I know what your first wish is going to be."
For a moment Ianto couldn't move, disbelief rooting him to his spot. Was she talking to him? The dead man in the room?
When his senses kicked back in, he whirled around and saw that, yes, there was a new addition to the room, and yes, she was staring straight at him. He opened his mouth but no sound came out.
"Er, excuse me," the woman asked, drawing closer. She narrowed her eyes, inspecting him more closely, and when he continued to remain silent, she let out a long, drawn-out sigh.
"Okay, let's get this part over with quickly, shall we? I'm a Jinn, a Genie, whatever word you like better. A real one. The kind that grants wishes, and makes dreams come true, and so on and so forth. You rubbed that necklace right there, so that means that you've just gained the experience of a lifetime." When she was done speaking, she bestowed him with a cheerful smile. "So, let's get started here, because I've got a busy schedule ahead me. Masters to find, lives to - "
The onslaught of information had somehow gotten through to Ianto, who held up a hand for the woman to stop talking. "Wait a minute, please. You're trying to tell me that you're a . . . "
"Genie," she supplied helpfully.
"Right." He paused, taking in her pale skin, long brown hair, and short stature. She was wearing jeans and a tee shirt. "You don't look much like any Genie I've ever seen."
"In movies? What, Genie's can't be white? Or wear comfortable clothes?"
He rolled his eyes. "And you could bring me back to life?" It was too much to hope for, after he'd spent so long, watching everything, watching Jack, from afar. "You could change something like that?"
She nodded. "Kind of my specialty. But there are some rules, you know, of course. That's how it works. I call 'em the Wishes For Wishing." She paused, turning to him to see if he was impressed by her wit. He wasn't. "Anyway, so, you can only wish for things for yourself. As in, you want to come back to life, that's fine. But you're the only one I can resurrect, and don't waste your time wishing for the death of an adversary."
"Didn't cross my mind," Ianto said quickly.
"I can't provide currency of any kind - that's not really an official rule - one of my own making. Personally I don't think that's very fair."
Oh, but bringing someone back from the dead keeps balance, Ianto wondered sarcastically.
"You can't wish for more wishes - I'm surprised I have to tell you people that. And I don't give out powers or anything like that, so don't even ask. So," she concluded, rubbing her hands together excitedly, "you ready to get started?"
Ianto let her words sink in and tried to understand exactly what had just transpired. He'd rubbed a . . . necklace? And had ended up with a Genie? "This isn't a lamp," he answered after a moment, and held up the jewelry.
She shrugged, as though his question bored her. "You really think a lamp could bind a being like me? What did you do when you were alive? Were you an estate agent or something?"
He fixed her with as icy a glare as he could muster before he answered, "I worked for Torchwood."
"Torchwood?" She gave a delighted laugh. "You truly did? You must be joking."
"Torchwood One, and Cardiff." At the mention of his former employment, Ianto's eyes automatically moved to Jack, who'd exited the cave and was continuing his search outside.
The Genie grinned. "It's going to be lovely to tell the others that not even the alien specialists are familiar with our work. They'll be thrilled."
"There're more of you," he questioned in surprise. "How many?"
"Oh, thousands I expect," she replied. "I've only crossed paths with a few here and there."
"There are thousands of necklaces hording Genies, just hanging around the world waiting to be stumbled upon?"
"Well, not just necklaces. Pretty much any powerful object will do."
"That's a little terrifying."
The Genie waved her arm impatiently. "Relax. Don't worry about all that. Focus. Your first wish: being alive?"
This whole situation filled him with trepidation. He could only imagine what Jack would say if he knew Ianto was considering actually doing this. "I'm not sure this is a good idea," he finally answered. "I don't know anything about your species. You could make things worse."
"You're dead," she pointed out. "How much worse can things get?"
That was a fair argument, he supposed. Still. He glanced again at Jack. You will never be just a blip in time, Ianto Jones. Not for me.
Then he burst out, before he could change his mind, "I wish I were alive!"
The Genie's following smile was so large Ianto was surprised her face didn't crack. She took a deep breath, stared at him for a moment, then clapped her hands together once, the sound reverberating against the walls eerily.
And Ianto inhaled.
"Holy fuck," he gasped, staring down at his body in utter astonishment. He ran his hands up and down his arms, touched his face, his hair. Holy fucking shit.
"I know, I'm good," the Genie told him. "And I didn't have to give you clothes, but I figured since you're trying to impress that man over there, that it was the least I could do." All of a sudden she was staring at Jack too. "Uh oh."
Ianto followed her gaze and locked eyes with Jack.
He felt, rather than heard, his ex lover's sharp intake of breath, but he'd barely had time to realize what it was before Jack was standing centimeters away.
"What are you doing here," Jack demanded, somehow managing to look both shocked and angry. And maybe there was pleasure there too, but it was hard for Ianto to be sure. He reached forward and gently poked Ianto's shoulder. "Are you alive?"
"Strictly speaking, er, yes." He turned to the Genie. "This is . . ." His voice trailed away when he realized he had no clue what her name was, or if she even had one.
"Daphne," she told him.
"Daphne," he finished.
Jack raised his eyebrows in a way that was heartbreakingly familiar. "The situation?"
Ianto blinked. "What?"
"He can't see or hear me," Daphne explained, the corners of her lips turning up into a smirk. "It's all a part of the magic."
"You could have mentioned that," he returned, speaking out of the corner of his mouth. He ignored Jack's confused look.
"You could have asked."
"Ianto," Jack snapped. "You gonna tell me how you're corporeal now, or am I to assume that we're talking about something alien-related?"
"You gonna tell him about me," Daphne asked. "Be hard to explain, though." She deepened her voice, imitating a man. "Well, lover, I was just floating along, following you everywhere. And then I found this necklace that brought out a Genie, I made a wish, and there you go."
Ianto moaned. "I'm getting a headache."
"Coming back from the dead will do that," Jack answered, misunderstanding the reason, but despite the harsh words, he suddenly pulled Ianto into a tight hug, crushing the other man against him. "I really hope I don't have to kill you," he muttered.
"Me too," Ianto answered.
Daphne rolled her eyes. "Men are so melodramatic."