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."