Warnings: Mention of past torture, some boy kissing, Llamas and Sheep (mention), extreme lack of sex (abundant)
Summary/Slash Prompt #3: Jackâ€™s been on Earth a long time working for Torchwood, someone must have recognized his sacrifices along the way.
Author notes: Unfortunately this work has taken on a life of its own and is probably the first in at least a two story or possibly bigger series. The genre is slash but I managed to completely (somehow) to completely forget to put any actual sex in this story. Go figure.
Categories: Jack Harkness Fic Festival Submissions
, Torchwood Characters:
Ianto Jones, Jack Harkness
August 18, 2010 Updated:
August 18, 2010
Author notes: Unfortunately this work has taken on a life of its own and is probably the first in at least a two story or possibly bigger series. The genre is slash but I managed to completely (somehow) to completely forget to put any actual sex in this story. Go figure.
Written for the Jack Harkness Fic Fest Slash Prompt #3
I have taken great liberties (probably) with the British peerages and honors system and although I did a LOT of research, the system is antiquated and confusing...so if I screwed things up, let's just PRETEND I didn't!
1. Daytrips and Knighthoods by Euphrosyne
Daytrips and Knighthoods by Euphrosyne
Unfortunately, this has turned out to be the first part of a rather huge story and since I detest WIPs I will not post that until it is complete.
Ianto had only just found this room and was frankly offended at the thought that there was what appeared to be at least another entire six months of archiving ahead of him. Well, to be quite honest with himself, and that was something he was trying very hard to do these days, he was more offended at the thought that he had not been aware of this room’s existence much more than the amount of time it might take to catalog any contents.
Actually he’d located the room quite by accident. He’d placed a stack of folders on top of one very large, very old, wide wooden file cabinet and when more than one managed to slide into the small space between the back of the file cabinet and the wall he’d nearly broken his back trying to move the cabinet to get to them. Levering the cabinet just far enough from what he presumed to be the wall and stretching his arm out behind it his fingers had scraped along the floor in an attempt to pull the folder from its hiding place. He gave up and cursed before removing his coat and rolling up his shirtsleeves. None of these ancient file cabinets were ever meant to be moved; Ianto suspected they had been built in place early in Torchwood’s history by their look, certainly no later than the late 20’s by the slightly art deco look of the craftsmanship.
It was when he’d finally managed to get the giant wooden monstrosity far enough to get at the folder that he’d discovered the door.
There was very little to designate it as a door really, there was no doorframe, sill or doorknob. The latch such as it was, was flush with the door and wall. If it had not been for the different texture of the door itself and the fact that he still could not reach the blessed folder, he’d never have noticed it at all. He maneuvered his body as a wedge between the file cabinet and the wall and shoved with all his might budging the cabinet just far enough to really see the door. He grabbed one of the small battery powered lamps he had scattered all over the dark archive and cell levels and switched it on then examined the short hatchway.
The door itself was only around 5 foot high and the latch with a heavy looking hasp to accommodate a padlock although there was none in place. There were vertical slats near the bottom of the door and what looked like a larger version of a letter slot mid way up. Near the top of the door there was a sliding panel, which while at the top of the door still required Ianto lean down to peer into.
Of course he could see nothing. Using the wall he managed to angle the file cabinet away from the door for a better look. He had to step back to open the door itself. He lifted the latch and pulled, the heavy door budged a bit but did not open and he struggled to yank on the latch/handle.
The smell of stale air rushed into his nostrils as the door finally, begrudgingly opened. Ianto felt around the inside of the wall around the door but found no light switch. He didn’t care to step into a completely unknown room ill prepared for who knew what lay behind any hidden door especially one inside Torchwood. He left the door and went for one of his big lanterns and then to the file that held the blueprints for the hub itself.
As always, Ianto was methodical. He started with the most recent schematics and worked his way backwards. He found no documentation of the hidden door until he pulled the large Victorian era schematics. The plans showed this corridor and the rooms he already knew in greater detail and the, until now hidden room was labeled as “Work Area and Confinement” but in very neat script someone had hand written under that “Playroom”. The remainder of the schematics for this level revealed no other hidden secrets.
“Okay, Playroom it is then. Let’s see what kind of toys we have.”
Grabbing his torch he squeezed behind the cabinet and stooped deeply to enter the dark space. The room was not terribly large but was filled with boxes stacked in neat rows in ranks from the wall. Some of the boxes along the walls were wooden, but as they neared the center they became a heavier type of modern cardboard moving box. They all seemed to have labels and Ianto moved in for a closer look at the first stack against the wall.
The handwritten label on the first box contained only dates, specifically “1869 to 1890” but that didn’t surprise him. Ianto knew he was not the only archivist Torchwood 3 had ever had, but at least elsewhere in the archives an attempt had been made to actually make the archives searchable no matter how dismal the attempt. This looked like even that meager attempt had not been made here. Walking the rank of boxes along the wall, stacked 4 to 5 high he realized that the boxes in this first rank all bore the same dates. Ianto’s outlook became bleaker as he surveyed the rank. While they all bore the same dates; some crates were labeled additionally with single words.
He stopped in his tracks at the first box he came to that was labeled “Toys” and shifted down the top box. He lifted the lid carefully to avoid the shower of dust it contained and looked inside. Either someone had a very odd sense of the definition of the word ‘toys’ or this box had been reallocated to storage here from somewhere else. He began emptying the box of some very odd and some very familiar looking devices and equipment. He found chains, electrodes, a crude antiquated electricity generator, and numerous things that looked like surgical instruments and many variations on leather restraints. He was appalled when he realized the surgical instruments were not only tarnished with age but had probably been boxed up without being washed first. He quickly dropped the handful of saws he had removed and wiped his hands on his trousers.
“That’s disgusting. Could you not have cleaned these first?” He asked no one in particular and got the response he expected. The next boxes in the stack labeled toys, contained similar items and he finally carefully pushed the boxes aside to be cataloged later, he knew he’d have to Google for a surgical instrument history site to identify some things but most of the saws, trephines and scalpels were easy to identify even by his non-medical eye.
The next stack was labeled “Personal” and he pulled down the top box disturbing a heavy metal ring on the wall from which dangled antique looking manacles with spikes on the inside. Moving the torch for a better look he saw they were also still blood encrusted as was the wall surrounding them. Obviously someone also had different ideas of the terms “Workroom” and “Playroom”. He stopped and walked up and down the ranks of boxes scanning the labels. Most bore date ranges of from 5 to 10 years apart and the latest one he could find carried the date 2000 to 2005.
He opened the box to see what that held and discovered the Torchwood branded plastic bags; each carefully labeled with names and immediately recognized Jack’s familiar neat printing. The contents were what Ianto had always though of as ‘pocket clutter’: some change, a few pound notes, a penknife, a wallet, one contained a ladies handbag and some other items.
Some of the names he recognized from his days at Torchwood 1. Several bags bore only the single name “Alex” and were additionally labeled ‘office’, ‘locker’, ‘desk’, and ‘private’. In the bag labeled ‘private’ Ianto found several pictures of Jack and a man who he presumed to be Alex. Most of the pictures were of the two of them together, a couple snapshots were obviously taken candidly by someone else in which they were embracing and/or kissing. One was of a naked Jack asleep in what appeared to be a very large bed. While looking through the bags Ianto realized that this was not archival work, not an ‘official’ archive anyway, no this box at least was more of a memorabilia box, the equivalent to his own old leather suitcase in the back of his closet. But Jack’s closet obviously needed to be bigger; he turned and looked at all the other boxes, holding his torch high. Was ALL of this Jack’s?
He carefully placed the plastic bags back inside their box and closed the lid then noticed a box that was labeled “Thanks”. He opened the box and his jaw dropped, some of these items he had only seen in museums or in his history courses in school. The first velvet box had a crest on the top and when he opened it he found a sash with a similar crest emblazoned on it as well as a large brooch. The Victoria Cross was something he’d seen before, on TV and in museums; but he’d never actually touched one. Some of the awards he recognized and some he didn’t, but the bound documents in the boxes described what he was looking at and every single one carried the same awardee, Captain Jack Harkness. Along with the Victoria Cross there was an Order of the Star of India, a Royal Victorian Order, an Order of the Garter, and an Order of the Bath.
There were various monarchs as awarders, starting from Queen Victoria herself and included Edward VII, George V, George VI and of course Elizabeth II. The contents of the box were truly remarkable; Ianto had never seen so many awards and pronouncements in his entire life and he’d only ever read or heard about some of the ones here. He paused briefly to consider all the titles that had been bestowed on Jack and tried to figure out what he by custom should call him, Your Lordship? Lord? Of course there was always ’Sir’ but since he already used that it now seemed inappropriate and inadequate.
His finger traced the jeweled brooches and ribbons and he marveled how something as beautiful as these things were would be relegated to a dusty box in a dark room, hidden from everyone. While his fingers lingered over the magnificent brooch of the Order of the Star of India he turned to look at the box of “Toys”. Was this room the ‘Jack Harkness archive’ and where did all the “Toys” come from? He took a deep breath picked up the Star of India and headed for the door “Right, time to get some answers.”
Ianto approached Jack’s office quietly, he knew he’d had a call with the PM and then had planned to decrease the depth of the pile of paperwork on his desk. Checking his watch, he figured the call with the PM would be well over by now so Jack would be mid drudge in the paperwork. He stopped at the door and tapped on the frame, Jack glanced up and grinned.
“Ah, Ianto… just the distraction I needed, no coffee?” A small pout passed over Jack’s face.
“Umm, I’ll get you one, but I’ve made a discovery in the archives I’d like to ask you about, first.”
“Sure, ask away.” Jack capped his fountain pen and set it aside then folded his hands on top of the papers in front of him, still grinning.
Ianto lifted the large velvet presentation box into Jack’s sight and watched the grin drop away instantly.
“I’d like to ask you about this and a few other things I found.”
Jack’s nonchalance was obviously forced, his hands curled into fists in front of him.
“I think you know, Jack but the document in the box with it said it’s the Star of India. I found it and a lot of other things you seem to have stashed and I have some questions.”
“Please don’t tell me you don’t want to talk about it… don’t shut me out, Jack.”
Jack took a huge breath and leaned back in his chair. “Sit down, Ianto.”
Ianto sat down and placed the velvet box on the desk pushing it towards Jack as the older man motioned for it. Jack picked it up and opened the box with a sad smile.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?”
“I’ve only ever seen these things in books and museums and you have packing boxes full of them… you have a Victoria Cross, Jack.”
“Yes, I know.”
“Why are you hiding them?”
“I’m not hiding them.”
“Excuse me? In a packing box, in a room that nobody knows about whose doorway is concealed behind an enormous filing cabinet? Oh I think you’re hiding them.”
“Please, do NOT tell me it’s none of my business.” Ianto shook his head.
“Well it isn’t; but that wasn’t what I was going to say. I was going to say it’s not important.”
“Of course it’s important…all of them are important; the Order of the Garter, the Order of the Thistle, the Victoria Cross, and The Star of India and whatever else is in those boxes…they were all awarded to you, and you don’t get them for nothing. You had to do something really, really important to get those.”
“We do really important work everyday, Ianto. I think saving the planet is really important, don’t you?”
“Of course it is…it’s also our job. It seems to me that these things are awarded for going above and beyond, not just doing the job.”
“Do you really think there’s something MORE important than saving the planet?”
“No I guess not…but still if it were for just doing the job we should be able to paper the walls with the awards and I don’t recall receiving any myself. So I think they must be for something very special.”
“I’m very special, Ianto…maybe they just liked me, I’m a likeable kind of guy.”
Ianto nodded. “And humble as well, however I suspect there is much more to this story. Another whole level of importance that you don’t seem to want anyone to know about for some reason.
“You want to talk importance, Ianto? Okay, I’m a Knight of the Order of the Garter, a Knight of the Order of the Thistle, a Knight of the Order of the Star of India, I’ve also got an OBE and hold a few other honors and a couple of peerages as well…”
Jack started to tick off on his fingers “I’m the Duke of Glamorgan and Marquiss of Cardiff. I’ve also got lots of well … letters…KG, KT, GCB, GCVO, OM, ISO, GBE and a DSO with bars along with some other junk. All of them are just frills bestowed by monarchs to try to make THEMSELVES feel better…all of them were secretly awarded and none of them are useful for anything but as code words to get me through to her on the telephone a little faster in case of emergency.”
“What do you mean?”
"I mean, if I call the palace and ask to speak to her saying it’s an urgent call from the Duke of Glamorgan they know to patch it into a secure line and put me through immediately. It’s not something I do a lot, obviously."
“But how? How can you hold all these honors and not say anything to anyone about them?”
“They aren’t anything, Ianto, they’re empty, meaningless.”
Ianto looked hurt. “I don’t understand how can you say that?”
“Please, Ianto, if you walk into the Plas right now and ask them who the Duke of Glamorgan or the Marquiss of Cardiff is no one will know. Those titles don’t exist anywhere but in secret and are known only to a very few, very select persons outside of the royal family...”
“…Look …” Jack opened the box and removed the ornate brooch “… it’s just a piece of jewelry. After everything else it is only a piece of jewelry and a piece of paper.”
“Surely the titles must mean something to you, Jack?”
“Names, Ianto…they’re just names and I’ve been called a lot of things…duke and marquiss and freak included. The names mean even less than the awards.”
“I guess I don’t understand…how can they mean so little to you?”
“Look, you found this stuff… then you must have found some of the other things too, the other boxes.”
“The ‘toys’ you mean?”
Jack’s laugh was sharp and bitter. “Yeah, the toys. In their own way they are ALL awards, Ianto…” Jack carefully placed the Star of India back into its box. “…they ALL came with names of various kinds, some nicer than others. These things came to make someone else feel better to try to make up for the other titles. They mean even less to me than they do to a weevil. But I suppose of the lot, this is the only one that holds any pleasant memory…it was the first one I ever got and she gave it to me herself.”
“Yep… and more memorable was that this one came with an actual apology…for the things in the other boxes…”
“Yeah…the ‘toys’.” Jack practically spat the word. “You know I was not always head of Torchwood Three, don’t you?”
“I knew that.”
“But did you know what happened when I first came here? The things that were… that happened?”
“No, the archives have gaping holes where you are concerned.”
Jack nodded with a frown. “Yeah, I know. I caused most of those holes. Look Ianto, I was…detained… by Torchwood. They had seen me die a couple of times and were sure I was some kind of demon or something. Then once they decided that I might be useful to them they wanted to be certain nothing could kill me permanently, so they tried everything they could think of and… they were very inventive.”
“They tortured you.”
“Yes tortured and killed…repeatedly.”
“How did you escape?”
Jack laughed. “Escape? I didn’t. They made it very clear that any freedom I had was at their whim, so I had to work for them. Every time I thought I had managed to escape them, I died and woke up in the playroom. After a while, it was easier not to try. This…” Jack motioned at the brooch sitting in its box “…was the first time I was given a pat on the head instead of knife in the ribs. But it didn’t make much difference to Torchwood.”
“But the Queen…”
“She gave me the award, Ianto. But she didn’t hold my leash; she didn’t control what happened to me on a daily basis. She didn’t see what they did to me when we got back to Cardiff after the award ceremony.”
Ianto silently waited for the other shoe to drop.
“Victoria didn’t hear them laughing as they played ‘geld the knight’ and then while I was screaming slit my belly open and left me hanging chained to the wall to die. They locked me up in the dark in their playroom for the following month after that, I lost track of how many times I died. Victoria didn’t see when they didn’t feed me for months, or drove spikes into my chest or electrocuted me all for fun, or when they sealed me into a tank and filled it with water and left me to drown for another month. So you’ll excuse me please if I don’t get all excited about a piece of jewelry.”
Ianto squirmed in his seat and had paled considerably but said nothing; he’d started this and now meant to see it through to its conclusion.
“I endured everything they threw at me, I didn’t have a choice. Every escape attempt made things worse. I needed to be here in Cardiff...”
“You were waiting for the Doctor?”
Jack nodded again. “…The regimes changed and the torture got more inventive and technological along the way. But it always, ALWAYS got worse after I went to the palace…every single time. Even right up until the nineties…”
Jack looked surprised and then nodded. “Yeah, Alex. To him I wasn’t a toy or a freak. He was the first one who really treated me as a person, and valued me as a team member, not reusable cannon fodder.”
“You were lovers.”
“What happened?” Ianto asked softly.
“No, I don’t know what really happened. I know what the archived reports at Torchwood One said and since being here, I now know enough not to take them as gospel.”
Ianto folded his arms across his chest and Jack sat back and mirrored his pose.
“Yeah, Yvonne certainly had a way of manipulating the truth.” Jack closed his eyes and took a quick breath. “We found the device in some wreckage that had come through the rift. We couldn’t identify the technology it looked almost like a pocket watch and leaked an energy we were unable to identify at first…”
Jack unfolded his arms and gestured with his hands as if were handling a small, delicate object, Ianto watched his hands and tried to visualize the object Jack was describing.
“…The outside…was…beautiful really. The energy turned out to be a type of psychic energy we’d never encountered before. It made you…despondent is the only word I can think of. I begged Alex to lock it up… I thought he had. But instead of locking it up…he…he opened it. I was out after this giant cockroach that had come through the rift. It was New Year’s eve…I came back and everyone…everyone but Alex was dead. He’d killed them all; but he’d waited for me to come back to kill himself. So he could say goodbye.” Jack closed his eyes, sighed deeply and visibly shuddered, his façade crumbling.
“He told me the 21st century was when it all changed and that he’d killed them all as an act of mercy; so that they wouldn’t see what was coming. He told me he was sorry he couldn’t do the same for me and then gave me Torchwood Three as a gift…” Jack laughed that sharp laugh again and shook his head. “… A reward for all my years of service. Yet another backhanded thank you; just bloodier than that one.” Jack motioned to the Star of India brooch.
“I’m sorry, Jack.”
“You’ve nothing to be sorry for, Ianto. I just want you to understand why all those things are boxed up and shut away. You don’t have to agree with my motives.”
“I think I can understand, Jack... I just never expected…” Ianto took a deep breath and finished “… I never expected to find anything like this… in the archives.”
Jack shrugged. “Well, technically you didn’t… not in the official archives anyway. That room is my personal archive; I guess you could say it’s my version of the shoebox under the bed.” Jack reached down and opened the right hand top drawer of his desk and took out a metal box.
“This is where I keep a few of the pleasanter memories, close by. All of those things…” he motioned to the brooch in its wood and velvet box “…are too dark to dwell on. Hey, did you find my cool sword, too?”
Ianto had been staring at the metal box and looked up at that.
“Your cool sword?”
“Oh yeah…came with one of the peerage honors… It was either the Dukedom or the Earldom.” Jack shrugged his shoulders. “Shall we go return this little trinket to its resting place?” Jack closed the box and stood. “Come on, I’ll show you my cool sword and then help you push the filing cabinet back where it belongs.”
Ianto stood and followed Jack back down to the corridor where he’d found the hidden room. Jack stood next to the file cabinet in front of the door and took a deep breath.
“Sorry…can you go in first? I don’t like having someone behind me when I have to go through that door.” He waved at the door. Ianto looked at him oddly and then ducked through the doorway in front of him. Jack followed hesitantly.
“I’m sorry, it’s just this room doesn’t hold the best of memories for me.”
Ianto laid his hand on Jack’s arm and gave what he hoped was a reassuring squeeze. “It’s okay.”
Jack nodded once. “It will be.” Jack placed the velvet box back where it had rested for so many years and leaned over the stack of boxes to pull out a long wooden crate. “Here it is.”
Jack lifted the lid and reached into the shavings to withdraw a long package wrapped in heavy cloth. He laid it down and opened the wrappings revealing the scabbard and sword inside. Smiling, he removed the wrapping and handed the sword still in its scabbard to Ianto.
Ianto’s eyes widened at the weight and he held onto the sword hilt as Jack pulled the scabbard off.
He’d seen swords like this before, from afar in museums, but he’d never held one, and never though he would… it was heavy.
“Careful of the edge, it’s a ceremonial sword but it still has a bit of an edge.”
Ianto looked closely at the sword and marveled at the artistry in his hands. The scabbard had inlaid enamel with a number of finely detailed crests and etched scrolls along its length. The hilt of the sword was inset with semi precious stones.
Up near the cross guard was a carefully etched shield with 3 chevrons topped with a small crown and a fleur-de-lis. The entire thing practically glowed in the dim light provided by Ianto’s portable lamp.
“Where did this come from?”
“Queen Victoria gave it to me; she had it made especially for my ‘investiture’.” Jack made air quotes on the last word. “I have the providence somewhere. Pretty isn’t it?”
“Pretty? It’s beautiful, Jack. I’ll bet you looked dashing wearing it. That’s something I would love to have seen. Don’t suppose there were any pictures?”
“Yeah, of course it wasn’t the Stone Age you know and Victoria was very thorough. Even though it was a private ceremony and my name could never be added to the public honors lists she made certain that it was well documented. She was a lovely lady…clueless, but lovely.”
Jack turned in place and motioned to the other crates and boxes. “The photographs are in one of these boxes, although which one I’m not sure…of course they may have crumbled into dust by now.”
“Why was she clueless?”
“Victoria? Because she left Alice and Emily to their own designs, which was NOT a good thing at the time. She didn’t care about the methodology they used, only the results. She was very smart but naïve… then again that was a very naïve time. I think secretly she suspected they were monsters she just chose to ignore their methods and focus on their results.”
“Were they always like that?”
“The first ones, Alice and Emily were…well vicious to put it mildly. They enjoyed inflicting pain…a lot. They were also well, let’s just say creative. After them even the bad ones didn’t seem nearly as bad.”
“How long did they torture you?”
“A long time and in every way they could dream up. They felt they needed to test my limits and kept me chained up in here when they were otherwise occupied.”
“Yeah that’s what they called it, not much of a playroom for me…heck I was one of the toys.”
“Too long. Most of it chained right against that wall. This room is where I was kept when I wasn’t working for them.”
“Why? Why didn’t you just leave Cardiff? You could have gone anywhere, done anything why subject yourself to that?”
“I needed to be here in Cardiff, Ianto. Oh I left Cardiff and the UK a few times I even joined up and went to war to get away from them and every time, each and every time they found me and dragged me back…sometimes alive but most of the time dead. And when I woke up, they would kill me again until I was safely locked in those manacles.” Jack pointed at the blood encrusted spiked cuffs hanging from the wall.
“They were evil, pure and simple…they tortured and killed for fun...no higher purpose, no noble reason…they used the Torchwood charter as a way to satisfy their own twisted desires and I was their plaything for a long time.” Jack took a deep breath and looked around the room.
“They sent me on assignments of course but there was always someone watching me, ready to take me down and bring me back if I didn’t do exactly as instructed or tried to run.”
“But surely you could have slipped them?”
“Yeah, but I was usually only sent on really risky missions where my particular… talent was necessary and if I didn’t go, then someone who wasn’t as resilient would have been sent. I didn’t want that. For the most part I LIKED the other Torchwood operatives; it was the management I had issues with. The rest of the staff were good and decent people.”
“Alice and Emily, they would be the misses Guppy and Holroyd, I presume.” Ianto mindless of the dust sat down on a stack of wooden crates.
“It got marginally better after those two hags were gone. The next few bosses had seen all the experimentation and really didn’t have a reason to perform more. They already knew I would come back.”
“So it stopped after Guppy and Holroyd?”
“Not really; but it did slow down. Like I said they already knew I couldn’t die. So the only time they felt the need to experiment was if something new fell though the rift. Of course THEN a couple took full advantage of that ‘testing’ for their own perversions but after Alice and Emily… it was almost like a vacation. Some were more resentful than others and those were usually the bad ones. They hated me BECAUSE I couldn’t die.”
“Jealous, you reckon?”
“Yep, then a Torchwood operative rarely reached even their middle thirties.”
“No difference there then.” Ianto shrugged.
Harkness looked wistful for a moment and then took a deep breath.
“So sometimes they would get it into their heads that they could somehow transfer some of my…ability to themselves.”
“I gather it didn’t work.”
“No, never…” Jack looked into Ianto’s face then sat down next to him. Ianto had already betrayed him, twice. Once for love and once for…come to think of it why HAD Ianto betrayed him the 2nd time? “…let me ask you a question, Ianto. You don’t have to answer if you’d prefer, I’m just curious and we’ve never really talked about it.”
“I understand why you lied…about Lisa. But why did you help Owen, Gwen and Tosh open the rift?”
“Why did I betray you the second time? Because Lisa told me that many people would die if I didn’t and when Rhys got killed it seemed to be just as she said.” Ianto shrugged “I believed a hallucination.”
“And how about now, in hindsight?”
“In hindsight I’ve learned it’s really not in anyone’s best interest to listen to a hallucination especially not in Torchwood. Why?”
“Because I want to be able to trust you again; I NEED to be able to trust you again but even more than that I need to be able to trust my own judgment again.”
“Jack, I don’t know any other way to apologize. I thought we were passed this? I THOUGHT I’d been forgiven. If there was a test I could take to prove it to you I would in a heartbeat. I don’t know what else I can say…I’m sorry.”
They stared into each other’s eyes as if a contest had started. Ianto broke eye contact first, blinking long and then demurely glancing down at his hands.
Jack reached over and lifted his chin until their eyes again met.
“When Torchwood tortured me to get me to share some of my life force…It didn’t work because they were trying to take it… and I didn’t want to give. If I had, it would never have ended; I would still be chained right to that wall.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I can and have shared that power on occasion… I’ve shared it… with you as a matter of fact.”
Ianto looked surprised “Really? When was…” the recognition broke over Ianto’s face like dawn “…in the Hub, when Lisa was trying to kill us. I remember she threw me across the Hub and when I landed in the water everything went black.”
Jack nodded “And then what happened?”
“I woke up with you kissing me.”
“Sort of kissing? Or sort of woke up?”
“Sort of both. She killed me and when I woke up I found you face down in the water I don’t know how long you’d been there but you weren’t breathing when I turned you over.”
“So…there was more than just CPR then? Did you intend for it to happen or was it automatic?”
“Oh it was deliberate.”
“Then I suppose I also need to thank you for saving me then as well. Can you control it?”
“How does it work?”
“Like a kiss…like this.” Jack lifted Ianto’s chin again and captured his lips with his own. As the kiss deepened Ianto felt an influx of warmth that he’d never experienced before. It started in his face and the tingling spread quickly throughout his body. As it reached his limbs Ianto gasped and Jack smiled and pulled back. Ianto could have sworn he saw a gold hued aura stretch between them briefly before dissipating.
Jack watched his face for Ianto’s reaction.
Ianto looked stunned. “That was… that was the most incredible thing I’ve ever felt.”
“Quite a buzz, huh?”
“That’s quite the understatement.” Ianto lifted his hand at stared at his fingertips. “I can feel it fading. Do you feel that all the time?”
Jack smiled, it was an honest question born of pure curiosity. He had started the whole ‘honesty’ thing so he felt obligated to answer Ianto’s question in the same vein.
“No, I can feel it when I come back after I die and as I heal if I’m injured and the only other time is like just then. But when I come back from being dead it’s sudden and so intense it hurts. Depending on how I die it can take a while to go away until it stops feeling like every single cell of my body is on fire.”
Ianto reached over and stroked a hand down the side of Jack’s face.
“Thank you, for trusting me with this.” Ianto stood up and retrieved the velvet box containing the Star of India. He removed the jeweled award and after struggling a little with the clasp, fixed it to Jack’s left brace.
“You are my hero and on behalf of me and the rest of the inhabitants of the planet Earth I want to present you with this award. Thank you for all you do…all you have done.”
Jack smiled and snapped to attention and then gave Ianto a crisp salute.
“Stand at ease, Harkness.”
Jack dropped the salute and smirked. “Let’s put this stuff back and go to my bunk so I can knight you with my special sword.”
Ianto rolled his eyes then stepped in to remove the brooch from Jack’s braces as he began to fumble with the clasp.
“Here allow me, sir.” Jack dropped his hands to Ianto’s waist and watched his eyes as he removed the heavy brooch. Ianto leaned in and kissed him but didn’t escape before Jack framed his face and deepened the kiss, again pouring some of his considerable life force into the young man.
Ianto’s body felt electrified as Jack again shared his special power. He opened his eyes to look into the other man’s face and saw Jack watching him. He lifted his hand to see if his fingers were indeed aflame as they felt and Jack’s eyes also shifted to look. A golden glow started to gather around his finger tips as Ianto watched and when his hand seemed engulfed in the glow, Jack stepped back and Ianto lurched, weak kneed only briefly before Jack stopped his descent to the floor.
Ianto took several deep shuddering breathes before he could speak.
“Party tricks, sir?”
“No, not something I’d do at a party or with anyone else for that matter but you’re…you’re…special. I want you to know that, Ianto. I know sometimes you have your doubts about where you fit in my life. And I never, ever want you to feel anything but special…”
“Thank you, Jack. I know I have let you down before, but I promise you I will never ever doubt you again.”
“Please don’t say that.” Jack’s eyes narrowed and he shook his head.
“I mean it.”
“I know you mean it now; but we are still Torchwood, too many things can happen…don’t promise me something like that, please.”
“Then I promise you this, I will never doubt your feelings for me.”
Jack smiled. “Now I WILL hold you to THAT promise! Come on let’s pack this stuff back up and get out of here. I’m starving and I want to go get noodles at Wagamama.”
“Oh god…only if you promise to behave this time. You almost got us tossed out the last time we went there.”
“I’ll have you know; in MOST noodle cultures slurping is considered good manners.”
“Yes…NOODLE SLURPING…slurping without noodles is NOT.”
“I was just demonstrating.”
“Yes and I’m sure the waitress appreciated it…”
“I got her phone number.”
“…yes I know, but the manager did not take too kindly to that.”
“Hey, how was I to know he was her fiancé!”
“Well if you had stopped when she said she was engaged, noticed the ring on her finger…or even listened to me when I told you that the manager was watching you and getting red in the face we might have avoided the incident entirely.”
“Nah don’t worry, they’ve moved to Oldwalls on the Gower.”
“How do you know?”
“I ran into Huw in the Plas that was his name. We had coffee at Starbucks and told me all about it. He’s assistant manager at a hotel on the Gower now.”
“Karin will be a stay at home; she was about 3 months pregnant when they got married.”
“Wait…how do you KNOW all this?”
“Huw, Karin and I email. If you’d like I’ll show you the latest photos, Karin is due in a couple of weeks. She keeps sending me photos of their flat and the nursery, any and everything in and around the Gower. I gave them a good camera for a wedding present. So she feels obligated to use it. Huw says it keeps her occupied so he’s thrilled. That reminds me I’m gong to send them a video camera as a baby gift I need to go to that electronics shop up on St Mary’s street by O’Neill’s.”
Ianto’s eyes were practically crossing.
“So…you tried to pick up a waitress in a restaurant…infuriated her fiancé almost to the point of a fistfight. Then made friends with both of them and sent them a wedding present…”
“Well, I WAS invited to the wedding; you’re supposed to bring a present.”
Ianto shook his head quickly to clear the cobwebs. “You WENT to their WEDDING?”
“Well, yeah… I like weddings, Ianto.”
“Did you go to the reception too?”
“Nah, I was invited but begged off. I got invited to both their stag and hen nights, too. I didn’t go to either because I didn’t want to show favoritism between the two of them.”
Ianto smiled and nodded knowingly “You tried to put the move on him as well, didn’t you?”
Jack shrugged and smiled “Hey he was cute! He told me about her being pregnant and how they couldn’t afford a flat of their own here in Cardiff so they were going to wind up living with her family. He was trying to find work somewhere the cost of living was a little cheaper. I felt sorry for them. So I put him in touch with a friend who owns a hotel…nice guy, from Tujortry 5, got stranded here in 1960. I helped him settle in and get started. He helps me out when he can.”
“So there’s an alien who owns a hotel on the Gower.”
“Yes, this surprises you? There’s a couple of aliens own a hotel or two even one here in Cardiff. Didn’t you ever wonder how I get onto some of those roofs?”
“Well, yes but…” Ianto shook his head “…never mind. So you got Huw a job with a friend on the Gower.”
“And the baby is due?”
“In two weeks…do you think I should send the camera now or wait?”
“Well, I should think you’d want to send it now, so they can get videos from the baby’s birth and use them for blackmail when it gets older.”
“Ooo, you have a devious mind, Mr. Jones!”
“Yes, your lordship…” Ianto gestured at the expanse of boxes in the dim room “…So do you want me to catalog these boxes for you? It wouldn’t be any trouble.”
Jack took his hand and then shook his head. “No, I’d rather leave it as it is, Ianto. There is really nothing useful here and certainly no alien technology. I’d prefer the memories associated with this stuff stay locked away, I’m not ready to share most of them…not even with you…no offense.”
“None taken, actually, I’m relieved. There has to be more than a year of work here and I KNOW how you catalog things. I’m surprised it’s as well boxed as it is. Some of these crates are much sturdier than I would have expected.”
“Well this one is… it’s the crate it was shipped in and the Royal Mail was a lot less…genteel in those days.”
“What was shipped in it?” Ianto started to look around as Jack got up to pack the ‘cool sword’ carefully back into its crate.
“The armor…didn’t you notice how big that crate is?”
“Armor, REALLY?” Ianto jumped up and grabbed his torch, bringing it down lower to read the information on the side of the crate.
“Why do you have armor?”
“It was a joke…he had a much better sense of humor than his mother.”
“Edward… the note that came with it was really funny, something about protecting me since I was so fragile.”
“Edward, which Edward?”
“Victoria’s son, Edward the seventh…what do you mean which Edward? Edward the eighth wasn’t king long enough to even have more than a perfunctory briefing about Torchwood, let alone be informed about or meet me. He was way too busy with Wallis Simpson. Now his brother was another story entirely.”
Jack nodded “George the sixth…Lizzie’s father, nice man. Honestly Ianto don’t you know anything about your monarchy’s history?”
“For the record, SIR… I am WELSH and as far as WE are concerned our monarchy ended with Glyndwr Owain in the fifteenth century…we are still an occupied nation, subjugated by the English.” Ianto tilted his chin up indignantly.
“Oh, so that got your hackles up…I didn’t know you were so…patriotic, Ianto.”
“I do have pride in my heritage, Jack. I just find it easier not to advertise it. It isn’t always socially acceptable, even here in Wales. The Welsh are still looked down on in English society… I was practically ostracized at One just because of my accent.”
“Your lovely Welsh vowels…how dare they. For the record, I LOVE your accent.”
“Thank you, I’m sure that will hold sway with the Welsh nationalists.”
“I’ll have a chat with Parliament. Now can we go my feet are freezing? And I really don’t like being in this room.”
Ianto picked up his torch as Jack picked up the box of “Thank Yous” and stacked it back in front of the hanging shackles.
“After you, sir.” Ianto waved his torch in the direction of the short doorway. Jack wasted no time in exiting the dim room, Ianto stepped through the door and then back as Jack closed the door and together they shoved the filing cabinet back into place.
Jack dusted his hands against each other and grinned at Ianto.
Jones turned the lantern off and placed it on top of the filing cabinet.
“Works for me.”
“Then we can go to the electronics shop and you can help me pick out a video camera. I think I’ll call my Tujortrian friend and see if he has a room for me for the weekend. Then we can go see Huw and Karin and deliver the camera, plus have a couple of relaxing days on the Gower.”
”What about the rift?”
“Gwen has been off three weekends straight. I figure she and Rhys can cover rift watch over a couple of days. And if anything big happens we’re only a couple of hours away; the predictor program doesn’t show any trends towards major activity over the next few days so they really should not have a lot to do. I’ll give her a call from upstairs that way she can talk to Rhys tonight.”
They headed for Jack’s office.
Jack made the calls to the alien hotelier and to Gwen while Ianto placed the Hub into remote monitor status. As he entered the work area Ianto was tossing chunks of dark chocolate into the beak of a swooping Mafanwy.
“Is it wise to feed her chocolate this late?”
“Are you afraid she’ll keep the other pteranadons awake?”
“Okay…never mind. I spoke to Gwen she’s good with this weekend.”
“And your alien friend?”
“Has a lovely suite for us, and Huw is working this weekend. So we’ll have sometime to chat. Sarian is going to let him know we’re coming.”
“Sarian is your alien friend?”
“Yes…and you have to stop calling him that, he’s lived here for longer than you’ve been alive. He doesn’t have two heads…well, not anymore and you would never know he wasn’t human unless you removed the prosthetics and wig and performed blood work. He also sounds more Welsh than you do and unlike you he can actually speak Cymraeg.”
“Okay, well I’ll try not to stare, so dinner?”
Jack nodded and pressed a couple of buttons on his vortex manipulator to turn off the main lights as they headed for the cog door.
They went to the electronics store first and Jack chose a pricey deluxe camera with all the bells and whistles. Ianto gently guided Jack into the card store a few blocks down to purchase appropriate wrapping paper, ribbon and a gift card before heading back to the Quay for dinner. Ianto knew it would be down to him to perform the actual wrapping itself, until Jack took the bag containing the camera and equipment away from him and handed it to the woman behind the counter.
“Jack, that’s going to cost you, I can wrap it.”
“Nah, it only costs five pounds fifty and it’ll save you the hassle.”
“That’s five pounds fifty over and above the costs of the wrapping paper and ribbons.”
“So? The money really is not an issue, Ianto. I’m not destitute you know. I’ve been drawing a wage from Torchwood for quite a long time and I’ve invested well. Plus I’ve never really had much in the way of expenses outside of the operating funds and the Crown has been much more generous since Lizzie took over…” Jack shrugged “…she likes me.”
They stood around the card shop chatting for the twenty minutes it took the shop girl to gift wrap the large box and after that Jack gave the girl a large tip above the wrapping charge. She beamed as she handed the now lovely box back into Ianto’s hands to be bagged for the trip back to the Quay for dinner.
Over dinner they discussed logistics for the trip, deciding that they would leave the SUV at Gwen’s disposal and decided to utilize Jack’s infrequently driven sportscar. Ianto tried to talk Jack out of driving the Porsche but succumbed to the idea of driving through the Gower with the top down, plus Jack agreed to allow Ianto to drive on the return trip.
Upon returning to the Hub, Jack sent Ianto home to pack and return that would allow Ianto to leave his car in the secure Torchwood garage. Jack packed a small bag…on a whim even deciding to pack a pair of jeans and a swimsuit. Jack figured that the effort required to excavate both items of clothing would be much appreciated by Ianto who had NEVER seen him in other than his usual clothing style. He even had a plan to allow Ianto to unpack for him, as he undoubtedly would offer and watch his face as he unpacked the jeans and trunks.
While Ianto was out Jack set about performing all the weekly tasks that could not be postponed and set up the remote monitors for Gwen. That would require her and Rhys only feed Myfanwy and Janet over the weekend. Ianto came back bearing ice cream and they spent the evening on the couch watching TV and eating ice cream. They retired early and although Ianto didn’t mind sleeping in Jack’s small camp bed; he was really looking forward to sleeping in a real bed for a couple of days.
Friday morning was uneventful bordering on the boring and when Ianto was getting ready to go to pick up lunch Gwen suggested they take a pack lunch and head out early. By 1pm they were on their way to the hotel on the Gower with the top down, Jack at the wheel and Ianto white knuckled in the passenger seat.
The hotel was a converted manor house and the surrounding grounds housed the small winery that Sarian also owned. As they pulled into the long drive Ianto had a good look at the ranks of grape arbors that were the buffer between the wooded area and the hotel itself. The whole area exuded gentility and calm.
“This is beautiful, Jack.”
“Yep, Sarian built this whole thing himself. He’s done an amazing job; you should have seen it when he bought it. It was ALL woods. He had the house moved stone by stone from somewhere up north and reassembled with his own modifications down here. He didn’t want something that looked new.”
The driveway continued now past cultivated gardens and curved slightly giving them an excellent view of the main house.
“It looks like it’s been here for a hundred years.”
“Nope, it was moved down here in 72 but it wasn’t finished and opened until 75. Just wait until you see the inside, and he added an extra wing when the winery opened.”
Jack pulled the Boxster into a ‘Reserved’ parking space by the front door practically at speed making Ianto grab for the seat edges. The small car slid on the gravel into the perfect position.
“Should you be parking here, Jack?”
“It’s my space, Ianto.”
“Okaaaaaay, well then I guess we’re here.”
They headed into the well appointed lobby and Ianto looked around while Jack moved to the desk. The young woman behind the desk greeted Jack and picked up the phone to call someone just as a booming bass called across the lobby.
Ianto swiveled to see the very large, apparently middle aged man cross the lobby with only a few strides and grab Jack up in a bear hug. They clapped each other on the back a few times and exchanged pleasantries before Jack turned and beckoned Ianto.
“Sarian, this is Ianto Jones… Ianto this is my friend Sarian.”
Ianto extended his right hand to shake and was instantaneously grabbed up in a hug of his own.
“Ianto…it is SO nice to finally meet you! Jack has told me all about you.”
“Really? I certainly hope not.” Ianto was trying very hard not to stare at the man who as far as he could tell was perfectly human.
“I must say he may have understated it a bit when he said you were ‘cute’.”
“That’s because I didn’t want you preparing to put your moves on him and making him uncomfortable.” Jack laughed and wrapped his arm around Ianto’s shoulders.
Ianto had a tight smile fixed on his face that Sarian noticed.
“You mean like you are right now?” Sarian spoke softer. His Welsh accent very pronounced.
Jack removed his arm from Ianto’s shoulders and turned to face him.
“I’m sorry Ianto, I didn’t mean to.”
Jones shrugged it off. “It doesn’t matter; I’m fine you just took me by surprise, that’s all.”
Sarian said something in Welsh to which Jack replied.
“He doesn’t speak Welsh, Sarian.”
“Ahh, so few of the young people do, quite a shame, really. It’s a lovely musical language. You should learn Ianto, I could instruct you.”
“Ahh, no you don’t! Get your own.” Jack joked.
Sarian laughed “Come on let’s get you the grand tour and let you get settled in your suite. Jack you have some papers to sign while you’re here; they’re on my desk.” Sarian turned to the desk attendant.
“Jack, this is Charlotte she is new here. Charlotte, this is Captain Jack Harkness and Mister Ianto Jones. Captain Harkness is co-owner of this establishment so please treat any requests from him or Mister Jones as priority. Captain Harkness has access to all areas and shares my office when he is here. Go ahead Jack, I’ll show Ianto to your suite.”
“I can show him…”
“No, I need those signatures…you bailed on me the last time you were here and I had to come to Cardiff to get them done. Do them now and get it over with, then I won’t have to chase you.”
“He’s the same at work.” Ianto chimed in.
“He’ll never change.” Sarian agreed
“He’s right here… okay I’m going!”
“So much for the whole ‘Silent Partner’ thing, Harkness.”
Charlotte handed Sarian keys and he picked up Jack’s bag.
“Come with me, Mister Jones. I’ll give you the tour.”
“Please, call me Ianto.” Jones picked up his own bag and followed Sarian from the lobby.
Almost two hours later and the tour of the main house complete Ianto and Sarian were enjoying a cup of coffee on the small terrace outside of the ‘honeymoon suite’.
Sarian was entertaining Ianto with bawdy tales of the mischief he got into when he was new to the planet, how Jack had managed to talk Torchwood into releasing him and then altered the records so they couldn’t find him again.
“He gave me money and sent me up north to live in a tiny village. Of the 500 residents only one person, ONE…spoke English. That’s how I learned Welsh, I didn’t have a choice.” Sarian laughed.
Ianto heard the sound of the door opening and closing and then the coffee service being handled before Jack joined them on the terrace.
“I was just telling Ianto about you shipwrecking me.”
Harkness laughed “You were already shipwrecked, technically I exiled you. I figured Torchwood would look for him in the cities not in a tiny little village. And it turned out to be good for you.”
“Yes, it did. Tesni Mamgu took care of me, taught me to be human, read and write, speak English, Welsh and French and all about running a hotel. I could not have been better cared for or educated.”
“She was a darling.” Jack said sadly
“That she was, bless her. I like to think she looks out for me even now. That rose garden is dedicated to her.” Sarian motioned to the garden that lay in front of them.
Jack nodded “Her favorite flower. She got so frustrated that they never lasted very long.”
“Well they lasted longer once you built her the hothouse.” Sarian pointed out.
Jack shrugged “I wanted to her to be happy.”
Ianto sensed there was another of Jack’s stories there but didn’t press any further.
“She was.” Was all Sarian said.
“How are the new tenants getting on?”
“Really well, they seem to really love the place and Geraint called to ask if he could build an extension onto the house to connect to the greenhouse. He emailed me the plans; I’ll show them to you later. I told him to go ahead and I’d be up in September as usual.”
“Sounds great. Tesni left Sarian the property and he renovated and now leases it out. The new tenants moved in, when?”
“About 3 months ago. He’s an engineer and she’s an artist. They’ve done wonders with the place. The place got a little rundown with the last tenants.”
“Sarian, they were in their sixties when they moved in, I don’t know why that surprised you. He used to go up there monthly to do the chores for them until the old man died and she had a stroke and could no longer live alone.”
“I couldn’t stand to see the place get like that. Mamgu would have had a fit.”
Jack nodded in agreement.
“I knew they were a perfect fit when Mari started to identify the rose species as I showed them the hothouse and garden. She seems really dedicated to it. I think they’re a good match, and they are already accepted in the community. One of the local girls is getting married in a couple of weeks and they are having the ceremony and reception at the cottage. Mari volunteered since the chapel is under renovation and the cottage garden is in full bloom. It’s going to be quite the community event. You should come up with me, Jack I’m sure they’d all love to see you and it would be nice for you to meet the new tenants. Besides don’t you owe Mamgu a visit?”
Jack shifted uncomfortably, quickly drained his cup, stood and moved back into the room to refill; taking much longer than should have been necessary for black coffee.
Sarian shook his head sadly. “I’ve done it again…” Ianto heard the suite door close and knew that Jack had gone somewhere to brood for a while. “…I forget that our relationships with her were different. I remember her like a dear mother but Jack, well…”
“Remembers her as yet another love lost?” Ianto questioned
“For him there’s no getting over the losses; might do if he cared less. But every time it’s the greatest love of his life and every time he loses them… loses them all. And each time he feels he’s betraying them by falling in love again. More than almost anything else, our Jack is defined by his losses.”
“The ultimate survivor’s guilt?”
“Exactly. Make no mistake about it, I love Jack and always have, but I was a youngling when I was taken by the rift and he’s been more like a father to me than even my own parents were. I’m one of his ‘rift children’.”
“There are more like you?” Ianto was even more interested in this new revelation.
“Tujortrian? No, I’m the only Tujortrian; but there are others all over the UK and Europe that Jack has helped settle into humanity. We’re all his children. You should come to the reunion.”
“You have a reunion?”
“Annually, all of Jack’s children come back to Wales for a week every year. He foots the bill for the hotel and…” Sarian’s voice hushed to a whisper “…I happen to KNOW he also provides funds for transport for those who can’t afford it. It’s his way to see everybody and find out how’re they’re doing without chasing all over the world.”
“Just how many of you are there and when is this event?”
“Jack felt it needed to coincide with something significant so he chose Calan Awst the harvest festival. At last count there were around 150 or so of us. We were booked into the St David’s last year, this year I am hosting and the hotel and winery will be closed to the public for a week.”
“150? Is this place that big?”
“Well we can manage… it’s more like 200 with the children, but we’ve rented extra cots. It’ll be a bit of a squeeze but we’ve done large private functions before. This will be our first Calan Awst though and if it goes well I’m hoping to convince Jack to allow us to host permanently.”
“Jack said a lot of hoteliers in Cardiff were alien, won’t they object?”
“I doubt it. We have the proximity and it was a hassle for the St David’s last year. I doubt that Edwin will want to go through that again so soon. They only have 132 guest rooms and we’ve grown some since then, plus it’s hard to isolate a place like the St David’s because of its location. Jack likes to keep it in Wales because this is where most of us came through.”
“Calan Awst is August 1st isn’t it?”
“And last year it was in Cardiff?”
“Yes… He sent you all away, didn’t he?”
“Yes, he sent us all for a holiday. Had us select our own destination, we voted on the Bahamas. I set it all up and Torchwood footed the bill for everything, for all of us.”
“Jack footed the bill you mean.”
“No, he specifically had me use the special discretion fund for everything.”
“The Torchwood ‘special discretion funds’ are one of Jack’s personal accounts. He funnels the interest from some of his other accounts into it.”
“How do I NOT know this and you DO?”
“Jack used the special discretion funds to set us up here. I was afraid he was embezzling from the Crown and forced him to make full disclosure to me before I would allow it. You have no idea how much Jack has squirreled away; he’s a very canny investor. It’s not something he was comfortable sharing even with me after all of our years. And what arrangements has he had you make for this year?”
“Well since it was just Gwen and I left he arranged for Gwen and her husband to go to Paris for a week. I made the reservations myself.”
“And what about you?”
“He was coming here with me.” Jack spoke softly from the doorway making both Ianto and Sarian jump.
“I DO wish you would not sneak up on me like that Jack.” Sarian spoke with his hand on his chest.
“I do wish YOU wouldn’t talk about me when I’m not around.” Was the retort from the terrace doorway.
“Oh please that’s just because you LOVE to hear people talk about you and don’t want to miss anything. Neither Ianto or I are fooled by that act.”
“I was going to ask Ianto to come with me this year.”
Ianto looked surprised “Really? I’d LOVE to!” He beamed.
“Can you find room for him?” Jack directed at Sarian.
“Well since I’ve assigned you this suite I don’t see a problem. Just promise me you won’t retcon too many of my staff. I would prefer not to have to retrain as many of them as Edwin had to last year at his place.”
“I told you that was an accident. I didn’t mean to use that strong a dose. I made a simple math’s error when I made that batch.”
“Edwin was so furious; he was blue for a week.”
When Ianto looked puzzled Sarian explained “Edwin is from the Camious system. His species is humanoid but their coloration changes with their emotions…” Sarian started
“Sort of like a mood ring in human form.” Jack interjected, laughing.
“…Yes, and he’s usually very good at controlling it, but last year he lost control and couldn’t leave his apartment for more than a week after Awst. It was terrible, he was angry that he had to retrain or hire new staff AND also at himself that he couldn’t control his coloration. He got sapphire blue and stayed that way. Has he forgiven you yet?” Sarian asked.
“Well we’ve had our usual weekly dinner since September of last year and he hasn’t gone off since then so I think so. Like I always tell him, he’s too stuffy. He needs to lighten up. Of course in his case I mean it literally.”
“Fortunately we aren’t going to have to worry too much about retcon this year. A lot of brethren work here and almost all of the human staff are aware. Huw will need to be seen to, however.”
“I’m going to tell him when I see him this evening. I really don’t want to have to retcon him. I may need a couple of you to be available to show off when he doesn’t believe me.”
“I’ll have Andras stick around and most of the other overnight staff will be here already so it won’t be a problem.”
“Yeah, well Andras may be the only one needed. I’d like to minimize exposure of as many as possible. Anyway, he’d be the easiest to relocate if necessary.”
“Andras?” Ianto asked
“He’s in charge of the winery. He’s a Navarino, they’re shape shifters, makes for a very dramatic demonstration.”
“I would well imagine.”
“Well, it’ll be a blessing to have you with us this year, Ianto. It will take a lot of pressure off our Captain for certain.” Sarian glanced at his watch and looked at Jack. “Huw should be here soon. Shall I send him to you when he gets in?”
“Yeah, let’s get this over with so he can sleep off the retcon if necessary.”
“Don’t be so negative, Jack. He’s a good one that, smart and has a very open mind. I think there won’t be any problem, you’re an excellent judge of character.”
“I hope so, Sarian.” Jack looked up and out over the rose garden deliberately not looking at Ianto who blushed anyway.
Sarian stood up and brushed his hands together. “Well Ianto, croeso and I’m very happy that you’ll be joining us for the Awst. Please make yourself at home here and if you need anything do not hesitate to ask any of the staff or call me. The front desk knows my whereabouts at all times and I have a flat here in the hotel. I hope you and Jack will join me for dinner before you go back.”
Jack laughed “That would be lovely, Sarian…as long as I cook. You burn water for tea. I cannot believe after everything else you learned from Tesni you never learned how to cook.”
“She tried, Jack. Believe me, she tried. My taste buds just are too different…laverbread tastes like a sweet to me, remember?”
“How could I forget…bring Huw by when he gets here, but please…call first. Ianto and I may be… resting.”
Sarian grinned and shook his head “When will you get it through your head, I’m not a child anymore, Jack. I’m nearly 90 years old…”
When Ianto looked surprised Sarian added “…my species is very long lived. On my planet I would still be considered an adolescent; our life span is around 400 Earth years. I was marooned when I was a mere infant by my planet’s standards.”
“And still acts it.” Jack added.
Sarian’s phone rang and he waved as he left while answering it.
Jack sat down in the seat Sarian had vacated.
“So, you…never mind.” Ianto started
“Ask your question, Ianto. I think with today’s revelations you know practically everything there is to know about me anyway.”
“Somehow I doubt that; but it seems you’re the Mother Theresa of the Cardiff Rift.”
Jack laughed “I do what I can for them. I know what it’s like to be stranded on an alien world.” Then he became more serious. “If I can help mainstream them I do. Those who are too sick or affected by the Rift stay on Flat Holm. They all start there now and then Helen and I assess them to see if I can provide another alternative for them. If I can then, I get them set up with identities, histories and papers. I usually have some help from alumnae like Sarian, Edwin, Andras and the others. They’ll take in a new adoptee and sometimes, if the new one is lucky they might even already have one of their own species here to help them along. Edwin keeps a database for me; so I know who is what species and where.”
“All of this outside of Torchwood?”
“In the beginning that was by necessity now it’s out of habit. You already know about some. The Logopolitan couple that live in Splott for instance.”
“Ahh, the alien accountants, yes very nice once you get past the math’s test thing with them.”
“And the Vortian barrister in Swansea.”
“Mabon Amjack… I always wondered if his name was a coincidence.”
“Yeah, well Mabon thought he was being clever and I couldn’t talk him out of it. Everyone tried, he wouldn’t listen…argued with everyone…not surprised he’s a lawyer. Vortians are like that. But I must admit he has been quite helpful with legal documents for the others. We’ve one or two other lawyers in the family as well, they always come in handy. As do the physicians although they are a little harder to come by. Most aren’t predisposed to studying human anatomy enough to take the exams and bother with the licensure requirements. We do have about a dozen vets in the family though, they do quite well. One works for Lizzie at Balmoral, Geoff…you’ll like him. Scotland was tough for him, Archie can be quite difficult. Wasn’t until Lizzie stepped in and gave him a job that Archie backed off. Enough!...” Jack slapped his thighs and stood “…you’ll meet them all and be forced to listen to all their stories soon enough. We came here to get away.”
“No we came here to see your friends Huw and Karin and give them a baby gift…getting away was a bonus as I recall.”
“True, so shall we try out the new mattress?”
“Oh, sorry… One of the papers I had to sign off was the expenditure for the new mattresses.”
Ianto stood and walked up to embrace Jack. “Why don’t we wait a little while for that, I’d hate to be…resting…when Sarian calls to bring Huw by.”
“Point. How about a walk then? Sarian will call my mobile if we don’t answer the suite phone.”
“A walk would be lovely.”
They set off into the rose garden holding hands.
Sarian was surprised when he found them wandering the herb garden when he called to advise Jack that Huw had come into work. Ianto and Jack arrived back at the suite at the same time as Sarian arrived with Huw.
“Captain what a pleasure! I couldn’t believe it when I got in and Sarian said you’d come for the weekend. Karin will be thrilled.”
“Huw, I’m happy to see you as well. You remember Ianto?”
“I do, nice to see you again, Mister Jones.”
“Ianto will do just fine, Huw. I’m glad it’s under a lot less tense circumstances than our last meeting.”
Huw laughed at that. “Tense is putting it mildly. The Captain has become a great friend to Karin and I and I hope you will as well. He’s told us so much about you.”
“I always worry when I hear that.” Ianto commented and Jack laughed.
“Sit down, Huw. I’d like to talk to you.” Jack waved at a chair.
Huw looked worried but sat in one of the armchairs. Sarian sat in another and Jack and Ianto took seats side by side on the sofa.
“This is going to be difficult to explain and even harder to believe but I ask that you hear me out, hopefully without laughing.
“Ianto and I work for an organization in Cardiff called Torchwood.”
“Oh for god’s sake…you really don’t expect me to believe that Torchwood actually exists, do you? It’s one of those urban myths, nobody believes that twaddle.”
Jack held up a hand and Huw stilled.
“Please, hear me out. I am in fact head of Torchwood and have been since 2000. There’s a rift in time and space that runs through Cardiff…things and beings fall through on occasion. Some are dangerous and some not but Torchwood collects them all and either holds them for safekeeping or tries to direct their uses to benefit mankind. When beings fall through… Torchwood…well, me to be exact…determine if they are a threat or not. If they are we dispose of them, if they are not…I relocate them. Help them settle into new lives here on Earth.”
“You really want me to believe this stuff?”
Ianto spoke “It’s true. There was one in London as well. Torchwood One. I used to work for them until they were destroyed. Do you remember hearing about Canary Wharf?”
“The government said that was a terrorist attack.”
“Terrorist…yeah, and how about the ghost shifts?”
Jack smiled “It’s good to hear you believe all that. I had a heck of a time getting them to agree to that story. Look, Huw the thing is…everything unusual gets an explanation. It has to; but the human race is still too impulsive to handle first contact with an alien race. Its response would more than likely get the entire planet vaporized. When we can we erase the memory of the contact completely but on a large scale… like Canary Wharf and the Ghost shifts…we provide an explanation to appease the masses... Sometimes when beings come through the rift they aren’t dangerous, it just sort of sucks them away from wherever they were and drops them here. Unfortunately we don’t have the technology to send them back; so if they are innocent victims, I try to help them adjust to life on another world.”
“Like he did for me.” Sarian added.
Huw looked wide eyed at his boss.
“You BELIEVE that stuff? I thought you were from the north?”
“I AM that stuff. I’m not from the north, well not north Wales in any case. I’m from a planet called Tujortry 5. I came through the rift in 1960; Jack found me and helped me out by setting me up with a lovely old lady in the north.”
“Your Mamgu… you talk about her all the time.”
Sarian nodded “She taught me English and Welsh and everything else I needed to know to fit in on Earth, well at least in Wales. I knew her for longer than I knew my real parents.”
“But you LOOK human.”
“Looks can be deceiving. I’ve had… some surgery. So unless you perform blood work or scans or something you’ll never find the differences.”
Jack’s vision narrowed on Huw. “I know what the next words will be from your mouth but before then I need you to understand than this…none of this, can ever leave this building. There are lives at stake here and just because they aren’t HUMAN lives does not mean they are any less valuable. If I need to I WILL wipe your memory.”
“It doesn’t matter, and you’ll never know. So, Huw the decision is yours. You can go on thinking that the universe revolves around the Earth and we are alone. Or, you can accept what we’ve disclosed, agree never to violate the trust we are placing in you, and understand that there are INDEED wonderful things out there and maybe, just maybe your child will grow up with a wider understanding than most children and possibly even see some of the places and beings you’ll only hear about.”
Jack sat back, almost as eloquent in his silence as he was in his offer. Ianto watched the look on Huw’s face as he said what Jack had predicted.
“Prove it to me and your secrets are safe.”
Sarian looked over at Jack who nodded once, expressionless.
Sarian removed his wig and then the facial appliance that was like a half mask. He started to peel back something that was just under the neckline of his shirt when Jack stopped him.
“That’s enough, Sarian. It takes you too long to put all that stuff on to take it off for no reason.”
Huw stared at the iridescent scales that had been covered by the facial appliance and wig. Sarian’s smooth pate was covered in them and the colors reflected changed as he moved his head in the light.
“It’s a trick of some kind.”
Jack took a breath and exhaled deeply then turned to Ianto and Sarian. “They always say that. Where’s Andras?”
Sarian checked his phone. “On his way up from the winery…should be here in a…there he is.” Sarian pointed at the tall figure walking towards the terrace doors through the rose garden. Jack stood to greet him, another massive hug that had both men clapping each other on the backs.
“So, young Huw I understand you are like the Thomas of doubt.”
“That’s doubting Thomas, Andras.” Jack reminded.
“So it is father, so it is.”
Ianto’s head turned to watch Jack’s response to being called father and saw nothing.
“Huw, you’ve met Andras the manager of the winery?”
“Of course, Sarian you introduced me to everyone.”
“And I will now tell you that a good percentage of those you met were not born on this planet, like Andras.”
“My race is called the Navarino, from what father tells me my planet is near the center of the galaxy. We are shape shifters.”
Huw smiled. “Yes of course…you’re all taking the piss aren’t you?”
“No, Huw…” Jack said and turned to the other man “…Andras, I’m afraid you’ll have to trot out your party tricks.”
“Yes, father. Is there a shape you favor, Huw?”
As they watched Andras turned from his slight youthful self into a bent old woman…wearing the slight, youthful man’s clothes. Then abandoning the clothes entirely he turned from the old woman into a large dog, a llama, a sheep and then into an exact copy of Huw’s wife, Karin…pre-pregnancy and clothed, before changing back into himself and starting to redress.
“Do you believe us now, Huw?” Jack asked
“I liked the llama…” Ianto commented “…but I suppose the sheep was more Welsh. Is there anything you can’t shift into?”
“I can’t do inanimate objects. I have to breathe and it sort of gives it away but anything with a heartbeat is fairly easy.” Andras replied
Ianto nodded “That makes sense.”
Jack looked from Ianto back to Huw.
“Why? Why are you telling me all this? I might never have known, but you’re volunteering this information, why?”
“Because in two weeks time it will be Calan Awst and this year our annual reunion will be held here. There will be people coming from all over the UK and Europe and other than a very select few, like Ianto. None of them were born on this planet.”
“All of father’s children gather annually to catch up with each other and father and introduce any newcomers to our little community…husbands, wives, children. It’s very important to us all since we were torn from our real homes and families by the rift. All of us, no matter which species are all father’s children. We are family again.”
Sarian spoke “I will not reveal which ones, Huw…for that is not my secret to give. But a large portion of your coworkers here are also not from this planet. And some of those who are…are not from this time, they may be from the past or the future or even human worlds elsewhere.”
“There are human worlds elsewhere?”
“Not yet… but there will be…” Jack said flatly “Wouldn’t you prefer to go through your life knowing there is a future for the human race?”
“Yes, yes I would… thank you. What about Karin?”
“Let’s just keep this to ourselves for now. After the baby is born we’ll bring her in on the secret when she comes to work here. She has enough on her mind for now.”
“Right, right. That makes sense. So, two weeks?”
“Calan Awst, the resort and winery will be closed to the public for ten days. But we’ll be full and very, very busy.” Sarian nodded and smiled.
“All of our brethren will be here with us; it’s the one week of the year that the family is all together again. It will be joyous!” Andras wrapped his arms around Jack and was immediately pulled close. Jack kissed the top of the shorter man’s head and smiled down at him.
“Yes, Andras it will be wonderful.”
Ianto felt a bit like an outsider momentarily and then Sarian spoke again.
“Andras, Ianto will be coming to Awst with father this year.”
If Ianto thought the man had over reacted a bit over the gathering, he was positively gob smacked at Andras’ response to Sarian’s statement.
A good description would have been jubilant but before Ianto could think of another word he was wrapped up in a bear hug by the shape shifter. He patted the man’s back fondly as he tried to extricate himself.
“Andras for god’s sake…you’re scaring him. He’s Torchwood…he might shoot you.” Sarian teased.
Andras stepped back and apologized profusely. Ianto nodded and smiled and Jack laughed out loud.
Sarian laughed “I need to get myself back together here and Huw needs to get to work… I’m sure Andras, that you also have something to do. Leave father and Ianto in peace, you can see them at dinner…yes?”
“Huw, we have a baby gift for you and Karin. Do you think she would like to come by here tomorrow sometime and we can give it to you both?”
“You really didn’t have to do that, Jack. You’ve already done so much for us. I’ll call her and ask her to come by tomorrow late morning and we can have brunch together. I know she’ll love to see you and probably come with camera in hand to commemorate the event.”
“I got the pictures of the nursery it looks wonderful, you’ve done a great job.”
“She’ll want for you to see it in person, you know.”
“Maybe…but this is a getaway weekend for Ianto and me. I don’t want to make an agenda, so no promises. But we will definitely be back to see the baby.”
“I will try to explain that to her…but she’ll probably try to talk you into it anyway. So best be prepared.”
“I will. See you later, Huw.”
“Sarian I’m sure you and Andras have things to do as well, we’ll see you at dinner, yes?”
“Eight of the clock, father. I will choose special wines.”
“I know you will, Andras. We will see you then.”
Andras left with Sarian but not before kissing both Jack and Ianto goodbye. Sarian just waved.
“Bit over the top, yeah?”
“Just a bit, what’s his story?”
“Navarinos are very emotional. He can’t help it. Lucky I had the good fortune to help a group of stranded Navarinos in the early 60’s. They had come here to see Disneyland in the 50’s and their transport broke down and they wound up in a Holiday Camp in South Wales. The Doctor actually rescued them and sent them on their way. But then they enjoyed it so much they did it routinely a couple of times a year, choosing a different Welsh holiday camp each time. I helped them out a few times, and got to know the species quite well. Lovely people.”
Jack sighed and sat back down.
“I have to warn you, Ianto. Andras isn’t the only one…”
“There are other Navarinos?”
“No, he’s the only Navarino. But he isn’t the only one with an unusual response; some are much more emotional than he is. It varies from species to species and things can get a little…uh, intense when everyone gets together.”
“I’m sure. But after being around you for so long I doubt it will be anything I’ve not seen before. Now…didn’t you mention something about a new mattress?”
Jack grinned and jumped to his feet.
“I DID! Allow please allow me to introduce you to it…this way, Mister Jones!”
Ianto followed him into the bedroom and closed the door behind them.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.