Title: Day One, part 1
Series: What If? 'Verse
Pairings/Characters: Jack/Ianto, Gwen/Rhys, Rhiannon/Johnny, Alice, Steven, Mica, Frobisher
Category: AU, Drama, Action
Summary: In which Jack and Ianto are more persuasive with their families, which has an interesting effect on the rest of the day - and their lives.
Spoilers: Assume anything up to and including CoE
Disclaimer: You think that if I owned these characters, I would have let CoE happen?? (image by everlongsplace )
It was quiet. Very quiet. Too quiet. That never boded well.
“Lunch time. This place should be buzzing with kids,” Jack said, breaking the silence. His thigh felt warm from where it was pressed against his lover’s; the contact was the apology that he wanted to say aloud but didn’t feel comfortable in delivering. He hadn’t meant to snap at Ianto earlier but for some reason, the younger man was pushing to define their relationship. Jack didn’t know why; he thought they had been doing well as they were, that both of them were getting what they needed out of the relationship, but obviously Ianto wanted more. And Jack wasn’t sure that he could give it to him, not without risking his heart more than he already was.
“Everyone's taken them home,” Ianto commented, looking around at the deserted Roald Dahl Plas and avoiding catching Jack’s gaze. His initial hurt at Jack’s casual dismissal had segued into frustration at the immortal man’s reaction to his probing. Yes, Jack had agreed they were a couple in the hospital but then, in the Hub, had said that he hated the word and had walked away without explanation. Ianto hated when Jack got like that, when he didn’t elaborate. Granted, neither of them were great at opening up and talking but Jack had become even less so after Owen and Tosh’s deaths, as if by not talking he could keep Ianto at arm’s length so it wouldn’t hurt so much in the long run.
“We need a child.”
What? Ianto risked a look at Jack to see what he had meant.
“Because we need to test those frequencies. Find the right frequency, and we can find out who’s transmitting,” Jack continued when Ianto didn’t say anything.
“Where do you get a child, though? I could find you lasers and weevils and hitchhikers. But kids…” That was impossible, even for him.
Jack was silent for a few moments, thinking. It was a long shot but with any luck, he would be able to pull it off. He stood up and patted Ianto’s knee. “See you later.”
“Where are you going?”
“Now who’s a couple?” Jack responded, then kicked himself mentally for the reaction. Ianto hadn’t meant anything by it; it was just a normal question.
Though the comment hurt, Ianto’s expression hardened. This was a work situation; Jack should be treating it as such. But since he wasn’t, Ianto was free to make a comment of his own. “Obviously not us, as you keep pointing out. Do you want the SUV?”
Jack knew he was in deep trouble simply from Ianto’s professional tone of voice as he spoke. He walked back and sat down next to Ianto. “I’m sorry. I know this is important to you.”
“It’s okay,” Ianto reassured him without looking at him. “I know you don’t like labels.”
Or admitting how much someone means to me in case they die soon after, Jack thought to himself. He took a deep breath; he needed to show Ianto how much he cared for and trusted him without actually saying the words. “I have a daughter.”
Ianto’s shock showed clearly on his face. In all his researching of Jack, he had somehow missed finding that apparent fact.
“Alice. I had an affair with her mother back in the mid-70’s - Lucia Moretti, you’ll know her from the files,” Jack stated.
Ianto managed to nod; he knew the personnel files inside out and had read about Lucia taking maternity leave from Torchwood and never coming back. No mention had ever been made of Jack’s involvement.
“She has a son now, Steven. He’s ten and just as smart as his mother,” Jack said proudly. “I help them out occasionally with money and stuff. Alice… she’s very independent.”
Reading between the lines, Ianto guessed that Jack didn’t have a good relationship with Alice - yet another thing Torchwood probably destroyed. Although knowing Jack, he might not want to get close if he knew he would watch his children grow old and die. Ianto reached out and put his hand over Jack’s. He didn’t question why Jack hadn’t told him this before because he knew his partner had many secrets. Much as Ianto wanted to know everything about Jack, he knew he never would. What mattered was that Jack confided in him things he had never told anyone else, such as him being from the 51st century. “You don’t have to ask her about this. I’ll talk to my sister, see if I can bring one of her kids here.”
Jack turned his hand over so he could thread his fingers between Ianto’s. Public displays of affection were rare and Jack relished every chance he got. He had observed that Ianto displayed a certain image to the world and being seen romantically with a man was something the younger man still had problems with. A part of him knew that might have something to do with the fact that Ianto wasn’t sure that Jack wouldn’t run off again. Somehow, Jack needed to prove that he wasn’t going to disappear any time soon. “We’ll have a better chance of one of them agreeing if we ask both of them. But not--”
“The real reason, I know.” They would have to retcon whoever they were able to bring back to the Hub but he was okay with that. “So, do you want the SUV?”
“No, you take it.” Jack knew where Ianto was headed and figured the SUV would be less likely to be stolen than the younger man’s personal car. “Let’s hope that one of us has some luck.”
Frobisher stared at Colonel Oduya from UNIT, unable to believe what the man was saying. “But we need Torchwood, don’t we? They deal with alien threats all the time.”
“Torchwood have outlived their usefulness,” Oduya replied. He’d had dealings with Captain Harkness before and disliked the man, mainly because he felt the man’s arrogance was misplaced. Plus, he was under pressure to get rid of Torchwood Three so that UNIT could take over monitoring the Rift. “They always try to interfere in things, much like the Doctor, and end up making things worse.”
Frobisher frowned. “I still think we should ask them for help. After all, you said Harkness was involved before.”
“All the more reason for him not to be involved this time. What if he decides to reveal what happened the last time?” Oduya pointed out. “We can’t take that risk.”
“So what are you planning to do?” Frobisher queried, sure he didn’t want to know but unable to prevent himself from asking the question.
Oduya paused for effect, then stated, “It’s best that you don’t know. Just concentrate on your job.”
Frobisher got a sinking feeling in a stomach; it sounded like Torchwood Three was going to be in a lot of trouble very soon. And, consequently, so would the United Kingdom.
Or possibly the world.
Ianto locked the SUV and headed into his sister’s home on the Cromwell estate in Newport. Being here made him glad that he had left this kind of life behind years ago. He had always wanted more from life and that included having better things such as fine suits and an apartment in a suburb where he didn’t have to worry about his car being stolen or vandalised every day.
“Only me!” he called as he entered. He noticed that everything was still pink and messy, and he thought of his clean, neat apartment longingly.
Rhiannon grinned; she missed her brother in between visits but knew that he didn’t like the area. “Oh, bloody hell. We must be in trouble. Or is it Christmas?” she joked as Ianto walked into the living room.
“How are they?” Ianto asked, staring at his niece, Mica, who was playing a computer game.
“Yeah, it was a bit of a scare. I brought them home, just in case.”
Just as Ianto had thought she would do; he knew Rhiannon loved her children. He got a 10-pound note out as Rhiannon continued to talk and handed it over to Mica, who took it without a word. Ianto then got another note out ready for his nephew, David, who was bound to appear at any moment.
“I was thinking… I missed Mica’s birthday. I thought I could take her to McDonald’s or something,” Ianto stated as David ran in and took the money from his hand.
“That's all of £3.95, you big spender,” Rhiannon commented. Really, with his fancy suits and all, she reckoned he could spend a bit more than that on his only niece.
“All right, cinema,” Ianto said. A small dose of Retcon would delete the visit to the Hub but he was more uncertain about how he would convince her that she had seen a movie.
“Yeah, that’d be nice. You’d like that, wouldn’t you, Mica?” Rhiannon asked her seven-year-old daughter. All she received in return was a nod, which made her mentally shake her head; Mica was addicted to the Playstation.
“I thought maybe this afternoon,” Ianto continued, mentally crossing his fingers that Rhiannon would agree. He didn’t want to let Jack down.
“No chance.” Rhiannon was adamant in her reply. “What about Saturday?”
“I’m kind of busy on Saturday.” Provided, of course, that they had sorted out whatever was going by then. He and Jack actually had plans for the weekend, which he was looking forward to.
“You’re a civil servant,” Rhiannon scoffed, “they don’t work weekends. They invented weekends. And I’m not having her going out, not today, not with all that voice thing. I want ‘em where I can see them.”
“But she’ll be with me,” Ianto pointed out, ignoring the little voice that said he would be taking Mica to run experiments on her.
Rhiannon shook her head, refusing to budge on this point. “She’s staying put.”
Ianto thought about giving up but he didn’t know whether Jack would have any better luck than him and so he would just have to try a different way. “Well, how about I take both of you? And David, too, if he wants? We could all go to the cinema.” He knew Jack might not be happy about that but if it was the only way to get them to the Hub, then this was the way he would do it.
Rhiannon thought about that for a moment and then nodded, grinning. “It’s been ages since we’ve been to the cinema. That’d be nice, thanks, Ianto.”
“Shall we go then?” Ianto gestured towards the door.
“In a few. Johnny’ll be home soon. If David doesn’t want to see whatever Mica chooses, the boys can look after each other and we’ll have us a girls afternoon out,” Rhiannon said, excited at the prospect. She knew her husband would take care of David and she wouldn’t feel bad at leaving him if he was being watched. “So sit down, you daft sod. I’ve got some of that spinach dip. And you and me, well, we’ve got things to talk about.”
Ianto frowned. “What things?” This didn’t sound good.
“You’ve been seen,” Rhiannon told him, her voice suggesting that it was good gossip and that she was going to enjoy teasing him about it. “Mica, go get changed now!” she called to her daughter.
Ianto tried desperately to think of what she could be talking about and came up blank. Had someone seen him and connected him to Torchwood? No - Rhiannon wouldn’t have made the comment about civil servants if they had. So what had he been seen doing?
Rhiannon didn’t say anything more until she was sitting down again. She gestured for Ianto to sit opposite her. “Susan on the corner was in town and it was her anniversary, so they went to that posh French place in town by the memorial, and there was you.”
“So…?” Ianto prompted.
“There was you… having dinner with a man.” Rhiannon looked very smug as she eked out the details.
“So?” Ianto said again, feeling a little more secure about what was coming. He could bluff his way out of being seen on a date with Jack; Torchwood business would be harder to explain.
“Having dinner… with a man… in a restaurant.” She desperately wanted to know whether it was a date or not. Rhiannon hadn’t heard Ianto talk about anyone since Lisa had died so to have heard about him out with a man was very interesting and she wanted the full story.
“So? You have dinner with Tina,” Ianto pointed out, trying the ‘we are friends’ excuse first.
“Not in town.” Rhiannon hid her curiosity behind her tea cup. “Susan said he was gorgeous. Like a film star. Like an escort.” She added the last bit to see how her brother reacted to the idea.
Escort? “He’s my boss.” Ianto didn’t want anyone, especially his sister, to think that he needed to hire an escort to get a date. Jack, however, would find it hilarious.
Rhiannon wasn’t buying it. “She said it was intimate. I said, ‘Well, he’s had girlfriends,’ and she said, ‘Well, no girl was getting her feet round that table, no chance.’ Have you gone bender?” she asked bluntly, getting more of a reaction from that than the ‘escort’ phrase.
Ianto immediately looked around to see where the children were. “What if the kids hear this?”
“They’re not bothered,” Rhiannon replied. “Mica’s friend Sian’s got two mothers.” When Ianto didn’t say anything, she prompted, “Go on.”
Ianto didn’t know what to say. He didn’t know how to explain what Jack was to him, especially since he couldn’t define it himself. To begin with, he had simply gone with the flow and enjoyed what they had but the more he loved the older man, the more he wanted to be certain of what he meant to Jack. He wanted to know that he wouldn’t simply be forgotten the moment he died.
“You never tell me anything these days,” Rhiannon complained sadly as the silence stretched out. “Dad died, that was it, you were off. You couldn’t wait. Like I did something wrong. I didn’t, did I?” Ianto had never been one to share secrets easily but Rhiannon really wanted to be close to him.
“It’s not that. It’s my job, it’s difficult, it’s…” He had run out of excuses. Not only that, he could see the hurt in Rhiannon’s face. He couldn’t tell her about Torchwood but maybe he could share a little of this. Bracing himself, he briefly closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and then looked at his sister. “He is very handsome.”
“No!” Rhiannon breathed. So it was true.
“Now stop it,” Ianto ordered, hoping that she would take the hint.
She didn’t, of course. “You’re kidding me! Really, though? Really? Christ almighty!” She couldn’t believe it! Her little brother, gone bender! And so embarrassed about it too! How cute! She did have one concern though. “He’s nice, though? Is he?”
Ianto bit his lip and didn’t reply. How could he explain Jack? Yes, Jack was nice to him but early on in their relationship - before there was a relationship, really - things hadn’t been so good. And Jack did make an effort sometimes to do normal couple-type things, like dates, so there was that.
“Is he?” Rhiannon didn’t know whether Ianto wasn’t replying because his boyfriend wasn’t nice or because he was too embarrassed to give any more details. “Oh, my God. I mean, since when?” How had she not noticed anything?
“It’s weird,” Ianto replied, deciding he would have to answer just to stop her from asking further questions. “It’s just different. It’s not men. It’s… it’s just him. It’s only him. And I don’t even know what it is, really, so... so I’m not broadcasting it.” That should satisfy her for awhile, he hoped, and would stop her from gossiping with her friends about it.
“Oh, no, honest, I won’t say,” Rhiannon rushed to reassure him. “If you want it kept quiet, I swear, I won’t say a word, I promise.”
Ianto’s relief was short-lived as Johnny, Rhiannon’s husband, entered the room saying, “Aye aye, gay boy, she says you’re taking it up the arse.” He seemed to think it was a great joke.
That was the main reason that Ianto didn’t want to broadcast that he was seeing a man. He didn’t classify himself as gay since the only man he was attracted to was Jack but he knew that other people wouldn’t know that and would therefore judge him.
He mouthed ‘thanks’ sarcastically at Rhiannon, who had the grace to look abashed for spilling the secret already, and then stood up to greet Johnny. He didn’t say anything as Johnny lifted him off his feet - he was used to his brother-in-law’s ways - and straightened out his suit when he was put down.
A car alarm sounded outside as Johnny asked, “Eh, whose car is that outside then, is that you? Black thing?”
“Oh, that’s the… That’s the company car,” Ianto replied casually.
“You want to watch it on this estate, boy,” Johnny warned, having seen a few young men lurking about outside.
“No, it’s fine, top of the range, it’s got a triple-deadlock.” He had made sure of that after the disastrous trip to the Breacon Beacons two years ago.
“Oh, aye, sounds like it,” Johnny said, looking pointedly out the window.
What? With sudden realisation, Ianto turned in the same direction and saw some youths around the SUV. Mentally swearing, Ianto ran outside. He watched the SUV pull away and he put his hands on his head in despair. “But it’s got a triple deadlock, they can’t have!” How had they managed to steal it?
“Nah, ‘cos what they do is, see, they drive round the block, then they come back for a lap of honour. The victory parade! We get ‘em,” Johnny said as he gathered up some bricks and gave one to Ianto. “It’s more fun than calling the police.”
The younger man threw the brick away and reached behind him into the waistband of his trousers for his gun. He wasn’t going to go back to the Hub and tell Jack that he had lost the car; that was just asking for trouble.
Johnny’s eyes widened when he saw the gun. “What are you doing?”
“Doing something more effective than throwing bricks,” Ianto replied. He heard the car coming round the corner, so he moved closer to the road and aimed his gun at where the driver would likely be. As the car came closer, he could tell that the driver wasn’t going to stop so he switched his aim and shot out the front left tyre before re-aiming the gun towards the windscreen; he was very grateful for all the practise sessions with Jack over the past couple of years that had enabled him to shoot so accurately.
The SUV came to a halt as the blokes inside realised that Ianto was serious about using the gun. They quickly abandoned the car, not willing to be shot for a little bit of fun.
David, who had been watching from an upstairs window, called out, “Go, Uncle Ianto!” He had thought his uncle had a boring job but now, seeing him shoot a gun, he was pretty impressed.
Rhiannon looked up at the window and yelled, “David! Get inside now!” Then she turned to stare at her brother, who was inspecting the big black car for damage. This was a side of him she had never seen and she was a little worried.
Walking over to him, ignoring Johnny who was also staring, Rhiannon crouched down next to Ianto as he inspected the shot-out tyre. “What kind of civil servant carries a gun and can shoot like that?” she demanded.
“Unappreciated ones,” Ianto stated dryly. He felt Rhiannon’s eyes on him, demanding more of an answer, and stood up. “I can’t explain, Rhi.” He headed towards the back of the SUV where the spare tyre and tools were kept.
“Well, you’re gonna have to or I’m not letting you take me and Mica anywhere,” Rhiannon said firmly. “Why did you drop by today?”
“I told you.”
“And I’m not buying it.” Rhiannon crowded him against the car, wanting answers. “Ianto, tell me what’s going on!”
Ianto sighed; he had forgotten how stubborn his sister was. “I can’t discuss it here. All I can tell you is that is that I work for a special branch of the government who investigate threats to Cardiff. We’ve been asked to look into what’s happening with the children so I thought I might be able to take Mica or David to our base and perform some tests.”
“And when were you going to tell me this?” Rhiannon was rightly indignant. “You were just going to drive us to your base instead of the cinema?”
Ignoring the accurate question, Ianto said, “Rhi, this is really important. If we can find out who is controlling the children, then we can stop it.”
“You and your secret branch?” Now she was sceptical. Did her brother really work for something so spectacular as a ‘special branch of the government’?
“Yes.” Ianto got the items he needed and moved around Rhiannon so that he could change the tyre.
Rhiannon stayed where she was, thinking about what Ianto had said. She didn’t know why he had lied to her these past couple of years but presumably his job could sometimes be dangerous. And now he wanted to involve them, possibly putting them in danger too. Could she allow that? More to the point, did she want whatever was happening to her kids to continue?
Johnny had got over his surprise and moved to talk to Ianto. “When did you learn to shoot?”
“It’s a long story,” Ianto avoided answering, instead looking over at Rhiannon, who was approaching again.
“Johnny, could you go get Mica ready?” Rhiannon requested. She trusted Ianto and knew he wouldn’t deliberately put them in danger. “Ianto’s taking us two to the cinema.”
Johnny gave in with a sigh; he would get the full story out of his wife later.
Ianto waited until Johnny had gone before he said quietly, “Thank you.”
“Don’t thank me yet,” Rhiannon stated. “I want your word that Mica won’t be harmed during the tests.”
“She’ll be safe, I promise.”
Rhiannon sagged against the side of the car. “I must be mad. Here you are, in a dangerous job, and I’m letting you take me and Mica to your base. I should be getting Johnny to be coming along.”
“No.” Ianto was firm about that. “I’m breaking enough rules letting you come. If Johnny came, he wouldn’t be able to keep his mouth shut afterwards.”
She couldn’t disagree with that; Rhiannon knew her husband would be bragging about Ianto’s prowess with the gun for weeks as it was. Changing the subject, she asked innocently, “Will your boss be there?”
“At some point, yes.” Ianto mentally kicked himself; he hadn’t wanted Jack to meet any of his family yet but it seemed he had no choice.
Rhiannon grinned. Seeing where Ianto worked was going to be better than she thought.
At his daughter’s house in Derry Hill, Jack was sitting in the kitchen, uncomfortable with being there. He knew Alice didn’t like his job, or him, very much and only part of that was from not being there a lot while she was growing up. Once Alice’s mother, Lucia, had left Torchwood, she hadn’t wanted any reminders and so Jack had been limited in his visits. Then, as Alice had grown older and realised that her father didn’t age, things had become more strained. Nonetheless, Jack loved his family even though he knew he would watch them grow old and die while his life continued endlessly on.
“They said on the news that we should send them back to school tomorrow. Do you think it’s safe?” Alice asked as she put the kettle on. It was a nervous habit whenever her father came around; it gave her something to do while talking to him.
“Well, I don’t know any more than you,” Jack replied honestly.
“Oh, come on,” Alice said sceptically. Her father always knew what was going on.
“I don’t,” Jack protested. He didn’t realise, though, that his expression gave the impression that he knew more than he was letting on. Thinking he should change the subject, Jack asked about Alice’s ex-husband.
“In Italy. With her. They finally got married. But he, er... He phones every now and then, and sends Steven postcards. Remembers his birthday. There are worse fathers,” she said pointedly. She wasn’t even sure that Jack remembered when her birthday was sometimes.
Jack accepted the rebuke quietly, knowing that he hadn’t been the best of fathers to Alice. “How are you off for money?”
“Don’t worry about that. You give me enough. Kind of easy, writing cheques, huh?” She couldn’t help the further rebuke.
“Alice, you’re the one who asked me to stay away. I’d come round here every week, if you wanted me to. Every day.” There was only so much Jack would take without arguing back. Despite the fact that it was going to hurt when Alice and Steven eventually died, he wanted to be part of their lives.
Looking out the window at her son, Alice softly said, “Yeah.” She knew Jack loved them, in his own way, but it was hard. “I just can’t stand it, Dad. I look older than you do and it’s never gonna stop. I get older and older and you stay the same. One day, you’re gonna be standing at my funeral. Looking just like you did when you were standing at Mum’s. No wonder she was so furious. You make us feel old.”
Jack knew what she meant. He knew that one day, if Ianto lived long enough, he would feel the same way and Jack would lose him. Sometimes, being immortal felt more like a curse than the gift Rose had unwittingly meant it as.
The silence stretched out and Jack felt the need to break it with some humour. “Actually, I found a grey hair.”
That startled a short laugh out of Alice. “Oh! Well, that is the end of the world.”
Jack smiled, glad that he had got a laugh from his daughter. Some days, that was very hard to achieve. He looked out the window at his innocent grandson. “You ever going to tell him?”
“What do I say? That you’re his grandfather?” Alice’s tone was sceptical, as if she knew what Steven would say to that.
“He’s too young to notice right now. That I don’t age. But one day, he’s going to realise.” And, if Steven was anything like his mother, resent him for it.
“And that’s another reason for you to stay away,” Alice said, almost reading Jack’s thoughts. She knew how much of a shock it was to find out when she was a teenager.
“I suppose.” Jack figured that he might slip in the request for time with Steven now and hope that Alice agreed. “I could make the most of it while he’s still young. Take him out. Buy him stuff. Me and him, sort of thing.”
Alice turned suspicious. “You mean today?”
“While I’m here, may as well.” Jack tried to project innocence but his daughter wasn’t buying it.
She swore softly. “Something happens to kids, and you want to spend time with him on the same day. You are not experimenting on that boy, Dad. Not ever. That’s why I want you to stay away, because you’re dangerous.”
“I don’t want to experiment on him, I promise,” Jack refuted, telling the truth. “But something is causing all the children in the world to stop and speak at the same time, and Torchwood has the means to find out what. But to do that, we need a child. I promise, it would only be some non-invasive tests.”
“Not good enough,” Alice refused. She would not let her son get involved with Torchwood, no way.
“I can’t stop it if I don’t know what’s causing it,” Jack continued, his tone a cross between frustration and earnest. “Please, Alice, you know I would never put you and Steven in danger. If something out there is trying to control Earth’s children, it can’t be good and it may get worse. I need to stop it before that happens.”
Alice found herself giving in. In spite of her misgivings, she knew that Jack wouldn’t be asking unless he had a very good reason. And she knew that he wouldn’t put them in harm’s way deliberately, no matter what he had done to others in the past. “Can the tests be done here?”
Jack shook his head. “No. They would have to be done at Torchwood.”
Sighing, Alice caved completely. “Alright, Dad, you win. We’ll go. But you’re going to make the tests quick and then we’ll leave, is that understood?” She didn’t want to spend one more minute more than was necessary in the place she had been taught to resent.
“Perfectly.” Jack hid his smile. He would get to spend some more time with his family and introduce Ianto to them. And speaking of his lover, he wondered whether Ianto had had any luck.