The Ballad of Ianto JonesChapter:
1 | Keeping PromisesCharacters:
Jack Harkness, OFC, OMC, Gwen CooperAuthor: a_silver_storyGenre
Angst like yo momma's watchin'Rating:
SPOILERS FOR COE! DON'T READ!Disclaimer:
If I owned anything in this, I'd be a rich rich rich bitch. However, I am not a rich rich rich bitch so you may all, therefore, assume I own nothing. Which I don't. It all belongs RTD and the BBC, in case any of you didn't know.Summary:
Can't summarise without spoiling, really. It's post-COE, so go figure.Torchwood Index/Masterlist
A thousand years had lasted a lot longer than Captain Jack Harkness had wanted it to. He still counted in Earth years – what good was a promise of a thousand years if you were counting on different time scales? – and now the day had come to return to that planet that could be nothing more than a graveyard to him.
Planets and colonies and space stations whose names he couldn’t remember had housed him over the millennia. Constantly he was moving: always running, staring straight ahead and never looking back. It was a trick he’d learnt from the Doctor. He would look back this once, though. Just for Him.
Now Jack stood on the same grassy mound he had all that time ago, surveying the city landscape of a Cardiff that wasn’t his. Buildings made of glass rose miles into the air, and little dots he assumed were cars zoomed around the air in orderly lines, silhouetted against the purple and red sunset.
Jack had loved Earth sunsets. He remembered that. The colours, the lights, the clouds – the way everything looked so alive
. The only time human beings would really look to the sky and wonder at its true beauty.
It wouldn’t just be humans anymore, though. That city would be teeming with hundreds of different species. Races, colours, multi-limbed, vertebrates, invertebrates ...
A noise pulled him out of his reverie. A voice. Female.
“Er ... excuse me?”
He turned, and let himself smile softly. Friendly. Non-threatening.
“Er ... hi ... yes ...” She was wearing a black fitted suit with a pencil skirt, black shirt and silver tie. The crest on the breast pocket of her jacket was also silver, but half concealed by an electronic clipboard. Jack didn’t need to see the whole crest to know who this woman was working for.
“You ... um ...” she fumbled. “Your arrival on this planet is unauthorised. Under the Rules and Regulations laid down by the Earth branch of the Torchwood Institute, I have to take you for visa clearance. By ... er ... by force if necessary.”
“Okay.” said Jack simply. English felt strange in his ears, but he knew from that simple two-syllable word his accent in the language remained the same.
“Could you come with me? Oo!” she turned, a thought striking her. “Are you alone?”
“Always.” replied Jack, averting his gaze.
“Okay. Well ... my name’s Tanya. If you could just come with me and we’ll get you back to Torchwood and out to whatever business you have in no time. What did you say your purpose was on this planet, again?”
“Me? Just sightseeing.” he said, forcing frivolity into his voice that he didn’t feel.
Tanya had started walking, and Jack began to follow her but something in the middle-distance caught his eye. There was a wall, free-standing and in the middle of the field, made out of carved white marble. The word “Torchwood” was carved eloquently across the base so large he could see it from where he stood.
The Captain had shivered when the woman had said “Torchwood” so casually before, and he shivered again when he saw the word carved into the stone. His instincts told him to go and investigate, so he stopped her and asked permission. She gave a curt nod and led him towards it.
“The Torchwood Memorial.” she explained as they approached. Suitably, half of it was covered in writing. The other half was waiting to have the names of the dead scratched in. Beside each of the names were little holes for the living to leave flowers as a mark of respect. Only the most recently deceased had blooms protruding next to them. The rest were just names. No one had faces to put to them anymore.
Tanya had crouched by some beautiful wildflowers, picking off a blue head and arranging the petals. Jack looked away as she slotted the stem into one of the holes. He moved farther down the list of names he didn’t recognize, stopping when he got to ones he did. There were no features that he could recall of them anymore, but the names still haunted him. He traced his fingers over the letters “Suzie Costello”. The next name triggered a memory, and Jack smiled as a cockney voice said in his ear: “Yeahhhh that was me. I’m a twat.”. Owen Harper. Next was a woman. “I hope it wasn’t an accident with a toaster.” – Toshiko Sato.
The next name made his breath catch in his chest. This face he remembered. This face haunted him, with tears and pain and anguish. The name was embossed in gold, whereas the others were left plain. The font was slightly larger, too. Jack slowly traced the individual letters, closing his eyes and letting that beautiful face, with that dark hair and those pained eyes, swarm his mind. Gwen Cooper.“You can’t just run, Jack!”
shouted the face.
“I’m still running, Gwen.” he muttered.
Tanya was stood beside him again. “A lot of people are drawn to that name.” she said. “A great woman.”
“Yeah. I knew her.” said Jack. He noticed the incredulous look he got from Tanya. “Time Traveller.” he explained – it generally went down better than ‘man-who-cannot-die’.
!” she exclaimed, her professional demeanour slipping. Jack smiled and turned back to the wall. He read the names again. His team. The first team that was his – and the last. Suzie, Toshiko, Owen, Gwen ... NO! Something ... no! ... there was something wrong. Heartbreakingly wrong. Missing. Gone. Forgotten. He
wasn’t there. His name was gone. Jack stared at the wall like it was hiding it from him. It was stealing the name from him on purpose. His gut wrenched as he searched through his head, desperate to prove that even if Torchwood had lost Him, Jack hadn’t.
Yin Yang, Yang Yin, Yankee, Yank, Yacht ... no ... yan ... yan ... yan ... no. Yanto. Ianto.
“Where’s Ianto?” Jack rasped. Tanya frowned at him, then moved and pointed at a name.
“Ianto Williams. Son of Gwen Cooper, co-founder of the new Institute in 2039.”
Jack shook his head. Tanya moved quite a bit further down the wall.
“Ianto Spencer? Named after Ianto Williams, joined Torchwood in 3001. Currently in the Criminal Stasis Chambers of Torchwood Sigma Four, but he’s being switched off next week. They’ve already carved his name into the wall.”
“No ... Ianto. The first Ianto. My Ianto. Died July 9th, 2009, 21:53. Thames House, London. Alien virus.”
The facts Jack had tried to push from his mind spilled out as if they’d only been put there yesterday. He flinched as Tanya touched his arm.
“You’re a Time Traveller. Maybe something was changed?”
Jack nodded silently, but knew it wasn’t true.
“Come on.” she encouraged. “We’ll get you back to Torchwood and get your visa processed. Then we can get Research to run a scan for your missing man. What was the name?”
Surname ... His name ... Ianto. Ianto Johnson, Jackson, Jacobs ... no ... John, Jack, Jacob ... The Name! There was coffee! Jack remembered there was coffee! ... and neat and tidy ... this is Ianto ... Joe. Joe. Joe. Joe. Jones. Jones Ianto Jones. This is Ianto Jones. He looks good in a suit.
“Jones. His name was Ianto Jones. And he looked good in a suit.”
Tanya jotted the name down, ignoring the suit comment. She then pressed a button on her wrist. Jack blinked and the world had changed.
They had teleported to a small white, rectangular room, with a desk and a computer. Like a reception. A young, pale, blond man wearing the male counterpart of Tanya’s suit was sat behind the desk. Jack gathered that the suits must be the standard Torchwood uniform now. He let himself smile. He
- Ianto – would have approved.
“Check him in, Josh.” Tanya said to the blond. Josh nodded, then smiled at Jack.
“Good evening, sir. Just a couple of questions.”
“Fire away.” replied the Captain, turning on his most reassuring smile. Tanya disappeared in a teleport flash and Josh took an electronic pen and poised it ready above a tablet.
“Cap’n Jack Harkness.”
“Purpose on Earth, aka SOL: 3?”
“Time Traveller. Sightseeing.”
“Relatives currently residing on the planet?”
“Not that I know of, but back in about 2009 I know I had a daughter. So who knows?”
“Okay ... have you passed through Torchwood before?”
“I used to work for Torchwood.”
This earnt him a raised eyebrow, but just in time the computer pinged its agreement with Jack’s statement. Josh scanned the document that had appeared on the HoloScreen of his desk computer. “Time Traveller, you say?” he smiled, turning the projection so that Jack could see. His photograph was there, plus a fake birth-date and the status “Honourably Discharged”.
Jack smiled again, not sure if he meant it. Josh turned his screen back towards himself.
“Will you require hospitality while on this planet? All ex-Torchwood Operatives are entitled to free use of the Institute’s hospitality suites.”
“Er ... yeah. That’d be great.”
“Good.” Josh touched an intercom button on the desk and a little microphone aerialed up to meet him. “Diana? Yeah, I’ve got a Captain Jack Harkness, ex-Torchwood, just signed in. Could you set him up a room while the visa clears?”
“Sure. I’ll come get him.” came the crackled reply.
Two minutes later, a pretty young thing appeared behind a concealed door in the wall to Jack’s right. Unlike the others, her shirt was designed with an open collar. Lower down the ranks, he presumed.
She held out a hand for him to shake. “My name’s Diana.” she said as he took it. “If you could follow me?”
The journey was alien yet familiar at the same time. The walls were sterile white instead of bare brick, and the lift had smooth-sliding metal doors instead of heavy concrete ones, but it was definitely the same building. She was leading him into the Torchwood hub.
Jack felt a pang at having been stood in what had been His Tourist Centre, but tried not to dwell on it. Thoughts of the Torchwood Memorial and His missing name flooded his mind again, but he pushed them back. He would think on it later.
They were approaching the space where the enormous iron cog used to be. In its place were automatic sliding glass doors. Jack made a sound of disapproval. “This used to be a massive iron door that rolled back.” he told Diana. She ‘mmmed’ in agreement.
“What’s left of it is displayed in the Archives.” she informed him. “A lot of it was destroyed in the bomb that took down what had been Torchwood Three on this location in 2009. The remnants are pretty much rusting away now, and the droid doesn’t see any point in restoring it. But nevermind.”
“Archive droid. It has reasoning or something. Decides what’s worth keeping.”
“I’d say the door was worth keeping.” muttered Jack reproachfully. He looked around, and found he was in the main area of the hub. It was the same shape and the same height, but everything was white. Instead of a couple of workstations, the space had been remodelled to accommodate a long desk lining the outside of the walls, so that the people sat at them on computers wearing headsets could look down into the hub. There were six tiers of these desks, all manned by people wearing black shirts and trousers. Rank was shown by how much uniform they were wearing, concluded Jack. Diana had a jacket, so Jack assumed she was higher than the headset desk jockeys, but lower than Tanya and Josh.
The water tower was still there, but the water around it had been cleaned out and was now more of a water feature with fountains than a pool. It made a very relaxing tinkling sound, though Jack reasoned it must be hell when you needed the loo.
Diana was leading him to a flat HoloScreen on the wall near where his office used to be. He stood before it, and gazed into the blackness expectantly. Diana smiled at him, then turned to the blank screen. “Good evening, Mrs. Cooper.” she said.
The screen flickered to life, and a 3D projection of Gwen Cooper’s head appeared on the screen. Jack felt cold inside. He didn’t want to see. her.
“Hello, Captain.” said the Gwen image. Diana seemed a little miffed that Jack knew who this was. She enjoyed recounting the tale of Mrs. Cooper, the sentient computer. The great woman whom all its programming was based certainly was a lively topic for historians – even if it had turned out she was a bit of a selfish cow.
“Hi.” said Jack.
“You came back.” said Mrs. Cooper coolly.
“I made a promise.”
“You made me no promises.”
“This isn’t about you. It’s about Him.”
“Who?” she said, narrowing her eyes.
The image flickered, and reset itself into the warm, gap-toothed smile Jack still remembered. “How are you, Jack? Do you like what Gwen Cooper did with the place?”
“I can’t believe she rebuilt. After everything.” Jack said scornfully. Mrs. Cooper gazed at him sadly.
“The Rift couldn’t be left unchecked, Captain. After the death of Rhys Williams in 2034, she had no choice but take on her responsibility. She and her younger son, Ianto Williams, rebuilt the wreckage that was Torchwood and brought it right into the twenty-first century. Just as everything changed. All Torchwood branches in this galaxy follow the example she set one thousand years ago, and the Empire is still growing. Monitoring transfers between planets and star systems, keeping our galaxy safe.”
“So Torchwood has become Immigration Control?” said Jack with a smirk. This irked the Mrs. Cooper, and the screen flickered a little until the smiling image of Gwen reappeared on the screen. “We’re helping people, Jack.”
The head turned to where Diana was watching the conversation. “Could you take him to his rooms, please? His details are cleared, he just needs to wait for the official documentation to come through.”
Diana inclined her head. “Yes, Mrs. Cooper.”
Jack followed Diana to where he remembered the Archives as being. Instead of there being one tunnel, it had been sectioned into two smaller tunnels. One had been sealed off with a door marked “Authorised Personnel Only – Clearance 7 or Above.” Jack assumed that that part of the tunnel still lead to the Archives. The other tunnel, free for all to access, must be where the hospitality suites were. Diana lead him to a door marked “23”.
It was large and spacious, with a big double bed down one end and an en suite bathroom down the other. There was a HoloTelevision and some comfy sofas in the middle of the room, and in the corner was a computer station and chair. Diana began to reel off the rules to him.
“You’re low security, so you get the best treatment. The bed will adjust springy and softness to your liking, and there’s no CCTV monitoring in here at present. You can watch what you like on TV, but certain channels will, of course, be billed. The computer is hooked up to the internet, but please bear in mind we will log all of your activity in case of future reference. The bedside cabinet is also your library, should you need a book. If you touch this button, the Mrs. Cooper interface will activate, but please only bother her if it’s important. If you need anything to eat or drink, there’s a kitchen and common room outside your room on the right. You may knock around and socialize with anyone else on this corridor, and equally you may email or phone anyone you like using the computer. At no point may you leave this corridor without a chaperone, so if you need one press this button here. You got that?”
Jack decided it was best to nod. He slung his coat off and threw it over the sofa. “What?” he asked of the alarmed look Diana gave it.
“The droid would prefer it if you could keep the place tidy. It’s programming if finick –“ she stopped as her ear buzzed. She touched it. “Yes?”
There was silence as she listened. “Okay ... yes ... I’ll let him know.” said Diana. She gave Jack a rueful look. “That was Tanya. She says she ran a search on the name you gave her, but nothing’s come up.”
“He doesn’t exist in this timeline. I’m sorry – maybe you could go back and put right a wrong somewhere? I’m not sure how time travel works. Anyway, they did a full search of all records from the year you specified and broadened it to six months either side. There's no trace of him on any official documentation, and no other hits on that name as a whole within a realistic timezone. Zilch.”
Jack bit his tongue. Nothing changed in the timeline. He wasn’t really a time traveller. He’d stayed on the same line for a thousand years. Something was wrong ... something was ... missing. OF COURSE! Missing ... Ianto Jones must have been ... missed out. Erased. Removed.
His heart felt an ache. Who would want to erase Ianto? Why would they? What reason was there? Who would have the power .... Jack stopped his thoughts.
Who would have the motive, and the power, to erase Ianto?
The motive was jealousy.
The power was Torchwood.
It had to have been Gwen Cooper.
Jack bit his tongue harder. She wanted him to forget him. His body would be dust, and all records of him were gone. What could Jack hold on to now that his memories were blurring at the edges and His face harder and harder to dredge forward?
“Another thing.” said Diana. “James isn’t happy with us running the search without clearing it with him first, so you’re on watch. No leaving this room. If you want something to eat or drink, buzz the chaperone. That button there. Sorry.”
Diana’s eyes misted over a second. “James. He’s our leader.” Jack smirked.
“You like him?”
“Who couldn’t ... I mean ... he’s so ... brave ... and handsome ... and he has the most beautiful blue eyes ... I love blue eyes ...” she came back to herself, having drifted into the middle-distance.
“Don’t get me started on blue eyes!” laughed Jack, half-heartedly. Diana smiled at him.
“I’m sorry. You’re going to have to give up your search. Unless you get clearance from James, that is. And I’m sorry.”
“Right. When I get a chance, I’ll talk to James. Er ... do I just ask for ‘James’ or is there more than one?”
“If you get someone with a jacket , ask for James. If you get a open-shirt, ask for Mr. Bond.”
Jack’s felt himself laugh. “You’re joking
! James Bond!”
She smiled. “I know ... overreaching or what? It’s a pseudonym, based on those historical films about that spy. No-one’s sure what his real name is. Several of us don’t think that even he remembers it.”
Smiling a little fondly, Jack let himself mutter: “I had a friend who used to go by that name. For a laugh.”
Diana turned to go. “I really have to get back to work. If I can I’ll check in on you later. This door will be locked because James wants you under surveillance, so don’t try and get out or the alarms will go.”
Jack nodded, plodded over the bed and threw himself down. James Bond. Now there’s a name he hadn’t heard for as long as Ianto Jones.FINWHAT! A JAMES BOND! NOOOOOOOOOO! Really? And he had a friend that used to by that name, too? Well ain't that a co-inky-dink, people!
Let me know if you like how it's going, and I'll start work on the second chapter if the reaction is good.Next Part | Torchwood Index | Request a Convo/Prose Fic