Title: Gwil's Guide to Growing Up Torchwood: Year 5, Chapter 5
Pairing: Jack/Ianto, Gwil, Andy, mentions of Team
Word Count: 2,501
Summary: When a seven-year-old boy falls through the Rift, Ianto and Jack decide to adopt him. This is the story of his life at Torchwood.
Chapter Summary: Gwil's 12th birthday is interrupted by the Rift; Gwil doesn't take this as well as Ianto and Jack might have thought.
A/N: Trying a 3 day a week update schedule. Dunno if I'll manage to keep it up, but I'm trying! Also, this is the end of Year 5. Also, working on the updated PDF. Sorry. Will go up soon!
Ianto swore even as he spun the wheel of his Audi, running a red light and turning illegally.
“What?” Jack was holding his hand to the comm in his ear as he tried to listen to Andy, confusion evident on his face. “What do you mean 'the women'?”
“I mean the women. All the women! Martha, Toshiko, and Gwen are all in some sort of... dunno, coma, or something. At least, Owen says it's a coma.”
Hanging onto the handle above the window, Jack growled at Andy as Ianto maneuvered the car through traffic. “Why aren't I talking to Owen, then?”
“He won't leave Tosh. And Mickey won't leave Martha. Being the only man without a woman to look after in here, I ended up on comm duty. Sorry to interrupt Gwil's birthday.”
Jack turned to Ianto, who was currently concentrating on not hitting pedestrians as he jumped a curb to move around traffic. “I might be affected.”
The Audi very narrowly missed a telephone box. “What?” Ianto gritted out.
“I might be affected,” Jack said again. “If it's something that affects women because of hormones or something, mine might be off just enough.” His eyes flickered to the backseat, then back to Ianto, who was personally trying very, very hard to just drive them to their damned house, so they could drop off Gwil and get to the Hub. “You know...”
“I know, Jack,” Ianto finally snapped back. He felt Jack's gaze on him, so for just a moment he glanced over. Jack's eyes were concerned – not for himself, Ianto knew, but for how Ianto might react to seeing Jack fall into a coma alongside the women in the Hub. Ianto sighed. “It'll be fine. Even if you do, between the four of us real men,” a crooked grin tugged at Jack's lips, “we'll find a cure. At least we have an even number of male and female doctors.”
“I could help!”
Both Jack and Ianto turned backwards, to where Gwil was peering up at them from the backseat. Ianto had to turn away first, if only because driving while facing backwards wasn't the best of ideas. “We're dropping you off at home.”
Jack sighed. “Sorry, champ. Looks like paintball'll have to wait for another day.”
“But I could help!”
Ianto's teeth ground against each other. He was saved from having to reply by Jack speaking for him. “I don't think so. It's just Torchwood stuff. Your tad and I'll get it sorted – maybe even before dinnertime! After we're done, we'll take you out to wherever you want to go. And we'll do paintball in three weeks, when we've got the weekend off again.”
“But you need boys! I'm a boy! I could help with something! Even if it's just doing running around, for the coffee or getting files from the archive or something, I could do it! If all the aunties are hurt then I could do work to help out. I could answer the phones. Or do paperwork.”
Jack was shaking his head. Ianto could see his amused expression in his peripheral vision. Ianto's hands tightened on the wheel until his knuckles went white. “You don't need to help,” Jack reassured Gwil. “This is probably just some silly alien virus, and Uncle Owen's going to figure it out before we even get there.”
“But what if it isn't?” Gwil pleaded. “I want to help! I'm twelve now; I could help! I could help with the CCTV footage! Mickey was showing me how to go through it, and I know how! So, if like, you needed to find where the alien thing came from, or track someone down or something-”
“Enough!” Ianto slammed his hand down on the wheel. His shout stunned Jack and Gwil into silence.
Ianto shook his head, trying to quiet the panic bubbling in his chest. He took a few deep breaths, though they didn't seem to help any. In fact, holding it in, trying to calm himself down, seemed to only make his fear worse. “We're taking you home, Gwil.” His voice wasn't much calmer, Ianto knew. It was shaking and maybe even a little shrill. Ianto didn't care. Right now all he could think of was Gwil, lying in a coma alongside the women. Or Gwil, getting his arm ripped off by a weevil, or shot through the heart by the pincer hands of the Rathyn peoples. Little, small, vulnerable Gwil, almost snatched away from Ianto by the Doctor and his stupid time paradoxes.
“I don't want to go!”
Both Ianto and Jack fell silent, the shock of Gwil shouting – shouting – at Ianto taking a moment to sink in. Rolling vise-tight hands over the steering wheel, Ianto gritted out: “You're going home, Gwil. Where it's safe.”
“But you're not going where it's safe!” Gwil protested. “You're going to the Hub! And Dad just said it might affect him funny, and he could get hurt just like the Aunties! I won't get hurt, and you're letting Dad go even though he might get hurt! It's not fair!”
“Gwil!” When Jack spoke, Ianto relaxed somewhat. “Don't talk to your tad like that. We're bringing you home. End of discussion.” Even though Gwil fell silent, Ianto could feel him seething in the backseat, glare practically burning through the back of Ianto's head.
Then they were at the house, and Jack was jumping out to steer Gwil inside. Ianto rested his head on the steering wheel and didn't look up. He didn't need to see Gwil's angry glare as he slammed the front door shut.
“I should apologize to him. Or maybe I shouldn't. Should I?”
Jack's arm was wrapped tight around Ianto's waist as they made their way up the path to their front door. “Why don't I talk to him first?” Jack suggested. “He might feel better talking to me.”
Ianto felt his shoulders sagging impossibly beneath an invisible weight as Jack unlocked the front door for them. It was late – too late for Gwil to be up, but the lights illuminating the interior of the house that were visible from the street told Ianto his son was most definitely awake. He had just wanted to keep Gwil safe. He was being reasonable. Twelve years old was too young to be rushing headlong into a dangerous Torchwood situation – surely Gwil could see the sense in that? Even Jack saw the sense in that, and he was the reckless one.
When they stepped inside Gwil was sitting on the sofa, soda cans and snacks strewn about him in an unusual display of messiness. Ianto's lips pressed together in a thin line. One look at Gwil's rebellious little expression said he had done this on purpose.
“It's my birthday,” he said without prompting – further supporting Ianto's theory that Gwil was being deliberately defiant.
Jack stepped in front of Ianto, looking down at Gwil with his arms crossed over his chest. “Clean up this mess and go get ready for bed. I'll be in your room in fifteen minutes – you better have everything done by then.”
Throwing himself off the couch, Gwil started snatching up his debris. After a moment he hesitated, hands full of soda cans and empty popcorn bags. He shifted, glancing over at Jack and Ianto. “Are the Aunties at least okay?”
“They're fine,” Jack reassured him. “Uncle Owen found a cure, no problem. It was just a temporary thing, anyway: forced cat-nap. The Aunties are probably better off than the Uncles right now, with all the rest they got today.”
With a quick glance to Ianto for confirmation, Gwil nodded. “Okay.” As if it had never left, his obstinate expression settled back over his features before he stomped off to the kitchen. Ianto leaned into Jack.
“He's so mad at me,” he wondered. “He's never been like this. How am I supposed to handle this?”
Jack chuckled softly, rubbing a hand up and down Ianto's arm. “Just let me handle this one, to start. I've probably had more experience dealing with unruly almost-teenagers than you.”
They walked back to their room together, Ianto toeing off his trainers and shucking his shirt over his head. They had dressed down for paintball today. Not that the comfortable, old clothing had done them any good waiting around the Hub. “Was I this bad at twelve? I don't remember...” Ianto trailed off, thinking back to the lip he had started giving his tad at Gwil's age, and the smacks across the face he had gotten in response. He grunted. “Well, maybe.”
Jack raised his eyebrows pointedly, and Ianto just sighed. Fully naked now, Jack pulled Ianto into his own, fully-clothed, embrace. “Gwil's a good kid. He just wanted to help out the Aunties. If that's not good, I don't know what is.”
Ianto frowned into Jack's shirt before pushing away. “But did he? Or did he just want to have an adventure?” When Jack hesitated before his reply, Ianto drew his brows together in worry. “You see? I'm afraid...” Ianto stopped himself, then started again, in a whisper. “I'm afraid he'll be like you. With your wanderlust, and your adventurousness. And he doesn't have your safety net.”
Ianto found himself being tugged closer again, Jack's hands rubbing up and down his back in reassurance. Ianto hugged back, acting like he could squeeze all his worries and anxieties out of himself and into Jack. “He'll be okay,” Jack whispered into his ear. “We're raising him right. He's cautious, and thoughtful. He won't go running into anything.”
Unable to feel the same surety Jack felt, Ianto stayed silent. When they finally separated Jack pressed a kiss to Ianto's forehead before stepping away. “I'm going to go have a talk with him,” he said. “Even if he just wanted to help, he can't talk to you like that. And you're right: he is too young, still.”
Ianto watched as Jack left their room, a sick feeling churning in his stomach. Without really thinking about it, he snuck out to follow Jack just a moment later, stopping outside of Gwil's door.
He could hear the bed creak as Jack sat down on it, and Gwil shifting around beneath the sheets. Jack spoke first. “You know why your tad is mad, don't you?”
“Because I just wanted to help,” was Gwil's petulant reply.
The sharpness of Jack's tone obviously gave Gwil pause, because a moment later he was mumbling: “Because I wasn't listening to Tad. And because it was dangerous.”
“Right,” Jack confirmed. “Your tad just wants to keep you safe. We both want to keep you safe. And the middle of a possible alien virus outbreak is no place for a twelve-year-old boy.”
“But it was safe for boys!”
Ianto's heart clenched at the eagerness in Gwil's tone. He had caught the Torchwood bug. After all these years, and all his mishaps, Ianto thought for sure Gwil would be scared off Torchwood for good. He had seen Ianto almost die, Jack actually die (though he hadn't realized quite how dead Jack really was). Gwil himself had almost died, at the hands of an entirely benevolent alien race. And somehow, despite all the trauma, Gwil still had a passion for adventure growing inside of him.
Ianto felt cold all over thinking about the day Gwil was allowed to realize that passion.
Inside Gwil's bedroom, Jack was still talking. “It was safe for boys for now. But what happened if it had mutated, and affected boys, too? What if it was only safe for men – maybe it was based on testosterone levels. Yours would be low still, like the Aunties. Then it might have hurt you. We couldn't know, Gwil, and your tad and I don't ever, ever want to see you get hurt.”
Tears pricked at Ianto's eyes as he thought about the day Jack would have to bury Gwil. Hopefully that day was a long, long time away, and Ianto would never live to see it. But Jack would. One day, Jack would see Gwil get hurt, and never get better. Ianto slid to the floor outside of Gwil's bedroom and pressed his hands to his eyes. Why couldn't Gwil have just shown an interest in maths, or literature, or art, or music, or any one of million safe careers? Why Torchwood?
“I know, Dad,” Gwil was begrudgingly replying. “But I'm twelve now-”
“Ah, ah: no.” Ianto would have laughed at Jack's stern tone if he hadn't been so busy having a miniature meltdown in the hallway. “No buts. I don't care if you're thirty: you still don't get to talk to your tad like that, and your tad and I will still want to keep you safe. But maybe by then we'll have let you work for Torchwood.”
Ianto's heart broke.
“Maybe. If you still want to. But there's lots of time between then and now, champ. You've got lots of things you could get interested in between now and then. And your tad and I'll love you no matter what you decide you want to do.”
Gwil's voice was trembling with excitement. “But I already know what I want to do!”
Jack's casual laugh eased the pain in Ianto's chest just a fraction. “You'd be surprised how things change. When I was twelve, I thought for sure I was going to be a... well, let's call it 'baseball', because it was close enough. I thought I was going to be a baseball player. Then, when I was sixteen, I thought for sure I was going to be a bounty hunter or mercenary or something cool like that. At nineteen I signed up for the Time Agency. By the time I was in my thirties I was done with that, and I ended up in the RAF. Point is: you might want things in two, five, ten years that you never even knew existed now. So just give it some time. Okay?”
Ianto found he couldn't move even as he listened to the sounds of Jack and Gwil bidding each other goodnight. He just kept his head in his hands, trembling fingers clutching at his brow.
Wiping the tears from his face, Ianto looked up at Jack. His hand was extended, and his eyes filled with understanding.
“Come on,” Jack said, when Ianto sat frozen in his place on the floor. “Let's get to bed.”
Reaching a shaking hand up, Ianto took Jack's in his own and let himself be pulled up.
Continue on to Year 6, Chapter 1.