Title: Gwil's Guide to Growing Up Torchwood: Year 6, Chapter 1
Pairing: Jack/Ianto, Gwil
Word Count: 2,628
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 gets his first Torchwood job in the archives; Gwil finds something in there that makes him need to talk to his dad.
A/N: Here's my opinion on the Oxford comma debate: Of course we need it. It solves all sorts of terrible ambiguity problems. But more importantly: if you get rid of it, then I've been teaching punctuation wrong for 7 years. You guys, we can't let this come to pass. I do not teach punctuation wrong. Punctuation is my thing. DDDD:
Ianto arched an eyebrow over at Gwil – less and less down at Gwil and more over at him every day, as he now reached Ianto's and Jack's chests. Ianto was endlessly fascinated by how quickly Gwil was growing. He supposed he himself must have gone through the process at some point, but it had seemed so much more gradual back then – more painstaking, actually, rather than the way Gwil was practically skipping over whole centimeters in a night.
“Two days,” Ianto counter-offered.
Gwil frowned, glancing around the archive. He bit his lip as he considered, and Ianto waited patiently. He and Jack had already agreed on three days a week. It had been Jack who suggested Ianto let Gwil feel like he managed to set the terms of their new arrangement.
“Three,” Gwil countered. “And one of them'll be a weekend day every week. So then you know it won't interfere with my school work.”
Ianto pretended to consider this for a long moment, frowning and drawing his brows together and placing his hand on his chin. Finally he nodded curtly. “Deal.” He stuck out his hand to Gwil, who beamed as he grasped it in his own.
“So can I start today, then? Right now? I can help sort something, or alphabetize something! Do you need me to file stuff, like reports?”
Ignoring the cold shudder sliding its way down his spine, Ianto smiled tightly at Gwil. “First,” he cautioned, “will be a lesson on what you cannot touch. Ever.”
Gwil rolled his eyes, deflating somewhat. “I know,” he groaned. “Yellow through red, I'm dead. Blue, come and get you. Green's fine.” A smug smirk tugged at the corners of Gwil's mouth. “Rhyme kind of fell apart at the end there.”
Grabbing Gwil by the elbow and steering him toward the most recent archives, Ianto smirked right back. “You can thank your dad for that. If it was me, it would have been in meter.”
Gwil stared out over the large room of files and shelves despondently. “So this is it? These are the only archives I can do stuff in?”
Ianto nodded. “Yup. Just starting with the new millenia. The other stuff I haven't gotten the chance to go through as carefully.” He pressed his palms down toward the ground, fingers splayed out, as he spoke. “Everything in this room I know is labeled properly. And this room only.”
What Ianto said was only a half-truth. It was true that everything was labeled properly starting from the last millenia. But in reality, he had already had the chance to check over the vast majority of the twentieth century as well, in the process of coordinating an archive overhaul with the different Torchwood branches around the world. The real reason he didn't want Gwil going back further in time was because he hadn't altered Jack's records yet. Some small part of him was hoping that he wouldn't have to alter Jack's records: that Jack would tell Gwil about his immortality before they got to that point. Another part of Ianto thought that day wouldn't come until Gwil saw Jack revive himself, and the revelation was forced out of Jack.
Gwil was already walking through the shelves, peering at the green-labeled items, flickering through some of the files with his fingertips. “But I'll get to handle all the incoming stuff, right? I mean, after you approve it.”
“Yup.” Ianto strolled after Gwil, not too nervous about anything terrible happening. Gwil was smart, and for all his eagerness, careful. He knew better than to grab a red-labeled item off a shelf and start wielding it. Goodness knew he had seen enough things go horribly wrong to never be reckless. Still... Ianto held his breath as Gwil peered curiously at a blue-labeled box, before walking away without touching it. Ianto exhaled. Still, there was no telling what went through a twelve-year-old's mind. Ianto wasn't so old that he couldn't remember the feeling of invincibility that age brought with it.
“How are my men doing? Done yet?”
Ianto smiled as he pressed a hand to his ear, activating his comm. Gwil just rolled his eyes and stalked off behind another row of shelves, eyes rapidly scanning their contents. “Just about. Why? Anything pressing?”
“If you consider my stomach growling pressing, then yes. Very. And I was hoping we could go out and celebrate Gwil's first job! Get lunch somewhere nice.”
“Meat pies? And chips?” Gwil's voice reached Ianto simultaneously over the comms and from three rows of shelving away.
“I think you're both conspiring to get me off active field duty,” Ianto pondered as he glanced down at his stomach. “Between Jack letting me coordinate the archives and Gwil insisting on the fattiest foods every time he gets to pick...”
“Hey!” Gwil's head popped out from a row of shelves four rows back from Ianto. “I could have asked for ice cream and candy. At least you could get a veggie pie.”
Ianto smirked wryly as Gwil walked over to him. “Of course. How could I forget the nutritious benefits of fried vegetables and cheese wrapped in dough?”
Gwil laughed and lightly punched at Ianto's arm. “It's my first day at Torchwood! Don't spoil it!”
As they walked out of the archives together Ianto grimaced. First day working at Torchwood, and only twelve years old. It was a good thing there was no data on life expectancy for an agent starting so young.
“Gwil, did you find that file I needed? The one on the Slitheen? It should be in the last decade.” Ianto paused for a moment as Jack nodded vigorously and gave him a thumbs up from his office. Ianto turned back to his computer screen, one hand to his ear. “Dad says it should be there.”
For a moment there was silence on Gwil's end of the line, making Ianto's gut churn with worry. Gwil was good at scouring the archives – Ianto knew that. And he was careful: there hadn't been a single incident in the two months he had been working down there. Not a dropped file, not an accidentally opened red-labeled item, not even a misfile. All in all, Gwil had probably had the most auspicious first two months out of any of the current employees.
He certainly was doing better than Gwen had her first couple months. Ianto suppressed a smug grin.
But still, he worried. Every time the line went silent for too long, like it was now, a thousand – completely possible – scenarios raced through Ianto's head.
Finally Gwil's voice came on the comms, and Ianto breathed a sigh of relief. Then he immediately regretted feeling that way.“I wanna talk to Dad.”
Ianto tensed up, hand pressing painfully hard at the comm in his ear.
“Are you hurt? Do I need to get Uncle Owen?”
“No.” Gwil's voice was quick to reassure him, but no less quiet, no less upset. Then he repeated himself. “I wanna talk to Dad.”
“Alright, alright.” Ianto was rushing over to Jack's desk even as he fought to remain calm. “Here he is. Do you want him to come down to you?”
Jack's head snapped up, concern flitting across his face. Ianto could only bite his lip and shake his head helplessly in worry.
“Yeah,” Gwil replied. “I'm in my section. I just need to ask him about something.”
Dropping his hand from his ear, Ianto looked significantly at Jack. “He wants to ask you about something. He's down in the twenty-first century archives.” For a moment a ghost of a grin flickered across Ianto's face. “Do you know where that is?”
Jack huffed as he pushed himself up from his chair. “Well, everything's so nicely labeled down there now, thanks to you, that I could find it even if I didn't! Which I do.” A moment later his face dropped, expression turning sour. “What do you suppose it is?”
Ianto sighed, running a hand through his hair. “There shouldn't be any references to your... abilities. Not in that section. Maybe something about the Doctor?” Ianto's frown deepened. Gwil had started to display an unhealthy interest in Jack's tales of the strange man that had almost swept him away from his parents two years ago.
Jack shrugged as he started to push past Ianto. “We'll see. I'll leave my-” he tapped his ear twice before giving Ianto a thumb's up. Ianto nodded. Jack was keeping his comm open: so if Gwil took his out, Ianto would still be able to hear Gwil's half of the conversation.
It turned out the precaution was necessary, because when Jack reached the archives Gwil was in a few minutes later, Ianto could only hear Gwil's voice through Jack's earpiece. It was a little distorted, somewhat akin to someone speaking in a tunnel, but it was audible enough.
“So champ! What's up?”
Ianto settled into Jack's chair to listen in.
There was some rustling on the line – Ianto assumed it was Gwil passing a file over to Jack. “I was doing research and I found it.” Gwil's voice, distorted as it was, still sounded distinctly sad. And not a little bit confused.
Over the comms Ianto could hear Jack draw in a breath, but before he could say something to inform Ianto as to whatever he was looking at, Gwil spoke up again.
“I just wanted to find more stories about the Doctor. The closest thing – besides all the stuff about me, 'course – was the time you fought the Daleks with him. After I read that I wanted more, so I looked at older stuff. I read about the time you left, and the Master, and all that.” For a moment Ianto thought Gwil was going to ask Jack why he had left, how could he have left. But no, Gwil hurried on past that. It made sense, Ianto supposed: Gwil had grown up with running off to handle Torchwood stuff as a part of his everyday life. And he had no reason to doubt that his dads would come back every time. “Then I looked back more, and I saw all the stuff with the Cybermen at Torchwood One. And I thought that'd be it, but there was a note at the end of it.”
Ianto sucked in a breath, mirroring the one Jack had earlier. Oh. Tears pricked at his eyes. Oh. Of course Gwil had wanted to talk to Jack and not Ianto. How was he supposed to explain that?
“And the note said something about there being a surviving Cybermen file or something somewhere else. And it was in this room, so I looked for it.”
Jack's voice was so kind, Ianto wanted to embrace him for it. “What do you want to know?”
“What- I-” Gwil started then stopped, falling silent. Ianto's breaths synced with Jack's as both men waited, hundreds of meters away from each other but completely together in that moment. “I just... wanted to hear about it. From you. I know what the report says, but-” Ianto could hear the tremor in Gwil's voice. “I don't know, Dad. I don't know what- I feel angry. At you. And at Tad. But then I feel really sad. And I just... can you tell me about it?”
“Sure.” There was the sound of fabric rustling. Instinctively Ianto knew that Jack had tugged Gwil into his lap, even though the gangly boy was getting too big for that. He also knew without seeing that Gwil had gone without protest. “Lisa was your tad's girlfriend, a long time before we met. Tad was working at Torchwood One, and I was working here, and we didn't know each other. You understand that part, right? That Tad loved Lisa first, and then he loved me?”
“Yeah.” Gwil's voice was soft. “It's like how I loved Tad and you first, and then the Aunts and Uncles after that. Or how Uncle Owen had other girls, but now he has Aunt Tosh and he loves her.”
“Right.” Jack's voice was soothing, like he was telling a bedtime story about his childhood in Boeshane, rather than a story about one of the worst crimes Ianto had ever committed. “So your tad loved Miss Lisa. But then the Cybermen attacked Torchwood One, and Miss Lisa got hurt. They partially converted her. Did you understand that part?”
“Yeah,” Gwil whispered. “It's scary.”
“It was,” Jack agreed. “But your tad did something very brave. Even though the Cybermen were scary, he survived, and he rescued Miss Lisa from them. He didn't realize that they had already started to convert her – that she was already sick. He made a mistake because he loved her very, very much.”
A tear dripped down Ianto's nose, and he batted at it. He couldn't start crying over this. Not in the middle of the Hub. Ianto pressed his palms to his eyes, resting his elbows on Jack's desk as he let Jack's voice wash over him.
“Then he came to work for me, here. He hid Miss Lisa in the basement. He tried to save her. Because that's what your tad does-”
“-he saves people,” Gwil finished for him. His voice was softly admiring. More tears pressed at Ianto's eyelids at his tone. “He was just trying to help Miss Lisa,” Gwil repeated.
“That's right. And when I found out, I realized he couldn't. And your tad did, too. Eventually.” The last word was muttered under Jack's breath, and Ianto choked back a laugh. Bastard.
“But you killed her. And Aunt Gwen and Aunt Tosh and Uncle Owen. You killed Miss Lisa.”
“It wasn't Miss Lisa anymore.” At Jack's desk, Ianto nodded in agreement. He knew that now, he really did – sometimes it just hurt to be reminded of it. Even still. Jack continued: “She was infected by the Cybermen. She was a Cyberman now, not Miss Lisa. Miss Lisa had been dead for months, by then it was just the Cybermen using her body to walk around and talk. But it wasn't Miss Lisa anymore.”
“I get it,” Gwil said. Of course he did, Ianto thought with a wry twist of his lips. Gwil had been present at enough alien possessions in his time.
“In a way,” Jack mused, “it's thanks to Miss Lisa that your tad and I met. If the Cybermen hadn't attacked, if your tad hadn't have tried to save Miss Lisa by sneaking her in here, he would have never come to me for a job. And we would never have met.”
“So it was all good in the end?” Gwil pondered. Ianto had pondered the same question himself dozens, if not hundreds of times since joining Torchwood Three.
“Yeah,” Jack said, and Ianto could hear his voice muffled in Gwil's hair. “Yeah. It all turned out for the best. Because now Tad and I have each other. And we have you.”
“I'm glad, then.” Ianto shook his head, marveling at Gwil's resiliency as his son spoke up, sure and happy in his conclusion. “Because you and Tad belong together. So it all worked out for the best.”
Leaning back in Jack's chair, Ianto ran shaking hands through his hair. He supposed, somehow, Gwil was right. It had.
TBC Monday (Woo! I successfully got through a week of 3 updates! :D Going to try and keep it up!)