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Chapter 3


“There you are!” Gwen called as they reached the gardens surrounding the Seren Coch. The dark-haired woman with the easy, gap-toothed smile and smattering of freckles wore a medieval style gown of deep purple that set off her complexion and brought out the greenish hues in her hazel eyes. She’d found a wig that exactly matched her own hair, but was much longer. It made her look completely different from the no-nonsense constable they both knew so well.


“You look amazing, Gwennie,” Ianto whispered to one of his oldest friends as Jack took her hand and bowed dashingly.


Giggling, Gwen gave Jack a quick kiss, and then turned to Ianto with her hands on her hips. “You!” she growled menacingly, before poking him in the chest. “Rhi told me you’d been a right arse. Did you fix it or do I have to take the butt of my baton to you?”


“Does my sister know the meaning of the word discretion?” Ianto demanded, while Jack simply snickered and tried in vain not to look too amused.


“Don’t you start in on Rhi, Mr. Ianto Jones,” Gwen continued, barely pausing to take a breath. “Jack has worked night and day to pull this festival off and you tore a strip off of him because of a costume that Brighid won’t even remember? I ought to thrash you just for good measure,” she added, advancing on her friend again with fire in her eyes.


“Whoa,” Jack cried, catching Gwen around the waist and pulling her back. “We sorted it; I promise.”


“And he apologised?” Gwen demanded with narrowed eyes, continuing to glare at Ianto, who was wilting under the intensity of her gaze.


“He did,” Jack assured the Welshwoman, brushing her forehead with a kiss. “It’s all okay, but thank you.”


“Never mind that,” Gwen replied with a dismissive gesture. “You’re family. Around here, we stick up for family. Next time, I’ll pound him good and Rhys’ll help. Won’t you?” she asked her husband as he approached. He was wearing a tunic and sword, clearly playing the role of a knight dancing attendance on his fair maiden.


“I’m sure I will whatever it is,” Rhys replied with the harried air of a man who no longer cared what he agreed to as long as people stopped asking. “You two,” he growled, glaring at his friends. “Jones, you pick the worst times for domestics – end of the world, royal visits, and the first bloody Halloween Festival in years. You best have fixed it or I am not holding Gwen back.” When Ianto nodded, Rhys continued. “Harkness, now that you’re here and Ianto’s made nice, I’m sending people with problems to you and I am going to dance with my wife then find a beer or four. Meet me by the stage at noon to officially open this bloody thing. Come on, Gwennie,” he growled, pulling her with him while she giggled like a school girl.


“Well, that’s us told,” Ianto noted, amused at how protective his life-long friends were of Jack; they’d never taken to Rose with such devotion. Then again, neither had he.


“More you than me, I think,” Jack observed, still trying not to smirk.


Ianto was relieved to see that the sadness had left his partner’s eyes. He reached for his hand. “Come on,” he urged, pulling Jack towards the crowd. “Let’s find everyone. I want to see the other costumes before someone spirits you away to save the world – or at least the festival.”


At that moment, they heard excited voices calling to them. “Da! Dad! Uncle Jack! Uncle Ianto!” They looked up to see Ifan, Gray, Rhosyn, Steven, Mica, and David racing towards them.


Gray had always called Jack ‘Dad,’ and Ifan and Rhosyn just fell into the pattern a year or so after the men had married. It had reduced Jack to tears the first time he heard it. Gray had been a bit more cautious about taking to Ianto; a trait Jack insisted he had inherited from Estelle. When they had adopted Brighid, Gray had quietly asked to be allowed to call Ianto ‘Da’ so that the ‘baby doesn’t get confused’. Ianto had been just as solemn when he granted permission, but he’d spent the rest of the day smiling.


Now, glancing at their children, niece, and nephews, Ianto’s eyes grew large. They’d all clearly put a lot of thought into their costumes for the day and it showed. Ifan and Gray had worked together, dressing as Harry and Ron from the Harry Potter books and movies, which they both enjoyed. Their cousins had obviously been included in the planning as well, with Mica sporting Hermione’s curly hair, Steven donning the robes of Slytherin scion Draco Malfoy, and David greasing his own locks in an impression of Severus Snape. “Don’t you all look impressive,” Ianto mused, astounded at how realistic the get-ups were.


Only Rhosyn had elected not to follow the crowd, something that did not surprise Ianto at all. His daughter was quite the individualist – much like her mother, grandmother, and stepfather.


“Do you like it?” she asked, twirling about in an updated version of the woodland faerie outfit that she’d worn at the last festival. “Dad helped me find it. I liked this one because the colours matched Brighid’s costume and I didn’t want her to feel left out.”


“Oh, baban,” Ianto whispered, hugging her carefully so he didn’t mess up her outfit. “You’ve become such a big girl, and such a great big sister.”


“We’re the only girls in the house,” Rhosyn replied in a very Jones-like way. “We have to stick together.”


“Hey,” Mica cried, bouncing excitedly on the balls of her feet. “They’re starting the team games. We’re all a team,” she told Jack and Ianto. “They can’t beat us! Come on,” she called, leading a mad dash towards the other end of the festival.


“Have fun,” Jack called to the children’s retreating backs, and then turned to Ianto. “How did they-,” He was interrupted by a passionate kiss. “Not complaining,” he said when they broke for air, “but what was that for?”


“For loving our children, for helping Rhosyn be herself, and for just being my Jack,” Ianto replied, brushing his partner’s fringe back off his forehead. “I’m an idiot, and I’m going to be treating you much better from now on.”


“Hey, none of that...” Jack began, but was interrupted by another shout.


“Oi, get a room,” a familiar London accent growled. The men broke apart to see Jack’s team – Owen Harper, Toshiko Sato, Andy Davidson, Tommy Brockless, and Emma Cowell - approaching. “Where the hell have you two been?” Owen continued, looking annoyed; though Ianto had come to realise it was a permanent expression for the scientist.


“What are you supposed to be?” Jack demanded, taking in the Londoner’s lab coat, stethoscope, and scrubs.


“I’m a doctor,” he pointed out impatiently, gesturing to his costume.


“I see that,” Jack sighed, shaking his head. “I thought you were coming as a zombie. Wasn’t that what I picked up the makeup for?”


“She wouldn’t let me,” Owen said with a grimace, indicating his girlfriend, Tosh, who was dressed head to toe in black and carrying the weaponry of a ninja. “She said she was going home if I even thought about it. Apparently, zombies scare her.”


Visibly shuddering, Tosh shook her head. “They do not scare me,” she pointed out. “Zombies are not real; therefore I am not afraid of them. I simply refuse to contemplate their existence – fictional or otherwise.”


As everyone laughed at the computer specialist, Jack and Ianto surveyed the rest of the team. Andy sported the uniform of a police constable, while Tommy was wearing a World War I ensemble, and Emma was dressed like a 1950’s fashionista. “All of you look great,” Ianto enthused as Jack nodded, silently thanking his team for getting into the spirit of the day.


“Okay, I was promised beer,” Owen grumbled, grabbing Tosh’s hand and heading for the refreshment area as the others followed, laughing.


“Looks like Tommy and Andy both have eyes for our Emma,” Jack mused, shaking his head at the way the two young men were falling over themselves to pay attention to the young researcher.


“If that means Andy stops making cow eyes at Gwen, I’m all for it,” Ianto sighed with a shake of his head. “Rhys was all for killing him and hiding the body. I suggested that the mayor committing homicide – albeit justifiable – was a bad political move.”


“And they say real friends help you move bodies,” Jack quipped as he steered them through the crowd in search of their sisters. They spotted Rhi and Alice seated at a table, chatting and enjoying snacks with their husbands. Rhi was still wearing her full serving wench attire, but Johnny had lost his eye patch and pirate’s hat. Alice and Joe were dressed in togas, a nod to their home in Rome. Alice was bouncing her youngest niece on her knee as Brighid laughed and giggled. Myfanwy was curled up on the ground, not letting her smallest charge out of her sight.


“Oh my God,” Ianto breathed when Rhi stood to greet them and he got a look at her profile. Obviously he really had been too concerned by Brighid’s costume earlier if he had missed the changes in her appearance. He turned to Jack. “You know what you said about the breasts? They’re real alright, but I’ve only seen them that big twice.” Turning back towards their families, he glared at his sister. “Rhiannon Bethan Jones Davies, when were you going to tell me?” he demanded, hands on his hips.


“Today,” his sister retorted back at him as Jack, Alice, and Joe looked confused and Johnny grinned with pride. “We wanted to wait just a bit this time since I’m older but... It’s almost four months now, so... You’re going to be an uncle again,” she concluded with a huge smile.


Ianto whooped and gave his sister a crushing hug then shook Johnny’s hand. While Alice and Joe offered their congratulations as well, Jack hung back just a bit, taking it all in.


When her brother let her go and turned his attention to Brighid, Rhiannon came over to Jack. “Did he make it right?” she demanded, glancing at Ianto.


“He did,” Jack assured his sister-in-law, smiling at her fondly before embracing her. “Congratulations, but you should have told me. You worked so hard on all of this...” he gestured around at the festival. “You should have been resting.”


“Oh, give over,” Rhi told him as she punched him in the arm. “I’m a Jones. I’m made of much sterner stuff than that, so do not coddle me, Uncle Jack.”


“Uncle Jack, huh? I like that,” Jack admitted enthusiastically, still smiling widely.


“Hell, Mica and David stuck you with that before it was even official. We’ll see how much you like it when I’m nine months gone,” Rhi replied wickedly. “I’ve been told that the Jones hormone explosions are a sight to behold – though I don’t quite believe them when they say that. It’ll be nice to have an impartial witness on my side,” she added pointedly.


“Great,” Jack said with a grin plastered on his face, though he sounded much less enthusiastic than he had a moment before.


~


The sun was setting over the mountains to the west of Dinas Mawddwy and the festival was in full swing. Jack and Ianto were dancing, as were Joe and Alice and Owen and Tosh. Emma was holding court with Tommy, Andy, and a couple of other new admirers. While Johnny danced with Mica and Rhosyn, Rhi kept an eye on Brighid and Myfanwy, both of whom had fallen asleep after the day’s excitement.


When the band – a combination swing and folk act from Swansea that the committee had been lucky to book at the last minute – took a break, Rhys jumped up on the makeshift stage.


“I promise this is the last speech of the day,” the mayor boomed in a slightly drunken voice, and then winced at the feedback from the microphone. “Bloody thing,” he muttered, causing the crowd to laugh. “I see everyone is having a good time, so I’ll keep this short.” He glared at the round of applause. “Thank you all again for coming to what we hope will be the first in a new tradition of Halloween Festivals in our town. We had to take a break for a bit after old Foel Benddin over there cleared his throat, but this festival, like this town, is coming back. It’s going to take a while and it may never be exactly what it was, but I think it’ll be bigger and better.” With a grin, he waited patiently for the cheers and clapping to subside. “I have a few people to thank for pulling this year’s festival together. First, I need to blame – I mean express gratitude to – Jack Harkness, whose brilliant idea this was. Let’s give Jack a round of applause – but not too much; the valley can’t hold that ego as it is.”


“Yet you love me, Rhys,” Jack called over the applause, trying to keep his voice from cracking.


“Keep telling yourself that, Harkness,” Rhys retorted, and then turned back to the crowd. “I also need to thank our committee, led by the formidable duo of Rhiannon Davies and my own wife, Constable Gwen Cooper. If the committee will stand and take a bow.” As about twenty people rose to their feet to thunderous applause, Brighid started to whimper.


When Ianto’s sensitive hearing caught their daughter’s cries, he moved to go to her. Jack stayed him with a gentle hand on his arm. “Rhi has her,” he said, inclining his head towards his sister-in-law. She had already picked up the baby and was soothing her. “Stay until Rhys is done. There’s more,” he added cryptically.


Ianto started to ask what was going on, but Rhys was already speaking again. “Finally, I have to thank former mayor, Ianto Jones, for lending us his partner, Jack, for the duration of the planning and for providing more than his share of the food and beverages here today, courtesy of the Torchwood Café. Let’s hear it for Ianto!” After the resulting ovation subsided, Rhys continued, “Before we get back to the dancing, I want to turn the microphone over to Jack Harkness, who says he has a presentation to make, though I have no idea what he’s on about. Come on up, Jack; don’t be shy.”


“As if,” Owen shouted from the crowd, and then yelped when Tosh and Emma both pinched him.


Ignoring Ianto’s stunned expression, Jack jumped up on the stage. “Like Rhys, I’m going to keep this short,” he began, grinning at the crowd. “My team and I are some of the newest members of this town – well, if you don’t count my daughter over there drooling on her aunt – but you’ve made us feel welcome both before and after Foel Benddin decided to wake up. Hell, you even let me marry your mayor – sorry, ex-mayor,” he amended as Rhys coughed and the crowd laughed. “So, my team and I decided it was time to give something back to this place we now call home. I made some phone calls to people who made some phone calls,” he said as he reached into his pocket. “I have here a cheque that will cover the rebuilding of the Jones Community Centre and allow an addition of a memorial garden to honour those lost in the eruption.”


The crowd stared at him in stunned silence, before breaking into cheers, Jack handed the cheque to a gobsmacked Rhys. The scientist whispered something to the mayor, who took the microphone back.


“I’ve been told not to say another word,” Rhys managed. “Given the size of this cheque, I’ll let Harkness order me around this once. So, let’s get back to the party!” He gestured to the band, who returned to the stage and began playing.


Jack had to push through a throng of grateful citizens to reach Ianto, who was staring at him with an unreadable expression on his face.


“Why?” the younger man asked when Jack reached him.


“I know how much the centre means to you,” Jack replied, taking Ianto’s hands in his. “It’s your family legacy, and I saw how much it bothered you not to be able to rebuild it. I’ve told you before; all I want to do is make you happy. If it’s in my power, I’ll do it.”


“How did you pull this off?” Ianto demanded, still looking stunned. “I’ve tried every charity in Britain, Europe, and the States. I even tried a loan. I got the same answer every time – money’s tight and because there’s no return on the investment they weren’t willing to risk it.”


Jack nodded. He’d known about the loan, though he hadn’t said anything. “Let’s just say, I have a friend of a friend who owes me a favour and the House of Windsor needed another tax write-off.”


Ianto grew pale. “You mean...” he stumbled a bit over the question.


“Let’s just say he’s a prince of a fellow and leave it at that,” Jack suggested. “It’s a private donation. He’s not interested in publicity; though he would like a report on the centre and for you to use some organic methods in the memorial garden.”


“I think that can be arranged,” Ianto agreed, shaking his head. “Jack ...” he began, his voice cracking with emotion.


“Shhh,” Jack whispered, pressing his fingers to Ianto’s lips. “Your face says it all. Just dance with me?” he asked, pulling Ianto close. As the band started their next number, Jack began to sing along with them, whispering the words just for his partner as they danced.


What is this thing called love


this funny thing


called love


just who can solve its mystery


why should it make


a fool of me?



I saw you there


one wonderful day


you took my heart


and threw it away


that’s why I ask the lord


in heaven above


what is this thing


called love?



What is this thing called love


this funny thing


called love


just who can solve its mystery


why should it make


a fool of me?


“It’s really not a mystery,” Ianto responded gently. “And you’re not so much a fool,” he assured his partner, pulling Jack in closer. “Not unless I am, too.”


“I can live with that,” Jack sighed, resting his head on Ianto’s shoulder as they swayed to the music.


FIN
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