Word Count: 3,522
Rating: PG-13 (barely)
Summary: A little boy comes through the Rift from 1848, and the team has to take care of him. AU: no one’s dead. No one is going to die. Screw you RTD. Whole team involved. Written for week 6 over at redisourcolor.
Warnings: FLUFF. Oh, my gracious: the sweet, sugar-coated, diabetic-coma-inducing fluff.
A/N: Wooow. Fluff. But I’m actually really, stupidly happy with this idea. So shush! Also, it’s my birthday: I’m allowed to indulge :P
Thanks for everyone who voted, getting this fic first place for challenge 6!!
Jack spun the wheel on the SUV, careening them around the corner. Ianto yelped from the passenger seat, clinging to the handholds above the window. “Jack!”
“What?! Rift alert!”
Another turned corner, another sickening moment of two-wheeled somewhat-controlled skidding. A groan drifted up from the passenger seat, and Ianto’s grip shifted to cling bruisingly to Jack’s thigh. “I’d rather not experience the wonders of centrifugal force every time we get a small surge from the city!”
Jack thumped both feet down onto the brakes, jolting them to an abrupt halt. “This alleyway!”
Leaping out of the car, Jack ran – rather dashingly, if he did say so himself – down the alleyway. He could hear Ianto’s footsteps pounding down on the concrete streets just behind him. There was a scuttling over brick and concrete ahead of them, giving away the presence of something else. Jack pulled out his Webley, hearing Ianto doing the same with his gun. As one they edge farther into the alleyway. “I’m Captain Jack Harkness. I’m Torchwood. Whoever – or whatever – you are, come out with your hands – or similar appendages – up.”
There was another moment of shuffling in the darkness of the alleyway, followed by a soft whimper. Jack glanced over his shoulder at Ianto, who looked as confused as Jack felt. He turned back to the noise. “Hello? We know you’re there.”
A soft cry drifted out of the alleyway. Jack started forward with a rush, holstering his Webley. “Hello?”
As Jack turned around a dumpster, a small, huddled figure came into view. A little boy. Oh, no. “Ianto, was this the location of the Rift spike?”
Jack listened as Ianto tapped away at the PDA, not taking his eyes off of the young boy. “Yes, Jack.” A pause, then Ianto continued, “He looks unharmed. No visible injuries. Maybe…”
Yeah, maybe. Jack sighed. Maybe the boy was uninjured, maybe the boy was still mentally sound. But those were big maybes, and even if the boy looked human, there was no telling where – or when – he was from.
“Hey, son.” Jack dropped down to his haunches. “I’m Captain Jack. Sorry to scare you earlier. We thought that some monsters might be here. What’s your name?”
The boy’s eyes widened: big, blue things that looked too large for his head. But he just shook his head.
Jack tried again. Maybe mentioning monsters wasn’t the best tactic. “Hey, little man. Could you tell me what year it is?”
The boy stared up at Jack with those big blue eyes, until his voice, barely more than a whimper, blurted out “Eighteen forty-eight.”
Twin sighs escaped both Jack and Ianto’s mouths. Well. He straightened up, turning back to Ianto. “Well.”
Their poses mirrored each other: hands on their hips, brows furrowed. Ianto spoke first. “Suppose we should get him back to the Hub. Get Owen to do a full physical, Tosh to see if she can’t send him back. Gwen can talk to him, take care of…” Ianto hesitated, looking somewhat pained, “little...boy…stuff…”
Jack grinned at Ianto’s discomfort. The young man could deal with Hoix, Blowfish, and Daleks, but put a small, squirming bundle of little boy in front of him and he was at a loss. Jack nodded back at the boy. “Let me try and get him to come out. You can get back to the SUV and alert the rest of the team to the situation.”
Ianto nodded sternly and dashed off, but not before Jack could see the relief evident on his face. He smiled, watching Ianto for a moment before turning back to the boy. “Hey there.” He squatted back down again. “Listen, do you have a name?”
The boy stared up at him for a moment, before muttering, “Gwil.”
Jack’s mouth slid open in a silent “Aw”. The boy was absolutely precious. Light eyes, dark hair. Poor thing could be Ianto’s son. Or great-great-great grandfather, as it were. Jack held out a hand. “Well, Gwil. Me and my friend Ianto back there are here to protect you. We want to take you to…” he paused, considering. Orphanages weren’t exactly the most desirable of places back mid-nineteenth century. “We’ll take you to hospital,” he tried instead.
The boy looked suspicious, but reached up his left hand and set it in Jack’s. With a gentle tug Gwil got to his feet. When they got to the SUV Jack hesitated for a moment, before yanking open the front door and climbing in. He picked Gwil up and hauled him into the SUV, setting down on his lap. “You okay?”
The boy was peering around the inside of the SUV curiously. A little hand snaked out to poke at the center console, only to be arrested mid-poke by a stern looking Ianto. “Please don’t touch random buttons inside the very expensive SUV.” The boy blinked, nodded, and settled himself back against Jack’s chest. His bright blue eyes flickered and darted around at the sights flashing by as Ianto sped them back to the Hub.
As soon as they got back to the Hub, little Gwil was the center of attention. Gwen and Tosh oo-ed and ah-ed over him, while Owen tried to wrestle the girls away so he could give the boy a proper physical. The only one who wasn’t cooing over Gwil was Ianto, who had disappeared the moment he had parked the SUV.
Jack finally managed to shoo away Tosh and Gwen, promising them each a turn with Gwil when the time came. Owen managed to drop the kid onto the autopsy table, performing all sorts of medical tests on him. Gwil was surprisingly quiet and patient through it all, even when Owen had to draw blood.
Two hours later, Owen finished the physical and called it a day. “Oh, and hey,” Owen spun around on his rolling chair, holding a fistful of lollypops. “Pick a flavor.”
Jack marveled at the fact that Owen had those, but then again, knowing Owen they were for himself rather than patients. The boy considered the lollypops carefully, before plucking one out of Owen’s grip. Owen showed him how to unwrap them and stick it in his mouth. Gwil’s eyes went big as saucers as the first taste of sugar hit his tongue. “Nice choice: strawberry.”
Jack started forward. “Hey, can I have strawberry too?”
Owen looked through the lollypops in his fist. “Sorry, boss: all out. I’ve got cherry?”
Jack stamped his foot. “Well, I wanted strawberry!”
Owen scoffed, taking a lollypop for himself and rolling across the floor to replace them in their jar.
A half hour later, with his physical finished and most of the team gone for the night, Gwil was cuddled up on the couch beneath a pile of blankets and with a mug of hot cocoa gripped tightly in his hands. Jack smiled at the sight. So Ianto had made himself known at least once, if only to make sure the little one was fed and had a proper beverage.
“Alright, here’s what we’ve got.” Owen trotted up the steps from the autopsy bay, sheaf of papers in hand. “Our new resident is one hundred percent human, seven years old-”
“Seven?” Jack looked at the tiny figure slowly drifting to sleep on the couch. Gently, he pried the mug from his grasp and set it on the table. “He looks younger.”
Owen shrugged, crossing his arms over his chest. “Yeah, well, not like nutrition standards were exactly up to snuff back in the good-old-days. You should know: you lived through them.” Jack grunted, and Owen continued. “Reflexes are relatively normal, if perhaps a bit stunted. Basically he’s about a year behind on everything because of the malnourishment.” Owen shoved the papers into Jack’s hand. “That, plus the massive lung damage, major cancer risks in his future, and missing index finger, he’s just dandy.”
Jack snatched the files away from Owen. “What?”
“Yeah, about that,” Owen sighed. “Seems he was working at some sort of factory: my guess is a textile mill.”
Jack groaned. “Mill scavenger. Shit.”
He frowned down at the tiny figure, now lying down on the couch. He was barely visible under the blanket, and his body barely took up a quarter of the coach. Jack nodded at Owen. “Thanks. I’ll get the files to Ianto – I guess Gwil’ll be fine here tonight.”
Owen nodded, giving Jack a little salute. “Right then, I’m off. See you and the little one in the morning.”
Jack waited for Owen to start down to the cog door before he turned back to Gwil. He was breathing heavily, eyes squeezed shut against the harsh light of the Hub. A single hand poked above the blankets, holding them tight to him. Jack could see the scarred space where an index finger used to be.
“I suppose I’ll be making his breakfast, tomorrow.”
Jack jumped. “Ianto…” Fingertips danced across his neck. Jack turned into him, smiling. “Sneaking up on me.” They kissed, just a firm brush of lips that promised much more later on.
“Looks like something out of Dickens.”
Jack sighed. Poor kid. He turned to Ianto fully, pulling him into his embrace. “Come on. We’ll worry about the little guy in the morning.” With a smack to the arse, Jack pushed a protesting Ianto up to his office. “And you can make eggs for him.”
Jack awoke, sore and happy, to the smell of eggs wafting down into his bedroom. Eggs and bacon, to be more precise.
Jack was up the ladder in two seconds flat.
“Ianto! Bacon? Eggs? Coffee?”
Perfectly composed as always, Ianto appeared, carrying a plate full of food and a mug full of coffee. “Breakfast, sir?”
Grabbing the coffee out of Ianto’s hand, Jack wrapped a free arm around Ianto and pulled him in for a messy kiss. “Beautiful, Ianto.”
Ianto just set the plate of food down on Jack’s desk and backed away, blushing. As he made his escape he turned to Jack. “Oh, and: if you could put on a shirt, I’m sure the young man staying with us would be grateful.”
Jack snickered, but – after a long swig of coffee – dashed back downstairs to get more properly dressed. When he got back up, he peered out of his doorway, shoveling bacon and eggs into his mouth with ravenous speed. Little Gwil was sitting cross-legged on the couch, balancing a plate of food in his lap and glass of orange juice between his legs. Jack snickered at the sight. Everything looked overly large for the boy: the fork, the plate, the glass. He seemed to be managing well enough for himself – shoveling food down as quickly as Jack was. Well, almost as quickly.
Sidling over with his food and coffee, Jack plopped down on the couch next to Gwil. “Hey little man. Enjoying breakfast?”
Gwil blinked those too-big eyes of his, but nodded. “Thank you. Sir.”
Stifling a giggle, Jack ruffled the kid’s hair affectionately. “No need to call me sir. Just Jack or Captain.” He grinned. “Or uncle Jack. I like that. Call me uncle Jack.”
Gwil nodded, quite seriously, even as he shoved a handful of bacon into his mouth. Seeing this, Jack went to push some of his bacon into Gwil’s plate, only to be stopped by a sharp rap on his wrist. Ianto stared down admonishingly at him, a fruit cup in his hand. “But Owen said he was malnourished!”
Ianto handed Gwil the cup. “Exactly. Which means he needs fruits and vegetables. Not meat lovers.”
Jack waggled an eyebrow suggestively, but Ianto didn’t rise to the bait. “I saw Tosh on the CCTV; she’s parking her car now. I suppose you’ll want her to run some tests.”
Just then the cog door alarm went off, and Toshiko walked through. Before Jack could reply to him, Ianto was off, gone to do something…Ianto-y, Jack supposed. “Toshiko! Time to check out our new resident!”
As soon as she set down her purse, Toshiko was bending over the couch, hands on her thighs and grinning at Gwil. “Hello, Gwil. How are you today?”
Baleful eyes stared up at her as Gwil chomped down onto a piece of mango. “Fine, ma’am.”
Jack watched as Tosh’s eyes scrunched up with delight at the polite little boy in front of her.
“Now, I’m going to have to do some tests on you with my fancy…um…tools. But none of them will hurt. Is that okay?” Gwil nodded again. With too much patience for a boy his age, he took Tosh’s hand and hopped off the couch, clutching his little bowl of fruit in one hand.
Jack watched as Tosh ran her tests. As they had predicted, Gwil had come through time in a single hop: no sidetracks or ulterior dimensions. And as the Rift was closed, there was little to no chance of sending him back. Jack told Tosh to not even worry about it: even if they could send him back, it would be cruel to return him to that sort of life.
Now there was just the problem of explaining to young Gwil what happened to him. For that, Jack called on Gwen.
“I don’t know what you expect me to do, Jack.”
Jack sighed, watching as Gwil dug into a peanut butter and jelly sandwich Ianto had provided him. He had guzzled the milk so fast that Ianto had to take it away from him, afraid that he might throw up from all the fat that his body wasn’t used to. He was licking the roof of his mouth like a dog with every bite, eyes wide and astonished at the tastes currently assailing his tongue.
“Just…talk to him. Be maternal: I don’t know. Explain that he’s here, he’s safe, and we’re going to find him a nice family to take care of him.” Jack glanced around, looking for Ianto. “Me and Ianto are going to figure out a way to put him in the system; try and get him into a good home.”
Gwen sighed, but nodded. “Alright, I’ll do my best.”
Jack watched as Gwen sat down next to Gwil on the couch. “Gwil, I’m Gwen. I’m going to tell you…a fairytale. Would you like that?”
“Would you like to get started on child services, sir?”
Jack jumped. “Ianto…” he growled, turning to face him. Ianto was suppressing a smile – poorly – and holding a file in his hands. “Yeah, come on. The sooner we get him away from us, the better.”
Ianto nodded, frowning. “Hub’s not exactly the place to raise a child.”
As much as Ianto seemed to be the most uncomfortable around children, Gwil had somehow taken a liking to him over the rest of them. Jack watched fondly as Ianto slowly became more and more accustomed to the young boy, while in private Jack and Ianto worked on finding a family to raise him.
Tuesday morning, Jack came in to find Gwil holding a large trash bag for Ianto, as they moved through the Hub and cleaned up the detritus from the previous day.
Tuesday afternoon, Jack started to climb up the rigging to feed Mwyfawny, only to spot Ianto and Gwil pouring buckets of chum into her nest. Ianto even grabbed hold of Gil’s waist, steadying him so he could reach forward and run his injured hand over Mwyfawny’s wing. The quiet little boy grinned broadly, blue eyes sparkling as Mwyfawny patiently accepted his groping, much like a large dog with a family child.
The next morning, Jack couldn’t see either of them when he woke up, and so bounded up to the Tourist Office. Sure enough, there was Ianto and Gwil: Ianto standing behind the counter and working at his computer, Gwil with a feather duster, cleaning the shelves and straightening the pamphlets. “Putting him to work, I see.”
Ianto shrugged, eyes barely glancing up from the monitor. “Not sure what else to do with him.” Jack saw the grimace cross Ianto’s face, and the tightness around his eyes. “Still trying to find a family – I’ve narrowed the list a bit.”
Jack nodded absently. “That’s good. Keep working on it.” Glancing over at Gwil, and seeing him occupied with a cobweb in the corner of the room, Jack sidled over to Ianto. He wrapped his arms around his waist and leaned in for a quick kiss. Ianto sighed into it, and when Jack pulled away some of his tension was gone. “Better?”
Jack and Ianto turned to look at the boy; Ianto jumped away from Jack as though he were on fire.
There was a moment of strained awkwardness, until Gwil’s nose scrunched up and he burst into a fit of giggles.
Jack grinned back at the little boy. Crisis averted.
Friday morning, Jack almost died from shock.
He woke up alone in his cot, the smell of coffee wafting down to him. Stretching and dressing, Jack made his way up the ladder and into the main Hub. To his great surprise, it wasn’t just Ianto at the coffee machine. Little Gwil was holding a silver tray with two hands, big eyes watching as Ianto placed three mugs down onto it.
Jack slinked back into his office as he watched the proceedings.
Gwil nodded, not taking his eyes off the mugs.
“Alright, now take them over to uncle Jack’s office, okay? And don’t spill!”
Gwil nodded again, and began to carefully turn around and navigate the short distance from the coffee machine to Jack’s office. Jack ran over to his desk and slid into his chair, waiting patiently for the two.
After what felt like an eternity, Gwil came in, followed by an insanely focused Ianto. His eyes were following every jerk and movement of the tray like it contained smallpox vials, rather than cups of coffee and cocoa.
Finally, Gwil made it to Jack’s desk, setting the tray down.
Ianto put his hand on the boy’s back. “What do you say?”
“Here’s your coffee, sir.”
Jack and Ianto’s eyes met in a moment of intense, irrational pride.
Ianto collapsed on top of Jack, breathing heavily.
The two men groaned as they shifted, maneuvering themselves into a more comfortable post-coital position. Ianto slid off to the side, but kept one thigh thrown over Jack’s, and his head pillowed on Jack’s shoulder. Jack took a moment to bask in the afterglow of the amazing sex. After a minute he moved, nudging at the gorgeous man snuggling into his side.
Jack shook Ianto a little bit. “Hey, don’t fall asleep. I need to talk about Gwil.”
Ianto didn’t say anything or even move, but Jack could sense the difference in his body. His muscles suddenly tensed, where before they had been gooey and loose; his hand suddenly stopped stroking over Jack’s stomach, where before it had been tracing absentminded circles.
“I’m still looking for a family.”
“I know, Ianto. But, I was thinking…” Jack took a breath. “I was thinking…do you want to keep him?”
There was a longer pause this time, followed by a derisive snort from Ianto. “Jack. He’s not a dog, or hamster, or…pteranodon. You can’t just decide to keep him on some sort of whim.”
Jack squeezed Ianto tightly. “I know. You just looked so happy, when you’re with him. I want you to be happy.”
In his arms, Ianto was shaking his head slowly. “Jack, you know I can’t. I don’t even know the first thing about kids, and with Torchwood…”
“I think you’d make a great dad.”
With the position they were in, Jack couldn’t see Ianto’s expression. But he heard his breath hitch, and after a moment the small prick of wetness against his skin.
“Jack,” Ianto’s voice broke, “we couldn’t.”
“But we have been,” Jack reasoned. “It’s been a week, and he’s fit in just fine. You’re turning him into an adorable little Jeeves. And we could get him little suits with little ties and little dress shoes, and take him to the beach and slather him in sunscreen, and take him to school and buy him those little pencil sharpeners, and when he gets older we’ll teach him how to shoot guns, and pick up girls…”
“And boys,” Ianto contributed.
“And boys.” Jack laughed and pressed a kiss to Ianto’s hair, rubbing his back roughly.
After a moment, Ianto pushed himself up, looking down at Jack. His eyes and end of his nose were red, but a shaky grin was forming. “It’ll be impossible.”
“We’re Torchwood.” Jack countered with a shrug.
“He’ll hate us when he’s growing up. All teenagers do.”
Jack shrugged. “No one hates me. I’ll be the fun dad. You can be the disciplinarian.” He waggled his eyebrows on the last word.
“It’ll cut into our sex life.”
Youch. But Jack persisted. “Worth it.”
Ianto’s eyes widened, but now a true grin split his face. “We have to love him no matter what.”
Jack pulled Ianto down into a kiss. As they parted, Jack mumbled against Ianto’s lips: “Good thing I’ve had lots of practice with you.”
Next story in series - Gwil's Guide to Growing Up Torchwood: Year One
NB: Since about 60% of commentators requested a sequel/follow-up series with little Gwil, there is now one in the works. I've got a few backlogged request fics I'm working on, but as soon as I get some of those done I'll start work on the sequel/follow-up series (haven't figured what I'm doing quite yet). Okay?! Happy now?!
- Main Torchwood slash page
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- Amazon.com - Torchwood: Children of Earth
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- Amazon.ca link - Torchwood - The Complete First Season (7DVD)