Author: Milady Dragon
Pairing(s): Jack/Ianto; Gwen/Rhys
Warnings: Language, Angst
Spoilers: Up through Series One, and Doctor Who S3 E11 and E12, "Utopia" and "The Sound of Drums"
Disclaimer: I don't own Torchwood, I would have treated it better. I also don't own Doctor Who.
Author's note: This is the story leading up to the Year That Never Was. Dating is, as usual, taken from "Ianto's Desktop" and the TARDIS Index File.
Summary: Darkness is falling, and the Great Dragons have called the four Dragon-Friends back to Ddraig Llyn. Ianto is in charge of a splintered team as he tries to figure out how to stop the end of the world.
5 June 2008
Toshiko really couldn’t shake the notion that she’d seen Alice and Steven Carter before.
The fourth Dragon-Friend looked just a little suspicious of them all, and Toshiko couldn’t blame her. Here were four strangers, staring at her with various degrees of welcome and curiosity, and from what she could gather Alice really didn’t have any idea what was going on. The woman clutched onto her son almost convulsively, until the boy wriggled out of her grasp with an irritated, “Mum!” and it broke Alice out of whatever she’d been thinking about, seeing them all sitting around the table.
“Tea?” Estelle offered, trying to ease the tension.
Alice nodded, and everyone seemed to relax just a little
“My son David is about your age, Steven,” Rhiannon said. “I bet the two of you will get along just fine, although I hope you like video games.” She grinned. “Sometimes getting him off that game console is like pulling teeth.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Steven answered, returning her grin.
“It’s Rhiannon, dear,” she offered. “Or Rhi, if that’s easier for you.”
Steven nodded. “Okay, Rhi. Yeah, I love video games.”
“Then, if your Mam is okay with it, let me show you where David is.” She looked at Alice expectantly. “It’s perfectly fine. Everyone’s a friend here, and we all look out for each other.”
Alice’s eyes darted to each person at the table, and then back to Rhiannon. She turned Steven to look at her. “Don’t beat David too badly,” she cautioned, a small smile on her lips.
“No promises, Mum,’ Steven answered brightly.
“Come on, you,” Rhiannon laughed. “And don’t think you’ll be finding my David an easy target, young man…” She led him away, out of the dining room and around the corner, toward the stairs.
“Please,” Estelle encouraged, “have a seat and let me pour you a cup.” She juggled Moses slightly, who didn’t seem all that fussed about it, and busied herself with the tea things. Soon, everyone had their own cup, and Rhiannon was rejoining them, slipping into her own seat.
“They’ll be fine for hours,” she predicted, picking up her own cup. “They’re just in the office, which is under the stairs,” she reassured Alice.
“Sorry,” Alice said, sighing. “I’m just not used to trusting strangers.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Rhiannon said.
“Yeah,” Kathy added, “and I’m sure it’s not helping that it’s obvious we already know each other fairly well. Although, I just met Estelle today.”
“And I’ve just met Kathy and Rhiannon,” Estelle replied. “I don’t know Toshiko all that well either.”
“Maybe we should tell each other a bit about ourselves,” Toshiko suggested. “Just what we feel comfortable with.”
“That sounds like an excellent idea,” Rhiannon said. “Besides, I’m sure Alice is pretty confused about the whole Great Dragon thing.”
“That’s not exactly true,” Alice answered. “I’ve known the Air Dragon since I was about fifteen, and she was always telling me stories about the Great Dragons, and dragon history.”
“I’ve only known for about five months,” Kathy rolled her eyes. “And what I know, I learned from Tosh and Rhi.”
“Well,” Rhiannon said, “I’m descended from the priests and the dragon-friends who’ve always lived in Ddraig Llyn, so I’ve been around dragon-lore all my life. And Ianto, of course.”
“Ianto?” Alice queried, brows drawing down in a frown.
“You might have heard him referred to as the Last Dragon,” Rhiannon answered, somewhat sadly.
Alice nodded. “Yes, the Air Dragon did mention him. You know him?” She sounded almost eager.
“My family was the one who took him in when his family were massacred, and he ran this very inn for centuries. When he left the valley he made me caretaker here.”
“Ianto is one of my best friends,” Toshiko said.
“And mine,” Kathy added.
“As well as mine,” Estelle piped up.
“Kathy, Toshiko, and Estelle are Named as his dragon-friends,” Rhiannon said. “Which is a bit different from being Named by the Great Dragons.”
“I’d love to meet him,” Alice said.
“You will,” Toshiko assured her. “But he’s back in Cardiff, and I think he’s hip-deep in a possible alien invasion.”
Alice suddenly stiffened. “What do you mean…alien?”
“Did you hear the announcement over the radio?” Toshiko asked. “The one where Harold Saxon claims to have made First Contact?”
“No,” Alice shook her head. “I had a CD in for the trip up.”
“And you think this First Contact thing is what caused the Great Dragons to call us here,” Rhiannon said, understanding dawning.
“Well, they can’t see what’s beyond this darkness,” Toshiko posited. “And from what the Earth Dragon has said, it’s happening soon. An alien race seems to have come along and thought it was a really good idea to contact the British Prime Minister. Also, the Fae are withdrawing from this dimension and going back to the Lost Lands, which means what’s going on either isn’t caused by humanity, or doesn’t affect any of the Pacts they’ve made. Sorry, I don’t believe in coincidence; I’ve seen too much to even consider it.”
Alice looked confused. “Fae?”
‘There are many powers in this world,” Estelle supplied, “and the Fae – or fairies, as I’ve always known them – are just one of them.” A sudden fierce look crossed her friendly face. “I know it has to be bad if they’re gone, but after what they did to me and mine I can’t say I’m sad to see them go.”
Toshiko couldn’t blame her one bit.
“If I hadn’t seen the Air Dragon and heard her stories,” Alice snorted, “I’d be saying you were crazy to think that fairies exist.”
“They exist,” Toshiko said. “I’ve seen them myself.”
”You’ve tangled with the Fae?” Rhiannon asked, intrigued.
“Wait,” Kathy said, “I think we’re getting a bit far afield here. If these Fae don’t have anything to do with what’s going on, let’s just table that subject for a bit and try to figure out what’s going on.”
“Good idea,” Alice said. “Please don’t confuse me any more than I already am.” She turned to Toshiko. “You’re awfully sure that there’s some sort of aliens out there. What makes you think that?”
Toshiko paused. She had no reason to hide anything; everyone at the table except Alice knew about Torchwood, so clueing her in made sense. “I…work for an organization that deals with alien races on pretty much a daily basis – “
Alice suddenly stood. “You work for bloody Torchwood!” she hissed angrily.
Toshiko’s mouth fell open. “You know about Torchwood?” she asked, her mind going back to the idea that she’s seen Alice and Steven before. Had it had something to do with a Torchwood case?
Alice didn’t answer. Instead, she stepped away from the table. “I’m getting Steven and we’re getting out of here. I should have known he’d have something to do with this! He probably sent the Air Dragon to find me!”
It then occurred to Toshiko just where she’d seen Alice before. “You know Jack!” she exclaimed. “That’s where I know you from!”
“What do you mean, you know me?” Alice demanded, stopping her backward flight.
“I work for Jack Harkness,” Toshiko answered. “A while back, we had a case where we were all being stalked by a time-walking alien being who was trying to get access to our base.” She didn’t add that Bilis Manger had, indeed, managed to fool them all just long enough to get into the Hub. “He had the entire team under surveillance, and had taken pictures of us…and you and Steven were in a couple of pictures with Jack.”
“That bastard,” Alice swore. “He put me and Steven in danger!”
“He didn’t know,” Toshiko tried to calm her down. “None of us did, until we found them. He didn’t even tell us who you were.” In fact, Jack had confiscated those particular photos and hadn’t said a word about them. She wondered if he’d confided in Ianto at all.
“Besides,” Kathy said, “Harkness didn’t even know about the Great Dragons until recently, and he didn’t meet Ianto until 2000. There’s no way he would’ve been able to send the Air Dragon to you at all. Now, why don’t we just calm down and talk calmly about this?”
Estelle had a serene smile on her face. “You do look very much like your father, dear.”
Now Toshiko could see the resemblance to Jack in her; in her cheekbones and jaw line, and the stubborn look in her eyes. That made sense; Jack had been on Earth for a very long time, there were bound to be offspring out there somewhere.
Although, it seemed a bit out of character for her captain. He’d been waiting so long for the Doctor to arrive, and he‘d been willing to push his soulmate away in order to be ready. Why had he even thought about having children, knowing that one day he’d leave them? It just didn’t seem like something Jack would do, what with his abandonment issues.
Kathy snorted again. “Trust Himself to be spreading it around.”
“Kathy,” Estelle said sharply. “Don’t pretend to know Jack. He’s been around for over a century, and if he got lonely and met someone he wanted to be with, I can hardly blame him. And if anyone had the right to pass blame, it would be me.” She smiled up at Alice. “Your father and I were lovers during World War 2. We were going to get married…but fate came between us.” She laughed. “He came back into my life claiming to be his own son. Really, I do think he could have come up with a better story that that!”
Alice looked surprised by Estelle’s confession. “You…you’re not angry at him for leaving you?”
“Of course not,” Estelle answered. “Have you ever thought how hard it must be for him, living while everyone he loves dies around him, while he stays the same? How much heartbreak has he suffered because he can’t live a normal life? I would never blame him for leaving, when it hurts him so much to stay.”
Toshiko felt warmth spread through her at Estelle’s words. Here was a woman who had touched Jack’s life and had been content to be just a small part of it. She truly understood what Jack went through when he lost his loved ones. She reached over and hugged the older woman with one arm, feeling the tears prickling her eyes. “Thank you for that,” she whispered.
“No need to thank me,” Estelle answered, embracing her in return and trying to keep Moses in her lap. “You and I…we know what our boys suffer, and we support and love them anyway.”
She pulled back, smiling. Toshiko was so grateful that Estelle was there, so grateful that the Earth Dragon had asked her to bring the older woman with her.
Alice sank back down in her chair, looking back and forth between Estelle and Toshiko incredulously. “I can’t believe you trust him.”
“I trust Jack with my life,” Estelle said, “and with my heart. As does Ianto.”
“Your father,” Rhiannon said to Alice, “is the chosen mate of the Last Dragon. They will be together for all eternity.”
“It wasn’t always good between them,” Toshiko added. “Believe me; I’ve seen their relationship at its worst. But now…it’s different. Completely different.”
“Then why did Harkness run off?” Kathy challenged.
“Because Ianto let him go,” Toshiko answered. “Because Ianto trusted Jack to come back…and he will.” She sighed. “He needed answers. He needed to know just why he can’t die. I don’t necessarily agree with Jack leaving like that, but I do understand the need to know why you’re the way you are.”
Alice was shaking her head. “You all have no idea about my father…”
“I think,” Rhiannon said, “that you’ll find you’re the one who has no idea.”
“The Great Dragons knew Jack and Ianto were going to meet even before they actually did,” Estelle said. “The Air Dragon chose you as a Dragon-Friend in preparation for their union.”
“I feel like I’ve been used all this time!” Alice nearly shouted.
“No, not used, Alice. You chose. You could have turned the Air Dragon down, but you didn’t. Does it really make a difference now that you know your father has a destiny ahead of him, much like you do? If you’d known back then what you’ve found out today, would you have said ‘no’ when the Dragon asked you to become a Named friend?”
Alice looked thoughtful at that question, but didn’t answer.
“The Great Dragons gave Ianto a vision,” Toshiko went on, hoping she wasn’t breaking a confidence, “back when he was only about four hundred years old. It was of his future mate: a blue-gray dragon with laughing blue eyes. The dragon was the exact same shade as Jack’s RAF greatcoat, and now we know – from the Earth Dragon himself – that the dragon in the vision was Jack. Now, if the Great Dragons knew all that long ago, can you honestly saw that Jack was behind any of this?” She wondered why Alice didn’t trust Jack, and was hoping that the woman would share that reason at some point.
“All right,” Alice sighed. “I know my dad didn’t send the Air Dragon to me. But I still feel like I’ve been set up, just because of who my father is.”
“Of course that’s why you were chosen,” Rhiannon replied. “Look at us: there’s me, who could be considered Ianto’s only family, dating back to when the Joneses adopted him. Then there’s you; Jack’s daughter. We’re the two who are most closely related to the Last Dragon and his Mate. We were chosen on purpose because of our relationships with them, plain and simple. Who better to be Dragon-Friends than us? I only wish that I’d known about you sooner, because I would have contacted you directly.”
“You’re family,” Estelle pointed out. “Rhiannon, you and Alice…you’re family because of your connections to Ianto and Jack.”
“I’ve always wanted a sister,” Rhiannon grinned.
Alice looked completely overwhelmed, and Toshiko couldn’t blame her. “Look,” she said, “we need to figure out what the Great Dragons want us to do, because I really do think these Toclafane are the reason we’ve been called here. And, personally, I would rather be with Ianto and the rest of the team. No offense.”
“None taken,” Rhiannon said. “Your loyalty is one of the reasons the Earth Dragon Named you. But you’re right; we need to be ready, whatever’s going to happen. And I’m with Toshiko; I think it’s with whatever Harold Saxon has gotten up to.”
“Recriminations aren’t going to accomplish anything,” Estelle replied. “I think we’ll have plenty of time later to find out more about each other.”
“Yep,” Kathy agreed. “I personally want to know what the Dragons are up to.”
“I think we’re about to get your wish,” Rhiannon pointed out the window.
All of them turned to look outside.
The window opened out onto a beautiful view of the lake. The sun was glistening on the water, and as they all watched the view was blocked out by four mighty shapes, lying on the grassy bank, their vibrant wings curled against their backs.
The four Great Dragons had finally arrived.