Fic: Chosen. (Part IV)
Summary: They stole him. Just a little. Seconds of him, snatched out of time, out of space, taken beyond the World. To protect it. To protect Him.
The Faeries are tricky and not a little egotistical. They are content to hide in shadows but they have Ianto now. Ianto doesn't need to hide, he's like them, the humans, and they are going to make sure that he is seen everywhere. Humans make it so very easy, wires and signals connect everything and flipping switches is easy. No-one sees them do it. One switch and the world can see and hear the battle. The world watches as the politicians and military and Jack and his family follow Ianto into the room on Floor 13.
Dekker is already there, hovering like a sadistic satellite, the fire of bloodlust in his eyes. Ianto brushes past him, knocking him with his shoulder. Dekker coughs and Ianto spins. Something about the man is wrong, his energy doesn't vibrate so much as crawl and Ianto wrinkles his nose in disgust. "When this is over," he whispers, pushing into Dekker's personal space, "I am going to destroy you."
The Faeries agree. If Ianto doesn't bury the man in some squalid prison they are going to stuff him with petals and thorns until he pops.
Moving in front of the group of people, Ianto approaches the tank. Looking at it now, he has no idea why he tried shooting at the glass. It's clearly bullet-proof and shatter resistant; it would have to be to contain that noxious gas. He has no idea why he didn't try shooting the hoses feeding the tank. He was already dead, the fumes would have only made it quicker but he would have taken the alien out with him. He'd have liked that. But that moment is gone and he watches as the alien's shadow looms through the gas. He knows what's in that tank, what the strange creature has brought with it. What it's feeding off.
The Faeries are hissing in outrage. The child was never one of theirs, none of the twelve were, but they still are angered. They revere children in a way that makes humans seem callous and abusive. If they could, Ianto imagines that they would steal every child and take them to the Wild for good. But they can't. Only the Chosen can live in the Wild. Ianto ignores the spitting voices, and focuses on the tank.
"Hello, I'm Ianto Jones."
"We know. We remember killing you."
Ianto narrows his eyes, he can feel Jack shifting behind him and knows that if he turns round Jack will have his jaw locked and be trying to burn holes through the glass with his stare. Ianto thinks it's sweet. "Then I don't really need to say why I'm here do I?"
"You've come to beg for us to change our demands."
Ianto doesn't know if they can see him, he hopes they can, because he has the most sinister smile on his face. "Not quite."
Rhiannon is pressed as close to the television as she can get. For once she is grateful that Johnny bought a huge ugly widescreen that is far too big for their living room. Gwen is hovering over her shoulder, just as desperate to see that Ianto is truly alive and Rhiannon has to concede that maybe the woman does care about him.
"Uncle Ianto is pissed."
"David!" Her scolding is half-hearted: it's not as if David has it wrong. Her brother is wearing the same face he wore when Johnny really got him riled up.
"Well he is."
"What's in the tank?" one of the children asks. Rhiannon thinks its young Thomas from two doors down.
"'S an alien."
"Yes," Mica whispers. "It is."
"Aliens aren't real."
"Quiet the lot of ya," Johnny blusters. "I'm trying to listen."
Rhiannon isn't trying to listen, she's content just to watch, watch her brother. "He's alive." She turns to Gwen, "You said–"
"I know. He was. Jack must've..." Gwen trails off, frowning at the screen. Rhiannon isn't sure what Jack has supposedly done, it doesn't matter really.
"Which one is he then?"
Gwen looks at her, "Sorry?"
"Jack." Rhiannon's face is suddenly alive. She wants to know who it is that her brother is seeing. To see if he's as good looking as Susan said he was. Like a film star she said, can't be that hard to make him out really. "Which one is he?"
Gwen's face twitches into an impish smile and in the background both Rhys and Andy groan. They've bonded somewhat over their dislike of the Torchwood boss, and their admiration for Ianto. She points at the screen, at an undeniably handsome man in a long blue coat, holding the hand of a little boy. "That's Jack."
There is something smug in her tone and Rhiannon looks at her curiously. "Well," she says, breathing out, somewhat shocked over just how good looking the man is. "Our Ianto's got taste. He's gorgeous."
"What's that then?" Johnny asks.
Johnny squints at the screen. "He doesn't look like a ponce."
Rhys laughs; it's a belly laugh because he wishes that Jack could hear this. Not the bit about him being gorgeous – he's big-headed enough – but he'd really like to see Johnny and Jack meet. "Trust me mate, you won't think that when you meet him."
"Rhys," Gwen hisses, smacking him with the back of her hand. "Stop it."
"He is gorgeous though, isn't he?" Rhiannon seems dumbfounded at Jack and she's looking for someone to agree with her. Tell her that her eyes aren't deceiving her.
"Wonder how your brother got him then?"
Gwen snorts. A year ago she'd have been uncomfortable with such talk, her feelings for Jack would have clouded the issue, but after seeing them together, seeing the lengths they went for each other she's forced herself to move on. She loves Jack, but she loves Ianto too.
"You know!" Rhiannon's watching her carefully; desperate for all the juicy details and Gwen feels to have found the kindred soul she lost when Tosh died. Here is someone to share her fascination with Jack and Ianto's relationship and Gwen is itching to tell. The only problem is that they are in a room full of kids and she doesn't want to let Ianto out of her sight. She suspects that Rhiannon feels the same.
Gwen nods, looks deliberately at the kids before responding, "Let's just say Jack doesn't take no for an answer and Ianto gives as good as he gets."
Rhiannon isn't satisfied with that answer, but it's the best that she will get for the time being. When all of this is over though she and Gwen are going to have a long chat and maybe a glass of wine. "They're good together though, yeah?"
"Oh yeah," Rhys buts in, "Ianto's got him wrapped round his little finger."
Andy nods. Even he'd seen it. "Yeah, Captain Flash doesn't even flirt when he comes into the station anymore. It made Swanson's day last time."
"Why would he?" Gwen mutters, her mouth moving faster than her brain, "Ianto's there to play naked hide-and-seek."
Four pairs of wide eyes turn to her and a little voice pipes up, "Why's Uncle Ianto playing naked hide-and-seek?"
"Our demands remain the same. We want ten per cent of the children of Earth."
"And if we refuse?" Ianto asks, his tone even.
"Then you will die."
There is no sound. No one dares to even breathe after the 456 representative makes its pronouncement. There is a finality about its tone that everyone recognises, despite the difference in species and a heavy tension settles in the air. The only one apparently unfazed seems to be Ianto, who is watching the gas-filled tank with an amused smile. Alice shifts uncomfortably.
"Why is he smiling?" she whispers to her father, her eyes trained on her son, who is watching Ianto avidly. Steven hasn't taken his eyes of the young man since the magic tricks earlier. The little sprig of hyacinth is still tucked in his pocket and he is swinging his mother's hand. He seems almost cheerful, there is no sign of his earlier fear and Jack stops him swinging, by squeezing his little hand. Steven offers him a brilliant smile, his attention on Jack for a split second before it returns to Ianto.
Ianto stuffs his hands into his pockets and shrugs nonchalantly. He is looking more unkempt by the second and Jack is seriously having inappropriate thoughts; Ianto all mussed is quite delicious, it's like he has just rolled out of bed after a long hard shag. "I think we are going to have a problem then."
There is a wheezing sound from the glass tank, as if the alien is laughing at them, and Ianto ducks his head, almost demurely. Behind him the soldiers are shifting restlessly, their fingers tickling nervously at their weapons. They are men of action and all this talking is making them nervous. "You are going to sacrifice your world for children?" the alien asks.
Ianto laughs and Jack thinks he can hear a soft childish echo behind it. "I don't know how things work where you are from, quite frankly, I'm not sure that I care. But here, on Earth? Here we look after our offspring. We protect them. On every level imaginable."
Across the world television sets, radios, internet sites broadcast everything Ianto says. Mothers and fathers gather their children closer, compelled by the softly spoken Welsh-tinted words. Teachers, forced to work despite the crisis, watch their charges. No one speaks; they simply gather together in clusters that haven't been seen since humans believed themselves too evolved to need such basic comforts as company and watch as one man stands up for all of them.
"We gather in family units, and no matter how hard we try not to, we are forced to put our children first. We feed them, clothe them, put roofs over their heads and when we can't do that then the state steps in. Do you know how many government departments are dedicated to the welfare of children?" Ianto shakes his head. "We even have medical specialities dedicated entirely to care for their needs. They have their own museums, films, television channels, clothes stores, toy stores and even charities. Children are central to our lives. We are biologically hardwired to protect them, just like every other species on this planet. Do you really think we are going to give them up without a fight?"
The alien wheezed again. "Then you will die."
"I don't think so." Ianto's voice is cold and hard and Jack is quite sure that he has never heard anything like it from his lover before. He sounds inhuman. "Ten per cent of the children of the Earth correct?"
"Do you know what ten per cent of nothing is?" Ianto asks, almost childishly.
The grin on Ianto's face widens and his eyes light with an almost unholy glee. "Correct."
The wind whispers and Steven vanishes.
A wind whips through the Davies' small council flat in the outskirts of Cardiff taking with it every child in their care. That very same wind steals its way all through Cardiff, London, Madrid, Tokyo, Marrakech, Sydney, Johannesburg, New York and all the cities in between, smelling of rose petals and fresh sweet water and leaving not a single child behind. It is the legend of Changeling children made real, Faeries stealing them away from the world but they haven't left anything behind. Nurseries are empty, toys abandoned and a forlorn swing rocks gently in the wake of it and across the world parents don't know whether to mourn their loss or be grateful that the aliens can't hurt them anymore. Wherever they are it has to be better than this threatened world.
Or so they hope.
"Steven! Steven!" screams Alice, looking frantically around for her son before launching herself at Ianto. Jack, like everyone else around the world, is too stunned to even move, let alone stop her. But Ianto catches her easily, thwarting all attempts she makes at hitting him and laughing all the while. "What did you do?"
The alien is screaming, its cries are visceral and one of its limbs thrashes against the bullet-proof glass of its cage.
"I changed the game," he answers, as if it explains everything. To him it really does but everyone else seems confused. "You can't steal ten per cent of the children of this planet if there are no children."
Jack moves forward, approaching Ianto as if he were a spooked wild animal. "Ianto, what is going on?"
Ianto smiles at him, as if sharing a secret, and he looks so young that it hurts. Jack had always been aware that Ianto was young, but it's always hidden it behind his suits and capability so it lulls him to forgetfulness. For the first time he sees how truly young his lover is. He caught a brief flash of it when Ianto lay dying in his arms but the virus had fogged him enough that it was only a momentary realisation. Now though, whatever else the Faeries have done to him, Ianto's youth is very apparent. Especially here, amongst all the suits and uniforms and stern expressions, Ianto seems like a wild free thing and he is beautiful.
If a little mad.
Ianto spins from Jack, almost pirouetting on his toes and neatly ducks around Alice to stand in front of the glass cell. "So now, we are in a quandary. You were holding us hostage for our children but I've taken away your prize, Come away o' human child." The more he speaks the more he sounds like them and Jack is finding it just that little bit unnerving. The alien is just as disquieted if his thrashing is anything to go by. But Ianto carries on, his voice almost sing-song. "If you wipe us all out then there will never be another child for you to try to steal. You'll eradicate your own pleasure drug. So the way I see it, there are three choices. You try to kill us and we retaliate. You leave here and come back in however many years, hoping we've forgotten, and we retaliate. Or, you steal off back into whatever hell spawned you and we let you go."
"Bring them back!"
"You will bring the children back or we will kill you."
Ianto laughs. "No you won't."
"We have killed you before. We will do so again."
"Try! Try! Try!" Ianto cries, and Jack is terrified. This is not his lover. This windswept madness is belongs to the Faeries. He wraps his arms around Ianto, pulling him away from the containment cell, but Ianto continues to goad the alien. "Poison us. Release your virus. Come on!"
Around him the people shift, their eyes wide with terror. Ianto is a madman amongst mortals. Only Alice is unafraid, everything she had to live for is gone. Stolen by the wind. Death would be a welcome reprieve from the heartache she is feeling right now. Dekker flees, running for the containment suits that are floors below. He can hear the pounding of boots behind him and knows that he isn't the only coward in the room.
The alarm broadcasts itself quite clearly over the television and Rhiannon barely has the chance to realise that her children are gone before her brother begins to beg for death.
The contamination alarm sounds, harsh and piercing, and the sound of the locking doors echo through the empty building. Some start to run but Ianto remains motionless. Watching.
The alarm stops.
"What?" The alien smacks the glass wall with one limb, making the glass shudder. "What have you done?"
Ianto shakes his head, mockingly forlorn. "It's so hard to spread an airborne virus when you don't control the air."
Jack laughs. It's a real laugh; it bubbles from him like champagne and forces Ianto to smile. "Jones, Ianto Jones – you gorgeous man!"
"I'm offended Sir, you almost sound like you doubted me." Ianto raises a challenging eyebrow at his Captain.
"Never." Jack vows before he ruffles himself and almost struts towards the tank. "You didn't see that coming did you!"
The alien is screaming, thrashing and spitting at his cage and Jack is alight with vengeful glee. Which appears to be spreading. The politicians are grinning, self-congratulatory smiles as if they have won this war and the soldiers are looking relieved.
"This is not over," the alien spits, a splash of bile splattering against the glass. "We will wipe out your insignificant little race."
"I don't think so," sings Jack, his grin almost blinding. He's bouncing in a manner stolen from the Doctor and, although Ianto and the Faeries have pulled this off, he knows how it feels to be indestructible. "They are going to destroy you."
In the middle of the madness, Ianto is an oasis of calm, his emotions determined to do the exact opposite of everyone else. He is the night to their day. "You cannot defeat us. We are the air. We are the water. Every element is ours."
The alarm sounded again.
"It's sweet really," Ianto laughs as the alarm drones to a stop. "You only have one trick, and we have so many. You can't handle our atmosphere, what about our cold?"
As Ianto speaks ice begins to creep up the glass, Jack Frost tracing little patterns as it crystallises over the spit and the scent of roses permeates the room.
"I am just one of many. They will come," the alien intones, "Kill me. They will avenge me."
"Can they feel it? When you die?"
The ice is creeping higher and the smell of roses is getting stronger. The alien has stopped trashing.
"Yes. The can feel it."
"So you are telepathic? You communicate."
"We do." Ianto moves towards the tank and presses his hand against it. "You can leave. You don't have to die." The ice melts a little, a show of compassion. "We are not monsters."
There is a gurgling, and Alice whispers, "Is it dead?"
"No." Thames House begins to shake. "Foolish humans. Cold does not hurt us, we were born in ice. This is your last chance."
Ianto moves back from the tank and the temperature in the room plummets. Ice creeps across the floor, racing away from the tank and towards Ianto.
"You will be eliminated. You might be able to control the air in one place but can you control it all over the world? All it will take is one person, one infected and our plague will spread. You will take that chance?"
Ianto is far from the whirling euphoria he displayed earlier. He is like the ice at his feet, so controlled he is almost robotic. The other humans shrink away from him, retreating further back into the room. "We control the air. We control the water. We are in everything. We are everywhere."
The shaking gets worse and Ianto closes his eyes. There is a rumble, and the Prime Minister yells, "The building is coming down!"
"No it's not." Ianto grits out, still searching for his target. "Shut up."
He can hear the 456's ship entering the atmosphere, a sonic boom that pierces the limits of his reach.
"Ianto?" Jack asks, his arms wrapped around Alice, as the shaking worsens.
"We are the air. We are the water. We are in everything. We are everywhere." Ianto repeats, it's a mantra helping him search out the threads he needs. The Faeries are gone, protecting the children just as he'd planned, and all he can do is use what they gave him. Be what they made him.
Before the Chosen.
Outside of Time. Outside of the Earth.
Aware of the energy thrumming through everything.
Parts of the building are falling, the tiles in the ceiling are dropping like stones and there is screaming. But he can't help that now. His web is too important to worry over the little things.
It's like a solar flare. The light erupts from Ianto like lava from a volcano. It sweeps through the room, rushing like an avalanche straight towards the 456. The alien barely has time to scream before the energy engulfs it in a flaming ball of fire that spirals up into the sky. Despite the death of the one, the energy pours forth, spiralling and twisting and rushing towards the ship that's within its reach. The minute they broke through the atmosphere they doomed themselves, because the web only reaches so far. It's tied to the Earth, tied to the air and Space is the one thing it can't breach.
Ianto's body is silhouetted against the golden light and Rhiannon can't bear to look. She turns herself towards Gwen whose arms come around her, although she doesn't turn away.
The ship explodes, debris raining down like flaming snow and the energy dissipates. Sent back into the Earth it comes from. The absence of sound is as deafening as the light was blinding and Jack's vision isn't quite right when Ianto drops to the floor.
They've played this scene before. Jack clutching Ianto's prone body on the floor of this very room. The tank is empty now, a twisted mess of metal and glass that has melted into obscure and macabre shapes.
"Ianto?" Jack pats at his face and Ianto's eyes flutter open. "Hey there."
"Jack." Ianto's hands clutch at the arm around his chest and he motions for Jack to help him up. "Need to call them back. It's over."
"They're gone?" Pierce is moving towards them, Colonel Oduya trailing behind him.
Ianto nods. "Dead. Blown out of the sky."
"What are you?" Johnson asks her gun in her hand. Across the world there are others thinking the same thing. The only difference is, Ianto Jones, to them is a saviour. To her, he is an unknown threat.
"Back off," Jack growls, curling himself around his lover. They did not go through all of this for her to shoot him.
"I'm the only one who can call the children back," Ianto murmurs, "The Faeries are keeping them until I call. So get that gun out of my face right now."
Johnson doesn't waver. It is another soldier, a man obviously with kids of his own, that disarms her before glaring the others down. There seem to be more parents in the room than non and the soldiers are suddenly Ianto's to command.
"Help me up?" and Jack does. He helps Ianto to stand, to face the destruction he's caused and he tries not to worry when Ianto leans heavily against him.
"It's over." Ianto says. He pauses slightly before choking out what they need to hear. "He's safe."
The wind stirs, slowly picking up speed until it roars across the world, stirring up leaves and uprooting trees but gently placing each and every child in the places they came from.
"Steven!" Alice runs towards her son, wrapping herself around him like a blanket. The boy seems nonplussed and he stares at the destruction of the room in wide-eyed wonder. Her hands frantically fly over his body, searching out any small imperfection. There is none to be found. "You're ok."
"What happened?" he asks, his voice small.
"It doesn't matter," his mother answers, tears in her eyes.
"He's safe," Ianto murmurs, leaning more into Jack with every passing moment.
"You said that before." Jack whispers, adjusting his grip so that Ianto is comfortable.
Ianto hums and around them all those with children are frantically talking into their mobile phones, checking that their children have been returned just as Steven has. If Ianto is their saviour, then Steven is the miracle proof that they needed.
"What did you mean?" Jack whispers, "Why did you say "he" and not they?"
"I don't understand." Jack pulls Ianto in tighter. "What about Steven?"
Ianto doesn't reply. His head is resting on Jack's shoulder. His weight is warm in Jack's arms.
Rhiannon has Mica in one arm and David in the other. Johnny is wrapped around all three of them. She can hear Gwen, Rhys and Andy celebrating with the other children. Her phone is ringing and the doorbell is chiming and she can't see for the tears of joy running down her cheeks. Her baby brother is a hero and everyone knows.