Epilogue - Jesus, Lord, At Thy Birth 30
They stood shoulder to shoulder, both silent, both reflective. The grey obelisk was white with snow, its steps undisturbed except for the spindly skip of bird prints left in an early tribute. The afternoon sun had revealed a down of grass against the bleached earth and made a shoreline of the shade where they stood. The cold pinched at their feet but they stood, despite their injuries, in remembrance.
Ianto's focus was taken with a wreath of faded poppies that still bled against winter's pale background, his mind keen despite the numb of pain killers. He closed his eyes, trying to block the meld of comparisons his tortured mind was weaving; a ring of blood against ashen skin, a bullet hole through flesh, his finger on the trigger leaving a boy dead in the mud. He looked down to the curl of his deceitful hand shaking in the afternoon shadows. Owen cast his mind from his own demons and placed a bandaged hand on the younger man's shoulder. "We done here?"
Ianto looked into the doctor's unbroken gaze. "You need to let it go," Owen informed him as the sky became overcast.
The Welshman placed his hand into the vast pocket of Jack's coat; the doctor let go of his shoulder and looked to the SUV. "We good?"
The young man turned and nodded. "Let's go then, 'cos the sooner we get you back to the Hub, the sooner you can buy me that pint." Owen held out a bandaged hand.
Ianto looked at the proffered limb. "I don't need any help." He began to stagger obstinately through the snow.
"No, course you don't, you carry on being stubborn and fall flat on your face, I ain't had a good laugh for days, not to mention the mess you'd make of Jack's coat."
Ianto stopped and looked at Owen. "Are you appealing to my inner valet?"
"If he ain't as pig-headed as you, then yeah."
Ianto smiled and let the other man cut alongside him. "You know you look like Uncle Fester in that coat," Owen scoffed.
The young man looked down at the corpulent folds of wool that engulfed him; he shot the doctor a pointed looked.
Owen laughed. "Okay, Uncle Fester the early years, you know with hair."
Ianto smiled. "Well, that must make you Wendy as you're too small to be Lurch, although grow a moustache and maybe you could pass, no forget it, definitely Wendy!"
"Oh, just keep it up, tea-boy, remember who's in charge of your meds."
"Can you actually function on decaffeinated?"
"You just don't know when to stop, do you?" He clumsily pulled up the collar of his mud splattered jacket. "Fuck its cold."
Snow began to swirl around them. "It's winter."
Owen looked over his shoulder at the war memorial, closing his eyes on the falling flakes. "Yeah, well it was a lousy summer."
Jack watched them from the road, leaning against the SUV's engine more for warmth than comfort. He could see their banter swirl around them in clouds and he found himself smiling a little at the amity that had developed between them.
The young Welshman swayed slightly, causing Jack to take a step towards them but he relaxed as Owen covertly supported Ianto with the side of his body. He moved his hands back to the heated metal, allowing himself a moment to bask in the speckled daylight.
"She'll be back won't she?" Gwen's words spun on the air in worrying clouds, as she combed the snow from her fringe with woolly hands.
Jack sighed. "Yeah, but next time Torchwood will be ready."
She sat on the bonnet pulling the buff folder from where she had tucked it under her arm.
"Tosh?" Jack enquired.
"Still asleep." She inadvertently gestured to the car; the Captain nodded, watching the advance of the two men across the village green.
Gwen swallowed, opening the folder. "Jack…"
He leaned into the car. "Can't it wait?"
Gwen shook her head. "No," she replied solemnly.
He closed his eyes, drumming his finger on the metal. "Okay."
"While you were at the hospital earlier, I completed the files on the, um soldiers." She handed him the folder; Thomas Rees's face stared out at him from faded monotone.
Jack ran the nub of his fingertips over the stiffly posed image. "He looks different." He was out of uniform, his hair severely scraped back from his head but his eyes; his eyes penetrated the photograph, drawing Jack into their depths.
Gwen's face softened with a smile. "He looks so young."
Jack glanced up. "They all were."
She spared a fleeting look to the roll of names on the memorial. "Yeah."
They held a silence for a moment, the snow settling on the open report from the blanket of cloud. Gwen moved a little closer, turning over the page. The Captain sighed. "It's important Jack," she assured him; he nodded.
"The girl he, you know, Mari Cath Bowen, she died in nineteen-eighteen." Gwen ran her finger down the neatly drafted A4.
Gwen nodded. "The pandemic."
"Hell of a way to go. And the child?"
"A girl, Telyn, she survived, the aunt brought her up as her own."
Jack shrugged. "Okay, so?"
Gwen bit her lip. "Telyn became a nurse, married a pilot who was badly burnt in the war. They had one child, a boy, in nineteen forty-six…" This time Jack turned the page over; squinting slightly at the roll of typeface.
"The boy's name was Rees Kendrick Jones." He looked at Gwen, the name solidifying on the air. "He's Ianto's father Jack."
The Captain looked toward the younger man. "His first wife died in nineteen seventy-two, they had only been married three years. He met and married Ianto's mother in nineteen eighty-one, they had one child…" She continued breathlessly.
"Ianto." Jack touched the printed word with a stroke of his finger; Gwen nodded.
The Captain shut the folder, closing his eyes to coast in thought. The photo Thomas Rees had in the trench, it had been out of place, out of time. In the back of his mind Jack had recognised the blur of the image, the meld of colours; a small boy in a pink Roland Ratmobile, surrounded by Christmas paper, smiling at the camera with a large cuddly Dangermouse passenger; he had seen it before, in Ianto's wallet.
"The blood of Addoedsbren." The sky seemed to darken on his words.
"Telyn's surname was kept as Bowen, her real parentage was probably swept under the carpet, although her middle name was Rees."
"Same as Ianto's," Jack reflected with a smile.
"What are you going to do?" Gwen leant back on the SUV.
"He has a right to know." Jack lay the folder down on the bonnet.
"And the others Jack, Aeddan's widow, Hannah Goode's husband and child…"
"Murder by person or persons unknown." He crossed his arms over his chest, toe poking the snow with his boots.
She pushed back, her body weight making the SUV rock. "What about their closure Jack..?"
"Our job's done here Gwen."
She turned to him, watching as the snow graced his hair, his blue eyes following the path of the two men. "Do you honestly think it would make a difference to them?" He kept his focus on Ianto.
"It might help…"
"No." It was final. Jack picked up the folder and opened the car door. "Let's go home.