I'm sorry for the long delay. I don't really have an explanation except for lack of inspiration. This isn't the best chapter I've written for this story but I knew I had to get something up to let you know I'm still thinking of this story.
This chapter contains humour (not as much as I originally planned, I'm afraid) and some family angst—Cadfael Sr. has that talk with his brother Dylan.
Jack had just returned to the Hub after a relaxing lunch in town with Ianto when there was a Rift alert. Jeanie was out retrieving certain unauthorised objects from an antique dealer.
"How's it look, Tosh?"
"Not too big, I think it's just an artefact."
"Good. Owen, you're with me, been awhile since you've been out on a pick-up. Hermes" he called.
It was Hermes' second day back at the Hub since his ordeal. As that was only just under three weeks ago and he'd been hospital for only six days, he technically shouldn't be back at work. But he'd been going stir crazy and he was well enough to move around, if his antics at the party the other day were anything to go by. His ribs were still healing so he had to be careful but he was very knowledgeable and he really shouldn't be allowed to get bored "S'up?" Hermes appeared at the railing.
"You wanna get out of the Hub, come with me and Owen to pick up some space junk?"
"Was I or wasn't I the head Archivist at Torchwood One? Of course I do" he started down the stairs.
Owen came up beside Jack, gear in hand "Sure you want to…?"
"He needs to get outside. Where's it at Tosh?"
"Just on the outskirts of Roundstone Wood."
"Send the coordinates to my PDA. Let's go boys."
"How you feeling, Hermes?" Owen asked when they were on the way to the wood.
"No different than when you asked me an hour ago, Owen."
"Just making sure. I really think you should still be at home resting."
"I only have two broken ribs. I'm fine."
"When I want your professional opinion Dr Harper, I will ask for it."
Jack sighed and switched lanes "Guys, come on. Hermes, Owen is just…"
"I know" Hermes was in the back and he put a hand on Owen's shoulder "I'm sorry, Owen."
Owen shrugged "S'okay, you're as bad as Ianto."
Jack rolled his eyes "So Hermes, what're your parents up to today?"
"Each other, I imagine."
Jack laughed and Owen said "TMI."
The rest of the drive passed in silence. About halfway to the site of the Rift opening Owen tripped on a shoelace "Shit."
"Catch up Owen" Jack called back as he and Hermes continued along.
It wasn't hard to find the object, it was right there in the middle of a clearing. It was box shaped, three feet high and three feet wide.
"Should it be glowing?" Hermes asked taking a step forward.
Jack grabbed his arm "I don't know." He tapped his Bluetooth "Tosh, give me a reading." But before she could answer the light enveloped Jack and Hermes.
Owen had hobbled back to the SUV to treat his skinned knee and make sure his shoelaces were good and tied. He had heard Jack talk to Tosh over the comms and then there was a screeching sound as if Jack had dropped his ear piece on the ground.
"Did you hear that Owen?" came Tosh's voice.
"Yeah, I did."
"What was it?"
"No idea, I'm back at the SUV. Tripped over a branch" he lied. "Jack" he tried on the comms "Hermes?" There wasn't an answer. "Tosh, they still by that Rift opening site?"
"According to their mobiles."
"Okay, I'll go take a look." As he neared the site he heard what sounded like crying, baby crying. When he rounded the corner he saw two babies, no more than 18 months tangled up in Jack and Hermes's clothes "Oh my God."
The one who had crawled halfway out of Jack's coat waved a hand at Owen, then pointed at the box. The one who was now sitting completely starkers on top of Hermes's clothes indicated the group of trees which were saplings. That can't be right. These trees should be fully grown.
"Tosh" Owen said into his Bluetooth once he had sussed out what happened "Jack asked you for a reading, what was it?"
"There's nothing now."
"But what was it when he asked you?"
"Just residual Rift energy, should have been harmless."
"Well it wasn't. The space junk has turned everything within a ten foot radius of it into babies."
"You heard me. I'm gonna need some help out here. Might wanna call their parents."
Both babies shouted "No!"
"You mean Jack and Hermes…?" Tosh asked.
"No more than 18 months by the looks of it. Not sure yet how much they can talk, definitely know the word no."
Baby Jack stood and toddled over to Owen "No Daddy."
On reflex Owen scooped him up "Oi, you don't have any shoes on. Why don't you want your dad?"
"Too, too" Jack growled as he clearly couldn't say whatever word he was going for "go Hub."
Owen realised Jack was naked and he set him back down on his clothes "You know, you're lucky Gwen's off today, she'd be all over you two. Tosh," he said into the comms "really gonna need some help."
Jeanie's voice came over the air waves "On my way, Owen, Tosh just told me. You might want to get Jack and Hermes away from the site till I get there, in case the object wants to do it again."
"Right" Owen looked at Jack and Hermes who were looking up at him expectedly "Looks like we're gonna be waiting at the SUV for Jeanie. Now how am I gonna carry the both of you?"
Baby Hermes pointed to himself "walk."
"Not without shoes" Owen wrapped them up in their shirts and managed to carry them, one under each arm, back to the SUV. He had to set them down to open the back door. There was no way they could climb in on their own so Owen had to pick them up again.
Once inside Jack said "Wan' coat."
"Later" Owen sighed "it's not going anywhere."
"Dirt, Ianto no like."
Hermes wriggled out of his shirt.
"Put that back on" Owen said.
Owen sighed heavily "Fine, have it your way. That time lady better hurry up."
The one good thing about all this was that Hermes and Jack could communicate with each other. Jack had also scrambled out of his shirt but Owen didn't protest this time, clearly seeing it was pointless to argue. For a few minutes Hermes and Jack just sat in the back of the SUV and watched Owen as he paced while waiting for Jeanie.
Any idea how this happened? Jack asked Hermes with a nudge.
Beats me. I didn't get a good look at the thing before it de-aged us. How are you feeling?
Jack shrugged. Weird. You?
Hermes sighed, like I haven't felt in millennia. It's kind of nice.
Yeah, Jack flashed a mostly toothless grin, it does feel, I don't know, refreshing in a way. Maybe we ought to have fun with this while we can.
Hermes matched his grin Sounds like fun to me.
Roughly an hour later…
Ianto entered the Hub via the lift, Owen had sounded pretty urgent on the phone so he figured he'd take the quick way in. As he descended he noticed some kind of commotion going on. He saw Tosh, Owen and Jeanie but no sign of Jack and Hermes. Instead there were two toddlers, apparently giving the others hell. On one side a very naked baby boy with a full head of curly black hair was climbing the rails to Owen's lab.
Owen was trying to catch him "You come down from there, Hermes or I swear I'll spank your butt."
What? The Hub reached the bottom and Ianto turned his attention to the other toddler. He was on top of a desk and holding Jeanie's sonic lipstick.
"Give that back" Jeanie said.
"No" the boy giggled "mine!"
"No, mine!" Jeanie grabbed the baby's hand "Let go, Jack!"
Jack? Ianto stepped in the middle of the Hub "What the hell is going on?"
Owen had grabbed the baby he called Hermes and approached him "Spot of bother with some space junk. It turned Jack and Hermes into toddlers."
"It did what?"
"Ianto!" squealed the one they were calling Jack and he held his arms up as if he wanted to be held.
"I think Jack wants you" Owen said.
Thinking that this was definitely the strangest thing that had ever happened Ianto went over to baby Jack—who was as starkers as Hermes—and picked him up.
"Ianto!" Jack said happily.
"Oh Jack, cariad, what happened to you?"
"Don't worry Ianto" Jeanie said, tucking her recovered lipstick in her pocket "I've examined it and the effects are temporary. Jack and Hermes should be back to normal tomorrow."
"Well that's good" unable to help himself, Ianto kissed Jack's forehead "are you okay, Jack?"
"Okay. No call Daddy."
"Why not? He might like to see you like this."
"I've already called Frank and Hermes's parents" Owen said "they'll be here soon."
Methos was not happy. First of all, Maia wasn't around because she was having dinner or whatever with some friends that she absolutely could not get out of. Then he gets a call from Owen saying that Hermes was in some sort of accident with Jack that he wouldn't discuss over the phone. And because he was still upset at his wife, he didn't bother to call her. If it was really important she'd know anyway and be there.
He ran into Jack's father Franklin out on the Plass "Hey Frank" he said as pleasantly as he could.
"Hey Methos" he shook his hand "any idea what this is about?"
"Owen didn't tell you either?"
"Nope, just said Jack needed me and to get over here right away."
"Yeah, that's what he said about Hermes. As you can see my lovely wife isn't here, has a canasta game or whatever." Methos sighed "I guess there's only one way to find out. Shall we?" he stepped up on the lift.
Frank stood next to him and before Methos could reach for his mobile the lift descended. Hermes and Jack were nowhere to be seen in the Hub, well that is to say Hermes and Jack as adults weren't seen. Ianto was holding a toddler on his hip, a toddler with Jack's eyes and there, Methos recognised an 18 month Hermes climbing on a desk.
"What the hell?" Frank breathed.
Methos leaped off the lift before it came to a full stop, rushed over to Hermes and scooped him up "Oh Hermes, how did this happen?"
"Box!" Hermes started to squirm "down!"
"Nope, I'm not putting you down. I haven't seen you like this in millennia, let your old man relish the moment. Be glad your mother is with her friends today."
Hermes visibly relaxed and let Methos cuddle him.
"That's Jack, I take it" Methos nodded his head towards the baby Ianto was holding.
Frank ruffled Jack's hair "Hey there, Junior. How in blazes did this happen?"
"Box came through the rift" Owen explained "the three of us went to check it out but I tripped and skinned my knee. I was back at the SUV when it happened. The box turned everything within a ten foot radius into babies."
"Shit" Frank said "Here Ianto, want me to take him off your hands?"
Ianto's cheeks were red "I'm not sure that's such a good idea right now, sir. Can 18 month old boys, uh, well you see he's pressed right against my hip and well…"
Methos guessed what Ianto meant "It's very possible, Ianto. Didn't you ever change your son's nappies?"
"I didn't see him that much when he was in nappies."
Frank chuckled, apparently he knew what Ianto meant too "No worries Ianto, even when Jack was a baby he could turn it on and off, it's a 51st century thing. It'll stop when you hand him to me."
"Good because my arms are tired."
Jack swatted Ianto "No fun!"
Frank took Jack from him "Why aren't they wearing any clothes?"
"They refuse" Owen grumbled "but at least they have control of their bladders."
"Jack was potty trained at 17 months" Frank said.
"I think Hermes may have been a year" Methos mused "but he was a godling after all. How long will they be like this?"
"Oh they should be back to normal by morning" Jeanie said.
"It really is best" Frank drawled as Ianto chased Jack around the living room "if you just let him run around and wear himself out. You really don't need to chase him."
"You should listen, Ianto" Cadfael said, he had finally calmed from his hysterical laughter when he learned what happened to Jack "I'm sure Frank knows what he's talking about."
Ianto glared at him "Aren't you meeting Uncle Dylan for dinner or something?"
"As a matter of fact," Cadfael rose to his feet "I should get going. I can still borrow your car, yes?"
Ianto tossed the keys at him "You break it, you bought it."
Rini caught Jack around the waist "Got you, Daddy!"
Baby Jack shrieked with laughter. Cory was reading James and the Giant Peach and seemed unconcerned with the events around him.
It wasn't dinner actually, Cadfael and his youngest brother were just going for a walk. They had a lot to talk about and Dylan was quite obviously nervous about it.
"So, what's up?" Cadfael asked when he found Dylan at the prescribed bench in the park "you know, it's nearly sunset, park after dark, not wise, could be weevils."
Dylan sighed as he stood "We don't have to stay here."
"Why didn't you want to have dinner somewhere?"
"I don't want anyone to over-hear me, it's a touchy subject." He took a breath "I've been clean for five years, Cadfael."
"So I hear, thanks to Douglas I understand."
Dylan nodded "He saved my life, well, that is to say he prevented me from ending it sooner. I probably won't live to be sixty."
Cadfael felt a twinge of fear "Why do you say that?"
Dylan actually looked frightened.
Cadfael stepped closer and took his brother's hand "You're not afraid of me are you?"
Dylan was looking at the ground "I'm afraid of how you might react."
Cadfael sighed "Baby brother, I love you, you know that. Now, I have a feeling of what you're going to say but I need to hear it from you."
Dylan lifted his chin "I had a run in with a dirty needle and I have HIV. Doug is still clean, we're very careful. You're still holding my hand."
"Of course I am, I'm your brother and I'm not ignorant, Dylan." He pulled him into a hug, not knowing what else to say, what he should say. So he set Dylan back on the bench and sat next to him "So, how did you and Doug meet anyway?"
Dylan smiled softly "I was living in San Francisco at the time and I had just gotten the results of the HIV test. I was kind of depressed. I got drunk, went to my dealer and bought some more heroin, what did it matter anymore anyway? I found an alley and decided to shoot up there. I knew somehow it would be my last time but I thought I'd overdose. Anyway, this alley was behind the bookshop Doug was doing a signing at. He'd stepped out back to have a smoke and found me" he took a breath
"I don't remember much at all but he tried to stop me, preaching the dangers of it. He says I shouted at him, saying that it didn't fucking matter and I threw the test results at him. He told me it wasn't the end of the world, that I could still have a full life, that I wasn't dead yet, that it was HIV not AIDS, I could still live as long as I stopped doing drugs. I guess I was pretty combative but he managed to get the needle away from me without pricking himself.
He brought me home with him, tossed the needle in his fireplace before disposing of it. He watched me for a few days. When I was finally lucid I asked him why he was doing this for me."
"What did he say?" Cadfael asked.
"Apparently his brother had been a heroin addict and killed himself when he was diagnosed with HIV. Somehow we fell in love, he convinced me to get proper help. I went to my doctor and I found a rehab centre. I got the help I needed."
Cadfael patted Dylan's hand "I think I owe Doug thanks. Dylan, I'd like to apologise for how I treated you the last time we spoke before I died."
"You were yelling at me to stop drugs and grow the fuck up. You have nothing to apologise for, I deserved every word."
"I don't think Jack's going to be very happy with you in the morning" Methos said as he and Ianto climbed down into the sewer. Methos reached the bottom first.
"Well, he can't very well go after this weevil right now, can he? At least I called you. You're not staring at my ass are you?"
"Why would I do that? I've seen it."
Ianto got off the ladder.
"You called me" Methos said "why no one else? Like the time lady?"
"You're immortal. And Jeanie's non-violent."
Methos sighed "That is exactly what Ifan would say."
"Do you miss him?" Ianto asked as they started down a tunnel.
"Yes" Methos said.
"Do you think he can be saved?"
"Oh probably, his core is good. He and Duncan MacLeod have a lot more in common than either would care to admit. So" he changed the subject "Hermes tells me you broke your tailbone while skateboarding."
Ianto sighed "Incurable gossip, your son. Yes, I did but Zeus healed me."
"Yeah, Hermes said that. I guess he's not a terrible jerk."
They chased a weevil out of the sewer and into a park, right to a bench where Ianto's father and uncle were sitting.
"Son of a bitch!" Ianto tackled the weevil to the ground.
"Ifan!" Cadfael barked "what the hell? I've told each and every one of you, you are not supposed to save my life at risk of your own again. It is not your job."
The weevil was on top of Ianto and Methos wacked it with the flat end of his sword. The creature then went after Methos which was what he wanted and instead of just stunning the thing by shooting it, he took its head. Only good weevil was a dead weevil in his opinion.
Cadfael was helping Ianto to his feet "Are you okay son? You're bleeding."
"Oh it's just a scratch" Ianto pressed a hand to his shoulder "I've had worse."
"I'll have a look at it when we get the carcass back to the Hub" Methos said "It should be cleaned. By the way, isn't tackling the thing a Jack move?"
Ianto shrugged "Why'd you kill it?"
"Force of habit."
Ianto had at first refused to let baby Jack sleep in the same bed with him because he felt it would make him feel like a pervert. But Jack crawled into bed with him anyway and cuddled up next to him.
It was okay though because in the morning Jack was back to normal and kissing Ianto hungrily. Jack pulled back "Don't you ever tackle a weevil again, you are officially retired from all Torchwood duties. Methos could have handled it on his own."
Ianto threw an arm over his eyes with a sigh "I guess it'll take a while to get it completely out of my system. Is there a Torchwood rehab, do you think?"
Yeah, that wasn't the best was it? Not quite what you expected, huh? I'm sorry about that, but I'm not quite feeling this story lately. I've tried but it's gotten out of control I think and I think I need to seriously re-evaluate it, maybe re-do the last several chapters. I'm not sure if I like Methos being there. I don't know. We'll see what happens.
I'll post new chapters as I think of them, I just don't know how long that'll take. Again I'm so sorry, but I've been more into Immortality and Sons of the Sea, the next chapter of which I need to get cracking on. I've got to sic Zeus on Gwen.