Title: King and Country
Spoilers: Only for the historical succession of the House of Windsor.
Disclaimer: Not mine, no matter how many DVDs and toys I buy! Everything here belongs to RTD and to Auntie Beeb, who already has my licence fee.
Notes: I find Jack's history with Torchwood utterly fascinating there's so much more to him than his relationships in the present and, now that we've effectively been given the entirety of the twentieth century to play in, it seems only polite to start throwing him into various historical events...
Many thanks to Mimarie and Jwaneeta for looking this over for me. Feedback of any variety is very much appreciated but not compulsory - I'll post anyway! I've suffered for my art, now it's your turn...
Fort Belvedere, 5th December 1936
"I sincerely hope that this matter is of some considerable import, Colonel." The man who stalked into the ornate reception room was tall and boyishly handsome, his sharp blue eyes narrowed beneath a tired frown. "Given the current situation, the Institute is hardly my foremost" He stopped, his gaze flicking across the four people standing respectfully before him. "What is this, a full delegation? Considerable import, indeed."
"Your Majesty." Colonel Percival Campbell, the leader of Torchwood London, bowed his head, his movement echoed by the other two men while Dr Hansen curtsied neatly. "My apologies, Sir, but this is no small matter and it relates directly to the... current situation. The loyalty of the Torchwood Institute is to the Crown"
"At last, someone remembers their place!" the King snapped, raking a hand back through short, dark blond hair. "That fool Baldwin is drawing up lists and ultimatums, if you can believe that, and the Dominions are only encouraging him. A man should be entitled to marry whomsoever he desires, but no they wish to make me choose between my beloved and my throne. I am a King, an Emperor, and my life is to be ruled by the witterings of politicians?" He shook his head angrily. "I would take my cause to the nation directly, but no, Mr Baldwin and his cronies will not allow it!"
Campbell shared a glance with his companions William Porter, stocky and bespectacled, of the Cardiff branch and the venerable Dr Rebecca Hansen, who oversaw Torchwood's Scottish base. "There are certain constitutional principles involved, Sir," he said cautiously.
"And those, Sir, quite clearly state that the Sovereign may only act on such matters of the heart with the advice and counsel of approved Ministers," Hansen added firmly in her light Scots lilt, her thin lips narrowing. "The nation has already spoken to approve its Government and that Government has made its position known. The people have already played their part in this."
The King stared at her, his expression hardening. "When I was told that Torchwood had requested an urgent audience, I did not expect to find myself under attack on yet another front. The Institute answers to the Sovereign and to the Sovereign alone are you all so keen to turn traitor?"
"With respect, Your Majesty," Porter said smoothly, "while the loyalty of the Institute is to the Crown, there are certain aspects of the current situation that do not rest easy and we feel that"
"No. No." The King fixed each of them with a furious glare. "So this is what it comes to? I should have the sorry lot of you thrown in the Tower! I had thought that I might find allies in those sworn to defend our realm against the strange and the savage but it seems that, like everyone else, Torchwood is more concerned with the threat from a simple American divorcee!"
"Believe me, Your Majesty, neither your beloved's nationality nor her personal history are any concern of ours."
Campbell saw the startled look that crossed the King's face as the last of their number spoke, the American accent clearly unexpected. "I see. And just who might you be?"
"Captain Jack Harkness." The smile was a fraction too wide. "Heard of me?"
"I " The King stilled, his frown returning. "My father may have mentioned that name."
"Really? Good man, your father didn't hold too high an opinion of you, mind." Harkness chuckled humourlessly and moved to run one hand across the carved back of a chair, along the edge of the mantelpiece, making the King turn to track his passage through the room. "I knew him. Knew his father too, for that matter."
The King regarded the other man for a long moment. "How...?"
"Let's just say that I'm older than I look. A lot older." Harkness stopped by an intricately-veneered sideboard, looking up at a portrait of a stern-looking woman in mourning dress. "You know, I once made a promise to your great-grandmother to defend her dominions and all those within her care." His gaze snapped back to the King. "And I have every intention of keeping that promise."
"You see, Your Majesty," Campbell interjected, drawing the King's attention back as Harkness resumed his prowling, "while your Mr Baldwin may fret over lesser details, the Institute's concerns lie more with Mrs Simpson's... political sympathies regarding the current German administration. Her sympathies and, by extension, your own. The situation in Europe is fragile enough without the possibility of Torchwood research falling into the wrong hands."
"What are you...? Torchwood serves the Crown!"
"A crown, Sir, that you do not yet wear," Hansen said sharply. "Your coronation is not due until the coming May."
"A crown that is still mine by right," the King reminded her, his tone icy. "And it would behove you all to remember that, lest I disband your nest of intrigues altogether!" He shook his head. "Enough. I will hear no more of this nonsense. You are dismissed."
"I said, you are dismissed!"
"My apologies, Your Majesty, for not having made our business here absolutely clear." Campbell's smile was apologetic but his gaze was direct. "We did not come to you solely to express our concerns, but rather to present you with a choice."
"A choice?" The King snorted. "More ultimatums? Baldwin has already "
"Our offer is not the same as Mr Baldwin's," Campbell told him. "The world is becoming a more dangerous place, Sir, and not merely through the machinations of the inhuman. What may soon begin in Europe could well spread to engulf every corner of every continent and the Institute was founded, first and foremost, to defend the Empire. It is a charge that we take most seriously and in the event of a conflict of interests between that duty and the reigning monarch's political sympathies"
"There would be no conflict of interests, you impertinent"
"Would there not be, Sir?" Hansen raised a silvered brow. "The potential for disaster in this situation is too great. The Institute cannot take the risk."
"There is far too much at stake, Sir," Porter added, his tone earnest. "Far too much."
"And so the Torchwood Institute would stage a coup d'tat in the name of the Empire?" The King shook his head angrily. "Perfidious fools, the lot of you!"
"A coup? We have no desire to rule, Sir, nor to disrupt the succession." Campbell spread his hands. "It is really quite simple. Your brother will will be crowned as King in your stead and his eldest daughter become heiress presumptive. The decision we place before you now merely concerns whether or not there should be a state funeral prior to his coronation. It would seem a shame, so very soon after your father."
"Are you...?" The King stared at him for long moments, fists clenched tight at his sides. "Are you daring to threaten me?"
"Oh yes, Your Majesty. Very much so."
The King started violently, stumbling as he jerked away from the voice in his ear, away from Harkness's predatory smile. Campbell sighed and shook his head. "The choice is yours, Sir. Renounce your throne, marry the woman you love, and live out a long and contented life under your brother's rule. Or keep your throne, fight with your Ministers, and know that the good Captain here is planning an appointment for when you least expect it."
"You would not dare," the King snapped, but his gaze was fixed on Harkness and Campbell could see a faint sheen of sweat on his upper lip. "I'll have you all hung as traitors, you and your freak assassin!"
"And reveal the nature of the Institute's works in a court of law? Besides," Campbell added, almost as an afterthought, "I think you might find that such treatment has remarkably little effect where Captain Harkness is concerned, other than to annoy him intensely."
The King swallowed hard and took a step back, his eyes wide. "What manner of being...?"
"Pray, Sir, that you never find out," Harkness said softly, his tone redolent with meaning. He retreated a step of his own, rejoining Porter and Hansen. "The choice is yours."
"And one that we shall now leave you to consider." Campbell bent his head in a quick, formal bow. "Choose well, Your Majesty."
They left, three of them wondering what the future might bring and one knowing, through a haze of years and half-remembered history, just what was to come. Knowing that this small and necessary treachery was little more than a distraction, albeit one that subtly shifted the Institute's direction from royal servant to imperial guardian, a defender whose knowledge would be sorely needed in the decade ahead.
There really was no choice, not for any of them.
The sky overhead was heavy with rain as they stepped out into the chill air to await their driver, and the dark clouds gathering to the east carried the promise of storms.