"Right kids your on your own for the next couple of hours." Jack announced as he came out of his office, pulling his coat over his shoulders and buttoning it up. It had been cold out this morning.
"Where you going?" Gwen asked, not looking up from her work so she didn't see the flash of red on Jack's lapel as he slipped past her station.
"To Flanders fields." Jack replied over his shoulder, collecting Ianto on the way by the coffee machine. He was also pulling his coat on.
"What?" Gwen frowned, swinging round in her chair only to catch the tail end of Jack's coat and Ianto's back as the cog door rolled shut behind them.
"Where's Flanders Fields?" Gwen asked, turning her attention to Tosh who was chewing the end of her pen. She stopped a moment, turning to look at Gwen in almost disbelief.
"Where the poppies grow." Tosh quoted, giving Gwen a searching look as Owen emerged from the autopsy bay.
Owen sighed at Gwen's blank look. "What day is it today Gwen?"
"Sunday." Gwen answered immediately, frowning when Owen continued to look at her expectantly.
"And what date is it Gwen?" Owen tried again, a slightly patronizing tone to his voice now that Gwen wasn't entirely comfortable with.
"11th of November?" Gwen answered, still none the wiser as to what that had to do with Flanders Fields, where the poppies grow, nor why Jack and Ianto had gone there.
"And what happened on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918?" Owen tried again, feeling like he was giving a history lesson to a dense primary school class.
"Eh," Gwen frowned, thinking about it for a moment, "Oh! World War One ended." Gwen answered with a note of triumph. There was a moment where Tosh and Owen continued to look at Gwen, waiting effectively for the proverbial penny to drop.
"Oh!" Gwen's eyes sparked in the dawn of sudden realisation, but she was soon frowning again.
"I get why Jack's gone since he fought in both wars, but why's Ianto gone?"
"It's not just about those two wars. It's about remembering everyone that's lost their life in past and current armed affairs." Tosh answered, still looking at Gwen, who was still frowning in confusion.
"They didn't call it the battle of Canary Wharf because they spent the day negotiating peace." Owen finally snapped before returning to the autopsy bay. Gwen had the good grace to blush at her stupidity before she was turning back to her computer. Typing the words 'In Flanders Fields' into the Google search engine.
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month Gwen thought about her Grandfather. He hadn't been in the army, hadn't fought on the front line. But he had been in the home guard, fighting to keep Swansea safe. He hadn't died back then in Flanders Fields with other soldiers, but much later in the warmth of his bed. He could still remember the Cardiff Blitz though and recounted to a young wide-eyed Gwen in detail what it had been like to watch it from the hills of Swansea, a burning city in the aftermath.
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month Owen thought about Katie. He hadn't lost her to some great war but he had lost her to Torchwood, and sometimes Owen thinks that that was a losing battle in itself.
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month Tosh thought about Tim, the young soldier she'd met in 1941. She'd researched him weeks later after Abbadon, after Jack had died and come back to life, after he'd gone for good. There had been a lull when no one really knew what to do with themselves where she'd caught Ianto filing away the pictures of her, Jack and the real Captain Jack and she'd remembered Tim who'd bound her hand for her. He'd died during Pearl Harbour, shot down and lost in the heat of battle. His body had never been recovered but he'd been presumed dead. She wishes now she'd granted him a kiss.
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month Ianto thought about Lisa, but soon other faces swam into his memory. Yvonne Hartman didn't deserve to be remembered, not when she had been the warlord of this particular battle but he thought of her anyway. He thought of the shy girl from the next office over whom he had always suspected had a crush on him but had never gotten up the courage to ask him out, at least not before Lisa got their first. He thought of Rodger, the guy two floors down whom he had gone to the pub quiz with on Sunday nights. He thought of Lisa. He knew now that his Lisa had been lost in the battle of Canary Wharf. He fingered the blood red poppy on his lapel for a moment, tears pricking at his eyes that he refused to let fall. Instead he let his hand fall back to his side, seeking out the hand of the person beside him. He squeezed it and felt it squeezing back.
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month Jack thought of the real Captain Jack Harkness. Every year he thought of a different person he had lost to war. He had enough years behind him and enough ahead that he could afford to give each person their year. He didn't think two minutes was long enough to remember them all anyway. It didn't feel justified that every person he had lost only got a fleeting second of thought from him before he was thinking of the next person's face lost in the bloody ether of war. He feels a hand slip into his, warm and comforting and he squeezes it affectionately as a bugler sounds the Last Post to signify the end of the two minutes silence.
He turns to Ianto, tears glistening in his eyes and he knows one day on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month it will be Ianto he thinks of, but he's grateful it's not today.