Here it is, the last chapter. I wanted to give you an uplifting ending and, hopefully, a happy weekend so posted it now.
Epilogue – May 4703, Cardiff
The noise in the room was tremendous, kids' high-pitched voices talking and shouting, the rough and tumble of a game in one corner and the clatter of pans as a meal was prepared. Jack stood just inside the door and grinned at the bedlam.
Across the room he saw Glonnix preparing vegetables for their meal with Luke, the two year old miniature version of Ianto, standing at her side looking up. Jack knew, from experience as well as Glonnix's expression, that the boy was using those big blue eyes to good effect, pleading for a treat. It worked this time as it had worked many times in the past. Glonnix reached across to the cookie jar and passed Luke a small, red cookie. The boy took it and, having achieved his aim, turned his back on her and wandered to the dining table.
Jack's eye rested on the young girl sitting at the table, notepads spread around her in a muddle. At just nine years' old, Holly was as pretty as ever, her dark curls cut closer to her head now but still soft. She was looking at Jack, still able to detect his presence, and smiled before batting away Luke's hand as he attempted to take one of the notepads. She bent her head back to her work, ignoring her little brother.
In the corner to his right, Jack heard his eldest boy but couldn't see him. The view was blocked by the bulk of Piccolo, the Rewdellicamos, who was wrestling with the five year old Owain and winning easily. Owain was pure Harkness, a rumbustious lad always on the go and always up to mischief. He was his Dad's shadow and wanted to grow up to be like him in every way. Now, losing his battle with Piccolo, he was shouting and kicking, the Harkness temper to the fore.
Raising his eyes, Jack looked across to an oasis of calm by the window. Ianto sat in the old rocking chair he had found and restored feeding the baby. His head was bent over her, watching her suck on the teat as if it was the most important thing happening in the world right then. And to the Welshman it was. Melinda had been born slightly smaller than her siblings and despite assurances from Doug Forsyth that she was perfectly healthy Ianto still fretted over her.
Jack surveyed his family and a great feeling of contentment washed over him. However, he couldn't stand here for ever; Owain was getting overwrought and Holly was shouting at Luke. Time to step in. He put his bag on the side and went to Owain first, pulling him off Piccolo and holding him by his shoulders. "Enough!" he said to the boy and all heads turned at the sound. It was Jack's 'Do not mess with me' voice.
Owain, who had not known his dad was in the room, looked up at him aware that he'd gone too far. "Dad, Piccolo was …"
"I don't care. You were playing dirty. Kicking is not allowed, you know that. Apologise then go to you room and calm down. I'll come and talk to you in five minutes." He released the boy and stepped back.
Owain looked as if he'd say something then thought better of it. Dad did not look in the mood to be won over. He muttered, "Sorry," to Piccolo and walked to the door, dragging his feet, and went down the corridor to his room. On the way it occurred to him that he'd have Dad to himself when he came to speak to him; all he had to do was look sorry and then they'd be able to play and talk. He was grinning when he ran into his small room.
Back in the kitchen, Jack put an arm on Piccolo's shoulder. "You shouldn't let him get away with it."
"I don't mind. He can't hurt me." At 10 years' old, Piccolo was an adult to his own species but still liked spending time with the younger Jones brood. He came after classes every day, escorting Holly home and then playing with the boys until his mother was free to leave. "Mom ready?" he asked.
"Yep. And she'll be mad if you keep her waiting much longer." He smiled and patted him on the shoulder. "Off you go." Piccolo grabbed his bag and left, calling out his goodbyes.
Jack turned and exchanged a loving glance with Ianto before tackling the next problem. At the table, Holly was still battling to get back one of her notepads from Luke who was as obstinate as his tad. "Luke, let go of that right now." The boy looked up and Jack could swear he saw him calculating whether to or not. Of all his children, this was the one Jack spoiled. He found it so hard to look at this almost replica of his partner and discipline him. But tonight he hardened his heart. "I'll not tell you again."
Luke recognised that his dad meant what he said and released the notepad. He held his arms out to be picked up but despite the pleading eyes, Jack refused to comply. Luke was baffled, this always worked with his dad. His lower lip trembled and his eyes watered in his confusion.
"No need to cry, Luke," said Jack. He mussed his hair and turned to Holly. "What are you doing, gorgeous?"
"Homework. We have a test tomorrow on the Yantak War and I've got to learn this." She was very serious, determined to do well and make her parents proud of her. "It's impossible with all this noise!" she complained.
"Then why not use your room? It's all set up for studying."
"Just what I told her," put in Ianto quietly.
"Because," she said and didn't add anything more. She liked being with everyone else and hated being cooped up in her room, alone with just notepads. It wasn't fair that she was the only one who had to study. She saw her dad looking at her and knew he'd not let her get away with it. And Tad had been on at her too so she'd not get any support from him either. "All right, I'll go to my room." She picked up the notepads and made a great deal of putting them together.
Jack took pity on her. She was his secret favourite of the four, the only one with whom he shared a psychic link. It had not developed into much but it was still something they alone shared. "I'll come in shortly and test you, if that'll help."
Her face lit up. "Oh, thanks, Dad." She flung her arms round his waist, dropping half her notepads in the process. She hugged him then picked up her possessions and was off out of the room.
Jack turned to Luke, pleased he was no longer on the verge of tears. "So, pumpkin, what have you been doing all day?" He hunkered down so they were on the same level.
"Playing." He couldn't remember anything else. He stood close to Jack and put his arm on his shoulder, grinning.
"You went to the petting zoo," prompted Ianto from his corner.
"Yes, zoo. Saw ducks, Dad." His little face lit up, eyes shining.
Jack smiled at him, regretting that he was no longer 'Dada' to him. "Ducks, hey. Did they make noises? Did they go quack-quack?"
"Yes. Quack-quack, quack-quack." The boy threw back his head and laughed before flinging his arms round Jack. "Lots ducks."
"Where's your duck, pumpkin? Where's Donald?" The toy was his current favourite and it was unusual to see Luke without it.
Luke's eyes went round in alarm. "Donald!"
"Look in the living room, sweetheart," said Ianto. The boy's expression brightened and he ran off, impatiently waiting for the door to open for him before disappearing down the corridor.
Glonnix wiped her hands on her apron. "I'll keep an eye on him," she offered and was off before they could thank her.
Jack stood up. "And now I can say hello to you," he said looking over at Ianto.
"That was skilfully done, all of them out of the room in just five minutes." Ianto smiled up at him.
Jack chuckled and came across, bending to kiss the upturned mouth. Ianto was settled comfortably in the chair, his suit jacket over the back and his tie at half mast. He had even kicked off his shoes. On his knee rested Melinda, or Minda as she was known in the family, given the name by Luke and adopted by everyone else. She was a sweet baby, just two months old. Jack knelt by the side of the chair and stroked her cheek. "How's my little girl?" he asked.
"She's being lazy," replied Ianto. "She'll not get on and take her bottle, just lies there and then when I take it away she complains." He demonstrated. Slotting the bottle back in her mouth and quietening her, he carried on, "She's the slowest of the lot."
"Good. I want her to stay a baby for as long as possible. You take your time, pet." His finger had been taken in her closed fist and he playfully pulled her arm around.
"Thanks very much. I don't want to be sitting here all night," complained Ianto.
Jack laughed, looking up at him. "No, your nights belong to me." He half rose and kissed him again, deeply, tongue forcing an entry. He broke off, leaving Ianto breathless, and stood up fully. "I'll go and see to the others." He mussed Ianto's hair and walked off.
Ianto sighed and turned his attention back to Minda. "Come on, you, get sucking. I have somewhere to be tonight even if you don't."
Jack had a busy hour. First, he went to see Owain and found him playing with a toy flivver. Immediately Jack entered the room, the boy dropped it and rushed to him, put his arms round him and said, "I'm sorry, Dad. I'll never kick Piccolo again."
Jack peeled the boy off him and sat on the bed, pulling Owain to stand in front of him "This isn't about kicking Piccolo."
"It's not?" Owain thought hard but he couldn't think of anything else he'd done wrong. Had Tad told Dad about something? Or maybe Holly had tattled on him.
"No, it's not. You weren't fighting fair and that's more than just kicking. We've talked about this before. What are the rules?"
"Never fight someone smaller than me. Always have a good reason. Always fight fair. Don't fight at all if you can avoid it" The boy knew these off by heart. These were his dad's rules and if his dad said they were right then they were, no arguing. He'd fought silly Jonallet when he'd said they were daft rules even though the other boy was older than him; Owain had given him a black eye.
"Right. And the most important of those is?"
The boy was not sure. He thought it was not to fight at all but it could be to fight fair. Oh why, did his dad have to be tricky!? "Don't fight at all." He crossed his fingers behind his back, hoping it was right.
"Correct. So why were you fighting Piccolo?"
"We weren't really fighting," he began, "just playing like boys."
Jack had to stifle a grin; that was one of his phrases and here it was being quoted back to him. "You're my big boy, tiger, and I love you very much. But I don't want you fighting everyone, especially friends like Piccolo. And I'm disappointed when you break the rules." Jack held his shoulders and looked his son in the eye. "Do you understand me?"
"Yes, Dad." His eyes were locked on his dad's and a hand idly rested on Jack's knee. He would remember, no matter what anyone else said, even old Jonallet. "I'm sorry, Dad." He felt really bad but he would not cry, he wasn't a baby like Luke. He blinked really fast.
Jack waited a moment and then said, "All right." He pulled the boy into his arms and hugged him close. "Okay, tiger, now you can tell me what you did at playschool today."
Unbidden, Owain clambered onto Jack's knee and settled there, leaning against his father's chest. He told him about the minutiae of his day from leaving the house to coming back. Jack listened carefully, asking a question here and there and revelling in the moment. This was what he should have done with all the boys and girls who had come before. He finally left Owain to wash and get into his sleep suit and went to Holly's room. He stopped outside the door and smiled to himself as he remembered to knock before barging in. It was a bit unnecessary as the girl could sense he was there but she was growing up fast and liked the courtesy.
"Come in, Dad."
Jack entered the room and saw Holly at the corner desk. She worked and lived in a tremendous muddle – got that from him – and the room looked like a bomb had hit it. He walked over to her and looked over her shoulder. "Right, gorgeous, what are you stuck on?"
"I didn't say I was stuck," she protested, looking up at him.
"But you are, aren't you?"
She sighed, "Yes. I can't get my head round all the dates and the names. They just get mixed up in my brain and come out wrong."
"Then let's try and sort them out." He looked around for somewhere to sit but couldn't see anywhere, the bed was covered in discarded clothes and the floor was little better. "Gods, this place is a mess."
"Oh, don't start on me. Tad says Glonnix's not going to clean in here unless I put things away."
"Well, you know he means it. And it's not fair to Glonnix to expect her to clean up your mess." He pushed a few things to one side with his foot and settled on the floor beside her. "Take the benefit of my long experience, gorgeous, and just put them away. It's easier in the long run."
Holly laughed, a joyous peal that filled the room. "I've seen your wardrobe, Dad!" She waved a finger in his face.
"Ah, yes, but my mess is in a wardrobe, not on the floor. Out of sight, out of mind." He grabbed the finger and playfully tugged it. "Come on then, let's talk Yantaks."
"Yeah. Here's what we've got to learn."
She held out a notepad but he didn't take it. He had lived through the Yantak War, had been one of those instrumental in holding them back at the Blerton Pass and in brokering a peace deal though the official record had been doctored to omit any reference to him. He knew all about the War because he'd lived through it. But Holly didn't know that, not yet. He and Ianto had decided to wait until she was a little older, maybe ten, before telling her about his inability to die. So far, they'd just said he'd been a Time Agent and that that was how he had met the original Ianto. They'd been lucky in that she had not heard rumours from anyone else. Nevertheless, they were keeping a close eye on the situation, ready to explain when the time was right. They wanted her to hear it from them no one else.
"Don't need it, I learnt this a long time ago." He then proceeded to prove it to his sceptical daughter and for the next 30 minutes they talked about the War, putting flesh onto the bones of the facts. Without knowing it, Holly picked up more in that one session than in all the previous lessons and her reading. People who had fought came alive in ways they never had before and the dates just seemed to fall into place.
Jack left a much happier Holly and went to the living room where he came across Luke quietly playing in a corner. He liked playing complicated games with the hologram board and Jack took the opportunity to join him. "What are you playing, pumpkin?" He sat on the couch and looked down at the board.
"Farms. Got haminals." He enlarged some of the farmyard animals for Jack's inspection.
"Is that a sheep?" Jack asked, pointing, knowing full well it was a cow.
"No, silly." Luke then spent 10 minutes explaining each and every one of his animals to Jack who kept getting them wrong deliberately. They ended up giggling together and making animal noises.
Jack left his youngest son still happily playing and went to his bedroom. He had time to shower and change before dinner. He was whistling softly as he entered the room and was delighted to find Ianto there. "Hey, love, come here." Jack wound his arms round the Welshman, kissing his neck.
"It must have gone well with those two then," said Ianto, leaning back against his partner. "All fixed?"
"Think so. Owain promised not to fight dirty again - small hope of that - but then he told me all about his day. He has the memory of an elephant! And Holly understands the War better. They really don't teach it very well."
"Not everyone has your first-hand knowledge." Ianto twisted round to face Jack, kissing him soundly. "She was asking me about the 20th century earlier on. Seems they heard some Beatles' tracks and she wanted to know more." He felt pleased that he had been able to help, so often he knew less than she did; he had taken to reading her text notepads to fill some of the gaps.
Jack smiled. "Ah, they were the days. Now if she'd asked me I'd have told her about the Cavern Club and meeting John and Paul at a gig."
"I don't believe you," laughed Ianto.
Jack looked hurt. "Hey, I knew them. Though not as well as I knew George," he leered.
"Do we have time for a shower together?"
"If we're quick." Ianto smiled and pulled out of the embrace, "Come on."
Dinner had been civilised considering there were three young people present. Luke had been allowed to stay up as he'd slept rather longer than normal in the afternoon and was not yet ready for bed. Owain was on his best behaviour, wanting to impress his Dad and Holly was reassured and confident she would sail through the test to come. The five of them enjoyed the excellent meal and talk and laughter echoed round the room.
After dinner, Ianto had his time with Owain. He loved him to bits but recognised he'd always be second to Jack in his affections. He didn't fret about it, time had taught him not to hanker after impossible things. However, he did insist on putting his eldest boy to bed and they were in the boy's room, Owain in the bed with Ianto sat on it. Ianto read to him from an adventure book. Worn out from a day spend in ceaseless activity, the boy listened intently and dropped off to sleep without realising. Ianto kissed his forehead and turned off the light.
He stopped and knocked on Holly's door. "May I come in?"
He opened the door and stopped, looking round. The room had been cleared of its clutter. Books were back on the shelves, toys tidy in the hamper and the clothes had disappeared, presumably into the wardrobe and drawers. It wasn't perfect by a long shot but it was a start. "Thank you, cariad," he said, moving into the room and hugging her. He stayed with her for a while, chatting and settling her in her bed. She was allowed half an hour to read before lights out and so he kissed her head and left her sitting up, her head already bent to the e-book.
In Luke's room, he found Konni sitting with the boy on her knee. The girl was still with them and was an essential part of the family. She helped with the two youngest most of the time but was also a friend to Holly and watched Owain when needed. She lived-in but always took a few hours – from late afternoon 'til after dinner - as her own personal space which meant the two men had unlimited access to their children at that time. Tonight was her night off and Ianto was surprised to see her.
"I thought you were off out tonight?" he said. Konni was dating Olly Grandew, had been for a few months now, and Ianto was secretly helping the romance along.
"Yes, Olly's taking me to a restaurant. But I had a few minutes and I wanted to say goodnight to this one." She spoke softly as she cuddled Luke. He was her favourite and she'd do anything for the boy. "I hope you don't mind."
"Of course not. We let him stay up," Ianto explained, taking the boy who was now ready for bed. After chatting for a little longer, Konni slipped from the room with a quiet 'Goodnight'.
Luke was a loving boy and so like Ianto it was absurd. He not only looked like him he had all his mannerisms and the same nature but with just a hint of ruthlessness from Jack. Ianto held him close and then put him in the bed, sitting beside him and reading from the picture books that all the children had loved. After a little while, Ianto rose and put the book away, kissed Luke's forehead, gave him Foo-Foo (who had been handed down through the family), tucked him in and set the force field.
He entered the living room to find Jack sat in his favourite chair with Minda in his arms. He was talking to her, some nonsense or the other, and she was staring up at him. The two were oblivious to Ianto and so the Welshman was able to stand and watch. He recalled the awful day after Tonan's death and Jack's admission that he'd never bonded with his previous children. He didn't doubt it was true but he couldn't imagine how it had happened. Jack had a special bond with each of their children: he was Holly's confidant, Owain's hero, Luke's doting Dad and Minda's … Well, it wasn't clear yet what bond he would have with her, at present he was just her over-indulgent Dada.
Ianto moved and Jack noticed him. "Hey, love, the troops all settled?"
"Yes. Just this one left." He came across and sat in the chair opposite them, sinking into the soft seat.
The furniture had come with them when they'd moved into this apartment some years earlier. With the arrival of tearaway Owain, they had had no choice but to move out of the old suite in the Castle. It was just too small. Jack had taken an entire floor in one of Torchwood's secure buildings – he was not taking risks with his family's safety – and converted it into an six bed roomed apartment. (They'd known even then that they wanted more children.) The four children each had a room, Ianto and Jack had a bedroom with an en-suite bathroom and there was a guest room too. Then there was the large kitchen/diner, office, three bathrooms, a playroom and this large living space. Ianto had been involved in the design from start to finish and as a result it was a practical, homely, welcoming place for the whole family. Also on the floor, but separate, were small suites for Konni and Glonnix.
"She's not sleepy. She's going to keep her dada company a while longer." Jack cuddled the baby protectively to his chest.
"I don't mind, you have her as long as you want." He eased his legs out in front of him and closed his eyes. He chuckled.
"I was thinking about when Holly was born and the way we fought over her."
"We didn't fight. You were hogging her and I just wanted my share." He stroked Minda's cheek. She didn't resemble any of the other children and Jack was looking forward to seeing how she turned out.
"Whatever. What I was thinking is that now we have so many kids I'm more than happy to farm them off on anyone."
Jack chortled, "Too true. They're a good bunch though, don't you think?"
"Of course, I do. They have their faults but no more than any other kids." He opened his eyes and smiled at Jack. "I'm pleased we waited 'til now to have our family, so that they could really be ours. Biologically, I mean."
"Yeah." Jack was not so sure. He still believed he'd have been a better father to his other children if he'd started earlier, with Ianto, but he was too content to argue the point. "How did your meeting go this morning?"
"Okay. I think they'll accept my terms." Ianto had met representatives of a company wanting to open some of his 'Jones the Coffee' franchises in South America. He was not overly impressed with them and had accordingly set some stringent conditions on what they could and could not do. The business was growing well, with over 300,000 outlets on Earth alone. Ianto's coffee plantation could only just keep up with demand and Giovanni's coffee machine factory employed 200 people. Ianto devoted some time every day to the business but relied on Rakshal, his deputy, to take a lot of the day to day decisions.
Both Ianto and Jack made time in their busy schedules for their family. Jack was always around at the beginning of the day, usually giving Minda her first feed and dressing Luke. With the two smallest children in tow, he then ensured the other two were up and dressed. After breakfast, for which Ianto surfaced, Jack took Holly to classes and Owain to playschool before a day's work at Torchwood. Ianto spent an hour with Minda and Luke before checking with Rakshal and doing whatever was necessary in regard to the business, either at home or the company's offices. He was always home by mid-afternoon, collecting Owain on the way. He played with the boys for a time while minding Minda, invariably they wound up in the kitchen where Holly and Piccolo would join them. The only time Jack and he got to chat was after the older children were in bed.
"That's good. I spoke to Carillys today. She and Hummel will be coming back to Earth next year." Carillys had signed up for a second tour on the planet 547.1Gamma. She had felt in no rush to return to Earth after Tonan's death and Jack had wondered if she would come back at all.
"That's great news. The children should get to know her, she's family."
"She also had another bit of news. Hold on to your hat, she's pregnant!" Jack looked across to see what reaction this got. He'd been so tempted to say something earlier but had wanted Ianto relaxed and alone when he hold him.
"Oh, wonderful! I'm so happy for them." Ianto was genuinely pleased. He had got to know Carillys better over the past years despite her being so far away and liked her more and more. The relationships were a bit hard to untangle. Officially she was his step-great granddaughter yet she was physically older than he was.
"Yep, in a few months time I'll be a great, great grandfather." Jack pulled a face. "And Minda here will be a half-great, great aunt before she's a year old." He shook his head. "It makes the mind boggle."
Ianto laughed. "You have a complicated time line, Jack Harkness."
"And you are and always have been the best thing in it, Jones Ianto Jones."
That's the end of the story and I hope you've enjoyed it. Thanks for sticking it out to the end and to everyone for the lovely reviews.
I have enjoyed writing about the Jones children and have some ideas for some short stories about various events in their lives and, of course, of Jack and Ianto's relationships with them. Would anyone be interested in reading more? Let me know.