This is my favourite chapter of the whole book. I wrote it when I was about half way through the story. There are some notes at the end as well. If you've read it all I'd really like to hear what you think as I have two more stories ready to publish.
Later that evening all the members of Torchwood Cardiff from both dimensions were feeling much the same, that life was for living and that they may as well do that, for you never knew when the end might come. Of course, for both Jacks that thought was slightly different, but both also realised that individuals within the human race needed them as much as the whole.
Ianto stood looking out of his windows towards the twinkling lights of Cardiff and the darkness of Cardiff Bay. He was happy and content. Jack had been right about moving here. Life was good and he intended to live every moment of it for however long was left. He had seen people he cared about die not once but twice and Jack well, he didn't know how many more times he would have to do that again. He wondered what the others were doing tonight. He knew that Gwen was at home with Rhys but in the other dimension he wondered how his counterpart was doing.
He was right about Gwen; she was at home, sat on the sofa, waiting for Rhys to pour a glass of wine for them both. She'd been home in time to make dinner which was rare. Rhys had spent most of the evening telling her about his trip. How he'd been let down by the driver and how they had to get the load out, traffic jams and above all bloody French fishermen. Finally, he asked after her and if anything interesting had happened during the last few days. Gwen didn't really know where to start so she just did.
'You know when you spoke to Jack on Tuesday morning well, I wasn't really there. I had been taken into a parallel universe.'
Rhys stared at her.
'You what!' he cried
'Yes I know pretty incredible but true. Don't worry this is me. Ianto and I were swopped with another Gwen and Ianto. In their dimension I wasn't married to you or even going out with you I was having an affair with Jack. It was so weird and it made me realise so much how important you are to me.'
She reached over and held Rhys' face and kissed him.
'And before you ask no nothing happened with Jack except one kiss before I told him things weren't the same in my world. Anyway' she added raising her eyebrows, 'our Ianto decided to educate that Jack a little into his world. You should have seen how he kissed Jack on arrival even I was shocked. It's one thing to know about it but another to see it in action. When I think how quiet he used to be'
Rhys turned his head to one side as he often did when amused and smiled to himself.
'To think when I first met Jack I was worried whether he would go after you. I told him I wished he wasn't so good looking and was there any chance he was gay.' Rhys chuckled to himself.
'So what did you do in this other world?'
'After putting Jack in his place I did go out to lunch with Andy to fill the time and he at least could understand what was going on. There were no monsters to fight so we really had nothing to do. I think Andy has ambitions with the other Gwen so hopefully he will be working on that now she's returned.'
'What about me in that world? No ambitions there then?' Rhys asked
'I saw their version of you.'
'What was I like?'
'You still liked ham and egg pie but I think this one spent more time in the gym.'
Rhys faked a hurt expression and patted his stomach.
'You were thinner and you owned the company. Your secretary looked like a supermodel and I missed the real you so much.'
'So what was it all about and how did you get back?'
'I'm not really going to say much because I don't really understand it fully myself. I'm sure Jack will explain more sometime but not yet and there was so much to take in over a short period of time. It was something to do with Jack's past, before Torchwood, when he first met Rose and the Doctor. He upset a race called the Chula and they did this as part of their revenge. They killed Tosh and Owen in the other dimension to teach their Jack a lesson. It was awful to witness that again but also easier to deal with as in my mind they were already dead. It wasn't bloody they just disappeared into nothing. The Chula left our Jack as he was but hinted that they'd had something to do with the events surrounding Gray turning up. They'd decided that our Jack had already suffered enough. But they made hints about something in the future as well. Rhys all this has made me realise that we have to live every moment and the future is so important. Jack always says that the twenty first century is when everything changes. I want a baby Rhys. I want our family and a future and I want it as soon as possible.'
Grabbing Rhys by the hand she said 'I think we should continue to practice now.'
Rhys followed her into the bedroom and shut the door.
The other Gwen was sat in the Bayside Brasserie with Andy. Her time with Jack was over and she wasn't sad. She'd had fun with him and with John that night; was it only forty eight hours ago, it seemed like a lifetime. But what she needed now was someone who adored her more than they adored themselves and that wasn't Jack or John. She'd known Andy for years and she knew how he felt about her. Perhaps now was the time to find out if there could be anything between them. Being in Torchwood made relationships difficult. Gwen thought she needed to grow up and there was no time like the present. The deaths of Owen and Tosh would bring the team together but for now everyone needed to distance themselves a bit and concentrate on life not death. The three of them had spent the afternoon dealing with the practicalities. Feelings were a bit raw for now. They had altered the records but there were no bodies to deal with and both Tosh and Owen had left instructions about who they wanted informed. There were always cover stories created. Part of her hoped like Ianto that they were not really dead but just taken to another existence by the Chula. This experience had taught her many new things about herself and those she worked with. She had certainly leaned more about Ianto and she meant to continue with that. Ianto had obviously returned with a new attitude towards life and certainly towards Jack and she hoped that Jack had the ability to let Ianto under his skin because Jack needed someone to care for as much as any of them.
'What are we going to have then', Andy asked her.
'I'm really hungry', replied Gwen, 'I'll have the sirloin steak and all the trimmings I think; it's been a long few days.
'Tell me everything,' said Andy. So she did.
At a quiet table in Benedicto's restaurant Ianto and Jack were on the date that Ianto had wanted. He'd put his feelings for Jack well and truly into the back of his mind in his world refusing to admit that he was capable of feeling anything again after Lisa, let alone admitting that he could feel something for a man. But he'd met the other Jack and experienced some of what could be on offer and he'd realised that this Jack needed to let someone in especially after all that had happened. Ianto really was surprised about how much he wanted it to be him. When he was young he'd had a crush on another lad at school but that was all it was. He didn't think he was gay but it was weird how he felt. It was different. It wasn't men it was Jack, only Jack. Both of them still had to deal with the deaths of Tosh and Owen and the responsibility that Jack would feel. Ianto wanted to help him begin to come to terms with that and with the many other pressures in his life. Jack seemed to have lost a bit of the cockiness he'd always had and the surety that he was always right. He put his hand on Jack's as he could see him staring into space.
'It's my fault', said Jack looking at him. 'It's all my fault. I expect you to do the same as I do but the consequences of my actions are different for me. I'm not sure that I can keep doing this.' Ianto held on to his hand, surprised that he didn't care who saw.
'A lot has happened in the past few years let alone the past few days. I know you feel guilty and perhaps it's time that you begin to understand the consequences of your actions and make up for your past mistakes but I'm here and Gwen's here and we'll help if you will let us.'
Jack looked at the young man in front of him, dressed in a dinner suit which he'd never seen him wear before. He was incredibly handsome. Jack had always seen that but he'd just seen him as a challenge, like he'd seen every other person in his life. Could he really let him in? Could he really share with him all the things he'd done or even some of them? He doubted it but perhaps he could start now. Perhaps he was ready.
'OK Ianto let's talk but remember there might be some things I can't tell you and there's a lot of time to get through. I'll do my best but I'm not used to this and I need to know that you will understand why I have done the things I've had to do and made the decisions I've had to make. I know you haven't always agreed with me. I know it was you that told Gwen about Flat Holm. Don't look like that its OK I know why you did it and you were probably right. Ask away.'
Ianto picked up his glass took several mouthfuls and began.
While he stood there looking out of the window and thinking about all that had happened in the last two days the other Ianto heard Jack singing away in the background. He even did that so well. At least this time it was Frank Sinatra but it was still Cole Porter, I've got you under my skin. He really should try to get Jack to listen to some Blues but tonight was not the night for that sort of music. Jack was making coffee; he could manage that with Ianto's wonderful machine. The track changed and Ianto heard Jack putting the coffee cups down and coming up behind him. Jack put his arms around Ianto who felt himself tingle from head to toe. I really love this man he thought and wondered if Jack would ever feel as he did. Would he still up and leave if his Doctor called? Neither had said anything about what had happened with the other Ianto and Jack but both had a pretty good idea. Jack grabbed his hand and spun him around.
'This is my favourite Sinatra track. Listen to the lyrics. It's called All the Way. Dance with me.'
Ianto recalled their first dance at Gwen's wedding. He listened to the lyrics and tucked his head into Jack's shoulder pressing as closely as he could.
'When somebody loves you, it's no good unless he loves you all the way. Through the good or lean years and through all the in between years come what may.'
Ianto knew that this was the nearest he was ever going to get to Jack saying I love you and it was enough. Suddenly as he pressed against Jack he felt the box in his pocket that had appeared there when he returned from the other dimension. He assumed that the Chula had put it there but he didn't know why. He really didn't want to spoil this moment so thought he'd tell Jack tomorrow. Perhaps he'd understand what gift the Chula might want him to have. Was this because they knew something was going to happen in the future? Ianto listened to the music and held on tightly to Jack. The message on the box read.
DO NOT OPEN UNTIL AFTER THE END OF TIME.
Just in case you don't know The End of Time is the name given to what will be the penultimate or last David Tennant Doctor episode.(some discussion which at the moment) This idea will be continued in the next book.
The Chula are mentioned in Series 1 with Christopher Eccleston in the episodes Empty Child and the Doctor Dances when Jack meets the Doctor and Rose.
The song All the Way is my favourite Sinatra song from the film the Joker is Wild. I hope no one will mind me using it.