Flat Holm Island
Winter and Spring had come and gone and now the July sun was shining down over Cardiff Bay.
Captain Jack Harkness walked from the sleek, black SUV to the tourist office, opened the door and went inside.
As usual, Ianto Jones was behind the counter, arranging pamphlets and bus timetables.. Jack smiled as he went passed him and through the secret door leading down to the Hub below.
Ianto watched every move his Captain made and smiled to himself, then put on the CCTV and watched him walking to the lift and from there into the Hub.
After exiting the lift and entering through the cog door, Jack greeted the other members of Torchwood, moving directly up to his office. He felt like today was going to be a good day.
Settling behind his desk, Jack sighed and got out the long overdue paperwork and began to read through and sign it. He glanced up at the CCTV camera and waved, smiling.
Ianto blushed, even though he knew Jack couldn't see him.
Finishing off most of the paperwork, Jack leaned back in his chair and stretched. Pushing his chair back, he stood up, then walked to the office door, looking down.
He could do with a strong cup of coffee right about now.
Turning back to the CCTV camera, Jack mimicked drinking from a cup, hoping Ianto would see what he wanted.
Jack waited. He wasn't disappointed.
Smiling, Ianto moved around the counter, locked the door, shut down the computer, and went down to the Hub's kitchen to make his usual round of coffee for the day.
Jack watched as Ianto walked through the cog door and to the kitchen. He crossed his arms and waited for the smell of freshly brewed coffee to reach his nose. He breathed in deeply, savouring the aroma.
"Morning, Ianto." He called down to the young Welshman. "How are you today?"
"I'm fine, thank you, sir. Yourself?" he said, turning back to the job in hand: coffee making.
Ianto smiled to himself.
As soon as the job was done, Ianto put cups on a tray and started to fill them, taking them to the other team members.
Jack, he left until last. He sensed that the older man wanted to talk to him. He climbed the stairs to Jack office, placing the blue and white cup on his desk.
Jack smiled, showing his gleaming white teeth. "All the better for getting a nice cup of coffee, thank you, Ianto." He answered, at last.
He crossed his arms over his chest, clearing his throat.
"If you're not doing anything this afternoon, I'm going over to Flat Holm Island. I was wondering if you wanted to come along. It isn't pleasant over there, but I need someone with a good head on their shoulders, in case I'm not around for some reason. You'll be paid extra for each trip you make."
Jack watched the different looks pass over the young Welshman's face, as he tried to make up his mind .
"I'd like to go with you, sir. To see for myself, before I make up my mind, you understand."
"You know what's on Flat Holm Island, don't you? The misfits, the unforgiving, the maimed. Those who just don't fit in. The worlds unwanted."
"I understand that, sir. I've been reading up on it down in the archives." Ianto smiled again.
"Good. Go grab a bag and fill it with coffee, the instant kind mind and tea bags. Biscuits, if we have any. Paper, envelopes, pens. I think you get the general idea."
Leaving the office, Ianto busied himself filling a holdall. He managed to find two jars of instant coffee, a box of teabags, three packets of biscuits, two writing pads, envelopes and an assortment of biros. Going down to his locker, he found a few books that he'd read, adding them to the holdall. Then he went back up to Jack's office, leaving the holdall there.
"Thank you, Ianto. Okay, we'll be leaving straight after lunch, about 1pm." Jack told him. "So you better order it early." He went back to what was left of his paperwork.
Ianto ordered pizza at just after 11.45am. for their lunch.
After lunch, Jack picked up the bag and motioned for Ianto to join him.
"We'll be gone the rest of the afternoon. If it's quite, leave around 5pm." He told Owen.
Ianto followed Jack up to the tourist office.
Getting into the SUV, Jack turned to Ianto.
"As I said, this isn't going to be pleasant. What you read, it's twice as bad as that and then some." He started the engine. "There's still time for you to back out."
"No, sir. I'd like to go. I know I'll be okay with you."
Jack smiled, to reassure Ianto. "Yes, you will. But you need to be prepared. There are things there that you can't tell anyone about, understood?"
Ianto nodded. "Completely, sir."
Jack gunned the engine and headed out towards the coast just outside of Cardiff.
As they approached the jetty at Penarth, Jack stopped the SUV and leaned out of the window.
A man from the corner shop came out, waving to Jack.
"I'll be with you in a moment, Captain."
Jack nodded and moved the car forward, parking it. The two men got out of the car and Jack grabbed the holdall from the back. Ianto followed after him.
"Tom Fletcher will be taking us over in his boat," Jack said, walking towards a small outboard. "We'll radio him when we're ready to come back."
Ianto just nodded, following Jack onto the boat.
Tom Fletcher shut up shop and joined the two men.
"Who's this then, Jack?"
"Ianto Jones, archivist and coffee maker extraordinaire."
"No seen him before."
"He's been with us, oh, six months now."
"You warned 'im?"
"An' 's still wanted to come?"
Tom laughed. "Fool!"
As the outboard approached Flat Holm Island, they were met by a woman in her late forties.
Jack waved to her. "Margaret, how are you?"
"All the better for seeing you, Jack." She looked at the bag. "That for me?"
"Yep." Jack motioned to the young man with him. "This is Ianto Jones, by the way."
Margaret nodded at Ianto, who smiled.
They both got off of the boat, it turned and headed back to Penarth.
Jack carried the bag ashore, following Margret back up to a small building wired off from the rest of the buildings around it.
Ianto looked at the 10 foot high, barbed wire fence, topped with razor wire. Behind the wire, were small cabins, each with a smaller fence around them.
"Still glad you came?" asked Jack the Welshman.
Ianto just smiled, looking around him nervously.
"Don't worry. They can't get over the fences," Margaret told him. "Last one who tried, cut himself to pieces. Bled out before we found him. Poor sod."
As they went inside the cabin, Ianto noticed how cold it felt. He shivered involuntarily.
Margaret noticed. "You get used to it."
Jack put the bag on a table.
Ianto moved away, looking out of the small window at what lay beyond. Then he took in the cabin; two computer, a laptop, two TV's, bookshelf, full to overflowing with books. A rack filled with fine wines.
Margaret noticed. "They keep me occupied," she told him.
Then there was silence.
"How's Will today?" Jack asked, breaking the silence.
"In a good mood….for now."
"Thought I might take Ianto to meet him."
Ianto wiped his head round at hearing this. "Will?"
"It's okay, he's secure."
Ianto rolled his eyes. "H..how long have you been here?" he asked Margaret.
"Jack did me a favour. It was either here or prison." She smiled, remembering. "I was a naughty girl."
"Yes you were," Jack said, smiling.
"I like it here. There's solitude, without restrictions. I can leave now, whenever I want. I have all this," she indicated with her arms. "My favourite man comes to visit me. Who could ask for more?"
"Okay," cut in Jack. "Let's go see Will, shall we?"
Ianto stood stock still.
"Mmm, coming, sir."
Both men walked outside into the sun. It felt colder here than on the mainland. They went to a well chained gate. Taking out a set of keys, Jack unlocked the padlock and opened the gate. Walking through, he waited for Ianto to follow and then relocked it.
"Stay close. Will is unpredictable."
Ianto swallowed, then nodded.
Walking to a small cabin about 100 meters from the padlocked gate, Jack took out his keys again. First unlocking the chained gate and relocking it, then the cabin door.
Ianto could hear someone inside moving about. A shiver went up his spin and the hairs on the back of his neck stood up.
"Will, it's Captain Jack Harkness. You remember me, don't you?"
"I'm coming in."
Jack opened the door and put his head inside.
"There you are. I've brought a friend with me. You might see more of him, if he decides he likes it here."
Ianto followed Jack inside, staying close behind him.
Will stood and moved closer to Jack.
He was maybe 45 or 50 years old. His face scared and disfigured from being in a fire.
"Will came to us through the Rift 40 years ago." Jack told Ianto. "He was 7 then. He'd fallen into a fire somewhere. A portal, it turns out. He landed in Cardiff Bay. Lucky for him, the water put the flames out, but the damage was already done."
Will extended his hand. Jack took it.
"But he was badly burned. He was alone at the site of the fire. Some of his clothes were found in the ashes. He was presumed dead. Engulfed in the flames. Nothing left of him." Jack looked at Ianto, shrugging. "Well, he was only 7 and of slight build. He went to a hospital to recover and recuperate, but he was too traumatised and couldn't adjust. I brought him here. He was one of the first to arrive on Flat Holm." Jack put his hand in his pocket, taking out a bag of sweets. "I always bring him sweets. His mind remains in his childhood days. His pain never forgotten. He relives it almost everyday. You might hear him before we head back to Penarth." Jack moved aside. "Here, take his hand."
Nervously, Ianto stepped forward, extending his hand towards Will.
"Mmm. Nith," said Will, popping a sweet into his lipless mouth. Then he moved his scared and disfigured hand towards Ianto's.
Both hands touched.
Ianto resisted the urge to pull back. He closed his eyes momentarily and waited.
Will caught hold of the young Welshman's hand, holding it fast.
"New," said Will, pumping the hand up and down.
"Ianto," said Jack. "He works with me."
"Nice to meet you," said Ianto, keeping eye contact with Will.
Jack smiled. "I think he likes you."
"Good," said Ianto. "Cos I'd really like my hand back, if it's all the same to you, Will."
Will released Ianto's hand and continued to eat the sweets.
"Okay, lets go walk around the compound."
They backed out of Will's cabin slowly, so as not to spook him.
"See you another time, Will."
The two men went back to the gate, Jack locking both the door and gate as he went.
"How many people like Will, are on Flat Holm?" asked Ianto.
"At the last count, 39. They either fall through the Rift. How, we don't quite know. Or they are so traumatised by an event that society can't find a place for them. That's when Torchwood step in."
"And no one knows they're here?" Ianto asked.
"No. As far as anyone is concerned, this Island doesn't exist."
"Right." Ianto thought for a moment. "So how does Margaret get supplies, laptops, computers, wine ….."
"The boat we came over on brings what she needs. Torchwood pays for it all direct. I get a monthly list of her needs, order them and Tom Fletcher brings them over."
"Can I ask, what did Margaret do?"
"She killed a boy. He wasn't very much older than Will, when he first came here. The boy sneaked up on her and she pushed him. He fell, hit his head and died. She was charged with involuntary manslaughter. I had a word with the judge, who knew about Flat Holm and he handed her over to Torchwood." Jack looked into the distance. "She was 23."
"But manslaughter is about 3 to 5 years, isn't it?"
Jack nodded. "What can I say. She likes it here."
"So, other people know about Flat Holm?"
"The judge is dead. It's just the four of us and those living here."
"And none of them are missed?" Ianto shook his head. "What about their families, their friends?"
"No. You've seen how we, at Torchwood, can make people disappear. Change how people died."
Ianto looked around at the other cabins and sighed aloud. "Poor sods."
"They wouldn't be able to cope, Ianto. They can live out their lives here."
"What a life. Locked in, alone."
"They all have their ghosts," and with that, Jack walked back to the main cabin. "I think we'll grab a quick coffee before we go round the compound."
As they entered the main building, they saw Margaret unpacking the holdall and stowing it away.
"How's Will?" asked Margaret, as they entered the cabin.
"Fine." Jack smiled. "He liked Ianto."
Margaret smiled. "Good."
She finished unpacking the holdall, handing it back to Ianto.
"After coffee, I'm gonna show Ianto around. Then we'll be off. Is there anything you need that you haven't ordered yet?"
Margaret thought for a moment. "The first aid kit needs replenishing. I think I'm okay for everything, at the moment."
They drank their coffee in silence. Ianto occasionally looking out of the window.
"This is the best place for them," said Margaret, seeing the concern on Ianto's face.
Margaret nodded. "Can you see Will coping on the outside? People staring. Pointing at him. Calling him names." She shook her head. "Would you want him, or those like him to be put through that everyday of their lives?"
Ianto shook his head. "No."
Just then, they heard the most awful sound. Someone screaming.
"Will," said Jack.
After coffee, the two men left the cabin and began to walk around the perimeter of the fence. They stopped occasionally and Jack told Ianto who was in which cabin.
"You know then all."
"I brought them here."
An hour later, they made their was back to the main cabin.
"Time to call Tom."
Twenty minutes later, they were back on the outboard headed for Penarth.
Ianto was quiet. Quieter than usual, Jack thought.
"Did it disturb you, seeing Will?"
Ianto turned to face Jack.
"No, not disturb me. I….felt sorry for them. They have no one." He turned to look out over the Bay.
"Will you come back here again?"
Ianto didn't look at Jack.
"Yes," was all he said.
Their ride back to the tourist office was made in total silence.