anduria_trianys (anduria_trianys) wrote,
anduria_trianys
anduria_trianys

Forever Autumn 3/22

Title: Forever Autumn 3/22
Pairings: Jack/Ianto, John/Nick,
Characters: Jack, Ianto, John Hart, Nick Jones, and a cast of (probably!) thousands.
Spoilers: Set after Exit Wounds. Sequel to 'We Could Be Heroes'
Rating: Adult - it's going to get very dark in some places.
Warnings: Slash, language, angst, dark themes.
Summary: Now that their engagement is official, John and Nick face the difficult task of planning a wedding...and informing the family!
Disclaimer: I'm a student. I don't own Torchwood.

The Master List is here:
anduria-trianys.livejournal.com/27610.html

 
Chapter 3

14th December 2012...

“What’re you doing, John?” asked Ianto, craning his neck to look at the computer screen. “You thinking of taking Nick off on a honeymoon before you’re even married or something?”

Nick, who had come over just in time to hear that remark, burst into laughter. “He wishes, Ianto! No, we’ve made an arrangement – we can still share a bed and snuggle and stuff, but no sex until the wedding night.”

Ianto’s eyes nearly bugged out of his head. “Wow,” he said. “I thought I’d heard everything, but Nick, you’ve just officially shocked me.”

“Not as shocked as I was when he made the suggestion in the first place,” said Nick, nudging John.

“It’s a tradition in my family,” explained John. “Every time someone got married, from the day that they decided on a date, they would abstain from sexual intercourse until the wedding night. It’s so that the wedding night feels special for them both.”

He smiled sadly and looked up at the cousins. “Dad told me about it before Mum died. It was one of the last friendly and fun conversations we ever had.”

Nick put his hand on John’s shoulder and rubbed it gently. “It’s always those last moments that you remember,” he said quietly, and John knew that he was thinking of his own father. He reached out with his own hand and rested it on top of Nick’s, letting their fingers link together.

The invisible lift came down at that point and Jack hopped off the slab with Garrett behind him trying to staunch a deep and bleeding gash in his arm, despite Jack’s insistences that it was just a scratch and it would heal soon enough anyway.

“That may be so, but it’s still my job to treat you,” retorted Garrett. “So, stop trying to be a hero and sit down and let me sort you out before you find yourself turned into The Mummy!” He looked up at Nick. “Has he always been like this?”

“Every time he gets injured,” answered Nick.

Jack winked at Garrett. “Oh, baby!” he said. “I love it when you get masterful!” He sat down and let the black-haired man bandage his arm. “Although I’m not sure Imhotep is really me.”

“You don’t fancy the Pharaoh’s girlfriend, then?” asked John.

“Nope,” said Jack. “I don’t need royalty. I’m perfectly happy with who I’ve got right here.” He stroked Ianto’s hand, smiling as the younger man blushed.

“That may well be one of the sweetest things I’ve heard you say, Jack,” murmured Nick with a grin.

“What are you looking at, John?” asked Garrett, who had glanced over Jack’s shoulder suddenly. “Planning a hotel break or something?”

“Nope,” said John. “I’m looking at possible wedding venues.” He grinned at the shocked expressions on the faces of his friends. “What are you all doing on the 30th of June?”

Jack pretended to consult his diary. “Nothing.”

“Good, because that’s the day that Nick and I are getting married,” said John, his grin growing broader.

Ianto gasped. “You’ve set a date?”

“Yep,” said Nick. “We’ve set a date, but we’ve not decided where we’re getting married yet. Although,” and he looked up at his cousin, “I hope you’ll be the one walking me down the aisle.”

Ianto grinned. “Nicky, trust me – nothing in the universe could stop me.”

Jack chuckled. “So, John, I guess that means you’re stuck with me as your best man.”

“I guess it does,” agreed John. “What do you say?”

“I’d be honoured,” said Jack. The two men embraced slightly awkwardly, though that was mainly due to Jack’s right arm being confined to a sling. Then, he turned to look at Nick. “Treat him right, won’t you?”

“Of course I will,” promised Nick.

“So, you haven’t decided where you’re going to be getting married then?” asked Garrett.

“No,” said John, sighing. “There are just so many options out there.”

“I swear planning was not this hard the first time I got married,” agreed Nick.

“That’s because the first time you got married, you chose the university campus because you couldn’t afford anywhere else,” responded Ianto. “But now you don’t need to worry about that as much, all these other options suddenly come to light.”

“The thing is, I don’t know if I can really see myself getting married in a big posh hotel,” said John, tapping his fingers on the table.

“I’m not sure I can see it either,” agreed Jack, chewing his lip as he looked at the web page. “So, why not try this radical idea and not get married in a big posh hotel!”

John raised his eyebrow at him. “Okay, so where would you suggest we do it then?” He watched as Jack leaned over him and typed something into the search engine before bringing up a picture of a castle.

Ianto looked over Jack’s shoulder. “Hey, that’s not a bad idea, actually! It’s certainly a nice setting.”

John blinked at the writing. “You want us to get married in a place called…Castle Cock?” he asked Jack incredulously and then jumped as Ianto smacked him round the back of the head. “What was that for?!”

“It’s pronounced Castell Coch,” he said. “And it’s a very nice place, perfect for a wedding.”

“It is a nice place,” agreed Nick. “But we agreed very quickly that we didn’t want to get married in Cardiff, or even in Wales. Don’t worry,” he added, obviously noting the worried look on Jack’s face, “we got in touch with Martha and she’s agreed to come down with some of her UNIT friends to oversee things here. But we want this wedding to go off smoothly and that includes being free of explosions from the Rift.”

“Fair point,” said Jack, nodding and entered something else in the search engine. “How about a ceremony up on the Yorkshire moors? You can’t get much more romantic than that and then you could go down to the pub for the reception. I’ve heard that there are some good pubs in that Penis-town place.”

This time, Nick was the one delivering the smack to the back of Jack’s head. “You two really need to stop making dirty jokes out of place names,” he said. “The actual pronunciation is Penistone and it’s really not the kind of place you’d want to go to for a wedding.”

“Why not?” asked Jack.

“Well,” Nick paused, “let’s just say there’s a reason why my friend who lived there called it the arse end of nowhere. There’s pretty much nothing in it, except a couple of pubs, a church – oh, and the Kingswood activity centre which became one of the banes of my friend’s life – he worked there over the summer.”

Jack’s eyes widened. “I think that might have been where I ended up when the 456 turned up,” he mused. “There’s not much evidence of anything happening – well, unless you count the rather large crater in the woods where,” but he stopped when he caught the expression on Ianto’s face. “Well, anyway, I think I saw a place called Kingswood there when I got myself back together again.”

“Hey!” said John suddenly. “I didn’t know you could get married onstage!” While the conversation had been going on around him, he’d been searching unusual wedding venues on his phone and had come up with a page listing several places, including a small but beautiful theatre in Bath. Quickly, he typed the name of the place into the computer and scanned through the pictures. “Nick, this is perfect!” he shouted out. “It’s really different and the kids will love it!”

“They really will,” agreed Nick, his face lighting up as he also looked at the pictures. “It’s gorgeous.”

“I can see Trev telling his children about it,” said Jack, chuckling. “He’ll want everyone to know that his dads got married onstage like stars!”

Nick and Ianto chuckled and agreed, but Jack’s words had got John thinking.

~*~

Two weeks later...

“So,” said Dan as he swallowed a couple of chips, “what was it that you wanted to ask me? You sounded rather nervous over the phone.”

John nodded. “I'm not usually accustomed to asking favours from my partner's ex-lover,” he said. “But, as much as it pains me to admit it – Dan, I need your help.” He glanced furtively over his shoulder and then dropped his voice, leaning over the table so that his forehead was practically touching Dan's. “It's for something for Nick.”

Dan nodded. “Then, I'll do anything I can if it'll help Nick or make him happy.”

“I know you would,” said John, though he was slightly ashamed to note that the statement was more like a grudging admission. Stop it, he chastised himself. You asked him for help and you promised Nick that you would at least try to get along with him. Stop thinking of him as Nick's ex-lover and start thinking of him as Nick's friend.

Taking a deep breath, he straightened up again. “How long have you known William Cuthbert?”

“We went to university together,” said Dan, “and he came to work at St. David's shortly after Nick joined Torchwood. But he was really more Nick's friend than he was mine; I never really liked him that much, but I tried to stay civil with him for Nick's sake.”

John nodded. “What about after he came to work here? Did your opinion of him change at all?”

“You mean did I think better of him?” Dan shook his head. “No, I didn't. Oh, he knows what he's doing, medically, I can't deny that, but other than that, he's one of the most selfish people I've met in my life. He always has been and he always will be.”

“So...not someone who would want to raise a child?” asked John.

Dan let out a bark of laughter that was not at all amused. “And interrupt his happy life of bachelorhood? No, definitely not.” Suddenly, he looked suspicious. “Why are you asking?”

“Because,” said John, “a couple of weeks ago, after Nick and I set a date for the wedding, I consulted a solicitor so that I can legally adopt Trev and Estelle and be their official stepfather in the eyes of the law.”

Dan's eyes widened. “Does Nick know?”

“No, he doesn't; I want to surprise him, but at the same time, I didn't want to tell him in case it didn't work out. However, I've been told that there's no problems as far as Trev's concerned, but, as you know, Estelle isn't biologically Nick's daughter and Denise – that's my solicitor – is concerned that we may run into problems if her biological father tries to get custody of her. And that's where you come in, Dan.”

He leaned forwards. “I need you to testify that Nick will care for and love Estelle in a way that Will isn't prepared to do. Can you do that?”

Dan frowned. “John,” he said, clearly uncomfortable, “under any other circumstances, I would say yes in a heartbeat, but,” he hesitated, “do you really think it's a good idea to have the kids with you? I mean, you and Nick both work very long hours and what you do is very dangerous. What if you end up getting killed?”

“They won't live with us,” said John. “They'd stay with Catrin and David, but the adoption would mean that I would have the legal rights to make decisions about the children if Nick...” he stopped and swallowed hard. He couldn't say it, “well, you know. If the worst happens.”

“Oh, I see.” Dan nodded. “And the reason you'll need my help is if Will tries to get custody of Estelle.”

“Exactly,” said John. “So, what do you say? Will you help us?”

“I will.”

“Thanks.” John knew that he was visibly more relaxed as Dan agreed. “I've already spoken to Catrin and David and they're happy with the arrangement. They don't know the full story about what Nick and I do, but they know enough to understand that it's very dangerous and that there's every chance that something could happen any day. I've also said that, if something happens to both of us, they can stay as their guardians. “

“When do we meet with your lawyer?”

“Tomorrow at half one,” answered John. “Catrin and David are going to meet us there.”

“Oh,” said Dan. “So, that's why you were dry-cleaning that suit?”

“Can't hurt to make a good impression,” said John with a shrug. “Besides, it’s pretty much the only suit I have and I didn’t want to get to the day and find that it needed cleaning!”

Dan burst out laughing. “Yeah, Nick can be like that; he loses track of his washing ridiculously easily. I remember once, there was a formal departmental dinner on and he didn't realise until about an hour before we had to go that he didn't have a clean shirt! He ended up the only one of mine that fit him, which ended up being made of pale lavender silk!”

John fought hard to keep a straight face while the other man spoke, but the image of Nick in a lavender silk shirt with his bright red hair was too much for him and he also burst out laughing. “I bet he loved that!”

“Oh yes.” Dan chuckled as well. “By the way, is he still using that mint –“

“Head and Shoulders shampoo?” John nodded. “Oh, yes. At one stage, I had to change toothpastes, because the stench of that shampoo was just putting me off mint! I ended up using that awful strawberry stuff Trev and Estelle use!”

Dan winced in sympathy. “I can't eat mint sweets or be around anyone who is any more. Seriously, if you want to get me out of a room, just start chewing something with lots of mint in it.”

“I'll keep that in mind when your birthday comes around,” teased John, smiling slightly when his comment gained a laugh. “Thanks for agreeing to this, Dan. I’ll see you tomorrow, and try not to be late – Denise likes that even less than you like being told you look like Carlisle from Twilight.”

~*~

The next day…

Denise Whitsun was a tall and severe black woman who wore suits which had been more sharply pressed than John had ever seen, even on Ianto. When she came out to meet them, she shook each of their hands with such a firm grip that Dan audibly squeaked while David, Catrin's husband, bit his lip sharply. Even John, who had had experience of vice-like handshakes before, found it difficult not to react.

“Captain Hart,” she said, “the last time we met, you said you wanted to adopt Trevyn and Estelle Jones legally. Has that changed at all?”

“No, it hasn’t,” said John firmly. “Unless you think that becoming more determined to adopt them counts as changing. I love those children like they’re my own and I want them to have the best care possible in case anything should happen to their father. But, as we discussed last time, they will continue to live with my sister-in-law and her husband.”

Denise nodded. “Are you and your husband happy with the arrangement, Mrs. Ashford?”

“We are,” said Catrin. John smiled at his sister-in-law.

“And, Captain Hart, you are happy to let the children live with their current guardians?”

“I am,” said John. “And so is Nick.”

She nodded again and then turned back to Catrin and David. “And do you both believe that Captain Hart is suitably qualified to decide what will happen to the children in the event of Dr. Jones’ death?”

David nodded. “Like he said, he adores those children and he treats them like they’re his own. I can think of no one I would trust more to decide on their future if anything were to happen to Nick.”

“I agree,” said Catrin.

John blushed slightly. “Thank you, both,” he whispered.

Denise nodded again. “As I said, adopting the boy should be no problem. However, since Estelle isn’t Dr. Jones’ biological daughter, there may be complications with her father.” She looked at Dan. “Dr. Olsten, isn’t it?” Dan nodded. “You said that you believe this would not be an issue. Would you care to explain why?”

Dan nodded. “I’ve known William Cuthbert – Estelle’s father – for a long time and I can categorically state that he would not be a fit guardian for her. He wouldn’t be prepared to care for her in the way that Dr. Jones and Captain Hart would.”

“Does he know that he has a daughter?” asked Denise.

“Yes,” said Dan, “and he made it clear that he wants nothing to do with her.”

John inhaled sharply and Catrin hissed between her teeth. David swore quietly in Welsh, his eyes wide with horror.

“Is it your unbiased opinion, therefore, that Dr. Cuthbert would not be suitable to make the decisions about Estelle’s future?” Denise confirmed.

“It is,” said Dan. “I would never give anything except my unbiased opinion when a child’s welfare is at stake. I know Dr. Cuthbert and Dr. Jones were good friends for some time, but I also know that he is not the man I would want making decisions about the future of any children I might have if anything were to happen to me.”

~*~

One hour later…

“Thanks, Dan,” John said. “I was worried that Estelle’s parentage was going to be a problem, but clearly it didn’t need to be. You were a real help today.”

“See, considering that I’m Nick’s ex-lover, I’m not really that bad, am I?” Dan teased. “Seriously, John, if it helps to make Nick happy, there’s very little I wouldn’t do.” He paused. “Actually, I’m not sure there’s anything I wouldn’t do to help him.”

John nodded. “I appreciate that.” He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “And I know how much it would mean to Nick if you came to the wedding. We’ll drop the invitation down when we get them done, but I know he’d want you there.”

Dan blinked. “Oh…wow, well…John, I don’t know.” He seemed to stall for a moment. “I mean, don’t get me wrong, I am really happy for you, but…”

John nodded. “I understand. I know that if I didn’t have Nick and Jack was marrying Ianto, I’m not sure I’d be able to go and watch him pledge himself to someone else without wishing it was me. But just think about it, okay?”

“I will,” Dan assured him. “And John?”

“Yeah?”

“Promise me you’ll take care of him.” The phrase ‘better care of him than I did’ hung in the air between them.

“Of course I will.”

~*~

Three days later…

John rushed into the training centre to find Nick almost pulverising the boxing bag that Jack had put up only two weeks before. His hair was flying wildly around his face as he leapt around wildly and the stuffing from the bag flew around him. Even his eyes were glazed over behind his glasses and streams of sweat raced down his face, glistening on his bright red cheeks. But he didn't seem to notice; he was too focused on the bag in front of him and John would have bet anything he owed that Nick was picturing Luke's face on it.

Slowly, he moved over to him. “You're going to end up leaving nothing but the string tied to the ceiling if you're not careful, you know.”

“Don't care,” panted Nick, without turning round. “It's stopping me from doing something I'll end up regretting – like punching my cousin's lights out!” He jumped up with a yell and kicked the bag hard. However, he misjudged the jump and ended up falling from a greater height than he had anticipated.

Instantly, John stepped up and caught him in his arms, helping him back onto his feet and pulling him against his chest. “Careful,” he said in an amused tone, “don't want you injuring anything before the wedding.”

“Sorry,” mumbled Nick. “It's just...I know Luke and I have never gotten along, but I just hoped that he might have changed. And then to hear him say that and...” he shook his head. “It just got to me.”

“I know.” John kissed Nick softly on the forehead. Indeed, he was so angry with Luke for what he'd said to his cousin that he wanted to go back and reduce the rat to a greasy smear on the carpet, even though neither Nick nor Ianto would appreciate it. But he also knew that Nick needed him by his side at the moment, so, despite wanting to teach Luke a lesson, that was exactly where he intended to stay.

“Listen to me, Nick,” he said quietly. “You and Luke have never gotten along. You've said it yourself a hundred times. So, don't let what he said get to you; you know he has no idea what he's talking aboutand, frankly, he isn't worth getting this stressed over.”

“I know.” Nick looked up slightly. “I just wish –”

“And more importantly,” interrupted John, tapping Nick on the nose. “I love you. Nothing anyone says is going to change that, least of all some stupid git who calls himself your relative.”

“Yeah, you're right,” said Nick, slowly relaxing and resting his head on John's shoulder. “Thank you.”

Ianto came in at that moment and frowned. “What happened?”

“Your cousin Luke happened,” said John succinctly as he ran his fingers through Nick’s hair in an attempt to calm him down.

“He seems to think that by marrying me, John’s going to be signing his own death warrant,” growled Nick, though his voice was muffled by the folds of John’s thick coat.

“He seems to think that this one here is the male version of your friend, Tosh, complete with the curse of his lovers!” John added, but swallowed when Ianto glared at him. “Hey, they were his words, not mine…although he didn’t mention Tosh by name.”

“That doesn’t surprise me, somehow,” said Ianto, coming over and patting Nick’s back. “Look, you and I both know that Luke’s an arse. Don’t let him upset you.”

“I wasn’t upset,” answered Nick, finally looking up. “I was just absolutely flaming mad that he could be such an utter hypocrite! He’s never had more than a one-night-stand – two-night-stand at the most – and he thinks he can have a go at me about my relationships? Okay, so he doesn’t know about what really happened to Ali, but that still does not give him the right to christen me the Black Widower!” The last words were accompanied by a vicious punch to the small lump of red plastic that was left of the boxing bag, sending yet more stuffing all over the floor.

John blinked at him. “Then he stormed out and I came down to find him punching the life – literally – out of that thing,” he said, waving at the string hanging from the ceiling, which was now all that was left of the boxing bag.

“Hence the ridiculous amount of stuffing all over the floor,” said Ianto dryly.

“Well, I don’t think Aunt Eira would have been too happy if I’d punched her son, because I’d probably have ended up leaving a rather nasty stain on her carpet,” responded Nick with a rueful smile.

“True,” admitted Ianto. “Although, I think she would have understood. She'll have known that Luke’s no saint, especially after the spider incident.”

John snorted. “There’s a Legolas moment of stating the obvious, if ever there was one.” He didn't know what the spider incident that Ianto was referring to actually was, but he was prepared to bet that if Luke was involved, it wasn't anything good.

Ianto shook his head. “Well,” he said, drawing a piece of paper out of his pocket and handing it to Nick, “this might cheer you up.”

Nick gave his cousin a curious look, but opened it, his eyes widening as he read what was on the paper. “Ianto!” he gasped. “You…you found him?”

John glanced over Nick’s shoulder and looked at what his partner was holding. “Who’s Lucas Porterfield?” he asked. “And why do you have a piece of paper with his address on it?”

“He’s Nick’s mother’s youngest brother,” explained Ianto. “And he’s also probably her only relative who isn’t an elitist prick.” He frowned. “Well, apart from his twins, that is.”

“Twins?” repeated Nick. “He’s got children?”

“Yeah, George and Helen are about your age. He’s divorced and his ex-wife is still in Australia. Apparently, their break-up was rather...acrimonious.”

John grimaced. “Sounds it, if he moved to a different hemisphere to escape her.”

“He only lives in Whitchurch; that's about fifteen minutes away,” said Nick, who was still staring at the piece of paper as if he expected it to go up in flames at any second. “Hey, maybe we should go and visit him – it'd save us having to put his invitation in the post.” He grabbed his jacket. “Come on!”

Both John and Ianto blinked. “What, now?” asked John. When Nick nodded, he frowned slightly. “What are you planning to do, just turn up on his doorstep or something?”

“No,” said Nick. “We're going to just turn up on his doorstep.”

Ianto stared at them both. “Whatever happened to my sweet and innocent little cousin?” he asked, rolling his eyes towards the heavens. “He used to be so shy, he wouldn't say boo to a goose! What changed?”

John and Nick exchanged looks and then both spoke at the same time.

“I joined Torchwood.”

“He met me.”

~*~

“Number five,” said John as he turned the car onto Silver Birch Close. He whistled. “Nice street.”

“Yeah,” said Nick. He ran his fingers through his hair. “God, I hope I don't look as if I've been in a fight. That wouldn't be a good way to greet my uncle and cousins, would it?”

John chuckled. “You look fine,” he assured him. “And I can't wait to meet your uncle. At least this guy sounds like a Luke I'll actually like! Which reminds me,” and he turned into the driveway of the house, “what was the spider incident Ianto was referring to?”

“Oh.” Nick shifted uncomfortably. “Well, shortly after I went to live with Ianto and his parents, Luke came to stay while his parents went away for a few days. Anyway, he had a pet tarantula – although, what Uncle Mark was thinking, letting him have one when he was seven years old, I don't know – which literally went everywhere with him. So, he thought it would be a hilarious idea to let the thing run across my pillow while I was asleep so that I woke up with it crawling over my face!”

John almost crashed into the car parked in front of them in the drive. “You are kidding me,” he growled, hitting the breaks just in time to stop the Jaguar leaving an unwelcome gift in the back of Lucas' car. “That slimy good-for-nothing...” he trailed off, almost spitting in anger. “I'm going to kill him.”

“John, no,” said Nick reprovingly. “Don't sink to his level. You're better than that.”

“I...” John sighed and cut the car engine. “I just...I can't stand the thought of anyone treating you like that, especially a relative. You don't deserve that.” And as he thought about what he'd done that night almost four years ago now when those men had attacked his lover, he knew that he wasn't really any better than Luke.

Nick reached out and gripped John's hand. “Hey, what's that look for?” he asked. “You're glaring at the dashboard as if you want to set it on fire.”

John shut his eyes and rested his head on the steering wheel. “I'm not any better than Luke,” he murmured. “Look at what I've done, Nick. I've tortured people, killed them and done things that would make you sick if I told you about them.” He shook his head. “I'm no better than your cousin.”

“Rubbish,” said Nick emphatically. “Yes, you may have done some terrible things, but they're in the past. You've changed, John. Anyone who's anyone can see that.”

“Have I?”

“Yes.” Nick turned and looked him straight in the eye. “You have.” Slowly, he leaned over and kissed John on the lips before he spoke again. “Believe me.”

John sighed again, but this time it was a happier sound. Suddenly, he felt as if Nick's kiss had given him something; belief that he might actually be a different man to the arrogant Time Agent who had once strutted around the universe as if he owned the place.

“Thanks,” he said with a smile. “Now, let's go and meet your uncle, shall we?” He stepped out of the car and opened Nick's door for him, wrapping his arm around his shoulders as they walked up the driveway.

To John's surprise, however, they had barely set foot on the doorstep when the door opened and a tall red-haired man stood there, smiling at them.

“I saw you pulling into the drive,” he said, a soft Australian twang colouring his words. “It's good to see you, Nick.”

Nick gaped. “Did...did you know we were coming?”

“No, but when I saw you, I knew that it was you, with that hair.” His smile turned slightly solemn. “You really do look like your mother, you know.”

“So I've been told,” said Nick with a rueful sigh. “Sadly, she didn't take the news that John and I are together especially well.”

“So I've heard,” said Lucas. “I'm so sorry for that, Nicky. All I can say is that she used to be different. She never used to care who someone was with as long as they were in love. I don't know what changed her, but something did. The sister I know loved your father and would have done anything to ensure he knew that. And she wouldn't have cared about her son's preferences.”

“Do you mind?” asked Nick cautiously.

“Not even remotely.” Lucas' answer was emphatic. “I have several gay friends myself and I was always proud to support them in the Pride marches in Sydney.”

He shook himself. “What am I doing, making you stand out here in the cold? Come in!” He stepped aside and waved them inside, ushering them through to the sitting room where a young man and woman, both with the same red hair as Nick, were playing cards. They looked up as the trio entered.

“Hi,” said Nick shyly. “George and Helen?”

The woman looked up and her mouth opened slightly. “Nick?” she ventured. “Ciara's son?” She instantly put her cards down – though not before ordering her brother not to look at them – and rushed up to hug him. “I'm your cousin, Helen, and this lazy string bean here,” she indicated the man she had been playing with earlier, “is my brother, George.”

“Lazy string bean yourself!” George also abandoned his cards and leapt up to shake Nick's hand exuberantly and clap him on the back. “Good to see you, mate!”

John smiled as he watched. After what he had heard about Nick's mother's family, he was glad to see that at least there were at least some relatives on that side who actually wanted to get to know him and who didn't object to his lifestyle choice.

“You've got quite the family atmosphere here,” he remarked to Lucas. “George and Helen seem very close.”

Lucas nodded. “We've had some tough times, mostly after their mother walked out, but we've stuck together through them and we're still very close, even after the kids went off to university.”

John chuckled softly. “That's nice.”

“We've always had a very strong sense of family,” said Lucas. “And Nick's a part of that family, and so are you, since I'm guessing that the ring on his finger says that you're going to make things official.”

John's mouth dropped open slightly at Lucas' observation. “Yes, we are. And,” he passed the other man an envelope. “It'd be great if you'd be there.”

“Wouldn't miss it for the world,” said Lucas simply.

***

Next Time: We know that Nick has power over fire, but also that he's very reluctant to use them. But a spark of Rift activity shows him that they can be used to save lives.

Tags: adult, angst, fanfic, forever autumn, jack/ianto, john hart, john/nick, the soldier and the healer, torchwood
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