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:The wedding reception...that turns out to be longer than the wedding!
Disclaimer: I'm a student. I don't own Torchwood.
The Master List is here: anduria-trianys.livejournal.com/27610.ht
“Where are we going now?” asked John, once they'd left the confetti-covered pavement outside the theatre behind.
“Ah...” said Jack. “You'll have to wait and see. You two had your say with the ceremony, but from here and onwards, it's all my planning. You're both in my hands.”
“Gandalf help us,” muttered Nick.
“Hey!” Jack protested. “I can be organised!”
“True,” admitted John. “You can be very organised,” he added, causing Nick and Ianto to both turn and stare at him in surprise. “Well...that is, you can be when you want to be.”
“Then I guess it's very lucky that I decided that I did want to be organised when it came to your wedding reception, isn't it?” replied Jack, leading them down the sheltered street and towards the main entrance of the Theatre Royal. “Your carriage awaits – literally,” he said with a broad smile.
John's eyes widened. Parked outside the ornate entrance to the theatre was a small carriage decorated with plaited green leaves and flowers, both terrestrial and alien, and with tiny gold and silver charms liberally dotted in amongst the leaves and with a pale blue canopy over the top which the little aatiae seemed to be holding up in the air. A single chestnut brown mare was pulling the carriage, her beautiful dark eyes gazing softly at the John as she tossed her thick dark mane over her head and whinnied softly.
“Wow,” he whispered and then laughed. “We seem to be saying that an awful lot today!”
“But today it's certainly justified,” said Nick. “Today's been amazing.”
“Ah,” said the young woman who was driving the carriage. “But today isn't even over yet.” She stepped down and extended a hand. “Come on, boys.”
John waggled his eyebrows. “Wow, a magical wedding, a gorgeous charioteer and more surprises to come? Looks like today is my lucky day!”
“Of course today's your lucky day,” teased Nick. “You married me.”
Ianto's mouth twitched. “My cousin, everybody,” he said, trying to sound exasperated, but unable to stop the grin spreading over his face. “Modest he is not.”
“Well, really, would you expect him to be modest?” scoffed Rupesh. “Look at him – even I can see that the man's gorgeous!”
“Fair point,” said Ianto, shrugging as he followed Jack to the garage opposite the theatre. “See you two in a bit!”
“Where are we going?” John shouted back, but the others just smiled and waved.
Nick chuckled and rested his head on the crook of John's arm. “Well, wherever we're going, if I know Jack, it's certainly going to be good.”
“Oh, you're right there,” said the driver. “You're right there.”
4:45pm, Roman Baths...
“I take it you're impressed then,” said Ianto, fighting back a laugh at the awestruck look on John's face. “I knew you would be.”
“Impressed?” John stared around in ecstasy. “This...Ianto, this is...” but the words failed him and he just stood and gazed around him, the sight taking his breath away.
Even though it wasn't even five in the afternoon and it certainly wasn't even close to dark yet, the torches around the King's Bath had been lit, giving the area a soft, almost ethereal glow. A soft summer breeze had started up and was now sending gentle ripples across the water and caused the candlelight to flicker slightly, sending a soft shadow throughout the area and causing the multicoloured petals someone, presumably Jack, had scattered to spread out across the water. Even better, floating candles were grouped together, the small flames reflecting in the water and making the colours of the petals look even brighter.
As they watched, Ianto pulled a small rowing boat decorated with plaited leaves towards where they were all standing and smiled. “There's nothing like being right in the middle of this place to really feel the atmosphere,” he said. “So, Jack and I –”
“Pushed the boat out?” suggested Nick as everyone else groaned. “What? Sometimes it's just easier to call a spade a spade!”
Jack's mouth twitched. “Well, even allowing for the incredibly bad pun, Nick's right.” He took John's hand with one hand and Nick's with the other and led them to the water's edge. “Step on board,” he said.
For the next hour and a half, John was so lost in gazing at Nick that he was completely unfocused on anything else that was going on around him. He didn't notice the candles flickering softly in the water or the petals gathering around the boat or even the soulful harp music resonating through the baths and swirling around the pillars. All he could see were Nick's beautiful hazel eyes sparkling with happiness. He wasn't even put off by the fact that Nick's hair was, as usual flowing everywhere and that the smell of his trademark mint shampoo was filling his nostrils.
In fact, it came as a shock when he finally looked around and saw that he wasn't in the middle of the baths any more, but instead he was blinking in the sunlight and stood outside Bath Abbey with all the rest of his family and friends as the photographer – a friend of George's named Gethin – worked his magic with his camera. He rested his chin on Nick's shoulder and smiled as the flower-girls scattered petals around the courtyard.
Suddenly, a yell of laughter broke him out of his reverie and he looked up to see Dan and Rupesh grinning and giggling for the camera as Rupesh juggled with the bouquet Helen had just thrown into the crowd. He applauded with the rest. “Nice one!” he shouted before turning to his sister-in-law. “Okay, Cat, your turn!”
“Yessir!” she replied and threw her bouquet up in the air behind her. Everyone jumped and reached out for it, stretching as high as they could, before a shout of surprise, followed by more applause, announced to the crowd that Jack had caught it.
Nick laughed out loud. “Nice catch, Jack!” He gave him a thumbs-up. “Does that mean that you'll be one of the next ones to get married?”
“It might do,” said Jack, grinning broadly, although he was gazing at the flowers with an almost reverent expression. “It just might do.”
Ianto raised an eyebrow at his partner, looking amused. “Don't go getting any ideas, Jack,” he said, nodding towards the bouquet that Jack was still holding. “You hear me?”
Jack blinked a few times before he nodded. “I hear you,” he said. “No ideas are going to be coming into this head any time soon, you can count on that!” He grinned broadly and laughed, but John could hear the tremor in his voice and see the flicker of hurt in his eyes as he walked past.
He reached out towards his friend and touched him lightly on the shoulder and offered him a sympathetic smile. “The idea's still there, then?”
“Yeah,” Jack whispered back before clapping his hands and raising his voice. “Okay, everyone, file ahead – you all know where you're going! John, Nick, wait back with me!”
He waited until all the guests had left before he turned to the couple. “Now then, you two are coming with me,” he said with a cheeky grin.
“What have you planned?” asked Nick
“Oh, I think you'll be very impressed,” answered Jack enigmatically. “And you'll be able to see just how organised I can be.”
John grinned at Nick as they followed Jack. “This should be good.”
“Jack, what on earth could be so spectacular that you felt it necessary to blindfold us to get us to our own wedding reception?” asked John.
“It's a little thing called a surprise,” answered Jack with an unmistakeable laugh in his voice. “You might remember those. Besides, if you breathe in the air, you might well be able to smell a few things.”
John inhaled softly and his nose twitched as a beautiful combination of scents hit his senses. Beside him, he heard Nick whistle in amazement. “Wow,” he whispered. “If what's waiting down there is even half as good as what I can smell on the air, then we are going to be in for a treat.” He chuckled, but then suddenly fell silent as he heard a loud gasp beside him. “Nicky?” he asked, glancing around, even though his eyes were still covered. “Nicky, are you okay?”
“This is unbelievable!” Nick exclaimed. “John, you have got to see this!”
“Well, I'd love to see it, but there's the small problem of –” but John's irritated retort was cut off when his blindfold was whipped off and he saw exactly what had caused his husband's cry of amazement and joy.
He was standing at the top of a flight of stone steps and gazing down upon a large park surrounded by high stone walls covered with climbing plants and with tiny lights entwined with the stalks and poking through the petals. All the trees were covered in blossom and leaves and had the same The flowerbeds, both small and large, were practically brimming over with plants and flowers in a multitude of different colours. However, instead of tiny fairy lights, the beds were illuminated by several tall white candles, the flames flickering like stars amongst an evening sky. Even better, at the foot of the steps, there was a large topiary made from shrubbery and flora into the shape of a green dragon entwined with a red and gold phoenix, very much like the embroidered design on the cushion upon which Trevyn had carried the wedding bracelets.
At the back of the gardens, in the shade of a cluster of tall trees there was a large circular table covered by a pale blue tablecloth and decorated by four tall floral arrangements, each one holding different combinations of plants and white, green and blue tea lights floating in glass bowls of water and tall pillar candles in the same colour. Thirty-two places were set at the table, each of them with a small blue chiffon bundle tied with silver ribbon and containing the chocolates that John had ordered for the party favours. There were also three long tables, each of them groaning with different plates of food, including an enormous white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake (a throwback to one of Nick's favourite desserts while at university), and decorated, not only with flowers, but also with large different fruits with patterns carved into them, and even a huge watermelon carved into the shape of a dragon perched on top of a jagged rock.
And then, on a completely separate table, this one smaller, round and completely undecorated, there was the wedding cake. Rather than a traditional three tiered cake with white icing, which John had dubbed 'boring' and Nick had vetoed on the grounds that he had 'been there, done that', the couple had decided to go for a white chocolate cake designed by John in the shape of an intricately detailed castle fort, complete with stained glass windows and even flaming torches, and decorated with pale gold icing for the brickwork and tiny multicoloured flowers, leaves and even grass and trees. And finally, perched on top of the turrets, and made out of a final piece of cake, John had created a large green dragon with its wings stretched out and with small models of him and Nick sat on his back, Nick riding the dragon while John wrapped his arms around his waist and leaned against him.
“Impressed?” asked Jack with an attempt at an innocent expression.
“Amazed, more like!” gasped John. “Jack, this is fantastic! How did you do all this?!”
“Well, like you said, I can be very organised when I want to be,” answered Jack with a rather nonchalant shrug. “I seem to remember organising a few of your birthday parties, after all.” He bounded down the stairs and cleared his throat. “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls and pets – if you could all please stand to welcome Captain and Dr. Hart-Jones!”
As everyone rose and applauded them, John turned to Nick and smiled at him. “Ready?”
Nick took his hand. “Absolutely.”
They kissed quickly before descending into the gardens and as they did so, a soft whistling tune started playing around them, though as they came closer to the rest of the guests, they realised that it was not coming from the band waiting at the bandstand, but instead it was being made by the tiny aatiae, who were flying above them, their eyes sparkling brightly as they sang.
“Do you think Jack trained them to sing this?” asked Nick.
“Aatiae are born with the ability to sing,” answered John. “They train themselves as –”
“No, no, I know that,” interrupted Nick. “I was just wondering if Jack trained them to sing this particular song.” At John's confused look, he added, “It's one of the Pern tunes.”
John's mouth twitched. “Trust you to know that,” he said affectionately as they took their seats at the head of the table.
“But that's why you love him,” said Jack, winking at them.
“It certainly is,” agreed John. “Well, it's one of the many reasons why I love him.”
Ianto grinned. “And one of the many reasons I love Jack is, undeniably, his cooking, so I am off to get some of that risotto before everyone else gets there first. Coming?”
John leapt to his feet. “You bet!”
“Well, I have to say, Jack, you have really outdone yourself this time,” panted Nick. “That was quite possibly one of the best meals I've ever eaten. And the cheesecake was...I mean, what did you do, go all the way to Manchester and get the recipe?”
“Yep,” said Jack simply. “Ianto told me that you loved it when you were there, so we went all the way up there and got hold of the recipe, which I then kept on testing so that it would be perfect for the big day.”
“I swear, for a month, all we ate was cheesecake,” chuckled Ianto. “But given that enjoyed it so much, you managed to polish off three slices of the stuff, it was worth it. Even though I did go without sex for that entire month because he was so tired from cooking it.”
“Ha!” said Nick. “So, that's why you were so grumpy!”
Ianto blinked and worked his mouth a few times. “I...isn't it time for the speeches?” Then, without waiting for an answer, he stood up and cleared his throat. “I'm Ianto Jones, Nick's cousin and best man.”
“Professor Ianto Jones!” corrected Jack, grinning as he raised his half-full champagne glass (although it was full of lemonade rather than champagne).
Ianto stared at him for a moment. “Thank you, Jack,” he said dryly. “I'm not really a Professor – it's just something that he likes to call me in...well, anyway.” He shook himself quickly before reaching out to untie Nick's ponytail and ruffle his hair. “I'd like to toast my little brother here on the happiest day of his life and to wish him all the luck in his future with John.”
“Thank you,” said Nick.
“I'd also like to welcome the new addition to our family,” continued Ianto. “John, as you've undoubtedly found out, us Joneses can be rather...shall we say, unique, but I have to say, you've handed the whole situation with aplomb and I have to commend you for that! The last of the in-laws certainly didn't...never mind,” he said quickly when he spotted Nick glaring at him. “Sorry, my mouth sometimes tends to run away with me, so, I'll just say...congratulations, Nick and John!” He led a toast to the couple and then sat down at the table after swallowing the last of his champagne and quickly pouring himself another glass and downing that as well. “Now, over to our other best man!”
“Wait,” interrupted John, suddenly standing up himself. “I just wanted to say that Ianto's just congratulated me on dealing with the rest of the family, but I don't think he's being entirely fair to himself or his relatives. So, I want to thank him and the rest of the Jones family for being there for me and for giving me a loving family once again.” He swallowed hard. “I'd especially like to thank Nick's father, who sadly can't be with us today, because he was very supportive when I met him and he made me feel so welcome and at home, even though I only met him that one time before being unexpectedly called away.” He exchanged a quick look with Nick. “I admit, I had almost forgotten how it felt to be accepted by a family and I hope that wherever he is, my father-in-law is watching over us with a smile.” With a small smile, he raised his glass and sat down again, lightly caressing Nick's knee as he did so. “And now, over to Jack.”
Jack nodded and stood up, tapping his fork against his glass. “Evening, everyone,” he said when he had their full attention. “I'm Captain Jack Harkness, best man of the other groom. And, firstly, I hope that John's father doesn't mind me hijacking the speech that should probably be his.”
“Oh, be my guest!” said Kordel amicably. “You know him a lot better than I do after all!”
“Thank you,” said Jack and then he stepped out of his seat and made his way across to the bandstand. “Now, Nick, as you may or may not know, it's customary where John and I come from for one of the toast-makers to lead the couple in with the first dance. And since I forgot to mention this tradition to Ianto –”
“The tradition that also gives you an excuse not to come up with a speech!” said John, laughing.
“Shut it,” said Jack good-naturedly. “As I was saying...since I forgot to mention this tradition to Ianto, that meant that the task of composing your first dance song fell to me, which I was only too happy to do, since I'm not especially good at speeches.”
The guests chuckled appreciatively and Jack continued. “So, if you'll give them a round of applause, it is time for John and Nick to make their way to the bandstand for their first dance.”
As the pianist started playing a slow and lyrical melody, John stood up and extended his hand towards Nick. “May I?” he asked.
“You may indeed,” said Nick as he allowed his husband to lead him onto the grass in front of the band, as the man who had sang at the wedding stepped forwards and the song began.
“They say that you don’t appreciate what you have
Until it is eventually lost.
That you don’t realise what you’re fighting for
Until you’re dying for it.
And that there is never enough time
Until you have too much to it.
Well, I don’t know how much is true,
But I do know one thing that I believe.
I believe – no, I know in my heart and soul
Beyond any shadow of a doubt,
You don’t find what you’re looking for
Until you finally stop the search.”
A soft gasp found its way from John's lips as the lyrics resonated across the grounds. Clearly, Jack knew him far better than John had thought he did, because he had described that feeling of realising how lucky you are when you lose someone or something you care about or love or of feeling as if your time was running out and then suddenly being hit by the prospect of having forever and not knowing what to do with it.
Indeed, John knew that he had spent years and years searching the known universe to find the answers to what had happened to him and why his memories had been erased before he had finally run into Jack again and, when he hadn't found the answers he had been looking for, or even a return of his feelings for Jack, he had realised that he was wasting his time looking for something that would almost certainly never be found – the answers to his past and someone who would love him – and so, eventually, he had stopped looking.
And, of course, it had only been then that he had finally found what he had wanted for so long. Now he had not only the answers to the multitude of confused questions that had been whirling through his mind for so long, but he had also found someone who accepted him for who he was and who even loved him for who he was without trying to change him – something not even Jack had managed to do.
“It is said that everybody searches for a hero,
Everyone looks for someone to aspire to,
A brave warrior, a fighter, even a king.
But who could have thought in their wildest dreams,
That the one searching for his hero,
Would be a wild solider himself?
He came through, like a blistering storm,
Burning brightly, like a phoenix in the sun,
An image terrifying and yet splendid.
He was brave, but wild too,
He could be controlled by none.
Even his bold partner was at a loss.”
John shivered a bit, remembering those days when he had been wild and arrogant, rushing through his as if nothing else mattered except for showing everyone exactly how good he was at what he did. No one had escaped him, though several had tried, and no one had been able to control him. Even Jack had been at a loss as he had watched his partner's violently destructive rampage, a mixture of sadness, anger and sheer terror on his face.
“It's okay,” Nick whispered suddenly; he must have felt the trembling. “Just relax and take deep breaths. I'm here and nothing is going to hurt you. It's okay now. I've got you.”
“But then, our soldier travelled the stars,
He finally saw what his life had become,
A mass of bloodshed, lust and loss.
He was a fierce sight, beautiful, but terrible.
But inside, hiding beneath the roaring flames,
There was still a simple man.
And so it was, that when least expected,
Another, a gentle man, crossed his path,
One who healed the wounds a warrior caused,
He reached out his hand to him, calmed his ire.
And more than touching his skin,
The young man touched this fighter’s soul.”
“It's true,” John whispered, his lips brushing the soft skin over Nick's ear. “I never expected to find someone who could reach out to me the way you did and I certainly never dreamed that I could hope to find anyone who I could let my guard down around.”
“Well, you have now,” responded Nick. “You'll never have to hide around me. All I ask is that you be who you are and that you love who you are. Don't be afraid of being hated or ridiculed for who you are, because there is certainly one person here who won't hold that against you.”
“Together, they strove to mend their hearts,
To right the wrongs the past had brought,
Lies were turned to truths, pain into joy.
And without knowing it, after so long lost,
When he had finally stopped looking,
The soldier had found his hero.”
Suddenly, the band leader stopped singing and stepped away from the microphone. Thinking that was the end of the song, John started to clap, but then Jack, holding a full glass of champagne in one hand, stepped up and took the mike and began to sing.
“Now I see them stand together,
Their hands and lives entwined,
And their love bright as shining stars.
I shall smile and raise my glass
In a long-awaited toast
To the soldier and the healer.”
As the music faded away, Jack raised his glass. “To John and Nick! Now, everyone, let's dance!” He turned to Ianto and extended his hand. “May I?”
Ianto blushed and giggled. “You may indeed, Captain,” he said.
Nick chuckled and nuzzled John's hair. “Well, it looks like whatever was bothering them is over now and they're back to the married couple of the decade we all know and love.”
John smiled rather thoughtfully. “I wouldn't quite bet on that one, yet,” he said, remembering what Jack had told him on his stag night. “There's still quite a lot of unresolved issues.”
“Yeah, I suppose. But that's true of any couple, really – even us,” said Nick. “But it still doesn't stop them – and us – being happy.”
“True.” John kissed Nick's head softly and looked around. Suddenly, something caught his eye and he straightened up. “Hey, Nick,” he whispered. “Is that Emily and Declan?”
“Where?” Nick looked up abruptly and followed John's eyes. His mouth dropped open at the sight of his friends dancing cheek to cheek and looking very intimate indeed. “Finally!” he breathed out.
“Finally?” repeated John, turning to stare at him in confusion. “I'm not sure I'm as up to date with the situation as you are; Jack wasn't as good at catching me up as Ianto probably was.”
“Okay, well, you know how it took Emily six months to figure out that she liked Declan?” John nodded. “Well, it took him three months to figure that out and then another three to figure out that he liked her back.”
“And then, let me guess, they were on again and off again worse than Ross and Rachel in Friends?” asked John wryly.
“Nope.” Nick grinned. “It's taken him until now – so that's two years since he figured out he likes her – to actually do anything about it.”
John's mouth dropped open. “Two years?!” he spluttered. “You are kidding me!”
“Hence my exclamation of 'Finally!' when I saw them dancing,” chuckled Nick. “From what I heard, Ianto was about ready to ask Em out himself on Dec's behalf at one point!”
“Wow,” said John weakly. “That's....er...that's pretty incredible.”
“I think insane is a better word,” chuckled Nick. “But it looks like they've finally seen the light.”
“I'm glad you came today,” John said, leaning against the bar. “It meant the world to Nick to see you here.” He sipped his champagne. “Look, Dan, I'm going to level with you. I would be lying if I said I would have always been okay with being around you and with your history with Nick. There was a time, not very long ago, when I would have wanted to do some pretty terrible things to you just for having been with him.”
Dan nodded. “I know. I would be lying if I said that I wouldn't have felt the same if I was in your position.” He bit his lip. “I'd also be lying if I said that there wasn't any part of me that didn't resent you a bit for being with him, even after all this time. But I'm not lying when I say that I don't hate you for it, nor do I wish you anything but happiness in your life together. You both deserve that.”
“Thank you,” said John, truly touched by the other man's words.
“However,” Dan continued, “I have to warn you that if I get even one hint that you're not taking care of him or treating him properly, I will make you regret ever existing.”
For a moment, it was right on the tip of John's tongue to say that he'd take far better care of Nick than Dan had done. But then he realised that if he did, someone was bound to overhear them and tell Nick what he'd said, and he certainly didn't fancy upsetting his husband, especially on their wedding day, and especially when tonight was the night that he would finally see an end to those six long months of celibacy.
“Dan, as I've told you before, I have absolutely no intention of hurting him,” he said as mildly as he could. “I love that man more than life itself, and I'll do anything to make sure that he always knows that. Besides, do you really think that Nick would just stand by and let me hurt him?”
Before Dan could answer, Nick suddenly came bounding up to them. “Hello, you two!” he said. “Good to see you're both getting along, but I just need to borrow Dan for a bit, assuming he doesn't have any objections.”
“Borrow me?” repeated Dan, frowning. “What for?”
“Well,” said Nick, smiling softly. “Listen to what the band are playing.”
Both John and Dan glanced towards the bandstand and John saw a small smile spread over Dan's face as he recognised the gentle drumming and faded guitar melt into the lyrics of one of Nick's old favourite songs.
“No time, no place to talk about the weather.
The promise of love is hard to ignore.
Who said the chance wasn't getting any better?
The labour of love is ours to endure.
The highest branch on the apple tree,
It was my favourite place to be.
I could hear them breaking free,
But they could not see me.”
“Heh,” said Dan, smiling slightly. “It's our song.”
“Yes, it is,” said Nick, extending a hand towards the blonde man. “And I wondered if you'd like to dance with me, just one last time.”
Dan blinked. “Me? Dance with you?”
“Yeah.” Nick nodded. “You know – for old time's sake.”
Dan looked uncertain. “Nick, I –”
“Go on,” interrupted John, giving Dan a shove towards Nick. “It's your song – you two deserve to dance it together. Besides,” and he forced a laugh, “I'll be dancing several more dances with Nick anyway before tonight's out.”
“That's true,” said Dan with a small chuckle of his own before he turned back to Nick. “I'd love to dance with you,” he said, clasping his friend's hand.
John watched them disappear back onto the dance floor and downed the rest of his champagne, hoping that the motion would mask the scowl that he knew was spreading over his face. He knew he shouldn't be jealous, but the sight of Nick and Dan dancing together like that, with Nick's long hair falling out of its ponytail and over Dan's shoulder, was making his blood start to boil. He hissed slightly under his breath, making the last centimetre or so of his champagne bubble up and splash over his nose.
“Shit!” he growled, not even registering that several butterflies that had been curled up in the leaves over the bar flew away very quickly in shock at his exclamation. Swearing softly, he hunted around for a tissue, upturning coasters and brushing leaves out of the way in agitation, before someone pushed a crisp blue handkerchief into his hand. “Thanks,” he muttered, wiping his mouth down as he turned to see Rupesh beside him. “Oh...oh, hi.”
“Disappointed to see me?” asked Rupesh, his mouth twitching. “Were you maybe expecting a boxing bag?”
“What?” asked John, blinking.
“Oh, come on!” Rupesh hit John hard on the arm. “The way you were gripping that champagne glass just now, I was surprised it didn't shatter into shards! Plus, as soon as Nick and Dan were out of sight, you looked as if you were turning into Jack the Ripper!”
“Okay, firstly, I look nothing like John Druitt!” said John angrily. “And secondly, doesn't it bother you seeing Dan dancing with his ex?”
Now it was Rupesh's turn to look like a deer caught in the headlights. “What? Why would it –”
“Oh come on, Rupesh – I know you two are together! I saw you both sleeping together down Jack's hole after the stag nights! And you were holding hands last night at the rehearsal dinner!”
“That doesn't make us together!” said Rupesh, laughing. “We were holding hands because we're friends and we don't really have a problem with showing affection to our friends. And yes, we have slept together, but it's nothing serious!” He laughed shakily. “We're just friends – well, friends with benefits, I guess.”
John raised his eyebrows. “Yeah, sure – Rupesh, you do realise that's how Jack and Eye Candy started out? Now look at them.” He pointed over to where Jack and Ianto were dancing, Jack's arms pressing Ianto's body close to him as he whispered something in his ear that made Ianto blush furiously and slap Jack's shoulder. “They've practically turned into a married couple.”
“No, John, you and Nick are the married couple of Torchwood,” said Rupesh dryly. “But Dan and I aren't going to be like that. I'm not even sure I want to be in a long-term relationship yet.”
“Keep telling yourself that,” said John. “But if you're so sure you don't want a long-term relationship, then why –” but he was abruptly cut off when a gunshot cracked loudly through the air, breaking the celebratory atmosphere.
“What the hell was that?!” spluttered Rupesh, turning round in the direction of the gunshots. He looked closer and his eyebrows narrowed in a frown. “John, UNIT wear red caps, don't they?”
“Yeah, they do – Jack got one of those caps for Ianto,” said John. “Why do you ask?”
“Because I think there's an army of UNIT officers walking down the steps as we speak,” answered Rupesh, pointing. “See them?”
John's mouth opened. “You have got to be kidding me,” he growled and, whipping his own gun out of his jacket, he sprinted over to where the soldiers were forming a straight line in front of one of the larger flowerbeds. “Evening, ladies and gentlemen,” he said, resting one hand nonchalantly on his hip. “And how can we help you?”
“You can help us by telling us where we can find Captain Harkness,” said a severe-looking man with a faint American accent who looked like the leader. “We have some business with him.”
“Hang on, hang on,” said the Doctor, who had also come over with a glass of champagne in his hand. “This is, in case you hadn't noticed, a wedding. There'll be no bloodshed, if you please.”
“We have no intention of shedding blood, thank you,” said the man. “My name is General Sanchez of the Unified Intelligence Taskforce, and I have some words for Captain Harkness.”
“And you can say them to his face,” said Jack who had come over, his face just as severe as that of Sanchez. “What do you want?”
The General blinked slightly at Jack's forcefulness before putting on a sharp scowl. “Captain Harkness,” he ground out, “we received signals on our monitors consisting of incoming non-human lifeforms. We tried to reach Dr. Jones at Torchwood and the rest of the team, but they were otherwise engaged, so we felt that we had no choice but to come –”
“Doctor?!” A handsome young man with short dark hair and slightly twinkling eyes suddenly broke away from the line. “Doctor, is that you?!”
The Doctor blinked several times and then his eyes widened. “Ross?!” he spluttered, a huge grin spreading over his face. “Well, I'll be – Private Ross Jenkins!” He grabbed the young man and pulled him into a rib-cracking hug, laughing wildly. “Haha! And there was me thinking you were dead after the Sontarans invaded!”
“Nah, just took a glancing hit,” said Ross, shrugging. “But my communicator got busted by the shot, so I couldn't hear anyone or reply to anyone.”
“As sickeningly touching as this is,” interjected Sanchez, “we do have business to be conducting. As I said – Captain Harkness, we had readings of major alien activity on our radars starting at the Theatre Royal on Sawclose, and then again here. Care to explain yourself?”
“You mean the presence of the TARDIS and a few baby dragons isn't enough of an explanation?” asked Jack angrily, reaching for his gun. “Are you really that stupid that you can't see what's in front of your nose?”
Sanchez' eyes flashed threateningly and he reached for his own gun. “Are you threatening me, Harkness?” he growled. “Only, I would really hate to start violence at your friend's wedding.”
“Oh, no, I'm not threatening anybody,” said Jack with an all-too-pleasant grin. “Only speaking the truth.” And with that, he lunged at Sanchez, only to be pulled back sharply as someone grabbed the back of his jacket. “Hey, he's the one ruining your –” he exclaimed, apparently thinking that it was John, but then turned around to see, to everyone's surprise that it was, in fact, John's father, watching him with an expression of mild amusement. In fact, Jack seemed to be so surprised by the identity of the intervener that he let the man take his gun off him without a murmur.
Sanchez, too, seemed a little surprised. “Who is this, Harkness?” he asked, clearly attempting to retain his blustering swagger.
“My name is Kordel Hart.” The older man calmly lowered Sanchez's hand. “I'm John's father.”
This time, the general couldn't keep the surprise out of his eyes. “You're the father of the groom?” he spluttered. “But...but you look so...so old!”
“He's been through a lot,” said John quickly and touched his father's arm. “You...you don't have to do this, you know.”
“Oh, yes, I do,” answered Kordel before turning straight back to the UNIT officers. “You people are gatecrashing the happiest day of my son's life,” he said, politely but with an undertone of fire. “And we don't take kindly to gatecrashers.”
“We have a job to do!” blasted Sanchez angrily. “We came to investigate –”
“And you have done your investigating. There's nothing here to worry about – just a typically Torchwood wedding. Which you people were not invited to, so I would appreciate it if you left.”
“But...but...” Sanchez was spluttering. “You have no authority over me!”
“Oh, I think you'll find he does,” interjected Nick, who had also come over. “You see, General Sanchez, my father-in-law has very important credentials...as the leader of Torchwood Four.”
A short gasp followed that pronouncement before a rather snooty-looking woman on Sanchez's left retorted, “Torchwood Four does not exist.”
“Oh yes it does,” said Nick. “But the nature of their missions and research means that it has to be very well hidden. There is only only one person to whom they answer, and sadly that person is Captain Harkness, and not you or yours. So, actually, you are the ones with no authority over him.” He raised an eyebrow slowly. “Capisce?”
“Indeed,” said Kordel. “So, as you see, General, you have no authority over me. In fact, as Dr. Jones has rightly stated, I am the one with the authority over you.” He stepped up to Sanchez, getting right in his face. “So, if you and yours wouldn't mind leaving?”
For a moment, it looked as though Sanchez was going to argue again, but then he just glared at them. “Fine,” he growled, an extremely sour look on his face, which he soon directed at John and Nick. “Congratulations on your special day,” he said with only the barest hint of sarcasm before he turned on his heel and stormed away. But he had barely gone a few steps when he stopped and turned around. “Jenkins!” he barked. “Why aren't you following?”
“Oh, I think Ross will be staying for a bit,” said the Doctor airily. “I think he's making friends with Nick's cousin.” He nodded to where the handsome young officer was talking to Helen.
Ross blushed slightly, but he smiled and held out his hand to the young woman. “Miss Porterfield, would you like to dance?”
Helen looked surprised but flattered. “I'd love to.” She slipped her hand into Ross' and let him lead her onto the dance floor – though not before John saw her flash the rest of Ross' colleagues a rather bullish look, though it was disguised by a sweet smile.
Sanchez groaned loudly and with a loud curse in what sounded like Spanish, he stormed off, his footsteps sounding painfully loud on the stone steps.
The Doctor whistled. “You do not want to know what he just said.”
“I could take a guess,” said John with a wry smile before he turned to his father. “You...you didn't have to do that, you know.”
“Of course I did. Today is your special day and there was no way I was going to let a bunch of wannabe soldiers ruin that.” He smiled and absently stroked one of the flowers still in his son's buttonhole. “Golden rosemary. Your mother's favourite.”
“Yeah,” said John. “I always remember wondering why it was called golden rosemary when it was actually purple when it flowered, and then she showed me those golden shoots inside the petals.”
“I asked her the same question once,” admitted Kordel with a sheepish laugh. “She had a huge bouquet and crown of them when we got married and I didn't figure out where the gold glow kept coming from until I'd gotten the crown off her!”
John laughed. “Seems we're more alike than I thought we were.”
His father looked thoughtful at that. “Yes, I guess we are.” He reached into the small bag he'd brought with him and drew out a rather faded deep blue book with faint silver patterns embroidered on the soft fabric. “I managed to get the Doctor to take me back home so I could pick this up for you,” he said huskily. “And I added your pictures to it as well.”
John gasped softly as he looked through it. “But...but this is your wedding album! You can't give me this, it's too much!”
“No,” his father said firmly. “It's not too much for you to have what you deserve – what you've deserved since you were fourteen.” He sighed softly. “Please. Take it. And cherish her memory in the way that I could not.”
“Thank you.” John's throat seized up as he finally shut the album. “It's...it's amazing. I'll...I'll always treasure it.”
Suddenly, Jack's voice echoed around the gardens. “If the happy couple could now make their way back towards the bandstand, Ianto and I have something to give them – something that we've actually been working on for quite a while.”
“You've been working on it, you mean,” corrected Ianto.
John cocked his head as he and Nick made their way towards their friends. “You didn't buy us Cardiff Castle, did you, Jack?” he teased.
“Not quite,” chuckled Jack. “However...” and he passed the two men a thick green file. “Have a look through that.”
The couple had barely looked through three pages before Nick suddenly launched himself into Jack's arms. “It's amazing!” he cried. “You thought of everything; even a room for all my dragons!”
“That one was Ianto's idea,” said Jack, grinning. “He also came up with the library for your multitude of books.”
“Well, if we were going to buy you a house, I knew we had to have one room for each one of Nicky's obsessions,” chuckled Ianto.
“Ianto,” chuckled Nick as he hugged his cousin. “You know me too well.”
“Hey, Nick, check this out!” said John, showing his partner a photograph of a room that was painted in soft red colours and with small stained-glass lamps casting a rainbow coloured glow. There was also a huge bed in the middle of the room with a pale chiffon canopy over it and with what looked like of tall candles and incense burners on every surface. “It's our own boudoir – and Jack even remembered that chandelier I saw last month!”
“Even when we were at the Time Agency, John kept saying that one day he was going to get himself an enormous chandelier in the shape of a penis,” Jack whispered in Nick's ear. “So, when he told me about this, I just knew I couldn't ignore it.”
“It's beautiful,” said Nick. “I love it. Thank you, both.”
“I can't wait to christen each and every room,” said John, at which point the others rolled their eyes. “What?”
“Honestly, it's just sex, sex, sex with you!” said Ianto, but he was smiling.
“You say that like it's a bad thing,” said Nick, wrapping his arm around John's waist and slipping his hand down his trousers, causing his partner to squeak in shock.
Jack chuckled. “Hmm, it looks like someone's getting a little bit...aroused,” he said.
“Yeah, well, some of us have been celibate for six months!” growled John. “I swear, I am so close to just finding some well-hidden bushes!”
“Oh, really?” said Jack. “Well, as a matter of fact, I think you'll find that we've got something far better than that.”
“Oh yes. Just you wait and see. Tonight is going to be very special.”
1st July, 1:30am...
“Well, I have to hand it to Jack, he really did live up to his promise that tonight was going to be special,” said John, idly running his fingers through Nick's long hair. Soundless fireworks had been exploding above their heads with showers of bright colours raining down over them for the last two hours, so that the boat they were now on – Jack having decided that they were at last owed some privacy – seemed to glow bright pink, blue or even orange. “I feel like the luckiest man in the universe today.” He turned around and kissed Nick fervently. “I love you.”
Nick grinned brightly up at him. “And, lest we forget, it's not over yet,” he said. “In fact, I think I saw something back there...something that looks awfully like a bed.” He waved his hand back towards the double bed covered in blue silk sheets that was surrounded by white candles and incense and had rose petals in all different colours scattered over the pillows. “Clearly, Jack wants us to have our wedding night twice.”
“It's another tradition from back home,” explained John as he led Nick over to the bed. “When you get married, your first time after the wedding is always somewhere in the open air, before you go back to your own bed, or to the hotel you're staying in, and do it all again. Think of it like you're re-learning your partner over again.” He lay down on the bed and pulled Nick towards him, his voice dropping to a much more romantic whisper. “And believe me, after a long period of celibacy, there is nothing better than taking your partner in your arms and kissing every part of his body as you hold each other and make love beneath the stars.”
“Show me,” breathed Nick, his hands reaching out to unfasten John's waistcoat buttons. “We've waited long enough – let's not torture ourselves any longer.”
John grinned. “Oh yeah...”
Next Time: With the boys finally married – and the marriage consummated twice! – it's time for them to set off on their honeymoon. Where will they go?
Authors Note: Yes, in case you were wondering, I did write the song for John and Nick's first dance! The other song - the one Nick and Dan danced to (before they got interrupted!) is 'Private Universe' by Crowded House.