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: Here's the final part of the honeymoon adventures - part two!
Disclaimer: I'm not a student any more, but I don't own Torchwood.
The Master List is here: anduria-trianys.livejournal.com/27610.ht
“Hey.” Nick tapped me on the shoulder and pointed. “What’s over there?”
I smiled. “I hoped you’d notice them. They’re called liahds – tiny insects that glow and, as you can see, look quite beautiful. But that’s not all they do.”
“No. come here.” I pointed to the clearing where the liahds were hovering in the trees and on the ground, just as two large animals came out and started sniffing at the plants. One of them let out a tired-sounding growl and dropped down onto the ground while the other started playfully shaking a nichae branch, sending fruits tumbling from the tree.
Nick’s eyes were wide. “Can we get any closer?”
“We can, but you have to be very quiet and stay completely calm,” I said, sliding my arm around his waist. “Styffs don’t like too much noise.”
“What are they?” asked Nick, his voice almost a whisper. “They look like some kind of dog.”
“They are,” I replied, and then felt myself blush. “Nick, do you remember I told you about my two-year relationship with a futuristic Alsatian?”
Nick turned round so quickly it looked for a minute as though he had given himself whiplash. “You mean –” he stopped. “God, I thought you were joking!”
“Nope,” I said. “Serious as extinction. But she was a great dog.” I smiled, remembering the trembling puppy I’d rescued (or “charmed” if Jack was telling the story) off a ship all those years ago. She hadn’t been that kind of girl by any means, but she had been a loyal companion and a dear friend.
“So,” Nick cut in, “you said that these…liahds,” he flapped his hand in the direction of the glowing trees, “do something more than just look pretty. Care to share?”
I nodded. “First thing you need to know about styffs is that they are very strong empaths. They can sense feelings and emotions that you’re not always aware that you’re feeling. It’s partly what makes them so cherished as pets; they’re very comforting and loving towards their owners.”
I paused, scuffing my foot against the ground. “But, on the flip side, their abilities mean that they can be extremely vulnerable. Too much emotion can cause them unbearable mental and even physical distress. I saw many of them die from emotional overload – especially when some sick bastards decided to try and train them as soldier dogs and send them into battle!”
Nick looked out at the animals coming out to join their friends. “They look peaceful now,” he said. “What happened?”
“About twenty years ago, a ship came here, apparently bringing tourists for a holiday. It wasn’t exactly your typical cruise ship, but, at the time, no one came here except holidaymakers, so no one questioned it.” I sighed. “But when the ship docked, the people on board started firing canons and soldiers came ashore. That battle lasted little over a week, but over twenty thousand people died.”
“Oh, my God,” gasped Nick.
“The only reason the casualties weren’t worse was because of a rather up and coming new organisation,” I continued. “Care to take a guess what it was?”
Nick stumbled in shock and had to grab onto a tree trunk to stop himself falling. “No way.”
“Oh yes.” I chuckled. “There was once a time when the Time Agency wasn’t full of egocentric maniacs, but instead had people willing to fight to do some good.”
“So, what happened?”
“Human nature – oh, you mean here. Well, a group of Time Agents were here on what should have been a simple research mission – observe the planet, record what you find. Don’t interfere with the wildlife – you get the idea.”
“But they weren’t going to sit back and let the planet be attacked, were they?”
“’Course not. They got right in the faces of those bastards and gave as good as they got. They also stayed behind to help with the clean-up – and, believe me, there was a lot of it – and, in the middle of it, they found twenty or thirty traumatised styffs hiding under a tree full of liahds. When they tried to get them to move,” I grimaced, “well, considering what they’d been made to do, I’m sure you can guess.”
A gust of wind whipped around the forest, sending leaves and petals flying around. Two styff puppies leapt around and started batting at them, trying to catch them in their paws. Nick watched and chuckled. “So, you’re telling me that the liahds are shielding them?”
“Yeah, basically,” I said. “Nick, trust me when I say that the results of emotional overload in empathic beings is not something you would ever want to see, nor is it something you could ever forget.” I shuddered a little.
Nick looked at me. “Hey,” he said, taking my hand. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, fine.” I shook myself. “Just thinking.”
Nick raised his eyebrow at me, but shrugged and wandered off to have a closer look at the styffs, chuckling when one of them gently nudged something into his hand. He looked down at it and blinked several times, before he stood up and came over to me, his mouth twitching.
“John,” he said, holding out his hand, “that puppy just gave me this.”
I looked at the large ball of fluff he was holding. “Oh, it’s okay, it’s only a spirk. It’s completely harmless. There’s quite a few of them around here, because the styffs like playing with them for some reason.”
Nick snorted. “John,” he said, lowering the spirk onto the ground and letting it run back to where it came from, “you can call it what you like, but, as far as I’m concerned, that is a tribble.”
I blinked at him and laughed as I got it. “Oh, Nick, you and your Star Trek!”
“Hey, you have to admit, you liked the last one!”
“True,” I admitted. “But you and your cousin mentally imploding when you realised who the villain was meant to be was equally amusing.” I rushed off before he could answer, though I could hear him running after me, the – now familiar – rant about, among other things, the redesigning of the Bat’leths, ringing in my ears. God, but if I’d heard it once, I’d heard it a dozen times, to the point where I could probably have quoted him word for word on it!
“Oh, don’t give me that look!” laughed Nick when he caught up with me. “You were just as bad at the beginning when the Enterprise was underwater!”
“Should’ve known you’d remember that,” I chuckled. “Just answer me this question – at what point did you and Eye Candy – sorry, you and Ianto – start playing ‘Spot the Wrath of Khan references’?”
“As soon as Ianto whispered ‘Oh, they didn’t!’,” answered Nick immediately. “So, that would have been as soon as we realised we could.”
Shaking my head, I wrapped my arms around his waist. “Have I told you I love you recently? Even if you are completely mad when it comes to Star Trek.”
“Not for a few hours now.”
“Huh. Well,” I pulled him close and nudged my nose against his. Suddenly, a strange feeling swept over me and, swallowing, I found myself staring into my young husband’s hazel eyes.
“What?” asked Nick. “Is something wrong?”
“I just,” I stopped, shook my head and swallowed. “I really do love you, Nick. I don’t know how – after Jack, I swore I would never let myself do this again – but somehow, you’ve just…”
“I know,” interrupted Nick. “You don’t need to say it.”
I rested my head against his shoulder, kissing his neck gently and breathing in his scent. “Mmm,” I murmured. Unfortunately, another gust of wind meant that his hair flew into my face and between my lips. I pulled back quickly, coughing and choking. “You’re still using that awful shampoo?!” I spluttered.
Nick leaned against a tree and laughed. “What can I say? This stuff really keeps the dandruff away – and leaves my hair silky smooth.”
“But it’s mint!” I cried.
“There are worse smells. Trust me.”
“I doubt it,” I chuckled. “Anyway, come on, there’s more that you need to see.”
“Oh, no.” Nick shook his head. “We are not having sex just so you can show me that there’s a certain type of soil that changes colour according to your body temperature or something.”
I blinked. “That exists?” I wasn’t sure whether to be intrigued or stunned. Even after all these years roaming around the universe, some things still surprise me.
“According to Jack, yeah,” said Nick. “And, no, that was not an invitation to go and find it.” He paused. “Well, not on this trip anyway.”
“I’ll save that for our fifth anniversary, then.” I made a mental note to speak to Jack when we got home. “But, at the moment – come on!”
I led him away from the animals and into the forest where the trees hung long and dark. Now, there were only small patches of slowly reddening light on the ground as the sun began to set. Already, I could hear a few whispering noises as some of the animals began to take shelter for the night and the more nocturnal animals began to emerge. A flock of golden aevi soared over our heads and I smiled as Nick nearly dislocated his neck trying to follow the enormous birds as they disappeared amongst the trees.
“Spectacular, aren’t they?”
“You could say that,” whispered Nick, mopping his brow. “Getting pretty humid, though.”
“Of course it is,” I said. “We’re in what essentially amounts to a rainforest, after all.” I dipped my toe in the stream that was running alongside us. “Come on.”
“Where does that lead?” asked Nick. But I didn’t answer, because I knew perfectly well that he would see for himself soon enough. Sure enough, ten minutes later, we were gazing upon the famous Nur Dyal Falls. They weren’t the biggest waterfalls on the planet, or even in Verthaven, but they were certainly some of the most beautiful, because, depending on where you were standing, the light made the water shimmer different shades of blue and green, as though it was made of millions of jewels.
A dalphonic rhapsadon family was playing in the pool beneath the falls, the younger ones occasionally trying to jump in the air and show off, but only rarely succeeding, all of them completely unconcerned with the green and blue aatiae flying around and watching them, their gossamer thin wings occasionally brushing over their heads and making them croon appreciatively.
I suddenly became aware that Nick had asked me something and forced myself to pay attention to him. “Sorry, what was that?”
“What are those?” Nick motioned to the large silver snakes lounging on one of the banks. “I mean, I know they’re snakes, obviously, but…”
“They’re called cynoul,” I explained. “They’re a bit different to the sort of snakes you know.” Seeing the confusion on Nick’s face, I smiled. “They’re telepathic.”
“Okay,” said Nick slowly. “I’ve seen a lot of strange stuff in the universe. I suppose – seriously?” He stared at me. “Telepathic snakes?”
“Yeah, I heard about them first in a bedtime story when I was about three,” I said with a chuckle. “Startled the hell out of me when I first found out that they were real, let me tell you. We found a bunch of them in our garden once and I wouldn’t go near the place until they’d moved out, because I just couldn’t stand the thought of a bunch of snakes knowing what I was thinking.”
“I’m not sure they really wanted to know what you were thinking, if the truth’s known,” replied Nick.
“Cheeky!” I laughed and gathered him up in my arms and dropped him into the water. The female dalphonic rhapsadon turned and, with what could only be a laugh, rubbed her nose against his cheek.
Nick patted her head gently and turned to glare at me as I followed him into the pool. “You know, I hate it when you do that.”
“I know,” I said. “But you look so beautiful when you’re soaking wet.” I brushed a lock of hair from his face. “And besides, out here, you’ll dry off quicker than I can get your clothes off.”
“Well, you’ve probably disturbed the wildlife by making all that noise,” said Nick dryly, pushing a liana out of his way. “Or are they still too desperate to show off to be bothered by that?”
“Something like that,” I chuckled. “How else do you explain the Kroyan crabs and the joderi?”
“The what and the what?”
With a wink, I swam over to the falls and waited for him to follow me. “Look, here,” I said and pointed to a small dry patch shaded by a large tree. “What can you see?”
“Holy shit,” whispered Nick. “They’re beautiful.” He gazed almost reverently at the rainbow-coloured shells the turtles were proudly displaying. Suddenly he laughed. “Hey, that one just winked at me!”
I nodded and snapped some photos on my vortex manipulator. “Yeah, they do that a lot. Joderi are nearly as vain as that unicorn we ran into earlier.”
“Well, they’ve certainly got good enough reason to be, they’re absolutely gorgeous.”
“Yes, they are. Everyone wants to get a look at them, even the new aatia babies. Look.” Sure enough, two tiny green aatiae were crawling over and eying the turtles curiously, even as one of them tripped over their wings in their hurry to check them out.
“Oh, that is just too damn cute,” giggled Nick.
“Want to see something a little less cute? And no, that was actually not a come-on.”
“You should know by now that you don’t need to come on to me, considering I’m your husband,” chuckled Nick. “But all right; what do you want to show me?”
I grinned and hauled him up onto the waterfall, smiling as the water cascaded through his hair. “Look.”
Nick wiped the water off his glasses and put them on – just in time to see what I was pointing out to him. “What the hell are those?!” he almost shouted.
“Those would be the Kroyan crabs I was talking about. They’re…well, take a look at them.”
“They’re huge!” exclaimed Nick. They were, as well; at least eight of them were scuttling in a single line, their massive claws clicking against the rock and their bright gold shells shining in the evening sunlight.
“They’re from Kroya,” I said. “It’s a large region on Asiana’s sister planet, Draknor and it’s basically been a reserve for them for…shit, I don’t even know how long. Unfortunately, a lot of the environment’s been destroyed over the years, so several of the crabs have been brought here over the years. But it’s a risky journey and not all of them survived.”
“How many are left?”
“I’m not sure,” I admitted. “There was a time when they flourished in their millions, though, to the point where their shells and claws were being used for everything and the kitchen sink – literally, in several cases, as it happens. I know at one point their parts were so popular that they would’ve gone extinct if they weren’t damn good at breeding. Seriously, it actually became something of a joke that they only had to look at each other to get pregnant.”
Nick laughed. “I’m sure,” he said. “Er, John, not to be a downer, but…can we move? I’m getting a little cold.”
“Oh, sure,” I said, blushing a little. “Come on.” Taking his hand, I helped him out of the water and we went back into the forest. “We’re going on a bit of a hike now. It’s not all that far, but it is pretty steep. Are you up for it?”
“John, how many more times do I have to say it?” asked Nick. “I’m Welsh. Of course I’m up for it. Where are we going?”
“This way.” I took his hand and led him through the trees. “It’s very romantic here, especially when the sun’s setting. And when you get to the top,” I sighed, “well, you wouldn’t believe –”
“Don’t tell me now,” interrupted Nick. “Let me see when I get there.”
Well, get to the top we eventually did, and believe me when I say that you’re so high that it almost feels as though you can touch the sun. I did, however, find myself stumbling and swaying a bit when we did get there, much to my intense embarrassment. Fortunately, Nick recognised the problem immediately.
“So, not even the future can completely deal with altitude sickness, huh?” he said sympathetically.
“Nope,” I said ruefully. “It’s okay; I’ve just got a bit of a headache. I’ll be fine in a minute.”
“Here.” Nick pulled out a bottle of water and helped me take a few sips from it. “Just breathe slowly.”
I didn’t ask when he’d thought to refill our water bottles, though I did feel a bit stupid for not thinking of it myself, especially considering where we were going. “God, I’m lucky I’m married to a doctor.” Obviously, I knew that, considering my relatively new inability to stay dead, the consequences wouldn’t exactly have been permanent, but they sure as hell weren’t comfortable either.
“You are that,” said Nick, sitting me down and rubbing my shoulders gently. “Just breathe slowly and relax.”
“I need,” I stopped and swallowed, trying to get the right plant name, “some…shell lillies.”
I blinked several times to try and clear my vision and pointed shakily to the slowly blooming flowers. “Those pale blue and silver flowers. Can you get me…three or four stalks?”
“Sure.” Nick scrambled over and plucked a few out of the ground. “What do they do?”
I took a stalk off him and plucked one of the flowers off it, breathing in the honeyed smell. Immediately, the spinning sensation started to settle and my chest loosened. I let out a gasp and slowly stood up. “Sorry about that.”
Nick shook his head at me, his expression clearly saying ‘we’ll talk about this later’, but instead he just looked around. “Wow, this is amazing,” he said. “Is that music playing?”
I nodded. “Nick, this is Mount Lahiru – the Mountain of Song. It’s one of the most beautiful and mysterious places in this galaxy. There’s evidence of mass volcanic activity from a very long time ago and, according to the legend, the songs of the mountain are the voices of those who died in the eruptions.”
“That’s so sad,” breathed Nick.
“Not in a restless or angry spirit sense,” I amended hastily. “It’s more like they’re looking over the land and watching over those who live here now. It is said that, if trouble should ever come to the planet, then the song will stop and a shadow will fall over the mountain.”
“So, the mountain is their guardian,” murmured Nick. He sighed and gazed out at the world beneath him.
“Yeah.” I came over and wrapped my arms around his waist, pulling him against my chest. “But she’s also said to bring luck to couples in love. It’s become a favourite spot for weddings, actually, because they say that every couple who comes here lives a long and happy life together.” Gently, I kissed Nick’s temple. “It’s a very romantic place, as you can see, but the respect held because of its spiritual history has meant that it’s not become a tourist trap.”
“It is amazing.”
“Yes, it is.” With a smile, I pulled him closer, breathing in the evening air as I felt him relax against me and watched his hair blow gently in the wind. His hand slipped into mine as he leaned in and kissed me slowly.
I shivered a little – God, the feelings that ran through me at that moment! I don’t think I’d felt anything like it before. Even when he pulled away and rested his head on my shoulder, my heart kept racing. Somehow, I knew, this was it. Whether it was the legendary blessing of the mountain or just my own feelings hitting me unexpectedly hard, I didn’t know. But it didn’t matter. This was it, I knew. This was my destiny – a life with the amazing man in my arms.
And, as I rested my head against his and closed my eyes, I realised I was completely fine with that.
Next Time: With the newlyweds back on 21st century Earth again, it's Ianto's 30th birthday and Jack decides he wants to surprise him with something fun – and what better than the local fair to remind him of his childhood? But this is Torchwood and, as always, it's not long before something goes wrong.