Pairing - Jack/Ianto, Lizzie/Nicholas
Rating - PG
Summary - Five years after leaving, Jack and Ianto return to find a lot of changes and a few old faces. Follows on from Eternity - probably best to read that first.
Notes - It's been a while since I posted a chapter of this, so if you need it, there is a recap here. All previous chapters are here.
The Babysitter’s Club
“Now remember, we’ll be back in three days. You know mine and Rhys’ mobile numbers and I’ve left the number of the hotel for you as well, just in case. Don’t let her stay up too late. And make sure she eats her vegetables- you know she doesn’t really like them-”
Jack sighed. “Gwen, I was a parent, remember? I can take care of Isabella.”
At the mention of her name the little girl looked up at him from where she stood, holding Ianto’s hand, next to him.
“Don’t worry; everything will be fine,” Ianto reassured Gwen and Rhys. “Go and enjoy yourselves. You deserve a break.”
There had been no rift activity for the past two months, no rampaging weevils, nothing odd at all, and so Jack had encouraged Gwen to take some time off. John and Loz had gone off to the coast for a few days, taking advantage of the lull in activity also. It had been Ianto’s suggestion that Isabella stay with them so that Gwen and Rhys could have a little time alone. Initially, Gwen had been enthusiastic but the closer they got to leaving, the more fretting she did.
“And you two keep you hands off each other,” Gwen was saying. “I know what you’re like. If you corrupt my daughter in any way…”
Rhys bundled his wife into the waiting taxi, waving goodbye as he assured her that their daughter was in good hands, as Ianto picked Isabella up so she could wave back.
Still thinking on Gwen’s words, Jack frowned. “Why was she looking at me just then?” he grumbled, sounding offended. “What does she think I am? I’m not some uncontrollable sex-maniac.”
Isabella turned in Ianto’s arms, her arms around his neck as she looked into his eyes.
“Uncle Ianto? What’s a sex-maniac?”
Ianto sighed as he said, “Nothing, sweetheart. Now, let’s get to school, shall we?”
Setting her back on the ground, he watched as she ran inside excitedly to get her coat. With her suitably distracted, Ianto rolled his eyes at Jack. “Nice going.”
“Just watch what you’re saying.”
That afternoon, Jack and Ianto stood outside the school gates with the other parents, waiting for Isabella. Jack had noticed a few of the other mums casting interested glances at Ianto as they waited and smiled. Ianto, however, seemed oblivious. He chatted with three young mums, charming them without even trying. They all knew that he was taken, as he and Jack had collected Isabella often enough that they knew most of the other parents and teachers from Isabella’s class. According to Gwen, the women called them ‘those two lovely young men’; the fact that they were in a relationship was less of a concern than the fact that half of them were jealous that Ianto was taken. Whenever he told Ianto that, however, the younger man just blushed and told him to stop being daft.
The doors opened and three teachers escorted the kids out, making sure that the younger ones were met by their parents and that no one left the grounds without an adult.
Isabella came racing toward them with a huge smile on her face and a Spongebob Squarepants lunchbox clutched tightly in one hand. The other hand held a crayon drawing that she thrust out toward Jack as she got close enough.
“That’s lovely! What a great picture.” Jack studied it for a moment; he though it looked like a llama, if you actually got blue llamas, but he couldn’t be sure.
“It’s a horse,” the little girl pointed out helpfully and Jack smiled. Of course; why hadn’t he guessed horse?
“Can we go play on the swings before we go home?” she asked.
Gwen usually took her to the park on a Friday, as the younger kids’ school ended earlier on a Friday, and so Jack nodded. They set off down the footpath with Isabella between them, every so often lifting her feet and letting them swing her.
Nicholas watched as Lizzie pressed the button which locked the specially adapted cell.
“Another five minutes until sundown,” Lizzie told him, sitting in the chair she had placed in front of the large plexiglass cell-front.
He nodded. “I know. I can feel it getting closer.” He looked around his cell and then back to Lizzie. “Could you please put the curtain up?”
“Honey, I’ve seen it all before,” she teased. She and Nicholas had been dating for the past few months but he was ever the polite gentleman. Born and raised with morals and codes of conduct that were a century old meant that he was still uneasy with Lizzie’s rather more forthright attitudes. She had finally got him to accept that kissing her in public would not cause a stir, or that he could actually stay at her house unchaperoned, even though they weren’t married, without besmirching her reputation; he still wasn’t comfortable with nakedness. Especially when he was about to transform. Okay, so that she hadn’t seen before.
“I do not wish for you to witness my curse,” Nicholas explained. He had removed his boots and jacket but refused to do any more until she put up the cover over the window.
Lizzie hung the cloth over the glass. Five minutes later, she heard the tell-tale sound of claws clicking on the cell floor and tugged the curtain down again. Sure enough, instead of Nicholas she found herself staring at a huge black wolf. It pacing around the cell, agitated, going to the door and back again in search of a way out.
When the wolf saw her crouch down in front of the glass, up close, it stopped pacing. Lizzie smiled.
“That’s right, I’m here.” The wolf cocked its head to the side at the sound of her voice. She didn’t know how much Nicholas understood as the wolf, but his memory afterwards was sketchy. He did seem calmer when someone sat with him, though. Maybe he just liked the company.
“Now then, what shall we read?” she continued, picking up the pile of magazines and novels she had with her. “I don’t think you’re much of a Computer Weekly guy so how about another chapter of The Time Machine?”
As Lizzie began to read aloud, the wolf settled down on the bed of blankets in the corner.
Two floors above the cells, Jack found himself wearing a pink feather boa and a sparkly tiara. He was sitting on the floor in the lounge of his and Ianto’s quarters, cross legged, with a cup and saucer in front of him. Isabella had worn them out at the park earlier. Both he and Ianto had been run ragged with her demands that they play on the slide with her, push her on the swings, chase her, play on the roundabout. When they came home, looking forward to a sit down, she decided that they were having a tea party. With cookies. Unfortunately, the only way they were going to get a cookie, even Ianto who had supplied them, was to play dress-up as well. Jack had drawn the short straw with the feathers and tiara.
“Why do I have to wear this?” Jack asked, flicking at the end of the feather boa as Isabella put it around his neck.
She just smiled. “So you’ll look pretty,” she told him in the same tone her mother used when someone asked her a stupid question. Glancing at Ianto, he tried rephrasing the question.
“Ianto only got a hat. Why doesn’t he have to wear feathers?”
“Because he’s the daddy and you’re the mummy.”
Ianto tried and failed to hold back his laughter. “Look at it this way, Jack, it could have been worse. She could have made you wear a dress.” He lowered his voice and leaned in, grinning, to whisper in Jack’s ear. “Wouldn’t be the first time, though, would it?”
Isabella didn’t notice Jack’s cheeks turning pink as he blushed, remembering, just continued fussing with her teddy bear. It was sitting next to Jack, a cup and saucer in front of it and one of Jack’s ties around its neck. When it fell over for the second time, she looked at Jack with the puppy-dog eyes that usually got her whatever she wanted, and he sighed. Picking up the bear, he sat it on his lap instead. Isabella beamed at him and handed them each a plate with a cookie on it.
She picked up the pink plastic teapot in front of her and poured them both a teacup full of milk- Ianto refused to let her have anything hot in the teapot and so it was either milk or orange juice- and then picked up her cookie. After chewing thoughtfully on it for a few minutes, she turned her curious gaze back to the two of them.
“Are you and Uncle Jack married?” she asked. “Mummy and Daddy are but Mummy has a pretty ring. She let me try it on once. It’s gold and shiny. Do you have one, Uncle Ianto?”
Ianto sighed; it was going to be one of those nights.
Lizzie sat in the cell with Nicholas. He had begun pacing again a while ago and so she went in to sit with him. She had no fear that he would attack her in his werewolf form; even if he didn’t understand much as the wolf, he had never so much as growled at her. She sat on the floor with her back to the wall and he came to lay beside her, his head resting on her leg.
Running her fingers through the thick pelt, she turned over the last page of her magazine with her other hand. Nicholas had fallen asleep, seemingly content to snooze away his time as the wolf. Setting Computer Weekly aside, Lizzie looked for her bag, only to see that it was still outside on the chair. Sliding out from under the wolf’s head and easing him to the blankets, she went to get another magazine.
Lizzie got a bottle of water and this month’s Film Review and went back to the cell.
The door was ajar, the cell empty.
Not good, she told herself, not good at all. Dumping her things on the ground next to the cell she ran back to her bag to get her mobile phone. Jack would know what to do.
No mobile; she could see it quite clearly in her mind’s eye, next to her laptop in her office, where she had been working. What she couldn’t remember was picking it up again.
“Okay, think,” she told herself. “Just find Nicholas and everything will be fine. Now, if I was a werewolf, where would I go?”
The thought caused her to stop and laugh. Before coming to work at Torchwood, questions like that wouldn’t have seemed so normal to her. Lizzie set off toward the kitchen, thinking that he might be hungry. With the wolf’s sense of smell, he would be able to smell the food there.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t there. Plan B, she thought, trying not to panic as she headed for the Batcave, the control room of Torchwood. From there she could check all of the CCTV feeds and track him that way. It would be a lot quicker than a physical search.
They were trying to get Isabella to go to bed. So far, the best they had managed was to get her into her pyjamas but then she decided that she wanted a story from Jack. And then another, but this time Ianto had to read it. Then she was thirsty. It went on for about half a hour before Jack finally gave in and let her sit on the sofa with Ianto and watch TV for a little while. He left them watching an old black and white Western whilst he went to get her a glass of warm milk from the kitchen. He knew she would be asleep in no time and he was right. He hadn’t even had the chance to sit down again with her milk when her eyes began to close and her head fell to rest on Ianto’s arm, Ianto got up to put her to bed. Suddenly, Isabella looked at something behind Ianto, near to the door, looking wide awake again. Her face broke into a wide smile and she climbed down off the sofa.
“Doggy!” She pointed, getting to her feet. “Can I play with it?”
Ianto and Jack turned quickly. Sharing a look, Ianto grabbed Isabella’s hand before she could take another step closer.
“That’s not a doggy, sweetie,” Jack told her.
“How the hell did he get out?” Ianto asked Jack urgently, keeping his voice low and his eye on the wolf. “He was locked in for the night.”
“Lizzie was meant to be watching him,” Jack pointed out. “He must have followed me back here when I went down to the kitchen.”
“Well I’m sure he didn’t open the door on his own,” Ianto said with a pointed glare.
Though he really wanted to react to Ianto’s snarky tone, Jack didn’t. It was him who hadn’t closed the door properly but in his defence, they were in a highly secure building and there wasn’t really a need for locking doors. In fact, the only time they did bother was when they didn’t want interrupting. Still, he should have at least closed it fully.
Glancing to his side, Jack saw that their only escape route was too far away should Nicholas decide to attack. He couldn’t reach his mobile phone as that was on the table by far window, as was his wristband and Ianto’s phone.
The wolf took another step toward them and they backed up again, matching it pace for pace and trying to move slowly enough that it wouldn’t perceive them as a threat. Ianto had Isabella by the hand, making sure that he could put himself between her and the wolf if need be. Each time he stooped to try and pick her up, the wolf gave a small growl and so he had to urge her to back up with him. She looked confused, but did it anyway as she watched the ‘doggy’.
“What now?” Ianto whispered urgently as his back hit the wall. There was nowhere else to retreat to and still the wolf approached. Jack began to edge along the wall toward his mobile. The wolf seemed focussed on Ianto and Isabella, barely noticing him.
That was, until his phone rang and the wolf’s eyes turned his way.
“This had better be a matter of life or death,” he told the caller.
Lizzie ran from the Batcave at speeds that would put an Olympic sprinter to shame. She had managed to track Nicholas’s wanderings with the cameras. At first, he just looked around, sniffing at the strange (to the wolf) surroundings but then she saw him reach Jack and Ianto’s living quarters. She had seen Jack walking back there a short time earlier, Nicholas tracking him later, his nose to the ground. The door was open a tiny crack and he paused, ears pricking as though listening to something before nosing the door open enough to slip inside. There were no cameras inside as it was Jack and Ianto’s personal space- she would have given anything for a camera in there but Gwen kept vetoing the request- but she knew they were there. With Isabella, too.
On her way past her office she had grabbed her phone and now dialled Jack’s number. He answered on the third ring.
“Jack! It’s Nicholas; he got out and I saw him go into your quarters-”
“I know. He’s standing right in front- Isabella, no!”
The line went dead as the phone hit the floor and Lizzie ran that little bit faster.
The wolf paused right in front of them and Isabella reached out a hand, completely unafraid, to pet it. Jack yelled and Ianto pulled her away at the same instant, scaring her and startling the wolf.
Strangely, the wolf still didn’t attack as Jack expected it to. There must be more of Nicholas left inside it than they thought. It tilted its head to one side, as though puzzling something out in its mind, before leaning closer to sniff at Isabella.
The little girl moved to hide behind Ianto’s legs, remembering how her Uncles had shouted and knowing now that she shouldn’t get too near to the dog.
“Nicholas?” Ianto spoke softly to the wolf, hoping that their colleague could understand. The wolf’s ears pricked up at the name. “You’re scaring her. Back off.”
Again the wolf studied them with a tilt of its head. It didn’t back away, but it did sit down on its haunches. Ianto reached out a hand to Nicholas, in front of him where he could see it just as he had been taught by his mum, when approaching any animal. He felt his heart pounding as he waited for the feeling of teeth in his hand or the snarling of an angry wolf, but neither came. He touched his hand to the top of the wolf’s head, feeling the thick fur under his fingers. If anything, the wolf seemed to enjoy it.
“Its okay, Isabella. He’s friends, see?”
This time, encouraged by Ianto, no one shouted at her when she reached out to pet the doggy. She smiled and stroked his head, just between his ears.
Moments later, they all heard the sound of laboured breathing and footsteps approaching. Lizzie came to a skidding halt in the doorway, staring at the sight of Isabella petting Nicholas. She looked to Jack.
“Is anyone hurt?”
Jack shook his head. “No, we’re fine. It seems that Isabella has adopted Nicholas as a pet, though.”
When Gwen and Rhys arrived home two days later, Isabella racing over to be swept up into a hug, the others shared a look of solidarity. They had all agreed that mentioning Nicholas’s wanderings and Isabella’s involvement would only cause Gwen upset that she didn’t need. After all, no harm had been done and it was all sorted now.
“Thank you,” she asked Jack and Ianto. “Did you have any problems whilst I was gone?”
Jack shook his head. “Not really. She did make me wear a tiara, but I won’t hold that against her.”
Gwen just frowned and then shook off the mental image. Lifting her daughter into her arms, she asked, “Did you have fun with Uncle Ianto and Uncle Jack?”
Isabella nodded furiously, a wide smile on her face. “We went to the park and I went really really fast on the swings and we had ice cream and we watched Scooby Doo.” She paused for a breath. “I played with the doggy, and-”
Gwen raised her eyebrow at the two men before asking the little girl, “What doggy, sweetie?”
Oblivious to the other three people’s frantic motions for her to stop, Isabella continued. “Auntie Lizzie’s. The big fluffy black one.”
It took Gwen all of ten seconds to read between the lines and her eyes narrowed on the three of them. “Rhys? Could you please take Isabella for a moment. I have to strangle three employees and I’d rather she didn’t see.” She noticed Jack heading stealthily toward the door. “You three, stay right where you are.”
As soon as Rhys and Isabella were out of the room, she turned to them with her hands on her hips, one foot tapping impatiently.
“It’s not as bad as you’re imagining…” Jack began.
This is also likely to be the last in this series, of my series 4. I'll probably write more in this 'verse but it will be posted as seperate stories.
Previous - All chapters
Sorry this took so long- Life got in the way (publishers, book editing, etc). If anyone is interested in my books, by the way, check out the website links on the top left of my journal, under the icon.