Title: The Queen's Magicians: The Concealed Ones (Coda)
Characters: Jack Harkness, Ianto Jones, the Doctor, others
Rating: Starts PG, but hey, it’s got Jack and Ianto in it
Disclaimer: Oh, please. If I owned them, would I let some of those idiots write the scripts? And if I were making any money off them, would I be where they could find me?
Summary: An apocalyptic cult is trying to hasten the end of the world but when Torchwood steps in, it finds much more than it expected. This takes the place of Dead Man Walking
Story is here
Jack licked the last few bits of cream from the spoon and sighed. ‘That’s the one.”
“I think so too, Siana,” Ianto set down his own spoon. “Superb.”
Siana Howell smiled happily at her cousin. “I wanted something a little different for the two of you, and I remember how much you disliked fruitcake as a kid. A simple chocolate torte with a coffee-flavoured buttercream filling and strawberries macerated in caster sugar and a little Cointreau as an accent seemed to fit the bill.”
“It certainly does,” Ianto affirmed. “Thank you for saving me from the fruitcake.”
“Oh, there’s no way I can do that!” Siana giggled. “Sister Enid tells me she’s making you a traditional groom’s cake for the Bishop’s luncheon, so you’ll have your first anniversary piece to put away. She also touched base with the head chef at Dinas Bran. The King has ordered Scottish and Welsh specialties for the reception, and Andre has decided to serve a choice of Tipsy Laird trifle, Cranachan, or raspberry ice cream in wine glasses with a selection of shortbreads on the side. Including a fruited one.”
Jack sat back to enjoy the byplay between the cousins. It was the first time in three weeks that he and Ianto had been able to have a whole day off to themselves. Dealing with the fallout of Calev Neumann's death had not been difficult, but it had been time-consuming. Surprisingly, Owen had insisted that Andras needed to stay around until he got his new abilities under control, and Andras had agreed. There had been Calev's funeral, and then the sudden arrival of Calev's younger brother Anaiah – Tosh had a lot of fun creating a whole new identity for Andras – and his installation as the new investigator for the Rabbinical Court. To Ianto's open amusement, Jack had spent a great deal of time ignoring the glances his newly redeemed brother was sending Martha's way.
At another level, there had been innumerable briefings and conferences with police and security forces all over the world. The Servants of the White Horse had gone underground. The ritual killing of Jewish men had stopped, but nobody was optimistic enough to think it was over. Jack and Ianto had worked themselves into near exhaustion, but there was nothing to find. Finally, both Martha and Owen applied medical force majeure and kicked them out of the Hub. They had decided to run away to Wild Rose Cottage to finalize the plans for their wedding cake, the one decision Ianto had insisted in their making for themselves.
“I'm not complaining, Siana, truly I'm not, but a family lunch with the Bishop, a reception with dancing the night before, and a wedding breakfast after? It was supposed to be a family affair!”
“It still is, Ianto,” Siana said. “You just didn’t realize how big the family was, that’s all.”
Jack chuckled. “I keep telling him the same thing, Siana. I’m curious. What did Gwen and Rhys end up ordering?”
“Weeel…” Siana drawled, then giggled. “Gwen couldn’t make up her mind, so we’re making a cupcake tree. Three layers, double chocolate with almonds, butterscotch cream, and ganache. Sister Enid will make the groom’s cake so they can keep a layer too. Now, I have to deal with the lunch crowd, which today includes the Camhedryn ladies' bridge club. Unless you are minded to spend the rest of the afternoon with the grand dames, Ianto, I suggest you grab your fiancé and take him into the woods for a bit.”
“That sounds dangerous.” Jack smile held a touch of mischief. “I’ve heard terrible things happen to good boys who let themselves be led astray in the woods.”
“You’re safe, then,” Ianto retorted, taking his hand. “You haven’t been a good boy in a long time.”
They left the bed-and-breakfast by a side door that led to the formal gardens. Ianto led Jack past elegant parterres filled with multicolored blooms, espaliered fruit trees and small fountains filled with herbs instead of water. At the far end of the garden, a wooden gate without a handle was set into a tall yew hedge. Ianto laid his palm on the middle plank and the gate swung open. Beyond it a trail climbed away from the sea and disappeared into the woods beyond. Ianto broke into a near run.
“Hey, slow down!”
“Not unless you have your heart set on spending the afternoon playing bridge with all my aunts instead of making love, I won't.”
Jack gave him an incredulous look. “What are you waiting for? Move!”
As they entered the forest, Jack felt the slight internal shift that signaled passage into sacred space. He looked behind him. The trail had disappeared. When he turned back, he found himself at the beginning of a broad avenue lined with ancient oaks. A gentle tug on his hand, made him turn again, this time to face Ianto.
“Welcome to my home, cariad.”
Jack lifted their joined hands to his lips. “Thank you.”
They walked down the avenue. As they passed, each oak lowered its branches and broad golden leaves showered down on them.
“I thought you were worried about marrying a prince,” Jack teased. “And here the Oldest salute you as you go by.”
Ianto stopped, looking at Jack in utter befuddlement. “You don't get it, do you?”
“They are bowing to you, Jack. When you hung on Ygdrassil, It transferred some of Its essence to you. You became the avatar of the World Tree. Couldn't you feel it?”
Jack nodded. “I knew something had happened. I felt strange in my own skin. But then I was home and you had taken me back, and everything was fine, so I...” he shrugged. “Put it away.”
“Of course you would.” Ianto pulled at Jack's hand. “Come on.”
They continued down the avenue. Now Jack could see that it ended in a wide circular space bounded by a ring of young rowan trees, in itself bound by a ring of mature ash, both surrounded by the ancient oaks, a triple living henge resonating with magic. At the center of the circle two bluestone pedestals held an altar stone where rested a cup and a knife. The stones were older than the trees except for the Oldest themselves, and Jack shivered as their power washed over him.
Ianto led him into the Circle. As they passed the Boundary, Jack looked back over his shoulder. He caught a glimpse of a shadowy someone making the ritual gestures of closing a circle. Jack was awed by the absolute trust he had been given. Achlesyddion ritual places were so secret that there were those who were married into the clan for decades and were still blindfolded before being taken to them. Ianto had not only showed him the Road, but the Oldest had allowed him a glimpse of the Guardian himself.
A small noise made him turn back to see Ianto with his hands on his waistcoat buttons, his jacket neatly folded at his feet.
“We don't go skyclad in this Circle but once.” Ianto told him. “And that is when we take a mate for all time. Would you join your life to mine here, in the sight of my Ancestors, the Oldest Ones?”
Jack couldn't speak, but he nodded and copied Ianto's movements as his lover removed the rest of his clothes. They walked to the altar hand in hand. As he got closer, Jack could see that the cup was a kylix, a wide-mouthed bronze bowl with a narrow foot and two handles that curved inwards at the top, bare of decoration, and elegant in its plainness. Next to it the knife was a lethal triangle honed to a fine point, its blade and short handle equally devoid of decoration. He didn't need to be an expert to know that they were both ancient and powerful.
Ianto released Jack's hand and picked up the kylix, offering it to Jack. He took it and looked inside. Instead of liquid there was rich scented soil. He gave Ianto a questioning look.
“The true test of acceptance into my people. The Guardian has placed a seed in the soil. One drop of your blood and one drop of mine. If the Oldest accept our sacrifice they will bind our essences into the tree that will grow from that seed.” Ianto picked up the knife. “Think about it before you accept. Once it is done, it cannot be undone.”
Jack placed the kylix on the altar and held out his hand. Ianto pricked Jack's left middle finger and then his own. Jack took Ianto's hand and turned it over above the kylix, pressing gently. A single drop of blood fell into the soil. Jack repeated the action with his own hand.
For a moment, nothing happened, then Jack saw the soil heave, and a tiny seedling emerge. He grinned at Ianto and pulled him into a kiss. He felt Ianto's hands flatten on the small of his back as they rubbed gently against each other. Finally, Jack pulled away, resting his forehead on Ianto's.
“I want to celebrate,” he whispered. “But I'm feeling a little exposed here. They're watching!”
“Intimidated, are you?” Ianto shook with laughter. “Come on.”
He led Jack away from the altar. As they passed the oak Circle, Jack felt the wards come down and he found himself walking in the mortal world again. They were moving towards the sound of running water. As the trees thinned he could see a meadow crossed by a stream draped here and there by weeping willows.
“This was my own private place.” Ianto told him as they walked . “You have to go through the forest to find it. The other side is blocked by a rock fall. I used to come here after school with a book and hide until supper.” He stopped by the largest willow and moved the branches aside. “Here.”
The grass underneath the arching branches was soft as silk. Jack sank down onto it and pulled Ianto on top of him. “Better. Much better.”
Ianto chuckled and pressed his lips against the pulse at the base of Jack's throat, licking and sucking. Jack wrapped his legs around Ianto's thighs and wiggled until they were aligned, erections rubbing together as he rocked his hips. Sighing, he stretched his neck, inviting more of Ianto's attention. His lover obliged, nipping his way to Jack's ear.
“Did you know,” he whispered, “that weeping willows are considered terrible gossips?”