22 December 2010 @ 09:53 pm
The Queen's Magicians: Eternal Silences (Part One)  

Title: Eternal Silences, Part One
Author: Emma
Characters: Canonical Torchwood Three members… sort of.
Rating: Some chapters definitely not safe for work.
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: Someone is playing with life and death in Cardiff, and Doctor Owen Harper is fed up with it all
Author's Note: This is Meat. And it's nothing like it. Although there’s food involved….
Author's Note: The eternal silence of these infinite spaces fills me with dread. Blaise Pascal
Author's Note: garmhac is Irish for grandson

Owen cocked an experienced eye at the sky and decided he could keep the convertible's hood down for at least a few hours. It hadn't rained much to speak of in the last couple of days, and the morning looked to be sunny and, if not quite warm, at least tolerable. If he managed to get out of Caernafon before rush hour and a bit ahead of the tourist buses, he should be in Fishguard in time for a late breakfast or an early lunch, whichever took his fancy.

He left the city with the sunrise and drove at his usual pace as far as Dolgellau. There he left the A roads and followed Ianto’s neatly hand-drawn map through tiny roads that meandered along the shore through groups of houses barely large enough to be called towns. He felt something inside his chest loosen and he realized Ianto, damn his perceptive eyes, had been right. He needed the slow path for a while.

Skirting around Fishguard he took a lane that wound through a stand of stunningly beautiful trees. No. Not beautiful. Majestic. Ancient and wise. He didn’t know a thing about trees, but these awed him. He stopped the car and closed his eyes. For a brief moment he could have sworn he heard human voices in the rustling of the leaves, but then his hard-headed side took over and he snorted. He wasn’t the kind trees spoke to.

He drove on, past the trees and across the rolling green pasture that dipped down to the beach. Beyond it, perched on the hillside, a Victorian mansion looked out to sea. There was some sort of formal garden in the back, but his eye was immediately drawn to the profusion of wild roses growing down the slope and over the sand. The sea was a smoke-colored sheet of glass all the way to the horizon, broken only. by three jagged rocks rearing into the sky. Wild Rose Cottage had an air of the fairytale about it, and Owen calculated that keeping it so artfully unspoiled cost a great deal, both in cash and labour. Still, it was probably worth it; the place was pricey, but was always booked years in advance. He wondered what strings Ianto had pulled to get him a room.

At the reception desk, a charming young girl with dark hair and blue eyes fairly glowed when he introduced himself. “It’s so nice to meet you, Doctor Harper. I’m Mairi. My mam and tad have mentioned you. You met them at Ianto’s engagement party? Caradoc and Siana Howell? Mum is Ianto’s second cousin or first cousin once removed or something like that, with this family, who knows? Ianto told me to give you the sea garden room if it’s available and it is,” she produced an old-fashioned iron key without a single break in the flood of words, “ so you’ll be able to have a nice night’s sleep away from the other guests.”

She hustled him down a corridor to a door that led to a patio facing the sea. Across the flagstones, closer still to the sand and water, a small hexagonal pavilion sat in the space between the wild roses and the house, nearly hidden from view by the large restaurant and kitchen wing.

“There’s an inner door,” Mairi said, “but most people prefer the patio entrance, if it isn’t raining.” She opened the French doors and motioned him in. “It’s very peaceful in here, I’m sure you’ll sleep well. I hope you don’t mind, but I had the kitchen send in some pastries and fruit, since you didn’t have breakfast this morn…” The words stopped abruptly and she looked at him with wide worried eyes.

“Clairvoyance?” he said gently.

She nodded. “Only in small things, so far, but Sister Gwennog thinks it will improve.” She handed him the key. “Supper starts at six, but if you want you can order something in. Room service is available until eleven. It's all good. My mam does the cooking.”

“Thanks, Mairi.”

He watched her cross the patio, feeling a touch of envy for her open, artless friendliness. He could not remember ever being that trusting with friends, much less strangers. He supposed that was the difference between growing up in the middle of a large supportive family and growing up with a mother who resented his very existence and couldn’t wait to kick him out of the house as soon as it wouldn’t get her hauled into the bishop’s court.

Shaking off the sudden melancholy, he looked around. The room was mostly taken up by a canopied bed made out of some sort of dark wood, with tiny side tables that held reading lamps and diminutive crystal dishes filled with sugared almonds. It faced a second set of French doors that led down to the water. To one side of the bed, an arch led to possibly the most luxurious bathroom Owen had ever seen. Across from the bed, between the two sets of French doors, a round table with two chairs was placed slightly to the side of a fireplace. On it was a tray with, as promised, pastries and fruit, and a full carafe of coffee.

He poured himself some, sniffing in delight at the wonderful aroma. So, as he had always suspected, the coffee making abilities of the Joneses was either genetic or a closely-held family secret. He poured a little cream in and swirled it gently clockwise, as Ianto had instructed. The first sip had him shivering with pleasure. With his free hand he reached for a croissant. One bite left him convinced Siana Howell, nee Jones, was as good a baker as any in the best patisseries in Paris.

He ate another croissant and made deep inroads into a bowl of fresh berries. In spite of the coffee he was beginning to get pleasantly tired. With nothing much to do, he decided to indulge. Pulling off his jacket and boots, he crawled under the duvet. He was asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.

When he awoke the sun was low in the sky and the room was filled with shadow. He vaguely remembered dreaming of a storm at sea and a coracle storm-tossed on the waves, but the dream skittered away into his subconscious as soon as he reached for it. He went into the bathroom, took a piss, and splashed some water on his face. One quick look at his watch told him it was a little after six. He wasn't really hungry yet so he pulled on his boots and his jacket and started for the beach.

The path down to the sand was set out with glass spheres balanced on iron tripods. The spheres glowed with a gentle blue light; a close look revealed solar batteries discreetly tucked away to one side. The air was filled by the soft scent of the wild roses. Owen snorted. No wonder this place was so popular with honeymooners.

He stepped off the path into the sand and started to jog in the direction of the three rocks. Out here the scent of roses was overwhelmed by the cool, salty breeze coming off the sea. There must have been a storm out in the channel; he wondered if he had heard the distant thunder in his sleep and that had triggered his odd dream.

As he came up parallel to the three large rocks out in the water he noticed that they were connected to the beach by a causeway half-buried in the sand and water. He wondered if he could make it out to them and back before the tide came in, but decided against it. He had no idea how strong it could be in the area and he didn't relish smashing up against basalt. Besides, his stomach was growling and the thought of some nicely grilled fish was much more agreeable.

He turned back towards the hotel but was brought up short by the sound of someone in pain. He looked around but couldn't see anyone. He shook his head; it was probably the wind in the rocks. Then, he heard it again, much more clearly and this time he had more of a sense of location. He clambered over the rocks, searching with his hands as well as his eyes in the disappearing light, until he found it.

A man lay face down in the sand, half in and half out of the water, his legs wedged into a natural crevasse in the rock. If the white hair and beard were any indication he was fairly advanced in years, but the arms were muscular and the wide hands strong. One eye opened briefly as Owen bent down to take a closer look, and there was something in the icy blue that seemed to have weighed and measured him until it found its answer. Then, as the eye closed, the illusion of power was gone, and there was only a nearly drowned old man.

Owen worked his hands under the man’s arms and managed to haul him out of the water beyond the tide line. He made a quick physical examination but couldn’t find anything other than a few cuts and bruises. He sat back on his heels. His first impulse was to run for help; the old man needed to be checked for internal injuries. Instead he found himself Centering into his gift.

Gwen had once asked him what it was like, being able to See inside flesh and bone, to find illness or trauma and Heal it with his mind. He had explained it in technical terms, the same way his first professor had explained it to him, but it wasn’t the whole answer. There was power in it, but it didn't bring satisfaction; that came later, if the patient recovered. It was a sense of connection to something outside himself, something enormous beyond comprehension , something willing to share power when it suited It, but only for Its own purpose. Mostly there was knowledge, and Owen had craved knowledge from the moment he could raise his head and look around his cradle.

He let the power and the knowledge flow through him, he raised his hands above the old man's body. Vital signs were strong, but there was an odd secondary energy, almost like the image left behind one's eyelids if you stared at the sun a bit too long. It felt like Talent, but not one Owen had encountered before. That didn't surprise him. Considering his work, he did more autopsies than healing, and the vast majority of that dealt with trauma caused by violence. The important thing was that the old man would recover. Sitting back he dropped his hands to his lap, closed his eyes, and took a deep breath, letting the fresh sea air cleanse him.

“Thank you.”

Owen opened his eyes. The old man had pulled himself into a sitting position. The blue eyes were trained on him with unnerving intensity. It reminded Owen of Jack at his most inquisitorial.

“You're welcome. If you can walk to the parking lot, I can drive you to the local Healer...”

'That won't be necessary.” The old man jumped to his feet and Owen followed suit. The old man looked around. “Well, this was not the way I intended to visit Kymry, but that cannot be helped.” He stretched like someone just waking up, then grinned at Owen. “Thank ye, garmhac, but my road is in the other direction. We will meet again, I think. Yes. Three times we will meet and on the thrice... we will see, then, won't we? Aye, that we will. Now, go have a good supper and a good night sleep, garmhac.”

There was something in the voice that made disobedience unthinkable. Owen turned away and started back towards the hotel. He had taken several steps when the compulsion seemed to lift and he turned back to look at the old man.

The beach was empty.

( Post a new comment )
bethmccombs: Torchwood - Ianto Jones - Sepia[personal profile] bethmccombs on December 23rd, 2010 03:39 am (UTC)
Oh my.... now I have lots and lots of questions. Can't wait for more.
Merucha[personal profile] merucha on December 23rd, 2010 02:24 pm (UTC)
There shall be more.... much more... *mad cackle*
bethmccombs: Torchwood - Ianto Jones - Black[personal profile] bethmccombs on December 23rd, 2010 05:04 pm (UTC)
*ponders mad cackle; worries*
twincityhacker: Alternate History[personal profile] twincityhacker on December 23rd, 2010 04:21 am (UTC)
As soon as he called the place Kyrmry, I knew there would be trouble ahead.
Merucha[personal profile] merucha on December 23rd, 2010 02:24 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, there is.... :D
wynkat: Witch - little withc on broom[personal profile] wynkat on December 23rd, 2010 04:22 am (UTC)

(Can I just say that I was bouncing for glee when I saw that you had posted? Yup! Massive happy dance over here)

Looking forward to the next parts... I smell magic and history and oooh... shiny! :D
Merucha[personal profile] merucha on December 23rd, 2010 02:25 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you like it -- I was stuck for a while and it was on this particular fic, and the role of Owen, and it finally all came together!
cen_sceal: CoffeeM[personal profile] cen_sceal on December 23rd, 2010 10:08 am (UTC)
Very nice :) Really like your Owen, especially with how he describes healing. This looks so interesting, and I'm curious for more now!
Merucha[personal profile] merucha on December 23rd, 2010 02:26 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Owen has suddenly taken off on his own...
milady_dragon[personal profile] milady_dragon on December 23rd, 2010 11:52 am (UTC)
Fantastic beginning! Nice to see an Owen-centric story, especially the way you write him. I'm really looking forward to the rest!
Merucha[personal profile] merucha on December 23rd, 2010 02:26 pm (UTC)
I like Owen, and it shows I think. More soon...
http://fide_et_spe.livejournal.com/[identity profile] fide_et_spe.livejournal.com on December 23rd, 2010 04:29 pm (UTC)
Well I just had to comment, despite the 50 or so steps dreamwidth just had me go through, because it's so wonderful to see this. I love this AU so much, and once again your descriptions are amazing.

I'm really intrigued as to how you will play this out, and I love your Owen.
Merucha[personal profile] merucha on December 23rd, 2010 11:20 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you did! I miss livejournal, actually, but... we'll see what happens. And I am so glad you like it... now, what shall I do once the second series is over? My own? Scares me a little...
http://fide_et_spe.livejournal.com/[identity profile] fide_et_spe.livejournal.com on December 24th, 2010 11:05 am (UTC)
Well I haven't seen any complaints from those that did continue to use LJ. I think probably LJ changed enough after the outcry that it is pretty safe, and certainly it doesn't look any different. I tend to think that people are too obsessed with themselves to actually be reposting other people's work, unless they were actually a proper unstable stalker, and then they wouldn't need any help from LJ anyhow!

I think a series 3 set in your AU would be wonderful. I bet it is scary because it means coming up with your own plots, but you have really done that anyhow with these stories.
Midori[identity profile] midori-marmotte.livejournal.com on December 23rd, 2010 10:48 pm (UTC)
Weeeee, a new part of the story! And just before Christmas, even though you certainly have loads of things to do? Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Merucha[personal profile] merucha on December 23rd, 2010 11:20 pm (UTC)
You're welcome! How are you, by the way?
Midori[identity profile] midori-marmotte.livejournal.com on December 24th, 2010 12:41 am (UTC)
Tired, a 2 y.o. boy + a baby girl not "synchronised" means not enough sleep ;-) Apart from that, happy and all right!
[personal profile] gingerlr on December 24th, 2010 02:24 am (UTC)
Okay, I'll admit that I don't know Kyrmy and what it was that the old man called Owen but I'm still hooked.
[personal profile] gingerlr on December 24th, 2010 02:25 am (UTC)
*slaps head* Read the AN's before commenting. I really need some sleep.
observer3[personal profile] observer3 on December 25th, 2010 04:57 pm (UTC)
lovely opening...with a nice mysterious twist
Merucha[personal profile] merucha on December 31st, 2010 09:41 pm (UTC)
It's all about the twists :D
-[personal profile] teachwriteslash on December 26th, 2010 03:06 am (UTC)
Ohhhhh I am very intrigued.
Merucha[personal profile] merucha on December 31st, 2010 09:41 pm (UTC)
I'm glad. Getting this one plotted was a witch with a b!