"Yes well the holidays can be the worst" Ianto nodded sagely as he stared at who might be his newest client and the man smiled back just as politely.
Jack Harkness, a Captain no less and desperately in need of Ianto's aid sat nervously opposite.
"So, you will be deployed for how long?" Ianto asked as he looked at the papers again.
"Six months on Iraviton" Jack nodded, "I've been over there for eighteen months but had to come back when....well."
"Your ex-wife was killed" Ianto supplied the parts Jack couldn't say out loud, "I am so sorry. Your little boy is your first concern of course."
"I could ring out and take an early retirement but I wouldn't get my full benefits then. I can't trust my family and you come so highly recommended as a childcare service. I know this is an extreme measure but I don't know where else to go."
Ianto plucked the edge of the pad he had been writing in, then reached out to turn off the recording device he used for these meetings, Jack watched the movement with raw hope even as Owen shifted in the seat beside him.
Ianto stared at the pad some more, "This is not a simple Nanny position, I know what you are asking."
"The world" Jack replied. "For my world. My son."
"And the full benefits you will receive will cover my fee as well as extras for your future with your child" Ianto leaned back and stare at Jack for a few moments, the unspoken words flaying around the room as Jack felt a cold bead of sweat travel down his spine.
Ianto touched the button again.
"Captain Harkness, this all seems in order. I will send you a list of possible employees suitable for your needs" Ianto closed the file and rose, his hand reaching out and Jack took it without a second thought, the spark between then making them both hesitate with surprise.
Ianto pulled his hand back and stared at it with a frown, "Now isn't that a surprise."
"Yes" Jack replied, his own hand rubbing absently against his hip, "thanks."
Ianto saw him to the door and watched Owen walk with the man to the front entrance then escape to the bustle of the world beyond Ianto's silent realm.
Ianto was true to his word as Jack had felt he would be, the files waiting for him on the vid-screen and he hesitated before touching the screen to open them. Four. Ianto had narrowed his huge employment base down to four possibles.
A man and three women.
Jack sat with his glass of whiskey and contemplated which one he might entrust to raise his son while he finished out his active service. Again and again his eyes were drawn to Ianto's avatar that waited patiently at the corner of the screen. A cute little red dragon. He hadn't expected that level of humour either, such a dower man to have such a hidden childishness to him.
Jack made the call.
"Ah, Captain" Ianto said smoothly and Jack felt annoyance as he saw Ianto was in a robe.
"I am so sorry, I never looked at the time when I made the call you are getting ready for bed" Jack sighed, cursing his stupidity.
"Not at all, I am reading" Ianto lifted a book and Jack smiled as he lifted the said same book from his coffee table. Both men blinked and then started to laugh softly as they both seems to be reading Never-ending Story.
"I've seen some of the movie versions but I do so prefer the written word" Ianto smiled and Jack agreed, leaning back and gesturing at the screen.
"The woman called Chrys, is she still available? She looks kind and the testimonials of the family she works for are top notch" Jack said and Ianto turned as if looking at something on the corner of the screen and Jack realised he was. Somehow he could see Jack's screen like a mirror image and he stared at the picture, then back to Jack.
"She is available, you can meet if you like to see if he likes her?"
"Great" Jack said happily, "You will be there right?"
"Of course" Ianto canted his head to hide the annoyance and alarm in the request as he had hoped he would not have to be in the same space as this man again. That momentary contact had been electrifying in more ways than one and Ianto knew that if he were in the personal space of this man again he might be unable to shield as well as he did at the initial meeting.
Jack was an Alpha.
A wonderful, handsome Alpha that not only called to his Omega soul, but his inner wolf that had not stirred like than in so long.
Ianto stared at the blank screen and sighed.
He would need to meditate.
Chapter 2: bee nice
Chrys sat on the floor with the little boy who was looking up at her with a silent rebuke as she handed back his toy with a whispered apology.
Ianto turn to suggest an alternative when the little boy rose and toddled over, placing a hand on his knee and offering the toy to him. Ianto politely accepted it and absently lifted the boy into his lap as he spoke.
"Seems there is a slight difference of option, maybe Serene would be a better choice? She has raised three wonderful children and has a....yes. A bee. A wonderful one" Ianto stopped talking as the child shoved the toy at him and Ianto smiled softly as he cuddled the poor little waif. The boy was small for his age, almost a dwarf with his tiny hands and face, huge eyes and sad heart. His mama was gone. Jack's ex-wife had been killed instantly when the truck had ploughed into the vehicle she was piloting, the little boy in his lap had watched her die, had not spoken since.
Jack watched his son as he smiled meekly at Ianto and placed his head on Ianto's chest, Ianto smiling back and rubbing the little back as he whispered that bees are one of the most important bugs in the worlds. His son's eyes grew larger in question as Ianto explained about pollination as well as bees moving seeds by mistake and helping keep plant life growing.
"You know, you made a great selection there" Ianto said as he let the child wriggle and settle more, "I like bees too."
Jack watched Dylan's fingers trace Ianto's buttons.
"He might not want a woman, maybe he sees it as replacing his mother. Maybe if you look at Andy's..."
"What about you" Jack blurted, "He hasn't been this actively communicative with anyone since the accident as he is with you here today. Eye contact, even a smile. I wish I could stay butâ€¦ finishing off my service means they can't ask me to redo it, I can't do another two years. I have to complete and get signed off."
Ianto blinked, then frowned as he looked at the child who seemed so forlorn.
"Six months" Ianto muttered, "Home for Christmas?"
"Yes, hopefully in time for Santa" Jack said as he smiled encouragingly at his son who simply stared at him and then looked away with disinterest. Ianto watched Jack's face shut down with sorrow knowing a two year absence would be far more harmful to this little one than a six month one.
But what a horrible time.
"There is not family?" Ianto asked as the little one started to go limp with sleep, "I read that there is a sister? Also you have a brother?"
"Yes, my sister-in-law Gwen" Jack grimaced, "She is the reason Lucinda and I were going through ah...troubles."
Ianto nodded, knowing the little one was listening even with his eyes closed and two fingers in his mouth so he changed the subject, "I do not work actively anymore, I had a bad experience in my last field work. I was benched as it were, why I decided to start my own agency."
Jack nodded sadly, "I understand. Maybe we can try this Andy bloke. Dylan does seem happier with you. A male influence might be a good idea, he is in need of a strong influence."
Ianto rose to see Jack out and realised he was carrying the child, the blush deep as he awkwardly tried to hand him back, that spark again as their arms brushed and this time there was no mistaking the attraction as Jack froze as well, blinking back a retort. It was almost like pain and he grunted as he yanked his son from Ianto.
"Goodbye Dylan, I did enjoy playing with you, wait" Ianto rushed back to the seat and plucked the bee off the floor, rushing back, "Here. I think he chose you to keep him safe."
Dylan accepted the little soft toy and looked at Ianto with those sad eyes then crushed the bee to his chest. He gave another weak smile and settled against his father's chest.
"Thank you" Jack said with a frown, "Add the cost of it to my bill."
"Not at all" Ianto assured him, "Bee was ready for a new friend, Dylan was just the ticket. I mean look, what a happy little bee to have a special friend."
Dylan lifted the bug and stared at it like he was considering, then hummed as he hugged it tight. He looked up at Ianto again and as they left a little hand waved gently over Jack's shoulder as Dylan showed another milestone in saying goodbye.
Owen watched with open interest as the little boy didn't interact with anyone except Jack.
He looked back as he followed his friend and godson out the door to find Ianto smiling as he waved back, open and welcoming. If only Katie were still here, they would have taken Dylan but Owen knew her death and his subsequent fall from grace with his breakdown meant Jack would not trust him again, neither would he really.
Owen hoped this Andy Davison would be as nice.
Dylan deserved nice.
Chapter 3: wobbly line
Andy was small lithe and excitable, Dylan's eyes wide as they followed Andy about the room. Jack didn't like him but knew it was partly because it was not Ianto and he had to admit that he did take Dylan's eye for a few moments as he looked at everything and talked incessantly. Something that annoyed Jack no end but must remind Dylan of his mother who was also a talker.
Jack wasn't sure still, "He isn't alarmed by him but I am still leery."
"Well I will supervise, be here a lot and I will spend time with Dylan and Andy while you are gone" Ianto said and Andy swung from the toy shelf with a raised eyebrow as his boss promised something he never had before. "Are you sure about the costings? It would be less expensive for you if..."
"Money is not an issue, I have money" Jack said absently as he flicked through the pages of the contract, "My family keeps me comfortable. I want him to be OK, I want to do my service without worrying about him. Si months and I am free. If I don't do this now I will get another two or three year call up."
"Fine" Ianto shrugged, "I will not sully the agreement with talk of money again."
Jack relaxed and looked at the contract again, then signed knowing he was doing the right thing. He then rose to start packing, "You will dine with us tonight right?"
Ianto looked up from the contract with surprise, then glanced at Andy who was staring at him intently, one eyebrow raised in silent question.
"Andy and I would be delighted" Ianto finally answered, making it clear that there could be no personal friendship here and Jack recognised the gentle push, accepting that this was a business arrangement.
Andy looked between the two men and then at the boy who was walking over to Ianto with an intense look, his arms up for a hug and Ianto again lifted him into his lap and indulged him.
Ianto arrived ten minutes before the agreed time, his smile soft and Andy opened the door to watch it fade slightly.
"Come on, he's been keen for last night hugs with the boy" Andy said softly "This is a thin line you are teetering on. I've not seen you this way since her."
"This is not the same" Ianto muttered as he pushed past, moving to the other room where Dylan sat surrounded by toys. "Hey, someone looks smart in his PJs."
Dylan lit up, scrambling to his feet and heading for the lap Ianto was bound to create as he chose a seat. Jack entered from the kitchen and froze as he watched Ianto settle into Lucinda's chair and let the little one clamber up to look into his face with a serious frown.
"Now then Master Dylan, what can I do for you then?" Ianto asked softly, letting the little one consider then point to the books sitting by the chair. Jack felt his heart twist as the book Lucinda had been reading the little boy waited with a bookmark of rose pink peeking out.
Jack had moved back into the house with a heavy heart, the house he had been forced from as Lucinda had demanded space. Pushed from his own family house and now he was back in the family home but it didn't feel much like one anymore.
Ianto read softly, his voice like liquid gold as the little boy fought to stay awake, finally succumbing and snoring in his arms. Jack saw the gentle way he lifted the boy and carried him to the bedroom, tucking him into the bed and then heading back to the main room where he once again chose her chair.
It was unsettling.
How...normal it seemed.
"So. You've not spoken about your brother, your family" Ianto asked politely and Jack grimaced.
"Gray, he's a shit stirring little shit who was always my mother's baby" Jack replied, "Father could never argue with her and she could never accept Gray had done anything wrong. I wouldn't trust him with a hamster."
"But they will call in?" Andy asked as he started to get a list together of visitors for the child.
"Gray might, her mother as she wanted Dylan big time" Jack nodded, "He doesn't really like her, probably because when Luc and I broke up she went a bit dog."
"And Gwen?" Ianto asked softly.
"Luc's sister. Yeah, she will stir what she can" Jack snorted, "She was my childhood sweetheart but too immature. Lucinda was everything more adult and sophisticated I wanted. Gwen never forgave her for 'stealing' me as she always put it. She is Dylan's aunt but uses him as an excuse to get near me. With me gone hopefully she will see no reason to crash the party."
"Some party" Andy huffed, "I don't see any balloons"
Jack looked at the blonde man and grinned, liking him as he saw the playful side that might make things more fun for Dylan.
Then his eyes slid back to the one he would have preferred.
Sitting in her chair like he belonged there.
Chapter 4: trunks
Jack stood on the deck and waved as his away vessel started to ascend, then the shimmer of shielding as she became airtight seemed to wave as well and he watched his son become a speck on the planet, as it too faded away along with the atmosphere and he looked up towards the waiting boat.
She was a beautiful ship, he had to give her that and he was relieved that he was able to finish his service on her with his men. He felt the soft thump in the soles of his feet as the artificial gravity kicked in and he was in space, a spaceman. He remembered the first time he explained his job to his little son. The only thing Dylan had caught was space. He would one day travel too, had his Dad's love of flight it seemed.
Most of the day was spent in orientation. Although he knew his way around many of those he had travelled in with were newbies and he liked the opportunity to meet them, sit with them and see the transition from their point of view.
The reveal at evening Mess when he left them to stride to the front and take his seat with the other officers pleased as well, seeing more amusement than dislike.
Then came what he had waited or all day and he hurried to his quarters to touch the screen wall, activating his ship to shore vid-com.
"Hello there" Andy crowed waving energetically for him as he sat with Dylan in a sea of toys. Jack hadn't even known his son owned that many and he bit back a comment about the mess as he knew Andy had to find his own parenting style with Dylan. Not like he was there to help.
Dylan was examining a toy with an intense stare so Jack leaned forward to watch, then a hand come into frame and Jack held his breath as he watched with anticipation, not disappointed as those vowels purred softly.
"That's an elephant. There are some are the Zoo, remember I promised to take you there next week if you don't kill Andy in his sleep." Ianto said softly, "See? That's his trunk. He can scratch himself with it, drink and I would hate to see him with a cold. His hanky would be HUGE."
Dylan accepted the soft toy back and his little hand stroked the trunk, then a soft snort as he placed it down and lay with it as a pillow to stare at the screen.
"Hello dumpling" Jack frowned, "Look, I made it and I haven't killed anyone in their sleep either, so win win for both of us, yeah?"
A slow blink.
"I missed you all day" Jack assured him "I wrote another chapter in our book for you to read when I get home and I even remembered Mister Piddles."
Jack turned and pointed to the little bear that sat by his pillow.
"Mister Piddles?" Ianto asked, leaning into shot, gods he was cute, "Did you just call your bear Mister Piddles? Are you mad man?"
"Dylan named him" Jack defended.
He watched Ianto blink and then turn to the child, "Are you mad man?"
Then he saw it.
Brief, sweet and elusive.
Dylan grinned and then rolled away to play with another toy.
"I know it's a mess" Ianto chirped happily, "But Andy gets bored easily. Like a golden retriever, you have to keep throwing a ball or something or he chases a bunny rabbit never to be seen again."
As he spoke Dylan rolled to the camera again, listening to Ianto and he nodded as he held out a little ball, Andy making silly noises. Dylan threw an Andy crashed into the frame making barking noises, running with it in his mouth to fall into the child making growly noises as he nuzzled and the child struggled, then laughed.
Jack laughed too.
How could he not
"Go on, go on, go on" Andy kept saying like a mantra as he tickled the boy, "I dare ya! Double dare ya with a snertkle on me nose. Go on."
Dylan threw again, Andy repeated the silly game.
Dylan sat up and clapped for him to come back, then Ianto leaned into frame.
"Maybe when you come back you should look into the possibility of a pet? I mean, Andy might not live forever and...hey!" Ianto was suddenly on the floor in the toys as Andy bowled him over and tickled him, Ianto screaming with mirth as he fought him off and Dylan bashed at him with the elephant held by the trunk.
Jack had no fears.
Dylan was fine.
Ianto was there.
After the call was over Andy started to pick up, telling Ianto loudly that next time Dylan needed to help but today was Dylan Day and on a Dylan Day he didn't have to do chores.
"Come on Master Dylan" Ianto said softly, "Book in bed?"
He knew he should have left before the call so he hadn't spoken with the handsome Captain, don't know why he hadn't really.
Chapter 5: stumbling
Life seemed to tick over and Andy found a good routine with the little boy. It was weird to live in such silence so his one side conversations sometimes included what he thought Dylan might be thinking, the high pitched voice he used making Dylan's eyes twinkle with mirth.
Ianto came and went like he did with all those on his books, maybe spending more time with Dylan but Andy was not surprised by this. Ianto always did like the broken ones, reminding him so much of himself I guess. Ianto was pleased to see the little boy starting to interact with the other children at the special school, even if he drew back if they became too close or too happy with him. Ianto understood that too.
So when Ianto's beeper went with an emergency tone he was surprised to see Dylan's face on the screen. Of all those he was shuffling this was one he thought was solid. He immediately called and when there was no answer he became concerned, heading over to see what the hell was going on.
He knocked and there was no answer so he used the override code to open the door and entered to find a little boy peeking around the doorframe to the kitchen with wide eyes.
"Dylan? You OK?" Ianto asked as he slid his jacket off, "Where's Andy?"
Dylan turned to look into the kitchen and then back at Ianto with a little whimper that had him moving at speed into the room to find Andy on the floor.
"Oh shit, Andy" Ianto rushed over and looked at the wet floor, the socks on Andy's feet and the smear of blood on the edge of the counter. "You bloody fool."
Ianto called for paramedics as he checked Andy over relieved to find him out but OK, then he looked over at the phone and wondered how Andy had managed to ringâ€¦.Andy hadn't.
"Dylan?" Ianto called softly to the boy hiding under the table from all the strangers, "Did you call me? You clever thing you?"
Dylan nodded silently and Ianto grinned, "Well done. What a star."
Once Andy was checked and he started to rouse Ianto settled into the chair that felt so right, letting the kid settle in his lap. Andy was going to be OK he just needed to get over the concussion. Ianto thought things over and then sighed, "Come on Dylan, let's go back to mine tonight as I don't have PJs."
Dylan mad a sad sound and Ianto relented, "Well, I guess I could borrow a pair of your Dad's? Andy would have ones way too small for me."
Ianto let Dylan lead him to the bedroom where he pulled open a drawer to find PJ bottoms in several colours, choosing a blue pair.
"Well, that' sorted then" Ianto smiled as he nodded his agreement and they started to clean up the mess.
Andy had left the sink running and either forgot or was held back by something, ran in to turn the water off and went a cropper. Ianto sent a message to Jack explaining everything and assuring him that he would personally care for Dylan until Andy was back on his feet then sent it off before he could add something personal.
Like...I'm wearing your PJs.
And they smell like you.
Ianto took Dylan to see Andy at the hospital to reinforce that he was fine, his mother's death might make him afraid for Andy and he wanted to reassure him that Andy hadn't died or something, the relief in the little one's face telling him he was right, Dylan had been scared that Andy was gone and he was just not being told. This led to Ianto wondering where his mother was buried, if she was buried. Maybe it would help if Dylan visited her? Said goodbye and let go?
He considered and then sent a polite message to Jack along these lines, asking if he had sought counselling on this as he could find no mention of Dylan's councillor in the records and was unsure when his next appointment was.
He sent it off and while waiting for the answer he expected, which would be an address and time, he cleaned the kitchen and made a list of things they needed. The ping of the vid-com had him hurrying to the other room as he was surprised by a face-to-face chime when he thought he would just get a message back. He passed Dylan who was sitting behind his chair sorting blocks and stepped around the chair to let the facial recognition start the call. He did get Jack on the other side of the screen as he had thought, only it was not the polite reply he expected. Ianto could only stand there in total shock as Jack roared across the expanse of space.
"WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT!" Jack screamed, spittle flying at the screen and Ianto flinched even though it was so far away, "DON'T YOU DARE TAKE HIM NEAR HER!"
Ianto felt a small hand grab for his ankle and he resisted the urge to break eye contact with the raging Captain. Never let an Alpha see fear.
Jack leaned into the screen so he seemed close enough to let Ianto see the flecks of gold in his eyes.
"Jack? You said she was dead" Ianto said as his brain caught up with the conversation, "What are you saying?"
This was when Jack finally took a breath and looked down in time to see the little hand dart back behind the chair, then he looked at Ianto with horror as he realised his son had just heard their conversation.
Ianto was the last thing he saw as Ianto flicked a hand at an icon on the screen and ended the call.
Suddenly Jack was more than a solar system away.
It felt like an eternity between them.
Chapter 6: excuse me
Ianto was beyond shocked at the attack, he was enraged. How dare he speak to him like that, like a bloody servant. He was all he had here, all there was for this poor little boy. How dare he. Ianto put his anger aside, knowing it was showing so he smiled instead and told Dylan Daddy sounded like he hadn't had his lunch earlier and was cranky. We all get cranky when hungry right? Daddy needed his tea alone ronight. They ate a nice meal and then Ianto put Dylan to bed, sitting to mediate and consider options here. Dylan needed him and he was contracted to caring for him, the paperwork named his agency as Dylan's carer while his father was gone and being childish about it would not solve anything as Jack could not possibly appoint another agency now.
He started going through names to replace Andy, wishing he had thought about this but in all the years he had worked this gig there had never been something like this happen. He now knew he had to implement a back-up before agreeing to terms again. He also knew no other would suit, Dylan clearly not bonding with women and the only other male available was Rhys. A wonderful guy but too loud. Well. OK, so Andy is loud too but ...well ....he's too loud.
And Ianto was sticking to that one!
It had been two days since the explosion and Jack had yet to make contact, something that was also annoying as Dylan was the one who waited patiently for the call, Ianto unable to move the child from the room. It was when he found the little boy building a bed by the screen that he snapped, sending off a polite yet firm message to Jack that his son might appreciate at least a message if he was too busy to chat.
The message came in the form of a video, short and to the point a Jack explained to Dylan that they were in a state of flux and it was hard to get messages out due to a meteor storm they were monitoring in the region. Ianto find this a cop out as he managed fine when prompted, biting his tongue as he saw the delight in the poor little boy's face. Then Jack turned to Ianto and he felt himself go cold as he realised it was not a message at all but a live feed and Jack had been watching him stroke Dylan's hair lovingly for the last ten minutes.
Ianto removed his hand and rose to leave the room, "You and Daddy have stuff to talk about, I will go make your tea."
"Wait!" Jack called and Ianto heard the desperation in his voice, making him hesitate in the doorway with his head half turned back to listen as Jack spoke, "I was a ...er...twat. Look, you bring up things I want left buried. Literally. You have the override code, go to my desk and open the bottom left drawer with that code. Once monster is asleep, OK?"
Ianto raised his head and made eye contact for the first time since the altercation and was surprised to find those eyes a deep sea blue today, and one polite nod was issued before he left the room and Jack slumped, looking at the child who was also slumped as he watched Ianto leave.
"You like him huh?" Jack asked and Dylan turned to face him, a silent nod and then the boy settled to show him his bed. "Wow, you made all this? All by yourself? Cool you are so good at beds."
Dylan smiled softly and glanced at the doorway again, making Jack's smile fade a little, "Dyl? You wanna go to him? That's OK. We can talk tomorrow yeah?"
A little nod and Dylan rose hesitating at the doorway then turning to blow a kiss before sliding away.
Jack started at the empty room with a soft chuff of amusement.
Gotta be a Harkness.
Ianto felt the hand on his thigh and turned to find Dylan requesting to help in his silent language so he moved a plastic step closer so Dylan could do just that.
"This knife, cut the tomatoes for me but not your fingers. It's Thursday and I don't' eat Dylans on a Thursday. It's a rule ya know." He said as he gave the little one a blunt knife and some vegetables to kill.
"You know, tomatoes are actually fruit, yeah stupid huh?" Ianto said as he continued to work ,"Sooo not going in my fruit salad thanks anyway."
A soft chuff of amusement from the tyke as he agreed.
He wondered what Jack was eating, he looked haggard and it was the space food right? I mean, not like he was worrying about him and their...oh. Dylan. Of course, it was Dylan that was worrying him. Ianto snorted at himself for even considering the possibility that Jack saw him as anything more than a commodity which eh was. Had the papers to prove it right?
Dylan finished and watched Ianto finish as well then they headed to read a book while the food cooked.
"Look!" Ianto said as he pulled the little boy to the balcony and they watched the sky light up, "This must be what Daddy was saying. It's a meteor shower, that's what is disrupting the transmissions. Wow. You know a star falls differently. A falling star falls with grace and style. You know, if you wish upon a star sometimes it comes true, but only if you are the first to wish upon it."
Dylan nodded and looked at the storm for a while as he considered it.
What would he wish for?
Chapter 7: stasis
Ianto opened the drawer and found the papers inside, photos of what must be his wife and one of a little Dylan looking so cute that he gave a little noise of delight.
Then the printouts of the news releases.
She had been the drunk driver, oh gods. Picking Dylan up from swimming. She had been the one who was to blame for the five vehicle collision that cost four lives and injured so many more including herself.
She was a broken vessel and reduced to a coma patient in a care facility.
Ianto stared at it all for a long time as he tried to understand.
Her head injuries had been catastrophic and irreversible. This is why there was no funeral and Dylan had never said goodbye. She was a vegetable....gods he had to be sure never to use that term, what a horrible thing to even think, gods. Ianto saw that Jack provided for her care, hid her from the world and this was why he also hid from her family. They wanted answers ... personal begging letters and lawyer's petitions for them to see her released all denied.
The damage to her was the main reason but Ianto wondered if he was also punishing her a little, not like she would know or care. No. Jack was punishing himself.
How often did he go and sit there looking at the mangled mess and blame himself?
He couldn't let her go yet, he had to forgive himself first.
Ianto believed things happen for reason, it's not like he believes in God but he does believe in something shaping, moulding, controlling things to a degree and he now sat in the mass of papers and saw that he had been sent to this family for a reason. Not for the baban like he had thought, no. He had been sent to this family for both of them to heal.
Dylan was asleep in Ianto's bed, happy and content so Ianto moved back to the vid screen and opened it, glad that it immediately opened to show Jack was still up doing paperwork.
"Hey" Jack lit up, pleased Ianto was there as his day had been shit and suddenly a soft smile made a difference.
"Jack, I found the drawer" Ianto said softly and Jack sighed, nodding.
"So you know"
"Jack...I was very young when my parents died. My Mam was murdered by me Da."
Jack sat still, so very still as he stared at the polite man who was delicately peeling on orange as he spoke.
"I was not allowed to see their bodies. I was told that they were both gone in a terrible accident on their way to collect me from school camp. It was not until my teen years that I used connections to find the truth. He murdered her because she was pregnant again and a third child would have incurred fines, cut her throat so viciously she was partially decapitated. He then hung himself over her body." Ianto looked up from the orange and sighed, "I found their graves and stood there. Just stood. No feelings, no anger or shame. No sorrow even. It was like...something was gone. Something I had been hanging onto was finally released and I could relax the hand around my heart like a vice. The anger and violence in my life didn't matter anymore. I was freed."
Jack leaned forward, "You think Dylan isn't talking because he's waiting for her to come back?"
"Jack, his videos show a happy, bright little talker, a bubbly child full of noise and bluster" Ianto was sectioning the orange, "Did it not occur to you that maybe he was talking to her when the accident happened? She looked away from the road to listen to him or she was scolding him to be quiet? Maybe he thinks his voice took her away. Maybe he is too scared to speak in case it takes you as well, and look what has happened. He craves these contacts, this little comfort that you are not gone too. He needs closure. To see her... to know. I wish I had been given that, my heart would be a lot bigger but those years living in the orphanage full of self hatred thinking my sister did not love me as I had been the cause of their deaths. To find it had been nothing to do with me had released me."
"You think it might release him too?"
"Maybe both of you" Ianto's voce was soft as he smiled at Jack, "You need to move on too. Stop looking back at what has been, you can't go back and rewrite it, just move forward. Look ahead, you won't stumble as much that way."
Jack found himself laughing softly as he nodded, seeing the logic there.
"Her family...they want contact too" Jack said after he watched Ianto eat a slice, pulling out some crisps from his own locker to eat as well, "They know she is gone and see her body regularly like it's a crypt, they want to see him too."
"You kept them away so they couldn't tell him" Ianto surmised, "Take that power from them. Tell him, let him see her. Touch her then let her go. Tell him she is gone to the stars, a new star in the sky. He is keen on stars at the moment."
"You're right" Jack nodded, "If we were still together, I would have been at work not in the car anyway."
"She was an alcoholic, drank and hid it. You might have been at home waiting for them" Ianto agreed, "This was not because you had split up. It was because she drank and then drove."
They ended the call and Jack considered what Ianto had said.
Maybe it was time.
Chapter 8: light a candle
Their night time talks became a regular occurrence, sometimes forgetting Dylan was even there as Jack explained what he had done for the day or laughingly told Ianto about something he broke or fell over.
"You are such a klutz" Ianto laughed, "Did you not see it?"
"You know that's not the worst part" Jack wailed, "Three people pointed it out before I stepped in it."
Ianto roared with mirth as Jack huffed theatrically and then a soft giggle had Jack glancing over to see Dylan sitting in Ianto's chair laughing too.
Yes, he thought of it as Ianto's chair these days, their late night talks when they couldn't sleep with the lights low and Ianto tucking his feet under himself making him appear childlike as he sipped his cocoa.
"Did you hear that Dyls?" Ianto swung to face the child "Daddy put his foot in it. How strange."
Another musical laugh as Dylan leaned back to let it out and Ianto crawled over. Jacks smile faded as he watched the most delectable arse he had ever seen wriggle about as Ianto looked at the book Dylan had carried in, "Oh? Really Voltish Day? I heard of that, never been to one but I will be interested to read about it with you."
Dylan was full of light and joy, his silent sqwee obvious as he flung his arms around Ianto's head and squeezed for a while then released leaving the Welshman sitting on the floor laughing softly. Dyaln had been in the bath and his hair was sticking up from the towelling Ianto had given it as he knew Dylan liked it that way. His PJs matched Ianto's and they looked more like father and son than Jack had ever managed. He saw now that he had missed the little things, had a lot to catch up on.
Ianto read the book out loud so Jack could enjoy it as well, learning all about a weird society where they all wore socks on their hands and spoke backwards. Dylan laughed as Ianto put on a silly voice and pretended to be one.
"Oh! Did you tell Daddy?" Ianto asked like Dylan possibly might have when he was out of the room. So normal like Dylan might be any other child, "You got a part in the school play?"
Dylan nodded and shot to the screen, holding up a picture. Brown line and green squiggles all over the top half.
"What's that Dylan?"
"Dylan is going to be a tree!" Ianto said with pride, "The most amazing, energetic and delightful tree in the history of trees. He might get an award for it, I mean not everyone got to be one. Only three were chosen, can you imagine? Our Dylan. A tree!"
Jack clapped and cheered as Dylan puffed happily, the way Ianto had said 'our Dylan' had made the little boy glow. Jack found himself liking that word combination too and then Ianto moved to sit next to Dylan.
"It's someone's birthday today" Ianto said and Jack frowned sure he hadn't missed Dylan's. It was in the New Year.
A knock at the door had him turning to find some soldiers entering with a trolley, leaving it with sheepish grins that had Jack frowning with confusion.
"Happy birthday Jack" Ianto said and Dylan held up a picture that said Happy Born Day Daddy with a picture of a dog on it. "I hope it wasn't too forward to pull a few strings, Dylan did so want to be there with you, after all apparently you are almost as cool as a dog."
Jack pulled the cloth off to find a meal waiting and he looked back to scold only to see Ianto was placing plates on the floor for him and Dylan. Jack wondered if he should invest in some low tables like the Japanese eat from on the floor.
"A nice family meal, we will all eat and then you blow out the candle on your cake. Dylan can do the candle this side. Next year just one cake, yeah?" Ianto was saying cheerfully as he placed a little cake on the floor and Dylan gasped, his hands clasped together, "OK Dyls? You can help daddy?"
Dylan nodded and they ate tighter, Jack feeling a lump more than once that made it hard to swallow as Ianto gave him the one thing he would have wished for had he remembered it was his birthday at all.
Chapter 9: a table and chair
Ianto opened the door expecting to find the pizza delivery guy standing there with his usual look of adoration so the slightly shorter, bored looking man with the short cropped curls was not met with a polite grin but a huge hello.
They both then blinked and Ianto saw the Harkness Blues.
"Oh! Gray! Right? Jack said you come to visit Dylan when you are on planet, come on in he's just making sandwiches in the family room." Ianto ushered the man in who blinked again, then let his jacket get yanked off as he was pushed gently to the room that had been Lucinda's, little Dylan sitting on the floor at a low Japanese table his Daddy had purchased remotely for him making sandwiches.
"Dyls? Look, Uncle Gray has come to visit, maybe he would like a sandwich too" Ianto said happily as he bustled past the shocked man, "Is my tomato and cucumber ready?"
Dylan grandly presented a plate and Ianto gasped, "Triangles? Dylan Harkness! How did you know I like triangles!"
Dylan grinned happily, then looked at his uncle.
"Dylan wants to know what filling you want" Ianto said as he settled in a chair that had Gray gaping. Lucinda's chair? Really?
"Ah…ham and cheese?" Gray asked "Did you have cheese wee man?"
Dylan grunted as he started to butter some bread with an intense look, then Ianto reached for the screen seconds before a ping chime started, opening the screen to Jack.
"Hey, right on time! Look the table arrived" Ianto said immediately, "The man is impressed. Sandwiches all around while waiting for pizza for afters. A special day so I will relent on the salad. Said man is Sooooo pleased."
Jack laughed and leaned back, not even seeing his brother gaping at the screen by Dylan. Jack only had eyes for one person in that room, "So, sandwiches huh?"
"Triangle ones" Ianto said smugly and Dylan hummed softly as he finished a sandwich and offered it to Gray, Jack finally seeing the movement as Gray accepted it "Gray Boy! Hey, did you see the table I got Dyls? He likes eating like this, we can all eat together then. I don't have pizza though, fruit salad and chicken for me."
Dylan made a noise and Ianto laughed, "Chicken sucks today."
"No chicken sandwiches then Yan?"
They laughed toghter and Ianto sighed, "You look tired. Did that last check not go as planned?"
"No, we blew an airlock, almost scuttled her. Damned thing needs an overhaul but that means space-dock and you know how that goes," Jack talked comfortably with Ianto who seemed to know a thing or two about the subject "The patch is a good one so we don't need to worry about it but if we get another one we might need to consider an upgrade."
"But how expensive might that be, would the Agency consider it or simply let you ride her out and let her become space junk?" Ianto asked and Dylan made a noise.
"Well son, sometimes a ship is too expensive to fix, cheaper to buy another one. When that happens the ship is flown to the like…a ship graveyard where she just drifts away into the void" Jack explained then he looked at Ianto with alarm, Ianto waving a hand to calm him as he took over.
"Like when someone dies, we let them go into the sky to become another star" Ianto said like he was still talking to Jack, "She will be a lovely star if she is ready to rest."
"Maybe she is, I mean I have held onto her long enough I guess" Jack sighed and Gray suddenly recognised the hidden subject they were discussing, looking at the Welshman with new interest.
"I wonder what sort of star she would be" Ianto said dreamily, "Imagine getting your own guardian star, just there to look over you. Wonderful."
Gray looked down and saw Dylan was listening intently to Ianto, his eyes boring into the man in the chair as a little hand snaked around his ankle.
"You know, we need to be ready" Ianto suddenly said, "First person to see a new star born gets a wish, right? First wish comes true?"
"I've heard that" Jack's smile was gentle as he watched his son drinking it in. "You have to be pretty quick to find a new star. Lucky."
"Well, you have to have been pretty special to become one too" Ianto nodded, his smile soft as he leaned in and met Jack's eyes, "sometimes letting a star become is the greatest release."
Jack nodded, "I hear you Ianto, I do."
"Good because I think you are ready to let her go" Ianto said softly, "You know she is too bright to be contained, stars can't be held on the ground. They need the black to help them shine."
"I know Ianto" Jack's voice was full of emotion as he rubbed his face and looked off screen. Ianto knew he was looking at her photo. "I think I let her go the day I closed the door and walked away, it's the idea that I failed somehow, that's what makes me linger."
"Like I said, punishing yourself won't rewrite it and in the end you need to release and move forward" Ianto smiled and Jack smiled back.
Gray looked at Ianto with renewed interest.
Why hadn't he known about him?
Chapter 10: shocks
Ianto didn't run, he never ran. Gentlemen don't do that sort of thing but he moved with a graceful speed along the corridor and rounded a corner where the principal was bustling towards him.
"Mister Jones I…."
"Save it for when I can hear you without anger, where is he!"
Ianto was led to a side room with WELLNESS CENTRE over the door and Dylan who sat on the bed with tears rolling down his face and his hands clasped together in his lap. He looked up as Ianto burst into the room and a fresh round of tears started as he reached his little arms out, totally bereft.
Ianto wanted to kill them all.
He gathered Dylan into his arms and crooned, rocked, stroked, rubbed, kissed, sang.
After a while the little one went limp with relief and Ianto looked up to regard the man hovering around them, "Now speak."
"We have a relief teacher, one were used before in other classes and we provided all the relevant info on a class before handing it over. We never thought in a thousand…"
"Stop" Ianto's voice was clipped and full of authority, pulling the man back to the bed, "Today."
"He had the class reading a book, each child had to stand and read a passage." The Principal slumped, "when he got to Dylan there was nothing so he tried to make him. The other children tried to defend him but the teacher thought Dylan was being ….well….bratty. When he couldn't make him he punished him. A couple of the children ran for the office to get help but by the time I got there it had already happened and I entered as the ruler was coming down again."
Ianto felt his entire body go cold, shock as his brain registered that fact Dylan had been physically assaulted.
"Mister Prefimor, please ensure the teacher involved is nowhere near me as we leave, I am taking my boy home. He will have tomorrow off as well and will start back Monday fresh. This teacher will never teach here again and on Monday before the beginning of the school day as his last act here he will kneel, look Dylan in the eye and apologise. Dylan will learn that grownups can be wrong too, they atone too. Do you understand me?"
"Mister Jones, I don't know if I can authorise…"
"If this is not done I will not only have him charged with assault of a minor I will yank his teaching licence as well as demand a full external review of this school. If you think I can't then you need to understand that I am a Level one, repeat level one child carer with an uncle on the board of education. I can shut you down so fast your toupee spins, do you understand me? I may present as a polite welsh gentleman but I can assure you sir, I can rumble and if I have to have this school razed to the ground to make my point and there will be marshmallows on sticks. Do you hear me? If you want the Hoodlums to take an interest here you keep pissing off a life member!"
The man nodded mutely, his eyes wide as Ianto's speech became longer, more musical and he recognised the undertones of the other side of the world that still alarmed those of good standing on this planet. The underground, the thugs and thieves and dispossessed gypsies that roamed under the surface. Hoodlum speech.
Ianto's gaze was unwavering and it held the man like a cat holds a mouse, then he looked away and the man slumped back with soft pants of alarm as if finally dawned on him that there was a wolf amongst the sheep and it had a wonderful disguise.
"I m glad we understand one another sir" Ianto rose, lifting the child to his hip, "Monday. Apology in this room before the start of class and then he never comes here again. Yes?"
"Yes Mister Jones" the man said meekly following them to the front doors where he watched Ianto strap the child into one of the most high tech expensive vehicles imaginable with the military makings of a Captain's family on the side.
Long after it had sedately hummed off he stood staring at the spot, then a soft huff of amusement, "Good for you young man. Good for you."
They got home and Ianto immediately ran a huge bubble bath as Dylan squealed with excitement while he struggled from his clothes then slid into the water and Ianto walked through to the other room leaving the child in his little slice of heaven. Though the middle of the day Jack was there within a few pings, his tunic open and flapping as he looked a the screen with open alarm taking in Ianto's upset frown.
"What is it?" he demanded "What happened? Are you OK. Is Dyls OK? Ianto?"
Ianto went to speak but a hand snaked around Jack from off screen and a small compact man with cheekbones to die for slid around him and into frame, his pout epic, "Come on lover, we aren't finished."
Ianto blinked, looked at the hand disappearing over the firm smooth chest into the folds of the tunic, he looked at Jack's wide eyes of a deer caught in the headlights and he swallowed.
"We are fine, your son was just punished for not speaking by a teacher but I sorted it, go back to your fun" Ianto barked with anger and he swung to close the call.
He was shaking with anger and he wasn't sure who to direct it at.
Himself for being so bloody thick?
Chapter 11: wait
"John stop being a fucktard or I will bloody shoot you!" Jack roared, shoving the man off screen and the faint laugher was tinny in the speakers as Ianto's hand hovered over the cancel call button "Don't mind him, he likes to shock people. I mean it John, I will beat the living shit out of you, go annoy someone else."
"You are so grumpy these days" John accused, the smile and primping gone as he stood to face Jack, "Come on Jax. Lighten up."
"John I swear to the gods! I will shoot you!"
"Again?" The man laughed and skipped off out the door behind Jack and Ianto watched him face palm.
"Sorry about that, John is an old friend. We started back in basic together. Luc hated him too, don't feel too bad about having a desire to throttle him, I have it every day. I doubt there is a single person on this boat that hasn't entertained the idea" Jack turned to face Ianto with a soft smile and Ianto found his anger had dissipated with the exit of the little arsehole.
"A relief teacher tried to make him talk, punished him when he wouldn't" Ianto finally said, "He is currently in a 'middle of the day bubble bath' waiting for more of that bloody pizza that is so bad for him and I am so angry I want to hunt the fucker down and beat him into mince meat."
Jack's smile grew as Ianto talked, that same Hoodlum brogue coming in and he leaned forward, "Careful tiger, your claws are showing."
Ianto snorted and rubbed his face, "Gods, I've not been this angry in years. I may have flounced a bit. Dylan is already over it, laughing and splashing in the bath. We will call at our usual time tonight and don't let on that I've told you. He might want to show you with a picture or he might want it to go away."
"What about you, are you OK?"
"Pissed" Ianto sighed, "If I had a gun I may have shot the cunt….oh gods, I have to stop that. I am losing my calm."
"Tiger I think you lost it when your teeth started gnashing" Jack laughed, "Look at you, so protective. Dylan must have been so relieved to see you. A bubble bath? What scent?"
"Lavender" Ianto smiled too, his face becoming one Jack knew so well, that hidden one he only saw on occasion, "He found it at the market, some lady makes them herself and makes a living selling them each Sunday at the markets. Three little ones under her skirts. Dylan insists we get something each week, I think he is worried that if we don't they might not eat. Quite sweet really."
"His mother was like that" Jack replied and they talked for a while, then Ianto sighed.
"Better go get the prune out" he said with a dramatic scowl that had Jack laughing, his son's love of water not lost on him. Or the point Ianto had made about him not swimming anymore. Maybe he had to look into investing in more swimming lessons for him.
"You calm down and have a serene day" Jack said as he rose to finish the call.
"You too, be safe Cariad" Ianto smiled and flicked off the call leaving Jack canting his head at his own reflection on the blank screen.
Immediately the voice controlled search engine replied and Jack stood reading the definition of a Cariad.
cariad - endearment, a term of darling, love, beloved Sweetheart. From the Welsh. Deriving from the welsh word "caru" =to love
Jack read it several times and then did a screen capture so he might keep the definition close.
Ianto wandered through to the bathroom and found it awash with bubbles, the floor looked like some heaving monster.
"Dylan? Did you add more hot water and more bubble bath?" he asked as if it might not be and a little giggle sounded from deep within a large lump of bubbles.
"Is the water hot?"
Ianto reached in, bubbles eating his arm and upper body until he found the water which was definitely hot, a little hand gasping his momentarily before he was released.
"You nutta" Ianto scolded without any malice, his laughter putting paid to any authority at all. "OK, a little longer but you will need to get out soon as you are not eating pizza in there."
A little whimpering noise and Ianto face palmed.
This dog thing was getting out of hand.
"Well… maybe one piece for for the love of gods, do NOT tell your father I let you" Ianto scolded, "It will have to be our secret, yeah?"
The bubbles nodded.
Ianto went to wait for the pizza and a little one squealed with glee and played some more while high above them in the black another Harkness did a little dance as well.
Ianto was definitely ripping that Band-Aid off fast with a sweetie to take away the sting.
Chapter 12: possability
While Dylan was at school on Monday Ianto headed to the hospital to meet the other member of the family, shocked at the condition of the woman who lay there. Machines, tubes and other things littered the room and he looked around with dismay. Dylan could not see this, he should not remember his mother like this.
"Who are you?"
Ianto turned on his heel to find a woman watching him with open distrust so he canted his head as he tried to place her from photos, Luc's mother. Deidra.
"Hello Ma'am, I am Ianto Jones of Jones Child Service. I am one of the carers for your grandson Dylan." Ianto said calmly, "I have come to visit with your daughter and am appalled at her conditions, if you are happy to stay with her I will go find someone who can clean this room up a bit."
Deidra sat and took her daughter's hand, then watched Ianto return with staff on tow, his authorative voice making them all jump.
"I want a better room than this, just because Luc can't see what room she is in it doesn't mean we can't. How can her family visit and feel comfortable when it's full of shit!" Ianto raged, "No flowers either, why does she not have some flowers? Other rooms have cut flowers from the gardens outside. Who can say she can't smell them? That we might not like to think maybe she can? Well?"
The staff were terrified and rushed to comply, their director arriving to assure Ianto that she was going to be moved to one of their newly refurbished rooms, "I swear to you Mister Harkness, we always intended moving her."
"Jones" Ianto snapped, "I am Jones, Harkness is my employer and he will be given a more tempered report this evening if I leave this facility satisfied that Luc is receiving the best possible care, right now I have my doubts."
Deidra looked at the Welshman as he settled to wait for them to comply with his demands and she took a chance, "How is he? Jack?"
"Tired" Ianto said softly, "Trying to finish his tour without dying. Punishing himself for this entire fiasco like there is any worth in such a thing. He wants to pull his head out of his arse actually, he knows he has to. Just hates having to face it."
"He was a good man, a good husband but her disease was stronger than his love. She tried so many times, went to rehab, took the pills, did the courses but she slid again" Deidra sighed and stroked her hand some more.
"I saw that you were a good grandmother to Dylan, he still has that book you had made for him" Ianto informed him, "we are working on Jack for a new dog. That book about a dog called Blu means the dog might have a name before it even exists."
"Oh goodness, my childhood dog. I forgot about that book, he was only three." She laughed and Ianto saw how pretty her daughter must have been, to have such a handsome mother. "We were reading one about a little boy who wished on a star for a new brother. I had hoped that one day…well. Jack wasn't the only one in denial."
"Well, here they come" Ianto said softly, "I will leave you to it, I don't want her dignity compromised with a stranger here while she is being moved about. Here, this is my number. Call if you need anything."
Ianto handed over a business card and left her sitting with her daughter, seeing how sad it all was. He was going to visit again in a few days to make sure she looked better before he and Jack talked about this again.
Dylan was waiting at the school gates, his hum soft as he watched the world fly past the window and Ianto glanced over as something struck him. He powered down into a siding and pointed at some ducks on a pond across the grass, letting Dylan watch for a while.
"Dylan, you know about wishes right?"
"The day of the crash was scary and bad. Did you make a wish?"
Dylan slowly turned to look at him and Ianto frowned, "Dyls, was there a bright light like a star flashing? Did you make a wish and you are not speaking because you are scared it might not come true?"
Dylan stared at him for a while then a small nod had him looking back a the ducks as Ianto considered things.
"Dylan, if you make a wish you don't tell what the wish is or it doesn't come true you don't stop talking all together. Just don't say the wish out loud" Ianto said and Dylan faced him again, open confusion on his little face.
"You are scared you might say it? That's why?"
Dylan nodded, relived that Ianto got it.
"Well…what if you write it down, or draw it? Is that saying it?" Ianto tried and Dylan rolled his eyes, "Right. Of course, it's the same thing. I realised that as I said it."
Ianto considered then had a revelation, "Dylan, you can only hold one wish at a time. You know that right? If you don't let this wish out you can't hold another one in. Jeez, must be a good one."
Ianto pretended not to see the widening of the little boy's eyes as he considered things too.
What if he had a better wish to make?
Chapter 13: finally face to face
Jack was due home and Ianto felt like a nervous bride welcoming her suitor. It felt silly but he couldn't stop the need to adjust, clean and primp. The house had never looked so spotless, spiffy and perfect, like something out of a catalogue so when Dylan calmly walked though dropping clothes as he proudly carried his hamper to help Ianto felt a twist of amusement in the innocent sabotage.
He was right. This is a home, calm the fuck down.
Christmas was almost here as well, Jack's early release something usually unheard of but special circumstances had been allowed due to Dylan. It rankled slightly that his time with the boy would be cut short as a result but it was tempered by the fact he would hopefully get a little while with Jack during the transition period of the contract. Well OK, maybe he hoped for a little more. For Dylan. Yeah. Honest.
Ianto knew Dylan had been pondering their conversation the other day and he had let him have space to consider things as he knew the bombshell of his mama was going to rock everything and he was glad he would still be there for that, the poor little man needed as much support as possible to give while chewing though the facts.
The sound of a vehicle outside had Ianto glancing at the clock, "Dyls, go get that would you? Must be the pizza."
Dylan whooped and ran for the door, opening it to reveal his father and the little boy stood gaping then burst into tears as he threw himself at him. Jack knelt and held the little boy fiercely, revelling in the soft warmth as Dylan clung to him like he was a life preserver in rough seas.
"So you're home then" Ianto said softly, "Best come through. Come on. The pizza will be here soon."
Jack lifted his son, unable to bear letting him go and walked through the house looking at the decorations he knew were not theirs. Ianto had not only decorated in a festive red and gold motif, he had clearly brought the decorations as well. Jack made a mental note to tickle the cost out of him if need be. Hopeully there would be tickling. They entered the family room and Jack looked at the huge tree by the window wall, wondering how it looked at night from out on the street. Some gifts sat underneath already. Seems Ianto had known Dylan wanted the world to see pretty things too.
Soon they were settled on the floor eating pizza, the screen blank as Dylan excitedly watched his Dad in 'real life' as Ianto scolded and placed a napkin on his lap for him. They wee a family.
Dylan considered this and worried that maybe they weren't after all, a wish comes true if you really believe and he had stopped believing a long time ago. The no speaking thing had helped them leave him alone with their stupid questions but spending time with Ianto had shown that talking is not a bad thing either.
Dylan watched Ianto pack up the pizza boxes and it suddenly occurred to him that Ianto would leave now.
Ianto looked up in time to see the first tear and dropped the boxes as he rushed to comfort the child in his father's lap, his arms around the child even as Jack rushed to do so as well, both men cuddling Dylan like it was a Dylan sandwich.
"Hey, hey" Ianto crooned, "What's this malarkey? Aye? Hey."
Dylan buried his face in Ianto's neck and clung to him, wailing now in a manner that was alarming his father even more.
"Dylan, what is it love? You scared?" Ianto asked as he drew back a bit and stroked the tearstained face, "What is it love? Me? You don't want me to go?"
Dylan nodded fiercely as he collapsed against him again and Ianto sighed, "Oh Dyls. I'm here for a little while yet. Didn't I promise you Christmas? Yeah? I am not about to sneak away. I don't do sneaking. Bad for the posture."
"We will have more adventures" Ianto promised as he rubbed the little back, "Only now it's you me and Daddy. I guess he can drive sometimes, yeah? If he promises no show tunes."
Dylan gave a watery smile as he turned to look at his father for confirmation "Yeah son. I asked Ianto to stay for a while, he kind of feels good to have around and it would be nice to be a little family for Christmas right?"
Dylan felt his heart in his throat as he stared at his dad, his eyes wide.
This is the one time in his entire life something good was going to happen? When he wished his mama would stay and their family would be whole again, he didn't really word it that well. Maybe the gods didn't understand?
Dylan hoped so but was slightly apprehensive as he accepted a drink and kiss on the cheek from Ianto after all he had been promised things before. Mama had promised not to leave him. She had promised to be careful.
Dylan remembered the accident and the flash of light as the vehicle rolled.
He had made the wish as he closed his eyes against the bright light pulling him towards it.
He had wished his parentals loved each other.
Now his little brain pondered if the wish had been taken after all and heaped in a big room of wishes to be sorted and worked on. With Mama gone…was Ianto going to be the other parental now?
Could it be that simple?
Dylan was not so sure.
Could he dare hope?
Chapter 14: big words and larger hopes
"I want to talk big person things now" Jack said as he watched Dylan fiddle with his buttons, it was early in the morning and Jack was a rip the band-aid off kinda guy now. Ianto had given him food for thought and the slow burn was over.
Dylan looked up at him with a raised eyebrow that seemed so Ianto.
"Dylan. The day of the crash it was so horrible and scary and all the stuff that happened after was horrible too. You were so brave and I am so proud of you for how you kept yourself together and acted like a Grup. OK?" Jack glanced over at Ianto anxiously, "Mama was so badly hurt, her body so damaged that it was too much for her soul and it went to the light."
Dylan froze as he heard talk of the light. The same one he saw?
"Sweetheart, her body is still here but her soul went into the light to become something. Only, with her body still her she can't become." Jack seemed to flounder so Ianto leaned forward in his chair.
"Dylan, Mam is waiting in the light to become a star. A big pretty star so she can watch over you and keep you safe" Ianto whispered, "When her body is still here she is sort of stuck, like…a tether. You know what a tether is? While her body is still here she can only go so far from it. She can see the spot in the sky and everything but we have to release her so she can go the rest of the way. Daddy knows only you can do that as you are wonderful Dylan, our little star maker. We need to go to Mama's body and say to her that she can let go now. Release the tether and watch Mama become the star."
Dylan nodded as he pondered and Ianto pulled him over, "You see love. She's waited for it to be now. A special time, Christmas. She can be a Christmas star then, more magic in one of those. If we catch her just right then your wish will be forever. She can do that ya see, mamas have powers like that."
Dylan laid his head against Ianto's shoulder as he listened and his fingers stroked Ianto's throat as if he needed to feel the words.
"Dylan, I think Daddy is right. I think we need to go to Mama's body that is still here and let it go. Let it become what she must be. We can bury her ashes and say nice words over her, place flowers and sing a song. We can let her see as she floats over top of us. We will go home where she knows we are and watch for her becoming in the sky. Then you make a wish. A real one. A big one that trumps the one you hold now. The one that keeps your mouth closed will be nothing to this because Mama can make it happen right away. A Christmas wish happens then and there so you don't have to keep it in and wait. Cool huh?"
Dylan seemed to consider and he looked at his father for confirmation, Jack nodding, "Yes son, that's how it works. Mama is special and powerful now. She had been waiting for this and our job it to help her become. She will be right up there outside the window watching over us in here and we will be so safe and lobed."
Dylan's fingers tapped Ianto.
"Yes, me too" Ianto laughed "Your Mama will see me here with you opening the presents on Christmas morning. You know some are from her? She had already got some before the crash? We found them and they are right here?"
Dylan looked at the tree and the few scattered gifts with new interest, then back to Ianto.
"What is it love?" he whispered, "Whatever it is you can tell me after the Mama Star becomes, right? Once you make that wish it will come true and you can talk again. It's allowed then because the magic is done."
Dylan nodded and sighed softly as Ianto lifted him in his arms and carried him to bed, "How about you and Daddy snuggle in here while I clear things away, yeah?"
Jack found himself in the little bed with his sweetling whispering to Dylan about the first time he saw his mamma and their first date. Dylan fell asleep to the gentle voice so Jack slid out and walkd out to find Ianto sitting in the chair waiting for him.
"Yeah. Gods, he took it well. I was so scared he would…well. All this time and I …"
"Jack, stop that" Ianto rose and went to him, finally able to touch, "The timing is in the lap of the gods and obviously this was time. Now. This is the time or I wouldn't be here to guide you through it, right?"
Jack nodded as he pulled Ianto closer and let his forehead rest against Ianto's,.
"Are you here? I mean….all those talks and those late night moments with that screen separating us. Right here, right now. Are you here for me?"
Ianto silenced him with a kiss.
Chapter 15: if wishes were horses then beggars would ride
The room was lovely, bright and cheerful with flowers by her bed. Her mother rose with shock as Dylan entered with Ianto, Jack following. When Ianto had sent her the request to be there she never thought she might see the wee baban.
"Hello Deidra" he said softly, standing back as Dylan approached the bed with Ianto, little hands patting along the comforter until a hand was found.
"Do you want up love?" Ianto lifted him so he could see her slack face, "See? She is already gone. Poor mama all stuck. Good thing you are here and we know what to do. Are you ready?"
Dylan nodded as Deidra looked on with confusion, the door slamming open as Gwen strode in, "What the hell is going on? I get this weird text about…."
"Hello Gwen" Jack said softly, still watching his son stroke his mama's face with a look of adoration.
Gwen glanced at the bed and saw, stopping her in her tracks.
"So pretty" Ianto said softly, "Look. Mama is so pretty. Wow, my Mama had pretty hair too. Do you think all mama's get pretty hair?"
Dylan considered and nodded.
"I think my mama is a star too" Ianto told him like there was no one else in the room, "I think all the pretty and good ones become stars, why there are so many. Mamas are special."
Dylan's hand stroked some more.
"He's grown" Gwen said inanely.
"Kids do that" Jack huffed then stepped past her to stand next to Ianto with a hand on his shoulder. Since the night before things were moving fast, their bodies fitting as they had hoped and their hearts beating in unison as they had feared in an excited kind of oh shit oh shit oh shit sort of way. Now they both knew they were suited, they had whispered long into the night and through into the morning about thoughts, dreams and decisions. Kisses and exploration included, yes plenty of that.
Jack felt strange looking down at the woman he had once loved as her hair as lovingly brushed by the man he now knew he loved more than he had ever loved her.
"Mama Luc, Dylan brought you a picture" Ianto whispered to her and Dylan removed the piece of folded up paper from his pocket, slipping it into her hand. "There it is. You can look at it once you have the light of your star to help."
Dylan nodded as he knew that would be a wonderful light, he had almost gone to it himself.
"You're doing it now" Deidra whispered as she took a seat and Jack glanced at her. "You are releasing her."
"Yes, it's time. Dylan is ready, I am ready and we all know she has been ready for months." Jack nodded, "It's time to let her go."
"See?" Ianto folded back the blankets to reveal a pretty nightgown he had requested she be placed in, her appearance more like sleeping beauty than the comatose woman they had been mourning for so long. In that moment Deidra saw her daughter once more and her hands went to cover her mouth, least she scare the chid with her crying.
Dylan stroked her face as the doctor waited patiently for a sign and Jack nodded. It was his decision in the end, he knew it would be but the firm hand holding his made it easier and he watched the Doctor quietly move to shut off machines and close down ports.
"Doctor how long does it take to get to heaven?" Ianto asked with a demanding authority, "I heard it can take nought but a day for someone who just died. Someone who has been between must get there faster right?"
The Doctor hesitated and looked at the little one whose eyes were drilling into him, "Yes. Studies have shown that those already on the path travel with greater speed."
"Oh. Thank you Doctor" Ianto nodded "So, by dusk she should be there preparing?"
"Yes" he answer with absolutely no idea what was going on but remembering the man's anger as well as the generous donations of this woman's family.
"So…Mama Luc, there is still time for me to tell you something important" Ianto said as he stroked a soft cheek, "I want to thank you for Dylan. He would thank you himself but he is saving his voice for his wish, I hope you are ready as he is going to whisper it into your ear while we close ours. Magic in the wish and we know you are waiting for it."
Ianto strengthened and placed his hands over his ears as Jack did the same. Dahlia did and glared at Gwen until she rolled her eyes and compiled, as did the rest of the staff.
Dylan thought long and hard about his wish he was alrady holding, then he knew it was one to let go.
"Mama, I wished you would stay. I wished you wouldn't leave but I know now that it was a silly wish and I am sorry I wished it. Please don't stay, it's OK now. I know you have to go and I will not keep that wish OK?" Jack blinked back tears as he listened to the little voice he had missed for so long say such heart rendering things and he glanced at Ianto who was looking straight back at him with open affection.
He was right.
Dylan had been mute to keep a wish alive.
His mama alive.
Chapter 16: acceptance and moving on
The Doctor made a motion with his hand and Ianto nodded, motioning for them to leave and the staff wraithed away to leave the family in peace.
"Dylan, is her hand getting cooler to touch?" Ianto asked and Dylan nodded as he looked at her cooling body.
"Wow" Ianto said with wide eyes, "You did it. Dylan, you saved her. Wow, if she is getting cool it means she took her warmth with her. It means she is on her way to use it to light the fire in heaven and become a star."
Dylan looked at him with hope and then ran to the window and looked up.
"Too soon son" Jack choked out as he lifted him to his hip, "Mama had a long way to go and she will be moving with that warp speed she always drove at. She will have to go fast to keep your love in her heart, the heart that a star needs to be born. Maybe that's why she always went so fast, she was practicing for this day?"
Dylan considered this and nodded as he let his head fall against Jack's shoulder.
"Right, I think we need to go eat something while they get mama ready. This vessel here, she doesn't need it now so I think we need to plant it. Put it in a pretty garden so it can grow into a beautiful rose. Yeah? We eat lunch, come back and plant this vessel and then go home and watch the sky for the Mama Star. Yes?" Ianto asked Dylan, "She will want you to eat something. Mama's always try to feed you right?"
Dylan nodded happily as he looked up at the sky again, the body in the bed not even getting a backward glance as he accepted his mama was not there. He looked back over his father's shoulder at Deidra and Ianto caught it.
"Well of course Granny and Aunty Gwen are coming, what a silly question" Ianto laughed, "We all loved mama so we all have to stick together so our love keeps the flame alive too. We are helping mama in her quest."
They went to the restaurant that Jack and Luc had taken Dylan to many times and sat while the little boy ate with gusto. Every now and then he would check the sky and make a noise, then eat some more.
"Plenty of time love" Jack crooned, "Mamma is still getting there, then she has to unpack and you know she will complain about the linen on the bed if it isn't white. She loved white sheets. Then it will be getting dark and she will choose her spot. We have to be home then, at dusk so she can see us."
Dylan nodded happily, another mouthful going down as he reached out for the glass Ianto was holding out, "I am so proud of you. You have come so far and held a wish for so long that you now understand the power of them. I understand now Dylan, why you didn't speak. It's OK, you were in training for now. For this moment. Soon the Mamma Luc Star is gonna shine and when it does the wish had come true and you cannot jinx it if it has already happened, right"
Dylan nodded and grinned.
"Man you have a clever son my Cariad" Ianto said to Jack as Gwen's fork froze half way to her mouth and she stared at the man who had just dropped a bombshell all over her meal, "Who would have thought that he would train so hard. Like…an Olympic champion wish holder this one. So clever. I mean…dedication to the art for sure right?"
"I am very proud of him" Jack agreed with a cheeky grin, "My son, a star maker. I know his mama is so proud too, after all he is helping her even now to ascend. She is going to be the biggest brightest star ever because he had given so much time and effort to getting it tight. My cup runs over."
"Right, bill" Ianto said after it was clear the child was full, "Deidra, Gwen? We can go collect her ashes now for Dylan to plant in a magic garden in a few days. Care to come back to ours for the afternoon? It will soon be time for the mighty reveal and it might be nice for Dylan if his entire family were there with him to witness his Mama's Star shining for the first time. She can see you all together down here and feel happy."
Dylan nodded and looked at her in silent question as she looked at Jack for any sign of annoyance but he smiled as he nodded, "Yes, come home with us Granny. Once the Mama Luc Star has become you can read the story about the dog to Dylan. His next big mission will be to get one so I know he will need to prepare now he has shown me how dedicated he is."
Dylan gasped with glee as he swung to face his father.
A dog? He hadn't even wished for that one. Maybe Ianto had wished that for him, he was kind like that.
Chapter 17: An end for the beginning
It was almost time so Ianto had pulled chairs around like it was a movie to be watched and the low table sat with food on it as they settled to watch with Dylan on the floor in front of them.
"I bet Dylan sees her first, she will probably want him to have the wish" Ianto pouted, "I will never get the new car at this rate."
Jack grinned as he played along, "Well she always did do special things for him so I doubt she will let you see her first ya know."
"Bother" Ianto huffed as Dylan watched the sky intently.
"I'll get you a new car" Jack whispered softly, "a bonus."
"Any sign poppet?" Deidra asked as she placed her cup of coffee on the provided coaster and Gwen sat at the other end of the table watching Dylan as he moved between the table and the glass to see better.
"Can he do that?" Ianto demanded "cheating. He has a better angle now!"
"His mama, his rules" Jack crowed happily as he watched Dylan start then still. A small gasp and his little hand slapped at the glass.
It was time.
Jack fumbled for Ianto's hand as he watched Dylan look up at the sky with glee, the first star of the evening peeking through the cloud, thank god the rain had stayed off long enough for this.
"Is she there?" Ianto said softly, "Quick, only one wish before someone steals it Dyls. Make it."
Dylan squeezed his eyes shut and his lips moved silently, hands sliding together as he prayed to the Mama Luc Star for the biggest, most special thing in the worlds.
"Wow" Ianto said after a while as he knelt next to the little boy he loved so much, "I see her too. She had become, look Cariad isn't she spectacular?"
"Yeah" Jack said thickly, swallowing back the emotion as Dylan shone with dleight and swung to face Ianto and Jack, "My lovely girl, I love you Lucky Luc, always."
"So, it will come true ya know" Ianto said happily, "Oh Dylan I am so happy for you. This wish happens, probably did the moment you asked. Is there a way to test it?"
Dylan looked at him and shrugged, Jack shuffling around to snake an arm around Ianto's waist as he met them on the floor, "Dyls? Can we? Is there a way to see if your wish worked?"
Dylan looked at the two men and her made a motion with a finger, moving between them as Ianto frown and canted his head, "Us? We can help?"
"Well, we will definitely do all we can to help, maybe you need to draw a picture to aid us" Ianto said happily, "You know I am a bit Grup about these things, I don't have your wonderful little boy brain anymore."
Dylan rushed for his crayons and Deidra looked up at the sky and blew a kiss, "Goodbye Lucky Luc."
"Mama, this is such a…." Gwen stated and her mother's hand was like a vice grip as it shot out to seize her wrist, yanking her on close.
"You will shut up and get our coats, we will leave this little family to their moment and not be a bitch about it, OK? We will be thankful we were allowed to be part of it and pray we can come again" she snarled and Gwen nodded meekly, going to get the coats.
Dylan completed the picture and regarded it, wondering if he had got it right. The proportions were off but he had been in a hurry, he was busting with need for his wish to be true and he looked up to show them he was finished just in time to watch Jack pull Ianto in for a kiss, their lips meeting and grip getting tighter as eyelids flittered closed, the two men obvious to the room as they showed their affection. Above their heads the star seems to flare for a moment like it was ordaining their union and Dylan knew in his heart of hearts that Mama had worked magic.
"YAY!" Dylan screamed happily, "IT CAME TRUE! I WISHED FOR IANTO TO BE MY PARENTAL TOO…YAYYYYYYY!"
Dylan started to dance about the room as the picture of two people kissing fluttered to the floor and he stopped mid prance, his hands clasped together, "It was stupid a wish to keep so long. To wish mama not to go. Selfish and silly, all this time she needed to go and I was keeping her here. Now she is gone and she gave me the real wish. The greatest wish EVER!"
Dylan started to dance again as Jack watched with his mouth open, Ianto kneeling to stop the child as he flew past, "Was that the wish love? You wished your mama wouldn't leave? That was not a bad wish. It gave her time to get ready. You time to be ready too. Magic in the time that bought us here, it brought me didn't it? If you hadn't wished that I would never have come. Dylan it was a brilliant wish too and you did so well to keep it. Don't you see? It came true too. Mama hasn't left you, she's right up there watching over you."
Dylan looked up at the stars and laughed with glee as he saw Ianto was tight, the wish for mama not to leave him did come true too. With it gone he was free to make the real wish for Ianto to be his Taddy and Mama was able to do it.
Dylan got his wish. Both of them, now this is going to be a great Christmas.
His star seemed to wink back at him like mama always did when she was being silly.
Of course he got his wish.
All little boys got their Mama star wishes, right?
"Merry Christmas Mama"
Yes, as it has been asked I have considered and decided to make this a Verse. Dylan's New Year's Resolution will be next xxx