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The Prince's Groom

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Title: The Prince's Groom

Author: Wereleopard

Rating: PG, come on it's a classic romance film

Pairing: Jack/Ianto,

Spoilers: Ummm all of Torchwood and The Princess Bride

Summary: When Prince Jack – lovelorn after the loss of his beloved Ianto - is kidnapped by cunning crook Owen and his sidekicks Rhys the giant and swordswoman Toshiko, he is confident his one true love will come to save him. But is the man in the mask hot on the heels of his captors the Prince Hart, to whom he is now betrothed to, or a mysterious stranger.

Disclaimer: I do not own anything from Torchwood or The Princess Bride. I wish.

N/B I got the DVD for Christmas

Chapter One

A young boy coughs in bed remote control of his computer in hand as he plays baseball. The door opens and in walks his mother.

"Hi honey." She says with a smile.

"Hi mom." He replies softly.

She gives him a kiss on the forehead. "Are you feeling any better?" She asks placing her hand there to find out if he was still hot.

"A little bit."

"Guess what?" She says with a smile.

"What?"

"You're grandfather's here."

"Mom, can't you tell him I'm sick?" The boy whines.

"You're sick, that's why he's here."

"He'll pinch my cheek. I hate that."

She smiles at him and sits on the bed. "Maybe he won't."

The door opens and in walks his grandfather. "Hey! How's the sickie? Huh?" Reaching over he pinches his grandson's cheek who in turn glares at his mother.

She sighs and gets up off the bed. "I think I'll leave you two pals alone."

"I brought you a special present." He said holding it out to his grandson.

"What is it?" He asked excitedly.

"Open it up." He tells his grandson.

The young boy peels away the paper and frowns. He looks up at his grandfather.

"A book?" He asks.

"That's right. When I was your age television was called books and this is a special book. It was the book my father used to read to me when I was sick and I use to read it to your father and today I'm going to read it to you." He sits down getting comfortable.

The boy sighs. "Is there any sports in it?" He asks hopefully.

"Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles." He said waving his hands.

The young boy switches of the TV. "Doesn't sound too bad. I'll try and stay awake."

"Well, thank you very much. Very nice of you." The old man says as he takes of his hat. He pulls out his glasses and opens the book. "Your vote of confidence is overwhelming. All right, 'The Prince's Groom' By S Morgenstern. Chapter One. Ianto was raised on a small farm in the country of Florin. His favourite pastimes were riding his horse and tormenting the farm boy that worked there. His name was Ianto but he never called him that. Isn't' that a wonderful beginning?"

"Yeah, it's really good." The grandson replied his voice bored.

"Nothing gave Jack as much pleasure as ordering Ianto around.

XXXXX

"Farm boy, polish my horse's saddle. I want to see my face shining in it by morning." Jack ordered.

"As you wish." Ianto replied and nodded.

Jack looked at him briefly, turned around and walked off towards the small house.

XXXXX

"As you wish was all he ever said to him." The grandfather said.

XXXXX

Ianto was outside chopping wood when Jack walked across to him with two buckets.

"Farm boy fill these with water." Jack stared at Ianto for a moment. "Please." He replies softly.

"As you wish." Ianto replies gazing into Jack's eyes.

Jack looked down and walked away.

XXXXX

"That day he was amazed to discover that when he was saying 'As you wish', what he meant was I love you and even more amazing was the say he realised that he truly loved him back." Grandfather read.

XXXXX

Jack was in the kitchen when Ianto walked in with wood for the fire. He turned to walk back out when Jack turned to him.

"Farm boy!" Ianto turned to him. Jack looked around for anything to make the young man stay longer in the kitchen. Looking up he spotted something. "Fetch me that pitcher."

Ianto slowly walked towards him, once there, he reached over Jack's shoulder and grabbing hold of the pitcher. "As you wish." He whispered.

Jack stared into his eyes and smiled.

XXXXX

They stood holding each other as the sunset behind them their heads moving closer and closer together. Their lips almost touching.

XXXXX

"Hold it, hold it." The grandson said suddenly. "What is this? Are you trying to trick me? And where are the sports?" He glared at his grandfather. "Is this a kissing book?"

The grandfather raised his hand. "Wait, just wait."

"When does it get good?"

"Keep your shirt on let me read." He looked down at the book. "Ianto had no money for marriage so he packed his few belongings and left the farm to seek his fortune across the sea. It was a very emotional time for Jack."

"I don't believe this." The grandson whined.

XXXXX

Ianto wrapped his arms around Jack.

"I fear I'll never see you again." Jack whispered.

"Of course you will." Ianto replied.

"But what if something happens to you?"

Ianto pulls way and gazes deeply into Jack's eyes. "Hear this now. I will always come for you"

Tears clouded Jack's vision. "But how can you be sure?"

Ianto stroked Jack's cheek. "This is true love. Do you think this happens every day?"

Ianto smiles softly at him, it isn't long before one graces Jack's face as well. The lean towards each other and kiss passionately for they didn't know when they would see each other again.

XXXXX

"Ianto didn't reach his destination his ship was attacked by the Dread Pirate Roberts who never left captives alive. When Jack got the news that Ianto was murdered…."

"Murdered by pirates is good!" The grandson said with a smile.

"He went into his room and shut the door and for days he neither slept nor ate."

XXXXX

"I will never love again." Jack said to himself, his heart felt as if it had been ripped from his chest. His eyes red from crying.

XXXXX

"Five years later, the main square of Florin city was filled as never before to hear the announcement of the great Prince Hart's husband-to-be." Grandfather said.

XXXXX

The crowds were surrounding the balcony of the castle, the fanfare started and they all looked up to the balcony and out walked Prince Hart standing between Gwen, his loyal assistant and his parents.

"My people a month from now, our country will have its 500th anniversary. On that sundown, I shall marry a man who was once a commoner like yourselves. But perhaps you will not find him common now. Would you like to meet him?" Prince Hart called out.

"Yes." The crowd shouted.

"My people, Prince Jack."

The fanfare started and everyone turned to the large archway in which stood Jack. Slowly he walked out and everyone went to one knee.

XXXXX

"Jack's emptiness consumed him. Although the law of the land gave Hart the right to choose who he married he did not love him. Despite Hart's reassurance that he would grow to love him the only joy she found was in her daily ride" Grandfather said softly.

XXXXX

"A word my lord." A man said politely. "We are poor, lost circus performers. Is there a village near by?"

Jack sat astride his horse and looked down at them. "There is nothing nearby and not for miles."

"Then there will be no-one to hear you scream." The man said as one of his companions, a very large man walked over to him.

Chapter Two

A large hand grips Jack's neck and hits the nerve points.

"Ahhhh." Jack mutters as blackness surrounds him.

XXXXX

Owen stands by the horse and rips a uniform.

"What is that you're ripping?" Tosh asks the small man.

Owen never even looks at her as he answers. "It's a fabric from the uniform of an army officer of Guilder."

"Who's Guilder?" Rhys asks laying the unconscious Jack down.

Owen looks over at him. "The country from across the sea. The sworn enemy of Florin." He moves away from the horse and smacks it. "Go." Then he makes his way over to the boat. "Once the horse reaches the castle the fabric will make the Prince suspect the Guilderians have abducted his love. When he finds his body dead on the Guilder frontier his suspicions will be totally confirmed."

Rhys turns to him. "You never said anything about killing anyone!"

Owen looks at him in disbelief. "I've hired you to help me start a war. It's a prestigious line of work with a long and glorious tradition."

"I just don't think its right killing an innocent man." Rhys shakes his head.

"Am I going mad or did the word 'think' escape your lips?" Owen storms towards the giant. "You were not hired for you brains you hipoopotamic landmass."

"I agree with Rhys." Tosh said as she jumps into the boat.

Owen turns to her. "Oh, the sot has spoken. What happens to him is not truly your concern. I will kill him and remember this – never forget this….When I found you were so slobbering drunk you couldn't even buy brandy." Owen yells in Tosh's face, and then he looks back to Rhys. "And you – friendless, brainless, helpless, hopeless do you want me to send you back to where you were unemployed… in Greenland?"

Rhys slowly backs away from the yelling man. Tosh stands and looks at her large friend slowly making her way over to him.

"Owen he can…fuss." Tosh said slowly.

"Fuss? Fuss?" Rhys thinks for a moment. "I think he likes to scream…at us."

"Probably he means no…harm."

Rhys pauses. "He's really very short on…charm."

Tosh smiles brightly at him. "You have a great gift for rhyme."

"Yes, yes some of the time."

"Enough of that!" Owen calls out.

Tosh smirks. "Rhys, are there rocks ahead?"

Rhys turns to her. "If there are, we'll all be dead."

"No more rhyming now. I mean it!" Irritation obvious in Owen's voice.

"Anyone want a peanut?" Rhys calls out.

"Aaargh." Owen shouts in annoyance.

XXXXX

Night falls and Jack finally wakes up not sure what was to become of him.

"We'll reach the cliffs by dawn." Owen tells them all. His gaze lands on Tosh who keeps looking behind them. "Why are you doing that?"

"Making sure nobody's follow us." Tosh said simply.

"That would be inconceivable." Owen smugly replies.

Jack looks at the three kidnappers. "Despite what you think you will be caught and when you are the Prince will see you all hanged."

Owen stares at him. "Of all the necks on this boat, sir, the one you should be worried about is your own." Jack turns away; Owen's gaze once again falls upon Tosh who looks behind again. "Stop doing that we can all relax it's almost over."

"You are sure nobody's follow us?" Tosh asks.

"As I told you it would be absolutely, totally and in all other ways inconceivable. No one in Guilder knows what we've done and no-one in Florin could've gotten her so fast." Owen leans back relaxing and he shuts his eyes. Then slowly he opens them and turns to her. "Out of curiosity why do you ask?"

"Oh, it's that suddenly I just happened to look behind us and something is there." Tosh waves her hand around.

"What?" Owen mutters as he clambers to his feet to go and look. The three kidnappers look behind them and see a boat. "Probably some local fishermen out for a pleasure cruise at night…through eel-infested waters."

Suddenly there is a splash from behind them as Jack dives into the water.

"Oh, go in, get after him." Owen yells.

Tosh looks at him and shrugs our shoulders. "I don't swim."

Owen turns to Rhys. "I only dog paddle." Rhys shows him with his hands.

"Aaargh. Veer left, left, left." The small man yells and runs to the other side of the boat.

Jack's strong strokes take him further and further away from the boat but shrieking all around him stops him in his tracks as he treads water. Looking around he sees nothing.

Chapter Three

"Do you know what that sound is? Those are the Shrieking Eels. If you don't believe me, just wait. They always grow louder when they're about to feed on human flesh." Owen says from the boat. A large eel goes past Jack shrieking, he turns gasping in fear. "If you swim back now, I promise no harm will come to you. I doubt you'll get such an offer from the eels.

The eels shrieking gets louder as they move closer and closer to Jack and just as it reaches in front of him, its head raises….

XXXXX

Grandfather looks over at the young boy in the bed. "He doesn't get eaten by the eels at this time."

His grandson stares at him. "What!"

"The eel doesn't get him. I'm explaining to you because you look nervous."

"Oh…I wasn't nervous, maybe I was a little concerned, but that's not the same thing."

"Because we can stop now if you want." Grandfather offers.

"No. You could read a little bit more…if you want."

Grandfather looks back down at the book. "Do you know what that sound is, those are the Shrieking Eels."

"You're past that Grandpa. You read it already."

"Oh, my goodness I did. I'm sorry. I beg your pardon. All right lets see. He was in the water, the eel was coming after him. He was frightened, the eel started to charge and then…"

XXXXX

Rhys bent over the side of the boat and hit the eel hard with his hand, he grabbed Prince Jack and pulled him into the boat.

"Put him down, just put him down." Owen muttered kneeling down he tied Jack's hands up.

Tosh stood and looked behind them. "I think he's getting closer."

"He's no concern of ours. Sail on." Owen ordered. "I suppose you think you are brave don't you?"

Jack stared at the other man, he's blue eyes bright. Water dripping down his face. "Only compared to some."

XXXXX

The sun rose and Tosh kept an eye behind them. "Look, he's right on top of us. Wonder if he is using the same wind as we are using."

"Whoever he is, he's too late. See?" Owen pointed in front of them. "The Cliffs of Insanity. Hurry up." He runs to Rhys. "Move the thing and…that other thing."" Owen goes over to Tosh. "Move it." He yells.

The boat makes it was through a passage way, ragged rocks jutting out.

Rhys jumps out and pulls the boat to the land.

"We're safe. Only Rhys is strong enough to go up our way. He'll have to sail around for hours till he finds a harbour." Owen mutters.

The other boat follows them exactly.

Tosh puts a rig on Rhys and attaches Jack to it, then Owen and finally Tosh,

Jack looks up at the huge cliff that he was going to be pulled up. He closes his eyes as soon as Rhys starts to pull himself up the rope.

The mysterious boat finally arrives at the same cove.

Tosh looks down as sees a mysterious man in black. "He's climbing the rope and he's gaining on us."

"Inconceivable." Owen mutters as he looks down. "Faster!"

"I thought I was going faster." Rhys replies as he continues to climb.

"You're supposed to be this colossus. You were this great legendary thing, and yet he gains." Owen says sarcastically.

"Well, I'm carrying three people and he's got only himself." Rhys explains.

"I don not accept excuses. I'll just have to find myself a new giant."

"Don't say that Owen, please."

The man in black continues to climb faster catching them up

"Did I make it clear that your job is at stake?" Owen threatens Rhys.

Rhys reaches the top and Tosh climbs over him helping Jack up first, then Owen and finally Rhys.

The man in black is moving quickly up the rope. Owen rushes over and pulls a dagger out cutting the rope as fast as he can

The man in black is getting nearer and nearer the top. Owen finally cuts through the rope and watches as it falls back over the cliff.

Chapter Four

Tosh walks to the edge of the cliff and looks over, Rhys is close behind her. There holding tightly to the rocks that jut out is the man in black.

"He's got very good arms." Rhys says to Tosh.

Owen rushes over and stands in between them. "He didn't fall? Inconceivable." His voice was full of disappointment.

Tosh looks at him. "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." They both look down at the man in black. "My God – he's climbing."

"Whoever he is, he's obviously seen us with the Prince and must therefore die. You take him." Owen told Rhys and then turns to Tosh. "We'll head straight for the Guilder frontier. Catch up when he's dead. If he falls, fine, if not, the sword."

"I'm going to do him left-handed." Tosh says softly as she walks away from the edge.

Owen glares at her. "You know what a hurry we're in!"

"Well, it is the only way I can be satisfied. If I use my right, it's over too quickly." Tosh explains.

Owen throws in hands up in surrender. "Oh, have it your way." He turns and walks off.

Tosh walks back to the cliffs edge and peers over watching the man struggle to climb. Rhys taps her on the shoulder, his other hand gripping Jack tightly.

"You be careful." Rhys says. "People in masks cannot be trusted."

Tosh nods and smiles at him.

Owen looks over in expiration. "I'm waiting!"

Rhys and Jack head over to Owen and the three of them walk off. Tosh shakes her hands relaxing them; she moves backwards and then forwards practicing. She then walks over to the edge.

"Hello there." She calls out when the man looks up at her she waves. "Slow going?"

"Look, I don't mean to be rude, but this is not as easy as it looks so I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't distract me." The man in black replies.

"Sorry." Tosh apologises and walks away from the edge.

"Thank you."

She pulls out her sword and practices a few moves and heads back to the edge again.

"I do not suppose you could speed things up?" Tosh asks.

The man in black sighed. "If you're in such a hurry, you could lower a rope or a tree branch or find something useful to do."

"I could do that. I have some rope up here. But I do not think you would accept my help since I am only waiting around to kill you."

"That does put a damper on our relationship." The man in black agrees.

"But I promise I will not kill you until you reach the top." Tosh looks at him intently.

"That's very comforting, but I'm afraid you'll just have to wait."

"I hate waiting." Tosh mumbles as she turns away. "I could give you my word as a Japanese lady?"

The man in black grunts as he tries to move up the rock face. "No good. I have known too many Japanese ladies."

"Is not there anyway you trust me?" Tosh asks.

"Nothing comes to mind."

Tosh stares down at him, her heart in her eyes portraying everything she felt, her voice calm. "I swear on the soul of my mother Naoko Sato, you will reach the top alive."

The man in black stared at her for a moment. "Throw me the rope."

Tosh nodded and disappeared from his sight. She ran back and unwrapped some of it from the large rock that it was coiled around and then threw it over the edge.

Slowly the man in black made his way up, Tosh stood at the top helping as much as she could by pulling the rope.

Finally, he made it to the top. "Thank you." He said.

Tosh turned and looked at him.

Chapter Five

The man in black took a deep breath and started to pull out his sword.

Tosh held out her hand. "We'll wait until you're ready."

"Again, thank you." He nodded at her and hobbled over to a large rock where he sat down, where he pulled off one of his boats and turned it upside down watching all the stones that emptied out that he got on his climb up the cliff face

Tosh sat opposite him and took a deep breath. "I don't mean to pry but you don't by any chance happen to have six fingers on your right hand?"

The man in black froze and stared at her for a moment holding the other boot still in his hand. "Do you always begin conversations this way?"

"My mother was slaughtered by a six-fingered person." Tosh watched as the man in black held up his hand, there were five fingers. "She was a great sword maker, my mother. When a man appeared on behalf of the six-fingered man and requested a special sword my mother took the job." Tosh pulled out the sword she had. "She slaved a year before it was done." She walked over to show him, the man in black took it and held it up.

"I've never seen its equal." He said as he handed it back.

"The six-fingered person arrived in a mask and cloak demanding it but at one-tenth of his promised price. My mother refused, without a word, the six-fingered person slashed her through the heart. I love my mother, so naturally I challenge her murderer to a duel." Tosh shrugged. "I fail. The six-fingered person left me alive but they gave me these." Tosh pointed to the two scars on either sides of her face.

"How old were you?" The man in black asked.

"I was 11 years old. When I was strong enough I dedicated my life to the study of fencing so the next time we meet, I will not fail. I will go up to the six-fingered person and say, 'Hello. My name is Toshiko Sato, you killed my mother prepare to die'." Tosh stared off into space as she spoke.

The man in black watched her carefully. "You've done nothing but study swordplay?"

"More pursuit than study lately." Tosh said as she sat next to him. "You see I cannot find this person. It has been 20 years now; I am starting to lose confidence. I just work for Owen to pay the bills. There's not a lot of money in revenge."

The man in black slapped his knee and stood. "Well, I certainly hope you find him some day."

"You're ready then?"

"Ready or not, you've been more than fair." The man in black replied.

"You see, a decent fellow. I hate to kill you."

The man in black smirked. "You seem a decent fellow. I hate to die."

"Begin."

Tosh and the man in black stared at each other swords raised. Tosh starts their swords clang and the man in black moves his head to the side as the sword swings past. They move away from the cliffs edge. The man in black starts and Tosh moves her head just as his sword comes past it.

The fight begins they move too and fro sliding across the ground, the clatter of the metal as the swords hit each other.

"You're using Bonelli's defence against me, eh?" Tosh asked.

"I thought it fitting considering the rocky terrain." The man in black replied as they continued to fight.

Slowly the made their way up a slope. "Naturally, you must expect me to attack with Capo Ferro." Tosh stated.

"Naturally. But I find Thibault cancels out Capo Ferro, don't you?"

The man in black comes to the sharp edge of the slope and jumps down to the ground without turning his back on his opponent.

"Unless the enemy has studied Agrippa…" Tosh somersaults over the man in black and lands on her feet. "Which I have." The swordplay once again starts. "You are wonderful!"

"Thank you." The man in black replies. "I've worked hard to become so."

"I admit you're better than I am." Tosh tells him.

"Then why are you smiling?" The man in black asks.

"Because I know something that you don't know."

"And what is that?" He asks.

"I am not left-handed." Tosh changes the sword from one hand to the smoothly, without stopping the tide of the battle changes and she pushes the man in black up some stone steps.

"You're amazing." He states once they are at the top.

"I ought to be, after 20 years." She pushes against him.

The man in black is against an external wall that is beginning to get pushed over the edge of the cliff.

"There's something I ought to tell you." The man in black mumbles as he pushes back against her.

"Tell me."

The man pushes her away and smiles. "I'm not left-handed either." With that, he throws the sword into the air and catches it with his right hand. He swings his sword and knocks Tosh's weapon to the floor far below them.

Tosh turns, she then jumps and swings on a horizontal metal pole and lands on the ground rushing over to her sword.

The man in black throws his sword and it digs into the ground in front of Tosh she watches in amazement as he jumps across to the metal pole and swings around it twice before he somersaults and lands right next to his sword, he pulls it out of the ground.

Tosh stares at him. "Who are you?"

"No-one of consequence." The man in black replies.

"I must know."

"Get use to disappointment." He says simply.

Tosh shrugs her shoulders. "Ok."

The sword fight once again starts. They climb and fight all over the rocky terrain. The swords glitter as they hit the sunlight. Tosh swings her sword either side of the man in black's head he moves side to side and she misses.

The man in black swings his sword around, he swipes it against her face so it brushes against her hair and doesn't leave a mark, and he finally brings his sword down and knocks her weapon out of her hand.

Tosh goes to her knees as he walks behind her.

"Kill me quickly." She whispers.

"I would as soon destroy a stained glass window then an artist like yourself. However, since I can't have you following me either." He hits her on the back of the head and watches as she falls to the ground unconscious. "Please understand I hold you in the highest respect." With one last look at her, he runs off to catch up with the other kidnappers.

XXXXX

Owen looks over the green terrain and sees the man in black running towards them. "Inconceivable! Give him to me." He orders Rhys. "Catch up with us quickly."

"What do I do?" Rhys asks.

"Finish him! Finish him, your way!" Owen grabs Jacks arm and pulls him along.

"Oh, good – my way. Thank you Owen" Rhys pauses, confusion covers his face. He places his hands on his hips. "Which is my way?"

Owen turns and looks at him. "Pick up one of those rocks, get behind the boulder in a few minutes the man in black will come running around the bend. The minute his head is in view, hit it with the rock!"

Rhys pouts a little. "My way's not very sportsmanlike." He picks up the rock and goes to hide.

XXXXX

The man in black runs around the corner, the flat pasture disappears and large boulders surround him. He slows down and starts to walk, looking wearily around. The hair on the back of his neck rises. He can sense something wrong but doesn't know what it is. He takes a step forward and a rock smashes into the boulder next to his head.

Chapter Six

Rhys walks out from behind the boulder. "I did that on purpose." he says picking up another large rock. "I didn't have to miss."

"I believe you." The man in black replies looking nervously at the very large man in front of him with sword in hand. "So what happens now?"

"We face each other like good intended - sportsmanlike. No tricks, no weapons. Skin against skin alone."

"You mean you'll put down your rock and I'll put down my sword and we'll try and kill each other like civilised people?" The man in black asks.

Rhys raises the rock and smirks. "I could kill you now."

The man in black slowly lowers his sword to the ground. "Frankly, I think the odds are slightly in your favour at hand fighting."

"It's not my fault being the biggest and the strongest. I don't even exercise." Rhys says laughing as he throws the rock behind him.

The slowly move towards each other the man in black runs at him and groans as he hit what feels like a wall. Taking a deep breath he glares at the larger man and moves back.

They both stand and get ready. The man in black wraps his arm around Rhys, grits his teeth and tries to move him. Rhys looks down at him in amusement.

The man in black releases him and stares at the giant. "Look, are you just fiddling around with me or what?"

"I just want you to feel you are doing well. I hate for people to die embarrassed." Rhys moves towards him. The man in black dives between the giants legs, rolling back onto his feet again. "You're quick!"

"Good thing too." The man in black says as he backs away.

Rhys walks towards the smaller man. "Why are you wearing a mask? Were you burned by acid or something like that?"

"Oh no it's just they're just terribly comfortable." He replies ducking a punch. "I think everyone will be wearing them in the future." The man In black ducks more punches and then runs behind the larger man. He jumps onto a boulder and throws himself onto Rhys' back wrapping his arms tightly around the giants neck.

Rhys waves his arms behind him trying to get the smaller man of him. "I just figured why you give me so much trouble."

He moves back and slams the man in black against the boulder who groans.

"Why's that, do you think?"

Rhys takes hold of the man in blacks arms and stumbles forward. "Well, I haven't fought just one person for so long. Uh! I've been specialising in groups battling gangs for local charities that kind of thing."

He moves back and slams the other man once again against a boulder, who then groans with pain.

"Why should that make such a …" The man in black groans again as he is once again slammed against the hard rock. "difference?"

"Well, you see, you use different moves when you're fighting half a dozen people," Rhys continues to talk as he slowly collapses to his knees as the man in black squeezes tighter, "than when you only have to be aware about one!" Rhys finally collapses unconscious.

The man in black climbs off him and with a lot of effort manages to push him onto his back. He places his head over Rhys chest to make sure he can still hear a heartbeat.

"I do not envy you the headache you will have when you awake. But, in the meantime rest well and dream of large women." He stands runs to his sword where he places his foot under it, with a quick flick he catches the sword in his hand and runs after Owen and Jack.

XXXXX

Prince Hart places his feet in the footprints that had already been made following the movement all of the rocky terrain. "There was a mighty duel and it ranged all over. They were both masters."

Countess Cooper looked at him as she sat on her horse. "Who won? How did it end?"

Prince Hart continued following the marks. "The loser ran off alone but the winner followed those footprints toward Guilder."

"Shall we track them both?" Gwen asked.

Prince Hart turned to her. "The loser is nothing only the Prince matters. Clearly this was all planned by the warriors of Guilder. We must all be ready for whatever lies ahead." He walks over to his horse.

"Could this be a trap?" Gwen enquires.

Prince Hart climbs onto his horse. "I always think everything could be a trap which is why I'm still alive."

The Prince, the count and his soldiers ride of in chase.

XXXXX

The man in black runs up a hill stopping as Owen is sitting on a rock. Prince Jack is blindfolded and there is a knife at his throat.

Chapter Seven

Owen looks at the mysterious man. "So it is down to you and it is down to me." He reaches over grabs the goblet and takes a sip of wine. "If you wish him dead, by all means keep moving forward."

The man in black stops suddenly smiles and holds out his hands trying to look friendly. "Let me explain." He says.

"There's nothing to explain you're trying to kidnap what I have rightfully stolen."

"Perhaps…an arrangement can be reached?" The mysterious man asked while working forward.

Owen grips hold of Jack's arm. "There will be no arrangement and you're killing him."

The knife pokes slightly at Jack's neck. The Prince draws a sudden breath fear coursing through his body. The man in black stops and the smile leaves his face.

"Well if there can be no arrangement then we are at an impasse."

Owen looks at him. "I'm afraid so. I can't compete with you physically and you're no match for my brains."

The man in black stands watching arms crossed over his chest. "You're that smart?" He asks a smirk on his face.

"Let me put it this way have you ever heard of Plato? Aristotle? Socrates?" Owen asks smugly.

"Yes." The man in black answers simply.

"Morons." Owen mutters.

"Really? In that case, I challenge you to a battle of wits." The man in black offers.

Owen smiles brightly. "For the Prince?" The man in black nods. "To the death?" He nods again and Owen laughs. "I accept." He takes the knife from Jacks neck and places it back into its sheath.

"Good then pour the wine." The man in black says as he walks over and sits opposite Owen. Owen fills the two goblets with red wine biting his lip as he watches the other man. The man in black pulls a little tube from his tunic and carefully takes the lid off. He hands it over to the smaller man. "Inhale this, but do not touch."

Owen takes hold of it and smells. "I smell nothing," and hands it back over.

The man in black takes it. "What you do not smell is called Iocane powder. It is odourless, tasteless, dissolves instantly in liquid and is among the more deadly poisons known to man."

"Hmmm." Owen replies and watches as the man in black takes the poison and the two goblets of wine and turns away.

The man in black swirls the liquid in the two goblets and places one in front of Owen and the other in front of himself.

The man in black holds out his arms. "All right, where is the poison? The battle of wits has begun. It ends when you decide and we both drink and find out who is right and who is dead."

Owen shrugs his shoulders. "But it's so simple! All I have to do is divine from what I know of you. Are you the sort of man who would put the poison into his own goblet or his enemy's?" The man in black watches Owen but his face betrays nothing. "Now, a clever man would put the poison into his own goblet because he would know that only a great fool would reach for what he was given. I'm not a great fool so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But you must have know that I was not a great fool, you would have counted on it so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me."

"You've mad your decision then?" The man in black asks.

"Not remotely! Because Iocane comes from Australia as everyone knows and Australia is entirely peopled with criminals and criminals are used to having people not trust them as you are not trusted by me so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you."

The man in black strokes his chin. "Truly, you have a dizzying intellect."

"Wait till I get going." Owen says excitedly. "Where was I?"

"Australia." The man in black answers.

"Yes, Australia! You must have suspected I would have know the powder's origin so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me."

"You're just stalling now."

"You'd like to think that wouldn't you. You've beaten my giant, which means you're exceptionally strong so you could have put the poison in your own goblet, trusting your strength to save you so I can clearly bit choose the wine in front of you. But, you've also bested my Japanese swordswoman, which means you must've studied and in studying, you must've learned that man is mortal. So you would have put the poison as far from yourself as possible so I can clearing not choose the wine in front of me."

"You're trying to trick me into giving away something. It won't work." The man in black says smirking.

"It has worked. You've given everything away. I know where the poison is."

"Then make your choice."

"I will and I choose…."Owen suddenly points behind the man in black. "What in the world can that be?"

The man in black turns to see. "What? Where?" While his enemy has his back turned Owen switches the goblets. "I don't see anything." The man in black says as he turns to look at the smaller man.

"Oh I could've sworn I saw something. No matter." Owen starts to snigger.

"What's so funny?"

Owen waves his arm. "I'll tell you in a minute first…let's drink. Me from my glass and you from yours." The man in black reaches out for his goblet both man stare at each other holding their drinks and both take a drink at the same time.

The goblets are placed back down on the large boulder and Owen sniggers again.

"You guessed wrong." The man in black says.

"You only think I guessed wrong. That's what's so funny! I switched glasses when you back was turned." He laughs. "You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia. But, only slightly less well known is this - never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!" Owen laughs manically.

The man in black just watches him. Owen suddenly stops laughing and falls to the side, hit's the ground hard. Dead.

The man in black goes over to Prince Jack and takes the blindfold off.

"Who are you?" Jack asks.

The man in black unties his Jack's hands. "I'm no-one to be trifled with. That is all you ever need know."

"To think - all that time it was your cup that was poisoned."

"They were both poisoned." The man in black takes hold of Jack's hands and they both stand. "I spent the last few years building up an immunity to Iocane powder." He releases on of the Prince's hands and they run off.

XXXXX

Prince Hart looks around. "Someone has beaten a giant. There will be great suffering in Guilder if he dies." He turns and jumps onto the back of his horse. The Prince and his troop of soldiers ride after Prince Jack.

XXXXX

The man in black continues to drag Jack after him. He finally pushed him towards a boulder.

"Catch your breath." The man in black orders.

"If you'll release me, whatever you ask for ransom you'll get it. I promise you." Jack replies breathlessly.

The man in black places his hands on his hips and laughs. "And what is that worth - the promise of a man like you? You're very funny sir."

"I was giving you a chance. It does not matter where you take me there is no greater hunter that Prince Hart. He can track a falcon on a cloudy day. He can find you." Jack tells him.

The man in black leans on a boulder looking at the other man. "You think your dearest love will save you?"

"I never said he was my dearest love and yes, he will save me. That I know." Jack's eyes flash angrily.

The man in black walks over to him. "You admit to me you do not love your fiancé."

"He knows I do not love him." Jack replies.

"Are not capable of love is what you mean."

Jack stands coolly and stares at the mysterious man. "I have loved more deeply than a killer like yourself could ever dream."

The man in black raises his hand to hit him but stops. Jack flinches waiting for the smack that never comes.

"That was a warning, sir. Next time my hand flies on its own. For where I come from, there are penalties when a man likes you lies.." The man in black takes hold of Jack's hand and drags him once again.

XXXXX

Prince Hart smells the little tube. "Iocane. I'd bet my life on it and there are the Prince's footprints. He is alive or was an hour ago. If he is otherwise when I find him I shall be very put out." He throws the tube on the ground, climbs onto the back of his horse and continues the chase.

XXXXX

The man in black pushes Jack down. "Rest sir."

"I know who you are. Your cruelty reveals everything. You're the Dread Pirate Roberts, admit it."

Dread Pirate Roberts bows. "With Pride. What can I do for you?"

Jack glares at him. "You can die slowly, cut into a thousand pieces."

Dread Pirate Roberts tuts and shakes his head. "Hardly complementary Prince Jack. Why loose you venom on me?"

"You killed my love." Jack whispers.

"It's possible. I kill a lot of people." The pirate walks behind Jack. "Who was this love of yours? Another Prince like this one." the pirate sits down on the grass leaning against a log, "ugly, rich and scabby?"

"No! A farm boy - poor. Poor and perfect. With eyes like the sea after a storm." Jack's eyes filled with love at the memories. "On the high seas your ship attacked and the Dread Pirate Roberts never takes prisoners."

"I can't afford to make exceptions. Once word leaks out that a pirate has gone soft people begin to disobey you and it's nothing but work, work, work all the time."

"You mock my pain!" Jack shouts.

"Life is pain, sir. Anyone who says differently is selling something." The pirate gets to his feet and walks towards the Prince. "I remember this farm boy of yours I think. This would be what…five years ago?" Jack looks away tears in his eyes. "Does it bother you to hear?"

"Nothing you can say will upset me."

"He died well - that should please you. No bribe attempts or blubbering. He simply said 'please, please I need to live'. It was the 'please' that caught my memory. I asked him what was so important for him here. 'True love' he replied. And then he spoke of a man with surpassing looks and faithfulness. I can only assume he meant you. You should bless me for destroying him before he found out what you really are."

Jack gets to his feet and glares at the other man. "And what am I?"

"Faithfulness, he talked of sir. Your enduring faithfulness. Now tell me truly, when he was gone did you get engaged the same hour or did you wait a whole week out of respect for the dead?" The pirate said.

"You mocked me once. Never do it again. I died that day." Sounds of horses getting closer made the pirate turn to look. "You can die too for all I care."

With that Jack pushes Dread Pirate Roberts, his body rolls down a steep hill.

"As…you…wish." The pirate calls out.

Chapter Eight

"Oh my sweet Ianto? What have I done?" Jack moves forward and falls down the same steep hill that his beloved and rolled down.

Their mumbles of pain at each hard place and rock they hit echoed around the valley.

Ianto's mask was torn off as he slowly slid to the bottom closely followed by his beloved.

XXXXX

Prince Hart looks around. "They've disappeared. He must have seen us closing in which might account for his panicking and error. Unless I'm wrong - and I am never wrong - they are headed into the Fire Swamp." He looks around and then urges his horse on followed by his soldiers.

XXXXX

Ianto rubs his hand in pain looks over and sees Jack lying there, he moves over to reach the man who has his heart. He places a hand under Jack's neck and raises him slightly.

"Can you move at all?" Ianto asks.

"Move?" Jack mumbles in shock staring into the deep blue of the man he thought had died. "You're alive? If you want I can fly." He said with a smile as Ianto pulled him closer.

When they finally released each other Ianto stoked Jack's face. "I told you I would always come for you, why didn't you wait for me?"

"Well…" Jack says, "you were dead."

Ianto looks at Jack adoringly. "Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while."

Jack could not look away afraid deep down that this was all a dream. "I will never doubt again."

"There will never be a need." Ianto whispers.

Slowly their mouths touch in a kiss that they thought had been denied, that they would never know again.

XXXXX

"Oh no! Please!" The grandson mutters.

Grandfather moves the coffee mug away from his face. "What is it? What's the matter?"

"They're kissing again." He glares at the older man. "Do we have to hear the kissing part?"

"Some day you may not mind so much."

"Skip onto the Fire Swamp, that sounded good." The grandson said with relish.

"Oh." The old man takes a sip of his coffee. "You're sick, I'll humour you. So now where we?" He asks flicking through the pages. "Yeah, yeah, yeah…ok ok. Ianto and Jack raced along the ravine floor."

XXXXX

"A-ha. Your pig fiancé is too late." Ianto said holding Jack's hand tightly. The men on horses arrived at the top of the ravine. "A few more steps and we'll be safe in the Fire Swamp."

Jack is pulled along by Ianto into the thick forest. "We'll never survive."

"Nonsense you're only saying that because no-one ever had." Ianto replies.

It is dark and dreary as the walk into the Fire Swamp vines hanging low, dark trees looming over them. The two men slowly make their way through the vegetation. Animal noises echo around.

"It's not that bad." Ianto nods as he looks around. Jack turns to glare at him. Ianto can feel the heat of the gaze. "I'm not saying that I'd like to build a summer home here but the trees are actually quite lovely." Jack cannot stop watching him hoping that he was joking. A tree groans near them and falls to the ground. Ianto turns to look at Jack once again and raises an eyebrow.

They continue their journey, a popping sound echoes they look at each other in confusion and take as few steps forward. Suddenly there is a burst of flame from the ground hitting Jack's leg and the material goes up in flame.

Ianto pushes Jack to the ground and covers it in dirt. He helps his love to his feet.

"Well now that was an adventure." Ianto says with a smile. "Singed a bit, were you?"

Jack leans into Ianto's touch and shakes his head. "No, you?" he mutters with some sarcasm. Ianto grins and also shakes his head and once again they are on their way.

Popping sounds happen around them once again. Ianto grabs Jack and moves him as flames shoot out of the ground.

"Well, one thing I will say the Fire Swamp does keep you on your toes." He says with dry sarcastic humour. "This will all soon be a happy memory." Ianto says as he cuts down the vines with his sword," because Roberts' ship Revenge is anchored the far end and I, as you know, am Roberts."

"But how's that possible since he's been marauding for 20 years and you only left me 5 years ago?" Jack asks.

"I myself am often surprised at life's little quirks." Ianto explains, the popping sound happens and he moves Jack to his other side as the flames appear. "See what I told you before about saying 'please' was true. It intrigued Roberts, as did my description of you. Finally Roberts decided something. He said, 'All right, Ianto I've never had a valet you can try if you like I'll most likely kill you in the morning'. Three years he said that 'Goodnight Ianto, good work. Sleep well I'll most likely kill you in the morning. It was a fine time for me I was learning to fence, fight anything anyone would teach me. Roberts and I eventually became friends. The it happened."

"What? Go on." Jack asks wanting to know how Ianto became the pirate.

"Roberts had grown so rich he wanted to retire, so he took me to his cabin and told me his secret."

Chapter Nine

Ianto looks at Jack and tells him what he had been told. "'I'm not the Dread Pirate Roberts, he said. My name is Ryan. I inherited the ship from the previous Dread Pirate Roberts just as you will inherit from me. The man I inherited it from was not the real Dread Pirate Roberts either. His name was Cummerbund. The real Roberts has been retired 15 years and living like a king in Patagonia.' Then he explained the name was the important thing for inspiring the necessary fear. You see, no-one would surrender to the Dread Pirate Ianto. So we sailed ashore, took on an entirely new crew and he stayed aboard for a while as first mate and all the time calling me Roberts. Once the crew believed he left the ship and I have been Roberts ever since. Except now we're together I shall retire and hand the name over to someone else. Is everything clear to you?" He asks

Jack nods and walks away looking confused.

"Ianto." Jack shouts as he suddenly disappears in the sand.

Ianto looks around his face paled, his sees a long thick vine pulling out his sword he cuts it Taking hold of it he takes a deep breath and dives into the quick sand. The vine being pulled tight, it suddenly stops.

There is no movement.

Footstep's echo around as a very large rat appears and growls and sniffs at the quicksand, then wanders off.

A hand appears from the quicksand as Ianto pulls himself up the vine with Jack on his back. They both take gulping breaths as the air hits them Jack coughs and Ianto manages to get him to solid ground and lay him softly down.

Ianto lays on his back breathing heavily, Jack is on his side still coughing. He pulls Jack into his arms and they hold onto each other.

Ianto hears a growl and looks up and sees the large rat, then another one appears. Jack is blissfully unaware as he is in the arms of the man he loves

"We'll never succeed. We may as well die here." Jack whispers.

Ianto pulls back into Jack's eyes brushing hair of his forehead. "No! No! We have already succeeded." He helps the older man to his feet as he explains. "I mean, what are the three terrors of the Fire Swamp? One - the flame spurt. No problem. There's a popping sound preceding each, we can avoid that. Two - the lightning sand. But you were clever enough to discover what that looks like, so in the future we can avoid it too."

Jack stops. "Ianto, what about the R.O.U.S.s?"

Ianto looks at him. "Rodents Of Unusual Size? I don't think they exist." With that a growl echoes and a large creature comes from one of the rocks and attacks Ianto.

Jack stands shocked not knowing what to do. Ianto wrestles with the creature keeping his hand at the rodents mouth trying not to get bitten. It manages to get a grip and bite deeply into his arm. Ianto screams loudly as the excruciating pain shoots up his arm, he can feel the bones crunch under the large and powerful teeth.

Ianto punches it and manages to get it off him, he roles over onto his stomach and scrambles for his sword. His weapon is just beyond his finger tips as he is attacked again.

Rolling onto his back once again he tries to stop himself being killed by the monstrous creature. The roll around on the ground until Ianto manages to kick it off. He crawls over to his sword.

Jack pales as the R.O.U.S heads towards him. "Ianto!" He calls out.

Ianto turns and grabs hold of its tail and pulls it away from his love. Jack slowly moves back trying to keep away from it and there at his feet is a large stick. He picks it up and starts hitting the creature with it.

The R.O.U.S grabs hold of Jack's foot and pulls him to the ground. Ianto pulls it off but the creature bites hard into his shoulder, he shouts but just over to the side of him he hears a popping sound.

Ianto rolls them both over a few times and suddenly a flame shoots out and hit's the back of the creature which bellows with agony.

Ianto stands walks over and picks up his sword. The creature groans, Ianto walks over to it and with one thrust plunges the sword deep in the R.O.U.S and repeats it over and over again until it is dead. Ianto turns to look at his love, Jack breathing heavily stares back. Hand in hand they walk out of the Fire Swamp.

"We did it." Jack says taking a deep breath.

Ianto smiles, his arm wrapped around Jack's waist. "No was that so terrible?" He asks.

Jack shakes his head, they look at each other and their heads slowly get closer…

A horse neighs breaking the spell they were under. Ianto moves Jack behind him and holds up his sword.

Prince Hart sitting astride his horse looks down at them. "Surrender."

Chapter Ten

Ianto held the sword out if front of him and pushed Jack behind him. "You mean you wish to surrender to me? Very well, I accept."

"I'll give you full marks for bravery, Don't make yourself a fool." Prince Hart sneered.

"Ah, but how will you capture us? We know the secrets of the Fire Swamp. We could there happily for quite some time. So when you feel like dying feel free to visit." Ianto replied.

Jack turned to and saw and archer come from behind a tree.

"I tell you once again." Prince Hart started to talk, "surrender.

"It will not happen." Ianto said defiantly.

Jack saw another archer come from the other side.

"For the last time surrender!" Prince Hart's voice rose.

"Death first." Ianto shouted back.

"Will you promise not to hurt him?" Jack said suddenly.

"What was that?" Prince Hart asked.

Ianto turned to look at Jack. "What was that?"

Jack slowly walked forwards his eyes on Prince Hart. "If we surrender and I return with you, will you promise not to hurt this man?"

"May I live 1,000 years and never hunt again." Prince Hart said formerly.

"He is a sailor on the pirate ship Revenge. Promise to return him to his ship." Jack said coolly.

"I swear it will be done." Prince Hart replied. He nodded his head towards the archers and whispered to Countess Gwen. "Once we're out of sight, take him back to Florin and throw him in the Pit of Despair." He ordered.

"I swear it will be done." Gwen replied and watched as the Prince rode towards Jack.

"I thought you were dead once and it almost destroyed me. I could not bear it if you died again. Not when I could save you." He opened his mouth to say something else when suddenly he was pulled onto horseback and taken away.

Ianto watched with pain in his eyes.

"Come, sir, we must get you too your ship." Gwen said.

Ianto turned and walked towards here, flanked by the archers.

"We are people of action. Lies do not become up." Ianto replied smirking.

Gwen grinned. "Well spoken, sir." With a nod of her head one of the archers tied Ianto's hands tightly behind him. Ianto looked at the woman on horseback and something caught his attention, her hand. It had six fingers on it. "What is it?" She asked.

"You have six fingers on your right hand. Someone was looking for you.

Gwen brings down the hilt of her sword and hits Ianto on the head with it, he falls to the ground unconscious.

XXXXX

Water drips from the ceiling, a door creaks open as a man with a tray walks in. The dungeon is in a cavern, stairs carved into the mud. Mickey slowly walks down them trying not to drop anything.

Laying tied to a rack was Ianto. His shirt had been removed and the wound on his arm still bleeding, his shoulder complete red with it.

Mickey damps a wet cloth and starts to dab at the wound. Ianto wakes up and looks around in confusion.

"Where am I?" He asks.

"The Pit of Despair!" Mickey replies hoarsely. "Don't even thing…" He coughs and hacks clearing his voice and starts again to talk, normally this time. "Don't even thing about trying to escape. The chains are far too thick and don't dream of being rescued either. The only way in is secret. Only the Prince the Countess and I know how to get in and out." He says as he continues to tend to the wound.

"Then I'm here till I die?" Ianto says.

Mickey nods. "Till the kill you." He walks away and gets a dry cloth.

Ianto turns his head and frowns at the wound that is being taken care off. He turns back to Mickey. "Then why bother curing me?"

"The Prince and the Countess always insist on everyone being healthy before they're broken."

"So it's to be torture?" Ianto says and watches Mickey nod enthusiastically. "I can cope with torture." Mickey shakes his head this time. "You don't believe me?" Ianto asks.

"You survived the Fire Swamp. You must be very brave, but nobody withstands the Machine." Mickey walks away, Ianto staring at him as he does so.

XXXXX

Jack walks down the long corridor forlornly, his arms dangling loosely at his sides. The Prince and the Countess as he walks sadly past them.

"He's been like that ever since the Fire Swamp! It's my father's failing health that's upsetting him." Prince Hart explains.

"Of course." Countess Gwen replies.

XXXXX

"The king died that very night." Grandfather said his voice soft, "and before the following dawn Jack and Prince Hart were married and at noon he met her subjects again - this time as their king."

XXXXX

King Hart stands at the edge of the balcony and shouts out to the crowd below. "My father's words were …."

XXXXX

"Hold it, hold it Grandpa you read that wrong. He doesn't marry Hart, he marries Ianto I'm just sure of it. After all that Ianto did for him, if he didn't marry him…it wouldn't be fair."

The Grandfather looks over at the boy in the bed. "Well who says life is fair? Where is that written? Life isn't always fair!"

The boys voice raises. "I'm telling you, you're messing up the story! Now get it right!"

"Do you want me to go on with this?"

He lowers his head and replies in a sheepish voice. "Yes."

"All right then, no more interruptions. 'At noon he met his subjects again - this time as their king."

XXXXX

"My father's final words were 'love him and I love him and there will be joy'. I present to you your king. King Jack." Hart said.

The crowd murmurs and turn to see their new king. The fanfare starts and slowly Jack walks towards them

"Boooo, booooo, boooo." Old woman Estelle shouts from the crowd, as the others go to their knees she stays standing.

"Why do you do this?" Jack asks.

"Because you had love in your hands and you gave it up!"

"They would have killed Ianto if I hadn't done it."

"Your true love lives and you marry another." Estelle points a finger at him. "True love save him in the Fire Swamp he treated it like garbage and that is what he is - the King of Refuse. So bow down to him if you want. Bow down. Bow to the King of Slime, the King of filth, the King of Putrescence! Booo! Booo!" Estelle walks towards him. "Rubbish! Filth! Slime! Muck! Booo! Booo! Boooo!"

XXXXX

Jack awakes with a gasp and climbs out of bed in a hurry.

XXXXX

Grandfather said almost whispering. "It was ten days till the wedding, the King still lived but Jack's nightmares were growing steadily worse."

"See! Didn't I tell you he'd never marry that rotten Hart!"

"Yes you're very smart. Shut up!"

XXXXX

Jack rushes to see his husband-to-be. "It comes to this I love Ianto. I always have. I know now I always will. If you tell me I must marry you in ten days please believe I will be dead by morning."

Prince Hart watches him and sighs. "I could never cause you grief, consider our wedding off." He rises to his feet. "You, erm, returned this Ianto to his ship?"

"Yes." Gwen replied.

"Then we will simply alert him. Beloved, are you certain he still wants you. After all, it was you who did the leaving in the Fire Swamp. Not to mention that pirates are not known to be men of their words."

"My Ianto will always come for me." Jack replied.

"Ah…I suggest a deal. You write four copies of a letter, I'll send my four fastest ships one in each direction. The Dread Pirate Roberts is always close to Florin this time of year. We'll run up the white flag and deliver your message. If Ianto wants you, bless you both. If not…please consider me as an alternative to suicide. Are we agreed?"

Jack nods.

XXXXX

"Your Prince is really quite a winning creature." Gwen says. "A trifle simple, perhaps but his appeal is undeniable."

"I know. The people are quite taken with him. It's odd, but when I hire Owen to have him murdered on our engagement day I thought that was clever but it's going to be much more moving when I strangle him on his wedding night. Once Guilder is blamed, the nation will be truly outraged. They'll demand we go to war." The two of them snigger at the thought.

"Where is that secret knot?" Gwen asks herself. "It's impossible to find." She starts to push at the tree until a door opens. "Are you coming down into the pit. Ianto's got his strength back. I'm starting him on the Machine tonight."

"Gwen you know how much I love watching you work but I've got my country's 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my husband to murder and Guilder to frame for it. I'm swamped." Prince Hart said.

Gwen walks over to him. "Get some rest, if you haven't got your health you haven't got anything."

XXXXX

Ianto is strapped down with leather to the rack and there is a piece that runs over his mouth.

Chapter Eleven

Mickey sets Ianto up to the Machine as Gwen walks over to him.

"Beautiful, isn't it?" She whispers. The strap moved from his mouth to his chin. He looks at her with disbelief. "Took me half a life time to invent it. I'm sure you've discovered my deep and abiding interest in pain. At present I'm writing the definitive work on the subject." Gwen explained as Mickey attached clamps to Ianto's nipples. "So I want you to be totally honest with me on how the machine makes you feel. This being our first try I'll use the lowest setting." With that Gwen grabbed the lever and pushed it to level One. Water was released and rushed down to a wheel, which in turn started to move.

Ianto's body started to jerk as electricity pulsed through his body through the clamps that were attached to his body. Gwen and Mickey watched him, their faces full of interest. Gwen puts the machine back to 0.

Ianto pants as the pain stops going through him, his body still jerking.

"As you know, the concept of the suction pump is centuries old." Gwen walks away and sits down. "Really, that's all this is, except that instead of sucking water, I'm sucking life. I've just sucked one year of your life away. I might one day go as high as five but I really don't know what that would do to you, so let's just start with what we have. What did this do to you? Tell me, and remember, this is for posterity, so be honest. How do you feel?" Ianto whimpers quietly. "Interesting."

XXXXX

Prince Hart is sitting as he desk surrounded in scrolls. A man walks in and clears his throat.

"Tommy." Prince Hart says.

"Sire." Tommy replies.

Prince Hart indicates impatiently that the young man come stand next to him. Tommy kneels down and places a hand on the side of the chair. Prince Hart glares at him until the he moves it and places his own arm there instead.

"As Chief Enforcer of all Florin, I trust you with this secret. Killers from Guilder are infiltrating the Thieves Forest and planning to murder my groom on our wedding night."

Tommy shook his head. "My spy network has heard no such news."

"Any word from Ianto?" Jack asks as he walks into the room.

The two men stand. "Too soon, my angel! Patience."

"He will come for me."

"Of course." Prince Hart replies and watches Jack leave. "He will not me murdered. On the day of the wedding, I want the Thieves Forest emptied and every inhabitant arrested."

Tommy sighs. "Many of the thieves will resist. My regular enforcers will be inadequate."

"Form a brute squad then." The Prince shouts at him. "I want the Thieves Forest empty before I wed!"

"It won't be easy sire."

"Try ruling the world sometime."

XXXXX

There was lots of commotion as the brute squad enter3ed the forest.

XXXXX

Grandfather spoke softly. "The day of the wedding arrived. The Brute Squad had their hands full carrying out Hart's orders."

XXXXX

"Is everyone out?" Tommy asked.

"Almost but a Japanese woman is giving us some trouble."

"Well you give her some trouble." Tommy replied.

XXXXX

"I am waiting for you Owen." Tosh called out drunkenly. "You told me to back to the beginning, so I have! This is where I am! This is where I'll stay! I will not be moved!"

"Ho there." A soldier turned the corner a axe in hand.

"I do not budge, keep your 'Ho there'"

"But the Prince gave orders."

Tosh stumbled to her fling swiping her sword from side to side. "So did Owen, when a job went wrong you went back to the beginning. Well this is where we got the job, so is the beginning and I am staying till Own come."

"You, brute! Come here!"

"I am waiting for Owen." Tosh said as she sat down.

Large hands grip hold of her shoulders. "You surely are a meanie." Tosh pulls one away and puts her tiny hand against it and the she looks up and smiles. "Hello." Rhys says.

"It's you." Tosh said.

"True." The soldier comes forward and with one hit Rhys knocks him down. "You don't look so good." Rhys moves head away as Tosh breaths on him, alcohol making her stink. "You don't smell so good either."

"Perhaps no. I feel fine."

"Yeah?" Rhys taps her on the shoulder and releases her, she falls to the ground.

XXXXX

Tosh and Rhys were reunited and as Rhys nursed his inebriated friend back to health he told Tosh of Owen's death and the existence of Countess Gwen, the six-fingered woman, considering Tosh's lifelong search he handled the news surprisingly well." Tosh slowly ate her food and then collapsed her face landing in the stew. "Rhys took great care in reviving Tosh." Rhys had grabbed the back of Tosh's clothes and was dunking her head in cold water and then hot water.

Chapter Twelve

"That's enough! That's enough! Tosh said pushing away from Rhys her hair plastered against her head. "Where is this Gwen now so I may kill her."

"She's with the Prince in the castle, but the castle gate is guarded by 30 men." Rhys explained.

"Ah!" Tosh said in disgust turning around kicking the table behind her. "How man could you handle?" She asks Rhys suddenly.

"I don't think more than ten." Rhys says.

Tosh holds out her hand and counts her fingers. "Leaving 20 for me, at my best I could never defeat that many." With a sigh she sits down. "I need Owen to plan. I have no gift for strategy."

"But Owen's dead."

"No. Not Owen. I need the man in black." Tosh says with a smile

"What?"

Tosh stands quickly. "Look, he bested you with strength - your greatness. He bested me with steel. He must of out-thought Owen and a man who can do that can plan my castle onslaught any day. Let's go." Tosh says as she walks off.

"Where?"

"To find the man in black." She said simply.

"But you don't know where he is."

"Don't bother me with trifles! After 20 years, at last my mother's soul will be at peace. There will be blood tonight!"

XXXXX

Prince Hart slowly sharpens his dagger on a stone. Tommy walks in heads towards the desk and gets down on one knee.

"Rise and report." The Prince orders.

"The Thieves Forest is emptied - 30 men guard the castle gate."

"Double it, my prince must be safe!"

"The gate has but one key and I carry that."

Footsteps are heard and the Prince sees Jack arrive.

"Ahhhh my dulcet darling, tonight we marry. Tomorrow morning your men will escort us to Florin channel where every ship in my armada waits to accompany us on our honeymoon." The Prince says as he holds Jack's hands.

"Every ship but you four fastest you mean." Jack says, the smile falls from the Prince's face. "Every ship but the four you sent."

"Yes, yes of course." Hart replies quickly. "Naturally, not those four."

Tommy clears his throat and bows. "Your majesty's," and leaves quickly.

"You never sent the ships. Don't bother lying. Doesn't matter - Ianto will come for me anyway."

"You're a silly man."

"Yes, I am a silly man for not having seen sooner that you were nothing but a coward with a heart full of fear."

"I would not say such things if I were you." Prince Hart says coolly.

"Why not? You can' hurt me. Ianto and I are joined by the bonds of love and you cannot track that, not with 1,000 bloodhounds and you cannot break it not with 1,000 swords. And when I say you're a coward that is only because you are the slimiest weakling ever to crawl the earth!"

Hart hit's the table and grabs hold of Jack's arm. "I would not say such things if I were you!" He pulls Jack through the stone corridors and locks him into his room. The Prince leaves running.

XXXXX

He rushes down the mud stairs of the pit and heads straight for Ianto and looks at him. "You truly love each other and so you might have been truly happy. Not one couple in a century has that chance, no matter what the storybooks say and so I think no man in a century will suffer as greatly as you will!" With that he moves away and pushes the leaver to the top.

"Not to 50!" Gwen shouts

Ianto's body arches as the excruciating pain runs through his body, his mouth open wide as he screams.

Chapter Thirteen

The Prince, Gwen and Mickey stand watching as Ianto's screams intensifies. The sound is heard through the forest and the kingdom.

Jack turns from staring into the fire at such screams.

XXXXX

"Rhys! Rhys! Listen! Do you hear? That is the sound of ultimate suffering. My heart made that sound when Gwen slaughtered my mother. The man in black makes it now."

"The man in black?"

"His true love is marrying another tonight. So who else has the cause for ultimate suffering? Excuse me. Pardon me, it's important." Tosh says as she tries to move through the crowd. Rhys please."

"Everybody move." Rhys shouts out.

The crowd part and Tosh and Rhys start to walk.

"Thank you." Tosh says.

XXXXX

Mickey rushes back to the tree pushing a small cart. He stops suddenly as a voice speaks.

"Where is the man in black?" Turning around he sees Tosh and Rhys. "You get there from this grove, yes?" Tosh asks as she places the sword against his throat." Mickey stares at them terrified. "Rhys, jog his memory."

Rhys hits him hard on the head, the two friends watch as Mickey falls to the ground.

"I'm sorry Tosh. I didn't mean to jog him so hard." Rhys watches as Tosh walks away and gets down onto one knee and holds up the sword. "Tosh?"

"Mother, I have failed you for 20 years. Now our misery can end. Somewhere, somewhere close by, is a man who can help us. I cannot find him alone. I need you. I need you to guide my sword. Please!" Tosh gets to her feet, eyes closed. "Guide my sword." Rhys watches as slowly Tosh moves around the area, moving as if she were being guided. The sword finally ends up sticking in a tree. With a sigh and a disappointed look she leans against it. A door in the tree creaks open. Tosh and Rhys walk inside.

XXXXX

Ianto lay on the wooded bench, Rhys lays his head down on the still chest.

"He's dead." Rhys says.

Chapter Fourteen

"Just is not fair." Tosh said sadly.

XXXXX

"Grandpa, Grandpa wait. Wait. What did Rhys mean, 'He's dead?' I mean…he didn't mead dead? Ianto's only faking…right?"

"You want me to read this or not?"

"Who gets Hart?"

"I don't understand." Grandfather replies.

"Who kills Prince Hart, at the end? Somebody's got to do it! Is it Tosh? Who?"

"Nobody. Nobody kills him. He lives."

"You mean he wins?" The grandson says getting upset. "Jesus, Grandpa what did you read me this thing for?"

"You know, you've been very sick and you're taking this story very seriously. I think we oughta stop now." Grandfather closes the book and starts to stand.

"No, I'm ok, I'm ok. Sit down. I'm all right."

He sits back down again. "Ok. All right now, let's see where were we? Oh, yes in the Pit of Despair."

XXXXX

Tosh looks up at Rhys. "Well, we Sato's have never taken defeat easily. Come alone Rhys. Bring the body."

"The body?"

"Have you any money?" Tosh asks.

"I have a little."

"I just hope it's enough to buy a miracle, that's all."

XXXXX

Tosh and Rhys come to this little cottage on knock on the door.

"Go away!" A male voice shouts. Rhys hits it over and over again until it opens. "What? What?"

"Are you The Doctor, who worked for the king all of those years?" Tosh asked.

"The King's stinking son fired me and thank you so much for bringing up such a painful subject. Why you're at it why don't you give me a nice paper cut and pour lemon juice on it? We're closed." With that the tall good looking man shuts the small wooden flap. Tosh starts to hit on the door again until it opens. "Beat it or I'll call the Brute Squad!"

"I'm on the Brute Squad." Rhys says.

"You are the Brute Squad." The Doctor replies.

"We need a miracle. It's very important." Tosh asks.

"Look, I'm retired. Besides, why would you want someone the King's stinking son fired? I might kill whoever you wanted me to miracle."

"He's already dead." Tosh explained.

"He is, eh? I'll take a look. Bring him in."

XXXXX

Rhys and Tosh bring in Ianto and lay him on the table. The Doctor holds up one of Ianto's arms and watches as it falls onto the table.

"I've seen worse." The Doctor starts to push and prod at Ianto's chest." He mutters quietly to himself.

"Sir?, Sir?" Tosh repeats herself

"Huh?" The Doctor looks at her.

"We're in a terrible rush."

"Don't rush me girlie. You rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles. You got money?"

"65." Tosh answers.

"Phew! I never worked for so little. Except once, and that was a very noble cause."

"This is noble, sir. His wife is crippled, his children are on the brink of starvation."

"Are you a rotten liar." The Doctor tells Tosh.

Tosh leans forward. "I need him to help me avenge my mother, murdered these 20 years."

"Your first story was better. Where's the bellows? He probably owes you money, huh?" The Doctor asks as he gets the bellows. "Well, I'll ask him."

"He's dead. He can't talk." Tosh said confusion on her face.

"Whooo! Look who knows so much, huh? Well, it just so happens that your friend here is only mostly dead. There's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Please open his mouth." Tosh opens Ianto's mouth, while The Doctor puts the end of the bellows in. "Now, mostly dead is slightly alive." He starts to push the handles together. "Now, all dead - well, with all dead, there's usually only one thing that you can do."

"What's that?" Tosh asks.

"Go through his clothes and look for loose change." He pushes a few more times and removes the bellows. "Hey! Hello in there! Hey! What's so important? What you got here that's worth living for?" With that he pushes down on Ianto's chest.

"True…love." Ianto says.

"True love. You heard him." Tosh said. "You could not ask for a more noble cause that that."

"Girlie, true love is the greatest thing in the world. Except for a nice MLT - mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich - when the mutton is nice and lean and the tomato's ripe. They're so perky. I love that." The Doctor said licking his lips. "But that's not what he said. He distinctly said 'to blave'. And as we all know 'to blave' means to bluff, huh? So you were probably playing cards and he cheated."

A woman shrieks from the door. "Liar! Liar! Liar!"

"Get back, witch"

"I'm not a witch, I'm your best friend Donna. But after what you just said I'm not sure I wanna be that any more."

"You never had it so good."

"True love. He said, 'true love Doctor." Donna repeated.

"Don't say another word Donna."

Donna turns to Tosh and Rhys. "He's afraid. Ever since Prince Hart fired him, his confidence is shattered."

"Why did you say that name. You promised me that you would never say that name."

"What Hart?"

"Arg!" The Doctor shouts.

"Hart! Hart!" Donna repeats over and over again following her best friend around.

"Arg! Arg!" He repeats every time she says his name.

"Hart! Hart."

"I'm not listening."

"True love is expiring and you don't have the decency to say why you won't help."

"Nobody's hearing nothing." The Doctor mutters.

"Hart! Hart!" Donna starts again.

"This is Jack's true love. If you heal him, he will stop Hart's wedding." Tosh explains.

The Doctor turns to her. "Shh! Wait. I make him better, Hart suffers?"

"Humiliations galore." Tosh says with a grin.

"Ha, ha, ha." The Doctor sings. "That is a noble cause. Give me the 65 - I'm on the job!"

XXXXX

The Doctor gently covers a large looking piece of chocolate.

"That's a miracle pill?" Tosh asks.

"The chocolate coating makes it go down easier, but you have to wait 15 minutes for full potency. And he shouldn't go in swimming after for at least. What?"

"An hour, a good hour." The Doctor answers

"Thank you for everything?" Tosh says as they walk out carrying Ianto and the miracle pill.

"Bye Bye." Donna calls out.

"Have fun storming the castle." The Doctor says as he waves.

"Think it'll work?" Donna asks.

"It would take a miracle."

XXXXX

A the castle wall Tosh and Rhys carry and dead Ianto along to where they could see the main gate.

Rhys looks over. "Tosh, there's more than 30."

"What's the difference?" Tosh grabs the back of Ianto's head. "We've got him. Help me here." They move Ianto until he is leaning against the wall. "We'll have to force-feed him."

"Has it been 15 minutes?"

"We can't wait. The wedding is in half an hour. We must strike in the hustle and bustle before hand. Tilt his head back, open his mouth." Tosh pushes the pill into Ianto's mouth.

"How long do we have to wait before if we know that the miracle works?"

Tosh shakes her head. "You're guess is as good as mine."

Ianto's eyes suddenly open.

Chapter Fifteen

"I'll beat you apart! I'll take you both together." Ianto said his voice rising.

Rhys clamped his hand over Ianto's mouth. "I guess not very long." Rhys said.

Ianto looks down at his body. "Why won't my arms move?"

"You've been mostly dead all day." Rhys explained.

"We had The Doctor make a pill to bring you back." Tosh said.

"Who are you? Are we enemies? Why am I on this wall? Where's Jack?"

"Let me explain…No, there is too much. Let me sum up. Jack is marrying Hart in less that half an hour. So all we have to do is get in, break up the wedding, still the Prince, make our escape after I kill Countess Gwen." Tosh said quickly.

Ianto twitched his finger. "That doesn't leave much time for dilly-dallying." He said.

"You just wiggled you finger that's wonderful." Rhys said with a smile.

"I've always been a quick healer. What are our liabilities?" Ianto asks Tosh.

"There is but one working gate. Come here." They move Ianto so he can peek over the wall. "And it is guarded by..60 men."

"And our assets?"

"You brains, Rhys' strength and my steel."

"That's it? Impossible. If I had a month to plan, maybe I'd come up with something - but this." He said with a shake of his head.

"You just shook your head. That doesn't make you happy?" Rhys said grinning.

Ianto's head moved loosely as he turned to look at Rhys. "My brains, her steel and your strength against 60 men and you think a little head-jiggle is supposed to make me happy, hmmm? I mean if only we had a wheelbarrow, that would be something."

Tosh looked up at Rhys. "Where did we put that wheelbarrow that Mickey had?"

"Over by him, I think." Rhys replied.

"And why didn't you list that among our assets in the first place?" Ianto sighs. "What I wouldn't give for a holocaust cloak."

"There we cannot help you." Tosh answered.

Rhys pulled out a cloak from under his shirt. "Will this do?"

"Where did you get that?" Tosh asked.

"At The Doctor's. It fit so nice he said I could keep it."

"All right, all right. Come on, help me up." Ianto asked. Rhys and Tosh help him to his feet holding him tightly. "Now, I'll need a sword eventually, he said as his head flopped forward.

"Why, you can't even lift one." Tosh says as Rhys pulls his head back.

"True, but that's hardly common knowledge is it?" Ianto says as his head goes backwards. Rhys once again pushes it too its upright position. "Thank you. Now, there may be problems once we are inside." His head flops forward again, Rhys comes to the rescue.

"I'll say! How do I find the Countess? Once I do, how do I find you again? Once I find you again, how do we escape?" Tosh asks quickly.

"Don't pester him. He's had a hard day." Rhys says.

"Right, right. Sorry." Tosh says, Rhys takes hold of Ianto's head and makes him nod.

"Tosh." Rhys whispers

"What?" Tosh replies.

"I hope we win."

XXXXX

"You don't seem excited, my little muffin?" John asks Jack as she stands behind him.

"Should I be?"

"Grooms often are, I'm told."

"I do not marry tonight. My Ianto will save me." Jack looks at John briefly before he walks off.

John Hart smirks and then follows.

XXXXX

It has gotten dark as the three heroes poke their heads over the wall and then back down. The look at each other. Tosh holds out her hand, Rhys lays his on top. With a swing of his shoulder Ianto manages to make his land on the very top.

XXXXX

Inside the church, the music plays.

Clergyman Wilf turns to look at the two who are about to be married his raises his hands and everyone stands.

"Mawidge, mawidge is what bwings us together today. Mawidge, that bwessed awagement, that dweam within a dweam."

A man can be heard outside. "Stand your ground men. Stand your ground."

XXXXX

A huge dark figure surrounded in smoke moves forward

"Stand your ground."

"I am the Dread Pirate Roberts." Rhys' deep voice echoes around them. There will be no survivor." Tosh is pushing her friend in the wheelbarrow with Ianto over her back.

"Now?" She asks struggling to move.

"Not yet." Ianto answers.

"My men are here, I am here." Rhys continues but soon you will not be here." He raises his hand and points.

"Now." Tosh squeaks out.

"Light him." Ianto replies.

With a candle, Tosh lights the cloak which goes up in flames.

"The Dread Pirate Roberts takes no survivors. All your worst nightmares are about to come true." The soldiers keep backing away.

XXXXX

Clergyman Wilf continues his speech. "Wuv, twue wuv will follow you fowever."

Prince Hart looks at Gwen and nods. She turns walks away clicking her fingers so that some more soldiers follow her

XXXXX

"The Dread Pirate Roberts is here for your soul."

The soldiers in a panic run in different directions.

"Stay where you are and fight." Tommy orders. "Stay where you are." All the men are gone, he is alone. He turns and sees the flaming cloak.

XXXXX

"So tweasure you wuv."

"Skip to the end." Hart orders.

"Have you the wring?"

Hart places the ring on Jack's finger.

"Here comes my Ianto now."

XXXXX

Rhys pulls of the cloak. "Rhys, the portcullis." Ianto orders.

Rhys take hold of the metal bars and pushes them up. Tommy stands there scared.

XXXXX

"Your Ianto is dead." Hart says. "I killed him myself."

"Then why is there fear behind your eyes?" Jacks asks.

XXXXX

"Give us the gate key." Ianto says.

"I have no gate key." Tommy shakes his head.

"Rhys, tear his arms off." Tosh orders.

"Oh you mean this gate key." Tommy holds it out. Rhys takes it from him.

XXXXX

"And do you Prince Jwack."

"Husband and husband, say husband and husband." Hart orders

"Husband and husband." Clergyman Wilf repeats.

Jack stares, shock covering his handsome features. "Escort the groom to the honeymoon suite. I'll be there shortly." Hart shoves Jack at his father.

"He didn't come" Jack said dully.

Chapter Sixteen

Gwen runs down a corridor closely followed by guards. Tosh, sword in hand walks quietly around the castle, with Rhys who is dragging Ianto.

The come to a crossroad of corridors, Tosh pokes her head around the corner it is a clear. She turns and looks at Ianto who indicates which way they should go.

Suddenly from the other end Gwen and the soldiers appear, they meet in the centre.

"Kill the dark one and the giant, leave the third for questioning." Gwen orders.

The soldiers rush them and Tosh takes them all out with quick easy strokes of her sword

Gwen stands alone, sword in hand.

"Hello, my name is Toshiko Sato. You killed my mother, prepare to die." She says to Gwen.

Gwen aims her sword, then suddenly turns and runs, Tosh right on her heals.

Rhys and Ianto look at each other.

XXXXX

Gwen turns a corner, opens a door. Tosh tries to open the door but it is locked she bangs against it a few times but it will not budge.

"Rhys I need you." She calls out.

"I can't leave him alone."

"She's getting away from me Rhys. Please!" Tosh shouts. "Rhys."

XXXXX

Rhys wraps Ianto's arms around a suit of armour so it would keep him upright.

"I'll be right back." Rhys says as he rushes off to help Tosh.

XXXXX

Rhys stops Tosh from running at the door again, with one hard push the door comes of its hinges and then indicates for Tosh to enter.

"Thank you." She says as she rushes through.

Rhys turns away and heads back to where he left Ianto.

XXXXX

"Strange wedding." The King said.

"Yes very strange." The Queen replied. Jack walking numbly between them. "Come along."

Jack kisses the King on the cheek. "What was that for?"

"Because you've always been so kind to me and I won't be seeing you again. Since I will be killing myself once we reach the honeymoon suite."

"Won't that be nice, hmm?" The King replied. "He kissed me!" He said laughing.

XXXXX

Countess Gwen continues to run down a maze of corridors hoping to escape but Tosh is still right behind her.

XXXXX

Rhys stands and looks around, he was sure that this was where he left Ianto.

XXXXX

Gwen stops for a moment and pulls a dagger from her boot and runs down some stairs, she stops. As soon as Tosh is in sight she throws it and it plunges into Tosh's stomach.

Tosh gets pushed back to the wall. "Sorry mother." She whispers, her hand holding the hilt of the dagger. "I tried. I tried."

"You must be the Japanese brat I taught a lesson to all those years ago. Simply incredible. Have you been chasing me your whole life, only to fail now? I think that is the worst thing I've ever heard." Gwen utters as she walks towards Tosh. "How marvellous."

Tosh collapses to the floor in agony.

XXXXX

Jack walks into the honeymoon suite sad and alone. He sits at the table and opens a box. In there lay a dagger." He holds it up to his chest.

"There's a shortage of good masculine chests in this world. It would be a pity to damage yours." Ianto says.

Jack suddenly turns around and sees the man he loves laying on the bed.

"Ianto." Jack rushes over to the bed and climbs on top of Ianto. "Oh, Ianto, darling." He covers Ianto's face in kisses. Ianto tries to kiss him back. "Jack why won't you hold me?"

"Gently." Ianto says.

"At a time like this, that's all you can think to say - gently." Jack pulls Ianto head up and kisses him.

Ianto's eyes widen. "Gently." He repeats in a high pitched voice. Jack lets go of his head and falls heavily against the pillows and he groans.

XXXXX

Tosh pulls out the blade from her stomach. Gwen's eyes widen. Tosh stumbles to her feet.

"Good heavens are you still trying to win?" Gwen asks. Tosh takes a few steps forward and stumbles back, the pain obvious in her face. "You've got an overdeveloped sense of vengeance. It's going to get you into trouble some day." She pulls out her sword and plunges forward. It goes into Tosh's shoulder as soon as the blade is taken out blood pours from the wound.

Chapter Seventeen

Gwen plunges it into the other shoulder, there is no reaction from Tosh. She swings the sword, Tosh manages to block it.

She swipes her sword and scars Gwen's face, just as Gwen had done to her.

Tosh's voice is soft as she speaks. "Hello, my name is Toshiko Sato, you killed my mother prepare to die." She stumbles against the table. The sword fight continues across the room. "Hello, my name is Toshiko Sato, you killed my mother prepare to die." Her voice gets louder as the fighting gets more intense. "Hello, my name is Toshiko Sato, you killed my mother prepare to die."

"Stop saying that." Gwen growls, she swings her sword. Tosh ducks and then stabs Gwen in the shoulder. "Urggg." It happens again and Tosh gets the other shoulder. "Ahhh!"

Tosh now starts to shout as they continue to fight. "Hello, my name is Toshiko Sato, you killed my mother prepare to die." Tosh has the sword in front of Gwen's face. "Offer me money."

"Yes." Gwen replies.

"Power too, promise me that."

"All that I have and more. Please." Gwen begs.

"Offer me everything I ask for."

"Anything you want." Gwen attacks Tosh.

Tosh is too fast and slides the sword through her stomach. "I want my mother back you bitch." Tosh uses her foot to push Gwen of her sword who then collapses to the ground.

Tosh, holding her stomach turns and runs out, she has to go and find her friends.

XXXXX

"Oh Ianto, will you ever forgive me?"

"What hideous sin have you committed lately?" Ianto asks.

"I got married, I didn't want to. It all happened so fast."

"It never happened."

"What?" Jack asks.

"Never happened."

"But it did, I was there." Jack protested. "This old man said, 'husband and husband'."

"Did you say, 'I do'?"

Jack thinks about it for a moment. "Oh, no. We sort of skipped that part."

"Then you're not married. If you didn't say it, you didn't do it. Wouldn't you agree, Your Highness?"

Jack turned and standing in the doorway was Prince Hart.

"A technicality that shortly will be remedied." Jack climbs of Ianto. "But first things first." John pulls out his sword. "To the death.

"No." Ianto says. "To the pain."

John pauses for a moment. "I don't think I'm quite familiar with that phrase."

"I'll explain and I'll use small words so that you'll be sure to understand, you warthog-faced buffoon."

"That may be the first time in my life a man has dared to insult me."

"It won't be the last. To the pain means that the first thing you'll lose will be your feet below the ankles, then your hands at the wrists, next your nose."

"And then my tongue, I suppose? I killed you too quickly the last time. A mistake I don't mean to duplicate tonight." John takes a step forward.

"I wasn't finished. Next you lose your left eye, followed by the right."

"And then my ears, I understand. Let's get on with it."

"Wrong." Ianto shouts. "Your ears you keep and I'll tell you why. So that every shriek of every child at seeing your hideousness will be yours to cherish. Every babe that weeps at your approach, every woman who cries out. 'Dear God, what is that thing?' will echo in your perfect ears. That is what 'to the pain means' - it means I leave you in anguish, wallowing in freakish misery forever."

John stares at the man on the bed. "I think you're bluffing."

"It's possible, pig. I might be bluffing. It's conceivable, you miserable, vomitous mass, that I'm only lying here because I lack the strength to stand. The again…perhaps I have the strength after all." With that Ianto slowly rises to his feet and holds up his sword. "Drop…your…sword." John throws it to the ground quickly. "Have a seat." Ianto indicates with his weapon. John quickly rushes over and sits down. "Tie him up." Ianto tells Jack. "Make it as tight as you like."

Jack walks over and ties him up tightly.

"Ow!"

Tosh runs into the room. "Where's Rhys?"

"I thought he was with you?" Ianto replies.

"No!"

"In that case.." Ianto's legs go out from under him.

"Help him." Tosh orders.

"Why does Ianto need helping?" Jack runs over and places Ianto's arm over his shoulder.

"Because he has no strength."

"I knew it." John gloats. "I knew you were bluffing. I knew he was bluffing." He turns and ends up staring at the sharp end of Tosh's sword.

"Shall I dispatch him for you?" She asks.

"Thank you but no. Whatever happens I want him to live a long life alone with his cowardice."

"Tosh." Rhys shouts out. "Tosh where are you?" The window above Rhys head opens. "Oh, there you are. Tosh I saw the Prince's stables and there they were - four white horses and I thought there were four of us if we ever find the man. Hello sir." Rhys says waving. Jack waves back smiling. "So I took them with me in case we ever bumped into each other. I guess we just did."

"Rhys," Tosh says smiling. "You did something right!"

"Don't worry I won't let it go to my head."

They help Jack onto the window sill and he jumps. Rhys catches him and they both grin. Ianto indicates that Tosh should go first.

"You know it's very strange - I have been in the revenge business so long now that it's over, I don't know what to do with the rest of my life."

"Have you ever considered piracy?" Ianto asks. "You would make a wonderful Dread Pirate Roberts." Ianto jumps out of the window,

Tosh thinks about this for a moment and then also jumps. The four of them ride off on their white horses.

XXXXX

"They rode to freedom and as dawn arose Ianto and Jack knew they were safe. A wave of love swept over them and as they reached for each other." Grandfather stops suddenly.

"What? What?"

"Nah, it's kissing again. You don't want to hear that."

The grandson looks down at his bed for a moment. "Well…I don't mind so much."

"Ok." Grandfather replies as he opens the book again. "Since the invention of the kiss there have been five kisses that were rated the most passionate, the most pure this one left them all behind

XXXXX

Jack and Ianto lean towards each other, their mouths touch and they lose themselves in the kiss.

XXXXX

"The End." Grandfather says softly. "Now I think you oughta go to sleep."

"Ok," the boy says as he lays down and pulls the duvet up over himself.

"Ok, Ok." Grandfather mutters as he collects his things. "All right. So long."

"Grandpa. M-maybe you could come over and read it again to me tomorrow."

"As you wish," he says with a smile looking at his grandson. He then turns, switches off the light and closes the door behind him leaving the young boy alone in his room.

The End