It was lonely and too quiet in the Hub, just the three of them. Gwen kept expecting to see Tosh out of the corner of her eyes, hear Owen bitching about his afterlife. The absence felt like a haunting all in itself.
She tried to cover up the silence with rock music. Jack and Ianto were arguing in the coffee room, probably from the same impulse. About what she wasn't sure; it was all flirting anyway, an impression confirmed when they paused and then Ianto shouted, quite clearly, "I don't think with my third leg, *Jack.*"
"Boys, don't make me throw cold water on you!" Gwen yelled back.
Silence, in which Owen should have said something rude. Ianto emerged from the coffee room, silent and absurdly solemn, and handed her a mug of coffee with cream and sugar. "I think I must love him," he said to Gwen softly.
"He makes me want to stab him in the stomach just to watch him die." He sighed and sat on her desk. "My cousin said that's a sure sign."
"Oh, well. You're a bit strange, Ianto," she said, and blew on the coffee to cool it.
"We should get more sun."
That was Toshiko's cue to give them stats on sun exposure and vitamin levels. Gwen slurped her coffee noisily to cover, but they both heard the gap anyway.
"I need a new look," Ianto said. "The suits were just to seduce Jack. I thought I might get a mohawk. What do you think?"
"The suits suit you," Gwen said.
"Shouldn't do anything drastic when you're--" In mourning, she didn't say. "Right now. Don't cut your hair or give anything away."
She found herself thinking about cutting all her hair off daily. Usually, she sat on Rhys's lap until the impulse went again.
"It's just a look," Ianto said.
"Still--oh, hell, what's that?" An alarm was going off.
"Tourists at the door," Ianto said without looking. "It's locked. They'll go away."
Another alarm sounded. "Or not," Ianto said. This time he looked. His face paled.
"What the hell? Didn't you lock the door?" Jack bounded up the stairs and into his office. "Ianto!"
Ianto covered his face with his hands.
"Ianto?" Gwen asked. She looked at the monitors. It looked like... Goths were pouring into the front office, mummy Goth and daddy Goth and three little child Goths. But this was Torchwood. There was no taking anything on face value.
Jack emerged from his office with his gun.
"Don't shoot them," Ianto said. "It will only make them mad."
Jack paused, holstering his gun; then he walked over to Ianto and stood over him, arms crossed. Ianto looked up at Jack blankly.
"They're getting in. How are they getting in? How did they find the switch?" Gwen watched the weird family on the monitors, holstering her own gun and wondering if she should be getting a bigger weapon. "Ianto!"
"My family is good with hidden passages. They're my American cousins," Ianto said finally. "I'm very sorry."
"I don't recognize what they are."
"You don't know everything, Jack, do you? One of them is my third cousin and the other is my sixth cousin." Ianto glanced at the monitor. "So the children are my fourth cousins. And--oh, God, Cousin Fester." He covered his face with his hands again. "I'll get rid of them! Just give me a moment."
Gwen met Jack's eyes. "Well, shooting only makes them mad," Jack says. "Let's be nice."
The wheel door flashed and began to open. Ianto slipped off Gwen's desk and walked across the Hub, straightening his tie and squaring his shoulders. "Cousins!" he cried when the door opened fully.
"Cousin!" A black-haired man with a pencil moustache, flashy suit, and something terribly wrong about his eyes flung both arms out.
"Darling cousin!" A black-haired woman with something terribly wrong about her smile stood beside the man. Three children, all around the age of ten, glared from behind her skirts. And there was... something... in the hall behind them.
"It's been not nearly long enough," Ianto said. He held out his hands to the woman and kissed both cheeks. "I could have happily gone years without seeing you again. I may have to kill you all." Gwen blinked and looked at Jack, who had his eyebrows raised.
"Oh, Cousin Ian. Do you remember Wednesday? And these are Pugsley and Pubert; they weren't born when we visited last."
"You stole my pteranodon," the little girl said. There were razor blades in her voice.
"Prove it, maggot," Ianto replied.
The thing in the hallway laughed uproariously. Gwen edged closer to Jack.
"I suppose you'll come in." Ianto turned and let them into the Hub. "Gwen, would you put the tea on, please?"
Well, that was unexpected. "Of course," she said, crossing behind Jack to the coffee room. Tray, kettle, cups--more cups, where were the spare cups--God, she wished she had a bigger gun, even if it wouldn't help. Creeps ran up and down her spine no matter which way she turned. She bent down, found the extra cups in the cabinet, straightened back up and shrieked as she found the thing from the hallway right beside her.
"Hi! How are ya! Fester Addams," it said, holding out its hand. It sounded like a man; it couldn't be a man, not with *eyes* like that. It grinned at her with sharp teeth, seized her hand and shook it soundly.
"Gwen. Cooper. Delighted," she managed.
"What a great home you have! So dank. So wet. I could skulk around here for years," it said. It grinned wider, showing far more sharp, steel-grey teeth than humans had. "Let me carry that for you!"
"The. The water hasn't boiled," she said.
"Oh!" It touched the kettle and the kettle whistled. "There!"
Gwen made the tea automatically. She reluctantly placed the tray in the creature's hands, teapot, biscuits, cups, sugar, milk, and it carried the lot into the conference room.
"It's my pteranodon," the little girl said as Gwen entered the room. There was a space next to Jack at the head of the table; Gwen took it, firmly.
"Oh, Wednesday. That's enough of that," the woman said.
The girl closed her mouth into a tiny slit, staring at Ianto with glittering eyes.
"Gwen, these are my cousins Morticia and Gomez and their children Wednesday, Pugsley, and Pubert. I see you met Cousin Fester." The two boys were identical, except that one had a moustache like his father. They both made her flesh crawl.
"Arsenic? Arsenic, anyone?" Gomez pulled a flask from his pocket.
"Not before noon, dear," Morticia said.
Wednesday held her cup up.
"None for me. I have my soul in," Ianto said, taking a biscuit, sitting up very straight.
"Cousin Ian!" Morticia set down her cup. "Oh, Ian!"
"Ianto. I'm my father's son, not my mother's."
"But you'll get older!"
"I have a gray hair," Ianto said.
Morticia pressed both hands to her face and burst into tears.
Gomez leaned over and punched Ianto in the arm. "Ian Addams! What in the world are you thinking!"
"I have a choice. I'm exercising it. I choose to be ordinary."
Morticia wailed and fell showily forward onto the table. The children and Fester crowded around her, glaring at Ianto. Gwen glanced at Jack, but Jack had his eyes fixed on Gomez.
"Now that's just enough of that, young man! Come on! Cough it up!" Gomez jumped up and pounded Ianto on the back. "Easy does it! Better out than in!"
"Stop that immediately," Ianto said, his voice cold and dark. Gomez didn't. After a heartbeat, Ianto pushed away from the table abruptly, grabbed Gomez's arm, and threw him through the glass window, onto the metal floor sixty feet below. Gwen gasped; Jack grabbed her arm.
They heard Gomez laughing. "Ha! Ha! Ha! Cousin Ian, you're a card!"
Morticia straightened up, her tears leaving no mark on her ghost-pale face. "I would like some arsenic, please, my dear. It will steady my nerves."
Ianto poured. They both sipped their tea. Fester grabbed a handful of biscuits and did something with them in the depths of its long black garment. The children continued to give Ianto the evil eye, Wednesday sipping arsenic straight from her father's flask, the boys crouching at their mother's side with their chins on the table.
"Why are you here, cousin?" Ianto asked.
"Why, you asked us to come. You sent Fester a letter--"
"Three years ago," Ianto broke in, his voice breaking on the last syllable, going soft and hoarse. He set down his cup with a tiny click of porcelain. "Three years ago I needed you. I said it was an emergency."
"Here we are!" Fester cried.
"Three years ago it was an emergency! Don't you remember how time works any more!" Ianto shouted. "She died!"
The boys perked up. "Wake the dead! Wake the dead!" they chanted together.
"Have that taken care of in no time, little coz!" Fester said.
Ianto closed his eyes. The color was high in his cheeks, blotchy red spreading over his face. "Human death," Ianto said, very quietly.
"So she stinks a little! No big deal," Fester said. He laughed.
"I would like you to leave, please," Ianto said even more quietly. Gwen slipped the gun from her holster. Jack put his hand on her thigh, pinning her to the chair.
Morticia smiled and shook her head condescendingly. "But we just arrived. We'll take a look at your dead girlfriend and--"
Ianto took a deep breath, stood, and opened his mouth as if he were going to scream. Instead, birds fluttered out of his throat, a whole flock of tiny sparrow-like birds with blue legs and sparkling blue breasts. They swirled around his head and out the broken window. Jack put his hand up, catching one in his palm, but it slipped between his fingers.
"Oh, that's more like it," Morticia said, and then Ianto jumped over the table and grabbed her by the hair. She stirred her tea and smiled.
Ianto yanked her out of the chair, out the door, and down the stairs. She didn't make a sound.
"Ian! Let's talk about this!" Fester called out, following Ianto. The three children looked at Gwen and Jack.
"Are you going to shoot me?" Wednesday asked. She capped her father's flask.
"No," Jack said.
"I'd like it if you shot me," Wednesday said. The boys flanked her, watching Gwen.
Jack stood between Gwen and the children. Wednesday looked up at him impassively. "I'm not going to cheat on Ianto," Jack said. "Better follow your parents."
"Or what?" Wednesday asked. Her voice was flat and featureless as a presswood board.
Jack leaned over and picked her up, slinging her over his shoulder. Her head swiveled so that her eyes stayed on Gwen. "How about you?" she asked. "Do you die?"
Gwen shuddered despite herself. When Jack carried the girl downstairs, the boys followed, and Gwen shut the door behind them. She heard Gomez laughing loudly, then Morticia's soft voice, and then silence. Gwen pressed her back to the door and shivered until Jack knocked and said, "All clear."
"Oh. My. God," Gwen said without budging.
"Yeah. Me too."
"Oh my GOD."
"Open up, we need to talk to Ianto."
She opened the door and held Jack's hand. Couldn't help it. He tucked her under his strong, un-creepy arm and they walked downstairs together.
In the main Hub, Ianto sat on the corrugated metal floor with his legs crossed, his elbows on his knees, and his fists pressed to his forehead. His eyes were closed. The birds were perched over and around him, tiny needle claws clutching to his suit and standing on the floor.
Jack pulled up a desk chair and sat beside him, careful not to tread on a bird. After a moment's contemplation of dignity, Gwen sat on Jack's knee. She felt clammy all over.
"I have an embarrassing aunt Gladys. She smells of cat pee," Gwen offered once she'd stopped shivering. Ianto still hadn't moved.
"Heh," Ianto said. "That's funny." There was no affect in his voice; it was horribly cold. He raised his head.
His eyes were lifeless, flat as that awful little girl's. He didn't even look like himself. "I should put my soul back in," he said, his voice hollow, "but then I have to feel again."
"Better to rip the band-aid off than let it linger."
"I thought they didn't get the letter. Things go strangely around my family. Physics doesn't work the same way. But they got the letter," he said. "They got the letter. I asked for Fester's help with Lisa. They let it sit... for three years. I'm so angry," he said in that flat, grey tone.
"It's not life if you don't feel it, Ianto."
"Ian. No. John Addams. John. Mother named me John, and she was the Addams. Father was human. I never saw him until Mother disappeared. Is that awful? I can't feel it right now."
"How old was that little girl?" Jack asked.
"Old. Morticia thinks ten is the right age for a child." His face didn't move. He didn't smile.
"Put your soul back in, Ianto. You're giving me the heebie-jeebies."
"But then I have to feel it."
"I know," Jack said.
"They're very pretty," Gwen said. "Your soul, with their little blue feet." She reached out a hand and one of the little birds hopped onto her finger. It felt real enough, but it looked back at her with crystalline, intelligent eyes.
"Eggs are traditional. But birds always worked better for me."
"Eggs? Torchwood Two, is that--" Jack started.
"Cousin Thou-Shalt-Put-No-God-Before-Me Addams."
"So that's why they call him Goddy."
"Yes." Ianto shifted and got to his feet. "There have always been Addamses in Torchwood. In the cells, at least, or the morgue. Biding our time. I should put my soul back before I start dancing the mamushka with Cousin Wednesday. Mother always wanted us to marry. She hates me so much, it would be perfect..."
He opened his mouth. The birds flew in. It didn't seem like he was eating them, more like he was breathing them in. The animation returned to his face and Gwen and Jack both jumped to their feet. Jack hugged him, then hugged Gwen, so that they breathed together, warm and human.
Ianto had forgotten the sensation of humanity leaving his body. It was easy to forget. His family weren't quite real.
But Jack didn't ask any questions. He made love to Jack out of sheer gratitude after Gwen went home, down in Jack's underground den. "I always wondered where you got your sangfroid," Jack murmured in his ear after. "You're so young and so wise at the same time."
"Not that young. Not that wise. It's just you're not that strange compared to my family."
"Torchwood," Ianto amended. He rubbed his cheek against Jack's. Uniquely among the staff of Torchwood, he'd never questioned Jack's underground bedroom, his choice of clothing, his antique guns, his outer space stories, the fact that he never slept, his periodic petulant demands for food that nobody on earth had ever heard of, the fact that he was faintly luminescent in pitch darkness...
It hadn't even surprised him when he saw Jack die and revive the first time. He just hadn't remembered for an hour or so that the rest of the world wasn't supposed to do that. And then he'd gone downstairs to Lisa, poor Lisa, and written that letter to Fester, hoping he would have some ideas. "You never commented on my feet," Ianto said.
"You have adorable feet," Jack said, trapping Ianto's leg between his own. "An extra toe doesn't bother me."
Jack didn't reply.
"But she was a very normal girl, and you're a freak."
"Hey." Jack slapped his arse. Right; he forgot, that was the one word that actually bothered Jack.
Ianto pushed his nose under Jack's chin. "Most of the family has an extra something. Toes are pretty minor. Cousin Heloise has a tail, Cousin Simeon has a face on the back of his head. Both faces speak in unison," Ianto said, gesturing a second mouth chat-chatting in his hairline. "And eat."
"Seen that before. Not impressed yet."
Ianto sniffed. "Well, my cousin Itt is so covered in hair they don't think he has a face at all. They tried shaving him once but stopped when he started getting shorter. And he's married to an outsider, and they have children, and nobody can figure out how."
"Ooh, that's better. Did you open a file?" Jack smirked. "We could trap him and test him."
"Good luck. The only one of us you ever held for more than an hour was Cousin Beenie, and that was because he had a thing for Weevils."
Jack raised an eyebrow.
"A thing," Ianto repeated.
"So, Cousin Leeurgh and Cousin Wowrurr are half Weevil," Ianto said. "There may be more now. This was a while ago. I always wondered--" But he couldn't say it, it didn't seem right, to speculate about Owen and his suspiciously funny face and his Weevil love, so he stopped talking.
"Cardiff never ceases to surprise me," Jack said finally.
"Yeah, all sorts of corners of the world." Ianto relaxed beside Jack, as much as he could in Jack's absurdly tiny bed. Jack was wedged against the wall, and Ianto had the metal frame digging into his back.
He frowned, wriggled, and shoved his shoulder further under Jack's armpit. "I took my soul out during the battle of Canary Wharf. It was almost... fun, that way. Like a movie. A science fiction picture show. I think I was shot, but I'm not sure. I carried Lisa out metal and all. I understand why my relations are the way they are. None of them can deal very well with reality."
"I work for Torchwood. I don't have to deal with reality." Ianto sighed, thinking of his cousins. Only the five of them... but Morticia's mother was still living, surely, and the cousins that worked for them... "Shit. Shit!" Ianto sat bolt upright.
"What?" Jack asked.
"Did you set the movement alarms?"
"Yes, of course?" Jack raised his eyebrows.
"Did you set them small? Hand-sized?"
"Yeah, I set them all the way down to mouse-sized. They chew my coats. What are you thinking of?"
"Cousin Thing," Ianto said, catching his breath. He shoved Jack down onto his back and rolled on top of him. "Sorry, just pictured him jumping into bed with us."
"Is he cute?"
"What, Cousin Thing?"
"Sure." Jack waggled his eyebrows. "Some of your cousins weren't half bad."
"Don't be so close-minded."
"Cousin Thing used to be Count Horatio Addams, until he had an accident. Now he's a hand." Ianto drummed his fingers on Jack's chest. "Just a hand. Thing is easier for him to say." He spelled out t-h-i-n-g in American Sign Language against Jack's chest.
"Huh." The really amusing thing about Jack contemplating sex was when his eyes rolled up and to the right and his lips moved slightly, rehearsing it in his mind. "That's new. Does he have eyes?"
"Okay then. Now you just have me... intrigued." Jack crossed his arms behind Ianto's back and dabbled his fingers down Ianto's sides below his ribs.
"I thought I might try to do the same thing, if I died in the line of duty. He has a lot of fun now. And we could still..." Ianto trailed two fingers down Jack's stomach to his cock. "If you'd want me. Sir."
Jack growled in his throat. "Don't call me sir in bed. It makes me think we're doing something else."
Ianto rolled Jack's cock idly between his fingers. Jack licked his forehead, making him frown; slimy, ick, and now his head was cold. He stuck his fingers in Jack's mouth for sucking, which Jack did exceptionally well. He was sure he could come from that, if he were a disembodied hand. "I feel lucky I have such an open-minded lover," Ianto said, sitting up to straddle Jack's thighs.
He stroked Jack's cock with one hand and slipped the other between Jack's legs into Jack's body. He watched as Jack raised his arms over his head and writhed lasciviously. He'd miss this part, if he were nothing but hands, but then again Cousin Thing seemed to see well enough.
"Wide open mind. Spacious, you might say. Vacant even--"
Then Jack grabbed him and kissed him, and oh, he could never give that up.
Gwen leaned over and patted Rhys sharply on the bum. "It's your day off, yeah? Come in with me."
"But it's my day off. I thought I might bake something."
"Come on," she said, "we found out Ianto might be an alien. If Jack and I have to take him down we'll need a hand with cuffs and that." She didn't need--didn't want--to say how empty the Hub sounded with only three voices.
"Ianto? Seems Welsh enough to me," Rhys said, but he got up and put his clothes on without further complaint.
Inside the door, Gwen paused; she banged the flat of her hand against the metal frame. "Clothes on, trousers up, you two!" she called.
"Ha bloody ha," Ianto responded from the coffee room.
"You know you like it," Jack said from his office. "Oh. Hi, Rhys." He winked.
"Everything all right then? Ianto didn't turn all green and scaly."
"No." Ianto emerged with his favorite mug. "Though my cousin Draco is green and scaly. I got Myfanwy from him, not from Cousin Wednesday, no matter what she says. She's a horrible creature. When I was a baby she fed me bleach once and put me in the oven another time, and it only was a one-day visit."
"When you were a baby?" Gwen asked. "And she was how old?"
Ianto closed his eyes and took a long drink of coffee. "She only looks ten," he said.
"We need to go back over security. People shouldn't just be walking in. Make me a cup?"
"And me," Gwen said.
"And me, if you don't mind," Rhys said.
"Who do you think I am?" Ianto brought out a tray. Three mugs beside his.
"Well, I don't know, now do I? You made me make the tea yesterday."
Ianto winced. "Sorry. Trying to get you clear, since I didn't have time to explain." He offered the tray. Jack's cup was black as midnight, Rhys's nearly white, Gwen's in between. No need for explanation.
"I mucked it all up. I forgot to warm the teapot, I didn't put in enough leaves, I left half the spoons off the tray!"
"Yeah," Rhys grinned. "She's fairly hopeless in the kitchen."
"I'll do the shooting, you do the tea," Gwen said firmly.
"Geh," Jack said, and they all turned in time to see him fall on his face. Blood jetted across the black metal.
"It's you or Lumpy," Wednesday said. She held the axe lovingly, like a doll.
Ianto's stomach turned, flopped, turned back again. He'd nothing left to throw up; he could only stand there and watch the Addamses dance in the Hub.
Thank all the blind gods that it wasn't the mamushka. No, just an off-key waltz. Cousins Pugsley and Pubert had Gwen and Rhys cornered on top of the mainframe, holding the largest gun in the arsenal between them. Jack was in the fountain. Cousin Wednesday was wearing a wedding dress, Jack's blood was draining endlessly under the floor grates, and all the Addamses in the British Isles and half the Continent were in the Hub.
"My little girl! My little girl!" Cousin Gomez repeated. "My little girl!" He crossed to Ianto and kissed him--smell of bat-wing leather, kerosene, and putrefying meat--on each cheek. "HAPPY DAY!" he cried too loud.
"I'm killing her as soon as I work out how," Ianto promised.
"HA HA HA!" Cousin Gomez clapped him on the back, knocking him flat onto the metal floor.
The boys giggled with their father. Cousin Morticia painted makeup from her own lead box, thick red and black, on Wednesday's upturned face, both of them impassive as stone angels.
"A blood fountain! How do you do it, I shall never know," cooed Cousin Chartreuse, skewering a cockroach on a slim gold fork. She dipped it into the thick tendril of blood flowing from Jack's head. "Such ambiance for such a day!"
Ianto let his soul go before he threw up the lining of his stomach. His birds perched on Jack's legs and glared at his cousins.
Cousin Lumpy Addams stood in the corner, his face a mask of sorrow. Cousin Itt sat on one side in his best party hat and Cousin Manticore sat on the other with his fur freshly curled. "Howng. Harngh. Hurrgh," Cousin Manticore said, his triple jaw flexing too far, and Cousin Itt agreed. Cousin Lumpy blew his nose on a spotted handkerchief.
Ianto straightened his tie. Best to get it over with quickly. "Oooh!" his Belgian cousins gasped, pointing to the open cogwheel. Eldest Cousin was arriving.
Eldest Cousin was carried by the sextuplets. The smell of incense hung heavy around them, dusting from their black jackets and caked in the brims of their top hats, flaking from the deep-carved lines in their skin. Their matte black eyes swept in slow unison over the gathering. Atop the byre sunk deep into their bony shoulders reclined--as if he had any other option--Eldest Cousin.
The other cousins fell silent, even the children. They all leaned in toward the byre, corsets creaking, satin rustling. The sextuplets halted before the fountain.
Silence. Even Ianto held his breath.
Eldest Cousin's skeletal form was still. The inches of dust on his grey robe resettled like the ghost of snow. The coins that contained his soul lay undisturbed in their centuries of rust atop his concave eyelids. Then--a tiny sigh, no louder than the rub of a mouse's paw against its velvet ear, curled through his teeth.
"ELDEST COUSIN REJOICES IN THIS HAPPY DAY!" cried Cousin Gomez so loudly that Gwen hiccuped half a shriek. Rhys grabbed her and steadied her in the scaffolding as all the cousins cheered.
Then they danced again. Ianto allowed Cousin Wednesday to take his hands. He clutched her knifelike little fingers and they spun around the passionate hatred that settled between them, more and more palpable as the pieces of his soul and hers joined the dance. His blue-footed birds, big as rooks now, squawked and scolded at the flies that buzzed around Cousin Wednesday's body like a veil.
Other pieces of his soul, the size of Tower ravens, flapped their wings and threatened anyone who ventured too near Jack. Cousin Mala hissed at one; it crushed her lorgnette in its beak.
The sextuplets all raised their free hand and the cousins fell silent at last. Eldest Cousin The sextuplets all raised their free hand and the cousins fell silent at last. Eldest Cousin spoke, in a voice soft and empty as a dry leaf tossing in a light breeze atop a gravestone.
"I will," Cousin Wednesday said.
Eldest Cousin spoke again. Ianto didn't need to hear the words to know them.
"I will," Ianto said. He would have crossed his fingers--a gesture with no little meaning in their family--but Fester was bending over Jack, feeling his calf, and Ianto knew when he was well and truly trapped.
Gwen and Rhys were fortunate; the boys got bored with the gun a few hours later and let them down. Ianto was the center of attention as the reception went on, and on, and on, and on.
Jack woke up on a gurney. "You lucky bastard," Gwen said. "All that time dead as a doornail, you don't know how jealous I am."
Jack blinked; he tried to collect his thoughts from wherever they went in the black eternity. "What time is it?"
"W--day after Tuesday. They've just gone."
Jack frowned, still feeling slow. "....Three days?"
"He's definitely an alien! They can't possibly all be human. Those... eyes!" Rhys hissed, bending over Jack. "Those bloody *eyes* on them!"
Ianto entered. Rhys fell silent, shuffling to the side a bit. "Coffee and biscuits. Best eat something, you were out for a while."
"I shot three of them with the elephant gun and they didn't even care!" Gwen said. Ianto looked away without moving his head. "It made a bloody great hole in the wall but they didn't even blink!"
"And she had flies all around her!"
"That one with hair all over--"
"The bloke with the teeth!"
"Oh, there was more than one bloke with teeth, my darling, it was a teeth festival, some of them," Gwen baring her own imperfect teeth in emphasis.
Jack pressed Ianto's hand and ate a biscuit. Family, then. He'd ask later.
"Fortunately, she has to grow up before she comes back. Physically too young for children yet and she hates me too much to live near me," Ianto said.
"Ianto, you're not really. She's evil."
Ianto shrugged. "I haven't really had a say so far."
"You can get a divorce, mate. It's easy. That can't even be legal, I'm sure, I'll just check for you," Rhys said. He pulled out his phone. Ianto rolled his eyes.
"There was a wedding?" Jack asked.
"Did you save me some cake?" Jack asked.
Gwen gagged. Rhys paled. Ianto shook his head.
"The only solution I can see is to cut my nuts and bolts off," Ianto said. Jack choked on his biscuit. "I know it's drastic, but I don't think a simple vasectomy is going to be good enough."
Jack continued to choke. Ianto dropped his wrench and pounded him on the back.
"Drastic is one word," Gwen said. She and Rhys were attaching the new security cables up in the rafters while Ianto and Jack kept them sorted on the floor.
"These aren't going to keep her out. Nothing will."
"You have a talent for pessimism," Jack said.
"Born of experience. Mother visited Father once a year even after he remarried. I overheard my stepmother complaining about it several times. And Mother wasn't anything like as malicious as Wednesday."
"Where is your mum? How did she die?" Jack asked.
"I don't know. She just didn't come home one day. She probably fell into a volcano, she liked volcanos. She might not be dead."
Jack gave him a long look.
"I do not have a Freudian fixation," Ianto growled. "I like you for your coat, not your lifespan."
"Fine by me either way," Jack said. "I like you for your accent."
"Are they always like this?" Rhys muttered overhead.
"Lately? Yes. At it like rabbits. Ianto, don't cut off your block and tackle, I don't want to see Jack cry." Gwen picked up the welding torch and lowered her smoked glass mask.
"LOL," Jack said.
Ianto winced. "Jack! You don't *pronounce* it, good God."
"I'll take you with a cock or not." Jack leaned over and kissed him. "And married is just that little bit hotter," he breathed into Ianto's ear. "You, me, shower stall?"
"Mind you don't set your hair on fire." Ianto said, moving backwards out of the fly of sparks.
His wedding ring was cast iron and very heavy in his pocket.
While he was restocking paper towels and sugar--his cousins had gone through the kitchen supplies like a hurricane--he felt his cousin Wednesday's gaze upon him right through the wall of the supermarket. He ignored it as he ignored the cold weight of the ring in his pocket.
He saw her as he wheeled the groceries out to the car. She was wearing her soul. Her cheeks were pinker, flushed with life, but her eyes were just as hate-filled as before. Behind her, Cousins Manticore and Lysinda waved from their coach and four. Ianto was fairly certain those were four genuine horses.
"Ten years," she said. "I'm staying with them. I'm going to go to school here in Britain. So we can be together."
"Suit yourself. If you come back to my work, you'll be vaporized. We updated our defenses."
"I'd like it if you killed me."
"You can catch me once, but you can't catch me twice. I am still an Addams," Ianto said.
"And I want my pteranodon back."
"She was never yours."
"If you put them in a cage," she said, "and you make them stay alive," she said, "and you keep them for ever and ever and ever," she said, "then they're yours."
He could feel the promise dripping through every word. "Right. I'll be on my way, then."
"Ten years," Cousin Wednesday said. She turned and walked away, her book bag slung over her shoulder.
"You should have gone with Cousin Lumpy," Ianto called after her.