The hobby farm proved a boon. There were sheep, cattle, even goats and Walter had begged to hold a small kid that was leaping about with the adult goats. There was a heated debate around the pig pen as Mickey demanded they leave the smelly beasts while Leo wanted them. Two sows, a boar and three little piglets calmly watched the crazy people argue. In the end Jack said the magic word. Bacon.
When he saw the emaciated dog sitting mournfully at the end of its chain Ianto was incensed. They had ensured their stock had plenty of feed and had lit out. Poor dog had been forgotten and had apparently not eaten for some time. His pelt was lank and the bones showed through the skin. Had it not been for the rainfall refilling his bowl the poor thing would have been dead by now.
Jack fingered his Webley as he eyed the creature and jumped as Mickey thundered past to help Ianto who was struggling with the chain. Eventually Mickey just cut the collar and the dog lunged forward into his arms.
Ianto laughed as the dog proceeded to thank Mickey enthusiastically with Jack relaxing in the background. The dog appeared to be a collie mix and everyone could see he was immediately taken with Mickey as he followed closely at his heel.
They forced their way into the house and Ianto decided to check upstairs in case they had clothing and such they might use. As he walked up the stairs were looked at the happy faces staring out of the picture frames that led up the stairs like breadcrumbs. A happy couple with three children aged from about three to ten. Ianto made a mental note to look for toys. Angel would be a star if he returned triumphant.
The dog stopped at the bottom of the stairs and looked up at Ianto's retreating back with a drooping tail and Mickey reasoned that he'd been trained not to go upstairs to the bedrooms. As Ianto headed up, Mickey headed for the larder and was angry to find dog food in plentiful supply. He fed the starved creature with quiet anger.
The first bedroom door was closed and Ianto swung it open as he searched the floor for possible toy bins. A large Lego bin greeted him just inside the door and he pulled it out into the middle if the hallway where the "goodie" pile was going to be built. A dress-up chest and huge chest of action figures soon joined the hoard. Two boys having lived here meant lots of good toys for the boys.
Ianto was pleased to find middle child's clothes were just a size larger than Angel's current size and most were clean and new. The bedroom opposite was the three year old's and Ianto was excited to find educational toys in her room.
The third door was the upstairs bathroom and Ianto stood staring at the toothbrushes lined up for a long time. He frowned as he wondered why they hadn't taken their toothbrushes. Wouldn't you want those? The toiletries were all there as well.
The final door must be the master bedroom and Ianto felt a tingle of "Weird" as he reached for the door knob. He took a deep breath and pushed. The door swung back to reveal a darkened room and Ianto made a small noise in his throat as he struggled to close the door again. He could make out the bodies in the bed and the smell of rotting flesh was coating the back of his throat like maple syrup. So this is why the dog refused to come up. Poor bloody thing, must have known.
He was down the stairs and in Jack's arms within minutes and Jack shushed him while Mickey levelled his gun while circling for whatever had frightened him.
"Tell me, what did you see?" Leo asked and Ianto took a deep breath.
"They're up there." Ianto whispered.
"What?" Jack stepped back, looking onto Ianto's face.
"In the master bedroom, I saw five bodies. God, they must have killed themselves" Ianto sobbed and bit the back of his hand.
Mickey swore and took off to see for himself.
"Where's my Angel Cariad?" Ianto shook off his shock and looked around.
"Rhys and the boys are loading the livestock. He's supervising with a real stock stick thing" Jack said rubbing Ianto's arms for comfort.
"A staff? God, he'll be insufferable" Ianto found the strength to laugh.
Mickey had exited the house and was braced against the side of the house with one hand while he vomited into the pansies by the back door.
Ianto walked over and placed a hand on his back. "The pile in the hallway"
"Yep. I'll get the ammo moved to the sleeper of the truck and put all that stuff in the SUV. Ammo's better with the stock, it'll be the most likely to need reloading." Mickey straightened up and give Ianto a grateful glance for the redirect before moving off.
They were loaded and ready to go, Ianto insisted on finding somewhere else to spend the night. They had agreed to leave the family where they were but Ianto refused to spend any more time than necessary near them.
The remaining stock were allowed to wander loose and they moved to the next house down the road. Jack did a solitary sweep and was relieved to find the two story house empty, clean and also child friendly.
The main bedroom was taken by Jack and Ianto by general agreement as Angel would be with them. As a single night guard was needed everyone else decided quickly to sleep wherever and the soldiers insisted they take the shifts and sleep in the truck tomorrow. The larder was far from bare and the large amount of tinned creamed rice both in vanilla and chocolate flavour had everyone cheering as they were triumphantly slammed down in the middle of the meal. The garden had lettuces and carrots that were long overdue for harvest and as they soldiers quietly divvied up morning tasks Jack and Ianto cuddled their boy upstairs.
Angel had found a big soft bunny rabbit toy and was hugging it. Ianto was drifting in and out of sleep as Angel snuffled and Jack took a moment to admire his family.
"Hey stink. You OK?" Jack asked as Angel opened his eyes and regarded him as he slipped into the bed. "What do you have there?"
"Babbit. For pearly." He whispered.
"Babbit? Is that his name?" Jack smiled as Angel nodded and snuggled into his arms.
"I love you Angel. So much. Taddy and I are so happy we have you to love" he whispered and Angel looked up at him with those eyes too old for that little face, "so much love that we want to share some with Pearl before you make us explode with it. Do you understand?"
Ianto opened his eyes and watched as Angel snuggled deeper into Jack's arms.
"Pearl is ours now?" he whispered to his husband.
"Yeah Taddy. We all need love" Angel replied for them all.