Ianto sat uncomfortably in the silence as they all ate breakfast together.
The porridge was lumpy but he knew the pancakes on offer would sit in his stomach even longer than the comfortable porridge. His Mam used to make him porridge when he wasn't feeling the best, told him it would put hair on his chest. Jack often said he would like to thank her for that. When Francine Jones had plonked the bowl down with the same comment he had been gobsmacked. Martha's mother was a lovely woman and Ianto wondered why they had never crossed paths before. Jack and his separate lives. Haven't even scratched the surface.
Gwen was staring into space as Rhys argued with the little one … Arowyn? Anwen! She had Gwen's colouring and her frown of self-awareness but Ianto could see Rhys's eyes twinkling with mischief as well. Ianto watched as she looked around the room and focused on him. Her little face lit up and Ianto couldn't help but feel affection, after all this was Gwen's child. As more of a sister I could not ask for.
He wondered briefly about Rhiannon and the kids but swallowed it down. He would ask Jack later … if he could find the courage for the possible answer.
He knew they were all waiting for his story and after swallowing the last of his porridge he leaned back and began to formulate the story. How to explain what he didn't understand himself? He had promised Jack he would try and Ianto Jones always kept his promises.
"Well, do you all know about the House of the Dead?" he said slowly, looking at Jack for guidance.
"He drove us all mad with that one after we …. Once Miracle Day was over and he came to visit," Mickey said as all eyes swivelled to trap him.
"Miracle day?" Ianto gulped his luke-warm coffee with a raised eyebrow at Jack.
"Tell ya later Hon?" Jack motioned with his hand, impatient as always.
Ianto frowned at the term of endearment but couldn't keep it up, finally giving in to the puppy-dog eyes Jack always employed when he knew the dog house was looming.
"Yes, well. I remember stepping into the rift then …."
The light was all around him, warm and comforting. It reminded him of a womb as he floated in the warm softness of nothing. Everything. Time had no meaning and he randomly saw the flicker of a face. A woman. Mam? No. Too young, she had never been so young, had she? Oh pretty. Her skin gold, her hair gold, even her eyes shown like stars.
After a while she became solid, in front of him. Golden tendrils floating about her like there was a breeze.
"Tentacles?" Jack enthused and everyone shushed him as he ducked Francine's swinging hand.
She seemed nice, gentle and somehow familiar. There were flickering lights at the corner of his eye and she smiled, he felt a flutter of lips as she kissed him, breathing a soft scent on his face and he closed his eyes.
"I give life" she whispered and he opened them … to hell.
He thought it was an earthquake, or the planet shifting again. Bloody hell, London was falling to pieces in front him. It was like looking through yellow glass, shimmering water. Watching an old news reel where the black and white has faded to sepia.
For a moment he thought it was Canary Warf again and hesitated in fear but then he saw a woman falling in the distance as a building fell, almost trapping her. Lisa? Without a thought, he stepped through the yellow haze and into the madness beyond.
"Careful, be strong. Love." came a faint whisper on the breeze and Ianto looked about with wonder.
Home. He knew it. The smell and the sounds. Home.
A scuffling noise made him turn and he looked over his shoulder at …. Larggettes. A shit load of the horrible creatures were spewing from a black void hanging about a foot from the cobbled round.
Shit! Fuck! Ianto ran, mentally flicking through his memory files for the old T1 file he had read two days before she fell. Larggettes. Cross between a rat and a pitbull. Fuck! God! Um, water … they hate water. Get to the river. London … wait! Think goddamn it Ifan!
Suddenly he had it. The file opened in the back of his mind, he saw plans. A bunker. The water's edge … get there. Get to the door, get her safe.
He saw falling masonry and people stumbling about. A larggette latched onto the nearest person and dragged them down, another larggette joining in. As the man's screams died, Ianto turned and ran toward the water. Can't help him, help who you can. He made the decision to move and headed for the woman, still struggling to rise from the ruins.
As h got closer he could see it wasn't Lisa but somehow familiar, he felt a rush of protectiveness for her that he couldn't explain.
Tish joined in at this point and he smiled and nodded his gratitude as everyone turned to her for the rest of the story. She told of their running, the beasts attacking and her fear that he was going to sacrifice himself to get her more time.
Ianto was grateful for this because the image of her in a maid's outfit standing outside a dingy shit stained cell weeping was burning into his retinas and he blinked, focusing on Jack.
The whole time Jack had held his hand under the table in a death grip and now all eyes were averted he lent in for a kiss. A sob escaped as Jack pulled Ianto into his arms.
"Rose" he whispered. "That was her name."
"So when Martha asks to check my ankle and it's completely healed …" Ianto whispered.
Jack's eyes widened and he looked down automatically.
"Oi! My eyes are up here mister" Ianto droned, getting a smile for his effort at levity.
"Don't tell. Not yet" Jack was afraid and Ianto felt a shiver as Jack stared hard into his eyes.
"OK!" Ianto said louder than he had intended and the room grew quiet as they all returned their gaze to him.
Jack pulled him from his seat and leered at the room like he had just won the lottery.
"Ew, they go make bam bam!" Mickey groaned then barked as Martha slapped him in the head.
"Actually Mickey, it's more like …" Ianto clapped his hands together several times and Jack's laughter continued as they left the room. Mickey's howls of horror drowned out by Jack's roars of glee.