Chapter 11 walk away
Walk away from most fights with well placed words of wisdom or cutting wit?
"The Bladesingers are an ancient race that came to earth in …. Ooooooh, I think ….. the early 1600s I dropped them off, looking for asylum from the war that ravaged their planet."
The Doctor was searching for something and Ianto was still in shock. His lower half was visible from under the console and every now and then a small piece of electronic mess was shoved back or thrown behind his shoulder. As a pile grew around him they slowly moved back to accommodate his strange mood.
"Bladesingers? I thought they were extinct" John was reaching slowly for Ianto's hair as he spoke and Ianto suddenly saw it coming.
With a grunt of surprise he slapped at John's hand and John gave a hoot of glee as he jumped back into a graceful bow. Ianto glowered at him and his hand rose to waist height but then he thought better of it and turned away.
"Fuck off Hart" Ianto warned turning back to watch the Doctor.
"But your hair …" John pointed at the blue flecks visible in the artificial light.
Ianto eyeballed John who deflated and turned away to fiddle with a piece of discarded tech.
"Bet he really likes you kissing him with a mouth like that too" he muttered under his breath.
With a cry of triumph the Doctor began to back out from under the console and John couldn't resist making beeping noises as he backed. River's slap to the back of his head echoed in the room with his muttered "ouch" a beat later.
The Doctor had a cube in his hand and he slammed it into a slot in the console then turned to look at Ianto with the glee of a three year old showing you his mud pies.
A monitor flickered into life as the cube glowed. A video started to play of butterflies. All shapes and colours, flittering about in the disjointed images displayed and they all stepped closer to see.
"Bugs? They're bugs" Ianto felt hysteria creeping in and stepped back to stare at the Doctor.
"What? No! Huh?" the Doctor looked at the screen closer and then grunted.
Reaching out he wiggled a few things and then slapped the cube. The picture seemed to zoom in and one of the small creatures filled the screen. Everyone gasped and then held their breath like they might scare the image away.
The camera slowly panned and Ianto made a small noise in this throat that had the Doctor springing forward to push a button and wriggle a lever so that the one Ianto had exclaimed at returned and was focused on the screen.
She was gorgeous. A young woman in a tight fitting bodysuit that was the same orange as the small glowing swords she swung. The tattoos of light formed what they had mistaken for wings. She dipped, parried and lunged as she twisted through the air and her blonde hair flew about her head as a halo. The orange faded to yellow as it cooled and the bright orange blades swung steadily to replace the fading light.
"They were a magnificent people," the Doctor breathed reaching a hand toward the screen. "Her name was Leara."
River stepped closer to her husband and took the outstretched hand in her own, pulling it to her lips in a sorrowful kiss. He sighed and stepped closer to her seeking comfort as they grieved for memories long since gone and forgotten by the rest of time.
"Oh my love" River murmured. "It wasn't your fault. You saved a few, more than anyone else was prepared to do! You helped. You did!"
"They didn't like confrontation but were fierce fighters. The war though, it …they didn't …" his voice tapered off as he focused on Ianto who had stepped closer to the screen.
His eyes were wide and his lips parted as he panted in time to the waif on the screen. His head tilted and his eyes narrowed before he stepped back again.
"My Ma had a photo album. Very old and fragile. You know the ones, black pages with thick carded pictures stuck to them that someone spent ages painting colour onto in an effort to overcome the black and white sterility of the moment?"
Ianto faced the Doctor and raised an eyebrow. The Doctor nodded mutely with his hands clasping River's. Hope gleamed and he released River's grip to wave his hands in encouragement as he watched Ianto straighten, grow and animate to match his own erratic gestures.
"There was one picture that was very old, dog eared and faded. The colours must have been brilliant when first applied but age had tarnished them." Ianto spoke hurriedly and the Doctor stepped closer to Ianto in further encouragement.
"And?" he prodded Ianto who had closed his eyes to chase the fleeting memory.
"My Great Grandmother Lea. On horseback, not side-saddle but western style, yeah? Seated squarely with her hair flying in the wind. Beautiful she was, see" Ianto spoke softly and John found himself leaning in with the Doctor to share in the conversation as Ianto's welsh deepened and became melodic.
"Was she… is that who that one looks like, what do you see there?" he whispered in Ianto's direction.
"No! Don't you see?" Ianto turned his gaze to John who felt that familiar tightening in is gut and he silently cursed his ex-partner for always getting the cream of the crop.
Ianto sighed and straightened to address the entire room. He pointed at the now frozen image of the waif and smiled.
"That IS her!" he smiled. "I loved that picture and me Ma had a copy made that sat by me bed. My bedtime stories always seemed to include the beautiful Princess Lea or Queen or … well, whatever I demanded that night."
Ianto shrugged. "I was a bit of a bugger at bedtimes, me."
"I bet" John sniggered only to gain a death stare from Ianto that froze his blood. Shit! No sense of humour there then.
"Yes, well that makes sense because it was Wales they chose as their destination. Loved the wild ya see" the Doctor began to pace as he now felt himself on familiar ground. "Their planet was destroyed by centuries of war between other beings they couldn't control or placate and they had been stuck in the middle. To find green, wild and free was a delight to them."
"But I don't understand, no-one else in my family has ever spoken of …" Ianto faltered, "wait! Uncle Ewan! Quite mad! Spoke of fairy folk and wood nymphs. Shit! The Fae are real, so is this!"
"Well, it would be a regressive gene, skipping generations like cancer, albinism or Downs Syndrome or … oh" John stopped speaking as River slapped his head again.
"Yes Captain! As tactful as ever!" she sighed with a frown.
John hung his head as he replayed his words and found the spite in them. Nice one. Insulting someone you were trying to befriend always worked in the past right? Dick!
"Walk away from most fights with well placed words of wisdom or cutting wit? Ever had a fight you couldn't walk away from? Quite vicious in your actions there were you? Even surprise yourself with your controlled temper?" the doctor threw questions at Ianto ignoring the activity beside them.
Images from the warehouse the day they discovered that poor space whale filled his mind. The sorrow that always followed these memories flooded his soul.
"When pushed beyond your comfort zone into a place of pure despair? Thought you might fail a quest? Cold, calculating and exact?" he continued and the memory of Owen spinning from the bullet hitting his shoulder sprung to mind and shame replaced the stun-gun fury.
Ianto was shaking his head but the Doctor saw the fear and recognition dawning so he stepped back to give him room to breathe.
"The thing is, if eye-candy, I mean Ianto is one of these creatures why has it never shown itself in him before!" John's voice surprised them and he realised that they had forgotten he was there.
Ianto looked at him and then sighed before rubbing his face. After a moment he leaned back looking at his feet and two fingers slipped into his mouth as he pondered the remark.
River's face softened as she recognised the child-like gesture and slid her arm around his shoulders to pull him into her embrace. Ianto sighed again and nuzzled her neck in a very un-adult way making her smile and coo softly as she threaded her fingers through his hair.
"Oi! She is mine ya know" the Doctor chortled good-naturedly recognising the actions as comfort.
"Someone's a little overwhelmed babe," she murmured over Ianto's shoulder and the Doctor nodded.
"Well, perhaps the infantilism and regrowth sparked something? I know one girl who had lovely silky dark curls but her regrowth gave her blond locks" he spoke to himself now and Ianto recognised that this was normal as no-one else reacted to the tone. "Quite put out she was but my god, so long and pretty. Just like our Rose's."
He cleared his throat and turned to face John. He frowned and John though he was in trouble for something but then he smiled and his whole demeanour changed.
"Not gone. No, not gone at all eh?" with a rubbing of his hands he gestured toward the two leaning against the console.
"Sweetie, a little help" River whispered.
John and the Doctor lent either side and quickly saw that Ianto had fallen asleep while they were talking. John scooped him into his arms and as he lifted him Ianto's sigh cut him deeply. He had spoken Jack's name with a breathy smile and John finally conceded defeat. This thing was obviously more than he had thought and he had to fix it, somehow. When Jack found out he was to blame for this mess he was gonna have to run like hell!