Characters: Ianto, Jack.
Summary: A year after Children of Earth, Ianto is about to leave earth with Jack.
Word Count: 1327
Written For: Prompt 039 – Celestial Bodies at fandomweekly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
“Where is this cargo ship of yours anyway?” Ianto asked as Jack led him out of the small private hospital to a nondescript car. It was just over two weeks since he’d woken from cryogenic suspension in the hospital, more than a year after the 456 had tried and failed to take earth’s children, and he was still a little surprised to find himself alive, considering he clearly remembered dying.
Jack, it turned out, had spent decades tracking down a device that could restore Ianto’s straying spirit to his body, and when he’d finally got his hands on it, he’d travelled back in time to save him. Now, in the spaceship Jack had acquired during his travels, the two of them would soon be heading out among the stars, just like Jack had promised him they would someday.
Ianto felt surprisingly fine with the idea of leaving everything he’d ever known behind him. As far as most people, including his family, were concerned, he was dead. There was little left for him on earth other than memories, many of which he’d just as soon leave behind, and besides, he’d always wanted to see all the places Jack had told him stories about.
“It’s parked in orbit. Don’t worry, nobody can see it, it’s cloaked. Landing it down here would’ve been tricky because of its size.”
A puzzled frown creased Ianto’s forehead. “I thought you said it was small.”
“It is, for a spaceship; one of the smaller cargo models, designed for a two- or three-person crew, but it’s still about the size of the Millennium Centre. What’s the point of a cargo ship that doesn’t have room for cargo?”
“Ah, good point. I hadn’t thought of that. So how do we get to it?”
“We use its shuttle. I’ve been back and forth a few times already, taking all your personal effects up to it, plus a bunch of stuff I liberated from Torchwood’s archives that might come in useful. Got the coffee machine, and a good supply of premium coffee beans too. We can always come back for more at a later date. No reason we should have to go without life’s essentials.”
“Good thinking,” Ianto smiled. “Right, what are we waiting for? Let’s go!”
Several hours later, they settled into their seats aboard the shuttle, its small cargo hold packed with last-minute essentials picked up on the way. In the morning, Martha would be collecting the car from where they’d left it. Jack had told him it was a rental. Ianto strapped himself in as Jack ran through his pre-flight checklist.
“All lights blue for go!” he announced, flicking the last few switches and powering up. “And we have lift-off!”
Ianto barely felt them leave the ground thanks to the shuttle’s inertial dampeners, and they climbed rapidly through the earth’s atmosphere. The planet of his birth fell away behind them, and almost before Ianto knew it, they were heading out into the vacuum of space, on a direct approach to the cargo ship that would be his new home.
Out in the black, another thought occurred to him. “Jack? How are we going to see the ship if it’s cloaked?”
“The shuttle’s sensors can detect it, and once we get inside the cloaking field, we’ll see it too…” Jack fell silent, guiding the shuttle, then abruptly it was as if they’d passed through an invisible barrier, which Ianto supposed they had, because the imposing bulk of the cargo ship was right there in front of them, docking bay door opening invitingly. “There she is!”
“Wow, that’s… big!”
“I called her Jack’s Hope, because that’s what she’s been to me, but I think maybe we should re-name her.” The shuttle slid into the docking bay, the doors closing behind it, and as Jack set the small vessel down beside an identical one, docking clamps locked onto it to hold it in place and the bay automatically re-pressurised. “Home sweet home! Come on, let’s unload our supplies and I’ll show you around. The living quarters are larger than in most models; that’s why I picked this one. There’s a good-sized galley, a lounge area with state-of-the-art entertainment system, and three big bedrooms with en-suite bathing facilities. Sonic showers, but you’ll get used to them.”
They grabbed the first load of bags from the rear of the shuttle and made for the galley to unpack everything into storage made up of stasis units, which would keep their food at peak freshness indefinitely. From there, Jack showed Ianto the rest of their quarters before leading him to the bridge, where pilot and co-pilot seats faced a viewscreen rather than a window. Another station, for a potential third crewmember, faced the side of the ship, and would normally be where the communications officer sat in a three-person crew.
Ianto barely noticed the layout, because his eyes were locked on the curved viewscreen, which ran around three sides of the bridge. The view was breathtaking. Off to one side floated a massive blue ball, with patches of green, white and brown on its surface, occasionally obscured by drifting wisps of cloud. To the other side was another, smaller, greyish-white globe, its surface pitted and scarred. The earth and the moon; Ianto had seen pictures of both taken from space, but the reality was even more impressive than the photos.
Without even realising it, he walked towards the screen, reaching out with one hand as if he could touch the earth, tracing the shape of Great Britain, just about visible through the drifting clouds, lingering on the south coast of Wales where Cardiff lay, tucked safely within the Bristol Channel. Seeing his home, so near and yet so far, sent a pang of sorrow through him. He was leaving everything familiar behind.
“Will I ever see earth again?”
“Sure you will.” Jack draped his arm around Ianto’s shoulders in a hug. “We can visit whenever you want, although we should probably avoid Cardiff for a few years, unless we wear disguises. And we’ll keep in touch with Martha on the communications device I gave her; she’ll keep an eye on your family and send pictures. Rhiannon knows her; they met at your funeral.”
“That’s good.” Ianto tore his gaze away from earth and smiled at Jack. “I won’t have to worry about them so much. I wish I could’ve said goodbye, but I suppose it’s better for them to go on believing I’m dead.”
“It is,” Jack agreed. “They’ve made their peace with losing you; finding out you’re alive again but leaving earth… They shouldn’t have to go through that; no one should. So, where d’you want to go first?”
“I have no idea, except…”
“Can we swing by Saturn? I’d like a look at the rings. I’ve seen pictures, but I never imagined I’d ever get the chance to see it from up close.”
“Whatever you want,” Jack grinned. “Strap yourself in. We’ve got a whole universe to explore; you’re gonna love it!”
Ianto settled himself comfortably into the co-pilot chair, fastened the harness, which would keep him in his seat if for any reason the artificial gravity got turned off, and watched Jack’s hands move confidently over the control panel. Sad as he was to be leaving his home, he knew Jack was right; this was the opportunity of a lifetime and he planned to make the most of it. “I have an idea for the ship’s new name.”
Jack finished punching their flight path out of earth’s solar system into the navigation computer and glanced across at his lover. “You do?”
“How about the Happy Wanderer?”
As Jack considered Ianto’s suggestion, the nose of the cargo ship swung away from earth, pointing out into the depths of space, moving at a relatively leisurely pace so that Ianto could take in the sights.
“The Happy Wanderer…” He reached to squeeze Ianto’s hand. “I can’t think of anything more appropriate.”
Continues In 'Shipboard Life'