Characters: Ianto, Jack.
Summary: Jack has a real Birthday treat for Ianto; a visit to one of the most dazzlingly beautiful planets in the known universe.
Word Count: 1698
Written For: Challenge 204 – Glitter at beattheblackdog.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
A/N: Set in my ‘Ghost of a Chance’ ‘Verse. Happy Birthday Ianto!
Out here in the depths of space the stars glittered like diamonds, hard and bright against the surrounding blackness. They were breathtakingly beautiful, but at the same time somehow cold and unforgiving. A single mistake out here in the airless void between worlds could be the last a person ever made.
With a passing glance at the viewscreen that had Ianto’s undivided attention Jack sank into the pilot’s chair, focusing on his lover. “Quite a view, isn’t it? Growing up on Boeshane I was certain nothing in the universe could be more beautiful than the night sky, but then I came out into space…” He trailed off with a sigh.
Ianto tore his gaze from the starry vista just long enough to send a smile his lover’s way before his eyes were drawn inexorably back to the view.
“I sometimes thought the same, on moonless nights out in the countryside, well away from the city lights, but I really had no idea. The view from the surface just doesn’t compare to this.”
Jack nodded. “There are millions, maybe even billions more stars visible from space than you’ll ever see with a planet’s atmosphere in the way. Even earth’s orbiting telescopes can only detect a fraction of them. They’re still too close to the sun and the other planets in the solar system; there’s more reflected light from them than you might think.”
“Doesn’t surprise me. You know, sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever get so used to the sight that I won’t notice it anymore.”
Jack chuckled. “Well I haven’t, and I’ve been around a fair bit.” Leaning back in his seat, he gazed at the panorama; the Wanderer’s viewscreens stretched, unbroken, three quarters of the way around the cockpit, and from the banks of control panels right up to the ceiling, so that the universe was spread out around them. “In time though, you’ll reach a point where you can blank it out and ignore it when necessary.”
“Good to know; I wouldn’t want to get completely distracted in the middle of a tricky bit of navigation. Might run into an asteroid or something, and that would be bad.”
That drew a laugh from Jack. “Unlikely. The proximity sensors would set off alarms if you got too close to something and I guarantee they’d get your attention. The Wanderer’s systems are as up to date as it’s possible to be, I’ve made sure of that. Not like I can’t afford the upgrades. Come to that, I could probably buy a whole planet if I wanted to. Just a small one though, nothing too ostentatious. It doesn’t do to flaunt wealth too much; draws the attention of the wrong sorts of people.”
“So my boyfriend’s a multi-millionaire? How come you never told me that before?”
“Multi-billionaire more likely,” Jack corrected. “And I didn’t tell you because I’d rather you loved me for my body than for the contents of my bank accounts.”
“Hm, well, your body is certainly very enticing.” Ianto smirked at Jack. “So, not to change the subject or anything, but where exactly are we heading?”
Jack had already told Ianto the planet’s name, Doorsha, but he knew that wasn’t what his lover meant; they’d come out of the vortex approximately two hours ago and were approaching their destination through normal space. They could have emerged much closer, shaved a few more hours off the trip, but in this case it was well worth the expenditure in terms of both time and fuel to get the full effect. After all, he’d planned this particular trip as a birthday treat for Ianto, and there was no need to rush. If they did that, they’d miss the best part.
Getting out of the pilot’s seat and moved around behind Ianto, who was seated at the co-pilot’s station, Jack bent so he was looking past his lover’s right ear and pointed.
“See those seven bright stars that are almost in a straight line? We’re heading for the third one down. The star is known locally as Septinex; it’s the primary for a fairly small solar system, only four planets. Gleb, the one nearest its sun, is barren and rocky, uninhabited, completely devoid of life, while the two furthest out, Persh and Mitmo, are gas giants. Doorsha is the second planet; it’s a little smaller than earth, with one small moon that’s been turned into an orbiting space station. The Doorshians mined the minerals and used them as building materials for constructing the space docks and other facilities. There are several exclusive resorts and spas there as well, it’s all very luxurious, but we can check those attractions out later; they aren’t why we’re here. We’ll be docking at the station and taking a shuttle down to Doorsha itself. We’re still too far out to see anything, even if we put the viewscreen on its highest magnification, but you should get your first view of the Crystal Planet in about eight hours.”
“So why didn’t we just come out of the vortex eight hours closer? Then we wouldn’t have to wait.”
“Because the Wanderer’s navigation computers need the time to manoeuvre us into the perfect viewing position. Trust me; the wait will be more than worth it.” Jack straightened up, nipping at Ianto’s ear in passing. “Come on, let’s hit the hay; we’re not going to miss anything, we’ll be woken in plenty of time.”
“What if I don’t want to sleep?”
“Well, if that’s the case I’m sure I can keep you entertained. I have a very enticing body; you said so yourself.”
“So I did. I suppose I could let you distract me for a while.” Leaving his seat, Ianto let Jack drag him aft, towards their cabin.
Seven hours later, after a very entertaining few hours, a refreshing nap or two, and a good breakfast, they were back in front of the viewscreen. Septinex shone large and bright off to the left of centre, blotting out many of the stars that had been visible earlier. On high magnification it was even possible to make out Persh and Mitmo slowly crossing the sun’s disc. Gleb, and Doorsha itself, were currently out of sight.
The viewscreen’s filters were engaged so Jack and Ianto could look directly at the Doorshian sun without damaging their eyes, and they waited impatiently, excitement building, as they continued on their course, drawing ever closer. The planets seemed to swell like slowly inflating balloons as the distance between ship and solar system steadily decreased.
Somewhere on the console a soft chime sounded.
“What was that?”
“Five-minute warning,” Jack explained. “Prepare to be amazed.”
“How do I do that?”
“Just relax and watch.”
Ianto wasn’t quite sure what to expect; Jack had told him they’d witness a spectacular light show as sunlight touched the crystalline towers of Doorsha’s major cities, carved from the planet’s towering crystal mountain ranges, their substance stronger than steel and as brilliant as diamonds, but his description fell far short of the reality.
As Doorsha’s orbit brought the planet into view, it immediately lit up like it was on fire, the sun’s light refracting from the mountains and the cities in a dazzling prismatic display. Colours constantly changed as rainbows danced and shimmered, arcing across the planet’s surface. The closer they got the more the world seemed encrusted with glitter, but not in a tacky, overdone way, more as if every structure was subtly highlighted to achieve the most visually pleasing effect possible.
It took Ianto’s breath away and he stared with rapt attention, letting the sheer beauty wash over him, for what must have been several hours as the Wanderer followed a constantly adjusting course towards the docking facilities on the Doorshian moon.
At last the ship turned slightly, angling towards the moon, and the planet’s glittering towers were gradually eclipsed by the craggy surface of Doorsha’s lone satellite.
Blinking as if waking from a wonderful daydream Ianto breathed a sigh of regret and disappointment at the loss of so much beauty. Jack laughed softly.
“Don’t worry, I set the computers to record our approach, and anyway, you’ll get to see more from the observation deck on Doorsha station, and again after we board the shuttle for our trip to the surface. Nothing beats that first sight though. Of course, once we actually touch down you’ll get to see the rainbows from below, which is almost as good. We’ll have to wear special glasses while we’re planetside though, we’d never be able to see where we’re going otherwise. It’s a bit bright during daylight.”
“I can imagine. Is the whole city made of crystal?”
Jack nodded. “All of Doorsha’s cities are. Crystal is one thing they have plenty of, although they’re not so much made as grown. The Doorshians are experts when it comes to crystal engineering; what they don’t know isn’t worth knowing.”
“Must be a bit like living in a gigantic greenhouse though.”
“Private rooms have tiled floors and ceilings and panelled walls or blinds to keep out prying eyes, and some walls are one-way mirrors, allowing the inhabitants to see out while nobody can see in; you’ll get used to it.”
“I expect I will.” Ianto had already adjusted to a lot of strangeness since leaving earth.
“Just watch where you’re going and try not to walk into any walls. They’re unbreakable but they reverberate when struck so it’s noisy, like hitting a bell, and everyone will turn to see who’s responsible.”
Ianto made a mental note to avoid that at all costs; the last thing he wanted was to have half the planet staring at him and knowing him for an inexperienced and clumsy tourist, even if that was exactly what he was. As long as he was careful and didn’t get too caught up in the visual splendour of the glittering city, he’d be fine.
He wondered if alien planets sold postcards or something similar; maybe he could start a scrapbook of places he’s been, something he could show Martha the next time he and Jack visited earth. He’d certainly like some souvenirs to remember this trip by. Well, he’d just have to wait and see.