Title: The Young Performers – Sequel to ‘Getting Creative’
Characters: Jack, Ianto, Andy, assorted OCs
Word Count: 2753
Summary: The boys are growing up fast, but the annual school plays are still the highlight of their year.
Warnings: Completely AU, set in a universe where Torchwood doesn’t exist.
Written For: My cottoncandy_bingo square Wild Card - Performing.
Beta: The wonderful zazajb, my advisor in all things school related. Thanks so much, your advice and assistance have been invaluable!
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood or any of the characters. Which is sad.
A/N: This is the third in a series of AU stories for different prompts on my bingo card, following Jack and Ianto through their school years and beyond. There are seven in total, of wildly varying lengths.
Things got even better for the aspiring actors when Peter Pan was chosen as the play for Year 5. Jack was practically bouncing with excitement when they were told; he and Ianto had watched the DVD several times the previous summer and had loved all the action, adventure and magic.
“You should try out as Peter, you’d be brilliant!” Jack told Ianto.
“You think so?” Ianto wasn’t sure. “It’s sort of the main part, I’ve never done that before.”
“I know you can do it, Ianto. You can do anything,” Jack told him earnestly. “You always remember your lines and stuff better than anyone, and you even look a bit like the Peter in the movie, except you have dark hair!”
“But what about you? You’d be great as Peter too, you’re so brave!” Jack had broken his arm falling out of a tree and hadn’t even cried; Ianto had been really impressed.
“I’d rather be Tinkerbell. I think I’d make a good fairy,” Jack told his friend. “Besides, Peter and Tink are best friends, just like us!”
Ianto grinned happily, ears glowing pink.
“That would be so much fun, wouldn’t it?”
“It really would,” Jack sighed. “We’re going to be best friends forever, aren’t we, Ianto?”
“Yep! Of course we are. We’ll always share everything! Forever and always, that’s a promise.”
“I promise too.” Jack hugged Ianto and kissed his little button nose. “Forever and always.”
Miss Lewis had been put in charge of producing Year 5’s play, so she’d studied the script carefully. When auditions began, she was delighted by the children’s enthusiasm and didn’t hesitate in giving the role of Peter to Ianto Jones. He was perfect for the part. There was just one problem she had to deal with.
“No, Jack, I’m sorry but you can’t be Tinkerbell.”
Jack frowned and crossed his arms.
“Why not, Miss?”
“Because fairies are always girls and you’re a boy.”
“But why aren’t there boy fairies?”
“I don’t know, there just aren’t. Besides, I really hoped you would play Captain Hook. You’d make a wonderful pirate captain; you and Ianto can have swordfights and chase each other, doesn’t that sound like fun?”
“But Ianto’s my best friend!”
“I know, but you’d only be playing make-believe. Besides, if you’re Captain Hook I know you’ll be careful not to hurt Ianto.”
Well, that was certainly true. Jack thought about it; what if some bigger, stronger boy played Hook and Ianto got hurt? Then Jack would feel just awful.
“Okay, I’ll be the captain,” he agreed. Which was how Jack gained the nickname ‘Captain Jack’.
Andy was cast as Smee, so once again the three boys practised their lines together. He also helped Jack and Ianto plan out their sword fights, watching them and telling them what looked cool and what didn’t. The sword fighting was tremendous fun, even though they were only using plastic toy swords.
“When we’re grown up, we can learn how to do this properly, like in the Three Musketeers!” exclaimed Jack.
Ianto nodded solemnly.
“Proper actors need to be able to do all kinds of things. We’ll get better parts in plays if we can do stuff. Maybe even on TV or in the movies.”
Jack stopped dead and stared at Ianto wide-eyed.
“You really think we could be in movies?”
“Dunno. But Rhi said that movie actor she likes is going to be in a play next month. She wants Dad to take her to London to see it for her birthday treat.”
“Wow!” Jack sat down on the grass and Ianto flopped down beside him. “I’d only thought about doing plays, but wouldn’t it be brilliant to be in movies?” He lay back and stared at the sky.
“Yeah,” Ianto breathed. He turned his head to look at Jack. “I wouldn’t want to be in a movie if you weren’t in it too though.”
Jack reached to squeeze his friend’s hand.
“Me neither, it wouldn’t feel right.”
Side by side, holding hands, they watched the clouds and daydreamed about being movie stars until Jack’s mom called them in for tea.
When the evening of the play finally arrived, Miss Lewis was almost more nervous than the children, praying that there wouldn’t be any disasters.
On the whole, things didn’t go too badly. A few minor problems cropped up, but she managed to find ways around them, for the most part.
There were a handful of fluffed lines and Tinkerbell lost a wing when she got it caught on one of the cardboard trees; she had to be freed by the Lost Boys before she could pull it over. The tree rocked quite alarmingly for a minute, but luckily it stayed up.
Then there were the missing swords. The lesser pirates had cardboard swords, leaving the plastic ones for the lead characters, but just before the curtain went up, it was discovered that the plastic swords had mysteriously vanished. Hook and Peter ended up having to use toy lightsabers. Thankfully, no one seemed to mind and if anyone noticed that the two deadly enemies spent almost the entire play grinning at each other and sometimes held hands, no one commented on it.
The worst moment came when the front half of the crocodile tripped and fell over, which caused the back half to fall on top of him. For the rest of the play, half the crocodile had to scuttle sideways because it was bent in the middle. Thankfully, it didn’t need to be on stage much and managed to stay in the background.
As the cast took their bows, with Hook and Peter centre stage and holding hands again, Miss Lewis applauded along with the audience. Everyone had enjoyed the play despite the mistakes.
Backstage after the final curtain, she gathered her young cast around her.
“I just wanted to tell you how proud I am of all of you. You all played your parts beautifully. Well done!”
Jack hugged Ianto.
“We really were good, weren’t we, Ianto?”
“Uh huh!” Ianto yawned. “What a day. C’mon, let’s find our mams and go home.”
“Wait a minute! I didn’t get a photo of us!”
Jack grabbed Ianto’s hand and dragged him over to Miss Lewis, tugging lightly at her sleeve.
“Excuse me, Miss.”
“Yes, Jack, what is it?”
He held out his little camera.
“Could you take a photo of us, please?”
“Of course. Come over here out of everyone’s way.”
“Ianto and me are going to be famous actors one day,” Jack informed her, putting his arm around his friend.
Miss Lewis took several photos and handed the camera back.
“Becoming an actor would take a lot of hard work.”
“We know,” Ianto said with a smile, “but we don’t mind. It would be an awfully big adventure!”
Jack nodded agreement, grinning.
“It’ll be worth it. You’ll see. I just know we can do it!”
As they ran off to find their parents, Miss Lewis smiled. Those two had plenty of enthusiasm and had worked harder than anyone in rehearsals.
“You know,” she murmured to one of her colleagues, “it wouldn’t surprise me if their dream of becoming actors really did come true.”
By the time of the auditions for the Year 6 play, Jack and Ianto were both 11 years old. This would be their last play at primary school; after the summer holidays, they’d be moving up to secondary school, which had them feeling both excited and terrified. It would mean travelling by bus there and back every day instead of just walking down the road.
“I hope they still have school plays at secondary school,” Jack said to Ianto as they headed for the school hall to audition for Oliver Twist.
“Rhi says they do,” Ianto assured his friend. “One of her friends goes there.” Ianto’s sister Rhiannon went to a local all girls secondary school rather than the mixed school Jack and Ianto would be attending.
“That’s okay then.” Jack grinned at Ianto, grabbing his hand and urging him to walk faster. “The plays are the best part of the school year!”
Mrs Evans looked up and smiled as she saw Jack and Ianto enter the hall. She’d been hoping they would want to audition.
“Hello, boys, I was wondering when you two would get here. So, which roles are you interested in?”
“I don’t really mind,” said Ianto, “but Jack thinks I should try out for the part of Oliver.”
“Splendid! I was hoping you would, you were so good as Peter Pan last year.”
It didn’t take Miss Evans long to decide that Ianto would indeed make an excellent Oliver.
“Now, Jack, what about you?”
“Can I audition as Nancy?”
Oh dear! Miss Evans had heard of this problem, though she’d hoped young Jack Harkness would have grown out of that phase by now.
“I’m sorry, Jack, but the role of Nancy, and her understudy have already been cast.” It was a white lie really, but she did have someone in mind for Nancy. “Look, why don’t you play the Artful Dodger? He’s like Oliver’s best friend.” She prayed that her suggestion would work; everyone in the school knew Jack Harkness and Ianto Jones were inseparable. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to add a little extra incentive. “You’d get to wear a top hat too, and teach Oliver to pick pockets. Of course, that’s only for the play,” she added hastily, in case either boy got the wrong idea. “You should never do that in real life.”
Jack forced himself not to laugh at the worried expression on the teacher’s face. As if he and Ianto didn’t already know that stealing was wrong! They weren’t little kids; they’d both learned that lesson years ago. The Artful Dodger was a good role though, and it would mean he got to act with Ianto for quite a bit of the play, which was always a good thing.
“A top hat, huh?” Jack shrugged his shoulders. “Okay. Sounds cool.”
“Good, then that’s settled. Here are your scripts.”
Ianto grinned, immediately flipping through his to find the first scene Oliver was in.
“Thanks, Miss Evans! C’mon, Jack, we’d best start learning our lines.”
Hand in hand, the two boys headed towards the door.
“Ianto, Jack!” Miss Evans called after them.
“Rehearsals are Monday and Wednesday at 3pm, here in the hall, starting this Wednesday.”
“Okay, we’ll be here!” Jack called back over his shoulder as the door closed behind him. He turned to look at Ianto. “How come I never seem to get the role I really want?”
“Beats me,” Ianto replied, wrapping one arm around Jack in a hug. “One day you will though, I’m sure of it. I’m kinda glad you’re Dodger though. Nancy is a good role, but we’ll get to do more together this way.”
“That’s true,” Jack agreed, cheering up again. “Y’know, dad’s always said boys and girls should be allowed to do the same things if they want to. Full equality. Girls get to play boys’ roles in some plays so I don’t see why it can’t work the other way around. I mean I look good in a dress, don’t I?”
“Way better than Rhiannon does. You already have better legs than her.”
“I think so too, I just didn’t want to say so. It might hurt her feelings if she knew.”
That made Ianto laugh.
“Come off it, Jack! You know Rhi better than that. She’d be throwing stuff at you and swearing.”
“God, yeah, sometimes I forget what a temper she’s got these days.”
“Mam says she despairs of ever making a lady out of Rhi. Wishes she could be more polite, like me.”
“Polite? You? She must be mistaking you for someone else!”
Ianto winked at Jack.
“Well I’m polite at home. It makes mam happy and anyway, it’s like tad says; good manners cost nothing and being polite impresses people. When we’re famous actors, I don’t want to be like that actor Rhi fancies. He’s a jerk; he’s only famous ‘cause he happens to be good looking. When we’re famous we’ll be nice to people, especially the fans and the people we work with.”
“You’re right. You almost always are. What’s the point of being famous if you’re rude to everyone? Then everybody ends up hating you and no one wants you in their play. What’s that word dad uses? Counterproductive, that’s it.”
By now, both boys knew what they needed to do to prepare for their roles. Learning their lines was second nature and as always, they worked at it together, coaching and testing each other. Once again, Andy was in the play with them, this time playing Fagin, much to his delight, so he often joined his friends to rehearse in between the official school rehearsals.
Lying on the grass under a tree during lunch hour a few days before opening night, the three went over their lines then moved on to other topics.
“Secondary school next year,” said Andy gloomily. “I think I might even miss this place.”
“We’re growing up,” Jack replied, chewing on a blade of grass. “Can’t stay kids forever.”
“I suppose. It’s a bit scary though. We’ll be among all the older, bigger kids.” Ianto looked a bit worried.
“Don’t worry, Ianto, we’ll be together so we’ll be fine.” Jack gave his friend’s hand a squeeze. “We can deal with anything, long as we’re together.”
“Forever and always.” Ianto leaned over to peck Jack on the cheek.
“What about me?” asked Andy.
“Oh, sorry.” Ianto leaned over and kissed his other friend on the cheek. “Didn’t mean to make you feel left out.”
“Ugh! Get off, idiot! I didn’t mean that! You two are so gross sometimes! I just mean I’ll be at the same school too. We’re sort of like the Three Musketeers, right?”
“Sure,” Jack said, “we’ll still be able to hang out together.”
“That’s good. I heard there’s a drama club at the secondary school too. Maybe we could all join that.”
“Drama club, huh? Secondary school is looking up!”
Because they were in their final year, they got to perform their play twice. The first performance was for their families and the other school kids, but the second would be open to anyone who wanted to see it. Jack found that idea especially exciting.
“It’ll be the first time we perform for the public, just like if we were professional actors on the London stage!”
“I’m just glad we get to do the play twice. After all the work we’ve put in, it’s nice to get more out of it, if you know what I mean. Professional actors get to do the same play for weeks!”
“That would be awesome, wouldn’t it?”
“Seriously awesome! Shame we can’t.”
“One day we will,” Jack assured him. “Just you wait and see.”
The first performance went down well with the audience. There were the usual mishaps of course; part of the scenery fell on Bill Sykes, the toy dog that was supposed to be Bullseye got stepped on and squashed, and Nancy’s skirt ripped when someone trod on the hem. Still, Jack and Ianto had a whale of a time in their roles and Andy, stooped and cantankerous, made a very convincing Fagin.
The second, public performance went much better. The scenery stayed up, a replacement was found for Bullseye, everyone paid attention to where they were putting their feet and if Bill Sykes hadn’t fallen down the steps then the whole performance might have been judged flawless. Oliver and Dodger holding hands went un-remarked, the audience seeming to accept it as natural for the characters.
After each show, Jack and Ianto kept to what was by now their own tradition; they found one of the teachers and got their photo taken together backstage.
“More for our album,” Jack grinned, tucking his camera away safely as he and Ianto set off to find their parents, who’d bought tickets to both shows in support of their sons. “I wonder what our next play will be.”
Ianto paused and looked back.
“Whatever it is, it won’t be on this stage.”
“Yeah.” Jack slipped his arm around his friend. “End of an era. It’s been good though.”
“It has. I wouldn’t change any of it, would you?”
“Nope, never. Well, okay, maybe I’d change getting an F in maths that time…”
Arm in arm, laughing, they walked away, already thinking about what lay ahead at their new school.
TBC in ‘Part 4 - The Play’s The Thing’