Title: The Show Must Go On – Sequel to ‘The Play’s The Thing’
Characters: Jack, Ianto, assorted OCs
Word Count: 2014
Summary: Jack and Ianto are coming to the end of their two-year college drama course.
Warnings: Completely AU, set in a universe where Torchwood doesn’t exist.
Written For: My cottoncandy_bingo square Victory/Success.
Beta: Flying solo on this one because it’s kind on the pay-off of the last four parts and I didn’t want to give it away. If I’ve screwed anything up, please tell me and I’ll fix it.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood or any of the characters. Which is sad.
A/N: This is the fifth 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.
As the opening night of the musical approached, everything was going to plan. Sets were completed and the stagehands practiced all the scene changes until everything ran like clockwork. Finishing touches were put on costumes and the wardrobe people knew which outfits belonged to which character. All the props were ready and the cast were word-perfect.
Then two days before their first performance, disaster struck; the girl playing Sandy was rushed to hospital with appendicitis. Her understudy didn’t have much time to adjust to suddenly being shoved into the limelight, but she was doing her best. Ianto was just trying not to panic. Being the play’s producer/director as well as the male lead was a lot easier when everything was going to plan; his nerves were starting to get somewhat frazzled. A familiar pair of hands began to massage his shoulders soothingly.
“Relax, everything’s going to be fine. This is why we all have understudies after all. Jenny knows the role as well as Rosie did. No problem.”
Famous last words.
Opening night arrived and everyone was backstage, the actors getting into costume and the stagehands making sure everything was ready for the first scene. There was a general aura of nervous excitement bubbling through the participants; this was it, their chance to show off what they’d learned over the last two years.
Ianto was just beginning to think that they might actually pull this off without too many problems when Diane, who was playing Rizzo, came running over from the girls’ dressing room.
“We have a serious problem,” she gasped breathlessly.
Rolling his eyes, Ianto swore under his breath.
“Give me strength,” he muttered to Jack before turning to the bearer of bad news. “Okay, go ahead. What is it this time?”
“Jenny can’t go on.”
“Hey! Don’t kill the messenger, it’s not my fault!”
“Sorry.” Ianto gritted his teeth, calmed his breathing and continued more quietly. “Why, exactly, can’t Jenny go on?”
“Major asthma attack, she can’t even speak, never mind sing.”
“Oh God. Curtain goes up in…” he checked his watch, “forty minutes. Is there any chance she’ll be recovered in time?”
“Not a hope in hell. The college nurse is with her, they’re just waiting for the ambulance to get here.”
“It’s that bad? Will she be okay?”
“I did say ‘Major asthma attack’, right?” Diane asked Jack.
“You did, we’re just not up on the terminology when it comes to asthma,” Jack assured her.
“Oh, right. Well, anyway, she’ll be off to hospital for treatment soon, which means we don’t have a Sandy. What’re we going to do? No one else has studied the role well enough to take over.”
“That’s where you’re wrong,” Ianto said quietly. “There’s one other person who knows the role inside out.”
“Rosie just had surgery, she can’t take part!” Diane sounded horrified.
“I wasn’t talking about Rosie.”
Ianto turned to Jack.
“Change of plans, Jack. Get your understudy into costume; looks like you get to play Sandy after all!”
Jack’s face lit up, but Diane looked worried.
“You’ve got to be kidding, Ianto!”
“Nope, I’m completely serious. Jack can do it, Di. He’s been rehearsing with me at home for weeks. He knows all Sandy’s scenes and songs, and he’s a great singer. He’ll be brilliant!”
“But he’s a guy!”
“You’ve just never seen him in a dress.” Ianto winked at her and turned to Jack. “How long will it take you to get your Sandy outfits?”
“I’ll phone mom, have her bring the bags from my closet.” Jack pulled out his phone and made the call as he hurried off to find his understudy. He was back a few minutes later. “Mike’s getting into costume, mom and dad were just setting out but they went back and got the bags. I told mom to bring them to the stage door. They should be here in about twenty minutes.”
“Right, I’ll go wait for them. You get your makeup on, I’ll bring your costumes as soon as they arrive.”
Five minutes before curtain up, ‘Sandy’ made her first public appearance. The reactions of the other cast members were priceless. Ianto snapped off a few quick pictures with Jack’s camera; this was a moment neither of them would ever want to forget.
“How do I look?” asked Jack, pitching his voice higher than normal.
“You,” Ianto told him sincerely, “are the only girl I’ll ever love. You’re beautiful!”
Jack beamed at him.
“Danny, you just say the sweetest things, set my heart all a-flutter you do!”
“Oh my God, you even sound like a girl!” Mike exclaimed. “I’d fancy you myself if I didn’t know you were a guy.”
“Sorry, Mikey,” Jack fluttered his eyelashes, “I’m already taken.”
“Places, everyone,” Mr Reed called out. Curtain up in two minutes.”
‘Grease’ was a hit, the audience loved every minute and the cast performed their socks off. For Jack, it was a dream come true and Ianto had never felt so proud of his boyfriend. He’d always believed Jack could play a female role if he only got the chance, and now his unwavering faith in his boyfriend had been amply repaid in front of a packed audience. He doubted even Jack’s own parents were aware that their son was the female lead. The wigs Jack had bought online were so incredibly realistic they looked like they were his own hair; Ianto decided they’d been worth every penny he and Jack had saved to buy them.
When they took their final curtain call, Ianto stepped forward and told the audience he had an announcement to make.
“This musical almost didn’t go on tonight. Our original Sandy is in hospital, recovering from having her appendix removed. Get well soon, Rosie, we miss you!” There was a round of applause and Ianto held up his hands to quiet the audience. “As if that wasn’t bad enough, Rosie’s understudy, Jenny Wade, was taken to hospital shortly before we came on stage tonight due to an acute asthma attack. Latest news is that she’s doing fine and should be home tomorrow. However, that left us without a leading lady.” He turned to Jack. “All was not lost, thanks to someone very special; my amazing boyfriend, Jack Harkness. Take a bow, Jack, you’re the best ‘leading lady’ a guy could ask for and I am so incredibly proud of you!”
Jack pulled off his wig and bowed, and the audience went wild. Jack’s parents looked for a moment like they might faint and Ianto wasn’t sure if it was because their son was dressed as a woman or because he’d just called Jack his boyfriend. But then they were applauding and cheering even louder that the rest of the audience as Jack got a well-deserved standing ovation.
Backstage after the show, their parents found them as Mr Reed was congratulating them both in between taking photographs of them. Jack had put his wig back on and was hamming it up, making Ianto laugh.
“Hi, mom! Hi, dad!” Jack waved to his parents. “How did we do?”
“You were both amazing!”Jack’s mom hugged him. “I can’t believe it! You make such a lovely girl!”
“Still a guy though, mom, sorry. I know you always wanted a daughter, but I’m happy the way I am. It’s just that girls get some of the best roles and I’ve always thought I could play them just as well as any girl.”
“Well, you sure proved that tonight, son. That was one hell of a performance. Congratulations, you did us proud!” Jack’s dad hugged him and slapped him on the back. “Now that was what I call acting. Had me completely convinced!”
“Thanks dad, mom.”
“You were wonderful, both of you,” Ianto’s mam agreed. “There’s just one thing I want to ask.” She looked at Ianto. “Jack is your boyfriend?”
“Yep.” Ianto put his arm around Jack, smiling.
“Since when and why didn’t you tell us?”
“Uh, since we were fifteen, just before we were in ‘Romeo and Juliet’. We were going to tell you, but it just never seemed to be the right time.”
“That’s mostly my fault,”Jack admitted. “Ianto suggested we tell you way back then, but I was worried that it might change things. We’d only just realised how we felt about each other and it seemed better to wait a bit before saying anything. Then we just kept finding excuses to put it off. I guess we just didn’t want to be treated differently.”
“Well, that just means you’re both as daft as each other,” Ianto’s mother chuckled. “I don’t know why none of us ever guessed. The pair of you have been just about inseparable since the day you met, always happier together than apart.”
“Still are,” Ianto admitted, “and that’s never going to change.”
“We’re a package deal,”Jack added. “Wherever he goes, I go too. Forever and always.”
Ianto smiled and kissed his boyfriend.
“And I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
“We should all go and celebrate your successful opening night,” Ianto’s tad added, smiling proudly at his two boys. Jack had become like an extra son to him and his wife over the years and he knew Jack’s parents felt the same was about Ianto. “How about a late dinner? My treat.”
“God, yes,” Ianto replied.“I’m starving, I was too busy earlier to do more than grab an apple and a bag of crisps.”
“I’ve been watching my girlish figure,” Jack joked, making his mom laugh.
“Jack Harkness, you eat like a horse. I don’t know where you put it. The last thing you need to worry about is your weight.”
“Which is a good thing, because he never does,” Ianto teased. “Can we go for Chinese?”
Jack nodded so hard he got his ‘hair’ in his eyes.
“Whatever you two want is fine with us, right Frank?” Ianto’s tad asked Jack’s father.
“Fine with us.” Frank Harkness put his arm around his wife.
“Give us a few minutes to get changed, we won’t be long,” Ianto said, grabbing Jack by the hand and towing him off towards the dressing rooms.
Their parents turned to each other, laughing.
“They’re never going to change, are they?” Jack’s mother said with a fond smile.
“I hope not,” Ianto’s mother replied. “I’d like to think they’ll still be the same even if they do become successful actors one day.”
“They’ve got what it takes to succeed; talent, determination and persistence,” Frank mused.
“They’ve proved they’re not afraid of hard work either,” added Ivor Jones.
The other three agreed.
“And to think it all started with a Nativity play.” Carys Jones smiled.
“My son looks better in a dress than I do, I think I’m envious!” Ellen Harkness admitted.
“Oh, me too. Wasn’t that dress in the first act just gorgeous?”
Just out of sight, Jack and Ianto listened to their parents talking.
“They’re taking it all pretty well, I think,” Jack commented.
“Way better than I expected,” Ianto admitted. He took Jack’s hand in his, squeezing it gently. “We really had better get changed, don’t want to keep them waiting too long. Besides, I want dinner.”
Jack’s stomach rumbled loudly in response, making them both laugh.
“So do you, by the sound of it.”
“Sorry,” Jack grinned, “not very ladylike.”
“Not really, but it’s very you. And I wouldn’t change you for the world.”
Jack leant in to kiss his boyfriend.
“Believing in me. I don’t think tonight would’ve been possible if you hadn’t.”
“Yes it would have, Jack. Don’t sell yourself short. You were a success tonight because of talent and perseverance. You showed everyone what you can do and proved that a man can be a leading lady; that’s a victory over gender stereotyping. Who knows where it could lead?”
“Today Sandy, tomorrow Evita!” Jack proclaimed dramatically.
“I bet you could do it too!” and with their arms around each other they headed off to get changed for their victory celebrations.
TBC in ‘Part 6 - Forever And Always’