Author's Note: I've always felt we, the Torchwood fans, were dishonoured by the way Ianto was dispensed with. There was something we were denied that all communities and societies know is important. My hope is that this, perhaps, redresses that.
Author's Note 2: There are a couple of references to other characters and to aspects of Ianto's life I developed in another story, Stiff Competition, which are not canonical. Knowing that helps but is not, in my view, essential for the reading of this.
Author's Advice: Perhaps have some tissues to hand.
Trigger Warnings: Ianto's death and funeral. This is not a fix-it in the manner that term is commonly used.
Disclaimer: I've never owned it, a media company does. But if I had at the time of CoE this would not have been needed, because my script writing team would have respected the characters and the viewers.
Gratitude: To some readers of my other stories whose encouragement for my writing enabled me to go ahead and do this. Thanks Alice Carter and sd4ianto and Lady Emma Wentworth – you may not know it, but your reviews make a difference.
Enormous Gratitude: To Cerih, my beta, always. Our journey in writing and editing is remarkable, but it's only one part of what I value in your friendship.
Dedication: For a generation of men I knew who died too young not too long ago, and who were thought by many to have been dispensable.
Sensitive Condolences (A Eulogy For Ianto)
"Uncle Ianto." A young Welsh lass wept as she stood in softly falling rain, the droplets of water that fell from her mother's umbrella staining her black woollen coat grey. "I'll miss you."
It was mid-afternoon on a mizzling grey Cardiff day and what was left of the Torchwood team were gathered to farewell one of their own. With them were a small group of family and friends and, standing together to one side, a group of men all dressed in matching blazers. A sea mist had descended, shrouding the graveside from the activity of a city recovering from shock. In the silence of the cemetery, only the splattering sound of raindrops on tautly stretched umbrellas accompanied the mourners as they grieved.
On the other side of the rain sodden hole in the earth stood an elderly couple –both white haired, and both mourning in a way natural for their distinctive personalities. One, the taller of the two, maintained a stiff demeanour - the breast of his black suit adorned with a row of medals and colours appropriate for his military service. The grief of the other was more evident, his body slumped and hollowed out; he held a white handkerchief to his mouth to prevent his sobs from intruding, as tears rolled down his cheeks.
"Who are those men, dad?" Tightly clutching his father's hand, a young face looked upwards, and a boy, slightly older than the young lass who was his sister, asked another question, "And why are they here?"
"I don't know, David," his father replied. "Perhaps we can find out later, eh?"
"Is the man in the big coat their son?" asked the young girl.
"Don't be silly," David whispered back with sibling certainty, "men can't have two daddies."
"Why not, my friend Dan has two mummies," she hissed.
"Sshh you two, now is not the time," whispered their mother.
The young girl persisted with a tenacity that would have made her uncle proud. "But who is he?"
Her mother replied, "He was your Uncle Ianto's friend, his special friend."
"Like a boyfriend?" The question was asked with innocent curiosity. "He looks so sad."
"I think he must be, Mica, but please, hush now."
As Mica turned her attention to the single white rose she was holding – its petals damp with rain drops – her mother considered the brief exchange.
Her gaze drifted across the top of her brother's coffin and, for the first time, she took in the man of whom she'd heard only a little. He was standing, strong but struck dumb by grief, between the two elderly men. Each had a hold of one of his arms. For a minute her own grief abated, as she studied the man who had come to mean so much to someone she now understood she hardly knew.
One conversation - one brief, surprised conversation – that was all they'd ever had about the man who stood directly opposite. And that had been only ten days ago. Ten days filled first with horror, then with shock, and now with loss.
She thought of how they'd begun to laugh and how he'd begun to open up. If only Johnny hadn't come in with his jokey robustness and spoiled the mood. She'd never seen such delight on Ianto's face, not since they were kids. Not that she'd ever seen much on his face at all, given how little they saw of each other. But in those minutes – those now precious few minutes – she'd seen what it was for her brother to love.
It was just Jack, just him, that's what he'd said, and now she understood. It was a love that had been returned.
And there was something else too for understanding now, as she stood in the rain beside the coffin bearing his body. She understood she would never see another look of any kind on that face. She would miss the possibility that she could. That possibility of seeing him had always been an unspoken delight, and it was gone.
A shuffling of bodies brought her attention back to where she was. Lost in her thoughts she'd missed the celebrant's final words, and now a small group of the men wearing blazers were taking their places on either side of the coffin. As they lifted weight bearing straps and took up their burden a representative of the undertaker moved forward and slid away the silver coffin rest.
And her tears began to fall; as the drops of rain ran down her umbrella, her tears flowed soft down her face.
As the undertaker stepped back, the man she knew to be Rhys Williams looked across the grave at her, and he began to sing. As he sang the bearers began to lower Ianto's coffin. He sang the opening bars of the old song 'Myfanwy'; his deep baritone – a voice that could have come from the valleys – letting it be known that this was a Welshman's homecoming.
On the third bar he was joined by the woman, Gwen, who was clutching at his arm for strength. Together, Johnny and their children added their voices on the fourth and she joined them. The taller of the elderly men and the men in blazers provided a chorus, and together they sang it all the way through as the wreath of white flowers on top of the coffin disappeared from view.
As the finishing note faded into silence she looked up, finding Jack's eyes on her. No signal was passed, no nod of agreement made, as together they dropped the roses they'd held onto the coffin holding his lover, her brother.
More followed; Gwen's with a heart-rending sob, as Rhys caught the weight of her collapse. His own rose came next, with Johnny's; and then those of Mica and David – two children of the earth saying farewell.
Gathering them to her, as she'd done so often the week before, Rhiannon waited as the men in blazers moved slowly away. She was gratified they had been there: only at the start of the day had she learned who they were. She'd been talking to Rhys, and discovered something else she'd not known. He'd told her that he and Ianto had in the past few months joined a team, playing rugby together. And they'd had fun. He'd broken as he'd recounted their exploits; but she'd taken pleasure from knowing her brother had, for a time, something else in his life that he'd loved.
Something other than that place which had killed him.
And then she'd corrected herself. For there had been something else. Something she now had always to remember. This man standing opposite her, this man called Jack. This man Ianto had loved.
It had been Rhys who had provided the conduit to Torchwood, who'd soothed her fury at something she'd not understood. With patience and compassion and pride he'd told her all that he'd known. Of pub nights and deep conversations. Of love and a dance on the Plass. Of two people called Toshiko and Owen, now dead on the whim of a madman. Of the affection and respect they'd all shared, of the dangers they'd faced and of what the world owed them.
Of how those making decisions hadn't cared for any of that, or them, at all. How they were things to be toyed with, dispensed with when no longer needed.
She'd listened, accepting all of its unbelievable aspects. How could she have not done, she'd asked herself, when the week they'd lived through had made the impossible possible. And with it, with listening to Rhys, she'd come to know something important of Ianto. Something she was still absorbing but which was beginning to soothe at the ache.
He was loved by those who knew him. He was loved by Jack.
And she hated those who, not caring for this, had killed him.
That thing called the 456 or whatever that meant. She knew, with love filled clarity, that the thing may have been the instrument of murder but it was others who had wanted him dead.
People from the estate had wanted to come today to support her, but she'd said no, she wanted to see only those who had known him. She'd allowed Rhys one exception, the cop Andy Davidson. No-one else, she'd said. She'd meant it.
When a pompous ass of an official representing the so called decision makers had arrived with a smile of condolence, he'd been impervious to her plainly worn sorrow. He'd announced plans for a secret internment, with the phrase 'that's how it has to be done'.
She'd furiously told him to 'fuck off out now'; that Ianto belonged to those who had loved him, not to those who had used him and then let him die. They hadn't owned him in life and she'd be damned if they'd own him in death. He'd left, and she'd heard no more of such nonsense. She hadn't even offered him coffee. He, and the minions around him, deserved not one single bean.
Some things Rhys had told her had fuelled her in giving the finger to such rubbish. He'd told her that Jack couldn't die. Not permanently. That he'd travelled in time and in space. It had taken a while to get her head around that. When she had she'd realised an implication. A possibility others, especially those self-absorbed officials, had missed.
She needed to talk to him, to Jack.
She needed a promise. Because he was the only one who could make it. If Jack would make a promise to remember then her brother would continue to live. He may no longer be among them, but the memory of him could go to the stars.
A legacy well beyond the life of those who'd created this mess. They'd fade to oblivion, crumbled to the nothingness of dust, be forgotten in a small blip of time. The thoughts gave her satisfied pleasure.
If Jack would make her that promise.
She looked again at him, across the grave of her brother. There in the silence of the cemetery on a mizzling grey day in Cardiff. This time there was a recognition, a passing of unspoken thoughts. She saw what it meant to love Ianto.
That the promise had already been made: