Waking to Live

Chapter 25: Epilogue

by Gracefultree

A/N: Thank you all so much for reading my story! It's been a long ride, and it feels gratifying to finish it. I hope you enjoy.




Ianto had never been more nervous in his entire life. Not even meeting Jack in the cafe four years ago had made his skin crawl and his stomach clench like this. Not even facing Jack after he killed John Hart in his first Torchwood mission since getting his memories back made him feel so out of control and scared. Not even meeting Jack's daughter and grandson made him feel so young and inexperienced. Not even standing in the registrar's office last year signing papers to legally bind himself to Jack, with their families and friends watching, made him feel so in the spotlight.

Of course, he'd never been on stage in front of dozens of television cameras, sitting next to Jack, who was sitting next to, and flirting with, Queen Elizabeth. He'd never been about to make a speech that would be broadcast all around the world, that billions of people would hear and watch. He thought he might pass out.

Jack's hand on his shoulder felt warm and remarkably comforting, and he felt his anxiety lessen. The gentle touch of calm Jack projected to wash over his mental shields didn't hurt, either. He silently thanked his former therapist for teaching Jack how to do that.

"You ok, gorgeous?" Jack whispered.

"I'm fine," Ianto answered with a stiff smile. "I just can't believe I agreed to do this."

"You don't —"

"Yes, I do, Jack. I'm doing it for everyone who died. For Lisa. For me. For us. We all deserve this. It's the final bit of closure I need."

Jack nodded and patted his shoulder.

"The country needs it, too," Jack murmured. "They need to see you. You're the last one left who survived the Battle."

"Don't make me any more nervous than I already am," Ianto retorted, though the smile in his voice and eyes took away any sting there might have been.

In front of them, Harriet Jones, the Prime Minister, re-elected after the debacle with Harold Saxon, even after the no-confidence vote that tossed her from the office created the need for the election Saxon won in the first place, who Ianto had met on several occasions and rather liked, was winding down her own speech, dedicating the new memorial.

"And now it's my pleasure to relinquish the podium to one of Britain's unsung heroes, a man who has been fighting to keep our country, and the world, safe from terrorist attacks like what happened here at the Battle of Canary Wharf. He survived this tragic day, and has worked tirelessly and with little enough thanks to make the world a better place to honor his friends and colleagues who died here. May I present Ianto Jones." Harriet stepped back, giving him a smile as she went to her seat.

Ianto knew it was now or never. He stood, straightened his cuffs, and walked forward, conscious of the applause and flash bulbs and cameras. It had been over a year since he'd thought of himself as simply Ianto Jones, rather than half of the Harkness-Jones partnership that headed the reinvented Torchwood Institute, and even longer since he'd thought about the fact that most people knew of Canary Wharf as a terrorist attack, but Harriet wasn't supposed to know about Torchwood, or aliens. Officially.

He looked out over the sea of people, not seeing individual faces, though he knew certain key people were present. His sister and her family, there to support him. Lisa's parents, with whom he'd reconnected at Jack's urging. Robin Bartlett. Owen and Tosh would still be at the Hub, by their choice, but many of the other Torchwood personnel would be in the crowd somewhere, both to support him and to keep the peace if anything happened. Even Gwen, who had retired several years ago to start a family, was here. She'd have left the children at home in Wales with Rhys, though.

Ianto cleared his throat. He and Jack talked at length about what he would and wouldn't say. What he could and couldn't say. They spent hours debating the issue, and in the end, he'd written two very different speeches. He'd only practiced one of them with Jack, though he suspected Jack knew he'd written two. He wondered if he would be able to give the official speech or if he'd feel compelled to give the other one.

"Tell us about Torchwood!" someone shouted from the crowd.

"Tell us about the aliens!" someone else added, from a different part of the mob.

Suddenly, a dam burst, and everyone was yelling and shouting and demanding to be told the truth about what happened at Canary Wharf five years before. What happened to those who died? Why wouldn't anyone talk about it? Where were the bodies, and what happened to all those metal men and flying pepper shakers that appeared and disappeared so suddenly that day, amid all the screaming and death around the globe? Ianto glanced over his shoulder to see Jack whispering with Queen Elizabeth. Jack caught his eye, and stood.

"Elizabeth and I will support whatever you say," Jack said softly in Ianto's ear, pressing a hand to the small of his back. "We trust your judgement if you choose to out Torchwood." Ianto nodded and captured Jack's hand, holding it tightly, making Jack move forward to stand next to him. Yes, of course Jack knew about the other speech. He'd probably read it.

"Thank you," he said quietly. "Stay?"

Jack squeezed his hand and settled in to be his support as he spoke.

Ianto turned to the crowd.

"My name is Ianto Harkness-Jones, and I work for an organization founded in 1879 by Queen Victoria to protect British Empire from enemies unknown to the general population. Called the Torchwood Institute, we worked in secret, in the shadows, keeping the populace safe from things you couldn't even imagine," he began. "Aliens, creatures from other planets, extra-terrestrials. They are real, and they are terrifying." He heard gasps, cries of outrage, shouts for more.

"Five years ago today, two alien races attempted to turn the Earth into their battleground. Thousands of people died around the globe, including nearly 800 of my colleagues here at Canary Wharf. My girlfriend was among them." The crowd quieted, listening intensely. Ianto took a deep breath before pushing forward.

"An alien saved us that day. He protected the human race simply because he didn't want to see us destroyed in a war we didn't start. He saved my life that day, and he saved yours, though you didn't know it.

"I have met aliens," Ianto declared, raising his voice, though the crowd remained quiet. "I have met and fought aliens bent on destroying this planet, or conquering it, or killing us. I have met aliens that are as regular and ordinary as you and your neighbor. There are people living among us who hail from different planets, looking no different from you and I. They are far away from home, and simply want what everyone wants. A place to live, and chance for friendship or love. To be left in peace. They pay their taxes, raise their children, and contribute to our society.

"Following the Battle, Queen Elizabeth and Director Harkness of Torchwood Three in Cardiff redesigned and rechartered Torchwood so that we help friendly aliens integrate into our communities."

Jack squeezed his hand again, stepping closer, so that they were shoulder-to-shoulder at the podium. He let go of Jack's hand and put an arm around his waist.

"However not all aliens are friendly. Together with my husband, Captain Jack Harkness, and a select groups of specialists from around the world, I am part of Earth's defense against hostile aliens, hoping that with my work, with our work, we prevent another catastrophic tragedy like Canary Wharf."

Ianto drew in a deep breath and shouted out the last words of his speech, feeling Jack's approval before he slammed up his shields to keep out the roar of the crowd's emotions.

"Now, today, we are here to tell you: The Earth is defended!"




The End