Date Written: 11/12/08
Word Count: 1,608
Characters/Pairings: Jack/Ianto, Gwen, Elizabeth, Charles
Spoilers: Up through DW 02 and set post Exit Wounds
Author's Notes: Massively unbetaed, probably crap/massively incorrect, and a bit later than I wanted it to be. Since yesterday was Veteran's Day here in the States (11/11), I wanted to write a little something about that. For totally4ryo, who is herself a vet. Edit 4/09 -- This fic was nominated for three Children of Time Awards! Thank you so much for nominating me, I hope that you newcomers enjoy my work! EDIT 6/09 -- This fic won for best Jack Harkness Characterization and Runner Up Best Genfic in Children of Time Awards Round 3! Thank you so very much for reading, nominating, and voting for me!
Children of Time Awards Round 3
The base was in chaos.
Well, to be fair, it was wartime, so the base was always in some form of chaos or another. At least this time it wasn't three in the morning with half-awake soldiers scrambling about to get planes off the ground.
Captain Jack Harkness, Torchwood freelance agent and -- for all intents and purposes -- American volunteer, snagged the sleeve of a passing pilot trainee. "What's going on?"
The kid (couldn't be older than eighteen, for fuck's sake) threw a sharp, palm-up salute. He was trying to be formal and proper, but he was bouncing like a puppy eager to get off its lead. "Sir, the ATS came in with supplies."
It took Jack half a second to remember the slang. ATS, the Auxiliary Territorial Service. The women of Britain doing their best to help out the war effort while the men were fighting and dying on the front lines. "So?"
The trainee looked at him like he was mad. He shook his head and muttered and Jack swore he caught the words bloody Yank before continuing. "The guards at the gate are saying that Princess Elizabeth is the driver."
Jack nodded, smiling a little bit. Princess Elizabeth, eventually Queen Elizabeth, grandmother of the famous brothers William and Harry. He'd seen her a few times when she was a very young child, when he'd been forced to go with the heads of Torchwood and discuss the status of the Institute with her grandfather, George V, and after her father, George VI. He'd remembered her as a little toddler, clever and curious and friendly with a sunny smile. Then later as a young girl, a bit more reserved and proper and British but still clever and curious.
"We should confirm the rumors," Jack agreed. The trainee ran off towards the gate, and Jack shook his head.
She was about nineteen now, and still as beautiful as he remembered her; not drop-dead film star gorgeous, but with an inner beauty and strength shining out. She was unloading the truck with her ATS unit, the RAF boys swiping their boxes as soon as they left the truck. It was a little cute watching the men trip all over themselves, and each one gave Princess Elizabeth a formal bow each time they passed her.
Jack fell in helping with the shipment, hoisting boxes from the RAF pilots and taking them to their final destinations, the mess hall or the air hangers. A few times, when his eyes caught sight of the Princess, he could have sworn he saw her staring at him.
It wasn't until she approached him that he realized that she actually remembered who he was.
He clicked his heels and snapped into attention as the Princess approached him, giving her a salute. Both of them well aware that the entire base was watching them, she returned the salute.
"Second Subaltern Winsor," Jack greeted before she could speak. "Captain Jack Harkness, American volunteer."
He could hear the mutterings about the camp, about the rudeness of Americans. Elizabeth's eyes sparkled at him, catching onto his game. It would be questionable for someone like Jack to know the future Queen. "Thank you for your service, Captain Harkness," she told him. It was so quiet you could have heard a lug nut drop in the grass across base.
"And thank you for yours, your Highness," Jack told her, finally bowing low.
"This is my country, Captain Harkness," she said as if it was common sense. Jack theorized she'd either been thanked too much or not enough for joining the ATS. "Why are you here fighting for us?"
Jack could hear the real question. Why are you in Torchwood, protecting a country that's not your own?
Jack gave her a warm smile. "Your Highness," he said, pitching his voice lower so the others couldn't hear him, "For Queen and country, of course."
She had her back to him. It was inconsequential, since he was bowing, but Jack knew it was a power play. Princess Elizabeth -- no, Queen Elizabeth -- was making him wait before she acknowledged him.
"What business does Torchwood Cardiff need to discuss with me?" she asked, not turning about. "I met with the head of the London branch after my coronation."
Jack fidgeted a little bit. "I... well, Torchwood was just a means to get in," he admitted.
She turned from the window, eyes flashing. "What do you mean, Captain Harkness?"
"I..." He took a deep breath and stood, drawing himself to his full height. "I'm sorry I gained entrance under false premises, but I wanted to convey my condolences on the passing of your father and your grandmother," he said genuinely. "They were both great people."
He saw her bristle for a moment, the pain still so fresh, before relaxing a little. "Thank you, Captain," she said, and he could sense the grief.
He bowed politely, preparing to leave. She probably had appointments he was disrupting.
"Captain," she called out. It was just loud enough to be heard, and he paused with one hand on the door. "You once said that you were protecting Britain for Queen and Country. Were you just quoting the charter?"
Jack turned to look at her. "I am a British citizen, your Majesty, despite my accent." He smiled a little. "But I meant what I said. As long as you walk upon this Earth, I will protect your country for you."
He was surprised to find that he meant it.
"Captain Jack Harkness."
He was trembling faintly, his hands clasped in his lap. It was frightening. He'd never been so nervous in front of the Queen before. Yes, she was royalty and there was a cultural and social gap between them, but he honestly thought that there was some sort of relationship there too. He'd been invited to the baptism of her four children, to their weddings and the baptism of their own children.
He was definitely in the Queen's pocket, giving her the uncensored truth of what was going on within the Institute. It had been through her that some of his slow-moving ideas had managed to become firm changes within Torchwood, particularly after Canary Wharf. They were his ideas, but she had personally rewritten her great-great grandmother's charter.
"For so many years in service of Queen and Country..." He felt the cold weight of the flat of the blade against first one shoulder, then the other. "... I dub thee Sir Jack Harkness of the Torchwood Institute."
There was a smattering of applause as he rose at the Queen's bidding, turning to face the room. It was just those who knew of his service record, Prince Phillip and their children and grandchildren, and his two remaining team members; Martha was in New York and had been unable to attend the ceremony.
Gwen was giving him her wide, gap-toothed smile and clapping hard, pausing when she had to brush tears from her eyes. Ianto was next to her, dressed to the nines with a Welsh flag pin proud on his lapel, applauding politely but giving Jack a smile that made the Captain feel like he could hang the stars.
Gwen threw her arms around his neck the moment she had a chance, hugging him tight. "Congratulations," she murmured into his ear before pulling back to look at him. "We're still calling you Captain," she informed him, patting his shoulder.
Jack laughed and looked at Ianto. "Is it true?"
"I'm afraid so," Ianto deadpanned.
"That's a pity," Jack said. "I like it when you call me sir," he pouted a little, releasing Gwen to drag Ianto into a hug.
His young lover hugged him back just as tightly. "I think we might be able to work something out," Ianto murmured low into his ear. "Sir Jack."
She died on a Thursday. Peacefully, in her own bed, her family surrounding her.
Jack dropped everything, left the Rift with Gwen and their slowly rebuilding team and ran to London, Ianto hot on his heels.
After, in the privacy in the church before the cameras could catch them, Jack stepped forward and shook Prince Charles' -- King Charles' -- hand. "I'm sorry for your loss, sir."
Charles fixed him with a long look. Jack was reminded of a young woman in fatigues. "It's the country's loss," he finally said.
Jack nodded in agreement. He could see the proper royal adult trying to push back the scared, sad little boy who was had just lost his mother and his heart went out to the King.
"You were very much my mother's man, Jack," Charles added. He was still gripping the immortal's hand, almost desperately wanting... something from the older man. "I hope that, one day, I'm allowed that same privilege."
Jack couldn't help but give him a reassuring smile. "You won't be rid of me that easily. I serve King and country, your Majesty."
"Let us hope we can do her proud," Charles said, finally releasing his hand and turning to go back to his family.
Jack watched the group leave the church, not tearing his gaze away when Ianto moved to his elbow. "She chose well, Sir Torchwood," the Welshman reassured him quietly, sliding his hand into Jack's and twining their fingers together.
It was funny to think that he was someone's man after all this time, that he'd probably always be her man.
The Captain smiled and squeezed his hand in silent thanks. "We should get back to Cardiff," he announced. "Work to do."
The Queen wasn't there anymore. He had to keep her people safe in her place.