Title: Flights of Fancy
Disclaimer: I do not own, nor ever will, Torchwood or the characters within.
Note: Written for the Redisourcolor Challenge 11. The prompt was Costumes with the words Tissue paper, flying and silvery and the phrase “Argh, somebody get this thing off me!”
Author’s Note: These prompts came up and dovetailed so perfectly with something I had already planned for Ianto that I just had to write it now… so, this is part of my Torchwood Canary series. Takes place after the third episode (which I have started but not quite finished - and still seeking a title) …
Flights of Fancy
“So. What do you think?” Captain Jack Harkness asked as he stood in the centre of the room surrounded by boxes.
“What should I be thinking, Sir?” Ianto Jones asked bemusedly.
“That you love it and you’re eternally grateful would be a start,” Jack replied with a self-satisfactory grin. Ianto’s left eyebrow rose in response.
“Perhaps if I knew why I should be so grateful?” Ianto queried lightly as he looked around the room trying to make sense of what appeared to be disorganised chaos. The Captain had literally dragged him out of the archives and into the lift and then along a cold concrete passage. He’d pressed a large button and a large door had slid open. The Captain had bounded in and left Ianto standing bemused and confused in the doorway.
“This is yours,” Jack announced with a wide wave of his arm. “This, Ianto Jones, is going to be your shop.”
“My shop,” Ianto repeated in a completely flat voice. He looked at the Captain. “Why do I need a shop?”
“Because you’re not a prisoner anymore,” Jack replied as if that explained everything. And to Jack it did. In the three months since he had brought Ianto from the ruins of Canary Wharf he had tried to give the winged man as much freedom as he could. Jack did not want Ianto to think himself Torchwood’s prisoner ever again.
“I do know that, Sir,” Ianto told him. “I am also already fully employed with sorting out the archives. What I don’t know is why you think I need a shop.”
“I don’t want you to feel trapped in the Hub, Ianto,” Jack said. “Coming out on the odd weevil alert at night isn’t enough. You should be able to go out during the day as well.”
“I have wings Sir. Going out during the day isn’t possible,” Ianto stated calmly.
“And absolutely gorgeous wings they are too,” Jack leered and Ianto rolled his eyes, his mouth twitching in a brief smile.
“You always say that,” he pointed out.
“Because it’s true,” Jack replied easily. He studied the winged man for a moment. Ianto looked perfectly at ease as he stood in the wide doorway. His dark wings looked darker against the black of his three piece suit and the thin red tie gave him some welcome colour. But his skin was very pale and he hadn’t moved into the room, preferring to remain out of sight of the windows. Jack walked back to the Welshman.
“Since the nineteen fifties, this office has been a cover for Torchwood Cardiff. It’s been many things over the years. Its last incarnation was a Tourist Information Centre,” he said. “And as you can see, it’s been closed up for a few years now.”
Ianto’s eyes went wide. “You’re not suggesting I run an Information Centre, are you?” he blinked.
“Oh no.” Jack shook his head with a grin. “No, I thought of something much better. Come and see.” Jack stopped by a box and waited. Ianto’s eyes flickered to the window before he cautiously entered the room and walked across to where Jack was waiting.
“Open it,” Jack told him with a smile.
Ianto opened the cardboard flaps and then reached in to remove what seemed like a ream of tissue paper. He looked down at red velvet that suddenly appeared. He leant down and pulled out an opulent gown of rich velvet and layered lace. He looked at Jack expectantly.
“Welcome to Flights of Fancy, Ianto. The best and most exclusive costume and fancy dress shop in Cardiff.”
Ianto dropped the gown and gaped at the Captain.
“A costume shop?” he repeated completely dumbfounded. “Are you serious?”
“Never been more serious,” Jack grinned at the stunned young man. “Think about it Ianto. You can work here for … say a couple of hours a day. And no-one’ll look twice at your wings because they’ll think they’re part of a costume.”
“I think you with your coat would be a better choice,” Ianto muttered as he tried to take in what the Captain was saying.
“My coat is no costume,” Jack defended his coat.
“Of course not Sir,” Ianto demurred and let his breath out. “Seriously though. Why do this?” he weaved his hand at the boxes and racks strewn around him.
“Because you’re not a prisoner anymore, Ianto,” Jack repeated in an unexpectedly gentle voice. “I can’t give you a normal life but I can make sure you do more than waste away underground.”
Ianto frowned. “I know I’m not a prisoner, Sir. It’s the wings that keep me confined, not you.”
“And now those wings can let you have a bit more freedom,” Jack kept his voice gentle and Ianto looked around the shop again.
Ianto could see where the old information desk had been and there was an old bead curtain behind it. Old racks were against one wall with yellowing pamphlets caught in the wire. The boxes that he now realised probably also contained costumes were scattered haphazardly between shiny new racks and the whole thing was overwhelming.
He chewed at his bottom lip as his wings shifted uneasily. The thought of having contact with non-Torchwood personnel terrified him. Even passing his wings off as a costume didn’t make his nerves any less. For the last two years he’d had no contact with anyone who wasn’t involved with Torchwood and now, if he agreed, he’d be meeting complete strangers. Ianto rubbed his hands together feeling them sweaty and placed them on his hips as he shifted restlessly from one foot to the other. He looked around the room … shop and ran a hand through his hair before shoving his hands in his pockets.
“I don’t know if I can do this,” he said slowly.
“You don’t have to decide now,” Jack replied. “It’ll take a week or so to get it fitted out properly. But if you want it, it’s yours.”
A week later Jack led everyone up to the quay from the Plas. Even though the evening was closing in and there was no-one about, Ianto was wrapped in Jack’s coat to hide his wings. The Captain had given him no chance to get his own coat, bundling him into the greatcoat and all but ordering the others to follow.
A few minutes of walking brought them around to the old Information Centre and they all stopped and stared in amazement at the changes.
The front had been painted a dark red and the red velvet gown was prominent in the window. Above the door on a thin black plaque Flights of Fancy was writ in gold lettering and lit up by a small spotlight.
“You like it?” Jack asked them all and received a round of appreciative murmurs.
“It looks elegant,” Tosh commented.
“That dress looks lovely,” Suzie said.
“Yes,” Ianto nodded without taking his eyes off the sign.
“Yeah, yeah, nice, looks great,” Owen said in an unconvincing dismissive manner that made them laugh.
“Good. Let me show you what the inside looks like now,” Jack said with an eager manner that had Ianto smiling.
The door opened with a tinkling sound and they looked up to see the small bell hanging just above the door. The room looked so very different from when Ianto had first seen it. Racks filled with glorious clothes were set out in even lines and the small back room had now become a changing area.
Tosh and Suzie went straight to the clothes with bright eyes and wide smiles.
“These are absolutely beautiful, Jack,” Suzie enthused. “Where did you get them from?”
“I know someone who works with the National Theatre and the Cardiff Opera Company. Most of these outfits are costumes from them.”
“And they aren’t using them?” Ianto queried as he looked around.
“No. These are old and have been replaced with newer costumes or they’ll just never be used again. Every time they retire costumes, they’ll send them to us,” Jack explained.
“But these look almost new,” Tosh said as she held up a silvery gown that could have come straight from the 1920s. “And there’s all the accessories as well.” She pointed to the shelf above where matching hats sat.
“Every theatre and opera company has a costume department with a seamstress or tailor to look after the clothes.” Jack looked at Ianto. “And we can use the opera’s seamstress for any repairs. She’ll be your contact for new costumes as well.”
“Oi, Jack! Are you fucking serious?” Owen interrupted with a disbelieving shout.
“What?” Suzie asked.
“Look!” Owen pointed.
Where the door leading down to the Hub had been there was now a wardrobe. The doors were open and coats could be seen hanging in it.
“Oh Jack!” Tosh exclaimed with a laugh.
Ianto smiled and Suzie looked puzzled.
“There was a children’s book where the kids found a magical land by walking through a wardrobe,” Ianto told her.
“It’s a film too,” Tosh added.
“Is it?” Ianto asked.
“Yes, it came out last year,” Tosh replied and then recalled that Ianto had been imprisoned in the Tower and wouldn’t have known anything about it.
“I never read many fiction books when I was little,” Suzie said as she saw Tosh’s expression change.
“We should watch it one night,” Tosh said hesitantly and there was a small pause before Ianto and Suzie nodded.
“With popcorn?” Jack interjected hopefully.
“You can’t have a movie night without popcorn,” Suzie agreed.
“Rift willing, we’ll do that,” Jack declared. “You in, Owen?” he called to the doctor who had disappeared into the wardrobe.
“What’s that?” Owen stuck his head out and looked at them.
“Movie night to introduce Ianto and Suzie to Narnia,” Jack replied.
“Are you going to make it compulsory?” Owen asked with a grimace.
“It is the only way you’ll attend,” Suzie said and Owen glared at her.
“She’s right though,” Tosh smiled.
Owen made a small growling noise. “Fine, but you make sure there’s beer there,” and he disappeared back into the wardrobe.
Jack, Tosh and Suzie laughed. They knew that Owen would never admit to actually wanting to watch movies with them. Ianto smiled. He liked the banter between the team here. It made such a change from the last two years and reminded him of his old team before the accident that had given him the wings.
A sudden thumping had them turning to the wardrobe.
“Owen?” Tosh called.
Owen reappeared but now he was caught up in several costumes and the more he tried to free himself the more tangled he became.
“Argh, somebody get this thing off me!”
“What have you done?” Suzie demanded to know as she began to try and untangle him. “Stand still!”
“I was looking for the release for the door,” Owen grumbled as he settled down.
“It’s on the left hand side wall of the wardrobe and there’s another button under the desk if needed,” Jack told him as he watched Suzie remove a long black coat from Owen. “And make sure there’s no-one in the shop when you use it.”
“As if,” Owen muttered as he pulled a green boa from the front of his white coat where it had caught on one of his many badges.
Jack looked over at Ianto. He was wandering along the racks, fingers trailing over the costumes as if memorising their textures and place. Jack moved over to his side.
“Just a couple of hours a day, if that,” he said. “The computer’s linked to Mainframe so you can work up here just as easily as downstairs. It’ll be good to have a proper front working again too. Nice innocent point of contact for mail and deliveries.”
“You’ll have to survive without coffee while I’m up here,” Ianto pointed out.
“It will be worth it.” Jack paused. “And if we get desperate we’ll just call you down,” he grinned.
“Not too often I hope.” Ianto looked at Jack. “You wanted me to take this on and I will, but it’ll be done properly and I won’t close up before time just to make you all coffee.” He spoke firmly and Jack smiled.
“I wouldn’t expect anything less from you,” Jack said looking pleased at Ianto’s words.
“Now this is what you need, birdman,” Owen said as he thrust a shiny red cape at Ianto. “You’ve got more chance of flying with this than you do with those.” Owen waved a hand at Ianto’s wings as Ianto held up the cape.
“Superman was never an opera,” Ianto commented as he saw the giant S on it. Jack shrugged.
“I might have added a few things from my wardrobe.”