Prompt: The Princess Bride
Pairings/Characters: Jack/Ianto, Doctor/Tosh, Andy/Donna, Rhys/Kathy, Mickey/Martha, John/Owen, Wilf/Estelle, Gwen, Mica, Steven, Wilf,
Spoilers: The whole movie of The Princess Bride
Warnings: Attempts at suicide and character deaths
Word Count: 18,884
Disclaimer: I do not own Torchwood, Doctor Who or the movie the Princess bride.
Summary: Grandpa Wilf tells his grandkids an interesting story.
“We know find ourselves in the pit of despair, where Ianto is strapped to a table in front of a large machine that consists of a waterwheel, levers, and pumps and so on. A dark skin man is tending to Ianto wounds.”
Ianto woke and discovered that he was trapped in an unfamiliar place, strapped to a table in front of a large machine that consisted of a waterwheel, levers, pumps and other things he could not make out. A stranger with dark skin tended to his bite mark from the R.O. U.S. “Where am I?” he asked.
A menacing voice answered him. “The Pit of Despair. Don’t even think….” The voice was cut off by coughing and a gasp for air. The menacing voice was replaced by the man’s real voice. “Don’t even think about trying to escape. The chains are far too thick. And don’t dream of being rescued, either. The only way in is secret, and only the prince, the count and I, Mickey, know how to get in and out,” Mickey told Ianto.
“Then I am here till I die?” Ianto asked.
Mickey shrugged. “Till they kill you, yeah,” he agreed.
Ianto was slightly confused, so he asked, “Then why bother curing me?”
A sigh escaped Mickey’s lips. “The prince and the count always insist on everyone being healthy before they’re broken,” he explained to Ianto.
“So it’s to be torture then?” he asked and Mickey nodded his head. “I can cope with torture.” Ianto told him and Mickey shook his head. “Don’t believe me?” he asked.
Mickey had to give the young man his credit. “You survived the fire swamp, you must be very brave, but nobody withstands The Machine,” Mickey told him.
At the castle John watched a melancholy Jack through his window. He relaxed as a pair of familiar arms wrapped around him.
A sigh escaped his lips as he leaned into Owen’s body and addressed him. “He’s been like that ever since the Fire Swamp. It’s my father’s failing health that is upsetting him,” John lied through his teeth.
Owen nodded his head, even though he and John both knew the truth, “Of course.”
Days later, in the Florin Market, John addressed the crowd from the balcony. The king had died the night before, and before the following dawn, Jack and John were married.
“And at noon he met with his subjects again, this time as their king.” Wilf told the children.
John began his speech. “My father’s final words were…”
“Hold it, hold it, Grandpa. You read that wrong. Dad can’t marry Uncle John, he married Tad. I’m just sure of it, after all Tad did for him, if Dad didn’t marry Tad, it wouldn’t be fair,” Steven butted in.
Mica nodded her head, agreeing with her brother.
Wilf hid a smile. “Well, who says life is fair? Where is that written? Life isn’t always fair,” he told the twins.
Steven wasn’t buying it. “I’m telling you, you’re messing up the story, now get it right.”
“Do you want me to go on with this?” Wilf asked the children.
“Yes,” both twins cried.
“All right, then. No more interruptions. “At noon he met his subjects again, this time as their king.”
John addressed his people. “My father’s final words were: ‘Love him as I loved him and there will be joy.’ I present to you your king, King Jack,” John announced.
The castle doors opened and Jack appeared, forcing a smile on his face as he walked out into his bowing subjects.
“Boo! Boo! Boo!” an elderly lady known as Estelle shouted at Jack as she moved in front of the crowd.
Jack stared at her with confusion and a little hurt. “Why do you do this?” he asked her.
Estelle looked at him like he was the biggest fool on the planet. “Because you had love in your hands, and you gave it up,” she told him.
“But they would have killed Ianto if I hadn’t done it.” Losing Ianto a second time had been the hardest thing he ever had to do.
“Your true love lives! And you marry another. True love saved him in the Fire Swamp, and he treated it like garbage. And that is what he is, the king of refuse. So bow down to him if you want, bow to him. Bow to the king of slime, the king of filth, the king of putrescence. Boo! Boo! Rubbish! Filth! Slime! Muck! Boo! Boo! Boo!” Estelle yelled at Jack.
Jack didn’t want to listen to any more; he knew she was telling the truth.
With a gasp, Jack shot up in bed, thankful to see it was all nothing but a dream.
Wilf couldn’t help but grin at the children’s relieved sighs. “It was ten days till the wedding. The king still lived, but Jack’s nightmares were growing steadily worse.”
Steven looked smug. “See? Didn’t I tell you he would never marry Uncle John?”
Mica nodded her head. “Yes, you’re very smart. Now be quiet,” she told her brother.
Jack had gone to John’s office to talk to him.
“It comes to this. I love Ianto. I always have. I know now I always will. If you tell me I must marry you in ten days, please believe me, I will be dead by the morning,” Jack told John.
John moved to his desk and took a seat. “I could never cause you grief. Consider our wedding off.” John turned to face Owen. “You, uh, returned this Ianto to his ship?” he asked.
Owen gave a simple answer. “Yes.”
John smiled a false smile that only Owen could see through. “Then we will simply alert him. Beloved, are you certain he still wants you? After all, it was you who did the leaving in the Fire Swamp. Not to mention that pirates are not known to be men of their words,” John reminded Jack.
“My Ianto will always come for me,” Jack informed John. He would never doubt that Ianto wouldn’t come for him. Look at what he went through to save him from his kidnappers.
“I suggest a deal. You write four copies of a letter. I’ll send my four fastest ships, one in each direction. The Dread Pirate Roberts is always close to Florin this time of year. We’ll run up the white flag and deliver your message. If Ianto wants you, bless you both. If not, please consider me as an alternative to suicide. Are we agreed?” John made the offer.
Jack just nodded his head in agreement, never for once believing that his Ianto wouldn’t want him. True love was not something that could be stopped.
John and Owen watched as Jack took his leave from them.
“Your prince is really quite a winning creature. A trifle simple, perhaps, but his appeal is undeniable,” Owen commented to John.
“Oh, I know, the people are quite taken with him. It’s odd, but when I hired Gwen to have him murdered on our engagement day, I thought that was clever. But it’s going to be so much more moving when I strangle him on our wedding night. Once Gilder is blamed, the nation will be truly outraged. They’ll demand we go to war.” John smiled, proud of his plan. He leaned forward and kissed Owen possessively. “Never forget, you are the one I want; he is nothing but a pawn,” John reminded his lover.
“Good, I hate to kill him before you can completely your plan,” Owen growled.
John laughed before proving to his lover just who he wanted.
Later that day, in a forest, Owen searched a particular tree trunk as John watched his progress.
“Hmm, now where is that secret knot? It’s impossible to find,” Owen muttered under his breath to John as he continued to search. The prince’s eyes were, of course, glued to Owen’s arse.
“Hah!” Owen let out a sound of triumph as he found what he was looking for. “Are you coming down into the pit? Ianto’s got his strength back. I’m starting him on The Machine tonight,” Owen said to John with barely contained glee.
John smiled. “Owen, you know how much I love watching you work, but I’ve got my country’s 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my husband to murder, and Gilder to frame for it. I’m swamped,” John told him.
Owen rested his hand on John’s shoulder. “Get some rest. If you haven’t got your health, you haven’t got anything.”
John reached up and gave Owen’s hand a lingering caress before stepping away from Owen, who, under the watchful eye of John, entered the pit.
Owen entered the pit of despair and he made his way over to Ianto and The Machine. “Beautiful, isn’t it? Took me half a lifetime to invent it; I’m sure you’ve discovered my deep and abiding interest in pain. At present, I’m writing the definitive work on the subject, so I want you to be totally honest with me on how The Machine makes you feel. This being our first try, I’ll use the lowest setting,” Owen boasted to Ianto.
Owen moved a leaver from zero to one. Water started flowing, powering The Machine. Ianto tried as he might to withstand it, but could not help but writhe in pain.
Owen took note of this and decided to explain how The Machine works. “As you know, the concept of the suction pump is centuries old. Well, really that’s all this is except that instead of sucking water, I’m sucking life. I’ve just sucked one year of your life away. I might one day go as high as five, but I really don’t know what that would do to you, so let’s just start with what we have. What did this do to you? Tell me. And remember, this is for posterity, so be honest. How do you feel?” Owen asked Ianto.
Ianto couldn’t help but whimper.
“Interesting,” Owen murmured.
Harold Saxon, John’s chief enforcer entered Prince John’s office. The prince was at his desk, busy plotting…something.
“Ahem!” Harold called out.
John looked up from his work. “Harold,” he happily greeted.
“Sire.” Harold stood, awaiting orders.
John climbed to his feet and motioned Harold to join him. “As chief enforcer of all Florin, I trust you with this secret: killers from Gilder are infiltrating the Thieves’ Forest and plan to murder my groom on our wedding night,” John told him.
Harold frowned. “My spy network has heard no such news.” He couldn’t believe he hadn’t heard such rumours.
Before John could say any more, Jack appeared at the door of his office.
“Has there been any word from Ianto?” Jack asked, hope in his voice.
John shook his head, looking sadly at him. “Too soon, my angel, have patience,” John told him.
Jack’s eyes narrowed as he spoke. “He will come for me,” he vowed.
John nodded his head. ”Of course,” he agreed.
Jack turned on his heel and left John’s office, not willing to give up hope on his Ianto coming for him.
John turned back to Harold. “He will not be murdered. On the day of the wedding, I want the Thieves’ Forest emptied, and every inhabitant arrested,” he ordered.
“Many of the thieves will resist. My regular enforcers will be inadequate.” Harold could already see problems forming.
“Form a brute squad, then. I want the Thieves’ Forest emptied before I wed.” John would not let anything ruin his plans.
Harold still had doubts as he told him, “It won’t be easy, sire.”
“Try ruling the world sometime,” John muttered under his breath.
The day of the wedding arrived. The brute squad had their hands full carrying out John’s orders. They moved from hut to hut in the Thieves’ Forest, rooting out possible troublemakers
Harold watched the work of his men and looked to his assistant, Adam. “Is everybody out?” he questioned.
Adam shook his head. “Almost, there is a Japanese giving us some trouble,” he admitted.
“Well give him some trouble. Move,” Harold ordered.
Adam looked sheepishly. “Actually, it’s a woman,” he admitted.
Outside a hut, Tosh was sitting, nursing a bottle.
“I am waiting for you, Gwen. You told me to go back to the beginning. So I have. This is where I am, and this is where I will stay. I will not be moved,” Tosh slurred out drunkenly.
Adam came up to her. “Ho there.”
Tosh glared at him. “I do not budge. Keep your ‘Ho there,’” she snapped at him.
Adam blinked at her. “But the prince gave orders,” he told her.
“So did Gwen. When the job went wrong, she went back to the beginning. Well, this is where we got the job, so it’s the beginning. And I am staying till Gwen comes,” Tosh said before she took a swipe at Adam with her sword.
Adam spied Rhys and waved him over. “You, brute, come here,” he ordered.
Rhys did as he was told.
“I am waiting for Gwen,” Tosh slurred out.
Rhys came to stand beside his friend. “You surely are a meanie, then. Hello,” he told Adam before greeting Tosh.
Tosh stared up at him before smiling at him. “It’s you,” she said in disbelief.
“You don’t look so good,” Rhys told her honestly.
Tosh sputtered nothing but utter nonsense in response.
“You don’t smell so good either,” Rhys continued on.
Tosh took a quick smell of herself and shrugged, not smelling anything, “Perhaps no. I feel fine,” she told him.
“Yeah,” Rhys said in disbelief as he watched as Tosh tried to stand on her own two feet, only to fail.
Adam, seeing that the giant had the drunk under control, left them; he had other things to do besides babysitting a drunk.
Rhys was overjoyed with being reunited with his long-lost friend. And as Rhys nursed his inebriated friend back to health, he told Tosh of Gwen’s death and the existence of Count Owen, the six-fingered man. Considering Tosh’s lifelong search, she handled the news surprisingly well. Once Rhys had cleaned the soup off of her face, that is. This was done with great care, in the form of two buckets of ice-water, into which Rhys repeatedly dunked Tosh’s head.
Tosh sputtered, having enough of Rhys’ revival tactics. “That is enough! That is enough! Where is this Owen now, so I may kill him?” she demanded to know.
“He’s with the prince, in the castle. But the castle gate is guarded by thirty men,” Rhys informed her.
With fire in her eyes, Tosh asked him, “How many could you handle?”
Rhys counted on his fingers. “I don’t think more than ten,” he told her.
Tosh looked thoughtful. “Leaving twenty for me. At my best, I could never defeat that many. I need Gwen to plan. I have no gift for strategy,” Tosh admitted.
“But Gwen is dead,” Rhys gently reminded Tosh.
Tosh shook her head. “No, not Gwen. I need the man in black,” she told Rhys.
Rhys blinked at her. “What?” he questioned.
Tosh sighed. “Look, he bested you with strength, your greatness. He bested me with steel. He must have out-thought Gwen. And a man who can do that can plan my castle onslaught any day. Let’s go,” Tosh ordered.
“Where?” Rhys questioned.
Tosh rolled her eyes-hadn’t she made it obvious? “To find the man in black, obviously,” she informed him.
“But we don’t know where he is!” Rhys reminded her.
“Don’t bother me with trifles. After twenty years, at last my mother’s soul will be at peace. There will be blood tonight!” Tosh vowed, stalking out of the village.
Back in the castle, Harold entered John’s office to find him at his desk. He bowed to John.
“Rise and report,” John ordered.
Harold did as commanded. “The Thieves’ Forest is emptied. Thirty men guard the castle gate,” he reported.
“Double it. My prince must be safe,” he ordered.
“The gate has but one key, and I carry that,” Harold reminded John.
Before John could respond, Jack entered the office and all of John’s attention was on his betrothed.
“Ahhh, my dulcet darling, tonight, we marry,” John greeted before turning his attention back to Saxon. “Tomorrow morning, your men will escort us to the Florin channel, where every ship in my armada waits to accompany us on our honeymoon,” John informed the man.
Jack looked at John sharply. “Every ship but your four fastest, you mean.” Jack paused as it suddenly became clear to him why Ianto never came for him. “Every ship but the four you sent,” he reminded John.
John hid a wince as he realized the mistake he made. “Yes, of course, naturally not those four,” he agreed with Jack.
Harold was confused; for all he knew, none of Prince John’s ships had been sent anywhere. “Ahem, your majesty,” he started.
“You never sent the ships. Don’t bother lying. It doesn’t matter; Ianto will come for me anyway,” Jack lashed out at John.
“You’re a silly boy,” John sneered at Jack.
Jack nodded his head. “Yes, I am a silly boy, for not having seen sooner that you are nothing but a coward with a heart full of fear,” Jack snarled, anger filling him. He couldn’t believe he ever trusted this man.
“I would not say such things if I were you,” John warned.
“Why not, you can’t hurt me. Ianto and I are joined by the bonds of love. And you cannot track that, not with a thousand bloodhounds. And you cannot break it, not with a thousand swords. And when I say you are a coward that is only because you are the slimiest weakling ever to crawl the earth.” With that said, Jack stalked away from the room, leaving Saxon stunned and John fuming in rage.
“I would not say such things if I were you,” John snarled under his breath before storming from the castle.
Full of rage at Jack’s words, John decided to make the one Jack loves the most suffer. “And suffer he shall,” John vowed as he entered the Pit of Despair and stood over Ianto.
“You truly love each other, and so you might have been truly happy. Not one couple in a century has that chance, no matter what the storybooks say. So I think no man in a century will suffer as greatly as you will,” John snarled down at Ianto.
Stalking over to The Machine, John put it to the highest setting.
“Not to 50!” Owen warned.
A scream of pure pain escaped Ianto’s lips as The Machine did its work.
Tosh and Rhys were walking down another village road, still having no luck in their search for the man in black. Tosh halted as a noise reached her ears.
“Rhys! Rhys! Listen! Do you hear that? That is the sound of ultimate suffering. My heart made that sound when Owen slaughtered my mother. The man in black makes it now.” Tosh’s heart went out to the man.
“The man in black,” Rhys asked after hearing the sound himself. He was not able to believe such a strong man could make such a scream.
“His true love is marrying another tonight, so who else has the cause for ultimate suffering?” Tosh reminded Rhys as she started to move through a crowd.
“Excuse me. Pardon me, it’s important. Rhys please.” Finally, Tosh turned to Rhys when she could not get through the crowd.
Rhys stood up straight and bellowed, “Everybody MOVE!”
The crowd parted and Tosh looked up at Rhys with gratitude. “Thank you,” she told him before moving down the clear path.
Outside of the entrance to the Pit of Despair, Rhys and Tosh stopped Mickey, who was pushing a wheelbarrow.
Tosh took hold of Mickey and is questioned him. “Where is the man in black? You got that from this grove, yes? Rhys, jog his memory.” Tosh ordered when Mickey failed to answer her.
Rhys shrugged and bonked Mickey over the head, leaving him out cold.
“I’m sorry, Tosh. I didn’t mean to jog him so hard. Tosh?”
While Rhys was apologizing, Tosh had drawn her sword.
Tosh had her eyes closed and she was praying. “Mother, I have failed you for twenty years. Now our misery can end. Somewhere, somewhere close by, is a man who can help us. I cannot find him alone. I need you. I need you to guide my sword. Please, guide my sword.”
Tosh stumbled around, led by the sword. After several swerves and swaggering steps, the sword hit a tree. Tosh leaned against the tree in defeat, accidentally pressing the hidden knot and falling through the now-open entrance.
Tosh and Rhys entered the Pit of Despair, and upon spotting the man in black, they rushed to his side, freeing him from the machine.
“He’s dead,” Rhys informed Tosh after checking over the lifeless man.
Tosh shook her head sadly, her heart breaking for the man. “It’s just not fair.”
“Grandpa, Grandpa, wait what did Rhys mean ‘he’s dead?’ He can’t be dead,” Mica cried, not liking the idea of her tad dead.
“Yeah, Tad can’t die; he is the hero of this story,” Steven agreed with his sister.
“If you’ll just let me finish the story, you’ll find out what happens,” Wilf reminded the twins.