Pairings/Characters: Jack/Ianto, 9th Doctor/Donna, 10th Doctor/Ross, Martha/Tosh, Mickey/Jake, some Ross/Rose, one-sided Jack/Rose, Esther, Suzie, Mary, Gwen, Owen/Rhys, John Hart/Andy, Amy, Lisa, 11th Doctor/Rory, River and others
Summary: To impress his lady love Jack vows to go over the wall and bring her back a piece of the fallen star, he just never counted on that star to be the handsome Ianto Jones. Their journey is filled with danger and excitement and along the way love blooms between man and star.
Word Count: 34,179
Disclaimer: I do not own Torchwood, Doctor Who or Stardust
Spoilers: The whole movie of Stardust
A philosopher once asked,
“Are we human because we gaze at the stars, or do we gaze at them because we are human?”
Do the stars gaze back? Now that is a question. But I am getting ahead of myself,
Our story really begins here, one hundred and fifty years ago at the Royal Academy of Science in London, England, where a letter arrived containing a very strange inquiry. It had come from a country boy and the scientist who read it thought it might be a practical joke of some kind.
But he duly wrote a reply, politely explaining that the query was nonsense, and he posted it to the boy who lived in a village called Wall, so named, the boy said, for the wall that ran alongside it.
A wall that, according to local folklore, hid an extraordinary secret.
The village know as Wall was a peaceful and beautiful village, surrounded by rolling green hills. Now the name, Wall, may seem a silly name for a village, but in truth this name fit well. The village was literally named for the giant wall that bordered the edge of their village, a wall no one was allowed to cross and everyone followed that strict rule, well, almost everyone…
John ‘Doctor’ Harkness was a man who craved adventure and for as far back as he could remember, he had longed to see what was on the other side of the wall.
One day, he decided that he hand wondered and dreamed for long enough; he was going to find out what lay beyond. “Well, no time like the present,” John declared with a big grin on his face. Whistling cheerfully into the night as he left his small cottage at the edge of the village, he bravely and determinedly headed towards the wall.
Upon arriving at the only gap in the wall, John was greeted by the lone guard, Wilf.
“What can I do for you, John?” Wilf asked causally never looking away from his telescope.
Not saying anything, John came to stand beside Wilf and trailed his gaze up to the stars as well. “Not only do you have the easiest job in the entire village, Wilf, but you also have one of the best views. But don’t you ever get cold?” John was grateful that he wore his trusty leather jacket as a cool breeze filled the night air.
Finally turning his gaze away from his beloved telescope, Wilf narrowed his eyes at the younger man. “I’m charged with guarding a portal to another world and you think that’s easy? Daft bugger.” Wilf shook his head.
John fought back a grin; ‘portal to another world! Now I really need to see what’s on the other side.’ Oh, yes, his curiosity was now well and truly piqued. Aloud, John said, “I think you might have been out here in the sun too long; all that’s behind that wall is an empty field.” He told him with a fake disbelief look on his face, even as his eyes sparkled with thoughts of what could be on the other side of the wall.
Wilf’s eyes narrowed even further. “That is no empty field. Just because that’s what our eyes see it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a whole other world on the other side of this wall,” the older man huffed indignantly. Really, of all the daft things to say! This John really took the cake.
John grinned. “Well then, there’s only one way to find out for sure. I need to go over the wall.”
Wilf stared at him like he was mad. “Are you asking me to just let you through?”
“Yes. Because let’s be honest here, okay? It’s a field. Look out there, Wilf, do you see another world out there? No. You see a field. Do you see anything non-human? No, you don’t, and you know why? Because it’s a field!” Wilf only needed to doubt himself for a moment; that was just enough time for John to slip past him and through the gap.
“Hundreds of years this wall has been here. Hundreds of years this gap has been under twenty-four hour guard and for one very good reason: to keep everyone in our village safe.” Wilf shook his head stubbornly. “We don’t know for sure what’s on the other side but it’s my job to make sure nothing dangerous comes through. We keep to our side and they keep to ours. That’s the way it has been for hundreds of years and now you want me to not do my duty and just let you scamper through?”
There was only one possible answer to that, “Yes.”
“Not going to happen. One more word of this nonsense about going through the gap and to the other side and I’ll have no other choice but to bring you up to the village council.” Wilf warned, his tone completely serious.
“Well I guess that sounds rather final. You’ve made your point, Wilf. I think it would be better if I just went home.” John had never seen the guard act so seriously before and he’d known the older man for his entire life. Maybe there was something to be kept safe from after all… inside, John grinned. ‘Nah! I’m still gonna find out what’s not there!’
“Glad to hear it, lad. Have a goodnight, John.” Wilf was glad to see that he had gotten through to the other man.
Every now and again over the many, many years that the wall had protected them, one of the young men in their village would get the absurd notion into their minds of exploring the other side, and every single time, a dedicated gap guard like Wilf would successfully convince them otherwise. Wilf was inordinately proud that he had upheld his position; this had been his first gap challenge.
“Right, well goodnight, Wilf, and thank you.” John turned away as if he was going home.
“Goodnight, John.” Wilf turned back towards his telescope and that was when John made his move.
Darting past the older man, John dove through the gap with Wilf’s “Stop!” echoing behind him through the dark.
‘Stop? No way in hell!’ John thought with a grin as he ran across the field.
The legendary tales of what lay on the other side of the village wall were all true, every one of them. Once you passed through that gap, there was a whole other world, a world where magic was very real. It was a world right out of a fairy tale and it included, as all good stories do, wicked witches and a trapped princess.
Not far from the wall, a small but beautiful blue bird sat on its perch atop the caravan that her mistress owned.
Esther had had enough when another sale failed. Disgusted by her ‘fellow man’, she turned around and flicked her wrist at the blue bird, watching as it turned into a regal-looking woman with a head of long red hair and wearing a royal blue dress. “I don’t dwell with time-wasters, Donna, get over here and tend to this stall. I’m off to the Slaughter Prince for a pint.” Esther haughtily informed Donna before stalking away.
Donna, in an act of immaturity, stuck her tongue out at Esther’s retreating back. Feeling just a little better, she turned her attention to the people and creatures milling around in the square.
John, who had been wandering around the market place taking in all the amazing wonders this strange new world offered, found himself at Donna’s stall. It was filled with every type of flowers imaginable, he had never before seen so many combinations of shapes and colours. Naturally, the woman manning the stall couldn’t help but also gain his attention.
Donna found herself checking out the man before her while he gazed in wonder at the flowers. ‘Ears are a little big but he is a hottie all right.’ With a smirk on her face she called out, “See anything you like?” and she gave him a minute twitch to her hips.
John grinned at her. “Definitely,” and when Donna’s smirk turned wicked, John realised what he had just said and quickly changed the topic. “I mean… what I meant was these ones, the blue ones.” He quickly picked up the bouquet of blue flowers. “How much are they?” he asked.
Donna moved towards him teasingly and she began walking around him. “They might be the colour of your hair. Or they might be all of your memories before you were three,” she informed him. Leaning in close she whispered in his ear, “I could check if you like,” she smiled with satisfaction as he shivered.
Moving away from John she plucked the flowers from his hands. “Besides, you shouldn’t buy the bell-blues,” and she placed a white flower in his hands. “Buy this one instead, it’s a Snowdrop and it’s said to bring you luck.”
John looked at the white flower in his hand. “But what does it cost?” he repeated his earlier question.
Moving till their faces were only inches away Donna answered, “This one costs a kiss.”
John gulped as Donna came in even closer and he readied himself to feel her lips press against his, only for the redhead to stop and curse under her breath. Just as she was about to claim payment for the snowdrop, she noticed Esther approaching and even at distance, she could tell her mistress was in a worse mood than usual. Grabbing John, Donna dragged him over to the caravan where she proceeded to push John down behind the wheel. With a hissed, “don’t move!,” she hurried back out to greet Esther.
People in his village didn’t act so strangely, and John was curious to see what had prompted Donna’s odd behaviour. Shuffling forward John spied on the interaction between the two women and even from a distance, it was easy to see by Donna and Esther’s body language that it was not a pleasant conversation.
As Esther stormed off moments later, Donna returned to John’s side. He saw her coming and slid back away from his spy-hole just in time. “Is she gone?” he asked innocently, popping up his head.
Donna nodded; there was a strange, far-away look in her eyes and she seemed to see him and look right through him at the same time. “Follow me,” she ordered grasping John’s hand and dragging him inside the caravan. ‘He might be my only hope.’
John looked around the small place and wondered how two women shared such cramped quarters. With his six-foot-two-inch height and muscular body, it was almost claustrophobic in there.
Donna watched him look around but she didn’t have the time or the patience to give him the ten cent tour. “Alright here’s the deal. I’m a princess, tricked into being a witch’s slave. Will you liberate me?” She asked but her bravado faded and tears filled her eyes as she lifted up her dress just enough to show him the silver chain around her ankle. “It’s an enchanted chain. I’ll only be free when she dies.” Donna explained to his confused look.
Bending down John exam the chain around her ankle for a moment, and then, reaching into his coat pocket, he pulled out his trusty sonic screwdriver.
“Oi! What the hell is that thing?” Donna demanded as she yanked her ankle away; there was no way in hell he was getting anywhere near her with that thing.
“It’s my sonic screwdriver,” John glared at her. “Now do you want my help or not?”
Donna bit her lower lip as she weighed her options; refuse his offer and spend the rest of her life as a slave, or let this odd man use his strange device on her. In the end, the off chance that she might gain her freedom was too much to pass up. Praying that her foot wasn’t going to fall off, Donna pursed her lips and thrust her ankle back into his hand.
Smiling at her briefly John returned his attention to the delicately-wrought chain around Donna’s ankle. For several minutes there was no sound inside the caravan, except for the hum of John’s sonic screwdriver. A sound of rejoicing escaped John’s lips as the chain parted and slid off to the floor, only for a cry of sorrow to immediately take its place as the chain simply re-grew. Frowning fiercely, he tried again, and then again. Finally John had no choice but to admit defeat and he looked up at her sadly. “I’m sorry, I can’t free you.”
Donna closed her eyes as she fought back her tears. “Thank you for trying,” she whispered in a broken voice. The sensation of not having the chain against her skin, even for those few seconds, was burned into her memory, and she knew that it was as close as she’d ever get to freedom.
Climbing to his feet John pulled Donna into a hug; he couldn’t imagine having his freedom ripped away at it tore at him that he couldn’t help her. “If I can’t liberate you, what can I do for you?” He softly stroked his fingers through her flaming auburn hair.
Drawing back just enough to look him in the eyes, Donna smiled wickedly as she pulled John down into a kiss, a kiss that John eagerly returned and with interest.
Even if she couldn’t gain her freedom she could at least fly tonight.
So, the scientist was wrong. The wall had successfully done its job of hiding the magical kingdom of Torchwood.
The young man returned that night to his home in that small walled village in Wales, hoping that his adventure would soon be forgotten. But nine months later, he received an unexpected souvenir…
It was in the middle of the night and John was woken from his sleep by endless pounding of his door. “I’m coming, I’m coming,” he grumbled as he stumbled to the door.
The instant he opened his door sleep left John as he came face-to-face with Wilf’s scowling face. In one hand the older man was holding a basket with a sleeping baby inside and in the other a letter.
“This was left at the wall for you.” Wilf explained gruffly as he handed the stunned John the basket and the letter, “It says his name is Jack.”
Rendered completely speechless by the revelation, John could only stare at Wilf; had the world gone mad? He had no idea how to be a father.
Nine months ago, Wilf had been angry beyond reason, left humiliated in front of the entire village. In all the many decades the wall had been manned, Wilf was the only guard to ever have someone successfully breach the gap. Not only did John go through to the other side, but he returned and absolutely refused to discuss what, if anything, he’d seen. Now, Wilf couldn’t resist feeling that John was getting exactly what he deserved, and he just chuckled heartily as he left the new father and son alone to bond.
The years since John ventured through the gap had passed quietly. Life in the peaceful village continued as it had for generations.
With a fond smile on his age-lined face, John watched his son as Jack ran down the stairs. The young man had spent hours bathing and grooming, putting on this outfit and that, trying to look his very best and John could see now that all the effort had paid off. His son was undeniably one of the handsomest lads in the village, and the object of many admiring glances amongst the young girls.
John knew that Jack planned on going to see Rose Tyler today; after all, he had talked of nothing but that for days. With all the love of his father’s heart, John hoped his son was not setting himself for a heartbreak. Rose was one of the most sought-after maidens in the village, a sweet, pretty girl, and it was easy to see why Jack had set his heart on winning hers. “Jack? Don’t forget the flowers, son.” John pointed to the lovely bouquet of flowers freshly gathered from the front gardens and lying in wait on the table.
Jack quickly picked them up. “Yes. I’ve got them. Thank you, father.” With a jaunty smile and wave to his dad, Jack bounced out of the house. He was so excited to see Rose that he could hardly breathe.
Yes, eighteen years had passed since that night Wilf had appeared at John’s door, and baby Jack had grown up knowing nothing of his unconventional heritage. It was a tale that John Harkness kept buried in his soul; he had vowed never to tell a single living soul.
But never mind how the infant became a boy. This is the story of how Jack Harkness became a man, which was altogether much greater challenge indeed. For to achieve manhood, Jack must win the heart of his one true love
Upon reaching the Tyler house, Jack picked up a few small stones and began tossing them at the window of what he knew to be Rose’s room.
Inside that room Rose shared a look with her two friends, Lisa and Amy, when they heard the pebbled strike the glass. The three young women giggled excitedly before rushing to the window, all trying to sneak a peek at Rose’s mystery caller. They had, in fact just been whispering and gossiping about the boys in the village, and now, as if by magic, there was one outside.
“It’s him!” Rose declared in disbelief, trying to remain behind the curtain yet still see the ground below.
Lisa and Amy shared an excited look as they both asked as one, “Is it Ross?” Everyone in the village knew that Ross Jenkins was the clear choice to win Rose’s hand. The young man was the most sought after man in the village, and he and Rose were the perfect couple.
“No, it’s Jack,” Rose admitted with a sad sigh. The man was handsome, she’d give him that, but he was a nobody going nowhere, not at all like Ross, who was wealthy and who could give her the life she wanted.
Lisa and Amy shared their own sad sigh, “Oh.” Jack was a nice guy but he was just a poor boy and not worthy of Rose; she was clearly way out for his league, and everybody knew it except Jack. They wished he would see that fact for himself and give up his pursuit of Rose, for she would never give up her dreams of a wealthy husband.
Shushing her friends, Rose opened her window and looked down at the young man standing so hopefully before her. “Did I leave something at the shop?” she asked as she rested her arms on the ledge.
Jack shifted nervously. “No. I just thought I could bring…” The words he wanted to say, that he’d actually practiced before the mirror, were cut off by the arrival of his worst enemy.
“Jack Harkness, shop-boy-by-day, peeping-Tom- by-night. Is there no end to your charms?” Ross smirked sarcastically as he came to stand by Jack.
Rose’s face lit up in a smile when she saw Ross, and the large gift he held beneath his arm, before she quickly masked it into a disapproving frown. “Ross, there is no need to be like that. Be nice to the poor boy.” She affectionately scolded the man.
Ross noticed the flowers in Jack’s hand and quickly snatched them away. “Ah, were these for Rose?” He taunted Jack with them before throwing them on the ground and stomping them into the dirt.
Jack stared in disbelief at the ruined mess before letting out a low angry growl, and drawing his sword, he rushed at Ross. Sadly, the other man was the best swordsman in all the village and he easily defeated Jack.
Jack quickly found himself lying flat on his back on the ground with the tip of Ross’ sword pressed firmly against his neck. If Jack so much as breathed deeply, he’d be wounded. “You always were useless at fencing in school, Jack. In fact I’m having trouble remembering if there is anything you are good at.” Ross sneered at the defeated man beneath him, even though a big part of him didn’t really want to, but Rose was watching and he needed to keep up his act. If the truth about him ever got out, well, suffice it to say that he could kiss his family, his future and his life good-bye. Besides, Jack could do a lot better than Rose.
“Ross, that’s enough.” Rose declared as she exited her house and pulled Ross away from Jack. She turned to Jack and offered him her hand. “Are you all right?” she asked.
“Yeah. Yeah, I’m fine.” Jack muttered under his breath as he glared at Ross, only to be completely taken aback by the look in the other man’s eyes. Guilt, remorse, sympathy, these were things that he never expected to see.
Freeing his hand from Rose’s grip, Jack sheathed his sword and dusted himself off before turning on his heel and walking away into the night. He wasn’t able to leave thoughts of the couple behind him, however; his mind whirled with what had just happened.
Morning came far too soon for Jack; he dragged himself and stumbled down the stairs; sleep hadn’t come easy to him last night.
John looked at his son from his spot at the oven. “Want some breakfast?” he turned back to his eggs.
Jack shook his head. “No, I’m really late for work.” He grabbed an apple from the table, it would have to do until lunch time.
John stopped what he was doing and turned to look, really look, at his son. “Are you all right, Jack?” Something didn’t seem right with his boy, but John couldn’t put his finger on it.
“Yeah, fine. Why?” Jack lied through his teeth.
John shook his shoulders and turned back to his food. “Oh, I don’t know. Last night, how’d it go?” He asked as casually as he could.
“Oh, really good. Really, really good.” Jack continued to lie to his father. “See you later, dad.” Jack waved good-bye and rushed out the door.
Sadly, John could only watch his son leave; he knew that the previous night’s courting hadn’t gone the way Jack had hoped, and John wished with all his heart that his son would find someone else, someone who would love only him.