A/n: This piece of unadulterated crack has two main pieces of inspiration. One, type40tardis’s assignation of ‘Only the Good Die Young’ to Captain Jack Harkness as lol-worthy theme tune. Two, the fact that John Barrowman has been known to sing for his supper-and in that supremely Doctorish venue, the Royal Albert Hall, no less. Put those two factoids together and in the head of moi, they become...this. Enjoy. J
(Oh, and I lied, there’s three reasons; check the title and you’ll see the third. After all, where did that extravaganza take place, now...? It’s enough to make a person wonder whether there’s something in the air round there...)
Gwen Cooper was nervous.
Actually, she was scared. What she was about to do...it was big. Possibly the biggest thing she’d ever done. She checked her equipment nervously, watching the rest of Torchwood do the same out of the corner of her eye; took a deep breath, and sent up a prayer that was roughly along the lines of Please God let me not mess this up.
At least Jack was there to lead them. That was reassuring. Although, she thought, knowing Jack as well as she did, it probably shouldn’t be.
Still. No backing out now.
Jack caught her eye, grinned at her. “Ready?” he asked, quietly. It was rhetorical, of course. She was in this all the way by now, and he knew it. She made a rude noise through her nose at him in reply. Jack laughed.
Gwen took another deep breath, and set her eyes straight in front of her, focused and composed. She knew her friends were doing the same.
There was a timeless moment of perfect calm.
Gwen’s introduction to Torchwood had begun one rainy night a couple of years ago. She had been unable to sleep, and when she couldn’t sleep she always tossed and turned. This always ended with Rhys waking up too, and kicking her out of bed.
She had grumbled her way downstairs, made herself a cup of instant tomato soup, and vaguely picked up and scanned the local paper. Something for her eyes to do, that was all...and those groggy, sleep-deprived eyes had somehow alighted on one of the adverts.
The reason a Guitarist was Wanted, Gwen later learned, was that Torchwood’s previous guitarist had gotten a new job and had been faced with the choice between music and fun or steady money. Much to Jack’s chagrin, she had picked the latter, and he had wasted almost a week trying to persuade her-by his own inimitable methods-to change her mind.
After the third day of having a one-Harkness picket outside her flat, shouting “Traitor!” Suzie had snapped, and begun throwing things. Jack carried on, dauntless. In fact, he began harassing her at work too. So Suzie stepped up her game. On the fifth day, Jack had barely opened his mouth to yell before Suzie shot him.
Jack got a tremendously hurt look on his face, wiped the water out of his eyes, and said to her, with great and wounded dignity, “They’ll call you ‘the one who left before they became famous’, ya know,” before departing in a huff.
“And it gets stupider,” Owen declared. He was on his third pint by this time, and seemed to be enjoying the chance to convince the newbie that she had joined a band comprised of nutters.
“How could it get stupider than that?” Gwen asked.
A band lead by a nutter, at least. Owen took a long pull of his drink, and announced in the smug tones of a conjurer producing a rabbit, “This entire band only started because Jack wanted into the Teaboy’s pants.”
“It’s true,” Tosh admitted, smiling apologetically and adjusting her glasses. “Jack wanted to impress Ianto, and decided to serenade him. But you know Jack. He never settles for half-measures, and only a whole band would do. So he roped me and Suzie and Owen into it, and we performed in front of Ianto...”
“Only the Good Die Young,” interjected Owen. “Not very romantic, I’d have thought, but who knows what goes on in their minds...”
“We still finish up every gig with Jack’s version of it,” continued Tosh. “Because it worked, you see. Jack and Ianto are still...well, it’s a strange sort of relationship, but it’s still going.”
“The Teaboy all but jumped him on the spot before we’d gotten to the bridge. What did I tell you? Barmy.”
“So,” wondered Gwen aloud, “if that’s the only reason you all got together, why are you still...”
“That was just the start,” explained Owen darkly.
(The first proposed name for the band, by the way, had been Captain Jack and his Innuendo Squad.
Tosh and Owen did protest overmuch, though. Despite the insanity of Torchwood-or maybe because of it-they loved it. Because, well, who wouldn’t? Everyone dreams of playing in a band at some point. Getting to make that dream a reality-and do it well-was simply amazingly cool.
Ianto might be terminally eccentric, with his suits, his non-sequiturs, his coffee fixation and his stuffed pterodactyl. (Its name was Myfanwy, apparently, and it served as the band’s mascot.) But he could make that sax of his weep like an angel on a Saturday night, tired of being good all week and hoping for a beer. And he was no small talent as a songwriter, either.
Owen’s drumming rumbled down into your bones and pulsed inside your spine. Tosh’s keyboard stylings were as perfect and delicate as silicon chips. And Jack-Jack had a voice as rich as Ianto’s coffee, full of passion and insinuation, and a smile and a wink that was pure showman.
Sometimes Gwen felt a bit intimidated by how good they all were. But jamming with them...well, it had really inspired her to push herself. And now her guitar-playing shone as never before.
The first time Rhys turned up at a Torchwood gig, he did so unannounced, and Gwen’s shock very nearly ruined the whole thing. Luckily she managed to collect herself in time, though her skin crawled with the sort of desperate embarrassment she hadn’t felt since she was fifteen and her mother was showing her friends the photo of her in the bath aged three with a rubber duck and a colander on her head.
And relations at first between Torchwood and Rhys were rather strained. (He’d taken one look at Jack and disliked him.) But Gwen’s boyfriend had to admit-they made damn good music, and Gwen never looked hotter than with her axe in her hands.
From Everything Changes they crashed without a pause straight into Something Borrowed, the quirky humorous toe-tapping number that Ianto had written for Gwen and Rhys as an engagement present. The crowd stayed hungry for them as the mood changed, to the wistful dreaminess and lonely longing of Out Of Time, then the frantic beat and threatening chords of Exit Wounds that reached their dramatic climax and morphed into desolation and sadness. Gwen and Ianto lowered their instruments to join their voices with Jack’s on the last verse, as the keyboard and drums faded away into silence. You could have heard a pin drop; there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
But it wasn’t Torchwood’s way to end things on that note, and as the pause stretched out, Tosh began to pick out one last tune. Owen picked up the beat, Gwen the melody, and Jack whooped with delight and began to sing:
“Come out, Ianto, don’t let me wait! You Catholic boys start much too late, but sooner or later it comes down to fate. I might as well be the one...”
The rest of the band still hadn’t come down from the ecstatic high of music and exhaustion when Jack led the man into their dressing room. Gwen thought she recognised his spiked hair and Clark Kent glasses from the audience, but she was too tired to be sure. He was bouncing on the balls of his feet like there was still music playing, and grinning from ear to ear.
“Magnifico! Molto bene!” he exclaimed, darting from member to member of the band to shake their hands enthusiastically. “I wasn’t sure about you when I first heard about you, but once I’d seen you in concert, well...I’m from Blue Box Records. D’you think we can negotiate?”