[personal profile] aeshna_uk
Title: King and Country
Author: Aeshna
Fandom: Torchwood
Rating: PG, gen
Word count: 1,504
Characters: Jack Harkness, King Edward VIII, OCs
Summary: "I should have the sorry lot of you thrown in the Tower!"
Spoilers: Only for the historical succession of the House of Windsor.
Disclaimer: Not mine, no matter how many DVDs and toys I buy! Everything here belongs to RTD and to Auntie Beeb, who already has my licence fee.
Archive: Sure, whoever wants it – just let me know where it ends up!
Notes: This is a bunny I've had a while, which has finally made it out into the world via a small writing challenge with [livejournal.com profile] mimarie. I find Jack's history with Torchwood utterly fascinating – there's so much more to him than his relationships in the present and, now that we've effectively been given the entirety of the twentieth century to play in, it seems only polite to start throwing him into various historical events....

Thanks as always to my betas, [livejournal.com profile] mimarie and [livejournal.com profile] jwaneeta – any remaining weirdnesses are all mine. Feedback of any variety is much appreciated but not compulsory – I'll post anyway! I've suffered for my art, now it's your turn....

Fort Belvedere, 5th December 1936

"I sincerely hope that this matter is of some considerable import, Colonel." The man who stalked into the ornate reception room was tall and boyishly handsome, his sharp blue eyes narrowed beneath a tired frown. "Given the current situation, the Institute is hardly my foremost–" He stopped, his gaze flicking across the four people standing respectfully before him. "What is this, a full delegation? Considerable import, indeed."

"Your Majesty." Colonel Percival Campbell, the leader of Torchwood London, bowed his head, his movement echoed by the other two men while Dr Hansen curtsied neatly. "My apologies, Sir, but this is no small matter and it relates directly to the... current situation. The loyalty of the Torchwood Institute is to the Crown–"

"At last, someone remembers their place!" the King snapped, raking a hand back through short, dark blond hair. "That fool Baldwin is drawing up lists and ultimatums, if you can believe that, and the Dominions are only encouraging him. A man should be entitled to marry whomsoever he desires, but no – they wish to make me choose between my beloved and my throne. I am a King, an Emperor, and my life is to be ruled by the witterings of politicians?" He shook his head angrily. "I would take my cause to the nation directly, but no, Mr Baldwin and his cronies will not allow it!"

Campbell shared a glance with his companions – William Porter, stocky and bespectacled, of the Cardiff branch and the venerable Dr Rebecca Hansen, who oversaw Torchwood's Scottish base. "There are certain constitutional principles involved, Sir," he said cautiously.

"And those, Sir, quite clearly state that the Sovereign may only act on such matters of the heart with the advice and counsel of approved Ministers," Hansen added firmly in her light Scots lilt, her thin lips narrowing. "The nation has already spoken to approve its Government and that Government has made its position known. The people have already played their part in this."

The King stared at her, his expression hardening. "When I was told that Torchwood had requested an urgent audience, I did not expect to find myself under attack on yet another front. The Institute answers to the Sovereign and to the Sovereign alone – are you all so keen to turn traitor?"

"With respect, Your Majesty," Porter said smoothly, "while the loyalty of the Institute is to the Crown, there are certain aspects of the current situation that do not rest easy and we feel that–"

"No. No." The King fixed each of them with a furious glare. "So this is what it comes to? I should have the sorry lot of you thrown in the Tower! I had thought that I might find allies in those sworn to defend our realm against the strange and the savage but it seems that, like everyone else, Torchwood is more concerned with the threat from a simple American divorcee!"

"Believe me, Your Majesty, neither your beloved's nationality nor her personal history are any concern of ours."

Campbell saw the startled look that crossed the King's face as the last of their number spoke, the American accent clearly unexpected. "I see. And just who might you be?"

"Captain Jack Harkness." The smile was a fraction too wide. "Heard of me?"

"I –" The King stilled, his frown returning. "My father may have mentioned that name."

"Really? Good man, your father – didn't hold too high an opinion of you, mind." Harkness chuckled humourlessly and moved to run one hand across the carved back of a chair, along the edge of the mantelpiece, making the King turn to track his passage through the room. "I knew him. Knew his father too, for that matter."

The King regarded the other man for a long moment. "How...?"

"Let's just say that I'm older than I look. A lot older." Harkness stopped by an intricately-veneered sideboard, looking up at a portrait of a stern-looking woman in mourning dress. "You know, I once made a promise to your great-grandmother to defend her dominions and all those within her care." His gaze snapped back to the King. "And I have every intention of keeping that promise."

"You see, Your Majesty," Campbell interjected, drawing the King's attention back as Harkness resumed his prowling, "while your Mr Baldwin may fret over lesser details, the Institute's concerns lie more with Mrs Simpson's... political sympathies regarding the current German administration. Her sympathies and, by extension, your own. The situation in Europe is fragile enough without the possibility of Torchwood research falling into the wrong hands."

"What are you...? Torchwood serves the Crown!"

"A crown, Sir, that you do not yet wear," Hansen said sharply. "Your coronation is not due until the coming May."

"A crown that is still mine by right," the King reminded her, his tone icy. "And it would behove you all to remember that, lest I disband your nest of intrigues altogether!" He shook his head. "Enough. I will hear no more of this nonsense. You are dismissed."

Nobody moved.

"I said, you are dismissed!"

"My apologies, Your Majesty, for not having made our business here absolutely clear." Campbell's smile was apologetic but his gaze was direct. "We did not come to you solely to express our concerns, but rather to present you with a choice."

"A choice?" The King snorted. "More ultimatums? Baldwin has already –"

"Our offer is not the same as Mr Baldwin's," Campbell told him. "The world is becoming a more dangerous place, Sir, and not merely through the machinations of the inhuman. What may soon begin in Europe could well spread to engulf every corner of every continent and the Institute was founded, first and foremost, to defend the Empire. It is a charge that we take most seriously and in the event of a conflict of interests between that duty and the reigning monarch's political sympathies–"

"There would be no conflict of interests, you impertinent–"

"Would there not be, Sir?" Hansen raised a silvered brow. "The potential for disaster in this situation is too great. The Institute cannot take the risk."

"There is far too much at stake, Sir," Porter added, his tone earnest. "Far too much."

"And so the Torchwood Institute would stage a coup d'état in the name of the Empire?" The King shook his head angrily. "Perfidious fools, the lot of you!"

"A coup? We have no desire to rule, Sir, nor to disrupt the succession." Campbell spread his hands. "It is really quite simple. Your brother will – will – be crowned as King in your stead and his eldest daughter become heiress presumptive. The decision we place before you now merely concerns whether or not there should be a state funeral prior to his coronation. It would seem a shame, so very soon after your father."

"Are you...?" The King stared at him for long moments, fists clenched tight at his sides. "Are you daring to threaten me?"

"Oh yes, Your Majesty. Very much so."

The King started violently, stumbling as he jerked away from the voice in his ear, away from Harkness's predatory smile. Campbell sighed and shook his head. "The choice is yours, Sir. Renounce your throne, marry the woman you love, and live out a long and contented life under your brother's rule. Or keep your throne, fight with your Ministers, and know that the good Captain here is planning an appointment for when you least expect it."

"You would not dare," the King snapped, but his gaze was fixed on Harkness and Campbell could see a faint sheen of sweat on his upper lip. "I'll have you all hung as traitors, you and your freak assassin!"

"And reveal the nature of the Institute's works in a court of law? Besides," Campbell added, almost as an afterthought, "I think you might find that such treatment has remarkably little effect where Captain Harkness is concerned, other than to annoy him intensely."

The King swallowed hard and took a step back, his eyes wide. "What manner of being...?"

"Pray, Sir, that you never find out," Harkness said softly, his tone redolent with meaning. He retreated a step of his own, rejoining Porter and Hansen. "The choice is yours."

"And one that we shall now leave you to consider." Campbell bent his head in a quick, formal bow. "Choose well, Your Majesty."

They left, three of them wondering what the future might bring and one knowing, through a haze of years and half-remembered history, just what was to come. Knowing that this small and necessary treachery was little more than a distraction, albeit one that subtly shifted the Institute's direction from royal servant to imperial guardian, a defender whose knowledge would be sorely needed in the decade ahead.

There really was no choice, not for any of them.

The sky overhead was heavy with rain as they stepped out into the chill air to await their driver, and the dark clouds gathering to the east carried the promise of storms.

~ fin ~

Torchwood House Recommends

Date: 2008-07-08 10:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tintop-lizzy.livejournal.com
Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. There ought to be more TW/historic events fic. Edward VIII was a classicly educated man and possibly could have spoken in this way both in choice of words and in tone to people he regarded as servants to him as opposed to staff who were to work for him. Nicely observed, and please continue to write more in this vein. Insspirational, and that's enough plot point suggestions for today, kthxbi.

Date: 2008-07-09 03:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aeshna-uk.livejournal.com
Thank you! :D There's a great deal that can be done with Jack's history with the Institute and I'm slightly surprised that more folks aren't taking advantage of that. I'm certainly planning to have some fun with it, however....

Glad you enjoyed it!

Date: 2008-07-08 10:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] clanwilliam.livejournal.com
Guh. I'd say more, but I've already invaded your room and said it.

But based on all the history I've read, my goodness that's bang on!

Date: 2008-07-09 04:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aeshna-uk.livejournal.com
Got it past the household history buff - whoo! :D

Glad you enjoyed it (and that I didn't embarrass myself)!

Date: 2008-07-09 12:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] burntcopper.livejournal.com
oooo, utterly fabulous. (love, love, love that you pointed out the tendencies of Edward and Wallis Simpson as the reason he got booted off - the amount of times people seem to ignore that in favour of 'divorcee' makes my eyes roll) And the menace. oooo, the menace.

Date: 2008-07-09 03:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aeshna-uk.livejournal.com
The romantic side of their tale appeals to a lot of people, and I guess that "Nazi sympathisers" doesn't sit terribly well with the love story! Fits very well here, though. :) And Jack can be bloody scary when he wants to be, even when he's not actually doing any damage....

Glad you enjoyed it! :)

Date: 2008-07-09 12:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eumenidis.livejournal.com
"...at times he [Mycroft] is the government."

A very elegant bit of intrigue, & explains a lot about TW that's otherwise puzzling. Also,
the scariest portrayal of Jack's ruthless side that I've seen in, oh, ever.

Date: 2008-07-09 04:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aeshna-uk.livejournal.com
Thank you! :D Jack's a fascinating character to play with - there are a lot of layers there to explore. And given what we know of some aspects of his past, I can imagine that he does "threatening" really rather well....

Glad you enjoyed it! :)

Date: 2008-07-09 09:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eumenidis.livejournal.com
Layers, & twists & turns. I'm particularly impressed that you were able to show so concisely (& chillingly) that Jack is a high-level political player, with all that implies. But you never flinch from considering the brutal choices someone in Jack's position really would have to face. I admire that.

Date: 2008-07-10 10:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aeshna-uk.livejournal.com
Well, the franchise already has the Doctor for doing the fluffy pacifism thing - he won't get his hands dirty and he won't hang around to deal with any consequences. Jack, however, is another matter entirely and we've seen on both shows that he'll do whatever is necessary to achieve the desired ends. It's not always nice and it's not always clean, but sometimes it just needs doing... and sometimes, as a writer, it's more interesting to just follow things through than to try to find ways to avoid them! :) Jack is very much Captain Pragmatic and smart (and a little warped) with it, which is a fun combination to play with.

Date: 2008-07-10 11:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eumenidis.livejournal.com
Oh, yeah, the Doctor's fluffy bunnies all the way--till that approach blows up in his face, then he pitches a fit & goes all Bronze Age on the offenders *cough*Family of Blood.

It makes a better story when a writer has the guts to follow a difficult or horrific problem the characters have through to a realistic conclusion; I loathe stories where heroes are confronted with harsh but necessary decisions but instead of having to make them, everything magically works out.

Given Jack's situation, I'm not sure if warped is the right word, but sometimes his actions & decisions aren't entirely rational--or even mostly. But a character that deliciously complex certainly offers myriad possibilities of plot & theme.

Date: 2008-07-09 05:55 am (UTC)
ext_47252: (Default)
From: [identity profile] senry.livejournal.com
this was amazing!!! turely amazing!!! There needs to be more fic along these line of Torchwood and Jack having more part in historical events.....

I would love to see jakc meet Queen Victoria like.... that should be fun!

Date: 2008-07-10 11:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aeshna-uk.livejournal.com
Thank you - glad you enjoyed it! :) And yes, Jack meeting Queen Victoria would be fun, though the window of opportunity would be rather narrow given the dates involved....

Date: 2008-07-10 01:07 pm (UTC)
ext_47252: (TW - LJ)
From: [identity profile] senry.livejournal.com
I dont know there's 2 years u could play with, old very seious queen vic and very flirty jack! She could be doing her yearly instite visits .... LOL ah the caosh that would endure

Date: 2008-07-09 06:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rdmaughan.livejournal.com
Torchwood vs League of Extraordinary Gentlemen?

Date: 2008-07-10 11:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aeshna-uk.livejournal.com
Heh, oddly enough, LoEM was what I first thought of way back when I realised that Torchwood had a Victorian origin! There really is a lot of potential fun to be had with that whole steampunk alien detectives thing.... :)

Date: 2008-07-09 06:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] girlgold.livejournal.com
This is very interesting. I love the idea of sticking Jack in historical events.

Date: 2008-07-09 03:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aeshna-uk.livejournal.com
Thank you - I'm glad you enjoyed it! :)

Date: 2008-07-09 08:39 am (UTC)
ext_15862: (Jack)
From: [identity profile] watervole.livejournal.com
I really really like this. It's a story with meaning and accurate history. It's so nice to have stories that have plot rather than just piles of emotion and sex. (Nothing against emotion and sex, but I've read so many of them!)

Date: 2008-07-09 04:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aeshna-uk.livejournal.com
I know what you mean. I find TW an odd fandom for that - there's all this huge potential for historical (and, indeed, futuristic) situations, the in-house plot device generator Rift chucking out all manner of debris, all the weird mythology that goes with the country it's set in... and 95% of the fandom gets distracted by boy-kissing. I've had people stare at me for saying I write TW gen. ;)

Oh well, means I stand out from the crowd, I suppose! Glad you enjoyed it! :)

Date: 2008-07-09 11:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] celievamp.livejournal.com
oh really enjoyed this. More please!

Date: 2008-07-09 03:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aeshna-uk.livejournal.com
Thank you - glad you enjoyed it! :)

Date: 2008-07-10 10:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] crowson75.livejournal.com
Oh, I like this very very much! You have written the king beautifully. Excellent.

Date: 2008-07-10 11:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aeshna-uk.livejournal.com
Thank you - glad you enjoyed it! :)

Date: 2008-07-10 11:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] copperbadge.livejournal.com
This is wonderful. I love Jack's creepiness, love the way he's tied into history, and especially the way he only sort of half-remembers what happens (it was three thousand years ago for him, after all). And it sort of fits one of my favourite sub-genres, the outsiders-view-of-our-hero.

Plus the OCs are marvelous. Very well done.

Date: 2008-07-11 01:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aeshna-uk.livejournal.com
Yes, it was rather a long time ago for Jack, and even if you count his brief stint in the Blitz when he met the Doctor, that was still some 70-ish years back from where he is here - he can't really be expected to remember all the details!

And you're not the only one who likes the outsider's view - there is something rather fascinating about seeing how these guys come across to someone who isn't part of the group. :)

Glad you enjoyed it! :)

Date: 2008-07-12 04:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thaddeusfavour.livejournal.com
Completely fantastic. I bookmarked it a couple of days ago when I was busy. Now, I wish I'd read it then... gah! Timey wimey stuff. Anyway, excellent bit of history and a very nice bit of Torchwood history as well. The characters fit the time period (at least from what I know of it) and Jack was amazing. I like seeing his tough as nails side for a change. Great story and I hope there will be more in the future. If nothing else, this might inspire others to flesh out the Torchwood history. Thanks!

Date: 2008-07-12 11:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aeshna-uk.livejournal.com
Thank you! Yeah, I really want to play with Torchwood's long history a bit more - there's an awful lot of potential there and I'm surprised that more people aren't all over it already. And Jack makes a terrific heavy when the cause is right....

Glad you enjoyed it! :)

Date: 2008-07-12 02:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] laurab1.livejournal.com
Oh, I like that very much.

Jack's a scary man, when the need arises.

Date: 2008-07-12 11:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aeshna-uk.livejournal.com
He certainly is - it's one of the things I like most about him, that he doesn't angst about things once a clear course of action has presented itself, he just gets on with what needs doing. :)

Glad you enjoyed it!

Date: 2008-07-14 05:21 am (UTC)
ext_3937: (JackChain)
From: [identity profile] rabecka.livejournal.com
Absolutely brilliant. I love the complexity in the historical details as well as the characterization.

"I think you might find that such treatment has remarkably little effect where Captain Harkness is concerned, other than to annoy him intensely."

The King swallowed hard and took a step back, his eyes wide. "What manner of being...?"

"Pray, Sir, that you never find out," Harkness said softly

I love this section, going from droll humor to realization to menace.

Date: 2008-07-14 08:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aeshna-uk.livejournal.com
Thank you - glad you enjoyed it! :)

Date: 2008-07-15 10:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] slytherykin.livejournal.com
I like this a lot :) You're right, it's a shame to waste the amount of history available to us to mess with speculate about!

Date: 2008-07-16 08:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aeshna-uk.livejournal.com
Isn't it, though? There's just so much that you can have fun with there!

Glad you enjoyed it! :)

Date: 2008-08-05 07:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mrwubbles.livejournal.com
You would think given Jack's long history with TW, there would be more historical fics like this one. But there isn't.

You've given us such a unique look of Jack, a slightly different Jack, but there are some things recognizable. The historical aspect feel of your fic is dead on. I'm not a historian and only know enough to play those PC quizzes -lol- but it feels right. Thank you for all your work into this fic. Marvelous!

Date: 2008-11-26 12:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aeshna-uk.livejournal.com
(eek! I think this one came in while I was away on holiday and I somehow missed it - apologies!)

Thank you. :) I'm not a historian either - science is more my thing - but Google is a fabulous resource for research and so long as you can get the period feel right, you can get away with a lot! It certainly passed muster with the household historian, so I figure I did something right. :)

Glad you enjoyed it!

Date: 2008-11-25 02:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] verasteine.livejournal.com
Fabulous! I really enjoyed this, I love the history, Jack's subtle presence and the edge to his character that he loses over the years. Great job!

Date: 2008-11-26 01:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aeshna-uk.livejournal.com
Thank you! :) Oh, I don't think Jack has ever lost that edge - I think he only lets it out to play when necessary. It's one of the things I most like about the character - he's one of the good guys, but he's not always one of the nice ones....

Glad you enjoyed it! :)

Date: 2010-11-02 10:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lindenharp.livejournal.com
Oh, this is wonderful! I love the historical perspective, and the hints of Scary!Jack. (Hanging him will just get him annoyed, indeed!)

Date: 2012-04-16 12:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mcparrot.livejournal.com
This is wonderful. Great pair of choises you offered Edward there. And obviously Jack was the go-to guy for that stuff. I like it.

I've been reccing Seven for a Secret ever since I read it, but I'd never seen anything else of yours until now. This was recced on TW genrefinders today btw. (Guess what I recced before I realised it was the same author)

I'm now going to see what else you might have written.



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