Title: We All Fall Down
Rating: R, adult themes, occasional language, M/M
Pairings/Characters: Jack/Ianto, Gwen, Mompesson, Stanley
Spoilers: None that I know of
Summary: AU fic, set in the village of Eyam in Derbyshire in 1665
Disclaimer: I own none of the characters, they belong to RTD and the BBC. I am just experimenting with them....
Written for the longliveianto bingo: Historical AU
A/N In 1665 the village of Eyam in Derbyshire closed themselves off because the plague had reached them through cloth brought into the village by the tailor. The characters of Mompesson and his wife, Stanley, Emmett Siddle, Roland Torre and the Hancock family lived in the village. The tailor lived with a woman by the name of Mrs Cooper - she survived.
Ring a ring of roses
A pocket full of poses
We all fall down
“Morning Gwen, how are you this morning?”
“Morning Jack, Ianto, I’m fine thank you, just waiting for my lodger to arrive back from London. He’s been on a buying trip, after some new cloth for his business. He’s due back very soon with it and he’s promised me a new dress when he gets here.”
Gwen Cooper had lived in the village of Eyam for the last 30 years, in fact she was born there. Her lodger, Rhys, helped with the house after her husband had died. Rumour had it that they were more than landlady and lodger, but no one could prove it. Jack and Ianto secretly wished her good luck if she had taken Rhys into her bed. They too had to keep their relationship a secret, no one would understand it plus they would banish them from the village, or worse, if they found out, because in 1665 their relationship was against the law.
They’d been asked to help out at the Church, William Mompesson had arrived in the village with his wife and children a few months previously, and the churchyard needed tending. Mompesson had taken over as Rector from Reverand Stanley and was just getting to know everyone. Stanley was due to leave the village in the next few weeks.
As Jack and Ianto made their way to the Church they saw the wagon arriving carrying Rhys and his box of cloth. He waved to the two men and smiled when he saw Gwen stood outside her front door.
“Morning Gwen, I hope you are well and didn’t miss me too much. I’ve done really well and managed to buy a large batch of cloth which should bring us a good price once I’ve made it into suits and dresses.”
“That’s wonderful, shall I go and get Jack and Ianto to help you down with it. They’ve just gone past, I could shout them if you wanted.”
“No that’s ok the guys here will help me with it. Can I please put the cloth in your front parlour as it felt a bit damp as I loaded it into the chest.”
“No problem, I’ve just lit the fire ready to boil the kettle for tea.”
An hour later the cloth was drying in the front parlour of Mrs Coopers house.
The following morning Rhys woke and was feeling rather hot and cold both at the same time. He couldn’t understand what was wrong with him. Gwen had shouted to him that there was a cup of tea waiting for him in the kitchen and when he made it down she saw too that he didn’t look well. His face was blotched with red circles and he was sneezing.
An hour later Rhys was dead.
Gwen called the Rector to come and arrange burial for him. She was devastated that she’d lost another man in her life. Jack and Ianto had heard what had happened and went to see if there was anything they could do to help.
Arriving at Gwen’s house they were shown into the parlour. Jack took one look at Rhys and knew what it was that had killed him. They’d just left London and rumour was rife that the plague had arrived.
“How long has he been ill Gwen?”
“He was fine when he got home yesterday and when he went to bed last night. It was only when he got up this morning that he looked really ill and was sneezing. I went to get him a cup of tea the next thing I noticed he had collapsed and I couldn’t revive him.” She burst into tears and Jack went and put his arm around her. He looked at Ianto who nodded in recognition and removed the cloth and the chest it came in, into the back yard.
Mompesson had been to fetch Stanley and two other men from the village to help him remove Rhys from Gwen’s house. Jack nodded to him that he would take care of Gwen and watched as the men took Rhys to the undertakers in the village.
“Jack, what am I going to do now?”
“You’ll be fine Gwen, your friends will help you through this. Don’t worry we’re here too. We’ll look after you.”
“Thank you Jack, I don’t know what I would do without you.”
Ianto came back in and as Jack helped Gwen to a chair Ianto was making her a cup of hot steaming tea. The two men went out to the back yard and hugged. They had to be careful, they didn’t want anyone to know about their relationship, nor their other secret.
“Is it what I think it is Jack?”
“I’m afraid so my love. It’s that chest and the cloth. They’ve brought the plague flea into the village. We need to speak to the Rector Mompesson and Reverend Stanley they should know what to do. We have to be careful, we don’t want to bring chaos on the village but they need to know what it is.”
“I’ll take care of Gwen, you go and find the two men and once you’ve told them come back for me and we can help the rest of the village.”
During the course of the following two days ten more people became ill and died. The two clergymen decided that the best way of dealing with the situation was to seal off the village, isolating themselves and the plague, stopping it from spreading to other villages. They’d called a meeting of all the villagers and reluctantly they had agreed. Some of them tried to get their children out of the village claiming that they would be safer. Mompesson secretly discussed with Catherine, his wife, that she take the children and go to her parents. She’d of course refused her duty was by her husband’s side.
“Jack, we will be alright won’t we?”
“Hey Ianto stop worrying, we’ll be fine. We’re going to help the villagers as much as we can. I love you and we are meant to be together.”
“I love you too Jack, I’m scared. I know we can’t die, well not really, but what happens if either of us get this plague and….and we don’t come back.”
“I….I don’t know my love. It’s completely different to being killed by a sword or some other weapon. I’ve not come across this before, that’s why we moved from London. I wanted to keep us safe. But we have to take the bad along with all that’s good about us.”
They knew that things would get worse before it got better and they wanted to be on hand in case anyone needed them. They hoped that they wouldn’t be infected by the plague but they couldn’t be sure.
Mompesson had decided that all the church services should be in the Delf as they could spread out and not come into close contact with the rest of the villagers. Some of the villagers were angry when they found out that Mompesson and Catherine had sent their children away to her mother. But it was done and no-one could be returned to the village, maybe it was better that way. Who knew which one of them was going to die next.
Jack had been at Ianto’s when a knock came at their door. “Just a minute, I’m on my way.” Shouted Ianto.
He opened his front door and Emmett Siddle stood on the step in tears. He helped her in and beckoned Jack to get her a cup of tea. She was helped to a chair and it was a few minutes before she was able to speak.
“I’m sorry Ianto, Jack, for coming unannounced but I had to speak to someone and you two seem to know what to do. Please I need your advice.”
“Hey, come on nothing is that bad. We have to be strong. It’s a bad thing that’s happening here but if we’re strong we can get through this.”
“I know, but it’s Roland. I’m scared I’m going to lose him. We were due to marry next year and I don’t know if I’m going to be here. Please what should I do?”
Emmett Siddle was engaged to Roland Torre from the next village and when Eyam had been sealed off she had been unable to see him. She’d only been allowed to talk to him over a hedge. She didn’t want to pass anything onto him and he take it to their village. Now she was scared as they could plainly see. She had lost her sister and brother and now there was just her mother and herself left. And each day they had sat across from one another waiting and watching to see who died next. Roland had tried to get into the village but had been stopped and sent home again.
“This can’t last too much longer. Just think once it’s all over you and Roland can be together again. I’m sure he’s an understanding man. If he loves you, and I know that he does I’ve seen him when he watches you, he’ll be there just as soon as we open up the village again.”
“Thank you Jack, I’m sorry to have disturbed your evening. I just needed someone to talk to. My mother is not much use. She can’t come to terms with losing my brother and sister. We are sitting waiting for the next one to die.”
“Hey come on, neither of you are going to die.”
“I wish I could believe that Ianto, but think about how many have gone in this last few days.”
Ianto looked at Jack for help. Neither could believe how many of their friends they had lost. The Hancocks up at Riley’s farm were the worst so far. Mrs Hancock had lost her husband and all five of her children. She’d been ok at the start but she’d been left to bury her husband and two of her children on her own. No-one would go to help as they didn’t want the plague. Jack and Ianto had offered to help but she’d declined she was a proud woman.
Emmett got up to leave. Jack went with her to the door putting his arm around her. “Listen Emmett, anytime you want to talk you know where we are.”
“Thanks Jack, you are good friends.”
Jack closed the door and went back into Ianto, who was sat with his head in his hands. “What’s the matter my love?”
“Oh, nothing, I’m just thinking about everything that’s going on here. I just wish there was something we could do to help more.”
“Hey we’re helping the best we can. Look at Emmett just now. She was distraught when she arrived, now she’s gone home with hope that she’s going to see Roland at the end of all this.”
Jack lifted Ianto’s head to look at him and kissed him. Ianto reluctant at first because of everything that was going on, responded and before long they were kissing passionately. Jack led Ianto to his bedroom and for the next few hours they made love and were lost in one another falling asleep in each others’ arms.
They were woken by a frantic knock at the front door. Quickly they got up and got dressed. Ianto went to the door while Jack stayed in the kitchen. It was William Mompesson, the Rector. He looked distraught.
“Oh Ianto, thank goodness you’re in. I need your help. It’s Catherine. She’s not well. I’m scared that I’m going to lose her. Can you come and see please, you’ve been helping with everything here and you seem to know about this….this plague.”
“Sure, Jack's here too, we’ll both come and see her. Have you spoken to the Doctor?”
“No he’s not at home and I don’t know where he’s gone. He’s never in these days, what with looking after everyone.”
“Ok, look go back to Catherine and we’ll be there as soon as we can.”
Ianto closed the door as William walked up the garden path. Jack came through buttoning his coat. He’d not wanted to come to the door and make the Rector suspicious of them. He knew they would be banished or worse if anyone found out about their relationship. The last thing he wanted at the present moment was to cause more trouble for the villagers.
“Jack, William wants us to go and see Catherine,he thinks she has the plague.”
“No problem Ianto, I’ll just get your coat.”
They went to the Rectory and were let in by a very worried Mompesson.
“Catherine is back here in the bedroom. Please….tell me she’s going to be alright.”
Jack and Ianto went through to the bedroom and found the Rector’s wife lying very still on their bed. Jack looked at her, then at Ianto and shook his head. She had red blotches on her cheeks and she was sweating but she felt cold.
As Jack felt her forehead she opened her eyes. “Morning Mr Harkness….I’m sorry I can’t get you a cup of tea, but I’m sure…..”
She couldn’t say anything else as her body was racked with sneezing.
“I’m sorry about that, I really don’t feel very well at all. Mmm have you brought me some roses Mr Harkness, I’m sorry I can’t see them but they smell beautiful.”
Jack looked again at Ianto and motioned for him to get the Rector. Ianto brought Mompesson through to the bedroom and told him to go and sit with his wife.
“Jack, please….please, she is going to be alright, isn’t she?”
“I’m sorry Rector, but she has the plague. Look at the red cheeks, and she’s been sneezing. She also thanked me for the roses. But I’ve not brought any. I’m really sorry William but….”
Jack didn’t need to say anything else the Rector knew already that Catherine would not survive. Suddenly she was racked with sneezing again. She opened her eyes and smiled at her husband, closed her eyes again and checking for a pulse, William found none. He looked at Jack and Ianto and sobbed.
Jack went across to him and helped him into a chair. Ianto did the thing he was best at, he made cups of tea for all three of them.
“What am I going to do now Jack? She was my life, along with my children. Oh….my children, how am I going to tell them their gorgeous mother is dead?”
“Look, they’ve gone away, wait until this is all over, you can tell them then. You are a strong man Rector, you will, with help from your friends in the village, get through this. We’ll help you.”
“Thank you Jack, Ianto. Just tell me one thing, we did right by closing off the village, didn’t we?”
“Yes sir, we did, we have avoided passing this horrible affliction onto others. Don’t worry the villagers will be ok, they’re stronger that you think.”
“Thank you Jack. Will you help me to bury my sweet Catherine?”
“Of course we will, that’s what friends are for. I’ll get Ianto to go for Thomas Stanley, he will help us too.”
“Reverend Stanley is a good person, thank you.”
Ianto went to find Stanley to tell him the sad news whilst Jack helped Mompesson to prepare Catherine for her funeral. Others in the village had been buried on their own land, the churchyard was becoming overcrowded and there were not enough people to help carry the dead to the graveyard. But Jack suggested that Catherine be buried outside the church. Mompesson agreed and a crypt was created as a reminder to future generations of the strength of community they had during the suffering everyone went through.
That night Jack went round to Ianto’s house and they spent a quiet time contemplating what they had witnessed that day. The heartbreak of William losing his gorgeous wife and the devastation he felt when he would have to tell their children.
“I love you Jack, I never want to lose you.”
“You won’t lose me my love, I’m not going anywhere. Besides we are gifted, we will be alright. Don’t worry.”
“But we don’t know that our gift will stand the strains of this plague. No one like us has gone through what we’re going through at this moment. I hope….”
His words were silenced by a kiss from his gorgeous man. Jack helped him to his feet and led him into the bedroom. Slowly they undressed one another kissing all the while. Jack broke away from his lover and led him to the bed.
“Let’s just live for the moment my love. Whilst we’re in here the world out there is not important – until tomorrow – we are the important ones in here. Let’s just live for now and help out where we can in the morning.”
He kissed Ianto again and for the remainder of the night they lost themselves in each other. Finally falling asleep satiated from their lovemaking safe in the knowledge that they would be fine.
Ianto was the first to wake and he felt cold, thinking Jack had taken the blanket from him. Looking down at the two of them he realised something more was terribly wrong. Without warning he began to sneeze.
He shook Jack. “Cariad, wake up. Jack….” He sneezed again.
Jack woke with a start. “Ianto…Yan what’s wrong my love?”
“Jack I don’t feel too well….did you bring some flowers into the house last night? I’m cold my love. I’m scared what is happening to me?”
“Oh Ianto ….no, this can’t be happening. Please God not you too.”
“Jack….tell me am I going to die?”
“I….I don’t know. Like you said last night, we don’t know how this will affect us. It’s not like someone trying to kill us with a knife. We’ve never experienced this before. We will have to pray that you’ll be ok. I can’t lose you, not now I’ve found you. Please Yan fight this thing.”
He didn’t say anything else he passed out. Jack quickly got dressed and went to find Reverend Stanley. He didn’t want to disturb Mompesson this morning, not after yesterday.
Thomas Stanley entered Ianto’s bedroom and saw what he hoped he’d not see again. Ianto was shivering and he had red blotches on his cheeks. He managed to open his eyes and smile at Jack. Jack had tears in his eyes. He didn’t want to lose this wonderful man….not now, he couldn’t. They’d gone through too much to have this happen to them now. He remembered when he’d first met Ianto Jones.
He’d been walking the streets of London, looking for an explanation to his condition. He didn’t know how it had happened, but he wanted to know how long it would last. Jack had found him at an Inn trying to drown his sorrows. He didn’t know why he was attracted to this man, but the pull towards him was so strong he’d gone over to talk to him. Whether it had been the drink talking, he didn’t know but Ianto had opened up his world to Jack and asked him for help.
That had been ten months ago. They had spent a great deal of time together and Jack had realised after that first night, they were alike in the fact that neither could remember how it happened but they couldn’t die. Well not for long. They’d gotten into fights and in turn they had taken blows, stabbings, but nothing would keep them down for long. They had finally also admitted their feelings to one another. They realised they couldn’t stay in London, their relationship was, in other people’s eyes, forbidden. They’d moved to Eyam and up until now had kept their secrets to themselves. How would they continue if Ianto died from the plague.
Jack looked at Stanley “he’s going to be alright isn’t he Reverend?”
“I’m not sure Jack. He’s like all the others I’ve seen this last few weeks. I’m sorry, I know how close friends you were. Do you know where his family are?”
“I believe he’s got a sister in Wales but he hasn’t told me where exactly. When all this is over I’ll go and try to find her. She deserves to know.”
Stanley looked at Jack’s anguished face and put a reassuring hand on his shoulder. “He’s a strong man, Jack, what’s to say he won’t pull through all of this.”
Jack nodded at Stanley, who squeezed his shoulder more, then he left the two men alone.
Jack went and sat on the bed. Looking down at his gorgeous lover he pushed a few strands of hair away from his forehead, bent down and kissed him gently.
Ianto’s eyes flickered open. “Jack….I’m….sorry. Please….forgive…
“Hey Yan, there’s nothing to forgive, just remember I love you and you are going to be fine.”
Secretly Jack didn’t know whether he was going to be fine at all. He just wanted to help his lover in any way he could. Ianto reached for Jack’s hand and squeezed it with all the strength he had in his body. He looked at Jack and mouthed I love you and the next thing Jack knew there was no breath, no movement in his Ianto’s body. He screamed Ianto’s name and enveloped the now still body into his strong arms and rocked him like a mother would rock a baby to sleep.
It must have been several minutes later when Jack felt a hand on his shoulder. Looking up he came face to face with Mompesson. Tears welling in the Rector’s eyes at the sight he’d just witnessed.
Jack laid Ianto back down onto the bed and stood up. He went reluctantly with Mompesson through to the kitchen. Mompesson put a kettle on the stove to boil water, Jack he noticed, could do with a cup of tea.
“I’m so sorry Jack, I knew the two of you were close, Stanley’s just been to me to tell me what’s happened. I’m sorry, I don’t really know what to say to people anymore. When we agreed to close the village off I didn’t realise it would be for as long as it has been. I truly don’t know what to do anymore.”
“You did the right thing, and when this is over everyone will thank you for it. I know we’ve all lost people we love, but somehow we’ll come through this in the end. I would like to bury Ianto in the garden out back, he loved tending the garden so I think it’s a fitting tribute for me to put him with his beloved flowers.”
“That’s a beautiful idea, Jack, would you like me to help you?”
“No…. no, that’s kind of you, but I would rather do it myself. He’s….he was a very private person, I think he would want it like that.”
“I understand Jack. Remember if you need me you know where I am.”
Jack nodded,Mompesson left this broken man alone to get his friend ready. Jack watched as Mompesson walked up the garden path. He went back into Ianto, but there was still no movement, no breath from his gorgeous man. Silently he pulled the covers off the bed and went to get Ianto’s best suit. He would make him ready to bury if he had to. He felt more tears sting his eyes.
Ianto lay on the bed looking as though he were only asleep. Jack brushed a stray hair away from his forehead, bent down and kissed him. Still nothing. Jack’s heart was breaking, he didn’t want to lose this man, he’d promised him everything would be alright. What right did he have to tell Ianto that, he’d not had the plague so he couldn’t tell him that he’d come back. For the first time in many years Jack prayed.
There was a knock at the door. Slowly Jack made his way to see who was disturbing him. Standing on the doorstep was Emmett Siddle. She’d been crying.
“Emmett, what’s wrong? What’s happened?”
“Oh Jack, it’s mother, she’s dead, and I’ve just heard from Stanley that Ianto’s dead too. I’m so very sorry. I knew how close a friend he was to you. Is there anything I can do?”
“No Emmett, thank you, you have enough to deal with sorting the funeral out for your mother. I’ll be alright, I’ve got Ianto dressed in his favourite suit and I’m going to bury him in his beloved garden, he would have liked that.”
“Ok, but if there’s anything I can do for you please let me know.”
“Thank you, you don’t know how much that means to me.” He kissed her cheek and she left him to go back to his lover.
Jack must have fallen asleep, he was woken by someone stroking the back of his neck. Sitting up he saw Ianto’s eyes flicker open. Jack smiled, he’d been so scared that his young Welshman had gone forever. Looking into the beautiful blue eyes that was Ianto Jones he held his hand and squeezed it.
“Hey Yan, how’re you feeling?”
“Like someone has galloped over me with a horse. How long was I gone?”
“Several hours my love. We’ve had visits from Mompesson, Stanley and Emmett. They think I’m burying you in your garden. I couldn’t tell them anything else. I was scared Yan, I didn’t think you’d come back to me.”
He sat on the edge of the bed, helped Ianto up and hugged him.
“What for my love?”
“For staying here and believing in me. I love you so very much Jack.”
“I love you too Ianto Jones. You are everything to me. But I don’t know how we’re going to explain this to the rest of the village.”
“I have an idea. What if you make out that I’ve been buried in the garden, dig a hole as if that’s what you’ve done and then fill it back in. I could slip away from the village tonight and you could join me in a couple of days.”
“We can’t leave the village just yet, they would think it strange that I’ve disappeared when we told everyone that they couldn’t leave. Why don’t you stay here, because I couldn’t stand a day without seeing you, touching you, and if anyone comes to the house I’ll keep them in the kitchen.”
“Ok, but we’ve got to be careful.”
For the next week Jack and Ianto remained in the house. When anyone came to see if Jack was alright, true to his word, he kept them talking in the kitchen. He became a recluse to the rest of the village and they didn’t question him as they’d seen other people do the same.
The village lost several more of its occupants and by the time the spring of 1666 arrived they had lost 265 villagers out of 360. Emmett Siddle also lost her battle for life and it was left to Mompesson to tell Roland Torre that he wouldn’t see his fiancé any more. Jack and Ianto continued to live reclusively until they could find a way to leave without causing suspicion.
Several months later Jack and Ianto had moved back to London and were living together, when they heard that Mompesson had managed to tell his children about their mother. They knew eventually that they would be alright.
“Yes my love?”
“For staying with me all the time I’d….I’d died.”
“Hey, where did you expect me to go? I love you Ianto Jones and don’t you ever forget that.”
“I know you do and I love you so very much Cariad.”
Taking his young man by the hand Jack led him into their bedroom and for the next few hours made love to him, thankful of their gift and that they were still together after all the heartbreak they’d witnessed.