Well, now I’m just cross. Big, fancy party—one where I am certainly needed—and I am stuck at home, sick as a dog. How is this fair? What have I done to deserve this? Is the universe punishing me for being a bad valet? Well, if it is, it could be decent enough to tell me when I was a bad valet, and how I can right this wrong.
I have barely gotten out of bed. Owen has forbidden me from doing any work, which is absolutely ridiculous. First of all, I only have a few things to get done here. Second, it isn’t as if I can infect anyone more than I already have. I work with all of these people, and I share your bed. If any of you were to catch what I have got, the deed would have already been done, and you would already be sick. Seeing as nobody else is sick, I should be allowed to do my work. Right?
It is boring, sitting here in bed. What is there to do? Sit and write letters? Unless I write you letter after letter after letter about the most useless and bland things, it won’t do much. And even if I did do that, I would tire of it easily. Very easily. There isn’t much to say right now. Nothing has happened. Nothing is going to happen. It is so utterly dull here.
Anyway. Whoever they have set you up with better be doing your ties right.
You are ridiculous, you know that? The one time you get to take a true break, one where you have nothing to worry about at all, and what do you do? Complain about it. You should want a real break, Ianto. Everybody needs them—including you. Actually… especially you, at this point. You overwork yourself.
I hope the bedrest is doing you some good. Well, it probably isn’t, considering all I know about you and what the contents of your letter expressed. But one can still hope. Please get some rest, Ianto. Let Owen badger you. Even just a little.
If you do not wish to write letters, then don’t. I’d rather you did, so I know if you survive your… whatever it is you have caught. Keep in contact, so I know you haven’t dropped dead, please. Also, please don’t drop dead. That would be most unfortunate.
Gwen says she is sorry you couldn’t come along, too, and also that it’s a shame you are sick. She urges you to get well, and soon.
There, that’s me done passing the message along.
It is quite nice up here, Ianto, and it’s a shame you weren’t able to come along this time. Remember that picnic I promised we’d have? I would’ve taken you. It seems like it will be filled with nice weather, these last two weeks of July. Oh, well. Perhaps we can sneak back up in August, unannounced, and take our picnic. Gwen wouldn’t mind that. Rhys… well, he would mind very much, because he has mixed feelings about me (especially when I show up to his manor—and even more especially when I show up unannounced). But Gwen would be fine with it. That’s all that really matters.
In August is your birthday. You’re almost twenty-six. Nothing grand about the age, other than it will be yours. But, you must make of it what you wish! A great many things can happen to you when you are twenty-six.
Sometimes, I think people forget how young you are. You act incredibly old for your age, you know. I am not that much older than you, but at times, I forget I’m older than you at all.
Though, other times, you act so young… and I can’t believe the world has done so much to you already. And I am so angry at it. And thankful, too, because it brought you to me. I don’t know. It’s confusing.
Either way, I’m glad you are you and you are with me.
I think I have lost track of where this letter was headed. I think that means it is time for me to stop.
P.S. Stay. In. Bed.
I am not ridiculous. You are ridiculous.
Listen, I am not ridiculous. I simply have work to be doing. And I should be doing it. The fact that I am not allowed to do it is quite annoying, and rather inconsiderate. There are more important things to be doing than resting. Like cleaning out your wardrobe. Certainly, it must contain a few more shirts you have torn beyond usefulness.
(How you manage to destroy your clothes so often and so easily is beyond me, sir.)
So, no. Not ridiculous. Just driven. And that isn’t a fault, I’ll have you know.
Bedrest is driving me mad, Jack. Completely mad. Should you come home to find this place taken apart, it would have been done by me, in the throes of insanity. Write Owen and tell him to leave me alone and let me do my job. Please.
I’m writing you your letters. I haven’t much else to do, so fear not—if I don’t respond, I have most certainly perished.
Seriously, Jack. I’m fine.
Now let me do work.
And also give the baroness my thanks for me, please.
Way to rub salt in the wound, Jack. Why don’t you also spit on me, too? Or kick me while I’m down? You know I would have
loved liked to have gone on that picnic. Teasing me with it now is just cruel. If we do sneak up again in August, I would not mind one bit. Yes, Baron Williams would, and I don’t have the understanding of his wife to the extent that you do, so I have no idea if she would, but I certainly wouldn’t.
It is my birthday in August. Do not make a fuss about it, please. The day is best just ignored, really. I will be ignoring it. Everyone else will not know about it. So, it is for the best to… leave it be.
I cannot tell if you are laughing at me, telling me I’m young, or bemoaning your own age. Or is it a mix of all three?
I’m not, technically, with you, in case you have somehow forgotten. I am at home. In bed. Sitting. Doing nothing but writing this letter. Though I hope by the time you return, I will hopefully be standing out front, dressed in my normal suit and waiting patiently for your arrival.
I just want out of this bed, Jack.
Illness, as it would seem, brings out your… more satirical side. The wit in your last letter was so dry, I feared that if I shook the paper, half of a desert would come pouring out. I do hope that I am the only one on the end of your derision. Not entirely sure how most people would take that.
Speaking of: how closely do “ridicule” and “ridiculous” ride? Because if it’s as close as your letters seem to portray them… yes, I would say you are quite ridiculous.
You are also ridiculous because you seem to think whining will suddenly make Owen let you do anything. It will not, and you know that. And Owen and I would both argue that “doing things” is less important than getting your rest. (Actually, Owen would argue that not infecting the rest of the staff is more important than doing things, but in the end, we agree that doing things is not high on your list of priorities.)
I don’t destroy my clothes on purpose, I’ll have you now. Accidents just… happen!
Again, me writing to Owen will do nothing. Well, it might do something—you’ll be put on a longer bedrest. Would you like that?
I seem to recall when I was last sick, you told me to stop getting sick. You also said I whined too much. And that I was dramatic. I’m feeling a warped sense of déjà vu, here.
I would remind you that you are going to perish of neither your cold nor bedrest, but I think that was another of your snide comments. So, instead, I shall tell you to take a deep breath and count to a good, high number. And then take a nap. Then, maybe, you will be calm.
Gwen has been thanked for you.
Ianto, I had no intentions of rubbing salt in wounds, spitting, kicking, or teasing. I was simply pointing out that we didn’t get to go on that picnic, and wouldn’t it be nice if we tried it again later? Though I’m glad to hear you would’ve loved the outing. Perhaps we’ll try a picnic out in the garden whenever you feel better again. It’s no river, but it is still pretty and still a picnic. But now I am absolutely going to sneak you up here in August.
I’m not doing any of the three, actually.
I know you’re not with me with me. You are at home, and I am here. What I meant was, you… and me… well. I’m assuming your derision means you got the sentiment, so I’ll leave it there.
Yes, I can picture it now. You’ll be standing there, with your hands on your hips (the way I like). Though I’m not sure about the “patient,” part, as you’ll undoubtably snatch my suitcase from my hands, carry it to the room, upend its contents, and then yell at me for not sorting it better.
(But now that I know to expect it, I will sort it very carefully, and then there will be nothing for you to squint your eyes at.)
Relax, Ianto. The sooner you relax and rest, the sooner you can get out of bed.
Your ridiculously fond Jack
Well, we’ll see how you fare when you have nobody to talk to but the wall (and maybe occasionally a letter
to your… just a letter). You might get sulky and sarcastic, too. But we’ll never know, will we, because I’ll either be there to coddle you, or the rest of the staff will. I, on the other hand, am alone. So, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be sarcastic if I would like to.
Also, just because two words sound similar does not mean they mean the same thing. Ridicule makes someone else look ridiculous, Jack. So, take that. Sir.
I am not dramatic, whiny, ridiculous, or any other such adjective you intend to sling at me. And I never once said you were dramatic, by the way.
If Owen even thinks about trying to put me on bedrest… actually, the threat I intend to make has already been put in place. I haven’t been making the morning coffee for the staff while I have been sick, have I? If he forces me to stay in bed any more than needed, he will have to suffer even longer without my coffee. I think that is a good threat.
I wouldn’t protest against a picnic in the gardens. But last time we did that, ants ate some of the strawberry jam. No more strawberry jam on picnics, Jack.
And I look forward to August.
I will remind you that I am patient, and I have never dumped out your suitcase to (rightfully) yell at you for your disorganisation. I have, on one occasion, scowled at you for packing your shoes with your ties, but otherwise, I have done no scolding.
(Well, now I know to look for things to “squint my eyes at.”)
I am relaxing. I have been doing nothing but relaxing. It can get so very tiring, doing nothing but relaxing.
Be as sarcastic as you would like, Ianto. I will not stop you. If it means redirecting your attention from your predicament, then I am all for it.
Though I would like to point out that the staff is also instructed to leave me well enough alone when I am sick. You are the only one who ignores that instruction. Or maybe it isn’t given to you—I don’t know. But I am lonely when I am sick. So, I’ll be coming home soon to make you less lonely. How does that sound?
Alright, maybe you never outright said I was dramatic. But it was implied.
Ianto, you are inconsiderate and cruel. Leaving the staff bereft of your coffee? How inhumane! I don’t think there is any crime that earns such a punishment. (Especially not leaving you on bedrest, which isn’t a crime at all. Just common sense.)
I’ll sneak the jam anyway, because we both like it and we’re both man enough to deal with a few ants. Or a hundred. Anyway, jam comes on all picnics. What is a picnic without jam?
Would you mind if we stole away on your birthday, or did you have plans?
No, I distinctly remember your rather loud displeasure the one time I came home with all of my things bundled up. Don’t tell me I’m making it up—I’m not. It was almost a year and a half ago, now. You were quite annoyed with me, and you did shout.
And then we had sex, so I didn’t really mind.
But it did happen.
Well, relax from relaxing, then. Take some deep breaths. And another nap.
Dear Mister Jones,
Lord Harkness has taken off for his cousin’s residence in Scotland. He asked me if I could write this to you, so that you knew where he was headed. He had no time to write the letter himself, for which he is sorry, but he had to leave immediately.
I am sure you are now aware of the events that have occurred. I believe these are also the events that have your employer fleeing to his cousin’s residence, for he said (and also told me to relay this to you) he was gone to ask the Lord Smith about “dark and grim things awaiting us all.”
Anyway, he said he would be back home in a matter of days, and that there is little point in trying to contact him at Torchwood House.
That is the entirety of his message, so, with that, I will stop writing this letter.
The Right Honourable Lady Williams
P.S. I suggest we all pray that we do not get sucked up into this war.