Pogrebin (pogrebin) wrote,

Torchwood Recs

For a while, I've been thinking that it's a lot easier to explain the Torchwood I have in my head through a selection of fic that forms my personal canon, rather than attempting to actually explain it in words. And so here it is. A selection of stories that resonated with me, and stayed with me (to the point that I could actually remember either title or author, and find them again despite having read many of these a while back). Each one of them is worth reading. I'll link to this post on the side of my journal or something, and update it as and when. There are definitely more stories that should be on this list. And if our tastes mesh, and there's something you'd like to rec, please drop a link in the comments. I realise that this is heavier on the Jack/Ianto and light on the other characters, but such is the nature of the fandom, and I'll happily be linked to other-members-of-the-team stories.

Jack/Ianto, Long Haul: Everyone knows about rm & kalichan's I Had No Idea I Had Been Travelling but it has to be on the list. As they describe it, characterisation via porn. But it's so much more than that. It's a story of Jack-and-Ianto in it for the long haul, and while this is not exactly my version of Jack and Ianto, they earn every single emotional beat in the story and keep them together plausibly. This relationship works its issues out through sex and sexuality, so it is most emphatically not just PWP. The authors flout the conventions: these characters care about each other, and fuck up, and (sometimes) fuck other people. It's a sprawling, impressive epic of a story. It begins with breathplay (which, uh, if you know me, you know that it's one of my bulletproof kinks) and necessary, scourging darkness and ends-- well, you should probably read it to find out. The penultimate chatper There Are Some Men Who Should Have Mountains To Bear Their Names To Time is-- for me-- the crowning glory of the series, and is my favourite. While Jack and Ianto are at the centre of this story, there is lots of development for the rest of the cast, and quite a few well-crafted OCs, so don't let that put you off.

Jack/Ianto, first meeting: Deep With The First Dead Lies London's Daughter by jmtorres
While this has been jossed by Fragments, it remains a hard, polished look at one possibility for a first meeting between Ianto Jones and Jack Harkness-- both of them so caught up in their own personal griefs and agendas that they barely see each other.

Pre-Cyberwoman: Moving In by ukcalico
This fic makes perfect sense following on from the last rec, despite that one's AU-ness. Jack is a con-man, but Ianto with his Cyberwoman in the basement turns out to be an even better one. This story is harsh, and absurd, and dark. Jack is thoroughly oblivious, and Ianto plays him like a two-bit fiddle. But it's never that simple. This is a great look at the absolute horror that must have been Ianto's first months at Torchwood, and really gives flesh to how far these two have, and must have, come.

Jack/Ianto, Labels: What It Says On The Tin by neifile7
One of the big difficulties with Jack/Ianto fic is-- well, how complicated the relationship between these two are. Everyone has a slightly different idea of what feels right, of what feels plausible, from the brief glimpses of canon that we get. This story is all about labels and categories-- of course, Ianto is an archivist, he has an interest in these things-- and a relationship that is sort of slips out of the edges of the box. I'm extraordinarily picky about stories that define what they are to each other (too sentimental, too manipulative, too sickly, too-- whatever) but neifile7 just hits it right on the head here, taking pieces from canon and making them a coherent whole. This is unsentimental and complicated, but nonetheless captures that mix of caring and not-romantic love that runs underneath the romance.

Post-Cyberwoman:Geek Gifts by adina_atl
While it's certainly about Ianto and Jack rebuilding a certain sort of trust, and Ianto's changing position within Torchwood and the team after the events of the episode, I think the real story here is Toshiko's acceptance and understanding of Ianto. Given what we know of her from Fragments, it works incredibly well-- Toshiko understands what it means to be a second-class citizen in the workplace, she was in effect drafted into Torchwood out of a UNIT prison. It puts flesh on what we've all believed, that Ianto and Tosh are good friends, even if we don't see a lot of evidence of that on the show.

Gwen, Post-Cyberwoman: I Have Loved a Woman With a Heart of Amber by blue_fjords
Quite clearly there's a bit of a theme here. Post-Cyberwoman stories that don't focus directly on Ianto. This is Gwen during Ianto's suspension. I was surprised by this story, and how it drew me in. Gwen is grappling with the fact that she has murdered another person (though, she was not a person, Jack reminds her) and trying to understand both Lisa Hallet and her co-worker, Ianto-- and more than that, trying to understand what Torchwood means and is. The rest of the team, through the eyes of Gwen, have some lovely moments-- and while this isn't by any stretch a particularly happy story (or a happy time) there's something quietly resigned and quietly strong, about it, and Gwen.

Ianto & Owen, between seasons: Snowdon by rivier
Another jossed fic. This takes place in the period of Jack's disappearance post-End of Days, and charts the not-quite-friendship of Ianto and Owen. It's from Owen's perspective and gets it just right, which means it's delicious and harsh and uncompromising. In this version, Owen takes over as the leader after Jack has gone, and he is surprisingly insightful (and also maddeningly blunt). He recognises that something must break in Ianto, or he will-- and follows him when he leaves the Hub to trek up Mount Snowdon in the cold, and stay with his family. Jack is a palpable absence in this story, but really the focus is on these two antagonists, Owen and Ianto, and the perhaps-gruding respect they find for each other, even if it is a bit rough around the edges. One of the things I love about this story is that it takes place outside the Hub, in the Welsh countryside, in a domestic setting, and there's a freshness of perspective that comes with that.

Ensemble Adventure: They Grip The Ground giddygeek
"I am a tree," Owen said. "I am not delicious. I am a tree." Do I need to say anything else to convince you to read this? A wonderful, warm, hilarious story where the team goes-- uh-- 'undercover' to trap an alien using the best trap of all, their imaginations!

Ianto and Tosh: Conversational Japanese by gilascave
This is set early in Season 2, and is jossed. Or a bit AU, depending on how you like it. But it remains a wonderful bonding-story between Ianto and Tosh, who have been kidnapped and locked in a cell with no possible escape. Ianto and Tosh have no option but to trust that their team will come for them, and avoid going mad in the meanwhile. They experience moments of hopelessness and terror and annoyance with each other, but their friendship shines through. There's a surprising amount of humour mixed in with the claustrophobia of the whole thing, as Tosh teaches Ianto Japanese, and Ianto teaches her Welsh in return.

Jack/Ianto, post-Adrift: Gwen Discovers Flat Holm by sarcasticbabble
Hands down, this is the best post Adrift story I have read. It's that conversation that hung over the end of the episode, the confrontation between Jack and Ianto after they get back to the Hub-- and from that potentially simple premise, sarcasticbabble weaves something strange and difficult and tense. These are two opinionated, intelligent, stubborn men having a conversation about a decision that is representative of so much more. Despite the sheer volume of emotional content in this fic, it's got a dreamy, drifting quality that's marvellous. It feels very much as if we're within the amorphous insides of Ianto's brain, and it's a complex and charged and turbulent place to be. His reasons are not simple, they are not easy, and they are not petty. And like the best stories, the personal becomes intertwined in the political and the historical. They are not just themselves, they are also Torchwood, they are heroes and saviours and failures, and Ianto is acutely aware of this.

Jack/Ianto, Stories: No Word For Yes by sam_storyteller
Post TW S2 and DW S4, Jack and Ianto in bed reading from the thirty volume memoirs of Casanova. This deals with Jack's age, immortality and origins, all of the experiences he must have had that he doesn't talk about, and the bits and pieces (of history, of language) that Ianto manages to collect. Jack is a storyteller, and Ianto's an archivist, this is absolutely how it must work. So much of this story centres around language, those little words of our native-tongues that slip through, that we don't think about, things untranslatable and unsaid, truth and lies, in the end they are all stories.

20/06/09 update

Jack, Ianto, Mickey, Pranks Taking the Mickey by amand_r
While Torchwood is all about big dramas and teary confrontations and scrapes with death, it's also an absolutely ridiculous scifi show. Come on, what other show on television would give you a straight-faced fight between a pteranodon and a cyborg in one of the first few episodes and call it 'drama'? The silly, funny, absurd side of Torchwood is under-represented in fandom, but I kind of think amand_r is singlehandedly leading the charge. This story is set post-S2, and deals with Mickey joining Torchwood Three. But of course, before he can, he has to navigate the minefield of Torchwood bureaucracy. We get to see a delightfully wicked, funny, silly side to Jack and Ianto, and their weird sense of humour is perfectly balanced by Mickey playing the unwitting straight-man. amand_r off-the-cuff mini-coda in the comments might be the best thing ever. While you're at her journal, be sure to read Det[god]ails for a timey-wimey, brilliant explanation of how the Torchwood logo gets on everything.

Tosh, choices: Trouble Near Cardiff by used_songs
I'm sure you've all seen this before, but this is a Torchwood choose-your-own-adventure story, where you get to be the protagnist, who is Tosh. The format itself would make this an instant rec, but there are so many great touches to this story. It's plotty, insightful and fun, and we get to see it all from Tosh's highly under-represented PoV. Definitely worth a read, and then a couple more just to make sure you haven't missed out on any of the good choices. (PS- Jack/Ianto/Tosh, yes please.)

27/08/09 Update

Suzie, Ianto, Jack Suzie Costello Has Two Daddies by blue_fjords
It had taken Suzie three months, one week, and five days to discover Ianto Jones’ tell. This story, set soon after Ianto joins Torchwood and not long after the discovery of the Glove, delivers on multiple fronts for me. It's got an insightful, intelligent, sharp and likeable Suzie as well as an interesting and believable take on Jack-and-Ianto pre-season. This is canon to me because it's sweet and funny without being at all sentimental, and gives us a Suzie that we don't get to see on the show. One that isn't all hard edges, darkness and death. She can be silly and surprisingly kind. All of this packaged up in a fast-paced adventure story-- and considering this is a group of people that hunt aliens, we see surprisingly little of Torchwood doing their actual work in fanfic. blue_fjords gives us a competent, friendly, bickering, interesting pre-season team dynamic, and it's not to be missed.

Jack, Suzie, team Paramagnetic by fahye
They are the house that Jack built, and they reflect the flaws of their architect. If you haven't read this story already, then what are you still doing here? It is an absolute must-read, much like everything else the glorious and disgustingly talented fahye writes. There is so much quiet, muscular insight in this story it's difficult to distill it down. It's told from Jack's perspective-- which is in itself a rarity-- but her Jack is complex, shifting, tarnished, irrepressable. It's his journey from conman to leader (though maybe he settles for something in between). Really, this is the story of Torchwood Three, of Jack's Torchwood Three, and Suzie his second-in-command is central to what he tries to create. It's packed with little twists, little painful and perfect observational details about each of the team but it's when Jack tries to deconstruct Suzie that this story just shines. Unfortunately for both of them, Suzie eludes him until it's too late. There's a grace and poetry to the prose of this story that will stick with you long after you read it, and yes, it really does sell you that the inside of Jack's mind is even capable of something approaching grace. It has been thoroughly jossed by Fragments, and despite my great love for that episode, if I had to I would toss it out and replace it with 'Paramagnetic' in a heartbeat.


Jack, non-linear For What Were Less Than Dead by Amber
This is Jack's story, and therefore delves into the meaning and implications of Jack's time-hopping, non-linear life. It's a short character study, but is packed tight with casually delivered insight. Time may not be linear, but human life is. I'm particularly enamored of the prose-style, which takes its cue from e e cummings (and of course, those of you that know me will recognise my weakness for cummings, and for poetry-in-stories in general)-- but the chosen e e cummings poem is completely apt and hits all the right notes. It's harsh in that it doesn't back away from the smallness of human life in comparison with Jack's immortality, but does not forget Jack's humanity or leave him remote-- it is, in fact, a story about a man struggling to retain his humanity without any of the cues that give human life meaning.
Tags: jack/ianto, recommendations, torchwood
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