The opening scene of Butcher of Telligan was a purely indulgent drabble that I wrote quite a long time before the rest of the story. I wanted a scene in which Garrett told Jack, officially, that he wanted him to be his boyfriend, his lover. They would obviously be in bed when the scene took place, having just made love. It’s what people do. I make absolutely no apologies for it to those with puritanical views who find even the idea of Heterosexual people in bed problematic. For fans of these stories who have enjoyed the development of Garrett’s character from background to something like mainstream, this is their payoff.
Most of what I know about MI5 comes from the TV series Spooks. In that series, the vetting system for relationships outside of work was gone through in quite a lot of detail during the first series of that programme. I didn’t want to make a big thing of it, but it did strike me that it would be a rite of passage for Jack and Garrett.
Jack going steady at all is, of course, something of a departure from the TV series – or is it? In actual fact, Jack and Ianto are probably the most stable relationship in it. He does seem to genuinely love him, and he has hinted that Ianto is his reason for coming back to Torchwood after he left with The Doctor. Most of the racy talk about twin acrobats and eating alien meat and other exotica are just that – talk. Jack hides his real feelings beneath all that sort of talk. Strip away the bravado, the bragging, the joking and underneath is a man who needs affection just as much as anyone else. And given a chance, I think he would take it. Garrett fills that role. He gives Jack somebody to rely on.
Obviously, I am not going to have Jack and Garrett following in Ianto and Alun’s footsteps and getting married. And although a lot of stories have had Jack staying the night with Garrett, they’re not going to become partners in the living together sense. What they should be, is ‘going steady’, dating, having sex together, not seeking any other sexual partners. Monogamy is something new in Jack’s life, but maybe it is time.
Having a steady relationship, actually loving somebody, does actually make Jack’s character just a bit more like John Barrowman, who plays him. John is well known for being in a long standing gay relationship.
The purpose of the opening scene, where both are so obviously happy, having invested their emotions in each other, was a cruel one, of course. Narrative causality dicates that something has to happen to test their relationship. The scene on the balcony where they were taken by the alien ship was added a little later, up as far as the bit where Jack holds onto Garrett and says it makes the transmat easier. After that I had to think about what would happen on the ship for a while. But what I wanted most was for them to be separated when the transmat was over. To my mind, one of the most terrifying ideas I've seen on Doctor Who was when The Doctor, Rose and Jack were all pulled from the TARDIS to the Game Station when a moment before they had all been happy. The idea that people could be literally yanked away from each other in an eyeblink destroys all certainties about life, relationships, the future. I was aiming for the same sort of crushing hurt for Jack and Garrett.
As to why they were taken, I had some ideas at first about the aliens looking for people who had travelled with The Doctor, tracing them through the residual artron energy. That would have meant that Garrett would have been left behind and would have contacted the Torchwood team for help, while Jack found himself in a cell along with a collection of people living on contemporary Earth who had known The Doctor. Martha Jones, Sarah Jane Smith Smith, Jo Grant, who would be living not that far from Cardiff were obvious choices. But I honestly couldn't think of a decent Torchwood style plot involving them all. And, in hindesight, it would have been upstaged by 'Journeys End' anyway.
I also had an idea about Captain John Hart being involved in whatever was going on. I had thought of some kind of trial in which Jack and John were accused of something that Jack had no recollection of from his time agency days, or John as a witness accusing Jack to cover his own back. I decided not to bring Captain John into it, because he is a really annoying character and I don’t like him very much. But I was left with the idea of Jack being accused of something very outrageously nasty that he believed he couldn’t have done – but he wasn’t quite sure because there were those two years that he couldn’t remember….
Garrett, of course, comes into the story again when he is sentenced to death. The execution is from Garrett’s point of view. The story up until then was from Jack’s, but at that point a certain distance from him seemed necessary.
Garrett’s feelings about Jack’s resurrection
were always going to be a part of the story once I started to write it.
I do have a slight reservation that he changed his mind too quick. But
dwelling on his issues for too long would have unbalanced the story. It
would have to stand. Those readers who like the idea of Jack and Garrett
as an item could rest assured that they have passed the first hurdle of
their relationship, at least.