Jack’s Son was an idea I had kicking around for a little while, with several ideas about how it might be done. It is an idea that really dates back before the Children of Earth series in which it was revealed that Jack had a daughter and grandson. I have circumvented that storyline completely in my narrative of Torchwood. None of that happened. I’m not even going there.
But the idea came into my head of a teenager, maybe seventeen, walking into the tourist information office and declaring that he was Jack’s son. I changed that when I came to write it, to him walking into the MI5 offices with that claim, knowing, for some reason, that Jack’s lover works there. Now, that presupposes a lot. First of all that there even IS an MI5 office in Cardiff. I have always gone on the assumption that there is. After all, it is the capital city of Wales. It needs Her Majesty’s Secret Service protecting it. Where such an office might be, I won’t even begin to speculate. And how a boy like Ashley would know where it is, let’s just not go there.
Whether MI5’s Cardiff office has the facilities to do a DNA test from the saliva on a coke can surreptitiously removed from the interview room is yet another loose matter. Let’s assume they do and can. They do it remarkably quickly. Is it too much to ask readers to gloss over that, too? But eventually Garrett is convinced that Ashley Brooke is the biological son of Jack Harkness. It fits so easily. His mother is a former Torchwood operative. Jack is known to be promiscuous. The DNA result seals the matter.
One or two readers did comment that Ashley got out of his stroppy teenager act and accepted Jack rather too quickly when they finally meet each other. Yes, I admit that much. There are two reasons for this. One, moving the narrative along and two, I hate stroppy teenagers. It is the overridingly annoying thing about a lot of the Harry Potter books, the amount of time Harry and others spend sulking and moaning instead of getting on with things. When I started the Theta Sigma series of stories I intended for Chrístõ to have issues with his father that fomented for a while, but I really didn’t enjoy presenting him as a sulky teenager and dropped that part of the ongoing narrative very quickly.
Given the events of part two of this story, it was important to get the bond between Jack and Ashley established. The point of it all was to rip his heart out and leave him devastated and alone. So he really did need to come to care for Ashley, even to love him, despite everything taking place over a single weekend.
The first part of what I had now decided was going to be a two-parter finishes with Ashley and Jack’s bonding complete. The thing that links them most completely is their love of flying. I have wanted for some time to have a scene in which Jack flies some kind of plane or helicopter. This was a good excuse for it. Let’s assume Jack does have enough pull with MOD St. Athans that they would lend him a helicopter for a joyride! After all, what’s good enough for Prince William….
When part one went online, the immediate response from readers was overwhelming. They didn’t want anything bad to happen to Ashley. ‘Don’t kill Ashley’ was the cry from the forum and from emails. Fortunately, I had no intention of killing Ashley. I’m pretty sure Russell T. Davies would have no compunction about doing that. But I’m not that cruel to Jack.
The clue, of course, is at the start of the story when Ashley asks an obvious question – did he inherit Jack’s immortality? In Children of Earth, it was quite obvious that Jack’s daughter and grandson didn’t inherit it. But is there any reason why not? Nobody really knows why Jack is immortal, but it certainly could be something he could pass on to his offspring.
Then the shoe drops for Jack. First, the news from Garrett that Ashley might not be who he says he is, the evidence that his life is a carefully constructed story. Then Martha’s discovery that his blood is breaking down and the final devastating blow. Not only is he a forced grown clone, constructed using stolen DNA, but his body has been engineered as a biological bomb meant to kill Garrett and Gray and leave Jack alone and ruined.
A couple of TV programmes gave me some inspiration for this part of the story. The exploded blood cells were mentioned in an episode of CSI, along with the fact that blood normally separates into plasma and cells when left in a test tube. The biological bomb within the boy actually comes from an episode of Stargate SG1 where something similar was going on. In Stargate, the bomb didn’t explode. In this story, it does. Both Jack and Ashley are ripped apart. But the question Ashley asked at the start of the story is answered. Yes, he does have his father’s ability to regenerate his body. It is painful and distressing for him, but he is alive. The readers who didn’t want him to die breathe a sigh of relief.
Meanwhile, Jack has a problem. Saul Galen, the man who made Ashley is a rogue Time Agent with a vendetta. Of course, the plan is to have a number of future stories in which Galen is a dark shadow over Jack’s life, culminating in a story where he finally sorts Galen out for good. Since they alternate monthly with Torchwood Glasgow, most of my Cardiff stories for this year are therefore neatly mapped out.
Jack as a family man! Some people don’t like the idea. They think it makes him weak. They want him to be the tough guy with no emotional attachments. But Jack never was that, anyway. He cares deeply for everyone on his team. Giving him a family gives him something to fight for.