Author Name: the9thdoctor and leofuller</lj>
Originally written for the Holiday!Bang challenge at Stopwatch - prompt 38
Pairing(s): Jack/Ianto, minor Gwen/Rhys, possibly Tosh/Owen but only when nobody's looking.
Summary: December 25th didn't go quite as Ianto had hoped; can Jack fix it before Christmas is over?
Rating: Rish Disclaimer: Nope. Don't own Torchwood.
Warnings: Several rude words. (Tut Tut...)
Word Count: c.17400
Author's Notes: This was both great fun, and at times quite tricky to write. Hope it works alright, and apologies in advance to thisbedear</lj> because the fic couldn't be made to count back to Boxing Day without giving the end away – you get it in chronological rather than reverse order instead!
On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, nine Cardiff Coppers…
Gwen pounced on her phone the moment it started ringing. “Andy? Oh thank God...”
There was a short pause as Andy considered that. “Errr... You alright Gwen?”
“I'm fine, it's just been a REALLY boring morning,” she replied, cupping her hand around the phone and glancing between Tosh and Owen who hadn't even looked up. “Tosh and Owen are both really busy and I haven't seen Ianto or Jack anywhere. I haven't had anything to do!”
“Well, that's lovely for you Gwen, I haven't stopped moving since yesterday night.”
Gwen made a sympathetic noise. “Bad one?” she asked, feeling as though she was back in the break room at Cardiff Central.
“Huh, just a bunch of lads trying to go for a joyride and a few fights in town...” Andy said, “Oh Jesus!” There was an odd noise over the phone, a sort of snapping bark.
“What the bloody hell was that?!” asked Gwen.
“That's what I was calling you for.” Andy said as though it should be obvious. “I don't KNOW what it is. It turned up in the cellblock this morning. It's already eaten the Duty Officer's Computer and most of the lino off the kitchen floor. Now it's started on coppers.”
There was another burst of snappy barking. Andy let out a surprised noise that sounded rather too squeaky for a tough policeman. “Listen Gwen love, It's nice to catch up and all that, but I'm standing on my desk, D.I Jones trapped himself in the lift and there's four coppers already in the hospital 'cos they've been bitten. Is there any chance you could come over?”
“Andy wants us to go to the station.” Gwen announced. “There's a rogue unknown loose in the offices.”
Tosh looked up, peering at Gwen over her glasses. Owen swivelled round in his chair, sighing.
“Well? Come on then...”
“An ALIEN?” said Owen.
“In Cardiff Police Station?”
There was another deep sigh, this time from Tosh. “Just as I was getting somewhere with these calculations.” she said. “Somebody find Jack and Ianto...”
Cardiff’s finest had managed to corral the rogue unknown in the kitchen. Three nervous constables were hanging around in the corridor.
“It’s got really big teeth.” One of them said when he saw the team.
“And huge claws.” His colleague added, holding her hands up to demonstrate.
“And the smell…” The third one said. They all flinched.
“Right.” Jack stepped up to the doorway. “What have we got?” He peered through the pane of glass in the kitchen door.
“What is it?” Owen asked after a few moments.
“I can’t see it.” Jack admitted.
“It’s crafty.” The constables were keeping a wary distance from the door.
“Sneaks up on you. That’s what happened to Tom – he didn’t even know it was there until it had taken a great chunk out of his arm.”
Jack scratched at his ear. “How many people has it bitten so far?” he asked.
One of the policemen thought for a moment. “Well,” he said finally, “Sergeant Hargreaves makes nine altogether.”
“I heard he was crying when they rushed him to hospital.” put in another policeman. “He was in the Gulf as well. A Commando or something, I heard. Anything that can make the Sarge cry... Well, doesn't bear thinking about, does it?”
Jack sighed. “Where's Andy?” he asked.
They found Andy in the break room with Ianto, having coffee.
“It's about this big,” Andy said, gesturing the size of a large bread bin with his hands. “Rows of pointy teeth. Dead weird.” he looked at his watch morosely. “Louise will be expecting me to meet her in half an hour... Fat chance of that now...”
“How’s that working out for you?” Gwen asked. “I was just saying to Rhys the other day that it would be nice to have you both round for dinner.”
Only Ianto saw the look of horror pass briefly across Andy’s face.
“So, do you know what it is?” he asked, to deflect the conversation.
Jack frowned. “I’ve got a few ideas. I’m more worried about where it’s come from.”
“Never mind that.” Andy told him. “Just get it out of our kitchen!”
“We’ll need something to put it in.” Jack said. “Can your dog unit find us something?”
Andy sighed and stood up. “I’ll see what I can do.” He strode out of the room, followed by Ianto.
Andy and Ianto hurried through the corridors of the police station to the dog unit. Ianto tried to think of something to say.
“So... how many dates have you been on with Louise now?”
Andy thought for a moment, neatly sidestepping a young woman with a large pile of paperwork. “This will be the fifth,” he said finally, “If you count the one where her pager went off halfway through the starter.”
“Oh, that's right,” Ianto said amiably, “Gwen told me, she's a doctor, isn't she?”
“Paediatrics.” replied Andy. “Far too smart for a poor old Cardiff copper like me. Degrees all over the shop. Don't know what she's going on about half the time!”
Ianto smiled bitterly. “I know what you mean.”
“Well, at least she understands all about me having to rush off to an emergency.” Andy continued, “Last week, when there was that big crash on the motorway, we both had the SAME emergency!”
Ianto frowned. “Yeah, we were at that one. The guy who caused it swerved because he thought he’d seen a flying saucer.”
“Yeah?” Andy raised his eyebrows. “I heard he was on drugs.”
“He was.” Ianto slowed down to let a couple of detectives pass. “He was hallucinating.”
Andy laughed. “The Dog Unit is down here.”
“What are you doing?” Gwen asked, putting a cup of tea down on the desk next to Jack, and peering over his shoulder at the screen of the computer he’d appropriated.
“Searching InterGalactic Lost and Found.” Jack replied, as if it was obvious. “I’m looking for messages about missing pets. Once we’ve caught it, we can put a message up to see if anybody claims it.”
“InterGalactic Lost and Found?” Gwen asked, “I thought you were on the Internet?”
Jack waved his wrist strap at her. “This does wifi.”
“Wait a minute,” one of the constables said, “are you saying that thing is somebody’s PET?”
Jack looked up at her. “Possibly.” He said. “We’ll find out once we catch it.”
“Brilliant. So now we're dog catchers.” said Owen, grumpily. “Now I have to update my CV again...”
Once inside the dog unit store room, Andy pulled his phone from his pocket.
“Better text her,” he explained, “She'll understand if I let her know.”
Ianto nodded, peering up at a large cage that had been left on an awkward shelf. “She sounds nice.” he said, trying to fill the silence.
“She is.” Andy replied proudly, “She knows what my job must be like – we both wanted to help people... It's nice to share something like that with someone, isn't it? I mean, you'd know!”
Andy frowned. “You and Jack.” he said, “I mean, it must be nice – you never have to try and explain why you're late and all that.”
It was Ianto's turn to frown. “Yeah...” he said finally, “I guess...”
“Well, I mean, if you were going out with somebody who worked nine to five in an office, it would be difficult, wouldn’t it? They’d never really understand what it’s like to get up and save lives at three o’clock in the morning.” Andy trailed off, concentrating on his mobile.
Ianto considered the best way to get to the cage, and climbed carefully onto a table.
“Although,” Andy continued, pushing his mobile into his pocket, “I always reckon it’s the little things that matter. You’ve got to agree on the big things and the little things, and the medium sized stuff will sort itself out.”
Ianto made appropriate notices of agreement, pulling the cage slowly forwards off the shelf.
“I mean, the big stuff is important, like if one of you is really religious and the other one isn’t, that won’t work. Same with the little stuff – like, my ex, she absolutely hated going to my mum’s for Sunday lunch, said she didn’t like all that family stuff. It wasn’t like I wanted to go every week or anything like that, but she wouldn’t go ever and it became this really big issue that just wouldn’t go away. But the medium stuff, right, like you loving football when your girlfriend can’t stand it, or her having really annoying mates, that’s okay, because you can watch the match down the pub while she goes out with the girls, and you can agree to disagree. Hey, do you want a hand with that?”
Ianto caught the cage as it finally slid off the shelf, and passed it down to Andy.
When Andy and Ianto arrived back in the room where Jack was waiting for them, the two constables were peering through the small square of safety glass in the door trying to catch sight of the fearsome creature.
Jack was watching on, lounging back in an office chair with his feet propped up on a desk, obviously amused.
“One cage.” announced Andy. “Do you know what it is?”
“Not yet,” replied Owen, adding another paperclip to the long chain of them in his lap. “Jack thinks it's a pet. To be honest, we were waiting for you – wouldn't want you to miss out or anything!”
“Thanks.” replied Ianto sarcastically.
“Okay!” said Jack, lifting his feet off the table and getting up. He motioned to the two nervous constables. “You two better head off. We don't want you getting hurt. Not when there are little old ladies that need helping across roads.”
“That's the Boy Scouts.” said Gwen, “not Policemen.”
Ianto couldn’t help noticing that the policemen hadn’t stuck around to contradict her.
“So, how are you going to catch it?” Andy asked. Everybody turned to look at Jack, who sighed.
“I’m going to need gloves. And biscuits. All small fluffy things like biscuits.”
“Oh, it’s so cute!” Gwen bent down to get a closer look, tapping her fingers against the cage. The animal snarled and threw itself at the wire, showing an awful lot of teeth.
“It doesn’t smell cute.” Owen pointed out. Ianto was inclined to agree.
“Gotcha!” Jack said, triumphantly.
“Have you found out what it is?” Gwen stepped away from the cage and went to look at Jack’s computer.
“I’ve done better than that. I’ve found its owners.”
“Wonderful.” Andy said. “Please give it back to them.”
“They’re coming to pick him up. Tibbles will be home in time for tea.”
“Tibbles?” Owen said, incredulous. “It’s hospitalised nine coppers and eaten half the kitchen fittings, and it’s called Tibbles?”
Using his wrist-strap, Jack directed the small spacecraft to land on a deserted hillside in the Brecon Becons. The two multi-tentacled aliens who emerged reminded Ianto strongly of intergalactic versions of the women in Far Side cartoons. He shook his head, trying to get rid of the image of aliens in floral housecoats and horn-rimmed spectacles. There were much more important things to be thinking of...
On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, ten small explosions…
Ianto had been awake for most of the night thinking about what Andy had said. Eventually, by 5:30, he had thought he had reached a conclusion and that sleep was, by now, pointless. He got up and made a cup of coffee. If he was early enough into work then he would be able to talk to Jack privately without any unwelcome interruptions. After that, he could hide away in the archives for the rest of the day and re-organise the filing system.
He let himself into the tourist office at just after half six. The main alarm for the door into the Hub hadn't been activated, meaning that Jack would still be inside. Ianto straightened his tie in the reflection of the dark computer monitor and took a deep breath, mentally rehearsing his speech and trying to strengthen his resolve against Jack's usual tactic of luring him over to the couch to be 'more comfortable', which usually resulted in at least partial nudity and a total inability to recall what they had been arguing about in the first place.
Jack was standing, leaning over Tosh's workstation, so it was rather distracting for Ianto when the first thing he saw was Jack's arse. He bravely pulled himself together.
“Jack.” he said, shoving his hands deep in his trouser pockets in a desperate attempt to prevent himself form reaching out and grabbing a satisfying handful.
Jack just held up a hand. “Hang on.” He tapped more buttons on the keyboard.
Ianto raised and eyebrow. If Jack was touching Tosh's computer then either something important was happening or he was looking at porn. He immediately discounted the porn. Jack would've dragged him over to look at it by now, which left the alternative, and Ianto was sure that his relationship issues took a backseat to a possible alien invasion of Earth.
“What's going on?” he asked, shoving his carefully rehearsed speech to the back of his mind. He could talk to Jack later.
“There's been an explosion near the prison.” Jack replied, tapping his way through several screens of quickly scrolling data.
Jack shook his head, still focused on the computer. “It's the second one this morning.” he explained, “There was one ten minutes ago on some waste ground near the docks. Terrorists would go for the shopping centre, during the sales. This doesn't make any sense.”
“Kids then?” suggested Ianto, “Getting rid of the last few New Year's fireworks.”
“At half six in the morning? In two separate locations? No, there's something going on here. Call the others. I think we need to check this out...”
“This had better be good.” Owen grumbled as he answered the phone.
“Explosions.” Ianto told him. “Probably not caused by either terrorists or children. Jack’s picking you up in ten minutes.”
“Why so soon?” Owen’s voice was muffled, as if he’d buried his head in the pillow.
“Because the girls take longer to get ready.” Ianto ended the call, and turned back to the computer screen. He’d already spoken to Tosh and Gwen – Tosh was already up and dressed, and was preparing a stack of toast for the team. He’d woken Gwen up, but she insisted she’d be ready by the time Jack had collected Owen and Tosh.
By the time Jack radioed back to the Hub to tell Ianto that everyone was set, there had been two more explosions. Using one of Tosh's experimental monitoring programmes, he was able to tell that they hadn't been caused by any known device or chemical agent, and while large enough to show up, none of them had caused any major damage.
“We're just lucky no-one has been standing right next to them.” remarked Jack. “So, look on the bright side!”
“Is there any way of predicting them?” Ianto asked.
He heard Tosh take a deep breath over the comms. “I don't think so,” she said finally, “If they're caused by something coming through the rift, then we can't predict that. I think our best option may be to keep the monitoring programme scanning Cardiff and when you find an anomaly, we can try and get there and defuse them before they blow up.”
“Understood.” Ianto replied, widening the parameters of the scan. “In fact, there’s something showing up about half a mile to the west of your current location…”
There was rather a lot of shouting, and a loud bang, followed by a considerable amount of swearing from Owen.
“Everybody okay?” Ianto asked, frowning at the scan results.
“Yes.” Tosh replied. “Owen’s a bit sooty, though.”
Ianto bit back a sarcastic comment and sent some data through to Tosh’s laptop. “The explosions are corresponding to rift spikes – but there’s a gap of an hour and seven minutes between the spike and the explosion. Then there’s a sudden drop in air pressure just before the explosion. I’ve sent the details of all the spikes within the last hour and five minutes through to you.”
“So, what the hell are they?” asked Owen over the comms. Ianto heard Jack tap his fingers on the SUV steering wheel.
“Pretty much what we thought they were to start with.” he replied.
“An invasion?” asked Gwen, sounding as though she was part worried and part thrilled at the idea.
“That wasn't a firework, Jack.” put in Owen. “That was a sodding mortar.”
“Only in this atmosphere.”
“Right, okay. So there are loads of different planets that support life out there, right?” asked Jack. Ianto sensed a long-winded 'I know more about this stuff than you do' speech coming on.
“Okay...” agreed Gwen doubtfully.
“And the margin for life is actually quite wide, when you come down to it – some are aquatic, some live in temperatures well below or above what humans could stand, some have wide differences in gravity... And some aliens adapted to live on planets with a much lower oxygen content in the atmosphere.”
There was silence from everyone else in the car.
Ianto sighed. “So the explosions would be much larger than they were originally designed for now they're on Earth.” he explained. “Or, I suppose, for Owen's sake, more air, bigger boom.”
“Thanks for the science lesson, Teaboy.” said Owen testily.
“And based on the data, the next one’s going to go off in ten minutes.” Tosh said.
The little mark indicating the SUV’s location started to move on Ianto’s map.
“So, what do we do when we get to it?” Owen asked. “Suck the oxygen away?”
Tosh launched into a long technical explanation of how they were going to manage that. Ianto kept track of the data, trying to work out which of the rift spikes related to the fireworks.
“Are you sure this is a good idea?” Gwen asked.
“Positive!” Jack replied. Ianto couldn’t see his face, and his voice was muffled by the breathing apparatus, but he could tell that Jack was grinning in the way he often did just before things went horribly wrong.
“Oxygen content is down by seventy percent.” Tosh announced, looking up from her computer screen. “Should be okay to open the boxes now.”
Jack opened the first of the vacuum containers, and carefully removed the fireworks.
“They still had ten minutes before detonation in our atmosphere.” Tosh said reassuringly. “They’re almost certainly going to be fine.”
They all watched nervously as Jack set up the fireworks.
“Why do we have such a large room with atmospheric controls, anyway?” Owen asked. “I didn’t even know this was there!”
“There were some experiments done down there in the fifties.” Ianto told him. “Didn’t end well.”
Jack had now finished setting the fuses, and made his way out through the airlock.
Nothing much happened.
“Anything happened yet?” Jack hurried up the stairs, carrying his breathing mask.
“No. The fuses are really slow, due to the oxygen levels.”
“Well, this should be worth a watch. They really know their fireworks, these guys.” Jack pulled up a chair and settled his feet on the desk, eyes glued to the monitors. “Sit back and enjoy!”
On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, eleven tourists asking…
“Hey, Ianto, are you busy?”
Ianto made a point of looking around the empty tourist office before he answered. “No, Jack. What did you need?”
Jack wandered over to the desk. “Just thought I’d come up and see if you needed a hand.”
Ianto folded his newspaper and laid it on the desk.
“I’m just about on top of it, thanks.”
Jack looked around the office, where all the displays were fully stocked and the surfaces and floor were spotless.
“Come downstairs, then?”
Ianto shook his head. “It’s likely to get quite busy today. Lots of bored people trying to get the family out of the house for the day.”
“Right then.” Jack tweaked the newspaper out of Ianto’s reach. “One down. Legendary bird born from ashes, seven letters.”
“Phoenix.” Ianto replied, as the door opened.
Once the mother and daughter had been provided with maps and leaflets, Ianto retrieved his newspaper from Jack and started to correct his answers.
Jack perched on a stool. “Ianto…”
“Yes, Jack?” Ianto amended an “I” to a “Y”.
“Christmas.” Jack said.
“What about it?” Ianto didn’t look up from the newspaper.
Jack frowned, trying to think how to phrase what he wanted to say.
The door opened, letting in a blast of cold air and a group of girls.
It took rather a long time to get rid of the four girls, as they seemed rather more interested in flirting with Jack – who was happy to oblige – than in taking their bus timetables and going. Ianto busied himself behind the desk, politely ignoring the girls’ attempts to draw him into their conversation with Jack.
Jack was obviously enjoying talking to the girls, and apparently oblivious to the possibility that Ianto might not enjoy watching him flirt. After a few minutes, Ianto slipped unobtrusively behind the bead curtain.
“We should go and see that.” Jack said, pushing through the beads as the door closed behind the girls.
“See what?” Ianto looked up from the order form he was filling in.
“That film they were telling us about.” Jack leant on the door frame. “Is something wrong?”
“No.” Ianto looked up at him.
“Good.” Jack glanced down at the floor and then back at Ianto. “Listen, Ianto…”
Jack was on his mobile to Gwen, downstairs in the main Hub, when Ianto had finished talking the trio of men through their stag-night choices for three weekends’ time.
Ianto watched him, gesturing even though Gwen couldn’t see him, and wondered yet again whether he was making the right decision.
He hadn’t been able to stop thinking about Andy’s comments about relationships. Well, at least when he hadn’t been helping to defuse alien fireworks. Something in Andy’s conviction that the little things really mattered had struck a chord with Ianto.
Christmas in the Jones family had always been a big deal, not with money and big showy gifts, but in really putting thought into things. And it wasn’t just about Christmas; it was about taking the feelings of people you cared about into consideration. Jack’s total lack of concern about Christmas wasn’t the issue; it was his lack of consideration about what Christmas meant to Ianto.
Ianto wouldn’t have considered ending a relationship because Jack hadn’t bought him a present, that was just petty, but when he saw it in light of what it represented… if Jack didn’t think these kind of events were important, when Ianto did, then that was always going to be a problem, not just now but next Christmas and every Christmas, and every birthday, and anniversary…
“Yes, well I’m sure it’s not serious. Put a report together for me, and I’ll take a look.”
He cut Gwen off mid-squawk and grinned at Ianto.
“Now, where were we?”
Ianto didn’t know how to continue. The silence stretched between them, the smile falling from Jack’s face as he realised that something was wrong.
“Hello? Are you still open?”
Ianto managed a smile for the young couple. “Yes, we’re open until five.”
“Another ten minutes, then!” The man smiled, wrapping his arm around the girl. “Just in time, Mrs Collins!”
She giggled. “We got married this morning.” She explained.
“Just did it!” her husband said. “Took two witnesses off the street and got married. Now we need a hotel…”
Ianto nodded and started looking for the best options on the computer.
“Oh, Mum’s going to kill me!” Mrs Collins said, as if this had just occurred to her.
“Your mum loves me!” Mr Collins replied with total confidence. “She wants us to get married.”
“Yes, but I’ve just taken away her opportunity to wear a really big hat!”
Ianto booked them into the hotel of their choice, and flipped the door sign to “closed” as they left. He watched them walking away from the office, hand in hand, and felt a twinge of regret for the things that were missing in his own relationship. If it could be called a relationship any more…
“What are you doing?”
Jack looked up from the computer. “Upgrading them. The hotel will tell them it’s a freebie, the extra cost will be covered by Torchwood. What’s a wedding night without a four poster bed and some champagne?”
Ianto stopped listening as Jack started to list some alternative wedding nights he’d enjoyed, many of which were with somebody else’s bride. He locked the Tourist Office door, and pressed the button to access the main Hub.
“I’ll be off then.”
“Don’t go yet, I’ll be down in five minutes.”
When he wasn’t there in fifteen, Ianto went home.
On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, twelve hidden parcels…
January 06 - Epiphany
“Ianto? Ianto!” Gwen burst into the kitchen, where Ianto was persuading the coffee machine to co-operate. He didn’t look at her, but Gwen guessed from the look on his face that he’d seen what she had.
“Have you been in Jack’s office?” she asked. Ianto nodded and Gwen sighed. “Do you know what’s happening?”
“No, I don’t.” Ianto practically snapped. Under the circumstances, and after the events of the last week or so, Gwen forgave him. “Jack hasn’t said anything to me.”
“It’s not very subtle.” Gwen said. “I mean, it’s not hidden or anything.”
Ianto rested one hand on the coffee machine and finally turned to face her. “Jack’s not very good at subtle, Gwen. He probably thinks that stuff’s well hidden.” He paused. “Did you look in the bags?”
Gwen tried to look innocent, and then nodded slowly, biting her lip. “Is it…”
“All of my things that I’ve kept in his room.” Ianto bit out, turning away and hunting through a cupboard. “A bag of his things – his favourite shirts, the stuff he won’t go anywhere without.” He emerged from the cupboard and slammed a packet of digestives on the counter with a little too much force. “He’s leaving us again. Only this time he’s doing it properly.”
“I’m sure he’s not…”
Ianto just looked at her, and eventually her shoulders sagged.
“We should stop him.” She said.
“What’s the point? If he doesn’t want to be here, why should we keep him?”
“But he wouldn’t leave us… he wouldn’t leave YOU.”
“Gwen, he’s packed up all my stuff. He’s moved me out. He’s taking his essentials away. He doesn’t want to stay here, for me, for you, for anybody. He’s going. At least we can prepare, this time.”
When Jack came back from Tesco with twelve pints of milk and slunk into his office, looking decidedly furtive, the bags he’d hidden were still tucked into their hiding place.
A large pile of paperwork sat right in the centre of his desk. The post-it on top instructed
“sign these, or no coffee” in Ianto’s familiar handwriting. Jack walked to the doorway.
“Ianto!” He called. “I’m signing! Please can I have some coffee?” The pleading note in his voice was obviously about right, as Ianto nodded and vanished into the kitchen.
“Gwen, can you come up here please?”
Ianto let Gwen bring the coffee in, and Jack gestured to her to close the door behind her.
“I need to let you in on a secret.” Jack told her. “The Doctor’s going to be here soon.”
Gwen managed to look surprised.
“What’s going on?” Owen finished drying his hands and threw the towel onto the counter. Ianto absent-mindedly returned it to the hook.
“What do you mean?”
“Gwen’s been up there for ages.”
“I don’t know. Whatever the secret is, I’m not in on it.”
“Hey, do you want to come out for lunch?” Tosh stuck her head round the door. “Since Jack doesn’t seem to need us for anything?”
Ianto glanced up towards Jack’s office, then looked at Owen. “Okay.”
Owen shrugged. “Sure, why not?”
“I think the worse thing is that we’re all in work at the weekend, even though there’s nothing going on, and none of us are complaining about it since we’ve got nothing better to do! It’s pathetic!” Owen announced, putting his glass down and snagging a tortilla chip from Tosh’s plate.
“Shouldn’t you be sleeping off a hangover?” She asked.
Owen shrugged. “Nah. Wasn’t in the mood for going out last night.”
Tosh smiled. Ianto worried that she was reading too much into whatever had happened at midnight on New Year’s Eve.
“What’s up with you, anyway?” Owen asked him. “You’re even more miserable today than you have been since Christmas.”
“Jack’s leaving.” Ianto told them. “He’s all packed up and ready to go. He’s probably handing everything over to Gwen right now.”
Owen swore and stood up.
“Where are you going?” Ianto asked, not moving.
“I’m going back to sort this out. If he thinks we’re just going to let him waltz off
“That’s why he hasn’t told us.” Ianto picked at his chips.
Tosh signalled for the bill. “Well, we’re not going to let him. Come on.”
The three of them trudged back to the Hub, Ianto following Owen and Tosh morosely through the Tourist Office entrance.
“This is SO not a conversation I ever wanted to have.” muttered Owen as the trooped down the stairs.
“You think I did?” asked Ianto.
Tosh wrinkled her nose, “I still can't believe he's planning on leaving without telling us, not after last time... And not... Well, not without you.”
“I don't think I'm exactly at the top of Jack's priorities.” Ianto replied.
“But I thought you two were getting on really well.” Tosh said, pausing on the landing halfway to the Hub door.
Ianto snorted, “Yeah well, how many of Jack's stories start with 'There was this one person, we got on REALLY well...' and end with 'And then I stole all her stuff and got out of there as fast as possible'?”
Tosh sighed. “I don't think he sees you like that, Ianto.”
Ianto shrugged. “Well, we'll see...”
Gwen was back at her desk when they arrived, and she smiled at them a little too brightly. “Nice lunch?” she asked.
Owen scowled. “Not one of the best, no.”
“Is Jack still here?” asked Tosh anxiously.
“Of course! Why wouldn't he be?” replied Gwen, still smiling.
“Right.” said Owen, clapping his hands together. “Let's get this over with.” he grabbed Ianto by the sleeve of his jacket and pulled him towards Jack's office.
Jack was sitting at his desk, apparently still signing all the paperwork that Ianto had been pestering him about doing for the past few weeks. He looked up as the three of them burst into his office.
“Oh good, you're back! Just in time.”
“Cut the crap, Jack.” Owen demanded. “We know what's going on here.”
Jack narrowed his eyes. “You do?”
Tosh pointed to the handle of Jack's large kit bag, still ineffectually stuffed under his desk. “You're planning on leaving us again.” she said.
Jack blinked, and then peered under his desk. “Oh.” he said finally, I guess THAT'S why I failed basic espionage.”
Tosh put her hands on her hips. “Don't you dare lie to us, Jack Harkness.” she said.
Owen, Ianto and Jack all stared at her in amazement.
“When did you turn into Gwen?” Jack asked after a moment's pause.
Tosh wagged her finger at him. “And don't change the subject. You're leaving, aren't you?”
“Well...” Jack started, glancing behind the three of them out into the main Hub. He glanced down at his wrist-strap. “Well...”
“Oh, good, you got the milk!”
Jack grinned. Everybody else turned round slowly to stare at the man who was leaning in Jack’s doorway.
“Hi!” He said, lifting a hand in a small wave.
“How did you get in here?” Gwen demanded.
“Sonic…” Tosh couldn’t help taking half a step forward, then stopped and frowned. “Do I know you from somewhere?”
“I’m the Doctor.”
“Of course you are…” muttered Owen. “YOU’RE the doctor…”
“No, THE Doctor.” Corrected the Doctor. “Hello, Ianto.”
Ianto looked blank. He’d heard of the Doctor, of course, but when had the Doctor heard of him?
“Anyway, can’t stand around here all day.” The Doctor picked up the milk from Jack’s desk. “This should really be in the fridge, you know.” The Doctor jammed the bottles into the pockets of his coat. “You get your stuff together and meet me by the TARDIS.”
Jack grinned. “No problem.”
The Doctor wandered off, whistling as he jumped on the invisible lift and activated it with an odd looking silver device.
“So this is it, then?” asked Ianto, leaning against one of Jack's filing cabinets. It was bloody typical, he thought. Just as he got up the courage to leave Jack, Jack decided to leave first.
Jack looked at him for a moment, and then glanced back at Tosh and Owen. “Could you give me a minute?” he asked.
Once Tosh and Owen had left the office, Jack perched on the edge of his desk, and held out a hand to Ianto.
“Surprise!” he said.
Ianto didn't reply.
Jack sighed. “I hoped you'd be pleased.” he said in a pained tone.
“Pleased? Why would I be…” Ianto’s shoulders sagged. “Fine. If you want it this way. You can end it. I’ll be the sad, heartbroken one the girls fuss over.”
“But I’m going to say this, before you go. I’m sick of it. Sick of pretending that it doesn’t matter, sick of trying to paper over the cracks. It does matter, Jack, it matters to me, and if it doesn’t matter to you then this is for the best. Go on.”
“Go on.” Ianto gestured to the door. “Bugger off.”
Jack just stared at him, open mouthed.
“What are you waiting for?” Ianto snapped. “Somebody to carry your bags? Well you can forget that, you can move yourself out.”
“But...” Jack started. “Could you just listen to me?”
Ianto narrowed his eyes. “This had better be good.”
Jack dug his hands into his pockets. “I know how much Christmas means to you.” he said, smiling sheepishly. “And I spent months trying to think of the best present I could possibly get you, but nothing really seemed to be right. It was all too boring. So then I thought I should get you something REALLY good. Something exciting. Something unique... So I called in a favour.”
Ianto started to feel slightly awkward. “Go on…”
“So, I thought, what does Ianto like? What’s important to Ianto? And where’s the best place in the universe to get it?”
Ianto fiddled with the hem of his suit jacket.
“And you’d obviously put so much thought into Christmas, and I wanted it to be a surprise – but the Doctor’s timing is a bit hit and miss, and you were getting so angry.”
Jack’s shoulders slumped. “So I’m sorry for being so late, and I’m sorry that I’ve made you angry, but I really want you to come with me.”
Ianto swallowed nervously. “Come where?”
Jack grabbed Ianto's hand and pulled him close, making him stand in between Jack's outstretched legs. “Well,” he said, looking up at him, “In about 800 years there's going to be hundreds of space stations throughout the solar system. One of them – Platform 101 – is going to be in orbit around Titan. On the fifty-first level, tucked away in a corner between a holographic headset repair shop and a fast-food joint there's gonna be a little shop that reproduces period clothing. The guy who runs it will be the best tailor in history - everything he makes will be perfect, and he'll use all sorts of fabric you've never even imagined. Totally stain resistant, non-flammable, practically indestructible, you name it. I thought you might like a suit... We could take the long way home, and see the sights... What do you think?”
Ianto stared at him, amazed. “You're taking me 800 years into the future to buy me a new suit?”
“Not just ANY suit – Think about it, you could wear it to work and not have to worry about it getting messy or anything.”
“An indestructible suit?”
“Where do you think I got my coat from? Look, you don't have to come, but I thought it would be nice – you know, travel a bit. See the stars. You LIKE stars.”
“I... I don't know what to say, Jack...”
“Say yes? I even packed for you already – it's just the stuff that you left in my room, I didn't want you getting suspicious by taking things from your flat.”
Ianto looked down at the bag, half under Jack's desk. He could see his neatly folded red shirt on top of the pile.
“What about Torchwood?” he asked.
Jack waved the hand that wasn't holding Ianto's. “Gwen can run the show for a few days without us.” he said, “And hopefully the Doctor won't drop us back too late... Please say yes, Ianto. I know I can be an insensitive git, and I know I've probably been horribly mysterious about everything for the past few weeks, but I really want to share this with you.”
Ianto blinked down at Jack for several seconds, still trying to process everything that had been said. Finally, he sighed. “Of COURSE I'm coming with you, you idiot.”
Jack's smile was almost dazzling. “Come on then! Best not keep the Doctor waiting!” he grabbed the bags from under the desk and swung them over his shoulder, keeping hold of Ianto with the other hand and all but pulling him out of the office towards the invisible lift.
As it started to rise, one more thing occurred to Ianto, “Jack? How DOES the Doctor know who I am?”
Jack shrugged slightly. “He's a time traveller, Ianto... I'm sure he'll meet you soon...”
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