Pairings: Jack/Ianto, John/Nick,
Characters: Jack, Ianto, John Hart, Nick Jones, and a cast of (probably!) thousands.
Spoilers: Set after Exit Wounds. Sequel to 'We Could Be Heroes'
Rating: Adult - it's going to get very dark in some places.
Warnings: Slash, language, angst, dark themes.
Summary: Ianto's birthday has arrived
Disclaimer: I'm not a student any more, but I don't own Torchwood.
19th August 2013...
“Hey!” Jack was almost bouncing on the balls of his feet when John opened the door. “Are you ready?”
“Yeah, we’ll be there in a bit.” John stepped aside to let his friend into the house. “And what’s making you so bouncy, anyway?” He frowned. “Wait, have you been at Ianto’s special brew again? You know you’re not supposed to have that too often; it makes you crazy.” Well, crazier, he mentally added.
Jack chuckled, apparently completely untroubled by the jibe. “You are never going to believe this.”
“What, has Nagiro regained status as a planet?” asked John. “Because I think that would be the only thing you could say that would really surprise me.”
Jack roared with laughter. “That rock was lucky not to be demoted to space garbage!” His face turned reflective. “Wow. I hadn’t thought about that place in a long time.”
John chuckled. “Yeah, we did have some good times there, considering it was such a ridiculously nondescript place.”
“Yeah, if by good times you meant spending the night in a jail cell after you accused the street vendor of making his wallets out of human skin!” retorted Jack.
“Hey, you joined in with that brawl – and don’t tell me you didn’t enjoy it!” In truth, John had been certain that his accusation had been true, but he had never actually managed to prove it, despite swearing up and down that he’d seen human fingernails used on the zips.
“Yeah, I enjoyed the brawl. The aftermath of it was less pleasant,” said Jack wryly.
John winced a little as he remembered that. “Surprising what such a tiny place can think of doing to punish you.” He shivered at the memory of the floating prisons and the sound of the waves crashing against the walls. Even with Jack there, it hadn’t been fun in any way, and it certainly wasn’t something he was keen to revisit any time soon.
He shook himself. “Anyway, what was it you wanted to tell me that you were so sure I wouldn’t believe?”
Jack looked at him sharply before he allowed the grin to spread back over his face. “So, I came out to the Plass this morning while Ianto was asleep, because Andie and Declan said they heard something strange.” He frowned. “You know, in hindsight, they might have been screwing with me a little.”
“Why do you say that?” asked John. “Not because of the fair that was set up there, surely?”
Jack stared at him. “How…how did you know –?”
“There’ve been flyers all over the city for days, Jack.” John waved a piece of paper towards his boss, shaking his head. “I know you’ve been rushing between Glasgow and London for the last few weeks, but surely you must have noticed when you came home last night?” He smirked. “Or were you just too desperate to get into Ianto’s bed?”
Jack pouted at him. “Still, you can’t deny that it’s perfect timing, considering what day it is today.” He sighed. “He deserves one chance to be a kid again; he had to grow up so quickly.”
“And it’s nothing to do with you wanting to celebrate the fact that your boyfriend has turned thirty despite working for probably the most dangerous organisation on the planet?”
“So what if it is?” asked Jack. “Seriously, married life has turned you cheekier than ever, apparently. Speaking of which, where’s Nick?”
“Conservatory. He’s feeding the pets,” said John. “Well, I say feeding; it’s more like he’s gazing at that dragon stained-glass window pattern you put in there while the aatiae are quite happily eating the fire and water themselves, and we’ve still not figured out what Adi likes to eat yet.” He chuckled and led Jack into the sun-drenched conservatory. “Sometimes I think he loves that window pane more than me,” he added, but without any real envy.
Jack stopped and turned around. “Nah, he doesn’t.” He blinked, his blue eyes suddenly going wide with shock. “Wait, are you telling me that you named the Adipose Adi? Seriously?”
“Nick started it,” chuckled John. “He just said it one day and it sort of stuck. The problem is that now the damn thing won’t answer to anything else.”
“Right, because calling it Cloud like you wanted to would have been so much better,” piped up Nick who was watering the plants and dodging a tall blue flower that seemed to be trying to wrap itself around his hair.
Jack raised an eyebrow. “Should I even ask where you came up with that name?” he asked John.
“Oneida,” said John succinctly.
“Right and I’m sure the owner of the biggest strip joint in the east sector of the Vegas Galaxies will be thrilled to know that she reminds you of a blob of fat,” said Jack sarcastically.
“Well, if I ever get the urge to return to the sixty-third century Vegas Galaxies, I’ll be sure to let her know,” retorted John. Nick disappeared into another room, muttering something about really not wanting to know.
Jack smiled and clapped John on the shoulder. “This really does suit you, you know.”
“What does?” asked John.
“This. Marriage. Commitment.” Jack waved his hand around the conservatory. “It looks good on you.”
“Well, you’d certainly know.”
“True. Although,” Jack smirked a little, “you are still the wife.”
John groaned and pouted. “What? Why do I have to be the wife – again?”
“Oh, come on,” chuckled Nick who had come out with his coat a moment before and heard the last comment, “You know why. It’s because you’re such a good wife – as you’re so fond of telling me yourself.”
“Complete with the frilly white apron when he’s cooking?” asked Jack.
“Not yet. Although,” Nick paused and his eyebrows crinkled in thought. “Hmm. I may actually have to do some looking into that.”
“Oh, no!” shouted John. “I don’t care if I’m the wife; you are not getting me in anything like that!”
“Oh, really?” Nick paused to think. “How about just the frilly white apron?”
“That sounds like it would be more fun for you than it would for me, in all honesty,” said John with a shrug. “But I do know that what starts off as just being fun for you will inevitably end up being fun for both of us.”
Nick smirked and stole a quick kiss. “Indeed it does.”
“Well,” John paused, “bring it on, I guess.”
Jack gave a loud false cough that sounded an awful lot like “Wife!” In response, John flipped him off and, without stopping to think, asked his friend if things were really that different when it came to him and Ianto.
“John!” hissed Nick.
“What?” asked John. “I was just –” but he stopped when he saw the expression on Jack’s face. He winced and quickly changed the subject a little. “Mind you, you do remember who it was who got turned into a woman, right?”
“True!” laughed Nick. “And that’s one thing we’re never planning on letting him forget, right?”
Jack stared at them and blinked a few times. “Oh yeah, right!” he said quickly and switched his smile back on. “Now, shall we get going before Declan tries to shove Garrett in the dunk tank?”
“You’d actually object to that?” asked Nick.
“Of course not. But I do want to see it!”
Forty minutes later…
“So, where’s the birthday boy, then?” asked John. “Don’t tell me he’s gone home.”
Declan shook his head and wrung out his soaking wet T-shirt. “Nah, no chance, not after I bet him twenty quid he couldn’t manage ten straight rounds on the waltzers without throwing up.”
Nick stared at him. “You didn’t.” When Declan nodded, he groaned. “Oh, man, that is really not going to be pretty. Ianto gets really grumpy when he loses bets.”
“You really think he’s going to lose?” asked John looking sceptical.”
“I’ve got twenty years worth of memories that pretty much prove it,” replied Nick. “Not all of them as a bystander either, I might add.” He turned to Declan. “How many times has he been round so far?”
“He just went for his sixth round, I think. Oh, but,” Declan chuckled, “you should’ve seen Em and Andie shepherding Dan and Rupesh into the Tunnel of Love!”
John blinked. “There’s one here?”
“Yeah. Apparently, Rupesh loves them for some reason, but he didn’t want to go on his own, so Andie frogmarched them over and Em handcuffed them together and sat them down, with Dan kicking and screaming!”
“Probably literally, if I know Dan,” said Nick, laughing. “He hates those things; says they’re tacky and cheesy.”
“They are,” said John. “Fun, sure, but they’re so cheesy.”
“Yeah, but that’s the whole point of these funfairs. They’re so tacky, but we love them anyway.”
At that moment, Ianto came over, stumbling and looking rather pale. He looked as though he was about to say something, but before he could get out as much as a syllable, he clapped his hands to his mouth and rushed off towards the entrance of the tourist office.
“And a happy birthday to you too, Ianto,” said John, once he’d stopped laughing.
“Why didn’t he just go down the lift?” asked Matt who had just come over with Garrett. “It was closer to him, after all.”
“Because when you’ve just done six rounds on the waltzers, you don’t generally want to go down on a jerky lift,” answered John.
“Oh, right.” Matt nodded. “That makes sense.”
“Although, why he decided to do it in the first place would be a better question,” remarked Garrett, though he was fixing Declan with a rather sharp look.
“What?” The blonde New Zealander shrugged. “Yeah, I made a bet with him. So what?”
“I thought you might have,” said Garrett, clearly trying to sound disapproving, but John did notice that his mouth was twitching a little. John smiled when he watched him; he was enjoying watching the young doctor start to lighten up after Jack had told him how guarded he’d been when he had first joined Torchwood.
“Hey, it was fun. Speaking of which,” and suddenly, Declan’s blue eyes sparkled mischievously, “there’s something else that needs doing.”
“And what would that be?” asked Nick, but when he caught sight of where his colleague was looking, he began to giggle. “Oh, yes…”
It took a moment for John to catch on, but when he did, he let out a shout and clapped his hands. “Just a minute!” He rushed to where Jack was climbing off the merry-go-round, grabbed his hand and dragged him over. “Okay, Dec. As you were.”
Declan nodded. “Right. Garrett, come here.”
“What?” Garrett looked around, his eyes widening. “Oh, no. No way!”
“Oh, yes!” shouted Declan and reached out, even as Garrett sidestepped him and started to run off.
John laughed. “A tenner says he manages to get him in the tank.”
“Done.” Nick nodded. “But it doesn’t count if he has to lift him onto it.”
“Fine,” agreed John. He grinned at his husband and fingered the wedding bracelet around his wrist. “You want to seal the deal?”
“Always.” Grinning, Nick leaned in and kissed John. “Mmm, yes, consider it sealed.”
“Can I get in on that?” asked Matt.
“Oh, me too!” Jack piped up.
“Aw, come on!” whined John. “Now, I’m betting against all three of you? That is so not fair!” He let out a huff. “Well, at any rate, I’m not kissing you two. Sorry, but I’m a one-man guy, now.”
“All’s fair in love, war and betting on your co-workers, my friend,” said Jack, laughing. He leaned over and gave John a sloppy kiss on the cheek. “There you go. Consider the deal sealed.”
Nick burst out laughing. “Jack,” he said, “please don’t ever change. I mean it.”
John mocked glowered as he dodged Matt’s attempt to plant one on him, and wandered off to look around the rest of the fair. He was just considering having a go on the – somewhat misnamed – big wheel, when he spotted two familiar figures, one blonde and one brunette, walking towards him. He sauntered over, smirking when he saw that they both looked rather dishevelled.
“Hello, boys,” he said, looking them both up and down. “Seems like you two ended up rather enjoying the old Tunnel of Love.”
Dan shrugged. “It’s a lot less cheesy if you don’t have to look around you.”
John roared with laughter as Rupesh flushed bright red. “Very true, Dan. Very true.”
“Well, if the girls were going to shove us into a dark and enclosed space, it made sense for us to make the most of it,” said Dan with a shrug. “Seriously, John, those two are dangerous.”
“So, I’ve been told.” Idly, John glanced around, just in time to see Ianto step off the invisible lift. He still looked a little green, but he was smiling sheepishly, which was an improvement.
Rupesh smiled sympathetically at him. “You all right, Ianto?”
Instead of answering, Ianto pulled something out of the pocket of his trousers. “Where’s Declan?”
“He’s currently running around up there trying to get Garrett in the dunk tank,” said John. “And no, you cannot bet on that with me; I’m already up against three others, including my own husband!”
Ianto tilted his head a little, his eyebrows crinkling in thought. Slowly, a cheeky grin began to spread over his face and, before anyone could stop him, or do anything other than follow him, he had sprinted to the other end of the Plass and tickled Declan in the ribcage.
“Hey!” Declan squeaked, but, in his shock, he let go of Garrett’s arm.
But before the dark-haired doctor could run away, Ianto had caught him and lifted him over his shoulder (clearly, after so long dealing with Weevils, the somewhat elfin doctor was no problem) and dropped him rather unceremoniously into the seat of the dunk tank, before dusting off the sleeve of his shirt and walking away as if he had done nothing more unusual than turn off a tap.
Jack, who had been watching, laughed out loud. “Ianto Jones, thirty years old, and yet after all this time, you still manage to surprise me.”
“I tend to have that effect on quite a few people, if you remember, Jack,” said Ianto with a shrug. “Also, let’s face it; we all wanted to see Garrett get on that thing.” He grinned. “Oh, and John? I think that means you won your bet.”
John grinned. “Hey, that’s right!” He rounded on Nick, Jack and Matt. “Come on, you three, pay up!”
“Hey, I thought it didn’t count if he had to be lifted into it,” said Matt.
“No, only if Declan was the one who lifted him into it.” Nick slipped a crumpled ten pound note into the pocket of John’s jacket, while glaring slightly at his cousin. “How did you even know about that part?”
Ianto sighed in mock exasperation. “Nicky, you’re forgetting I know you better than you know yourself. I knew you’d put some sort of loophole into that bet and that Declan was the only one of us crazy enough to try and get Garrett onto that thing –”
“Hey!” protested Declan. Then he shrugged. “Actually, yeah, you’re right.”
“After that,” continued Ianto, ignoring his colleague, “it was a simple matter of putting together the evidence and making a deduction.”
“Yes, well done, Sherlock,” said Nick, catching a sponge ball and tossing it at Garrett, “but can you tell me why you felt the need for it?”
“Well, I couldn’t very well let you win your bet when I lost mine, could I?” chuckled Ianto.
“’Course you couldn’t, Eye Candy,” said John, chuckling. “’Course you couldn’t.”
“Oh, you’re just saying that because you’re now thirty quid up,” retorted Nick. “But you’re buying the pizza tonight for the Rift watch.”
John rolled his eyes. “As if I would do anything less!” he said as, simultaneously with Matt, he launched another, larger, ball towards the dunk tank, managing to hit Garrett’s left hip hard enough to knock his slightly off-balance colleague straight into the water.
“Nice shot,” said Declan approvingly. “Even if I do wish I’d made it myself.”
“Experience is a wonderful thing,” said John. “But it’s even better when you combine it with wanting your sour-faced friend to have some fun.”
“Hey!” said Matt. “That’s my husband you’re talking about there!”
Jack strode over. “So, Ianto,” he said, clapping his partner on the shoulder, “any chance of convincing you to do that?”
Ianto visibly considered it. “Maybe,” he said. “If you and John do it first.”
“We could be down for that,” agreed Jack immediately. “Right, John?”
John started to answer, but he was distracted by a sudden blast of music which he quickly realised was coming from his phone. Ignoring the startled looks from his friends – presumably at his choice of ringtone – he pulled it out of his pocket and answered it. “Hart-Jones speaking.”
“Oh, bloody hell,” said the young-sounding woman on the other end. “I’m sorry; it was Captain Harkness I wanted.” She sighed. “My name’s Abby. I’m one of the new nurses at the Flat Holm Island facility.”
John frowned, a weird feeling making its presence known in the pit of his stomach. “Hold on,” he said. “Jack, Flat Holm.”
“Oh, thanks.” Jack took the phone and walked away from the crowd, who were now watching Garrett climb out of the dunk tank and wring out his clothes.
John watched the older man for a moment, wondering at the way his back had suddenly tensed, before he shrugged and turned back to the others. He raised an eyebrow when he saw the alarmed expression on his husband’s face. “What?”
Nick made quote marks in the air as he spoke. “I kissed a dog and I liked it?” he spluttered. “When did that become your ringtone?”
“Changed it last night just for the heck of it,” said John with a shrug.
“Huh,” said Nick. “Well, unless you want to be sleeping on the sofa for a while, you might want to change it again.”
“Hey, I’ve got two hands and next door’s got a dog,” replied John with a grin.
“That may well be true,” said Nick. “But I hear that Ianto has a brilliantly rusty knife in the Hub. Isn’t that true?”
“Very true, mate,” grinned Ianto. “In fact I think that knife’s been there since Torchwood Three was founded.”
“There,” said Nick. “And while I have a feeling it will grow back, I don’t think you really want to be taking that kind of risk, do you?”
Okay, point taken. John grimaced. “I’ll be good.”
“Good answer.” Nick smiled and high-fived Ianto. “How did you even get that as a ringtone, anyway?”
“Gwen,” said Ianto. “When John first came to work here, she decided that he needed a bit of payback for traumatising her when he first met her.” He glanced at Matt and Declan who were both looking confused. “Long story. Anyway, for a week, she played that song when he walked into the Hub to try and annoy him.”
“Unfortunately,” piped up Andie, who had come over to join them, “John liked it and downloaded it to his music collection. He then proceeded to torture us by singing it for the next three days.”
“We were that close,” Ianto held his fingers a millimetre apart, “to chucking him back into the Rift.”
“Well, let me say right now that I’m very glad you didn’t,” said Nick, once he’d finally stopped laughing.
Ianto nodded. “I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I am too. You’ve,” he bit his lip, swallowed and nodded. “Well, you’ve been really good for Nick – helped make him into the man he is today.”
John wanted to say something – whether it was pithy or cheeky, he wasn’t sure – in reply, but his attention was diverted by Jack coming over, his expression one of agitation. “Woah,” he said when he got close enough, “who died?”
Jack glared at him. “You and Ianto, come with me. We need to talk.”
“Okay, Jack,” said Ianto once the Hub door had rolled shut behind them, “what’s going on?”
“Yeah,” said John, “I’m guessing you didn’t call us in here for –”
“John, whatever you’re going to say, please keep it to yourself for now,” interrupted Jack. “This is serious.” He motioned them into the boardroom and sat down. “Alison Jones, Nick’s ex-wife, is dying.”
Next Time: A choice is reached…but who makes it and what will it be?