Day 3

Title: Day 3
Author: tarotgal
Fandom: Torchwood
Rating: PG
Pairing: Jack/Ianto
Disclaimer: Not my characters! I make no money from this.
Summary: Ianto dreams of the perfect first date.
Notes: Written during my 12 Ficlets in 12 Days in 2012 project for jelloicious

Though there was little room in Ianto’s tight schedule, he still managed to fit in a trip to the bathroom to locate a thermometer. He stood in the hub’s kitchen, filling up the teapot, with the thermometer sticking out of the corner of his mouth at a weird angle from where it was placed under his tongue.

“G’night, Ianto!”

In a flash and a smooth gesture, Ianto’s hand swiped beneath his nose to buy himself some time and to pull the thermometer from his mouth. When he raised his head and looked up at Gwen, he wore a natural smile. “Good night. See you in the morning.”

She nodded back. “Enjoy having this place to yourself.”

He was embarrassed, yes, but really quite pleased. Gwen probably knew—they all probably knew—and it made him feel like a teenage girl. He was giddy the way he remembered his sister being before she went out on her first date with a boy. In a way, this was his first date with a boy, too. They’d kissed. Hell, they’d fucked. But they’d never gone out. And this was Captain Jack Harkness, beautiful, important, commanding Captain Jack Harkness wanting to go out with him in public. This made it real.

Gwen left through the tourism office, door rolling into place behind her. And when Ianto looked down, he realized he had finished preparing the tea. He sipped it, closing his eyes, relaxing as it coated the back of his throat with soothing warmth instead of the post-nasal drip he’d been living with all afternoon. For a few minutes, the itches and tickles were gone. For a blessed few minutes, he wasn’t sick any more.

And then he put the empty cup down and took a hanky from his pocket. “ihhphshhh! Ihpschhhh!” The only positive thing about his sneezes was that neither Jack nor Gwen had seen them. He’d made it through the whole day, carefully avoiding Owen’s penetrating looks and Tosh’s kind glances. If any of them suspected, they hadn’t said anything.

*

Ianto was a traditional sort of guy. Well, as traditional as you could be when you worked for Torchwood. Tea always had to be served at four p.m. Neckties had to be tied with a Windsor knot. And first dates consisted of dinner and a movie.

“Ready to go?” Jack asked, emerging from his office wearing… well, it wasn’t a tux, but it also wasn’t his normal dress shirt and suspenders. It was a classy black suit, tailored for him, without a wrinkle or loose thread to it. A solid azure tie that brought out his eyes. Welsh dragon cufflinks. Damn, but Jack looked good.

For a moment, Ianto thought about ditching his entire plan and staying in just to fuck. The plan was silly, unnecessary. They’d been through too much together to do this now.
“Reservations are at six, right?”

Ianto smiled, loving how willing Jack was to go along with this idea. Jack from five months ago would never have agreed to go along with this. He’d returned from his adventures with the doctor a different man, though same in all the other ways. “That’s right.” His voice caught just a little, rough and scratchy. He silently cleared it as he grabbed his jacket and headed out.

Dinner was filled with nothing but the best. The fish was soft, exquisite. The steamed vegetables were sweet, juicy. The wine fruity and strong. Ianto couldn’t taste any of it. His nose was stuffed and the cherry cough drops numbed the inside of his mouth. His head felt heavy and it pounded every time he moved or swallowed or breathed. It was a chore to keep up with the conversation or even just to nod along. He hopped up for trips to the bathroom a half dozen times, snuffling and sneezing into a handkerchief with his back to the door then splashing water on his face and avoiding looking at himself in the mirror.

When dinner was over, Ianto was overjoyed. He knew he was supposed to be enjoying the date, but all he wanted was to be in a dark movie theater where he could rub his nose and Jack wouldn’t see. It was so ticklish.

“Ianto?”

Ianto looked up from his plate, not realizing Jack had said something.

“Ianto, are you all right?”

“Fine.” He brought his napkin up and wiped his mouth, wishing he could wipe his nose.

Jack’s eyebrows rose as he looked down at Ianto’s plate and the barely-nibbled-at meal.

“Can we just pay and go?”

Jack looked hurt for a moment. “If you like.” He set his napkin down on the table and took out his credit card.

“Bathroom. Excuse me.” Ianto fled, managing to make it inside just before letting loose. “ehhh-Hitphshhhh! Ehptshhhh! Heh... huh-Ihshhhhhh!” He blew his nose. And sneezed again. “IH-Ktchhh!

“Ianto?” Jack’s voice through the door made him jump. The knocking made him shiver. He closed his eyes, just wishing he could go home. But if he did, Jack would probably never again agree to anything remotely resembling a date.

“I’b fide. I’ll be out id a bidute!” Ianto replied, his nose so stuffed his words were unconvincing. And he’d forgotten to lock the door to the bathroom.

Jack slipped in before Ianto could stop him, not that he would have done anything to stop him. “Are you sick?” Jack asked, getting right down to it. “You keep going to the bathroom. Is there something wrong with your bladder?”

Laughing and shaking his head, Ianto looked down, hoping his handkerchief wasn’t sticking out of his pocket; it wasn’t. The movie tickets were in another pocket. They were already purchased and lingering here in the bathroom for any reason wasn’t in Ianto’s perfect plan for the evening. “Let’s just go to the movies. I’ll be fine.”

“The more you say that, the less I believe you. C’mere.” He pulled Ianto close, hands sliding around his sides. One stopped on his right pocket, fingering the bulge of the hanky. The other hand stopped on his left pocket, fingers tracing the outline of the thermometer there. “What’s this…” His hand dove in, extracting the instrument Ianto hadn’t even remembered putting there.

Thinking quickly, “So you found out my secret. I… use that to get the tea the perfect temperature.”

Jack pressed himself right up against Ianto, not buying it for a second. “That’s not your secret.” He stroked Ianto’s forehead with his thumb. “What’s your temperature?”

An entire minute of silence followed. “I didn’t get a change to find out.” The last word was barely spoken before Jack slid the thermometer into Ianto’s mouth. As Ianto stood there, unable to speak, Jack caressed his cheek, face. Jack kissed his forehead and one of Ianto’s eyelids.

When he slid the thermometer out of Ianto’s mouth, he read it and smiled instead of frowned. “You wanted dinner and a movie,” he murmured, a hand rubbing up and down Ianto’s back. “How about soup and a DVD back at the hub?”

Ianto hesitated. That was tempting, but it wasn’t a real date.

“And as soon as you’re over this bug, we can try this again and go wherever you like.”

Sometimes it was impossible not to believe Captain Jack Harkness. Ianto found himself nodding against the man’s chest as he was held in a tight, reassuring hug. And when he sneezed into Jack’s handsome suit, Jack just hugged him tighter.

*

Ianto carefully selected his clothes. He had picked out the perfect thing last time they were to have their first date, but this time it would be their second first date and he had to find something else equally perfect but not identical. He coughed lightly into a fist as he pulled several ties from the rack hanging on the door of his closet. His cold was just about gone, and he had spent the last four days hinting to Jack that he was ready to try the date again.

Jack had resisted for a while, wanting to be sure Ianto had recovered from his cold. It hadn’t been a terrible cold, but there had been a day during it when all he’d been able to do was lie in bed, sneeze, drink tea, and sneeze some more. And Jack hadn’t left his side, except to get more cough drops or tissues for him. Every time Ianto started feeling worse, started feeling sorry for himself, Jack would crawl into bed and hold him under the covers and somehow make everything better just by being there.

And so Ianto wanted this night to be perfect. So he could thank Jack properly. So he could make up for the last pitiful, pathetic one. So he could show Jack he was worth dating, not just fucking in secret whenever the mood struck them, and there had been a fair bit of that even when Ianto was sick with cold. It was physically impossible to be in bed with Jack, with Jack’s hand snaking down your body repeatedly, and not think of sex.

He selected his most expensive pinstripe suit, a light blue shirt, and a pale green tie that matched it perfectly. He tucked a handkerchief into his breast pocket for show, glad that he didn’t need one for his sneezes now. And he made sure his shoes were well-shined before heading out of his apartment for the hub.

Everyone else was gone already when he arrived. “Jack!” he called, brushing snow off his coat and wondering if he shouldn’t get the hub a doormat. “Jack, I’m here!”

There was no answer, but Ianto could hear the shower running as he got close to Jack’s office. The idea of jumping into the shower with Jack was a temping one, but Ianto was ready to go, and a bit hungry as well, and the cologne he had on probably wouldn’t make it through a shower as hot as the kind Jack liked. Smiling as he realized he knew how Jack liked his showers, he headed into Jack’s bathroom.

Ianto was just about to call out to him a third time when he caught sight of Jack in the shower stall, through the opaque doors. Jack was hunched over, head bent toward the floor, one hand pressed flat against the wall, the other pinching his nose. “Hatchhh! Ahtttchuhh! Hahh-Ktchuhh!” His sniffles afterward sounded distinct and somehow wetter than the shower itself. Ianto stepped forward pressed his hand against the warm glass, looking on in sympathy at the man who had caught his cold. He watched Jack rub his nose and let the water stream down upon his face. He cleared his throat and shook his head.

Feeling like an intruder, Ianto backed out and did the only other thing he could think of: he made a pot of tea. He selected a blend he knew Jack particularly liked and sliced a fresh lemon. And he had it ready when Jack got out of the shower.

Jack looked just as good this time around—maybe even better. He really should dress up more often. “Ready to go out, Ianto?” He sounded good as well; much better than he had in the shower, that was for certain.

“I am,” he confirmed, turning. In his hand he held two teacups. One he kept for himself, the other he handed to Jack. The thermometer was sticking out of it conspicuously. “But I think you’d better stay in for the night.” He smiled a bit sheepishly, avoiding Jack’s eyes. “What do you think about skipping the dinner and the movie part and heading straight for the part where I invite you back to mine?”

Jack didn’t even take a moment to consider. He set his tea down and burrowed into Ianto’s embrace.

*

Jack lay in Ianto’s arms, apparently preferring the man to the pillow. He pinched his nose as they waited for the thermometer under his tongue to finish its reading. Ianto kept time with his pocket watch and swapped it for a tissue when time was up. Jack’s temperature wasn’t bad at all, but it wasn’t down to normal yet.

ihNghshhhh! Ihptshhh! Uh… ‘scuse be.” Jack really didn’t need to apologize. Jack’s sneezes were positively cute. And the way he rubbed his nose and snuggled closer to Ianto after every single sneeze couldn’t have made Ianto happier.

“It’s all right,” Ianto kissed the top of his head and stroked his cheek. It was more than all right. It was kind of sexy, actually. Who’d have thought?

“But I dever get sick.”

“Never. Hmm. Must be my humanity rubbing off on you. What’s next? Sleeping?”

Jack chuckled. “Dot that bad yet. But I ab habby restig here with you as log as you let be.”

“Lucky for me, my boss doesn’t mind if I take a few personal days.”

“Is this really what you’d wadt to do with your tibe off? I… I… have to sdeeze… ih-Hiptschh! Inghshhh! Heptschh!

Ianto handed him a fresh tissue, practically wiping Jack’s nose for him before handing it over. “Nowhere I’d rather be.” He’d spent so much time wanting to be out in public with Jack, but now all he wanted was to keep the man to himself.

Jack didn’t sleep, but Ianto found himself just about ready to drift off when the ringing of a phone made him wake right up. It wasn’t either of his phones; it was Jack’s mobile. Jack reached for it, but Ianto wrapped an arm around him and held him in place. “Relax. I’ll get it.”

It was Gwen, of course it was Gwen. Some alien intruder had hit and the hub was on lockdown, alarm sounding in the background, almost obscuring her words. Knowing he wouldn’t be able to protect Jack from this, not even with more tea and another warm blanket, Ianto handed the phone over and slid out of bed to find Jack something to wear.