Pairings: Jack/Ianto, Gwen/Rhys
Word Count: 2215
Summary: Ianto's used to waking up in odd situations, but this is one he really wasn't expecting...
Prompt: Jantolution Challenge #20, Spock, Cooking, Team Bonding
The Evening After
Ianto opened his eyes, and relaxed when he recognised his own bedroom. That was always a good start to the day – it meant he wasn’t dying, compromised, caught up in an ongoing investigation, or otherwise unable to get away from the Hub for the night. Life could be worse.
Although a few things just weren’t quite right. He could feel his shirt buttons digging into his chest where he had one arm tucked under his body, which meant he was still more or less dressed. Every muscle in his body ached. And he couldn’t remember getting home.
He sat up and rubbed sleep from his eyes, blinking at his belt, watch, gun and tie neatly placed on the bedside cabinet. According to the watch it was past seven in the evening. He had the duvet covering him, but he was lying on top of the sheets. At a rustle behind him, he twisted round, saying, “Jack? What’s –”
Seeing Tosh cocooned in the duvet beside him, he stopped. She didn’t stir.
Cautiously, Ianto lifted the duvet and looked down at his trouser-clad legs. Reassured, he slid out of bed, tucking the covers back around Tosh, and then quietly slipped out of the bedroom.
There was a soft murmur of voices elsewhere in the flat, along with the hum of the extractor fan and the occasional clatter of dishes. He stopped to sniff the air, assailed by the scent of food. His stomach clenched, and he winced, then slowly made his way to the kitchen.
Rhys was busy chopping something on one of the worktops, while Jack slowly stirred one of the saucepans on the hobs. Owen was looking through some of the cupboards.
“Jack,” Owen started, “where’s –”
“Cups are in here,” Jack told him, switching hands and reaching up to open the top cupboard beside him.
Owen moved over and started getting mugs down, as Rhys turned and scraped the finely sliced... whatever it was into the nearest pot. He caught Ianto’s eye, and inclined his head.
Jack looked round hurriedly, then said, “Owen, stir,” and handed over the wooden spoon. He moved over to Ianto, reaching out to grip his shoulder with one hand and cradle his cheek with the other, asking, “How do you feel?”
“Like I spent all day yesterday on the rack,” Ianto said, flicking a glance at Rhys and Owen and pulling ever-so-slightly away from Jack’s hand. “And for all I can remember, I might have done. What happened? And come to that, why is everyone in my flat?”
“Keep your voice down,” Owen told him, gesturing towards the living room. “Gwen’s still asleep.”
Ianto stared at him for a second, and Jack urged him out of the kitchen, saying, “Come on, let’s sit down and I’ll explain.”
“Let me get something to eat first,” Ianto protested, grabbing a pack of Digestives from the side. “I’m starving.”
“Why do you think we’re cooking all that lot?” Jack asked. He waved Ianto to the armchair, and went back to the kitchen to fetch him a glass of water.
Ianto settled himself gingerly in the chair, looking around. There were five plates out on his dining table, and a couple of empty mugs on the coffee table in front of the sofa, where Gwen was sound asleep with a blanket wrapped around her.
“The three of you crashed as soon as they let you go,” Jack told him softly, handing him a glass and perching on the arm of the chair. “Your place was closest, so we brought you here to sleep it off and called Rhys in to help feed you when you woke up.”
“Not that any of you need to put any more weight on,” Owen muttered, setting out cutlery on the dining table. “And your lift’s broken.”
“Ignore him,” Jack said casually.
“Always do,” retorted Ianto, making inroads on the biscuits. “Now explain that again, and try making sense this time. Who let us go?”
“Do you remember heading out to the Rift spike on Friday morning?” asked Jack, and Ianto paused mid-bite, eyebrows raised.
“Friday?” he mumbled around a mouthful of Digestive. “It’s not Friday now?”
“It’s Sunday,” Jack told him. “You’ve lost forty-eight hours to the aliens and a few more sleeping.”
Ianto sighed, and finished his glass of water. Jack went to fetch him a refill.
He looked over at Gwen as she rubbed at her eyes and struggled to sit up, asking sleepily, “What’s going on?”
“Jack’s just explaining to me,” Ianto told her. “Or not really explaining anything at all, in that special way of his.”
Gwen giggled through a yawn, and stretched. “So where am I?” she asked.
“Welcome to Chez Ianto,” Jack said, putting another glass of water on the coffee table in front of her and handing Ianto his, with a kiss to the top of his head. “Dinner will be served shortly.” He glanced back at the kitchen, and called, “Rhys, she’s awake.”
“Rhys is here?” Gwen asked, scrambling to kneel on the sofa and turn round. She smiled broadly as Rhys came to give her a tight hug and a kiss.
Jack stroked Ianto’s hair for a moment, then got to his feet as the bedroom door opened and Tosh peered out, looking confused. Jack went to take her arm, and led her to the sofa.
“Rhys, mate, how do I tell if this is burning?” Owen called from the kitchen, and Rhys gave Gwen one last kiss and dashed back to save the food.
“Is anyone else ravenous?” Gwen asked, sipping at her glass of water.
Beside her, Tosh nodded, accepting a glass from Jack, and Ianto nudged the remaining biscuits their way.
“Right,” Jack said, settling back on the arm of Ianto’s chair, with one arm comfortably stretched out across the back. “So, Friday morning, we all went to check out that Rift spike. You remember that, right?”
He waited until they all nodded before carrying on.
“To put it simply, we all got possessed. Apart from Owen, for obvious reasons. He managed to get one alien – it said they were called Kifrith, but from the way it kept sniggering I think that’s probably a swearword in their own language. Anyway, Owen got mine out of me.”
“How?” asked Gwen.
Jack gave Owen a pointed look as he finished laying the table and headed back to the kitchen.
“He shot me.”
“Worked, didn’t it?” Owen said in passing, and Jack rolled his eyes.
“As I was saying. We caught that one and interrogated it. By that point the three of you had disappeared. We tracked your mobiles to chase you down but you kept moving. With just the two of us the best we could do was keep an eye on you and try to steer you away from trouble. When we tried to trap you you just... slipped away. We knew they’d let you go after forty-eight hours, so we tried to keep up with you and be ready to step in when they left.”
“What did they want with us?” Gwen asked.
“Where are they now?” added Tosh.
“They’re gone,” Jack promised them. “And they never intended to hurt anyone, don’t worry. They were just... I guess joyriders would be the best description.”
They all stared at him. He shrugged.
“You’ve been doing cartwheels through Cardiff for the last two days.”
Ianto winced and flexed his arms, shaking his head. “That explains why I feel like this,” he admitted, with Gwen and Tosh nodding agreement, “but that’s just stupid. Why would aliens want to do that? It’s not... it’s not logical.”
“You sound like Spock,” Owen told him, bringing a plate of sliced bread through and setting it on the dining table. “Take a day off, won’t you?”
“They were teenagers as far as their race goes,” Jack explained. “In any case, they tested out what the human body can do, but they didn’t bother to stop for food or drink, so we’ve cooked up plenty for you now.”
“Thank God for that,” Gwen said, with heartfelt agreement from Tosh and Ianto.
“Ianto,” Rhys called, “have you got a ladle?”
“Drawer to the left of the oven,” Jack called back, helping Gwen and Tosh get seated.
Owen put two bowls of soup in front of Gwen and Tosh and went back for more, while Jack settled Ianto against the wall and sat beside him, leaving the head of the table free for Rhys, beside Gwen. Owen cast a mournful glance at the table as they sat and started eating, but he flopped onto the sofa and made no comment.
To start with the majority of the conversation fell between Jack, Rhys and Owen, until the other three had polished off the soup, the lasagne, and the chicken and rice, and had slowed down midway through a full roast dinner. Rhys was looking immensely proud of their reaction to the mismatched dinner.
“Can we employ him full time?” Tosh asked Jack, who’d settled back after the lasagne and left them to it. “There’s only so many pizzas you can eat in a week.”
“It’s bad enough having to reheat dinner for one person,” Rhys said, with a teasing smile for Gwen that took the sting out of it. “Never mind four of you.”
“The kitchen in the Hub isn’t as well stocked,” Ianto added, vaguely pleased that most of the crockery and pots and pans used were his own, though Rhys had clearly brought a couple of things with him.
“You know your way around this place well enough, anyway,” Rhys said to Jack, gathering up the plates.
“He makes breakfast sometimes,” Ianto said, yawning, “if we have time.”
Jack smiled at him, and he shrugged, saying, “Well, you do.”
“Right, well, I’ll clear up,” Rhys said quickly. “Owen, give us a hand?”
“They’re getting on well,” Tosh observed, as the two of them carried stacks of dishes into the kitchen and Rhys started running water.
“They discovered a mutual love of Top Gear,” Jack told them, resting his hand on Ianto’s leg. “That and they were both too worried about you all to waste time fighting.”
“Somebody put Dave on, then,” Ianto suggested, propping his chin in his hands, elbows on the table. “There’s bound to be a repeat on. That’ll keep them happy, and in the meantime I think I’m going to go back to sleep.”
Tosh took her glass of water and retreated to the armchair, locating the TV remote and settling in.
“I’ll help with the dishes,” Gwen said, looking unfairly bright and alert. She cleared the rest of the table and went through, with Jack calling, “Towels are in the furthest drawer on the right.”
Ianto closed his eyes, and felt Jack shuffle his chair closer until he could slide an arm around Ianto’s shoulders. There was a peal of laughter from the kitchen, then Gwen called, “Tosh, do you want to give me a hand drying?”
Ianto cracked one eye open to watch Tosh stretch and go through. After a few moments there was more laughter, and a constant flurry of conversation over the clack of dishes and cutlery.
“You’ve been waiting for this, haven’t you?” he asked Jack quietly.
“No idea what you mean,” Jack said casually, and Ianto resettled himself to lean against him.
Jack kissed the top of his head again. “I just saw an opportunity and took it, that’s all.”
Ianto nodded and said nothing, listening until the work in the kitchen was all done and everyone trooped back through to settle in front of the television. For the better part of an hour they sat and relaxed, talking of nothing in particular. It was a luxury Ianto couldn’t remember indulging in for months.
Tosh fell asleep before long, and Owen offered to take her home.
“Her shoes are in the bedroom,” Jack told him, making no move to get up and help him. “Just don’t look in the bedside cabinet.”
Ianto elbowed him in the side even as Owen held up both hands, saying, “Trust me, I don’t want to know.”
“We should get going as well,” Rhys said, nudging Gwen to sit up straighter on the sofa.
“Thanks for your help,” Jack told him sincerely.
Rhys went to collect his bag of pots and plates, and took Gwen’s hand when she had her shoes on. “You need the best food in Cardiff, you know who to call. Nice to be appreciated.”
Gwen pulled him into a kiss and murmured, “You’re wonderful.”
Jack grinned at him as he beamed and said his farewells, then left with his arm around Gwen. Owen returned with Toshiko’s shoes, woke her up, and helped her out, leaving Jack and Ianto alone in the flat.
“Well,” Jack said after a moment. “That was fun.”
“Team bonding’s meant to be,” Ianto muttered, fighting a yawn.
“That could be fun too,” Jack said, and Ianto could hear him grinning.
“Bonding,” he repeated firmly. “I said bonding.”
Jack just laughed and pulled him to his feet and into a kiss.
“You should teach me the difference,” he suggested.
Rolling his eyes, Ianto turned off the TV and followed him through to the bedroom. Some things never changed.