|Take The Day
Author: Galadriel1010 PM
In a life that doesn't allow for carefully planned dates, Jack and Ianto seize their chances where they can find them. Written as a gift for Ruth. Schmoop Bingo promptedRated: Fiction K - English - Romance - Ianto J. & Jack H. - Chapters: 5 - Words: 11,722 - Reviews: 38 - Favs: 18 - Follows: 17 - Updated: 10-12-10 - Published: 10-08-10 - id: 6383175
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's Note: And we finally reach the prompt that Ruth actually requested. This is the final story in this collection for the moment, but I will be leaving it open for more stories in the future.
Prompt: Fire in the Fireplace
It was the end of a normal weekly briefing when Jack announced it. Thus far, everything had been normal. It had started at a reasonable time after a good amount of sleep, everyone was making good progress with their personal projects, and Jack had handed out the plans for this week. They had been getting up to leave, all of them assuming that the meeting had ended, when Jack cleared his throat. Tosh and Gwen sat back down again to look at him, Owen leaned on the back of his seat and Ianto carried on collecting the mugs and plates together, but turned his head to Jack to show that he was listening. "I need to take a couple of days off," Jack announced calmly. "So I'll be gone Tuesday and Wednesday next week."
Ianto frowned at him questioningly. There were no conferences coming up, nothing major happening with Alice or Steven that Jack had told him of, and he thought that Jack would have told him before bringing it up in a staff briefing and not left it a week to go over there if anything had been the matter. Tosh and Gwen seemed to agree with him that he should have known about whatever was dragging Jack away, and were shooting confused looks between him and Jack. Owen just grunted. "Is this the point where you invite Ianto along with you and leave us without coffee for two days?"
"If he wants to come," Jack confirmed, but shrugged as though it didn't really matter either way. "I have some property investments, and the tenants are vacating one next weekend, but I can't get my usual cleaning company out to do it, so I'm going out there myself to do it and get the next family settled in."
"You have property investments?" Gwen asked. "I thought you lived at the Hub."
"I do," he confirmed, shooting Ianto a glare for his eye-roll. "Like I said, I need to be close at hand. But I have half a dozen houses in Cardiff and a couple further out that I rent out."
"You must be loaded," Owen said, impressed. "Why are you still driving that old banger?"
"I happen to like my old banger," Jack protested. "And yeah, I'm not short of cash, but I'm not telling you how much I've got, or how much I pay in child support a month," he winked and stood up, effectively derailing and ending the conversation. "Ianto, if you want a couple of days away then the invitation is open, but I really will be spending most of it on practicalities. It's a nice area, though."
Ianto smiled and collected the tray. "I'll see how we're faring when the time comes. Would anyone like more coffee?"
A week and a day later, Ianto found himself standing in the yard of a small farmhouse in the Brecon Beacons, half an hour's drive from the nearest town of any size. With its remote location, it was no wonder that Jack insisted on a fixed term contract, and that his tenants very rarely extended the contract. Jack was greeting a smiling but hassled looking young woman, and Ianto dodged puddles to join them and picked up on the end of their discussion. "It's no problem; these things happen. We'll give you a hand and get it all finished quicker, won't we, Ianto?"
He shoved his hands in his pockets and smiled at the woman. "I have no idea, Jack. What did you just volunteer me for?"
Jack sighed and the woman laughed. "Meaghan, this is my partner, Ianto. Ianto, this is Meaghan, who's moving out today. Her brother was supposed to be helping her move, but he got stuck in traffic and decided not to come, so I said we'd help her get her bits into the van."
"I am really sorry," she said sincerely. "I wanted to be ready to go as soon as you got here."
"It's fine," Ianto reassured her. "Honestly, it's not your fault, anyway. Besides, the only way to get him ready on time is to tell him we're leaving an hour before we are, or to do it all for him."
She laughed and wiped her hands off on her jeans. "You know, that sounds just like my brother. Useless twazzock that he is."
"I'm trying not to be insulted here," Jack pasted on a frown and herded them both into the kitchen. "And I don't want to sound like we're trying to get rid of you Meaghan..."
"But you are?"
"No no no, not at all," he reassured her. "But I think it's going to rain."
"I was getting that impression," she agreed. "Of course it's going to rain, it's been glorious all week and I'm trying to move out. There's really not a lot left to do. It's all packed up in boxes in the living room, but I couldn't get it out to the van on my own."
"You've got two strapping men to help you now," Jack pointed out, squeezing Ianto's waist as if proving the point. "How's this for a plan? We'll get the boxes out to the van, and you put the kettle on."
"That sounds like my sort of plan," she agreed. "I can't remember, do you take tea or coffee?"
"Coffee please. Black, one sugar."
"I thought it was." She turned to Ianto, "Ianto? Tea or coffee?"
"Coffee, thanks. One sugar and wave the milk at it," he smiled at her. "And I'll go do what Sir instructs."
"I'll be through when the coffee's done."
Jack and Ianto found that the boxes were easy for them to lift alone; Meaghan was dainty, and Jack recalled her brother being built on a similar scale, whilst they both had considerable upper-body strength from work on top of a more solid build. Every box was labelled in capital letters, with the room the box came from above a short description of the contents. Ianto was bewildered by the number of different rooms, and wondered how Meaghan had coped with its size on her own, even if the rent had been low because of its location. "Jack, does this house have a parlour?"
"Yeah, it does," Jack lifted a box labelled 'STUDIO – CAMERAS' and Ianto gained a sudden understanding of Meaghan's reasons for wanting the place. "The last few tenants have used it as an office snug. Why?"
"Oh, just getting an idea of the scale of the place," Ianto hitched his load up higher and stopped to let Meaghan into the room. "You must have rattled around this place."
She laughed and set the mugs down on the coffee table, which had been pushed to the edge of the room with the other furniture to make space for the boxes. "I had people over a lot and hosted writing and art weekends. It was fun, I'll miss it."
"You could always come back," Jack pointed out; evidently he'd been aware of the business aspects of her tenancy. Knowing Jack, he'd probably been an enthusiastic supporter. "You're a model tenant."
"Maybe in a few years," she smiled up at him. "I need the big city life for a while, but I'll come back if you're still here."
"Oh, I'll be here," Jack promised. "Just don't try to bring teenaged kids out here; they hate being so far from civilisation. I'll be right back, just let me get this out to the van."
It was spotting with rain as they crossed the yard, and they hurried back inside to get their coffees and get out of the weather. There was only one box left, so Jack opted to take it now, rather than risk getting trapped by a downpour with a cardboard box, and left Ianto with Meaghan to drink their coffees. She leaned against the back of the sofa, which was facing the wall, and turned her mug slowly in her hands. "So how long have you and Jack been together?"
"It's... sort of hard to put a date to it," he confessed. "Compounded by the fact that we took a break when he went away for a while. Over a year, though... I think."
"Really?" she looked surprised. "Sorry, I just... he told me he was single when I moved in here."
"It took us a while to realise," he explained dryly. "You look a bit young for him anyway."
She gave him a scornful look. "Says you. You've got to be five years younger than me." He inclined his head to concede the point and she shrugged. "Besides, I found this place in Diva, so we both knew what we were getting."
"That does make life easier," he laughed. "How long have you been in here?"
"Nine months, give or take a week," her shoe fell off her foot and she chased it with her toe to retrieve it. "I signed on for two quarters, then extended for another to make the most of the summer up here, but I don't want to get trapped up here over winter."
"That's understandable," Ianto nudged her shoe back towards her and looked up at Jack's entry. "Oh good, the heavens haven't opened yet."
"Not yet," Jack agreed, crossing to collect his coffee. "Were you talking about me? My ears are burning."
"We might have been," Ianto hedged.
Meaghan finished her coffee and headed for the kitchen. "Right. I've just got a few bits to pack away and a bit of cleaning to do, and then I can be out of your way."
"Don't worry about the clean up," Jack reassured her. "You've got a long drive, and I've brought my glamorous assistant to help me." Ianto curtseyed dramatically. "Moron. Seriously, Meaghan, you want to get off before this rain descends."
"Are you sure?" she paused in the doorway. "I don't want to leave it..."
"Positive," Jack insisted.
She hesitated a bit longer, apparently torn, but a well-timed gust of wind made her mind up for her, and she set the mug down. "Thank you, Jack." She held out her hand and blushed when he raised it to his lips and kissed it. "You're definitely one of my favourite landlords ever, and I'll come back if I can and if you'll have me."
"It was a pleasure having you, Meaghan. Let me know if you want to have it for that novel thing next November and... whenever the other one is," he patted her hand. "You have my number, call me to let me know you've arrived at your new place safely."
"Yes Mum," she laughed, then turned and held out her hand to Ianto, who also kissed it. "And nice to meet you too, Ianto. I'll see you next time I'm renting off him."
"I hope so," he smiled warmly and she picked her handbag of off the floor and the van keys off the coffee table. "Drive safely."
"I fully intend to," she assured him. "Thank you again, Jack!"
They waved her off from the doorway, and then Ianto wrapped one arm around Jack's waist. "So... you have a mysterious farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, lesbian tenants who write books, take photos and run writing holidays from said farmhouse..."
"Just the one lesbian tenant," Jack corrected him. "The last ones were gay and lovely, but split up halfway through. It was very sad."
"Did they stay here?" Ianto asked, steering Jack back into the house.
"Oh yeah. I think they're still living together... or at least they rented their next flat together." He paused thoughtfully and frowned at the door. "You have to be a bit odd to want to rent this place, I think. And I left dinner in the car."
"Well go and get it before it starts raining, and I'll start putting the living room back together," Ianto instructed. "And when that's done, you can give me a tour of the house whilst dinner's cooking."
He'd got the armchairs back into their places and the coffee table out of the way to be able to move the sofa by the time Jack got back, and they moved the sofa into position between them. Ianto flopped on the sofa and patted his lap. "Sit."
Jack shook his head fondly and lay down on the sofa with his head in Ianto's lap, where Ianto could play with his hair. "You have a burning question, I can tell."
"I have," he confirmed. "You rent it fully furnished?"
"Well, yeah. It's not like you can get a removal van up here, is it?" Jack pointed out. "Besides, it varies between being a residential let and a holiday let, and it's short term. It just makes life easier for everyone."
"Makes sense to me," Ianto agreed. "The furniture matches the house as well."
"Yeah, it does. Most of it's original, but I've had stuff made to replace things when it's been required. Did you notice that the kitchen table is too big?"
"To get through the door? Yeah I had noticed," Ianto smiled at the thought. "One of those old style kitchen tables, built in situ."
"Must have been," Jack agreed.
"How long have you had this place?" Ianto asked. "I mean, it's fairly old..."
"I inherited it from my wife. I was going to take a few years out from Torchwood to spend with her, and then go back to them and be killed in action," he sighed. "But then the Great War came along and I was called up, volunteered by Torchwood. And I lost them not long after it."
"I'm sorry," Ianto rubbed his fingertips against Jack's scalp. "It must remind you of them."
"It does," he agreed sadly. "They should have been safe out here, and would have been if it had hit during the winter. We got snowed in up here a few ties; it got me out of going back to the front once. I was able to spend Christmas with them, and then couldn't get back out. But the 'flu hit during the summer, when Sarah was going down into town every day. I even bought her a car so that she could get there more easily.
"I couldn't sell it though, not when it was all I had left," he sighed and curled his hand around Ianto's knee, anchoring them both. "I rented it out as a farm as long as it was viable, then sold off the land to the next farm and started renting it out as a holiday let and for longer periods when I could get the tenants. It's always holiday lets over winter; when the snow descends, you get completely cut off."
Ianto nodded. "Have you got anyone in this winter?"
"A few," Jack sighed. "There's a small school group using it for a field trip later this month, and a family coming from America for a fortnight starting on Wednesday. Depending on when they arrive, we might have to stay in Hay overnight."
"What a terrible hardship," Ianto commented dryly. "So we have a day to ourselves up here?"
"We do." Jack smiled into Ianto's thigh and grunted when he was pushed off so that Ianto could get up. "Where are you going?"
"Does the fire light?" he asked in answer. "Or will we get smoked out?"
"It should be fine," Jack confirmed. "It's one of the things I was going to check, but Meaghan said that she'd been using it."
"Well then," Ianto crouched in front of the fire and looked over his shoulder. "You go and get dinner ready, and I'll get the fire going and make up one of the beds. Do you have a preference..."
"The room cattycorner to the stairs." Jack got up from the sofa and bent to kiss Ianto's forehead, then headed to the kitchen. "There should be linen in the blanket box at the end of the bed, or under the window. If there isn't, then it'll be in the linen cupboard next to the door at the top of the stairs."
"I'm sure I'll find it," Ianto smiled wanly. "How long have I got?"
"Fifteen minutes or so."
"Alright," Ianto pulled a lighter out of his pocket and picked up a twist of newspaper. "Then I shall cheat with lighting the fire."
Jack left the room, laughing, and Ianto quickly got a fire burning and put the fire guard over it. The stairs led off the living room behind him, next to a closed door, and creaked under his feet as he ascended. There were five doors leading off this landing, one of which was open to reveal another narrow set of stairs and another showed a modernised bathroom. He left his explorations for the moment and opened the door Jack had chosen and found a good sized room with a double bed, two bedside tables, a chest of drawers and wardrobe and double pedestal dressing table. The room was painted in a soft yellow, with baby blue curtains and wainscotting. The linen box that Jack had told him about was under the window, and the bed linen was in there. It was yellow and blue, to match the room, and Ianto made the bed up quickly.
When he got back down to the living room, Jack was setting bowls out on the coffee table with a bottle of wine and two glasses, and looked up at him with a smile. "Like what you see?"
"It's a lovely house," Ianto agreed. "Fairly big, though."
"Yeah, it is. Apart from the stairs."
Ianto laughed. "Yeah, I had noticed that. How do you get anything up and down?"
"With great difficulty. Come on, pull up a patch of rug," Jack gestured to the ragwork rug and sat down himself. "One of my former tenants made this. Silvia, I think..."
"It matches the living room," Ianto commented. "It's nice, I like it."
"You hate it, don't you?" Jack laughed. "It's recycling, from before recycling became cool."
Ianto sat down next to him and accepted a bowl of stew and a spoon. "You get a lot of creative types up here, then?"
"Well, who else would want somewhere this remote?" Jack pointed out. "It's got a barn as well, and a few outbuildings, so I let the tenants rent them out to hikers if they want to. Meaghan made a pretty good living from it this summer, and it means that they can afford to stay here."
"You should see if they want to sell their stuff in the TI office," Ianto suggested. "And we really need to get someone in to run it full time."
"Yeah, we do," Jack conceded. Then he poked Ianto with his spoon. "No more work talk, we're on holiday. How's the stew?"
"It's very nice," he dug in. The stew and the fire were warm, and Ianto was cold, so it seemed logical. "I like it out here."
"Yeah," Jack sighed. "I wish I could use it more often."
"I'm having thinky thoughts," Ianto told him. "But they'll wait."
"How very intriguing," Jack laughed. "Eat up, before it goes cold."
They finished the meal in silence and set the bowls aside to curl up together with a glass of wine each. Ianto leaned into Jack's side, resting his head against Jack's shoulder and sighing contentedly. "You know," he started and licked his lips. "I've always wanted to make love by firelight."
Jack chuckled and turned his head so that he could kiss Ianto on the lips. He tasted of wine, and Ianto chased his lips for more, but he pulled away and pushed Ianto off him gently. "I'll go and turn the lights off, then," he offered.
With the lights out, the fire cast dancing shadows across the room, and Ianto watched Jack return to him slowly, stripping as he came. The fire bathed his skin in gold and made him glow with it, and the shifting shadows made him look like an enchanter. Ianto tugged his own clothes off and tossed them in a pile behind the armchair, away from the fire, then leaned back on the rug as Jack reached him. They stretched out next to each other and took their time touching and tasting, chasing hollows hidden by shadow and planes lit by fire, mouths and hands scorching a trail as they went.
They stayed up to watch the fire burn out, wrapped around each other contentedly. Ianto rubbed soothing circles on Jack's stomach and rested his head against his chest to hear the reassuring thump of his heart. "There are definitely advantages to having houses in the middle of nowhere," he commented drowsily.
"Like the fact that we can forget to close the curtains and not get arrested?" Jack asked.
"Well... yeah, that too," Ianto agreed, chuckling because he was too tired to laugh. "But more like... if anything happens in Cardiff, what's the point in calling us?"
Jack was silent for a while, then stroked his hand down Ianto's flank and kissed the top of his head. "I think a lie in is in order in the morning. Fire's out," he pointed out. "Bed time."
They stumbled up stairs without even collecting their clothes and fell into bed, sated and at peace.