A/N: This follows after Chaos Personified and Playing With Fire. You can read this stand-alone but it won't make much sense without the other two. Enjoy!
It had been a few weeks since he'd come by Ianto's flat, but the rest of the team was occupied with the three people from the past and right now he wasn't. On a more justifiable note he had a present for Ianto. Tomorrow was Christmas eve.
He knocked on the door and after a moment it opened to show Ianto in dirty jeans and an equally dirty tank top, barefoot, and with dust in his hair.
"Sir! I'm sorry, I was just…"
"Busy?" Jack asked, smiling at Ianto's uncommon flustered-ness.
Jack followed Ianto inside as he disappeared and shut the door behind him against the bite of winter air. It wasn't much warmer inside, but Ianto seemed not to notice. Jack went ahead and left the box on Ianto's doorstep outside, planning on getting it when Ianto slowed down enough to open it. He trusted that the threat of a haunted house would keep most local, petty thieves away.
"So what have you been doing?" He asks, but gets his answer when they step out of the little hallway.
Where there was once solid black walls windows had appeared , above their heads where the second story should be, and the pile of splintered, black painted boards in one corner revealed their origin. It was obvious which panes of glass Ianto had gotten to clean and which he had yet to do; one was opaque and one wasn't.
Ianto reappeared silently and almost grinned.
"It's quite a change, isn't it? I'm going to leave the ones on the lower floor boarded up, keep a bit of privacy, not like it matters with the garden so overgrown but I'll deal with that in the spring."
"You enjoy this, don't you?" He caught Ianto's arm before he could become completely busy again.
"To be honest I just like having something to do in my life that has nothing to do with Torchwood. It's been years."
The quiet sigh says more than the words, and even though Ianto's relaxing by doing this he's still tense, tension showing in his shoulders.
His very pretty, pale, smooth shoulders and Jack can fell his pervy bastard self grin somewhere in his head. He could think of a few ways to make Ianto relax.
"What are you doing now?"
"I found where the shower had been boarded up…" At Jack's look Ianto paused, "I've been using the one in the hub and will continue to do so until this one doesn't feel like the water's going to poison me. It took about five minutes just for it to run clear."
Jack grinned. Ianto's personal OCD war-against-all-things-filthy-and-disgusting was hilarious in the almost offence he took to it being under his roof.
"I'm bored. Mind if I help out?"
This time Ianto did grin.
"Don't blame me if you regret offering."
As disgusting, impersonal, and cold as the hub showers could be Jack didn't blame Ianto for preferring that to this. He'd long ago lost track of the multitudes of tiny insects he'd squished (and how could so much goo fit into the tiny bodies?) and they hardly seemed to be making a dent in the grime though it felt like it'd been hours. He was very glad he'd left his jacket draped over the back of Ianto's couch.
They didn't talk much, wasn't much to talk about, but the silence was comfortable, different from the silence you have when you're alone.
They'd gone through countless of those little disinfecting wipes Ianto used so much at the hub and the bleach smell was reaching unbearable. Jack paused and glanced at Ianto. He was crouched in the tub, barefoot, scrubbing at the stains on the bottom of it. They'd already scraped the worst grime down the drain and followed it with about half a bottle of Draino. The Draino was probably stuck half-way down.
The décor had actually changed in here. The solid black was broken by white countertop and tub, even if they were currently tinged brownish-grey and shiny flat black tiles had replaced shiny black flat paint, but the floor was still filthy, painted cement that they'd already swept twice. Jack finally dropped the wipe on the spot of counter he'd been trying to clean. Who in their right mind boarded up a bathroom with an open vent in it and left it there?!
"Ianto? Let's take a break."
Jack reached out a hand to tug Ianto up from his crouch. No, no should have left him there. Jeans were slipping down a bit…
"I'm assuming you know I'll ignore the double meaning in that."
"Will you believe me if I say for once it was unintentional?"
Ianto shrugged. "Not really."
Suddenly Jack remembered the box he'd left out on the porch. "Wait a minute, ok? I'll be right back."
Ianto nodded, rubbing absently at his fingers.
Jack followed the new light bulbs to the door and opened it to find the box still sitting on the front porch just where he'd left it, undisturbed. He carried it back inside and set it on Ianto's lap, where he'd happily collapsed on the couch. Ianto stared at it and his grin blankly and Jack suddenly realized that a recycled cardboard box probably wasn't the best way to give a Christmas present. Should have stuck a bow on it or something.
A bemused eyebrow was quirked at him and Ianto tugged the box open.
Inside were dishes; plastic, but the good kind, colored dark red with metal ended utensils, enough of each to serve about four people, all he needed. On top rested a gift card to a nearby clothing store, one that sold nice basics, nothing fancy. Exactly what he liked.
He looked up and saw Jack grinning at him, but his eyes were nervous.
"When we unpacked your stuff I couldn't help but notice some serious gaps. I don't want you to take this the wrong way but I figured you'd like it better if I got you something you could actually use rather than… whatever you normally get people like you for Christmas presents. Oh, and Merry Christmas by the way."
"Happy Christmas," Ianto corrected absently, glancing at the amount on the gift card and grinning when enough was the only thing scrawled in the space. "And you can stop justifying yourself. I like it and I'm not easy to offend."
Jack comically let out a breath. "Good. I don't usually do Christmas so…"
Ianto nodded, not needing him to finish the sentence. He knew what he was trying to say. He set the box down beside him and stood to look in Jack's eyes.
"You don't have to be doing this."
"I do. But that's not why I'm doing it. Never was much of one for doing things I had to do."
Jack reached out, cupping the sharp line of Ianto's jaw with one bleach- scented hand, then leaned to kiss him softly, the barest brush of warm lips that ended in lingering heat. Ianto didn't know when his eyes had slid shut but they opened in time to watch Jacks flutter open as well and he was drowning in the bright, warm blue.
Jack smiled and dropped his hand back to his side.
They stood a moment in silence, standing together in the black and drowning in the blue.
"Should we get back to it then?" Ianto asked, tearing his eyes away and rubbing his fingers on his jeans.
"Sure." Jack's grin was confident, something almost lazy about it, and he turned to walk back to the filthy room.
"I…I've got some food in the kitchen. We could try out the dishes later…if you want."
Jack stopped and turned back to smile at him again. "I'd like that."