Notes: The full oneshot for #45 from 'Snapshots of Smiles'. Requested by toobeauty, LostAngel2 and JohnKB.
Disclaimer: I do not own Torchwood and I am not making any profit from this work.
Ianto, quite frankly, felt like crap.
He had slept through his alarm - which he hadn't done since he was about twenty-one and he'd been suffering from a very nasty lung infection. He had a pounding headache from the moment he'd stumbled out of bed, had sneezed in the shower so hard that he'd whacked his head off the wall and made it even more sore, and nearly crashed his car on the way to work with a coughing fit.
"You look like shit, mate," was Owen's greeting, and he groaned incoherently before disappearing into the archives without even making them any coffee. Though, really, Owen didn't want cold germs near anything that was going in his mouth, thanks.
When he re-emerged at around lunchtime to order in, he found the Hub empty aside from Tosh and the pet dinosaur, and she grimaced at the sight of him.
"You don't look very well," she said, and Ianto wrinkled his nose.
"I don't feel very well."
"Lie down on the sofa for a bit," Tosh suggested. "The others won't be back for at least an hour. There's three weevils chewing up playground equipment on the outskirts of Newport."
"How did they get out there?" Ianto asked, toeing off his shoes and removing his suit jacket.
"Don't know," Tosh said. "Ran around at night, I suppose."
She had to go back to her map-reading skills for a moment, and by the time she looked back, Ianto was curled up on the sofa like a cat and apparently asleep.
That was how Jack found them when the rest of the team returned at just gone two o'clock. He bounced up to thank Tosh for her help and describe the trip in all its unglorious detail, and caught sight of the sleeping Ianto.
"What the...?" he asked, blinking. "Is this the twilight zone?"
"No," Tosh said, giggling a little. "He just didn't feel very well. I told him to catch some sleep while you were all out. I don't think he slept well last night."
"What makes you say that?" Jack asked warily, wondering if there was something he should be looking into.
"Just looks really tired," Tosh said. "And he was out like a light the moment he lay down."
"Kind of sweet," Jack commented, adjusting the jacket Tosh had draped over the sleeping man carefully. He brushed a kiss over Ianto's forehead, then froze. Slowly, he replaced his lips with his hand, held it there a moment, then swung around and fled back down the steps and towards the autopsy bay, calling for Owen loudly.
"What?!" Owen demanded crossly, having only just cleaned his hands of weevil skank.
"It's Ianto. Come and see to him. On the sofa. It's urgent," Jack said abruptly, grabbing his arm and beginning to drag him back up the autopsy bay steps. "He's burning up, Owen. It's really high."
Owen was an arsehole, and everybody agreed on that, even Tosh (though with different words to the same effect), but he was a doctor, after all. Hearing that somebody under his medical authority was ill was enough to cut the protests. Owen shook off Jack's head and stormed up the steps to the sofa, reaching Ianto quickly and bending over him.
"He's not that ill, is he?" Tosh asked worriedly. She hadn't thought it was anything to be scared of. She bit her lip anxiously; what if Ianto was really ill and she hadn't called Owen back early enough?
Owen's hands flitted over Ianto's sleeping form, not disturbing him from his doze, but checking his pulse, breathing and temperature rapidly. Then he scowled and glared up at Jack.
"This," he said, "isn't urgent."
"He's burning up," Jack repeated angrily, in case Owen hadn't got it the first time. "The last time I knew someone with that temperature, she died of scarlet fever!"
"Oh, yes, and when was that?" Owen sniped. "The nineteen-twenties? It's nowhere near that common anymore, and trust me, Jack, this man doesn't have it."
"You haven't checked properly," Jack insisted.
"He's not got the flush, any rashs I can see, his temperature isn't high enough, and..." Owen gently tilted Ianto's head and opened his jaw, "...his tongue isn't bright red."
"So what is wrong with him?" Jack demanded tetchily.
"Right now, I'm going to say a bad cold. When he wakes up, and tells me how he feels, I might change that to the flu. But he looked like shit yesterday and this morning, and he hasn't been ill in ages. He's probably caught a bug," Owen shrugged. "Nothing dangerous."
"How can a temperature that high not be dangerous?" Jack insisted.
"Because Ianto is otherwise a healthy man," Owen said. "If he starts sweating bullets, I'll take precautions, but leave him alone for the moment. He'll be fine."
Jack didn't look happy, reaching out to smooth down Ianto's hair anxiously. The young man shifted and mumbled something incoherently, but didn't wake up.
"Oh, leave him alone," Owen said. "God, Harkness, anyone would think you've never had the flu before."
Ianto slept for the rest of the afternoon and well into the evening, not even twitching when Myfanwy swooped down and tried to take out Gwen's workstation. Noisily.
Jack was steadily driving everyone up the wall. He had Gwen look up influenza on the internet, and went sheet-white when he read that it was capable of killing a human.
"Old and sick people, Jack!" Owen roared from the autopsy bay, but Jack ignored him and went back to hovering around the sofa anxiously. Even amiable Tosh was getting annoyed, because Jack kept getting in her way and asking if he shouldn't wake Ianto up now.
"No!" she said impatiently. "Leave him alone!"
Ianto woke up of his own accord just after Tosh had left, and as Gwen was putting on her jacket. Owen was still pottering around in the autopsy bay, and Jack bellowed for him clear across the Hub.
"How you feel? Yan? Can you hear me?" he demanded anxiously, helping Ianto sit up and chewing on his lower lip when Ianto simply lowered his head into his hands and groaned. "Yan?!"
"Oh, give over, Jack," Gwen sighed, appearing with a glass of milk. "Here you go, love, it'll soothe your stomach."
Ianto mumbled a Welsh thanks as he drank the contents of the glass in one go and, uncharacteristically, dumped the glass on Tosh's desk. Jack wrapped his arms around him to keep him standing as Owen arrived with a penlight and a frown.
"Right, Ianto. Quick quiz for you. Headache?"
"Feel too warm?"
"Felt like this for the last couple of days."
"Not so bad."
"Flu," Owen decided. "Pack him off to bed with plenty of fluids and light foods. And I mean light, Jack, or he'll just throw up. And he'll sleep like a rock all the time. Let him: he'll get better faster."
"But he will..."
"He's not an anorexic, suicidal, infected nutcase," Owen said, rolling his eyes. "Yes, he'll get better."
Ianto snorted and laughed weakly, before burying his face in Jack's shoulder and groaning.
Owen was wrong when Ianto slept like the dead for the next week. He slept like something that had never lived in the first place.
Jack had put him down in his own sleep space, to be able to keep an eye on him and the Hub at the same time. The angry fever raged on and on, and Jack was caught between Owen's reassurances and his own, panicked fear that Ianto was going to go into convulsions at any minute. The problem was that Jack hadn't seen a case of the flu in decades. The last time he'd seen flu of any sort, it was Spanish Flu. And that had killed millions.
Every night, he would curl up in the bed with Ianto and watch him sleep. Not that there was much to watch. Even talking to him didn't get any reaction, which it did normally when Ianto slept.
Whenever Ianto did wake up, he either drank a lot, or was violently sick. He was so shaky that Jack gave up trying to get him into the bathroom those times, and simply left a basin by the bed. On the brighter side, Ianto was sweating out or throwing up any liquid he took in, so they didn't get around to having to deal with bathroom trips.
But the fact remained that for a whole week, Jack was a wreck.
And then came the spaceship.
A spaceship crashed - or belly-flopped - into Cardiff Bay, and the whole team (bar, obviously, Ianto) had to rush out and try to deal with angry aliens, panicking locals, and a freaking police force. It exhausted the lot of them, took well over fourteen hours to sort, and by the time they crawled back to the Hub, they felt like they could have slept on the metal floors themselves.
But Heaven was the conference room, where full coffee mugs and Italian takeout waited, fresh and warm and filling. Ianto was sat in Jack's dressing gown, curled up in one of the chairs with a box of tissues, looking pale and wrung-out and tired, but he smiled at them and waved a hand at the table.
"I figured it had been a long day for you," he said. "What day is it?" he added after a moment's pause.
"Friday," Jack said, coming round to hug him tightly. "How do you feel?"
"Like I have a cold," Ianto said. "Much better."
"Are you sure? Owen, can...?"
"Jack," Ianto frowned. "I had the flu. I can recognise the bloody flu when I get it."
"Told you," Owen singsonged, seizing his lasagne and beginning to shovel it with male expertise.
"I was just worried," Jack shrugged, sinking into the chair next to Ianto's.
"And driving everyone up the wall?" Ianto asked drily.
"Yes. Eat," Jack said, poking him.
Ianto grimaced and shook his head, "Not that much better."
"Next time you get the flu," Gwen complained, "don't come to work at all. Make him flap away from us."
"No, don't," Owen said. "He'd call an ambulance, knowing Jack."
Jack flushed, and Ianto laughed, coughed, and laughed some more.
"Very sweet," he teased, rubbing Jack's shoulder.
"God's sake," Owen grumbled, when Jack tried to get close enough to Ianto for a kiss, but was blocked by tissues. "Jones, go and take a shower so you stop smelling of ill person. Harkness, go and help him. I can't eat in the presence of all this mush."
Ianto chuckled, but staggered up from the table and left.
After a moment, Jack followed.